Monday, February 28, 2005

Summer Cometh...

February 28, 2005

It was lunch time on a Friday afternoon and I stepped out of the house and felt the sun just beating down on me. It was a holiday -- in celebration of the first People Power Revolution -- and I had planned to do stay home laying around in bed until it was time to go to capoeira rehearsals. Then, Regine, texts me to say "the pool beckons." Hmmm... lounging in bed versus lounging by a pool? No contest.

And so we spent two hours of the early afternoon slathered in coconut oil, sipping cold San Mig Lights, baking in the sun... occassionally dipping into the icy water to cool off. We were so relaxed we almost didn't want to get up to go to rehearsals for the show. Almost.
We (reluctantly) got up... got showered... hauled ass to RCBC Plaza... and were probably the two most chillaxed people there.
Of course we did it all again the following day.
The View from my chair
Regine contemplates Dark Tanning Oil vs Tan Amplifier
Saturday. Miguel floats around on Jay's new chair.
Have you started getting into "summer mode" already?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Clark Air Show

February 12, 2005
Waking up with the day to travel to the Clark air field in Pampanga to watch balloons go up with the sun.
In the sweltering heat, head tilted backward as Pilot Meynard Halili put his shiny red bi-plane through its paces. Standing with a dozen other photographers, listening to our shutters click at the same time, as skydivers floated towards our lenses. Devouring a crab cooked in coconut milk and another sautéed in its own fat. Wandering around taking photos of kids flying kites. Seeking shelter under tarpaulin tents. Shopping at a nearly deserted Paskuhan Village.

Sleepy… trigger-happied out… lulled into dreamland by the music of Abra Moore… making our way back to Manila.

For more photos check out:

Thank you to Mike Marasigan for the access passes and to Mama, Cat and Paolo for the excellent company.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The La Union Day Trip

The La Union Day Trip

February 6, 2005
The last time I saw the ocean was the end of November. The last time I was on my board was the end of the November. So we left early morning Saturday with Paolo and Cat and Tals and Ferando convoying with us. Miguel and Lui in my car alternately keeping me awake with constant small talk that ranged from the latest music to strange text messages received at 3am.
It really was about time that I finally made it back to La Union for a day of surfing. Yes. A day. Because a day in the ocean on your board is better than a day not on your board.
It was the weekend of the La Union Longboar Challenge but the uncooperative ocean was not giving the competitors the kind of swell they were gunning for. Spectators trickled in and out of the Point, myself among them. After banging a few sequences out, I thought it time to get in the water.

Never mind that the line-up was crowded with fellow novice surfers. Never mind that while we convoyed up, we probably spent only an hour with the other car the whole day. Never mind that I got stung twice by some new mutant strain of really invisible jellyfish... stung so bad that I had to resist the urge to pee on my arm right there in the water. (I might be a girly girl but I never said I was a lady.) Never mind that the waves were so small that calling them "knee-high" was an exaggeration.
Because a day in the ocean on your board is better than a day not on your board.
Especially when the day includes: beautiful sunshiney weather... cold beers handed to me in the kubo by La Union and Daet surfers I'd not hung out with in a while... the intoxicating smell of coconut oil... recharging my tan... meeting someone from the 'old crew' that I'd only previously spoken to through email (Hey Marc! Hey Ping!)... seeing Olin, Mako, Luisito and Ludovico again... and a signature La Union sunset.
We ate most of our meals at Angel and Marie's place... had all our beers out on the beach... and even managed to meet new interesting people : Mang Mario and his wife. They are both artists and make really pretty organic jewelry. They have two sons Daloy (flow) and Lakbay (travel). Cool cats those four. I would love to run into them again.
Heading home at midnight, my head was filled with the day. Thinking about how much we managed to do in such a short amount of time. And about how perfect it was to end our day trip at the bonfire, staring up at the stars. We made good time and touched down in Manila at 4am. I crawled into bed fully clothed and woke up thinking it was a Monday. I've said it twice but I think it bears one more mention:
A day in the ocean on your board is better than a day not on your board.
Hangin' out at sunset.
Mang Mario and future artist Lakbay.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Books that Travel

In the course of the last three years, many a book has gone traveling with me. And they in turn, were made into book reviews to help defray the costs of my trips. Ah, the circle of life!
Here, in no particular order, are some of the tales that have traveled with me:
BOOK: Sassafras, Cypress and Indigo
AUTHOR: Ntzoke Shange
It begins at Christmas. Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo carome around the house, partaking in a family tradition that brims with the tenderness and intimacy that only their Mama can provide. Pages fly with passages on love, recipes, herbal remedies and dreams. At the hub of which is Indigo, the youngest, whose passion drives the novel ever forward.
This is a story of three sisters coming into their own in a world that is, all too often, far too real. Each with their own gift to share. Each moved by the everyday magic that surrounds their lives. Shange creates a book that is as vivid as Sassafrass' tapestries, as fluid as Cypress' dancing body and as lyrical as Indigo's rebellious violin. The speech of her prose reads like poetry, both a spiritual journey and an almost voyueristic peek into the heart of the characters she created.
BOOK: How To Be Good
AUTHOR: Nick Hornby
Hornby enters the mind of a woman in his latest literary jaunt as he tackles the true meaning of being good. As Katie, Hornby shows that he has a good grasp of a female mind in the midst of a domestic and spiritual battle. Or that he has issues with women in general.
Katie is good person. She donates to charities. Her husband David is not. He hates people. In fact, Katie thinks she may hate David as well. And she has good reason to. But when David meets a self-styled guru and suddenly wants to be, in an almost fanatical sense, good, she cant stand him even more. Their marriage may be the center of this tale but the true account is in intangible lines that Katie has drawn between the couple.
Hornby tackles the issues of guilt, values and choices, using David’s extreme good-deeding (and Katie’s growing frustration) as his platform. It makes you think even as you silently berate, cheer for or resist the urge to slap the story’s characters.
The deadly combination of satirical wit and brutal honesty make “How to Be Good” introspective… and hilarious. Is it upsetting? Yes. Should you read it then? All the more so.
BOOK: Slapstick
AUTHOR: Kurt Vonnegut

There is, universally, nothing funnier than old people suffering in obscurity. Okay, not really. But Vonnegut certainly seems to think so in what is possibly his finest work (barring Slaughterhouse Five).
Dr Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain, the last President of the United States (also King of Manhattan, the island of Green Death) tells us his tale. The country is in the midst of several civil wars. The Chinese are tremendously intelligent and minuscule. They watch from the margins while America suffers from the Albanian Flu, the Green Death and severe fluctuations in gravity. Yes, gravity. Where sometimes it is so light that all men sport unwanted erections or so heavy one must lie prone on the floor for days.
Amusing in its exploration of mankind’s fear of loneliness, Slapstick is not a comedic traipse through a protagonist’s feeble mind. Here and there Vonnegut opens secret trapdoors and hidden passageways of the very real need for humans to be accepted. The fluctuating gravity inside the human heart and soul, if you will, are tackled through Dr Swain’s disconcertingly sterile memories of his past.
Hi ho.
BOOK: Laughable Loves
AUTHOR: Milan Kundera

A collection of short stories both witty and wise.
Among the most memorable lines comes from "The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire" where the protagonist says 'An ugly woman hopes to gain something from the luster of her pretty friend; a pretty woman, for her part, hopes she will stand out more.' The two men later go on to discuss the nuances of a dalliance. From sighting to that elusive 'boarding' where contact with a woman is established.
And in "The Hitchhiking Game" comes the quote 'jealousy isn't a pleasant trait, but if it isn't overdone... there's even something touching about it."
Kundera draws out - then plays with - the paradoxes and complexities that make up a very human mind. His characters are not sketches but fully live people who inhabit their space on paper for all the world to read. His stories contain no more magic than the kind we dream of on a daily basis. His jaded look at the human condition is softened by his advocation of love in this world. This is the cynic and the dreamer in his element. The combination makes Laughable Loves a real treasure to be read over and over again.
BOOK: Neverwhere
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
This darkly humorous novel by the creator of The Sandman series takes you through a world where people speak to rats and subway trains house royal courts. What appears to be real is not... and all is not what it appears to be. Confused? Don't be. This is the world of London Below, a city for those who have fallen through the cracks of society - the lost, the forgotten. Now Londonite (and sometime loser) Richard Mayhew is part of it. Average man with an average life now living an entirely extraordinary adventure. The hapless Richard trips through the novel with equally engaging companions: the Lady Door, the ostentatious Marquis de Carabas and the hunter named Hunter.
Taken apart, the plot sounds common, the characters unremarkable and the outcome nearly predictable. But under Gaiman's hand its all comes out strangely... satisfying. The horrific images combined with signature dry wit makes for a page-turner. Gaiman proves his penchant for the dark and the dreadful with Neverwhere. The reader's imagination is pulled through hoops as the gloomy underworld comes to life under the author's steady hand. And through it all he manages to maintain a twisted sense of humor.
What books have had the pleasure of traveling with you?