I had the opportunity to reconnect with my high school batchmate, former bandleader, and good friend Louie Ocampo just the other day at the opening of his little boulangerie in Pasig’s Baranggay Kapitolyo. It was a couple of hours to closing time by the time I reached the aptly named Kitchen Diaries Cafe, but the place was still bustling and packed to the rafters, giving the rudimentary three-man crew quite a challenge—one that, I’m happy to say, they met with aplomb.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
I love reading Yann Martel’s short stories—although they’re anything but short. He is, for those of you unfamiliar with the author, is the writer of Life of Pi, an awesome book about a boy and a tiger set adrift on a boat in the open ocean. His style is full of whimsy and what I’d like to call floating language, not in the same way as Murakami is whimsical; whereas the latter is like a sunny afternoon where the quiet pierces the monotony, the former is like a lazy Sunday spent outside in the sun.
A long time ago, this was me. From the Wanderlust movie website.
Last Sunday, while having breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and waiting for the 7AM mass, I went through one of his stories called “The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordandt Violin, by the American Composer John Morton”. The story sees the main character stumbling upon a dilapidated concert hall in the slum area of Washington, D.C.
He then proceeds to watch the titular Private Donald J. Rankin string concerto (with one discordandt violin!) on a whim. The concert hall’s set for demolition, but that doesn’t stop the Korean war vets from holding this small concert. The attendees are mostly veterans as well, and for refreshments during the intermission, the organizers serve beer.
I liked the story (so far, anyway; I’m not through with it yet), and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia. A decade ago, I used to fumble around Manila whenever I was in between classes, and found hole-in-the-wall places not unlike the one depicted in Martel’s short story. I “discovered” the very branch of Dunkin Donuts in front of PGH back when it was still a dilapidated old thing, and wrote many a short story while I was there.
I even ended up dragging a friend to some of the oddest events (a concert in Makati, an album launch in Malate, so on) because of this very same curiosity, this very same wanderlust. I was, in very many ways, gala, a Pinoy term that connotes a well-traveled man, although in a manner that isn’t so classy or polite.
I don’t do that anymore, though. Nowadays, I have responsibilities. I have work most of the time, and when I’m done with work, there are other things to do. There’s an ever-growing laundry list of things to work on, which does include laundry. I’m also slowly (but surely) losing my hair, and sometimes, the best way to spend a Friday evening is passed out in bed after a shot of gin.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Just a quick one today. Sorry for the lack of any post last Wednesday. I didn’t have enough time to hammer out something for that day, since Typhoon Glenda happened. Luckily, we didn’t deal with that much damage, aside from some roof damage (not so severe) and broken windows (again, not so severe).
I have to say, though, wind’s more my element than, say, water. I can’t stand it when it rains, and when storms bring in terrible flooding—well, let’s just say I can’t help but get anxious whenever it rains. And we’ve got four storms barreling their way into the country.
And then, to cap off the week, there’s all this news about MH17, and the continuing saga of the Russo-Ukrainian battle over territory. I don’t know what to make of all of it for now, but I can’t help but feel sick to the stomach when I hear how civvies became casualties over something that could and should be resolved through dialogue.
Anyway. That’s it for me on Friday. Hope everything’s okay in your corner of the world. I leave you with a photo of my cat in the hopes that tomorrow’ll be a much better day for everybody.
Monday, July 14, 2014
The time of the day: afternoon. It was a hot, sunny day in San Juan when I stepped off the trike who’d gotten lost in Little Baguio on our way to Antojo’s Restaurante. I knew where the restaurant was; I could see its location in the Google Maps app of my phone. The driver just didn’t know the street I’d directed him to find.
It was a good thing that the place was near the Balkan Express. I sorta knew my way around that area, and with the help of GMaps, I was finally able to make my way to Antojo’s. The place was in some side street off Little Baguio’s Abad-Santos avenue, a stone’s throw from what looks like a pretty serious antique store. This wasn’t exactly quite out of place, since at noon, Little Baguio’s a relatively deserted area, save for some spots, and this area was pretty quiet.
The antique store was quite the partner for Antojo’s, if you think about it. Stepping into the restaurant was like stepping into the galleries of the 70s. The lobby leads to arched doorways framed by white lace billowing in the wind (whenever the front door is opened, anyway), an instant giveaway that this place wasn’t quite average. I don’t recall if the floor was made of marble, but I remember tiles. Stepping inside in the afternoon, while all the lights are out and the restaurant is lit up by natural light streaming in from the windows, is like stepping into a dream.
Friday, July 11, 2014
People keep looking for a better Philippines, but then they end up doing things that prevent a better Philippines from happening. And in case you didn’t get it from that first sentence, this is a post dripping in irony, sarcasm, and perhaps more than one cuss word, so I’m going to cut the article after this paragraph. You have been warned. Click on if you wish to read, or look at the pretty picture, then leave.
Jesus bridge when it was being demolished. It’s better now. From Balita.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
I’ve never had trouble in proving that I loved coffee. I make my drinks using either a Moka pot or an ibrik (since drip coffee is swill), and then I limit my visits to Starbucks because I believe that McDonald’s and Dunkin make better coffee. Hell, even Krispy Kreme makes better coffee.
But Mickey D’s and Dunkin aside, some of the best coffees I’ve had in the Metro are usually of the cappuccino variety, which is an insult to my taste for the vilest, blackest liquid known to grace the lips of man. The thing is that they just taste so good, it’d be a shame to pass them up. I had the pleasure of visiting the vanguard of craft coffee in Manila. The owners were, tongue-in-cheek, droll enough to call their shop Craft.
Monday, July 07, 2014
People appall me sometimes. It’s surprising how self-absorbed some folks can be without realizing it. Like last week, there was this news item about a pick-up truck that had been dragged by one of the PNR trains. The driver was safe, thankfully, but his pick-up was demolished.
The first thing people had to say when GMA news posted its full story on Twitter, however, was sobering:
This was probably within thirty minutes after the news item was posted. One retweet, one favorite. And the responses were asking if the item was newsworthy, or if the traffic in the area was back to normal.
Yeah, the driver of the car was okay, people. Thanks. His car’s a wreck, though. If that were your kid, or your brother, would you care if the traffic was back to normal? Does it matter whether what happened to your bro was newsworthy or not?
Where’s your empathy, people? Are you really just stone-cold selfish beings living just for your own selves?
Friday, July 04, 2014
I have a very complicated relationship with director / producer Michael Bay. I hate him because of Transformers. The first movie was great, the next two (or three?) not so much. But I love him because of The Rock. And I think that Black Sails is one of the best things that happened on cable.
So you could say things got even more confusing when the third trailer for Bay’s version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You can see it here, if you want; I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out, trailer-wise, so far.
In relation to this: a friend of mine mentioned how he’d pay good money to see Michael Bay make a reboot of SWAT Kats, a short-lived cartoon from the 90s peopled with anthropomorphic cats. And I can’t help but agree: if a petition asking Michael Bay to translate the show to the big screen is made, I’m on board.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
One of the more popular things on the Internet is the Life Hacker website, which gives you plenty of tips on how to improve the way you do things in your life. Another of the more notorious personalities on the web is Maddox, the self-styled guru of everything manly. What happens when you put the two together?
Portions from the full Life Hack poster. Taken from Holy Cool.
Utter chaos. That’s what. One of the more recent videos released by Maddox is him refuting some of the more well-known life hacks from Life Hacker, such as the following: