friday is

a walk home from work
with no focus
but a blur
sewn in soft images—
moon’s sliver of a crescent, afloat
headlights of binary tones, neon
eyes flicker in rapid movements, strange
as a star before the supernova—
reminders of
high strung
freedom
but is freedom nonetheless.

Advertisements

The State of Noontime TV Address

AlDub. If this odd-sounding portmanteau rings familiar to you, then you are definitely on the track; on the other hand, if AlDub doesn’t quite mean anything no matter how you refer allusions in your psyche, then you must be living under a rock, in a different generation, in a separate lifetime, all in one of the more rickety-shady units of the multiverse. Or probably you just live in any other country that is not the Philippines. Or maybe, you simply do not watch TV at all.

AlDub, otherwise known as the “Kalyeserye,” is one segment of Eat Bulaga, a noontime TV show that features and stars two less-popular (prior to this phenomenon, obviously) GMA talents, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza. The “Al” in Aldub came from the first syllable of Alden’s name, the Dub came from Maine’s. Why Dub? Because apparently, Maine Mendoza was discovered by GMA due to her funny and uncanny Dubsmash videos (don’t ask me what Dubsmash is for it’s another craze I didn’t understand) ergo in the long-running noontime show, Maine Mendoza was called Yaya Dub. Why Yaya? I also don’t know.

And there I just explained the etymology of it, because it’s the only thing I know well about the show. Here I am writing not as a fan or as a hater, but as an outsider who initially didn’t care much but does now. And since I brought that up this early, and it would probably be lot easier to go in detail if I were to speak about them, allow me to talk about the so-called fans and the so-called haters of this phenomenon.

I would begin with this affirmation that the fans comprise a significant portion of the country’s entire population. And didn’t I say that by significant, I meant massive? I meant, millions of people using the same hashtags for Aldub on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites? The last record, I was told, was an intimidating 25 million tweets in one day. Come on, twenty five fucking million tweets. Just this weekend, I was with my friends in SM North EDSA when we passed by a Gerry’s Grill at the patio. People were flocking at the al fresco restaurant and I initially thought there was some live performance going on. Only to find out they were watching two TV sets installed outside. The show? Not a Pacquiao match, not a Gilas game, but of course, you know what.

For certain people who do not watch TV but regularly check their Facebook accounts, it is almost impossible not to come across an Aldub post in their Newsfeed. No, I take it back. Not almost, just pretty impossible.

So the question of the century lies now: what is in this Aldub that makes it a mania, a phenomenon, an indelible mark that destroys Philippine television every noontime? The answer: kilig. The one Filipino term that’s hard to explain since we all fail to find an English translation. Kilig, in its basic definition, is the sort of butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get from love stories. It’s what you feel when your crush suddenly approaches you to ask for a film of napkin. Friends who watch the segment have told me the high level of kilig the show brings to its patrons–the kind that is, so it seems, palpable. Also, Aldub brings joy and laughter brought by the other ‘cast’ such as Lola Nidora portrayed by comedian, Wally Bayona. People affirm to the fact that his antics and remarks as an overprotective grandma are all spontaneous with a lot of dry humor–the same kind of tongue in cheek comedy Tito, Vic, and Joey were known for.

In simpler terms, Aldub brings a high level of entertainment to the Filipino TV enthusiasts. Ultimately, this kind of entertainment is the single thing that irks the community of Aldub critics, also known as the snubs. This kilig stuff is not what we need right now, some people claim. Words have sprung unsolicited–shallow, waste of time, oversimplistic, and to some levels, gross. We heard famous people talk about the alleged shallowness of the show which reflects the shallowness of its patrons, accordingly.

It didn’t take long before we heard responses from Aldub fans, who carefully illustrated their defences. Then we heard some more opinions from the other side, who unapologetically expressed responses. Sooner, there were discourses about the Kalyeserye. Everyone wanted to be heard, because everyone had good points to say.

This exchange of ideas actually caught my attention, above everything else. Despite the apathy, these articles from newspapers and online magazine made me accept the fundamental power that is this Aldub phenomenon.

I still haven’t watched an episode. But who are we to put a serendipitous TV sensation under the media microscope? The more articles I read, the more questions cross my mind, like, did we have such strong reactions to Willie Revillame when his Wowowee became a hit? Certainly, that could pass as shallow entertainment for me. And what is sensible entertainment?

It reminds me of a friend’s reaction when she discovered that some people were actually worried that Aldub cultivates a culture of nonsense–who rolled her eyes and said in her voice of utter derision, “I’m confident I could handle both the kilig and sound judgment as to who should be the president next year.”

apols to those who have not read anything, have read it already, and the others who don’t have intention of reading but have seen it anway

Alright. Before posting something here, I think I may have to make an apology for my sort of inactivity for the last three months–six months if you exclude the very few entries I have halfheartedly been posting since March. Okay, so here are a few things about me that I have been wanting to write about but I honestly couldn’t because of the lack of the drive and the lack of time.

  1. I quit being a teacher and now work for the government;
  2. I have not been writing anything aside from a few scribbles on the back of receipts I find in my wallet;
  3. There are only a few books I have purchased and read since January;
  4. I still don’t watch TV which means I still have few knowledge on current events and the novelty;
  5. I still wash my own clothes, but I now use the iron often since they require formal wear there at the office;
  6. Still single; and,
  7. My current job (and reading and watching Anthony Bourdain) made me appreciate the beauty in travelling.

For the next few weeks, I promised to devote some time in sharing a few things I learned, experienced, and felt in those rare times I’m out of the city. And hopefully, it’d engage me into writing again, about anything that could strip me off this indolence. Well, hopefully.

hubris

it rained one afternoon
as i walk home,
and it’s not like
i was melodramatic
but it was july
and i don’t recall kind
memories of july
save for warm dumplings
and afternoon walks around
the campus ordained in
july downpour
and it’s not like
i ever believed that
tv is right
but sometimes
i still leave the
umbrella at home
on a monsoon.

DSC_0759

wilderness*

when i quit my job and decided to become someone else i don’t even know,
ideas and images flashed into my mind,
skidded my tongue and spewed out as words of
apology and thanks to
people i worked with for years.
i looked into the eyes of my students and told them,
“your teacher needs to go out into the world because he needs to be someone else he doesn’t even know.”
i apologized. and they did understand.

i had no idea why at twenty five i had to write a letter of resignation with blank words, with empty reasons. but i did it.

i did it. in this vast wilderness of necessity, i searched for jobs
i thought were fitting–
content writer, book merchandiser, advertising specialist, media and communications officer–
careers a person with a writing degree would do–
things with no maths, no Microsoft Excel,
careers that would not force me to turn on and use equipment with
buttons of different shapes and sizes,
careers that would fit the few skills and qualifications according to my two-pager “curriculum vitae.”
i was everywhere looking for jobs in the government, the NGOs, in the business world.
it required me to cultivate another level of consciousness to say yes to possible overtime work with no pay, yes to contractual work with no benefits, yes to field work, yes to graveyard shift. i said did not mind if my supervisor would point to me one day and say, “hey you. wear real corporate clothes next time.’

things were all up in the air but i just wished for two things: i wished that they would let me drink my coffee at office hours and read a novel at lunch time.

i had to find my new self in this stretch of hopes and odds because i quit my job and decided to be someone else i don’t even know.
in this vast wilderness of competition,
i was a snail slowly crawling astride thick mud; i was a fish with a mouth that’s ready to grab the first bait to show up;
i was a bird that sweeps in the air with no end goal but to rest;
i was a horse with a blinder that says: find a job.
or is it find yourself?
i lost it.
in between this search for the necessary and the ideal,
i lost it.
i lost the drive. there was no mercy and i had no grace.

finally, jobs started to show up like bats in moonlight
and i had to choose
among them. i lined up my priorities:
yes to high salaries, yes to health benefits, yes to travel allowance and clothing allowance and yes to overtime work
only if they pay.
in this vast wilderness of opportunities, i was nothing else but the lion.
i felt like king; and i almost heard myself roar in utter excitement.
suddenly it was so easy to forego of the very reason why i quit my job.

but in this vast wilderness of possibilities, change happens fast like
dawn follows dusk.
the world shifts and in the end, it was contractual with no benefits, no overtime pay, no allowances.
and I am on my way to becoming
someone else I don’t even know.

19 April 2015 | Diliman, Quezon City

*apologies to Carl Sandburg