Dioramas

Dear Elly G,

Word of the day: diorama. I am seriously pissed off that I never got the chance to take a picture of the Sinulog diorama they had outside Robinson’s Department Store. I want to kick myself. That display was something that will go down in the annals of our history of ridiculousness.

It was a display of superheroes: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. (it was a League of Justice thing) and it wasn’t just a painting. It was a real mock-up of superheroes doing their thing. Superman was flying and shit.

In the middle of it all stood Sr. Sto. Niño holding up that scepter and wooden ball with a cross on it, because the “greatest superhero” is still Sto. Niño. The first time I saw that mess, I nearly choked. What a classic what-in-the-mother-effing-eff moment. People here are insane.

Just thought I’d share. Wish you’d seen it. So sorry I didn’t get it for posterity – I was just too busy staying away from the crazy crowd. I wish I hadn’t.

Regretfully,
Nikka
1/31/08

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The Present

Thirty-seven people perished in a fire yesterday. Survivor accounts of thick, black, choking smoke suddenly pouring out of vents, of fluorescent bulbs exploding overhead, of a lobby plunged into darkness, of people screaming in fear and panic, all of it was difficult to read about, to digest. It’s easy to forget, with  Christmas looming so near, that horrible things happen to people every day, irrespective of season or timing. It’s easy to forget because this is supposed to be a holiday filled with love, with joy, with goodwill to all men and there’s just this sort of happiness in the air, covering everything that’s awful in a year that’s been particularly trying.

It’s not like me to wax poetic about tragedies. I do feel, and strongly, for people who are victims of devastating fate, but I rarely wear my heart on my sleeve about these things. This tragedy hit particularly close to home because the victims were part of what used to be my world – they were call centre agents, wrapping up work for the holidays, eager to go home and spend Christmas with their families, and I know what that felt like. I know what it was – and is – to look forward to seeing family I haven’t seen for months on end, to get through those interminable hours before the work day ends, to think ahead about which bus to take and how long the travel time will be, and to hope against hope that there won’t be too many people travelling along with me, knowing it’s a wasted hope, but willing to brave it anyway, just to be with the ones I love. To know that for these unfortunate agents, that anticipation, that excitement, that innocent joy, was wiped away in an instant by unimaginable horror, unable to reach out to anyone else in the outside world having no access to their phones (it’s common practice in a call centre for agents to leave their phones in their locker, to avoid disrupting the reception), is heartbreaking. One can only imagine the devastation that their loved ones are going through.

The questions will likely come later – why didn’t the fire alarms go off in time? Why didn’t the sprinkler system work*? For such an enclosed space, shouldn’t they have made sure the two fire escapes wouldn’t be impassable? Did they hold fire drills? Were there no emergency extinguishers?

This is not the happiest of Christmas posts, or the thing to get us all in the jubilant mood. It’s a sobering reminder that what is given can be taken away just as easily. It’s a little nudge to be thankful for being alive, because each day is a gift, which is why it’s called the present. (Corny, trite and overused to death, but it doesn’t make it any less true, does it?). So to you and yours, I wish a very Merry Christmas – with the hope that you get to spend time with the ones who love you with all the fierceness that you have in your soul for them. At the end of the day, all manner of material things bedamned, time is the most precious gift of all.

* Facebook feed post, as yet unsubstantiated by actual reports/interviews

Hairless Whisper

1/12/17

Dear Elly G,

The difference between a Brazilian done in Toronto and a Brazilian done in Dumaguete spans leagues.

The former takes approximately ten minutes. It’s quick, clinical, precise and expensive, barely even giving me any time to register the loss of body hair.

The latter starts with the aesthetician handing me a bathrobe, a towel and a small bar of soap. (“Ma’am, wash first?”) You know you’re in the Philippines when you need a clean vagina before the waxer even deals with you. That’s how we are. We brush our teeth before seeing the dentist. We wash our vajayjays before getting a wax. My usual suki  admitted to seeing her share of tampon strings. She would never think of asking her clients to wash themselves. I can only imagine the judgment meted out by a Filipina waxer if someone dared to come in for a wax while on her period.

She had me staring at the ceiling for the better part of an hour wondering what my labia must look like to someone who had a spotlight pointed at my crotch and was aggressively parting it every which way, hunting down stray pubes with a tweezer. (“Ma’am, pwede i-puller?”) No one has ever paid that much attention to my nether regions. Not A. Not my gynecologist. Not even I.

Also, so much aggressive rubbing! Each time she spread a bit of wax and applied the strip, she would apply pressure and rub like there was no tomorrow, ensuring the wax stuck to the strip so she could remove as much hair as was humanely possible. I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to orgasm. I wanted to ask her if anyone ever had, but concentrated on biting back my laughter and holding in a fart instead.

The best part was when I had to part my buttcheeks. Never underestimate the weirdness of parting your own buttcheeks while a total stranger plucks it clean of hair because there are some parts that wax can’t reach. I’m assuming there are some parts that wax can’t reach, anyway. All for the low price of PhP 550! Sulit na sulit.

 

Yours in hairlessness,
Nikka

 

PS: Traffic here is awful.

PPS: A motorcab had a sign on its rear that read “Ang mulusot pisot” in big blue letters.

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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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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Proud and Prejudiced

The Germans have a word for that unique sort of unseemly glee we’ve all experienced at seeing someone fall flat on their face. It’s called schadenfreude, and it’s been in the air since the results of the Bar Exams were released. While the provincial side dances around joyously to the Cece Peniston remix of Finally, the “Imperial Manila” side is going “meh, fluke, provinces are dumb,” and the rest of us who haven’t completely lost our minds are sitting courtside with bags of popcorn, cheering as flamethrowers are lit. Welcome to the Thunderdome.Read More »

Addicted to Life

Death as a concept was introduced by a slightly batty friend of my parents who had been asked to babysit. I don’t remember all the details, I just remember her earnest explanation of war and how everyone was eventually going to kick the bucket. I wasn’t ready. (I’m still not ready.) My parents came home to a five-year-old wailing her head off. I don’t want you to die! They never asked her to babysit again.

Realizing no one lives forever was my version of being told Santa Claus wasn’t real. Now that I knew life was finite, I dedicated the rest of my life to finding ways to prolong my time on earth without adding unnecessary risks.  Ha! I wish. I don’t smoke and I drink very little, but my true vices are sugar and salt. Both of these are just as likely to steer me on my way to kingdom come while a dozen nutritionists look on in horror, but what a way to go, eh?

Two weeks ago, Siquijor went from a quiet, untouched paradise to a scary, dangerous place. Two promising young women were cut down in the prime of their lives, all because a crazy bloke was running around tripping balls, leaving devastation in his wake. It hit very close to home, because this is the sort of thing that is only supposed to occur in a gritty metropolis, not a magical, carefree island like Siquijor. Most of the time we shrug off these scenarios, believing they will never happen to us or anyone we know.  Then tragedy strikes and it suddenly feels like we’re all just waiting for a piano to fall on our heads.

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