Friday, June 24, 2005

[Blog Entry] Otolod, Visit, Sleepless in Manila, The Anti-Fanfiction Wagon


Our driver has this penchant for suddenly stopping in the middle of our destination, unannounced, to find a place to pee and shit. I was heading to the post office last Thursday when our driver suddenly took a detour to our cousin’s convenience story.

“Otolod,” he said, to justify the sudden interruption in our journey.

“Otolod?” I asked. I thought perhaps he meant “utot” (“to fart”) and said it with a provincial accent.

“Otolod,” he replied. I still didn’t get it.

“Yung otolod. Sa tindahan.” (The otolod. From the shop.) I was still baffled and didn’t know whether he wanted to pee, shit, or a combination of the two. He read my baffled expression and repeated it again.

“Otolod. Auto-lod. Oto-load.”

Now I got it. Auto-load, which is the electronic service of providing credits for mobile phones, because if there’s any country that excels in micro-currency, it’s the Philippines. I mean where else does one find peddlers selling cigarettes by the stick? Or selling cellphone prepaid cards as low as P30 (roughly $0.50)?


I took a day off yesterday, but it really wasn’t much of a day-off since I had to go to my alma matter to perform an errand for the office.

Apparently, a lot can change in one year. New buildings are up, the school has new policies, and more importantly, all the familiar faces are gone. Everyone was a complete stranger, and I wasn’t thankfully accosted for not wearing my school ID because the school year had just begun and not everyone possessed one yet.

I think more than the place, your school is determined by the social atmosphere, by the people you know and the people who know you. Quite frankly, it’s become a duller place when you have no one to talk to.

I did meet some familiar faces, although one was rushing off to class, while another clearly wanted to get away from me once we said our hi’s and hellos.

On a side note, I also took the time to search for the lost Gayuma, to no avail. I know it’s relocated somewhere, but I don’t know their contact number or address.

My favorite Internet Café, E-click, has apparently gone out of business as well. There goes my cheap, Linux-based DSL Internet café. You will be missed. Katipunan seems to be eradicating the past sooner than other places.

Sleepless in Manila

I’ve actually been so busy (not necessarily because of office work) that I’ve probably had 12 hours of sleep over the span of three days. Power failures, storms, and gaming type has consumed so much of my time that I’m starting to feel the fatigue.

On a side note, I was offered coffee last night and I normally don’t drink coffee. When I was ten and visiting the US, we had a detour to Starbucks and had my first real taste of coffee. I didn’t like it and felt dizzy. I added cream, then sugar, then more cream and sugar. I still didn’t like it and had a headache for the rest of the day. I never drank coffee ever since.

Twelve years later, I thought it was time to break that taboo. I tasted the coffee and didn’t like it. I added cream then tasted it. Still not to my taste. Then I added sugar. Sorry, still no good. I sipped more just in case I’d change my mind. I’ve drank lots of disgusting and repulsive things in my life after all. Nope, coffee definitely isn’t my thing. I’d rather have a cup of chocolate which can kill me.

Interestingly enough, I felt sleep shortly afterwards. Caffeine, apparently, doesn’t do much for keeping me awake.

The Anti-Fanfiction Wagon

Here is a rant by writer Robin Hobb with regards to fanfic.

Honestly, I find some parts a bit on the extreme side (since I'm more of the in-between mentality or that there are good and bad points in most stuff), but she does raise valid points.

It's interesting to see how pro-fanfic groups outright curse her, or ignore selected parts of her text and focus on the parts they are vehemently against (despite the fact that she is misinterpreted at certain parts by some people because of either a failure to read the whole thing or a failure in their understanding).

Of course don't get me wrong. There are also certain things to criticize, especially since Hobb tries to phrase it in the way of absolutes. And I think some readers should understand that it's exagerrated to prove a point.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

[Meme] Interview Questions

1. You've said you have a lot of allergies. If there was a food on your allergy list that you could eat and not get sick from, which would it be and why?

Actually, majority of my allergies aren’t necessarily derived from food. Allergies range from the mundane (dust) to the exotic (like cockroaches). When it comes to food, perhaps the only one of significance is chocolate. And when I was a kid, before I went to bed, I’d usually drink a cup of Swiss chocolate with marshmallows. Not much chocolate indulgence these days since I’d usually get sick. Well, it’s actually either chocolate or my allergy to a certain anti-biotic, which prevents me from taking drugs like Neozep.

2. Where in the world do you get the money to buy stuff for your hobbies? You do need to eat, right?

Before work, I was given an allowance by my parents. Now, I have a salary. I eat, but I often eat at home where food is subsidized by my parents. Self-control and tight budgeting goes a long way. That and I only have one hobby at any one time.

3. What do you do for fun?

When I’m alone, I usually read a book, read manga, watch anime, or find some game I can play. When I’m with other people, it’s usually RPGs (Dungeons & Dragons to be exact), board games (complex and competitive games like Settlers of Catan or A Game of Thrones), and the occasional arcade game when I have money. I used to have more hobbies including playing Collectible Card Games, video games, and even the occasional sport, but budget limits restrain me from indulging in those at this point in time.

4. In all your travels (on foot or on auto transport), which is your favorite place you've been to and why?

I’m not really tied down to any specific place. Seven years ago, it would have to be Virra Mall, for example. I’m really an urban person, and malls with lots of people are my kind of atmosphere. Three years ago, it would have to be the streets of Katipunan, mainly because of the various Network Gaming centers, DSL Internet Cafes, and CCHQ. A year ago, it used to be Mega Mall as I get to hang out with friends like Vin and Dean at Comic Quest. Right now I’m in limbo, although I do visit Comic Quest weekly, and make monthly pilgrimages to various bookstores (Booktopia in Libis, Fully Booked in Rockwell, A Different Bookstore and Powerbooks in Makati).

I’ve also had memories of peace when I was in California at age seven and ten. I was bored, but it was perhaps the least stressful part of my life. I also got to indulge myself more in San Francisco and L.A., but definitely not a place I’d like to live in since the only people I got acquainted with were my relatives.

5. Since "stalker" has such a negative connotation, why do you use it to describe yourself?

I don’t believe in putting up “an appearance”. Some people put their good foot first. I believe in putting your bad one ahead. At least when you come out with all your faults (or admit them to people), you’ll know ahead of time whether people are wiling to stick it out with you or abandon you.

Stalker is also more memorable. If you give a mundane description to other people, it might not stick. At least with stalker, I’ll be remembered more.

I’m also someone who believes that everything has both positive and negative connotations. When I mention I’m a stalker, I’d like to clarify that I’m not the latter type. It started out with me being able to sneak up on friends and surprising them (that’s why I like to say “boo!”). Interestingly enough, I also started to develop inquisitive traits (i.e. information hound) at the time, but I honestly meant I’m the type that sneaks up on friends (obviously not with strangers) when I started using it to describe myself.

And hey, it’s all about having fun! Do you really want a boring description?

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[Blog Entry] "Okay Lang", Blogging Propaganda

"Okay Lang"

I’m sure some people are annoyed by it, but when people often ask me a general question such as how I’m doing or how’s work, I often respond with "okay lang" ("it’s okay). Actually this is just my way of telling people that the real answer is way too long and complicated to be discussed in just a single statement. Or you could interpret it as "it could be better, but I’m not complaining ‘cause it’s all I’ve got".

Of course my "okay lang" answer only adds to my NR (no-reaction) personality. I mean people seldom see me as the talkative type. And in certain ways, I keep it that way. The more I talk, the more I tend to blunder. Unlike writing, there are no take backs, edits, or corrections. With words, you can just as easily humiliate yourself. All it takes is the wrong word, tone, or comment to change how people view you.

I like to elaborate on my views. Maybe it’s because I’m too introspective. But in general, I don’t just take one side. I try to see things from all sides, and usually phrase my answers in that way. I often qualify my statements. I mean a question I often get asked is "what’s a good book to read?" My immediate reply would be "what are you interested in?" because I have no illusions that what might be "good" for me might be different from the other person’s standards of good. I’m sure some people also find me annoying in that sense. They want straight answers, not a question phrased back at them. But hey, life isn’t simple. If you want a simple answer, you’ll just have to settle for "okay lang", as inappropriate or nonsensical that is.

Blogging Propaganda

In a certain sense, blogs are personal propaganda machines. I mean when was the last time you read an entry that downplayed the author? We might admit personal mistakes, but it’s usually to garner reader sympathy. Seldom do bloggers shoot themselves in the foot (unless they’re total idiots).

Of course having said that, for me it isn’t really surprising that people air what others might term as "dirty laundry" over the Internet. I mean hey, it’s your blog. It’s your personal propaganda machine. I don’t see how you can tell your own side of the story without portraying the other side as the villains. Obviously, it’ll be public. The other side’s only consolation is the fact that they’re free to air their side of their story as well. While I’m not saying that everyone should air their private grievances publicly, I think it would be naïve of us to expect others to follow the same rules as us. I mean public whining is a big possibility, especially in the world of blogging. Just because we don’t resort to it doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t (or even shouldn’t). Should we be mad at them for doing so just because we didn’t consider it a viable option? I don’t think so, especially in light that in certain ways, their own propaganda can put them in a bad light as well (hey, I get the occasional flame for my entries and comments, which I must admit can be provoking at times, especially to guilty parties).

I’m not saying that you should air everything publicly. Hey, if you want to play it safe, make everything private journal entries (if your type of account allows that). Of course that’s no guarantee that you’ll avoid controversy (your friends, after all, can have their own opinions and might get offended at your own entries), but it does reduce the risk. But I’m also not espousing that everyone make private blog entries. I mean part of the reason why blogging is such a huge community is the fact that it’s public, and that people are able to voice their own experiences, concerns, and opinions. Some people might even get in trouble for their blog entries. But similarly, they can be famous for that as well. Or more importantly, it’s what often makes an interesting read. Someone’s personal drama might be more entertaining than the local soaps we see on TV (and honestly, I’ve seen relationships that at times are more absurd and surreal than the local telenovelas).

Inevitably, we’ll come around the subject of slander. Or avoiding the use of real names. In the case of the former, well, as long as it’s true, mention it if it’s appropriate. This is your personal propaganda machine after all. Be accountable for it though. I mean if the other person gets angry that you posted this and that, mention that it did happen. Unless of course you were s worn to secrecy (which is the case of some business-related blogging issues). Or if you’re lying or embellishing too much to simply put yourself in a good light. Don’t do something you’ll inevitably be ashamed of, and this applies to both parties (the author and the person he or she is talking about). The latter is more tricky though. To be on the same side, use pseudonyms. Pseudonyms, however, can detract from the reading experience. Unfamiliar readers don’t know who the hell you’re talking about and will be baffled by your post. To your close friends who know the identity of the person you’re talking about… what’s the use of pseudonyms if the person’s identity you’re trying to conceal is known?

Having said all that, I think we should take people’s blog enties, including mine, with a grain of salt. It gives us a glimpse of the other person’s side, but in the end, it’s up to us to judge the actual scenario. We’re the jury in a court case. Personal blog entries are just witnesses brought to the stand. Some will obviously lie. Others will simply detail their side of the story. More often than not, there’ll be a misunderstanding somewhere. But obviously, most people will plead not guilty, and will try to tell the story in their favor. We can blame them for dishonesty, but we can’t blame them for that.

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[Plug] Canvas First Annual Children’s Storywriting Competition

Canvas First Annual Children’s Storywriting Competition

Again, taken from Dean, Canvas has a children’s storywriting competition.

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[Blog Entry] Surreal


On my way home, I stopped by Robinsons Galleria to buy some food. Which was probably a grave mistake. As soon as I left the mall, I saw the dark clouds gathering. “It’s gonna rain,” I thought. Unfortunately for me, I was horribly correct.

Just a minute after departing the mall, I started hearing rain drops. I wasn’t getting wet. But apparently, the people behind me were. So I immediately ran, futilely trying to avoid the rain. I obviously failed and soon got caught up in the storm. And it was a strong storm. Despite my jacket and umbrella, I was drenched.

I eventually reached home. But it wasn’t the haven I expected. There was a power failure that lasted for something like four hours. The lights just came back on.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

[Plug] Comic Quest Updates

Comic Quest Updates

Anyway, just for those who aren’t aware of it yet, you can check out for the list of stuff (whether it’s comics, manga, magazines, toys, or RPG items) that’s arriving this week.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

[Plug] Open Call for Filipino Speculative Fiction Anthology

Open Call for Filipino Speculative Fiction Anthology

Taken from

I am in the process of putting together an anthology of original Filipino Speculative Fiction and am now open for the submission of short speculative fiction pieces for consideration. The anthology is slated for publication on this coming December/January, and will be published by Kestrel Studios, the publishing arm of my company.

My definition of “speculative fiction” is very broad, embracing everything from fantasy to science fiction, magic realism and interstitial/slipstream.

All the stories must be written by Filipinos (or those of Philippine ancestry), veer away from tried and true formula stories (no retelling of bruised Filipino legends unless you tell it really well), be written for an adult sensibility, be written in English, and celebrate the “sense of wonder”. What this means is no social realist texts, certainly none about an impoverished boy on the back of a carabao thinking about harsh social injustice – unless you write in that scenario in a way that works given our parameters.

Preference will be given to original unpublished stories, but previously published stories (no earlier than January 2004) will also be considered. In the case of previously published material, kindly include the title of the publishing entity and the publication date.

First time authors are most welcome to submit, as I’m looking for a final mix of published and unpublished authors.

Each author may submit only one story for consideration. Make sure that it’s really yours.

The word length of each story must be from 3,500 to 5,000 words.

All submissions must be in Plain Text format (.txt – save the document as .txt on your word processor) and attached to an email to this address: Submissions received in any other format will be deleted, unread.

The subject of your email must read: spec fic submission: (title) (word count), where (title) is replaced by the title of your short story, without the parentheses, and (word count) is the word count of your story, without the parentheses. For example, spec fic submission: the final fandango 3500

All submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes your name, contact information, previous work (if any).

Deadline for submissions is August 15, 2005. After that date, final choices will be made and letters of acceptance or regret sent out via email.

Compensation for selected stories will be 2 contributor’s copies of the published anthology.

/Dean Francis Alfar, editor

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

[Blog Entry] Fully Booked Sale

Fully Booked Sale

Not that I was there to verify it, but here’s the scoop (since people keep on telling me they only visit my blog to check on book sales).

"Out with the old, in with the new! From Friday, June 17 – Sunday, June 26, Fully Booked Rockwell will bring back its Super Sale! All regular items will be marked down 20% on cash and 15% on card purchases to make way for new stock as the store moves up to a bigger and better location at the 3rd Level of the Powerplant Mall on July 1.

Don’t miss the chance to get all the titles on your booklists at great prices! Call Customer Service at 756-5001-04 for inquiries and reservations.

Visit Fully Booked, Level R1, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati City. Tel. 756 5001-04 and Level 2, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao. Tel. 9114960 or 9134543."

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[Blog Entry] Etiquette, Fete dela Musique


The past two days has revealed my lack of social manners. It first begins with table etiquette, ranging from using the right utensils to not stuffing yourself with all the food in sight.

Well, there’s a reason why people don’t see me eat. Actually, there are several reasons, ranging from braces to actually being full. But this is also one of them. This can be also be partially attributed to my parents. Sure, my dad once gave me a sermon about using the right utensils, but much like the Chinese language, no one really taught me. And, uh, years and years of eating at Chinese restaurants also didn’t leave me much in terms of usage of the fork and spoon (chopsticks I also had to learn on my own). At home, I also find it easier to cut meat not with a knife but with a spoon (so be wary of me… if you piss me off, I’ll kill you using a spoon).

The other is the fact that I’m really not socially adept. Socially inept is more like it. The only ones I’ve been trained to kiss, for example, are only my aunts and uncles. So when friends (girls specifically) offer their cheek for me to hug and kiss, well, I just stand there baffled and ignorant on how to decline. I did try to decline last Friday dinner, but she merely got offended. Also got the opportunity at Fete yesterday, but alas, while they were really one of the prettiest girls I’ve met, I’ll forever be the stoic guy and just treated them to beer and a mocha frap.

Fete dela Musique

It was a great event. Of course it was honestly one I didn’t plan on going. Because I, uh, don’t really listen to music (some of you revel in that irony). Yet circumstances made it so that I was in the area, and surprisingly, I met a lot of old friends and acquaintances (and not necessarily the ones I expected to meet there). Peer pressure also dictated that I be there, especially since majority of my coworkers all have bands (Bagetsafonik, Olympic Smoker, Twisted Halo and Pedicab). Not that I was able to see them thanks to horrible scheduling (i.e. either their band was performing at the same time or you had little time to go from one stage to another).

I was honestly surprised at my presence at the event. It blew my mind away, not because of the music (because honestly, what would I know about music?), but of the grandness of such an event.

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