Thursday, June 16, 2005

[Essay] Of Love, Life, and Security

Of Love, Life, and Security

It seems like a strange coincidence but lately, some of my friends are getting into romantic relationships. There are several reasons for getting together but a prevalent element I see my friends are looking for, especially from those who’ve had previous relationships, is security.

Hey, I can understand that sentiment. I mean I’ve had my heart broken a few times. It hurts, and no one really wants to get hurt, masochists excluded. I can just imagine what people with ex’s feel: all those weeks, months, and years down the drain. It was bad enough you had to break it to your friends and relatives that you had a significant other. Some were against it but they eventually warmed up to the fact. You also met the other person’s circle of friends and relatives. Now, it’s pffft!

I do think that on one level or another, we do seek security from the other person, in whatever way we define it be it emotional security or even financial security. That’s why we take the step-by-step process of getting introduced, dating, committing to one another, and eventually marrying (but that’s not the end of the story!). I surely wouldn’t want to marry a complete stranger, nor someone I don’t think I can trust.

Yet as much as I agree with that kind of mentality, I don’t think that security should always be the main motivator in pursuing a relationship. That’s not to say that there aren’t situations where that’s not applicable. I mean some people have been known to settle for security in their relationship, whether it’s due to old age, a lethal disease, or a simple lack of confidence in themselves. Nor am I saying that security shouldn’t be a factor when we choose who we partner with. Rather, it’s more of that it shouldn’t be the only element we’re looking for.

I mean honestly, if it’s just security you’re looking for, get a plant. Not a pet, but a plant. Pets can be fickle, stray, grow old, breed, and die. Plants, on the other hand, have no opinions of their own. They leave the fate of their lives in your hands. If you don’t take care of them, they die. If you want to talk to them, they have no where else to go. And they won’t be breeding pups and kittens all over the place.

That’s also not to say that people don’t eventually find security in the person they’re having a relationship with. But I’d like to think that’s more of a result of enduring in the relationship, of taking the time and the effort to make things work rather than presuming it’s a given before marriage, much less before they even became boyfriend and girlfriend (or boyfriend and boyfriend or girlfriend and girlfriend if that’s where your orientation lies).

Heck, if it’s security that you want, you might want to take the advice of Filipino rapper Andrew E.: “Humanap ka ng pangit at ibigin mong tunay.” (“Look for someone ugly and love them truly.”) I mean you can be confident that someone else won’t be out to steal your boyfriend or girlfriend if they’re not a looker. You can also expect your significant other to be faithful since they won’t have the confidence or self-esteem of a pretty person (I mean why ruin a good thing? This might be their only chance to get attached to someone.) At least in theory. Yet one only needs to look around and see people hooking up with each other, irregardless of whether they’re pretty or not. I mean we’ve all heard of “ugly pairings”, that is one person in the pair being beautiful only to be ruined by the fact that the person they’re attached to is someone less than complementary to their physique. And it does happen. The same goes for regular Joe’s and Jane’s being paired with ugly, mediocre, and stunningly attractive men and women.

So what’s the moral lesson there? That everyone is born unfaithful, unless you happen to be lucky? I think that’s a mentality some of us are thinking, which is why we settle for just security instead of all the other criteria we could think of. I mean when I first met someone who caught my attention, I thought “Shit! She’s the one and it took me sixteen years to find her!” And then my heart got broken, and one of the things I was worrying about was that I blew my one chance in life at happiness. I’ll never meet a girl like her ever again. And to a certain extent, that’s true. Because people are unique and there’s an unlimited combinations of personalities, quirks, and attitudes that abound in the world. Did that mean that was the last time I fell in love again? No, of course not. I was attracted to someone else later on. My reasons for being attracted to that other person overlapped with the former. But there were also differences that I admired and loved and made her special. Happy ending? Sorry, I strike out again.

Rejection is never easy. At this point, people might be tempted to settle for less. And when you’ve just been busted, it’s a very big temptation. You just want someone to hold, someone to be there, someone who cares for you without the need for you to impress him or her. It’s no coincidence that people who just broke up with someone are termed as “vulnerable”. They’re at the bottom of their emotional rollercoaster. There’s a gaping wound in their hearts, and the first thing they want to do is patch it up. That’s not to say that all sudden relationships after breaking up with someone end in disaster. Rather, the initial motivations for pursuing such a relationship can be doubted. But hey, the thing about relationships is that it develops, that it grows. I could ask someone out for the most trivial of reasons, and in a matter of a few months, develop into something genuine and authentic. But it could also end in disaster just the same, even if it was for the noblest of reasons.

So why am I against security? Because you’re settling for less. You could have more. It’s like the college graduate settling for a job at McDonalds as a burger-fryer. Why make the burgers when you can own the store? Of course when you’re desperate, frying burgers for five dollars an hour seems pretty tempting. Few people realize that they’re actually worth more than five dollars an hour. But that’s self-determination for you. If we believe it for long enough, we devaluate ourselves to five dollars an hour. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments when we should be desperate. Some people who deem themselves “too old” to get into a long-term relationship make the spontaneous decision to get married despite some doubts. After all, if they’re dying soon, there won’t really be much time to regret it. But more often than not, especially with young people, I think the reason they settle for less is because they think less of themselves. That and fear.

I think that fear lurks in the heart of every person who didn’t get it right the first time. And that applies to a lot of things, not just relationships. When I was working in a call center, the day I feared most was not the first day, but the second. Mainly because I screwed up a lot the first time and I thought it would be a repeat performance. But the amazing thing was that it wasn’t. I learned from some of my mistakes and got better the second day. Not a big improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. The same goes for the third day, and the fourth, and the fifth. That didn’t mean I wasn’t afraid the entire time. I was in terror. Yet somehow, I managed to survive. Pretty much the same thing happens to those who are traumatized by a certain event or disaster. Their worst nightmare is the first time they encountered it and they get flashbacks whenever they get close to the source of their trauma. Yet it’s not an unconquerable barrier. Once you experience it a second time and a third time and a fourth and survived, you’ll realize that it was bad, but not that bad. Of course some people don’t get over it because they get consumed by fear, constantly reliving the experience of failure and fear. They cling to their first experience, and it forever bars them from forming new memories and experiences of the said event.

In a way, it also makes us feel superior. When you’re settling for less, you have this false confidence in yourself. I call it false because it’s like a professional basketball player being pitted against a high school rookie: of course the former will best the latter, not as a testament to his skill but rather due to the fact that his opponent was weak. There’s a sense of certainty when we trim down our expectations. But the fact of the matter is, we’re just fleeing from the source of our worries. Not that flight over fight is bad, but there’s a limit on how much you can flee from something you fear. Does one find happiness in evading fear? I doubt it. We avoid fear, but perhaps it can be said that it comes at the price of true happiness. One just needs to compare the ecstacy we experience in conquering something despite insumountable odds, and triumphing in something that’s a walk in the park. You’ll get used to the latter, but there’s always a sense of wonder and excitement in the former.

The other thing I dislike about security is complacency. You’re in your comfort zone. There’s not much to worry about, nothing to keep you on your toes. Why bother extending yourself, why bother growing, developiing, and maturing? If the other person is an easy catch, why strain yourself when less energy would achive the same result? At least when you’re in a relationship with someone you’re uncertain of, you strive to know more and strive to become better in order to become appealing. Or in the worst scenario, you get rejected, but you learned a lot from that endeavor. You know what to do right the next time, or what areas you need to improve upon. No one’s born perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to become better. Security doesn’t really give you much incentive to improve.

Some of you might be thinking I’m just being critical of couples. Actually, it applies to bachelors as well. Choosing to remain single is a way of attaining security. That’s not to say that every single, dateless guy is living a secure life but rather those with the opportunity to commit to someone doesn’t do so, not because they’re not yet ready but because they value the freedom they currently have, whether it’s dating other people, or not being burdened by the responsibility of caring for someone else. That’s also not to say that marriage is the route everyone must take, or that it’s a crime to remain a bachelor. It actually depends on the situation. But rather than looking at the actions of the individual, I think it’s more valuable to find out their motivations.

I’m not going to tell you to get into this relationship or to get out of that. It’s not my life, it’s your call. But I am here to pose the question what are your reasons for pursuing such a relationship, and whether it’s truly for you. If it’s solely for security, don’t you want more? Do you think you’ll be content with just that? If so, who am I to reprimand? But if not, well, I think it’s time to re-evaluate your circumstances. The easiest thing to do, after all, is to succumb to our insecurities, and belittle ourselves.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

[Blog Entry] Demise of the Indestructible Phone, Tower Records Sale

Demise of the Indestructible Phone

For the past four years, I’ve been lugging around a Nokia 6750, which is this big (looks like either a remote controller of a Star Trek phaser) and bulky device that has rubber coating around it. Oh, and the battery lasts me six days too!

Unfortunately, aside from the wear and tear the phone is suffering from, the keypads are already malfunctioning. I’m not the type of person that spends money just to buy a new phone every six months or so. But honestly, I need a new phone.

I got one of my dad’s extra phones and it’s one of those small phones, something I dislike because it’s difficult to type on the keypads. Another problem was porting over my messages and numbers from one phone to another. And that’s not easy when you have some 60+ messages and several hundred names. SIM cards may have lots of memory, but it’s really not enough (just like some people might oogle at an 80 GB hard drive but it’s honestly not enough depending on your usage).

Ironically, there are two types of messages that are saved on my dad’s phone. One are all the green jokes. The other is all these religious messages. A big disparity in the types of messages, but I’m sure Filipinos can relate. The two things we pass on to other people are either the green jokes, or words of encouragement. And the occasional political-driven drivel.

Tower Records Sale

If you’re the type that buys original products, now’s a good time to drop by Tower Records. Their DVDs are on sale, as much as 30%. I mean the 10-disc set of Matrix (for a non-Matrix fan, there was a moment when I was tempted) is selling for P2000, cut down from P3500. There’s also the entire season of Nip Tuck, Smallville, Band of Brothers, the Batman and Superman Animated series, and a few others.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

[Blog Entry] Surviving, Kwapao Anyone?, Fully Booked Reversal, The Tower of Babel


Against all odds, my photo shoot last Monday went well. One of the models didn’t show up, and we made emergency calls to potential models. No one could make it at such immediate notice, so we forced my assistant to act as one of the models. And we did manage to pull it off.

Perks of the Monday shoot was meeting Ms. Philippines Water 2004, Ms. Jasmine Chua, who was one of the models we got (and thankfully showed up). If there was I could be blinded by beauty, that was it. Well, she’s not Ms. Philippines Water (the designation for the runner-up) for nothing. Smiles a lot and has a pleasant personality too!

Kwapao Anyone?

A friend of mine is interested in eating Kwapao. Anyone know where I can get some? At least here in Metro Manila? Another friend is also interested in getting ranch-flavored Doritos, and honestly, short of going to Subic, I don’t know where to get some.

Fully Booked Reversal

Thankfully, Fully Booked had a change in policy when it comes to the Neil Gaiman tour. The initial policy involved purchasing either a Gaiman graphic novel or a pair of books. The former is a bit difficult for those with a budget since a graphic novel almost costs four digits. As for the latter, that’s a real laugh. I mean honestly, there really aren’t that much Gaiman books in the first place. There’s just Neverwhere, American Gods, Coraline, Smoke and Mirrors, and Good Omens which he co-wrote with Pratchett. Oh, and the ugly (i.e. no pictures) version of Stardust, which I recommend you get the illustrated version rather than be tempted by the cheaper, paperback copy. Elbert was also raving about the Mirror Mask book (which interestingly enough, had a sign that said “last copy” when I visited Fully Booked last Saturday). So not only do you have a scarce selection, you have to purchase two from the lot. And if truth be told, if you’re really a Gaiman fan, then you’d have those books to begin with and needn’t resort to buying them again a second time just to get a book signed.

Now you can enter as long as you’re just having one book/comic signed by Gaiman. The passes come in when you want him to sign multiple texts, and you’re given a pass for every Gaiman-related paraphernalia you purchase (maximum of three passes per person).

The Tower of Babel

Interestingly enough, when I went to Tower Records yesterday to purchase Monty Python: Spamalot (I only realized at that time that they were spoofing Camelot, hence Spam-alot), the cashiers were all in disarray. Apparently, their computers crashed and things had to be done manually. It was also universal since all the cashiers in Tower Records had their computers crashed and not just the cashier that was servicing me at the ground floor of Glorietta.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

[Blog Entry] Independence Day, Work, Job Lust, Gaming All Week

Independence Day

"I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans." That was what Manuel Quezon, the first Philippine Commonwealth president said. I wonder if many Filipinos would still agree with what he said because in certain ways, his words were prophetic.

Yesterday was Independence Day, and our president made today a holiday (which was a bit difficult for me because she initially announced that it was going to be a working holiday, screwing up some of my plans). Which is probably one of the few things some people appreciate from our current president.


Except, of course, I’m not really one to avail of holidays (also had to work during the last holiday). If I was in a call center, I’d still be working, but get double pay. In my case, I have a photo shoot later, and it’s honestly easier to schedule something than to reschedule it.

Of course photo shoots are when I’m most tense. Will the talents show up? Will they arrive on time? Will it rain? I’m honestly at the peak of my nervousness at this point in time. The only thing that calms me is prayer. And trust in God. Which is why I pray some more. (Hey, if I smoked, I would be smoking a pack by this time.)

Job Lust

Even when I was still in college, I’d have job lust. That is, looking at other people’s jobs and wishing they were mine. It could be anything from an X-box call center agent to game designer to video game playtester to editor-in-chief of a magazine. It’s not just the prestige or leisure in working such a position, but of course the increase in salary.

I still have job lust but I know better. Other professions seem lucrative only because it’s seen from an outsider’s perspective. I mean some jobs aren’t as ideal as you expect them to be. Take the X-box call center agent. I’m sure there’s a lot of training involved, and while some people imagine you playing games all day, it is still a job and the reality is you’re still servicing customers. Or take the case of the person who has a high salary. We might think they have it easy, but I’m sure it’s difficult. Or rather, sometimes it’s optimized for their skills but not ours. What might be easy for the other person might be difficult for us and vice versa. Sometimes, that means that not everyone lands in the job that’s more suitable for them. But hey, life isn’t fair.

Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking for options. I’m always on the lookout. But I think that for the bigger picture, it’s important to have a plan, whether you’re retiring by 30 or retiring by 60. Switching jobs isn’t necessarily the most optimum or most viable solution. Other options might include investing, setting up a trust fund, and the like. There are several ways to accomplish what you want, but a spontaneous decision like switching jobs doesn’t always lead to the fulfillment of your goals.

Gaming All Week

For the past two weeks, I’ve actually been playing RPGs (sometimes, it gets tiring explaining myself: not the video-game type, but the pen-and-paper one, that includes dice and books and the like) with my friends three times a week. It’s thanks to the fact that our regular GM (game master) came back from the US and will be here for the next three months (well, two months and counting). One of our players also got inspired thanks to the fact that Legend of the Five Rings 3.0 will be out soon, and he’s been hosting Deadlands as appetizer.

That actually leaves me with lots of opportunities to game, three times a week to be exact. Of course since I have work on weekdays, that means gaming time is relegated to weeknights. My sched now is wed-fri-sat for gaming. Since it’s evening and the gaming place is all the way in Makati (thank God our GM drives us home), I honestly get little sleep before going to work.

The spirit is willing but the body is weak. I want to game more, and I honestly could, but three games a week seems to be my limit, at least if I plan on reporting to work.

Thank God I’m a player. If I was a GM, I can say goodbye to free time.

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