Knock, knock!

Contrary to my goal, again, I’m failing in my goal to fill my need to write more posts and Marcus has a lot to do with it. For wifey and me, parenting lately has been a lot crazier than before. Don’t get me wrong, despite nerve-wracking moments with an active 3-year old we seem to spend more enjoyable times as we witness his rapid development and antics that come along with it. Nowadays, our one and only boy….

…has become more articulate than ever. Other than saying our names clearer, he can now say Manny Pacquiao.

…can recognize Toyotas and Pajeros and other car brands. He can just spot Hondas before. (When he was more than a year old, he screams whenever he sees wheels.)

…has transitioned from nursery rhymes to more mature music. He used to just like GTO from the movie RV and lately he surprised me when he showed to me that he can dance to Top Gun’s Danger Zone and Mighty Wings. He also goes ballistic when he hears Party Anthem and Moves Like Jagger.

…continues to impress us with his pace in learning to use cellphones, computers and home theater. (Thankfully, he has not figured out why his favorite cartoon show doesn’t appear however he press the TV’s channel button. Yes, I locked it.)

…seems to start understanding that littering trash will result to flood and that whenever he sees some of the Sendong video footage, he’ll look for his clothes and tell us to donate them. (This one makes us feel so proud.)

Well, this is just a knock knock and I have to cut this short because sooner or later, he’ll be up and ready again to keep our day busy…and stressful…and fun. Parenting is exciting, isn’t it?

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Thankful to be home.)

Ghost Sightings

San Vicente, Batangas. We’ve been here since yesterday to spend our Halloween weekend together with wifey’s family. So while the rest lazily settles in front of the TV and watch the movie Robots on DVD, I’m thinking of testing their newly installed internet connection and try to post a blog for the very first time from here.

***

One of my blog rules dictates that I should not write anything that hundreds or even thousands other bloggers (and even professional writers) will for sure write due to its current popularity or just for the sake of doing so.

But there is always an exemption and one of which that cannot be avoided is Halloween. It’s that time of the year when the grinning plastic pumpkins, skeletons, and scary costumes come out. It’s also my cue to panic and think about what gift I should be giving to wifey–Halloween is also when she celebrates her birthday.

It’s a good thing that this year is a lot more different than last year. Back then, wifey and I had to go to Batangas separately because I was still busy at work; we also had no car yet after selling our old Kia Pride; traffic was worse then. I remember arriving by lunchtime after leaving work at around 8 AM with the last two hours spent travelling from Turbina to San Vicente.

This year is a lot better. (Though I miss covering the hundreds of microprocessor chips before a cold shutdown. You’ll know what I mean.)

***

While on our way to Batangas yesterday and while driving at a snail pace in the middle of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), I honked at another driver when he tried to get into my lane without signaling his intention to do so. My wife commented, “Aba, that’s the first honk for today!” I was laughing hard after realizing that she’s actually taking notes of it. Then she added, “I’ve actually started measuring your mood by the number of honks you make.” Ti abi.

That short exchange on my driving habit made me smile. I’m now thinking if it would be a good idea to indicate my mood using “honk” score – 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Not bad. Thanks wifey for giving me the idea. Oh by the way, happy 32nd birthday.

***

Not to be outdone by others who have given their own scary ghost stories, video captures and even trick or treat experience, I might as well post my own. This one though isn’t fabricated in any way. This one is real and I captured it on October 31 when I was in the parking lot of SM Dasmarinas just minutes before sunset.

I was having our car seat cover replaced with fake (which others will call faux just to make it sound a not so cheap) leather and decided that it would be a good idea to take pictures of it to show how it will be done and to see the improvement right after. After I got my camera from the trunk and aimed it towards the workers I saw what appears to be a couple of ghostly figures inside the car after the pictures came out of the LCD screen. Scroll down to see the pictures…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha! These are Ace Hardware employees in their Halloween costumes. Kudos to these guys. Waiting for the leather seat to be installed wasn’t boring at all.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks!

Wanted: Dodge Viper Photos

(originally written for my multiply.com blog)

Calling all my multiply.com contacts. If anyone of you is planning to drop by Ayala Town Center for whatever reason this weekend, I’ll be very glad if you can bring along your lovely cameras and take photos of my favorite Dodge Viper.

After watching Step Up 2 last night with my wife and while still high with the hip-hop beats and controlling myself to do my shameful mimicry of the B-Boys steps on our way to the parking lot, we saw some activity at the fountain area. The commotion gave me the feeling that something special is going to be on top of the constructed metal frames. I was right. Just outside was a beat up lorry with a shiny red or maroon (can’t get exact color as it was dimly lit outside) Dodge Viper waiting to be unloaded. I almost dropped to my knees when I saw it but the only thing that prevented me from doing so is the 1st commandment . (Hey, it’s Lenten season and hopefully you know what it is.)

I can imagine right now the throng of Viper fans or just curious crowds it has attracted since the mall opened today. And most probably, any local celebrity in that area would be over-shadowed by this car’s presence. They may even just be contented enough to get near it and most likely dream that they have the money to own one – just like I always do.

So this week, I’m expecting photos of it coming from my multiply contacts. And whoever posts the first picture will have my respect. Hahaha.

Good luck! I’ll wait for it.

Is Man Never Contented?

The first time I heard the cliché man is never contented was way back when I was in elementary. I never knew its meaning would become clearer and clearer as I grow older. Back then it was just begging for He-Man action figures when I’ve got the small plastic toy soldiers; wanting to have Legos when I’ve got freebie building blocks from sari-sari store junk foods packs; dreaming of having BB aluminum slingshots when I already have the bayabas wood piece; and imagining of having Tonka toys dragged around instead of the Milo cans transformed into trucks with wheels cut out from old smagol (slippers). All these wants I never got.

Twenty plus years later this phrase remains true.

The recent change from our stereotyped Kia Pride to the highly praised Honda brand gave me the feeling of a paradigm shift. I felt as if I just exchanged my push cart to a Bugatti. The change was drastic. From having our first car being pre-owned and the second car brand new.

If having the Kia Pride made me search the web for support groups then it’snowonderifI’vealreadyspentsometimebrowsingandlurkinginHondaforums.

But then reality struck. And it sucks. My precious Mary has its flaws and weaknesses too. Some of the owners find their City as having poor suspension, dashboards that are easily scratched, rusting hinges, poor gas mileage, rickety interiors and so forth. I did double check if I’m not reading my Kia Pride’sforum.

Are these bad reviews true or are these just sour graping? I checked and found my own list of the Honda City 2008’s pros and cons (so far).

Pros:

Power Steering.

Very silent engine. I find it necessary to honk every now and then to keep inattentive pedestrians from straying near Mary while I’m passing.

Spacious interior and boot.

Four cup holders. Who said you can’t drink and drive?

Cons:

Manual antenna. My Kia pride has powered version.

Very tight boot and gas lever. Having a Rolex is a bad idea. But then again who has a genuine Rolex and a City.

Audio player is not MP3 capable. And there are only two speakers located in the front. I pity the rear passengers.

The side panels and ceiling are prone to dirt stains due to the fabric material.

And so it is proven once again that man is never contented. Gid. Of course this is both a good and a bad thing. It becomes good when one aims for a better life but it becomes so bad when one keeps on having more wants than needs. It becomes worse when someone keeps on staring at the seductive Toyota Camry while inside a brand new Honda City. Ti abi.

Car’s One Week Log

It’s been a week since we got Mary and it was one whole week of a new experience.

Day 1. I got Mary after being covert for two days. Just like in the movies or TV shows. Now I know how it feels like to show a brand new car key to a wife.

Day 2. Got no choice but to do the dreaded task–paper works for the car in a government office. This is where one has to endure long queues for almost a day and later on pay a ridiculous amount of tax. To be fair with Trece Marteres municipality it has improved a lot, at least from the outside, since my last visit. I was able to park Mary in a well designated parking lot and spent some time waiting on a bench on a brick-paved sidewalk.

Day 3. It rained. It’s her first acid rain bath. I was supposed to go back to Honda Alabang to give the papers I processed yesterday but it can wait. Mas masarap matulog while it’s gloomy and raining outside.

By afternoon, my wife and I were able to go back to La Salette to attend an anticipated mass. The last time we were there we took the bus and ended having brunch in Tagaytay’s Pancake house. Not bad. But having Mary is better.

Day 4. Mary went to work with me for the 1st time. Now it knows where the funds to pay her are coming from.

Day 5. I woke up late from a neighbor’s welcome party. Do I need to mention I had a couple of beers that night? Anyway, it’s one of the benefits of having a car. I made it to work without much ado.

After work, the secrecy I’m keeping about the actual car that I got was eventually blown when some of my colleagues coaxed me to take her for a ride. Funny but her first trip with them was going to a wake. Ti abi. A beginning and an End?

How did she perform on the rough asphalt road? Let me answer with what my colleague said. ”Parang nasa eroplano (just like on an airplane).”

Day 6. Left work late because of an unexpected serious discussion with one of my people. The least of my worries this time is missing the shuttle bus.

honda-city-back
Nice rear.

Day 7. My day-off after a tiring week at work and in our village (issues, issues, issues).

After breakfast came my 1st intimate session with Mary–her first car wash. I just realized that because of her size she’s harder to wash than our previous compact Kia.

Shiny and clean, I went to Honda Alabang to submit the loan papers and to get Mary a remote alarm. The dealership’s lounge was good but what more if I was waiting in Prestige Cars’? Don’t push it.

The alarm was fitted after almost two hours. It cost me Php 5.7K—a 0.9% cost for security. Not bad.

I got a not so good news before leaving though. I still won’t have my license plates until at least February. I left Honda a bit depressed that I won’t be able to meet my sis at the airport next Tuesday. It was actually the reason why I chose my license plate number to travel on Tuesdays. I’m hoping that we will see each other next time and hopefully not after another sabbatical.

By lunch time I was on my way to Batangas to pick up wifey. Construction of the SLEX has gone until its end in Calamba. Hopefully, once it gets done it would be comparable with Kuala Lumpur’s road. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but somewhere in my brain lobes shouts ”asa ka pa.

Well that was our one week together. I feel like we’ve been through thick or thin already. I’m praying that in the coming days, months and years we’ll have, most of it will be fun. Take note of the words I’m praying.

Mary

“Freedom!!!” – William Wallace, Braveheart

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman, RD Dec 2007 All In a Day’s Work

I’ve been holding on creating my first blog for this New Year, 2008, just because I find my recent ones were leaning on my pessimistic side. And so for a couple of weeks I was like someone in rehab trying to control my urge to an addiction. I promised myself that I’ll start this year’s blog at least with some positivity in it. Well, I will try.

During the start of this work week—Sunday–I found a new way to entertain myself while on the bus to work: I shut the curtains, close my eyes and guess which part of the trip I’m currently at. Amazingly, I rate myself 90% correct most of the time I’d take a look out of the window. I did it again on Monday with the same accuracy. But on Tuesday, I got an email that implies I might not be doing it for long. Thankfully? The email says “Please claim your guarantee letter.” Hmm. The one-liner worked like magic that day. It was like espresso.

That was the start of a covert operation that lasted for two days. Every time I got home and asked by my wife how my day went, I answered half-truths and half lies. “It was another stressful day…I had a bad day.” I’d picture myself as someone tied to a chair in musky room lit only by a swaying incandescent bulb but never saying anything to my interrogators. Deep inside, I was grinning hard like Joker in Batman ever ready with a plan. The secret tasks include maintaining a poker face during our discussions; deleting any sent items on my cellphones and emails just in case she checks about anything regarding the subject matter.

***

D-day came.

After waking up early today, I got the perfect alibi–I’m going out for a birthday celebration of a colleague. I left home with my car documents stashed inside by backpack appearing to be just going for a casual beer party. Instead I was heading to Honda Cars Alabang.

I mentioned in my blog before that I’ve been there like a car buff’s ghost yearning for a subcompact sedan. Well that wish is granted at last. Just more than four hours after I arrived there and with several documents signed and payments (there goes my savings!) I got out of the dealership with Mary, our lovely new Honda City.

Hurriedly yet safely, I drove and went back home. To my surprise my wife still remains clueless when I arrived. She was thinking that the car was someone else’s. She can’t believe that it’s the car we’ve been waiting for. If I said I was grinning like Joker, I saw her grin like Jim Carey in The Mask when I confirmed that it’s ours. Yes, that broad. To say she was happy to see it would be an understatement.

We gave Mary a quick trip together to Tagaytay, grabbed some Starbucks coffee and headed back home. That’s our way of breaking in the engine and the cup holders. Sweet.

Now this is New Year. Our New Year with Mary.

And by the way, ever wondered why we named it Mary? The name is from my colleague who is celebrating his 50th birthday today. Bawi na lang ako next time. But thanks for giving me the perfect alibi.

honda-city
Worth the wait.

Pride No More

kia_zpszq5rl2e1
Our pride, our Kia Pride.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” – Anonymous

“The power to surprise.” – Kia

Today we have to let go of our pride. Well at least just our 1998 GTX Kia Pride, anyway. After having it for 3 years, 10 months and 27 days we decided to let go of it for  reasons I hope I could write about it soon. Fingers crossed. Like any old car owner, we had our own share of ups and downs with it. It was a driving guinea pig for me and my wife.

Here are some of the things we both experienced and learned from our blue jalopy:

  1. We’ve had a couple of encounters with the “third” kind–the tricycles. The second one was the bloodiest and needless to say costliest. We’ve learned a couple of lessons from that experience. Lesson 1: check, check, & check before making a turn. Lesson 2: Power steering makes sense. Lesson 3: Professional drivers must accompany student drivers all the time. If it weren’t for this mistake, we could have claimed insurance. Lesson 4: Tricycles doesn’t have shatter proof windshields or seat belts even. Lesson 5: Have a decent clothing even on short trips. At least you look good while in the Emergency Room.
  2. I realized I need not have a Subaru, Citroen or a Ford Focus and neither should I be somewhere in a dirt nor a snow track to experience rally. I got that adrenaline rush with my wife on the wheel and just somewhere in Alabang when she banked hard at high speed. That one scared the sh*t out of me.
  3. My wife learned that Kia Prides are 4X4‘s in disguise when she made the front wheels climb up a parking wheel stop and if it weren’t for the tree in front of it, the rear wheels could have crossed it as well. At this point I’m starting to think she might do well not only in rally driving but 4X4 jungle challenges as well. Hmm.
  4. Anything could happen. Who would have thought that a house door panel will end up on top of a car? Not me but it did. A wooden door being sold just along the road side unfortunately got loose from the workers’ grip and slammed right in front of the passenger’s A pillar. Now, every time I hear the F1 racing’s host say ”…and Hamilton, shuts the door on Alonso…” I have some sort of idea how it feels.
  5. Cheap MP3 players could damage. Please email me for details (cpn05@yahoo.com) as this is a long story. I should have thrown it out the first time it skipped.
  6. And related to number 5, electrical smoke smells nasty and so it really pays to have a fire extinguisher inside your car.
  7. We once played Starksy and Hutch. We witnessed an accident involving a motorcycle rider who went under a dump truck. Upon seeing that there’s no way I can revive the victim, I decided to chase the erring driver. During the high-speed (as I’d like to believe, it makes a good blog post) chase I drove while my wife was on the phone calling the police. Despite the seriousness of the problem at that time, I actually imagined putting up a blinking police light (too much TV?) while initiating the chase. In the end the escaping driver was apprehended. Lesson learned: It does pay to have the police’s contact numbers in your cellphone. You never know when you need one.

Even with those (mis)misadventures, the comfort we had with this car still obviously outnumbered the discomfort, thanks to regular maintenance. We’ve been to places with it, at our own pace, and in our own time. It was even with us during most of our domestic and international travels, at least ust until Park N Fly.

So just this morning, I gave Wild dog its one last car wash with us, cleaned the interiors and readied every thing for the next owner. And a couple of car honks later it signaled its departure from our home. We will miss her.

Born in 1974?

Life is full of ups and downs. The trick is to enjoy the ups and have courage during the downs – Author Unknown

November 30, 2006 was one of the most exciting times of my life. And the week prior was just as eventful.

I have been writing my birthday as Nov 30, 1973. I just know the date. Lately, though, while processing my Transcript of Records from where I got my Bachelor’s Degree, I had a frustrating and confusing time at the registrar’s office. I learned that they’re reading—or rather interpreting—my birth year on the photocopy as 1972 instead of 1973.

Ti abi. How could this happen? I’ve been using 1973 in my passports, government issued IDs, and licenses, gun license included (I don’t know if it would have helped convincing them if I brought this one along). But it all fell on deaf ears. I was short of choking someone’s neck that day. Good thing, my good side prevailed (play Psycho movie music here).

I left school that day wondering if I would be turning 33 or 34 this year. So yesterday, I anxiously went to claim my birth certificate from our local NSO (National Statistics Office). And there it was, legibly typed written on my birth date space, is nineteen seventy-three. 1, 9, 7, and 3. I’m indeed a certified 33-year-old man.  Never before have I appreciated my age.

***

November 29th

Driving from Starbucks Shangri-La Makati, by the wee hours of the morning, I was made to decide which way would take me home. Going right of the intersection leads to the Skyway ramp while left is a road that looks a lot faster via Coastal Road. So left road it is.

It was wrong decision—I entered a one way street. Upon exiting the lane, I was apprehended by a policeman. His back-up also arrived and both implied that I could get an easier way out of my traffic violation. “Birthday mo na pala bukas…ang layo mo pa,” the apprehending officer said as he takes a look at my driver’s license. He obviously wants me to bribe.

I was in another dilemma. Part of me was anxious to get over it and be home but I’ve been a firm believer that bribing makes one become part of the problem rather than the solution. So I got my ticket and left the policemen with nothing but my driver’s license. I drove away disappointed but proud of what I did. It will cost me more, but at least I made my stand.

***

November 28th

This day was unique for the T3 folks—my wife’s group. Instead of the usual Japanese buffet at Saisaki, this time they turned Chinese. We had dinner at Tong Yang Hot Pot in SM Megamall and surprisingly, majority of the guys are newbie to this sort of dining.

Nevertheless, they enjoyed preparing their own hotpot and grilled foods. There were oysters, dimsums, tuna, salmon, chicken innards, and veggies just to name a few. The men’s favorite was of course present—free flowing San Miguel beer for only P50 ($1). (And if you’re wondering, yes I followed the one bottle per hour rule for drivers like me.)

My wife went creative too. She got me a cake delivered by the waiter right to our table as a repertoire of birthday songs played over the whole restaurant. And it was all for me, for my advanced birthday party.

After the belly busting dinner, a bowling match followed and to cap the night we went to Nipa Hut bar in Pasig where we met up with a couple of ex-Intellites. We also had a couple of sisigs and gambas. And what could be more perfect match to those killers than beers. Yes. Beers. One bottle per hour again. Hik.

***

November 27th

The longest day. Wifey and I together with friends played at Lotus Badminton Center Inc. for almost six hours with rest and lunch included. (If I remember it right, we started playing badminton three years ago and fairly enough, we have improved our game.)

We left the court by past 3 p.m. On our way to SM Dasmarinas I was pondering on pampering ourselves with much needed body massage and hot oil treatment and that’s when our car broke down.

Luckily I was able to park it at the mall and did the troubleshooting right there. It was a busted alternator again (I replaced it approximately six months ago). I had no other choice but to buy a 2nd hand part that cost the same as the painting my wife was planning to buy. Ti abi.

I went home tired and dirty instead of refreshed and shiny.

***

November 26th

As a Sunday routine, I bought my copy of the Philstar (www.philstar.com). I was surprised upon reading that one of my favorite writer Max Soliven (also this paper’s Publisher) passed away last Friday, November 24th, while on his way home from Japan. Sanamagan.

I’ve admired him for his articles in By the Way. He wrote with courage and charisma and his style of writing almost never fails to amaze me. Well, that’s life I guess. Although I know that the list of writers with such caliber as Max are now dwindling in numbers, I just do hope that someone will come at par with the way he does. Wherever you are, may you rest in peace.