Monday, July 30, 2007

It's Raining, Men

It's a Monday. The sky is dark and the flashes of lightning are followed by peals of thunder. Elsewhere, I'm told that it's raining hard.

On days like this, I can hear the voice of Karen Carpenter in my head, singing:

Rainy Days and Mondays

Talking to myself and feeling old

Sometimes I'd like to quit

Nothing ever seems to fit

Hangin around, nothing to do but frown

Rainy days and mondays always get me down

What I've got they used to call the blues

Nothing is really wrong

Feeling like I don't belong

Walking around some kind of lonely clown

Rainy days and mondays always get me down

Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you

It's nice to know somebody loves me

Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do

To run and find the one who loves me

(*) what I feel is come and gone before

No need to talk it out

We know what it's all about

Hanging around, nothing to do but frown

Rainy days and mondays always get me down

Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do

Run and find the one who loves me

Repeat (*)

Hangin' around, nothing do to but frown

Rainy days and mondays always get me down

I turned 33 today. Of course I feel old. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Phil Catches a Cold

He was late, and Sara usually hated waiting, but this was one of those rare moments when she didn’t mind it that much. She used the time to compose herself and organize her thoughts.

“He”, of course, is Phil, who, after an eternity of waiting, finally asked her out to dinner.

It took them a long time, after that momentous invitation, before they were able to set the date for dinner because of Sara’s habit of saying “No” even if she meant “Yes, I thought you’d never ask.” She did not want to appear too eager and to reveal her true feelings.

She saw him entering the restaurant and searching for her. He obviously had walked in from the rain, for his hair was wet and his shirt was soaked.

“Hi, sorry I’m late”, he said, as he lightly touched her on her right shoulder before pulling the chair in front of her. “I had to walk part of the way and leave the car with my driver as traffic was not moving.”

The waiter handed him a small towel and he excused himself to pat his clothes dry in the men’s room.

Sara momentarily forgot about her nervousness, as she grew concerned that Phil might catch a cold. Or she probably willed herself to think about something else other than what she hoped Phil would say after he got back from the restroom.

A little fall of rain could hardly hinder Phil from fulfilling his plans for the night. He knew that dinner did not start too well because he was late, and he wanted to make a good impression, so he had to make the most out of the time he had left.

He returned to his seat and ordered the meal he had picked out earlier from the menu that his secretary had furnished him. Food was the last thing on his mind, but he wanted the night to be perfect. Their waiter took down his order, and then left.

Sara, who had a glass of wine while waiting, boldly asked, “So, what was so urgent and important that you had to tell me tonight, that you refused to cancel dinner despite the pouring rain?” A girl had to know, she thought.

“You really don’t allow men to catch their breath, do you?” he replied, avoiding her question.

“I can’t help it if I take their breath away, and I can’t be bothered to wait for it to come back before engaging in a proper conversation,” she quipped, the wine obviously taking over. Sara had always been a no-nonsense woman, but she was extraordinarily blunt tonight. A voice inside her was cautioning her to slow down, or, better yet, shut up.

If Phil had been ill at ease at this unmitigated show of female frankness, he hid it well. He smiled at Sara, poured himself a glass of wine from the open bottle nestled in a bucket of ice on the table, and sipped it quietly. He knew she was waiting impatiently, and he was almost certain that she would drum her French-tip-manicured nails on the table anytime now.

They met each other four years ago at a convention of franchisees of a fastfood chain, of which their respective families each owned a branch. They got to know each other better when they found out they had common friends, with common interests in diving and photography. Since they both had on-again, off-again relationships with other people, they had never gone out on a date like this. They were walking on unchartered territory, and they knew it.

Phil asked her in a way that there would be no mistaking that he clearly intended for it to be a date. She was the most attractive woman he had ever met, but she was also the feistiest. He knew he had to pace the conversation, otherwise she would manipulate it.

Sara changed tactics and asked him how his niece, Alyssa, was, for Phil absolutely adored that little girl and always brightened up whenever she became part of a conversation.

“She’s fine and just started reading Nancy Drew now that Julia Robert’s niece is starring in the film version. She begged me to buy her the entire collection of books. I’m still thinking whether I should tell her that the author is actually a man with a woman’s pseudonym.”

“You know what, I’ve always wondered why the writing in ‘Hardy Boys’ was suspiciously similar to that in ‘Nancy Drew’”. She almost bit her tongue after saying that. Why did she always have to be a know-it-all?

“I bet you did,” he replied, briefly imagining Sara as an 11-year old girl solving mysteries with a magnifying glass. She could probably make Harry Potter’s Hermione look tame.

Just then the waiter arrived with their dinner, and the conversation moved to the chef’s masterpieces that Phil had ordered. Sara was a picky eater and he wanted her happily fed tonight, for what he had to say needed her to be in a good mood.

It worked, for the meal was perfect, and Sara loosened up a bit from playing Detective Know-it-All. Phil thought dessert would be the perfect time to get to the heart of the matter.

“Sara,” he began. “Yes?” she asked, putting down her teaspoon with a pinch of panna cotta, suddenly losing interest in the sweet concoction.

“You know we’re not getting any younger, right?” Obviously Sara had a paragraph’s worth of reply, but he stopped her by adding, “My sister has been nagging me for years that my attachment to Alyssa is a mere excuse not to have my own children.”

For the first time tonight, Sara filtered her thoughts and prevented her tongue from speaking out. Phil ought to have his moment, as he obviously had prepared his speech.

“I was thinking, that instead of starting the age-old dance of introducing myself to someone new and getting that person to like the things that I liked, and then turning it into a relationship that could hopefully last for a lifetime, which approach had resulted to a lot of disasters anyway, I should do it the other way around and propose a lifetime relationship with someone who already knows me, shares my passions, and shows a high probability of keeping up with me for the rest of my life.”

Sara definitely did not trust herself to respond to this one, either, so she slowly nodded and reminded her face not to show how much she was trying to second-guess what Phil was actually saying.

They’ve had moonlit nights on the beach before, when, taking time to be alone despite being in the company of friends, they had talked about their fears and dreams and everything in between. There was always the feeling, and Sara thought Phil felt it more than she did, that there could be someone else out there, and what they shared was simply friendship, and their deep conversations were just enhanced by the availability of huge amounts of alcohol during dive weekends. Sara had taken care of a drunken Phil on more than one occasion in the past.

They had also seen the world together, literally, as they both joined a European backpacking tour with like-minded photographers and roamed several historical cities. Romance was the last thing on their minds then, however, despite seeing couples at every corner. They just competed with each other on who would take the best photograph of a couple kissing. Sara always declared that she won, as she caught on close-up the tender moments between couples while Phil always tended to hold back, adding a huge background or focusing more on the buildings surrounding his subjects.

It dawned on Sara that their Italian meal tonight consisted of exactly the same dishes that they had while they were with their friends one time in Venice. After that dinner, Phil left to be with a Finnish woman he had met while they were queued up for the gondola, and Sara spent that night crying in the company of friends. She doubted Phil knew about that last bit. Come to think of it, she remembered how much she hated Venice.

She realized that she had tuned out while Phil was talking. She did it again, failing to be where she was because her seemingly more important thoughts took her elsewhere.

“…Everyone says we’d make a good pair, you and I, and I’ve always just laughed at them, but now I’m thinking, this could actually work!” Sara caught Phil’s last sentence and wondered what else she’d missed, because it did not sound like an amorous proposal to her at all.

“Sara, I think we should get married!” Phil blurted out.

There was silence.

Phil put both his hands, which he had raised while exclaiming his wild proposition, on the table and moved closer to study Sara’s expression. He noticed her shaking her head quizzically. He realized he was holding his breath for her response.

Still more silence. Sara picked up her forgotten teaspoon, tasted her dessert, and swallowed carefully, all the time keeping her eyes on the floor. She was groping for the words to convey her thoughts without revealing her emotions.

Finally, after almost another eternity, she lifted up her eyes, and Phil did not like what he saw.

“That’s it?” she asked quietly.

With his mouth agape, Phil nodded vigorously, as if to emphasize how well-thought out and sensible his proposal was. Surely Sara would see the point he was making. They were perfect for each other. Courtship was no longer necessary, for as good friends they could skip that and proceed directly towards starting a family. He was surprised that she was not as excited about it as he thought she would be. He had always known she had feelings for him, for their friends told him so. He just never wanted to take advantage, until he realized he was letting go of a perfectly good opportunity.

“Why don’t you look happy, Sara?” Phil managed to ask. He was really bewildered at her reaction. He was expecting a beam, a clap, even a tear, but not this. She was being unusually silent, and that was a bad sign.

“Phil, I appreciate the effort, and thank you for considering me. Really. But I don’t agree with you. It won’t work. Not like this.”

“What do you mean, it won’t work? Two friends, of sufficient age and discretion, we have a chance to have a good life together! I’ve finally seen the light. You are the woman for me. The search is over. The End. Finito.”

He thought he saw her eyes glistening, until a tear fell, followed by several others. Sara asked to be excused but he held her hand and would not let her stand up.

“Stay with me, let’s talk about this,” he insisted. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” she said, wiping away her tears with her table napkin. “You worked me up for this night, you sent flowers to my office, making my staff giggle with excitement, you wrote a card inviting me to a candlelit dinner just the way I’ve always wanted it with you, then you made me wait when all I wanted to do was burst with anticipation, and then all you had to say was this… this madness!” She attempted to stand up again, but he gently but firmly pinned both of her hands on the table.

“Why is it madness? It is the most natural, logical, practical thing in the world! We make sense, Sara. We make a good team. Isn’t that what marriage is all about? Partnership, companionship?”

Sara looked around the table to see if they were making a scene. She was thankful that nobody seemed to notice that her part of the world was crumbling.

“Let me go, Phil.”

“What more do you want, Sara? I just asked you to marry me.”

“Yes, you did. It’s a very decent proposal, and I reiterate my gratitude. But did you have to make it sound like a contract, or an arrangement? I’m sorry but that’s not how I thought it should be.”

“There you go again, making things complicated, wanting everyone to live out the perfect little world you have going in your head. You can’t give people scripts to read from, Sara. This is a sincere offer I’m making you.”

“I’ve considered your offer and decided not to accept it. Thank you for dinner.” With that, she stood up, took her purse with her, and strode out of the restaurant. She could hear him calling out her name, but she did not slow down. She looked for a taxicab but because it had rained, she waited in vain.

Phil, who settled the bill, finally caught up with her outside. “At least let me offer you a lift home,” he said.

Sara was looking less than perfect now. Her makeup had smeared on her face. She felt a choking sadness that she could not hide from Phil. She wanted to be as far away from him as possible.

She took out her cellphone to call a friend and ask him to pick her up, but he stopped her.

“Sara, I’m here, just me, and I’m asking you to give us a chance. Forget what I said about marriage, let’s start from the beginning. Let’s get to know each other all over again. Maybe in time you’ll see that I’m right.”

She pulled out a wad of tissues and wiped her eyes. The sadness remained.

“I’ve heard all I needed to hear from you tonight, and I doubt you could say anything that would change what you’ve so clearly expressed to me.”

“Maybe I’m better off expressing myself with a kiss. I’ve never been good with words, you know that.” He walked closer to her, but she stepped back.

“Stay where you are. You know what’s even more painful than what I heard?”

“What?” he asked, totally frustrated now.

“It’s what I did not hear. Who was I kidding? I have loved you for what seems like forever, and fooled myself into believing you would one day notice me.”

Phil interrupted, “But you’re always with someone, out on dates, calling boyfriends on the phone…”

Sara just stared at the night sky that had already cleared after the torrents of rain it had produced. “What was it that Hermione said to Ron? Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!’”

“What??? You’re not making sense, Sara. I did ask you before someone else did...”

“…But this sounds like a last resort,” she added.

Phil paused to try to let that sink in.

“If thou must love me, let it be for naught, except for love's sake only,” Sara softly said. She then kissed Phil on the cheek, quickly turned around, hailed a taxi, and boarded it.

All these happened while Phil stood frozen on the spot.

It started to rain again, and still Phil did not move, not realizing his hot tears were mixing with the cold raindrops on his face.

He touched his cheek where she had kissed her. And then, he finally realized what he had forgotten to include in his entire grand master plan for the night.

He ran to the parking lot, dismissed his driver, and hoped he was not too late.

-- FINITO --

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Middle Ground (Not Middle Earth)

There are two kinds of people walking the world today: Harry Potter fans, and non-Harry Potter fans (a.k.a. Muggles in Harry's world).

The Harry Potter fans have all watched his latest movie. The Muggles have not and do not intend to. I've tried different sets of Potter fan-friends and they've all seen it, so no one is available anymore to go with me.

It's not my fault - I was there last weekend at TriNoMa but there were more people there than movie theater seats. My parents and I ended up roaming the half-unopened mall instead. I tried looking for office shoes, but went home empty-handed and terribly disappointed. I'll have to wait until the curiosity about TriNoMa dies before I can enjoy it. I happen to abhor queuing up for a parking space for close to an hour, and do not intend to do so on a weekly basis.

Back to Harry. The Last Book comes out today. As I have many friends who have pre-ordered their copies, I will just borrow from one of them once they're done reading it.

So I guess I'm a half-blood fan, after all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

MCLE Lecture Series For North America-Based Filipino Lawyers

Why Take the MCLE in LV?
  • IBP members are required to take continuing legal education to ensure that throughout your career, no matter where you are in the world, you are kept abreast with Philippine law and jurisprudence and are able to maintain your good standing in the IBP.
  • This is a golden opportunity for you to avoid being listed as delinquent members of the IBP.
  • MCLE in LV has lecturers who are considered authorities in their own fields.
  • The subjects are useful and interesting to Filipino lawyers in the North American region.
  • This could also be a form of reunion with your peers and a venue for networking.
  • MCLE in LV facilitates the processing of the MCLE compliance requirements so your Certificates of Compliance are delivered to you afterwards.
  • This was organized by Ateneo Law School CCLER and CD Asia
Fee -US$550 for whole, 36-unit course, plus 10% MCLE fee

Hurry! Register Now and avail of 5% early bird discount until August 15

Seminar Fee includes seminar kit, processing and delivery of MCLE Certificates, snacks, and coffee

Date & Time: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

on September 20-23, 2007

Venue: Palace Station Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Contact Information

Philippines -Adora

(+632) 634-3792

or 634-3793

USA -Beth

(+213) 487-8500

Monday, July 16, 2007

Isyu ng Babae

Isyu ng Babae
Ella del Rosario

Ang suwerte mo naman.

Sinamba ko ang iyong pangalan,

Hinintay kita bago ako sumakay ng MRT,

Ipinagtabi pa kita ng catsup sa McDo.

Ang labo mo naman.

Sumama ka sa ‘yong mga kaibigan.

Ano’ng gagawin ko sa catsup na ito?

At sana di ako nakipagsiksikan pauwi.

Ang tanga ko naman.

Ako ngayon ang pinagtatawanan,

Natuto raw akong magdasal at maghintay,

At hindi ka raw naman nagte-text.

Atsaka ko nalaman…

Malabo lang talaga ang mata mo,

Mahina ang pandinig,

At wala kang load.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Plea for Better Mornings

This may be an exercise in futility, but I reckon a personal blog is as good a venue as any to air out my grievances, however useless they may seem at this point.

I would like to complain about the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, specifically along Commonwealth Avenue going to QC Circle. I know, I know, hundreds, maybe thousands, of motorists simply shrug their shoulders, doze off (if they're on a public vehicle), send text messages, fix their hair, pray the rosary, prepare for their work day, and find other ways to while away the precious time that is used up while stuck on the road.

I was going to send this via Citizens' Watch of the Philippine Daily Inquirer but I could not get a good shot of the traffic jam with my cellphone while avoiding getting side-swiped by drivers who refuse to stick to their lanes. On a side note, a Nissan Sentra drove too close for comfort one day and caused my right side mirror to flap close. The good driver then nosed his way onto the space before me, oblivious to what he had just done. Sigh.

I am a tiny voice in a world used to inconveniences such as this. Still, I refuse to go quietly into the night.

Six years ago, I started driving to work. Before that, I was an MRT enthusiast. The law office I worked at was located in Pasig then and it only took me 45 minutes each morning to get to work. Since June of this year when I started going to another office in Pasig, I noticed that it took me two hours to ply the same route.

Two hours, mother? What about our other duties?

The MMDA started digging along the rightmost lane of the portion of Commonwealth from PSSC up to the former Paskong Pasiklab, before Philcoa, about a month ago, and it made our lives hell. For some reason, that construction site had affected the whole of Commonwealth up to Fairview. It didn't matter if we left our houses an our earlier than usual, the result was the same. Commonwealth always looked like a parking lot in the morning.

I could not just groan and bear it any longer. If the city government, or MMDA, or other entities responsible for that construction site could read this blog somehow, I would like you to know how terribly inconvenienced a whole lot of people are because traffic is not properly managed along that area. Surely, with some coordination among proper authorities and a little careful planning, we could avoid this traffic jam. Please do something about it.

There was even one payday Friday when, on my way to work, aside from the usual crawl along Commonwealth, I saw three road accidents, Meralco doing repairs and using up one lane along Quezon Ave. thus affecting traffic along Elliptical Road, and MMDA cutting trees in the same area. By the time I got to the office, I was already late for my meeting and utterly out of patience.

I admit that I'm not a very patient person. I still get upset when my flights get delayed, for which my friends chide me, especially at night when I worry for my safety alone in a taxicab. Somewhere in this traffic experience, I know I should learn the lessons that so many others seem to handle well. It's just that I'm going back to the corporate world after two years as a full-time mission worker.

Things like these don't exactly welcome me back to the real world with open arms.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Food Trip!

This e-mail has been making the rounds recently. After receiving it thrice, I thought it would be safe to post it here. I'd like to thank whoever had a lot of time on his/her hands to prepare this list.

Friends, it's July. We can do walking tours of Manila and go on a Binondo food trip, or we can skip the walking and proceed to...


1. Eat-all-you- can-pizza promo GREENWICH until OCT20.

2. Something fishy, (breakfast time) Eastwood Libis. 12am-10am

3. Kamay Kainan with bottomless Iced Tea, Market Market, 295/head.

4. Chinatown, Banawe QC, 400/head FULL MEAL!

5. Saisaki/DAD' s/Kamayan, 500/head

6. Dragon Prince, BF homes Pque. (Lunch Buffet) P180 per head.

7. Cabalen - all branches, P275/head.

8. RCBC Plaza Food Center, Makati 95/head (Breakfast) & 65/head merienda.

9. Blue Bay, Quirino Grandstand, 350/Head.

10. Brazil brazil - Metrowalk & Powerplant Mall (meat all you can 650/head)

11. Dimsun 'N Dumplings @ Shopwise (cubao) - Unlimited Siomai either P99 or P125 lang

12. Sweet Inspirations along katipunan, eat-all-you- can Mongolian Buffett php300/head

13. Seafood Club(Red Crab) Greenbelt3 - dinner 275/head

14. Chubby China(Greenbelt) - dimsum(fried & steamed) breakfast at 88/head. with yang chow rice, crisp noodles at single serve iced tea. order all you can lunch - 295, merienda - 88, dimsum all you can w/pancit canton, noodles and congee - sulit na 88 mo!

15. Red Crab (Greenbelt 3) - alimango-all- you-can

16. Circles, Shangri-la Makati, expensive but very large buffet!

17. Spiral, Westin Philippine Plaza, expensive din but bigger buffet than Shangri-la

18. Cravings, salad all you can Katipunan infront of Ateneo

19. Tong Yang Hot Pot, Eat all -

20. Siamese Grill, Pasta all you can, 85/head Bluewave Marquinton, Marikina

21. Tramway, Banawe, Chinese eat all you can, 160/head

22. Mongolian Stop, OJs Eastwood

23. Popeye's Chicken (seasonal)

24. Don Henricos, Eat all you can Tuesdays and Wednesdays

25. Kamay Kainan, Kalayaan Avenue, ~199/head

26. Red Kimono, The Fort, 499++/ head

27. Mandarin Palace, Ongpin, 150/head

28. Tokyo Tokyo, rice all you can (all branches)

29. Yamcha Teahouse in Timog (Lunch/Dinner Buffet Php349) (over 60 chinese dishes to choose from)

30. Aling Nene's BBQ/Ihaw, Eat all you can (Fridays & Saturdays), Magallanes, 200+/head.

31. Alba's Restaurant - Tomas Morato, Libis, Jupiter St. - Spanish cuisine -

32. Jestine's Restaurant, Jupiter Street Makati, Breakfast all you can, from 12AM to 12PM (tapa, tocino, varies) P99.00

33. Paseo, Mandarin Hotel

34. 7 Corners, Crown Plaza, Galleria

35. Heat, Shangli-la EDSA

36. karate kid (rice and drinks)

36. Cabalen (at the back of stalucia East Cainta) Eat all you can merieenda P88

37. Emperor Villa - ongpin st., binondo - lunch 180-200, dinner is seafood buffet at roastings (asado, lechon de leche) @ 350.

38. Paolo's Resto - - Kalayaan ave. QC... eat-all-you- can buffet breakfast

39. Una Mas at Greenbelt 2. Buffet lunch on weekdays and dinner (Weekends and weekdays).

40. Dad's (Glorietta) - 95 ata (basta below 100) merienda, from 3-5pm

41. Kamayan (Glorietta) - 250-300

42. Oki-Oki (MOA) - Japanese - 375 - Adult - Weekends

43. Dimsum 'n Dumplings at greenhills - 100 pesos siomai all you can

44.Tramway, Timog, Chinese eat all you can, P178/head. Located between TPC HQ and Imperial Suites (Tomas Morato)

45. Mongolian Quik-stop Robinsons Ermita, SM MOA - 198 + vat

46. Steak MD, Tomas Morato - Eat all you can Steak (TBone) -500