Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Countdown Begins

Tic-toc-tic-toc.

You have 9 hours.

It’s now Sunday, December 31, 2006 here in Manila. New Year’s Eve.

Kids are already throwing firecrackers in the street, dads are calculating how much they’re going to spend in fireworks, and moms are busy shopping for polka-dot clothes and ANY round fruit they can find.

No worries. It’s all good. Never mind that firecrackers are unsafe and a handful of people (mostly children) are rushed to the emergency room with mangled hands every year. Never mind that people are wasting a sizeable portion of their year’s earnings for fireworks that will only light up for a few seconds. Never mind the stress, the hassle, of scouring for 12 assorted round fruits in a crowded wet market. Never mind that you look like a clown on a polka-dot blouse. Nevrmind all the touble (except for the mangled hands. I always imply a no firecracker rule in my family). It’s New Year’s Day. It only happens once a year anyway.

Largely influenced by Chinese Feng Shui, Filipinos have a template for celebrating New Year. We light up firecrackers, honk our car horns, bang metal drums, pots and pans and make all kinds of noise (when all things above aren’t available, you can just scream at the top of your lungs) when the clock hits 12 to drive away evil spirits. We wear polka-dotted clothes and adorn our homes with anything round, hang grapes on our window sills, and create a centerpiece out of 12 assorted round fruits on the table (because “round” symbolizes coins or money) for prosperity. Some vertically-challenged people jump, hoping they’ll gain a few inches to their height in the coming year. Yes, even adults.

We do all this things, and a lot of other quirky practices, because even if we’re not Chinese, we are faithful. We are believers, not to be mistaken as gullible. Besides, like we always say, “Wala namang mawawala eh” (“There’s no harm in trying anyway”).

No harm indeed, except for the mangled limbs.

Ooops, 8 hours. Time to dig into the vault and look for my red polka-dot boxers.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2007 bring you and your family PEACE, LOVE & PROSPERITY!

Here’s my

GIFT

to you. (Make sure your speakers are on)

Cheers!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My First Meme

Rookie alert!

Ok. I don’t know how memes work. Hell, I even thought at first that it’s pronounced as me-me or mey-mey). Anyway, I saw this one from Pepper and it caught my interest. Needless to say, I asked her permission to copy it as a personal reference, and she said yes, and that I can post it so she can see what I have written in bold. So I’m posting it below. I don’t know if she has tagged me (what’s a tag anyway? How do you know if you’ve been tagged?), but it’s been fun to do. So here it is. Thanks, Pepper. Don't worry, I'm no elf-killer

Rules – copy the list and bold face the items you’ve done. Wait for some comments then answer the questions.


01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Driven anything over 100 MPH
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (I had a near death experience before when I got hospitalized for Hypokalemia. My whole body was paralyzed and I couldn’t breathe because of pneumonia, so I didn’t sleep, fearing that I won’t be able to wake up.)
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (school project)
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
(I have amazingly low threshold on alcoholic drinks)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon.
34. Ridden a roller coaster

35. Hit a home run (school practice)
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer (still do)
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing (It ain’t that steep but hey, it sure is rocky).
49. Midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow and a goat too
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class (Arnis in college)
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie (a short documentary)
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days (Hospital food doesn’t count as food, ok?)
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music (a demo for our rock band)
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (still raising)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking (always)
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication (Manila Bulletin)
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
(consolation prize for The Quiz Bee, I was only 10 then)
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
(again, hospital)
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fish)
137. Skipped all your school reunions (never been to any)
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office (does school council count?)
140. Written your own computer language (basic HTML)
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's over.

It’s now 37 minutes past midnight here in Manila. December 26, 2006.

It’s official. Christmas is finally over. Gone. Kaput. The end.

The in-laws have left. And so did the pesky carolers. The rib eye steak, the waldorf salad and pasta carbonara are now a thing of the past along with the Fiesta ham and ube halaya (purple yam). By the time I’m writing this, all that’s left in the fridge are a half-empty bottle of Chiraz, some chocolate-chip cookies and Washington red apples. Thank God there’s no fruitcake.

And so it goes.

Another countdown begins. 364 days to go ‘till Christmas 2007. Time to shed off the extra calories gained and write the mandatory annual New Year’s resolutions. It’s also during this time that people begin pondering, “I wonder what’s waiting for me next year?” “Will I finally meet Mr. Right?” “Will I finally get my break?” “Can we survive?” “What to do with this damn fruitcake?” Questions that are often kept inside and are somehow, almost always, answered by well-wisher’s clich├ęs. One friend even had the answer for everything with a single text message. It reads, “Merry Christmas! May you have a lot of food to eat, a prosperous career, a blooming love life, and a successful new year”. Well, almost everything except the fruitcake.

What lies ahead maybe uncertain, but it is with this uncertainty that life becomes a year-long challenge. Christmas may now be over, gone, along with the text barrage of well-wishers, friends and relatives spreading good tidings, Christmas trees, mistletoes and tinsels back into storage, but the prospect of waiting for 364 days before it’s here once again is proof that people have faith.

The faith that even if we don’t get what we want in the year 2007, even if Mr. Right doesn’t come along and job promotions doesn’t happen, even if we barely survived, there’s always 364 more days to look forward to. It’s human nature. We climb and fall. We leap. We hope. We wait.

For 364 days.

And so, to my friends and family and fellow bloggers, I hope you get what you want this Christmas and the coming New Year. In case you don’t, here’s a message from the bottom of my heart:

“Merry Christmas! May you have a lot of food to eat, a prosperous career, a blooming love life, and a successful new year!”

I still don’t have an answer to that fruitcake though.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wow



That’s all I can say. Wow.

It’s now officially less than 24 hours away before Christmas. That time of year. Where everyone’s jolly and merry and spreading good cheer. It never really hit me until now. Have I been working that hard?

Wow. It's been a week of rants and raves.

I rant.

I have been working like a sheep dog this past few days, been pulling overtime, chasing never-ending deadlines and trying to balance family life with daily brainstorming sessions and client presentations. The fact that it’s almost the holidays makes it even worse. Nonetheless, I have no choice. And so, I toiled, leaving behind two rascals with the Playstation during their holiday vacation, a spouse clamoring for a shopping chauffeur, and two toy poodles begging for a yuletide groom.

I have squeezed my brain of all its juice and worked my ass off. I have endured 3 hour sleeps and 3 hour travels. I have hustled, bustled and dazzled clients in looong presentations. All in the 2rd week of December. I have undergone corporate apocalypse while most people fight their way to the last pair of jeans on a midnight sale. I have, lamentably and disappointingly, left the Midnight Oil flickering, burning slowly on its last flame. I never knew what to expect when I return. I, for sure, thought that it’s the end. But…

Wow.

I have worked hard and now I am reaping my rewards. And what wonderful rewards awaited me. What astounding accolades. What pride. What gratitude. What joy.

I rave.

A couple of days ago, one of the most prestigious award-giving bodies in the Philippine advertising industry proclaimed the winners of the 2006 Araw Values Award, awarding chosen local advertisements in print, radio and TV based on creativity, and the following cornerstone values:

  1. Love of God and respect for religious beliefs.
  2. Commitment to truth, honesty and justice.
  3. Love of country and respect for national customs and traditions.
  4. Reverence for family unity and the inviolability of marriage.
  5. Respect and care for human life and dignity and the rights of all.
  6. Respect for law and authority and the promotion of self-discipline.
  7. Concern for and preservation of environment.

The criteria? 45% values message. 45% creative excellence, and 10% credibility.

I had 4 entries from my previous ad agency. All of which won.

Wow.

Winning a creative award is special. Bagging a Clio, Ney York Ad fest, One Show pencil or a Cannes Lions prove that you are up there, in the higher echelon of creative geniuses. Sure. But winning a Values award means that you are not only creative with your work, but you are also sending out a message of hope, truth, unity, respect and aim to uplift human morals and principles. You be the judge. Which one takes harder work?

My entries were mostly TV and radio ads. The client, Manila North Luzon Tollways Corporation, is a private developer of public highways and infrastructures. The project is the newly renovated North Luzon Expressway. I could tell you more about the project and bore you to death with the details but let’s just say that the ads promote road safety and responsbile driving, and show how a highway’s makeover can change the lives of the motorists, and give the country's economy a much needed lift.

And then, there’s another.

Fearing that my newly-found blogging friends got turned off by seeing the same post over and over every time they visit my blog, I recently visited my site with less expectation and more apprehension.

Alas, to my surprise, there are two things that are waiting for me. An invitation for an interview with Mirriam College students for their thesis – “Blogging in the Philippines”, and an award. You read it right, there’s another award. A recognition coming from the international blogging community. As I feared the worst, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Therein lay my reward, a shining trophy cast in gold – my first Eddie.

Mga kababayan (My fellow countrymen), this brown man has made his mark in the world blogging scene. You are now visiting, and reading the post of the recipient of this year’s Eddie Awards’ Rookie of the Year.

Wow.

I owe it to a lot of people. First, to my countrymen (if this the first time you're reading this blog, please refer to previous posts and comments about the Philippines. You'd understand why I'm not being sarcastic and cheesy), for making me who I am. And the Philippines - a beautiful, colorful country. If not for her, I could’ve been a bland, shallow-minded person. Everything I learned I owe to experience. Everything I write I get from observations. Everything I proclaim are mere facts, the truth. All I do is ad words.

I also owe it to my friends in the blogosphere. Both local and abroad. To my brother in law, the Aquariandog for inspiring me to create a blog of my own without the need of persuasion. For Blair Mitch, a jolly good colleague whose posts about food inspires me to eat well, drink well, and well, be merry. And to all my newfound brothers and sisters – I could never stress it enough – for believing in me, reading my sometimes senseless posts, and accepting me as part of their blogging family. That’s Dirk, Meander, Skeet, Kat, Kate, Schaumi, Smalltown rn, and many more. To my fellow awardees, Whim and The Wizard. Thank you also to The Nameless One, eventhough he never returned my comment on one of his posts. To Mr. Novak, a very funny writer. To Erica and Cinderella, whose posts are as beautiful as they are. And to all those I forgot to mention, just holla (did I just say holla?) so I can revise.

This award is for all of you. Once again, thank you for keeping The Midnight Oil burning.

I couldn’t wish for a better Christmas. Now, if I could only hang this trophy on my Christmas tree…

By the way, did I say WOW?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

There's no place like home (revised)


(Note: This post has been revised and updated. Changes and additions are written in italics.)


"Ok, Dorothy, just click those ruby slippers, follow your heart and say..."

Two days ago, I wrote about my fascination for snow and how I wished we have it here in our country so I could ski and make snow angels this Christmas. The post attracted a number of comments, most of which expressed appreciation for its candor and vivid descriptions of how we Filipinos celebrate the holiday season. Surprisingly, all of these comments were from people residing in the US.

In my 2 and a half months of blogging, I never thought nor imagined that my blog would be received by such a wide audience. And that a nurturing, open-minded host of diverse nationalities would adopt me as part of their blogging family.

For this, I am equally amused and flattered.

Let there be no mistake, I may be yearning for snow but I love being a Filipino. I am proud of the color of my skin and like Dorothy, I can say that there’s no place like home. There’s no place like the Philippine soil.

And so, it goes. I feel I have to do this. It is my responsibility – as a Filipino and as an adopted son to my blogging family, the only brown boy amidst white men and women - to tell you more about my beloved country.

If you really don’t care much about it, then stop reading. This post is not for you. But, if you are like me and a handful of people who would like to enrich their knowledge about different cultures, then by all means, carry on.

The Philippines is home to 7,1007 islands and some of nature’s greatest wonders. There’s the Rice Terraces, for instance, whom some tourists say, is the 8th wonder of the world. Carved by the Ifugaos using only their bare hands hundreds of years ago, the terraces from the rocky mountain of Banaue is about 4,000 feet above the sea level. The total outline of this architectural wonder, otherwise known as the "stairways to the sky" is about 13,500 miles long, or about half the globe's circumference and ten times the length of the Great Wall of China.

We are also home to the world’s smallest volcano - Taal Volcano, a 406-meter-high crater, described as "a crater within an island within a lake" because it stands as an island at Taal Lake.

And, the world’s largest eagle -, the Philippine eagle. Not to mention some of the world’s finest beaches like Boracay, Palawan, and Siargao, and a host of other species you can only find in the country.

Filipinos are generally, happy people. We smile, even when we have problems. We laugh, even at times of crisis. We crack jokes about our own trials and tribulations. Where else can you find a TV coverage of a flashflood where children riding in make-shift bancas wave at the camera in delight, grabbing their 15 minutes of fame, while their house is sinking underwater? We make jokes about “Erap”, (deposed President Joseph Estrada) even if he is listed as the 10th most corrupt leader in the world.

The Philippines is home to internationally-acclaimed talents. Here’s a list of famous celebrities who have Filipino blood running on their veins:

Theater: Lea Salonga, a Tony and Laurence Olivier awardee for her performance in Miss Saigon in Broadway.

Film: Dean Devlin (director/producer of Independence Day, Godzilla and The Patriot), Tia Carrere, Lou Diamond Philips, Phoebe Cates and Rob Schneider.

Music: Nicole Scherzinger (lead singer of Pussycat Dolls), Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas, Jasmine Trias (American Idol 3rd placer), Mutya Buena of Sugababes and Jocelyn Enriquez, Julio Iglesias Jr. and Enrique Iglesias.

Here’s another music trivia – did you know that Latina-American pop star Christina Aguilera lost to Filipina vocalist Josephine Roberto aka Banig during the International Star Search years ago? In a mid-1999 MTV chat, she said that competing against someone of Banig's age was "not fair." Banig was a few years younger then than Christina. Hmmm…

Sports: Manny Pacquiao (who has beaten almost all of Mexico’s toughest warriors on the boxing ring including Erik “El Terible” Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera), Efren “The magician” ‘Bata’ Reyes (who has conquered the World 9 ball billiards championship so many times, he has become a living legend), bowling olympian Paeng Nepomuceno, and Eugene Torre, the first ever international Grandmaster from Asia who won at the Chess Olympiad in Nice, France in 1974

Speaking of movies, did you know that a lot of your favorite Hollywood films were shot in the Philippines? Among them are: Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Missing In Action, The year of living dangerously, Thirteen Days, Born on the 4th of July, Brokedown Palace, An officer and a gentleman, and Hamburger Hill, among others.

Filipinos are a freedom-loving bunch. We were conquered, not once, not twice, but thrice! But our ancestors have always shown them that we Filipinos can really fight when our freedom is threatened.

First attempt was made by the Spaniards, led by no less than Ferdinand Magellan. It is also the reason why our country is called as such, as Magellan christened it after King Philip II of Spain. Unfortunately, it was also the last time he set foot on land, as brave Lapu-Lapu (a Filipino sultan or warrior) ended his life, also ending his circumnavigation of the globe.

The second was the Japanese, coinciding with World War 2. And the third, well, you guessed it right, the Americans. Though among the three, The Philippines lost on The Filipino-American Independence War from 1898 to 1902, and was colonized until 1946, when we regained our Independence.

It is in the Philippines where the first peaceful revolution began. The 1986 Edsa revolution is known worldwide as the first ever peaceful revolution. People fought soldiers, and blocked tanks using human barricades, holding hand in hand using only rosaries, flowers, and the power of prayer to oust the Marcos regime.

We are the first in Asia, to elect a female ruler. That's President Corazon Aquino, presiding the then fleeting Ferdinand Marcos. Right now, we have another female president in the presence of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who rose to power because of Edsa 2. That's right, folks, there was a sequel.

We invented some of the world’s greatest inventions. A Filipino, by the name of Eduardo San Juan, invented the moon buggy. That’s right, the one that Neil Armstrong and his crew used to land in the moon. We also invented the fluorescent lamp. Thomas Edison discovered the electric light bulb and the fluorescent lighting was thought up by Nikola Tesla. But the fluorescent lamp we use today was invented by Agapito Flores, a Filipino scientist. And of course, how can we forget Roberto Del Rosario? He, after all, is the inventor of the Karaoke Sing Along System. (See “Sing it like you mean it” post below).

Filipinos love food, period. We are, naturally hearty eaters. Aside from three square meals a day, we’ve snacks in between – meriendas at 9 am and 3 pm. And if we stay up late, we have midnight snacks as well. We cannot drink beer without “pulutan” or any food served. We are also fond of using condiments whenever we eat – there’s vinegar, “patis” or fish sauce, soy sauce, “bagoong” or shrimp paste, “Mang Tomas sarsa” or lechon gravy, and the likes. I myself cannot eat without patis, suka, toyo (soy sauce), seasoning and catsup near the dining table.

The Philippines is the third largest english-speaking nation, next to the US (of course) and the UK.

There you have it. Just a string of facts about us Filipinos and our beloved country. I’m sure there are a lot more out there that I am unaware of – side stories, heritage passed from one generation to the next, that I, nor the internet are fully unaware of. For now, however, this collection of info would do, so you could get to know us better.

“The world is a small place, and we are but tiny creatures roaming around, bumping along each other. Why then, don’t we introduce ourselves to one another?”

I hope you find this post even the slightest bit informative and entertaining.

Thank you all for reading.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Let It Snow

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, among other things. And my friends in the blogosphere aren’t helping at all.

Our country being a tropical one, we’ll probably think of Armageddon when even the tiniest flake of snow falls into our backyards. The closest thing I got to experiencing snow was when a local politician in the South rented a snow machine some years ago and turned an enclosed park into a snow field while charging a hundred bucks per head for entrance. I was only 12 then.

Needless to say, not having the chance to experience snow “for real” left me feeling deprived, thanks to Hollywood movies and pictures from friends and relatives in Canada and New York.

And then there were the Wizard, with her lovely abode somewhere in the woods, whose early morning wanderings involve catching a reindeer on photograph on a ground covered in ice, Meander pondering about going ice-skating and Dirk getting sick in the cold. Heck, the only place here where we can go ice-skating is in the malls.

On the other hand, living in a tropical island is not that dismal. We do get lovely tans during summer and most Americans who visit our country profess their love and envy with our tropical weather. I guess the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence after all.

Also, we don’t get a lot of extreme natural calamities like tsunamis and twisters. There is, however, the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption, homes and lives being wiped out because of super typhoons (we had one just last week, and unfortunately and untimely as it is, there were casualties. I know, it’s a very sad way to celebrate the Holidays) and the occasional flood. Ok, that’s an understatement. We do get flooded frequently, our place specifically since Google Earth describes our town as more than 30 feet below sea level.

So what’s a brown boy got to do to celebrate Christmas? We pray and give thanks. The Philippines being the purported bastion of Christianity in Asia, is comprised of a huge population of church-going people. We have what we call “simbang gabi” or Misa de Gallo (a term given by the Spanish conquistadors), where daily mass are held every daybreak (about 4 am) from the 16th of December till Christmas eve. We also have the traditional “karolings” where every kid in town collects empty milk cans and flattened soda crowns to make instant drums and maracas, singing Christmas carols to every household in the neighborhood. And of course we have the yearly Noche Buena, the mandatory Christmas eve dinner where all families gather together in one place, reunite with long lost relatives, exchange gifts and have a feast while giving thanks, sans the fireplace of course. It may not be unique, but the spirit of Aguinaldo or hooking up with your ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) to ask for blessings (by putting their hands in your forehead) in exchange of gifts, cash or kind, makes it very Pinoy.

Let there be no mistake, Christmas in the Philippines is very festive. It is one event that everybody prepares for and anticipate for 364 days, starting from December 26.

Then again, I want snow. Real snow. Not the ones you get out of a giant snow machine or cute snow globes. I want to make snow angels and create a snowman in my backyard. I want to wear mittens and bonnets and see the cold vapor coming out of my mouth every time I puff a smoke.

Is it too much a favor to ask for a little snow ball?

Monday, December 11, 2006

The blue pill, or the red pill?

Where was I?

Oh right, back to fantasy. Suddenly, the blue pill’s potency has waned as I drag myself back into cyberspace. One minute I was partying in Zion (aka blogosphere) and the next thing I know, I was dragged into the mad frenzy called “reality”. Now why the hell did I follow that white rabbit?

Sorry for being MIA for the past few days. For the past week, I was stuck in a world full of Agent Smiths – evul clients clad in power clothes, demanding near-impossible deadlines and never-ending revisions. They hypontized me with their convoluted Power Point presentation. Never mind the sleepless nights, I rarely sleep anyway, but when you work 18 hour shifts, brainstorm while you take a bath and even while you sleep, you know the so-called “real world” is swallowing you whole. Thank heavens I was able to get out.

And for that, I would like to thank my good friends from Zion (also known as the “blogosphere”) – Morpheus and his army of gnomes, angels and fairies, the Oracle and his mink for chasing down the white rabbit, and Trinity for reminding me that I am being missed. Without all of you, I could’ve been stuck in the rabbit hole for good. Thanks guys, you were real troopers. See, I’m checking on all of you even if the evul agents kept me locked in a 5 X 5 cubicle.

Sigh. If I only have a choice, I wouldn’t take that damn red pill. Like they say, ignorance is bliss.


By the way, it's Trinity's birthday today. Be an angel and drop her a line, will you?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Midnight Merit


"Jumping Jupiters, Batman. I never knew you write!"

"I don't numbnuts. You're talking about the other midnight creature."

"There's another?"

"Hmmm... goes by the name Russkal. Sly as Penguin. Mysterious as Riddler yet witty as Joker."

"Holy Hulahoops! What do we do now?"

"Loosen your leotards, Robin. He's an ally."

"Oh..."

--Silence--

"So you found a new sidekick then, huh? That it? That the reason why you're asking Alfred to make a shiny, new R patch? Does he put baby oil in your abs before you slip into that leather suit? Can he split? Huh? Can he ride the flying trapeze?"

"No. But he sure is funny."

"Freaking Frigging Funny my ass! That's it. I'm leaving!"

"Where you going?"

"The Chippendales are in town..."

Today marks The Midnight Oil's 2nd month anniversary. I initially invited midnight celebrities like Batman and Robin to write a post for this special occasion but they took a rain check for some reason. They did, however, sent a cake.

And though I am not particularly a "monthsary" celebrating chap, I offer this post, and this cake to my dear readers. See, I recently discovered thru my site meter that The Midnight Oil has lured a lot of midnight creatures - around the world at that! Now if only more people would comment... then again, that could be asking too much.

And so, to my readers in the US, Italy, Germany, France, and of course my countrymen, let me say Thank You. Molto Grazie. Vielen Dank. Merci Beaucoup. Maraming Salamat.

It means a lot coming from someone who used to be a non-believer of blogs.

Thank you for keeping The Midnight Oil burning.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sing it like you mean it!

I have a confession to make. I’m a videoke maniac. I, like millions of Filipinos now scattered all over the world, cannot fathom a month, a week, or even a day of not grabbing a microphone and belt a tune at the top of my lungs.

And why not? We are, after all the true inventor of the Karaoke, calling it the “sing-along machine” way before the Japs stole the idea and branded it with a nifty, catchy name.

And so, it is no secret that this midnight creature has been fantasizing about owning a Magic Mic for the longest time. For those of you who can’t relate, the Magic Mic is one of the Philippines’ most significant contributions to this planet of ours. An ingenious invention composed only of a microphone, a number of buttons on the interface, a microchip and an RCA cable. Plug it into the boob tube, turn it on, and voila! An instant portable sing alone machine you can bring anywhere there’s television. And electricity, of course.

Rock on with Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses to your hearts content while a skimpily clad Rebecca Romijn emotes to the rhythm on the screen. Release all your inhibitions and do it “your way”. Just a warning though, the song “My Way” has claimed 12 lives so far since the Videoke machine (a vendo-like contraption where you drop 5 peso coins in exchange for a song of your choice - see photo below) was invented some years ago. According to the Philippine National Police, seven people had perished in the year 2003 alone from videoke related incidents. Most of them sang Frank Sinatra's famous ballad "My Way" before they got killed. Another proof that patience is a virtue, but hearing a drunk singing off key is always an exception.

After the song, check out how you fared with the chanting of the score. Dyan-dya-ra-ran-dyan-dyan-dyan….Dya-ra-raaaaannn!!! (Message on monitor:) Your score: 68. You are a lousy singer. And you deserve death by a strong whack in the head with a beer bottle.

You see, the Philippines is a music-loving nation. And here, more than any other place on earth, the way you carry a tune is a matter of life and death.

And so, the advent of Magic Mic is a welcome innovation to most. No longer do you have to go to hole-in-the-wall pubs and endure the stinking breath of philandering drunks that has seemed to stick to the microphone. No longer do you have to carry bulky coins in your pocket. The Magic Mic is plug and play, and you can sing, sing, sing at the comfort of your own abode without fear that the next person on the table is giving you an evil eye because you were hogging the mic for too long.

But there is one catch, though. Magic Mic can drain your pockets. To some, it even costs a fortune. The microphone alone costs 10-12 grand (that’s more than 200 dollars to my dear readers in the US), and the song chip is about 3 grand each or 60 dollars for 3,000 plus songs. Unfortunately, unless you’re a radio station DJ or some sort of a musical genius, you can only sing (as you are only familiar with) about 300 of them. Some songs in the chip are also in foreign languages. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, etc., songs that only C-3P0 would appreciate. Moreover, if you want a decent sounding videoke, you’d have to invest on an amplifier and speakers, or at the very least, a nice home theater system. Otherwise, you’d have to be content of the music (and your voice) coming out of the TV speakers.

Needless to say, the Magic Mic has its flaws, price and practicality being the foremost reasons why this blogger cum rockstar has dilly-dallied on his purchase. But alas! There is an answer! It seems that Ursulla, Goddess of voice have heard our prayers!

Trumphet sound… Drum roll... Say hello to the DVD Videoke player. For just 5,000 bucks, (a gift from our Fairy Godmother) you get a DVD/MP3/CDR/DVDR/MIDI/VCD player, two free microphones, a songbook and a Midi disk with 9,500 pre-loaded songs. That’s right, 9,500 frigging songs! And the list is up to date, too. Only a handful of Chinese and Korean tracks here and there. I’m actually in the process of highlighting the songs that I am familiar with and I was giddy to have marked almost 80% of the song list per page! The player I bought, Karavision, gives Magic Mic and all its competitors a run for their moolah. There are also other brands like Daewoo and Platinum but are more expensive and appropriate for commercial use. Commercial meaning restaurants who have transformed their venues into Videoke joints.

Right now, I am still astonished over this wonderful thingamabob. And believe me when I tell you there is not a day that passed that I never got a hold of that mic. Or at least the songbook as I still have to battle with the first song choice over the household.

Eat your heart out, Magic Mic. I’m singing my way to stardom with my new videoke system. And to my fellow future belters out there, let me know if you’re interested. I can give you a tip where to buy your own DVD videoke system that’s way cheaper than sold in malls and advertised in Ebay.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, folks. This rockstar is unstoppable. Today, the Philippines, tomorrow, the world!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Not bad for a writer

I've officially changed the look of my blog.

It's amazing, this blogging thing. One minute I'm a techno-dummy and next thing I know, I'm a frigging web wizard. Oh... ok, I almost wiped out all the data on my template as I went berserk trying to put back my web counter. Can you blame me though? I've had like, 480 plus hits already, man. Now I'd have to start all over again! Or, I won't. Hmmm...

So how'd you like my new blog's look? It's no webby awardee (I still can't figure out how to mess with the damn background, I mean, heck, it still is a template) but like I said, it ain't bad for a copywriter's blog.

Ain't it?




Sunday, November 19, 2006

Morons!


Brainless. Dim-wits. Dumb ass. Imbeciles. Whatever you call them, there sure are plenty of them roamin’.

The following is a list of the stupidest crimes ever committed. Enjoy.

Power failure.

Karen Lee Joachimmi, 20, was arrested in Lake City, Florida for robbery of a Howard Johnson's motel. She was armed with only an electric chain saw, which was not plugged in.

Kentucky: Two men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off their truck. Scared, they left the scene and drove home. With the chain still attached to the machine. With their bumper still attached to the chain. With their vehicle's license plate still attached to the bumper.

Have a gas.

A gentleman awoke one cold morning and found that his car would not start; the problem was a frozen fuel line. No problem for Mr. Brilliant -- one need only warm up the gas, right? So he siphoned off the fuel, put it into a pot, took it into the kitchen and heated it up on the stove....

Lack of (sane) judgment.

Three guys decided, late one night, to rob a petrol station. Taking in baseball bats and knives they entered and demanded money from the station clerk. But they weren't aware of a couple of rather important things:

  1. The clerk was an ex-Israeli.
  2. The clerk was an ex-Isreali Army officer.
  3. The clerk was an ex-Isreali unarmed-combat instructor.

Needless to say they ended up in hospital. For a long time. (No charges were pressed by the petrol station owner, and the police decided that there wasn't much point following through.)

45 year-old Amy Brasher was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, after a mechanic reported to police that 18 packages of marijuana were packed in the engine compartment of the car which she had brought to the mechanic for an oil change. According to police, Brasher later said that she didn't
realize that the mechanic would have to raise the hood to change the oil.

Wrong order.

The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50am, flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.

Arizona: A company called "Guns For Hire" stages gunfights for Western movies, etc. One day, they received a call from a 47-year- old woman, who wanted to have her husband killed. She got 4-1/2 years in jail.

(A man walked into a Circle-K (a convenience store similar to a 7-11), put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled -- leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.

A robber in Panorama City, Cal., gave a teller a note saying, "I have a gun. Give me all your twenties in this envelope." The teller said, "All I've got is two twenties." The robber took them and left.

Not guilty.

The Belgium news agency Belga reported in November that a man suspected of robbing a jewelry store in Liege said he couldn't have done it because he was busy breaking into a school at the same time. Police then arrested him for breaking into the school.

Drug-possession defendant Christopher Johns, on trial in March in Pontiac, Michigan, said he had been searched without a warrant. The prosecutor said the officer didn't need a warrant because a "bulge" in Christopher's jacket could have been a gun. Nonsense, said Christopher, who happened to be wearing the same jacket that day in court. He handed it over so the judge could see it. The judge discovered a packet of cocaine in the pocket and laughed so hard he required a five-minute recess to compose himself.

Shit happens.

When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find an ill man curled up next to a motor home trying to steal gasoline and plugged his hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

A woman was reporting her car as stolen, and mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy that answered that he had read the ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.

Not to be outdone, the Philippines has its share of dim-witted criminals. MANILA, May 25 — In a heist that sounded like the case of the fugitive hijacker D.B. Cooper, a crying man tried to commandeer a Philippine Airlines jet carrying 291 people then robbed everyone and jumped out of the plane wearing a homemade parachute. No one knows what happened to Cooper, who escaped by jumping out of a plane 29 years ago. But this man's fate is known: His body was found later in the day.

And finally in Portsmouth, R.I. Police charged Gregory Rosa, 25, with a string of vending machine robberies in January when he (1) fled from police inexplicably when they spotted him loitering around a vending machine and (2) later tried to post his $400 bail in coins.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Holly-Woody

Some people just don’t get Woody. He’s the love him or hate him type. And while I don’t absolutely adore the bespectacled, stuttering filmmaker, I respect him for all his accomplishments and admire his body of work. The guy has won 3 Academy Awards after all.

And I must say, I am not alone.

The Comedian’s Comedian, a 3-hour program broadcast on UK named the top 50 comics of all time as voted by their peers and listed Woody Allen on the 3rd spot. Not bad for a Hollywood filmmaker, considering that the list contained 33 Brits including 3 members of Monty Python. Besting Woody on the list was the legendary Peter Cook and Monty Python’s main man John Cleese.

Other famous comedians on the list are Groucho Marx (the man responsible for the fake huge nose and moustache) at no. 4, Laurel & Hardy at no. 7 (funny, I thought Hardy was funnier), Peter Sellers and Steve Martin (claiming 14th and 15th spot, respectively, the often imitated yet inimitable Charlie Chaplin at no. 18, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean!) at no. 24, Robin Williams (no. 45), and Bill Cosby and Mike Myers at nos. 47 and 48. My only objection in this list is having Mel Brooks at no. 50 (the last spot) while Eddie Murphy sits comfortably at no. 32. What’s up with that, blokes?

Love him or hate him, the fact is, Woody Allen is a top-notch filmmaker. I just saw 3 of his films in a span of one week, the two for obvious reasons (that it has Scarlett Johansson in it) and the other one was because I read the back cover of the DVD and found the plot interesting. The movies were Match Point, Scoop, and Hollywood Ending. And no, I’m not doing reviews, but I have to say that Match Point is a worthy watch and Scoop is hilarious. So go grab a copy.

That is, if you like cerebral humor. Or extremely long dialogues. Or, at the very least, Scarlett Johansson.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What gives?

Well i'll be damned.

Been posting for almost a month now and i just realized that my page doesn't display correctly on Internet Explorer (about me, links, previous posts and archives are flushed all the way down the bottom of the page, when it should be flushed right, aligned with the posts.) I haven't noticed since I've been using Mozilla Firefox as a default browser for the longest time, wherein my blog displays perfectly. Paranoid, I ran to check how it displays on Macs using the Safari browser. No problem.

So how now, brown cow will I fix this problem? Any suggestions? Would appreciate your comment if you know how I can fix this damn problem.

Merci.

Monday, November 06, 2006

43 Useless Facts

don't say I didn't warn you...

1. Moths are unable to fly during an earthquake (told you this is useless)

2. Human saliva has a boiling point three times than that of regular water (see?)
3. Every Labrador retriever dreams about bananas
4. Contrary to popular belief, the white is not the healthiest part of an egg. It's actually the shell. (“Now go eat your egg shell, Timmy!” Scary.)
5. British pop singer Baby Spice is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandniece of Archduke William Pinkley-Hogue of Standishfordshire, making her 103rd in line for the throne of England. (Now that’s scarier.)
6. Speaking of “Babies”, The top three names for female babies born in China last year were Huan Yue, Jia Li and -- unlikely as it seems -- Buffy.
7. Smearing a small amount of dog feces on an insect bite will relieve the itching and swelling (hindi ka nga nangangati, amoy jebs ka naman)
8. Catfish are the only animals that naturally have an ODD number of whiskers (totoo, sa susunod na kumain kayo sa Gerry’s Grill, bilangin niyo)
9. A cat's purr has the same romance-enhancing frequency as the voice of singer Barry White. (Meow!)
10. Speaking of cats, "Hello Kitty" began as part of a covert propaganda campaign originally proposed by Prime Minister Tojo during World War II.
11. In the weightlessness of space a frozen pea will explode if it comes in contact with Pepsi (need I remind you how useless these facts are?)
12. The rhesus monkey is the only animal that can be taught to hum a tune
13. Male rhesus monkeys often hang from tree branches by their amazing prehensile penises (now you know why they’re humming!)
14. If an average human scrotum were stretched until all its wrinkles were smoothed out, it could hold a basketball (Ouch)
15. Ancient Egyptians used molted cobra skins as condoms (again, ouch)
16. Winston Churchill was born with a third nipple, which he removed himself with nail-clippers at the age of 14 (Mega Ouuucccchhh!!!)
17. Ingesting small doses of ink over an extended period of time will change your eye color slightly. (Amazing, now you can save money on colored contacts!)
18. Fewer divorces occur in families in which the children wake their parents before 6 a.m. on Saturdays. (Un-fucking-believable)
19. A futuristic automobile designed by Ford for the movie Blade Runner was produced and sold in limited quantities as the "Ford Harrison." (umamin na kayo, kaninong copywriter sideline ito?)
20. John F. Kennedy was an accomplished ventriloquist
21. A prominent organization of anthropologists has predicted that by the year 5000, humans will have two rectums, but only one nostril (lemme guess, they’re gays)
22. Glamorous movie star Brad Pitt once had a summer job posting warning signs at coal mine entrances
23. Nearly three percent of the ice in Antarctic glaciers is penguin urine.
24. Contrary to their popular image as spinsters, the average librarian has 5.9 random sex partners per year (ikaw ba naman ang magbasa ng Kama Sutra araw-araw, ewan ko na lang)
25. The trucking company Elvis Presley worked at as a young man was owned by Frank Sinatra
26. The only golf course on the island of Tonga has 15 holes, and there's no penalty if a monkey steals your golf ball (I bet it’s those darn rhesus!)
27. Replying more than 100 times to the same piece of spam e-mail will overwhelm the sender's system and interfere with their ability to send any more spam (bilib ako sa pasensiya niyo pag nagawa niyo ito)
28. The skin needed for elbow transplants must be taken from the scrotum of a cadaver (ok, enough of the scrotum facts!)
29. You can actually sharpen the blades on a pencil sharpener by wrapping your pencils in aluminum foil before inserting them.
30. Due to the angle at which the optic nerve enters the brain, staring at a blue surface during sex greatly increases the intensity of orgasms (uhm, honey, I’ve been thinking, I think our wall looks better in blue…)
31. Never hold your nose and cover your mouth when sneezing, as it can blow out your eyeballs.
32. If you part your hair on the right side, you were born to be carnivorous. If you part it on the left, your physical and psychological make-up is that of a vegetarian.
33. Although difficult, it's possible to start a fire by rapidly rubbing together two Cool Ranch Doritos (If only Tom Hanks had Dorritos in Cast Away…)
34. Due to the natural "momentum" of the ocean, saltwater fish cannot swim backwards.
35. In ancient Greece, children of wealthy families were dipped in olive oil at birth to keep them hairless throughout their lives.
36. The Venezuelan brown bat can detect and dodge individual raindrops in mid-flight, arriving safely back at his cave completely dry (uy, Matrix!)
37. Because of their unusual shape, Hershey's Kisses contain more calories per ounce than the same amount of chocolate in other forms.
38. If the air in your car's tires is not completely replaced every two years, it can turn to liquid and cause severe damage.
39. Blue water in a toilet bowl causes males to urinate 7 percent more
40. It is physically impossible to urinate and give blood at the same time
41. If you place a fresh Viagra tablet in a houseplant's soil every six months, the plant will not wilt (lupet)
42. Children conceived on airplanes never suffer from motion sickness.
43. The steady, rhythmic sound produced by dripping water increases the capacity for sleeping males to experience lucid sexual dreams (Oh, and hon, can we also buy those miniature fountains ...?)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Move over, David Blaine

Here comes Dan Michael

...makes David Blaine look like an amateur

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Better to burn out than to fade away















The Forbes.com website listed Kurt Cobain as the highest-earning dead celebrity, with the late Nirvana frontman raking in 50 million dollars in the past year, pushing Elvis into second place after reigning “King” on the list since 2001. The website ranks 13 celebrities who are still raking in the big bucks six feet under, with a collective earning of 247 million dollars in the last year.

The grunge icon was found dead, shotgun wound to the head in his Seattle home in 1994, where a suicide note was also located. A part of his “alleged” suicide note is the phrase, “It is better to burn out than to fade away”.

Alleged, because after the “suicide” shocked the world and left millions of fans stunned, a string of investigations followed, including that of private investigator Tom Grant, concluding that Cobain did not commit suicide, but was rather murdered. The theory was later on supported by a book called “Who killed Kurt Cobain? The mysterious death of an icon” by Rolling Stones Investigative Journalism award winners, Max Wallace and Ian Halperin, published in 1998, and a second installment, “Love & Death, the murder of Kurt Cobain”.

Was it murder or suicide?

Buy the books or follow these links (including a case study manual by PI Tom Grant) and decide:

www.cobaincase.com

www.justiceforkurt.com

www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Venue/6582/Nirvana/suicidenote.html

The truth is, only Kurt knows. And if the words he “allegedly” left on his suicide note is any indication of his posthumous success, I’d say he’s right on target.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Topsy-turvy

Left brain: "Why don't you make a Top 10 list?"

Right brain: "A Top what??"

LB: "You know, Top 10 movies, Top 10 books, Top 10 songs..."

RB: "I know what a Top 10 list is, dumb-ass, but why?"

LB: "Why not? Everybody loves making a list of their favorite things. Besides, it's entertaining to read"

RB: "That's the point! Everybody's doing it!!!"

LB: "So?"

RB: "So I'm not doing it!"

LB: "I get it. You want to be different..."

RB: "I am different!!!"

LB: "So what are you writing next?"

RB: "Ahm...about that... I haven't really figured..."

LB: "What about decoding Stephen Hawking's "A brief history of time?" You always say you want your posts to be informative"

RB: "Are you kidding? The book's too freaking convoluted, he had to write "A briefer history of time" just so people could easily grasp what he's saying!"

LB: "A movie review?"

RB: "Too time consuming"

LB: "A poem?"

RB: "Too cheesy"

LB: "A Top 10 list?"

RB: "What if I don't meet 10? What if there's just like, 6 or something?"

LB: "Round it up. There are Top 5's"

RB: "True. You really are good at math, aren't you?"

LB: "That's what we left brains are known for"

RB: "Hey! I have an idea! What if I don't call it a Top 10 list, y'know, give it another name so people will think it's unique?"

LB: "Very creative"

RB: "That way, I wouldn't worry about coming up with exactly 5 or 10... heck, I can write 131 things... or 37.5 if I want to!"

LB: "Brilliant! Besides, you're trying to be different..."

RB: "I am different!!!"

LB: "(and stupid...)"

RB: "Shut up..."

The Top 10 Advertising Campaigns of the 20th Century

1. Volkswagen, "Think Small" campaign by Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1959








2. Coca-Cola, "The pause that refreshes" by D'Arcy Co., 1929










3. Marlboro, The Marlboro Man by Leo Burnett Co., 1955








4. Nike, "Just do it" by Wieden & Kennedy, 1988





5. McDonald's, "You deserve a break today" by Needham, Harper & Steers, 1971




6. DeBeers, "A diamond is forever" by N.W. Ayer & Son, 1948








7. Absolut Vodka, The Absolut Bottle by TBWA, 1981










8. Miller Lite beer, "Tastes great, less filling", McCann-Erickson Worldwide, 1974








9. Clairol, Does she...or doesn't she?", Foote, Cone & Belding, 1957









10. Avis, "We try harder", Doyle Dane Bernbach, 1963