30 August 2007

Nostalgia by an Inapt Driver

Lolo Sol's quirks have always been a favorite subject at family gatherings and used to be an alternative pastime when one cannot turn to HBO or to the latest episode of a sappy telenovela due to a power outage which was pretty commonplace during the mid 90s. Now, at the rare occasion that the entire family can get together at dinner time, his quirks remain the constant source of mirth.

Several tales about Lolo's antics have been swapped over the years among family members and even to close friends that I can create an entire encyclopedia about it. Personally, it's Lolo's (mis)adventures with his 1500 VW Beetle that I find the most comical. The so-called (mis)adventures are almost always the effect of misdirected frugality. Lolo was never stingy with any member of the family especially to us, his apos (grandchildren) however, when it comes to himself he just becomes unreasonably sparing.

On weekend mornings, Lolo Sol would always bring me and Eman, my cousin, to a drive around the city and before heading home we would stop by the public market to buy
masareal (sweet delicacy made of peanuts and refined sugar), bibingka (rice cake) and tagaktak (stringy rice cake). On one particular weekend instead of driving back home, he drove to the outskirts of the city to visit an old friend from the army to mine and Eman's delight because that could only mean one thing --- we have the sweet treats all to ourselves! But our selfish delight didn't last long for as soon as we head home, the car gave a feeble lurch, whirred and completely conked out in the middle of a deserted road. As the completely perplexed Lolo tinkered and prodded his beloved Beetle, we remained inside the car drenched in sweat and parched from too much sweets. It took several minutes before it occurred to Lolo that the fuel gauge was busted and he has plainly forgotten to refill his gas tank that morning. Good thing a service van of an electric company gave him a lift to the nearest gasoline station however he had to walk almost a kilometer on his way back.

Barely a month passed when the same turn of events transpired. On our way to the Wednesday novena at the Redemptorist Church, the Beetle refused to budge again in the middle of the highway. Lola, always the faithful one, obliged my sister and I to sing the Ave Maria as an appeal for divine intervention. But of course, no amount of novenas would be able to fill up the empty gas tank.

With Lolo on the wheel, one is assured of an eventful ride. It just seems a tad incredulous that the man who used to drive us around the city with so much gusto now lies immobilized in a hospital bed. A certain ripple of nostalgia makes me want to grab the keys and take a long, aimless drive with my Lolo's reliable old Beetle.

Except that the Beetle is now in someone else's garage. But then again, I don't know how to drive either. Sigh.

28 August 2007

The World in the Narrow Eyes of the Diva and the Cofibean

Two weeks ago, Draco dragged me quite excitedly to see this certain blog on Friendster. He told me it caused an angry stir among his officemates and was sure to be registered in my top ten annoying list. Boy, was I disappointed. If I must extend my list to a hundred, it won't even be given a sliver of the limelight.

A month past, I stumbled upon a random blog ranting on a certain Malu Fernandez and her article that was said to have offended the OFWs. The hostile review (or more appropriately, ranting) of her article failed to grab my curiosity. Surprisingly, her name did. I used to have a schoolmate way back high school (and even became my officemate in Manila) with the same name except that this girl I know do not have the haughty airs.

Between the two blogs, I find the latter has more character and even funny. Except that the joke is not the article that Malu Fernandez wrote but the writer herself. The former blog was just a tedious read and if you must pretend to be educated by the finest universities in the country and claim to be the son of a millionaire with hordes of yayas at your beck and call, please do so with a fitting patter of your claimed social class and the bravado not to hide in a lame appellation such as cofibean.

Feel free to check the links within this post. Who knows you might just have a good laugh?

23 August 2007


The last two days of the work week have been slated as the blog update days in my to-do list. These days are anticipated with much eagerness. However, this week has been pretty much a roller-coaster of emotions (yet again) brought about by a met expectation. To lessen the blow of a possible disappointment, I make it a point to expect the worst. Hence, I would be happier if my expectation is unmet. I can not summon my reticent self to narrate the object of my disappointment nor find anything remotely cheerful. I actually dreaded the scheduled day for a blog update. Then Lyjunna turned it all around by merely tagging me! Finally, something to add to my pensive mumblings for the week! Except that I had to rack my brains for 8 (eiiigghhht?!) weird things about me. Grrr...


Here are the rules for “8 facts”:
In the “8 facts,” you share 8 things that your readers don’t know about you. At the end, you tag 8 other bloggers to keep the fun going.
1. Each blogger must post these rules first.

2. Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, a blogger needs to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment they’re tagged, and to ask them to read your blog.


8 QuaintQuill Quirks

1. I'm awake all night. I enjoy my nocturnal life of cyber-prowls or burying my nose in between pages. My sleeping hours are from 2 pm - 9 pm. One can argue that this is probably a remnant of my call center life. Nah! Since high school, I am awake until the wee hours of the morning but back then, it was more of being tied up in telephone conversations. I remember how I would wait until everyone is asleep before I sneak out into the living room to use the phone.

2. The sight of snakes and other reptiles gives me nightmares. When a homework requires research, I would ask my sister to check the encyclopedia for pictures of these vile creatures before I open it. At 8 years old, a cousin once tricked me into watching a comedy movie but once we got inside the cinema, it turned out it was one of those snake movies. I wanted to cry and run home but I didn't want to give my cousin the satisfaction of my agony so I just covered my eyes with my hands in the entire movie. But the hissing sound was enough to give me nightmares for weeks. I would miss several Harry Potter scenes as well because of this fear but on the 5th occasion I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I was able to watch the entire movie including the one with the boa in it.

3. I can't go anywhere without a hanky. I feel naked without it.

4. I would put rosary beads on my door knob. It gives me the secure feeling that no evil entity seen or unseen (?!) can trespass my room.

5. No matter how much I deny it, flowers (especially tulips) and a good eye contact (chinky eyes at that!) would win me over all the time hook, line and sinker.

6. I keep saying I'm bored even when I am in the middle of doing something. Right at this moment of writing, I am bored. Sigh.

7. I carry a big bag everywhere I go and inside it are my notebook, pen, fan, book, mobile phone and two different pouches. One for toiletries and the second small pouch for medicines.

8. Eight Crazy Nights made me cry buckets. I'm such a twat.


Here's the good part... I can tag eight other bloggers.. nyahahahh..

Frazzled Mom
Mia Carmel
Joann Faye

22 August 2007

To be or Not to be Piqued

In between mouthfuls of chorizo, Jelai recounted a story to which I can't exactly convey my reaction into words. I vacillate between being a piqued citizen or a pleased patron.

Her friend, whose identity we will conceal by the name Tereza, had a scheduled job interview in an uptown four-star hotel which happens to have the best chicken-pork adobo and the tastiest olive and mushroom penne. In my random cravings for a gastronomical high, this is one of the places I would definitely consider. Ah good food... always an effective diversion! So, where was I? Oh Tereza! Clad in a gauzy white top and khakis ensemble, she alighted from the PUJ (public utility jeepney) right in front of the hotel's entrance. As per routine, the lobby guards checked her bag thoroughly however, as she was about to take the elevator, one of the guards approached her. Tereza got confused when she was escorted to the administrative office to secure an ID pass. Unfamiliar with the hotel's procedure, she proceeded to the office where she was interrogated for thirty minutes. Tereza got the uncomfortable feeling of being scrutinized and judged by the simplicity of her appearance. To prove the veracity of her words, she presented her company ID and it was only then that the hotel OIC (officer-in-charge) apologized and explained the strict measures they have implemented due to the presence of several government officials.

I can only assume how it made Tereza feel but I'm certain it wasn't very nice. I'm not too sure about the implementation of stricter security measures since during the electoral campaign period in April and May it was pretty lax when some friends and I would just hang out either by the business center or by the poolside cafe of the hotel. It may also be true that the hotel honchos are now enforcing stricter security measures for their guests' safety and this, I will find out as soon as I have the energy to haul my sluggish self out of the house.

Hmmm.... I might be reappearing there sooner than you think, as I am already having hallucinations of the chicken pork adobo and the olive and mushroom penne.

19 August 2007

The Irascible and the Feline Voyeur

In a fit of anger, I stormed out of the house. At the onset of a new year, I would always resolve to be more tolerant of people and to be more patient when things don't go my way but just as always, the resolutions would go kaput.

I was looking forward to a nice Saturday
tête - à - tête with a friend whom I haven't seen for ages. But just as soon as I stepped out of the shower, I was told that we were going to take a rain check on this particular rendezvous. As mentioned, tolerance is not exactly one of my strong points. I tried to douse my pulsating annoyance by perusing the web but after several minutes, I started to pity my PC peripherals. I knew I had to get out of the house otherwise a nasty combustion would take place.

So here I am scribbling in a rather shabby alfresco diner in a city where I am not supposed to be, acutely observed by a stray tabby cat. Like my feline voyeur, I keep darting furtive glances at the door hoping to see a familiar face. Which is but next to impossible.

18 August 2007

Poetic Binge

When caught in between the echoes of the past and the obscurity of the status quo, words become suspended in midair like a flimsy thread of gossamer. In such situation, I souse my voiceless carcass with my only known remedy -- poetry.

Indulge with me in this poetic intoxication...

Autumn (by Rainer Maria Rilke)

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

Interior Portrait
(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

You don't survive in me
because of memories;
nor are you mine because
of a lovely longing's strength.

What does make you present
is the ardent detour
that a slow tenderness
traces in my blood.

I do not need
to see you appear;
being born sufficed for me
to lose you a little less.

When I Have Fears
(by John Keats)

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,

Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;

When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,

That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink

Anaïs Nin)

And then the day came,
when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk
it took
to Blossom.

Put Out My Eyes
(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still,
Slam my ears to, and I can hear you yet;
And without any feet can go to you;
And tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
And grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
And if you set this brain of mine afire,
Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.

A Walk
(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

The Poet
(by Rainer Maria Rilke)

O hour of my muse: why do you leave me,
Wounding me by the wingbeats of your flight?
Alone: what shall I use my mouth to utter?

How shall I pass my days? And how my nights?

I have no one to love. I have no home.
There is no center to sustain my life.
All things to which I give myself grow rich
and leave me spent, impoverished, alone.

16 August 2007

The Future Spinster, the Stoic and the Old Woman from Hell

One of my all-time favorite festivals is Sinulog. As January approaches, Cebu is stirred from the usual humdrum of a busy metropolitan to an exciting hubbub of festivity. The city becomes alive with the endless string of colorful buntings, the sudden influx of peddlers and their flamboyant array of handicrafts and other regional goods, the well-coordinated chant and dance ritual of candle-vendors at the Basilica (aptly referred by Cebuanos as "sinug") and of course, the culminating parade of upbeat streetdancing and gigantic effigies. A day before the mardi gras, devotees from nearby and far-flung places would all convene in a solemn procession in honor of the Sto. Niño. Since senior high, Jelai and I have never missed a single procession and this is something that I actually look forward to primarily for a spiritual purpose with an ulterior motive. The ulterior motive which I fondly call as my annual exercise. The long route of the procession, which usually starts at 2 pm and ends at around 6pm, is a good workout for my exercise-famished appendages.

In the several annual processions I have participated, one incident stands out clearly in my mind. It was a typical Sto. Niño procession, the streets were packed with long queues of devotees and we were already drenched in sticky sweat before it has even started. The seemingly uneventful procession proceeded as expected. Since I wanted to have a good view of the image of the Sto. Niño, we intended to arrive at the Basilica before the carroza (Sp "carriage") of the Sto. Niño and luckily, we did. Kudos to Jelai's expertise in maneuvering through the shortcuts of Junquera and Colon streets (your nocturnal prowlings surely paid off, Lai!). In the whole solemnity of the activity, who would ever guess that a quirky incident would soon take place? Before the arrival of the carroza, we noticed a blind old woman slowly wading her way through the throng of people as she held on to a young vagrant's shoulder. As the carroza came to view, we lose sight of them among the thick crowd. After almost an hour, the old woman reappeared sans the young vagrant. My heavily-carbonated brain (consume about a gazillion can of colas and your brain is as good as carbonated!) immediately projected my future septuagenarian self and a part of me, the part that fears spinsterhood, commiserated and later on, coaxed the stoic Jelai to help the wizened old woman.

Jelai: Where are you headed, Lola (grandmother)?
Old woman: $%@#! Where am I? I can't see a thing. Help me get to Inday's store in Magallanes. @#$%@$%!!!! (more and more expletives to mine and Jelai's consternation)

Jelai(completely aghast as the old woman's grubby fingernails sunk into her arms): Yce, where is Magallanes?!
Me(pointing somewhere to my left): Somewhere there! The place where you can buy cheap freshwater fishes.

Old woman: Where am I, you $#@%!!!?! Bring me to Magallanes. I'll pay you twenty pesos, you %$@#!!
Jelai: I don't care about your money, Lola. I'll bring you to Magallanes if someone can just tell me where that is and please stop cursing.
Old woman: Where am I?
Jelai: You are in the cathedral right across Patria. Let's walk this way.
Old woman: What?! $#%^#!!! I've been walking the whole afternoon and I am still here in the cathedral?!

Jelai: Yce, are you sure where Magallanes is?
Me: (to a nearby popcorn vendor) Manong (mister), where is Magallanes? Manong sarcastically answered with his mouth as the pointer and pointed something to my right. (To Jelai) Let's just take a cab. I'm sure the cabbie would know where that is.

Jelai: Lola, sit down first while I'll call a cab to take us to Magallanes.
Old Woman(stamping her rheumatoid feet): No! No! No! Let's just walk going there. I don't trust you. You might have an evil scheme of stealing from me, you &%$#*!!!

Bullied by an old woman from hell, we walked until it was nightfall but we were merely ten meters away from the cathedral. If we continue this pace going to Magallanes (if I was right about the location of Magallanes) we would get there in two days. Jelai's annoyed silence was punctuated by more and more profanities. Tired and irritated, I approached the policeman at the side of the road and told him of our predicament. Apparently, the potbellied policeman was directing the traffic (by the roadside?) and told me he can't leave his post. I asked him to spare me of his futile explanations and thanked him for nothing. Boiling with rage, I ran to the nearest barangay outpost to ask for assistance and demanded for the barangay captain. One of the clerks told me that the latter was busy with the city's preparation for tomorrow's mardi gras. Hearing the toothless clerk's lame excuses transformed me into an old-woman-from-hell reprimanding him with a horde of expletives and threats taught by the old-woman-from-hell. Dumbfounded, the toothless clerk called the barangay captain who assured me that they were going to bring the old woman to Magallanes. It turns out that the old woman was pretty well-known in that area and her antics were not a novelty to them. After mumbling some pleasantries with the barangay captain, I grabbed the unemotional Jelai from the clutches of the old woman who was deluging her with a torrent of expletives and insults. So much for being a good Samaritan.

The day's events have frayed the delicate strings of my tolerance so we rightfully drowned ourselves in a platter of fat-glazed pata tim and two slices of guilt-laden devil cheesecake. Nothing soothes like a good gastronomical feast.

11 August 2007

And We Were Kids

"What were you like as a child?"

A friend once asked me this question and then she went on narrating gleefully how she used to play tumbang preso, chinese garter and shatong until she was drenched in sweat. I could only offer her my half-nod. Her question made the little cogs of wheels turn in my head.

Albeit the games sound familiar to my ears, I have never really gotten to play any of those. I can only remember vague mental pictures of me watching other kids play through the comfort of our window contented with my plastic pots and pans and a doll that cries "mama" if you take out its rubber pacifier. Perhaps, back then I had a budding OCD or I was (am) just really a klutz. I never really had the urge to run nor play hide-and-seek under the scorching heat. Unlike the other apos (grandchildren), Lola (grandmother) need not scare me of lice infestation which was pretty common for kids at that time.

I sighed in relief as memories of my playtime as a child flashed before my eyes. It may not be the most spectacular childhood (boring, even) but at least I have the license to say I was a child once. For that, I'm grateful.

But do we really shed the skin of childhood and metamorphose into adults fully?

An old video capturing our hyenic laughter as we all got doused have fully answered this question.

10 August 2007

The Marriage of Time and Change

Time is fleeting. Change is inevitable.

Back to the days when my Lolo (grandfather) still has the energy to walk around the city by his lonesome even on a sweltering summer day, my sister and I would never stop badgering him to bring us to the beach. He would scowl at us animatedly and laugh. But it could never deter us from pulling and tugging at his shirt clamorously. But I knew we were going anyway, I have mischievously sneaked a peek on his schedule planner. We just wanted to drive my grandfather nuts and he just let us.

Age has enfeebled my Lolo's body and somehow, dimmed his once-photographic memory. He merely sits on his wheelchair oblivious of the day's hustles and bustles. The last time I visited home, he reached out to touch my face with his trembling gnarled hands and called somebody else's name. There's only one good thing about this. He does not recognize the pounds of flab before him; in the figment of his memory, I am still twenty pounds thinner. Bless his memory.

Time passes. Change ensues.

Every summer afternoon of my high school days was spent at Bea's house which annoyed Mama so much she threatened to have all my things packed and relocated to Bea's place. It would have been a treat otherwise to be part of the humorous racket of a household with nine children. We would spend the afternoon eating spicy hamburgers to our heart's content or just laze away at their den getting a kick every time we swap sarcastic comments about everything and everyone.

Maturity has led us to different paths. We hardly ever have free afternoons. Rare free afternoons are now spent in coffee shops and then realizing in mid conversation how you no longer share the same views and opinions about everything like you used to.

Time moves on. Change sets in.

In one of those summer days in my childhood, I remember how I enjoyed clasping the sand in my hand and then letting it drip from my grasp. Time is like that. It can never be held for long. No matter what happens, time continues to move. As it moves, lives are changed forever.

I can only hope to freeze certain moments in my life but nothing can capture wonderful moments perfectly. Not even one's memory.

04 August 2007

A Mind with Wanderlust

I hate feeling this way. I don't even have the slightest idea what this is --- catatonia? stupor? fear? anxiety? PMS? Not that having a name for this strange feeling abates the oddity but I'm used to having specific terms for certain conditions. It's the Internet age, we've come up with posh labels for certain conditions like OCD, ADHD, ADD and what have you. It's almost a sin not to have a name for my current state of emotion or level of (in)sanity.

My erratic mind has splintered into little devils parading before my very eyes several placards of imagery most of which are ways of how to just pack up and run away. My body merely feigns indifference to my mind's shrill demands especially at the thought of exerting more energy to the whole rigmarole of packing. Besides, where would I go? My mind adamantly tells me that it doesn't care where as long as it's some place different and within geographical limits (ha! economic limits, more like). But I have been running away from situations, from people and from experiences for the nth time. If not for the excruciating plane ride and the hassle of getting a visa, I would have been writing this in a picturesque garden in Salzburg or in a fancy cafe outside the Louvre. This is one of those reasons why I always think that I am not the maternal sort. If things turn into a mechanical chore, I'd always rush to the nearest exit door. If I have my own family and my restlessness sets in, will my family eventually come home to find an empty dinner table and a motherless home?

It's like my mind has its own reservoir of stimulant, it can't keep still. But like a curse, my mind is stuck to a body with the word sloth written all over it. Could it be then that the one thing my mind is running away from is my own self?

My erratic mind is imprisoned within the lumpy walls of a sloth's body. This is probably the reason why my mind has resorted to the artifice of wandering out of its lumpy nook. There have been quite a number of instances wherein I am in deep conversation with friends and I would suddenly stop in mid sentence because I have completely forgotten what I was talking about. Perhaps at that moment, it has wandered off before me to places I've only visited within the pages of travelogues.

Pardon my raw ending to this article as my mind have probably wandered off again to a distant place leaving me bereft of words to appropriately end this ranting.

02 August 2007

A Backtrack

When a serious bout of OCD hits me, I tend to rummage through my stuff and unclutter every bit and pieces in my room. In the process of arranging old scrapbooks and diaries in a chronological order, I chanced upon my dog-eared notebook of juvenile poems. As I read through, it made me realize that I was such an impassioned gargoyle eleven years ago. It's just a bit sad that over time, a once burning candle can just somehow flicker and die.

As a tribute to that old self, I am posting a few selected poems.

The Beauty of the Night

Lying down on the moist sand
Watching as each moment passes by

And marvel as sights shift to different tides
Anticipating darkness to engulf the entirety

Tacitly enthralled by the charm the star sparkle brings

Oblivious of the cold winds caress
Not minding the shivers seething through
Waiting for a scarlet starlight cross
To make a wish ‘though absurd
That time may stand still
To stop the ticking of clocks

For forever I want this to last
Knowing I’m spending a night with you.

Because of You

Caused a rift
That my heart was ripped apart

You came putting them back

From pieces to whole again

Queer, they say I am
But who cares
When you see deeply behind the façade

Smile covered the core
That deep inside it’s hurting all the more
Yet you heard my quiet sobs amidst blaring sounds

Tears arises from fears
That I may forever be in solitude
But in your warm embrace
You don’t have to say a word
It all answers the questions
I used to hold

Always You

a love long hidden
in a place unknown
right from the first glance
love has crept
love has grown

a part long secluded
passed by eons of time
covered by milestones of life
drenched with mem’ries of the past

long it has been
love stood still to time’s tests
it lingered for it’s you


Tonight I shall look out the window
a face I long to gaze

a shadow I yearn to see

But where are you tonight
Why didn’t I see
a face outside my window
a shadow on my doorsteps

Ever tonight and all the sunsets in life
your presence, I desire to feel.


Hours have passed
And it has never been
Quite the same

Things have changed

For better or worse
In my mind, I don’t hold a clue

New feelings evoked
Out of nowhere, it appears
Vibrant as morning dew
It touches the depth of being
So strangely, deeply
To the yelping heart, it beats.

Never been myself
Since that voice strummed the strings

Of that part that you set to confuse

Who could stop the beating of drums?

To myself, I asked.

Two Different People

Different views and perceptions
Different hearts and expressions

So different

In so many ways
In so many things

Options and opinions differ
Likes and wants diverse
Differ in their beliefs, in their stances
Can love bridge the two different paths
The two different tracks that never crossed

Minds may differ
Beliefs may vary
But their hearts do converge
In a specified point called love.

Flipping through the dusty pages of my notebook has lead me to an emotional upheaval. As for now, I'll have to assuage myself with a quick fix of caffeine.

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