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50… and it sucks

Victor Hugo once said that “forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age”. And yet another great man, Mark Twain, I believe, quoted that ” age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. Well, in a few days time (June 22 in case you’re interested) I will be celebrating a half century of living in this crazy crazy world, and I can tell you honestly and without batting my short eyelashes that it sucks to high heavens. Yes, you read it right, IT SUCKS! I mean, who would actually believe that having lesser energy and having chronic back and joint aches are a good thing, and that an advancement in age (and in this case, over advancement) is just in one’s mind? I tell ya, all those nicely written quotes extolling the virtues and joys of getting old are pure, unadulterated BS — sayings that I think were just to ease up the usual jitters and anxiety of the awful realization that things are not going to be what it’s used to.

Funny, when I was younger (well, ok… A LOT younger, like when I was a teenager) I wanted to be older so that I can finally do things that I wanted like drive around without anyone looking over my shoulders, spend my money on things without worrying what my parents would say (and do to me if they find out I’ve been spending on useless things). In short, do anything, and I mean anything, stupid or not, without asking for consent. Do things on my own terms and best of all, go watch an adult movie without the guilt, hah!

Know what? Now that I’ve practically done all those things I suddenly realized that getting old isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Sure, there are some benefits to getting older but health-wise, you’re just a few steps away from having heart disease and all sorts of life-threatening ailments that, like it or not, comes with getting old. You come to grips with fear, and anxiety as years pass and you dread every minute you spend inside a doctor’s clinic thinking, “what the hell is it this time?”.

Oh sure, 50 is still young and am still 15 years away from being qualified for a senior citizen’s card; while some may even go as far as to say that 70 years old is still in the distant future, but you if you think about it, 20 years isn’t that far off — at least not for someone who spends the day counting the days — remember, we’ve just celebrated (is that even the right way to say it?) the 20th anniversary of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. It was an event that is still fresh in everyone’s mind like it was only yesterday — at least for those over thirty years of age.

Perhaps, if I had my own family to fall back on I’d be thinking differently about getting older. But I don’t, unfortunately, and the reality that I will spending the last days of my life alone and not unlike the grumpy old men that one sees in the movies — complaining and ranting about practically everything — in an old folks home is fast becoming a reality as days pass quickly. And unless one is filthy rich (which I am not), or is financially well-off (which I hardly am, by the way), the odds of finding someone who will love and care for you for the rest of your miserable years is, well… nil. It would indeed be a miracle if someone comes along and accepts you, warts and all, for what you are and not for what you have. But that’s really stretching things too far since I ain’t lucky, and have never been good, with women anyway.  Ah well, that’s just me being selfish that’s all, always thinking about me, me and me. The sooner that I accept the reality that things are, in my case, going to go down the drain in the years to come the easier, perhaps, it will be for me to settle into this thing called old age.

Ah well, that’s just life for you…

Anyways, now that I’ve let things out of my chest, back to blogging… again. It’s been a while since my last post, obviously as one can see, and just as well since there’s not much happening in my life lately… at least, nothing worth blogging anyway. Oh sure I’ve lots of things to rant about (notice I didn’t include “rave” since there’s not much to rave about these days) like the ongoing senate brouhahas, the RH Bill and the events of the past two months like the execution of three Pinoy drug mules all the way to the current issue in the Spratly Islands, but somehow I just didn’t feel like writing about them, or my take on those events. Either I’m too Goddamn tired of writing or my muse just wasn’t doing her job inspiring me these days. Heck, even my writing stint at the POC is greatly affected by my bout of laziness.

Anyways, in an effort to show some normalcy in my blogging (as well as this long-neglected blog) life I decided to  post some pictures that, well, sort of tell the story of what’s been happening lately in my less-than-significant and boring life.

Meet Elmer, the recent addition to our family.

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He’s a purebred dachshund that I acquired more than two months ago, and who is now creating havoc around the house with his antics. A teething pup isn’t really for the impatient, but dang, he is really cute and lovable when he wants to be.

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And what about our diva slash hound Arabella? Well, she’s gone now. Nope, she’s still alive and well but we’ve sort of dispatched her to another and much better location that would, I believe, better suit her hyperactive nature. Late last year we asked a dog-loving family friend to adopt her after she became somewhat difficult to handle (I guess moving to this tinier place was a bit too much for her) and she would sometimes resort to nipping at other people, the maid especially. The large compound where she now resides have been good for her and she can run (and boy, she really loves to run) around freely. And the good news is, ok, it’s a surprise, really, is that she became pregnant and later bore four pups. Unfortunately though, only two survived. Even the family friend was surprised as Arabella, at  seven years of age, isn’t exactly THAT young and this was her first litter. He resorted to calling the pups, menopause puppies.

Anyone who’s been following this blog would by now know that I frequently post pictures and write about my food trips… oh well more likely food binges. Most would recall that many of the grubs that I sample from the different food places I visit would consist of greasy, and yes, mostly unhealthy but sooo delicious foods that, if consumed daily, would in all probability lead to a heart attack. Well, all that has changed lately. Not only have I started to cut down on my food intake (that is, if I can help it), I’m also trying to wean away from the fatty, greasy foods that I loved so much. These days, I limit my rice intake, as well as meat and rely more on veggies and fish. I guess old age and the ever-looming threat of a heart failure contributed to my 180 degree turnabout.

While I do consume a good amount of veggies in the past, nowadays, I tend to double the intake and whenever possible, I order salads instead of the usual fare of meats whenever I eat out. Like in CYMA, the Greek/Mediterranean resto that I patronize for instance, I prefer this tuna salad over the meat and potatoes that I usually consume and man, does it taste good! And yes, that’s raw tuna meat and some fish (also raw) that I couldn’t identify (have to check on the menu for that) and an assortment of fresh vegetables and olives, plus feta cheese and potatoes. If that ain’t healthy for you, I don’t know what is…

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Oh, and in addition to TRYING to eat healthier, quitting cigarettes (but you know about that, don’t you?) I started to exercise as well — and that is after about two decades of inactivity. Since late last year I’ve been spending time walking and running and sweating it out on my treadmill (yes, I also bought one for the purpose) for 30-35 minutes, four to five times a week. Am still far off from qualifying for the marathon though and equally far off winning the battle of the bulge around my waistline, but I do plan to continue and is still aiming for that holy grail of middle-aged baby-boomers: losing twenty++ pounds. I may have increased my resistance on the treadmill but still suck at the weight-loss department. I’m not really that fat, as some of you who have met me know, but I do need to lose a few inches as well as poundage on the midsection. So, any suggestions, aside from having liposuction??

And last, but not the least, here’s something that I caught while inside a supermarket…

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With it’s size and financial might, you’d think that SM Supermarket Inc. would have hired a proofreader just for this purpose.

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Car woes…

Here’s a couple of good reason for me — or for any motorist for that matter — to exterminate with extreme prejudice those  frigging Jeepney drivers and wipe them off the face of this planet…

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Oh yes, those are my car’s driver’s and rear passenger doors… after getting plowed by an errant jeepney.

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It happened last week just a few meters away from the place where I work. The jeepney, one of the many that use the already narrow street in front of our office as their own garage and private terminal, was on a reverse course (read: going the wrong way on a one way street) presumably to get in line in their makeshift terminal in the corner. For some unknown reason, the stupid driver never noticed I was on his path and kept on going. I tried to give way by swerving but it was too late, the bumper had already hit the driver’s side door. As if that wasn’t enough to jolt him (and me), the jeepney continued to plow its merry way to the passenger side door…

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… and finally ending its path of destruction on  my rear fender.

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Pissed, no, actually, I was more than pissed, I was furious at the driver who had just now realized what he had done. But the worst was yet to come. Confronting the driver and trying to keep my cool (that was after I hurled a few unprintables at the guy) at the same time, I decided to forgo the usual exchange of insurance info (just as well since you’ll have a tougher time asking for insurance from these jeepney operators) I just told him to pay me for the damage he had done which, in my estimate, would be around P10,000 minimum, and we’re done.

To make a long story short, I never got the full amount that I wanted. “Driver lang po ako eh, wala naman akong ganyang kalaking halaga (I’m just a driver and I don’t have that much money with me)” was all he could mutter, and said that he’ll talk to the vehicle’s owner, or operator, to help pay for the damages. Thing is, the operator was also broke as hell, and I was only able to get less than half of what am about to spend fixing the car, and unfortunately, wouldn’t be enough to pay for the other expenses such as insurance participation either.

I don’t have anything against jeepney drivers (well, ok, I do have a LOT of beef against them), they are, after all, making an honest living like everyone else in the city. But the sad, and oftentimes infuriating thing is, these guys can be arrogant as hell, and that’s the reason why the jeepney is oftentimes called “the king of the road”. And yet, when push comes to shove such as what happened to me last week, all these road warriors could mutter is “sorry na lang”…


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Forgoing my usual oatmeal breakfast I decided to make a cheese  sandwich instead, so this morning I decided to pop open up a recently (as in just a day or two ago) brought ‘Magnolia Cheese Spread’, or Cheezee, as it is popularly known in these islands, for breakfast. And this was what greeted me under the cap…

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Molds and fungus that seemed to have made a comfy home for themselves on top of the spread. Man, I never realized that cheese could go this bad even in storage…

Thing is, based on what was printed on the cap, the spread is still good for at least two more months. So what happened??

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I brought this one from Waltermart in Munoz last Wednesday, if I’m not mistaken, and would have brought it back to them pronto were it not for the fact that I’ve lost the receipt; so I did the next best thing… call the Magnolia Customer Service Hotline. I was able to talk to a customer service rep and she promised to pass my complaint to the company’s quality control people who will then investigate (investigate what?? your product turned sour, period!) the matter.

From the look of things, San Miguel Corp, or Waltermart, owes me a year’s worth of groceries… just kidding. I just want my money back…

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The 60s (part 2)

Before and after the last World War — at least up until the 1960s — Manila was, for a good number of Filipinos particularly for those living in the far provinces, THE center of the universe. To every young and able-bodied lad up in the boondocks and quiet seaside towns, bustling and energetic Manila was where their unfulfilled dreams lie. It was, they believed, where work can easily be found and where fortunes, at least for those who worked hard, are readily made.

Long before the Middle East and its petrodollars beckoned — and decades before the term OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) became synonymous with adventurous fortune-seeking Pinoys — Manila is the place to go to for any struggling Juan de la Cruz of the time.

Businesses were booming and blossoming all over. The city offered opportunities that were as bright as its colorful neon lights at night. Mass migrations, which started right after the war, continued throughout the decade. Next to the unabated growth in the birth rate, the continuing arrival of hopeful, wide-eyed fortune seekers is believed to be the contributing factor in the city’s unprecedented growth — and unfortunately, contributed as well to the growth of squatter colonies in and around the city, thus starting its long, slow and agonizing decay.

This slow descent towards decay is very evident in the old neighborhood where I grew up and lived in for almost my entire life, before moving to Quezon City a few months ago. One can only take so much abuse on his senses, and the old neighborhood had practically gone to the dogs, so to speak. The Divisoria of my youth, although busy and teeming with people during the day, refreshingly turns into a virtual ghost town every night, with nary a crowd of vendors and bargain seekers in sight. It was quiet when it needed to be, and except for a few jeepneys making their last trip, that stretch of Juan Luna Street was, in most parts, empty during the night.

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The 60s

Note: I was asked to do a piece by my Buhay Pinoy editor about life during the sixties. Actually, I was  given a choice between this decade and the seventies, I chose this era instead, and for a good reason; somehow, even when I was still too young to recall everything in those days, the decade was more memorable than the decade when zits started to appear on my face…

It was folk singer Don McLean who may have summed up best this decade with a line in his song, “American Pie:” Oh and there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space, with no time left to start again.
He was of course referring to the 1960s, or “The Sixties” as it is widely referred to in popular culture, that particular time in the last century that saw great upheavals and changes — in both social and political scenes — around the world.

An era that produced the hippies, the flower children and flower power as a symbol of non-conformity against the all-powerful establishment, it was a time very much different from the rather subdued decade that preceded it. The 50s may have brought forth Rock n’ Roll to this world but it was still far from being labeled as “rebellious.”

It wasn’t until the emergence of the counterculture (whose anti-war slogan “Make Love Not War” still rings true to this day) in the 60s that real change began to happen. The social revolution that followed initiated new, exciting, radical, and subversive events and trends. It redefined everything that was, until then, considered as the norm. Suddenly, the youth, who for decades have been reined in by its tradition-bound elders, had finally found its voice. This newly-found radicalism among the restless and dissatisfied generation continued to develop well into the later part of the 60s, thus influencing the decades that followed it.

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Pila!!!

“It’s one of the curses of modern society”, said an older and much wiser colleague once, after patiently listening to one of my endless rants. “There are times when you will have to bite the bullet, so to speak, and go with the flow, otherwise you’ll go insane; might as well just grin and bear it, and remind yourself that soon, very soon…. the wait will be over and this too shall pass.”

Wise words to live by, especially when you are about to blow a fuse or burst a vein somewhere in your body.

That colleague was of course referring to that least-liked modern human phenomenon that, unfortunately, for us big-city folks, has become a fact of life, and will in all probability be here to stay: the line.

I hate lines, period. Boring, and time-consuming, it’s one of those things in life that would no sooner turn a seemingly good day into bad. Long lines, be it inside a fast food joint, a theater, department store, ATMs, and my all-time favorite: the supermarket check-out counter, where the waiting time can often go to the extremes, have long been a major source of aggravation for me (as well as for anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in between) — more so when it stretches from here to the Batanes islands in the far north.

Patience, I guess, is one virtue (among the many, I’m afraid) that has yet to be bestowed upon me, even after all these years.

But more than the slow-moving lines and lines that seem to go nowhere, what perhaps gets my goat every time I get stuck in a line are the queue jumpers — people who purposely (with, or without permission) cut through a line in order to get ahead of the others.

These, in my opinion, are the most inconsiderate, and perhaps the lowest form of human beings that have ever walked this earth — down on the same level as some uncouth jeepney, bus and pedicab drivers. Okay I was just being overly dramatic, but it does show you how things can get pretty emotional (and at times, physical) when it comes to defending one’s pole position inside a line.

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Untitled

In government, a vice president is a person whose primary responsibility is to replace the president on the event of his or her death, resignation or incapacity. In other words, he acts as a back-up president — someone who would fill the position in case there’s a vacuum in leadership.

In many presidential systems, the vice president does not wield much day-to-day political power, but is still considered an important member of the cabinet. So unless something happens to the head or top honcho, the Vice president’s duties will, at best, be mostly ceremonial (you know, boring activities like ribbon-cutting, dinner functions and other stuff should the boss be too busy or unwilling to attend), and, like some drab-colored wallpaper, will likely remain in the background until the end of his term. In fact, a lot of past vice presidents faded into oblivion, and is seldom remembered (quick, can you, without googling, tell me who was Marcos’ vice president, or even Diosdado Macapagal’s veep?).

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June is not a good month for me. It never was, and it probably never will be. If anything bad is going to happen in my life it will, like clockwork, always happen on this very month. Weird, but true. Several unexpected things have already happened and believe me, it wasn’t all that good and favorable. Take last weekend for instance: I was on my computer writing some stuff when suddenly, a blinding flash came from outside my bedroom window, and it was followed by an ear-splitting thunderclap that sounded more like a “super lolo” firecracker than a thunder. The next thing I knew, all the tiny flickering lights on my dsl modem went dead, taking my internet connection along with it. I tried reviving the modem using every trick in the book but, no dice. Somehow, the freak thunderstorm outside may have screwed up the electronics inside the modem. I called the Bayantel hotline and told them of my problem, and they promptly sent a technician the next day. After a little tinkering the technician was able to trace the source of the problem: the power adapter. It was totally fried, and may have indeed been affected by the lightning strike. The modem was fine though, all it needed was a new adapter. But the worst wasn’t over… yet. Turns out, it wasn’t just the modem’s adapter that was fried, but my laptop’s LAN card as well, which means that there wasn’t any frigging way that I’ll be able to use the modem. Which also means, no internet connection… gaah!

PS: Since I’m always chasing deadlines for The POC on a regular basis it would probably take some time before I’ll be able to have the laptop fixed, so for the meantime I’m confined to using my backup connection: Sun Broadband’s prepaid wireless connection, which, sad to say, isn’t what it used to be. But hey, at least I have internet connection, right?

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