29
Mar

On komiks and brick games and pocketbooks

When I was in high school (way back decades ago *sigh*), it was the time when Luzon was suffering from lack of electricity. No electricity for hours, as long as 12 hours every day. So most of our time there was no electricity. No electricity meant no radio and no TV. We sought different forms of entertainment then.

My mom used to buy read komiks from the palengke at Blumentritt. I remember some of the titles like Aliwan and Wakasan. Every Friday, I bought Pilipino Funny Komiks (for Combatron, mostly). When I was in my first year, my values education teacher called me Zarbot, an android character from the serial comic novel of the same name, just because my name sounded like Zarbot. Zarbot appeared in Aliwan, and his claim to fame was that he’s prolly one of the most sexually active robot characters out there.

Most of the komiks back then are collections of serialized comic novels, stories being continued on the next issue. Komiks were released regularly, mostly weekly. I had to wait weeks for the next issues, because my mom did not buy them regularly. During Saturdays, I always waited for my mom from her palengke run, hoping she bought komiks. And when she did, I read them immediately, and lagi akong napipingot sa tenga because inuna ko pang basahin yung komiks instead na ayusin yung pinamili nya.

Love stories were the most common serialized novels in komiks. Inevitably, there were love scenes, but mostly not explicit. For explicit ones, there were bomba komiks as well – yep, komiks were for porn, as well. I’d seen an issue or two. My mom obviously did not buy them, but as any male teenager would tell you, we have ways. *wink wink*

Aside from komiks, my mom also bought pocketbooks. Some of these local pocketbooks were thin volumes, stapled instead of bound, with glossy cover. They were mostly love stories. I remember reading them on our stairs, malapit kasi sa bintana kaya maliwanag at pwede magbasa. She kept these komiks and pocketbooks at the eskaparate where bread and biscuits were kept.

Of course, there were porn pocketbooks. *wink wink*

And nobody of my age would have escaped the phenomenon called brick games. These were handheld devices with monochrome displays, powered by AA batteries. They all were variations of the classic Tetris game by Nintendo. Pag may Game Boy ka that time, mayaman ka. Eh since di lahat can afford magka Game Boy, ayun, bumenta ang brick games. The more games in a handheld, the more na sikat ka. Eh 4 kaming magkakapatid so imagine the chaos – agawan eh. Di uso sa amin ang time sharing haha.

So yeah. Internet at that time was almost non-existent, and mobile phones were too large to be called mobile. And since there was not enough electricity back then, TV and radio time were limited. Bihira pa portable radios nun, madalas pa AM band lang. Saka magastos sa battery. So we were left with komiks and pocketbooks and brickgames for distraction and entertainment.

I don’t get the fuzz re: komiks right now. I guess it isn’t an upper class thing.

4
Mar

Looking at the window in front of me

There’s a wooden bench lying on the roof, sideways, its four feet pointing to the west. A maya bird perches on one of the foot, chirping, then flies away.

This has been a regular scene ever since I started working at home Mondays. Around 7am, you can hear them on the roofs, chirping. I once tried taking a picture, but the window screen’s too dusty. I really have to find time to clean it.

I wanted to put a water bath for them at the roof, and a small container of food for them. I don’t know what’s stopping me from doing so. I guess laziness.

I cherish these times. I dread the day when the cats are back to their jump-on-walls-and-roofs-and-wail-and-have-sex routine. They usually do so in the middle of the night.

Now listening to vinyl. Currently playing: Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Birds have flown away. Back to work.

21
May

On death, 3

I met him I think twice. The first time was during an art exhibit. I was invited by an artist-friend, and he was invited by another artist that is also friends with my artist-friend. After the opening, we had dinner at Chowking, then videoke at Malate. They drank the night away while I listened to their drunken singing. We went home way past midnight.

The second time was another drinking session/dinner in Makati. Over bottles of Tanduay Ice (for them) and iced tea (for me) and lechon kawali, we exchanged stories and jokes. Well, they exchanged stories and jokes, while I just listened. I was socially awkward; I still am. After the drinking session, we took a walk around Makati, passing by his house, then we had post-dinner dinner at McDonalds. That was the last time I saw him – a towering figure, laughing like a child.

Most interactions after that were online, usually on Twitter. I just read his tweets, made several replies, and that’s it. Most of his tweets were about food. I think he liked Japanese food, basing this on his tweets.

And just like meeting friends online, sometimes dropping off is inevitable without anyone noticing. I dunno what happened next – maybe it was a sign that I should have noticed. Just checked: I still follow him on Twitter, and he still follows me. But I can’t remember any single tweet of his in recent days. Must be due to bandwidth issues. I noticed that I am not getting all tweets on Tweetdeck – there were obvious gaps in conversations, etc. So I thought he got bored with Twitter and had decided to move on.

Last Saturday, I was with college friends that I haven’t seen in decades. Over lunch, I got a text message from a friend, informing me of a very sad news.

For many of us, we don’t get the point of killing oneself. Everytime we hear of news of someone taking his own life, we usually ask why. What is it that pushes some people to terminate his life? Is there a problem that can only be solved by death?

I can’t answer for others, but this I know: for a desperate person, for a person who feels that he is most alone, for someone who thinks that no one cares, for a person who thinks his interminable life is an endless stream of loneliness and despair – yes, eternal, dreamless sleep is a tantalizing option.

Have you ever felt that your life is going down the drain? Did you ever have the feeling that once people found out about your darkest secret, they’d shun you, ostracize you, avoid you like making eye contact with you means instant death? Have you felt the cold embrace of loneliness in a sea of people? Have you despaired for attention from people who you think are ignoring you? Was there a long stretch of time where you’ve felt you’ve been abandoned by family and friends?

For some people who have been under the yoke of depression, yes, death can be the only option.

Yes, because I’ve been there.

But yes, I am still alive. I dunno why. Maybe I was a coward. Maybe things got better. Maybe because I had thought about my situation, accepted my fate, and moved one. I can’t say I am out of it; no one can. Depression, like death, is treacherous. It attacks you when you least expect it. But it’s been more than a decade since what I termed the Black Years of my life. Where taking a shower, looking at the water going down the drain, was a metaphor of my life. Where seeing my brother with his friends brought crushing blows to the heart. Where walking in a sea of people brought crushing waves of utter loneliness.

Yes, I thought death was a relief. But I am still alive.

Not everyone was as lucky. Including him.

It must be a terrible blow to family and friends. The sad thing about depression and suicide is that there are no obvious signs. Most of us are not aware about it. Even if we were, detecting it would be hard. You can never tell if someone is just sad or terribly depressed. And even if we find out, we might find ourselves helpless, or worse, indifferent.

After someone made the decision to leave this life, all we have, aside from memories, is regret. Have we been so full of ourselves that we fail to notice? Have we lacked love for this person? Have we taken him for granted? All we have are questions, and we might not get the right answers, or any answer at all.

I used to read a lot about depression and suicide. I have books, pages yellowed, some passages highlighted. I have photocopies, properly filed and stored in envelops. I read about my situation back then, and resolved that never should another suffer what I had went through.

But life has a nasty habit of dumping us with experiences that we can’t even discern the essentials from the mundane. In my case, studies and later on, work. I thought I could help someone who is depressed when I find one. Now, I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that someone that I know took his own life.

That’s what family and friends have after a suicide – unanswered questions. And that’s all I have now.

25
Dec

My Christmas/New Year wish list 2011

If you are feeling generous this Christmas season, then my wish list is for you. πŸ˜€

NEEDS
1. An Olympus XZ-1 digital camera
2. An IDE enclosure for laptop optical disk drive
3. A salary increase
4. A DLink Network Attached Storage or Buffalo LinkStation Network Attached Storage
5. A display cabinet/case for my toys
6. A Perfect Grade Gundam Astray Red Frame or Perfect Grade Strike Freedom Gundam

WANTS
1. Some Master Grade Gundam kits
2. A 1TB external portable hard disk drive
3. A condo unit
4. An ergonomic gas lift chair
5. A Sony Ericsson XPERIA PLAY or XPERIA arc s

And of course, peace on earth and good will to all. Thank you.

Have a merry Christmas (for believers) and may the season be bountiful and happy for you.

Much love,
Arbet
xoxo

9
Sep

AJ Matela, 1982-2011


(Photo courtesy of NiΓ±a Fuentes.)

Thanks to Ms. Janette Toral, I got to meet AJ Matela.

I can remember that night. There I was, a wallflower to the core, meeting new bloggers (and not-so-new friends) old and young. There was this tall lanky guy in gray long sleeves, tie, and dark gray slacks. He stood out among the sea of bloggers in casuals, so you won’t fail to notice him.

Then Ms. Toral decided to humiliate us all by introducing ourselves, in front, using a mike. I had to use my usual spiel. You know, “My name is Arbet, but you may call me Loggins. But never combine the two.” It got the expected response. I really wanted to just vanish, I am not really used to speaking in front of people – ironic for a once-upon-a-time teacher.

The the corporate guy stood up, introduced himself as AJ, and then said “I blog at Bakla Ako dot com.” I had to do a double-take. Him, gay? As I have said in the blog post linked above, “Mas macho pa boses nya kesa sakin!”

I got to meet him intermittenly after that, during blog events, several Philippine Blog Awards nights, Plurkfiestas and bump-into-each-other-randomly events. When I dropped out gradually from blogging, I had not seen him since. We got to talk on Twitter and Plurk, and some random text messages.

Then last year, he dropped out of his social networks, and that’s when I’ve heard he was sick and hospitalized. It was distressing because he was the second friend of mine who was hospitalized back then, and more distressing – both were near death, though not of the same time. I am glad both recovered, though I was shocked when I saw AJ in photos after his hospitalization.

The last time I saw AJ, it was virtual – he opened a Google Hangout session, and so I joined. I knew how he looked like before I joined the hangout, and I was still surprised by how he looked. He’s been a lanky guy, and he looked gaunt. Never got to talk much that time, as the connection was intermittent. I did not know that it would be the last time I would see and talk to him.

Several days ago, I was informed by friends that he was again in the hospital, and that he might not make it. There was supposed to be a dinner in his benefit last night, but I was not able to go.

And when I got online today…..

I’ve talked about death before, and the way we deal with it. When my paternal grandmother and paternal aunt died, I was saddened, but no tears fell, no surprise nor shock. If a loved one suffered from lingering illness, and knowing that there won’t be a cure, you were confronted with death everyday. You do not know if tomorrow they will still wake up. You do not know if you are prepared for the inevitability of death. You do not know how you’d deal when death comes. You do not know how you’d live after they are gone.

And death forces us to deal with regrets – the laughter and tears that will no longer be shared, food and movies and books to enjoy, seeing the sunset and frolicking in the sea – lost time with a loved one brings the most regret.

I do have regrets: I could have spent more time with him, talked with him more, visited him at the hospital, visited him at their house in Rizal. Yes, there are regrets, but these are nothing compared to the memories shared with AJ. Yes, there are regrets, but AJ’s gone, and all we have are his memories.

AJ’s a brave man, one of the bravest men that I know, even braver than so called straight men. When and where gays are ridiculed, he stood tall and proud. When he was in the hospital, he fought a fight that lesser men would not dare fight.

I admire AJ’s unwavering and unfaltering faith, despite the fact that the leaders of his faith call his kind unkind and un-Christian names. And I am sure his faith has prepared him for this new journey, and I am sure he is happy where he is now.

See you again, AJ. Now you have to pray for us.

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. . . you– only you– will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure. . . and your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you. . .”

And he laughed again.

“It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh. . .”

Antoine de Saint Exupery, “The Little Prince”

19
Jul

Misleading credit card bill

So, which of the two should I pay? If the guy who answered the call is to be believed, it should be the first one. Then why label the second one (the smaller amount) as TOTAL?

I’ve been paying SCB in full when I use my SCB card. The SCB bill always confuses the SM tellers. It confuses me, too, and that confusion leads to my previous rants.

So last month, the installment amount was Php2650.31, and the total payment due was Php2585.74. Naturally, I paid Php2600 because I thought the amount that I should pay for was the Total Payment Due. Then to my shock, for this month’s bill, I was charged Php70 interest. For what, my brain asked.

So calling the not-so-helpful SCB guy, the amount due for last month was Php2650.31 and not the Total Payment Due (which was Php2585.74). I kept on arguing and I felt my blood pressure rising so I did not bother anymore. Instead, I had my first card cancelled, and will have the other one cancelled as well, once I have completed the installment payments.

Maybe the way the bill is structured is designed to confuse the cardholder and thus earn more from people like me. Let this be a lesson for future Standard Chartered credit cardholders. There are better cards like BPI.

26
Apr

Throwing in the towel

I must admit the past few days has been emotionally bleak. They reminded me of the Dark Years of my life. The signs are all there – irritable, gets frustrated easily, always gets bored, cannot seem to do what one does easily previously, envious of other’s happiness, feels lost, and an unexplainable feeling of loneliness and emptiness.

My life during the years 1997-1999 were documented in three volumes of journals, erratically written, some entries long, some entries short; there were days where pages are blank. Reading the 1997 volume was draining, because my life back then was, according to myself, like water going down the drain. I was very glad when I got out of that episode, but I guess that era has defined who am I now. I don’t like it, but I was lucky I got out alive. Getting on with it was really an option back then; I would not be writing this now if it happened.

There is another issue that I think makes me dysfunctional – I always get feelings of sadness whenever I see friends being happy/getting into a relationship. I guess it is because I am envious. Upon reflection, I got this notion that I’d grow old alone. The Dark Years, after all, began when I started to lose two of who I considered my best friends – one due to my undoing, the other to love. When things fall apart, and failure in college was imminent, that’s how it began. That my life was tragically unravelling and friends became scarce like the proverbial dodo – that brought me to the dark depths of depression. That was the crux of the Dark Years. I dunno how I got out of it, but I feel that this issue remains unresolved; hence the episodes of loneliness. Hence, the feeling of sadness due to others’ happiness.

At one point, I got this realization that if I accept the fact that I’d die alone, these episodes would never recur. As they say, acceptance is the key. I know that for my mental health I should probably accept it, but some part of me refuses to surrender. I don’t know. I feel that this refusal is not healthy.

Some people tell me that I should not feel this way; that my time will come. But I am tired of waiting and exerting effort that just ends up futile. And let’s face it – there are people who got old alone. Also, it runs with the family – I just saw an aunt died unmarried and alone. It is easy – and tempting – to give up.

Do I believe in fate? I don’t know. Because if fate is true, it can be apathetic, cruel, heartless. It seems wrong that someone is born with his future already set, as if that person’s decisions won’t matter. However, there are times when despite your efforts, everything seems futile. This is where I am now.

It is easy to give up. Being a loser brings some bitterness, but what if that is the truth? What if giving up will end all these negative feelings? What if giving up throws away all this baggage that brings me down?

(Written June 2009)

29
Dec

This year’s PBA trophy boy

(Presenting…this year’s….trophy girlboy. Photo by Ryan de Leon.)

Yes, that’s my new role this year.

Just a belated post to report on what happened last December 12. Basically we just handed out awards. It was short and quick and I think everyone liked the pace of the program. Adding Gabe Mercado in the mix, well let’s say this year’s prolly the best program ever.

At Twitter, Ade tweeted that he wanted to see this year: for me to go up and down the stage to accept trophies for winners who are not present (basically my role last year). I replied that it won’t happen. And it didn’t.

Because I was on stage the entire time, my role being the trophy boy.

Anyway, I am happy that the awards turned out well. The venue was small, intimate, and classy (and also the venue of the first Philippine Blog Awards, way back 2007). Kudos to the organizers, from its president, to the overall head of production, to the unnamed scriptwriter whose boring script was rescued by Gabe’s wit, to the volunteers, to the production crew, to the official photographers.

Congratulations to the winners!

MAIN AWARDS

Best Blog in Advocacy Category – Web Safety Philippines by Sonnie Santos
Best Blog in Beauty and Fashion Category – The Reluctant Stylista by Alexandra Lapa
Best Blog in Business Category – Ready to be Rich by Fitz Villafuerte
Best Blog in Culture and Arts – Anik-anik Love by Mitch Mauricio
Best Blog in Entertainment Category – Without Wang2 by Nickie Wang
Best Blog in Food and Beverage Category – Happy Foodies by Ferdz Decena and Oggie Ramos
Best Blog in Gaming Category – Back 2 Gaming by B2Gamers
Best Blog in Hobby and Recreation – Back 2 Gaming by B2Gamers
Best Blog in Home and Parenting Category – iMom by Chats Siao
Best Blog in Humor Category – The Professional Heckler by Loi Reyes Landicho
Best Blog in Lifestyle – The Creative Dork by Robbie Bautista
Best Blog in Literature / Literary Category – City Buoy by Nyl Lim
Best Blog in Personal/Diary Category – Yoshke.com by Yoshke Dimen
Best Photoblog – Gerryruiz Photoblog by Gerry Ruiz
Best Blog in Social, Politics and History – The Pro Pinoy Project by The Pro Pinoy Project
Best Blog in Sports – Filipino Boxing Journal by Kenneth Ragpala
Best Blog in Technology Category – My Silly Point of View by Richard D. Feraro
Best Blog in Travel Category – Just Wandering by Nina Fuentes
Best Blog in Video and Podcasts – Pinoy How To by Buddy and Yael Gancenia

SPECIAL AWARDS

Best Blog Design – The Reluctant Stylista
Bloggers’ Choice Award – CHKSLG
Readers’ Choice Award – Green Archers
Best Filipiniana Blog – My Sarisari Store
Top Blog Post for 2010 – Do They Read Blogs in Heaven? by Yoshke.com

Top Posts for 2010
EXCLUSIVE: GMA Breaks Her Silence by the Professional Heckler
Sometimes We Are Lost by I am Fickle Cattle.
Fireworks, Hormones and this Blog Post by Yoshke.com

Top Photo Posts for 2010
A Solo Traveler’s Photo Story of Backpacking in Palawan by Ambot Ah!
Pahiyas Festival by Biyaheng Pinoy

Top Video Posts and Podcasts for 2010
Krimmy Couple: Of Bad Words and Saranghae by My Korean Boyfriend
Podcast 6: Being Friends with the Ex by Ria Jose
Krimmy Couple: The Korean Eats Balut by My Korean Boyfriend

VISAYAS

Best Blog in Culture and Arts – Michael’s Shades Of Blue
Best Blog in Food and Beverage Category – Flavours of Iloilo
Best Blog in Lifestyle – Ilonggos Network
Best Blog in Personal/Diary Category – The Rookie Blogger
Best Photoblog – Gerry Ruiz Photoblog
Best Blog in Technology Category – Tech Source
Best Blog in Travel Category – Ambot-ah

MINDANAO
Best Blog in Beauty and Fashion – Get Prettified
Best Blog in Food and Beverage Category – Kusina Maria
Best Blog in Lifestyle – Mindanaoan
Best Blog in Personal/Diary Category – Ganda Ever So Much
Best Photoblog – Charmie Tamba P&S Photography
Best Blog in Technology Category – Alleba Blog
Something Geeky
Best Blog in Travel Category – GenSan News Online Mag

With that, let me leave you with this beautiful photo, taken by Fritz.

Happy new year!

24
Dec

My Christmas wish list

If you are feeling generous this Christmas season, then my wish list is for you. πŸ˜€

NEEDS
1. A 1TB 3.5in hard disk drive
2. An IDE enclosure for laptop optical disk drive
3. A salary increase
4. A gas lift chair
5. A camera bag

WANTS
1. Some Master Grade Gundam kits
2. A 500GB external portable hard disk drive
3. A condo unit
4. An ergonomic gas lift chair

And of course, peace on earth and good will to all. Thank you.

Have a merry Christmas (for believers) and may the season be bountiful and happy for you.

Much love,
Arbet
xoxo

22
Nov

I’m alive!

Just a shout out to say that I am still alive.

What has happened since the last post?

* Changed employers again. Going farther and farther from home. Made the jump from Makati to Taguig. Still calling Caloocan a home.
* Changed phones. From HTC Magic to Motorola Milestone.
* Got a Globe and Sun mobile number.
* Laptop’s showing signs of obsolescence. Sold the netbook to my brother.
* The Philippine Blog Awards 2010 is on! It’s going back to where it all began, at December 12.
* Mom’s cousin who is a Canadian visited and stayed at our house for almost a week.
* A former boss got married. A former officemate is getting married next month.
* My hair is long again, and due for a haircut next month.
* Completed the omnibus version of Rurouni Kenshin.
* The 500GB HDD of the NAS is almost full – of movies and JPop concerts and music. I have to buy a 1TB HDD to expand.
* Bought an Xtreamer media player plus a 320GB Western Digital external HDD.
* Got hit by tax annualization. I am poorer than before, what with those purchases.
* Gained new friends, lost old friends. Online and offline.
* Deleted my Plurk account. Changed my Twitter name.
* Saw a few movies this year.
* Went to Baguio after more than 7 years.
* Blogging went the lazy way.

So now I am back. Of sorts.