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A visit

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Our parents are visiting us for the weekend. The last time they were in Manila was thirty years ago. I found out while rummaging into my mother’s documents when I was ten that she and my father got married in Pasay in 1983. It must have felt odd for my mother who’s now 53 to see how much the nation’s capital has changed after all those years. And even more dizzying for my father. They will leave tomorrow evening for Baguio City with my younger brother. In the afternoon, my sister and I plan to take them to Quiapo to attend mass or maybe say a short prayer and Binondo for those delicious dumplings sold in that quaint hole-in-the-wall dimsum place I know.

Molar extraction

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I had to wait for a trip to Tagaytay to have my first molar extracted (next project is an implant). The dentist asked me whether I had a drink the previous night. I said, no of course. He then said I shouldn’t do heavy lifting at the gym in the next two days. I promised I will not. He asked me if it felt painful. The pain was killing me. I said I was just feeling a slight numbing sensation. He warned me that the anesthesia would not work if I was feeling pain. I lied, telling him that the pain wasn’t that bad.

He instructed me to open my mouth and rubbed a bitter-tasting substance on my upper left gum. It dulled the pain that was bothering me that time.

Then without warning, he proceeded to injecting my gum with anesthesia. He was without mercy. I could feel the needle touching the bone that held my first molar. I closed my eyes. I knew a drop of tear fell from my left eye. Then he told me to wait for a while for the anesthesia to take effect. I hoped he’d give me an hour, but there were patients waiting outside. After a minute he took a stainless apparatus I cannot describe here how it looked because I did not dare check it.

He pulled one. And then he told me that he’d need to do another pulling. I never though it was broken in two.

The idea felt painful.

So my brain must have told my body, that normally, if pain was that bad, I would begin to faint. And I almost fainted.

He told me to rinse. I saw blood, a lot of it. Mixed with my saliva which I’d never thought could be that thick.

He told his assistant to give me those tightly packed cotton balls and place each between my upper first molar and the space that my lower first molar used to occupy.

He asked me whether seeing blood freaked me out. Without waiting for my answer, he asked his assistant to take the extracted tooth, now broken into two, away from my sight. I could never be more grateful.

I attempted to stand up. He told me to stay, wait until I felt better.

He didn’t prescribe any medicine; I thought he’s give me an antibiotic.

I dragged myself outside, telling his assistant that I would be back to get my change. I ran to the nearest supermarket for capsules of mefenamic acid.

Losing a tooth which has been with me in the last decade has been tough. However, the pain I had to endure because of it was too powerful keeping it wasn’t worth it.

An old photo

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I found this from one of the posts I wrote five years ago. I wonder what happened to this guy. He gained some weight, obviously. But he looked so much sure about the world then.


Brand managers on TV

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“You need to come to our store and experience our product,” says a Bose brand manager.

“We are in the cutting edge of sound technology, and we give our clients the chance to customize their music experience,” he enthusiastically adds as he holds his company’s latest product in front of the camera, touching what seems to be an application icon but which he refers to as a “product” (among the many products in a singular device he is holding).

He drops the word ‘experience’ once every two sentences.

“Here at Magnum, we give our customers the pleasure to indulge,” says the brand manager.

Looking straight at the camera without any sign of flinching, he adds, “We have 250,000 possible combinations of our Magnum bar with eighteen different toppings that will blow your mind away.”

His plaid shirt is framed by his khaki coat and unusually subdued pink tie. The young brand manager is almost my age.

Without any hint of irony in his voice, says, “My personal favorite is Magnum with potato chips and chili flakes. It’s so different.”

Then his spiel fades out with, “We also have an intense offering of comfort food,” as the background house music cross fades.

“From September 1 to 30, we will be online 24/7. And aside from being online we will be available in fiiiiiiive malls all over the country,” an autoloan bank manager says.

“It’s so easy; it’s crazy. Avail of our ridiculous price.”

Brand managers being interviewed on television are intense. After the salesman of encyclopedia so common before Wikipedia gobbled whole their market, brand managers spewing their spiels on TV are the third most irritating people one will meet in his lifetime.

They come almost too close to those who audition for artista searches on TV.

These brand managers are a bunch of driven and ambitious young men and women who’ve completely convinced themselves of the superiority, durability, benefits, and the seeming indispensability of goods they’re describing in glowing terms. A sense of the ridiculous has altogether abandoned them. It is, after all, like any forms of employment. Job requirements often force us in doing things we would otherwise not do if only we were given a better option. And for that I am sympathetic.

Perhaps they only need to learn some lessons on irony.

Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' Sponsored by Internet Sales Company







On Memoirs

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I began reading this book three nights ago, but because of papers of my students that I needed to check and lectures I had to prepare, the pages have been mercilessly dogeared.

I have not acquired the more civilized approach of using a book marker.



Manhattan, when I was young is a memoir written by Mary Cantwell. It’s a working girl’s recollection of New York City in the 1950s and early 60s. I have not much love for this city. Aside from my bitter memory of eating at a Burger King in Hoboken after losing my pair of Rayban Wayfarer in Times Square, New York reminds me of a once great city on its way to gradual decline.

But her life story, I’ve been much engrossed. The New York City of her time was full of promise.

I think that memoirs have to be like this: the writer has to be constantly self-deprecating and completely honest. I suppose honesty has direct proportionality to the degree one tramples on herself in every page until nothing is left but an agglutinated version of one’s bloody self. This honesty will require much from her, including shaming herself, betraying herself, if only to be completely sincere. Readers love characters who are witty but sad, perceptive but sad, accomplished but world weary and sad. 

The talk about memory and the many theories surrounding it, well, they can wait. 




On watching Her

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It’s one of the saddest movies we’ve watched together. We were constantly looking at each other the whole time, giving the other a funny smirk, because of the absurdity of the scenes and the lines. They were absurd not because they’re improbable but because they’re all too possible. We vowed not to live long enough to see that day coming. I am meant for the run-of-the-mill kind of romance.

But Her seems oh too real. It’s set in the future, but it’s a future that’s not very far away from now. With the collapse of the more visceral type relationships, it’s not not easy to imagine myself one day falling in love with that OS-controlled sonorous voice emanating from an earpiece who learns from my every input.

It’s chilling. Yes. But it’s at the same time dripping with melancholia.

Thanks for the books!

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They arrived from Belgium today.