Thursday, January 29, 2009

To Kill A Mocking Day Off

As soon as T left for work and I wrote is still on holiday, but is up at 9am! what to do? on my Facebook status, I decided I wasn't gonna sit in his apartment all day like a useless flower vase. So what if all my friends were working and there was no one to have lunch or afternoon cocktails with? So what if I only had so much money and it was absolutely impossible for me spend the day shopping? There was no way I would let another untimely day off mock me again. So I donned my white long-sleeved sweatshirt, T's padded bomber vest, jogging pants, baseball hat and trainers, which made me look like a Streetboyz dancer in the late 90's, and hit the road. The plan: to enjoy my last CNY holiday by killing as much time as I could outdoors without spending more than $100.

In order to succeed in this herculean task, it was important that I started my mission well. I had my breakfast bowl--- blueberries, slices of banana, kiwi and strawberries, served on a bed of oats and flax seed in soya milk, and topped with nonfat yogurt--- that T had prepared even before my REM started to slow down.

At 1130, roughly two hours after I finished my breakfast, I went to Mix for my dose of liquid sunshine. A shot of freshly-squeezed wheatgrass juice. $38.00

Then I walked around Central to take pictures and find materials for the new blog that I'll be opening soon. Eventually, my feet led me to the escalators which led me to Worldwide where lots of Pinoys were led to at that very moment as well. It was lunchtime and the place was packed with kababayans who were craving for meals that reminded them-- us-- of home. After going through every store one by one and comparing their menus, I chose the store calle Bisacol and had my labong, bopis and daing. Lunch + a bottle of water= $33.00

After the filling lunch, I headed to IFC to sit in one of the al fresco benches to people watch. I didn't last long though. It was too cold to be sitting idly outdoors. After the last note of Craig Armstrong's "Ruthless Gravity" (Track #5 of the Layer Cake OST) faded, I started my way back to the Lan Kwai Fong/ Hollywood Road area to look for cheap coffee.

I didn't get the coffee that I had planned to get because I got distracted. I called my good friend, Aaron, to ask a favor. And somehow, talking to him made me want to go and pay Dymocks a visit, which I did.

About an hour later, I marched out of the bookstore with a Coelho and a Murakami, worth only $204. The 200 of which wasn't to be accounted for, because I used the gift voucher that Miro (and thank you Miro for this) gave me as a birthday present five months back.

It was time for my siesta so I decided to walk back to T's flat. But like any grandma, I needed a light snack before I took my afternoon nap. I walked down to Wellington to get myself a cup of freshly-squeezed carrot and celery juice. $13.00

AT 3pm, I was back in T's apartment, smiling at congratulating myself for a job well-done. With 2 books, 9 pictures, a nice lunch, 2 snacks, a blog entry and a $12.00-change from my $100-budget, I killed a mocking day-off.

Call Me Mushy

...I'm not shy to admit I cried a little bit. Just a little. And I'm not even a basketball fan--- faaaaaaaaar from being one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

About A Boy Crossing The Border

For the first time in his current journey, the road seemed bleak and uncertain.

For the first time, he felt his arrogance -- the arrogance that he always depended on to conceal his weak, vulnerable, human self -- abandon him as the rest of his defenses melt away and disappear in a heartbeat.

For the first time in his current journey, he wasn't too proud to admit what he was feeling. He wasn't scared or ashamed to say, "Please forgive me. Give me one more chance. And the only reason that I need that one more chance is that I love you."

The boy was, for the first time in so long, at that point where something ends and something bigger begins. He knew what lay ahead beyond that point. And with much hope and faith, he decided to do what felt right for him. What felt good for him.

It was past midnight. Just a few minutes before that, he was on a cab racing against time, crossing the tunnel that connected Lantau and Hong Kong Islands. Then without him noticing, in just a few minutes, half the world transitioned from Jan. 22 to Jan. 23 --- from Thursday to Friday. At about the same time, he crossed another border: that where fascination ends and love begins.

It was the beginning of a new journey.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Anatomy Of Hang-Over

It wasn't even past lunchtime yet when I got an sms from James, asking whether our cookout plans would push through. I eagerly replied in the affirmative. We then agreed to meet up at 3pm.

At 5pm, his kitchen was still quiet and the only activity that was happening was his fixing of two tall glasses of vodka tonic. (I later found out that the drinks that he had mixed for us were more like "vodka with a hint of tonic" rather than "vodka tonic".)

6pm, we were headed to Staunton's to meet up with his best friend, the beautiful, ever-glowing Tricia for two rounds of drinks. We thought of coming up with a 2-drink limit plan. We didn't intend to get smashed at Staunton's because it was a Wednesday night and we wanted to partake in the free vodka that Volume was rationing its patrons with, from 7-9:30. We were quite successful trying to stick to the plan, until James's movie night commitment was cancelled because Madagascar 2 wasn't showing yet. He called his beau, Chris, to tell him the bad news. And as soon as he got off the phone, we yelled for a pitcher of margarita like prisoners demanding food.

7:30pm, James and I had already transformed from young-and-cosmopolitan to juvenile-slurring-and-obnoxious. 7:30! Our fellow Volume parishioners hadn't even arrived in the area and we have completely lost the ability to walk in a straight line. Somehow, we managed to get to Jashan, now made more famous because of the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand awarded to them, to get our fill of Indian dinner. "So what should I expect from a Michelin-recognized restaurant?", I asked James as we were on the lift.

"Service, food, ambience", he enumerated. He then bolstered his answer impressively, by giving me a 3-minute crash course on the substantial lessons he's learned, quite fast, in less than 2 years of of working in the F&B and hospitality industry.

Few minutes past 8, we were settling our bill. Was Jashan everything Michelin made us to expect? I don't even know. I ordered a plate of dum biryani and a glass of red wine. Until now, that's all I remember: my biryani and my wine. I don't even know which variety of red wine I had. Oh, and yes, I do remember the quotation printed on the drink menu:

"I have two lips, one devoted to wine and
the other apologizing for drunkenness."

From Jashan, James and I decided to give another friend of ours a surprise visit. We knew he was recuperating from a flu and that he was sleeping at that very moment. It was the perfect time to show up unannounced at his doorstep, our main objective, being the compelling desire to pester him. We got there after a 10-minute cab ride and as soon as we were let in, James dove into bed. Before I could even warn him to not fall asleep, he dozed off. Few minutes later, I did too.

I opened my eyes from a 30-minute nap to see James recharged and ready to go for a few more rounds. So after a few rounds of Ice Vodka, we left and headed to Volume. We got there past 10. We laughed at the thought that we didn't make it to free vodka, when it was the main goal that we set for the night. But that didn't stop us from having more cosmopolitans and chardonnays at Volume.

...and a beer at Beyrouth, while James munched down his kebab;

...and champagne at Gecko, while I sat and filmed the first performance of James that I had seen in ages;

...and nothings at Propaganda, where James got reunited with the jacket that he didn't even know he had left there in his drunken stupor on New Year's Eve;

...and to Drop where the infamous "Sad!!! Sad!!!" line was delivered;

...and to 711 where I learned the different intensities by which "Dim ar?!" can be said.

At 4am (I think), our rational selves, finally made an apparition and we called it a night.

I was thinking of ending this post with "...and so the night ended with champagne, candles and all that jazz",

but it would be a lie. It sure was a fun, debauched night, but it didn't end happily ever after. Because an hour after we gave an à tout à l'heure peck on each other's cheek, reality set in. I had to run to the bathroom to kiss the porcelain god.

And even more bitter realities the following day, when I woke up with the worst headache that even 2 Excedrins couldn't cure and the most horrible case of hyperacidity I've ever had. Hangover at its peak.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Morning Has Broken

I am anything but a morning person.

I hate getting up in the morning. It's too much of a chore for me.

But, when one has to get up at 9am to be able to teach an 11am dance class that ends with a student telling him, "As usual, all the girls in the dressing room are talking about how good they feel after your class. We really enjoyed it. Your Tuesday morning classes are something we look forward to week after week";

or when he has to get up at 830am to pick up stuff from the grocery, and he finds out that someone had scribbled on the shopping list that he left posted on the fridge door;

or when he gets a call from a friend inviting him for an indulgent Sunday breakfast;

or when he gets up early and accomplishes enough by midday to deserve afternoon cocktails at Red with one of closest friends and confidante, while watching the color of the skies change from blue to orange to gray;

or when he gets up at 7am to be able to get freshest prawns in the wet market for the garlic aligue pasta that he's making for a dear friend who lives a block away but whom he hadn't seen for a while;

or when he gets up at 10am to make lunch for his boyfriend who spent the night at his place and he calls him to the table and discovers, as he enters his own bedroom, that his bed has been made;
or when he gets up before lunch to find out that someone is making lunch for him;

then it's all worth saying goodbye to snooze. It's all worth the trouble of rising and greeting the morning that has broken.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Candidate #3, Please Step Forward

Host: So.. are we consenting prisoners of our own boyfriends or are they of us, we, unrelenting watchguards?

Ms. Sheung Wan: Sus, eh iba't iba lang ang style ng mga hirit. But in truth, LAHAT tayo paalaga lang! Kaya nga nadevelop yung Stockholm Syndrome diba, which explains how victims develop a loyalty to their kidnappers. SO to answer your question, we are never strictly top or bottom. Deep in our hearts, we are all versatile. I thank you. *wave*

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Political Correctness Can Be A Buzzkill

Saw a very interesting (and agreeable, if I may add) column on HK Magazine* written by Chip Tsao. Here goes---

We’re in 2009, not 2551

January 2nd, 2009

I received a greeting card this year from the SAR chief executive’s office. Or more precisely, I received a card wishing me only “a prosperous new year” without mentioning “Merry Christmas.” It is a popular Western liberal fad these days to think that saying “Merry Christmas” could offend all Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus of the world.

It is no surprise that the chief executive should follow this universal rule of political correctness, especially when Michelle Obama is mailing out greeting cards with the even more neutral message of “Happy Winter Holidays.” But if referring to anything associated with Jesus Christ is a crime, the American president-elect will have an awful lot to “change.” Obama will be sworn in with his hand on the Bible. He will end his Oath of Office with the words, “so help me God.” Should he place the Koran and Hindu and Buddhists scripts together, and specify which god he is seeking help from (Allah perhaps, in order not to offend the Muslims of the world)?

If it should be out of vogue to say “Merry Christmas” together with “Happy New Year,” then why are we entering 2009, a year with a reference to the birth of Christ? Could Hong Kong become the first country in the world to officially adopt the use of the Buddhist calendar? For one thing, there would be no countdown celebration of the so-called “New Year” in Lan Kwai Fong this year seeing as we would simply be in the middle of year 2551.

The fear that wishing a merry Christmas and a happy new year to someone could “offend” all non-Christians in the world is not just a naïve hypothesis, but a subtle act of discrimination in the name of “multiculturalism.” It assumes that all Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus are so narrow-minded and irrational that they would be deeply “offended” and “hurt” by the sheer mentioning of these greetings, and as a result, the implication is that they might be motivated to hatch a plot to blow up the Canterbury Cathedral or St. Peter’s Basilica as revenge. So let’s not “offend” them, just as we would avoid provoking a mad dog on the street—don’t look into its eyes, lest it barks and bites.

Western political-correctionists should pay a visit to Hong Kong. I think they’d be surprised by how many Peter Wongs, Paul Chans and Mary Cheungs there are here, all of them using self-adopted Christian names that make us Hong Kong people likelier to obtain a tourist visa to the US or Australia than the brow-furrowing XYZs of our mainland Chinese countrymen—Xing Xiao-zhong or Zhang Xiao-ying, etc. Maybe it’s also surprising that St. Teresa’s Hospital remains one of the best and most expensive private hospitals in Hong Kong, and nobody has demanded its name be changed to Tin Hau, the Empress of the Seas as worshipped by Cantonese fishermen. So, after a Merry Christmas, a Happy Christian New Year to you all.

Chip Tsao is a best-selling author and columnist.
A former reporter for the BBC, his columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.

*HK Magazine No. 764~ Friday, January 2, 2009~
. (I hope I don't get into trouble because of copy-pasting)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Page 1, 2009

Today, I start anew.

A clean slate.

A fresh page.

The older books have been shut closed and all that's left of them are lessons.

Willingly, eagerly --- I now let Life take me anywhere She wants to:

Maybe to sublime lands of castles and many things lovely, where I will be the king, or the slave. Or a mere insignificant member of the kingdom.

Maybe to wild jungles where I can be the prey or the predator. Or a mere lurker perched on a tree watching how organisms attack one other in order to survive.

Maybe to quiet churches or cemeteries, where my solitude will allow Me to converse with Myself so that they may learn about each other more. And from each other more.

Maybe to crossroads or busy streets where I will be fooled again; where I can make mistakes again; where I will hear rumors again and be rumored again; where I can learn from other people's gallantry and diffidence. And other people's heroism and shortfalls.

Maybe to the edge of the horizon where the earth meets eternity. Or to either side of that edge.

Maybe with priests and the noble ones. Or with slaves and the famished. Or with ordinary everyday people.

Maybe to places where things are made. Or where they are destroyed. Or to places where they are forced to materialize.

Maybe to places where I will laugh again. Or cry again. And learn again.

Maybe to places where I will need again. Or be needed again.

Maybe millions of miles away. Or just here, on my couch.

Maybe to places filled with faces and stories that will make this next book more meaningful than the ones that came before it. Or to a place where I can create my own stories.

Today, I start anew. Fresh, clean, unwritten. Ready to be exploited by the hand that holds the pen. The hand that controls my destiny.


Unwritten (Acoustic Version) - Natasha Bedingfield

"...I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines, oh yeah yeah
We've been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can't live that way oh, oh

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
the rest still unwritten..."

Natasha Bedingfield