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I did not notice that January 1, 2011 was actually the first day of the decade until I read someone’s post in FB saying that this is his year, his decade.

Wow! So we just ushered in, not only a new year, but a new decade as well! So I tried to remember the things I did on this rare day.

Almost before midnight, at around 11.30PM of December 31, I got up from bed (yes, I was already in bed at that time) and tried to wake up everyone in the house but to no avail. My family is not a big fan of media noche so, I guess, for 2011, it would just be me to do my yearly tradition of rolling kiat-kiats (small oranges) on the floor from the main door going inside. It was like a goodluck thing to be done on the eve of each new year. What made this year different was that Contessa, our Maltese-Spitz cross, was there to ‘help’ me roll those fruits on the floor!

After I turned off all the lights in our home, I went back to bed with James and Contessa and Samantha, who are both very afraid of fireworks.

The first morning of the decade saw me in the garage, pruning, re-potting, weeding and mulching. For the longest time, it has been my mom who had been taking care of our plants and fish in the tank. In 2011, I resolve to devote more time to them.

In fact, on December 31, James and I went to the neighborhood pet shop and I got four goldfish, three rainbow fish and one pleco to join the sole surviving goldfish in our aquarium. Sadly, two of the three rainbow fish did not survive the New Year but all the rest are doing perfectly well. In February, I plan to visit the Manila Seedlings Bank in Quezon City to purchase new plants and cacti to update my garden for the summer.

Then lunch saw some stuffed chicken and pansit guisado and leche flan and my favorite sweet garbanzos! The family was complete on the dining table, except of course with my dear brother who’s somewhere else, and the New Year’s lunch was great!

Siesta went up to five in the afternoon and after checking the fish in the garage, went up for dinner this time. I know, para lang akong patabaing baboy!

They say that whatever you’ll do on the first day of the year would be the ones you’ll most likely to do in the rest of the year. If that’s true, then 2011 is utter bliss!

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Wrapped Up!

It started in November when I received my 13th month pay.

As my gift to myself, I went on to be a member-shopper of S&R, a bit of a high-end supermarket here at BGC (with some branches elsewhere) that cost me P700. It’s pretty steep compared to my Makro membership which was just free!

It was then that I started buying gifts for all my family and friends. Since then, I’ve been going from one store to another in buying the perfect gifts.

I mentioned in previous posts that my love language is giving. It is an act I think of so dearly considering I’m not really rich. I think it has something to do with what happened when I was a child.

The whole clan would reunite every Christmas in the ancestral house where we grew up in. My rich aunts and uncles would bring along their children with their gifts. There is a time in the afternoon when gifts would be handed out to all the children. The small, obviously hurriedly-wrapped packages would be given to me, my brother and sister. When we get to open it, we realize these are but old toys of our cousins. Then we would see our cousins waving their new, expensive toys for us to ogle at.

The proud looks on my aunts and uncles’ faces were nothing compared to the sadness on my mom’s face whenever she observes the significant economic gap in our clan.

It was then, at such a young age, when I had the determination to succeed and one day, I would ensure everyone would have gifts on Christmas and all pride will be of my mom!

Last year, I paid off a huge amount of liabilities before Christmas so I ran out of funds for gifts. I made sure not to suffer the same fate in 2010.

This year, I have given out and will be giving gifts ranging from Avent feeding bottles to pretty dresses to nice cookware sponsorship to a dental operation!

I can’t wait to see my family’s faces when they receive their gifts on Christmas day!

And James can’t wait to see my face when I see my credit card bills in January!

Oh well, Christmas happens only once a year!

Merry Christmas fellow bloggers and avid readers!

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‘Sinungaling yung salamin.’

Once I heard my mom say that while we were off buying a new mirror. I was a child then and did not understand what she meant. How could the mirror lie? Of course I already know that magic mirrors do not exist so how can it be possible for a reflective surface to distort reality?

Last Saturday, our department held its year-end party somewhere here in the BGC. I, together with five other fine people, hosted the event, attended to by more than 200 people.

Avid readers of this blog would certainly furrow their foreheads after remembering how I hate parties like this, more so host it. Yup, it was the very first company party I attended this year, and the very first hosting assignment of such grand scale after a year’s worth of invitation.

The party was a blast! To say the least! I had a great time dancing and even greater time meeting and spending time with new friends. I did not get drunk. I was still in control of my actions and words. I am not yet sad and tired enough to be so.

A day later, I was on the scene again, this time with three friends who I am beginning to know and admire even more. We went to a burger place in Pasig after just a text invitation, which I never thought I would ever say yes to. After the sumptuous meal comes the dreaded Sunday ‘isang baso lang’ shot at Central. I, again, did not get drunk.

James, who knows all about these parties and dinner, noted that it’s been awhile since I last enjoyed these things. It was as if the party animal in me, who has been slumbering for years, have finally been awakened.

Is it again because of my fear of running out of time? Or is it just a coming-of-age stuff (hello, Scott, 28 ka na, coming-of-age ka pa dyan?!)?

When I look in the mirror (or see the photos taken during the events), am I seeing the real thing? O nagsisinungaling ang salamin?
I think I am now seeing the real thing. I think I am, like everyone else, is evolving.

Rising from recent stumbles. Emerging stronger than ever.

But of course, without losing the very core values my family, my partner and my friends love about me.

So, kelan ang next party nga ulit?

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My Typical Saturday

Wow! I’ve been in hiatus for a very long time! Super busy sa work and I hope someone missed me! Well, anyway, since holiday and I am in the office working, let me tell you about my weekends!
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My weekends are sacred.

As much as I can help it, I will not work at weekends. These two days – Saturday and Sunday – are solely devoted to me, my partner, family and dogs.

So what do I usually do at weekends? Brace yourself as my schedule might bore you to death.

Saturday 10AM. This is when I usually wake up. After washing my face with The Face Shop’s Apricot Facial Wash, I fix my bed and hide our blankets under the pillows for our two dog-children would soon barge into our room and make a mess of the blankets.

Saturday 10.15AM. The moment Sam and Tessa, our dog-children, sense that we are already up, they won’t stop barking until they’re let out of their playpens. Once I do, the two of them would scramble to get to my face to give me their good morning lick. After that, I prepare coffee and eat a small breakfast since it’s already lunch in less than two hours.

Since I’ve been going home quite late during weekdays, I sleep until this time during weekends. But in times when I get to wake up earlier, I prepare my favorite breakfast set – fried eggs with basil leaves, corned beef with big onion rings, toasted garlic-butter bread, fried rice with longganisa, brewed coffee and orange juice. Then me, James, my sister and her two sons, and my mom would share the breakfast I’ve made.

Saturday 10.30AM. I go out to the garden/garage to check on the plants and two fish (a goldfish and an angel fish) in the aquarium. This is also the time when I sweep the garage of loose fur (from my dogs and neighborhood cats) and occasional feathers from birds, and dried leaves. I check the plants one by one to see if there are any problems such as infestation of hungry caterpillars, annoying frogs who sits on top of ferns and sense for the acrid smell of cat urine.

Lately, two cats had the habit of staying in our garage for the night – something that I tolerated and even given them names – Alejandro (the orange/white cat) and Fabio (the black/white cat) but Sam and Tessa would not have anything of it! Now, Alejandro and Fabio also had the habit of peeing and pooing in the two plant boxes beside the stairs leading to our home. I thought of mixing used ground coffee with the soil to mask the smell (and fertilize at the same time). So with four bags of used ground coffee which I got for free from Starbucks after buying a caramel macchiato and a waffle, I set off to work. Our home smells of freshly brewed coffee all weekend long.

Saturday 12NN. No matter how many things need to be done, we make sure the whole family is complete during weekend meals. We had paella for lunch. Sharing meals is not really about eating but sharing stories, catching up on what your family is currently doing. It is always nice to dine with people you love.

Saturday 2PM. James and I were off to SM Marikina to buy a gift for an officemate who was about to get married. My budget was P1,000 and good thing I found an oven toaster within my budget. James bought something for his mom on Christmas and I decided to buy my mom a waffle maker.

We were already home before 6PM so we can have dinner with the family. My mom is the best cook in the world – our meals every weekend can rival those served at fancy restaurants. And our Saturday dinner was no exception!

We were done at around 8PM (yeah, it took us two hours to finish our meals) and we usually spend an hour playing with the dogs. Samantha would just sit on your lap and wait for you to brush her fur while Contessa, being younger, likes rougher play like throwing her toy across the room for her to get it and if you don’t, she will gently nibble on your fingers till you get her toy.

Saturday 9PM. It’s time for James and I to head to our room and this where the blog-able things stop! (actually, nagliligpit ako for an hour kasi di me makatulog sa magulong kwarto!)

Next boring post – my typical Sundays!

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Remember the old Balagtasan piece about whose profession is better – doctor, lawyer or teacher? The winner to be declared after the heated exchange of rhyme and meter is the teacher – for the doctor could not be the doctor nor the lawyer be the lawyer without being taught by the teacher.

For roughly 15 years, our lives were touched by these unsung heroes. A year in kindergarten, six in primary, four in secondary and four in college, not to mention additional time for board reviews, masteral or doctoral degrees. While we were still in school, it is safe to say that we spent more time with our teachers than with our parents – especially those whose parents were working.

In salute to our teachers (in and out of school), let me enumerate the top ten best lessons I learned from them:

1. ‘Never believe anyone who is not from DepEd (DECS back then) that there is no class today due to the typhoon.’
I was in first grade then and one rainy morning, my lolo told me that it was announced in the radio that classes were suspended that day. I did not go to school. The following morning, Mrs Pamatmat asked me why was I absent yesterday and I told her that my lolo told me classes were suspended. Her exact words were : ‘bakit, taga PAGASA ba lolo mo?’
Since then, I would always go to school, despite the rain and flood, and I would only believe that classes were indeed suspended if the school guard would not let me in!

2. ‘Your teachers can either build or destroy your talents.’
From first grade to second grade, I was the school’s best in math, until I failed to attend my Math Quiz Bee National Level competition due to a bad tummy. Our school lost and Mrs Cecilia Villanueva blamed me for that. She taunted me for several years until I neglected math completely. I could no longer answer the simplest algebraic problem. It was at the same time when Mrs Santos, our English teacher, was so kind to me. My math brain gave way to my English brain.
I am now very good in English but poor in Math. Two teachers. One who destroyed. One who rebuilt.

3. ‘GMRC stands for Good Manners and Right Conduct, not Silence.’
My grade in GMRC from Grade 1 to 5 never reached higher than 85%. In my sixth grade, it went up to 95%. Mrs Carmelita Villanueva (sister of Mrs Cecilia), our class adviser, said that being a good person does not mean being silent all the time. Oftentimes, good people speak up to defend the truth and the righteous. Since then, I know, I am a good person. I am just so talkative!

4. ‘Friends are nice to have, but they do not hand you the diploma.’
My sophomore year in high school was my most rebellious time. I have friends from all sections, from all year levels. I cut classes bragging that I am bright enough to pass the exams without studying. Then my grades started falling. It was too late. I dropped from being first honor to second honor just within a quarter of year of not taking my subjects seriously. I had many friends, but I almost failed out of high school. It was Mrs Ortiz who brought me back to my senses.

5. ‘You are not poor in Math Scott, you are just too lazy to study it.’
It was Mrs Bernardo speaking. Telling me how she believes I have potential to be good in Calculus (hello, algebra nga nose bleed na, Calculus pa!) if I only put my heart into it. She asked me to teach Calculus Functions to another class with her observing from the back of the class. I prepared for a week, read four books, prepared materials and tests. Surprisingly, I did understand the topic.
For that, I took up Accounting. And passed the Board Exams, even if I know I am not very good in math.

6. ‘Not because you don’t speak their language means they are below you.’
Mr Pacelli was our gay Literature professor. He asked us to say two sentences to describe our most favorite literary piece. I told them about The Boomerang Clue by Agatha Christie. My gay classmate described his favorite in gay lingo. I laughed at him. Our professor asked me what was funny and I said I find it funny because though I am gay, too, I do not understand nor speak gay lingo.
He told the class but everyone is unique and we would have differences. And those alone are not enough to judge if someone is better than the other. From then on, I never looked down on people who are different from me, but instead been curious to learn about what they know.

7. ‘Your good English will bring you somewhere, but your good sense will bring you anywhere.’
Atty Cahayon was our Law professor for almost all our Law subjects in college. His style includes having a short quiz before he starts discussing the lesson. Our grades were based primarily on objective exams and only a little portion on recitation. He taught me that the untrained brain can be fooled by sweet words but only the learned mind can be impressed by sensible arguments.

8. ‘Not all teachers have to be as bright as Einstein to be good teachers, they just have to have the heart to be so.
My older sister, sadly, is not as bright as I am academically. She never finished college as she lost interest for I was about to graduate ahead of her despite having three academic years of difference in high school.
But she was the one who taught me how to write. She was the one who taught me how to read. She was the one who taught me how to speak English.
Without her, I would not have been as good as I am now.

9. ‘Not all gays should work in parlors only. Your son is gay, the more you should take care of him so he won’t suffer the society’s stereotype.’
The words of my lolo on his deathbed speaking to my mom about me. Although I do not look down on our sisters who work in the aesthetic industry, I am glad I was given the chance to conquer industries dominated by heterosexuals. And my lolo taught me how to fight to become a better man.

10. ‘Money can’t love.’
The best teacher of all times – my mom. She brought us up in humble ways. She borrowed money and exerted effort to pay every single centavo back. I used to question how come we lived so poorly. She always told us that no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy respect, admiration and love.
Yes, I value money. Pero alam ko wala akong mabibiling de-latang pagmamahal sa grocery.
I owe that to my mom.

I hope, in my more than 20 years of living, someone, somewhere, believes that I taught him or her something of value, that is worth teaching forward.

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I have been working very hard lately and been staying in the office longer than my official shift to take care of the many projects I am involved in. It has been a tiring month but I guess I just received some few very early Christmas gifts. Please allow me to share some of these to you.

I have been reading a superstar’s blog for a good length of time now and I even had the guts to follow him up in Twitter! Please welcome, Sir Joel Mcvie’s blog in my blog roll (http://mcvie5.blogspot.com/)! His latest post on online behavior hit me straight to my heart when he said that being unfollowed or unfriended in cyberspace does not diminish you as a person. Joel does not know me but he sure had just taught me one of the greatest lessons in my life. Thanks Joel!

Speaking of being unfollowed, those who have had the luxury of time before to read a previous post of mine entitled Missing Link know that I was once hurt when my blog was taken out of a star’s blogroll. Well, lately, I received a comment from him on one of my posts! When I saw his name, I read it again, then again, then I scratched my eyes (bahala na si Dr Vicky Belo na nagsabing wag magkusot ng mata or else iitim ang paligid nito) and read again. It was him! He reads me! Wag presumptuous! At least he once read me! My gosh! I was like, can’t-wait-to-tweet-about-this euphoric! But I composed myself, relaxed a bit more, though beads of sweat formed on my forehead (arte!), and decided that this comment is rare and would be received in honor, just like his previous ones.

Speaking of comments, one very good friend commented on one of my posts not on my blog page but through a private email. Of course, I am not ready to reveal her true self but I am seduced by the thought since her comments were so well made, well constructed and so long it could already qualify as another blog post! I am proud of this friend of mine that she knows me and how I feel very well. You, yes you, we truly miss you!

Speaking of missing, remember the show ‘Out’ in GMA 7 back in around 2004? The show was about gay men and women and the very first, and I think the only, show in the Philippines specifically tackling homosexuality geared at empowering the gay community. Well, I have a super crush on one of its hosts, JM Cobarrubias! Before he joined Out, he was with the Probe Team and even if his show was not aired anymore for more than half a decade now, I still remember him and still has a crush on him! Just today, he accepted my invite to be his friend in Facebook! My gosh, again! I am just so happy! To JM, happy birthday!

Hay, this is one of the few times when I wish the saying ‘when it rains, it pours’ is true!

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Choosiness

There are not much food choices here in the center of the Global City. Around our building are the ubiquitous Jollibee and McDonald’s whose oil-dripping menu does not suit my supposedly protein-oriented diet. Then there’s Eat Well and Teriyaki Boy, dining in which will burn a hole in your pocket. And alas, Dell’s! The famous canteen with infamous food menu!

This is one of the many times that I wish I can bring packed dinner as well. My mom trained me not be ashamed in bringing baon anywhere. Ever since I started attending school, the lunchbox would tirelessly carry my packed snacks and lunch with me.

My grade school days saw mostly pan de sal with matamis na bao or cheese slices as palaman, depending on our finances. My high school days saw mostly sandwiches. My college days saw mostly tapa and longganisa as fried food tend to keep longer than those with sauce. My review days saw mostly canned foods as I was not sure when or where to eat, or if I would still have time to eat at all!

My working days paved way to Lock-n-lock boxes and the best dishes from my mom, primarily because we can now afford the ingredients. Just last Saturday, our home was filled with family and friends as we celebrated four occasions in our lives – my nephew’s baptismal, my favorite cousin’s (and my inaanak) 8th birthday, James’ 27th birthday and our 9th anniversary!

Four celebrations gave way to more than 10 dishes – from kare-kare to buttered mussels and prawns to pansit canton to leche flan and leafy salads. The afternoon snacks offered baked macaroni, biko and sapin-sapin and four, yes, four different kinds of cakes!

This party was the result of almost two months of preparation – buying all the necessary wares to keeping all the dried ingredients in the pantry/maid’s quarter. My bonus and overtime pay went mostly to the needed wares and rental fees for the chairs and tables and for the church.

We all slept late Friday night only to wake up at around 5AM to clean the house even further, to slice the vegetables, to prepare the tables. The last guests left at 8PM and we started fixing everything and putting everything back into its usual place. The last thing done was to mop the floor so our dog-children can be let off the leash so wander around the house (I do not allow the dogs to sniff dirty floor as they can get sick from doing so).

Slept at past 11PM and fast forward to Monday, my body is still showing some bit of stress, and gluttony, from the weekend’s revelry.

I’ll be going home in an hour but I needed to take a bite. Not many choices.

So I was left with lomi guisado from Dell’s. So much for being choosy.

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