Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Susan and the Infinite Sadness"

I had been cleaning up my hard drive when I found an old story I had written several months ago. It’s called “Susan and the Infinite Sadness” and I sort of wrote it along the usual plot lines of the Maalaala Mo Kaya classic Tagalog drama. Except it’s written in English, a language I constantly use to subtly hide some vomit-friendly plot twists I tend to make.

Be forewarned, though: the story’s so sappy no print publication agreed to publish it. As the old-timers used to say, it’s not only corny, it’s cornichon! Today, however, I’m posting it online in celebration of the World Sappy Short Stories Day, an awesome global event I invented two minutes ago.

So for avid readers of incredible tearjerking pseudo-romance stories (cleverly sprinkled with gratuitous and entirely unnecessary sex scenes), you may read the full text of “Susan and the Infinite Sadness” here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Great Moments In Government Employee Hotness

Dante's Moustache and Beard Beauty Parlor featuring 2007 image model Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.


"I'm very happy with Dante's state-of-the-art moustache-twirling service, beard rejuvenation and scrotum laser-resurfacing, now I have the drop-dead gorgeousness of my idol Dante Varona! Everytime I look in the mirror, I faint! Gosh, I'm that hot! No one will know I'm not actually an Earthling!"

-- James Jimenez, famous Filipino celebrity, teenage heartthrob, and incumbent Comelec spokesperson

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Overheard At The Supermarket #1

Supermarket somewhere in Manila. Two guys debating right by the shelves of fruit preserves and jars of processed honey.

Dude 1: alam mo, hindi nilalanggam ang honey.

Dude 2: nilalanggam rin iyan.

Dude 1: ang orig na honey, hindi nilalanggam. yung honey na may halong asukal, yun ang lalanggamin.

Dude 2: baka ang tinutukoy mo, nagki-crystallize. honey na may asukal, nagki-crystallize, yung orig, hindi. liquid forever. kahit malamig.

Dude 1: pareho din yun. ang honey na orig, walang halo, hindi nilalapitan ng langgam, hindi nagki-crystallize.

Dude 2: [pause] ano ka ba. kung betlog nga nilalanggam, honey pa? e mas matamis yun.

Both dudes leave. I grab one of the jars of honey and throw it into my cart. I'm thinking, maybe I'll smear some of this shit on my testicles and wait for the ants, see who's right. It's okay. All for the sake of science. Then I'll post the findings of my randomized, double-blind experiment later, just to rid the world of debates like that one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Koko Pimentel Removes Koko Krunch Off The Shelves; Pichay Blames Everybody Except His Mother

Disappointed that not even years of clever subliminal advertising could win him a Senate seat, Koko Pimentel recently ordered thousands of boxes of Koko Krunch breakfast cereals taken off supermarket shelves. If not even the subtle resemblance of the breakfast cereal's character to his own face could endear him to the hearts of voters, Koko said during a press conference, then screw this country.

"From now on, I will deny thousands of Filipinos who actually can afford to eat breakfast the pleasure of eating Koko Krunch.”

When pressed about the future of Koko Krunch, Koko Pimentel said they're not completely killing the product. "We're just considering changing it into something more effective, like Koko's Balls, because balls are so hot right now.”

Meanwhile, Prospero Pichay is considering suing his advertising agency for coming up with the stupid "Itanim sa Senado" campaign. Pichay said that although "Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo" bullshit was brilliant, he thought his own creation, "Pichay, isaksak sa baga ng Senado" would have given him a better chance of winning. Instead, his not-thinking-out-of-the-box handlers insisted in adopting the ever-corny "Itanim sa Senado" slogan. Hence, his tremendous loss.

"Anak ng puta, sinong gagong taga-syudad ang boboto sa akin sa itanim, itanim na iyan. Sa mga magsasaka lang at marijuana planters bumenta iyan e. Pati yung mga mascot na ginamit namin, hindi naman nakakatuwa yung mga yun e. Kung si Doraemon ginamit namin, patok sana. Tutal kamukha ko naman yun," Pichay fumed during a tete-a-tete with Amay Bisaya at Cafe Lawton.

You may remember that Pichay's "Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo" inspired tambays and common kriminals everywhere to come up with their own versions, like the following:

Smelly kid: Pangarap ko, makakain ng hotcake. Kahit one bite lang.

"Pagpag" hotcake street vendor: Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo!

Underpaid construction worker: Pangarap ko, makatagpo ng mumurahing babaeng mayayari.

60-year-old Doroteo Jose prostitute: Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo!

Senior high school student: Pangarap ko, makabili ng isang bloke ng jutes sa presyong abot ng allowance ko.

Marijuana dealer: Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo!

Manileno: Pangarap ko, magdilim at maging grabeng boring at corny ulit ang Maynila.

Alfredo Lim: Pangarap ko, tuparin ang pangarap mo!

Spells That Should Have Been in Harry Potter

Nut-tus Crackus - effective only against male Death Eaters.

Knickerus Disappearus - The spell everybody's reserving for Hermione once she gets legal.

Homo Detectus -- Harry's version of the "gaydar."

Biggus Dickus -- Dumbledore's favorite spell. Works like Viagra.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Articles of Faith

[I feel somewhat guilty for not posting anything here for a long time, so here's one of my old essays. Previously published, I just don't remember where.]


Somebody is raped, murdered, sodomized, robbed, mugged, destroyed. They are strangers all, and I find their stories in one morning, machine-printed on many, many pages of broadsheet. Their fates mar the serenity of my well-ordered existence—like dye stains on an otherwise exquisite arabesque, they disturb me with the magnitude of their senselessness, with the breadth and depth of how they crush my sense of order in the universe.

Every morning I die. Every morning some recurrent darkness overcomes me. There it is, the newspaper, settled innocently on my table, its silence ominous. The newspaper reeks of screams of mindless bloodshed, so thick you can perhaps cut the screams with a knife, pun unintended. And as soon as I muster enough courage to untangle the stories about the previous day, it shatters the fragile shell that weakly holds my sense of ought-to’s.

Each time I open the newspaper, I lose hope. And losing all hope, like what Fight Club’s Tyler Durden realized, is freedom. Hopelessness is freedom. You have nothing to lose, you have nothing to fear about. You just go around and run down the asphalt road, finding comfort in the fact that it matters little whether you are all-wheel-drive or not, whether your brakes are okay or not, whether you’re bulletproofed or not. Because in the end, life is just a matter of walking through a room bristling with Damocles’ swords; that because you have little to do about it anyway, it’s better to just let go.

In a way, it’s magical when terror actually becomes anodyne, relief, some sort of painkiller. Read all the bad news, and the senselessness of it all begins to turn around and becomes something that calms you down. Depression becomes euphoria. And Mondays become good days.

And when night comes I dream, and when I dream, I am actually shedding off all those useless and potentially harmful information that would have otherwise undermined my mental health (that is, if I can still be considered ‘mentally healthy’). I dream about social order because there’s no social order. I dream about god because there’s no god. I dream about peace on Earth because there’s no peace on Earth.

In dreams, my poor brain expresses the things I can never articulate in words. Other writers who came before me—intellectual giants who’ve won cool accolades like the Nobel or the Pulitzer or, in a lesser sense, the Palanca—have succeeded in doing so, but only to a certain dismal extent. Language is inert, it is dead, and words are cheap, wanting; there is so much in human experience that can never be explained in mere words, that can never be captured with the cold syntax of oral communication.

Maybe I will disappear without understanding what the world is really about in my waking life. I will understand it only in dreams, only in the blur of everyday images and sounds, only in the blink-of-an-eye flux of my sensory experience. In other words, the only way I arrive at The Truth is through the fluff of what can be considered as illusions.

But sometimes, epiphanies come when the right moment finds the right place, allowing me to slip through a shortcut to The Truth. I once found one such epiphany in a tragic part of Joseph Heller’s novel, Catch 22. Yossarian, the main character, discovers the entirety of human existence when anti-aircraft flak blasts his comrade, Snowden. Yossarian holds the dying Snowden in his arms, stares at Snowden’s entrails slithering down to the floor in a soggy pile and screams in horror. He sees Snowden’s liver, lungs, kidney, ribs, stomach and bits of the stewed tomatoes Snowden had eaten for lunch and right then and there, Yossarian realizes human beings’ real worth: “Man was matter... Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.”

The newspaper spills out Snowden’s secret each morning. And each morning, I struggle to find a place to inhabit its truth, no matter how bitter. And each morning when the magic comes (when terror becomes relief), I wait in my corner and watch the rest of the week fly by like mindless pelicans.

And after that, you know what I do?

I go home.


There is a strange new smell from somewhere, wafting through the half-open window. There is another crease on my mother’s forehead, and my father’s laughter has lost yet another almost inaudible strain of surety. And on a wall in my room, there is a spidery crack that I never noticed before.

I go home to a house that, like a long day, now feels rolling towards sunset. It is the house I’ve grown up in, my cradle for almost two decades. I know its every crevice, every flake of peeling paint, every chipped concrete off the wall, every amber-colored layer of age on the furniture. On idle days I walk about and make random taps on the walls or look closely at jambs and awnings and wonder how the house would look like long after we are gone. The house feels like a wife you know will outlive you, and you spend nights thinking about the next man she’ll love, the next man who will sleep with her in your bed. Would he be gentle with her, would he understand why she keeps trimming her nails and frowns when it rains? Would he patiently wait when she takes too long in the bathroom? Would he be brave enough to pretend delight when she botches a recipe?

I tiptoe up the stairs and touch the handrail as I would brush a woman’s skin. I turn the doorknob with the same gentleness I would hold the hand of a loved one. When it’s my task to clean the rooms, I pursue every lint and piece of dirt with the decisiveness of an avowed savior. I go out in our little backyard in the morning, the sun crisp on my skin, and look at the house’s crumbling lines and tangents and think, this house is a human being, the sixth member of the family, the silent witness when long ago I discovered I’ve inherited a biochemical defect that dooms my neurons and condemns me to be genetically stupid for the rest of my life.

The house has voices that echo about the walls when every other sound has died down: the ghosts of children’s laughter, good-natured banter of friends that came and gone, worried murmurs, Carlos Jobim from the phonograph, the long-ago hum of Sunday afternoons. When I enter it sometimes I am greeted by an odor that brings back the sweet smell of my mother’s bosom—the scent of some baby cologne she once shared with her kids, the scent that reminds me of when my mother was 31 and slim and beautiful and I was small and the de-facto defender of an even smaller brother.

The house is a squeaky stage where the five of us players continue to cling to our roles in our own little soap opera. Often, my role is inescapably escapist, the Prince of Denial, the last to believe when a sad fact descends—like how I still refuse to believe that my mother is now hypertensive and my father now struggles with his memory and judgment. When talks veer toward ‘necessary upheavals’ (weddings and us children eventually leaving the nest, for example), they are often attacked by nameless fears and a deepening sense of things getting narrower and shorter. And during such times, when my mother’s blood pressure shoots up and my father stammers for the right words to articulate his pain, I tell them everything will be all right. Then I go to my room and try to sleep, painfully aware that at such times, even the old house, our sixth member, loses its power to reassure and calm; that without us, it is after all an empty shell.

Sleep the sleep of the just, so they say. And now I think the crack on the wall is longer (an earthquake of enough intensity might soon tear my room in half). A song from somewhere rises thinly in the air like vapor. The song, Tracy Chapman’s, plays tug-of-war with what I’m thinking. “Sometimes a lie is the best thing,” Tracy sings. “Sometimes a lie...” I begin to hum along as I drift off to sleep, waiting for the magical anodyne twist, waiting for the mad laughter to kick in, waiting for the old house to come alive and tell me everything will be all right.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Talking with an online scammer

I don't usually pay attention to emails appearing in my inbox trying to convince me to turn over personal financial information, enlarge my penis and boobs, or sell me a house in Antarctica. But this week, I have been receiving a 419-type scam email that caught my attention and curiosity because, unlike earlier versions that were mostly set in South Africa, this one was Asian.

Now, for those who don't yet know what online scammers are, they are bad people, kids. So don't take whatever lollipop they're trying to give you.

For context, below is the said scam email:

Dear Sir/madam,
I am the GBM (Chairman) of Chen Hsong Holdings Limited ( This Company was Established since 1958. After half a century of endless efforts, Chen Hsong has grown from a small machinery workshop to one of the largest manufacturers of injection moulding machines in the world.Chen Hsong Holdings Limited, Produces, Exclusive circular platen (patended), ichen shop- floor Networked management system, Ductile iron casting and machining, Jetmaster minijet series, Jetmaster MKIV series, Jetmaster large series, CHEN-PET Two-stage preform moulding turnkey system, jetmaster C Series, E.T.C. Due to long association with our suppliers and our thorough understanding of the working condition in the Industry;
It iS upon this note that we are writing you this mail to seek your assistance in representing our company in your locality as our RECEIVING AGENT/REPRESENTATIVE.One who will act as a medium for our clients in those locality to be reaching us with their payments and so on. Note that as a receiving Agent of our company,You will be entitled to TEN Percent Payment of any amount you receive from our customers We seek your Sincere cooperation and assistance to establish a cordial relationship with our clients.To facilitate the conclusion of this proposal if accepted,Please send us the following Information
1)Your Full name..............and present occupation............
2) Telephone number..............and Fax..............
3) Contact address................
4) Age................
Thanks in anticipation.
Dr. Chiang Chen
GBM (Chairman)
Chen Hsong Holdings Limited

So around three days ago, when I had received for the third time the same email, I thought maybe I should have fun and "respond" to it. So I fired off this response:

Dear Esteemed Sir:

I'd be glad to be of service to you, but only after you send me first your full name, address, telephone numbers, and a high-definition, DRM-free video of yourself happily sucking your dog's cock, preferably in 16:9 aspect ratio.

Very truly yours,

Your future business associate

Then I forgot about it. I thought the scammer got the message. But late that night, I found this response in my inbox.


what is 169 aspect ratio? please send contact numbers and name please.

This got my juices flowing. There's a person on the other end of the line, and he's probably not as smart as I thought he was. So I replied:

Dear Esteemed Sir:

It's 16:9 aspect ratio, which simply means if you can help it, send me the kind of video i can watch on a widescreen TV. I'm sure in the headquarters of your fast-rising company, of which you are Chairman, there are lots of teevees lying around. If it looks squarish, that's 4:3. I don't want that. I want widescreen. To make sure the TV is wide screen, you may perform this standard operating procedure: stand in front of it, place both your arms on both sides of the TV, and if you can smell your armpit or you can see armpit hair peeking, that is widescreen. If not, proceed to another TV because I am sure it's just 4:3.

But going back to the business matter at hand, I hope you know where to locate your dog's important penis, and that you are well-versed in this normal human behavior. If you have not yet learned how to do it properly, please refer to that wonderful online website called YouTube, where you will find, as many of my own business associates have, tutorial videos of girls practicing the act by sucking on their thumbs.

Thank you and I hope this helps.

Very truly yours,

your future business associate

The scammer's reply:


sorry, please and stop calling me sir. i am women. please also send your contact where we can contact you and phone numbers please.

I replied:

Dear Esteemed Madam:

I deeply apologize for having assumed that you're a man. I shamefully forget that women now make up a significant part of the modern work force, and for that, please accept my apologies.

I would be happy, as always, to indulge you on your business request, but may I reiterate that I require you to send me first my own request. Let me put this simply: you give me something, I give you something. "Squid pro row," as my long-time business partner Austin Powers loves saying.

You being a woman only makes it exciting, but perhaps you may spice up the video by straddling a white picket fence and licking on a large, round lollipop in the sun. Smile to me please.

I hope I have made it very clear.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Your future business associate

The scammer replies again in less than an hour:


I ask to Serious please and please send us contact address and phone. we send money for the TEN percent of agent deal. tHanks.

I replied:

Dear Madam:

I assure you I am seriously considering doing business with you. And to prove my sincere business intentions, let me direct you to my business' official website and see if it pleases you:

Link to my office address.
[note: if you're reading this blogpost, you may not want to click on that link. I'm posting it here only to illustrate how fun it was "doing business" with this scum. it's a link to the infamous goatse]

Thank you and i hope to do business with you in the soonest time possible.

That last email was about two days ago, and I have yet to receive a response. But it's okay. Although I wasn't able to convince the scammer to make his own video version of Monty Python's the lumberjack song sketch, it's still nice to know that there's a real, live, scammer person at the other end of this civilized exchange. I only hope I could find him one day and personally hand him the business end of my titanium baseball bat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Great White Time

I was telling this person some months ago how somebody like me could become a blackhole.

ME: Is it possible for a human being to become a blackhole?

FRIEND: Quite possible. Happens all the time.

ME: No, what I mean is, to be BORED, really BORED, paint-drying-on-a-wall bored, Eddie-Murphy-screws-his-wife bored.

FRIEND: Watch porn. I watch porn when I’m bored.

ME: I also watch porn. But I’m bored with it.

FRIEND: Maybe you're just in some fucking existential limbo.

That's not the first time somebody told me I’m in limbo. I only have a vague idea why. People think I'm in limbo because (a) I've been single for the past two years; (b) I've been showing signs of erratic behavior, like saying the best way to fatten up chickens is feeding them with KFC or exactly the same thing my brother eats; (c) Because I still think The Vagina Monologues is one very sad, unwatchable piece of porn.

It's annoying when people have opinion like that. Because if there's anything we know in this silly world, it's that people's opinion is always entirely wrong, but it hits you just the same. It's like getting hit with rabbit dung and telling yourself, there, it's just rabbit dung. Rabbits eat nothing but grass and they’re cute, little furry things that stand for everything that’s nice and never bite back, so their crap must be so squeaky clean you can lick it. But you see it's still dung and you don't want to even touch it.

I’ve grown jaded to all these crazy everyday things that I’ve learned to selectively do the things that matter. And in my world, the things that matter are words. Words and why it’s not always possible to find the best of them. Here I am, trying to perfect and polish sentence after sentence after sentence of something I'll subsequently dislike. It's like crap. Like eating something good that the gods would eat, and you take a dump and it just smells shit, like the rest of them. You tell people, this is it, the shit, THE SHIT, you hear me? It's going to blow away their minds. But you sit down and look at what you've cobbled together so far, you see the gaping void in all the right places, and it just makes you cry. Somehow, you've missed it again. Because now there are holes where there were none before. Somehow, you’ve managed to prove, by some stroke of luck, that you're a darned idiot.

Because there are only two types of writers, as there are two types of people: those who arrogantly believe that they know THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, and those who are aware they have NO FUCKING CLUE about THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, but are arrogant just the same. I tend to believe I'm more of the latter type. Mostly the arrogance is buffed up by sheer jadedness. You have nothing to say? Just bitch; it doesn't matter. People listen, make choices, decide—not because they've thought through it, but because they want to move on and keep on running. People are just kids running around in circles, and they have attention spans as brief as their lives. So they hurry and do as many stuff they can possibly cram in a little lifetime, so they can die happy.

If life is completely bullshit-free, everyone would begin saying they are walking blackholes, that they are Just-Getting-By people, that the glass is not only half-empty, it's also poisoned. We've created, whipped, baked, served ourselves the daily golden platter of shining bullshit because it's exactly what we need—to NOT see that indifference and pointlessness are not metaphors but bleeding truths of the universe. But then, how many people would have the heart to be honest and have the strength to endure life without all the entertainment?

What I’m trying to get at is this: I’m a blackhole. I’m what Radioactive Sago Project would call a “bad motherfucker.” But I also happen to be a writer, an indefatigueable bearer of bullshit. On the other hand, what ordinary people need to avoid not becoming a blackhole like myself and remain ordinary is a constant supply of crap, so that they can all continue dancing and singing.

Can you see the irony? The world is full of bullshit. People become blackholes because they’ve rid themselves of bullshit in their personal lives. But in the process, they become writers, creators of all the bullshit that coats this planet in the first place. Some of us make the sacrifice to become blackholes in order to keep up the illusion of everyone else. Isn’t it a beautiful, awe-inspiring vicious cycle?

I guess the reason why people like myself end up writing is exactly the reason why bacteria divide and propagate. Because we want to see mirrors of ourselves infecting the world. When you get down to it, it’s all about the desperation to have people mention—not spit out—your name. Like making back-ups of your own thoughts and implanting them in all those around you so that when you lose your own, you can get it from others.

But only if it were that easy. I like getting the things I want and desire for, but it's not easy to dodge the subsequent low point. I like people loving me, but it feels heavy and the love [and hate, for that matter] is inexplicably frightening. Whenever I say I’m a walking blackhole, or a ready-made, do-it-yourself quantum crap kit, it's never easy to meet the inevitable cascade of follow-up questions.

Such as:

1. Why don't you take things seriously?

2. Why don't you believe in God?

3. Why don't you have a regular, office job, like everyone else in the



4. Why haven't you come up with a decent novel?

5. What the hell is that blog about?

6. Why is this soup so salty?

7. Did you just fart?

Which I try to sincerely answer, respectively, with:

1. "Seriosity" is a suicide pill.

2. Belief in God entails a very demanding lifestyle, which I've gladly ditched.

3. The Office is the One Singular Cause of the Downfall of Man, and it's a factory of slime-covered chickens who may resemble humans but aren't.

4. Because a novel is so much longer than my patience. But I’m getting there.

5. It's therapy.

6. I have no goddamn idea.

7. If you didn't hear it, did it really happen?

In the end, all everyone wants is to ask themselves, in their heart of hearts, and I’m paraphrasing the late great Amelita Malig here, the question: What do you really want?

And to answer it with: To wake up enthused. To be happy.

Without flinching and ducking and pretending it doesn’t matter. Because it fucking does. Watch Little Miss Sunshine and you’ll see.