Sunday, September 7, 2008

The things we eat outside of school

I went to Victoria School in Cubao for most of my grade school. Victoria School is in Ermin Garcia near Cubao and Judge Jimenez Avenue. It is one short jeepney ride to Cubao and the only Mall we knew then, i.e. Ali Mall.

Outside our school, there would be all sorts of vendors selling all sorts of goodies you buy out of the myriad of coins that are actually remnants of my allowance. While we have a school cafeteria, we would find more interesting morsels and tummy fillers from the food vendors there.

Fish balls were sold at five centavos per piece and one peso will buy you two sticks with ten pieces each. To wash it down, our favorite was ice scramble. Ice scramble is slushy ice blended with sugar, vanilla essence and a few bits of sago plus a healthy dose of red food coloring to make it sinfully pink. It is quite refreshing—just don’t mind the dirty hand and finger nails of the vendor who scoops the thingy with a dipper and with no protection for his hands.

The ice cream vendor would be next to the ice scramble cart. When buying ice cream from a street vendor, you can opt to have it in a monay bun. Think of a hamburger sandwich, but instead of a beef patty, you have two or three scoops of ice cream—all for the princely sum of two pesos. Again watch those hands, or better yet don’t think about it too much.

There will always be the cotton candy/ pop corn vendor. He uses pure lard to make his popcorn to save on money, so don’t expect to find that smooth buttery taste. The cotton candy is spun from ordinary sugar so it is a little bit rough and would stick to the back of your teeth. When I was in second grade, one kid lost a teeth to the sticky cotton candy. Manong, are your hands clean?

There will also be the crisp pop vendor. Think of cheetos or cheese curls, but a lot more pale, with 500% more MSG and sold in bulk, in an old newspaper shaped like a cone. Not only do you get your five weeks’ RDA of salt and MSG in one sitting, you are also probably eating leaded newspaper ink.

We also have fruits as there were a couple of vendors selling santol, sliced pineapples or even a cheek of unripe mango. The santol would be sliced before your eyes with what appears to be some very rusty knife (ummmm, manong, are those clean?) and scored four ways. The pineapple and the unripe mango would be marinated in some watery solution. Both would be skewered with a short bamboo stick and the pineapple is served with lots of salt. The unripe mango would be deliberately laced with shrimp paste bagoong.

We would also have a binatog vendor there. For those not in the know, binatog is white corn boiled in salt water and served with shredded coconut. Very nutritious, but it looks like it came from a cow’s nose.

At the end of the day, we got our fill of sugar, salt and a lot of germs. We were never seriously ill though and those days, there were no media stories of mass food poisoning. There were even no dysentery breakouts.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My team, my Barangay

“An atheist in the Philippines is someone who does not believe in basketball” so said my History teacher Father Bartholomew Lahiff S.J. Someone forgot to remind Filipinos that we do not have the height for basketball yet we persist and we continue to dream big. The three most precious topics for the manly man are sex (duhhh) and basketball.

Philippine law requires all able bodied manly man to play for at least one organized basketball league in his lifetime. Likewise, it requires all manly man to root exclusively for one team per basketball league.

I did the minimum my minimum time in Grade 4 and in 4th Year High School. In Grade 4 I warmed the bench as a member of our class Intramurals team. Not to be outdone, I participated in a summer league in my 4th year. I played, nay rode the bench, for the BOSTON COL-TICS.

We were up against our main rivals, The SAN ANTONIO SPERMS and the LA LICKERS. It was a classic championship duel between the COLTICS and the LICKERS, the LICKERS eventually winning the Barangay crown, crushing my COLTICS and my future career riding the bench in the PBA. I was amazed at the popularity of the COL-TICS, SPERMS and the LICKERS franchise. I later learned that they also have these teams in many barangay leagues. There was even an attempt to introduce the LICKERS, SPERMS and the COL-TICS franchise during the IAC games in Ateneo—bad idea, and the S.J.s would have none of that so they had to change their names.

After my playing days are gone, I went on to become a full time fan to the greatest basketball teams in my universe, the Ateneo Blue Eagles (College), Ginebra San Miguel (PBA) and the Detroit Pistons (NBA).

I’ve seen a majority of the live games of the Ateneo Blue Eagles since 1986. I was there in the Championship years of 87, 88 and 2001. I was also there during the Dark Ages, of 1990-1997. There were years when we would win 5, 6 games in a year. There was even a year when National University defeated Ateneo by firing a three point shot from the backcourt at the last second and in the Blue Eagles gym. I thought I was going to die.

When I was a young and fresh lawyer circa 1995-1998, I own season’s tickets to the PBA. I had my own courtside seat and I would be there when my Ginebra San Miguel team would play.

And I also learned that I passed the bar examination during a Ginebra Game. I had the entire Ginebra Gallery cheering me on.


But this story needs its own blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Filipinos never waste any edible food. What would be first world waste, will turn up in our kitchen as something delectable and delicious. Meet one of my favorites: Sinigang na ulo-ulo, aka “Fish head sinigang”.

I first tasted sinigang na ulo-ulo when I was working at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). We would ask our ever-faithful Ate Sonia to run off to Rodicks to buy sinigang na ulo-ulo. I never appreciated it then, probably because by the time it got to us, the soup has gone cold.

Fast forward to a few years into the future. The head of the labor union where I worked invited me to lunch with him at an Ulo-ulo restaurant near Sikatuna. When we got there, the place was packed with men, but there was also quite a number of women. The place was called “Ulo-ulo sa Veterans 2” which is quite strange since the Veteran’s Hospital was quite a distance away. I later learned that the original eatery, i.e. “Ulo-ulo sa Veterans 1” is near Road 1 near the Veteran’s Hospital. Both are still standing and are owned by the same owner. Ulo-ulo Par 2 is also more popularly referred to as “Ulo-ulo sa Sikatuna”.

The crowd is 25% off-duty policemen from nearby Camp Karingal, 25% from the Q.C. Hall complex (I saw quite a number of lawyers—including one RTC Judge), 25% Taxi drivers, with the final 25% probably a mixture of UP Students and office workers from the nearby offices (me included).

The place is a shrine to plastic, i.e. plastic tables, plastic chairs and plastic plates. It is decent and clean for a roadside eatery. A creaky electric fan helplessly attempts to keep the heat from becoming unbearable as the place gives new meaning to the word al fresco dining. Inside “Ulo-ulo part 2”, you are most welcome to lift the lid off the huge caldron of steaming sinigang soup. On purpose, the fish head are kept separated from the boiling soup. On ordering the server would take out a huge bowl, pour in some scalding-hot sinigang soup, some vegetables (fresh mustard leaves, tomatoes, slices of radish) and finally the fish head.

You can choose either Maya-maya (Snapper fish) or even Pink Norwegian Salmon Head. The Maya-maya would cost around P90 per serving but the Salmon head would set you back by P130 per serving. I went for the Salmon Head. The serving size is generous, as you get both sides of the fish head; it is enough to share for two. But for those manly appetites, you would want to have it all for yourself.

Once the sinigang na ulo-ulo is served, you then go to the condiment counter and get your favorite condiment. There is patis (fish sauce), toyo (soy sauce) but I went for the bagoong isda (fermented anchovy sauce), which I liberally laced with calamansi (Philippine Lemon) and a piece of siling labuyo (Red cayenne pepper) which I crushed to release its spiciness.

To eat the Salmon Head, you take either the orange colored salmon meat, or a piece of the fish blubber, dip it in your favorite sauce and eat the concoction with a spoonful of rice softened by the sinigang soup. Once in a while, you break the cycle by slowly sipping the lovely soup or partake the crunchiness of the mustard leaves or the tanginess of the radish slices.

Contrary to what many would think, the fish head yields a pretty decent amount of delicious fish meat and the equally delicious fish fat.

Two servings of rice and a bottle of coke later, I was poorer by P160. I must confess that I am hopelessly hooked to “Ulo-ulo” and I would occasionally sneak out of the office to lunch at this shrine to manly man’s appetite.

As I said before, the place when the manly man can enjoy good food without the trimmings is not necessarily off limits to women. Yes, it is hot, covered with plastic stuff and a lot of guys with guns eat there (policemen, sir..), but it is one darn good place to have a filling meal. Bring your wife, girlfriend, or your date there sometime. Nothing impresses a woman more than a guy without any pretensions when it comes to good food.

And you do not even have to worry about embarrassing yourself when you eat the garnish.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Noisy Boys

I admit it, if there is a most wanted list for grade school, I would be in it. I always make it to the noisy list even if I could not understand why. It seems like some of my grade school teachers have this nasty habit of simply not going to class, and to cover up for their absence, we are to be punished.

Now here is the unfairness in the system, if you are a teacher, it is an absence, but if you are a student, it is a cut?

Anyway, every time the teacher decides to skip classes, she would appoint the most kiss-ass kid (KAK for brevity) to watch over the class. The KAK would stand in front of the classroom and starts making a list on the blackboard:



The funny thing is that, we are all sitting quietly there. Once in a while, a classmate would make a funny face to entice you to chuckle in laughter. This would usually get you in the list. Even a mere cough or a polite throat clearing will bring your name.

The noisy list is my first experience in criminal justice. For starters we did not have an ordinary KAK, we had a girl named Carrie. Carrie is fit for the role as the Noisy Monitor. She was big for her age, had bushy eyebrows and very muscular for a girl (yes..muscular). She reminds me of what would happen if you cross the Sea Hag and the Goons in the Popeye cartoons. While other girls would charm you, we actually dread Carrie. She looks like she could really do some bodily damage to you if you let her sneak in an uppercut or two.

Carrie is not just the police, she is also the prosecutor, as she would gleefully tell the teachers the sordid details of how we were noisy.

“He said….Ummmmm….ummmm…and then he coughed three times…”

“He said, ‘excuse me’ after he burped”…

The teacher will be the judge and executioner. It would be additional cleaning detail for us or we would be asked to stand in a corner for thirty minutes. No fair trial here, the mere appearance of your name in the “Noisy List” means you are doomed. No explanation will be necessary from you. I actually thought that they provide the noisy list to Camp Crame so that the Martial Law administrator would bodily pick us up and send us to some labor camp.

In the end, I survived grade school notwithstanding the thousands of times I made it to the noisy list—and I was not sent to reform school or to some Philippine Martial Law detention center.

What happened to Carrie? I think she went to Russia and became a Prison Director there.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Glutathione my Papaya

Everywhere you look, there appears to be advertisements for whitening products. In the past the endorsers and users of whitening products appear to be entirely women. But what is this business of men using whitening products?

Some are even endorsed by men. I cringe at the sight of driving along EDSA seeing the testimonials of some very white (and very smooth) actor or celebrity endorsing whitening products.

Let it be made clear here. Remember the adage: TALL, DARK and HANDSOME? A manly man must be dark and dusky. If by the accident of genetics you are fair skinned, it is your Godly obligation to manliness to make yourself dark by spending time outdoors or by going to a tanning saloon. The rule does not apply to those with albinism.

We should be thankful as a race, for we are blessed with the genes that make our skin lusciously brown. Male, or female our complexion makes us the envy of many. I’ve been to beaches outside of the Philippines and our perfect brown skin makes us the center of attention. No ugly freckles here, no sir!! No rough pinkish skin!! But most of all we do not need suntan lotion to get that gorgeous tan; we just need a little SPF protection here and there to save us from the horrors of sunburn.

I remember this funny incident when I was part of the Rowing Team. During one practice, we were passing around this bottle we thought contained sun block. Three hours into the practice, and several pass of the bottle later we discovered it contained suntan lotion. The label said “SPF1 for a deep, rich and luscious Caribbean tan”. For several days the entire team was not brown, we were all bronze. Make that Supermodel bronze.

Going back to men who want to be white, let me say this, vanity has its limits. A manly man is allowed only a few degrees of vanity, too much vanity and ..and..You’ve crossed over to the other side. What better sign than a manly man who suddenly becomes whiter and ..ahemmm…smoother. If you noticed your male office mate gradually looking whiter and whiter, talk to him, he might need your advice:

“You don’t have to hide it you know…we’ll be here for you. But please, whatever you do, please do not land in prison, you will be popular there..”

Men are by the laws of nature allowed a certain roughness in their appearance. Our skin is scarred by old war wounds, cuts from power tools, burn marks from using fireworks and explosives, the nicks from playing physical sports, the dryness from being exposed to the sun and pollution and the general lack of use of moisturizers, sun block and lotion.

Glutathione, Papaya soap, bleach and sulfur. None of which have been proven by science to give you permanent whitening. Read the labels, “NO APPROVED THERAPEUTIC CLAIMS”. Gene therapy may be the only hope, but why waste billions of dollars in cancer research to cater to the vanity of some (errrr) men who wants a creamy complexion—or even pinkish male nipples. There are even clinics who offer injectable glutathione. The caveat here is that you will have to regularly go back to get your glutathione shot, otherwise you loose your creaminess. So getting white is just like becoming a cocaine addict, once you start, there is no way you can stop from shooting up. What would happen if you overdose? Do you turn invisible?

Take my advice and my advice is applicable to both men and women. The rest of the world is spending billions of dollars in suntan lotions and tanning saloons. Does it make sense to make yourself white when you are just perfect being brown?

Here is my take here. If you need to whiten your skin to feel good, then your problem is self-esteem. Dr. Calayan or Dr. Bello cannot cure that.

There is a cheaper way to be white. Use Boysen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

School Lunch

As a representative of the middle class, I bring my lunch to school when I was in grade school and high school. My folks could not afford to give me lunch money and I was given only enough money to buy a decent snack and to pay public transportation fare to go home.

I brought lunch to school in a plastic rectangular food container, neatly tucked inside a plastic bag. My eating utensils would be covered by a piece of paper napkin (sometimes none). The ketchup would be placed in a small sealed container.

The standard fare includes the following mouth watering dishes (??), fried pork chop, chicken adobo, fried fish, tocino, longanisa or my (least) favorite-- a hotdog. Imagine a bed of white rice with the hotdog ingeniously pressed on. When you take out the hotdog it leaves a reddish mark on the rice.

We used to raid our classmate’s lunch box for their viand. One minute you are engrossed in school work, the next minute someone has stolen your hotdog. The hotdog will now be mercilessly passed out to the guys seated at the back row. When it is time for lunch, all you will have is the impression of the hotdog.

Sometimes we would swap their food. If you brought fried chicken for lunch and the guy next to you brought tocino, we would open their lunch boxes, exchange their ulam. Our lame attempt at humoring our baon is nothing compared to our class bully.

Once he took the lunch box of the class nerd, opened it in front of the class and said…

“Wow longanisa, my favorite…mwaaaaah….tsuuup” (proceeds to kiss the hapless sausage).

Once in a while, we would dig in our savings and eat at the cafeteria. Some of the weirdest things on earth I’ve seen , I saw through the cafeteria display.

In my grade school, the cafeteria operator was so stingy that our free soup was a piece of ginger, some onion slices and used meat stock. They also serve a weird dish of hardboiled egg in tomato sauce. They only serve half an egg and if you are truly unlucky the egg would not have any yolk. Sorry no complaining here. Their barbecue consisted of two small piece of lean pork and a huge slice of pork fat. Fridays would be kare-kare day. Kare-kare being two slices of string beans, a slice of eggplant and a piece of beef fat covered by a very watery peanut sauce and a morsel of bagoong.

The food portion was so small that there was one fat kid who used to eat FIVE order of cafeteria lunch a day. His mother would settle the bill every Friday.

Our High School cafeteria was always crowded, the food forgettable and the only thing I could remember was that it sold a lot of kikiam.

So we found sustenance outside. We also discovered beer. But that will have to be another story.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our Beloved Barber

One of my favorite episodes of “Married with Children” is that episode where Al Bundy’s barber died and he had to go for weeks without a haircut. He tried going to a Hair Stylist (Read: Beauty Parlor) and it was a hilarious adventure he had. First the stylist was gay, second he had to contend with all sorts of beauty treatment and beauty products.

Just like Al Bundy no Un-manly hands will touch my locks. Nor will I give them the pleasure of giving me a protein pack for my hair.

A manly man’s barber is one of his life’s best pleasures. He is not just a guy who cuts his hair; he is his confidant, his source of entertainment and his window to the minds of other manly men. A manly man should stick to only one barber. Having more than one barber is just like having more than one girlfriend ---or wife. I have stuck to the same barber for close to three years. Before him, I stuck with my barber for more than nine years. I would have stuck longer had it not for his decision to relocate to Mindanao.

My first barber was the barber shop called “Tres Amigos” Barber shop along Kamias Ave. It is near the present Seven-Eleven Store near the EDSA corner and just before Colonel Salgado St. I would be brought there by my father and my uncle. I remember the overpowering manly stench of shaving crème, hair tonic and even the manly equivalent of mudpack ---boncilla.

When we moved to the Fairview area in 1980, my Barber shop was Joan’s barber shop. It was just next door to a butcher shop—Joan’s Meat Shop. It was air-conditioned— but very rarely do I remember the air conditioner being used. One of the greatest thrills in going to Joan’s is a barber named Cesar. Nothing wrong with Cesar the barber, except that he would be drunk 80% of the time—make that 90% of the time. His breath would be reeking the scent of Ginebra San Miguel as he tries to stay awake and focused with the razor as he shaves you just behind your ears.

“Wag kang mag-alala, walang kaba ang pulso ko (hik..)”

I remember the terrified look in the face of the next customer when he realizes that the next barber up on bat would be Cesar. Surprisingly, Cesar never actually sliced anybody’s ears. But you will definitely hold your breath as he slides those razor blades near some vital artery on your neck or your throat.

After Joan’s I went to Dario’s barber shop. They use air-conditioning most of the time and so unlike Joan’s they actually use disposable blades (In this day and age of HIV, you can never be sure). I had my first personal barber named Joel. Joel was rather quiet for a barber. I like him a lot because we would give me a free massage and he would always find the time to cut my nose hair. The sensation of the cold scissor going up your nostril as you hold your breath and the funny sensation when your nose hair is snipped..ahhh, refreshing.

The real stereotypical barber was the head barber Dario. Dario would be full of stories, e.g. “Kwentong Barbero” and would never stop talking to his captive audience. Listening to him gave me the impression that he was some sort of Casanova when he was in Saudi Arabia. He had sex with this, with that, with a nurse, with his boss, with a white chick, with a black chick, with a camel, with a horse. Three years ago they decided to close Dario’s and Joel relocated back to Mindanao.

Then I went to RC’s Barber shop near Mother Ignacio. My barber for the last three years is a guy named Arce. Just like Joel, he is the quiet one in the shop. But he has an impressive list of clients which includes, Chief Justice Narvasa, Aga Mulach, the late Pete Roa and then there’s me. I think I’m going to stick around this barber for a little while.

Does your barber give you a pedicure?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Swimming the Tullahan

It’s gone. We used to swim in the Tullahan River—now the world's dirtiest river. But once upon a time it was just another river teeming with life.

The Tullahan begins in the banks of the La Mesa reservoir where clean excess water makes it way down via gravity. La Mesa is where Metro Manila gets its potable water, so any excess or spillage is very clean. From East Fairview the Tullahan snakes its way to South Fairview and to West Fairview. Beyond West Fairview, it work its way to Novaliches, to Malabon and Caloocan before draining in Manila Bay.

My elementary school sits on one of its banks. After a heavy downpour we would all go to the river to watch fresh water turtles, snakes and snails being washed with leaves and branches. The banks near my school was dotted with numerous banana trees—a virtual banana tree forest. Stories of witches and tikbalang lurking in the shadows of the banana forest filled our lazy afternoons.

I was also fortunate because one of its banks is about three hundred meters from my house. My father even bought a fishing line hoping to reel in a few “dalag” (Mudfish) and “hito” (Catfish). He never actually caught anything, but the river still teemed with life. Everyone was free to partake of the free kangkong growing there.

You can also collect snails and the occasional small crabs that populate the banks.

The river is not wide, about three meters in some places, but during a heavy rainstorm some of its banks would swell to five or even eight meters. We would sneak out of the house during a rainstorm and swim there. Our game was to swim and fight the current. The rule is quite simple: swim against the current, before it carries you away and kills you. We would throw rocks on its surface just to see the wake it makes. We would collect frogs to pester our sisters or to blow up with our firecrackers.

During the hot months we would venture into the tall grasses that line its banks for spiders for spider fighting. The best place to get spiders would be near Jaguar Street and Dahlia in West Fairview, about 100 meters from the present FEU Hospital. The present location of Starbuck’s Coffee-Fairview is also a good place to get spiders for fighting, but that is another story.

When hormones finally inundated our brains, one of our older friend even used the river banks for sex with his girlfriend. He was also generous enough to invite us to the show. He would tell us that in so-and-so time, he would bring his girl to the kangkong area. We would be hiding in another area to see the show. He did it a couple of times too. The sight of human flesh pounding and moaning in the “kangkungan” is something you will never forget. I guess “kangkong” and “kangkungan” is the root word for the present street slang for sex, e.g. “kang-kang”.

Banana trees, snakes, spiders, turtles, snails, kangkong, crabs, dalag, hito, stories of witches and tikbalangs, a guy having sex, his horny voyeur friends, an unsuspecting girl. These are the best affirmation to the statement of archeologist that where there is a river, life flourishes.

This was in 1983.

Sadly, the Tullahan is dead and is now a wasteland, its water colored gunk gray. I pity today’s kids.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Back to Public Transport

No thanks to the oil cartel, I’ve gone back to riding public transportation. I am not ashamed of it; I could not afford not to cut back my consumption of gasoline since gasoline appears to be headed to the P50/liter level. I’ve decided to take public transportation at least twice a week.

In the short span of time that I’ve used public transportation, I’ve developed a healthy respect for the common commuter (reverberation intended). Metro Manila’s public transportation system is not only antiquated, it is also close to legalized masochism.

Take the common air-conditioned bus; I could never understand how they could fit three persons in a bench built for two. And then there is the FX van, taxi, AUV, whatever name you’d call it. Why would they fit four in the middle bench when clearly it was built for three? And then there are the jump seats in the back of the FX. It is shear torture to ride there with three more persons, locking your elbows and knees in one position for the forty five minute ride. When you fit people in the cargo hold, funny things are bound to happen. Take this hapless guy I rode with, he conked his head no fewer than three times against the steel frame of the FX. Stupid driver did not know how to use the brakes when he encounters a hump. It reminds me of this army sergeant who drove our 6 x 6 trucks during my ROTC days. From Villamor Air base to Ateneo, he didn’t stop at nothing. So here we were getting tossed around with the cargo of rifles and bullets. Later we discovered that the poor guy just got back from Mindanao---and survived an ambush. Just our luck that he was suffering from post traumatic stress.


Going back to public transportation, then there are taxicabs. You can always spot the wimps, they are the ones who flag down a taxi and negotiates with the driver even before he boards the taxi. Take my advice, get a taxi, open the door without saying a word, sit down, close the door after which politely tell the guy to bring you to your destination. By law, he cannot refuse to convey you. But have some pity too. The poor guy gets P5-P10 out of every trip, no thanks to our oil company friends. If the service is good, be generous with your tips.

Jeepneys. Yep, no matter how the ultra-nationalist says so, the jeep is obsolete, dangerous and dirty. Their place is in a museum. I am amazed that many jeepneys today uses real glass windows in their passenger compartments. Not only will they hide a hold-up taking place, they will also shatter into thousands of lethal projectiles when the jeep meets an accident. I also pity the poor driver, his lungs is probably as dirty as the underpass in Manila.

Tricycles. I have relearned that tricycles are fun to ride. For a week now, I ride the tricycle going out of the house to the FX station. My daughter rides with me, since she has swimming practice at the village pool. She likes it a lot. The wind in your hair, aaaah, refreshing (unless the driver has body odor).

The MRT should be the future of Metro Manila's mass transport system, but what we get is too little.

If you are a member of the riding public (meaning you do not have a car and use public transportation 100% of the time), give yourself a pat in the back. For if you could ride out Manila’s public transportation, you are smarter and tougher than you give yourself credit for.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Summer, Fifth grade is waiting in the horizon, and a young man's fancy turns to errr..circumcision. There is probably no nation on the face of this earth more obsessed with male circumcision than the Philippines.

For Filipino boys, nothing is more shameful than being called "supot" i.e. uncircumcised. In tagalog "supot" is also used to describe any manly man who does not measure up. Thus a weakling is called "supot", an airhead is also called "supot", so is a henpecked husband, etc. Supot this, supot that.

A boy who is circumcised at birth is considered a cheater. The rule is you are circumcised between your second grade and your fifth grade. The more painful the better. Boys have two choices: the local circumciser (usually the village barber) or for many your local doctor. Now, don't get me wrong, it is OK to go to the doctor as long as its not one of those "painless-bloodless" promo they are now pimping.

There was only one hospital giving the painless-bloodless circumcision during my days: Garma Hospital in Cubao. Garma Hospital is also Metro Manila's first STD Hospital. So if you went to Garma you either got the painless- bloodless circumcision or you had gonorrhea (this was pre-HIV Manila).

I got mine from the neighborhood doctor. My dad got his from their local barber, the painful, anesthesia-less way. The barber who gave my dad his circumcision also circumcised the last three town mayor and probably half of the male councillors. Talk about bragging rights.

Nowadays, it is common for politicians--and even church groups to sponsor "Operation Tuli" during the summer months.

After you get your circumcision, it would always be a funny spectacle of young men wearing skirts. It was probably the only time that a Filipino boy realize his link to bloody Scotland.

Hah!! This is not a skirt, this is a kilt--don't laugh or I will cut your bloody head off.

After a few days it is time to remove the bandages--another source of entertainment. My cousin had to be chased by his mother for four hours before he removed his bandages. It was so bad that he actually almost renounced his manhood right there. What a wimp.

If you have been circumcised, congratulations for you have bona fide complied with Abraham's covenant (yep, its in the Bible..). If you have not gotten one, please get one. You might be sent to limbo and run into your best friend there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Holy Weeks we knew

Good Friday. Atlanta Georgia. And here I am nursing a cold while the rest of the family enjoys our first full day on vacation in the deep south. I miss Holy Week back home. It is the only time of the year that Manila's splendor comes out in full bloom. Imagine Manila with no crowds, no polluting vehicles, sky's all sunny and blue and the heat---oh, the lovely heat. People are quiet, the malls are closed. Without the pollution, the greenery comes alive. It may not be as colorful as a spring bloom in the temperate latitudes, but multiple shades of green does have its own beauty and wonder.

I could imagine why the Spaniards and the Americans loved Manila---well, till the pollution took over.

And no traffic friend Wendell Ramos (yes..the actor)loves just to drive around the City during holy week. I too enjoy being able to zoom by without having to worry about traffic or not getting on time. The rest of the city goes on vacation mode. Here is a tip: Boracay or Baguio during Holy week? Forget it, everybody is there. The Manila traffic goes up North to Baguio and the Mall foot traffic goes to Bora. It could get pretty dirty there this time of the year.

Churches are full. Crime rate is down. And Quiapo? Good Friday? Imagine yourself trying to grab a statue of the Black Nazarene with 10,000 other guys all jousting and shoving each other as the procession goes by. Last year only one guy was killed. One foreigner I talked to said that the Quiapo procession has the same reputation as the bull run in Pamplona, Spain. I am still trying to find the guts to do it..well probably next year.

I also remember a lot of travelling to my Dad's province in Tarlac. One of our favorite family story is of how this chicken got stuck in our car's bumper on our way to Tarlac. This answered two important mysteries: How did the chicken cross the road? (answer: Got hit by a car and got stuck in the bumpers) and could you eat meat on Good Friday? (if it came free, why waste it). In Tarlac, We would climb trees, pester the carabao, swim at the river and do things that you would do before hormones took over.

There is another welcome respite for me. Philippine television is on limited broadcast from Holy Thursday to Good Friday. I remember when we were young, we had no cable, the TV stations would show these bathrobe classics during Holy Week, The Ten Commandments,El Cid and my favorite The Robe. There was also Jesus of Nazareth and sometimes Jesus Christ Superstar. I never realized how much noise television makes till it is turned off. I work for a Philippine Television company now, and I now know the reason why we have to do limited broadcast during Holy Week. This is the time we clean the transmitter and the studio.

Enjoy your vacation in lovely Manila.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Hair up there

Apart from the ones they have on their head, women hate hair. They go to all sorts of rituals and chemicals to pluck, remove, and burn excess body hair. I could never imagine myself going through waxing. Or having to pluck my eyebrows.

Men love hair. They will trim them a little, but they are generally resigned to nature’s carpeting.

The Bedouins have a curse which says “May God pluck your beard”. Thus a manly man without bodily hair is bordering on gayhood (ok, “Metrosexual”). Just imagine a fair-skinned guy, with milky white flesh, without any body hair and pinkish nipples…Damn…he will be popular in prison.

“Come to Papa….bwahahahaha”.

Men start growing body hair early in their teens. “Secondary bodily hair” according to my biology teacher. Here is a hint to parents: If you want to know what is the best time to have your son circumcised, the answer is simple. Do it before he starts growing pubic hair. For there is nothing more embarrassing than being uncircumcised and already hairy down there. It could get you into a lot of trouble. I remember this kid who was one year older than me in school. The story going around was that at grade five, he was already “Fidel Castro”. There was even a huge vandalism in the boy’s rest room:

“SI ___________, MAY BULBUL NA”.

After the awkward years of puberty, men’s hair (primary or secondary) becomes a status symbol. I grew up in the 1980s—yep the bad hair decade. I actually envied those in 70’s or even from the 2000s onward. They could wear afros or could have their hair really long like an Apache Indian. In the ‘80s we only have the “Gel Look”. In college, it was mandatory ROTC training for us so, every able bodied males had their “2 x 3s” for two years or in my case it was four years because I took the advanced ROTC course. We were not even allowed to have beards or moustache. I think that it would be late for me to wear an afro. A middle-aged lawyer, in an afro before a judge?

Underarm hair. We do nothing with it, unlike women who have to contend with the how and why of underarm hair removal. But it doesn’t mean men should display them. Imagine yourself in the crowded MRT and the guy next to you is wearing a sleeveless shirt and decides to raise his arms on the grab bar?

We do not shave our legs. We like then as they are thank you. A manly man without hair on his legs is definitely not one of ours and should be treated as a captured spy.

Our facial hair is covered by a few rules. Rule No. 1: You may shave your beard or moustache, Rule No. 2: You must trim your nose hairs or your ear hair, Rule No. 3: You should not shave your eyebrows (Remember Commandant Mauser in the Police Academy Movies?).

And lastly our chest hairs. Chest hairs are acceptable. Hair on the back of a manly man? Scary. I remember this guy I saw on a beach in Hawaii, he had carpeting on his back…and his eyebrows were pretty thick too.

As for me, I am no Burt Reynolds, but I am proud to say that I have sufficient hair on my torso to turn off any un-manly advance by my cellblock mates.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

One Night in Tijuana and the world’s meanest Tequila.

I crossed the Mexican frontier for the first time in my life fifteen years ago. I was visiting my cousins in San Diego California and we decided to have fun by crossing into the Mexican border one evening.

This was pre-9-11 and border crossing was relatively easy. I do not recall being stopped at all. We went inside this US Border Patrol outpost and the lazy border guard simply waved us through---he never even bothered to inspect our passports.

Upon crossing the border, I was transported back to the Third world. There were a row of taxi cab drivers who were jousting to get our attention. There were several beggars begging for food, alms and presenting themselves to be our porters.

We selected this taxi driver who reminded me of Cheech Martin. When we got him, he insisted on not using the meter (he will enjoy driving in Makati) but offered to show us around for a good price. He asked our names and when I introduced myself as an “Ibarra”, he said that he has cousins named “Ibarra” and we could probably be cousins. All sales talk I told myself as I could never imagine how my Asian genes could intermix with his Mexican genes. I wanted to explain to him the common history of Spanish conquest between Mexico and the Philippines so that he will understand why this Asian guy has a Spanish name.


My cab driver cum –primo (cousin) asked us without even a hint of malice. I was just amazed as to how nonchalant they could get about prostitution. He went on to tell us the story of how this tourist he picked up the night before ended up having sex at the back seat of his taxi—before the police came.

Since I was with two married cousin, a little Mexican hanky-panky was out of the question.

“No Pussy today muchacho. Do you know of a good place to drink?”.

He was a little disappointed that we were going to get some clean fun.

He took us to this Mexican bar and dance hall. The waiters and waitresses were Mexican teenagers. After they serve your food and drinks, they would go dancing on the dance floor. Their uniforms reminded me of the uniform in FRIDAYS or at SHAKEYS. The girls were very pretty but I realized that Mexican girls have this tendency to be fat on their waist and legs.

Our waitress was this pretty girl who looks like an improved version of Donita Rose. I poked my cousin and asked him:

“IMAGINE you are in Malate and she is your date?”

He shook his head and blurted:


We finished our beer and we went out of the bar. Outside a pimp was pleading to us to try his girls:

“COME ON MUCHACOS, NICE YOUNG PUSSIES…100 dollars only. Why go to Mexico without having some Pussies, no?”

We politely waved him off. (Mental note: never go to Mexico with married manly men) Our driver saw us and he said something in Spanish to the pimp who immediately left.

We then walked the dirty streets and found a vendor selling real tequilas. The bottle look like the bottle you use for lambanog. The label looks cheap and contains only one word which I recognize: PELIGRO. The bottle was inside a net. It kind of reminds you of some tuba that you buy in Quezon.

Inside the bottle was a real Mescaller caterpillar worm. I smiled, when I realized this was the real deal. No Jose Cuervo here. This is the real stuff, made by some Mexican home brewer. The vendor explained to us in Spanish and broken English that it was traditional in Mexico to offer the pickled worm to the guest of honor ---or the last person to take a shot from the bottle. He also told us that Jose Cuervo removes the worm in their finished products.

I bought two bottles. We hurriedly returned to the border, paid our taxi-driver-cousin-wannabee thirty dollars and happily re-entered the United States. There were no border guards manning the crossing.

A few weeks later, I brought home to the Philippine the wicked looking tequila I got from Tijuana. Several persons got drunk and our houseboy ended up eating the thumb-sized Mescaller worm.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Perfumes Please

When it comes to hygiene, the Manly Man needs very little. Don’t get me wrong, the Manly Man is not a stinky man, but our vanity is tempered compared to the vanity of the Girly Girl.

Our needs are simple: Soap, shampoo, deodorant stick, shaving razor, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb. Optional items are mouthwash, dental floss, and conditioner. Seven mandatory items, three optional items. When I was in military training, the items are pared down to five: Laundry soap (aka “Bareta”), toothbrush and toothpaste, razor and a comb. Ahhh, the magic of the laundry soap, we use it to clean our clothes and for bathing. It will get any dirt, stain or gunk out.

Which brings me to my next point, how does the manly man define hygiene? First, he has to bathe everyday and clean his hair. He needs soap, not that soft, creamy Ivory Soap thingy. Because a man’s body generates buckets of sweat and he is exposed to all sorts of gooey stuff, he needs something to remove gunk and oil and to suppress strong odors. Cleaning your hair, shampoo usually does the trick and no fruity scents please. Conditioners are optional.

Second he needs a deodorant that does not smell like deodorant. Deodorants must control odor and perspiration; it should not be a substitute for perfume. Nothing is more offensive smelling than a Manly Man whose underarm protection you could smell.

Hmmmm… .Is that Rexona?

Thus a manly man must smell like soap and water. No deodorant scents and no perfumes or cologne please. Perhaps the only compromise here is that he is allowed to occasionally dab himself with after shave. The guy who is reeking with the scent of perfume is either gay or a Dirty Old Man—or both.

Third, he must brush his teeth and shave. Notice that there is no shaving crème in my list? If you have soap and water, there is actually no need for shaving crème—unless you have sensitive skin like me.

We do not need facial cleaners, pore cleaners, nose wax, nose pore openers, lotions, sun blocks, facial sun blocks, eye brow liners (guy brow liners?) or what have you. Best proof that a guy is gay? The big vanity kit is a give away. So when you have some guy in the men’s room bringing a huge bag full of vanity stuff and he actually starts using the oil removing film, he is definitely gay.

As for me, I’ve given up the laundry soap for the more civilized bar of Safeguard. But I still keep some handy in the house to remove oil and other manly gunk.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Onyong Tattoo

Our first house was built in a small lot in a small village called Merryhomes. Merryhomes straddles the border area of West Fairview and Barangay Sta. Lucia in Novaliches. My father built the house in late 1979 with a P100, 000.00 loan. West Fairview then was an upper middle class community, while Barangay Sta. Lucia was a depressed community with many informal settlers. We thus earned the dubious title of being “West Fairview Gi-leds”.

One of the construction workers who built our house was an ex-convict named Jun Nicolas, aka “Onyong Tattoo”. True to his name, Onyong’s body was covered with the green-hue tattoo that was used to mark a former convict. His body had snakes, an eagle even a space capsule used to identify his affiliation with the notorious Sigue-sigue Sputnik gang. One huge snake covered almost all of his right leg. His head was always shaven bald.

When our house was finished in 1980, Onyong would not want to leave the house. Since he lived in the shanties in Sta. Lucia, my father decided to let him hang around the house doing odd chores for a few bucks a day. At the end of the day, he would go home, but not before entertaining us with his guitar.

I was 11 at that time and at first I was terrified to see a bald tattooed ex-con working as a handyman in the house. But later the family found him to be gentle and kind and so unlike the stereotypical ex-con. He told us that we went to jail because he killed someone, but he killed him because of self-defense. Apart from his evasive and cryptic answers regarding his criminal record, he said very little about himself. He would rather take his guitar and entertain us with his funny songs:


His funny songs are his magnet, and he would attract kids from the neighborhood who would be tickled pink with his funny songs.

And nobody would dare, pick a fight with us. All the neighborhood toughies stayed clear off our house less they ran into ONYONG. Apparently people are spooked and we liked it.

One day my one-year old brother had a very severe convulsion. He had been nursing a very high fever and true to our genetic predisposition had a severe fit. The convulsion was so severe that we twitching violently. He was on the verge of dying. Everyone was panicking. Manang Tal our yaya was panicking and was frantic. Our parents were at work. I was hugging my sister, expecting the worst. But Onyong decided to run off to find a taxi cab and he found one. Together with Manang Tal they rushed my brother to the nearest hospital to Fairview---which in those days was the Children’s Hospital in Q.Ave.

When they got to the Hospital, Manang Tal found that they had no money and Onyong was barefooted (in his rush to get the taxi, he forgot to put on his flip-flops). Onyong talked to the taxi driver regarding their predicament and the taxi driver never bothered to argue with the tattooed bald man.

My brother survived. He is now 29 years old and shows no signs of his childhood convulsions.

Onyong will not be so lucky. Less than two years after he heroically saved my brother’s life, he would take his own. We woke up one morning to the sad news that our friend had drunk Nuvan insecticide and killed himself. He got into an argument with his sister and in a fit of depression decided to poison himself.


Don Mclean says it most eloquently…


If there is one thing me and my brother regret is that we never had a chance to have a cold beer with our friend Onyong. He was a gift to us, he gifted us with the gift of laughter and he gave my brother the gift of life.

To Onyong our friend. We know that you are now in heaven having a cold one. Till we meet again, please save some pulutan for us.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our First Car

Manly Men talk about their first car as if it were their first girlfriend. While the memories of our first girlfriend are safely locked away in our vault of memory, our adventures with our first cars are the stuff that can make any manly man smile. Our first car (just like our first love interest) is far from perfect, but remembering her brings about a flood of very pleasant memories.

When I was sixteen my father ATTEMPTED to give me my own car. Well it was an owner jeep. Yep, the one with stainless fenders and painted all black. It has a black tapalodo that you roll down when the rain would come. I avoided it like the plague. My father insisted that I drive it to the prom. Imagine me in my 1980’s Miami Vice-Don Johnson inspired outfit driving an ummmm…a stainless black owner jeep.

“Boss…miyembro ka ba ng WPD..mwehehehe”.

Ohhh.. the many images that kept propping in my head: Rez Cortez, Max Alvarado, Joaquin Fajardo, Jess Lapid, Lito Lapid.My father probably got the hint that the owner jeep was going nowhere and that if I were to continue propagating our genetic line, he had to get me a real car.

Enter my first car. A VW beatle, 1969 model. Red colored. It used to be owned by my dad, who sold it to my uncle, who sold it back to my dad. It had no air-conditioning, the leather smelled like some synthetic ooze. But it was comfortable enough to seat five, seven in a pinch. Once, I was driving the VW in Ateneo and we carried eight guys—well, ok, the door was partly open and one guy had his torso sticking out one window.

One morning I was driving along Commonwealth Avenue. Back in the 80’s you can cruise an eighty along Commonwealth and the weirdest accident happened to me. The steering bar broke and I found myself holding on to a detached steering wheel, just like in some Dick Dastardly cartoon.

I pressed on the brakes. Wrong move as the car spun like a record on a turntable. I’m just glad that I did not hit anyone. I ended up on the side road and I hit a sign which ironically said “BRAKE REPAIRS”.

Not long after, my father got me another car. My uncle ended up getting back the car. Several years later, one of my cousins would be driving the VW as his first car. One day, he was driving with some friends and the VW caught fire (yep, VWs are known to do that). In a moment of panic, he drove the car to a gasoline station. Luckily, the car or the station did not explode. The owner of the station almost killed him.

Fast forward to several years in the future. The same VW who used to be my dad’s car, then my uncles’, then my car, then my cousins car is nothing but scrap metal.

“Thank you for being a friend, travel down the road and back again. Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant”…Sleep well old friend. Thanks for the memories.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Old Cubao

I read in an article that the Araneta family has finally decided to renovate the Araneta Center in Cubao Quezon City. Good for us to see development that will parallel the Gateway Mall package.

For thirty something guys like me, Cubao holds a special place in our bucket of memories. I used to live in Malakas St., near the LTO office in Diliman. I was less than a kilometer away from Cubao.

Because of the unobstructed skyline then, the dome of the Araneta Colliseum was visible from street level. I actually remember that it looks new and imposing, but then again this was thirty years ago.

My father used to work in the office of the Rustan’s Super Store store in Cubao. His office entrance was near Cinema 21. Rustan’s was the chic-est place to shop in the seventies and it was always a nice weekend treat to go shopping there. The main lobby had this enormous fountain with lights. The foundation area also contains a stage akin to the activity center in today’s malls. The lobby conveniently divides Rustans into the department Store Area and the grocery area. Just near the stage was this elevated restaurant called The Veranda. They serve really good food there---I remember their sizzling spaghetti.

Just outside Rustan’s was Fiesta Carnival—now the Shopwise Store. It was the distant ancestor of Enchanted Kingdom. I remember the space train ride. In the 80’s the space train ride became the horror ride. By the year 2000 I think it has become the Dugyot Ride or something.

Also across Rustan’s was Ali Mall, the Philippine’s first mall. They used to have a really 70-ish skating rink there called Skatetown. Teenagers would hang around, skating to 70’s disco music, probably getting stoned or getting wild sex, but then again I’m too young (sigh). By the late 1980s Skatetown was also known as Gaytown. At least you can actually earn money there, instead of just spending it (hahaha..AIDS test…AIDS test).

Ali Mall also had these SENSOROUND –equipped movie houses. SENSOROUND I think is the ancestor of today’s THX theaters. But the SENSOROUND thing is more primitive and brutal. It works by bombarding you with 500 decibels of sound from all directions. I think I ruptured my eardrums there once. SENSOROUND was also Quadrophonic. Unlike Stereophonic speakers, which use two-speaker output, Quadrophonics uses a four-speaker output. Human being only have two ears, so what’s the point in Quadrophonics? Stupid heroin addicted scientist from the 70s… .

Sometime in 1979, some guy named Henry Sy was building a department store near Ali Mall. The store was Shoe….something…I can’t remember.. (haha).

Fastfood in Cubao consist of one Mcdonald’s near New Frontier and street corner kiosks selling hotdogs, waffle dogs and that orange kropek. The Kiosk was never named, but in the 90’s we actually started giving them funny names like e.coli one, bacillus two, dysentery three. There was also this Orange Julius stand near the Rustan’s grocery. Since there was only two Mcdonald’s in the Philippines (one in U.N. Ave. and the one in Cubao), people actually traveled to get a Big Mac:

Dad: Family!! Pack your bags. We are going to McDonald’s for some French Fries!!”

Need to see a movie? In a stand-alone movie house? The old Cubao had tons of them. Odeon, Remar, New Frontier, Sampaguita, Ocean. I remember the hand painted movie billboards where the flesh areas are always painted as pink pigment. By the 1980s these movie houses turned from chic to sleazy—showing Soft Porn Pinoy movies. Owwww..come on? Who among you did not cut class, fake their ages to see a good Myra Manibog or Anna Marie Gutierrez movie in Ocean Theater?

Ticket Seller: “Ilang taon ka na ?”
Sneaker : uuuummm…..18 !!!
Ticket Seller : What year were you born?
Sneaker: hehehehe…ummm 1968? No…1969!! 1970?
(Huli ka!!).

We always look forward to Christmas and the annual animatronic display in COD. COD is now the Puregold Store. My favorite display was that Space-theme display in 1979. But there was one tragic twist. When I came to see it, one of the animatronic spaceman lost its head because of a loose nut. All of kids were screaming when that display came out. Half of them eventually made it to theraphy.

Farmer’s Market will always be Farmer’s Market. But it was for rich folks who wanted to stimulate going to a dirty Market. Farmers in the 70’s was clean and beautiful. As for my middle class family, we bought our stuff from NEPA Q-Mart.

Thirty years later, Cubao is a mixed of old and new. The Gateway Mall is a time machine to when Cubao was chic and trendy. There are still places where the sleaze of the 80’s and 90’s can still be seen. All this reminiscing is giving me an appetite.

Let’s all pack our bags and go to TACO BELL in Gateway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Utot Mo

Digestion produces gas, which includes traces of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, even methane. Nature decided early on that the digestive system of humans will not hold gas and that at the right time it needs to be expelled.

I suspect that only human beings fart for I have yet to hear other animals fart. Which gives us no relief (excuse the pun).

Women view fart as an embarrassing thing. In the Ilocano language there is a saying which says that it is better for a woman to steal a horse than to fart in public.

For the manly men, farting not only relieves gas build-ups, it is also an endless source of entertainment and male bonding. After all, what are a few rounds of beer without the usual round of farting? What is being in a wartime trench without letting out a manly fart?

Manly men’s relationship to other manly men is often determined by the farts they have shared. Come to think of it, I’ve been married to the same woman for the last nine years and I have not heard her fart, but with other men, I could count on a couple of guys whom I heard fart and have farted back.

Through the years, I have developed a system of naming and grading manly farts and these are some of the species I identified:

THE STEALTH: Silent, buts delivers an overpowering urge for the recipient to puke. The victim of the stealth might as well been hit by an invisible bomber delivering a smart bomb.

THE MACHINE GUN: Short burst, usually in threes and usually interrupted by intervals of manly laughter. Must only be delivered by those with tremendous muscle control otherwise, the back blast will be embarrassing:

…prrrrt…prrrt…prrrt….(interval of manly laughter)…prrt…prrt…BOOOM!!! (trigger man rushes off, knocking beer bottles)…(more..manly rolling on the floor laughing).

THE HAWAIAN DELIGHT: Baked beans plus pineapple juice equals Hawaiian Music

THE POULTRY: Sounds like a leaking tire. Smells like (rotten) eggs. Add Pineapple Juice, its called the Hawaiian Omelet. Add Baked Beans, it’s the Boston Breakfast.

THE SNIPER: Short burst, controlled intervals, no smell or smell directed towards a solid object like a car seat. The ultimate sniper must be able to deliver the payload inside an elevator-sized room without being detected. Preferred delivery method of women.

So the next time you feel the urge to deliver a gas attack, smile and enjoy it. For, why burp and taste it, when you can fart and waste it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Manly Men and Fine Dining

Real men love food. I love steaks, seafood, barbecue, pasta, pizzas. Veggies? I hate them, but I treat them as medicine: i.e. I may not like how it tastes, but I need to consume lots of it to live.

Don’t blame me, blame evolution. Manly cavemen were hunters before they became gatherers and farmers. Eating meat is etched in every manly man’s genes. After all, there are no ancient cave paintings showing early Homo sapiens spearing a carrot.

"Uuuuummmm….ummmm….me go to forest….we get broccoli….ummmm…ummmm. ..brocoli."

Which leads me to my next point: where do manly men go to eat out? Manly Men will eat where food is served in huge portions, cheap and preferably greasy or cooked over an open fire.

Which excludes the obvious places? Like a French restaurant named “Le Chardin”, where food comes in a nice porcelain plate with some garnish on the side. Where you are serenaded by a violinist while you dig into your soufflé. Where a snotty waiter brings you a cork for you to sniff and to make nonsense chitchats:

“…ahhhh…..1989….a good year Renee….I remember this year. It was the year Kris Aquino did Fido Dida. Yes…one bottle please”


Manly men eat at places like Napoli’s Pizzeria (Fairview), or Colasa's Barbeque, or Snackaroo Eatery, or “Ulo-ulo sa Sikatuna”..or even Mang Jimmy’s in Balara near UP. The common denominator for these places are these are places where men can simply be themselves.

No piano playing. No dressing up. No polite chatter, no beso-beso. Just brutally good food.

Going back to Mang Jimmy’s. This is got to be the ultimate place for the manly man to eat. It is a converted house at the back of MWSS near UP in Balara. Upon entering, you will be greeted by its sheer ruggedness. Plastic chairs, linoleum covered wooden tables. Spoon and fork dunked in a bucket. Worn out white china dishes and plastic drinking cups. Damn..I’m getting a hard on just thinking of it.

The menu will make any manly man cry. Tapa supreme, Grilled Squid, Fish Steak with Gravy, T-Bone Steak, Sisig. All served greasy on a hot plate, all the same price. No veggies (except the occasional chopsuey or pakbet). The ultimate kicker: Eat all the rice you want!!!

On the walls of Mang Jimmy is a celebrity wall, where Mang Jimmy post snap shots of celebrities who have graced his eatery. The crowd is a mixture of UP and Ateneo students, the occasional Taxi driver and office workers from the nearby MWSS.

Mang Jimmy himself is always there to greet the guest. A badge of honor in this place is when you know Mang Jimmy himself. Yep, Mang Jimmy is known to give complimentary “ulam” to his favored clients. If you see him. please say hello (libre na Kare-kare mo!!).

Women are not necessarily excluded from Mang Jimmy or any other manly man place I mentioned. My wife loves eating at these places.

Here is a hint to the dating single women out there. If the guy you are dating brings you to “Le Chardin”, forget it. He is not sincere and he only wants to have sex with you. If he is truly sincere he will bring you to one of the places where he will eat and make a fool of himself.

Thus according to urban legend, when Edu Manzano was dating Vilma Santos, he would bring her to Metro Manila’s best eateries.

After all, nothing shows the sensitive side of a manly man more than a hot plate full of Mang Jimmy’s tapa. No pretentiousness here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Are you Joseph or Mary?

I know this post is late, but I need to take this off my chest. They say that what you learned in Kindergarden, you carry for life.

I do not remember kindergarden that much, except that I drew a lot of castles and soldiers on jeeps. But I do remember a lot about grade school to actually say that what I learned in life, I learned in grade school.

Thus my first lesson in discrimination came, surprise, surprise from the Christmas pageant! Yep, that annual ritual of having you practice for a stage presentation of the Christmas story or how the world celebrates Christmas. Naturally, the teachers select the cast and here is where they can be brutal.

The fat kid. Natural choice for Santa Claus. To be chosen as Santa Claus means that your teacher actually think that you will be morbidly obese for the rest of your life and you will suffer a stroke at forty.

The Shepherds. To be played by those who are simply "average" in class. To be selected as shepherd means that while you are not necessarilly a bad student, you are simply good as crowd material in the play.

The Wisemen. Played by the Nerds. See the obvious connection here: Wise men of old equals present day Nerds. Did Baltazar format a hard drive for Herod?

Mary and Joseph. The ultimate dream role for a fifth grader. To be selected as Mary means that you are pretty and may one day represent the country in the Miss Pacific Coastal Cities Internet Tourism Beauty Pageant tilt. It also means that you are the seen as "mahinhin".

Joseph is reserved for the future hunks and champion athletes.

I was never handsome or tall enough to play Joseph. I never even attempted.

"So you want to play Joseph? bwahahahahaha...Sister Dorothy, listen to this guy. Boy, you are funny. I know a role which will fit your character. You know, some leather here, a shield and a sword there. Some body armor....hahaha Joseph?"

I played the Centurion in fifth and sixth grade. Does it mean that my teachers think that I have the making of a potential killer?

You think I had it bad? I know of someone who played the sheep.

Twenty six years later.

The fat kid who played Santa turned out to be one of the tallest and hunkiest in our class. The wonders of Richard Simmon's videos.

Two of the shepherds are in rehab. One owns a company selling toothpicks. One was shot in the leg by drunk policemen. (while singing "My Way" no doubt)

The guy who played Joseph is a lawyer and also a hunk. He was also a SEA Games Gold medalist.

The girl who played Mary became pregnant at 15. We don't know where she is.

And the sheep? After much therapy, now works in our Publicity Department.

Manly Man is in the House

Writing is not my strongest suit. Just like practical arts, but thats another story. Here is my attempt at trying to write something, but first an introduction.

I am Vinny Ibarra, a lawyer by profession (But don't take that against me) and a part time University teacher. I work for a broadcasting company, I am married and I have a six year old daughter. This blog will be my treatise to manhood.

To my feminist freinds, please do not think that this blog is sexist or is bluntly aimed at your movement. I respect your views. I do not think that I belong to the superior gender. I also do not believe in "men roles" and "women roles".

To my Homosexual friends, please do not take this blog as the work of a Homophobe. I am not gay---but I'm willing to learn (joke). Please try to understand that I am heterosexual, so I do not understand some of the things that you go through. If this blog offends you, let me know, I will listen.

So, let's get started.