Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here, There be Monsters

My mates at the Great Place have gotten used to calling someone Monster.  I'm not really sure who gave that label, but somehow, it stuck.  Now, the name has become commonplace in cryptic talks.  I'm not one to play blameless with regard this;  I have much too much experience labeling people, but still, I try to refrain from using the label as much as possible.  It is one thing to ride with them when they use the code name, and another thing, if I relent and start using it myself.  It is rather fun, I must admit, but it is unfair, and truthfully, uncalled for.

Thinking further on this, it seems that somehow, at every point in one's life, there is this someone that would inevitably be called Monster.  My earliest recollection of a monster was when I was in Grade Four.  Back then, she wasn't even given the dignity of the english term, she was simply called Halimaw, able to terrorize any and all students with her stare.  I remember one time that I was asked to recite, it was all I could do to keep standing.  I was near the back of the class, but her stare was penetrating and deathly, that I was already reeling, my vision fading, and my world spinning.  Her rising voice just made matters worse; I can no longer think cohesively; only discordant words were reaching my slowly darkenning world.  Colorful words and phrases, most notably bugok na itlog (rotten egg) and gunggong (dummy).  I might have fainted somewhere during her tirade, I'm no longer sure.

My next monster was during Freshman High school.  She wasn't really a monster, but rather, a real character.  We called her Ipish -- cockroach, with the deliberate "h" in the end, to make that "sh" sound.  We are fond of taking advantage of any deficiency, especially in speech.  We revel in it.  She was christened Ipish, by the way, because of her fondness for eating mentos, which we used to call moth balls.

My fondest monster was in Third Year high school.  Our adviser at the time was pregnant, and was prone to lashing out on us when we are getting out of hand.  She once almost updended her desk in rage, the desk tipping upon the table of the student in front of her, while she, unmindful of the student's shock, stood up and gave us a long sermon on how we were such unruly, uncouth and unrefined students, with no regard for women, especially pregnant women.  Which was true.  She taught us English -- English Literature to be exact.  Unfortunately for her, she taught us the epic of Beowulf, so we called her Grendel.

Only after a couple of years after graduation did I appreciate the gravity of the labels we made.  I visited my alma mater one time and got into a conversation with my former adviser.  She was incensed at a student of her's, and it was getting hard for her to hide her irritation.  Unable to contain it, she recounted to me how a student of her's had the temerity to write a report paper submitted to Mrs Grendel I------.  When she confronted said student, it was found out that the student honestly thought that that was her first name.  I did not have the heart to tell my former adviser that it was us who coined the name three years prior to the incident.  No one expected the name to stick that strong and that long.

I honestly thought the labels have died in high school, until the Great Place suddenly errupted into the business of labeling.  The monsters have returned, and somehow, everything feels like high school once more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sun, Stores and Sauna

For two days now, the air conditioning unit in our office is busted.  Maintenance has been trying, but in vain, apparently, to fix the offending machine, but the stubborn thing just doesn't want to be fixed.

For two days now, the office has transformed itself into a spa, with our area becoming a sauna. Imagine an office of more than thirty desks, breathing in the stale air and competing for the few electric fans around.  Add to the mix the heat from the sun outside and the whirring of more than thirty desktop computers, and you have a hell-hole of a place!  Imagine trying to concentrate on that.  What irks us the most is that only our part of the office is suffering this fate.  The other side of the office enjoys the convenience of having a separate AC unit that is somewhat impervious to damage.

That is why for two days now, I have been out of the office in the afternoons.  Sometimes, it is better to do the work on location, where, aside from the obvious treat of a functioning aircon, we are treated to free iced drinks and food.  It's just too bad that going to the store entails travelling, and under the heat of the sun!  Still, it is better than sweltering away inside the hot-house that is our office.

Monday, May 25, 2009


There comes a time when the Urge erupts, and no amount of self-control could temper it.  You may think that you have mastered it, finally taking it out of your system, but the Urge is still there, lurking, waiting for that opportune time to come out and take over.  And once the Urge has taken over, nothing can stop it.  You just have to brace yourself for the ride, and prepare yourself for whatever happens; and let the Urge burn itself out.  It is a force of nature, and no earthly power possessed by man could ever hope to curb such primal energy.  Once it takes over, there is no use trying to redirect it.  It will follow its own course, treading whichever path it chooses to take.

After a considerable amount of time laying dormant, the Urge has taken over me this weekend.

As per usual, the Urge has taken me unawares, and, like a thief in the night, slowly and stealthily took over, leaving me under its total control.  The Urge has led me to its usual haunts, first, at Waltermart, and then at Makati Square.  The Urge never gave me a chance to back down, never letting go until its needs were satisfied.  I went home with a heavy burden.  

Two burdens to be exact.  Both hardbounds, both fiction, both fantasy.  One about two magic practitioners and their testy relationship in Napolionic London; the other about the lost Book of All Knowledge, and the lives of two boys, one in the present, the other in the past, whose fates are intertwined with the Book.

I can't wait to read both, but before that, I would have to cover them first in thick plastic cover.  My obsessive-compulsive nature demands it.  I hope I can find the time, and soon.  

You can restrain it sometimes, but the bibliophile must have his books, and there are no other ways around it.     

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Food, Anyone?

I was with BartSmithers and Barimel one Saturday afternoon at Tiendesitas. BariMel was looking for furnitures she could use for her new place. BartSmithers and I were there as escorts. While browsing through furnitures and discussing about the "No Photos" rule on the furnitures place, I looked up, and suddenly, my brain just shut down.

It took a while for me to recover, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Concerned, BariMel and BartSmithers asked me what the matter was, so I just pointed at the banner overhead. They looked up, and laughed with me.

I guess one man's pet is another man's delicacy. :-D

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Shatt's Night Out

After weeks (months, eons) of staying late in the office, slavishly finishing reports and various other errands, I think I deserve a break. A couple of friends invited me last week to a music event, and, typical of me, promptly forgot about it. I received a text message in the afternoon confirming my attendance to said event. Seeing as this might be my only opportunity to get some me-time before the next set of deadlines, I replied in the affirmative.

8 pm and we find ourselves enroute to Libis for Jam 88.3's annual musicfest. It being a Friday, it wasn't quite a surprise to find the hellish amount of traffic that greeted us. We just whiled the time talking about various stuff and listening to the radio for the live coverage of the event we were about to go to.

We are quite the talkers, when given the opportunity; our long and random talks leading us to various discordant topics, like politics, religion, math and sciences, and all the other topics that would make you unpopular on any kind of social event. BartSmithers lamented about the traffic conditions of the metro, and how setting up a not-for-profit transport conglomerate would be the viable solution to our traffic woes. This, unfortunately wouldn't really push through, for the main reason for being in business is wealth accumulation, and not just capital recouperation. I opined that the solution for traffic is for a government owned and controlled corporation to monopolize the transport industry and make profit out of it, and contribute to the national budget along the way. But the government shouldn't really be meddling with the business sector in the first place, pointed BartSmithers, to which I did agree. The conversation then led to GMA7's quarter-end profit reports, and the billions of advertising revenues they made on just the first quarter of this year.

BariMel then told us of a newspaper article she read involving Jessica Soho in scuba gear being mistaken by local fishermen as a beached whale. Apparently, it was common for whales to get beached on that area, and seeing the news reporter in her wetsuited glory, the fishermen allerted the authorities and wildlife organizations. I commented that had she been underwater, she might have been mistaken for a manatee. This then, led to talks about and Connan O'Brien, who, after talking on his show about this fictitious website, was told that doing so was illegal, so he, therefore, had to build the website he was talking about so as not to get penalized.

And still, we are in a jam. Traffic is attrocious, as always, even inside Eastwood, and we had to contend ourselves with hearing Kamikazee perform on the radio, while hearing the live performance booming outside the car. We got to the venue as The Camerawalls were performing their last song. Too bad, I like their songs; they have intelligent lyrics. Fortunately, there are still more bands lined up, and we got to enjoy those.

I do not really like Eastwood. The logic of its architectural layout eludes me, and I easily get lost within the area. Looking at the installed vicinity maps do not help either, and I usually end up going around in circles, without getting to my destination. The non-sensical layout presents itself more so with the new mall-slash-hotel they have erected. We actually got lost trying to park in there, and the arrows on the floor directing traffic does not help our efforts. There are parking slots two-deep, which means one car would not be able to leave until the other car leaves. Even now, the rationale of such escapes me.

The first thing that BartSmithers did after we have established a foothold on the event is to buy us beers. Not a good idea, drinking on an empty stomach, considering that the last meal I had was lunch. Still, one cannot deny free beer when it is offered (haha!), and guzzle, I did. I was already tipsy with that one bottle of SanMig Light. After watching four bands perform, BariMel made the brilliant suggestion of eating dinner somewhere near the concert area, so we could still hear the performances while satisfying our gourmand tendencies.

It was good, being out of the office, even for a night. I have almost forgotten that there are people around other than my officemates. I really need to rethink my work-life balance...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It seemed like the floods would never abate, as the typhoon continued its torrential, unforgiving downpour. It's already nearing past 12am, and still, I am stuck in the office, stranded because of the freakish weather, with no choice but to continue working for lack of anything better to do. Our deadlines are about, so at least I am being productive.

Finally, by 12.30, my officemates did relent, and we decided to finally try to go home. What greeted us downstairs was receeding flood waters deep enough to cover the sidewalk. Once again, our office address lives up to its name, being the Primary River in our side of the town. No choice but to try and hail a tricycle to ferry us along the ten meters of flooded road we must travel in order to get to high ground, and then to home. Thankfully, the trike driver we were able to hail was generous enough no to have overcharged us. We have had bad experiences in the past wherein the drivers bill us unconscionable amounts for that short trip, making full use of those murky, impassable waters to try to milk us of our hard-earned peso.

I was able to go home, late as it is, but the sandman has already made his rounds, and I missed my appointment on dreamland. Try as I might, sleep just wouldn't come, despite the fact that I had been awake for the past 20 hours, and was working for 15 of those hours. Thankfully, sleep did come around 3 am, cutting me off mid-thought.


I was violently riven from my slumber by a sudden realization that I am late. It's our company outing, and our call time was 6am. Sure enough, I woke up just a few minutes past the hour. It was a good thing all my preparations were done before going to bed, so it was just a matter of fixing myself and going to the office as fast as I can. The bus we rented was slated to leave at 6.30 am, which means that a good number of people will probably get to the office around 7 am; and the bus would be able to leave an hour late. Getting to the bus before the stated departure time therefore means that I get to have good seats. Coupled by the hard rain we are experiencing, it is understandable that most of our number would be late.

Sure enough, most of our officemates were not yet there when I got in. I was able to get a seat at the back of the bus. I would have wanted a window seat at the back, but that was good enough for me, at least. And since we were still waiting for a few more officemates to get to the bus, I was able to go up the office and fix myself my morning cup of coffee, which I put on a take-out cup I "borrowed" from the office pantry.

The trip going to the resort was wet, but otherwise uneventful. I busied myself with my coffee and with watching the on-board movie: DOA: Dead on Arrival. My eyesight, imprfect as it is, and with me in the farthest row of the bus, it was quite a challenge for me to follow what I was watching. It was a good thing that I was able to see that flick long before, or I would have been irritable to all the distractions getting in the way of my movie viewing. I did bring a book with me to keep me from boredom during the trip, but it didn't occur to me to take it out of the bag just then. Probably, I just forgot that I had it in the first place.

Two hours later, we got to our destination. The weather became welcoming, with the rain coming to a halt, and the sun finally showing up to reign the heavens. After a few photo-op sessions around the resort, we were ready to swim. The group I mingled with chose the pool at the back of the resort, which produced artificial waves. I busied myself with jumping along with every crest, and finding that perfect spot where the waves are at their highest. It was rather disorienting, actually, because I'm seeing the waves, but the water wasn't salty. Also, I can feel the water pushing me, but the accompanying pull was missing; talk about incomplete. I guess it's impossible to replicate tidal ebb and flow.

I was prepared to be disappointed with our company outing. I have even made plans should I decide to leave our venue. Thankfully, the group I mingled with were fun enough, and wacky enough that I enjoyed the company. We basked in the sun all afternoon, jumping along with the artificial waves, that I ended up scorched and sunburnt, and aching all over -- my first physical activity in months.

I guess things turn out differently from what one is expecting, and sometimes, these unexpected results are better than what is originally planned. This is especially true in my case, for I have expected the worst scenarios to present itself, but instead, the results were quite favorable and enjoyable. I don't know... I guess, I'm just falling back into my habit of over-thinking...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


War is brewing in our neighborhood. You can feel the oppressing miasma all over the place, blanketing everything with its evil stench. Even nature is rendered powerless over this intangible force of other-worldly presence: the winds seem to stand still, or else refuse to blow in this direction; summer nights turn cold, then humid, with no regard to barometric readings. The sun's summer rays seem blunted and incapable of giving heat. And all the while, an unnerving uneasiness has laid claim to the populace.

Wartime is nigh, and all about, preparations for the slaughter to come are being made. War drums have been released from their hallowed place of rest as advanced guards make ready their war paints and feathered armors. Banners of the various warring clans are hung all over the place, signifying an areas colors and affiliation. And inside the various households are a myriad of preparations of secret weapons that would, inevitably, lead to mass destruction.

War is near, and its name is Fiesta.

The first blow has been struck: psychological warfare through videoke-terrorism. A neighboring baranggay closed off a section of a busy thoroughfare to make room for the platform where the town's most prized terrorists will perform their renditions of hits, past, present and future, and sometimes in medley.

I can only squirm in terror as they let a banshee let loose over The Cranberries' "Zombie" and Regine Velazques' "Shine," followed by another terrorists' rendition of The Calling's "Stigmatize." Anytime soon, I'm expecting them to deploy their coup de grace: an unending medley of April Boy Regino "hits." Such vile, twisted actions are more than enough to render anyone in a state of hopelessness and utter terror, prompting anyone to reach for an icepick to gouge their eyes and shatter their eardrums in order to end the misery.

Coming home late and tired from work, I haven't the emotional fortitude to weather such viscious attacks on my psyche. The walls of my room seem infantile and ill-built to protect me from this cachophonic assult, as the voices seem to penetrate, and permeate from the very walls. Soon, the last remaining drops of my self-control would vanish like evanescent mist on a desert afternoon and render me immobile, irrational and insane; a dead husk of mutable flesh. I do not know how much more of this inhumane assault on my eardrums I can take.


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