Dear 15-Year Old Me

I’m gonna tell you something.
In 20 years, you’re going to want to celebrate your birthday with a big party.
That’s not gonna happen.

But that’s okay.

There are so many things that will not work out for one reason or another.
That’s just life.
And I know you hate it. That’s not gonna change.
But you’ll live with it. You’ll be happier that way.

And that’s exactly why I want to reach out to you from 20 years in the future.

By the time this photo was taken, you just got the speech from Papa.
He says you act like you carry the whole world on your shoulders.
And I know you’re not gonna wanna hear this: He’s right.
It’s actually pretty annoying to remember now.

But that’s okay.

You’re young. You lack perspective.
Go through this depressive rebellious phase.

Here’s the thing and it’s probably hard for you to believe right now: You’re going to come out of this funk the big winner.
Let me tell you why.


You know that novel you just started working on now based on your insecurities? Well, you’re going to end up writing three of them before you even turn 20. You’re not going to get them published (because you’re shy) but you will get a good exercise out of it.

In a couple more years after that, during a time you feel like you’re at your lowest, you’re going to hit upon an idea that will define your life’s work.
Yep, you’re still working on it 20 years down the road.
It’s taking a while but it’s going to be your biggest passion project that will give your life a little focus.
You will grow. You will learn. And this project will change as you do.
And it’s going to be an amazing journey.

In about four years, you’re going to enter college and it’s going to kick off a series of events that will unravel so many other things that you didn’t know you had in you.
Remember feeling depressed that you never won any medals?
Well, you’re going to earn one when you graduate from high school but you’ll reap plenty during your time in college - for debating.
I’m not kidding. You will learn and you’ll be good at it. Not the best but you’ll surprise yourself.
But that’s barely anything. You’ll do so many awesome things and people will look up to you.
Unbelievable, right?

Here’s something else to blow your mind: You’re going to have a career in advertising after graduation.
I know it’s hard to imagine right now because you always thought you’d end up in movies and TV or even theater.
But don’t worry: You would get plenty of chances to play around with cameras and even perform on stage every now and then.
And people are going to want to pay you for the one thing you do as effortlessly as breathing: Writing.

That’s the beauty of the life you will get to live: You will discover talents and skills that you didn’t know you had but you will never compromise your passions. You will find ways. It’s going to take a while but you will get there. Trust me. I would know.

Lastly: I want you to know that in ten years, you’re going to meet the best friends you will ever have for life.
I know it’s gonna take a while but, believe me, they’re worth the wait.
Remember how you never have anyone to talk to about Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Disney, musical theater, and everything else that you’re into?
Well, believe me, you will never want to talk about anything else once you meet them. They’re going to be the smartest and happiest people you will ever meet.
They’re going to introduce you to new worlds you didn’t even know existed, you’ll go on trips together, you’ll organize and host their weddings, and you’ll have endless game nights, quiz nights, and other fun experiences together.
They’re always going to want to celebrate your birthday in one way or another. Just last night, two of them went out of their way just to see you and treat you to some drinks (even if they don’t drink themselves). That’s how special you are to them.


So why am I telling you this?
I’d rather not change anything in our history because we might undo all our gains but I need you to know that everything is going to be okay.
I hope that this inspires you to spend the next couple of years being more productive. I know everything feels like they suck right now but, I was hoping that by sharing these with you, you’ll focus your energies on honing your craft instead.
Who knows? Maybe if you had just pursued theater as vigorously as you should have, maybe you’d be doing that now along with everything else.

So, yeah, Papa was right. If you had just let it all go, who knows what else you could have achieved.
He just passed away earlier this year, by the way. I wish I can tell you that you had a great relationship with him when he passed but that’s not case. But like I said: Things don’t always work out the way we imagined they would. And that’s okay. We learn. We live.

Bottom line: You’ll be okay!

Since I’ve already reached backwards in time to reach you, let me take this opportunity to send a message forward as well.

Dear future me: Don’t screw this up.


My Father Who Is In Heaven

Last night, I got to see the Manila production of Godspell. It's a musical that I only got acquainted with a few months ago, so it wasn't like I've been longing to see it for a while but my interest in it, I suppose, underlines what I myself and many others already know: I am forever a musical theater boy.

"All Good Gifts" - one of my favorite songs from the show.
Which brings me to the true subject of this blog.
But first an orientation for anybody who only had the pleasure in recent months of inhabiting the same space I revolve in: I write to purge myself of thoughts and feelings that otherwise would fester in my head. I find it cathartic.

I share what I write (and, by extension, my innermost thoughts) for no absolute reason than to draw attention to myself. I wouldn't be sharing them if I didn't think the story wouldn't be worth someone else's time. And stories are, after all, what I live for. Just check out my new Twitter profile.

Papa took me to my first trip to Canada in 1997.
So, on to this story.

My dad passed away last March.
Yes, it's been months.

In all that time, I've been trying to write this very blog.

In all that time, I've been trying to figure out how I really felt about him being gone.

I suppose I should feel regret.

Dad lived and, subsequently, died in Los Angeles surrounded by his first family, so he was well taken care of. To contextualize my place in the structure of his families (not a typo), that makes me a contender for tomorrow's Bastardbowl.

His very last message. So much for that, I guess.
A month before he passed, he was in town. He wanted to see me in one of those weekends he was here.

I couldn't indulge him.

I had work.

I suppose I should feel regret that I put my job first over seeing my father one last time. I didn't even give myself time to grieve. There were just too many things to do.

Yet while your first thought may have been "what a tragedy", mine was "wow, what a cliché".

And I hate that. It doesn't make for a good story.

No, that's not what I regret.

Having sorted through how I really feel these past few months, my only regret was that I don't think he ever really knew how angry I am.

Not because he didn't love me. For all his faults, the man always did believe he loved his children, even the bastards. That much I know.

Not because he didn't believe in me. For all that he verbalized his disappointment in almost everything I do, the man always did think I could do great things - even if I didn't think so. That much I know.

No, I'm angry because the last time I did get to see him, he made me feel like shit. He screamed at me and scolded me for the randomest things - in public and, most of the time, in front of his first wife and their children.

And here's the piece de resistance: The man - a serial womanizer who had fathered more than ten children - found it "abnormal" when I told him I associate more as asexual. Gee, dad. What's normal then? Spreading your seed around and leaving a trail of heartbreaks and bastards on your path?

Growing up, in the very rare instances that I got to see him, I remember that this was always his thing. It got so bad that I never wanted to see him anymore.

I thought he had mellowed down these past few years and being able to talk to him had been a smoother process. I thought he was finally seeing me as an adult - even if I felt otherwise.

Yet, there it was. The longest and most awkward five days in LA. The only thing I associate the city with.


I suppose that I regret having lost the chance to rectify the situation. That whenever I think of him now, that's the first feeling that jump out of my chest.


Maybe I regret missing the chance to tell him to his face how angry he made me. Maybe he would've offered an apology. Maybe my last memory of him wouldn't have been that.


So many could-have-beens. Such a cliché.‎ I hate that. It doesn't make for a good story.

The good news is that my dad's part in my story is far from over, at least I'd like to think so. It's an open-ended conclusion, as it were.

Even as I write this, I find myself getting less and less angry. I've also come to the conclusion that I probably won't miss his presence in my life. I won't miss seeing his face next time I come to LA. I won't miss his voice most of all.

I will remember him, though, whenever I think about my passions. He got me my first comic book and took me to my very first musical theater show. I can't give the man too much credit for everything I turned out to be but I'll give him those. It may sound shallow to hear but I met my best friends in life because I had an interest in them. Papa made a good call on that one and I'll be forever grateful.

And so I bookmark my father's chapter in my story but I move on.
No more anger.
No more regret.
And no more clichés.
Not even a dopey father's day greeting to signify the occasion.


Avengers: Age of Ultron Is For Me!

Yesterday, I was checking out the Avengers Experience at SM North EDSA when an evil thought occured to me: These plebians taking selfies with the life-size displays shouldn't be here. I literally heard someone exclaim "Pa-picture tayo dito. Sino ba yan?" (Translation: "Let's take a photo with this guy even if we don't know who it is") Then rushed over to the gigantic statue of Ultron!

In that instant, I got mad.
You pedestrians don't deserve this.

Behind the Ultron statue was the banner featuring the characters. I didn't expect it but I got emotional the moment I saw it. I've seen the images online more than once but seeing them printed and displayed is something else. Here in front of me were the characters I've been a fanboy of for 15 years. It's ridiculous really but in that instant I was happy again.

If you don't know this guy, you are not worthy!
Then the muggles started taking selfies in front of the banner. Not only did these inconsiderate pricks see me trying to snap a photo of the banner but proceeded to do their thing anyway, these people also didn't know these characters like I do.

I guess that's my problem. There is a part of me that was happy that the Avengers is getting the kind of attention it never would've received ten years ago but at the same time, I feel like none of it was for big fans like me who stuck with the team back in the days when X-men and Spider-man were all the rage.

Man tears for this.
And I'm not just talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I've blogged about how I feel like the current comics isn't for me anymore. Even Avengers Assemble the TV show doesn't feel like it was made for me.

It sucks. I felt like my fandom has betrayed me and neglected to reward me for all my years supporting the franchise.

And then Age of Ultron happened.

For the first time in a long while, I finally feel like something with an "Avengers" branding was trying to appeal to me. And it succeeded in every possible it can. Here were nine Avengers and their most lethal arch-nemesis yet. Here were the Avengers doing exactly what I want to see them do: Be super heroes. None of that real world allegorical drama bullshit that so often permeates modern super hero movies to give them added "depth".

Of course, there were several creative liberties that had to be taken for the transfer from panel to celluloid but that's to be expected and they were necessary. Everything worked so all is forgiven on that front.

I should also point out that since seeing the movie last night, I've read several reviews already, most of them negative. They derided the movie for not making sense in the bigger narrative of the MCU. They also questioned the necessity of the new characters. Screw that! As far as I'm concerned, I saw MY AVENGERS kicking ass on screen and that's all that matters. Besides, only two movies really matter to me anyway: This one and the first, nothing before or in between. Taken in that context, then the movie makes narrative sense.

Honestly, there is no way I can convince anyone else that Age of Ultron is the best thing ever. And I don't intend to. You had to see the movie with my tear-filled eye. Watching the movie evoked in me the same feeling of happiness I associate with watching Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It felt to me like the first time I saw Ultimate Avengers. It felt like the first time I read Operation: Galactic Storm and Kang Dynasty, which are my favorite Avengers epics of all time. Heck, watching the movie felt again like reading the very issue that got me hooked into earth's mightiest to begin with.

In short: Age of Ultron may not have been a great MCU movie but it's a great Avengers movie! What's more is that it's an Avengers movie that felt like it was made FOR ME! There's no way I can be objective about it and I don't want to be. The Avengers is mine again!

Thank you, Joss Whedon, for this gift!


Weekly Ketchup 52 - The End

This has been a week of endings for me.

One of my favorite hosts on YouTube announced he's leaving SourceFed. I got to watch the final seasons of Legend of Korra and the Newsroom, both of which I just started watching this year. Meanwhile, my mom lost a friend and my cousins lost their belongings to thieves. This is also the last entry on the weekly ketchup.

Party last Sunday with great friends.
Pic c/o Jovan
Now for the breakdown:

The week started with Joe Bereta announcing that the next couple weeks will be his last on SourceFed. I've been following the channel since around 2012. It has been my constant source of entertainment news and of some of the crazy ass news I share on my Facebook. It's gonna be sad to see him go but I wish him well.

As I've mentioned before, I prefer my fantasy in vanilla flavor, so I never really liked the science and technology aspect of Legend of Korra. Unfortunately, it's even more pronounced in the last season, what with all the mechs and all, which kinda makes sense since the enemy here is not just earth-benders but an army of metal-benders. I would've preferred them use metal-bending to power and control their mechs, similar to what the water-benders have done with submarines in The Legend of Aang. I also feel like the stakes weren't as high as they were in the first couple of seasons. I feel like the battle with Vaatu would've been a better series-ender. And that final scene! Where did that come from?! Don't get me wrong: I don't hate it - I just didn't see the build-up to it.

As for the Newsroom, I feel like there's very little in the final season about covering a story (or stories), which kinda bums me out. It's like the personal struggles of the characters were put forward instead, which made the story less compelling for me to watch. I also wasn't a big fan of the sudden marriage proposal from last season and I certainly wasn't a big fan of how they thought to add to that story in their final season. I didn't like that Dev Patel was absent for most of it but I did like that one of the main characters died. It was the ideal context for an ending, I thought. Then again, no matter what I thought of everything else about the show, it's still the dialog that hooks me in. I still wish there were more seasons of the show though!

Meanwhile, one of my mom's oldest and closest friends, someone who I've also had the pleasure of meeting, passed away yesterday after a bout with cancer. My mom helped with her medical finances, so I can just imagine how much her friend's passing must've pained her. I thought: Is this what she's got to look forward to now? Friends dropping by the wayside? Of course, I remembered that "the culling" has already begun in my generation and, as much as it pains us, we have to just accept that it is a part of life - and the best that we can do is simply to live out what time we have with each other the best we can, which should really go without saying, but it does bear reminding.

On Christmas Day, the cousins and their kids and me and my siblings went out of town to this privaate resort in Laguna. It was supposedly a despedida for me, back when everyone thought I was leaving for good, so I didn't have any idea about what they planned to do. I didn't know it was gonna be out of town nor that we were gonna be staying overnight. I kinda felt awkward about the whole thing since I was coming back (this time anyway) and I was having one of those episodes I talked about last week, so I didn't get to enjoy the pool as much as I wanted to. The kids were having the time of their lives, though, which was good enough for me. So all was well - until we were robbed. Two masked men came in through one of the locked doors in the room the women were staying in and took their bags, which had all their phones and money (including the ones I gave as Christmas gifts). My niece, who was awake at the time, managed to scream and alert everyone else, so the robbers had to flee right away, sparing the other rooms, including mine.

I'm really grateful for my niece because if not for her, the robbers would've crept into me and my brother's room and took our stuff, which would've included my spiffy new camera that I'm also bringing on my trip.

The family. The morning after the robbery.
And now about the trip. And this blog.

Originally, I had intended for this entry to be the last entry, as the "goodbye" blog as I embark on a new adventure. It would've been a nice ending to this year and this little project of mine, as well as my life here in the country.

Well, pieces don't always fall where they should and here I am leaving on a trip for which I'm still coming back for. To be fair, I am proud of what I've accomplished this year. I did it. I stuck through with blogging bits and pieces of my life every week. More importantly, I stuck through with my crusade to save money and so here I am. Hooray me!

Christmas Eve with the orphans
There is a part of me that's a little anxious and excited about the prospects of what I might accomplish in the next month, which should be expected, I guess. For the next 30 or so days, I'm just gonna be a wanderer, not so much a tourist. I intend to write and still be productive with my projects while I'm gone and not making money (I'll actually be losing money, come to think of it).

However, I don't think I'll regret not pushing through with the bigger plan, or at least I'll have to keep convincing myself that: a) I've done it once, I can do it again; and b) My friend only gets married once. Actually, scratch that. I meant I'll probably only be a groomsman once in my life and so I have to be there. It sucks that I bought a ticket that couldn't have been rebooked instead but I'll take what I can get. Life is, after all, too short to spend on regrets.

Last night with high school friends
Pic c/o Anya
So I'm gonna go on this flight, which leaves in a few hours, and enjoy myself, broke-ass traveler I would likely be. Thank you all who followed my drama, comedy, and adventures on this blog this past year. I'm sorry I wasted your time every week, but this is the last episode. Goodbye, all! See you when I do!

Behind-the-scenes at the pre-nup shoot I helped marshal earlier today.
I thought it would be a thematic to end the blog with the reason my story here isn't done yet.


Weekly Ketchup 51 - The Holiday Special

On more than one occasion on this very blog, I mentioned feeling bloated or not feeling well, both very vague references to seemingly fleeting physical conditions. In reality, however, and this is something I haven't talked or written extensively about, I haven't been feeling okay in years!

Yes, years.

There have been days when I would wake up exhausted even after a long night's rest. Or whole days when I would feel so tired even if I haven't done anything remotely physically challenging. My bowel movement have also been frantic to say the least. Without getting into the disgusting TMI details, I'll just say that it's been affecting my ability to get to work and meet other appointments on time, which is the biggest reason I found it troubling. Sometimes I would also feel some pain or, at the very least, a sensation in my gut that were alien to me. It's not debilitating but it's enough to get me paranoid.

Yes, most of the time, even if I don't show it, I'm not feeling all that well. That heavy bloated feeling has become a normal thing for me, though I surprise myself that I can still maintain the energy to be hyperactive, which is also normal. So my consolation is that I'm not unwell enough that I'm unable to enjoy my usual activities. I've also lived with it for years and while I haven't normalized or gotten better, I also haven't gotten worse.

Yes, I've had myself checked. Multiple times, in fact.
The first instance of fire in my gut, way back in 2007, the doctors didn't find anything significantly wrong with me. A routine check-up in 2008 showed everything about me was normal. When I had my appendectomy in 2011, doctors didn't find anything else wrong down there. A few months later, in 2012, during another routine check-up, the only thing my doctor found was an enlarged goiter, symptomatic of thyroid problems, which I was given medication for.

Earlier this year, when I set about saving money, one of the other goals I had, in addition to flying away, was to set aside some amount to getting checked again. It became even more important given the recent spate of friends dying.

I never talked about it but, in my head, I was worried that they'd find some enlarged organ and I would need to be operated on. Worse yet: That I only have a short time left. Yes, my head can get that busy sometimes, especially on days when I was the feeling the worst. I even thought that this very entry, the second to the last of my weekly catch-up, would be where I would announce that I'm about to face the biggest challenge of my life: Fighting for it.

Well, if you've been following my blog long enough, you'd know that one of the recurring themes is that my stories don't necessarily reach its logical conclusion because life is just like that. And for once, I'm glad that it didn't.

This past week, after saving up enough money, I finally went and got the check-up I desperately need. After analysis of my blood and "other samples" plus chest X-ray and abdominal ultrasound, it was found that most of my indicators fall within normal parameters! All organs seem to be intact - no growth, enlargement, or foreign objects whatsoever

My doctor, however, advised me to lay off coffee, which I've been drinking a lot of, using it as a laxative, because we're trying to eliminate ulcer as the source of all my gut problems. I've been given medication and was advised to go on a heavy fiber diet. We've also ruled out any mass growing in my lower extremities, so that's a relief. I'm not gonna get into the "how" but just know that there's nothing there to worry about.

There's still the matter of my thyroid problems, which I still have as it turned out. Curiously, my previous doctor said my thyroid functions were "hyper" but this doctor said I'm "hypo". Odd but I'll just have to trust the diagnosis. I've been given another set of medication for it but not as intensely as the one I had before.

The thing is, though, I spent the equivalent of approximately $200 on the tests, consultation, and prescribed medicines, which obviously is going to cut into the budget I was saving for my trip, which wasn't much to begin with. Because of this, I won't be able to buy some new stuff I would like to bring with me, like a new camera or a new phone, but it did afford me something priceless: Peace of mind.

That I can tell my friends that I'm okay for the most part and perfectly capable of facing whatever it is that pains me. That nobody has to count me out just yet because I'm still gonna rock it for years to come (if the fates allow, that is). That, I think, is a gift in itself. Happy holidays, everyone!


Weekly Ketchup 50 - Busy Week

I thought last week was busy but I was wrong!
I've been out every day this past week for one reason or another.

Monday night was spent at home, worrying and prepping for the upcoming onslaught of typhoon Hagupit, which didn't happen thankfully.

Tuesday night was spent at the wake of the mom of geek friends Carl and Isab at Manila Memorial Park. Rej, Chiqui, Shey, Oneal, Mark P., and I went, though for obvious reasons, no photo of the group was taken. Me being me, I did think about it the entire time we were there. I just wasn't sure if it was appropriate. (Though now that I'm writing this, I remember that the college friends had a photo taken during the wake of one of our own just earlier this year.)

Anyway, it was good to see Carl again. I haven't seen the guy for at least a couple of years, though we still maintain contact over Facebook. He and his sister were in surprisingly good spirits, attending to us and regaling us with stories of their more emotional relatives and how their mom was such a big fan of showbiz that she would prefer getting buried in a plot near where some celebrities were.

After the visit, the rest of us went out for cold treats at Iceberg's, at which point it would've been perfectly fine to take a photo of the group but I didn't so here's a photo of what I had instead.

Photo credit
Wednesday was Hobbit Day! The Battle of the Five Armies had its premiere and I got to don my Ori costume again, which I hadn't even laundered because of the whole typhoon thing. Me and my friends have been dressing up as the dwarven company for the past three years now and helping Warner Bros. Philippines pretty much spruce up their media premiere for the trilogy, posing for photos and interacting with their guests.

I almost didn't make it to the screening, though, because Manila is such a magical place that at certain times, the population of the city seems to triple and what should normally take an hour's ride would expand to three hours! It's ridiculous! I was flashing back to events two weeks ago and was even contemplating on just going home.

Well, thankfully, I decided to trudge on. I made it to the movie just in time to put my costume on. I didn't get to take photo ops until afterwards though.

As for the movie itself, I felt like it could've been cut down to half. It was action-packed, to be sure, and the battle scenes were majestic at that but it was dragging at parts, especially Tauriel's scenes (let's not even get started on her lines). I felt like the ending was a little rushed and one character I expected to have longer screen time was demoted to a glorified cameo. However, I thought the scenes connecting to the Lord of the Rings were incredible! It reminded me of the excitement I felt upon seeing the Imperial Star Destroyers in Revenge of the Sith!

Photo c/o Jovan.
The following night, despite not feeling well the entire day, I made sure to attend Deus Sex Machina 2 at Boho Sarapsody Bistro. I missed the first one and was curious as to what the event was all about. It was basically amateur erotica reading but most of it was humorous. My college friend Denice, for example, read her composition about pop stars, girl groups, and boy bands of the 90s. A bunch of the regulars at Geek Fight were there as well as the regulars at Boho. It was a fun evening but I only got to drink once and had to leave as soon as the program was over (way before midnight) because of the whole not-feeling-thing.

Something I said to Denice got me thinking though. I mentioned to her how the readings got me "hot and bothered", which, in hindsight, might not have been the right choice of words. I didn't think I was aroused in anyway but I was stimulated, which, I think, was the purpose of the night anyway. She was flabergasted at the idea because she thought me asexual, and I don't blame her. Just a couple of weeks ago, I told college friend M that I probably am. I even blogged about it a couple of months ago. Sorta.

However, I don't know that not being capable of getting attracted to someone else means not getting stimulation at all, even at the most whimsical scenarios. Maybe I just have a vivid imagination. Or maybe I'm just aroused by the idea... or the story. I've often said how I seem perfectly capable of feeding of other people's emotions, particularly happiness or excitement. Maybe other people getting attracted to each other is what gets me off.

The following night, Friday, was the company Christmas party. I'm not really a big fan of the people I work with. Not that I hate them. I'm just not big on the idea of spending time with them on a casual basis. So I busied myself with karaoke, vodka, and Instagramming the funky glasses at the bar. Highlight of the night was reaching my whistle register while singing Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You" with a female officemate.

Yesterday, I was at another trooping with the Philippine Garrison of the 501st Legion, this time helping spread holiday cheer to the kids confined at the Philippine Children's Medical Center. We gave away toys and interacted with the patients, taking a few photos. As always, my duty was to help the troopers get dressed and snap photos and videos of the event, though I used someone else's equipment.

I don't think I'll ever get used to the sight of kids fighting for their lives. Some of these kids are fighting cancer. Some are in worse conditions. Some are just babies.

It's a good thing I had to be zooming in and out of rooms, chasing troopers, making sure I got good shots of everybody, because I don't think I can just stand there and be idle. I've helped in similar charities before with the same people and I still can't imagine how any of my friends can stay in character and even offer words of encouragement. I can't imagine it gets easier for them considering they do these sorts of activities more than I do.

Photo by me, from Sharm Macalua's album
In happier children news, earlier today was the first birthday of my college friend Germie's daughter. I was actually surprised to get invited since we're not particularly close (I didn't even know she was pregnant until she gave birth) but I made sure to go. After all, I did preach about making time for friends and I really treat it like such an honor to be invited to these things, especially since I wasn't particularly popular with my classmates during the college years. I guess I've come a long way, huh?

Aside from the classmates, there were a few batchmates I knew as well. It was always good to catch up about where they are now and what they'e doing. At some point, Albert mentioned that we've now approached that age where instead of endless parties, we're now attending weddings and children's birthday parties. I say: Bring it on. Any excuse to get together is a good thing. Just don't let it be funerals please!

So that's been my week. It's been very eventful. I'm seriously looking forward to a quiter week ahead, despite the mad holiday rush. I'm also beginning to plan out my itinerary for my upcoming big trip. And wow! I can't believe I only have two weeks left in this blog exercise!


Weekly Ketchup 49 - This Week In My Social Life

Wow, I've been busy.

A couple of days ago, I attended another wedding of  another college friend. Nicolai, actually, is someone I had known much earlier, having gone to the same high school our senior year. We were enrolled in the same home study program and would often see each other in campus from time to time, so it was a bit surprising that we'd end up going to the same school, taking the same course, and being assigned the same class in college. Other than that, we have pretty much nothing else in common and there's very little that we can talk about. The one strongest memory I had of her during college was that time I made her cry after I non-chalantly hurled an expletive at her direction during a class recitation.

I did get to know her a bit more after college, though. I found out that this girl has got spunk and an appetite that can best me. She's also got a strong talent for business and sales that I actually wish I had. And underneath that pretty face is a tough, take-charge personality, someone with street smart and who knows how to navigate her way through life.

I didn't really get to know her now-husband Tristan as well as  I maybe should have, so it still came as a surprise to me that I was even invited at all. I'd like to thank them both for including me on their special day and for bringing the college friends together. It's an amazing experience to end the year with these guys for such a lovely occasion considering we pretty much started it bidding farewell to one of our own.

Fortunately, I made it just in time for the ceremony - unlike last week. I got to shoot some videos, including the bride's walk, which I just finished compiling a few hours ago and is currently uploading.

As for the reception, there are three things that will stand out for me:

First, I got to sing "Don't Stop Believing" with another college friend, Lora, who's actually a professional theater actress in the States. That was an amazing experience!

Second, I got to dance and drink practically non-stop. I woke up the next day without body pains or a hangover. Yeah, I felt like 17 again! It was awesome!

Third, another college friend (name withheld deliberately, though it should be obvious among our common friends), in an inebriated state of mind, told me something that got me thinking. Apparently, I am one of three members of our college group who's got a calming presence and that this friend somehow finds zen and serenity (my words) whenever any of us are around.

I had no idea I can possibly have this effect on anyone. I certainly have never internalized it but I'm glad I can be this to someone else. I mean, I have always striven to give off this air of positivity about me - that much I'm self-aware of - but to be able to affect someone else in such a strong manner? That's news to me and it's a wonderful feeling!

Karen Ang's costume-bowling birthday party last Wednesday.
Guess who I am.
Also: I can still bowl (a bit) apparently.
In other news:

A few days ago, I tried to get a salary loan from SSS through their online portal only to find out the HR of our company, despite being registered, hasn't logged into our employer's account for a while and had forgotten our account details. Hence, all salary loans from the company are coursed the old-fashioned way: Through forms and endless lines at the nearby SSS office. And so my application is stalled.

What bothered me most about the whole exchange was the HR and my fellow employees' attitude about the whole thing and other things that relate to online transactions or technology. I'm living in 2014 and these people are stuck in the 90s. I decided then that it's seriously time for a change. I mean, I was gonna quit anyway when I decided to leave the country but now that I'm coming back, I realized I can't go back to the same company. I can't be dragged down by dead weights who refuse to roll with the rest of the tide. I seriously wanna be around people who are at least more cosmopolitan.

Game night with the Boni peeps last night.
I couldn't stay long, though, cause I had chores to do.
In totally random news:

I've also been feeling a little tired and bloated the entire day. It's been one whole week of eating, thanks to a birthday party, a wedding, and, just last night, a little get-together with some geek friends. And this is just the beginning. I hope this doesn't cause me any problems.

And just a little update about this story, our house help has once again left, which means more work for me to do here in the house, which is why this blog is kinda late. I had to get some chores done in addition to not feeling all that well and editing last my video from last Friday.

Anyway, I'll just leave at that. I'm really sleepy.


Weekly Ketchup 48 - The Day I Cried At A Wedding

No, it's not what you think.

First of all, there are three things you need to understand.

a) Marriage, for me, is a legal contract and a human construct. I'm highly suspect of the religious aspect of the whole exercise and I'm sure people are quite capable of staying committed to each other forever without getting society's expectations involved.

Yes, the lovely sentiments behind weddings is lost on me. But I do enjoy the pomp and pageantry of it all. And there's a certain pathos about seeing my friends happy. I may not be much of a believer (maybe being born a bastard out of wedlock had most to do with); however, seeing my friends light up and happy on the biggest day of their life just does it for me.

Call it empathy. But it's there. It's also the same as being happy for other fandoms, which happens to me a lot.

Me being me, I also enjoy the fact that some people regard me highly enough to invite me to their special day.

My collection of invitations by geek friend Jovan.
b) The second thing I need to share is that, while I don't do it professionally (and I certainly don't deserve to), I shoot videos and photos of my friends' weddings. I've been doing it since I got my first camcorder a few years ago and I'm proud of the work I've done, rank amateur that I am.

Yes, I'm aware that couples hire official videographers and photographers to document their special event, which is why I stay way from their range of vision - so I don't mess up their shots. Yeah, I'm respectful like that.

As late as last year, all of my "wedding coverages" have been shot in standard definition, so I was really looking forward to shooting my college friend Jihan's wedding last Friday in High-Def with my swanky new camera.

c) Speaking of Jihan, she just happens to be one of my oldest friends - one of the first I made friends with back in freshman year, in fact. Over the course of our collegiate life, we both figured into pretty much the same activites, including debating and student politics. Actually, I had intended to leave the student government after being disenchanted with the system on my first year but then she was recruited into my party, without my knowledge, and was made to run for office and eventually won. I figured I can't leave her there and so I stayed to help. Halfway through our sophomore year, when I reasoned that she was gonna be okay, I finally left the student council to focus on debating, which was her thing.

I made it as far as I could with debating (won a few medals) but she made varsity. I went back to student politics and by the time we were seniors, we're the head of our respective organizations. Funny how that worked out.

Graduation with junior members of our political party
Yet, we couldn't be more different people. She goes to gigs. I go to conventions. We read totally different books and listen to totally different music. She found her tribe with the debaters and I've always envied their closeness. I won't lie: I really wanted to belong with that group, but even I have to admit how much of an acquired taste I can be. Yet Jihan remained my friend throughout all of it.

It would be years after graduation before I found my tribe with the geeks. And a few more years after that when our circles would intertwine - when Jihan met War who I had previously met among the geeks years before. Funny how that worked out again.

At the Yale Party with Dante
It's an amazing friendship really, even if we don't see each other as often as we do our respective "tribes". The day War brought her to the annual Yale party and introduced her to everybody, I pretty much told her how I felt about the geeks and how it compares to her and the debaters. That was the night I infamously referred to her as "two of my closest friends from college" after she jokingly got offended when I introduced as just "one of my closest friends".

With War, I thought she had struck a good match. Somebody who was just as educated and eloquent (not too mention as good-looking) as she was. And that he runs with the crowd I really hold dearest to me, it's a no-brainer. I'm all for it!

With War on my 30th birthday!
Last year, he told Jihan I looked great for 32!
Yep, I approve this guy!
So you can imagine how important this girl is to me and how I was never gonna miss her wedding for the world. I had to ask her earlier this year before they even announced or finalized their wedding date to make sure that I would still be here for her big day and worked my plans around it (for those keeping count, yeah, this is the first time a good friend's wedding has derailed me). She even asked me for advice months ago about the ballooning number of guests and I had to remind her that it's her and War's day, not anyone else's, so they invite who they want and who they can - unless the parties that insist on adding more names to the guest list are also sponsoring a few extra plates.

You can imagine how much I was looking forward to her wedding. I was gonna dress my best (that doesn't happen very often, mind you). I was gonna bring my new camera and do what I love to do.

My camera's amazing. Love this shot!
Except that I didn't make it to the ceremony on time. I arrived at the last 15 minutes. I was able to catch the kiss but I was so tired that my hands were unsteady, so my footage was a little shaky.

What the fuck happened?

First, I spent way more time playing Dungeon Village, which is admittedly my fault, but damn! If there's another thing you need to know about me, is that I love strategy, simulation, and fantasy RPGs, and that this game is all three and it works on my phone? Well, you can imagine why disaster would strike.

But even then, I had an hour to get to a church that was just 20 to 30 minutes away by cab and that's a conservative estimate! I still had plenty of time to socialize and shoot footage.

Well, if you've been following me on social media, you know what happened. It was just lucky me that apparently last Friday was also one of the dates the MMDA had advised would be hellish on traffic.

So, yeah, there was a moment during the reception at Jihan's wedding when I had to just step outside and let it out. I was so disappointed at myself that I couldn't have done more for "two of my closest friends".

The bride told me I looked great. I'm good!
I still enjoyed everything, to be sure. The food was great, the program was totally chill, and of course, the company of college friends, debaters, and some geek friends (basically, our common circles) made sure I had a great time despite the crappy time I had getting there earlier. I still shot some great footage of the reception though. I just finished editing them and it's currently uploading.

I just really wish I had been there to see her and shoot her walking down the aisle.