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.