To Twenty-O-Nine

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2009 by planetchuckie

Yes, it’s true. You were a bitch.

You plagued us with tragedies, bombarded us with schizophrenic weather, and took away so many good people. And even in your last few days, you almost managed to vanquish what’s left of my Christmas spirit. Fuck. You.

But nevertheless, I still can’t help but be thankful for a number of things: For the blessings both disguised and otherwise that you managed to bestow, for the countless memorable and tweetable moments, for the new places I’ve seen, and for the interesting people I’ve met.

Yeah, so maybe you weren’t such an insufferable motherfucker in that department after all. I’m giving you that.

Now, as you slowly draw to a close, I look back at you with a strong sense of fulfillment, for being able to survive your drama with my sanity intact. I’m greeting the new year – not with baskets of round fruits nor tacky polka dotted shirts – but with high hopes and anticipation for better days ahead.

Happy New Year, Folks.  Let’s make it happen this 2010! 🙂

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Pulling a Rico Yan

Posted in Celebrities, goodbyes, Music, tributes with tags , , on October 12, 2009 by planetchuckie

 There goes another part of my childhood.

Stephen Gately, the former Boyzone member who made headlines when he came out as gay in 1999, died last Saturday while vacationing in Mallorca, Spain.  He was only 33.

 The circumstances surrounding the Irish singer’s death are strikingly similar to Rico Yan’s: (1.) He was last seen partying the night before; (2.) He went back to his apartment drunk; and (3.) He fell into a deep sleep from which he would never wake up. Sources found no signs of foul play and declared that he died of “natural causes”.  

 I was never a rabid fan of his vocals, ditto for his band’s remake-laden discography. But his voice was part of what made Boyzone distinct. It had character. Without him, the band might as well have been known as Ronan and Friends. Stephen was the face of Boyzone, yet at the same time, he also seemed to be its most fragile member – like he was reluctant to be in the spotlight. But that fragility translated into strength with the bold decisions he made in his career, from his lukewarm solo effort in 2000 to his subsequent foray into theater years later.

RIP, Mr. Gately. You’ll be missed.

Improvised Sushi Fail

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2009 by planetchuckie

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Like, OMFG!

Posted in Random Thoughts, tv shows, Uncategorized with tags , on September 24, 2009 by planetchuckie

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Forgive me, but I just don’t get Gossip Girl. (Yet, there I was in the show’s Season 3 launch at Aquaknox. Go figure.)

For me to enduge a single episode, you’d have to tie me to a chair, strap my hands and feet, and force my eyes open with hooks just like the  Ludovico treatment in A Clockwork Orange. The show’s just not my cup of tea. Heck, it’s not my cup of anything.

I don’t find it awful. I just feel that life is dramatic enough as it is and gossiping is already something that pervades our daily lives, from school to family and yes, work. Our bosses do it, our neighbors do it,  and even our relatives do it.

So what makes this show any different? (Well, aside from that omnipotent narrator who XOXO’s her way through every episode).

Of course, we know why this show is such a guilty pleasure, aside from its staggeringly photogenic lead stars. It appeals to the tsismoso and tsismosa in all of us. Whenever we find ourselves “accidentally” eavesdropping on two people talking about Mr. So-and-So’s weeknight shenanigans, we  can’t help but listen. And when we listen, naturally, we want more.  It’s a vicious cycle. It’s entertaining – even more entertaining than enduring the moronic plot twists of Tayong Dalawa, only for Kim Chiu’s character to die under medically-erroneous circumstances.

Oh, and speaking of local telenovelas, don’t we just get a kick out of seeing people who are more popular, good-looking or successful than us attacking each other? Or better yet, dish about the skeletons in each other’s closets? It gets even worse when it becomes an unreliable source of self-assurance, when we start thinking: “Hey, maybe my life isn’t as f*cked up as Mr. So-and-So’s after all.”

We love to be entertained. We love drama.

Just as long as it isn’t our own drama. 

That is all.

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XOXO.

Drenched

Posted in Plays on September 20, 2009 by planetchuckie

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Imagine an apocalyptic world where all sinners wear leather, politicians look like Gloria, and Sam Concepcion is God. That’s where the story begins in Trumpets’ N.O.A.H. (No Ordinary Aquatic Habitat)

In this modern, musical retelling of the famous biblical tale, Noah (stage veteran Carlo Orosa), is handpicked by God to build an ark for being the only righteous man left on Earth. Going on board with him are his gastronomically-inept wife (stage actress Sheila Francisco) and his three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth (real-life brothers Marek, Enzo and Luis Sison). And of course, we all know what follows.

 As far as cutesy kiddie productions go, this one feels like a school play. The show’s at its best when it gets the audience involved (pre-selected members are made to wear animal masks and pose as extras onstage), and at its worst in its feeble attempts at puns (The ark’s resident pigs are named Chi Charone and Bob Boy. Get it? Bob Boy?).

 But amidst all the cloying pageantry, the show still manages to conjure up a smile or two. And the real scene-stealers are the talented Sison brothers, who could all pass as shrunken Rayver Cruz clones.

 N.O.A.H. (No Ordinary Aquatic Habitat): Now showing at Meralco Theater from September 4 to 27. Watch it with the kids.

He’s Like the Wind

Posted in Celebrities, goodbyes, movies, tributes on September 15, 2009 by planetchuckie

Patrick Swayze is gone, after his long, valiant  battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

Patrick was the definitive heartthrob.

He exemplified masculine grace in Dirty Dancing, swept people away as the wayward spirit in Ghost, and surprised us when he wore tons of make-up as a drag queen in To Wong Foo.

And even in his final role in the short-lived TV series, The Beast, Patrick showed his dedication to his craft in spite of his deteriorating health.

He was, is, and will always be a modern legend. The likes of which we will never see again.

So long, Patrick Swayze.

We hope you had the Time of Your Life.

Ode to a Grandmother’s Love

Posted in Family, tributes with tags , , , on September 13, 2009 by planetchuckie

[NOTE: This piece was published as “Ode to a Lola’s Love” in Philippine Star’s Grandparents’ Day special. I always kept asking Lola in Heaven to help me get my first major writing gig. I never thought that her answer would be this literal. Miss you, Lola!]

September 10, 2009

Today is my Lola Perla’s birthday.

Today, she would have turned 85.

 It’s been more than one year since she went away peacefully in her sleep; one year since that rainy Saturday morning when we found her lying on her bed, looking so calm and serene in her deep, peaceful slumber. My heart was racing as I gently tried to wake her up, my voice trembling as I whispered her name. But through it all, I couldn’t help but notice her face, how it looked so incredibly tranquil, almost like a still pond. And that smile. That smile. She looked so happy and fulfilled, that I could not help but feel the same for her. It was then when I realized – and reluctantly accepted – that our beloved Lola Perla has passed on. She has joined God.

 Yes, it’s been more than one year, but I still feel as if she never left. Her soothing scent still lingers in the room where she used to stay; her smile still embedded in my mind. Every trinket in her bedroom oozes with vivid memories of her – the old ash tray which she stopped using at age 76, her Jergens-smudged deck of cards she played for her afternoon rounds of solitaire, a notebook which she filled from cover to cover with handwritten family recipes, and a sheet of paper containing the lyrics to The Nearness of You – her favorite song, and, for that matter, the only one she was willing to sing.

 It’s impossible to forget a kind, loving person like Lola Perla. She was a steadfast woman who, along with her beloved husband Zosing (whom I never met because he passed away a few months before I was born), raised seven exceptional children – five girls, two boys – in their humble Malate abode. In some ways, they were like Manila’s answer to the Von Trapp family, and in Lola’s case, she was both Maria and the Captain. She exuded warmth and affection, but she was also stern as a rock when the situation called for it. It’s no wonder why one of my Titas kept referring to her as “The Emotional Rock”.

 More importantly, she was a woman who took on a prominent role in raising me and my younger brother. She was my second mother in the absence of my father, and the devoted homemaker while my mother spent her long hours in the office. She would always wake up at 3:00am to cook our breakfast, and then wake me up at 5:30am to prepare me for school. And whenever I arrived, I always had a taste of her trademark strictness every time she helped me with my homework. I used to refer to her as my “terror tutor”. Since math was one family skill I never fully acquired, she never failed to guide me through every single equation.  Much of my elementary academic success, I owe to her patience and vigilance. I learned a lot from Lola Perla – the value of hard work, the power of prayer, and the importance of family, among many other things. She always kept reminding me, “Chuckie, your Mama loves you very much”.

 As years passed, she started to mellow down. She was no longer my “terror tutor”, but she was still every inch the “Makulit na Lola” we all came to love. She was the one who would always ask me “Anong oras tayo magsisimba? (What time will we hear mass?)” at the end of every week and “Pasado ka ba sa lahat ng subjects mo? (Did you pass all your subjects?)” at the end of every academic term. 

 I could go on enumerating my countless memories with Lola Perla, from the way she would firmly grip my arm for support while walking to church to her surprising familiarity with Britney Spears.  But one thing’s for sure, Lola loved our entire family more than any way that we could ever imagine.  

 Losing a grandparent is no different from losing any other loved one. It always begins with that sense of denial, followed by that ubiquitous period of grief, and – probably the most excruciating – that feeling of emptiness and void. But then, it’s also rather bittersweet whenever an elder member of the family passes on. We feel a sense of accomplishment of a life well lived, and a sense of legacy whenever a new member of the family is introduced. When Lola died, my cousin’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. And just like that, our mourning transformed to joy, as we welcomed the newest addition to our already large clan.  It simply reminded me of what life essentially is – an endless cycle. With every inevitable end, there’s always a new beginning.  

 In moments when I really miss Lola most, I simply look back at one of the conversations we had when I was a kid. Lola, being one of the first people to tell me about angels, said, “You know, Chuckie, when I become an angel, I will keep coming back from heaven to visit you”, to which I naively answered, “OK. But Lola, I don’t want you to have wings”. And with a smile, she simply said, “Then I will remove my wings”.

 For years, I’ve pondered on the relevance of that conversation. But now, it dawned on me. Lola Perla never needed to sprout wings in the first place.

 She was always our angel. And I believe that she still is.

 Happy Birthday, Lola Perla!