Inside the Ladies’ Room

Restroom sign (credit: Davezilla) A ladies’ restroom is not just any ordinary room. It’s where you can become privy to all sorts of things — whether you like it or not.

The other day, I was inside a stall minding my own business when a woman started yelling at someone outside my door. When I didn’t hear a reply, I realized the woman was using a cellphone. “Nasa bahay ka pa? Anong oras ka pa makakapunta dito? Ang bobo-bobo mo talaga! Wala kang konsiderasyon! Pumunta ka na ngayon dito; kailangan ko pa pumuntang bangko. (You’re still at home? So what time are you going to get here? You’re such an idiot! You have no consideration for others! Get yourself here now; I still need to go to the bank.)”

She said goodbye, so I thought that would be the end of it. Ten seconds later, she was on the phone again with the same person; believe it or not, that conversation I overheard was repeated along the same lines three times!

I exited my stall, shot a quick glance at the woman (who was fuming mad and fiddling with her phone), and hurried away. I shouldn’t even have been listening, but all I could think about was, “What a nag!”

To my shame, what I regretted most at that moment was not having my sister to snicker with at the woman’s scandalous behavior. After all, it was a ladies’ room. Yes, the cliche is true: women go to the restroom en masse not only to freshen up, but also to exchange gossip.

A few years ago, I was at a birthday party at Chili’s Greenhills. The birthday boy had invited many female friends from an all-girls exclusive high school, but they were nowhere in sight for most of the evening.

I soon discovered where those girls had been holed up when I excused myself (due to too much Diet Coke — oops, too much information). The girls were sitting on the counter or preening in front of the mirror, gabbing the night away with nary a thought for the real party outside the restroom.

It’s not every day you get to listen in on a lovers’ quarrel or catch up on the lives of strangers, but inside the ladies’ room, you just can’t help overhearing people talk.

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I Got Tagged!

This is all Ganns‘ fault. Ü

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.

  1. Kiss My Mike
  2. Micerridwen
  3. Wifely Steps
  4. Superblessed
  5. In My Pocket

Next, select five people to tag:

  1. Arvin
  2. Kneeko
  3. Hazel
  4. Rob
  5. Jong

And now the questions…

  • What were you doing 10 years ago?
    I was about to enter my third year of high school and didn’t have the Internet yet.
  • What were you doing 1 year ago?
    I was listening to “This Is Your Life” by Switchfoot and playing hooky from thesis work.
  • Five snacks you enjoy:
    toasted whole wheat bread with butter and Splenda
    peanut butter on a spoon
    strawberries and cream
    open-faced grilled cheese sandwich
  • Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
    My Happy Ending – Avril Lavigne
    God Put a Smile Upon Your Face – Coldplay
    To Be Free – Emiliana Torrini
    Dare You to Move – Switchfoot
    Let Me Show You the Way – Natasha Thomas
  • Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
    Tithe, and donate a bit more for my church’s building fund
    Get a hardbound Lord of the Rings book set and complete my Agatha Christie collection
    Buy the complete fifth season of Alias on DVD
    Take my family on holiday to Hong Kong
    Save the rest for later. Ü
  • Five bad habits:
    Eat too much.
    Talk too loud.
    Pick at my teeth in public.
    Take offense much too easily.
  • Five things you like doing:
  • Five things you would never wear again:
    Shoulder pads.
    My hair cut short and curled. (Don’t ask.)
    Big plastic eyeglasses.
    Dental braces.
    High-waisted pants.
  • Five favorite toys:
    Jem dolls
    my stuffed dog
    iPod shuffle

Your turn!


Fugly Filipino English

My body was pretty much knocked out of whack with a virus that couldn’t decide whether it was going to be a cough, a cold, or a sore throat. In any case, having a semi-feverish state of mind made me start noticing the little things. Well, actually, just one thing in particular.

Keep Refrigeration After Open Because we’re in a global economy, boxes with text like “keep refrigeration after open” are a common sight in Philippine supermarkets. Oddly worded printed English like this has come to be known as “Engrish” and is often found on printed material from Asian countries. The wrong grammar and/or spelling usually occurs because of unfamiliarity with the syntax of the English language.

I’ve come to expect this kind of English from countries which don’t have a strong background in the English language. I also thought most educated Filipinos would have a good background in written English. I was wrong. Filipino English is fugly (frightfully ugly).

A free flipflop? Just one? People say that Filipinos writing in English tend to use more words than is necessary to get their point across. See the copy in this ad, for instance. Aside from the glaring error of offering just A flipflop (I get one free! My other foot goes barefoot?), it reads “a very comfortable footwear that’s just begging to be worn wherever you wanna go this summer!” Allow me to demonstrate the power of the strikethrough tag: “a very comfortable footwear that’s just begging to be worn wherever you wanna go this summer!” That’s just one way to go about editing this chunky dependent clause.

my grammatical eyes! Maybe it’s just me being anal about correct English, but I wouldn’t trust a bank with an ad that reads: “outstanding features that tops those of all others.” Let’s play Spot the Error, shall we? Give up? Subject-verb agreement: it’s either the features top all others, or the feature tops all others.

Whenever I read something ungrammatical, I pause and think “Is the meaning I’m getting from this the same meaning the writer meant to convey?” Back in college, I heard of professors who’d give up on reading essay exam answers when the grammar is atrocious, and they’d just flunk the poor student. Proper English grammar is important if you want to make your message clear for readers (or viewers, or listeners, depending on your medium). Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time.

It all began IN a beach I think I’ve grown out of touch with what’s being printed locally; there used to be a time when grammatical errors were a rarity in the newspapers and magazines I read. These days I can’t read through two sentences before I get hit with a whopper of an error. Sometimes I can’t even make it past the headline. I try to read on, but when there’s an error of this magnitude preceding the text, the rest of it usually gives me a headache.

I know I’m no saint in the matter; there are times when I use ungrammatical sentence construction in informal English, and I do have occasional unintentional lapses. At least I try to eliminate the fugly from what I write (I reserve the right to edit my posts for grammar and spelling errors).

Our Asian neighbors are scrambling to learn English, some even coming to the Philippines to be tutored by English-speaking Filipinos. (Yep, those Koreans aren’t tourists. You think they come to Manila for the smoggy weather?) Call centers are hiring those proficient in English (here’s an example of who they’re NOT hiring). International business is conducted in English (unless you’re French, Chinese, or Japanese). The language of scholarly reading and writing is primarily English in our universities (and Miriam Quiambao would have won Miss Universe if she had a better grasp of English! Oops, non sequitur…). No matter how pundits may decry using English as detrimental to nationalism, good English is simply damn useful.

The standard of education in English has deteriorated in the Philippines, and it’s now palpable in what we produce. This isn’t meant to put anybody down. I don’t think people who make grammatical mistakes are necessarily dumb. I don’t think that people who can’t speak or write English are dumb. It’s just that I think if you’re going to use English, use it well. What can I say? I’m a perfectionist.

ADVICES? By the way, if you couldn’t detect what was wrong with these pictures, I’d advise you to buy a book on English grammar. Please, it’s for my own safety — I don’t want to have to put my own eyes out. (The word “advice,” by the way, is used for single and plural. There is no such thing as “advices.”)

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The Perks of Bumhood

One of the disadvantages of being a bum is that everyone knows I’m not busy and can do chores, errands, and favors for them. It’s nearly impossible to say no, unless I have other plans for the day.

CoffeeBut ah, the joy of making other plans for the day! There is at least one perk to being a bum, particularly that my time is my own and I don’t have to clock in anywhere. Like today: I hung around my favorite coffee place, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, slowly sipped my hot cafe vanilla, and watched harried people outside the glass windows scurrying to and from work. Or like last Friday, when I begged my mom to take me with her early in the morning and drop me off at Greenhills Shopping Center so I could snag some bargains before the crushing crowd got too thick.

There are endless possibilities of what I can do with my time, limited only by my lack of a self-earned income (*cough* allowance *cough*). To beat the summer heat, I can go kick back at a pool or kick my heels up at a mall. I can scour used-book stores for classics that are out-of-print in the Philippines, like my latest acquisition The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. Or I could sit around on my bum all day (like a bum, get it?) and surf blogs or search the Internet for information on hobbies and current events, accomplishing the dual goals of wasting time and improving my mind. (Okay, so I’m being tongue-in-cheek about the last option because it’s actually what I do most of the time.)

Wow, I’m bored. I think I’ll go sunbathe in the back yard and read a thick book.

Bum Dee Bum The Bum Bum Me

It’s finally dawned on me that I am a graduate and I have no job. I am a bum living off my parents’ (and sister’s!) paychecks, and since I no longer have any plans of going back to school, it’s time to find me a job.

I spent all day yesterday scouring job openings on Jobstreet and JobsDB, as well as tailoring my resume. I don’t really know what my qualifications are, aside from the academic ones. Perhaps it’s a lack of self-confidence above everything else, but I’m realizing that my single-minded focus on my studies is limiting my options these days. I didn’t get involved in any extracurricular activities that could have padded my resume, like joining writing contests, or attending conferences that give you certification for attending them, or even seeking out internships. I am a fresh graduate with no experience, which is laughable considering I already have a master’s degree.

There were a lot of openings for web designers, but most of them involved knowledge of PHP and mySQL, which I’ve never used. Some of them specified a need for proficiency in Dreamweaver MX, which I don’t have because I code all my websites by hand. Still others demanded experience in maintaining websites; I’ve had my own sites for years (going on ten years next year) but haven’t maintained websites professionally, so I don’t know if I do have the experience.

Maybe I need to get my own domain, perhaps set up a small website design biz? One thing’s for sure: I don’t wanna be a bum no more!

Ticketed and Ticked Off

After finishing an invigorating workout at the Fitness First branch in Ortigas, I was all amped up on adrenaline and grrl power. Ü As I revved my car out of the building’s underground parking, I noticed a piece of paper fluttering on my windshield. Flicking on the wipers to move the paper so I could reach it, I could already read the words on the newsprint-type slip. It read, “Notice of Parking Violation.”

The first thought in my head was, “ZOMG! A real parking ticket!” The second thought was, “ZOMG!!!ohno!!11 It’s a parking ticket registered to my car!”

irritation, anime-styleApparently the violation was for not parking my car facing the wall. This severely irritated me because I had specifically looked for a sign that said “park car facing wall” and didn’t find it in the area I had parked. (The sign was around a corner but I didn’t know it went for the entire parking area.) Additionally, the car beside me had parked facing outwards, so I had merely followed suit. I had even taken a lot of time parking the car so it was just right, and surely should have attracted the notice of the security guards sitting not more than ten yards away.

People driving in Metro Manila may be familiar with the frustration. For instance, my mom was dropping someone off on a sidewalk when a policeman strolls up and says “No loading/unloading po dito.” My mom asks, “Where’s the sign?” and the policeman points to a sign obscured by tree branches and situated high above the eyeline of a person sitting behind a steering wheel.

The policeman let my mom off with a warning. As for my parking ticket, it was for a first violation so I was also let off with a warning. I guess what I have to be glad about is that it isn’t a parking ticket issued by the traffic police, so it doesn’t go on any permanent government record. I don’t plan on registering another violation and having to pay a 200-peso fine, so I will be parking my car correctly next time.

I’m still ticked off, though.

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Boracay, Day 4

my glitter tattoo on my sunburnI was out on the beach a little earlier than the previous days, but I didn’t feel like going in the water. I just sat down, sifted handfuls of sand through my fingers, and rubbed my sunburned shoulders while looking at the kind of people who’d be around at 5am. Workmen were raking the sand for rubbish and cigarette butts. Policemen riding on 4-wheelers were out on patrol. Some people lolling about in the sand looked like they’d been up all night sitting on the beach. On the waterline, mommy and daddy types were taking a morning hike with each other.

last morning viewWe were leaving Boracay before 9am, so Marielle, David, and I went to Jonah’s Fruitshakes at 6am. We had a great breakfast (with milkshakes!), then savored our walk back to the cottage.

And then it was time for the family to hustle. After making sure we hadn’t left anything (or anyone) behind, we took a short walk away from the beachfront to reach a two-lane road that ran the length of the island. Motorized tricycles, multicabs, and motorcycles used the road to transport goods and people, and the road branched off into smaller paths that led deeper into the island. We were taking a tricycle to get to the island’s jetty port.

my old Boracay postcardI have this old postcard of Boracay that shows a vast expanse of virgin rainforest blanketing the interior of the island. I once stuck the postcard onto my dresser mirror and said that one day I’d get to go to the place in the picture. As our tricycle hauled us away from the place we’d called home for three days and three nights, I remembered my old postcard. I could finally say I’d been to the place in the picture, but the place didn’t look like the picture anymore.

From the Boracay port, we reached Caticlan in 20 minutes, then got into our rented van for the four-hour ride back to Iloilo. The long drive seemed shorter, probably because we weren’t looking forward to anything in that city other than our plane ride home. We had lunch in the town of Pototan at a roadside carinderia, where the menu options were tapsilog (tapa, rice, and egg), longsilog (longganisa, rice, and egg), and porksilog (porkchop, rice, and egg) — but they were all the options we hungry travelers needed. And at 35 pesos per person, the price was right, too.

We were in Iloilo City by 2:30pm, but our flight was scheduled for 7:20pm. In the interim, Aunt Gel’s friend entertained us at her house, where they served us La Paz batchoy from Ted’s as an afternoon snack (!!!).

We landed in Manila at 8:20. Marielle and I met our parents at the airport gates, then drove home with them, away from sun, surf, and sand toward the city’s metal, dust, and concrete.

I can’t wait to go back, and I don’t want to wait to go back, either. Some say that with the rate of damage being done to Boracay, in ten years it could be totally ruined. My dad says that the ruination of the Pasig River began when algae started multiplying and killing off the microorganisms that were the base of the river’s food chain. The algae fed on waste products that were dumped into the Pasig River, and this is what’s happening to Boracay, among other distressing developments.

There was a PCIJ report in 2003 on the ecological destruction of Boracay, and it seems greed and booming, reckless tourism are the main culprits. Something has to be done, or else Boracay will become Burak-ay.

Rome Jorge in a column on Holy Week tourism suggested some practices that tourists can adopt:

  • Pick up trash found along trails, beaches and rivers even when it is not yours. Bring a sack if you have to. Dispose of it properly in urban areas.
  • Patronize local products and cuisines. Pay a fair prize. For tourism businesses, employ locals and promote local themes.
  • Chat with the locals. Learn their culture and history.
  • Do not buy seashell lamps, tapang usa, or other wildlife products. Do not even bottle white sand. Do not light bonfires unless for emergencies. If everyone did the same thing, there would be nothing left.
  • Report illegal logging or wildlife poaching. Do not stop until proper action is taken. Alert the media.
  • Patronize eco-tourism programs and regional art center events.

So, to those who are looking into taking a vacation on Boracay, I would say go now but leave Boracay a better place than when you found it. Once a paradise is lost, it could be lost forever.

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Boracay, Day and Night 3

boat in the morning low tide“Pau? Pau? Sige na Pau, punta ka na rito! Pau! PAAAAAU!!! (Come on, Pau, you’ve gotta come here already!)”

Imagine waking up to a teenage girl’s voice bellowing these words at 5 in the morning. Our cottage is actually a two-floor set of separate rooms each with their own toilet, and a group of adolescents had rented one of the four rooms on the second floor where our room was situated. The walls between our rooms were concrete, but they weren’t thick enough to shield my ears. Besides, this girl was standing right outside our door, slightly(?) drunk, yelling into her cellphone. It made me wish I’d spent the night sleeping on the beach instead.

I got up and staggered out onto the balcony, peered out over the edge, and immediately stepped back. An open-roof garbage truck had stopped right there and the truck driver was changing a flat tire.

My parents were leaving Boracay early that morning, but Marielle and I were staying on with Aunt Gel and Uncle Rene’s families for one more day. After seeing the parents off, Marielle and I went in search of breakfast. JammersIt being only 6am, we found ourselves at d*Mall looking for a place that was open early. While there was the ever-present Andok’s Chicken, the previous day we had breakfast there and the servings had been small and slow to come. So, Marielle and I sat down at Jammers, a 24-hour burger joint semi-decorated in 1950’s soda shop style. We were served good omelettes and foul-tasting mineral water by a woman who barely smiled, but she was pregnant so we left her a tip anyway.

walking down the beachWe did some more sunbathing (sunburning?), then hid in the shade at Jonah’s Fruitshakes where I had a melon milkshake and moped about my pink bikini. I had bought it at Robinson’s Galleria right before we left Manila and had never swum in it until that morning at the beach. To my dismay, I found it was prone to Janet Jackson-type wardrobe malfunctions. I resolved to hunt for a replacement.

Marielle and I walked down the length of the beach after a heavy Italian lunch at Aria, where the cheese pizza is excellent. We got as far as Station 3 before our feet started telling us it was time to head back. my new bikiniI found a great chocolate-colored bikini by the side of the footpath, but it was priced at 1,250 pesos. My eyes bulged out at the price, but I decided to splurge on it for my own peace of mind. (Fashion tip: well-endowed women will benefit from halter-type swimsuits, which provide both support and coverage.)

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to food. Aunt Gel brought us to Real Coffee, a little place right around the corner from our cottage. at Real CoffeeWhen the television series Globe Trekker featured Boracay, they showed their host patronizing the shop. I avoided a clump of dog poo on the path, but as I sniffed for odor, my nose was instead filled with the aroma of freshly baked goods. “It smells good here, so that’s a good sign,” I quipped as we entered.

The American lady behind the counter said her calamansi cakes were just about ready to come out of the oven, so we couldn’t resist trying them. She was the owner of the place and seemed like she was enjoying the laid-back lifestyle such a business gave her. As she served us and the other customers, she bopped to music playing on the small transistor radio. “I love this song,” she announced as the Square Heads’ single “Happy” started playing. She dispensed with electric coffee makers by brewing coffee using only a pot, a paper coffee filter, and a coffee machine’s funnel. We left Real Coffee feeling like we’d experienced something of the old Boracay.

sun over seaMarielle and I headed back to the beach to bake — er, I mean chill out. The previous day, the owner of the Glimmer body art stall had introduced himself and one of his friends, and as we sat there waiting for sunset he, his friend, and another guy sat down with us. All three of them were businessmen, but two were based in Manila and had only come for a vacation. The owner of Glimmer had settled on Boracay and ran both his stall and an Ice Monster franchise.

We left the guys to have dinner at Hawaiian Barbecue, which was also near our cottage. (I don’t think we got out much during our stay on Boracay.) The restaurant was run by the same people who owned the Singing Cooks and Waiters Atbp. restaurants in Manila, and if they weren’t so concerned about providing fast fuss-free food service in Boracay, our waiters would have gladly displayed their vocal chops.

After stuffing myself and feeling like I didn’t belong in a bikini anymore, Marielle and I had coffee at Cafe del Sol, where the three guys joined us. We gabbed until midnight, when our internal Cinderella decided to go home. I had decided to wake up extra early. After all, we were leaving Boracay at 8am and I didn’t want to waste every last second I had on the island.

To be continued…

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Boracay, Day and Night 2

(Note: Sorry for the suspense. I like my weekends tech-free these days. Ü)

view from my cottage balconyI woke up disoriented and wondering where I was. Then I realized I still had sand between my toes. I got out of bed while the rest of my family was still sleeping. It was 5:30am, but the sun had already crept up behind us. The sky was grey, the beach was deserted, and nobody was around except for the delivery truck that passed under our private cottage balcony as I emerged from its sliding doors.

CocomangasI went off for a walk up the beach and managed to see a few of the more famous sights on Station 1: Cocomangas, Fridays (with the best-kept sand on Boracay), and some private property owned by the Elizalde family. Okay, so I only saw their beachfronts and fences, but it was a great walk anyway. splendor spoiled by styrofoam and algaeOn my way back, however, I also saw the more infamous sights of an overpopulated beach: green algae clouding the clear water (their enthusiasm for growth is encouraged by island sewage seeping into the ocean), and human refuse poking out of the sand and floating in the water. Boracay is no unspoiled paradise, and I walked back to the cottage with a heavy heart.

Marielle and me on the boatAunt Gel had booked an island-hopping tour for our three families, so we all got into a small motor-driven roofed boat with skids on the sides and made our way out to sea. We went to this island but didn’t disembark because of the huge waves crashing on its beach. Then we came to a supposed snorkeling area, where I got into the water. The coral wasn’t very well kept and the colors weren’t even vibrant, and the only fish there were fingerlings. I was charged twenty pesos as a snorkeling fee, but the fee was collected by this man paddling a canoe. I don’t really know where that money goes because the place wasn’t even impressive. (In other words, I really mean to cry “Corruption!”)

Puka Beach signThe best part of the island-hopping deal was landing on Puka Beach. It was actually back on Boracay, but on the other side of the island. Though the sand wasn’t as fine, the spit of beach was short, and the waves were stronger, it was a tranquil escape from the main beach’s commercialization and green algae. The off-season for the main beach lasts from July to September, since that side of the island is lashed by the seasonal winds known as Habagat. Puka Beach, however, is perfect at that time of year.

We got back to the main beach after lunch. I had my hair done in cornrows, and also got a temporary glitter tattoo at the Glimmer Art booth near our cottage. Marielle and I sunbathed for a while, then watched the sun slip beneath the waves. And then it was time for dinner. A resort called Ban’s also runs an ihaw-ihaw on the beachfront, so we had some broiled fish and pork for dinner. The food was great but the music was loud and terrible.

Marielle and me at Lemon CafeAfter dinner, Marielle and I went to explore d*Mall in Station 2. It’s a commercial district populated by restaurants, souvenir shops, and clothing stores with its own plaza. We discovered the Lemon Cafe and had its specialty Belgian chocolate flourless. We wanted to make plans to bring the parents back there, but it wasn’t to be: they were leaving ahead of us early the next morning.

To be continued…

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