All For A Life Well Written  

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Am I truly a writer?

For years man had always found ways to recognize and immortalize history as it unfolded. From the dawn of human kind to the modern age of computers, from the prehistoric cave drawings and ancient sea scrolls to the Internet, man has always - albeit sometimes unreliably - been capable of keeping records of his works, his discoveries, his triumphs and defeats, and even the tiniest and seemingly most insignificant details of his life.
Evolution, as it really happened.
But writing isn't just about keeping records or documenting history. While it is true that writing is an efficient way of preserving facts and the chronology of events in history, writing also happens to be one of the most enduring arts that encompasses the originality and profoundness of man's imagination. It fosters creativity and allows one to reach into the deepest recesses of his thoughts, allowing him to translate ideas and turn them into words, prose, poem or lyric, which he can then share them with an interested audience. 

I looked back at some of the topics that I had written about in the Stories from the Simian Crease, and while there are a few publish-worthy material which I am proud to say are of my own imagination and creativity, I noticed that many of the posts in this humble blog centered on me and the hum drums of everyday living, being me. It made me wonder about whether I had been maintaining a blog that was actually worth publishing or is this just an online public diary that barely requires any intellect for anybody to understand. And so I pondered deeply upon that thought, and my keyboard fell silent as I stared at the steady blinking of the mouse pointer on my screen. Should I even dare continue this whimsical yet overly dramatic attempt at literary greatness, or should I just admit defeat and accept mediocrity?

Someone once told me that the greatest novel any author could ever write is the story about his life. Unfinished for most of the author's existence, his life story consists of a series of events that reaches as far back as all his childhood memories will let him, and continues up to the present. No two individuals ever waltz through the exact same sequence of events in their individual lives, and it is this individuality of experiences that assures us that our life's novel will be unique, with all the makings of an epic best-seller to boot. If it is a crime to put the seemingly mundane and worldly routines of yours truly into writing, in an effort to create my own saga - my greatest story ever told - then I say strap them old cuffs onto my wrists and lock me away for good, because I intend to continue living and writing for as long as time and inspiration allow. 

I only hope that by the time the twilight of my existence looms near I shall have already written the last few chapters of my life's novel. At that time I will face those people who have helped me finish writing the story of my life, along with those whom I have helped write theirs, and ask them with all humility...

Was I truly a writer?

Punk Eye  

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Honey you can wash my windows any day.
It is often said that a person's eyes are the windows to the soul. If that's true, then my soul needs some serious heavy duty window washing right now.

For two straight days I have been "down with the sickness" (say that with a growl). Those who I've told about my uncanny ability to get sick at some of the most opportune and convenient times will be able to appreciate the irony of my current situation: I honestly want to go to work but I can't because I happen to have conjunctivitis. Acting has never really been my strong suit but I sometimes do get away with it.

No, seriously, this one's real. I went to work the other night and they sent me home less than an hour later because apparently, I posed the risk of infecting everybody in the office with pinkeye. Now I am quarantined at a safe house, whose location is highly classified. In other words, I'm stuck at home again.

I honestly had no intentions of posting today, but since I was so abso-fucking-lutely bored I decided to go ahead and write anyway. After all, what's a blog without rants, right? So forgive me if this post seems less interesting than a Jinggoy Estrada movie. My red, swollen, pus-encrusted eyes are tired of staring at the screen all day. 

Boy do I need a life.

Harry Potter and the Magic Tofu  

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So believe me when I say that this is a compliment - Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows wasn't as big a disappointment as I thought it would be. 

I got out of work this morning and was pleasantly surprised when my friend and colleague Jie told me that one of our other co-workers, Elmer, was asking if we wanted to go see the latest installment of the Harry Potter movie series. So we went, and were part of the crowd that gathered early at the cinemas waiting to see the much anticipated movie. I have to say, apart from the usual bad casting of characters and the expected departure from the storyline, this movie didn't do so bad. 

Not the scene I was talking about.
There was this scene though that really bothered the behjeezus out of me. Ron had just left the group after a heated and horcrux-infused verbal tussle with Harry, and Hermione was obviously distraught. In an effort to cheer her up, Harry took her by the hand, led her up and danced with her inside their tent. I seriously don't remember reading this part of the book, where Harry danced like a faggot at a fricking gay pride parade. Once that scene hits Youtube I'll post it on my Facebook, just to make you guys laugh out loud. I've got nothing against the gay population, by the way. So please do not misquote me. 

I sincerely liked that scene though, where Hermione obliviated her folks to make them forget that they even had a daughter. It was very touching. 

Speaking of touching, Emma Watson looked oh so stunning. That scene where the horcrux-locket went berserk and showed Ron its corrupted version of Harry and Hermione kissing made me think about whether they did that scene entirely with computer animation or if they actually shot a scene with Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe and just edited it. Either way, evil Hermione was h-o-t.

And the trend of badly miscasted characters continued. If you thought Professor Slughorn didn't look the part in the last embarrassment of a movie, wait until you see the actors that played Rufus Scrimgeour and Pius Thicknesse. If you've read the book more than seven times like me you'll know what I mean.

Thankfully, Dobby's death was just as I imagined it would be. Rest in peace dear Dobby, a free house-elf. Just between you and me Jie, I did cry. Don't tell anyone. 

So after the movie we ate, and this plate of tofu magically appeared at our table. As if some wizard conjured it up from nothing, which incidentally violates one of the basic wizarding laws. 

Tofu, anyone? Anyone?
I can't wait to see how well they'll do the Battle of Hogwarts. Epic or bust. Here's to waiting out another few months for the completion of the Harry Potter film series. Wingardium Leviosa!

Counting Trains  

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I'm posting this now, before all my braincells stop working. I just feel too tired to write right now. Say it again, "write right". Boohoo. 

Yesterday, a friend of mine celebrated her birthday. It was fun, for the most part, and it became sort of a mini-reunion for me and one my fallen colleagues. The place was near a train station, and all the revelry was held just a few feet from the tracks. No kidding, anybody who's seen Final Destination would have thought twice about sitting with us that afternoon. Every now and then, a commuter train would zip past us with horns blaring and we wouldn't have a care in the world. It was a peculiar sight, now that I think about it, to see a table full of party-goers at such an odd and potentially dangerous location. Maybe I really do love living on the edge. 

Not the actual location, but close enough.
Train after train passed by, and the heavy shower that drenched us hardly dampened our festive spirits. I watched as passengers and onlookers stared quizzically at us while we were throwing back glass after glass of ice-cold beer. I seriously would've stayed longer if not for the fact that I had to go to work later that night. 

Yes folks, you heard right. I - the beer-guzzling gorilla from China - walked away from a party because I had to go to work. Can you believe it? 

Can you spell "self discipline"

The Binchee, The Captain, and The Love.

Click START  

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And so the ride on this wonderful happy train continues, although somehow the journey does not feel like an entirely joyous one.

Next week marks the start of me taking on new responsibilities at work, and while I humbly appreciate the trust and confidence that the powers that be have on me, I could not help but feel that this happy bullet came with a rather bitter pill to swallow. 

As much as I would like to celebrate and write my name in the sky with fireworks, I can't. This blog may be fueled by witty sarcasm and powered by pure, unadulterated euphemisms, but I am completely and totally sincere about how I feel towards my friends. You see, while this faithful soldier was promoted to lieutenant, others were relegated to the sidelines. Others still, face an unknown fate. What I'm trying to say is that a personal victory feels so empty when your colleagues are unable to share in your triumph. 

It's like LeBron James winning the MVP award, while he and the rest of the Cavs watch the Lakers win the championship. 

I know I sound awfully selfish in this post, so please forgive me folks. I just had to let this out or else, I would've absolutely gone nuts trying to scream inwardly. For those who are reading this (thank you!) but are not part of, or are not aware of the holocaust that I am implicitly trying to refer to in this piece of trash (thank you still!), I also ask for your forgiveness. There has simply been too many personal issues in my life right now that I felt the urgent need to pull my wand out, take these memories from my head, and dump them all into my digital pensieve. 

The seventh Harry Potter movie's coming out this month. Like, I know, right?

How a Couch Potato Celebrates Life  

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For as long as I can remember, this small piece of Internet space has so often been my place of refuge, my fortress of solitude so to speak. This is where I dump all my pent-up emotions, mixed in with the mushy, the mundane, and the malevolent hodge-podge of feelings that this humble author experiences every now and then. And I'll say it again - often.

This time however, I am here to simply make my declaration of how awesome life is. I rarely get that feeling where I just want to climb Everest and thank God personally for giving me such a good life. I realized today that there are so many things that I should be grateful for. I have friends and family close by, and even though there are times when we don't always seem to get along, I appreciate the fact that they have stood by me through thick and thin. Right now I'm leaning towards "thick", because I just finished a bag of chips and some soda all by myself while watching Megan Fox bounce around in the desert in a dirty spaghetti strap tube top. Hello calories.

Things seem to be finally looking
up for you now Binchee!
Another happy bullet in my gratitude checklist is the fact that I have a job. Not only do i have a job, I am also proud to say that I seem to be in an excellent position to prove my worth and go places in this gig. For once, I can truthfully say that I love what I do for a living. I can almost hear Lady Opportunity moaning softly at my bedside. 

There are so many other things that I want to thank my Creator for, but I just don't want to be splitting hairs here. I'll just sum them all up with this: I am happy to be alive. All the life experiences I've had in the past - good or bad - have brought me to where I am now, and I am just starting to appreciate that fact. If not for all the trials and dead ends that I've run into before, I wouldn't have learned how to get here in the first place. So thank you oh Omnipotent One for the gift of life, good health and free will, and for Your continuous guidance.

Whatever life had me take, I'm loving the rush right now. I gotta say, this high is so much better than what any god-forsaken drug can give, and I ain't planning on getting off this happy train just yet. 

No sir, no.


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I stood there watching from atop the third floor balcony of the apartment. A swarm of dragonflies hovered playfully through the tree branches and power lines across from where I stood, while the rest of the world went about their everyday business on the busy streets below.

As I flicked the burnt cigarette butt out onto the street, I realized how high the dragonflies were flying. With nothing but their flimsy little wings propelling them, the tiny little creatures seemed to float effortlessly through the maze of tree limbs and power lines. It reminded me of how hard work and determination can propel us to those proverbial greater heights, regardless of how small we think we are in this world. 

Sometimes we feel that in the grand scheme of things, we don't mean much. We can feel insignificant, unimportant. There are days when you just want to end it all and start over. Sadly, there are no take-backs and start-overs in this game. We just have to play on and keep working our way up. Then one day you look down to see how high you've flown, and the realization hits you. You are not as insignificant as you thought you were. You have talent, You have skills. You mean something in this world after all.

 I look down and I see that I have come a long way. I light another cigarette, and take in the view.

Rock And Roll, Mother Father!  

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The title of this post is the by-line of one my closest friends at work, who was unceremoniously shown the way out last night. Consider this post as both a tribute to a fallen colleague and a lesson in fair play.

He was a colleague, a friend, a rock star, a comedian, a dancer, and a drinking buddy. More importantly, he was a brother. In the few short months that we've known each other, he had already been there for me through thick and thin, whether we've had a few hours of sleep or not, drunk or sober, allergy or no allergy. Along with two of our other friends, the four of us soon formed what was arguably the closest bond among all of the trainees in our class. In fact, we even went out to have a few beers right on the very first day of training, where we all had just met for the first time. Now, there's hardly anything that we don't know about each other, and we accept each other's faults and imperfections. Plus, two of the top graduates during our time in training emerged from this awesome foursome, which is why it saddens me to think that the group that I had been so used to seeing nearly every god-forsaken day will be missing a considerably integral member.

I will be one of the first to admit that he wasn't exactly employee-of-the-month material. On the outside, he didn't seem to take his responsibilities at work seriously. He was always goofing around. But when it came to the nitty-gritty, he pulled through and proved that he deserved to be in the company. Well at least to me, he did. I saw how he improved in his performance at work, and how he began feeling good about resolving technical issues for strangers who call from the other side of the planet.

Sadly, the damage has apparently already been done. The powers that be have determined that they had already accumulated sufficient reason to graciously show him the door, pulling him out in the middle of the shift and escorting him out of the premises. I understand that rules are rules, and that violation of said rules will lead to termination. I just wished they had shown more consideration. I mean, he wasn't THAT bad. Some of his errs are those that could have only been afforded a warning and a stern talking-to. At least that's what the other teachers did. There's a difference between strictly enforcing the rules and trying to make a name for yourself. Respect is earned. It is never borne out of fear and intimidation.

But what can we do, right?

I just wish that he can forget about this entire ordeal and move on. I believe that he should take the lessons of professionalism with him and bring them over to much greener pastures. I hope he can see the silver lining in this dark situation, and be able to use this experience as a way for him to become a better person. So until we meet again, my brother, have a cold one on me. You will never be forgotten.
Rock and roll mother father!


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Three... two... one! Just as the last few seconds of the fourth quarter of the season's final game ticked away, I let loose a tough fade-away three-point shot from left field that burned the net at the buzzer, which gave the Boston Celtics a resounding come-from-behind victory over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2011 NBA Finals. 

Okay fine. So it was more like a pick-up game that was played on a roadside basketball court located along one of the more highly-traversed thoroughfares in the city of Manila. It wasn't the NBA Finals either, but I did get to hit a game-winner, and it felt awesome!  _\m/ 

The last time I played ball was a couple of months ago, when I participated in our church's annual sportsfest. We lost then, and I only scored a solitary undergoal stab off of a looseball scuffle. Before that, I seriously can't remember when I last shot hoops with anybody. So it was kind of a pleasant surprise for me to see that somehow, after all these years of keeping my big fat behind tucked snugly inside swivel chair after swivel chair, I still have "the touch". As conceited as that might sound, one would have to understand that I am nowhere near optimal playing shape, and that I am way, way past my prime. So for me to be able to shoot that proficiently this late in the game is in itself a huge achievement. It took a while for me to get a feel of the shot, but when we started running all over the place I felt like I was 23 again. Well, at least for a few seconds I did. Then the reality of it all hit me like an elbow to the breadbasket, and I realized I was having trouble catching my breath after a few plays. It almost made me think about quitting smoking. Almost. 

Here's to what is hopefully the beginning of a resurgence in my interest in sports. Now if I could only stop my leg from cramping up.

Slumber and Sobriety  

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Wake up sleepyhead!
Slumber and sobriety are just two of the things that I often take for granted. I have never felt the repercussions of trying to force a depleted supply of brain cells to function normally while in a severely sleep-deprived, zombie-like state than I did last week. I was a disaster waiting to happen.

I have always believed that the consumption of alcohol should go hand in hand with a sufficient amount of sleep. After a night out on the town guzzling down pint after pint of the local clubs' finest booze, one should see to it that he not only gets to sleep it off, but one also needs to make sure that he sleeps at home. The general idea is to go home then sleep, not sleep then go home; although I have often found myself violating this relatively simple concept.

This week I intend to allow my brain to recuperate, even attempt to grow a few brain cells if possible. We're deep into the nitty-gritty of training now and I really need to absorb as much information as I can. So off I go into Lala-land to grab a few Z's. I'll try not to snore too loud.

Oh, and I better get started on that book real soon.

About Being Rigged And Multi-Purpose Holes  

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Okay I admit, the title of this post's a bit of an inside joke. Somebody I know syllabicated the word "RIG-GED" and another blushed profusely after saying hole instead of hall. But I still love them both to bits. What I really just wanted to write about was how I feel about my new beginning. For me, it seems as though my career has finally come full circle, and I am once again that wide-eyed newcomer hoping to make it big in this industry.

As many of you (I often optimistically envision an increase in the number of people that read this blog) may have already surmised, I am currently undergoing training at one of the more prominent yet less financially rewarding call centers in the country today. I still have a few weeks to go before I officially start mentally lambasting people from across the other side of the planet because of their stupidity, but the here and now says I am having the time of my life.

Despite all my personal prohibitions against ever putting on a pair of headsets again, for once I find myself actually smiling at the thought of going to work. I will probably end up burning out again eventually, but I believe I have found something I haven't had at any call center for a very long time - hope. I can sense an air of positivity, especially because the chances of me finally moving up the corporate ladder are pretty big. The last time I felt like this towards my employer, my colleagues, and myself was during training in the very first call center that took me in. Friends felt like family and work seemed more like recreation rather than duty.

Many online dictionaries would define the idiom "come full circle" as to return to the same situation or attitude one originally had. Before I came running back to the industry with my proverbial tail firmly tucked between my legs and my pride thoroughly trampled on, I told myself that this will be the last time I'll ever work for a call center. It will be my last hurrah, so to speak. Every time I told myself that this will be the last time I'll have to put my headsets on and solve other people's problems, I kept wondering about where I'd go next or what career I would likely be involved in if not this. Now that I've come full circle however, I realized that maybe I don't have to go anywhere else. Maybe this is what I was meant to do.

Maybe, I'm finally home.

Home. Finally.

Bitter Sweet Bitter Gourd  

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I saw the Disney Pixar movie Cars the other day, and I recalled how rookie race car Lightning McQueen hit the brakes and stopped dead in his tracks just a few short feet from the finish line, in the last lap of the most important race of his life. Instead of going on to become the first ever rookie to win a Piston Cup, he shifted gears to reverse and went back to help The King, who had just crashed and spun out of the track. The life lesson here may be a bit juvenile, but that particular scene got me thinking: If that had happened to me, would I have done the same thing? What would the movie had been like if Lightning McQueen simply ignored The King's mangled chassis and continued racing towards victory? Would that have been a real victory?

I recently won my first "Piston Cup". In a class mostly consisting of call center virgins and registered nurses, I managed to achieve the honor of being class valedictorian. I aced most of the written exams and passed the oral assessments with flying colors. Sadly though, my "Piston Cup" story also came with its own version of "The King".

Last night, Zune CVG Wave 2 celebrated our last day of communication and culture training. The night was filled with fun, food and booze, and everybody seemed to have had a great time. But the celebration was tainted with sorrow, or at least it was for me. Everybody from our class will move on to product specific training on Monday, all except one.

Arleen, who was my partner during the latter stages of communication and culture training, failed to make the grade. She was a first-time call center trainee, and she was still struggling with her confidence and English communication skills. But she was determined, which is why it felt terribly sad to see her fail. It felt like part of her failure was my fault; that I had not been able to help her enough, being the tenured veteran that I am. Guilt found itself a tiny little nook inside my heart and I think it plans to stay there for a while.

If I could've only stopped before crossing the finish line like Lightning McQueen did, maybe I could have helped her. Hands down, this tops my list of bittersweet victories.

I wish I could've gone back and helped you.


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Are opportunities meant to be taken?

This question kept playing in the back of my head like that last song you heard over the radio. Are all opportunities really meant to be taken?

If God opens a door, should you walk in? There are two schools of thought in this scenario. Some would say that one should walk in and grab the chance to enter because the opportunity presented itself. Others, however, would argue that God also gave man the unique ability to think for himself, therefore free will dictates whether one should choose to enter or not.

Given the two options, the obvious choice would be to take a shot at it and just walk right through the door. Sure. But my hesitation comes from uncertainty and doubt.

Will I be ready for what's on the other side of the door?
Will I be able to stay on the other side without getting unceremoniously shown my way out?
Will I be stepping on other people's toes on my way to the top?

Trying to answer the question of whether I should take the opportunity or not has sadly brought about more questions. Life can really be confusing sometimes, and I often feel that I can barely keep my head above the water.

Don't get me wrong folks, I would love nothing more than to walk right through the door and finally make something of my life. But the apocryphal hellions of self-doubt and apathy have reared their ugly heads, and I am still struggling to find purpose and meaning amidst all the chaos.

I know this post seems awfully vague, but I assure you, I will expound on the topic as soon as I find clarity. As a parting shot however, I would like to end this profound nonsense with yet another question:

Just because you can walk through the door, does that mean you should enter?

Up, or down?

Of Bird Tenses and 1-2-Trees  

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As high and mighty as I thought I was in terms of my phraseological prowess and my command of the English language, it has recently come to my attention that I am far from being grammatically perfect. For one, I often employ writing methods that have never been - and in all probability will never be - acceptable to them English scholars. There are even times when I feel like I seem to invent some of the words I use in my blog.

I often attribute my grammatical imperfection to my being casual and informal. Now I realize that it was all an excuse, which begs the question: am really I up to the task of writing anything publish-worthy?

But I digress, right off the bat. The realization that there is so much more to learn about the English language came to me in one of the communications and culture training sessions which I am currently taking. It was a lesson in humility, although I wasn't a complete embarrassment. There were written assessments which I was certain I was going to ace, but ended up making a couple of mistakes. Disappointing, yes, but hardly disheartening. In fact, I look forward to learning more. Bring it on, baby.

There were those of us who seem to have a relatively respectable grasp on how to use certain words, while others merely transliterate. I do not mean to belittle my colleagues, but I sincerely fear for their survival. The call center industry is a cutthroat business. It isn't enough to know what you want to say; if you can't say it right, you won't last long.

While I rue the fact that I have come back running towards the very same industry which I had desperately tried to run away from, I enjoy the fact that for once in my not-so-illustrious career, I actually did learn something useful from culture and communications training: verb tenses. Now the term "future progressive" no longer conjures up images of rock bands in face paint to my mind.

But I still hate those accursed Thuringian Thermometer folks.

The Mirror (Early Draft)  

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This is an excerpt from a series of experimental novels that I've been working on. It's barely a rough draft, but I'm thinking of including parts of it in the book that I'm trying to write. Tiny steps people, tiny steps.

The old antique mirror propped up along the wooden southern wall of my room has been in our family for as long as anyone can remember. Worn down, dull and tired, it has stood witness to much of our family's history.


The young boy stood in front of the mirror, with his mother struggling to flatten his wild boy hair. "Mommy!" yelled the boy in utter annoyance. "I will not have that tone in this house young man. You better be in your best behavior when the guests arrive, your grandfather has very important friends you know. You don't want to embarrass the Congressman." she replied, just as she managed to hold the last bit of hair down with pomade. In his miniscule barong tagalog, the young boy now looks like the spitting image of his father, without the thick-framed, dark-rimmed glasses.

It was like any other night in 1975. Martial law forestalled any resurgence of democracy, and the incumbent leader was at the dawn of what history deemed as the last few years of his regime. Despite the political turmoil enveloping Manila during those times, a family manages to celebrate a happy occasion.

I know it's not much but it's a start. Ideas have to come from somewhere, right?

Taking the First Few Steps  

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Inspiration is taking over me like an overly extended orgasm. I am a writer not by profession, but by choice.

- Anonymous
I am living a great fantasy. These past few days, I have been constantly overpowered by an immense feeling of inspiration and nostalgia. Recent events in Philippine history have spurred on in me a seemingly insatiable desire to take part in history's unfolding. I have decided that I want to write a book that will immortalize the life of a great man, my grandfather, Marciano Lim.

I was barely a year old when Papa died. According to the stories that Mom and Dad told me when I was little, Papa was a war hero, whose exploits had led to him being elected into a position in the House of Representatives, serving as a Congressman in the 2nd District of Samar from 1953 to 1957. I intend to gather as much information as I can about Papa's legacy, even travel to Samar if I have to, in the hope of finding any historical reference documenting the period in which Papa held office.

It is such a wonderful feeling to receive support from the family. While a few of our relatives have already expressed their approval, for which I am truly grateful, I also wish to get the nod from our family's patriarchs and matriarchs - Papa's surviving sons and daughters, who happen to be my aunt's and uncle's.

I don't think I've ever been more motivated about anything like this before. I'm sure there's likely to be a psychologist's definition for what I have been feeling lately, but I could honestly care less. I do not aim to garner awards and recognition for literary excellence. All I want for now is to one day see college students doing a report on the life and times of Congressman Marciano Lim, using my book as reference. I know this arduous task will be slow and lengthy, but I think it will be worth all the effort.

Here's to hoping that I'm not setting myself (and my family) up for another disappointment.

Dead Lock: The Taking of Quirino Grandstand  

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I was in the middle of writing my next Nobel Prize winner when news about a hostage-taking situation erupted from the telly.

Former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held a bus load of Hong Kong tourists captive for nearly 12 hours before the hostage drama reached its bloody end.

Senior Inspector Mendoza was killed apparently by sniper fire when the situation seemed to have reached its inevitable climax. The situation started when Mendoza boarded the tour bus and commandeered the vehicle towards Quirino Grandstand. The former cop demanded that he be reinstated, and he used the hostage situation as a means to attract attention. He wanted to clear his name after allegations of drug-related crimes and extortion were filed against him in 2008. He was subsequently discharged from service and was forbidden from seeking employment in law enforcement.

Details of the hostage situation can be found all over the web, and I don't feel like recounting the terrible sequences of events that led to Mendoza's demise. I would rather talk about the future. What will this international nightmare mean for the country? As early as now, mere hours after the hostage drama ended, the Hong Kong government has already issued a Black Travel Alert warning residents against flying to the Philippines. This is more than an international embarrassment.

What will this mean for the Philippine National Police? If anything, the situation highlighted our law enforcement agency's inadequacy at handling high-risk situations such as a hostage-taking. We can make all the jokes that we want about our SWAT teams being more like SQUAT teams, but the reality of it is daunting. There will be other Rolando Mendoza's out there. How can we be sure that our tax money goes to the enhancement and improvement of our local law enforcement system?

How does the PNP feel about one of their own causing one of the most tragic international incidents the country has ever seen in years?

How will President Noynoy Aquino respond to this threat to his competency? People have begun pointing fingers and having one of those accusing fingers pointed at the country's leader cannot be helped. Noynoy will have to take part of the blame from the PNP. He may not have been the person directly responsible for our law enforcement agency's incompetency, but he is the nation's leader and should respond as such. Then there's also the issue of smoothing out internal relations with the Hong Kong government. How he will continue to receive the people's respect, one can only speculate. One thing is certain, President Aquino will never hear the end of this from his detractors.

Finally, how will the typical Juan dela Cruz feel? Watching various news coverages from ABS-CBN, GMA7 and even international news agencies like CNN, I saw that there were more than a few onlookers at the scene. They had absolutely no business being there, they were just watching the drama unfold. When the police rushed in after Senior Inspector Mendoza was shot, the onlookers rushed in too. It was embarrassing as a nation to see a hostage situation look like a rock band concert, with all the spectators clamoring to get a front row seat to the spectacle.

Forgive me for saying this, but with the cops' incompetency and the utter lack of crowd control, I was seriously half-expecting the bus the blow up. I blame NCIS and Criminal Minds for the barrage of dark subliminal expectations in my head.

Conspiracy theorists will talk about this for years.

One versus an entire battalion. Did we really get the bad guy here?

Paint My Car Black  

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I don't usually write about silly Facebook games, but this one really caught my fancy. I know everybody's either icing Mafia bosses, planting potatoes on their Farm, or building Restaurants in their City, but not me. I've played some of these games and I either get bored and tired of it after some time, or something important yet uninteresting comes up (such as work, LOL) that I have to let go of the mouse and stop playing.

This time however, I find myself enthralled by this game called Car Town. The gameplay is pretty much like any other Facebook game, in the sense that you have to perform tasks and interact with other players in order to collect coins and obtain the necessary experience points to level up. What I personally like about he game is the ability to create my very own custom car designs. I'm at level 20 now and I still look forward to finishing that paint job so I can get the coins I need to purchase that sleek Viper or Camaro.

I know I'll get tired of the game too eventually, but I will always have these unique car designs to remember it by. For now however, let's race!

My original designs, all made with MS Paint: (clockwise) DX Army 2005 Ford Mustang GT, Red Horse Muziklaban 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, San Miguel Beermen 2007 Cadillac Escalade, Bumblebee Prime 1967 Volkswagen Classic Beetle

Back on the Wagon  

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Get rid of the iPod and uninstall iTunes, I'm working for Zune baby!

Well technically, I'd be working for another reputable call center in the Philippines, but we would be supporting Zune. After all these months of me being dangerously addicted to unemployment, I am finally back on the wagon again.

So I spent the entire day yesterday acing the new hire exams and interviews at one of the more tenured call centers in the country. While I am happy with the results of my application, I know I've not even won half the battle. There are tons of paperwork to be filled out and requirements to be secured, and on top of that I also have to undergo the obligatory medical examination. These days I've been more nervous about taking medical exams than possibly taking a board exam. I'm afraid I might be pregnant. Hehe.

Seriously though, I worry that my deteriorating health condition could once again get in the way of me receiving a comparatively meager amount of income... although now that I've read it out loud it doesn't seem like much of a dilemna. Huh.

Health conditions notwithstanding, I also have to secure clearances from the NBI and from my previous employers. Luckily, I had asked for a certificate of employment from them right before I jumped ship. I also need to go back to school for a copy of my grades. Really, I don't understand why these companies need them, I aced the exams and interviews didn't I?

The worst part of it is that they expect me to have all the paper work ready by Monday. I would've gone out today to process some of the requirements, but I really don't feel so good. Blasted toothache kept me up all night, and i didn't think there was much to accomplish this late in the afternoon. So tomorrow's gonna be a really - and I mean REALLY - busy day for the Binchee.

Wish me luck, will you? And oh, I don't really have an iPod. I am secretly thinking about buying one, though. The Zune is just simply way out of my budget.

Writing Blanks  

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I don't know about you guys, but I've always thought of writing as a manifestation of life. It's how writers like yours truly convey thoughts on what used to be a simple blank sheet of paper. In time, pen strokes became key strokes and ink blots became pixels, but the basic concept remained the same. One could think of writing as a way of turning moments into mementos, and worlds into words.

These days however, I find myself writing blanks. Inspiration is a commodity that all writers thrive on. Without inspiration, the writer would might as well put his pen down for good. The problem is inspiration springs forth from life experiences, and there simply hasn't been anything in my life worth writing about recently.

So until I find enough reason to pursue this elusive dream, I will temporarily put my brush behind my ear, put the palette down on the ground, and just watch the sunset for a little while longer.

The Life and Lies of Severus Snape  

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If you're a Harry Potter junkie like me, you'll get this post. If you're not, then you won't. And if you're a devoted Twilight fan, screw you. Your kind is not welcome here.

Just kidding. Well, maybe.

Today is Harry Potter's fictional birthday. The fact that Harry Potter himself is a fictional character has not stopped fans of author JK Rowling's celebrated protagonist from throwing him birthday parties. He never shows up at any of the parties though, and if he does he would either be hunched underneath his cloak, or disguised as the mailman or a neighbor's cousin with the help of polyjuice potion.

But I'm not here to talk about Potter or Rowling. Months before the final two installments of the Harry Potter film series come out, I was reading up on book 7 and I remembered how I felt about one of the the series' most popular yet most morally ambiguous antagonists - Severus Snape.

In the early parts of the series Professor Snape had always been a vile and malicious character, taking every opportunity to make life difficult for Harry and the Gryffindors in general. I hated Snape for a good part of books 1 to 6. In book 7, however, it was revealed that the mysterious doe patronus, which had guided Ron and Harry to the location of Godric Gryffindor's sword, was none other than Snape's. As interesting as this back story is, nothing compared to how Rowling made the stunning revelation in her book:
Hands down, this part of the book turned me from being one of Snape's biggest detractors into one of his most avid fans. You see, Lily Potter's patronus was also a doe, and apparently Snape's patronus is his way of remembering her. Incidentally, Severus Snape was the only Death Eater that was even capable of producing a patronus. His undying affection for Lily Potter had gone far beyond good and evil, and had transcended the boundaries of life and death. It just goes to show that even in the darkest of souls, love and kindness can exist.

Man that was cheesy. Blech.

Page screenshot courtesy of Ron, author of Time. Truth. Hearts. Okay so I grabbed it off his Facebook page, happy!?

A Darker Shade of Grey  

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I feel so ashamed of myself.
Last night, while the the rain playfully showered on everyone on the street, a woman got mugged a few yards from where I was standing. Hunched over, clutching an umbrella in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other, I stood frozen in the rain as the woman screamed for help.

I wanted to run towards her to help but I didn't. I just stood there, like a complete idiot.

The woman was sprawled on the street, pushed to the pavement by the devil himself. He looked no older than 17. From where I stood, it looked like he held the woman up at knife point, and took whatever it was that he took. But at that distance, I could not be certain if there actually was a weapon involved, although her screams of terror instinctively told me that he had to have had something life-threatening in his hands. My feet turned heavy as lead and I could not move a step.

Everything happened so fast. I watched as the perpetrator ran towards a particularly shady part of the neighborhood, which had a notorious reputation for being hideout to some of society's most heinous. The thought that the devil was my neighbor was enough reason for me to think of not getting involved. But I still feel sick to the stomach.

When it was all over, the woman stood up and walked past me, hobbling a little. As she passed she looked at me, and all my eyes could say to hers was "I'm sorry." Words deserted me at that very moment and all I had inside me was darkness.

I did nothing, and right now I am struggling to understand the difference between right and wrong. My morality is severely in question, and it turns out that I am my worst critic.

Pain Liniment and Eviction Notices  

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Talk about foul moods.

Aside from the stress brought about by issues with domestic finances, I am also currently extremely annoyed by all these neighbors walking in and out of the house like it was a goddamn mall or something. Excuse me folks, this will be a whine-fest.

The people who live in the room which Mom rented out brought in family today; an old geezer who lights his cigarettes inside the house right in front of my niece and nephews; a small filthy looking woman and her greasy kid; and I believe there was another kid about 5 to 6 years old whose voice was so loud and annoying you'd think he had swallowed a toad or something.

These people who have lived in the other room for more than 3 years have been taking up all my space, using up the water in the bathroom, and breathing in all my air. I feel so boxed in it's suffocating. The mother scolds my niece and nephew for the littlest things, and I really find that intrusive. She has absolutely no right to reprimand those kids. Those kids' folks and grandmother lets them rent one of the rooms in the house. It would be nice if they showed us some gratitude.

The youngest kid in that family is an absolute moocher. I think he's about 10 or 11 years old, overweight, and he bullies my niece and nephew when we aren't looking. He tries to get away with playing games on one of the computers for free under the guise of helping my nephew play. Sure it starts out that way, but as soon as I turn around I come back later only to find that he's holding the mouse and playing the game himself, while my nephew just watches. He also takes food from the kids, and never gives any food to them. Oh my blood is absolutely boiling.

The father and the older boy annoys me by simply using our bathroom. Of course, the house only has one bathroom so sharing was inevitable. Hide your dinner folks because this is gonna make everything you ate come right back up. Daddy stinky and older brother stinky use the toilet everyday, and for some godforsaken reason their accursed stench stays in the bathroom hours after they leave. Mom doesn't seem to notice, but I happen to have a keen sense of smell, which is something I often find hard to decide if it is a gift or a curse.

We had to rent out one of the rooms in the house back then when Dad died and we needed some sort of income. But it's been several years now and I know Mom has grown attached to these scumbags. After all, when my brother and I were at work, these people kept my mother company. But I have reached the end of my rope. I honestly feel that these people have overstayed their welcome. Sure they pay alright, but I need a bigger room now. They're occupying one that was MY room to begin with. If it were up to me I'd have them move out right now, but Mom won't have any of it. She'll let them stay for as long as they can pay the rent. I'm seriously contemplating the idea of moving out of this wretched house myself. The walls are starting to close in anyway.

On top of it all, just now San Miguel Beer lost to B-Meg Derby Ace in Game 2 of their semifinal series, further souring my mood. I also had this nasty toothache all day and I figured that if I could get some blood circulating underneath those gums the pain might go away. So I played basketball this afternoon, and ended up hurting my knee. Now I have a bum knee and my tooth still hurts. And I have yet to find the inspiration I need for my next feeble attempt at literary greatness.

Isn't being me such a dandy?

Get Busy!  

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And so we're finally back to regular programming.

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks for me and it really didn't help to have my old unreliable Internet service provider disappointing me on a daily basis. So I chucked the contract I had with old reliable out the window and switched over to a new and hopefully more dependable service provider. Somehow I can see the phrase "breach of contract" in my not so distant future.

Now that I have the Internet situation handled, I can finally go back to writing. Work has been severely sidetracked because of troubles with not being able to research; because I realized I needed Internet connection to actually reach Google or Yahoo. Of course, I could go out and walk all the way to the nearest computer rental to pay for a few hours worth of research time, but I would rather work in the comfort of my couch for free. Also, computer shops annoy me, with all those raucous teenagers viciously screaming invectives at one another over a computer game where their virtual heroes pummel each other into oblivion. Not to mention the utter lack of privacy and the abundance of nosy strangers looking over your shoulder trying to get a sneak peek at your screen. Hey, I'm all about curiosity but sometimes it borders along invasion of privacy and trespassing.

School started, and not surprisingly I had been volunteered by my mother into taking my niece and nephew to school every now and then. It's tiring, but the sight of the kids' faces as they greet their teachers and classmates smiling from ear to ear makes the trouble all worthwhile. I love those kids and I sometimes help them out with their homework. I just hope they get into better schools when they grow up. These preparatory schools are simply rubbish.

Meanwhile, a huge storm hit the metro last week, and we were fortunate enough to have a sturdy roof over our heads. Well, it was mostly sturdy. Part of the garage roof was blown off by strong winds, causing rain to get in through windows. My PC's got slightly wet though. It's a good thing mom noticed the soaking wet curtains before any damage was done to the computer monitors that were just by the window.

And so the world spins its tiresome rotation once again, and I feel a little more on-track. While I try to keep my head straight I need to figure out what I want to do with this singular existence. But first, I need some money. It's time to send out a few resum├ęs.

The Confidence Pill  

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Are you part of the minority who shimmies along the sidelines because they're too shy to mingle with hip crowd? Do you often find yourself groping for words because you didn't know exactly what to say to her? Well stammer no more fellas, help is here.

From the manufacturers of the highly successful Composure Potion comes the next product in the line of medicinal miracles that are sure to change men's lives the world over.

The Confidence Pill combines the herbal benefits of sassinogen, taken from the roots of the Poise plant, with the andromorphic capabilities of Genie Ginseng. Taken once daily, The Confidence Pill eliminates areas of insecurities, such as those those embarrassing facial warts or that bent-out-of-whack scoliosis back. The Confidence Pill even provides better self-appreciation by expediting weight loss, and is even reported to have positive effects on pituitary functions, encouraging growth spurts when necessary.

Regular use of The Confidence Pill also improves mental capacity, unblocking mental blocks and completely eliminating awkward dead air. Frequent users of The Confidence Pill have experienced a sudden expansion of their vocabulary, and have gained the ability to speak more eloquently. Aside from correcting posture, The Confidence Pill also encourages regular eye contact, making it the perfect pre-interview formula.

Other side effects include improved athleticism and coordination, as well as loss of tone-deafness. Also try The Confidence Pill Plus which re-grows amputated limbs and restores vision, speech and hearing, as well as The Confidence Pill for Women, which removes post-natal insecurities and increases breast size while reducing dress size.

The Confidence Pill is made and distributed by Wishful Thinking Pharmaceuticals.

Need a picker-upper?

Small Talk  

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Well the rain is starting to fall again. Just like me.

Now we don't have to suffer through that mind-melting heat too much. It feels awfully good to see rain again after a really, really long while. It's like summer overstayed its welcome and decided to extend its stay in the country. With temperatures reaching a so-ridiculous-it-ain't-even-funny-anymore high of 38 degrees Celsius, I personally wouldn't mind a heavy downpour every now and then.

I just hope we don't have to go through another Ondoy.

What would my posts be if I were to stop talking about my half-hearted attempts at finding happiness? I met an old high school sweetie and just to keep with the weather analogies, she looked oh so effin' hot. To my surprise, she happened to be single. So I immediately made my move to uh... well I don't know what exactly my moves were but uhm... well she's awesome and I'm stammering again. In other words, my dreams went pfffffft one more time.

Better start talking about the weather again.

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Stories from the Simian Crease by Binchee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.
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