Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why I Will Never be a Fashionista

There are two things that I will never be:
a. Thin
b. A Fashionista

This is not entirely by choice. Believe me, if I could, I would love to be a size 2 and have closets full of designer bags and quirky vintage Chanel and Vivienne Westwood outfits found in thrift shops all over the world. I would love to be forever featured in fashion magazine as a trendsetter, a pioneer, a visionary.

But alas, this is not meant to be.

And I have no one to blame but me.

I will never be a size 2 (the size of the Agnes B mini stashed in my closet just in case) because I am too lazy. Too lazy to exercise, too lazy to diet, too lazy, too lazy, too lazy. I would rather stay the way I am now, 20 pounds overweight and happily eating my way though life, than put myself through the misery of going to the gym, cutting down on food, etc. etc. I sometimes envy people, like my sister, who have made the gym their second home. The gym never did anything for me, except make me feel miserable. I never got the endorphin rush gym rats keep talking about. Either it’s a complete myth or I have reverse endorphins that make me feel depressed instead of euphoric when I exercise. Either way, I don’t see myself going to the gym anytime soon unless I have some sort of enlightenment.

I will never be a fashionista because, while I do wear something trendy once in a while, I tend to stick to classic pieces that will look the same ten years from now. But that’s not the main reason. The real reason is because I have an anti-fashionista streak in me, one that demands I wear the least fashionable (but oh, so comfy!) clothes in the least fashionable way possible. For example: I got out of bed today wanting to wear what my sister fondly calls my “Ernie (from Sesame Street) Sweater,” a snug knitted sweater with big red and grey horizontal stripes that I got from Terranova. Unfortunately, it’s also what any guy (ie. Ian N. and Luis) or horror buff will say (with glee, I might add) is actually my “Freddie Kreuger Sweater.” That, paired with two ginormous pimples (that I’m too lazy to cover with concealer), a bad hair day (I’m a total ignoramus at hair styling – I blame muscular dystrophy) and black plastic glasses (Too lazy to put on contacts) that Luis says makes me look like a member of Fall Out Boy equals Pudgy Pimpled Serial Killer Nerd Girl From Hell. It’s. Just. Not. Fashionable. But it’s comfy and I like it and there’s a certain sense of pride and defiance in wearing something that is guaranteed to make me look like a nerd but is oh so comfortable. Thankfully, I restrained myself and wore something more suited for the office instead.

So it will be my burden to know that I will never be thin and I will never be a fashion trendsetter, but it’s okay because in the end, both will have been my choice after all.

A Recipe for Disaster

How to Upset a Little Old Lady

This recipe can only be done by young people of (marriageable) Filipino Chinese descent aged 21 and above, though it may work for other xenophobic races as well.

1. First, make sure that the target (an old man or woman, or a FilChi person of any age who is known to be fanatical about “keeping our race pure”) has a really, really good impression of you. If you are a girl, you can do this by acting sweet and feminine or, if you’re lazy like me, just by flitting about and not say anything. If you’re a guy, you can easily do this just by being rich. You can talk about your latest merger and/ or acquisition, or perhaps wave your bankbook around.

2. Doing the above is sure to get you a lot of compliments, especially form older people. They are bound to say (in Chinese) with a big enthusiastic smile on their faces, “You’re so pretty/ handsome, ah! Are you in a relationship?”

3. Say “yes, I am” as politely as you can. Smile a lot. Show teeth, but no gums, please.

4. The next question will, 99.5 out of 100% be, “Is your spouse/ significant other Chinese?”

5. This is where it gets interesting. Say “No, s/he’s not” and watch their facial expressions change from shock to confusion to disbelief to finally, either disgust or resignation. All of this happens in about 2-5 seconds, so you have to catch it quick.

6. Most of the time, the old person will wander off in a state of dazed shock. There are some, however, who will persist in asking more questions in the hopes of somehow redeeming, in their eyes, your “appalling” decision to date/ marry outside the race. This is where the real fun starts.

The next question will obviously be “What do they do for a living?” You have tow options. One is shame them into thinking that your choice for a mate is a good one despite not being Chinese, and two (my personal favorite) is to shock them into thinking that you are a lost cause, a shame to the race.

To accomplish the first choice, pile the old person story upon story about how good-looking (if you’re a guy) or rich (if you’re a girl) your significant other is. Don’t’ be afraid to tell tall tales – “My girlfriend won Miss Universe and made the other contestants cry,” or “My boyfriend owns half of New York City” will be believed and applauded.

To accomplish the second choice, throw the most depraved and disgusting job descriptions at them. Don'’ be lazy and say "He'’s a bum," go all out and use your imagination. Add a dash of adventure, maybe some illicit romance. “My boyfriend flies the plane that delivers illegal drugs to first world countries” or “I met my girlfriend when I tabled her at a bar” or “My girl/boyfriend used to date Kevin Federline” (sorry, Brit Brit) is a good start. This works especially well for girls of all social classes, especially if you’re extremely pretty and well off. It might not work so much for guys, especially if you have money (because apparently, male-owned money can buy anything), but that’s the double standard for you.

Most likely, the old lady will just walk away in a daze. If you’re lucky, she’ll have to sit down and fan herself a while. Or faint. Which is more fun. It might be good to have a crash cart ready for such an occasion. Not only will you have the satisfaction of watching a little old lady faint, you’ll also get to yell “Clear!” as you jolt her chest with electrical current like they do on TV.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to upsetting the little old lady/man/close-minded idiot of your choice. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Gaiman-ness

Got this e-mail from Charles, who recorded and transcribed Neil Gaiman’s comments on the winning entries. Mr. Gaiman says mine is “spooky.” Neil Gaiman thinks my entry is creepy! How cool is that? :)

Here’s the e-mail in its entirety:

“Hi! Just finished transcribing Neil's feedback on your entries. Here they are (for your persual):

"Juan Perez's Corpse" really funny, nasty story. And I loved both the funniness and the nastiness of a corpse of a man killed in a plane crash, wakes up in bed in a particularly nasty condition and goes down for breakfast and the reaction of the neighbors and everybody else to what's going on and it actually manages to be moving as well which I thought was lovely.

The other thing that managed to be moving was "Lines and Spaces", our second place for comics which was basically a tribute to Alex Nino and which I thought was particularly apt since Alex Nino was one of the huge inspirations behind comics and it's a lovely little story.

Second place winner "The Bridge" very spooky. One of the things I loved about all the stories is that they all feel uniquely Filipino. And "The Bridge" which is a story about a psychic little girl and her encounter with a political leader of a country a lot like the Philippines is a very, very creepy and really nicely done.

"The Sugilanon of Epifania's Heartbreak" which Ian, who also won 1st place in last year's competition is a lovely little fable and felt it should have been illustrated. If you get it published, maybe in the book next year we can get a few illustrations.

The first place winner is science fiction and fantasy and uniquely Filipino and very, very, very odd in all of the nicest possible ways. And it's a story called "Logovore" about somebody who eats words and their encounters with the people--it's almost indescribable and I've never read anything like it before and was absolutely ready to go on the world stage. I looked at that story and--it could have been fantasy or science fiction and it ought to be picked up by the best of the year anthologies.

So honestly you guys, especially in prose, nothing to be ashamed of. So absolutely terrific showing. What I'm hoping for next year is that we not only get absolutely world class prose but we also get absolutely world class comics as well.”

Also got mail from Dean Alfar. Here’s the exchange where, as you can see, I haven’t stopped blubbering like a fan girl.

Hey Yvette,
Here are a couple of shots of you and you-know-who :)
Congratulations again! I really enjoyed your story – and you’re becoming one of my favorite Filipino fictionists.

Wow! Thanks, Dean! For the pictures ('s not my imagination, right? he really did pull me towards him?...) and the compliment! See you soon! :)

Yup, it was definitely real!
See you soon!

Monday, November 26, 2007

My Brush with Neil Gaiman

I still can’t believe it. I just won 2nd place in the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards held yesterday outside Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street. The stage was pretty high, so Luis had to help me up – it looked like I had joined a beauty pageant instead of a literary contest! Fully Book’s Jaime Daez handed me a dream catcher and a certificate, then – I swear this is true – Neil Gaiman pulled me towards him and said “Here’s your hug” and then he hugged me, and then said, “Here’s your kiss,” then he made beso me (this doesn’t hold a candle to Andrew Drilon, who actually kissed Gaiman on the cheek – Go, Andrew! Idol! :D ), then he told me that he really, really liked my story. *faints* All of last year’s and this year’s winners had dinner with Neil afterwards. It felt like the prom, except with geeks in.

I got to talk to Ian Casocot (one of last year’s first and this year’s co-2nd place winner), who told me that he really liked “Stella for Star,” my entry last year (an honorable mention and is also in Expeditions, the anthology that collects all last year’s winners), and said it creeped him out. This means a lot, one, because the story managed to scare people, and two, because its Ian Casocot who’s telling me this. I also finally got to meet Tony Perez, who I think I embarrassed myself over. He gave me a pendant of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Also got to catch up with Paolo Ferrer, one of last year’s 3rd place comics winners, but alas, I did not get to chat with his ubercool girlfriend, Mitch. Paolo introduced me to Lienil Yu, who I have been wanting to meet for the longest time. Lienil was very nice, and said I could interview him for Tulay. Whee! I actually got to talk to a lot of people, but if I mentioned them all here, I’d begin to sound like a society columnist, and I don’t think you’d want that, right, dahlings?

We (the winners) got to chat with Neil (naks, first name basis na kami), who, after I had sign my copy of Expeditions, told me again that he really, really liked my entry. *faints again* My camera wouldn’t work the entire time, so I have no pictures of the event. The only picture I have is on my phone, and its on Neil Gaiman with his arm around me. We’re both looking at the camera except he looks dignified and I have a silly grin on my face. Aside from the fact that I’m standing beside one of the greatest writers today, I look positively skinny! Which is the whole point, really. Just kidding!

I told my mom about the win when I got home, and she set about texting everyone she knew about it, event though she wasn’t quite sure what has happened. Yes, my mother is my best publicist.

I have to apologize, I know this entry is kalat. But wouldn’t you be after hanging out with Neil Gaiman?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thingsto Do When You're Bored

For lack of better things to do, I have come up with a few lists of things to do when, you know, you lack better things to do. Some, I have done, some I just put in for the heck of it. Can you guess which is which?

Things to do in the summertime:
1. plant kamote (sweet potatoes – am taking a cue from Nick Joaquin)
2. ride them carabaos (not as fun as it looks)
3. swim (but not too much)
4. catch salagubangs (beetles) and fireflies
5. steal mangoes from neighbor’s tree

Things not to do during rainy season:
1. pray for rain (unless global warming has kicked into high gear)
2. swim (in floodwaters and during lightning storms)
3. stand under trees (see above)
4. hunt for rats (unless you are a professional rat hunter, or a cat)
5. use straw accessories (sayang ang bag at sapatos!)

Things not to say about an acquaintance’s child:
1. I didn’t know you had a pet monkey! (ok, this was obvious)
2. Oh how cute! He looks just like a bobble-head doll!
3. She reminds me of Disney royalty – Snow White’s queen step mom in witch disguise.
4. Let me guess – you drank a lot when you were pregnant, didn’t you?
5. Poor baby. He looks just like you!

Things to have done by the time you reach 30:
1. smuggled drugs across a border with the help of a Chihuahua, a capsicum and a roll of cheese
2. hijacked a plane with a gherkin, then demanded that it fly towards the destination it was flying to anyway
3. presented the love of your life with a pig stolen from the neighbor’s yard (the same one who owns the mango tree) and fitted through her bedroom window
4. engaged a carabao in a bullfight
5. infiltrated an ultra left-wing political organization and convince its members that Walt Disney is god

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ideas for Show and Tell

We don’t really have a tradition of Show and Tell in the Philippines, but I’d like to imagine that when asked to bring something that is important to a student’s life, he or she shouldn’t be stuck to the usual items like baby pictures or favorite toys or a piece of his/ her parents’ wedding cake (half-eaten cake older than you are would make a good bribe anyway).

Here, in the spirit of creativity and going against the flock (flying against the wave?), are some ideas for a truly memorable Show and Tell, along with the explanations behind them:

Photo of bride and groom after the ceremony
“Daddy says this was taken a few minutes before I was conceived. He says if you look really close, you can see the alcove they snuck into after the ceremony. Some priests still avoid it to this day.”

Glow in the dark condom (broken)
“Mommy didn’t want to take pills and daddy hadn’t gotten his vasectomy yet so this is what they were stuck with. Obviously, it didn’t work very well.”

White thong (used)
“This was what mommy had on, or more accurately, off, when I was conceived.”

Empty martini glass
“This used to contain a lychee martini. It was what my mom was drinking when she found out she was pregnant. I think she drank a few dozen more after, you know, to steel herself for nine months of sobriety.”

Picture of cow in a field
“This is the cow that my visiting grandmother mistook for her beloved daughter two weeks before I was born. I hear my mother was not amused.”

Jar of fat
“This used to belong to my mommy. She had it sucked out of her right after I was born. Aren’t doctors great?”

Photo of a room filled with the latest games, gadgets and toys
“This is daddy’s play room. I’m allowed to look, but not to touch. He says I can have my own Mazinger Z figure and comic book collection when I grow up.”

DVDs of A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club and Sneakers
“Mommy and daddy think Barney is for sissies. They say these films build character. When I grow up, I want to wear bowler hats and beat people up, too.”

With show and tell items like these, my kid is sure to get an A! Any teacher who thinks otherwise has been watching too much Barney. Now class, what’s the first rule of Fight Club?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I iz (sort of) Famus!

More shameless self promotion: I iz famus! Sort of. People who I haven't badgered, bullied or cajoled into reading my stories have read my stories! Or at least know of me. I iz tickled. Of course, they might stop reading once they find out I sometimez speakz in lolcat. *hides under couch*

Don't beleive me? Then take a look at this blog entry that Luis found which lumps me with Krip Yuson. Yay!

Here's the link (tamad ako mag-code and di naman gumagana sa Blogger ko):

And here's what he wrote:

"I might not have made it to the lineup for Dean
Alfar's third Speculative Fiction Anthology, but
apparently Dominique Cimafranca has. Seeing that this
will be his first published short story in the local
scene, you might want to congratulate him on his
achievement. :)

"Dominique joins what strikes me as a very
distinguished list of authors for the book. It's got
names that should now be established as mainstays in
the field of local Speculative Fiction (like Ian
Casocot and Andrew Drilon), wide-ranging awardwinners
(like Yvette Tan and Alfred Yuson), and people who I
could probably take on in a one-on-one cage match
(like Joseph Nacino and Charles Tan). There are a
number of notably missing names -- Vin Simbulan and
Chiles Samaniego among others -- but I'm pretty sure
that their works will be back in the spotlight soon."

Pumapalakpag ang tenga koh! Tickled writer is tickled. Hee!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ugly Betty and Familial Stupidity

My sister brought home the 1st season of Ugly Betty, which I just finished. While my first instinct is to identify with Betty (don’t we all?), what really freaks me out is that I’m the same age as her older sister, Hilda, a single mother whose wonderfully gay son came nine months after her prom night. I’m continually amazed because Hilda looks older than me, and it boggles the mind that if I had somehow gotten pregnant during my last year of high school, I’d have a 12 year old child today. It’s a big thing to wrap my mind around, especially since I don’t think I’d be good with children. I can barely take care of my cat.

So its weird that the person I feel the closest to on that show is a single MILF who loves her family fiercely but who sometimes needs a smack on the head for her lack of common sense, just because we were born on the same year. She isn’t my favorite character though. That would be her incredibly cute and talented son, Justin, and Claire, the murderer mother of the show’s other main character, Daniel Meade, Betty’s boss, playboy, party animal, and EIC of Mode magazine.

Why am I writing about Ugly Betty? I’m not going to wax rhapsodic about how the show places importance on the inside vs. the outside, blah blah blah. I’m writing about the show because its how I’ve been wasting my evenings and how, for a show that’s supposed to be an inside look into the workings of a big fashion magazine, I can’t find any clothes that I’d like to wear.

In other news, I had the following insane conversation with an uncle:

Uncle: (after hearing me tell my aunt, his wife, all about my current office job) So, where do you work?

Me: Ortigas.

(What I really wanted to say: Didn’t you just hear me tell your wife all about where I work and what I do?)

Uncle: I see. Is that like your job in TV?

Me: No.

(What I really wanted to say: Yes. Because sitting around in an office all day is exactly the same as running around interviewing actors and staying late to edit an episode or finish a story. But I guess you already know that.)

Uncle: Ah. But you used to be thin then, right?

Me: …

(What I really wanted to say: Yes. And didn’t you use to be smart. Oh, my mistake. I was thinking of someone else. At least I can go back to being thin. You can never go back to being smart because it’s impossible for anyone to go back to what never were.)

You can tell I have a lot of angst about my weight, and about the intellectual savvy that some of my family members possess. How can I compete with such razor sharp wit? (Buti na lang they don’t go on line, or know what sarcasm is, or else I’d be in big trouble.)

I realized just now that this entry sounds like something Joey Dizon (Hello, Joey! :D ) wrote on his blog, except his is funnier than mine. Joey, if you’re reading this, take heart in the fact that at least you don’t have to see your teacher every time your family gets together. No wonder my cousin wants to dance half naked on TV.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Anatomy of a Filipino Children’s Birthday Party

Attended my niece’s 1st birthday party yesterday. It was held in a Jollibee, which automatically meant sweet, hotdog-laden neon orange Jolli Spaghetti and crispilicious Chicken Joy with not enough gravy. I was not disappointed, except for the Jolli Spaghetti, which only had one hotdog in it. I could have asked for more gravy, but that would have to mean getting up and I didn’t really want to do that.

While my calendar has been filled with baptisms lately (3 this month – talk about baby boom!), it’s been a while since I attended a birthday/ christening party held in a child-themed restaurant. My earliest memories of children’s parties are of feeling slightly insulted every time I was made to attend one. You had the predictable food (sweet spaghetti, barbecue, fried chicken), the condescending party hosts, and the adults who forced you to play stupid games for stupid prizes, whether you like it or not. Yet if you asked my mother, she will tell you (and back it up with pictures, too) that when I was really young (too young to think, really), I was always the life of the party, volunteering for magic acts, lining up for games. I stopped short of impromptu dancing/ singing (thank goodness!), maybe because event hen I knew that I had two left feet and that my singing voice had the tendency to make it rain (a great business venture right there!).

I was pretty excited to go to the party. I hadn’t had Jolli Spaghetti and Chicken Joy in a while. The weird thing is that my love for them was acquired in adulthood. I remember hating Jollibee as a child and thinking that McDonalds was the bomb. Until now, I have no idea why that changed. Maybe they put drugs in their spaghetti and fried chicken. Maybe neon orange suace has a hypnotizing effect.

So I get to the party, say hello to the relatives, air kiss my slightly bewildered cousin (because I don’t really air kiss anyone in the family unless it’s their special occasion), and ask about the baby, who is cute and chubby and has no idea what the hell is going on. "She can do the papaya dance!" my cousin exclaims with motherly delight. "Great!" I reply, wondering what the papaya dance is and if I want to know. This particular cousin has a penchant for giving her kids black names. Her son is called Antione (yes, it’s French, but I have yet to see a Frenchman named Antione) and her daughter is named Ayesha. I sometimes want to ask her if she knows she’s not black. But I have to applaud her though. Antoine and Ayesha are cool names, and more imaginative than the local practice of combining both parents names (thank goodness my parents never went for that either, else I’d be Luben Tan. Or Benlu. Either way, ugh!).

Attending my niece’s children’s party was an interesting experience, if only because I got to see how it’s evolved through the years. Today’s manufactured children’s party is a combination of a wedding (except the food comes first) and a TV debut special. After everyone has eaten, an overly enthusiastic party hosts invites all the kids to come in front to greet the celebrant a happy birthday. The kids who do get a goodie bag for their efforts. This is their version of games.

The host is speaking in Tagalog, by the way, a big change in the 80’s when I remember (probably erroneously, someone correct me on this) them speaking English. And not just normal Tagalog, mind, you. Half of it was in swardspeak (Filipino gay linggo), which was interesting because no one could tell the difference! After the birthday greetings, the host told all the "kidlets" (if piglets are tiny pigs, then are kidlets tiny kids? Isn’t that redundant?) to get ready because they were to welcome a special guest, mr. Jollibee! My first thought was ‘Since when was Jollibee a Mr.???’ Do mascots grow old? Does this mean we should start addressing Ronald McDonald as Mr. MacDonald or Uncle Ronald or Mang Ron? So Jollibee comes in and the kids go wild.

The host announces that Mr. Jollibee is going to do a dance number, but not before he does a pictorial first. This is where the wedding part comes in. "Immediate family first," the host calls out. Next is immediate family with cousins, then all the kids. All the kids scramble to be part of the picture, all of them trying to get as near to the giant orange bee as possible.

Next, Mr. Jollibee does his dance number, which makes the kids go even wilder.. My littlest cousin, the one whose ambition in life is to dance half-naked on noontime television, tries to dance with him but gets hit on the face by a giant orange bee thigh by mistake. Mr. Jollibee mimes that he’s sorry, then finishes his dance number. Every children’s party has at least one child that wants to be buddies with the mascot and my littlest cousin was that child. Another thing that hasn’t changed is that the party soundtrack consists of all the stupidest songs you hear on the radio. Seriously. I wanted to stab the host with the mic and start throwing children out the window.

Then comes the blowing of the cake. After the host gets everyone to sing "Happy Birthday," she asks the paretns to tell us their wishes for the celebrant. This, I have never seen before. "I wish my child would grow up God-fearing," my cousin says, and everybody claps. Next, it’s Jollibee’s turn to tell us his wishes for the celebrant. Since he can’t talk, the host translates for him. She says, he has three wishes. The first is that she grows up smart and God-fearing." I wanted to stand up and say, "That’s two wishes! Didn’t they teach you to count in bee school?" I told this story to Luis later and he said, maybe the God-fearing part doesn’t count since it was already said. I don’t remember the other wishes because they were all boring, like grow tall and stuff. How come nobody gives exciting wishes, like ‘the confidence to unleash her inner bitch’ or ‘impeccable style’ or ‘enough Luis Vuitton bags to sink a small barge?’

Mr. Jollibee exits after he bestows his fairy bee wishes, and the party ends. The host thanks everyone for coming and thanks the sponsors, the celebrant’s parents and Jollibee (who shouldn’t be counted a sponsor as the party was paid for and not an ex deal). I seriously expected to hear canned applause after, so into the role of TV host was she. The whole experience was draining, even though I didn’t talk to anyone the whole time. I guess stupid radio songs, dancing bees and overly enthusiastic party hosts can do that to you. Or maybe old age. But it wasn’t a bad experience. I think I wouldn’t mind attending another one. This time, I hope they have more hotdogs in their spaghetti.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weirdness in Binondo

Leah and I spent last Saturday getting lost in the Binondo/ Sampaloc area. I used to mind a store in Binondo and I know how weird conversation can get (a man tried to exchange his daughter for a bottle of Fundador once, jokingly, of course -- I think), but even that did not prepare me for the exchange I overheard in a store that sold Chinese knickknacks:

Happy smiling Chinese guy walks into store. He's obviously a regular.

Guy: Hello! I want to buy an incense holder.

Salesperson: Sure! I'll go get one for you.

Guy: Oh, I want the one for ancestors, not for gods.

I am so clueless about my cultire. *sigh*