Friday, March 30, 2012

March 31 - April 6


Fiction: Saturday Night Drive
Itchyworms
Olivia Newton John




Saturday Night Drive


I wrote this as a teenager in 1993. First time published

He was floating pleasurably, drifting aimlessly, swaying on a vast well of darkness. The great unknown? He mused. He was slowly surfacing.

           His reverie was broken by a loud, metallic clanging, and he was instantly aware of the silence that descended. That’s funny, he thought I was not aware of the noise till everybody shut up. He smiled. His smile faded when the metallic noise stopped in front of him. He looked up quickly and through the bars saw what made the noise. Of course, it was the nightstick running across the metal bars. What else could it be, his mind registered. He looked at the cops’ eyes. He was still hazy but somehow he was aware of the evil in the air. He, the cop, started to say something but apparently changed his mind. The sneer on his pudgy face wasn’t any comfort either. He turned and walked away.

            He was indignant. He wanted to say something but instead of words, the only sounds that came out of his mouth were indecipherable stammering of what otherwise could have been human speech. He tried to get up and was engulfed in a terribly fierce headache, and no sooner he flopped down again. His legs felt rubbery. He wanted to crawl through the bars and shout obscenities at the retreating figure. His stomach heaved and he retched. Nothing came out. His tongue was very dry, and he craved desperately for water. Gradually, the sounds around him were heard again. He tried to focus on his surroundings. He was sitting on a metal bunk attached to the wall by two chains. There was another bunk adjacent to his with a sleeping figure startlingly familiar to him.

            His mind began retracing his activities and the dawning realization of his situation was overwhelming and terrifying.

            “Oh my God,” he muttered, He shook his head. He looked at his hands. He looked at his friend. He looked at the bars.” Shit,” he said reverently. He was remembering.


            It was, simply put, a party. A birthday party at that, and he was invited. He was thinking fast: okay there’s a party and you can’t blame e for that. After all, I didn’t plan the damn thing. And I was invited after all, so what can I do? It’s Terry’s fault – she was the one having the birthday! Terry invited almost everybody in their school, plus some prominent people. It’s going to be her debut and she wanted a grand affair. Grand! He snorted. The adults kept to themselves and the kids did likewise. It’s like two parties in one venue. And of course, as in any party, liquor flowed. It’s not my fault, his mind protested again. But then again, what’s a party without liquor? A dead party, he answered himself. He grimaced.

            He looked at the sleeping boy at the next bunk. He looked down on the floor. Good ol’ Dennis, goddamn Dennis, his mind chanted. He looked down on his clothes. Grimy, sweaty. Dirty. He felt dirty. He looked at his watch. It stopped moving at 12:30. 12:30 what? Yesterday? Today? Morning? Night? And where am I any way? In jail! His mind answered. The thought jolted him.


            It was rather dull, the party was. Some of the kids were told to lower their voices not just once. They were disturbing the guest upstairs. He remember observing some of the guys getting restless. Dull as it was, it a good 2 hours before he decided to go home. He had one drink too many. Whoever invented that silly phrase anyway? He asked himself, grinning foolishly. I have to walk straight, he cautioned himself. His vision was blurry now. Was that Terry and Charlie necking near the bushes? Azaleas, someone had called. He looked around. Earthquake? He thought. But no one was running or screaming or whatever people do during earthquakes, so he just shrugged. Someone tapped him on the shoulder, and he spun a round. A little too quickly perhaps? He almost stumbled but strong arms quickly saved him from inevitable embarrassment. “Jesus, you okay, man?” somebody said. Who?

            “Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, rubbing his temples.

            “Listen, Jake, I better take you home. You’re drunk.”

            So that’s it! I’m drunk! Am I drunk? He asked himself. He hiccuped. He squinted at the face before him. Ah, good ol’ Dennis! Poise! he reminded himself.
   
            “I’m okay, I’m okay,” he said. He straightened himself, took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. He opened his eyes wider. He looked triumphantly at Dennis. “Nothing to worry about,” he declared. Another hiccup.

            “Look, Jake, let’s go together, okay? I promised my Mom I’ll be home at eleven.

            Jesus jumped on the plane! A mama’s boy! He looked at Dennis’ sincere face, a bit red, then his watch. Eleven. O’clock. On the dot. He shrugged again. “I was planning to stick around longer,” he lied. “But.” A significant look. A shrug. He let the sentence hang/ He felt a weird sadistic pleasure watching Dennis flush guiltily.

            “Hey, if it’s such a big thing, forget it okay? I can find my way home.”

            My golly, he’s sulking! He’s really hurt! He thought in wonder. He laughed and put his arms around Dennis’ shoulders. “Relax, man, you’re upright. I was only kidding, you know. I mean, stop being so sensitive for chrissakes."

            They started to walk. Jake kept his arms around Dennis. He had to. His knees were wobbly. They said goodbye to Terry. Great party, nice chow, we gotta go, bye. Her dress was rumpled and she was breathing a bit heavily. Charlie was nowhere in sight. Behind the bushes?

Jake humming a favorite tune when they were outside. He was about to launch into a full song but he was startled by Dennis’ cry.

“What, what?” he asked, alarmed.

“I just realized,” Dennis said, “you’re drunk--”

"Watch your language.”

“And that means you can’t drive.” Now Dennis was the kind of guy who canm make decisions at split-second timing, and without breaking stride and completely ignoring Jake’s protestations of soberness, announced, “We’ll have to take a cab.”

“Yeah, right,” said Jake sarcastically. A taxi. Cab. At midnight. You know what that means?”

“The trouble with you is that you’re paranoid.”

“Who’s paranoid?”

“You are.”

“Balls!”

They were both silent for a while. They can still hear the party, the laughter, the music, the clicking of glasses.

“Look,” Jake said, “I’m sorry. But I’m not drunk, honest.”

Silence.

“Well, maybe just a little.”

Silence.”Point is,” Jake said matter-of-factly, “I can still drive us our of here in one piece. Two pieces, I mean.”

Silence.

“Two whole pieces.”

Dennis looked at Jake skeptically.

Stubborn child, Jake thought. He took out a coin from his pocket. “Tails I win, heads you lose,” he laughed
.
Dennis refused to be amused.

“Seriously. Tails I drive. Heads, a cab. You pay,” Jake said.

Dennis was shaking his head. “You know I can’t drive -- ”

“Alright,alright,” Jake cut in. “We split the fare.” He flipped the coin. For a moment, Jake thought the coin would remain suspended in midair. A shiny twirling disk. Then it came down. On Jake’s palm. In one swift motion the palm capped over Jake’s left hand. He opened his right hand. They both looked at the coin.

The Bangko Sentral logo.

Dennis was still shaking his head. “This is crazy. Only an idiot would drive in your condition.”

“Manners, manners,. Let’s face it. I’m your chauffeur..” Jake said
.
Dennis’s face brightened. Probably concocting another brilliant scheme, Jake thought sardonically. A cab! He snorted.

“I got it!” Dennis blurted.

Here goes, Jake thought amusedly.

“Let’s just hitch a ride with George!”

“Him! Jaske exploded. “I wouldn’t ride in that jalopy if his if it’s the last vehicle on earth! Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, Mr. Wise Guy, he’d already left together with Eric what’s-his-name.”

Dennis’ face fell. “Well” he said, groping. “Let’s find somebody whom we can hitch a ride.”

Jake gestured towards the gate. Nobody was going out. He held up his hand. They both listened. The party, if anything, was growing louder this time.

“Nobody’s leading for at least another coupe of hours. While we stand here arguing like a couple of idiots, I’m starting to get a chill. I’ll probably go down with a fever tomorrow, thanks to you. Besides, that was a ridiculous idea in the first place anyway. Nice try though,” Jake smiled disarmingly. “Enough talk,” he said when he saw Dennis about to open his mouth. “We better go.”


A curious buzzing sound. An engine? Bus? The sound was getting louder in his ear and he slapped that part of his anatomy. He looked at his hand. A slim trail of blood was in his palm and fingers. A mosquito. Another one.He looked at Dennis’ sleeping form, now turned towards him. Funny, Jake mused: first time I saw him sleeping. I didn’t know he moves so much while asleep. He looked at Dennis’ face and behind closed eyelids can see his eyes movoing rapidly – left, right, up, down. He’s dreaming, he told himself. He’s just dreaming. It’s not a nightmare, he tried to console himself. He rememebered Dennis saying:


“You’re going too fast!”

“Can’t you read, for crying out loud?  Look at that! It says 70 miles an hour” Jake retorted. They were at the city limits now. Everywhere, colorful Christmas lights and decorations adorn almost every vi8sible establishments ahead was a red light.

“See that?” Dennis pointed.

“Of course I see it! What do you am I, blind?”

“Red light means stop,” Dennis told him.

“Like I don’t know what that means!” answered Jake, stepping on the gas.

“What are you doing?” Dennis was getting hysterical. “Are you crazy?”

“Relax, kid. What nobody knows won’t hurt nobody,” said Jake, grinning malevolently.

And then it happened. A blur. A movement. An impact. The sickening sound of crushing bones.

“Jesus!” Dennis ejaculated.

Jake slammed on the brakes. He got out of the car as fast as he could, but everything seems so slow, like moving on water. Then gradually, everything coming to life. A scream was heard. A siren. People. Where did they come from, Jake wondered.. Hiding then appearing at the precise moment like a stage play?

Dennis had gotten out of the car too, and they looked at each other over the car roof. A uniformed cop suddenly appeared like a malevolent jack-in the-box. They both looked at him, then their eyes went in front of the car. Where a little boy was sprawled in an angle  that would have been impossible.
  
My God, the blood! Jake suddenly threw up everything from his stomach. A woman was shouting at him, “Murderer! Murderer! More policemen. Getting darker. He could hear the murmurings around him. “The skull was crushed!” he heard somebody say. Getting really dark. He felt the cops  converging  around him. He saw Dennis’ white face, devoid of anything other than pure terror He looked like death warmed over, Jake thought, Now whoever invented that silly phrase?

Then everything went black. 



Featured Artists




Huggybear’s Favorite Itchyworms (Tagalog) Songs


Beer

Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal

Huggybear's Favorite Olivia Newton John Songs



The Best of Me
(see also Huggybear's David Foster Songs)

Summer Nights
with John Travolta
(from Grease)

I Honestly Love You

I Can't Help It
with Andy Gibb

Rest Your Love On Me
with Andy Gibb

Physical

Suddenly
with Cliff Richards


Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 24 - 30



Luis Gonzales
Jimmy Sieczka
Charice Pempengco
Juan Miguel Salvador
Cyndi Lauper














Remembering Luis Gonzales

When I was a young boy, my late grandmother, who was of Spanish descent, would order me to sleep after lunch. One of my earliest memories was sneaking to the living room downstairs during her siesta to watch TV, mostly vintage movies on channel 9. I remember Luis Gonzales dancing as the partner of the living legend Gloria Romero in the popular comedy musical Manang Biday. So I was sad when I heard last week that Luis Gonzales had died. He was a matinee idol and a leading man during the first Golden Age of Philippine Movies in the 50s, and he was also part of my happy childhood memories in the mid 80s







Why Kill The Messanger?

I saw Jimmy Sieczka’s 20 Things I Dislike About The Philippines before it was featured on TV Patrol and removed from YouTube. Yup, we Filipinos buy and unrefrigerated meat, and we don't have tissues in most public toilets - excuse me, "comfort rooms."

What I find most amusing was the knee-jerk, over-the-top self-righteous reactions of indignant, xenophobic pseudo-nationalists. I even heard "deport" and "lynch" and other crazy nonsense too. Some medieval cultures are said to kill the messenger when he brings bad news, as if that solves it. You'd think that 21st century Philippines would be different.

Let me tell you about us. We Filipinos are very insecure so we always get defensive and we take everything personally. We are obssessed with gossip and intrigues. But we want others to say only good things about us.

Since Sieczka is an American, it's more ego-shattering because we want to be white, we want to live in the US, and because a lot of what he said was true


20 Reasons I Dislike The Philippines

20 Reasons I Love The Philippines

Jimmy Sieczka's Official Response and Apology to the Video





Charice vs The Crab-Minded Mob

I salute people who achieve their dreams against all odds without hurting anyone. I like Charice Pempengco. I'm not exactly a fan but I admire her guts for expressing her individuality, when she went back to the Philippines recently. Some Filipinos ignore that her phenomenal voice catapulted her as an international star. Instead, they criticize her new hair-do and even gossip that she's a lesbian. If so, then so what? What could be more mentally primitive than that? The detractors of succesful people have a really big problem: combined envy and insecurity.







Featured Artists











Huggybear's Favorite Cyndi Lauper Songs


True Colors


What's Going On


Time After Time




Huggybear's Favorite Juan Miguel Salvador (English) Song


You Got The Power

Theme from Ninja Kids



Huggybear's Favorite Irene Cara Songs


Out Here On My Own
from Fame


What A Feeling
Theme from Flashdance


Fame (Remember My Name)


Anyone Can See



My Favorite Songs From Roel Cortez

Sa Mata Makikita



Iniibig Kita



Photo courtesy of MusixMatch.com

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 17 - 23


Ramon Magsaysay.  
Bodjie Dasig    
Karl Roy 
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark












Why The World Needs Magsaysay

During World War 2, the atrocities of the invading Japanese soldiers forced young Luis Taruc to go to the hills and establish the Hukbalahap, a communist insurgency army. After the war ended, the charismatic peasant leader continued his struggles – this time against abusive government officials and cruel landowners. But when he saw the sincere efforts and the incontestable integrity of the new President – the former Defense Secretary who was his mortal enemy – he then finally bid farewell to arms: “I no longer have any reason to continue,” he told the then 21 year old Ninoy Aquino, the President’s emissary. “Most of what I’ve been fighting for is now being done.”
 
            President Ramon Magsaysay has become the symbol of good government. That a man like him became Chief Executive and Commander-In-Chief is testament that God used to love the Philippines. Like Dwight Eisenhower, his extraordinary valor in wartime was followed by a presidency marked by decency, progress and principled leadership. Like John F. Kennedy, his untimely death plunged the entire nation in mourning the loss of what is and what can be. Like the Rock of Gibraltar, his place in history is solid and immutable. He is our Camelot – the vision of a glorious and romantic past.

            But history moves in cycles. Condrado F. Estrella wrote in an article in March 1998: “As the May elections draw near and as the people have once again primed up to choose their national and local leaders, Magsaysay’s qualities come to mind as timely guideposts in selecting who is genuine and worthy.”

            Immediately after his Inauguration on Dec. 30, 1953, Magsaysay created the Presidential Complaints and Action Committee. The staff was deluged by cries for help. Then, as now, they had a recurrent refrain: corrupt officials, unemployment and poverty.

            One of the supplicants is Hermogenes Antonio, a farmer-tenant in Muñoz who was beaten up by his landlord. The PCAC quickly sent a telegram to the provincial police commander. There was no reply. “Send another telegram saying I am interested,”   Magsaysay said quietly. Two hours later, there was still no reply. Slamming his papers on his desk, Magsaysay got up furiously and shouted, “Come on, let’s go!” – and the President rushed all the way from Malacañang to Nueva Ecija.

            His presence spread like wildfire. The whole village went out to welcome the beloved leader. “Where’s Hermogenes Antonio? He wants my help,” he told the adoring masses. They found Antonio – and discovered something else. Apparently, the sadistic landlord was one of the biggest contributions to Magsaysay’s election campaign

            The President was livid. He whirled to Manahan and roared, “MANNY, SEE THAT THE MAN IS PUT ON TRIAL!” The landlord was eventually found guilty and thrown in jail.

            Magsaysay was the quintessential family man. He believed that strong family ties act as shelter against the world’s cynicism and indifference. However, he will not let anyone – even his family – to take advantage of his position. After the elections, the President and Manahan were having lunch at his parent’s home. Manahan saw firsthand how close the Magsaysay family was to each other – so he was embarrassed when the President boomed: “MANNY, REMEMBER THSES FACES! IF ANYONE HERE TRIES TO USE HIS CONNECTIONS WITH ME TO OBTAIN FAVORED TREATMENT, THROWN HIM IN JAIL!

In the most amazing electoral triumph in local history, he won with an overwhelming 68.9% of the votes in an honest, orderly, peaceful election. Ramon Magsaysay was now the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

            A record crowd of 500,000 from all walks of life gathered at the Luneta for his Inauguration. When it was time to go the Palace, the President refused Quirino’s Cadillac and instead borrowed a Ford convertible. The entire crowd was cheering as they escorted our country’s most beloved President all the way to Malacañang. The scene was eerily similar to the Quiapo procession of the Black Nazarene.

After Magsaysay took a quick shower, he was surprised to find the crowds gone. His security officer explained that he locked he place doors. The President then gave his first executive order: “OPEN ALL GATES AND DOORS! YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO KEEP THE PEOPLE FROM ME!

The legend is true: Magsaysay literally threw open the gates of Malacañang and embraced the people. His immortal dictum will reverberate forever: “Those who have less in life should have more in law.”

            “One other trait that endeared Magsaysay to the common folk was his policy of transparency in government,” according to Estrella. “Not a whiff of scandal or charges of corruption tainted his governance because he had nothing to hide and was decisive in thwarting wrongdoings.” Magsaysay exemplified the glory of a morally ascendant leadership with a clear mandate, and he proved that the presidential-bicameral form of government is perfect for the Philippines.

            “After the Huk threat diminished, the economy improved, and money saved from military expenditures was used for education and social services,” recalls Manahan. “The 1957 presidential election approached, and candidate after candidate, eyeing Magsaysay’s unmatchable popularity, withdrew from the running. His friends began nurturing a dream: Magsaysay as the candidate of both major parties. But it was not meant to be.”

Destiny moves in mysterious ways.  On March, 17, 1957, the unthinkable happened. After being in office for 3 years, 2 months and 17 days, President Ramon Magsaysay died in a plane crash in Mt. Manunggul in Cebu.

The news stunned the nation into immobility. The outpouring of sorrow was palpable and gut-wrenching. In Malacañang, somebody told Manahan, “Manny, we’ve got a problem. What can we do about Luz and the three children? We’ve just learned that Monching doesn’t even own a house!”

            His legacies live on. Every year since Aug. 1958, The Ramon Magsaysay Awards has been honoring the most outstanding men and women of Asia, those “exemplary of the ideals and spirit of service personified by Ramon Magsaysay.” Some of the honorees include Mother Teresa, Haydee Yorac and the Dalai Lama.

          Today, Magsaysay is more relevant than ever. As I wrote an Op-Ed article: A great change will happen to the country if President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo studies the life of the late President Ramon Magsaysay. It was The Guy who earned back the people's trust in the government in the aftermath of the golden orinola issue. How? By proving -- in word and in deed -- that he does not tolerate shenanigans even from his closest allies. That was leadership-by-example at its finest, his greatest achievement and most enduring legacy. That's why people still honor his memory -- he never used his powers to protect those who abused theirs.

          Manahan has eloquently summed up the intangibles that made Magsaysay great – and timeless.

         
         “Magsaysay taught us how a freely elected presidency could work in a troubled, developing nation such as the Philippines. Above all, he showed us grandly we Filipinos can respond, given the chance, to dynamic, democratic, incorruptible leadership.”



 Featured Artists














Huggybear's Favorite Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Songs



Secret



If You Leave


So In Love




Huggybear's Favorite Kapatid (Tagalog) Songs



Hanging Out


Prayer



Slow


Fade Away




Huggybear's Favorite Advent Call (Tagalog) Songs



Puting Ilaw


Memories of Our Dreams






Huggybear's Favorite P.O.T. (Tagalog) Songs




Piece of This



Love To See



Monkey On My Back



Fishcake



Don’t Blink







Huggybear's Favorite Bodjie Dasig (Tagalog) Songs


Ale (Nasa Langit Na Ba Ako)


Bakit Ngayon Lang


Sana Dalaw Ang Puso Ko



Siguro Ay Ikaw Na Nga


Napakaswerte Ko




Wednesday, March 07, 2012

March 10-16


Stories: Yam Laranas' The Road, Insight From Ishmael BernalPriceless Tip From Francisco Colayco, I Am Number Four



Huggybear's Favorite Filipino Movie of 2011

Ella (Barbie Forteza) sneaks out late at night with her best friend Janine (Louise De Los Reyes) whose boyfriend Brian (Derrick Monasterio) is teaching her to drive using his mom's car. They got lost on a deserted road, pursued by a driverless phantom car. Be-medalled supercop Luis (TJ Trinidad) searches for them, and faces the zombie-ghost victims of the weirdo loner (Alden Richards) who lives in a house of spirits. I don't always say this, but I’m really impressed with the screenplay of The Road, directed by Filipino Hollywood filmmaker Yam Laranas.  It’s simply the best Filipino film in 2011 and one of the best Filipino films of all time


Yam Laranas





Insight From Ishmael Bernal 

I have a friend who has lent a big amount of money to a mutual friend. It's perfectly understandble for us that he can't pay because we both saw his economic hardship. What I cannot stomach are shallow, ostentatious social climbers who buys over-priced needless things don't pay debts. Just like the character played by Maria Isabel Lopez in the original Working Girls directed by Ishma. Funny and insightful, saw it on DVD quite recently. Gina Pareño rocks! (Too bad there's no video, but here's another one from Bernal: Pabling starring William Martinez)




Priceless Tip From Francisco Colayco


Money issues is part of living. It happens. I learned a priceless financial advice from wealth enhancement guru Francisco Colayco: Earnings minus Savings = Expenses. Meaning, when I encash a cheque for an article, I have to first set aside a certain amount on my savings account; whatever is left will be my budget for expenses. Easier said than done, but it's the correct mindset. For me, money represents freedom. "Shine sweet freedom! Shine light on me...!"



Colayco on Private Conversations With Boy Abunda







He Doesn't Know What He's Capable Of 


John Smith (not his real name) is from the planet Lorien, which was decimated by the tattoo-headed, massacre-minded Mogadorians. He has a Protector, Henri; a photography-hobbyist girlfriend, Sarah; and a young alien-obssessed best earth friend, Sam - plus new superpowers and a shape-shifting dog. Now how wickedly awesome is that? Oh, the Mogs are on earth and has killed the first 3 Loriens! John knows that because he mysteriously gets a scar when it happens. 


I have lots of favorite lines. The Mogs admire humans for our "disregard for practical things." That's intergalactic sarcasm, I like that. 


I forgot who said, "A place is only as good as the people in it," but my gypsy soul screamed Amen! 


The earth is "as good as any place in the universe," says John, and I'll take his word for it. 


I'm broken-hearted now so I can relate to what Henri said: Saying goodbye "is more than the rest of us had."





Featured Artists







Huggybear's Favorite England Dan & John Ford Coley Songs



Just Tell Me You Love Me


Sad To Belong


Love Is The Answer



I’d Really Love To See You Tonight


We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again


Where Do We Go From Here