Passing Through

Day two in Bacolod and morning sun is out shining just like the other day. It was another good opportunity to stroll around with Marcus who surprisingly still remembers the streets very well. In fact, he decides where to go and I just push along.

It was more than a year since we were here as we skipped last December’s vacation. Our subdivision hasn’t changed a lot, except for an ongoing construction a few blocks from our house. It would be the largest in the area once completed.

The place in general didn’t improve a lot but it didn’t deteriorate any further either. At least moving around wasn’t as depressing like in the past years. Or maybe I have just gotten used to seeing houses gradually changing from grand to bland state. Others almost becoming deserted for whatever reasons. Maybe nothing stays permanent after all. (My mother’s car is gone but except for the inconvenience of losing transport for Marcus’ wheelchair I’m happy that it’s gone due to the headache it’s been giving her.)

Fake fireplace, real smiles.

I don’t know when we would be back again after this short vacation but our neighborhood of mixed social status will always be a perfect reminder for me that neither will stay rich nor poor. We are all just passing through. We will all just pass away anyway, ready or not.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Always a pleasure to have a talk with mother.)

Born to Purr-form

Our car isn’t going in any showroom soon. Not even in any car club’s show and tell EB. The current state of it’s exterior has obviously seen better days. Thanks to our resident cats. Shown here is one those that always grabs the opportunity to make our car their siesta spot and scratching post.

The car still gets us to places though. Yesterday we almost didn’t make it to our flight to Bacolod after an accident somewhere near Alabang had us moving in a crawling pace for almost an hour. I went maximum legal speed the moment we cleared the area and thankfully made it to Park ‘N Fly then to the airport. Our names were on PA just when we passed through the X-Ray machine. That close.

Happy to be singing we are flying on an airplane.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Attending a wedding later. Free food.)

Never Too Old for BMX

 

The first quarter of this year was when I made my slow return to riding my BMX bike again. Our new place is less than five kilometers from a park where local BMX riders hang around. While my riding sessions haven’t been as regular as more than 20 years ago, I once again become aware and interested in the country’s and international BMX scene. And I can see that BMX sport continues to evolve. BMX riders are now more daring and the new tricks they can do are just unreal. My favorite flatland isn’t the flatland that I used to know. Good signs that behind the seemingly common fixies, MTB’s and Triathlon bikes, BMX too has become just as popular.

To prove that local BMX is gaining grounds, riders in the Philippines have been celebrating BMX day. It isn’t clear though when it first started. Even Google doesn’t offer a definite answer if, when and where the first BMX day originated. But July 23 seems to be the D-Day. So on Saturday riders of BMX bikes in the country gathered together in their respective rendezvous. Fans and pros alike pedaled around in numbers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to celebrate. Knowing the potential of this sport, I would have loved to be part of this celebration.

Back in my younger years, we never had an annual BMX day event. In my days, every weekend is our BMX day and, for the lack of Facebook and social media, I only know that our team was the only BMX freestyler (hint on the term) team in Bacolod City. I even would bet that in the city’s BMX community anyone would recognize the name Linear Radicals. We were a familiar sight in the Bacolod City Lagoon—bikes were allowed inside back then. People stop and stare when we start jamming around. We would make heads turn when we do impromptu tricks in the crowded streets during the MassKara festival. There was even a time when we packed our bikes in a small pickup truck and headed somewhere far north to be part of a town’s fiesta. There was another team who did the racing event but ours took over the stunt show. Modesty aside, for once, we were famous in our own rights.

Not me, not my pic. (Image from the web.)

Fast forward to 2016, the BMX scene changed a lot. Think of heavy black rotary phone versus sleek smartphones. Change was rad. I remember the first time we saw on Betamax the first time an American perfected the tailwhip air on a vert ramp but locals nowadays can pop one from a bunnyhop. It is just unbelievable to see that the BMX flatland tricks my generation once do are now considered basics. The scuff tricks are now used to progress to far more technical rolling tricks. Even young riders nowadays would transition from one trick to another through a short squeakerson, front yard, backyard, or funky chicken. And did I mention they do all these brakeless?

My own old  bike turned brakeless.

While the BMX flatland tricks have become more complicated, the BMX parts and its setup is the opposite. It is now common to see totally brakeless bikes which means brake levers, calipers and detanglers are starting to be obsolete. BMX flatland riders also now prefer chainwheels with only 25 teeth and they have also set the seat lower than before. With lesser and smaller yet better parts, what’s left is the basic bike that is less cumbersome thus making it an effective street or BMX flatland bike. Despite its simplicity, prices do not come cheap. Popular price range is 10,000-20,000 pesos.

The BMX sport will surely get better and bigger. In the Philippines alone, popular riders like Paulo Gepulango (proudly from Bacolod) and Renz Viaje, who in the recent years joined an It’s Showtime contest, continue to inspire new generations of BMX flatland riders. There’s also this promising BMX team in Bohol who made me realize that there’s more to this place than just its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers—I would definitely try to find where they hang out if I get the chance to travel down south.

Philippine BMX flatland videos always zap me back in time when all we care about is BMX (yup, I’ve skipped classes for it).  Every time I see one makes a part of me a very young boy eager to get on a bike to see if I can pop a wheelie for starters but another part an old man conceding that what these young lads do aren’t for me anymore.  By the way, those guys I hang out with in Tanauan are half my age so I guess I could claim to be their father of BMX. Regardless, I think nobody is too old for BMX so I will remain to be a big fan of this sport and would like to continue seeing more of it. To old-schoolers and young BMX riders alike, more power.

 

This was also posted on Flatmode Philippines (Official). Paulo Gepulango is this FB page’s admin.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Almost on tip-top shape.)

 

 

Old School Flatland, Anyone?

I have found my second lagoon. In my younger years I hang out a  lot with my friends in Bacolod Lagoon to kill time with our bikes and to test ourselves if we can mimic what we saw on BMX Trix 101. I can’t recall if it’s on Betamax or VHS format, definitely not on disc, but it’s the only video source we have back then–YouTube wasn’t around yet. I continued with freestyle until before I got married in 1996.

Years later, I would soon find myself on my twenty-year old Haro bike, stepping on its pegs, figuring out if I can still do either the scuff or rolling tricks that I like to do. And I still can. I am now in the midst of the new generation riders—and I’m lost in their lingo and the names of the famous riders they know. These guys use bikes with small sprockets, low seats, and mostly brakeless. I have an old school setup. One remarked that my Spintech detangler is now only available on eBay. My freestyle bike is the heaviest. But yes, I am among the few here who can do flatland. The rest do street.

I am now on my third week of mingling with whoever is at the Tanuan plaza–yesterday we transferred to their other location as a political campaign was ongoing. I have a list of routines to recover but I was able to do a satisfactory frontyard yesterday and I got a short clip of myself doing a backwards forkwheelie. Need to avoid skinny jeans though.

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To be with other BMX riders is already almost home but to speak with others in my own dialect makes it a lot better. I did not expect that here in Batangas I would meet others who are from either Ilo-ilo or Bacolod. The guy who can do time machine is from Ilo-ilo while the one from Bacolod (he’s here for a vacation) rides with one of the current popular riders, Paulo Gepulango, who happens to be a friend of a Facebook friend. My FB friend is the son of one of my best friends and BMX teammate. Then last week, I was in bike shop whose owner and their mechanic are from Negros Occidental, too. Small world?

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I need a bike rack so I can take Marcus and his wheelchair with me.)

The Last Isol?

Mission accomplished. One of the plans I had for this trip to Bacolod is to get myself, at least, into the Manokan Country. It has been years since I last set foot at this famous Bacolod landmark. So last night it happened, it was a matter of fate, it was a matter of will.

The idea was initially scrapped as my father tried to avoid being stuck in bad holiday traffic. He suggested that we eat at a chicken inasal place just close to the Shopping area. But the waiter has some bad news for him—they do not have isol anymore. It was no isol, no go so we were out of the place in no time. I was all smiles going back to our car.

Traffic to the downtown area wasn’t bad after all. Trip to the Manokan country was uneventful except for me making some effort to keep nanay’s old minivan from stalling. Yes, I was that eager to get my hands into Bacolod’s famous chicken barbecue against all odds.

It was not long before we found ourselves seated around a yellow linoleum covered-table where a pair of sinamak and patis (toyo for you Manileños) bottle waits. Nena Beth’s place was buzzing with activity. The servers are going back and forth,  entertaining customers from one table to another, carrying chicken parts on stick to the kitchen and coming back out with plates of nicely done barbecue along with orange-colored garlic rice among any other orders. The smoke leaking from the kitchen that carries the lingering aroma of chicken inasal complements the experience.

All good things do not last though.  Just like our isol on our plate. And to make it worse, the waitress advised us that they too have ran out of this delicious chicken ass. The other chicken parts were also good but the isol was our favorite—even Marcus liked it. The news made me realize that maybe that was the last good isol I could ever had.

There are news that the Manokan Country will soon be gone to give way to a new commercial buildings and the signs are all over. SM’s parking lot adjacent to the street of Manokan Country does not exist yet the last time I was there. SM is now like a giant slimy blob monster waiting to devour the Manokan Country. Let’s just all hope that the place would be relocated, somewhere easier to access, so that we continue to experience and taste Bacolod’s authentic chicken inasal.

Us and the last isol on stick.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (If only I could extend this vacation more.)

Cebu Pacific: Where Every Juan Flies…Frustrated

Cebu Pacific Fail, Cebu Pacific Overcrowding, Cebu Pacific overbooking
Image grabbed from abs-cbnnews.com.

Two days prior our vacation in Bacolod the national news about the situation at the airport got my full attention. Last December 25, the NAIA Terminal 3 was packed more than usual and some irate passengers were recorded hurling expletives at those manning Cebu Pacific’s check-in counters. The video footage shows absolute disorder and it appears that these people aren’t just the regular grinches but rather those with valid reasons to forget the Christmas spirit altogether. I would soon experience the same frustration.

Wanting to avoid falling victim to heavy traffic, Marcus and I left Batangas about six hours before our flight. Yes, six hours. We reached Park ‘N Fly earlier than expected despite a close call at SLEX Shell station when Marcus nearly choked himself out—no thanks to a Mentos mint that got me frantically recall how to execute a Heimlich maneuver—and slow traffic at Andrews Avenue due to an ongoing flyover project.  We got one problem down. Our shuttle bus dropped us off to the next.

NAIA terminal 3 was not as bad as reported but people being fixated to the check-in monitors like eager runners waiting for the starting gun to fire gave me some hint on what to expect.  Trying to remain optimistic, I observed and actually started to conclude that ours could be a better day. My assessment was wrong.

Our own Cebu Pacific experience happened after four hours of waiting patiently. Upon reaching Cebu Pacific’s check-in counter and a couple minutes of nervous finger tapping, I soon heard the attendant say the heartbreaking words: your flight is overbooked.

To compensate for the missed flight we were offered free overnight stay in a hotel and re-scheduled to fly the next day. Conceding to a day of vacation lost, I accepted our fate—especially upon seeing Marcus excited at the idea of being in hotel—and weaved our push cart in and out of the crowd to another check-in counter. This time we lined up to the hotel accommodation queue where we spent almost 45 minutes inching our way to the counter together with foreign tourists. Marcus and I were with disappointed Italian, American, and Korean passengers of Cebu Pacific.

After repeatedly answering Marcus’ questions about the hotel—“Is there a bath tub”, “What’s the size of the bed”, “Is there cable TV” among others—I found hope. The guy who said that our initial flight is overbooked got back to me and asked if I want to take the flight that will leave past 10 in the evening. I took the chance and got our boarding pass minutes later.

Two hours before our new flight we were already at the boarding gate 133 area. In between his Jetpack Joyride and Minecraft games, Marcus would take a glance at the digital clock and counted the minutes to go. Sadly, we were soon listening to the ’on-behalf-of-Cebu-Pacific-we-regret-to-inform-you’ spiel.  The advisory happened over and over. Flights to both Cebu and Bacolod got delayed several times that people around us started booing the equally helpless Cebu Pacific ground personnel. I didn’t participate—I was busy spoon-feeding Marcus the free Jollibee Chicken Joy meal and noodles that the airline provided.

The area was almost deserted when our plane finally arrived.  It was past one o’clock in the morning. The Krispy Kreme and Army Navy stores were already dark and when the time to board was announced the passengers lined up to the gate tired but happy to get out of the place. 16 hours after we left Batangas we arrived in Bacolod. (Come to think of it we could be ready for longer flights—like one going to the land of milk and honey.) I am now keeping my fingers crossed that we will have a better trip back to Manila tomorrow.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Sun is peeking out.)

The Towel

I was in Bacolod last weekend and after a good Sunday lunch I borrowed my mother’s minivan to drop my father off at Robinson’s mall—his favorite hangout—and then to proceed to a reunion with my old biking friends. As I was driving out of the gate, I saw my mother’s helper running towards the creeping beige Rusco van.

“Wait, wait, wait. Your mom wants you have this towel,” the helper said in vernacular as he reached the driver side. “Why?” I asked puzzled with the urgency. “Just take it, she insists.” So I absentmindedly took the towel and drove off to go about my tasks on that lazy high noon.

More than twelve kilometers later at an average speed of 60 kilometers per hour, I parked at Sta. Fe Resort and saw my face at the rearview mirror almost soaking with sweat. That was when I realized the purpose of the neatly folded towel which I have tossed at the backseat. Thanks, nanay. You still know best.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I still can’t believe I just paid PhP 7K for this blog to continue being online for the next 3 years.)