Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Blog Rounds Christmas Edition: Romance On A Christmas Eve

Christmas is undeniably one of the most romantic days of the year. If one has to perform a task needing the approval of his object, it is best that he schedules this on a Christmas season. Many fights among friends are supposedly resolved on a Christmas day, and many become couples on the occasion of the yuletide. Romantic, indeed.

I am a romance buster, and friends who know me quite well will attest to this; pragmatism is probably part of my first name. But I was not born this way. When I was a lot younger, I was more optimistic, more unguarded, more willing to embrace the world with my bare arms, not knowing that doing so does not sear the skin, but the unsuspecting soul.

I was a doe-eyed medical clerk at one time in my life. We were rotating with the OB-Gynecology department during the holidays on an every other day basis. I was not quite sure what got me to come up to my groupmates and request that I want to go on duty on a Christmas Eve.

Incredulous looks were thrown at me. Why?

My answer: This is my first Christmas in the wards. I want to savor the experience of delivering a baby on the same moment that the Christ was supposedly born eons ago. My groupmates reciprocated with knowing smiles. (They would have probably said "Sucker!" if they liked me less.)

And so I got the schedule that I wanted. As it turned out, there was hardly any romance during that Christmas Eve duty. For one, I delivered a young baby boy not on a 12 midnight, but on 8 am the following day. (Spoiler, that little boy.) Second, there was not much work that time, so all my wretched illusions of covering for my colleagues and "holding the fort", so to speak, on a very important day of the year went down the drain. The reality is, I am just a medical clerk who went on duty on a Christmas Eve.
(Picture of The Nativity from this site.)

But I am not sorry. I may have seemed foolish, but the experience pulled me back to earth. When one is duty-bound, there is no such thing as a special day, not even Christmas, New year, Valentines Day or Easter Sunday. That is how it is; thus it is quite puzzling that big TV networks make a big fuss out of this and feature people who "work even on a Christmas" --- pertaining to policemen, journalists, health workers, among others.

This little incident, as well as many more instances, have turned me into an unromantic person that I am right now. It does not mean, though, that I have totally sworn off romance...

...for if I did, why would I be writing this post in time for Christmas? :P

Merry Christmas, y'all!

This is my submission to The Blog Rounds Christmas edition, hosted by Dra. Ness (thank you so much.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Last Song Syndrome 5: Any Major Dude Will Tell You (Steely Dan), every Sunday...almost

Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine
The people on the street have all seen better times
- Steely Dan, Any Major Dude Will Tell You

Sunday would have been my most favorite day of the week. Sunday evokes memories of yore, and it is not once that I have talked about this, for I have some of my Sunday recollections tucked here. I remember my late mother and her nilagang baka and daing na bangus with sugar (ask a Capampangan and he'd know what I mean). I remember my father and the hours he spent watching undubbed Chinese movies (actors in theater make-up and traditional Chinese costumes), Jeanne Young's Spin-A-Win, and his weekly gig at the San Lazaro Hippodrome. I remember my sister sneaking out of the house and playing with the neighbors' kids. My brother was too young to remember that we used to carry him around the house and we certainly adored his cute face to bits. This is how I remember some of the best Sundays of my life.

Sadly, Sunday heralds both the end and start of a week, the end and the start of a chapter of life. It sucks when good times have to end, and even though we know at the back of our minds that tomorrow bears the promise of another good day, somehow we just cannot let go. Does it make sense then that Sunday, to me, is both my most and least favorite day of the week?

And for this reason, I delegate Saturday as my most favorite day instead. The rationale is less tortuous. But I digress.

Sunday is the same day that I associate some of the most poignant songs I have ever listened to in my lifetime. Frank Sinatra is one of my father's favorites, and every Sunday his songs were staples in our phonograph. So were Paul Anka, Connie Francis, and Shirley Bassey, all playing no end, melodies of love found and love gone filling our little home, much to my, uhmmm, dismay. I wanted more contemporary songs, but of course, the elders won. It was not until many years later that I learned to appreciate Ol' Blue Eyes and company.

A few years later, I would learn about Steely Dan. No one in the house ever listened to Steely Dan. Too bad, for I feel that the mood of almost every Steely Dan song match the general childhood Sunday mood. Happy but not, bittersweet for the most part. If I will allow it, I could, right now, turn into a squonk, but this is not the whole point of living...not even living a memory. Life is all about moving on.

So yes, I have the makings of a squonk, in a sense. In times of melancholy, one may find me standing stoically (probably in some forest in Pennsylvania, where the squonks come from), and one may see a pool of tears within the vicinity. But unlike a squonk, I do not dissolve with the tears. I am just there, wearing my usual wistful smile, and one would not even know that it was I who has shed tears....

(picture of squonk from this site)

Friday, November 28, 2008


The best word to illustrate the status of my multiple affairs, until last week, is a deadlock. Impasse also appears to describe the state of my blogging affair, for this site at least.
But I'm working on them all. A ray of accomplishment beamed last week during the convention and I could not be more inspired to do more. So, patience please. :) And like I always assure myself, everything's gonna be alright.

About the image: I tried to look for a rather, creative, take on the definition of impasse. What could be a better term than cul-de-sac? Educational, yes? Photo from this site.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Last Song Syndrome 4: Soundgarden (Spoonman), circa 2000 (and as long as Ariel is around)

"Feel the rhythm with your hands
Steal the rhythm while you can, Spoonman
Speak the rhythm on your own
Speak the rhythm all alone, Spoonman"

- Soundgarden, "Spoonman"
A few days have passed and I am already itching to put up this post, while another topic remains to be written. But pardon my apparent misappriopriation of priorities, I just cannot help it.

I am obviously writing this piece with Ariel in mind. Ariel is this extremely fascinating man whom I met many years ago in this country's premiere catchbasin of both common and exotic orthopaedic cases (but I'm biased :D). He's good-looking, his academic performance is impressive, but it is his artistic tendencies that make him interesting in my book. (Give me my roundtrip ticket to London, Ariel. Right now!)

We had the chance to be together in this little party band in the workplace. More accurately, I had the chance to be included in this band that saw yearly reincarnations: members come and go. And with a reason: this band was made up of resident orthopaedic physicians, who do come and go, perpetually in academic transit.

The party band played songs that would suit the preference (and the capability) of the majority. I was the band's weakest player, hands down, and I was assigned to what Ariel termed as the "pidgin bass guitar". On the other hand, he did lead guitar. We played twice; both were hospital parties, where people got wasted and could not care less if our playing sucked or what. The repertoire was predominantly '80s music: Modern English, The Police circa '80s, U2 circa '80s. Mostly lightweight, with Ariel providing some alagwa via brief, restrained, understated guitar solos.

The reality, though, is that Ariel must have wanted to play heavier stuff, and I wished then that I could play just as well, because it is him whose musical taste is most similar to mine. It was quite frustrating on my part because I was far from being a competent musician.

Once he brought his electric guitar. I believe it was a weekend. We camped in a room and after a while he started playing that familiar riff.

Me: Spooooonman! Come together with your hands!

Will you teach me how to play Spoonman? I begged Ariel, and in the next half an hour or so, there I was, struggling with the chords (no thanks to my lazy fingers) while he guided me using an acoustic guitar. It was a scene that made me seem pathetic, but at the same time I was glad it was Ariel who was teaching me how to play....

And since then, everytime we'd see each other in the corridors, or in the wards, or the quarters, we'd find ourselves blurting "Spoonman!", while everybody else wondered what that was about.


Recently, after a long while, Ariel resurfaced in my life. I have been looking for him for quite sometime, so suffice to say that finding him made me more than glad. Ariel, for me, is a great reminder of how happy my life was some 8 to 9 years ago. And as long as he's around, Spoonman will always play in my mind. Cheers, Ariel!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Last Song Syndrome 3: Echobelly (Insomniac), November 1, 2008 to present

"I think you ought to know,
I think we've lost control dear,
Whatever turned you on,
You put it up your nose dear,
And though the feeling was sublime,
I think we're running out of time,
'Cos when you found it, you'd fix it,
Then lose it and then you'd go."

- Echobelly, "Insomniac"
I have been away, and didn't realise that I have been for quite sometime until this weekend. It's been busy, quite so.

I am, for a good part of my life, an insomniac, and as such I posted this song as an obvious reference. Lately, I have been playing this song more often than usual.

At the moment this song reminds me of two persons. Both are getting to be frequent companions of late, though in different mediums. To state the reason why would be a little sticky for both. Forego the nice stories then.

Suffice to say, one of them would know why this post is being written; the other has practically no idea.

To both of you: Have you really lost control?

Learn more about Echobelly here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Blog Rounds 22: A Legacy

More often than not, I get to receive beautiful gifts that come straight from the heart. Even those so-called "generic gifts", I consider as heartfelt; it is a lot better to look at it that way. I love opening gifts, but at the same time I do not mind not receiving any gifts. This is just one of the many paradoxes of my disposition.

I remember someone whom I used to think was the worst person to ever receive a gift. I am talking about my late mother, who always left me exasperated during Christmas and her birthday. Not once did I see her happy with my gifts. In fact, I could hardly remember any instance when she was completely satisfied with what I did, ever. My mother was probably the most generous person around, lending help in any form to her less fortunate friends, unconditionally. I received some of the best material gifts from her, and so did my siblings. My mother was a very beautiful person, but she was also the worst recipient of gifts that came specifically from me. And for many years, I was, in a way, sore....

Mom and I, Recognition Day, many many years ago

Then again, my mother was not one to openly express her appreciation. This I would fully learn and understand weeks after her death, when we were fixing some of her stuff.

My mother kept all the things I gave her, all the letters I wrote her. She kept all my awards when I was still in primary and secondary school, and all clippings that bore my name. My sister, who lived with my mom during the last few years of her life, told me that she talked about me with pride to her young grandchildren. (No wonder these kids initially wanted to be doctors. It was brainwash!)

My mother, it seemed, gave a lot of herself, and kept a lot to herself at the same time. And for me, this is probably her last and best gift - her legacy - that she left before she stepped out of this world. Love, definitely, goes beyond the act of physical gift-giving ... and yes, it is best expressed without words.


This is my submission to The Blog Rounds 22nd edition, whose theme is The Gift, hosted by the rising star Merricherri.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Last Song Syndrome 2: Ace Of Spades (Motorhead), On Perpetual LSS

"You know I'm born to lose
and gambling is for fools,
But that's the way I like it baby,
I don't want to live forever,
and don't forget the joker!"

- Motorhead, "Ace Of Spades"

Ace Of Spades, arguably Motorhead's signature song, is one of those tunes that would figure repetitively in my life's confused soundtrack.

When I was a lot younger and wet behind the ears, I could not - pity my sparse exposure and knowledge - tell the difference between punk and metal music. They all sounded the same to me: furious guitars, furious tempo, furious vocals. Not wanting to risk ridicule from friends listening to these types of music, I embarked on an arduous self-study, getting hold of music magazines, fanzines, cassette tapes purchased from the bowels of Recto, or fringes of Kamias ...

... and during my research, I chanced upon a video on television. You see, during program lulls, RPN-9 would show pre-MTV videos of artists the likes of Billy Joel, Blondie, and Queen. It was a hot summer afternoon, and on the TV was Motorhead.

Motorhead. Didn't I read somewhere that the late Dee Dee Ramone counted Motorhead, and the Ramones of course, as the only two bands that are " any good"? Dee Dee must have meant it in earnest, for here was a band that was tearing my eardrums to smithereens. A man named Lemmy was spitting word after word as he grimaced on the mic, his bass guitar pounding ominously in the process. The guitar was blaring, creating a sense of alarm throughout the song. I was practically blown away.

Fantastic song, kick-ass band. I never forgot the video.


Many years later, I listened to a good deal of Motorhead songs, but Ace Of Spades will always be one of my most enduring LSS.

Recently, it has been playing in my mind over and over, once more.

One early evening, I came home from work. As I was getting off my car, I heard someone talk.

"You have been busy lately."

I turned and saw a fiftyish graying but hefty gentleman walking his tiny terrier. He was smiling as he spoke, lighting up his dark eyes and lifting the corners of his moustache in the process.

"Yes," I acknowledged. "Workload is getting heavier."

He nodded, and we both muttered "Good evening" as I walked towards the building where I live.

But I had to walk fast, because I was afraid that the gentleman - my neighbour - might see that an impish grin was starting to spread on my face. I tried not to think about it, but it could not be helped.

The crazy thought?

My neighbour, it seems, once armed with a mic and a bass guitar, bears a striking resemblance to Lemmy of Motorhead.

(Dear Sir, if ever you come across this piece, please forgive me. Take comfort though in the fact that you resemble a great musician.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hong Kong, One Year After 1: A Repeat Visit

Sunset, harbour area, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hkg, Oct 2008

It was an email from a former roommate that started it all.
"Dear Gigi,

When will you come back to Hong Kong."
Suddenly, I found myself booking online. Four days, three nights in the city that, contrary to popular opinion, sleeps - at around 3 am, that is. It is getting to be a yearly habit, this trip. In my mind are thoughts that dart to and fro.

This is a long-overdue return.

Is it ok to bring dried mangoes to my Hong Kong friends?

Finally. Xiao Long Bao to die for.

Need to load my Octopus card.

Oh no. People will come up to me and talk in Cantonese, thinking I'm a resident. (It always happens 99% of the time.)

Will my colleagues welcome me?

And many more concerns that reveal my insecurities anchored from last year's trip.

Last year, I started a Multiply account where I loosely documented my prolonged stay in Hong Kong. Those were both happy and pensive times all put in a collage of pictures, music, and words.

Now I have returned (again) to the city that has been generally kind to me. How has it been? The economic climate is quite different now, and personal situations have been altered. The great city appears to be the same, but I felt some hints of change, as I will write about later....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Blog Rounds 21: (Almost) Driven To Tears

Say, what makes me cry?

Many things. Each reason meriting a post, or two, or more. There is loss, frustration, disappointment, rage: all valid reasons for me to shed tears.

I have not cried in recent memory. Of late, however, are circumstances that left me overwhelmed, to say to the least.


A few days ago, I flew to Hong Kong out of what seemed to be a caprice. In reality, this is far from being a holiday trip. I want ANSWERS to the many questions gnawing in my heart after I left Hong Kong last year.

I got more than just answers.

I received the warmest welcome I have ever had in years. I was brought to places I used to frequent, like it was old and happy times. I was fed with heavenly food like hargow and xiao long bao ("We will order your favorite dimsum!") in one of the newest restaurants that side of

More than these, however, were assurances, kind words, and encouragements. "People can only talk ... they only have mouths," I was told. This statement spoke volumes.

I never expected this trip to come out this way; for months I have been putting it off. I am very thankful that I gave in to my "whims".

I can only castigate myself for doubting, and shake my head for my lack of faith. For many months I paid attention to so many rumours, nurturing my bruised confidence in the process.

And now that I took that leap of faith, I found that the answers are all very clear. I am overjoyed, so overjoyed, that I am beyond merely shedding tears - of happiness.

[Thank you is not enough, my dear friends.]

This is my submission to The Blog Rounds 21st edition, whose theme is M*U*S*H, hosted by the indefatigable Dra. Ness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Last Song Syndrome 1: Heroes (David Bowie), Monday, September 8, 2008

"Though nothing
Will keep us together
We could steal time
Just for one day
We can be heroes
For ever and ever
What d'you say?"

- David Bowie, "Heroes"
I have a recurring preoccupation on heroes, heroics, and heroism of late.

It did not help that one morning, as I was wandering in a lovely place called Astral Dreams located in a virtual island, I heard this tragic love song playing in the background.

David Bowie's song "Heroes" has been remade many times over, and one of the covers is that of The Wallflowers, which was used in the remake of the movie "Godzilla". The story behind the lyrics of this song has been told in a good number of texts and forums, such as this.

And so I left the world with this tune playing in my head many times over throughout the day....

I think about all the people wanting to be kings and queens in their own kingdoms in spite of resistance coming from all fronts, and I wonder how it is like for lovers to kiss "standing by the wall" while "the guns shot above our heads". It seems many would like to be in precarious situations and eventually be heroes for the sake of romance....

Are you one of them?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Before Everything Else, The Redux

Hi, I am Gigi, known to my friends in The Blog Rounds as Lei Si of Beyond Borders: The Lei Si Chronicles. To others, I am Marika, currently holding fort at Trash Radio Manila along with some friends. I am also called Marika in this very magical world I have gotten myself involved with of late. I used to scoff at the thought of maintaining multiple sites in the web. I still do. But.

My (rather puny) involvement in The Blog Rounds, spearheaded by BoneDoc, for a good number of months have made me realize that a blog maintained in a network site like Multiply is rather limited in its function. I have talked about this concern here, and after many months of ruminating, I finally resolved to move all the contents of The Lei Si Chronicles here in this platform. Some of the pictures and music will be migrated as well.

I will do this at my own pace, taking time to learn. Please be patient: I am a work in progress. Thanks, and join me in both my restless and listless endeavours if you wish...but be warned ;)