“A misunderstood love…?”

In the 1999 hit video game Final Fantasy VIII, there was a scene where all the lead characters learned that they had grown together as kids in an orphanage. Skipping the details of that scene, it resulted in the six of them developing an even stronger bond that surpasses that of normal camaraderie. I guess learning that you were together as kids tend to break down the walls and kind of makes things rosier around your interaction with its other.

Just thought of this as an amazing coincidence. Among all the Final Fantasy games, VIII was my favorite, and that scene was a big reason why. It’s amazing because something very similar happened to me tonight. See, my sister-in-law has this friend, a doctor named Joyce. I would often see her whenever I go to my in-laws house, and we’d say hi to each other without so much as a decent conversation. She was just my sister-in-law’s friend anyway, who’s grown quite close to my wife by association. Okay lang.

Pero this night when she arrived, I saw something in her that I have never seen before. Something uncannily familiar. So I whisphered into my wife’s ear to ask what “Doc’s” maiden last name is. All the while, I was feeling anxious in the event Doc would say “Renato.”

She did say “Renato.” Joyce Renato, or the former Jocelyn Renato, a girl I went to school with back in grade six at St. Mary’s College over at Mother Ignacia, QC.

“Yeah, I was there too.” so said Squall.

I mean, WOW. There we were, just casually regarding each other in all those numerous times we’d meet at my in-laws house, having no idea whatsoever that we were actually together in school over 20 years ago! I don’t know what happened, it’s like a veil had been lifted off and for the first time I had a really good look at her features. “Hey…” I wondered, after which my heart raced when I remembered her name was Joyce. “Could it be…?” That’s when I asked Joy to ask what her maiden name was. What if she said “Renato”???

BOOM!

It was a good kind of BOOM, though. And all of the sudden, what used to be two people who simply regarded each other loosely and casually took over the topic of the night and made everyone laugh in delight for this most pleasant of surprises. I couldn’t help smiling while remembering the subsequent conversation I had with Doc – as I look at her, all I see is that cute, almost chubby girl with glasses, a headband, her books and backgammon board sitting beside an unassuming plantbox beside the walkway that stretched from the elementary building all the way to the Panay Avenue gate. The experience was exciting, bringing me to a giddy fit. And Joy, my wife, kept laughing because all the way home I had this smile on my face that I couldn’t seem to wipe off.

So that’s what Squall, Quistis, Selphie, Zell and Irvine must have felt.

It’s nice to have something to smile about for a change

——–

Disclaimer: The line “A misunderstood love…?” is quoted from FFVIII, on that same scene I described above. Quistis said that to Squall, supposedly to ‘explain away’ her hidden feelings for him. There. (must start putting Disclaimers in my blog posts to about misinterpretations  )

Necessary Evil

I remember this line Tom Arnold mentioned in the movie True Lies.

“Women. Can’t live with them. Can’t kill them.”

Ahahaha, no, this is not a knock against the idiosyncrasies of the female half of the species. Like I said, necessary evil. Those things that do more harm than good but at the same time have become indispensable in your life. Like a sucky job, a high-maintenance car, or an obnoxious “friend” that you still keep around so you could have someone to borrow money from.

Or cell phone companies.

Specifically, the concept of “unlimited texting”. I’ve been hearing a lot about it for quite some time now but hardly paid it a second look, mainly because it doesn’t concern me (I have a post-paid line). It was only earlier this evening when my wife explained it to me in detail that I realized how devilishly ingenious these cell phone companies are. Yes, devilishly. I mean exactly what the word connotes. In order to avail of unlimited texting, let’s say Globe’s, you have to register a fixed amount depending on the number of days you want to have unlimited texting. Like for 5 days unlimited texting, register 80 pesos. Which means if you bought a 100 peso load and registered in unlimited texting for 5 days, that’s 80 pesos (81 if you consider the 1 peso maintaining balance) gone forever. Sure, you get to send as much text messages as you want to any Globe number within 5 days. That’s a lot of savings. Yes, you have to purchase an extra load balance to use your phone to text other non-Globe numbers, but so what? That’s what you used to do anyway, buy load to text people, no matter who their providers are. At least here, heavy users could save if they send more than 80 text messages in 5 days if you’re only sending to fellow Globe subscribers.

Like I said, devilishly ingenious. A production scheme that markets itself. Because in order to make full use of this, Globe users would then have to convince their family, friends, business contacts and everyone else whose names are in their directories to use Globe sim cards or buy a separate Globe sim card (for the lucky ones who have more than one phone) so they could all share in the savings. Pretty soon Smart and Sun will be following suit with almost the same exact scheme, and their subscribers will do exactly what Globe users are doing right now. Result: slow but sure polarization of cell phone users. Globe users only contact Globe users, Smart users only contact Smart users, and same with Sun. Freaking great savings, guys! Who cares if I couldn’t say hi to my mom anymore? It’s her fault for keeping a Smart account when she knows I have a Globe sim.

But hey, business is business. Never mind that it cleverly circumvented the government requirement for telecomm providers to interconnect. It’s actually something to applaud, right?

It also smacks of greed.

Here’s a question: with the cross-provider text message rate being at a constant 1 peso per message, why does Globe keep its “unlimited texting” scheme to Globe subscribers only? There’s no overhead in opening it to Smart and Sun providers, is there? If their intention is really to help their subscribers save money, they’d do this, right? Maybe increase the registration fee a little bit, like make it 160 pesos for a 6-day unlimited texting to cover the profit margin. It would still save people a great deal, regardless of their cell phone service provider. More importantly, it wouldn’t have to polarize people based on their cell providers.

But we all know this is not their intention no matter how much they trumpet it, right? This is big business. Big bucks. Big greed.

But sorry, the world as it has evolved today needs these cell phone service providers. So, no, can’t kill them.

When it’s possible for me to become a serial killer…

This is sorta sad. About 2:30am. Just chillin’ in my room, watching my wife sleep. The song I Can’t Make You Love Me (Nina’s version) is playing in my laptop. Song made me search for Joy’s blog post for the lyrics. Scrolled down and re-read the replies…

Just thinking about stuff. Probably just one of those times. Last night I was at work, the whole night. Drove home around 9 this morning. Slept the whole day almost. Now I don’t feel like sleeping. I’m still tired, but I don’t feel like sleeping. This sort of exhaustion brings with it a unique kind of melancholy. Couldn’t avoid thinking about misunderstandings. Mixed signals. Lack of communication. Silent hurts. Unspoken truths. Spoken lies. Friends breaking up, and not knowing why. Wracking my brain trying to figure out how a pleasant situation would suddenly turn south for no apparent reason. Why suddenly a person close to you would suddenly drift away. Not just suddenly, but swiftly, drastically, and almost violently. Misunderstandings? Lack of communication? Mixed signals? Misinterpreted behavior?  Unspoken hellos? Pressing ‘Delete’ just for the heck of it?

I’d choose belligerence anytime. At least with belligerent people, there is no puzzle. You know exactly why an asshole is being an asshole and why he is acting like an asshole. Sometimes I prefer no-brainers when I don’t have a great deal of time to figure things out. Just deal with it and go on with your life.

But friends communicate. It’s the same as saying that birds fly or the sun shines. When they stop doing that for no apparent reason… well… it’s mind-boggling. It doesn’t make sense.

Or it’s dead.

Kill the misunderstandings, or kill the friendship. It’s not a tough choice. It’s a no-brainer. And yet it seems we still can’t make the right choice.

Sad…

SHUT UP ALREADY!

First of all, I accept the fact that people have their own subjective preferences i.e. biases about everything. I’m cool with that. Others have reasons for liking things that I myself couldn’t stand being on the same plane of reality with, e.g. telenovelas. That’s fine. Kanya-kanyang trip*. But sometimes when you get a peep into the minds of people and realize their reasons for ranting about something, well, that’s when “ridiculous” gets into the picture.

For example, I LOVE Pirates of the Caribbean. I know many do. But I also know that many don’t, and it just sticks to my craw that a movie that I consider one of the benchmarks of its genre would get a “rotten” rating in rottentomatoes.com. Okay, we all have our preferences. But reading into the reviews that gave it a rotten rating clued me in on just how piss-poor some movie reviewers do their jobs. Almost all of those who gave POTC: AWE negative ratings jawed about the so-called confusing plot, centered on the characters doing seemingly aimless decisions that gave the film a pointlessly convoluted story. What? Will Turner allies himself with Sao Feng, and then with Lord Cutler Beckett, and then with Hector Barbossa. What the hell is going on here? Now I’m lost.

I was merely summarizing the rants. I, personally, am not lost. You see, one cardinal rule in understanding the story is understanding the characters and their motives. You can forget I said anything if you only see movies to enjoy action sequences or special effects. That’s fine, I have no beef with you. But people, especially reviewers, who describe a film “a cacophony of contrived and disjointed plot devices” without really paying attention to character motives are no different from programmers estimating the amount of time to fix a bug while having no idea whatsoever how the code looks like. In this case, the motive is actually quite simple: Will wants to rescue his father from Davy Jones. Understanding that is understanding two-thirds of the story already. But no one seemed to have given the time of day to do that one simple thing.

My pet peeve: people shooting their mouths off without knowing what the hell they’re talking about.

*To each his own

“It’s not a matter of you versus me”

New habit I have, coming out of the need to be in the office at 7am. For not so subtle reasons (which are here and here), the spirit of some long-ago dead race car driver takes control of my mind and turns me into a speed junkie whenever I listen to Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way and The Cardigans’ My Favorite Game.

It’s a little uncanny when I think about it. But then, music has always dictated my mood since long ago. And pretty much my ambitions. Time was when I aspired to perform in a concert. But that dream has already dissipated, helped in no small way by me actually performing in a concert. Good experience, all things considered. And it taught me that I should be thankful I’m not in a line of work where I do have to do concerts and tours at least twice a year (concerts are damn exhausting).

Well, at least that was one aspiration I could finally put to bed.  But thinking about it during the drive to Don Antonio to pick up my wife from her badminton game made me realize those other things that I maybe should have gotten into, instead of I.T. Now don’t laugh because some of these can be outright ludicrous.

Lawyer - Whenever I practice my reasoning skills, my wife always tells me that I should have been a lawyer (it’s her way of saying “All right, you win.”  ). Well, I do seem to enjoy crushing other people’s arguments to the ground, especially those who have the audacity to get into debates without bothering to fact-check.  The problem with this profession is sometimes you really have to compromise your integrity. And that’s something I’d want to avoid if I could.

Police officer/detective – Never mind the whys, I just wanted to be a cop. Maybe this stemmed from all those cop series prevalent on TV during the late 70s to the early 80s that kind of influenced my formative years. Problem: being a cop in the Philippines is worse than being a lawyer, for the very same reason.

Novelist – I’m a late bloomer when it comes to this, having found out that I could write when I was already 29 years old. And I do fancy creative/fiction writing (as evidenced by this 56-chapter fan fiction that I started six years ago and have yet to finish). Maybe someday I could publish something that’ll put me in the New York times bestseller map, but trying to accomplsh that would require a lot of sacrifice. Graham Taylor, author of Shadowmancer (the Christian alternative to Harry Potter?) sold his motorcycle just to get his book published.

Race car driver – And no, this is not a Gran Turismo influence. In the first place, I dig Gran Turismo because I’m a car nut and a racing freak.

Fighter pilot – Probably the one item in this list that I will never, ever attain (which relegates me to mere dreams of flying a Joint Strike Fighter). But then, this is where knowing how to write comes in to help reduce the impact of unrealization. Like:

Edge: “Blaze, what are you doing? The enemy has a missile lock on you and you’re still not engaging.”

Blaze: “Heh. He could missile-lock me all he wants, but his missile firing mechanism is fritzed and his guns are out of ammo. All bark and no bite, so to speak.”

Edge: “So he’s just trying to piss you off.”

Blaze: “That’s an affirmative, Razgriz two.”

(excerpt from Great Heroes in the Sky, an Ace Combat 5 novelization)

Aahhh, we could always dream…

“There are wars that can’t be won”

I couldn’t stop thinking about a conversation I had with a friend of mine last Friday. The idea associated was so pathetic that it would have already been in the Guiness book if they happen to have a category for the most across-the-board pathetic thing in history.

Some of us are born to lose. Losers, in the real sense of the word.

How do I know this? Well, it’s like this. There could never be a more harrowing experience of betrayal and solitude than seeing people whom you consider as family taking the side of your detractors for whatever reason. And you know you are not meant to win in any conflict if your own brother believes the lies of those who seek to destroy you. When your enemies are able to turn your own sister against you just because they are closer in age.

Credibility is defined by age groups? Wow.

Sometimes I think this world is so messed up I kind of wish for a moon-sized asteroid to wipe this blight off the face of the universe.

World War III may be closer than we think =((

Well, maybe not in scale. But in principle it’s happening everyday.

History lesson: World War II would not have elevated to the scale it eventually went to if it hadn’t been for the Axis Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan. In a nutshell, the collaborators of the Tripartite Pact were required to assist each other should they be attacked by any country not already involved in the European war. This was what Japan was counting on and most analysts think gave them the balls to attack Pearl Harbor. With the Pact in place, once the U.S. declared war against them, it was tantamount to declaring war against both Germany and Italy as well.

Sounds familiar? No, I’m not talking about school fraternities per se. In my honest opinion, school fraternities have always been a good thing. It only began to look bad when us Filipinos, in our usual over-dramatic flair, gave a new and decidedly harmful twist to the arrangement. Just think back to the “rambol” that used to happen frequently during the 90s in many of the bigger universities. It’s silly because most of them usually start of simply as a disagreement between as few as two people who just happen to be members of their own “frats”. Next thing we know, everyone in both gangs is involved. Sillier still is that most of them don’t even know what started the fight.

Which leads me to the point of this post: let your friend fight his own fight.

It is always honorable to stand up for your friend, especially when he’s outnumbered 6-to-1. But there is no honor in ganging up on a single adversary. And in the absence of a physical scuffle, there is also no honor in rallying all your friends against one single opponent in order to sway public opinion to your side. Remember that he might also have friends who’d want to stand up for him. Involve your entire circle, and his circle will jump into the fray as well. Result: large-scale divisiveness.

I’ve always admired people who don’t butt in to their friends’ quarrels because they don’t want to stick their noses into things that don’t directly concern them. I could never say this enough (and so here I am saying this again): It’s none of our business. Let your friend vent his frustrations and disappointments stemming from the quarrel. Listen to him. Be there for him. But don’t step into the fray. Don’t go charging into the next room to start a word war with your friend’s adversary. It’s HIS adversary, NOT yours.

History has taught us that this kind of thinking could only result in more chaos. Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past.

“I miss the things you do”

 I miss…Â

  • San Francisco Bay Area (this is Melvin’s fault)
  • A nice slab of rib-eye steak (I’m currently on a fish-and-veggies-only diet)
  • Videoke with the gang (and Tiff singing My Immortal)
  • Serving in the music ministry
  • My second car – a 1998 Nissan Maxima Sports Edition (I call her Jet)
  • Pumping iron (it’s strangely incompatible with boxing)
  • The FFO Fanfic forum community
  • Driving to Elorde at Gilmore with Shy and Markku
  • BOXING (haven’t boxed for more than a week now)
  • SUBIC (and feeding tigers)
  • Petiks (huhuhu, always toxic heeeeere)
  • My brother (been 8 years but sometimes I still think I’m only dreaming)
  • SVI (loyalty is not dead yet)
  • Final Fantasy VIII
  • 01
  • and the rest of the gang
  • free throws (wahahahahaha!)
  • watching Michael Jordan play
  • WALNUT CREEK 94596 (long story)
  • and last but not the least…. YouÂ

How to deal with a back-stabber

Say you’re talking to someone and, without provocation or good reason, that person said something insulting about a close friend of yours. What would you do?

  1. Tell your friend about it
  2. Keep mum
  3. Agree

If the person bad-mouthing your friend is someone you’ve been obsessing on since 1st grade, there’s a good chance you’ll pick 3. You pick 2 most probably when you’re deaf-mute or brain-dead. Otherwise, almost all of us would pick 1.

The question is this: should we?

“Of course! That person is bad-mouthing my friend. My friend has a right to know about it!”

True or False?

TRUE. Your friend has a right to know about any axe to grind anyone has about him/her.

But guess what? YOU don’t have a right to tell him/her about it.

“What??? OF COURSE I do! That person is my bestest friend!”

No, you don’t. Being the person’s best friend doesn’t give you the right to be his eyes/ears/mouth/whatever.

Weird? Not at all. When someone bad-mouths your friend and you tell your friend about it, what do you expect to accomplish? You want your friend to know, expecting him/her to be angry. In that alone you already have the intent to worsen the situation. What else do you think would happen? If we’re all lucky, your friend would keep quiet and just hold it as a passive grudge. He/she may never do something about it, but at the same time he/she would never talk to that person again. IF WE’RE LUCKY.

Chances are there will be a confrontation. Worse, it will come down Jerry-Springer style.

From bad to worse, yes?

But then, your friend does have a right to know if anyone’s talking ill about them. But should you be the one to be the avenue of revelation? NO. THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. This is between the back-stabber and the back-stabbee. Why do you think it’s so bad to back-stab? Having derogatory words flying out uncontrollably is just half of the evil. The other half is the back-stabber depriving your friend his/her right to be aware of something he/she should be aware of. It’s your friend’s business to know about this. It is not, however, your business to be the one to tell him/her.

Let me put it this way. When a person bad-mouths another, the transgression of back-stabbing is his/hers to answer to. But it is not your responsibility to make sure your friend knows about it. On the contrary, if you tell your friend about it, you’re answerable for the sin of being a gossiper (remember that gossip doesn’t necessarily mean false, it could also mean the conveyance of any bad thought or message for the purpose of promoting strife) and a trouble-maker. And also for sticking your nose into something where it doesn’t belong.

This is between the two of them. It’s none of your business.

You want to stick it out for your friend? Stand up to that back-stabber and say it to his/her face that he/she’s wrong. Tell him that your friend is way out of his/her league, and that he/she should stop being a gutless pansy and take it up with your friend personally. Let that person know who’s the lesser human being.

And then stop there.

Back-stabbers are powerless when we don’t play messengers.

Better friends. Better people.

Last Friday wifey and I were at Megamall to have my NBI clearance renewed for my new job. The day was a little horrendous, with the mall packed with a lot more people than usual because of the 3-day sale. Anyways, having accomplished our mission, Joy and I decided to stroll around a bit, and one of the stores we visited was Comic Quest. Now I haven’t been buying comic books for more than a year now, ever since those bigwigs at DC Comics opted to imitate Marvel by turning their superheroes into drama queens while introducing all-new inconsistencies to continuity (really pissed me off). But hey, all back-issues were 50% off. One of the books I picked up was Justice League of America #0.

There was one thing that Superman said there that immediately drew my attention:

“As in any social setting, your friends are the ones you consider your equals. But your best friends — your closest friends — are the ones you consider your betters.”

One of the marks of a good writer (in this case Brad Meltzer, who I still call a good writer despite my hating his work with Identity Crisis) is being insightful enough to recognize the more subtle truths in life that most of us mere mortals overlook or totally miss out on. I reflected upon this quote and realized just how true it is for me. That whenever I look or think of my closest friends, the very first things I see are the ways they are better than me. To illustrate:

Rollee, best friend since high school – the better artist

Oyee, best friend since high school – the more streetsmart, the better dresser

Rachel, UCPB best friend – the better judge of character

Archie, UCPB best friend – the better programmer

Cathy – the better organizer

Shy – the better singer, the (much) more physically fit (but them, almost all of them are)

Mike – the better housekeeper, the more disciplined

Markku – the better bachelor (meaning he’s making much better use of his time than I ever did when I was single)

Charina – the more insightful, the more mature person (yeah, don’t let her down-to-earth behavior fool you)

Hana – the more compassionate person

Ellen – same as Hana

And of course, my best friend in the whole world, my wife, Joy – the more patient, the emotionally stronger, better money handler, more polite, more likeable, more kindhearted — in a nutshell, the all-around better person.

(and no, we haven’t been fighting so the above weren’t some lame excuse so I could avoid being outside-the-kulambo =p )

It’s a double-edged sword, actually. It is always good to consider others better than you. And when it comes to closest friends, I realized that thinking of them as my betters comes naturally. Why? Let’s face it, wanting to be someone’s close friend means there’s something about someone that we like very much, and more often than not this is a something that we don’t have in ourselves. Simplifying, your closest friends become your idols of some sort because you admire them for the things they have, or do, that you don’t, or couldn’t.

The downside: idolizing your close friends too much could be harmful. Two reasons:

(1) No matter how good a person a best friend is, he/she could still let us down. They’re humans, after all, and therefore are as prone to human mistakes just like you and I. Only Jesus, our best friend in the universe (even though we neglect to acknowledge Him as such) could never let us down. So try to avoid looking at your closest friends as the reason for your existence.

(2) Sometimes putting someone on the pedestal involves putting ourselves down, i.e. it makes us feel inferior, and therefore could lead us into a gnawing sense of insecurity. Which really shouldn’t be. We may automatically see our best friends are our betters, but we must also remember that the attitude is more than likely reciprocal — they also see us as our betters one way or another.

So. Welcome to the Mutual Admiration Society =D