Monday, December 15, 2008

Letters to Marge (Chapter 2): Maverick's New Boss...

Hi there, Marge...

Time for a recess and put a lid on the history lesson for while. To the left is your "Official Maverick Company I.D. Card," which is/was printed on a standard issue PVC card just last weekend. (In case you ask, you were four days and four months old in the photo, but you're already one week shy of seven months right now as I write this...)

Your Uncle Pom breezed over to my desk at the store office and saw me printing this out. He said half-jokingly: "This is a waste of company resources."

Well, he's right. But I answered by saying: "What's life without a few pointless things?" He then smiled, shrugged, then went back to his cubicle.

My point? Have fun. Do things, make things, and say things if you think they're cute and might brighten up your day (or someone else's) for a few colorful moments. Long as you don't hurt anyone, or cost anyone anything... much.

Cheers, girl... the History Channel will be right back... (whether you like it or not.)



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Letters to Marge (Chapter 1): Everything’s Great When You’re Downtown… or Meet the Parent/s

Hello there, Margaret…

Here I guess, is a good place as any to tell you about me in general. Let’s see… where do I begin…?

I was born into a family of apparent prominence. Your great uncles have always trumpeted the whole “being a Golangco” bit almost to the point of nausea. Upon further research on my part as I grew older (and judging from the various reactions I got along the way), I learned that indeed the name “Golangco” had quite a bit of bearing in its time. Stress on “in its time.”

As a child, I do remember riding a bicycle around a huge compound in downtown Manila, where your grandfather still lives as I write this. That compound used to house one of the country’s biggest lumberyards and sawmills. Assuming your grandfather and great uncles haven’t sold off what’s left of the property, then I will tell you that that lot is only an eighth of the original land, which stretched all the way to a canal to the Pasig river out at the back.

Back then, the Pasig river was still a river, and not a mega-sized puddle of sludge and toxic waste. One would still find people swimming by the banks, it didn’t stink as much, and I would almost remember seeing large fish to and fro while staring down at it from the Ayala Bridge. But I digress…

The canal was necessary to bring in the huge logs on rafts for processing in the sawmill. Some of the mill workers used to bring me to the back and show me how they can catch a few tiny fish by simply dipping a small plastic bag at the canal’s edge. And once or twice, I remember getting away with playing on top of the logs before they were sliced up and dried and all…

I didn’t get to play in the streets much, since there was much fun to be had inside the property. And the fact that the many trucks coming and going could have squashed me into a pancake, which would have meant that you wouldn’t be reading this, because neither of us would exist… Aaaaaanyway…

Apart from the sawmill I mentioned above, and workers’ living quarters somewhere in the side areas, the compound had two main structures flanking either side of the main entrance, which was around four to five meters wide since it had to be able to fit big-ass trucks carrying big-ass things…

The two structures both had offices in the ground floor and mezzanines, while the upper floors were where we lived. Your great great grandfather (and believe me, if the stories are to be believed, he WAS great. Unfortunately, I did not get the honor of meeting him either…) had two wives. This was pretty common practice for Chinese men of means like your GGG (great great grandfather) was. Each wife had one side of the compound, complete with classy wood finishing on practically everything. Hey, it was a lumberyard, and there was no wood shortage way back then.

I’m tempted to go through the whole architectural thing about the compound and the houses like the obsessive old man I think I’m turning into. But I’ll spare you that for now.

What I will get into is that growing up, our side of the compound had four families in it. The four families of the four male children of your Great Grandfather, one of whom is your grandfather. Confused yet? No? Great. It was a lively place. Or maybe it seemed lively, because I was too young to know jack shit. Or maybe because time was so simple then. But I grew up as a child who knew he was going to wake up and find people bustling all over the house. Not necessarily my parents, who were nowhere to be found most of the time, but there were always people. Usually house-help and your great grandmother, who kept me occupied by teaching me play with dip saucers by floating them in big plastic basins filled with water, then staring at them for hours and imagining they were little boats.

And of course, there were the Sesame Street reruns that I watched voraciously, and the Japanese robot cartoons that I caught from time to time. By the time you read this, you might still hear about “Voltes V,” and “Daimos” and their ilk…

We had a stone furnace in the “central” kitchen that they fed wood to burn for cooking. It had a small chimney pipe on top, and I remember wondering if Santa Claus ever came down through that and burned his ass on the furnace. Of course, not in those words back then. I don’t recall why I didn’t play much with my cousins as early as then, but I remember watching people do stuff all the time. I watched people cook, I watched people do laundry, I watched people clean stuff, and so on…

I was told I was your Great Grandfather’s favorite, and he always had me hanging out in his office just downstairs, while letting me spend hours looking at the different travel postcards he had under the glass on his desktop. Back then, plastic laminates and other odd finishings on desktops hadn’t been invented yet. And desks, especially “executive” ones, always had a sheet of glass on top. Beneath the glass, people kept things like calendars, little notes, family photos and travel postcards.

And while staring at those postcards, your great grandfather would tell me what he saw when he went there, or if the postcard was simply sent to him, he would describe every detail he saw on the postcard’s front photo. As we do this, he’d play this little music box encased in a small moulded lead cottage with a water wheel at the side. Until now, I still don’t know what that song was, but I still remember how it goes. Even now.

I think that music box is now still in a glass cabinet containing a lot of your great grandfather’s stuff.

* * * * *

And all that, I suppose, rounds up my toddler years. If you want to get a better feel of a lot of the stuff and the pop culture color of that time, you may want to check out this retro site that I stumbled upon: but try to stay on stuff from the early eighties upwards since I was born on 1973.

The real exciting stuff is still to come, kiddo… :D



P.S. hopefully, by the time you see this, i would have already posted some old photos...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Letters to Marge (Introduction)

Dear Margaret…

As I write this, your mother is nagging me about a lot of things (again…)…

Anyway, how do I put this without the whole thing sounding morbid or macabre…? I got inspired to get this little thing started when I saw Sidney Poitier’s sequel to his best-selling memoir in a bookstore, “Measure of a Man.” The sequel’s title on the other hand, is “Letters to My Great Granddaughter,” and it struck a chord. I do not pretend that this is entirely original in its concept, but I promise you that everything I have to say are things that I feel very strongly about.

Apart from that rather intriguing title of Mr. Poitier, I must admit that part of my motivation for what I hope will be this series of pieces about me, our family, and things I wish to teach you is that I am a bit of a hypochondriac. A hypochondriac, (assuming you do not know the word’s definition by the time you read this) is a person who believes that he suffers from various illnesses. I have exhibited different symptoms throughout this rather odd life that I honestly believe are harbingers of my pending doom… (the morbidity is starting…)

Assuming I have passed away by the time you read this, then my hunches on the true state of my health were correct. But in the event that I am still alive, then I win again, since… well, I’m still alive… in any case, I hope you will keep reading since I will be telling you about a lot of the things that have kept my spirit strong through every stage of my life, and point you to a few road signs that may guide you in a more interesting life of your own…


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Riding Back Home...

I had maybe five to ten minutes of battery life on this stupid machine, so I have to make this count…

Now check this out! Not even a week’s worth of reruns of Russell Peters’ racist stand-up gigs were going to prepare me for this bus ride tonight… I mean, this trip back to Manila was like a fucking United Nations convoy… I was already half-horrified by very traditional-looking (and probably traditional-smelling) Indian family sitting a row behind me, so I directed the airconditioning ventilator go full blast on my head to chill out any potential smell. Then lo and behold, I got me four sushi eaters chattering their way down the aisle.

So there I was, already marveling at the racial diversity (there were the Pinoys, naturally, and there was little old biologically Chinese me), then this Backstreet Boy church choir whitebread reject hops in with some fellow Pinoy exchange students. And I’m sure there’s a Korean somewhere… probably the trunk… those guys turn up anywhere… Wow… the only things missing from this ride were the complimentary curry rice and wasabi…

Oops… power giving out…!

Catch you later…!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Marge in the City…

So it’s Sunday, and we’re back in the City… the Medical City, that is.

After a few days of her stereophonic coughing and a few drops of antibiotics, Marge’s increasingly labored breathing rate dictated that we bring her to the emergency room right away… so we did.

As I write this, Marge has received a drip of meds, an oxygen mask (which she hates), an oxygen gauge attached to her big toe (which glows a funky red…), and we’re camped in a room without a fridge.

Supposedly out of danger, but this is still a hospital, and we’re checked in…

* * * * *

For what it’s worth, I must commend the Medical City for having a separate pediatric section in their ER, and for having a very clean, calming and not too oppressive ER in general. Of course, the wifey just credits this to the hospital’s newness. But it was a total contrast to the smelly marketplace that was the Makati Med ER, the slightly better but obviously old and very eventful St. Luke’s ER, and the quite efficient, but obviously old and under-budgeted Capitol ER, where I screamed like a bitch while a resident jammed a needle into different places of my ripped palm…

Another bonus was me finding that the wifey and Marge were already being attended to when I got back up in the ER after parking the van.

The only thing that bothered me about the pediatric section was how fucking upbeat, sometimes cheerful and plain pleasant the staff was.

It was quite disconcerting. I was sweating like a pig on a treadmill, and asked the physician who attended to us and who received the instructions of Marge’s doctor, Dr. Delfin Santos, whether she seemed upbeat because Marge wasn’t in any real danger. She candidly and quite oddly replied that they are trained to act as though they are instinctively countering any potential panic situation. An answer of course, that somehow implies that I have something to panic about…

* * * * *

It’s funny how one has to be really good reading between the lines and forced pleasantries of medical professionals to patiently dig through to the truth sometimes. But I simply credit this to the fact that medical staff are still people. And as people, they don’t like delivering bad news. You have to pry their mouths open with some psychic crowbar.

Hopefully, no false pleasantries here, and no need for crowbars…

Sunday, July 6, 2008

marge photos... and the Canine Mafia (Part 2)

It's been a whole month and a half , so screw people who think I'm doting too much and am flooding this blog with Marge pics...

I have here... uh... Marge pics...

absolutely no reason for this shot above... just a moment of sheer self-indulgence...

The shots below, on the other hand, are just pure magic... Here we see why Jennifer (the cute poodle), is considered the queen of the canine mafia in our residence. She has anticipated the big role the infant human will play in the family and is currying the favor of said infant. Damn smart, huh?

* * * * *

there are moments that make you totally thankful you have a camera on hand...

and now, a parting shot...

Back in the Big City...

First Saturday back in the big city… wait… first Saturday AGAIN. Looks like it’s going to be a long series of first Saturdays. Hopefully. If it does become that, then I’ll be doing something right.

So Marge has effectively made us miss a handful of “cultural must-see’s,” like “Sex and the City,” Sharon Cuneta’s “Caregiver” (call me cheap, call me corny, but don’t forget to call me a fan…), and then there’s Angelina Jolie’s “Wanted,” and a few others I’ve forgotten about at this point… Partly due to Marge, and of course partly due to my now-regular up-and-down treks between Manila and Baguio city.

But we came back with errands to run, people to visit, movies to see, for me a company to run, and more meetings than I can shake a stick at.

And being back, the wifey and I made sure we caught a movie… Will Smith’s “Hancock” is showing… cool…

* * * * *

So the challenge now is how to be able to hit the ground running at any time with the least amount of rev time needed, if at all.

I now have a department in the store I’ve taken upon myself (unless Philip steps back in and turns things around), and I have to make sure that that orphaned department starts making some serious money. And I have to make sure that thing keeps running even when I’m not there.

In the same token, I have an ad agency with good people, and while some people seem to be stepping up, I’m still waiting for someone to step up and take crazy risks that pay off.

* * * * *

I still get raised eyebrows whenever I talk about my rather suicidal time management… wonder if I should start writing my epitaph…

Friday, June 6, 2008

On The Road Again...

As I write this, I am back sitting in what I call the “bus-desperately-trying-to-act-like-an-airplane (complete with ersatz stewardess to boot).” I left my cap in the car when the wifey drove me over, and I’m now wondering whether or not it was foolish to turn down her offer to bring me back the cap or risk getting my skull frozen by the airconditioning.

It’s a Friday night and business is brisk in the Cubao terminal of Victory Liner. Throngs of people buzzing about the station. Either waiting for their ride, or hoping to catch a few vacant seats. Fat chance of that with the regular buses. Although the deluxe bus that I’m in (a.k.a. the “bus-desperately-trying-to-act-like-an-airplane”) isn’t filled to the aisles. Probably because they upped the ticket price to P700 from P600. Can’t say I blame them. Fuel prices are through the roof.

But it still isn’t too bad a deal. For P295 more than the usual aircon bus fare, you get airline-style seats (couch, of course), a charming female bus conductor (who refers to herself as “stewardess,” complete with the body-hugging uniform and official-sounding PA system ‘we hope you enjoyed your travel with us’ announcements), a bottle of drinking water, your choice of crackers, and a built-in restroom (but imagine taking a leak in a moving bus running over bumpy roads and desperately, and sometimes vainly, trying to properly aim for the toilet seat, and you get an idea about what it’s like to walk in there…). All that in a neat, non-stop 5-hour ride to Baguio City.

Even better, you can drop by the Victory Liner terminal and buy your tickets (with specific seat numbers) way in advance. Thus, eliminating the hassle and horror of waiting at the bus terminal while inhaling all that sweet-smelling carbon monoxide from the buses that come in and out. Just arrive at the station at least 20 minutes from your scheduled departure time, hop into your comfy airline-style seats, and stare at the losers choking themselves to death through the humongous windows, while you wait for the bus to hit the road.

It’s also that last night of the wake of the former Julius Chua, who I will now refer to fondly as the “Pillar of What Was Montage.” He’s scheduled to be buried tomorrow morning (June 7, 2008), and somehow I can’t shake the feeling that I should have dropped by the Paz for one last time. But being the popular guy that Julius was, I’m expecting a record crowd tonight at the Paz. And I hate crowds. Ironically, the deluge I expect to happen tonight will bring me even more mixed feelings about my late friend. There will be the joy of seeing that he will live on in the vivid memories of many, but also really bring home the magnitude of the loss his death brings to the many people he knew and knew him.

Too late to change my mind and turn back now. Besides, I am grateful to him for too many things. Thus, I have a sinking feeling I will mourn him long after tonight anyways. But now, with the bus lights dimmed and I am truly alone for the first time in a while, I finally allow myself to shed that tear for him I’ve held back for a week.
(end of segueway)

I’m on my way to Baguio yet again for a week and a day. Alone again. Last time, the wifey was preggers. This time, we deemed little Marge still not ready for such a long ride. So I take the bus. Bought my ticket four nights ago to avoid the crush. (see Figure A to see said “crush”)

I’m on my way back up to the mountain city for a wee bit over a week to keep my promise to keep learning the ropes of the family store/s. To be honest, I enjoy the rides and am actually getting the hang of being involved in the family business. Of course, this doesn’t mean in any measure that my love for Maverick has diminished. Interestingly enough, God has been relatively kind. Business at Maverick seems to be looking up despite the hard times hitting practically any industry. Not good enough, but definitely looking up. Referrals have been happening yet again, together with the odd unexpected call backs from clients from a couple years ago or so. And better still, the “Mavericks” seem to have been weaned and are growing up.

Not sure about what will happen next given the two jobs I’ve taken on. But I’ve literally made my choice between them. Literally. my choice is to be between. I need both for very different reasons so I will take this double life as far as I can. The wife understands this and has been supportive. Let’s hope everyone else will be, too.

As for what will be left of me sooner or later, only time will tell.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marge's First Poem...

Take life slowly while you can,
while the only ones after you
are the sunshine of summer,
and the blossoms of spring.

Take time to look at every turn,
while every path is yours to take.
And know that life will give you
time enough for everything.

May 19, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yippee-Ka-Yay, Muthah Fuckah… Hasta Mañana, Baby…

In around thirty six hours, my life is going to change like never before. The person the wifey and I have waited for far too long is going to finally see the light of day and catch her first breath…

Margaret Jasmine Aguarin Golangco is about to be born. And I am scared shitless.

There are several reasons I have become this cowboy, this maverick that people have come to know me to be. For one, I’ve been through enough in life that has helped me learn enough to wade through most types of quagmires life might throw at me. Then there’s the rather comfortable safety net my family’s business accords me, which gives me a level of confidence (some would say cockiness) to charge head on to practically anything. I do so armed with the knowledge that I will come out on the other end possibly not unscathed, but definitely alive, kicking and probably even laughing my ass off.

Then there’s the huge factor of a handful of great friends who have stuck with me through the thick, the thin and everything else in between. There’s this overwhelming sense of calm and security with the knowledge that no matter what kind of sleazebag I may reasonably turn into, there will always be people who will lend me an ear and give me a hand.

It also helps that I married a very strong lady, who thrives on her own, and can practically survive everything short of World War Three. In short, she doesn’t need me to survive. Thus, I can go on playing cowboy without having to worry about her.

I didn’t have anyone to truly worry about, I wasn’t going to be alone anytime soon, and damn I felt invincible.

With Marge, I can’t help but feel that’s all about to change.

This cowboy is getting mighty antsy. But a happy antsy. Assuming I do end up getting off my high-horse, taking off my spurs, and watching the sunset while going home a little earlier than usual for the rest of my life… there’s no better reason to do so.

She’s coming into an old world, a tired and dirty world that almost always seems to be running short of breath lately. It’s a world that seems to get slightly darker at every dawn filled with false half-promises. Like every parent, I carry hopes that this little bundle of giggles and unspeaking eloquence help try to bring a little light back into this earth.

For now, I raise my glass and toast the cowboy, the maverick…