Mondays and Uphills

The just concluded long weekend due to the holy week was worth it. Didn’t get us far from home but it gave me a chance to just bond with wifey and Marcus. This video of the goats playing around and showing off to Marcus was captured on a Good Friday at the first stopover on our attempt to get closer to Mount Makiling. We live nearby so no big deal but take note that Marcus is in a wheelchair.

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Mount Makiling is one of the regular Holy Week destinations for those who want to make their own sacrifices or for mountaineers who want to climb something challenging but not far from the city. The last time I was up there was about 20 years ago before I got married and when a good stretch of the road to the mountain wasn’t paved yet. Now it’s a bit wheelchair-friendly.

That’s Mt. Makiling in the background taken after we made a bad turn finding a relative’s farm.

Who needs 4×4?
We reached the farm. Technically, these kids are Marcus’ cuz.
On our way back down. This is the steepest we’ve reached so letting Marcus’ wheelchair roll freely was impossible.

Next time we will try farther. And yes, next time we’ll wear something warmer.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Just a day at work then another off for me.)

Colorful Weekend

Summer is here indeed and my in-laws held the annual outing courtesy of a birthday celebrator. This time the venue is barely half a kilometer away so pool exposure was longer than usual.

Pink is embarrassing.
Green is cool.
Red looks better.
Blue is best.
Tan is unwanted. See who hated it the most.

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After changing from one floater to another, Marcus gathered confidence to once again try his vest.  Here’s a clip.

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Wait. Let me correct myself. The most hated color would be gold. Got Marcus an Xbox Live Gold prepaid card a day before the outing and as of this writing, Monday, we can’t still make it work. We suspect it has something to do with our internet service. I suspect it was because I bought it the same day that freaky earthquake struck. We thought it’s my Xbox live account being suspended due to bad credit. My paranoia. Anyway, we had someone try activating it from the US but same error is encountered. My apologies for making your dogs’ late noon run getting delayed. I hope this gets resolved soon or that’s P2K from Marcus’ coin back going down the drain.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Looking forward to a long weekend.)

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?

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

New home sweet home

New home sweet home. (Pic from wifey’s Instagram)

The day we leave our old house eventually came. Waiting for it to happen made the past seven months after we started the deal feel like a year but the last few weeks were the hardest for me, if not for the three of us. Everything was running thin, patience and finances. Silent prayers became more frequent than before.

Luckily, my in-laws did not hesitate to take charge while the payment for our house is still pending. Some extended financial help, the others manpower, and some provided whatever support to keep the house construction run parallel along our selling process.

The paranoid in me would like to believe that the construction was made covert from our other neighbors, although the sight of me every Saturday coming in and out of the house to load our trusty sedan with boxes would have been pretty obvious that something was going on. Everything was like clockwork every weekend: I take a relatively short sleep coming from graveyard shift; we box; we go transfer stuffs. This activity carried on early December until the second week of March. The only time we stopped was during Christmas vacation. (Thank God, I was never sick but Marcus skipped two weeks of tagging along as he had asthma attack later part of January and needs to stay behind with her mommy to recover.)

Now the fruit of everyone’s labor is finished. What started as a draft on yellow paper is now a house and this new house is now our new home. While it isn’t a lot bigger, it is definitely better than before as we designed it to give access to Marcus as much as possible by having wider doors, bigger toilet, ramp, etc. It is still doesn’t  second floor–we didn’t want can’t afford it. Admittedly, there are flaws, not one house is perfect anyway, and the longer I stare at it, the more I see the would-have-better-ifs–most I could live with but others would need to be corrected soon. That’s probably how it goes when one moves and starts all over again.

For now, the whole process is reversed. There are still boxes to be unpacked, stuffs that need to be found among the pile of packages but these are problems I’d like to have. Yes, we have moved out of our home for almost 16 years in Cavite and now reside in Batangas. New neighbors, new routine, new life.

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After my first five working days coming from this new place, the car remains unharmed. Few more backing in and driving out and I should get used to parking in our tight space.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Finally, a normal Saturday.)

Goodbye Bad Hair Day

Shameless selfie.

What was supposed to be a short trip with Marcus to a sari-sari store to buy a Coke led to something else. This was after I realized that the stores I used to know near wifey’s place have either closed or have ran out of softdrinks. And so moving farther we eventually reached the area close the barber shop where we both get cheap haircut whenever in Batangas. Feeling the late afternoon heat I decided that it was the best time to get a haircut. Or rather something shorter, cleaner–a bald head.

It was my first time to have my head shaved cleanly. I was excited, Marcus was curious. I can see him watch from a bench behind me with a funny expression when the barber started using his razor to remove slowly every bit of my hair that was left by the clipper. At some point I was thinking if I should, or could, still stop the barber from proceeding further as he slowly exposes my scalp. But it was over soon. Barely ten minutes after I saw nothing but shiny flesh.

Stepping out of the barber was weird. So was walking back to wifey’s place. And I had that same feeling when I finally arrived home that night and stared longer at myself in the mirror wondering once more if I regret the new look. Then there’s that anxiousness showing up at work bald for the very first time. Thankfully I got over it sooner than expected. It was just a matter of meeting every people I know and showing them the new me–whether they like it or not.

Since then, a month and two weeks after, I have learned to love being bald even if it takes new routines to maintain it.  I don’t know if I should be glad that my hair all over my head still grows fast as it requires me shave my head every other day just to stay bald. I have yet to perfect shaving it myself so every now and then I get those nasty cuts especially if I do it in a hurry. And while I have lessened my need for shampoo, my head needs an aftershave and a lotion to prevent it from flaking and razor rash. Right now I use wifey’s lotions, good thing she doesn’t have those with strong scents that I smell at work, but the internet tells me that there are products appropriate for bald heads.  Well, there’s always a price to pay for everything, a price for saying, “goodbye bad hair day!”

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Car needs battery.)

December Weddings

Today I almost missed attending a friend’s wedding (Villafuerte-Espinosa) due to sore throat. Since I’ve prepared for this day so I could see this normally rugged and casual guy march down the aisle in barong tagalog to meet his bride, I dragged my aching throat and drove my way to Tagaytay.

I arrived at the Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church late, but not late enough to be included in the photo op (which I swear is the most stressful part of any wedding) with other friends and co-workers.  And as if by reflex, after the pictures have been taken, I with a couple of friends sped off to the reception area at Lake Garden Hotel and arrived there first. It dawned on me that I could win an Amazing Race series if all the pit stops are event reception centers. I’ve done this a couple of weddings already.

The tables and buffet meals were set overlooking the picturesque Taal Lake. The weather was good and the view of the volcano was a perfect background for the bride, groom and all the guests. It would have been more perfect if there was alcohol to warm up our body from the chilly atmosphere. But then again it wouldn’t have mattered as I got the damn sore throat.

I left early to catch up with my doctor’s appointment. We will drink to that someday. Congratulations Rommel and Betchay.

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Another wedding I attended this month was my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration which my wife and relatives had been preparing for almost two years. Although the weather on December 9 was flip-flopping, the folks in Batangas got things going early. The bayanihan spirit, which is not uncommon in their place during events like this, kicked off in high gear.

The guys butchered the pig in the wee hours of the morning and prepared the pork parts and cuts for various recipes. The ladies, old and young alike, chopped and got the spices ready, while the others cooked. The smoke-filled kitchen was bustling with activity and the aroma of typical Batangueno food reaches every corner of the place.

Despite the threat of rain, the wedding started on time at the local chapel. The males donned barong tagalog, while the females wore golden yellow dress. The little girls (granddaughters) had butterfly wings on them.

After the ceremony and photo op, inay po and itay po rode back with us in our humble Kia Pride back to the reception area that was set at the common basketball court just outside their house—another typical Filipino setting.

Due to the inclement weather, the wedding entourage tables, set under a tarpaulin, got flooded still due to the uneven portion of the ground (a remnant of the last typhoon Milenyo) but it did not stop the festive mood. Some guys who are still in barong, neatly ironed pants and shiny shoes armed themselves with dust pans and broom sticks to clear the area so that guests may be seated.

The rest of the night stayed rainy. Everyone had to wade in inches of flood to get to their tables. Others had to take shelter under their own plates while lining at the buffet area. But as most people would believe, the rain is a sign of blessing. So be it.

It is a blessing indeed for a couple to reach 50 years together. It is a blessing for their children to have such parents; for their grandchildren to have been able to see and be with their lolo and lola; and for us in-laws to have someone who trusted us with their children whom we now have as our own spouses.

I have nothing but praises for my parents-in-law. For them to be with each other for this long is a feat by itself. It takes more than just patience, love and understanding to hold on to such relationship especially in the current times where loose morals, fast-pace life, consumerism and materialism prevail. It is always easy and sometimes mushy to say, but it’s a fact that God had to be in the center of one’s marriage to surpass every trial. No more, no less.

To everyone who had or is just about to have their wedding this December, my congratulations and best wishes to all of you. I’m sure your Christmas and New Year will never be cold.