Thursday, December 31, 2009

welcome back...

Firstly, from the wifey, Marge and myself, a happy new year to all of you and welcome back to BROKEN RECORD.

The handful of you who actually visit this place from time to time will most likely be wondering where i went, what happened, and most importantly, why i shut BROKEN RECORD down for a while.

The reasons are much too sticky for me to thresh out. Just imagine a big plate of fresh, un-sauced spaghetti that was cooked with too little oil, and that got landed on by steamed rice, and this guy has been trying to pick out the rice grains, and untangle the pile without breaking the noodles...

THAT sticky...

Still picking... but getting there...

But yes, i saw the blue-skinned “AVATAR,” which incidentally might have been inspired by James Cameron’s weed-laced dream of sex-starved Smurfs that finally went through a steroid-loaded puberty... also caught Jim Carrey’s “CHRISTMAS CAROL” (on 3D!), and was suddenly struck with nostalgia for the old stop-motion Christmas movies they used to show on RPN Channel 9 (remember the one with the elf who wanted to be a dentist and said that the abominable snowman was only really mean because he had a toothache...?)... saw Roland Emmerich’s expectedly plotless “2010,” and actually enjoyed it because my life felt like it was on the brink of a disaster at that time... i also found myself both laughing and crying at the same time over the list of movie offerings at the Manila Film Festival.

My love for supporting local music also means i will be buying Gino Padilla’s (yes, he’s back) offering of OPM remakes (it’s still Gino Padilla), and Side A’s new disc (too bad they lost Joey Benin...), as well. Both on old-fashioned CD’s at the next opportunity i find myself in a record bar. More on these two much later...

For what it’s worth... i’m back...

And no, the roller coaster still hasn’t stopped running. I must admit to getting dizzy from time to time, but i’m holding on to the rails, and am far from throwing up, much less giving up. It slows down from time to time anyways...

Will also be starting a blog where i’ll toss all my poetic corniness and save the idiots who visit this one from the ants and cockroaches i’ll be sending up their pants and their spines, respectively. For your dose of chunky bittersweet molasses sprinkled with a truckload of rotten corn, please click on “greek verses the world” on the blogroll to the right...

'catch you later...!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 13): California Pointless...

Dear Margaret...

As i write this, the three of us have survived several blocks of San Francisco just a couple of weeks ago together. I remember my arms trembling from the weight of carrying you, a Sanfo-themed snowglobe, and this big-ass TV disguised as a laptop on my back, which i am using right this very minute.

You were tired, too. In fact, you were so tired that you fell asleep in my arms, while we were walking. It was a good feeling, by the way. But that’s not why i’m writing here now.
I’m writing to thank you.

A couple or so years from now, you should start remembering events in your life. You might actually start remembering the exact color of purple that Barney is. You might start remembering things and places you’ve been. So when you really get down to it, it was possibly pointless for you to be here in California with us right now at merely a year and a half old.

Possibly pointless, because you won’t remember your mother squinting her eyes at the sight of the Golden Gate through the thick fog on the cruise boat. Possibly pointless that you won't remember seeing Alcatraz across the waters and how you will compare it with marriage later on in life... Possibly pointless, because you won’t remember the beautiful sunset that we watched in Monterey... possibly...

But no. It wasn’t pointless. Not in the least.

It wasn’t pointless, because it was worth carrying you several blocks around San Francisco just to hear you giggle at the littlest things. It wasn’t pointless, because having you around meant that anywhere we went will never be boring. It wasn’t pointless, because i loved watching you waving at me through the rearview mirror everytime, no matter how boring the freeway got...

So yes. Thank you, Margaret.

And hopefully, by the time you read this, you will at least remember that at a year and a half, you will remember that we kept you laughing and smiling halfway across the world. And you probably won’t thank us, but will probably ask us to bring you back here again.

We will.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 12): How the earth bleeds from a broken faucet

Dear Marge,

Sometime in my early life, i saw grain farmers at the roadside on my usual trips to Baguio City. It struck me how they painstakingly hoe palay in their places on the road shoulder for drying in the sun. This was followed by thoughts of how they must watch over every errant grain around the area, to sweep every one of them back into the pile to ultimately help in the overall volume of grain they will ultimately deliver...

So it was that epiphany that made me think more than twice about not cleaning out every grain of rice on my plate (or Styrofoam lunch box) at my every meal.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, when we finally returned to our weekly visits to Baclaran...

I went to use the bathroom and saw faucets that just kept flowing, and no one was there using them. There have been almost a dozen people who have come and gone since i’d been in there. None of them bothered to turn the faucet off. I learned upon trying that the faucets were damaged, but not impossible to close. So i did...

Then off inside the church we went...

Of course, farmers do not take teaspoon after teaspoon of fresh water into a pail like they do rice. But two typhoons in, and several weeks of calamity later, it riles me that people do not take a few seconds to just try and turn off a damaged faucet and conserve something people elsewhere lie helplessly in wait for.

No one bothered, no one cared.

But you, I want you to bother. I want you to notice these things. These little things that are somehow always connected to bigger things. i want you to care.

One day, i want to find an opportunity to take you to watch people hoeing grain into place, or to look at how some people go through great lengths to get themselves a pail of fresh water. I want you to learn how to feel bad for every tree felled unnecessarily. I want you to stand near a highway and look at the trail of smoke left behind by an uncaring bus and wonder how long the skies will remain blue, if they would still be by that time.

I want your eyes and ears to see and know how the only planet, the only home we ever knew and ever will within our lifetimes, chokes at every sputter of smoke from a bus, quietly screams with every forest mowed down for a shopping mall, and ever so slowly bleeds with every faucet left on and unused.

I want you to care.

You alone won’t make a difference. But sometimes caring can be contagious, so let’s hope we infect other people.

‘catch you later, girl...



Friday, October 9, 2009

Letters to Marge: Chapter 11 (Let's Break for a Cute Video...)

The Attack of Bratzilla and the Green Crayola

Dear Marge,

Something happened a few nights ago that had a lot of my favourite things in it: you (not that you’re a “thing”), art (or attempts at it), the color green, and crayolas.

There’s little to be said save for my pure unadulterated pleasure in seeing you running all around the room with a notebook in one hand, and one green crayola in the other. The next part of the pleasure included watching your mother follow you around with a moist sponge and trying to take out traces of your crayola invasion off the walls, the bed sheets, and the floor.

I say, go for it!



P.S. more nagging advice later, kid...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 10): I'm Sorry, Marge...

Dearest Margaret...

Dad has been quite tired lately. For better or worse, there are way too many places i have to be, too many people I have to see, and too many things people think I can and have to do. And there’s only one of me.
If there could be more of me, the me that writes this would be with you.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry to you and mom. I’m sorry that i let so many other people take my time. Time that is yours to have, time that is supposed to be ours to share. Time i instead gave to others who gave themselves to those who would be our supposed gods in cities infested with creatures with more faces than any truth would allow.

Time i gave to keep building a house of cards i reinforce with little more than dreams that i keep dreaming, and a passion that refuses to stop burning bright despite the storms that pour upon me. One day, this house of cards will finally be a house where the walls can be touched, and the floors can be danced upon. Please be patient and be there when this one day arrives. This is for you.

This is all for you.

And though I may not always be there to hold you, always know that I love you very much.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 9): Always Know Who You Are...

Dearest Margaret…

Haven’t written much lately, have I?

Well, thing is, the whole zigzagging between Manila and Baguio doesn’t exactly leave your old man too much room for thoughtful blogging. What’s more, at this time that I am writing this, you are already a year and two months old. Quite responsive, and a lot of fun to be with. And I can almost imagine you digging whatever I say...

" one truly great lady finally left a country that never stopped needing her..."

But today (August 1, 2009) is a rather special day.

Today, two very dear friends from different circles in my life celebrate their birthdays (those would be Uncles Jon and Carlo), and one truly great lady finally left a country that never stopped needing her.

At this point, I’m guessing part of your research on Philippine history includes former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Dad’s advice is for you to really dig into it. The presidency of Cory (as she is referred to in our time) was by no means a prosperous time, and definitely wasn’t all six years of sunshine. But while each presidential term in this eternally struggling country of ours has been followed by shadows they themselves created long after their terms have ended, only Cory Aquino has remained untainted, unaffected, unchanged. Having stood for what she believed from the day the public knew who she was, right down to the very last moment her voice was heard, Cory was a singular icon. Free of pretense, Cory was singular in her stature, singular in her beliefs, and singular in her purpose of upholding those beliefs.

What made Cory so iconic, so much larger than life, was that the Cory Aquino the People Power Revolution strapped into that chair in MalacaƱang was still the Cory Aquino we were watching praying on national TV just a year ago. More wrinkles, perhaps, but still the same smile, the same determination, the same battle cries, even the same shade of yellow on her dress.

People knew what to expect of Cory Aquino, knew what she stood for, and she never changed that. It's not unlike how a McDonald's cheeseburger pretty much tastes the same even after all these years.

"...At some point, you must decide that you have had enough major input, and can start building the foundation that will become... 'you'..."

With that in mind, here’s something I need you to know and live by.

As life goes on, many people, many events, and many things will come across or around the road before you that you will come to call your life. Each and every one of those things will try and change you. Especially the people... and that’s where the challenge lies.

At some point, you must decide that you have had enough major input, and can start building the foundation that will become the “you” that you will live with for the better part of your life, the “you” that you will ultimately decide has something good, something unique and something beautiful to offer the people around you. The “you” that wish to be remembered as.

"... [many people] face a mirror and do not know who they’re looking at..."

The greatest tragedy many people face is that point in their lives when they face a mirror and do not know who they’re looking at. The funny thing is, when we look inwards and upon ourselves, we tend to get blinded by visions of what we believe we could be, could still be, or should be. But remember you this... A person is like a diamond, with many facets, all of which are truly yours, but it is that one facet that you will ultimately choose to be the face you will show that will help you define the direction you will take in your life.

You will know when the time is right, you will know when you’ve seen and heard enough to know what you want the rest of your life to be like. I don’t know when that is or will be. But when the moment is there, grab it. Grab your identity for all its faults, or its potential greatness. But most importantly, accept what you are, what you’ve become, be better, be greater, but always be yourself.

“Let the fish not envy the birds that soar across the skies and against the sun, for they will never know the wondrous world of the deep seas.”

‘catch you later, girl...



P.S. Congratulations, Marge... Last month, you started walking on your own! Well, just a few feet at first, but yeah...
P.P.S. i have more to say about this topic, but I'll stop herefor now...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 8): Try Something New...

My dear Margaret…

Last weekend, I (along with your uncles) did something new and potentially stupid..


Yeah, I can hear the chuckles now… heck, it was funny even for us, imagining what we may have looked like. The scene looked like something that normally precursored the slapstick highlight of a TV sitcom. It was quite the sight: three pale, short, plump, and slightly clumsy Chinese guys walking across the beach while being led around by three lean, bronzed surf bums each holding surfboards. Obviously with the power to make aforementioned Chinese dudes look either totally cool, or totally foolish.

The following are the things I “learned”…

1. Looking stupid with a surfboard was pretty normal in those parts. To quote Michael Jackson, “we [were] NOT alone…”
2. Surfing, or attempting it, is fun.
3. The toughest part about surfing is wading against the strong waves to a workable (“surfable”) distance from the shore.
4. The actual act of “surfing” is only a few seconds worth. But damn, it feels great to let the waves carry you…
5. In reference to item number 2 above, attempting ANYTHING new is always fun long as it doesn’t involve jumping off a plane or window, or wild animals…
6. Keep item number 5 in mind all the time.

Stay safe, kiddo… but try something odd from time to time…

Catch you later…



Sunday, February 15, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 7): Happy Valentine’s, Margaret…

Dear Marge…

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. As holidays go, “V-Day,” “Hearts Day,” “Love Day,” the annoyingly mispronounced “Valen-Time,” or whatever it is they choose to side label February 14, is a very minor holiday. Mostly just hyped by big corporations to try and make a minor sales rebound immediately after the expected January slump.

Anyways, I have a confession to make.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a lady who isn’t your mother. A nice lady who was gorgeous, funny, laughed a lot, has a beautiful smile, a great appetite, but a little on the heavy side. We had a bit of bibingka, split a halo-halo, bought her a stuffed Piglet to commemorate the day, then ran around Robinsons Galleria for another couple of hours.

That lady was you.

Your cousin Bernadette’s prom was creeping in, and your mom and I promised to take her shopping here in Manila (your cousin lives in Tarlac). But since Bernadette was the shy type, your mom decided to get some girl power going with your cousin and sent us away for a few hours. just you and me, kiddo...

So yes, on your first Valentine date, you had your first bibingka, your first halo-halo, and it was the first time you chose your own gift.

It was also a day I will never forget for the as long as I live.

Catch you later…



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 6): Everything in Due Time, and Money Can’t Buy Everything

My Dear Marge...

So I’ve mentioned the wedding of the Garcias. We had to bring you along since your nanny was just on her way back from Baguio after a round of chicken pox. So yeah, it was technically your first formal event.

But that’s not the highlight of this entry.

The highlight was when I was carrying you around, and we stopped at a corner where some toddlers were running around and playing. You were craning and spinning your head about, looking at the kids playing, and you were smiling at them, while cheerfully gurgling. When I put you down, you were happily flapping your arms the way you do whenever you were happy or excited, or both. You were also leaning in various directions and stomped your feet a bit, the way you do when you move in your walker.

I so wanted to see you running around and playing with the children. If only I could buy a couple of years to make you old enough to walk, run and play about. But this time, your grandmother’s money can’t do a thing. Sooner or later, I see it anyways. So you, your mother and I are just going to have to be a wee bit more patient.

Which brings me to this entry’s two lessons:

Lesson Number One above will be extremely applicable to you because you’re a girl. And hopefully, in the future, when your hormones start running about and working themselves up, you will know that making love should also be done in due time.
Like that time when you wanted to run about, I could have let you go and crawl around. But that would’ve hurt you, and you weren’t ready for it at all. So I held on to you while you stood smiling and giggling as things went on. I didn’t let you go.

But one day I’ll have to.

One day, I’ll have to start letting you go and watch you play about. Standing just a few steps away to pick you up, in case you fall. Please know that I always will. But I also hope you will know within yourself when the time is right for certain things, so that when you fall, you won’t fall so hard that you can’t pick yourself up.

But I will always be a few feet away in case you do.

As for Lesson Number Two, the Beatles have a number one song about what money can’t buy. But some things like the right time, an additional two years, along with brain and muscle development, and such are things beyond my control to give to you. Toys R’ Us won’t mean jack this time.

When you get older, and realize thankfully that you will grow into a family of relatively comfortable affluence, you may occasionally feel invincible. It’s quite heady, frankly. I sometimes find myself defiantly looking at some things other children have, thinking that should you eventually want those things, I can buy them for you.

But that night, I couldn’t buy you two year old legs that can run about and play.

So I defer back to Lesson Number One. Hopefully, you will, too.

Catch you later…



Letters to Marge (Chapter 5): Two New Year Birdies and One Guy Stoned… (Holidays Times Two for You)

Dear Marge…

As I write this, your grandfather is royally pissed at me (and most probably at your mother, too).

But before I get around to explaining that rather usual occurrence above, I would like to let you know that being half-Chinese, you get two New Years. Yep, count ’em. TWO. The first one is the one with a Catholic Mass, supposedly lots of food at midnight, a nominal degree of fireworks (which you should leave for others to handle while you watch the skies from afar), and the replacement of your wall calendars (if you’re using them, by the time you read this). That one is considered a rather more universal New Year and follows what is referred to as the Gregorian calendar. This happens every January First.

The other New Year has become semi-universal due to the fact that the fucking Chinese are everywhere (yes, you and me included, kiddo…). It’s called… What else? CHINESE NEW YEAR! This one’s got a lot of frills on it. There’s Dragon Dancing, Pasty Rice Cake Giving (a.k.a. “Tikoy”), and an obsession with things red, gold and round. This one is a little trickier to schedule since it requires what is called a “Chinese” calendar, or sometimes referred to a “lunar” calendar.

"...there has been some undeniable drifting between me and your grandfather for too long..."

As a child, Chinese New Year usually meant that uncles, aunts, and grannies hand out little red envelopes containing a bit of money (a.k.a. “Ang-Pao” with “Ang” meaning red, and “Pao” meaning wrap, or pack). So as a child, Chinese New Year usually ended with me and the rest of the cousins with pockets bulging with red paper and moolah. But for most of my adult life, I usually neglect anticipating the second New Year above. Although there is an easy reminder in that your Great Grandmother was born on New Year’s Day according to the Chinese calendar. So that’s a cool two celebrations in one, supposedly. Until your grandfather and his siblings started having one petty quarrel after another (and I mean PETTY), then the whole Grand Golangco Get-Together started going downhill… Slowly turning first into some sad masquerade party, and currently little more than the sad echoing of two or three glasses clinking empty toasts amid stories of past family glory, and looking for other people’s misery to feel better about themselves.

In most Asian countries, Chinese New Year is a humongous deal. And usually means that in the two weeks revolving around Chinese New Year’s Day, expect to not have transactions with countries like Singapore, Taiwan, China (d-uh!), Indonesia, too (I think), and other similarly chinky eyed populaces.

But anyways, my point is that today I was in a bit of error. Your grandfather sounded very disappointed that we didn’t make a single iota of effort to see him today, which is a Sunday happening to be the eve of Chinese New Year. And instead chose to devote the entire day’s efforts on the next-door neighbor’s wedding, which was scheduled at 2pm. In retrospect, we should have at least taken him out to a brunch or something.

In my defense (and your mother’s), there has been some undeniable drifting between me and your grandfather for too long. And I grew up with him justifying many things with a simple statement that “He said so.” I never bought that for some reason. And while we don’t necessarily take the effort to avoid him, we honestly don’t do too much in making time to see him. But I suppose today was different. It IS Chinese New Year, after all.

In the future, as you grow older, we’ll be going through many different holidays and traditions that you may not readily understand. But please do ask. I promise I will take the time to explain things, how these traditions came about, what they mean, the stories behind them (sometimes they’re even amusing), and if it’s important to me and to our family, I would like to ask that you try and give it a get go.

To paraphrase a line from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward…”

Catch you later, kiddo…



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The No-Cost Phone Upgrade

A couple of nights ago, while preparing to leave for the bus station for my ride to Baguio City, I transferred a nice photo of Marge happily shrieking at the camera last Christmas Eve.

And just like that, whenever I look into the screen of my crusty three year old Nokia, with the model number I can’t even remember, I’m looking at a million bucks.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 4): Make No Wasted Moments

Greetings, Margaret…

As I write this, I am five days late from greeting you a Happy First New Year! You are running through the eighth month of your young and smiling life right now…

And to illustrate how beautiful, but fleeting life is. I would like to share with you a lovely video I stumbled upon online:

Which brings me to this entry’s lesson: MAKE NO WASTED MOMENTS

Life is short enough as it is. Assuming you will live a life of reasonable health, you may live to see around ninety years. But for most fast-paced lifestyles that involve Quarter-Pounders with Cheese, instant noodles, foods with ingredient lists as long as half a page of the phone book, radioactive appliances and a lot of other dangerous things, some things prop up by the mid-fifties. Things like tumors, high blood sugar, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, or whatever it is that may be killing yours truly right now… err… there’s quite a bit, but let’s move on…

I originally intended to tell you to “enjoy every minute of your life as much as you can.” But looking back through my own life, I can’t honestly say I enjoyed every moment. At this point, I won’t really change a single thing from my past. But having said that, every so often I take stock of what has made me what I’ve become. And in most cases, I can remember something that happened that shaped how I would face the things that came my way.

Of course, some moments were simply passing through, but even they meant something. Probably a breather of sorts, little moments when I catch my breath and take a quick look around me. But simply put, good memories are kept to be enjoyed over and over. The not-so-good ones are there for us to learn from.

When you try something and fail. Don’t think for a moment you wasted your time. But hold on to that failure and study the many ways you can avoid it in the future.

I’ve always believed that every single person’s life is a full life depending on what we choose to see, to hear, to feel and to keep for the rest of the time that we have remaining on this earth.

In a nutshell, your time can only be wasted if you either don’t enjoy it, or don’t learn anything from it. But always know that time only moves forward, so make every moment count in even the tiniest ways.



Friday, January 2, 2009

Letters to Marge (Chapter 3): The Distance Between...

Hi, Marge…

Ready for more history? Rhetorical question really, since I intend to blabber on… hope you stay logged on…

* * * * *

There was a period I remember when your grandmother would take me and your uncles to different hotels and have snacks at their coffee shops. Usually on Saturday afternoons. The ones we frequented were the Westin Philippine Plaza (now called the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. Heaven only knows what these hotels will be named after x number of years…).

There was something cute in the Intercontinental Hotel or “Intercon” for short. (Yes, it’s still called the Intercon…) Their coffee shop was called “the Jeepney.” And more than any fancy hamburger, what set it apart was that they had jeepney cabs for dining booths. These cabs were open on either side, and had dining tables between the seat rows. You have to understand that for a kid like me, the food didn’t mean much. But the jeep cabs… now those were cool. If there were no jeep cabs available, I threw a tantrum like the brat that I was and refused to sit at a regular table. Although I believe they ultimately made me do so sooner or later… I may have been bratty, but I didn’t always get what I wanted.

Let’s fast forward a bit to the time after your grandmother hastily left the country (more on that later… maybe… or maybe not… ask your mother), and me and your uncles were left with Fely (the long time “major doma”), the revolving door of tutors (the most memorable one bring Elizabeth Lim, who gave more advice and lessons than the actual homework required), the revolving door of drivers (most notably, Edsel Lopez, who left and came back after a few years in time to give me my first few hours behind a steering wheel), and of course, your grandfather.

"...It was in those times that I leaned a lot on my classmates... with whom I have thankfully built friendships that have lasted me for over two dozen years and counting..."

Now your grandfather was (is) a rather mixed bag. In retrospect, I must state on record that your grandfather is a good man by most standards. But a good father he wasn’t. There, I’ve said it. That’s officially off my chest and out into cyberspace… so if you notice a bit of distance between me and him, just feel free to ask me or your mother about it. But all things aside, I am still ready and willing to throw him a line if he needs it.

During very much of my early teen years when your grandfather could have capitalized and become my friend, he was mostly out. I honestly didn’t wonder much about where he supposedly spent those evenings. Frankly, he and I hadn’t gone through enough in the “together” kind of way for me to truly have missed him in those times. I would credit those to him trying to find some solace from your grandmother’s estrangement. At least, that’s what I’m desperately trying to hammer into my own head.

It was in those times that I leaned a lot on my classmates (almost all of whom are your godparents), with whom I have thankfully built friendships that have lasted me for over two dozen years and counting at the time of this writing. (more on friendships later, girl…) Your Uncles Pom and Wilson were still too young for me to lean on them at that time.

I also looked up a lot to your Uncle Jan Gary Golangco (my cousin in the first degree), who was the big brother I never had and truly needed at that point in my life. He also gave me a lot of hand me downs from clothes to things like perfume and stuff since your grandfather rarely took your uncles and me shopping for stuff. Your Uncle Jan practically guided me through much of my adolescence. But this sort of thinned out when he got married and was pretty wrapped up with getting his life on track. Thankfully as of this writing, he’s been doing great.

There’s a lesson here that I must preach, despite only barely succeeding (if at all…) at practicing. No matter what he has and hasn’t done, your grandfather is still my father. Love is supposedly inherent. But if it isn’t, then at the very least, people deserve to be treated like people. This is where you will learn that I am not the totally nice guy I sometimes seem. But I’m trying. Seriously.

But this is all getting too serious. Will cut this short and move on to lighter things…

Catch you later, girl…