The Guy and the Dragon Tattoo

When my feed turned into an intriguing pastiche of dragon tattoos, allegations Chinese Triad membership and myriad expressions of shared disgust, I had to ask: who is Trillanes and why does he seem like a waste of time?

“Failed mutineer, useless senator,” said Inah.

“Complete waste of oxygen,” said Michelle.

“One big idiot,” said Omar.

“Troublemaker,” said my Mom.

“At least he signed a waiver of bank secrecy,” said Liana.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is famous (or infamous) for his big mouth. He says what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, and he is extremely skilled at causing a ruckus. He’s so good, he was sent to jail for it. To be fair, it takes more than a big mouth to get sent to jail. Plotting to bring down the government will do the trick, and he did it not once, but twice, damaging a historical hotel into the bargain.

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Jeepneys, Tramps and Thieves

The year was 1999. To a teenager on her own in a a big city, on holiday for the first time, Cebu was a magical place. It was all fun and games up until I needed a ticket home. Times being what they were and Google maps being nonexistent, I inevitably got lost searching for the ticketing office of George and Peter Lines. Directions were needed, nothing that a smile and a few words of thanks wouldn’t fix.

Or so I thought. Long story short, I asked an otap vendor. He  was so eager to help, he roped in a friend who had one of those trikes you see at piers, for ferrying people with heavy luggage around. The good news? I found the ticketing office. The bad? I came home with 500 PhP worth of otap and a lifelong distrust of strangers.  Clearly, the lesson here is that otap is evil. Oh, and get directions from someone who isn’t incentivized to benefit from your ignorance (like a policeman), and learn to say no.

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Love me, Tony Stark. Please?

So here we are five years later, staring down the barrel of yet another Spider-man reboot, hoping against hope Marvel will make it alright. After all, this is the studio that made us fall for a homicidal talking raccoon. Anything is possible.

The best way to kill a bug is to douse it with something flammable and set it on fire. Say what you want, it’s the most satisfying feeling, ever. This, in effect, is what Marvel Studios has accomplished with Spider-man: Homecoming. Pretty sure this sentiment is shared by a few when it comes to the second reboot of the Spider-man franchise.  Not even the combined charms of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone could overcome the hot mess that was Jamie Foxx’s Electro.

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White Noise

We’d driven up north to Tobermory, a town at the tip of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, for an extended weekend getaway. It’s four hours away from Toronto, which led me to realize that I am a big fan of trains and planes, but not automobiles. Not for long distance travel, anyway.

I like to distract myself when I travel – a good book, maybe a couple episodes of a good show, a nap. Not this time around. As designated navigator (navigatrix?) for this particular road trip, staying awake and focused for the whole trip was an occupational hazard.

Things can go south pretty quickly when you’re in the middle of Ontario farmland and there are pockets of dead space. No phone signal? Quelle horreur! Not too horreur, of course. I smugly congratulated myself for growing up analog and having the foresight to download a map of the area before starting out. Who needs step-by-step directions in real-time?  Over-dependence on tech makes people pansies.

Or so I thought.

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Charlatans Have Internet Too

Fairy tales are stories we tell children for the sake of their self preservation. Hansel and Gretel is a cautionary tale – adults can be awful, always leave a trail for your parents to follow and respect people’s homes. Jack and the Beanstalk is another – the family cow is important, ensure you get the proper return for your investment, stealing is lucrative and so is upper body strength. Rapunzel is about freeing yourself and the power of true love, Puss in Boots is about dressing for success and harnessing the power of hubris. They’re not always lessons on how to be a good person, but they are almost always about survival, because life will always have monsters. Evil witches in houses made of candy drops and gingerbread still exist, only these days they’re seemingly harmless gentlemen in windowless white vans, handing out candies to children.

Quite a few of them live online, like the Nigerian Prince, a vampire who uses e-mail to promise a substantial cut of his money in exchange for helping him move it out of the country. It will of course involve a very small fee, and anyone who falls for it eventually keeps paying all these small fees, waiting for the big pay-off, getting drained of their life savings in the process. Imposters love e-mail. A number of them use it to claim your Apple/Paypal/Netflix account is inactive, leading you down a path that eventually ends in forking over sensitive information like your birthdate, the high school you went to and your mother’s maiden name, before you realize you don’t even have an Apple account. These fishermen – phishers, because we’re stylish – lay your life wide open for identity theft and before you know it someone is spending vast amounts of money in your name and your credit rating is shot to hell along with your dreams of owning a car and a decent home.

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Crossing Over

Some people hate the Trump administration so much, they say they’ll move to Canada. It’s not hard to do, a drunken group of American revellers once floated down to Canada by mistake. At last year’s annual Port Huron Float Down, the winds were so strong it pushed partiers  down the St. Clair river, stranding them in Canadian waters without documentation, prompting the Coast Guard to come to their rescue.

America’s crackdown on illegal immigrants is getting a number of people hot under the collar. Not that millions are fleeing in droves, but there’s certainly been an uptick in illegal immigrants crossing over the US border into Canada on foot. It’s not as easy as floating down a river by mistake, and no one will gun you down the way they do down Mexico way, but it can still be hazardous to one’s health.  In Northern Minnesota, Mavis Otutseye, a Ghanaian woman, was found frozen to death in a field half a mile away from a Canadian border town. Authorities believe she may have been trying to cross over illegally. When they learned she had plans to visit her daughter in Toronto who’d just given birth, it became the biggest human interest story of the week, and the finger pointing began. Death does that.

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Divided We Stand

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This is my favorite Marawi meme.  If I could, this  would be next week’s column. Just this meme, mic drop. But I can’t. I shouldn’t let my editors – make that award-winning editors – down. Not after the MetroPost got named the best weekly community paper in Visayas by the Philippine Press Institute for 2016, no sir. Not when an award-winning weekly actually lets me have a byline, no some questions asked. Congratulations, Ma’am Irma and Sir Alex! Y’all better recognize.

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