Monday, December 29, 2008

Four Years and a Funeral (3 of 3)

For anyone who's actually checking this shit out, here's the third essay I wrote in connection to Maverick...

* * * * * * * *

Four years down this winding road of a dream begun, as soldiers have come and gone, I am left wondering not if the battle goes on, but if the war actually ever was.

This week I say goodbye to four such soldiers. Okay, so one of them is still hanging around for another week, but we’ve done the whole pat the back, bump the knuckles and pound the chest routine so often, it was starting to get stupid. One of them walked away once, came back and probably woke up one day finding something missing. She’s going back out to look for it. Maybe one day she’ll come home again. Depending of course, on what she will decide is home.

"...I thought we had enough goodbyes. But fate has a way of bringing things in bunches..."

Every now and then, we find people who believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. And it’s these times when dreaming is worth it despite the fear of falling with your face down in the mud, arms outstretched and legs splayed all over. I found one not too long ago. She’s leaving, too. But not before having come back over three years ago, and helping me build the house that many have come to call home, and the menagerie that many have come to call family. She flies off to other dreams in a week. And in her eyes we know she carries with her a piece of us. But that is nothing compared to what she leaves with us, and the echoingly big shoes she has left here to be filled by someone else.

I thought we had enough goodbyes. But fate has a way of bringing things in bunches. And when we got that phone call that quiet morning, we said goodbye to someone who was unfortunately beyond the whole pat on the back and bump the knuckles routine. An unassuming guy, who knew his fate early on, and faced it with courage, honest smiles, and some of the most twisted jokes this side of town. Arguably one of the best creative minds I’ve ever met, and one of the kindest souls that ever existed. God Bless that kind soul.

One evening, we went to spend a few moments in his week long wake. I watched faces puffy with grief, and eyes that sparkle with tears and respect. Faces of those who will keep hanging around and hanging out. And right there, my memory jogs back to newer faces who have come these past two years. I find myself welcoming again, however belatedly others who have come to share the dream. Some who have chosen to test the waters, some who just follow the tides, and maybe a few who are just sailing through, and every so often, some who seem to really believe.

Life goes on. For me, for those who remain, those who have just come on board, and for those who journey on elsewhere both around and beyond. I sat there on a row of tables connected together, sat at by people no less connected, while nursing our fifteen minute beers. I smile to myself with the realization and reminder that thankfully for this bunch, the only thing bitter was the beer. A five minute toast and goodbye to the one who went on, nods all around, and I asked for the check. And soldiers… nay, PEOPLE… will come and go, but there is no such thing as too many fond farewells.

And no, dreams don’t really change. Our perception of these dreams do. And somewhere along the way, we perceive the dream not as a destination, but as the journey itself. Given even more meaning by the ones we meet along the way.


revised: 3/4/06 3:50pm

Saturday, December 27, 2008

First Maverick Christmas (2 of 3)

Here's the second of those essays that weren't really meant for blogging, but seemed to have been tailor-fit for it...

It’s only been a year since I’ve looked across the room and said my goodbyes to a family I once built and knew. But it seems like a lifetime. After the year that has been, I stood there among a new family that I’ve built with others, a new family bustling with new life, new hope.

8:12 pm, December 19, 2002. That night was our first Christmas party. It seemed simple enough to get there, I just didn’t know the shape we were going to be in when we did. This motley crew has fought well together, but not all battles were won. But as we have fallen, we’ve picked ourselves up. Bloody and bruised, but breathing…
…smiling, while shaking hands and throwing high fives among ourselves, who’ve stood together…
… and laughing, knowing we stand taller and stronger now than we ever have.

"...I wonder if they can smell my fear? My fear of failure, my fear of reaching out for this dream and not reaching it at all..."

I can’t really say if all these people really share the very same passion that I’ve built this thing on. I started this new company with the hare-brained illusion of gathering only the most passionate of people with me. And after the year that has passed, I am left asking myself if the kind of passion I showed and asked of them was more the wrong kind. A passion that bore the bitter foundations of my own sense of pain, loss, and resentment, perhaps? One that seemed to rejoice more in the news of loss and failure of others, than in our own little victories? It shouldn’t have been so, but for much of our journey, it was. And I can only thank these people for looking beyond that, and giving me their best. I wonder if they can smell my fear? My fear of failure, my fear of reaching out for this dream and not reaching it at all. The fear of letting these people fall victim to the hubris of a foolish and delusionary man hiding behind the thick, musky smoke of his own bravado.

If they did, it didn’t show. As the laughter went on, there were laughable efforts at singing tonight. Off-key anthems to cheers of what will be, what may yet become, and simply cheers of being in this journey I’ve begun. If they only knew, I’ve conquered my fears again and again every day to the music of their laughter, and on the knowledge of their faith.

Every now and then, I find myself tired. Feeling the weight of all this too much for my poor, twenty eight year old shoulders. Then I see her. My oldest friend, who I dragged out from a cushy job to help me keep these kids in line. And I simply can’t give up. Can’t fail.

Or at the very least, I can’t stop trying to not fail. We’ll keep at it and probably fall flat on our faces from time to time. But we’ll pick ourselves up from the grime and keep running. Over and over. And we’ll be back to sing more songs off-key… and laugh, laugh, laugh…

And there it was, laughter that bubbles from them like music to my ears…

I once heard that when all the laughter has died down, clowns are the first to cry. I’ve been a clown all my life. But tonight, the laughter is abundant… tonight, this clown is king.

(Restored 2008)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Montage Christmas (1 of 3)

Leaving my previous company was hard for me. It was a sea of mixed feelings. And before blogging was the norm, I chose to sometimes pound away into my keyboard for no real reason other than to let it out... Here's something I wrote on the morning after my last Christmas party with what was then called Montage Studios.

After the first piece and the emotional release it gave me, I wrote another one after my first Christmas party with Maverick, then another one four years later after the wake of our beloved copywriter, Almanz Manzano.

Here's the first of them


It was no ordinary Christmas party. It stood among the happiest and warmest parties I’ve ever been. It showed that this 6-year old advertising agency, where I have toiled since its inception was definitely going somewhere. It didn’t matter that we never won any awards, that we were always a few inches away from the deadlines and all, or that it sometimes seemed that the office was overrun by immature retards… or maybe that was the really good part. But it was definitely going somewhere.

It was December 22, 2001, 9:30 pm at a Japanese buffet restaurant 15 minutes from the office. We were in the middle of the office Christmas party. Everyone was laughing, eating and drinking their hearts out, and everyone was happy. I was happy.

And I was sad.

I was looking at all these people who are part of a young organization (by ad agency standards) that has withstood storm after storm, and the frequent horn locking of the bosses. I am one of the bosses. But only until the next seven weeks.

I am looking at them with my silent goodbyes and they didn’t even know it.

I’m a relatively young chap. Going 29. Recent survivor of the new millennium psychosocial phenomenon they call the “quarter life crisis”. But being in this agency, which I helped build for the past 6 years has made me see how easy it is to accelerate your age at one moment, and relive you childhood the next, as long as your heart was always at the right place. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I am doing one of my childhood hobbies for a living. But more than that, it was the spirit the organization cultivated and nurtured, a spirit of trust and belonging.

"...I walked across to my oldest partner... the one who was with me right from the very start of everything, and I toast him... for being the strong one for the past 6 years..."

For a 28 year-old hotshot, I looked at and loved all the staff as though they were children under my care. Never mind that, with the exception of the driver, who was 30, I was the eldest by only one or two years before the next guy. And it wasn’t enough that their salaries were paid and all. What was really important to me was that they become better people, not just better professionals (that’s easy, you can buy training anywhere nowadays), but better PEOPLE. And I promised myself way back that I will help them do that, whoever they are, and wherever they came from.

I will never know of course, if I succeeded, or even cracked their ice. But I honestly did give it my best shot.

I am watching the staff (I no longer feel comfortable calling them MY staff) play parlor games. Some of them are creative variations on old games, while a couple or so were good-natured rip-offs of TV game shows. And everyone was laughing, eating and drinking his or her hearts out, and everyone was happy.

And I am still looking across the room bidding my silent goodbyes. I can almost hear their laughter echoing in my head long after the merriment has ended.

The staff count has grown to thirty-two heads, including the three partners. Not bad for a 6 year-old agency. We had already surpassed what we aimed for when we first started, and were aiming higher. I am watching the smiles and the laughter on their faces, and I could feel their faith that this agency was aiming higher, and that it would get there. I know it will.

I walked across to my oldest partner (there are two), the one who was with me right from the very start of everything, and I toast him. I toast him for being the strong one for the past 6 years, for being the one who stuck through all the doubt, and for being the one who has helped make me a better person. We shook hands very firmly, like brothers who have survived through many battles together. Each knowing we will now fight our battles alone. But destiny does have a sense of humor, as well as irony after all, and we shall see. We shall see.

I looked at those happy, smiling faces over and over, asking myself how I could leave all this behind. Then I remind myself that I had to. The reasons are probably more personal than they are practical. And during the occasional spells of paranoia, I have deemed move mildly suicidal, professionally speaking.

But I’ve made up my mind.

I stand outside at the balcony here at my home; a short ten-minute drive from what will soon be my former office. I chose to live in this neighborhood mostly due to its close proximity to the agency. I am looking at the treetops scattered across the immediate landscape. I see the different shades of green of the different tress as they ruffle in the breeze, and I think that perhaps that was it. I had to get the right shade of green for me. The tree we planted and nurtured has grown so much, but perhaps I wanted to taste a different fruit now, and stand under another shade of green. Or maybe that’s all just an attempt to poetize my growing greed.

But I am not greedy.

However, at this point, I will surrender myself to the judgement of what I pray will be a long and healthy history of the organization I will leave behind.

And I pray history will repeat itself. But the next time around, I will no longer say goodbyes, silent or otherwise.

December 23, 2001
11:55 pm

Sunday, December 21, 2008

bits & pieces off my lousy phone camera...

In the process of clearing my phone of whatnots, I stumble upon a few things that I snapped in the past that I've always meant to write about but never really got around to doing so...

But before I delete them, here's a breeze-through...

One gray morning on the way to work, I found myself tailing a truck cab that had a sticker saying: "Government Project, DO NOT DELAY."

They should correct themselves and instead say: "PHILIPPINE Government Project, Do Not Delay FURTHER."

* * * * * * *


This being the Philippines, our more than liberal speech patterns, coupled with our multiple source-culled dialect have helped arrive at some rather amusing, if not altogether interesting business names...

And from time to time (far rarer than I'd wish...), one has the occasional presence of mind that lets one grab his phone (oh, will you look at that, there's a fucking camera!) and snap at a few things...

First is "Cocomo Nail Spa" that one can find at One Kennedy Place at Greenhills. Either they're Beach Boys fans, or they just thought this would be a cute shop name. Or both... I'd agree with either...

Next up is "SideWok," an annex of sorts to Reyes Barbeque. I'm guessing "SideWok" fries things in lieu of barbequing them. And them being a "side feature" makes the name amusing at least...

I found "SideWok" in the food court of the Greenhills' Theater Mall.

Other amusing names that I saw but wasn't able to photograph were:

- "Hair Force One" (a barber shop)
- "Pinoy Big Barber" (another barber shop with a logo designed like "Pinoy Big Brother")
- "LaBada Shop" (a laundermat with a logo designed like "the Body Shop")

There are many others out there. Before blogging became the "thing," many have been proliferated via chain emails... Oh well... Cheers to those...

* * * * * * *


To your left is a photo of a side view mirror reflecting an image of something called a "roving billboard."

These "roving billboards" have been done in the past in other countries. Most notably the United States, which we Pinoys desperately get a lot of our inspiration from.

Their main function is to help create brand awareness, while they:

1. Add to the already horrendous traffic of Metro Manila
2. Waste precious fuel just to help the truck owner get rich.
3. Add to the already montrous pollution level of Metro Manila (or the rest of the goddamn planet, for that matter...)
4. ...are not even really effective...

'think the planet's in deep shit? Well, these stupid things aren't helping...

* * * * * * *


In the course of approving and/or cashing checks in the store in Baguio City, I've come across some very amusing names.

I've cashed a check addressed to someone with the last name, "Doctor," who happily claims that she also has an aunt who is a real doctor. Thus, making her aunt "Dr. Doctor."

But that's a surname. What about parents who name their kids things like, "Kobe Bryant Reyes," or "Clark Kent Wong," or in this case "Phoebe Kates N------?" (Please note misspelled "Cates.")

Can children sue their parents for these things?

* * * * * * *

Catch you later...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Review: “Up Till Now” by William Shatner with David Fisher

This Shat is Good Reading…

Some take only a couple of hours to read a book. Some take days or at most weeks. Me? I finished William Shatner’s Autobiography, “Up Till Now” in over half a year. That’s right, six months and three days from the moment I opened it until I turned the last page of prose.

But that by no means should imply that “Up Till Now” is a lousy read. On the contrary, it was a damn good book.

So why so long? Well see… the entire thing was written in a most conversational manner. Thus, making “Up Till Now” wonderful company during those lonely bus rides to Baguio City when Malou the wifey and Marge the baby didn’t join me for usual tour of duty.

So simply put, I saved the pages for company when I needed it most. And given how I’ve overplayed Shat’s Ben Folds-produced “Has Been” CD to the point of memorizing many of the songs, and after almost five seasons of Boston Legal (as of this writing, I’m only a couple of episodes into Season Five…), “Up Till Now” was made even more enjoyable for me since I almost automatically “heard” the book in my head with Shat’s trademark spoken word baritone phrasing.

"...Shatner never fails to happily remind the reader that he (Shatner) knows that he is best-known as Captain Kirk, and that his supposedly best days are behind him...."

In fact, it was almost like having scotch and cigars with Shat out on Denny Crane’s balcony after a long day. And you don’t rush a dear friend who’s telling you the story of his life.

But enough with intros and excuses… on to the review…!

* * * * *

Like most times, I pick up a Shatner product out of curiosity as to what he’ll do next, while expecting to be entertained by his mock indignations, which is topped off by his humorous self-deprecation.

And here in “Up Till Now,” like always, he delivers.

(Before anything else, I must state on record that in this book’s title is a pet peeve of mine. Not too ago, people began abbreviating “until” into “’til.” Which is understandable. Then some idiot/s started spelling the abbreviation as “till,” which is just plain WRONG. “Till” is a verb. It’s what a farmer does to land, dammit. But sadly, it’s commonness in usage has led to this grave error being an “acceptable” spelling… truly, the art in language is dying…”)

Shat, with help from novelist David Fisher takes the reader through an almost chronological recount of practically every stage of his career. From his early days as a bit player, to his struggles as an actor so poor he had to live in car. As a victim of a handful of bad breaks, including his game show filler days, to his slow rise to real stardom and nigh-ubiquity as Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. He also talks about his many shows, from the early “Defenders,” to “Barbary Coast,” “T.J. Hooker,” to “Rescue 911.” All while always dipping into his Star Trek chest at every opportunity.

Shat fans (like your truly) who’ve never picked up a bio on the erstwhile on-screen starship captain will find a lot of amusing anecdotes in “Up Till Now.” Some of which include some big stars of the stage like Walter Mattheau, up and coming hottie Heather Locklear, and many more.

Shat also takes us through the painful (and fateful) occurrences throughout his marriage with the late Nerine, and opens his then-bleeding heart to the reading stranger. Up to his search for and courtship to his wife, Lisbeth. Shat glosses over Boston Legal, and makes his sheer joy at the current state of his life shine right through the pages.

Throughout the book, Shatner never fails to happily remind the reader that he (Shatner) knows that he is best-known as Captain Kirk, and that his supposedly best days are behind him. This he does through frequent digressions from his topic on hand in the form of hawking Star Trek memorabilia through his website . Not too different from how an old man’s thoughts fly off mid-conversation, further reinforcing the conversational feel of the book. But Shat strips himself down to his bare soul while talking about his many near-misses, and how he makes no qualms about enjoying the level of fame and popularity he now has. He knows he can be the biggest joke if he lets himself be it. But rather than watch you laugh at him, Shat hangs his own picture on the wall, and joins you on the couch as you both laugh along at it.

Added bonuses are the pages of photos from many stages in Shat’s very colorful career. One of which even made my wife exclaim that she didn’t expect Captain Kirk to have been as handsome as he was as a young man.

Without knowing how much of the words are truly Shat’s and which passages were by David Fisher, one still finds many lines that show many facets of an actor who has more than paid his dues.

On his childhood…
“I was a lonely kid. I’d walk to school by myself… I would send myself valentines… those would be the only ones I would receive…”

LA Comedy Club
“…it will be funny because they will get that I’m Captain Kirk who thinks he’s funny, but he’s not funny, which is why he will be funny…”

On his early acting…
“…until that day, I didn’t know there were nineteen different ways to say no. Is that how you want me to say it? No. No? No. You mean no? Yes…”

On directing
“…on a film set, the director isn’t God – he’s the one who tells God to run across the parking lot, leap onto the hood, and grab hold of the wipers and hold on…”

On marriage
“…what happens is that the person without power loses their self-respect, their whole entity becomes less, and the reasons their partner fell in love with them disappear…”

As with most things related to William Shatner, fans pick them up out of blind loyalty, while others might browse through it just to marvel at how this oddball still manages to be lucky enough to have a major career at this stage in his life.

But whichever one you are, I must recommend this book if only for its sheer entertainment value as the story of the struggles and eventual triumph of a man who started as an actor, and now stands as among the icons of popular culture.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Manny the Distractor...

The Filipino people are happy again for just another day. And you can bet your bellybutton lint Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will capitalize on this. For the first time in weeks, maybe even months, we’ve got one solid piece of good news on the papers, radio and of course, tv.


The Malaca├▒ang spin doctors get themselves day off from having to get the public to think of new issues to cover up any other issues that have any potential at all at boomeranging back to Gloria.

All they have to do today, tomorrow and the next few days is have Gloria bark about the so-called Filipino spirit “that triumphs over adversity, and against the odds…” (or something like that. The presidential spin docs were always particularly good at clich├ęs.) Gloria will urge the countrymen to feel good about themselves, to feel proud that a Filipino has again proven that we can compete globally, and totally make the euphoric Pinoys forget for one moment that while Manny’s bringing home a gazillion bucks, Gloria’s keeps on tucking away even more.

And Manny’s providing the best distraction on earth… but hey, cheers to the PacMan…

Catch you later…

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gloating Day...

I am currently browsing my files and stumbled upon some old pro-bono work I do for the Manila Jaycees, which I'm a part of.

These are a few of my favorites. A few other favorites, like the backdrop with Chavit, and one of my definitive favorites, the one with Mayor Alfredo Lim will turn up here soon as I find them...

The one here that I did for the souvenir program of the Manila Jaycees' 60 Induction Ceremonies with the diamond seems very simple. And that's where the trick is. try clicking in to view the design a bit closer and pay attention to the diamond facets, where I threw in a few major historic Jaycee events along with a handful of the most eventful presidents.

I am still called upon to try and top this. Honestly still haven't...

This other one is no biggie. I just like how the colors turned out...

This last one for the JCI Paralympics event I also really like... Left a lot of space where I gave it to someone else to fill in the sponsor logos and other details...

Shameless Plug #120608: COMDDAP Manila Expo 2008

This post is kind of late... But hey, better late than never, right?

Anyways... one of Maverick's favorite clients, the Computer Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers Association of the Philippines (COMDDAP) is holding its annual COMDDAP Manila Expo... In lieu of an explanation, I've attached a brief video that Maverick did for the opening day... (please pardon the compressed quality... a bigger, smoother and more proportioned file wouldn't hook onto blogger for some reason...)
For anyone who might ask, another group did the the print material and visual concept for this campaign. Maverick did the media planning and placements, press management, and consequently put together this flash video for the kick-off day. Hint hint hint... there's a link to Maverick's website on the blogroll. And although it's still under construction, there's contact information there, just in case.

COMDDAP Manila Expo 2008 will be on from December 4 to 7 at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia complex... yeah, this year, wise ass...

Catch you later...