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Archive for July, 2009

School Dazed…

After reading about my previous ‘senior moment’ episode last Friday, my best friend sent me a text message reminding me of a certain girl back in college — the one that got away because I was too timid.

Sounds familiar, huh?

Dang! 29 years, and he still remembers it…

It was, I recall clearly, my second year in university when I developed a terrible crush on one of my classmate. She was a chemical engineering student and I was training to be an architect. Although we were from different departments, we both shared the same Spanish class for one semester.

Yes folks, those were the days when we were forced, este… required, to take up 4 semesters of basic to intermediary Espanol in order to complete our course.

Anyways…

She wasn’t just pretty by any standard, to the eyes of an awestruck college student barely out of his teens, this particular girl was a goddess who could have made it as a model or maybe even start a career in the movies. She kinda reminded me of this Filipina actress from the 1960s who was touted as having one of the most beautiful faces in local showbiz.

I kid you not, she was THAT pretty.

I became so infatuated with the movie star lookalike that, more often than not, I found myself gazing at her while she listened intently at the language instructor harping out the day’s lesson in rapid-fire Spanish.

Looking back, I think I paid more attention at the comely, doe-eyed lass with the long dark-brown tresses than to the actual lesson, or to that aging tisoy in front of me explaining the rudiments of the Castillan grammar.

To this day I’m still amazed at how I was able to pass the dang subject.

Perhaps it was female instinct, or woman’s intuition at work because several times during class she would turn her head and glance at my direction — seemingly aware that a pair of goo-goo eyes were admiring her fine facial features from a few seats away.

Embarrassed at getting caught looking at her like some weird lovestruck stalker, I’d hastily shift my gaze and pretended to look at the blackboard.

I know, it’s pathetic… Ouch!

It went on this way for the entire semester. There I was, the dufus, being content with just admiring her from a distance while she, the ethereal beauty, continued teasing me, coyly seducing me with her womanly ways. It was like a silent game being played out without so much as a word being spoken.

I never did sum up the courage to talk to her. More than anything, it was the fear of rejection that kept me at a distance the whole time. By the time I came to my senses and was able to muster enough guts, which was towards the end of the semester, it was too late — she was already seeing a guy from another class.

Story of my life…

And you know what the worst part is? I never learned. I’m still the same dufus that I was three decades ago.

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In one of our family get together slash dinner two Sundays ago, my kid brother suggested we try out this little-known Chinese restaurant called ‘Boklene’, along N.S. Amoranto (formerly Retiro) near Banawe st. in Q.C. He and his wife have had dinner there a couple of times and he swears by the quality of their food.

Thing is, I was in a mood for a steaming ‘Shabu-Shabu’ dinner that night, and just had to satisfy my craving. But since the smoke-filled eatery was packed at the time — and the fact that I was already starving — it made me decide to forget about my hankering for hot soup and go with my brother’s suggestion.

And you know what? I’m glad I did!

I was particularly fond of their take on this traditional Hokkien dish called ‘O-A- Chian‘, or Oyster Omelet, which is always on top of my to-order list whenever I’m in a Chinese restaurant…

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For me, a superbly done oyster omelet is a good indicator of how good and authentic a Chinese restaurant is. And believe me, this is one of the best I’ve had in as many years. And they weren’t stingy on the oyster either.

Their Spinach Soup is heavenly, and I swear I could have finished the whole bowl of the creamy, veggie-based soup all by myself.

The Salt and Pepper Spareribs were simply divine. Excellently done and with just the right amount spiciness to balance the salty flavor of the dish. Even my Mom who never liked spicy foods despite being from Bicol, loved it.

And, oh yes, the Steamed Stuffed Taro Dumplings. I’ve had these many times before but they are always fried rather than steamed so this was my first time. And the verdict? Well, you just have to taste it yourself to enjoy it.

You wouldn’t suspect that inside this nondescript place, with a seating capacity less than that of an average-sized fastfood joint, hides some of the best tasting Chinese fare this side of town.

Turns out, the woman who runs the place used to work for this Filipino-Chinese restaurateur (whom my parents know personally as well) who owns and operates several well-known Chinese restaurants popular with the Chinese community. It’s a natural progression, I guess, that she’d parlay her knowledge of the ins and outs of the food service business into a small enterprise.

And she’s done it quite well if you ask me and my taste buds.

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It could have been a scene lifted from an off-Broadway musical, or a badly shot but well-choreographed movie, but its not. It’s real, and it’s, well… fun.

I’ve been to countless weddings in my life, including mine of course, and all of them I can rightfully say are yawn-inducing, and as exciting as watching paint dry.

I first saw the clip of this recent You Tube sensation while watching NBC news the other night, and man, was I totally blown away by the couple’s originality… and that was even before I watched the whole video of the wedding march/dance routine online. And judging from the looks on the face of the wedding guests, so were they. No wonder it has so far received more than 5 million hits (and counting fast), a week since it was posted online, and garnered more than 30 thousand comments as of this writing.

Goes to show that in spite of the prevailing cynicism and soaring divorce rates, people are still romantics at heart. Yes, including yours truly…

Talk about memorable weddings, this one takes home the cake. And oh those shades, they definitely added to the “coolness” factor of the entire presentation, and they were especially good on those two hot-looking bridesmaids that preceded the best man.

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Something dawned on me yesterday while having lunch inside a client’s company canteen. Halfway through my bland-tasting meal, I came to a terrible realization that the “senior moment” episode I had two weeks ago wasn’t the first time.

Turns out, I had another mental lapse a week or two earlier, at the very same canteen… and at the exact table where I was having my lunch.

The canteen was quite full that day and I was, as usual, having lunch all by my lonesome self. Looking at the number of people that were still coming in, and at the tables full of noisy employees, I remembered thinking how lucky I was that I came early. It was then that I caught a glimpse of HER, with three of her co-workers — one of whom was E***, who I know personally since I deal with her from time to time — lining up at the food counter.

I tried to imagine myself having a long intimate lunch with her inside the crowded canteen. Talking. Laughing. But that thought, like water on a hot tin roof,  evaporated soon after. I instantly came to my senses after a quick and nasty  reality check.

Impossible!” I said to myself. How can I ever hope for it to happen when I can’t even find the nerve to talk to her without becoming too conscious about myself? let alone smashing through her “cordon sanitaire“?

For my sanity’s sake, I temporarily switched off that part of my brain that induced those unwanted and stupid imaginings and went on with my lunch.

I gulped my food down as fast as I could, since I had to catch another meeting in another part of town, as well as to make the table available for the hungry employees.

Having cleaned out my plate, I was washing down my hurriedly-masticated meal with a bottle of iced tea when suddenly, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw an unmistakable figure of a woman.

It was HER and her colleagues, their hands holding a tray full of their lunches, milling around me. Seems that my table — which was designed to accommodate 5 people — was the only one available at the time. Upon seeing that I was just about to wrap up they hurriedly went to my corner to stake their claim.

Pasingit naman ha?” asked E***, who was standing beside the object of my affection.

Oh sure! kayo nga lang ang hinihintay ko eh” I kidded her. It was a feeble attempt at being funny, but it did elicit a smile, and a shy but sweet-sounding “hi hi hi” from HER… or was that just my imagination?

Anyway, I quickly gathered up my mess and, in a gentlemanly fashion, gave them the table. I then deposited the tray and used plastic plates at the back of the kitchen and went on my way.

No “hi’s” nor “goodbyes” were said. Neither were there any smart-alecky quips from me.

It was only yesterday when I fully realized that with one extra chair still available, I could have sat down and chatted with them for a while. 1pm meeting be damned. E*** was with them, and she could have been THE ice breaker.

Man, my mental lapse is worse than I had originally thought… I couldn’t recognize an opportunity even if it was being handed to me on a silver platter.

Oi! Someone hand me a hammer… please!

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On my way home yesterday a pedicab tried to cut in front of me, nearly hitting my right fender. Damn, I thought, that stupid driver of the three-wheeled contraption picked the wrong guy to piss today.

I was tired, and wanted nothing more than to rest my aching back after a long drive. A hectic day at work and an unbelievably heavy traffic have all but brought out the grumpy and irritable person in me.

I was about to press the car horn in anger (I had just recently installed a new horn, which is several decibels louder than my previous one, to be used specifically for this kind of situation) when I noticed that the pedicab guy’s knee-length shorts was slowly hiking down below his waistline, exposing almost half of his not-so-delicious-looking booty for everyone to see.

A Godawful sight indeed, but humorous nonetheless. Watching him trying in vain to pull his shorts (as well as his dignity I suppose) up — which kept slipping down anyway as his foot kicked on those pedals — was enough to calm me down a bit, and made me totally forget about my anger.

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Look ma, no undies!

Hmm, maybe I ought to give this guy my old, unusable underwears to give them a new lease on life…

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Lists galore!

I’m an information freak — though still far from being a nerdy geek — and have been ever since I first glossed over an old copy of the Reader’s Digest when I was ten. Which explains my predilection towards non-fiction books over that of written fiction. Books, for me, aren’t for entertainment… I have my television for that. I read books to acquire and expand my knowledge about the world around me. And it is for this reason why I put  “The Book of Lists” series on top of my all-time favorite books, and why I have never stopped collecting them — an addiction really, that began way back in college in the early 80s.

That said, it’s been more than a decade (14 years to be exact) since I last updated my ‘Book of Lists’ collection, and for a good reason. Since the early nineties, local bookstores — National Bookstore in particular — have ceased importing this particular title, possibly because it didn’t sell as well as in the US, where the book series (books 1 to 3) have always made it to the bestsellers list. In fact, I had to patiently scour the then fledgling world wide web via the old-fashioned 36kbps modem (broadband was just a pipe dream then) to check out for the latest edition. And when the nineties edition of the book did come out, which was around 1994 if I’m not mistaken, I had to order it over the internet, a year later, via an internet upstart called Amazon.com.

It’s not cheap buying books online since I had to pay both tax and freight charges (via credit card of course). But what the hell, I wanted the book, and I was willing to do whatever it takes to get my hands on it.

Note: Between the years (1982 – present) since I started collecting this compilation of interesting and curious information, two volumes (vol. 1 and 2) have gone missing from my bookshelf. To this day I still can’t figure out how they disappeared. It could have been lost during the move six years ago, or was never returned by someone who borrowed them. I’m now in search for a used copy in the second-hand bookstores. I won’t purchase online for this one though, I’m not that desperate… yet.

So when I learned that my best buddy was going to the US with his family for a month-long vacation last April, the first thing I asked of him was to look for, and get the latest edition of the book for me.

He eventually found a copy at Borders, but unfortunately wasn’t able to hand carry it with him on his flight home as the book was a tad too bulky, so he had to ship it — along with the other things he bought — via a balikbayan box that took a full month to arrive.

Well, three weeks ago, the book finally came…

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… along with a receipt for $16 US (including tax), which I have yet to fork out… ooops.

Now if I can only find the time to read it.

By the way, there is an interesting story behind my first-ever (there were a few other books I bought since then) online purchase:

After failing to receive my precious book after four weeks, I sent an email to the online bookstore complaining about the delay. Less than a day later I received a reply from the company, apologizing for the delay which they attributed to a possible SNAFU in the postal service.

To compensate, they informed me that they will be mailing another copy of the book, free of charge — in case the book lands somewhere in Timbuktu instead of good old RP. And what do you know, a day after receiving that email, the notice from the post office arrived. It was the long awaited book! I hurriedly sent an email to inform them that the package had already arrived, albeit weeks late, and that a replacement copy is not needed anymore.

Again, less than a day later, I get the reply from the company telling me that they’ve already sent the book via special delivery, and that I can either keep the extra copy, or donate it to a local library (which I eventually did).

Now THAT’s what I call service…

Oh, and the guy whom I was exchanging emails with? it was Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

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And amnesty for all…

Let’s take a break from my whining about my “senior moment” and lost opportunities for a while, and tackle a more serious issue…

I like Senator Richard Gordon. He’s one of the handful of senators that I admire and respect, and who I believe would make a far better president than the rest of the “presidentiables”. But that proposal of his, granting amnesty to the Abu Sayaf, is making me think twice about his effectiveness as a leader.

Giving pardon to kidnappers and murderers is without a doubt, THE.WORST.IDEA.EVER. It is in fact, the worst idea of all worst ideas — possibly a notch higher than that stupid Lina Law that favors illegal squatters more than the landowners.

Come to think of it, they’re both the same in that it rewards rather than punish lawbreakers.

Amnesties are pardons usually given by the state to a group of people or organization that it is in conflict with — be it about political or religious ideology — of which the ultimate purpose is reconciliation. The Abu Sayaf, however, is neither a political nor a religious organization. Far from it, really. For all their huffing and puffing about social injustice and religious inequality, they are no more than a ragtag bunch of well-armed hoodlums out to make a quick buck at the expense of others.

What’s more, giving amnesty to these vicious criminals would be an added slap on the face of the victims — who still have yet to receive justice by the way — of their nefarious trade.

Also, amnesty comes with a price, foremost of which are the laying down of arms and the cessation of hostility by its beneficiaries towards the state. Does the good senator actually believe that these people, who’d rather have their guns pried from their cold, dead hands than give them up, will voluntarily lay down their Kalashnikovs, M-16s and RPGs?

Sorry Dick, you may be one of the more intelligent among our lawmakers, as well as the most eloquent speaker of the bunch, but you ain’t gonna convince everyone that this bright idea of yours will bring forth the long-sought after peace in the far south, and end the spate of kidnappings that has turned into a profitable cottage industry.

No sir, amnesty for them will not show the sincerity of the government’s effort to end hostilities. What it WILL show is the government’s inherent weakness in dealing with these so-called rebels and its willingness to kowtow to the whims of the few for the sake of peace.

What were you thinking, man? And I thought I was the one having a senior moment…

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