Friday, November 24, 2006

A Heartbreaking Blogpost Of Staggering Genius

When you come home from a far-away place, everything hits you in thick, choking impressions. The smells are strangely familiar, yet they’re new. The faces harder, the shadows darker. People try to strike a conversation, but subtly -- nobody notices it -- I recoil -- their voices are like coming from an answering machine that got recorded a long time ago, and only now you’re hitting that Play button. What I mean is, you see new things, not necessarily good things, or not necessarily bad. Just same old, but different.

It always happens this way. Given a long-enough time, everybody you’ve known in your life becomes strangers – old drinking buddies, former sweethearts, even your parents. People you knew become people you don’t know, or wouldn’t like to.

I’ll tell you about jamais vu. It’s dejavu’s opposite.

Some years ago, when I was still in the thick of a long-term relationship, I woke up one night – I remember I saw 2 AM on the bedside clock – and I was disconcerted to find a woman in my bed. I remember the feeling of genuine shock. Who is she? And why is she not wearing anything? And where am I?

Another time, I was in a shopping mall with the same ex girlfriend. And because it takes her ten fifillion years to buy a pair of shoes, I let her try on one pair after another while I browsed CDs in the record bar. 30 minutes later, somebody taps me on the shoulder, smiles at me, and says, “Look, aren’t these shoes so cute?”

For a good five seconds, I didn’t know who she was. But as swift as the nonrecognition were things falling back in the same places. Oh, it’s her, alright.

Four years ago, when one of my childhood buddies suddenly died of leptospirosis, I was at his wake, I was staring down at his dead face. I remember feeling nothing. There was nothing. I was empty. This was a person I had so many fights with when we were kids. I used to “assassinate” him with a handful of dried dog turd on his way home from school. He used to lay siege on our house, howling by our gate with a baseball bat, calling me names that were both annoying and funny at the same time. But he was a good friend when we were both on our good side. But he was dead, and I felt nothing. And I realize it was because I don’t remember him.

This non-remembrance cuts both ways.

I often speak with friends or with my brother or my sister, about something that happened a long time ago, and they wouldn’t have any recollection of it. More and more I realize if I’m the only person who remembers something, and nobody else remembers it, did those things really happen? Did they take place? Didn’t I just imagine them? Is there really more fiction and less fact floating in the space between people?

My ex girlfriend calls me up one day. We chat. I don’t talk about the past. People move on, I say. We all should. But when things are not going well on her side of the world, she calls me up and drags me with her to the past. It’s all silly. The sad thing is, the things I remember, she doesn’t. While the things she remembers – all of them – are things I perfectly remember, too.

This continues to disconcert and hurt me. I’m a walking sack full of memories, and I resent having to own them all. I didn’t invent them. I confabulate a lot, but I have stuff that are sacred, that I want everybody else to recall. I tell somebody, “Remember that one time, I was trying to peep at your sister taking a bath …?” And when they don’t remember it, I’d drown in some ardent urge to slug them with a lead pipe, and beg them to remember the goddamn thing, dredge their own memory, bring it back and admit that they, too, remember. Because it’s not fair, isn’t it? I feel so unbearably lonely. Am I the only one who’s supposed to “cherish” memories I’ve shared with other people? Even if you console me with some nice patronizing explanation, such as other people have less-than-perfect mental faculties, I’m still taking it badly. I still find it disturbing.

But recently, I’m learning. I’m beginning to grow my own zen-like wisdom. I’m finding myself saying, “What’s that again? Did I call you shitbag? DID I CALL YOU SHITBAG?” Or, “Funny, but I don’t think I remember I screwed you. But I do remember sniffing that dog's butt.”

I’m finding myself becoming like everybody else, or worse.

But then the thought hits me: what if we’re all just pretending to forget? Pretending to not, well, remember? That we say the things we say, do the things we do, not because they’re real, but because it’s some sad form of self-protection. Like some exoskeleton we use to deflect the daggers thrown our way.

And if it is, isn’t this world so beautiful – full of people who are empty and dead, long before they actually die.

Cheers. It’s fucking nice to be back.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Manny Pacquiao's New Killer Combo Moves

Manny Pacquiao personally emailed me the killer combo moves he's going to use this weekend to put an end to Erik Morales's silly affectations.

The killer combo moves Freddy Roach "invented" for Manny are:

1. "Magic Sing" Fatality Strike: Down, Up, 4
2. "No Fear" Torso Punch: Forward, Forward, 4.
3. "Darlington Socks" Torso Explosion: Forward, Back, 3
4. The "Ronald McDonald" Decapitation: Forward, Forward, 1
5: Ripping Out Erik's Spine Using the "Magnolia" Combo: Up, Up, 4
6. Impale Erik With The New "Alaxan-Datu Puti" Arm-as-sharp-stake Combo: Up, Down, Up, 4

Fuss Over Laos

The womenfolk in my AOH (area of habitat) were squabbling. The cute daughter of one of them was joining in some United Nations parade, and the kid in question was assigned to represent the country Laos. That won’t happen, the mother was saying, because what would people say if they’d see on the kid’s sash the humiliating words, “Miss Laos.”

It turned out, nobody had no idea what kind of country Laos was, and they thought the teacher was making fun of the kid. In the local language, “laos” in English means something like “washed up” or “has been.” It’s the word you use when you're describing Nora Aunor or one-year-old cell phones. “Miss Laos,” therefore, was very bad for the kid’s self-esteem.

So I came out and pretended I was just walking by. Then casually, I just blurted, “You know what, ladies, Laos is a very rich, highly advanced country.”

All eyes turned to me.

“Laos is so rich and advanced, they have colonies on the moon,” I said. “Laos donates billions of dollars to Japan every month, and Japan is already rich!”

“But Laos sounds… funny,” said the mother.

“No, Laos is not funny. Laos is in fact much better than the Philippines. Half of all the satellites orbiting the Earth have been launched by Laos.”

“Not only that,,” I said, “Laos invented the elephant.”

The ladies chuckled.

“Yeah,” I said. “A bunch of scientists from Laos gathered one day and decided the world could not live on horse alone. They needed something bigger. So they invented the elephant. Which makes “elephant” an original word from Laos. Check the encyclopedia and you'll see.”

Nobody said anything; they just looked at one another and maybe pretended thinking. This is what happens when you’ve somehow earned a reputation as the resident, self-proclaimed know-it-all; people begin to take your words seriously. They see me pounding on my shiny computer, solemnly shaking my head at a wilting plant, mouthing Latin-sounding names that are at least five syllables long, seeing that I actually subscribe to fancy science magazines, and they begin thinking you couldn’t possibly be wrong, ever. Several months of serving them scrumptious megadoses of truths and half-truths that now I can dance on the wide open space of the Bullshit Highway. Now, it would be difficult for somebody else to convince them that Bullshitum ad infinitum is not exactly the scientific name of the Philippine president (or any politician, for that matter).

For example, I told somebody a while ago that the original title of Nick Joaquin's The Woman Who Had Two Navels was The Woman Who Had Two Navels...Yeah, Baby, Yeah! And she believed it. I told another that the first English translation of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere was Don’t Touch Me Here, But Touch Me There. That those groundbreaking titles were unfortunately scrapped by uninspired editors in favor of banal, conventional ones we now know today.

“Laos,” I said, “is a very cool country. So if there’s somebody who makes fun of Miss Laos, tell them, ‘You ignorant baboon, Laos is where all rich Americans go to retire and enjoy the good life.'”

I have no idea what happened after that. I just realized later nobody was talking about Laos, anymore. I gather that the kid was very happy about the parade. I would ask the kid about how parading around as Miss Laos felt, but she’s smarter than everybody else; she’d know it was I. And who wants that to happen?