“The day I was born I was born free and that is my Privilege.”

Chona-ism: A new-fangled philosophy
October 27, 2008, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Big Brother Stories, Familia, Tabloid

Oh, well, I dunno if she will then again — presumably, because the first instance has not yet been confirmed — abduct my cellphone and throw it in a bin saying “Help lessen electronic wastes.  Dump your ‘not-so-good’ e-gadgets and accessories here.  Save the earth where we inhabit” after I make her my heroine in this entry.  Well, I sincerely don’t want her to be in such a state again for this: She fainted after seeing my 2300 with its cheap purplish-pink butterfly-inspired keypad.  To lessen such feeling of lightheadedness, she glanced at her N70 Nokia phone. “I still am in  the Wall-E age,” she then bellowed.  <Hahahaha.  Love you, Tsoning.>

It was the morning at the office where you would not expect to be shocked after reading a chat message from your superior saying, “Hey, guys, today’s our annual physical examination.  It would be much convenient for you because the said event will be held in our beautiful, just spare the filthy floor, office.” Okay.  So there we are in that room, registering, looking high up in the ceiling, almost breaking a neck, just to prove that we’re no hobbit, and taking all the unnecessary things to make a statement that we are just as light as a feather.  Kidding.  But it’s no jest to be pinched with a thick needle just to get a drop of blood.   You would then think after that that those white-gowned oppressors are just too mean to make a scenery of your red blood cells for just a few seconds under a microscope, them enjoying and you flinching as they’re drilling a hole in your finger just to take a piece of you.  <Hehe, ang arte ko talaga pero pramis masakit.>  As Chona — famous to be Donya of our beautiful workplace, just spare the filthy floormat, please — would mumble later on, “Of all the people na kumuha ng million pounds worth blood drop of mine, it is with her that I feel sheer agony and pain.” <Tarush! Lord Byron, back off! Hahaha>

It was time for the last of the Basic Five — X-ray.  We went downstairs, to the building’s parking area to look for a mobile clinic.  It was swarmed with male nurses and a doctor inside.  We were the first batch to be X-rayed, all women, oh, yeah, one claims to be trapped in a man’s body but she is among the wo-men — hehehe.  All of us piled up, waiting to be stamped with “X-rayed” on our back. “Hinga ng malalim.” Then a flash mimicking a Dravidian period camera.  “Okay.”  Then He-who-must-not-be-named get in the room and recover that metal-lish casket containing a film that would say if your lungs are still there after smoking a pack earlier that morning.  Don’t be misguided.  I am not a smoker.  Chona was the last to be ‘flicked’ at.  We were all outside, talking to each other gals and then the lads came and then more talking.  Suddenly, the door of the mobile opened.  Standing there in the doorway, almost like a proud father after announcing to the audience, it is a boy, a son finally, was Donya Chona.  She came down from her throne and mingled with us underlings.

She opened the discussion with “He-who-must-not-be-named touched me on my waist.  It’s absurd.  It’s hypocritical.”  Then us underlings were forced to utter some phrases of approval.  “Indeed! He has done that to me, too.”  The air was then filled with myriad cries of women in support of Donya Chona.  In the middle of this ruckus, one lad would whisper, “That lucky bastard,”  taking his right hand to his face to cover his mouth.

Lunchtime in the pantry, eating a commoner’s meal and reminiscing what happened earlier that morning, Donya Chona then made a revelation triggered by this one of them lads’ statement:  “Uyst, nung umalis kayong mga gals kanina, sabi ni He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, ‘Kapag mga babae talaga ang tagal.‘”

Eh?!! You would certainly enraged Gabriela Silang there, mister.   Better stay in a cupboard!  After what you’ve done to all of us here, guiding while holding our waists and our shoulders.  You’re a sham — shame!  Well, that’s a personal comment.  Chona’s will be like this:

DC:  Uyst, pa’no ba sinusuot yung gown dun sa X-ray room?

A gal:  Yung may iri-ribbon na part sa likod yun.

DC:  Di nga?!! Akala ko sa harap yun.  Inayos-ayos ko pa man din yung ribbon nun.  Baka kasi masilipan ako dun sa loob.   Sobrang takip nga ako dun ng front ko with my arms.

A lad:  Di ba nanganak ka na?! Di ba you’ve been to a hospital kasi nanganak ka na?! (Insisting that she has an idea, at least, on how to wear that typo’ gowns)

DC:  Eh, matagal na din yun, noh! Nakalimutan ko na kaya!

A gal: Ikaw ba yung sinabihan ng, “Miss, tapos ka na bang mag-bihis?  Ang tagal mo na diyan ha.

DC: <Tawa na lang siya ng after.>

May kapalit na ang Everybody Loves Raymond and Will and Grace kapag lunchtime!!! Hahahaha. –

Postcript:  Chona and the quarterly evaluation discussion with sir.   Don’t confuse her.  See, how heartbreaking it was to see her so flabbergasted. Hahaha.

Sir:  Chona, nakapag-physical exam ka na ba?

DC:  Ay, sir. Hindi pa po.

Sir:  Bakit?

DC:  Wala pa po kaya kayong binibigay sakin.

Sir:  Huh?! Anu naman bibigay ko sa’yo?

DC:  Yung evaluation sheet ko po (Stuttering while thinking).  Ay, hehe, APE (physical exam) po pala.  Ang akala ko PAS (quarterly evaluation).  Hehe.

Siyempre, tawa ako ng tawa upon hearing this story from her.  Mula elevator pababa ng building, habang naglalakad kame papuntang sakayan.  Hahaha.  See, even why I am narrating it here. Hehe. =)


Post-postscript:  Chona Paranoia: Quarterly Evaluation, as told by her to me just this rainy morning:

J:  Chona!!! Aaahh, late!

DC: Onga eh!  Nu time ka nakapag-in?

J:  6:05, late din! Hehe.  Nasa blog kita! Hahaha.

DC:  Naku, kaw talaga, sa multiply?

J:  Di noh!  Ni-narrate ko lang ang spontaneous humor mo. Hehe =)

DC:  Ay, meron pa nga eh.  Ni-pop ako ni M kahapon, tinatanong kung may suspender daw ako.  Sabi ko naman, “Wala pa eh.  Wala pang binigay si sir.”  Natawa si M, sabi niya, SUSPENDER, di SUSPENSION!

Remembering an English 197 Reading

What Is Serendipity?

Twink Macaraig

Mica heard a word, a most wonderful word. It happened while Mica’s parents were talking and they didn’t realize that she was listening. Most of the time, Mica didn’t bother to listen when grown-ups talked to each other. They used long words in flat, serious tones and rarely had anything exciting to say. But one evening Mica heard something so different from anything she’d heard before.

“He says here, the key to any great success is not just luck, but serendipity,” Mama was saying, as she was browsing through a shiny magazine. And as she said it, Mama’s face looked the way it looked when she was describing how she used to play Chinese jackstones when she was a little girl or the natilla that Lola used to bake. Then the look was gone, Mama was her regular self again. Her grown-up conversation with Papa continued.

“Serendipity,” Mica said softly to herself. “Ssehh-rehhenn—“ she stretched out the sounds “—dpithy,” she finished quickly, producing three little pops. It’s like a song, she thought. Serendipity-doo-dah! Mama made it seem like such an important word, but it was so simple to say.

Mica didn’t know what the word meant, but she liked the sound of it. She like it very much, indeed. It sounded like something she would yell when Mama and Papa said that it was alright to yell as loud as she liked. Like the time she looked down the dark wishing well in the back of Lolo’s house in the province. Instead of calling ”Hello,” she would shout “Serendipity!” and the echo would laugh back, “Tee-hee-hee.”

It sounded like something she would say whenever she made an amazing discovery. Like the time she learned to cross her eyes and saw two of everything. Or that feeding a carabao wasn’t anything to be scared of. The carabao ate the grass out of her hand, and its tongue was just a little wet, like her own.

She wanted to find serendipity so she could surprise her mother with some of it. Mama was looking very tired lately. But first, she had to find out what serendipity meant.

As Mica lay in bed, the word wouldn’t stop repeating itself in her head. She asked her Yaya Paz, who was crocheting a blouse by her bedside, “Yaya, what is serendipity?”

Yaya Paz replied, after thinking awhile, “I think it’s the name of a mischievous, little mermaid who likes to watch children build castles on the beach. When it gets dark, or the children have been playing too long, Serendipity blows the water to wash away the sand castles so the children know it’s time to go. Then, tired from blowing so many waves, Serendipity goes home, deep in the ocean to her mother, who sings a song to send her to sleep.”

As Yaya Paz hummed the lullaby that the mother mermaid sang, Mica figured that she was being tricked, but she didn’t mind. She felt her eyelids growing heavy. But still her dreams were about serendipity. What in the world did it mean?

At breakfast the next morning Mica thought hard, I haven’t heard Mama use that word before, not Papa or Lolo, not even Teacher Marilyn. It must be something kept secret from little kids like me. Could it be a secret food, she wondered, that gave you powers like Popeye’s spinach?

She looked around her. It couldn’t be the pork and beans. She ate it all the time. And it certainly couldn’t be the champorado.

There was a clear bottle on the table containing bright strands of yellow, white, and orange and some tidbits of red. Papa ate this sometimes with his tapa or longganisa, but Mica had never tried it before. It looks so tasty, but it has never been offered to me, Mica realized, not like the kangkong that Mama insists I eat. Could this be serendipity?

But it didn’t taste at all the way it looked, or so Mica thought at first. She imagined it would taste like the gaily colored candies that hang from the window of the sari-sari store. Or maybe like pancit because of the fine noodle-like shreds. But this stuff was kind of sweet, kind of sour, and kind of something else she couldn’t describe. How could Papa eat this? She ate a little more, trying to figure out the taste. And slowly, bit by bit, she decided that it wasn’t bad at all!

Mica was convinced that she had found the secret of serendipity. This food that looked pretty, but tasted strange, but tasted good, but tasted different. This is serendipity, she decided, or it tastes very much like it. This is the key to great success. She couldn’t wait to tell Mama when she got home.

But Mama wouldn’t be back for a while, so Mica went to the park to play. It had been several days since she was last there because Mica had gotten tired of the same old jungle gym. But now everything—the sandbox, with the circus animals painted on the roof, the swings that squeaked, and the striped seesaws—looked fun once more.

“Serendipity!” she shrieked, as she whizzed down the slide. She went down so fast that she reached the bottom just as she finished the word.

“Serendipity!” she hollered every time she swung forward, using her toes to give herself a mighty push. With her eyes shut and her head tilted back, she could hear the wind rushing past her, as though murmuring a reply.

Then she felt something on her nose. Something so tiny and faint she might not have noticed it at all. It was a golden leaf from the giant sampaloc tree above. It was raining sampaloc leaves, and they were falling gracefully to the grass. Except for the one golden leaf that had found its way to Mica.

“This means I get a magic wish,” Mica said to the sampaloc tree. “For every leaf I catch, I have a magic wish.” Then, a new thought came into Mica’s head. What if serendipity wasn’t something to eat after all? What if it was right here on the tip of her finger? What if serendipity was this golden sampaloc leaf bearing Mica a magic wish?

“Of course! Of course!” Mica cried with the delight, as she kept the leaf carefully in her pocket. “The more serendipities I catch, the more wishes I get. Then I’ll wish great success for Mama so that she won’t be so tired anymore.”

Mica watched for another shower. With the next breeze, she lifted her skirt to use as a net. Then she ran back and forth, turning and twirling, trying to be at the precise spot where each lead was going to fall. It wasn’t easy to do. There were far too many of them. And they were blowing about in all sorts of directions, making Mica miss a few. But Mica didn’t give up. She waited breathlessly for each gust of wind to send down another shower of leaves and off she would go, clutching the edge of her skirt, catching as many serendipities as she could.

Pretty soon a little girl in pigtails was doing the same thing, joined by Mang Jun, who caught what he could with his salakot. Even the yayas, who had been chatting intently on the park bench, hoisted their aprons and joined in the merry scramble for falling wishes.

When Mica grew tired, and her neck ached from looking up too long, she counted her leaves. There were seventeen in her skirt . . . plus the first one in her pocket . . . that gave her eighteen serendipities in all. Mica ran home with the golden leaves in her fists, raised above her head, the way runners do when they cross the finish line first.

“Serendipity!” cried Mica as she burst into her bedroom. So thrilled was she over her catch that she bounced on her bed over and over again until she could almost, just almost, touch the ceiling.

I’d better keep these before they get lost, she remembered. She took her piggy bank down from the shelf and dropped the sampaloc leaves through the slot. One, two, three, four. . . she was getting to eleven when something caught her eye.

It was a little doll from many months before. It had come in a goodie bag from a cousin’s birthday party. The doll was made entirely of cloth, her thick limbs stuffed with what she felt like sand. She didn’t bend or talk. Her eyes didn’t close when you laid her down. In fact, her entire face was painted with only two colors: black for the eyes, lashes, brows, and nose; and pink for the cheeks and heart-shaped lips. When she first saw her, Mica didn’t think that she was a very nice doll. She was too squat; she was hard to hug at night; and she just wasn’t very pretty at all.

“She’s not meant to be pretty. She’s a pincushion,” Yaya Paz had said then.

Mica couldn’t imagine why she would ever want to stick pins into anything. So she lost herself instead in the bubble pipe, the floral stickers, and all the other delightful things that were in the goodie bag.

The doll was put on the shelf, propped on top of Mica’s books, and was forgotten until Mica noticed her now.

She’s been there so long, quietly waiting for me to care for her, Mica realized. She felt ashamed for all the games that she had played with all her other toys which the pincushion doll hadn’t joined. Or the times that she couldn’t find anything to do and didn’t even think to take the doll from her perch.

“It’s not your fault you’re plain,” consoled Mica, as she took the doll tenderly in her hands. The doll’s dress had faded and her face had turned slightly gray from the dust. But her expression remained sweet and patient and wise.

“I bet you’ve been watching over me all this time, haven’t you? You’ve been guarding me at night when Yaya Paz says monsters and mumus and white ladies can sneak in through the window. You’ve been protecting me from harm like an angel,” Mica said.

The doll seemed to nod.

“I’m sorry, old doll,” Mica whispered. “I’m sorry I didn’t pay any attention to you.”

The doll kept her cheery smile, and in her black-dot eyes Mica could see forgiveness.

“From now on, you’ll join me and the others. You can help me fix Baby Rose’s hair. You can cook rice with my mini rice cooker. You can even ride my magic pony.” Mica was thinking of all the fun they would have together to make up for all the loneliness the doll must have felt during the many months that she had been ignored.

“And from now on, I will give you a proper name of your own, like all the other dolls. I will call you—“ Mica knew that it could be nothing else but—“I will call you Serendipity.”

Serendipity looked pleased and proud. Just then Mica heard a car drive up. “Mama!” Mica rushed to gather the day’s treasures to present to her mother.

Mama looked up from the bills that she was sorting through. “So what did you do with yourself today?” she asked.

“Oh Mama, I have found the key to great success! I have found serendipity!” Mica announced grandly.

Mama looked closely at Mica’s face, her eyebrows crinkled, as if she was trying to concentrate really hard. “What is serendipity, Mica?” she finally asked. “What do you think it is?”

“Yaya Paz said it was a little mermaid, but I think she was fooling me. I’m sure it’s at least one of these things, Mama,” she said, putting the jar she discovered at breakfast on the table. “It’s this stuff that looks like candy pancit, but doesn’t taste like it. It looks soft and wet, but has a tiny crunch when you bite it. It tastes weird at first, but after a while it’s delicious. Try it, Mama. It’ll give you super strength. Or it’ll make you super successful. Then you won’t look so tired anymore.”

Mama stared at the bottle, but all she said was, “Hmm, most people call it achara, but it does taste interesting, come to think of it.”

Mica emptied the contents to her piggy bank onto her mother’s lap. “Or it’s these golden leaves, Mama, from the big old sampaloc tree in the park. If you catch them before they fall to the ground you get a magic wish. I caught eighteen serendipities in my skirt today. You can have some, Mama, or you can have them all. I can always catch some more tomorrow.”

Mama had that funny expression again, the one she has whenever she talks about Chinese jackstones or natilla.

“Maybe the wishes won’t work unless I go and catch some myself,” Mama said. “May I go with you next time?”

“What a great idea!” exclaimed Mica. “You can wear your swirly skirt the flowers so you can catch lots of them. I’ll wish for a baby brother and you can wish for great success . . . But wait, I almost forgot . . .you have to meet my old new friend. This is Serendipity.” Mica handed the doll to her mother.

“She’s not very cute and she’s a little worn. But she’s sweet and loyal, and she never complains. If you make her your friend, she’ll keep away evil spirits so that you’ll find success for sure.”

Mama was smiling broadly now.

“I call her Serendipity because she seems like one to me. Am I right, Mama? Or is serendipity the magic leaf? Or the candy-colored food? That’s serendipity, isn’t it?”

“You’re absolutely right about all of them!” Mama burst into merry laughter. She swept Mica up into her arms and explained, “Serendipity is whatever you think it is, wherever you find it. When you feel joy in something that other people may overlook. When something makes you happy even though it doesn’t seem all that important. When you find something special in something ordinary. When you find something by accident, that is serendipity.”

Mica was thrilled that she had been right all along. Serendipity was everything she thought it was, as wonderful a word as it sounded. She hugged Mama tightly, then thought to ask again. “So would you like some more of my serendipity, Mama? Your magazine said it was the key to great success.”

Mama stroked Mica’s cheek. “I would love for you to share it with me all the time, Mica, not because the magazine said so, but because you have so much of it. And someday I want to be just as great a success as you are.”

Mica felt a great warmth flow through her. She rubbed her face against Mama’s dress to get as close as she possibly could and to smell the familiar jasmine scent Mama used. As her mother bent to kiss her forehead, Mica noticed that for the first time in a long, long time, Mama didn’t look tired at all.

“Do re mi fa pu pu pu waaahh!!”
October 1, 2008, 1:30 pm
Filed under: All That Jazz!, Backdrop, It's Asian | Tags:

I thought of watching just up to five episodes, which every episode runs for 40 to 45 minutes, bearing in mind that I had Miko Ezekiel’s christening party that I needed to attend the following morning.  But rather, I saw myself sitting on a hard chair like an owl waiting for food in a span of ten hours; that is, from 8:00 p.m. till 6 a.m., watching Nodame Cantabile.  Gyoba!! I LOVE IT!!

Nodame Cantabile according to Wiki is:

“Based on the hit comic book by Tomoko Ninomiya, this is a fun-filled quirky romantic story of two very opposite people.

Megumi Noda, or “Nodame” is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox when it is filled with delicacies.

Shinichi Chiaki, is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. An arrogant multi-lingual perfectionist who once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy, he feels mired in Japan because of a childhood phobia.

They meet by accident. Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Because of Nodame, Chiaki got the opportunity to lead a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people’s musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.”

It caused me an interest to take timpani, kontrabass, horn, oboe, clarinet, violin and particularly piano lessons.  I wanted to play the piano, though, even before I watched this drama.  Hugh Laurie made me want to do that. <Blink>

I fall asleep around 6:00 a.m., woke up past 9:00 to get to the party in time — that I was not really sure.  Lemme think again.  But there was more to watch, the Nodame special, which runs approximately four hours. I was more than determined to finish that.  Finally, they were in Praha to watch Viera-sensei conduct and then headed to Paris where Nodame got a scholarship to study music.

I arrived home around 3:00 in the afternoon.  I was just relieved having gone home because the near drunkards at the party wanted to share tables, which is quite irritating, at least for me.  I am not used to such “socialization,” I guess.  I managed to sneak my brother’s laptop from his room and then started watching.  My mother, who acted like a villain to my finish-nodame-cantabile-special endeavour, said, “Matulog ka muna! Di ka ba inaantok?!” I just nodded a no.

The whole time I was waiting for the story to focus on Nodame.  I would want to see her perform the piano not the sloppy way.  Then, near the end, her first recital was announced, Mozart being the main theme.  I enjoyed watching that, and to start off with Mozart’s Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is just mere brilliance.   <Hehehe.>  I just thought it fits her character, which I very much like.

The Fart Exercise, I was listening to that several times in a day immediately after I received Nodame’s soundtrack from Ana.  It’s a children song composed, arranged, and sang by Nodame whose first dream is to be a kindergarten teacher.  >> “Let’s emit a good sound, energetically emitted.  Do re mi fa PU PU PU, waah!”

Like before, I have screenshots!! Hurrah!!

Chiaki, as she said, it’s cream soup. Believe her for Mozart’s sake.

Puri Gorota!

Coalpit Mackerel, which she cooked for Chiaki.  How sweet!

You’re Jackie Chan, not Stresseman, admit it and don’t lure Nodame to go to One More Kiss!

I can’t help but laugh seeing this photo!

Dreaming of Senpai!

I would want, too!

Masumi, such a kawaii!!

You really look like Toma Ikuta.

S-Oke unite!

Nakao (It’s his name in Hana Kimi) and Masumi quarreling over the senpai they admire.

The Rising Star Orchestra!

Waahh!! Kinikilig ako!! Waahh!!

Uh-huh, but he’s got a tuned piano in his room. Unfair!

Nodame learning French.

Conducting competition.


And from my most favorite scene — Nodame being Mozart.