What does that have to do with the price of tea?

Tea snobs, possibly

Tea snobs may have found the Philippine delegation, tucked away in one corner of the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council Tea Fair exhibition hall, laughable especially after seeing hundreds of tea sellers from around the world.

With no tea culture to speak of, Philippine exhibitors were offering civet coffee, tropical fruit preserves, biscuits, and sardines. These were products that the HKTDC set apart in a section of the hall devoted to “Friends of Tea,” a sort of catch-all category for stalls selling things vaguely related to tea.

Continue reading “What does that have to do with the price of tea?”


About Last Night

Blackbird, Makati City, June 2011

Last night, a lesbian flirted with me half-heartedly.

She said I seemed like a nice guy but that I have to be more than just a guy with soft, wavy hair.

“If you can fool a lesbian, you must be a pretty nice guy,” she said as we smoked in the girls’ restroom at a neighborhood bar in Makati, before she moved on to the other long-haired guy we were hanging out with. This dude’s hair was curlier, and he had a nice shirt, she said, stroking his fine silk shirt. She said he looked like an emotionally-unavailable guy with no problem getting girls.

“Huh?,” he said as he fiddled on his phone without really listening, and also proving her point.

[Disclosure: Despite my soft, wavy hair and lack of silk shirts, I am an emotional cripple. But I can at least pay attention and fool lesbians. That has to count for something.]

Red Dugong

Cubao, June 2011

“Oddness and absurdity, that is the best policy,” says Red Dugong, habitue and style icon of Cubao X.

Living in times that celebrate individuality and quirkiness, Red Dugong has been a vegan, a hippie, a goth for two weeks after a survey course on Philosophy, has collected albums on vinyl, has given them away to flood victims. She has liked indie bands, then hated them, but now is not so sure.

She makes her own bread, cuts her own hair, has hobbies nobody else does. She pretends to be shy about all these things but everything about her screams notice me. Because being a red pug plush toy just isn’t interesting enough to get noticed anymore.

You are a perfect artist

Photo most likely by Glaiza Jarloc.

If singers put part of themselves into their songs, why not people who sing other people’s songs at videoke? Do our song choices say something about us?

Beyond the laughter that flubbing a song in front of your peers brings, maybe videoke is about making connections too.  Tapping into the remains of our oral culture, if you will.

My boss telling me to sing Apo Hiking Society’s “Mahirap Magmahal ng Siyota ng Iba” is more than an attempt to get me to flounder through a corny song. More than just implying that I use my charms on other people’s girlfriends, it is sage advice that shit like that is not cool (for the boyfriends, at any rate).

Aptly, that was a song I used to queue on the videoke machine in 2004, when I actually was seeing people who were seeing someone else. I had been cheated on and did not really respect labels like Not Available.

But I also loved those girls and belting that out was easier than looking for sympathy for the anguish of loving someone you can’t have. It’s a dick move that boyfriends are quick to condemn, but everybody loves an APO ditty.

I feel that my current song choices, which include Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (“…take a long ride on my motor bike/Until I’m ready…”) and “Somebody to Love”, reflect my confusion at the end of a long-term relationship. That, or I’m really into Queen.

The same may hold true for a colleague’s choice of Green Day’s “21 Guns,” which, I gathered, was the favorite song of someone significant to her. It’s some sort of coded message, I guess. A roundabout way of saying, “Yes, Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong With Me’ is a fun song to sing, but also, there is someone out there who should be with me but is not,” maybe.

And that’s why it sucks when nobody else sings along to a song you choose. Instead of the catharsis of singing your heart out along with everybody in the room, you have a bunch of people listening to you butcher a song. Small wonder then, that singers sputter out in mid-song and then pretend to not know how the song goes after all.

It is in losing yourself in someone else’s music, your voice drowned out by friends who have also allowed themselves to get carried away, that everything in your portion of the world is in tune for a few more minutes.

Out With The Old: Death, where is thy sting?

If I were to commit suicide, it would be like this: being locked in a room with Patricia Evangelista and several cases of hard liquor to debate on something I know nothing about. The Tongan political situation, say.

I would drink and she would talk until my ears start to bleed and I pass out into oblivion, my mind bullied into submission by rhetoric and diction, my kidneys already turned to stone. It would be like being Socrates in reverse.

She will probably panic and call for help at some point, but she will do this in such flawlessly-delivered English that everyone will stand around clapping and wiping tears from their eyes as my life slowly slips away. “Jolly good show,” they would say, “jolly good.” And the world will go on, none the wiser about the Tongan political situation.

September 2006. Salvaged from an old livejournal account I deleted in a fit of impotent rage. Disclaimer: This is a totally absurd situation that involves an absurd version of Patricia Evangelista and not the Patricia Evangelista who is dating an old college friend. We’re not even talking about the same girl, really.

This is why I drink

For your reference, ca.2004

A friend once asked me why I drink. I replied with some line about doing it to fit in before  jumping up to wail through a set of Eraserheads songs until I passed out. I didn’t plan on doing that. It wasn’t my fault half the guests in the bar we were mooching drinks off of were in a band and brought their instruments.

I came to hours later safe in my bed. Another friend had been nice enough to bring me home without raping me* and in those few seconds of artificial alertness when my body was too confused to go back to sleep and the hangover was still lurking in what shadows are left at 7 a.m., I felt better than I had in weeks.

There is something to that, I guess, to passing out and not having to deal with the self doubts and second guessing that come when you are alone at night save for a little dog who only really cares about keeping you awake with ill-timed playfulness. No terrible slow-mo replay of some minor faux pas that, by the end of the night, I am convinced has damned me in the eyes of my peers. No belated remorse at things I can no longer unsay, undo, or fix. No spirits of the staircase to haunt my fitful sleep.

I drink because I seek oblivion. Not death, understand. I love life most days. But sometimes you just have to take a break from words and ideas and the panic at not having words or ideas. Just to turn it off for a few hours and sleep the sleep of the innocent.

*Rape is no laughing matter. I am glad I wasn’t raped is what I’m saying.