Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Passing of a Gentleman and the Time-Warping Properties of Watermelon Seeds

There is a story about my late father-in-law, Servillano S. Aguarin that I never tire of telling people. But first, an introduction and farewell…

* * * * *

A Eulogy:

Mr. Servillano S. Aguarin, or “Biling,” as he was commonly referred to in his hometown of Dau (which, like most rural Filipino towns seems to think that 90% of nicknames should end with an “ng”) was a dashing figure in his younger days. He was one of many Capampangans who had the good fortune of finding work in what was then Clark Air Base in Angeles City.

"...his tired eyes belie a man who has truly lived, loved, was loved..."

In stereotypical Capampangan fashion, the man was a god of his kitchen, which he translated into a respectable career as a mess hall cook in the base serving American soldiers. It was probably there he developed the persona that although not an officer, was most certainly a gentleman.

When Pinatubo decided that happy days were over in Angeles City, Biling had to get creative in making ends meet. He was not a man of means in the years of his twilight, but he certainly made no shame of it. He held his head high at all times, and the level of his personal dignity made him an equal to anyone he faced, rich or poor. Though humble in his acknowledgement of his life’s realities, his tired eyes belie a man who has truly lived, loved, was loved, and rolled with life’s punches. And with that, he stood tall.

Servillano S. Aguarin passed away last April 17, 2009 in San Francisco, California from a string of medical complications. His remains were brought back to his hometown of Dau, Pampanga, Philippines last April 25, where every one of his ten children came back from different towns and countries to be together in his presence one last time.
He was 70.

* * * * *

Ah, I promised a story…

One odd weekend, we went to see Biling. Seeing us, he didn’t even give me a chance to ask him to eat out. Instead, he happily scrounged his cupboard, sent someone out for veggies, and assembled a simple meal of fried fish, watery mongo soup obviously stretched to fit the unexpected crowd, and just enough rice to round it all up.
He made no apologies, lent his company, and just kept literally dishing it out on the table with the quiet dignity of someone serving t-bone steaks.

It was the best bowl of watery soup I’d ever had.

* * * * *

The Wake and the Aformentioned Watermelon Seeds…

It was a typical provincial wake that usually takes place in the departed’s residence. Relatives were streaming in to add variety to a scenery chock-full of unemployed family members and by-standers who finally found a good reason to hang out for the meantime.
It was there where I was reminded that a new issue of Maxim’s U.S. edition handed to me by my brother-in-law who flew in was a commodity worth stealing.

My wife was obviously soaking up the family reunion scene and all. Her dad’s death, though sad, had been week-old news. People had done their share of crying. At least until the burial, where everything always has a way of coming back to hit home.

And there was little me desperately glassy-eyed from boredom and still wondering who stole that copy of Maxim with Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover.
I can’t remember who handed me a mound of watermelon seeds, but with very little better to do, I made like the third chipmunk and started chipping away… and guess what? Over an hour had mindlessly passed by…
I will never see watermelon seeds the same way again…

* * * * *

I’ve also figured out the logic behind the all-night vigil on the eve of the burial, and why there’s always a gambling table at wakes.

The all-night vigil ensures that everyone’s eyes will be all red and puffy come burial day, and they will be so tired to walk and march that they will eventually break down in tears whether they are grieving or not. Makes for great and believable pictures.

The manipulated gambling on the other hand, makes losers of unsuspecting extended family members who are spaced out, crying and wailing over the money they lost the previous night.
It’s all rurally ingenious, I tell you…

Catch you later…

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"Chip" off my shoulder...

Is it still a good time to write my opinion about Chip Tsao?

No? Oh. Too late you say… uhm… better late than never…
So here it is…

Chip Tsao is not a victim of his supposedly sharp wit. Chip Tsao is a victim of his heritage. Mr. Tsao suffers from the superiority complex that Chinese in general cannot seem to shake off. Call it compensation, call it overall insecurity, call it what you will. Chip Tsao is just like any other Chinese guy. He just happened to be privileged enough to be writing for a magazine.

I’m not defending him. In fact, reading through the above paragraph, one can see how I perceive Mr. Tsao as a mere speck that has been carried along tides of awful tradition he has no power over. Which is not to say I am defending the faults of my racial heritage either. But the simple fact for me is that someone like Chip Tsao should rightfully be ignored.

Having given him the attention he just got somehow vindicates to his compatriots that he is the media entity that he is in his own mind. He is meant to be ignored and brushed off one’s shoulder like the “intsek” that he is.

I just KNOW I’m going to get flack for that last line up there…

Truth be told, as an individual of pure Chinese heritage, I have done quite a bit of homework and have learned that the term “Intsik” is a proper term in the Filipino language to refer to Chinese people. It was never meant to be derogatory in any way. I don’t understand why a lot of my fellow Chinoys find it offensive.

There. My itty-bitty piece of Chip Tsao. More on my “anti-Chinese” rants soon…

Movie Review: Knowing (“…and ‘knowing’ is half the battle…”)

You know a movie won’t be perfect if it’s named after one of Estee Lauder’s perfumes. But it’s a "event" movie, it had Nic Cage, and we wanted ANY movie…

In “Knowing,” Nic Cage stars as a widower astronomer dad to a kid who got an envelope from school containing an odd series of numbers. Lo and behold, a well-placed ring of coffee suddenly makes ole’ Nic a numerology genius. And in one night, he figures out that the crazy-ass numbers refer to a truckload of disasters and their respective casualty counts.


Turns out, Nic’s kid (and another kid) are schizzos who hear voices from a bunch of guys whose silhouettes eerily resemble a younger version of U2. It is at this point that we conclude that in Hollywood, ALL angels wear black trenchcoats and look like rock stars on a cigarette break. It has apparently been decided by the guys in U2, Jr. that the world will *gasp!* go down in flames and end. Now I know why we no longer see hippies running around town with placards that say “THE END IS NIGH.” They’re now making movies in Hollywood. A lot of them.

After being bombarded with comic book movies and happy-ever-after rom-coms, it was refreshing to see a movie where one does not have any preconception of what the ending could/would be.

And while the “two kids (who happen to be both American and white) have been abducted by aliens and brought back to help repopulate the earth with more white Americans” ending seemed too Spielberg-ish, I suppose it was necessary considering how bloody depressing the rest of the movie was.

What’s funny is how the movie can’t seem to make up its mind as to whether it was a psychological thriller, a supernatural horror movie, or a sci-fi disaster flick. At least you know that when there’s Nic Cage, there’s almost always an earnest performance, if not a totally earnest story.
Must be those St. Bernard eyes of his.
I mean, a huge, muscled, balding Caucasian guy who can break scrawny Asian guy into steak slices, who has a look on his face that says “don’t hurt me” has GOT to be likable, right?

"...we no longer see hippies running around town with placards that say “THE END IS NIGH.” They’re now making movies in Hollywood..."
Bottom line: the movie wasn’t a waste of time. This blog is.

‘catch you later…

Sunday, April 05, 2009

pointless saturday post...

Shit. My eyes fucking hurt.

While the wifey was channel-surfing, we stumbled upon “The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Rustom-Padilla” dancing on GMA’s pointless slot-filler “Cool Center” doing his best/worst Morticia Addams impersonation.

This isn’t even about him being gay anymore. Either that, or one day he’ll just bust out the corset and claim to have created a fifth gender. Or maybe even a whole new species.

At least he/she doesn’t talk in a forced falsetto…

* * * * *

It’s amazing how a nation with such supposedly publicized levels of poverty always has malls chock-full of cars and not enough parking. Thus, resulting in something almost as bad as road rage, “parking rage.” Parking rage is when one is queued up near a parking slot where someone else is in the process of exiting, then someone else comes swooping in to try and fill the slot in before you do. This results in extreme indignation that causes one’s temper to flare.

Subsequent actions include blowing one’s horn for extended spells as an automotive equivalent to cursing and/or flipping someone the finger through dark tinted windows, then rolling down one’s windows and cursing directly and very eloquently.

If the above still do not prove effective, parking rage dictates that one alights from his vehicle and proceeds to confront the other guy through the other guy’s car window.

Usually, the cooler head (usually the offender who is probably feeling foolish at this point) will just back off. In some cases, the offender feels so foolish he tries to save what’s left of his dignity by snapping back at the parking-rager. This leads to the war of who has the bigger testicles, and who is most likely to be carrying a spare container of strip-sol to pour on the other guy’s vehicle.

Or in some cases, a baseball bat.

So one thing led to another and Mega Mall parking area guard comes in and stops me from going Dragonball on the other guy, who it turns out looks like he’s on the high side of the 40’s, but has the verbal maturity of a twelve-year-old. But yes, he leaves the scene anyway, with me heckling him for taking too long to weasel his way out of how I locked his car in from behind.

Wifey wants to kill me, Marge was crying in the car for having her sleep interrupted, and moments later the wifey points out the offending idiot walking around the mall.

Turns out he was over six feet tall.

I really ought to keep a container of strip-sol in the car… and medical insurance… I need medical insurance…