…when you have nothing to do

I only have two classes for this week. One for Wednesday and one for Friday. Both at the same time because they are the same subject. Usually, I should be bouncing-off-the-walls- happy but then…well, I’m not. Why? Because I’m bored. I’m stuck in my room for five days minus three hours and I have nothing to do. And what do you do when you have nothing to do? Here’s a rundown of the worthless activities that I have been doing these past few days — which for me, doesn’t feel like a few days.

1. Playing. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for quite some time now. My roommates would always pester me on the fact that the only thing that they see me do is play. And then my blockmate gives me Phoenix Wright: Justice For All. Darn. Another distraction.

2. Surfing. Facebook. Mail. EYL. This newly started blogging thing. Jessica’s blog. They comprise my surfing cycle.

3. Sleeping and Eating. Of course, after the tiring task of typing web addresses and punching keys for character moves, I have to recharge and get my sleep.

4. Reading. This is not reading for sheer pleasure but reading for required academic purposes. Ah… I miss the old times when I get to read books for fun and not get all theoretical about this and that.

5. Staring out into space. Probably the most productive activity that I’ve done, staring at some point on the wall and contemplating on the mysteries of the universe is a very good way to pass the time. You use minimal energy and you don’t have to do rigorous body movements. But then again, this is too much brain work and would require you to eat after using up your brain cells.

So there. Any other ideas on what to do when you have nothing to do? If you have, mail your entries to yourself and do them. I still have some contemplating to do. (God, how am I supposed to beat that Totema?!!…)

the day we met rain

After weeks of non-stop unblinking sunlight, UP soil has finally tasted rain again. It happened on that fateful day of March 12, 2010.

I woke up at around 6.30 in the morning, as usual. I gargled, took my utensils and went down to take my breakfast. It was then that I noticed that the sky was…gloomy. Dark clouds covered the whole periphery. The temperature was also colder since there was no sun to shine down its heat. ‘Looks like it will rain’, I thought. I had my breakfast, took a bath and went to class.

By quarter to 10, my class was over so I began walking back to the dormitory. I was happily making my way back when a drop of something wet fell on my arm. ‘Crap. I don’t have my umbrella. Don’t rain on me now’ was what came to my head. I walked as fast as my feet could carry me. Good thing I reached my destination alive and dry. But the droplets still came.

Until finally, by the time I reached my room (which was on the third floor by the way), it had started to rain. The air started to get cold and the whiff of earth began to arise. It was lovely. I finally saw wet earth again. I was grinning while walking to my next class. ‘After the longest time, I get to use you again’, I said to my umbrella. The rain dripped on my bag and pants. It got my feet wet. But I didn’t mind. After all those days that I had to walk and practically get fried by the sun, this rain is manna from heaven.

But alas, precious things never last. When my class ended, Monsieur Soleil was back to business.

bloodless rage

Because of our age’s rapid technological developments, we have managed to put entertainment devices into everyday machines that we once deemed impossible to become less boring. An example of such a machine would be the bus. Nowadays, buses are equipped with anti-boredom devices such as the television! However, this same contraption can be the source of the viewer’s bewilderment and feeling of utter alienation.

I was about to go home to Batangas so naturally, I rode a bus. Heaving my backpack and clutching a plastic containing my merienda (which was a bottle of apple-flavored C2 and two Gardenia Fun Buns – one chocolate and one ube), I planted my butt on a seat. After a long-ish wait, we finally hit the road. The conductor turned on the TV and played a movie which, to my utter horror, starred Robin Padilla. It also featured pre-BB Gandanghari Rustom Padilla. It was about the soldiers in Mindanao fighting against the rebel Muslims. Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact that this movie attempts to show my feeble mind what is happening there in the south. However, I wish they could’ve put in more effort and made it a bit more realistic.

I was bored so I glued my head to the window and dozed off, so I didn’t get to see how the movie started. When I awoke, the movie was still playing. The rebels are now attacking Robin and his posse. The soldiers were armed with automatics while the rebels also wielded guns, which they threw to the ground in order to take out their swords. You’d probably think that the soldiers would win, right? I mean, hello??, they’re armed with guns. But no. the soldiers fall one by one until there was just five of them left. Robin, Rustom, Joko (or Joco? Diaz), someone and someone remained. They were surrounded by hordes of Muslims who are now proceeding to attack.

They look absolutely out of hope when suddenly Robin yells and flies into a rage. He screams his lungs out (which is what he mostly does throughout this movie. Even his calm voice sounds like he’s screaming.) and starts to fire his automatic at random directions. Finally, they run out of ammunition, try to fight but surrender eventually. Robin and Co. were about to be held hostage by the Muslims when, lo and behold! Missiles fire out of nowhere! Reinforcements have arrived! The rebels decide to retreat for they realized that their puny swords are no match for missile-launcher wielding men and missile-firing helicopters.

In the end, Robin and his crew – covered in grime, dust and dried blood – are saved.

What disturbed me about this movie is this. It’s a war movie isn’t it? Then how come there’s no blood? They fire blindly, the muslims slash the guts out of the soldiers and yet there wasn’t a single blood spurt. Also, why do their superiors have the strong urge to put ‘goddamit’ after every order, as in: ‘Give me 100 push-ups! That’s an order, goddamit!’ And it’s not even a proper goddamit – they say it ‘gademmit’. Oh, well. It IS a movie with Robin Padilla in it. I should’ve expected that.

to the land of sushis and cherry blossoms

Of course we all have places where we dream of going to like France, for example, or the US.  For the classy, high society, snobbish persons, we have Monaco. And for the exotic ones who want their trip to be a life-endangering experience, we have the savannas of Africa or better yet start an expedition at Antarctica. I, on the other hand, would want to visit London. Who wouldn’t want to visit such a wonderful place as London? It’s scenic. It has a chockfull of buildings with superb architecture. It’s Shakespeare’s birthplace, for crying out loud. And it has plenty of English-speaking people with the accent that is just to die for. However, before anywhere else, I would surely love to visit Japan. Why visit such a small country, you say? Well, here are some reasons why I would care to visit the country you call puny:

  1. Cherry blossoms. These are the only pink things that I like. Ever since the time I saw these small flowers fluttering in the breeze on animes I watch, I have dreamed of getting to see them and hold them or even bring a petal back and place it between the pages of a book. That’s how much I like them.
  2. Haruki Murakami and Yasunari Kawabata. These great authors are products of Japan. I absolutely love Murakami for his queer writing. He writes about every day, normal things and makes them abnormal. His short stories are absolute head-scratchers – it leaves the reader utterly bewildered and feeling stupid (‘What happened?! Did I just miss the point?? Aaargh!!’). Check his books out and you’ll see what I mean. Kawabata’s In A Grove is a short story that I absolutely love. It’s film adaptation, Rashomon, is considered by many as a masterpiece. And I have to agree to that.
  3. The language. I don’t know about you but I find the Japanese language (Nihonggo) very beautiful. Yeah sure, the characters look all complicated and their sentence structure is all messed up but… I don’t know. I just find it beautiful. Doubleplusbeautiful in Newspeak, even. (I am terribly sorry for those who cannot relate to this last sentence.)
  4. Manga and Anime. Come on. We grew up with anime being shown on TV day in, day out. Who doesn’t know Gokou and Gohan? You might’ve even memorized the opening theme (CHALA! HECHALA!) as well as their family tree. There’s also Hanamichi Sakuragi and Recca Hanabishi. If you want the newer ones, there’s Lelouch Lamperouge and, of course, Uzumaki Naruto. And would you like me to discuss about the manga? There are loads of categories you can choose from and discussing all of them would make up an entirely new entry.
  5. Snow. Don’t you dare roll your eyes at me or I’ll gouge them out of their sockets with a spoon. The reason is this: don’t you think it’s quite unfair? Our country and Japan are both in Asia and yet they get snow? Just because they’re a few degrees above the equator and they get snow. Bummer. Anyways, I just want to see the white stuff from an Asian country. Maybe freeze it and bring it back to the Philippines.
  6. The food. My taste buds would be very, very grateful if they get a taste of genuine Japanese cuisine. As of this moment, the only Japanese foods I have eaten are sushi and tonkatsu (and these would be the Tokyo Tokyo variety). I’d love to have a bowl of authentic Japanese ramen, like the one Naruto always eats.
  7. 7. The art. The Japanese take their customs very seriously that everything they do turns out to become an art. The art of tea-making (is that chanoyu?), flower-arrangement (ikebana), the bonsai, and of course their Noh and Kabuki plays. Even preparing lunch boxes (obento) is an art to them. Heck, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they have an art for farting.
  8. 8. The culture and the people. The Japanese are the type of people who live and breathe through the standards of their custom. They value discipline – something that I think should be incorporated into our set of morals. They have a code of conduct. They live such a strict existence that they make me wonder if they can still breathe. I do not see this as a disability, however. In fact, this is what makes the Japanese interesting to me. They seem to know something essential to survive that we do not know. Does their rigid upbringing give them the emotional strength and training they need in order to go on living? In other words, I would like to know what goes on inside the average Japanese mind.

the adventures of a daily driver

As someone who gets to ride buses a lot, I have often wondered if drivers don’t get bored with their jobs. Imagine that. All they have to do the whole day is…drive. They wake up so early in the morning for the first trip, go to wherever they work, plant their butts on the seat (or maybe plant the seat to their butts) and they drive. Oh sure, all the twisting and turning of that large steering wheel is positively going to give their arms a workout but, what’s next? Day in, day out, all they have to do is drive. Drivers only get to take their hands of the steering wheel when they go for a potty break and at lunch break. It’s like Waiting for Godot. Don’t they get bored?

. . .

. . .

Oh! Yes! I forgot we are in the Philippines! Drivers here would never get bored! You ask me why? Well then, dear reader! I hereby impart my knowledge to you!

  1. Traffic! Metro Manila/Quezon City/EDSA traffic may not be as worse as in the other countries but what the heck! Drivers don’t effing care! To them, the traffic here is the worst, most horrible thing to experience. Thus, drivers would never get bored for it gives them the opportunity to honk their horns so loud that eardrums begin to shatter. It is also a very good chance to have spewing sessions. Drivers can curse their lungs out until their cuss dictionary runs out of entries. These spewing sessions (combined with Manila’s smog and soot and smoke) also provide excellent respiratory workout which aids in the driver’s even cussing louder.
  2. Police officers! Yes, these people who are supposed to ensure peace and order give drivers the biggest headaches ever! They have to elude members of the Kotong Police who ask them for money to get them out of violations. Traffic police who do not know left from right teaches our drivers the value of patience. They surely need this if they do not want to end up in jail for running over a police officer.
  3. Pedestrians! All Pinoys know the famous quotation ‘Masarap ang bawal’ which leads us to the fact that we are hard-headed. Pedestrians would cross roads where there is this ginormous sign saying ‘Bawal tumawid. Nakamamatay.’ (Do not cross. Deadly.) They would brave the streets even if there is an overpass a few steps away (‘Why would I take the steps and tire myself out??’). Adventurous, aren’t we? These obstacles not only provide another cussing break for our dear drivers but also a…training session! Drivers would have to use all their maneuvering skills as they try to evade the pedestrians playing patintero with them! A 360-degree turn of the wheel to the left! And then to the right! Ah…such talent! Such skill!
  4. Stray animals! Driver reflexes are tested as animals (most commonly cats and dogs) suddenly dart into view! A dog crosses the street and suddenly decides that he is tired and sits down. Is our driver fast enough to step on the breaks in time? Alas! He fails! Thus, killing the poor dog and staining his wheels with blood. (Note: I absolutely abhor drivers who have the nerve to kill animals. This is based on a personal experience and I stand against animal cruelty.) This is an favorable moment for our driver to school his reflexes in order not to mutilate dogs, cats and the highest form of animals, humans.
  5. Student drivers! Just like in no. 3, student drivers also test the veteran driver’s reflexes. As our student driver panics and hyperventilates, our driver is starting to release steam through his pores as he suddenly, and jerkily, steps on the break to prevent crashing into our student driver. Of course, this is done at the expense of his passengers, who sway and jerk at every movement of the bus.
  6. Other drivers! Of course it’s not only our driver who owns the road. There are millions of other vehicle-wielding creatures out there who share the road with him. And they would not let our driver beat them! An ordinary drive then becomes a battle of wits and stratagems! Will our driver be able to overtake the car next to him? Can he dodge the incoming car from the next lane? And will his passengers get to their destination alive? Find the answers to all this exciting questions in the next episode of…the adventures of a daily driver!!!