Thursday, March 27, 2008


(i wrote this piece over a year ago for what would have been my own column in a new men's magazine. then something happened to the editorial set-up, and the next thing i knew, this piece was orphaned. But it eventually got published in a Manila Jaycees space somewhere, along with a corresponding post on the Manila Jaycess website. But since I want this thing in my own space, here it is along with the photo that it was originally meant to be published with.)

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By Golangco, Jasper Lao

‘So, any plans of leaving the country?’

This question seems to prop up more and more nowadays. And it usually ignites a rather lively discussion about the pros and cons of leaving, and of living here. I must admit, I have entertained the thought more than once. But hey, I’m still here and loving it…sort of.

You see, this place has got a whole lot going for it. Can’t miss them beautiful beaches, certainly can’t miss them gorgeous women, my bulging gut is evidence of the affordable, yet sumptuous food, and unless I really want to on weekends, I don’t even have to clean my own car. (admit it, it’s not that guilty a pleasure, dude…) Add those to the fact that my folks and family are here, so that means that should all hell break loose, there will always be a roof over my head and food on someone’s table for me to gorge on. Of course I can’t speak for everybody. Nonetheless…

So why leave? Well, there are a lot of things going for THAT, too…

See, it gets mighty depressing when you drive around town through traffic in a sea of Japanese compacts and vans, luxury SUV’s suddenly slice through the muck with police escorts, blaring sirens and all, and more often than not, a government official is in there. Where do you think they got the money for those vehicles? And who’s paying for those uniformed escorts? My taxes are apparently at work here, but obviously not for me. Sure, there are people who love the government, but only if they work in it.

And who needs reality TV shows, when you’ve got local Philippine news? It’s got more staged drama than American Idol, ickier stunts than Fear Factor, and more duplicity than Donald Trump’s the Apprentice. What makes this an absolute tragedy is that the stars are our very own politicians. I would’ve used the synonym “law-makers”, but then it doesn’t really seem that they work on any laws any ways. Come to think of it, they don’t even do politics too well.

The elections are over, all the promises have been made, and it merely remains to be seen as to which ones will be kept. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, while I drive through the city watching our tax money being used to clean up the Cheshire grins plastered on practically every available wall they can find. Sometimes I think that maybe we shouldn’t clean those posters up. So the winning candidates can see their own faces staring back at them and they’ll remember everything they said while begging for votes. It’s funny that after how much thought went into which colors they want to use and the poses they make for their glam photos, they all end up looking and sounding alike to me.

I love this country. My country. But sadly, the country’s love for me is represented by the people running its government. And so far, I don’t feel it. And while we love our people, and value our culture, the powers that be echo such claims without practicing any of it. We’ve heard the same promises over and over from practically the same people, and every other time, they’re either broken or forgotten. Pork barrel, anyone?

It’s tempting to think that if or when we go abroad, things will get better for us and our families. Maybe yes, maybe no. But while we’re here, our collective butts are parked and warm, and we haven’t been poked off to our nearest travel agency, a little optimism wouldn’t hurt. Of course, it’s almost funny how the government points towards the OFW’s as the so-called heroes of our economy, when the very fact that they’re someplace else is a sign of the hopelessness they feel towards home. But home is where family is, and where family is, there should always be hope.

Back when I was a kid, having parents and/or relatives working abroad usually meant that times were hard here and flying off was the only option left for the family’s survival back here. While that wasn’t the rule, it was certainly the most common conception. Nowadays, there are more of them. The need to find a good life and livelihood elsewhere has climbed up the social food chain. Either that, or the bottom rung just got way bigger. If I choose to disregard whatever financial foundations my family has set up over a couple of generations, I would definitely belong in this self-same bottom rung. Having said that, I might consider flying off and finding my fortunes elsewhere. Thank heavens for family.

But how many people have the luxury of having a family to lean on? Probably quite a few still, but getting fewer over time. Every election is a new beginning, and every time we hope it’s a good one. At least good enough to not send more people flying outta here.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep working my ass off, do my best to keep my promises, enjoy the live show known as late-night news, keep my passport ready at the dresser and keep my fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


i'm not sure whether or not to allow a rather negative comment on this blog made by "anonymous".
it called me "cyber geek," "wannabe," "frustrated writer," and finally "gay."

i'm tempted to think my brother found the time to do this and decided to try and throw me off whack a bit... possibly...

but funnily enough, i decided that anyone with strong enough opinions about me that i would publish are the ones who have the balls to put their names on the comment.

so, anonymous, i'm more than willing to publish your comment if, and only if, you put your name on your comment.

thanks a bunch, potato-brain...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Baclaran Notes...

I’m going to shoot from the hip here… in no particular order.
Just a bunch of random thoughts, little incidences and annoyed observations that course through my overblown head during my family’s weekly Tuesday night trek to Baclaran’s Redemptionist (or is Redemtorist?) Church.

1. If you don’t know this police mobile patrol number: MPD•352. You would do well to remember it. A brand new shiny Toyota Vios patrol car crossed a red light tonight at around 11pm along Roxas Boulevard at the intersection with United Nations Avenue. We were right behind him/them.

Only wish I took a photo of it so I could post it here for what its worth.
But hey, I’m not telling you anything new, right? Our laws do not apply to the lawmakers, right? Unless Mayor Fred is watching, that is.

2. Ella May is a sick little baby girl, who is four years old, looks like all of two years old, eats through a tube, and has a hare-lip. The wife and I greet Ella May at the church on Tuesdays. Tonight, Jackie Ejercito Lopez dropped by, too. She had a long talk with Ella May’s mother. Hope they can help her more than a couple of milk powder boxes from time to time…

3. The side street towards the church parking lot leaves me feeling both annoyed and sympathetic at the same time. But mostly annoyed. VERY annoyed.

The vendors there are NOTORIOUS. They think they own the damn street. They only leave just enough space across the street for one regular-sized vehicle to pass through, with an additional half a foot on each side for human traffic.

I’m not talking about the ones against the walls of the church property, who have fixed places. I’m talking about those idiots on the other side, who push their wares of cheap underwear, celeb posters, pirated music cd’s and other odds and ends practically a couple of inches away from your passing tires.

The wife sometimes just says that it’s better than watching them turn into thieves. Until one of them grazes her beloved Altis anyways. Then all hell breaks loose… heh heh…

More stuff… but these are just what float around in my pathetic little head for now…

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Movie Review: VANTAGE POINT - Not Bad, But Not Much Point

So we had officially missed “Jumper,” which is being called by geekdom as Anakin’s revenge on Mace Windu (if only because it stars Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson). Now without too many options and having not seen any movie at all for at least two weeks past, the wifey and I bought tickets to “Vantage Point” last Friday.

The first thing that will arrest you with Vantage Point is the sheer star power in its cast. We’re talking about absolute pedigree here. From the currently popular Matthew Fox (of “Lost” fame), to Sigourney Weaver to William Hurt. We were star struck, too.

But funnily enough, just as you begin to think that maybe the story is moving along, it rewinds and turns into Groundhog Day for supposedly eight rounds.

Lo and behold, I didn’t get enough sleep the previous night, so I napped for the few minutes that Sigourney Weaver had significant screen time. And several “vantage points” and one forced car chase through Spain later, I learned the following:

1. The U.S. of A. sends dupes to highly visible events to protect the president. Cool.
2. No matter how multi-layered and well-orchestrated, they will attribute assassination attempts to a “lone gunman.” (Bwahahahahaha…)
3. MacGyver’s former sidekick Bruce McGill still gets work.
4. William Hurt looks stupid bald.
5. Dennis Quaid has been typecast as a has-been hero.
6. Spanish women are mostly hot (even the children. PEDOPHILIA ALERT!!!)

The fact that it took me almost a week to plop myself down and finish this pointless review for the fuck of it, indicates that no matter how well-intentioned the movie was, and how blinding the cast list was, it wasn’t that big a deal. Granted, I would surmise that the director Pete Travis had a hell of a time putting all the various “vantage points” (there’s that word again) together, and I must say that he did a hell of job, but I guess deep inside, I’m looking for Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay.

Worst of all, the wife stopped me from buying pop-corn. That’s probably why I was extra cranky.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The EARTH, WIND & FIRE EXPERIENCE (Half a Concert Review)

“Fuck, I was conned. this isnt earth wind & fire. its anothr band calld d AL MCKAY ALL STARS, d concert is just billd as EARTH, WIND & FIRE “EXPERIENCE”, not LIVE. Phil bailey is NOT in da house. It’s a goddamn tribute band.”

The above is the ignorant text message I sent to two officemates two unknown songs into last night’s concert. Complete with the idiotic shortcuts often used in text messaging.

Okay, Heaven forgive the unenlightened.

One of my said officemates replied, telling me that some of the members of the AL MCKAY ALL STARS were former band members of Earth Wind & Fire. “Maybe they’re good,” she said. I thought, “Fine. Besides, it would seem rude to leave so early.” So I kept my ass put and told the wifey that we can leave for our weekly Baclaran visit in around twenty minutes. She couldn’t care less about no aging r&b funk band, original or not, so she was glad. To add to my conviction regarding leaving early, the wifey reported Marge (our unborn daughter) was kicking around in her tummy, probably due to the concert noise.

Then three unknown songs in, they streamed in “After the Love is Gone.” And one of the three front men kicks the song off valiantly. But Maurice White he ain’t. The harmonies on the choruses were okay, but while I wasn’t expecting to catch Maurice White’s baritone since he has reportedly retired from touring due to Parkinson’s, I must admit that the trademark timber of his voice is missed in this song. But hey, the singer was very professional and in tune tonight. Ho-hum…

Then they segueway into “Reasons”… ha… now this should be interesting… they have a Philip Bailey clone with dreadlocks, who started off a bit pensively, then did his thing… not too shabby at all. They got into that now-famous sax-vs.-Bailey style duel/duet, and I must admit, though he ain’t as smooth as Mr. Bailey himself, this Bailey clone can still hit ‘em high. Interestingly enough, I caught a strain of his full voice hitting a high note, and he actually sounded even better. He may be doing himself a disservice by not utilizing other aspects of his vocal talent. I was NOT disappointed. And the sax-player was mean, too…

Then they got into “Fantasy,” another EWF trademark… damn good. The crowd was on its feet, hopping the night away.

Sadly, Marge was really complaining… and I had to comply… sniff sniff…

Bottom line: GOOD BAND, GOOD SHOW. And Al McKay’s pedigree gives his bunch the gravitas to back up the showmanship.
The choreography of the three front guys was a bit corny. But it’s showbiz, and people came to hear their sound, not to see them dance anyways. So they have an excuse to dance stupid.

Would I pay to see them again? To be honest, yeah… why not…? I walked out of there wondering who Mr. Al McKay and what his significance was. Sufficient googling rendered the fact that Mr. McKay was a guitarist during the classic line up of Earth Wind & Fire. Some sites say that one of the guys on his All-Star line up is a brother of the great Maurice White. And the Whites are to EWF what the Porcaros are to TOTO. So fine, far as most people are concerned, these guys are as close to EWF as most people can get. And yes, if they're cashing in on the EWF name, dammit, these guys play with the right to it.

Many thanks to the Manila Bulletin for the complimentary tickets!

Here’s a sample of their sound…

Monday, March 03, 2008

Weekend Northern Food Trip (Part 2)

We went around to the Nepo complex. The complex used to serve as Angeles City’s retail repository of PX cast-outs from Clark Air Base and its many GI’s. Considered one of the better polished food places of the area was “Perfect Loaf,” a bakery and cafĂ©, which was a favorite of the wife back when she maintained a little boutique at Nepo Mart 1. We dropped in and were pleased to find that while Nepo Mall helped cause the nigh-absolute crumble of Nepo Mart 1 and 2 save for a few shops still valiantly open around the perimeter, Perfect Loaf remained lively, and the food was still good.

We wanted to cap off the evening with sisig at Victor’s along the northbound side of MacArthur Highway just a bit past the Dau terminal district. But before that, we had to get our tires checked since they seemed to be on the under-inflated side. Lo and behold, we went through a total of five (count ‘em FIVE) major gas stations only to find that their air hoses and gauges either didn’t work or wasn’t available, or the compressor was off until morning, or there was simply no facility.

We found out that unscrupulous creatures actually stole the hose heads off the air pumps to sell the metal as scrap. What have we become…?

This caused a lot of stress for my wife, who was horrified at the thought of hitting the expressway with under-inflated tires (of course!), and on top of it all, she was almost embarrassed at the state of things in a city she grew up in.

And to add insult to injury, Victor’s BBQ (as the sign has always said) didn’t look the same. The plump lady who chopped stuff up to put your sisig together, wasn’t there, and it looked liked there was only one staff person present, with only one table having a couple of customers. And they didn’t look too friendly either. So we turned back and waited until we reached North Park in Banawe Avenue (QC) to grab dinner.