Friday, August 31, 2007

Missing the Crowd

Where are the people who used to occupy the 2 to 4 courts that play from 7pm till midnight every Thursday and Sunday evenings?

Last night, there were only four of us meeting for the regular game. There were less shouting, less competition, but we nevertheless got the same quantity of sweat that we needed. It was like this when we started almost 4 years ago: when there were 4 or 6 people showing up for every game. It was a time when we don’t have to be choosy of our playmates and we just laughed and laughed, and had fun. Then we grew to be over a couple of dozens, had the same fun, but experienced lows as well. We really missed some people who became our friends.

We miss “The Bearded Man”. His passion for the game is incomparable until he shifted his focus on his lenses, something which he is excellent at. His exit somewhat surprised many, but the rift was settled weeks later.

We miss “Darna” and his favorite yells, “Rackets up!” and “Dagan!” Heart problems (enlarge heart and some heartaches) made him slow down a bit.

We miss the “Dancing Duo”. They literally dance when they play. Though their footworks and grips may look awkward for the game, theirs is a very solid partnership. They’re now with another group but we still keep in touch.

We miss the “Smashing Shadow”. When we play, I don’t want to be on the opposite side. His strong drives and smashes scare me. Many were hit on their foreheads. I almost got my glasses smashed. He now struts his stuff in Taiwan.

We miss the “Sweet Couple”. They sometimes (I mean many times) argue on the court. But when one appears to be upset, the other usually initiates the hugging and the kissing. Play resumes, win or loss. The husband is currently busy battling the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

We miss the IT guys. Some had already relocated to Singapore. We heard they continued playing in some converted courts.

But in one way or another, we can still connect with them through emails, celphone, and the internet. We just didn’t use these medium. We just stared at the empty courts and replayed in our minds the fun we used to have when we gathered and crowded the place.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hit List

Naa man diay sa NBI hit list akong anak” (Kasali pala anak ko sa NBI hit list) said a woman who was dismayed at how she was unable to immediately get the NBI clearance of her daughter.

My wife and I giggled. What? Hit list? “Is it similar to the NPA hit list?” I jokingly asked my wife. We both laughed.

Yesterday, we went to the NBI office to get a clearance for travel abroad. There were about 300-400 people waiting in queue. We were told to go to their express lane in a mall since we were just renewing our clearances, and processing was much faster there. We arrived at the mall hoping for the express service. There were around 40 people in line for the payments, and 50 more for the picture-taking. We just entertained ourselves by looking at the faces of passersby and the front displays of some stores.

When our time came to pose for the camera, the personnel assigned marked our papers “HIT”. First it was my wife, then, it was my turn. “No, not again!” she exclaimed.

I really could not believe that there was somebody out there who has the same first name and surname as mine. For one, my first name is very unique that only my parents were imaginative enough to invent it. My family name is so rare that even the telephone directory listed only a few, if there was any. My middle name could be the reason. My wife thought otherwise. “If I’ll know which of my names got hit, I’ll drop it next time” she declared. I hope she wasn’t referring to my surname.

It was already past 1pm when we were done with the so called express lane. We were told to go back to the main office because we’re on the “HIT” list. We were already starving. So instead of proceeding to the NBI main office, we invaded the pochero house nearby.

See how we cleaned up this large bowl.

After the sumptuous lunch, we were now ready to queue again. At least, we skipped the long line in the morning. After another round of photoshoot, we were disappointed to find out that the clearance for those in the hit list can only be obtained after 7 working days as it has to be cleared in Manila. We badly need that NBI clearance by tomorrow. The hit list is no longer a laughing stuff. Unsa man gyuy sa'a namo bah? (Ano bang kasalanan namin?) Who made that list anyway?

Friday, August 24, 2007


Our company will be joining a bowling tournament, and I am just too happy to be part of the team again. You see, I’ve already written about my team many months ago. The departure of our top players relegated us to the bottom 3, wherein unlike before, we were always on top. I even feared the scrapping of the budget for the team. But thank God we were spared.

This time, we have 2 or 3 new recruits. But there’s no one in particular who can consistently carry us back to the glory days. The first 6 players would likely be the same as that of last year. But I hope we’ll be more motivated this time around. The Master is just too anxious to get the tournament started. He promised not to travel on game days.

At our first practice session, I proudly showed my teammates my 16-lbs reactive green ball. For months, I had been raring to use it. But I was quite embarrassed of my low score afterwards. I simply justified it by saying, “I’m just starting to get the feel of the ball.”

The second practice, I brought a different 16-lb reactive ball (brown). I really don’t know the difference but I was performing a little better. It must be the ball's construction. There’s always a different ball for different types of players. With this one, I can easily execute the spins, and hits those pins. I exclaimed, "This is the right one!"

These balls were just hand-me-downs from a departed uncle. I did not have the opportunity to play against him though when he was still alive. I heard he gathered plenty of trophies when he was younger and average more than 180 pinfalls. My wife said that I should not embarrass him by playing poorly. Pressure!

I missed three team practices the last two weeks since I was either sick or was on travel. I practiced alone last Wednesday using the brown ball. To my delight, I averaged 173 (188-178-153) on the 3 games I played. I certainly need plenty of these on tournament days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mr. Excitement

Weeks ago, I wondered where this ex-basketball star went. I saw a look-a-like cooking some dishes on TV. And I actually thought it was him.

I narrated to my wife about the exploits of this guy; scorching opponents in the PBA with 70+ points, rattling defenders with lightning-quick moves, then slam dunking the ball despite his 6’1” frame.

He never got the coveted MVP though, coz he always got injured. But everytime he played, he raised the fans excitement to great heights. His presence in the court glued me to my seat in front of the TV. And I sometimes found myself cheering everytime he made a spectacular shot.

My wife was not actually impressed. She’d rather cheer on the guy on TV who knows how to cook. The conversation ended there.

But to my surprise this morning, the name of Paul “Mr. Excitement” Alvarez is in the papers, trading elbows and blows against a lady reporter. And that lady happened to be Ms. Gretchen Malalad, a karatedo expert.

I don’t mind him mauling the driver asking for exorbitant fees. Sometimes, we would even like to do that ourselves. It’s better than him getting mugged for complaining. But not against a lady who was just doing her job! I really don’t know what has gotten into his soul these days. I guess he needs more excitement. And if I remembered it right, he almost got into a brawl with another brat months ago. That would have been an exciting match.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hate Mondays?

Most Mondays, I extended my sleep a little bit that it often reached to an hour. It’s not really my favorite day of the week. And it’s always a struggle to move my body out of the bed.

I searched the net and found interesting declarations such as “I love Mondays!” and “I hate Mondays!” Some even had suggestions about beating the Monday blues. Some are openly declaring their dislike for the particular day of the week. Some would like it struck out from the calendar.

This month, August 2007, is the best month for those who hate Mondays, at least for the Cebuanos. On the first Monday of this month, the province of Cebu celebrated its Foundation Day. A colleague played tennis all afternoon. I stayed at home and helped my wife do the chores. Tomorrow will be the holiday for the Ninoy Aquino Day, which is supposed to be on the 21st. I won’t be enjoying it, as I am scheduled to finish a management report. Next Monday will be another holiday: the National Heroes’ Day. That would be a perfect day for a vacation. Now, let me think of a nice place. I’m beginning to love Mondays.

Friday, August 17, 2007

We Prayed for Rain

We prayed for rain.

A few weeks ago, scenes of dry and arid land were shown on the TV. Farmers and agriculture experts were interviewed and they expressed fears of a long drought. What could be of our food supply then? We were told to brace for the worst.

We were also shown scenes of the Angat Dam and the declining water level. They say that water rationing for the metro was inevitable. Two typhoons were needed to bring the water level back to normal. We were not prepared for a drought.

Cebu enjoyed the same cloudy day with slight rain on the evening. An officemate even expressed delight that they played tennis all afternoon on a holiday. I was not exactly minding the weather but wished that the clouds would move up to Luzon to aid in the precipitation.

Then came “Chedeng”, “Dodong” and now “Egay”. The water level at Angat Dam returned to normal level alright. There is no more need for water rationing, they say, at least for a few months. These typhoons brought plenty of rainwater, plenty that it flooded the rice fields and riversides, destroyed dikes, houses and killing some people. Damage was estimated to be around P800M.

When shall we ever be prepared for disasters like these? Our metro still experiences flooded streets because of garbage, clogged drainage, etc… We were afraid of drought, and we prayed for rain. But we were not ready of too much of the downpour. And here we are, riding whatever transport available to keep us afloat.

picture from internet

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friendster Friends

I opened a friendster account a year ago, two years after I received my first invite. I succumbed to the pressures of my younger siblings, ex-colleagues, and classmates. Perhaps to them, I was lagging behind in internet social networking.

It was in December last year that I started reconnecting. I spent more than an hour browsing my own account, blogged, uploaded pics, and then hopped to my friends’, then to their friends. I noticed many familiar names and faces, people I met and came to know a long time ago. I was amazed at how young people at Church have 300 or more online friends. I asked them if they knew them all and read them all. They replied, “friends, friends lang gud”. Perhaps, it just meant that all that matter is the number of people connected to you and not really the quality of that link.

So I kept on browsing and visited their homepages. I knew I would be leaving a trail when they open their “who’s viewing me page”. So be it! If one day they’ll add me as a friend, it’s fine with me. But I’d be choosy in returning the favor.

Then I also found myself looking at all my sisters’ sites, and then at some cousins’ sites too. I added some as friends, and sent messages to some. Some posted their wedding pics. Others uploaded their baby's pic. A teenage cousin bravely (shamelessly) posted some pics with kissing scenes with his girlfriend. What could his mother say about the pics? The harsh scenario is that, he’d be thrown out from the house. These kids really!

Friendster is one of those sites blocked in our company network. I can only view my account when I’m in an internet cafĂ© or in some wi-fi zones. I seldom visit my friends’ sites. I don’t read their blogs and bulletins either. They’re not visiting mine, too. I no longer made blog entries and bulletins. Nobody reads them anyway. My friendster friends and I were back with our own separate lives again after the initial encounter. But it feels good that we’ve somehow reconnected. At least in friendster.

By the way, a lola (aunt of my mom) of mine is in friendster too. And we're friends. Tsk tsk tsk.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I was chilling Tuesday night but I had to move my butt the morning after. I reported for work not feeling well. If not for some urgent matters, I would have stayed at home and took a rest. I cancelled my trip to Western Samar. I sent a representative instead. But the paperworks were done by me.

I went home early and asked my wife if Nanay could massage me. You know the traditional Filipino massage called “hilot”, and Nanay is good at that. I also had this dry cough with phlegm. She let me drink a concocted atis leaves. But my wife also gave me Solmux. Whichever eliminates the dry cough first, I don’t care.

I spent all day at home yesterday. But I made and received calls to/from people almost every 2 hours, following up on certain transactions. This is really the downside of having cellphones. You cannot escape. Good thing I don’t have the we-roam. I have 60plus emails yesterday.

Today, I reported for work. But only to make payroll and check emails. Of course, I’ll also check my blog and post this sick entry. In an hour, I’ll go back home and take a rest.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


When I first saw the post of Abaniko a few months ago, I immediately visited the Internet Scrabble Club (ISC ) website and registered. But to my dismay, I could not download the program. It’s the firewall again.

I first played scrabble when I was grade 2. Except for my uncle, no one at the house could beat me. When he transferred, I took his place at the no.1 slot. But the games we played were not really challenging. There was actually no competition, except that our youngest sibling wanted so much to dislodge me. As always, I kept her at bay.

At school (elementary), no one played it. In high school, I was one of the better players. But I have no concrete proof, except that I beat most but got battered by a few. We played a few times at some family gatherings, youth gatherings and even against some kids. No sweat!

But last Saturday, when I was able to connect to a network sans the firewall, I remembered my registration at ISC. I downloaded the program and started playing. Some wiseguy noted my zero rating that he immediately challenged me. I gave him a tough game and beat him by more than 100 pts. I was instantly given a rating of 600+pts. Encouraged by my beginners’ luck, I played against a higher ranked player. He dumped me by more than 100 pts. (Nganong ni-enter!) My 2-day record: Won-lost-lost-won-lost. I currently have a rating of 612 after my 5th game.

I wanted to play more games but there was not enough time. I can’t stay forever at some wifi zones just to play scrabble. I tried connecting from the office network this lunch break, but again, those firewalls killed my excitement.