Unreal

A friend reminded me yesterday that we are now entering the second month of the year. Late last year, we put our heads together to come up with a grand adventure for 2015. That adventure’s around the corner now, in a month and a half’s time, and it’s about to catch me unawares.

Anyway, last December, we went on a road trip and spent Christmas around some islands in Zambales.

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Cold Christmas

Did a couple of personality profiles for Rogue magazine in the last stretch of the year. The first was on TV personality Tessie Tomas for the November issue, second was on master musician Joey Ayala for the Jan-Feb issue. Pretty neat.

Spent the latter half of the Christmas season dodging friends and acquaintances, choosing to hermit out instead. Christmas eve found me in the heart of Ortigas, in one of em fancy hotels.

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The ubiquitous security guards were whipping out their phones and snapping photos of the fog-topped buildings. A pretty rare sight for this tropical country, I guess. This might have been the coldest Christmas in recent memory.

Walked around the eerily quiet business district in the last hours of December 24. Few stragglers were hurriedly closing up shops to grab the last bus or train to get home and be with their families. Even the hobos were mysteriously missing from their sleeping spots in parking lots. Hopefully, somewhere out of the cold.

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I bought a bottle of expensive wine from the mall and cheap whole roasted chicken near the bus terminal before heading back to the hotel. The men manning the chicken shop were getting drunk on gin because they were spending their Christmas working the coals instead of with their families. I bought them a bag of hard boiled eggs from a nearby store and they wished me a good one.

Back in the fancy hotel, I sat on the carpeted floor in front of the window overlooking the flickering city lights and ate the greasy chicken with my hands. I would check out the next day and spend Christmas on the road with my family, to get lost in various islands until after the New Year rolled around.

Got a text right before Christmas though. I ignored most holiday greetings, but this one in particular caught me off guard–

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In the Fast Lane

Been up to my back teeth in busy since I quit my job. Lots of projects lining up– not all of them paying, mind. But I’m happier now. I think, if I can just maintain this steady cruise, everything’s going to be all right. Shit’s exciting.

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It’s all Good

Last week, I quit my job on a whim and ran away to Baguio with no friends, no plans.

It was a good run. Now I’m back. Not really in any rush to find another job though.

Might try to spend the rest of the year living off the land and random rackets.

Fantasizing about the day I become ridiculously rich so I can built a giant statue of my middle finger and install it in EDSA for everyone to see.

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The Little Things

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Don’t Go Gently

Last Friday, my dad told me Apple stopped producing iPods. I didn’t get it at first. Why would Apple stop making those ubiquitous, overpriced music players? Everyone and their moms has it. Through its many iterations, the iPod is one of those things that defined the past decade. If National Geographic makes a documentary special on the 2000’s, you know it’s going to spend a nice half hour discussing the cultural game changer that is the iPod.

Myself, I never had one. I was never one of those early adapters. I like my cutting edge technology freshly blunted, just a bit late to the party, bragging that slightly uncool hipster cred.

I entered the late 90’s rocking an unbranded 125mb Chinese mp3 player, powered by a single triple A battery. It could fit 15 tracks tops, but I came from a time of discmans and every CD I owned held 12 tracks. 15 seemed like a luxury. My friends with their 5gig iPods could barely listen to all their collected music.

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I told myself that I would never need that much music at any one time. Unless a cataclysm befalls the world and the very fabric of modern society crumbles, I could always go back to my computer and compile a new playlist.

My cheapo mp3 player was stolen somewhere in Shaw Boulevard one fateful night. I hope the thief at least enjoyed my meager collection of underground Pinoy hiphop and ska. The player itself was cheap, so it was easy enough to head to the mall and buy myself another, slightly more pricey mp3 player.

I got myself a 4gig RCA Opal mp3 player. Besides my college education, I swear it is the best thing I spent money on.

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This thing has been with me for 8 years and just keeps chugging. I’ve been around the country, gone to New York and Beijing with this little solider by my side. Once, it fell into a lake but I got it out and it still works. I’ve gone jogging in really bad weather with this in my hand, no protective plastic, and it’s still good. In Ilo-ilo, I was in a whirlwind of a tricycle ride when this thing fell out my pocket without my knowing. The only reason I haven’t lost it was because the ear buds were still in my ears. The player survived getting dragged face down through rough provincial asphalt. It’s not the prettiest music player in the world, but it’s tough as nails.

Once every month, I sit down and format the player, deleting all the music so I can build a new playlist. I found a sort of zen in that, figuring which track goes with which, which artist should follow one another. On my way around the city, I listen to music in the order that I compiled it. No skipping tracks, and only occasionally repeating the last song if it’s particularly good.

More than once, I’ve been asked why I haven’t gotten the newest iPod, or a new phone. I never found the need for those. This beat up music player is serviceable, and that’s all I need.

I might never understand this generation’s thirst for more features, more apps. I broke my phone recently and had to buy a new one. Friends were telling me to get a good phone, something with the best features– something with games, a HD camera, a media player, ebook reader. But see, all I need is a phone. I need to send and receive calls and texts. I already have a really good shockproof, waterproof camera, a sturdy mp3 player, and my books. Why do I need a Swiss knife type of gadget?

So I picked up the cheapest Nokia android, to the amusement of people around me.

When my dad told me about the end of iPod production, I felt a tremor in the Force. I heard the death toll of the single-purpose device and realized that if something should happen to my mp3 player, there might no longer be any other mp3 players on the market to replace it. God help me, I might have to listen to music on my phone.

I went to three malls to have salespeople look at me in confusion when I asked if they still carried mp3 players. The last place I went to had their last three mp3 players on display. They had no intention of stocking any more. So I got myself a preemptive 4gig Sony walkman before the end of the world.

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