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 soufflĂ©. 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.