Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Learnings from an unfortunate event

Last Sunday, I lost my cell phone. My Nokia 6300 music edition phone which I bought after three months of careful spending, strategic budgeting, and intense product research. Oh, and not to mention hard work. So even if it’s not really that high-end (it’s only 2.5G) it meant a lot to me. And I had no one to blame but myself.

I went out with my mom, cousin, nephews, and friend last Sunday. Because my cousin in Bukidnon texted that se wanted to chat with us. But bringing a three-year-old super hyperactive little boy to an internet cafĂ© meant trouble, so my cousin decided to take Binoi to the playground (or play area) in Lee Plaza. And because for some reason my nephew enjoys my company, so I was given Nanny duty. All went well, Binoi enjoyed playing and I was taking a lot of pictures. Although I wasn’t feeling that good because of allergic rhinitis, it was ok because I drank anti-allergies before we went out.

By the time we were ready to go home, I was really very very sleepy, quite groggy even, that I felt like I was floating after my mom as we made our way to the road to get a ride. And my bladder was full, too. The usual side effect I experience from taking anti-allergy meds. So I was really itching to get home.

Mom wanted to go somewhere else before finally going home so I opted to go home ahead. So I rode a pedicab. And while I was sitting there, was really sleepy and closed my eyes the whole ride home. Naturally, I didn’t notice that my cell phone slipped off from my pocket. I only realized that it was gone when I got home and hurriedly got rid of my shorts to pee. When I reached down my pocket to get my phone, it was gone. Cold sweat broke on my skin and I lost the sleepy groggy feeling. It was replaced by butterflies in my stomach.

I was so mad and frustrated at myself for not checking my pocket while riding the pedicab. I had no one to blame but myself. Although it hurt that I had lost the cell phone that I worked so hard to buy, I was more concerned about my contacts. That phone was where all my important contacts can reach me. That phone is where all the companies I’ve applied to will contact me.

Good think Ron2x stayed over, so I was able to call and text my phone. I texted whoever found it to please return it to me. And I also kept calling it. But all through the night no one answered.

We had dinner at Cookie’s that night because she was celebrating her graduation. All night, Ron2xand I would occasionally call it. And no one would answer.
I was thinking, if it was just the driver tat found my phone, there’s a 60% chance he’d be kind enough to return it. But if it was a passenger who found it then it would be “in good hands”. So I though I’d give it until tomorrow before I abandon all hope.

That night, when I prayed my usual bedtime prayer, I said:

Dear God, it’s me again, Your rebellious and hard-headed child. I’m a firm believer of “everything happens for a reason”, and I know You are trying to teach me something here. I know I may not be able to see what it is You want me to learn right now through this unfortunate event, but I really think You’re trying to say something here. Well, you know me, God. I may be rebellious and hard-headed but you know that I have always been on your side. I have always trusted You and right now I want to let You know that I trust You still. Whatever lesson there is to be learned today, I know that Your intentions are and will always be good. So, Your will be done, God. Amen.

And surprisingly, I slept well. not a single nightmare or replays of what happened in my sleep.

Early next morning, mom woke me up to give the phone another try.
And thankfully, somebody answered!

Her name was Maebelle and she said was the daughter of the driver who found my phone. And yes, she wants to return the phone. So she asked me to drop by her workplace so I can pick up my phone there. And incidentally, she was Ron2x’s high school buddy.
Me losing my phone was somehow a way that reconnected Ron2x with his high school buddy. And I have also realized that there still are good and honest people in Dumaguete.

I may not know yet what other lessons God has meant for me to learn from that unfortunate event until I carefully and thoroughly think more about it, but one of those lessons id the kindness of strangers and how it is still alive in Dumaguete. Praise God.

To Maebelle and her father (pedicab number 7021), thank you. People like you make me realize that mankind is not as bad as most of us assume it is. The world just feels a little safer knowing that there are still good people like you. I will never forget your kindness and honesty. I hope God would bless you even more.

Friday, February 27, 2009

How to revive a pen

I’ve ran out of my favorite felt-tip pens and I haven’t got the resources to buy a new one, so when I was writing a draft on my journal, I had no choice but to use a cheap ball point pen. A felt-tip pen is quite expensive, a little over P300. Well, very affordable if you have a job, but quite a luxury if you’re jobless. So I found myself writing a draft of a short story using a regular and cheap ball point pen. And this said pen was still part of the pens we were supplied with in the office where I used to work 3 years ago. So the pen was quite old, and at my first attempt to scribble (my penmanship is so awful with a ball point pen that it is often mistaken as that of a child’s who is still learning to write) all I got was an invisible scratch on the paper. The initial ink has probably dried out or the ball point got stuck, with the pen being old (not to mention cheap) and all. But there’s this trick that I’ve learned way back in high school to revive an old pen. This works only with ball point pens, and I’m not sure if some of you guys know about this trick, but it’s still worth sharing, anyway.

When I was in high school, I used to hang out at my mom’s food house at the airport and wait tables there whenever I had the time to spare. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash, and most of the foreign passengers are great tippers, so really get to earn some cash. And I enjoyed people-watching back then. I used to make up stories in my mind about the food house costumers, the passengers coming in and out of the city. And I generally enjoyed being able to meet different people from all walks of life. I particularly enjoyed listening to the stories of the airport porters, guards, and drivers (I definitely think that that one can learn a lot from these kinds of people) who used to hang out at my mom’s food house while waiting for the passengers. So one summer, while waiting for costumers, I was out on a table hanging out and talking with one of the airport porters. I always had a pen and notebook ready to take orders, so as we were talking, I tested the pen I grabbed from the counter to make sure it works. It didn’t, so I stood up to go get another pen, but the porter, Manong Letlet, stopped me and said he could resuscitate the pen. So I sat back and watched as he taught me the trick.

When a pen that hasn’t ran out of ink yet does not write when used (am I making sense?), it is possible that the ball point just got stuck, or a part of the ink has dried out. All you have to do to save yourself the trouble of buying a new one and end up wasting a perfectly useful pen and cause havoc to the environment (haha, but it’s true), is to heat up the pen’s tip. You’ll need a lighter or some matches to do this. Just touch the pen’s tip to the flame for a second or two, and viola! The pen will function again. If it doesn’t work on the first try, repeat the procedure. Just make sure not to let the pen come in contact with the flame for too long or else it’ll melt.
Just a simple tip from your friendly neighborhood Super JJ! An earth-saving tip a day keeps global warming at bay! (Err?)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Animal refugees

After lunch today, I gathered the food scraps and prepared to go out in the back yard (if you can call the small area behind our house that) and give them out to the stray cats in our village. For as long as I can remember, it has been our practice to feed the stray cats in our area with whatever leftovers we have after every meal. As I called them (well, they don’t really have individual names, just the general “miming”), I counted how many cats came to eat today. Seven! And they all shyly came over to share what little leftover food I had for them.

I have no problem sharing my place with stray animals, as long as they don’t make a mess. And if they’re too much to handle, I just shoo them away without really hurting them. But there are just people who like hurting animals. Chasing them with water or sticks is fine, these animals aren’t smart but they’re not too dumb either, they get a hint when they’re not welcome. They just sometimes get too hungry that they resort to destroying our garbage bags in search of food. Hey, they’re just animals trying to survive.

What I’m getting at is, you can get all creative on driving away the stray animals if you hate sharing your place with them, but at least be a little bit humane in your ways. You can splash them with water, but please, not boiling water. Our planet was made to be shared with every inhabitant; it wasn’t created so only humans can call it home.

We talk about rescuing endangered animals like the eagle, dolphins, sea turtles, monkeys and other wild animals. Sure it’s exciting to save these kinds of animals. But what about the ones that are in our streets? The abandoned animals? Don’t they have the right to be saved, too? Just because they are ugly askals and pusakals doesn’t mean they are less of an animal than the endangered ones. They have every right to be saved, too.
My own pet is a kitten we’ve rescued. We found her in the far corner between our fence and the neighbor’s wall near our gutter. She was abandoned by her mother. She was so small she fit in the palm of my hand. The poor thing, she wouldn’t have survived had we not adopted her. So we took care of her and she lives with us now, inside our house.

But the most important thing here is, please be responsible pet owners. Sure, the animals look cute when they’re still babies, and the excitement of feeding and bathing a new baby pet is there on the first few weeks or months. Please keep in mind that your pet is not a toy, it’s a living thing that you took under your wing. And keep in mind that buying a pet (or even just asking for it from a friend, neighbor, classmate, politician, teacher, celebrity, or whoever you got it from) is taking into your hands the responsibility of caring for another living thing. Being human and so having a higher intelligence quotient (I hope so) and a better capacity of doing things than the pet, it is your responsibility to take care of the animals.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind before buying a pet (still useful for those who already have pets):

1. Make sure you have the time to care for pets. A pet, even something as simple as a fish, needs your time. Make sure you have time to feed it, bathe (or clean) it, or even just look at it to say “kumusta”.

2. Make sure your house is ready for a pet. If you want a pet dog, make sure you will not be able to disturb your neighbors. There are some subdivisions where the houses are so near you’d hear your neighbor snore at night. It’s annoying for others to hear your dog bark at every vehicle that passes by. Be practical and consider this first before buying a pet that vocalizes every now and then.

3. Make sure you know your pet’s needs. Food, water, shelter. As I’ve said, pets aren’t toys, they have needs. Make sure you can handle their needs.

4. If you’re ready to buy one, make sure you’re ready to take care of a pet for as long as it takes, not just for a few months. Some pets have life spans as long as 80 years, and some just 5 years. Having a pet could be a lifetime commitment (kinda like marriage), so be sure you are ready for that.

Having a pet is hard work, but the companionship that it gives you is very rewarding. A pet will listen to any ramblings you might have (don’t ask me if they understand human language), it will keep you company even when you’re broke, it doesn’t care if you’re fat or ugly, and it is forever loyal to you. Perhaps pets are the ones that can give what is called “unconditional love” to their owners.
Please, be responsible pet owners. Pets are not toys. Before getting one, please make sure that you really are able to take care of it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Modus Operandi

Another one of my short stories. Well, enjoy...

I combed my hair meticulously. Slowly, I guide every strand in place.

Everything in its place and a place for everything, Mum always says. Well, she’s not actually my real Mum. I was told that my real mother died years ago when I was too little to know anything. Mum is my grandmother, actually. She raised me to be her perfect little boy.

I always do what she tells me. She knows what’s best for me. She always did. She loved me like no one else will ever do.

Ah, there. I scrutinized my reflection in the mirror.
I’m handsome. Smart. Successful. Rich. Well-mannered. I have everything I could ever want. I can buy anything and anyone I wanted. I’m real good at managing my company.
Mum raised me well. She taught me how to be proper, how not to be rude. She sent me to the best schools.

But I had no friends. Not that I didn’t want any. I just felt that I didn’t really need any, with Mum around, she was all the friend I need.
Until last year.

The doctor said she was just too old and she died a natural death. I don’t believe him. I know, I just couldn’t figure out why, but there was some reason Mum had to die.

And right after Mum’s funeral, I met her. Her name was Abby, she had said.
She followed me home and kept me company. She was the first friend I met. And I guess she’d be the only friend for me.

I like Abby. She was always with me. At home, when I go to the groceries, when I go to work, she’s always there quietly keeping me company.
I looked at my collar in the mirror. It has to be perfect. Mum would make sure I always looked presentable.

When I met Abby, it was the second year that I was president of Mum’s company, but I have spent all my life preparing to be one. Mum made sure of that.
Abby would keep me company in my office. She’d sit quietly behind me in all my meetings. She witnessed all my business transactions. She’d come with me in all of my business trips. She was the best friend I have ever had after Mum died. And she came at the perfect time, too.

I looked around at my casual jeans and shirt. I have to check all the creases and folds. My expensive jacket matches my jeans and shirt perfectly.
Ah, must keep every detail perfect.

One day Abby and I were talking in the veranda of my mansion. We were talking about just anything. That’s one of the things I like about Abby. We can talk all day just about anything we can think of. And that day the conversation led to marriage and women.

“Zoilo,” she started, “you should start thinking about settling down. You are not getting any younger, you know. And I’m sure if your Mum was here, she’d be telling you the same thing.”

“I know, Abby,” I acknowledged. Now Abby was a real good friend of mine but she wasn’t the kind that I would marry and we both knew that. She was more like a big sister to me. She was beautiful and smart, but she is one of those women who’d never settle for a very quiet and subdued man like me. Or for any man, for that matter. She had given me the impression that marriage and love was not in any of her interests and I have never brought it up with her. Hard to believe but I was never attracted to her either. Yes, she was attractive and amazingly smart, but what we had was a very platonic relationship.

“You should start thinking about heirs, Zoilo. Your riches and mansion will go nowhere if you stay single.”

I know, Abby, I thought. I certainly had no problem getting dates, I found that women are easy to come by when you have money and good looks. But I have never really considered any of the women that I have taken out to fancy dinners. I find most of them brainless beyond the casual chitchat. I could never discuss Darwin, or van Gogh, or Chopin with any of them. They were all interested in shallow things. Like make up. Stupid tagalog movies. Gossip. Such things I can nod and comment on but not with the same mental stimulation that discussions of da Vinci and Einstein give me.

I walked out to my shiny, spotless Mercedes.
Abby has been encouraging me to go to the bars at night that I might find myself some one worthy of my time. Since I do not have friends and only very few acquaintances, none of the women I’ve known in the social circles I moved around in went beyond first dates.

“Why don’t you take them home when you feel like there is a connection, Zoilo”, Abby suggested, “Maybe they can feel more comfortable when you have them in your sitting room with a few drinks.”

“I’ll give that a try, Abby.”
“You can even show them your Mum’s rose garden. They’re lovely in the moonlight.”
“Good idea, Abby.”

I gunned the car’s engine and prepared to drive out. I opened the remote-controlled gates to let myself out and closed them behind me. The chef, laundry woman, gardener, and house keeper leaves by 8pm after all the chores are done. And they come back at eight in the morning. I like my privacy, so I did not hire stay-in servants. And I believe it gives a master more responsibilities if he allows his servants to sleep in his mansion. I do not like that. And I prefer to be left alone in the evenings when I watch television or do my hobbies.

I drove for about 20 minutes and reached the city’s nightlife district. I never really liked the night life but Abby was right about the bars being a good place to meet women. And alcohol-intoxicated women were easy to impress.

I’ve brought home a lot of women already, and none were worthy of my time. Although Abby was right about them getting comfortable in my living room. They also enjoy the rose garden. Although when I start discussing about anatomy, they get a little nervous. But not until I give them another drink and caress their bodies.

Ah, women. People say they’re way different than men, that they are more sensitive. I don’t think so. They’re all just the same, women and men. They all fall for the same traps, the same shallowness, the same weaknesses. But it doesn’t matter to me. I am just curious about them, their bodies, their brains, their insides.

I was a very avid student of human physiology. If I didn’t have to study business for the sake of Mum’s leather manufacturing company, I would have been a surgeon. But that’s ok, Mum needs me to run the company.

I entered the bar, welcomed by the scent of alcohol in the air and swirling smoke of cigarettes. The air was heavy with different scents, a mixture of sweat, alcohol, and cigarettes, along with the loud music of the live band. I walked towards the bar, aware of some approving looks directed my way. Mostly from women.

I ordered a drink.

“New around here?” the bartender smiled as he prepared my drink.

“Yeah, actually,” I lied, “just trying out the local night scene.”

“You came to the right place,” he served my drink.

“Thank you.”

I turned my back to him and looked around to survey the bar. All the bartenders in town seem to think their bar is “the right place”.

I spied a group of young patrons in one table, rather rowdy and hooting at the band. Over at another table was a couple talking and smiling at each other. I thought they were rather comical, looking into each other’s eyes. I imagined they were counting each other’s eyelids and mentally comparing the size of each other’s facial pores.

And then, as I sipped my drink, out of the corner of my eye, a woman was sitting at the far corner of the bar. I turned in her direction slightly so I can survey her more without appearing to stare. She was pretty. Her dark hair tied in a pony tail.

And she was alone. I figured she wasn’t from around town.

She looked my way and I gave her a slight nod and a shy smile. She smiled back. That was my cue. I walked over to her.

“Hi. You’re not from around here, are you?”

She smiled, “Actually, yes.”

“Do you mind if I join you?”

“No, not at all.”

I introduced myself. I’ve always been honest with the women I meet. She said she was Mae and that she had just moved in town and still looking for a job, hoping for a brand new start. We talked all night and enjoyed each other’s company until she decided it was time for her to leave. Finally. So I asked for her number before she said goodbye and walked out.

I counted mentally.




I got up, paid for my drink, and left a tip for the bartender.

I reached the parking lot just in time to see Mae try to hail a cab.

“Hey!” I called to her, “No luck?”

“Yeah,” she shrugged and smiled.

“Want a ride? I could drop you off, I’m on my way to my mom’s.”

She hesitated for a while and after another failed attempt at hailing a cab finally considered my offer.

Just like any well-trained gentleman, I opened the door for her. I asked her where I could drop her off.


Her address was a little beyond the road that leads up to my house. As with all other newcomers in town. There happens to be a new apartment complex built on the road to the next block. That’s where almost all newbies in town live.

“Uhm… I hope you don’t mind. Could we maybe drop by my mom’s place before I drop you off? I’m really worried about her…” I looked over to her apologetically.

She looked back at me with an uncertain expression on her face.

I composed myself and gave her the best puppy-eyes and worried look, “I’m sorry…nevermind – I’ll drop you off first. I’m just so worried… mom’s on her own and she was feeling a little under the weather and she didn’t sound so good when she called me a while ago – I’m sorry, I’m rambling. It’s just that –“

“It’s okey”, her expression changed and she tried to comfort me, “You know what, it’s ok. Let’s go over to your mom’s first.”

“Are you sure? I mean, I could drive you home first. I really shouldn’t drag you into this –“

“It’s okey, really. I don’t mind”, she smiled and squeezed my arm.

“Alright. Thanks. I’m really sorry I had to drag you into this. But don’t worry, it’s just around the corner.”

We drove in silence until we reached my mansion.

“Here we are”, good thing I left the lights on in my room, “That’s mom’s room up there with the lights on. I’ll just be a minute; you can wait by the porch. Thanks again, Mae. I really appreciate this.”

I climbed down and ran to her side to open the door for her. I then led her to the front porch.

< Breaking news: an undisclosed number of bodies were found buried in the backyard of the mansion of one of the city’s richest young bachelor. The bodies were discovered after a series of disappearances of young ladies was reported. The victims were all new transfers in the city. Authorities had taken at least 3 months before getting a lead on the suspect, when one of the witnesses, a taxi driver, reported seeing the suspect, Zoilo Hernandez, president and CEO of Leather Emporium, with the last victim Mae dela Cruz. The driver said he had overheard Hernandez offering dela Cruz a ride home. The suspect is now in police custody. Authorities have not yet disclosed the case to be filed against the suspect, who was reportedly assessed by police psychiatrist to be schizophrenic. The manner in which the victims’ bodies’ conditions were found was very disturbing, which included decapitation, dissection, skinning, and scalping. Injection marks were found, which indicated experimentation, too. This so far has been the most obscene and sensational crime in the city… >

Friday, February 13, 2009

And so the fat lady sings…

This here's one of my short stories. Rather dark and amateurish. Hope you guys enjoy it:

And so the fat lady sings…

Suicide. Killing yourself. Intentionally killing yourself. However you define it, that’s what’s on my mind right now. Suicide. The one word that keeps going through my mind as I lie here on my bed.

What drives people to commit suicide? To end it all? Is life too full of pain that people decide to just end it there and then? What goes on in their mind when they do decide it’s what they really want?I guess I’ll find out myself. Haha. Don’t give me that look. I’ve heard of Coelho’s book, although I’ve never read it, but this is nothing like it. Veronica had everything going for her. I don’t. She was intelligent, beautiful, rich, had the perfect life. I’m only intelligent, nothing else. Here reasons are different than mine.

I always believe in reasons. Why not? Everybody has one. Everybody has a reason for everything. A reason for going to the bathroom, a reason for eating, a reason for going to school, a reason for breaking up, a reason for working, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. You name it, we’ve got a reason for it.

And so I would guess why I have suicide on my mind. Why not? What better way to get away from all these terrible things than to close my eyes and never open them ever again.

I got up to get myself a glass of water and head over to the medicine cabinet.Hmmmm… how many pills should I drink? I’d really love to get creative ‘cause I really am quite creative by nature, but I didn’t want to go looking messy. And besides, I have always thought to myself that I’d rather OD on drugs when I go so I wouldn’t feel any pain. Why end a life of pain with more pain? I don’t see the logic. Makes me chuckle thinking about all those losers who committed suicide via guns or jumping off buildings or hanged themselves. I guess their ghosts are full of regret seeing how ugly they looked when they died.

Ah, I slap my forehead, so that’s why they come back and haunt! Well, I don’t want to haunt my house when I die, so I’ll take pills instead. That way i would look as if I just overslept and forgot to wake up at all. I picked up the bottle of sleeping pills and turned on my laptop. I find it necessary for me to write down my last thoughts. For the record, so to speak. Like a suicide note. But my note will not contain any regrets. Ah, yes. No regrets.

I lived a life of isolation. I do not have much friends, just acquaintances. I am the fat lady who lives across the street. I’m not rich, just living from paycheck to paycheck. I actually have quite a simple life with very simple pleasures. Fastfood. Movies. Not really interested in going to parties or bars. Just contented with the way I lived: a solitary, quite sedentary life.

Until Mother comes by to visit.

“Nancy, have you seen yourself lately?” she came to visit me one day. And by this time in my life, I have learned to dread her weekly visits, trying to fid excuses for her not to visit.

“yes, and it’s beauty from within that’s important, Mother,” I mumbled as I was typing away on my laptop.

“Nancy, you should go out and exercise.”

“I have no time, can’t you see I’m busy working?”

“Yes, but there are other ways,” she rummaged through her bag, “Here, I bought you a belly dancing DVD.”

Mother looks young for her age, and she always got complemented on having a good figure. I, on the other hand, was her fat, ugly daughter. All my life she was fussing around me, giving me beauty tips, forcing me on these crazy diets she heard about, fluttering around me like I’m some defective sculpture. It’s so suffocating. I know Mother’s intentions are good, but she doesn’t realize it’s effects on me.

“My goodness, Nancy! Your frigde is full of cola! How long have you been living a very unhealthy life? You should watch what you eat! Look at yourself! You’ve been out in the sun too much! And your tummy – it’s almost as big as Dad’s!”

I try my best to tune out her voice in my head as I try to focus on my latest project. I’m so glad I’m not living with Mother and Dad anymore. Imagine hearing her voice all day everyday! Sometimes Mother brings along Dad. Mother does all the talking while Dad just sits outside on the porch. Mother usually tries to tidy my place while Dad chats up the neighbors.

After her visits, I almost always have very low self-esteem and close to going mad looking for my stuff. My house is messy by her standard but it’s chaotically organized (if there is such a term) for me.

I took 2 pills from the bottle and study them. They look small, unassuming, harmless. Good help when taken one at a time or as prescribed. But deadly when taken all in one gulp. Just like pain. A little painful experience once or twice in a decade is quite helpful. Makes one grow and learn from the experience. Makes one stronger. But a lot of pain all at the same time, that’s different. It’s just like everything else, too much makes it deadly.

I’m not really good at swallowing pills, so I take them one after the other, careful not to drink too much water or it will swish around in my big tummy.

One… *gulp*…

two… *gulp*…

three… *gulp*…

four… *gulp*

I hope these little things work.


How much should I take? I swallowed five more. I should’ve downed them with vodka or gin, I guess they’d work better with alcohol.I lay down again in my bed, waiting for my eyes to get heavy.

If I die in my sleep, would my dreams be endless? How would I know that I have died already. So many questions. I wonder if I get to find the answers.

I close my eyes and smile. I begin to hum.Who’s gonna find me dead in the morning? Will my death matter? Who’s going to miss me? The fat lady across the street is dead. Now what?I lay on my side as I start getting sleepy.

I slowly drift off to dreamland as I think about the few happy memories that I have.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Movie review: X-Men

Ok. So this is a review i made at another site but it seems that my account there has not been quite good, so i've decided to publish this here. What's the use of reviewing something if nobody reads it, righy? At aleast here i know some people would read this (ahem, joy? Luarch? Hehehehehe). So here goes. This here is my disappointment at the movie version (the first one) of the X-men.

X-men: Where are the real x-men?
Ok. So at first I thought, “finally, an x-men movie!” I couldn’t contain my excitement when I heard news tat they’ve finally decided to make a movie about one of probably the most popular superheroes of al time.

I couldn’t wait to see how they were gonna bring to life the mutant characters I grew up watching on TV and in comic books. But sadly, it was a disappointment. I know it was quite a huge task for the filmmakers to bring to the big screen one of comicdome’s most popular franchise, but they could have at least tried to stick to the original concept.

What they gave us instead was a marmalade of characters and a storyline that never really quite followed any of the comic book or cartoons version.Let’s start with the characters. Although the change in Wolverine’s appearance was great (from short and stocky – which earned him the nickname “Short stuff” – to a 6 feet tall and ruggedly handsome Hugh Jackman) and a fresh, modern take on the “uniforms” was good (from the comically colorful ones to black leather suits), most of the characters were disappointing. They should’ve just stuck with the original Team A: Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, and Jubilee. Instead they mixed up all the characters. Cyclops was supposed to be the leader (although I hate him), but he was shown as some cutie lover boy who serves as Professor X’s escort.

Being a Wolverine fan, I thought it was great that they focused more on him, but it was disappointing that the other characters seemed weak. Team A was supposed to be the best team, the most powerful ones but they only gave us half of the team and made Rogue look like some weak school girl. What happened to Gambit and Jubilee? They’re one of the original x-men. And what’s this lame love story on Rogue and Iceman? Iceman doesn’t join the x-men until later in the comic books. Every x-men fan knows the bittersweet love story of Rogue and Gambit.

And who’s Pyro? I’ve never seen him in my comic books.And it’s not only the good mutants who are disappointing. The villains, too. Where are the major villains? Mr. Sinister? The Sentinels? Presidential candidate Graydon Creed?

Although I can say kudos to the performances of Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), and Sir Ian McKellan (Magneto).The story is really very different from the original one, but I’m sure the film makers had a rather hard time with it since the X-men franchise had a lot of different substories and explorations of the different characters.

Although it wasn’t quite what I expected and very disappointing for an X-men fan such as myself, I’m glad the movie was able to stick the franchise’s main point: to seek peace with the human race, educate young mutants in the responsible use of their powers, and stop Magneto from starting a war with humanity.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

For the sake of "beauty"

Hahahahaha! I finally extracted and converted my files, thanks to Alvin (seriously, he was a great help). Here's one of them:

Has it always been like this? Was there a time when “beautiful” meant something else other than skinny, fair skinned, and soft facial features?If one would leaf through magazines or watch TV, one can not help but notice that posters, advertisements, TV shows, movies, and even the news show that women should all be skinny, fair-skinned, with long straight hair, and have Caucasian features or at least a “half-breed” or mestiza appearance. If you’re fat, take Cenical so your husband wont drool every time a young sexy chick passes by. If you were born with the natural brown skin that pure Filipinos are supposed to have, Pond’s, Biolink, Silka, or Olay can help you out, so that your boyfriend can find you “perfect” enough to meet his mom. And you can choose from Rejoice, Pantene, Sunsilk, and Palmolive (with matching celebrity model with impossibly straight and shiny long hair) to give straighter and softer hair. In fact, there is an endless array of products if you want to be “beautiful”. Why do we have to listen to all these ads telling us how or what to do to look beautiful? Cant we just be contented with what we have and live life without feeling guilty about eating an extra serving of dessert or staying out under the sun for too long, or having thick curly hair? I get dizzy just thinking about all those hundreds of commercials screaming at me and rubbing it to my face that I’m not beautiful because I’m fat, I have dark skin, and short imperfect hair. Did it ever occur to you that once upon a time, a very long time ago (ages ago, I guess) maybe “beautiful” looked way different from how it “should be” now? I watched this feature presentation on the National Geographic Channel which tried to trace back humanity’s ancestors in an attempt to find out who the real Adam and Eve were, where they lived, and what they looked like. The feature (I forgot the title, sorry, but it sounded like The Search For the Genetic Adam) wasa branch of the Human Genome Project but was more focused on finding out our roots. They explained that drawing humanity’s family tree would only be possible if we trace back on the “Y” chromosome that only the males can pass down to their male children virtually unchanged (very patriarchal and quite a lengthy discussion, but I have a point, I promise). The genetic experts travelled around the world collecting DNA samples from volunteers and researching DNA facts about famous men and leaders around the world. Their results were astonishing. All of Europe’s ancestor was Napoleon Bonaparte, Asia’s ancestor was Genghis Khan, and the Americans had ancestors that came from Africa. Armed with the knowledge that in ancient times, men can have as many wives and children if they were powerful and from royalty, they went further with their investigation in a place somewhere in Ethiopia. People from this area believed that they were direct descendants of one king Solomon (you know him if you’ve ever touched a bible, the guy known to have thousands of wives and children, that’s the one, genius). So, collecting DNA samples from the locals and analyzing and testing them, it was proven that they all share a common ancestor. This then lead the genetic experts deep into the heart of Ethiopia (I forgot exactly where the place was, but you can check out the website for more details), where they found a tribe who claimed to have lived there all through time. Again, DNA samples were collected and tested, and at last the researchers reached the end of their journey. Research and DNA samples have finally brought them face-to-face with the genetic Adam. And guess what? Adam was not the tall, handsome man with the well-sculpted body and a Brad Pitt look-alike tat was always depicted in movies and paintings. The genetic Adam had an average height, a smallish built body, very curly hair, and very dark skin. So if that was Adam, I would assume that Eve wasn’t a Scarlett Johanssen look-alike either. So if that was how our ancestors looked like, then what corrupted society to change Eve’s appearance completely? Never once were Adam and Eve described as Asian, Caucasian, or African (not even in the Bible), then why do we readily assume them to be blonde, fair-skinned, and thin? Something corrupted our society into putting up with such standards for beauty. In the course of humanity’s history, something happened to make us think this way.