Friday, July 28, 2006

My Humps

Ches and I went to The Black Eyed Peas' concert last night. My entire family, including the little boy, has always loved their songs. We're not exactly young and cool, but Ches was in his sky blue Beatles muscle shirt that I got for him, and I was in my chocolate Abercrombie spaghetti straps, and we could have easily passed for 29, I guess. I didn't think anyone was going to bar us bcoz we were over-aged (yikes!).

We got in 30 minutes late, just in time to see the band appear onstage. The place was jampacked, definitely more than the Beach Boys and Barney concerts we've attended of late. It was two and a half hours of nonstop partying and good, clean fun. Well, most of it, anyway. There was a portion where this guy who was introduced as the musical director played this instrument, and Fergie made like it was her body he was tinkering around with, complete with collapsing on the floor as tho in climax. I thought it was both clever and obscene at the same time, but I have no doubt that it was the favorite part of the entire male population in attendance. (It was definitely Chester's.) Me, the foremost thought going thru my head was, Chuchi would've loved Fergie's pumps. They were at least five inches high and glittering all the way to the galleries. (How can she dance in those things? That's talent, I guess.) I love these shades that she'd wear in some songs. They're big and round and dark and so Audrey Hepburn. I also coveted her abs. I figured, 60 million more hours of taebo and absolutely no eating in that whole span of time, and then I'll have her abs. (Can it be true that she's already 40? There's no justice in this world. None whatsoever.)

There was a bit of drama (which I completely missed and learned only from Ches bcoz I guess I was too busy humping and pumping away) when this Caucasian-looking guy approached a group of girls to tell them to get down from the railing and quit blocking everyone's view. They didn't pay any heed to him, so he got back to his seat and splashed his drinks on all of them. Good for the foreigner. I found him a bit weird tho bcoz he was just video-taping the entire proceedings the whole time. And then what, he's gonna play the video at home and that's when he'll have a good time? Duh.

I have tremendous respect for people who have talents I can never aspire to own. These guys produced music out of chairs, rapped entire songs seemingly without stopping to breathe for even a microsecond, and gyrated like their bodies were made of some fluid and jerky substance instead of skin and bones. Apl is my hero. He performed as magnificently as the rest of them, and spoke flawless, twang-less Tagalog all thru-out. (He claims to know Kapampangan, too.) I’d shout “Mabuhay ang Pinoy!” everytime he spoke. (Don’t you just love shouting that phrase? If we only we had more chances to do shout it out, more shining moments for the Pinoy.) It was only fitting that he was the last band member onstage, waving and bowing to his countrymen.

Ches likes them bcoz, as he says, it’s like they just want to have a good time without having to be so serious about it. They're not the usual hip-hoppers who are just so full of angst and spew obscenities all over the place. (Altho My Humps is not exactly the embodiment of purity…)

But of course I agree with my husband. I love The BEPs. Hel-lo? Where is the Love? That song is good enough to be an Olympics theme. After you've done a song like that, it's like you've done your share in the world, you can do whatever vile thing you want or be of no further use to anyone, and that'd be completely fine - this song is enough to redeem you for all eternity.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Audacious and Free

I cannot stand push-overs. In fact, this is about the only trait I can think of that I can consider lawyerly: I have this compulsion to stand up for the underdogs, even if it means risking my neck in the process. Sometimes I get so worked up I end up hating the person who allows himself to be bullied in the first place. I’m thinking, no one will be able to step all over you if you stand your ground with hands on your hips, chin up and a menacing scowl on your face. It’s justice.

In movies and books I love it when the long-suffering and eternally submissive character comes to her senses and exacts revenge in the most astounding manner – like maybe chopping off her husband’s head or something. Which is why I loved this story that Rommel e-mailed to me, about this guy who was having suspicions about his fiancée and best friend, which turned out to be true, but he went thru the wedding anyway, so that the bride’s family would spend thousands of dollars for the event, where he distributed the incriminating sex pictures to all the guests, and then he said to his best man, “F-ck you!” and to his bride, “F-ck you!” and walked out of there and got a divorce the next day. (Gosh, what I would do to have the chance to deliver a speech like that.) But of course Regie had to ruin everything by checking it out in this website that lists chain e-mails and cyber scams and stuff, and the wedding story is right in there in all its equally creative versions. Bummer. Regie is such a lawyer, I swear.

I’ve always been a firm believer in standing up for yourself when you know you’re in the right. This is easy enough to do with a person you don’t have an urgent use for, say, a stupid sales girl you can just walk away from. But it can get tricky when you’re dealing with a person from whom you expect something, even if that thing happens to be their job and obligation and not some personal favor that they’re doling out, which is how they often make it appear. Government employees, for example. With the self-important bordering on tyrannical way these people carry themselves, you’d think they were public masters rather than servants. I stand up to them, anyway. It shocks them a bit but after a while I guess they do a reality check and realize what I’m asking them to do is nothing out of their job description and what they should’ve been doing in the first place. (This is one of the rare instances when I actually find having an a-t-t-y before my name useful.) The problem with us Pinoys is that we are just too darned subservient and perpetually grateful for what others deal us with, even when we deserve so much more. I remember a trip to Cebu where PAL was late for a full four hours. I was bitching with the staff as early as the second hour, but the rest of the passengers – they actually broke into applause when we were finally allowed to board, as tho PAL had just done something truly heroic. Unbelievable.

What really takes guts is standing up to people who wield a certain power over you, like maybe your professors or clients or bosses. I didn’t bother too much with professors who played favorites or were oppressive or were disgusting in some other way, bcoz I figured the most damage they can do to me is give me a 4 or 5 or an Incomplete, and how important is a failing grade in the grand scheme of things? It just wasn’t worth the drama.

Clients are another breed of bullies who think they own you just bcoz they pay like $135 per hour for your services, which big money never goes straight to you, anyway. With the urgency that they expect you to answer their every stupid legal query, you’d think it was all a matter of life and death and someone was going to fry in the electric chair unless you give your legal advice asap. Which is hardly ever the case bcoz I never handled any litigation much less criminal cases. Hel-lo. I remember a client who called me around 8PM from Washington to request (order, more like) me to finish a contract of lease that same night. I’ve just had a long day and Ches was already waiting for me in the car so it was all I could do to keep myself from screaming at her. Instead, I calmly told her, “Look, I’m six months pregnant and it’s late here. I’ll give you your contract tomorrow”. I’d use the pregnancy line on several other unsuspecting clients long after I gave birth. The partners never found out.

But bosses – now that’s challenging. You need big balls to even talk back to them in a tone that suggests anything other than complete agreement if not resignation, and a certain amount of discipline so you don’t overstep your bounds and end up with the unemployed throng. You need a lot of luck, too, I guess. A few weeks ago I got pissed with my immediate boss bcoz she told me to double-check on certain agreements one time too many, so I told her, in so many words, if you don’t trust my opinion why don’t you read the friggin documents yourself. And she actually did. She came up with a matrix of all the salient provisions of all the agreements. (Gosh, I may have to promote her.) Barely a week after that, my big boss, as in second in command of the entire company, gave me hell for a document I forgot to print and have the president sign. I had the whole day yet to do it, it’s not like I missed an important deadline or anything, and it wasn’t even something I was specifically tasked to do (I mean, why didn’t she lash it out on my immediate boss, who’s getting paid scads more than I ever will?), and it wasn’t like I was sitting on my job and tweedling my thumbs bcoz I was actually in two meetings that morning, so I told her, in a voice that conveyed everything other than apology, “Sorry, ma’am, I’m only one person”. Of course, I broke down after that (I was surprised by own audacity) and she actually apologized for upsetting me, explaining that she was harassed with yet another techie-related crisis in the office. And she was visibly nicer to me after that, when she talked to me and even in the way she said my name and in her texts. (Well, it was good for a week, at least.)

Ches practically gave me a standing ovation when I told him. Classic Jo, according to him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I miss ...

1. Rainy days in Pangasinan. They were always events for me as a child. We could play in the downpour if we were allowed and if not then we stay inside with steaming bowls of noodles and make paper boats. At night if there was a brownout we’d lie in the dark telling stories, listening to the rain beat down on the roof. I remember how Jen and I would arrange all our crayons and coloring books and stuff by the window just before the rain came, and many times we’d have to run outside to pick up loose papers scattered by the wind. In fact it was in the middle of picking up one of these pages to color that I was bitten on the neck by a monkey that Pops used to have as a pet. (Who did he think he was, Tarzan? Duh.) This really happened. It’s about the most adventure I’ve ever had in my childhood.

2. Exam days in high school. Most everyone else dreaded these, especially the brains in my honors class, those who were always vying to be in the Top 10 or something. They’d go around looking like zombies who didn’t sleep a wink and acting like high school exams were such big deals in the grand scheme of things. Duh. Me, I looked forward to the exam days bcoz it meant I only had to be in school until noon and I could ride home with the grade schoolers in my school bus and I had the rest of the afternoon to read my novels or watch TV or just plain sleep. It was like having a free cut. Ordinary school days just felt so long and exhausting for me – I had to wake up early to catch the bus and my classes didn’t end until past four or something and when I got home all I had the energy for was dinner and some TV (21 Jumpstreet or The Wonder Years or something) and that’s it, I’m off to bed only to go thru the same routine the next day. So I actually felt sad when the three-day quarterly exams were over.

3. Picket Fences and My So-Called Life. My world literally stopped on Saturdays and Sundays when these shows were on. I loved Picket Fences bcoz it tackled all these crazy emotional issues that hit right on the spot and it had lovely characters like the upright judge and the unscrupulous lawyer and hottie cop. The endings were often heartbreaking too so I’d be sniffling if not outright bawling like mad. Gay and I couldn’t wait to discuss it on Mondays. My So-Called Life also became a favorite bcoz I could empathize with the lead who just wanted to write and spent her days daydreaming about the great love of her young life. I cried and cried in the episode where her slutty best friend did it with the guy. (This was way before Claire Danes uttered her infamous – tho not entirely untrue – statements about Manila looking and smelling like a hellhole.)

I also got hooked on Band of Brothers and Six Feet Under and would hurry home from work or the gym or even a date when they were on (and if I don’t make it I could always catch the replay on Saturdays). It’s just so great that Quiapo now has DVDs of the complete editions.

4. Walking around UP campus with friends. Amor and I always walked together from our PE classes to AS. Sometimes we got lucky on our walks and we’d chance upon the carillon playing or some diva from the College of Music belting out an aria or something. It’s how we became such good friends. Kai, Randy and I loved to walk from our GE subjects in the College of Science back to the APSM tambayan too. We’d giggle along the way, stop for fishballs if we felt like it, or skip our next class altogether to go to the mall or see a movie or just lie down on a nice patch of grass. I walked with Nico and Ches all around the campus too for no reason at all, no real purpose but to chat up and enjoy each other’s friendship under the shade of the acacia trees that have been standing there tall and majestic long before we were even babies. When I see students walking around UP on my way to work, I can’t help but envy them coz they look so young and carefree and sparkling like we all once were.

5. Law office junkets. Before we even passed the Bar we were brought to Calatagan where we stayed in the water till morning singing our hearts out, and in Subic where we danced New Wave (the best dance music of all time for me) the whole night. I also remember the endless glasses of watermelon shake that we drowned in in Tagaytay Highlands, as well as the one-of-a-kind funicular ride. Even Island Cove became fun bcoz Rhoel, Jon and I rode in the office van together and we had all the Lay’s and Doritos all to ourselves and we just joked all the way from the Fort to Cavite and the two were being unusually tolerant of me too bcoz I was by then pregnant. We also had an Ermita night out with senior associates from the other Asian affiliate offices.

Oh, our corporate group also went to such great places as Bora, Bohol and Bangkok (I missed Coron, tho, bcoz I was by then about to go on my maternity leave), but what I love best are the office-wide junkets where I could be with all my batchmates and we could just get wild and totally wasted and the food and drinks were overflowing and the music went on for as long as we wanted to sing or dance and everything was absolutely free.

Those were the days.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Precious

I have a cabinet in our room that contains most of the objects I hold dear. There’s the Precious Moments snow globe that my lola used to own and which I appropriated for myself when she passed away, plus her gold purse that still has quarters and dimes (from her previous visits to the US, I guess.) I also put in there the book Who’s Who in American Education that had an entry about my lolo. I filched it from his book shelves along with a pocket American-French dictionary that I’m still hopeful I will use someday. Also in the cabinet is this figurine of a boy and a girl kissing each other on a platform with the words “Happiness is being married to your best friend”. (Need I still say who gave it to me?)

But mostly the cabinet houses my collections thru all these years. I started with stationeries in grade school. I’d save up my allowance so I could buy all these nice and sometimes scented paper which I would then trade with my best friends Louisa and Laarni. I swear, I still have some of those I got from them in the box at the bottom of my cabinet. In high school I collected Sweet Dreams and I became so obsessed with it that I wouldn’t even keep those with the teeniest wrinkle on the cover after some heartless classmate borrowed it – I’d sell them up and just buy another one. Jen would take me to all the bookstores in Recto in my search for the elusive titles. (Looking back, my sister was always doing either the sweetest or the nastiest things to me. Tho she’s really nice now. Especially with all the clothes and bags and chocolates. Just kidding.) All my Sweet Dreams (those that remained after even more heartless classmates borrowed and never returned most of them) are now safe in my cabinet beside my Oprah’s Book Club novels, Little Golden Books, Harry Potters, and all my other favorite books.

In college I began making my own topiaries just as a hobby, just another thing to do with flowers, which I’ve always adored (Ron used to call me Flower Jo, to my immense delight.) I gave a sample to one of the girls just as an everyday gift and everyone liked it so I had to make more and more. I managed to keep some for myself and they are now in the cabinet. I collect seashells too and the nicest ones (including those from Bambi after a visit home in Zamboanga and from Amelle after her family spent a weekend in a remote Batangas island which I think they own) are on display in the shelves.

And of course the cabinet would not be complete without my Hello Kittys and ballerinas. Some of the Hello Kittys are in another cabinet tho, the one with my Barbies and Care Bears and teddy bears and other dolls and stuffed animals. The ballerinas are mostly gifts from Rino and Teody and those I bought from Gift Gate and Traditions. Too bad the shelf of the cabinet is not big enough to contain this Ashton Drake porcelain ballerina doll that Randy gave me on my bridal shower. That doll is much too exquisite for words.

(The other day I was dressing up in my pink beaded and swirling skirt from Jen when Yoshi came up to me to hug me around my knees and say, “Mommy, you’re a ballerina”. Gosh, I’ve never loved him more.)

The bottom shelf contains my albums which include the few baby pictures I managed to salvage from my mom's bug-infested collections. (My pics are so minute compared to Yoshi's 60 million ones.) Also there are my various stuff on Pope John Paul and Princess Di and Mother Teresa and my scrapbooks and Sinag articles and all the stories I wrote thru the years and my fast-accumulating blogs.

I remember when Kai lost a purse and she was inconsolable bcoz, according to her, “That purse contains my whole life!” I feel exactly the same about my cabinet.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Super Hottie

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this weekend. Ches was sent to Cotabato for a Cabinet meeting. It was crazy – first it was Cebu this week then it became Davao next week until it was suddenly off to Cotabato this weekend. Groan. It meant Yoshi and I will be orphans, without a driver to take us on our usual weekend junkets. Ches also had to miss his nephews’ despedida on Friday. (They were moving to Ireland with their mom.) After Yosh, these were his favorite boys (and mine, too). He had to miss his Saturday in-search-of-a-better-life SpEd classes in UP as well. To top it off, Yoshi woke up at dawn with a fever. I don’t know how single moms manage it. I wasn’t really bothered by his lack of appetite – after all, he can afford to lose like 10 more extra kilos before anyone will call him thin. I was worried coz he was really cranky, not his usual busy self running around the house, playing with his Legos and choochoo trains while watching Mr. Bean and asking five questions per minute. He didn’t want to be put down, he just wanted me to dance him around. It’s sweet when your kids cling to you when you’re home and will not even touch the yaya, but in Yoshi’s case, it’s like lugging around a mini-ref that not even my taebo classes can brace me for. Aaargh.

Luckily, Malacañang had another drastic change of plans and chartered a plane back to Manila for the entire Cotabato contingent. So Ches was home by Saturday night, Yoshi visibly cheered up and my single-mom worries were over. Yoshi was back in business being tyrannical and infuriating, which gave me and Ches the guts to leave him with the grandparents and finally see Superman on Imax.

My parents took us to the Superman movies when we were kids. I also like the song, Can You Read My Mind. But I wasn’t exactly excited over this new one, not the way Rommel has been waiting for weeks to watch it on Imax (never mind that the first tickets he could get were for a midnight screening). I could never see how Lois Lane can possibly miss that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same guy when she spends a lot of time with both of them and it’s just a matter of removing his nerdy eyeglasses to reveal the hunk inside. It never occurs to her either that the two guys left and came back at the exact same time. (Duh?! And she’s supposed to be smart?!) Of course, The Boys hated me more than ever for this comment and wondered why I can’t just enjoy the ride like normal people. It’s a guy thing, I guess. In fact, Ches has an idea that again I cannot relate to but which I’m sure The Boys will find brilliant: that there should be a re-run of Star Wars films on Imax. (I can just picture Rommel, who likes to pretend to be a Jedi, nodding enthusiastically.)

Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie. It was so fun to watch Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. I’ve liked him since American Beauty. My favorite character tho is Kitty, a dumb brunette type who’s the only one who can put down Lex among all his thugs with her deadpan one-liners and who in the end for all her ditziness manages to save the world by throwing away the magic crystals. She gets to hug a poodle all the time, too.

Brandon Routh is a certified hottie. My favorite parts of the movie are when I have to wear the 3D glasses and Superman is zooming fast and seemingly right up to me with those eyes and broad shoulders and lean thighs. I’d willingly believe in flying aliens in red cape and blue tights for as long as they look as good as this one. He looks like a demi-god from any angle. It’s like what Regie said after he saw the premiere in Greenbelt’s myCinema, which a friend of his rented for all of his friends. (Why can’t I have this kind of friends? Bummer.) Anyway, what Regie said was: we’ve found a new Superman. I love Regie’s flair for drama. I also agree with him that it’s a nice touch for the people behind the film to dedicate it to Christopher and Dana Reeve.

We buy Yoshi candy confetti Gonuts after the movie. So of course I tell the cashier when she asks that my name’s Lois, which drives Ches to hysterics. I get a kick out of giving out different names when they ask for it in places like Starbucks or Big Chill or wherever. I figure it’s my one chance to be a Samantha or Maxine or Toni or whatever. And it’s all free, too. No need to go to court with a valid reason for a name change.

We get to go to the Shrine of Jesus too. It’s such a quaint church, and it’s so nice to hear Mass there in the afternoon with the breeze from Manila Bay. Too bad we missed the sunset, coz the sky was overcast.

No matter. Superman has already saved the weekend for me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

One of the Boys

I love girls. I can talk to girls nonstop about love affairs, motherhood and other dramas. I can shop with girls for hours and hours without once stopping for air. I can perfectly relate to girls and am in awe of their compassion, grace and resilience. But I adore boys.

If I were to name My Top Ten Best Friends, easily a majority will be boys (tho, technically, one of them is - shall we say - a duchess trapped in male form). I don’t know why. It just happened. It’s not even like I’m a tomboy type who’s into sports or booze or cars or other male stuff. I’ve always been consistently a girly-girl. But I can sit anywhere, and talk about anything, and eat as much as the next guy. So I guess I get along with them.

I’ve found that boys are refreshingly honest and uncomplicated creatures. Not too much of the sugar-coating and hidden agenda that girls are so fond of. What you see is often what you get. So when they say something to your face you don’t have to worry that they’ll be telling a different story when your back is turned. It’s like when Jon told me, “Jo, tumataba ang cheeks mo. Baka napunta dun yung nabawas sa boobs mo nung tumigil ka na mag-breastfeed”, I don’t have to second-guess his meaning at all. I mean, it was a pretty clear statement.

Boys have so much more fun too. They’re not obsessed with stuff like figures and health and dieting and hygiene. They eat as much as the depths of their pockets would allow, so I don’t end up feeling like such a pig beside them. And they don’t have to put up this pretense of being prim and proper all the time. They make these happy sounds that’s a lot like monkeys grunting and loudly joke about sex and parts of the female anatomy and stuff. If girls did that, they’d be branded as easy or slutty or just plain uncouth. But it seems society cuts men a little more slack, so it’s perfectly ok for them to have no semblance of manners whatsoever.

Boys can also be incredibly funny. When I’m with my girl friends I’m often the one coming up with the punch lines, but with The Boys, I can just sit there and end up with tears in my eyes from laughing too hard. I still remember how Rhoel used to bring the house down when he hosted any event for our former law firm. As in everyone, from the partners to the kitchen staff, would end up hooting and clapping within two minutes into the program and clamoring for more and more towards the end. It’s a talent unmatched by anyone else I know, male or female. So when Rhoel dishes out his priceless one-liners, like “Ang sexy mo naman yata, Jo. Suot pa ba yan ng taong naniniwala sa Diyos?”, the sheer hilarity of it takes away the sting of his words.

Nico once said he envies girls bcoz within hours from meeting each other they’re holding hands and sharing secrets and giggling together and being affectionate and demonstrative the way men never are. Which I guess makes it all the more special when a member of the male species actually manages to do something remotely thoughtful – like maybe remember your birthday a month after the date itself (I mean, it’s only one date, after all. One date to remember for the whole year. Why is that so challenging?) But I do have male friends who are sweet in their own right. Nico himself always used to give me long and funny letters where he wrote about The Little Prince and told me I was his dearest friend and same such lies. Thom is always texting and calling me about the littlest things as they occur to him, never mind that we see each other everyday in the office. Rommel is always sharing with me his baon na Mary Grace cheese rolls, Twinkies, Kraft caramel squares, Gonuts. (This guy is the best, I swear.) I have male friends from college too who can be quite showy and even mushy. Don gave me a poem which he claims to have written one dawn when he couldn’t sleep. (This is the same guy who’d try and kiss my hair long after Ches became my boyfriend.) Monch claims to have created Portia, the love interest of his cartoon character Hocus, after me. (This is the same guy who borrowed my allowance so he could treat me to the premiere of Forrest Gump.) Oh, but Ron is different. He never stole any kisses or borrowed any money from me – he was just consistently this nice guy who was like a protective big brother to every one of his girl friends. Donemark's a lot like that, come to think of it, but then Jon's and Rhoel's nastiness rubbed off on him so now he can be just as merciless as them.

Boys also come in handy when you feel like being wild and daring. I can dance like mad in a party or a gimmick without having to worry that some guy will pick me up or feel me up or something, not with The Boys around. I can pick up a fight with the genius who tries to steal the parking slot we've been eyeing for the past 30 minutes or so, coz I’m confident that The Boys will take the first punch for me and will not let me get mugged. It’s like having instant bodyguards. How useful (for a change).

I’ve also discovered that boys are good listeners. I’m not sure about other girls, but when someone comes to me with a problem I get this compulsion to offer solutions or advice even if unsolicited. But there are times when you know you can sort it out on your own and just need a wailing wall to hear you out. In which case, go to boys. You can vent about your boss or the sordid details of your family life or whatever for hours and hours and they’d just sit there and say “Hmmm…” Of course when you’re narrating a life-changing crisis, you’d wish they’d say something other than their usual cryptic “Hmmm”. Oh, but boys aren’t about to change for your benefit. So tough luck.

I’m just lucky that my husband is this really cool and secure and grown-up person who thinks nothing about my friendships with boys. It’s perfectly ok with him if I stay up till morning in some event for the young and cool with Jon and Rhoel where they feed me Colt 45 and Jagenmeister(?) and offer me P500 to make me go home already so that they can move on to Embassy (or some place where they can ogle girls, I’m sure). He knows that I love The Boys dearly and immensely and I’m sweet and affectionate with them and they in turn are protective and surprisingly tolerant of me. I mean, he should know. He was one of The Boys before he became The One.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

You're the Man

It’s Popsy’s birthday today and I couldn’t just let the day pass without writing something about it. I called him the minute Yosh and I woke up and Yosh sang happy birthday to him and said I love you even. I also texted him that I will always love him enormously, long after all his teeth fall out.

He’s not exactly the ideal father. He drinks and womanizes and gambles and swears way too much for a toddler’s impressionable ears. He also acts like an overgrown bully - or a thug, more like – easily losing his temper at our maids and pets and neighbors, and getting into frightening road rages even before the term was invented. But for all his imperfections, he’s never made me feel anything other than unquestionably and unfailingly loved, and sometimes that’s all you need from a father.

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the market with him, mainly for the part where he buys me gulaman at sago and bibingka, and when we get home would whip up chopsuey or sinigang na spare ribs or pinakbet or tortang dilis. I don’t know why he chose to take me over Jen and Rino. Maybe bcoz I’ve always been a good girl and can be counted on not to throw a tantrum while he haggled over some fish or the other. (Yes, believe it or not, I was a good girl. I transformed into a maldita only much, much later.) There was also the time when the entire country was having all these blackouts, so at night he’d take this lounge chair that we had just outside the gate and tell me stories about his childhood and youth. He’d talk about how he stole sacks of rice from his own house so he could sell them off for some cash and how he lost one of his balls falling off a coconut tree (too much info). He’d also talk about how he became quite the activist while in Mapua so Lola had to move him to Baguio, where Mama still managed to visit him on weekends, which resulted, not long after, in my sister Jenny. (“Too much info” is a term my parents can’t seem to quite grasp the concept of. They’d dish out the grossest details at the slightest provocation. For example, I’d complain about the cold weather, and just like that Mama will be compelled to mention that I was conceived on a rainy dawn in February. Aaargh. Parents.)

What amazes me most about Pops is that I learn new things from him everyday. It could be something completely useless to me like a historical fact or medical data or whatever, or something really practical and wise like where to buy export overrun ceramics or the best Chinese take-out. He taught me the rules of NBA and Wimbledon and I’m sure if I give him half the chance he’d lecture to me about the World Cup too or whatever sport I show the slightest interest in. I never saw him sit down with a book but he has talked to me about classic lit like Doctor Zhivago and stuff by W. Somerset Maugham. We could also enjoy together the no-brainer antics of Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker. He’s always up-to-date with current events, including showbiz matters. Just when I thought he couldn’t possibly be hiding anything else up his sleeve, he learned how to text, more than six years from the time he started using a celfone. I almost fainted when I got my first SMS from him. (Gosh, if my father can learn how to text this late in the relationship, then I should be able to learn how to drive.)

What I love best about him is that he’s always made me feel that he was happy with me just as I was - even back when I was just a little girl holding on to his hand while we went to market – and that I didn’t have to be anything to please him. He never made me feel like I failed him even when I was never really the achiever type. I even overheard him talking to his friends about how I gave up in the name of motherhood my high-profile law firm career to a low-paying job with former government employees in the boondocks of Balara, like it was something that made him proud. Sometimes you need a parent to validate the choices you make, and to reassure you that, hey, you’re not doing too badly.

What I really admire about him is his simplicity. I don’t think being rich or powerful has ever been in his agenda. In fact, the one retirement dream he keeps mulling about involves a hut in the middle of a farm in Pangasinan and spending the rest of his days on earth watching cockfights. (He was sending feelers to me about a Breitling for a time, but I guess he’s woken up from his delusions and realized that it wasn’t going to happen for him in this lifetime. Or maybe he’s just re-directed the feelers to Jen instead.)

The first and only time I’ve ever seen him cry was when he walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. I asked him later why he did and he said it was bcoz he felt me sobbing beside him. Well, I cried bcoz I remembered the time he brought me seashells from the beach for my collection and supplied me with Hershey’s Kisses when I was reviewing for the Bar and all the time he waited up for me while Professor Balane went on and on in our Succession class that was supposed to end at 9 PM but hardly ever did, and even dropped off my classmates in various stops, after he himself has had a long day at work. And I thought, if the other guy who was waiting for me by the altar loved me even half as much as my father did, then I’m a lucky, lucky girl.

He need never read this blog to know that I love him back, that I would kill tigers for him.