Tuesday, July 10, 2007

harry potter frenzy

movie comes out tomorrow, the book on friday.
this week should be made harry potter week!

until we meet again

who knew.pink
If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them up
Cause they're all wrong

I'll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
And I won't forget you my friend
What happened?

Friday, July 06, 2007

An Hour of Waiting

Her name is Mancenido. I jotted it down on my notebook in case I forget it, which, for reasons I still couldn't quite grasp, has been a frequent hobby of mine lately. I didn't even bother with her first name. She had made such a lousy impression on me I simply didn't think it mattered. Well, that is, until we last met.

She wore a velvet black top that dove down in a V to emphasize her fair hued chest. It was a rather loose fit, and my keen eyes smirkingly spotted the glint of metal lodged at the point of the V – a sliver of a safety pin to keep her blouse from showing what was more than necessary. In her profession, decency was as crucial as it goes.

“We will not be having our discussion today,” she said through the cheers that erupted. “Your class is one meeting ahead of my other Rizal classes and mas maganda kung sabay-sabay na lang kayo. Ang hirap kayang gumawa ng prelim exam 'pag 'di sabay-sabay!

I sat in my chair, wearing what I hoped was an expression of indifference. It wasn't exactly a treat to spend two hours in the humid weather outside waiting for 3 pm – your last class for the day – to arrive just to find out that the class was canceled, was it?

“Let's just wait for the checker and then you can all go. In the meantime, kwentuhan muna.

Terrific. Just what I needed. An hour's worth of more waiting. God bless the Philippines. Sighing, I took out my phone, made replies to messages I got about three hours earlier, and left them to it.

To my puzzlement, my classmates seem to have grown a liking for her as, minutes into the 'kwentuhan', I heard giggles and snorts here and there. Then again, that puzzlement may have been a bit too biased. Don't get me wrong. She's really intelligent, I can tell. Put her in a game show and she'll probably answer the questions faster than the host could read them aloud. But the way she taught, people with lesser attention span than me would positively end up in torpor (and that's saying something, as my attention span resembles that of Dory's). Well, that's the way she taught Rizal, as far as I am concerned.

I was busy shutting all of them out, letting my eyes glaze and swim out of focus when she started writing an acronym on the white board: VMOKRAPI. Vision / Mission / Objective / Key Result A-whatever / Progress I-whatnot. I couldn't even remember the whole thing, for the life of me. But it was apparently our term project, and I supposed I was going to be hearing more of it sooner or later so I was safe. For the time being, at least. She wanted us to make a time line of our goals up till we reach 20(!) years our senior.

Bonus na nga 'yan eh!” she said. “'Di kayo babagsak. 'Di naman p'wedeng,” she made a face and furious scribbling motions, grading a nonexistent paper, Pangit.. ang.. dreams.. mo.. Sixty-five. An antic that immediately earned gales of laughter from each row. I admitted it was pretty funny. I laughed. Then stared. Then listened. Oh yes, I actually listened to the 'kwentuhan'.

She took out a fat wallet – no, more like an obese one, and from it procured a folded piece of moss green paper. She splayed out for us the little square paper (side measurements: 3-4 inches max), on which were printed words only somebody the size of Tinker Bell could've written.

It was her own VMOKRAPI (Oh. So that's why she wears glasses?) The thing probably had no less than 200 words and she made the smallest possible yet still legible copy so she could stick it in her wallet and read it at those times. Read it whenever she has doubts about or tires of the track her life was rolling on; read it some more to remind her of the conviction she felt when she wrote those same words... OK. So she didn't actually say that. I was just being my usual put-some-drama-in-it self. Her drift was dramatic in itself, in any case. Touche was actually the first word that entered my mind. But then, I was never one to plan how twenty years of my life would span out, so I wasn't at all relative to those who know without doubt what they want to be once mid-life crisis strikes. I could only imagine the amount of pride they feel after the achievement of a (very) long term goal, or, if otherwise, what terrible disappointment it must be.

I did have my fair share of accomplishments, mind. Acing grade school, receiving a few academic awards, managing to get into one of the most recognized universities in the country. But those accomplishments didn't seem to matter much then. I don't see how they would start now. Disappointments were everywhere, but I tried not to think much of them either. See, somehow, I've evolved to be the cynic, the sarcastic, and the unbeliever. The point of being a control freak (i.e. writing a packed schedule for the next fifty years of your life in one of those heavy and sleek Starbucks planner) lost me somewhere in the Jurassic Period. So what unbiased puzzlement I had left surfaced when I began listening in rapt attention to her life plans.

At twenty-three, she was done with her MA, was teaching university, and plans to take her PhD next year. All in perfect order, she told. I couldn't help feeling a slight twinge of envy as I mentally reviewed my life: twenty years old, still in Uni, and wouldn't be out of it until the next national election. Or, until my mom has had enough of sending me to school, whichever comes first.

“Did you know, class, that there is this study that says 'If you don't make your first million when you're thirty, then you're never gonna make one'?”


I actually panicked underneath. I desperately wanted to make my first million bucks before I turned thirty-one. Seriously!

After the shock, she justified that when you're thirty, you start to have more responsibilities, like having a family of your own for instance. The million need not be in $$$cash$$$ either, real assets are also accounted for. And, of course, it was just a study some silly researcher did. However scholarly they were when it comes to statistics or whatever research license god gave them, that doesn't make their (stupid) study a universal fact of life. It wasn't something like two plus two equals four, no. And it was most foolish of me not to have thought so. But it affected me somehow. I kind of figured then, inside me, that I had to have that million come 2017. And although I realized that 2017 would only give me seven years after college, I still felt this thirst to prove something. And just like that, I – cynical, sarcastic and unbelieving – had set my first goal in my own VMOKRAPI.

Everybody was so absorbed in her stories I didn’t think any one of us actually saw the checker come and do his job. She talked about taking her sweet time finishing her MA while her contemporaries crammed each semester with as much subjects as permissible. She wondered why they were in such a hurry to graduate when “ang saya-saya kayang mag-aral!” She worked while studying (because that was how she wrote her VMOKRAPI), while also learning German at yet another school. She looked well enough like she came from an upper class family that I laughed when she joked about her mom lecturing her exasperatedly when she, for the nth time, asked her for tuition fee for German school. It was a joke, wasn’t it?

She mentioned opportunities here and abroad that she was looking at once she finished her PhD. It all sounded so fascinating that for a few minutes, I considered changing career paths and imagining the grandiose of having a PhD as my ammo in the complex art of job hunting.

Masaklap s’ya,” was how she described her first job. She had opted for office work over the perpetually growing bandwagon of telemarketing in the country, and in turn faced the horror of being the newbie (not to mention freshie out of Uni). She was told to prepare the menus of the meetings, do six sets of Xerox copies of this and that, and such other trivialities my little brother is perfectly capable of doing. Neither did she receive the simplest thank you for her tasks well done.

I’m not entirely sure if she had said it or it was just a product of my almighty brain (specifically the part that is responsible for over the head imagination), but I thought I heard that her boss, who by the way she said had female canine tendencies, ordered her to make her (boss) a cup of coffee. She had to remind herself that her college degree wasn't limited to just fixing the superiors up some brewed beans. I thought it resembled somehow the initiation they traditionally do on neophytes in fraternities, minus of course the physical pain. She resigned the morning after a particularly heated argument with her boss. Apparently, it involved a line said in incredulity to her: “Where is your logic?!” To think that between the two of them, Mancenido was the one with the philosophy major. Talk about barking (pun intended) up the wrong tree.

One of the most condescending maxims in Philippine history was also dropped to her once by a colleague. “Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ‘ko.” To which she replied smartly, “Tama ka nga. Pero ‘yung napuntahan mo lalagpasan ko pa.” Wow. Did this girl invent the phrase ‘bring it’ or what? I don’t think I am yet in the possession of razor-sharp wits and sarcasm that are required to come up with retorts like that. Or indeed, the confidence to actually say that to someone who substantially has more words in their resume. It was a tad disrespectful of her, yes, but what the hell, being haughty and condescending is nowhere near saintly either.

The twinge of envy I had felt for her before was replaced with a surge of pride as I etched the words in my mind, subconsciously preparing for when I myself would have to utter the same stinging come back. Bring it on.

Alas, it was time to go, the hour was up. And what a surprising hour it turned out to be. It wasn't such a waste of time as I had expected to be after all, I actually thought I learned more in the past hour than in all the dragging meetings I had with my Philosophy teacher for a whole semester altogether. And I wanted to say that exactly to her as I passed her table on the way out but somehow the cat got my tongue. It bit it, stomped on it, flattened it, crapped on it and still my smile refused to come off. It plastered itself on my face like some heavy duty spellotape. I realized that my respect for the person whose first name I had deemed more immaterial than the exact location of Timbuktu has just gone up and through the CS roof.