Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tantantinin

The problem with still not learning to drive after all this time, even after no less than five guy friends have patiently given you lessons in as many weekends, even after your husband and the insurance company have paid thousands to fix the trunk which you have managed to completely mangle after hitting it against a post, and the problem with being such a sleepyhead that you don't even bother to stir when your husband who drives tugs at your feet all dressed up and ready to take you to work already, the problem with these is you have to take a lot of cabs.

If I have the luxury of time (which I rarely do, with chronic tardiness being another one of my virtues), I choose a cab on the basis of the creativity of its name. It started with Ches and his bad-boy gang in college, who would spend hours just bumming in Philcoa and laughing over taxi names. The laugh-out-loudest name they saw? Tantantinin. Which is probably a cousin or something of Rintintin, the name of this cab I once saw plying along EDSA.

Yosh and I had to take a cab to the grocery one Saturday when our family driver was in school. The cab we chose was named Spongklong. We were calling him that for days, much to his annoyance. Hmmm. Thought balloon: if Tantantinin and Rintintin are cousins, Spongklong must also be a close relative of Kumag. I'm serious. I've seen a cab named Kumag.

And then there are the completely baffling ones. I've seen names like Norzgaze (Whoa. Will Google even have any hits on this thing? Maybe it's some exotic place where the owner has worked as an OFW?), Karayom (as in needle) Moral V (a cross between Triple V and Oral B), Ride and Slide (not in the city traffic, you don't slide), Sweet Mud (Mud Pie I can relate to. I can imagine naming a puppy Mudpie. But Sweet Mud? Sweet Potato sounds better).

Of course, most name their cabs after themselves, like they would do their sari-sari stores. Or they use names like Four Sisters or Three J's or a combination of the owners' names or their kids' or their entire families’. Which explains lots of cabs going around with names like Dendexdar or Ferloucris. Typical Pinoy penchant. I find it rather boring, actually, this propensity to stamp your name on all your possessions. I guess it's what Walt Whitman calls the mania of owning things.

And what about names like Ferdilito or Cipriana? I mean, let's psychoanalyze it. The owner must be a truly ancient person to have a name like that. (They probably stopped giving those names in 1950's or something. It's probably been outlawed.) In which case, why didn't he just name the cab after the kids or grandkids who likely have fancy-schmanzy names like Kenneth Richard or something. Unless the kids and grandkids are Ferdilito Jr. or Cipriana III. And with names like these, why would these people even want to go out of the house? Duh.

Just today I saw a cab named P. Dagdag in Makati. If you had a surname and initial like that, wouldn't you at least make the effort to come up with another name for your cab, lest potential passengers shy away out of fear that you'll overcharge them? There are 60 million other names, after all.

It's like what Rhoel always asks me. Why can't you just be normal? I guess some people just can't be normal. But given a cab with a normal name like Helen Grace or something, I'd choose one named Lukatme any day.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Ironies of Being a Fashionista

I went into a major cleaning mode of my closet the other night. I do this when, well, basically I have no more space for my new clothes. I have the biggest closet in the house, but it’s not nearly enough to contain all my tops and skirts and dresses and undies. My pants are smushed in Chester’s closet, and my blazers and jogging pants and sweaters occupy a good deal of Yoshi’s. Not to mention this big four-drawer Winnie the Pooh thing where I keep all my pambahay and nighties. (Irony number one: undies and nighties are so darned expensive and yet only your husband is allowed to ever see you in them.)

I have too many clothes, I know. It’s a constant cause of war with my parents when I still lived with them, and with Ches now. I guess this is why God created sisters: they’re the only ones who understand these things.

I’ve been hoarding a lot of Plains and Prints lately (never mind that the signature model is Gretchen). I’ve been a diehard Kamiseta fan since high school (never mind that they’re always using Hollywood actresses like Alicia, Natalie and Kate, as tho there aren’t any Pinays worthy enough). I love Bayo, too (with their models – the likes of Lea and Barbie – I have no complaint).

I have a lot of stuff that looked good when I tried them on, but after a day’s use I just know they’ll end up at the bottom of my drawer, never again to see the light of day, the whole wasted expense of it you have no recourse but to charge to experience. I don’t know. You can be a shopaholic for years and years, and you still buy these useless, ugly stuff.

But there are also goodies that you buy merely bcoz it’s on sale and it fits, it’s a good bargain, but then you wear it and you feel so good in it you never wanna take it off again. Oh but you also want to preserve it for special days, so you don’t wanna overuse it. (Another irony.) In this category belongs my Anne Klein deep purple turtleneck that my Mom insists on calling a cowl neck, my Mastina Chinese-collared blazer with the pleated skirt that’s corporate and girly both, my Zara gray woolen skirt with the sheer lace lining, my pair of Sisley pants that magically goes well with any of my long sleeves, my floral halter from Lumpini night market that gives me the appearance of boobs where I have none …

I read somewhere that you should throw out everything in your closet that you haven’t worn in the last six months. What I would do is to haul away bags of them to my Lola in Pangasinan so she can give them away, or we would donate them in calamity drives. During her stint in the DFA, Chuchi with her friends came up with this idea to sell clothes they didn’t quite like anymore. I tried this too last year, gave huge bags of stuff I hardly used to Kathleen my former secretary who sold them in my former law office. Irony number three: you’re ecstatic to find a dress marked down 70 off in just your size at The Black Shop, buy it and never once wear it, and after a few months you’re just relieved to be able to sell it to your officemate at a quarter of the price for which you bought it, with the original price tag still intact.

It’s so not a good investment, I know. They fade away, will definitely go out of style, or you can grow fat and can never ever wear them again. But hey, I’m thinking, if a few lousy thousands on an outfit can make you feel like all is good in the world when you’re in a stressful profession like lawyering and motherhood, then it’s money well spent. (I have all these journal entries that go, “So-and-so was being particularly b-tchy at work today. Good thing I was wearing my uber cool Bebe jeans whose sheer beauty shielded me from the pettiness of everyone and everything else”.) Besides, clothes are a much cheaper vice than jewelries. And they’re not illegal like gambling. Or immoral like online sex or something. (I’m so good at this, I swear. Years of practice fighting it up with Ches.)

I give Ches the satisfaction of winning some of these wardrobe-related fights. Just to give a semblance of justice in the household. So I wear my office uniform sometimes, just to see the smirk on his face. When I started two years ago, the gray dress for Mondays and pants on Tuesdays weren’t all that bad. Last year, we were supposed to wear this hideous white top with unbelievable buttons (everyone calls them staple wires) for four days a week. I kept finding something wrong with mine so I could give them back to the tailor and hold off on having to wear them. I ran out of excuses around August so then had to wear it like everyone else, only I did it just twice a week at most (what? were they going to fire me for blatant violations of the uniform policy?!). This year, we’re supposed to be in uniform for the entire week. And I just know that it’s not fashionista material or anything. In all likelihood it will end up even more ghastly than last year’s.

Aaargh. This is the toughest irony of all.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mutya ng Luyang

A few days after we lost the M bid, I was offered the post of heading our Cebu project. I could’ve told my boss, it’s ok, don’t sweat it, you don’t have to give me any challenges, I’m perfectly happy just going back to my usual work, I’m not your regular achiever type. But then I didn’t really have any valid reason to turn the project down, I couldn’t exactly say I had my hands full, considering the whole M work had just gone pfft. It was one of those times where it was just easier to say yes than to try and be creative to wiggle yourself out of a situation. So on top of my being assistant compliance officer cum assistant corporate secretary cum legal and investment officer I became the newest project development officer (and the only girl and lawyer, at that).

The project involves treating water from the Luyang River in Carmen municipality for distribution as drinking water in Metro Cebu. The city is presently getting its water from groundwater sources, which has resulted in environmental degradation that might potentially be catastrophic in a few years. It’s a project I believe in and can get passionate about.

Oh, but there’s also a lot of dirty politicking involved. I don’t have to do anything at all that will make me lose sleep at night, we’re the good guys here, but just the same I need to toughen up and stomach the crap from the other side. And there are all those lonely nights alone in the hotel, after all the long and exhausting wheeling and dealing, missing my boys, nothing to do but soak in the tub and watch cable.

On the upside, there are all the miles just waiting to be earned. All the danggit and dried mangoes and Chilen’s chicharon and Shamrock otap to have my fill of. All these old churches around Cebu that I can maybe have time to visit if I extend my trip and have my boys join me. All these interesting characters to befriend. Nice-sounding words like gugma and karun. And the ghost of a chance that I can be a part of something that will actually make a difference in people’s lives.

So all in all, it’s a nice new project for the new year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Best of 2006


1. yummiest gastronomic delights – the buffet in Rennaissance KL, with the smoked salmon and waffle bar where I could pour all the chocolate fondue and whipped cream I wanted. The buffet in Marriot Cebu was also a pleasant surprise, with its salmon, four kinds of cheese, and bowls of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.

2. favorite films – Narnia, Brokeback. It’s also a good year for indie films, and the best for me are Co-Ed Scandal, Kubrador and Borat.

3. runaway winner trip – Palawan. Definitely a must-return.

4. worthiest cause we got involved in – Jack Simbulan. His mommy Babette is a good friend and Jack himself is a brilliant and irresistible pre-schooler, with a courage I’m not even sure I have at my ripe old age. He’s our little hero.

5. biggest booklover sale – the Powerbooks warehouse sale in summer, where Ches and I hoarded brand-new hardbounds that went for as low as P99.

6. best new friends I made – Regie, with whom I can finally share my lawyer-related angst in the office, and who regales us with MILF stories over lunch. Allan (a.k.a. Niknok/Beavis), who sends me texts that crack me up and burns for me CDs of uber cool bands like Soapdish and 6cyclemind. Didoy, our newest cadet who doubles as a commercial model.

7. da best shopping finds – my pink Chinese collared suit from Theme, which is just so Elle Woods. My Hollister export overrun jeans from Greenhills, that makes me feel like seriously kicking someone’s butt when I wear it. My Plains and Print deep red top with the obi sash, bcoz it’s perfect for Christmas and my Little Mermaid brooch.

8. favorite songs – Sugarfree’s Tulog Na, Hale’s Elegy, The BEP’s My Humps, The PCD’s Sway.

9. most quotable quote - “She just needs to grow up, is all!” from Jen, referring to this person we both love but who can also be a tremendous pain in our backsides.

10. laugh-out-loudest Yoshi moments – when he uses complicated words like “otherwise” or “exactly” or says stuff like, “Eooww, Daddy. Panget teeth mo. You need to see a dentist”. Ches and I sometimes wish he’d never grow up and will just stay as naughty as he is.