3/23/20: Cozy + The Gambler

Journal Entry No. 4

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I turned our open garage into my workspace today. The dry season has started, and I decided to move outside because my sweat kept on dripping onto our couch because it was so hot. I didn’t want to continue trashing it and be scolded by my mother.

I set up my laptop at a blue, round table, and a China-made speaker under it. While working, I wanted to put on blast my Spotify playlist, titled “Soul on Fire,” which I curated months ago. I regularly listened to its track list on my way to work before the pandemic erupted. The playlist is made up of songs from artists from the soul and blues genre or whose songs are infused with blues or soul stylings.

Hours later, it became apparent that this setup had allowed me to be at my most productive since I started working from home. It was cozy, and the landscape of trees and shrubs was a refreshing sight. Despite all the crazy, distracting stuff happening in the world, I felt pretty pleased with myself.

When my shift ended, I played “The Gamber” by Kenny Rogers, who passed away the other day. I grew up listening to Rogers because my parents always played his records when I was little. However, I first heard of “The Gambler” only in December 2019 when I went to San Francisco, California, for work. On my first night there, I went to a blues bar where a band played the song and almost everyone in the bar was singing along. Hearing the band perform the beautifully written lyrics and the foot-stomping melody of the song deeply moved me. What crept into me was even better than the sensation I feel whenever I watch my favorite local drag queens perform at Obar, Ortigas.

Anyway, it felt right to play the song at the end of my shift. As a celebration for a productive day, and for Rogers’ remarkable work that has served as a soundtrack to the many special moments of my life.

P.S.

I recorded a cover of “The Gambler” minutes later upon reading about Rogers’ death. You can find it here if you’re interested.

 

3/18/20: Biking + Cows

Journal Entry No. 3

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It’s been a week since I started working from home. Two minor observations under this setup: I get distracted easily, and the force on the bed is too strong. A major one: my excessive use of social media is taking a toll on my mental health. The amount of information concerning COVID-19 has overwhelmed me, and the need to tune in on the latest enemies of the online cancel culture has exhausted me. I am all for calling out people who help propagate injustices in our society, but for some reason, that also became too much to handle today.

I took a 20-minute break in the afternoon to clear my head. I went outside the house, put my feet on the pedals of a bicycle, and videoconferenced with my office pals (via phone) while simultaneously riding it.

On that short ride, my office pals saw a river, cows, carabaos, and chickens by the side of the asphalt road. I was supposed to show them an arc at the boundary of the territory of our province, which is about 10 minutes away from our house. Inscribed into the arc is the name of our province — a sign that passersby and vehicles are about to cross a border into a different province. I thought it would be cool to show them I could be in two places at once. Unfortunately, several meters away I saw that military personnel were manning the border. Since the entirety of the province is under household quarantine, I wasn’t supposed to be out there loitering. I stopped at a road-side food stall that sells chicken skin, and bought me some. Since under the implemented quarantine rules one member of a household is allowed to go out and buy food, the uniformed personnel can’t arrest me. After grabbing the bag of chicken skin, I decided to head back and showed my office pals more cows instead.

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3/14/20: Tequila + China

Journal Entry No. 2

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Last night, March 13, me and a friend, an army lieutenant, decided to meet at our house for drinks after months of canceled hangouts. We had tequila. We had a couple of calamancis in the fridge, and only one piece of lemon, which we sliced into approximately 20 small little pieces, to go with salt and tequila.  We had our own shot glasses. On a normal occasion, when there’s no threat from a pandemic outbreak, we share only one shot glass and take turns drinking. Around 30 minutes later, we were joined by my younger brother and his girlfriend who are also both working in the force.

The night started with my friend strumming his guitar, and singing, to a medley of popular local and foreign songs, including ad jingles, which I’m unsure if aided by his impressive ad libs or a pre-existing medley posted online. I noticed that his singing got better, like he performs with a little bit more passion now unlike before. 15 minutes or so later, he broke the news of his plan to get married in April. He said he’s excited, but I also noticed a trace of uneasiness — potentially a misread from my end — as he and I were discussing details. He also shared that the wedding might get postponed if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t slow down in April.

The drinking session also became a venue for discussion about our thoughts on the incumbent government, especially its maddening “friendship” with China. We were especially frustrated with the government’s abnormal treatment of the issues regarding Chinese-owned firms’ failure to pay billions of taxes and the West Philippine Sea. We ended the discussion with a joke: the Chinese government has already started its 50-year invasion plan. I wasn’t sure if I was the only one who responded to the joke with a nervous laugh.

After finishing the bottle of tequila, we turned our attention to a case of beer. I got wasted, which resulted in a hangover. I’m not complaining though. It’s a luxury to get drunk in times like this.

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3/12/20: Pandemic + Dependence

Journal Entry No. 1

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The president of the Philippines, my country, announced tonight that the National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under some sort of a lockdown/quarantine for one month due to the rising cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that has killed nearly 4,300 people around the world, and which impact has compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to call it a pandemic on March 11 EDT.

I live in one of the biggest cities in the NCR, just 30 minutes away from the city where I work as a marketing professional. I live there with my boyfriend who I have been with for over two years. A couple of days ago I had planned to leave the NCR to stay at our family house in the province, which is four hours away, since rumours of a lockdown had been circulating since the outbreak became a global concern. I wanted to be at the same place with my family — my parents and siblings — in the event a lockdown is implemented. My work is not suspended, but we were allowed to work off-site; thus, allowing me to go home. My boyfriend and I had agreed that it would be best to do that. He, on the other hand, will stay at their house where his family resides. This morning, I left the city and arrived at our house in the province. 

In the evening after the president made his announcement in a seemingly drunken behavior — a recurring style which never ceases to surprise and annoy across social media –, I felt anxious, and then scared. A lockdown means shit is getting serious. Under an inept and corrupt government, not to mention abusive, this could end ugly for many people, including myself and my family. What if I already contracted the virus and I’m one of those who just don’t exhibit symptoms? What if I pass on the virus to my parents, who have pre-existing conditions? What if supplies don’t last and we experience starvation? Why is the action plan shared by the president so confusing, and, quite frankly, nonsensical in some parts? How are the people below the poverty line going to cope with this pandemic with minimal support from the government? As usual, the poor are the most susceptible to risks during times like this. It was pretty distressing, but having known what kind of government officials we have for over three years now, it was also depressingly unsurprising.

When my anxieties and fears subsided, I lied down and decided to rest. But before I could, a thought hit me, which made me tear up a bit: I wouldn’t be able to see my partner for a month. The longest we were apart since we started dating was seven days. He is the one that gets me through bad times, and I get those a lot. I am, in fact, having one now as of this writing. The following weeks are going to be tough if the outbreak doesn’t slow down. I hate thisss.

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The Rain in This Town

I have planned to abandon this town

There’s nothing here to keep me steady

My vision drowns in muddy waters

I drink drops of poison to keep myself sane

I have planned to abandon this town

My neighbors still have nooses around their necks

Their tears have turned into artifacts; its value still buried in history

I have planned to abandon this town

But as I step outside to set forth, my body weakens, my face loses color

There’s no other place to take shelter

Because everywhere seems the same, everyone seems the same

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Dripping with Romance

I think about you when I walk the streets in the morning
Worrying about you and your childish need for attention

I sleep under the covers breathing your name
Wondering if you think of me as much as I think of you

Oftentimes, I grouch on my way home when I see the sky glow like diamonds
I am reminded of the deceptive luminance of a fool’s paradise

A question beats my brain:
Would it be selfish to ask for the same amount of love?
While it’s impossible to see both glasses full, I can’t help but look for spills on the floor

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By the Taal Lake

Trend Micro PH held its summer outing in 2018 at the Club Balai Isabel resort, which is situated near the popular Taal Lake.

A video souvenir:

 

Music: The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do is Dream.”

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Poo Blue

My tummy’s killing me

Never have I ever dreamed

Of becoming pals with the loo

It makes me blue

Poo’s like glue

Oh darling, tea doesn’t do it

I don’t wanna gas no more

Doot doo root toot

I don’t wanna crap no more

doot doo root toot

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A Trip to Mariveles’ Five Fingers Cove in Bataan

A short vacation with my buddies took place last weekend, January 13-14, 2018. We have been planning the trip for over a month, and although my friends already gave their yeses prior to the date, I was skeptical about the actualization of the trip. You see, just like any other group of friends, trips tend to die when the set date gets closer. It could be just another “drawing, millennials and xennials call it nowadays, which is a noun that refers figuratively to planned but ultimately canceled outings by friends. To my delight, and surprise, the vacation trip materialized. We decided to go on the last minute to Mariveles’ Five Fingers Cove in Bataan. 

The photos speak for themselves. Five Fingers Cove is breathtaking.

From cliff diving and basking in the scenic views of  rock formations to tiptoeing on isles surrounded by sea hedgehogs and varieties of starfish and sea slaters, this sanctuary in Mariveles is heaven for city dwellers hungry for a relaxing weekend. Laki Beach, which was where we camped is amazing with its fine white sand.

The real star of this trip, however, is the fun moments I shared with friends. Here’s a nine-minute summary of our trip:

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