There’s something about surfing that keeps people who are older than 30 from trying it. It’s an athletic pursuit that is for the young, people who are less concerned about looking trying too hard. It’s for someone who’s less afraid to commit mistake, something that keeps those who are older from ever attempting to mount a surf board, wait for the right wave, and in the most opportune of moments ride the surf like nothing matters but the exhilaration of lording over an ephemeral wave that lasts a little longer than a good orgasm.

I don’t see how I will ever be able to learn how to surf. There are too many things to take into account before you experience the rush and the high of riding that wave. The right way of paddling to the middle of the sea, spotting the right surf, knowing when to begin standing up, reminding oneself that the front foot should be horizontal relative to the body and to bend one’s hip to maintain stability, and using one’s core to keep oneself from dismounting the board before the right moment–these and more have to be in one’s mind if he has to surf successfully.

I wish I learned how to surf when I was younger, back when I was more daring and less fearful of the opinion of the crowd on the beach. Surely, I know the crowd doesn’t care. They’re only interested in that one surfer who stays on the board longer than most, who rides the waves with careless abandon. The crowd doesn’t care about the tourist who miserably fails in keeping himself vertical on a board the size of one of the main doors of St. Peter’s Basilica pushed by a surfing instructor who identifies the right wave for him, who is in the beginner level and will remain in that level because it will be his last time to visit this beach as there are other beaches waiting to be visited in his lifetime.

It’s too late to learn surfing now. I’m too heavy for it, too awkward, less agile, ridiculous-looking in a pair of board shorts that will only look nice on someone with defined abdominal muscles.

Nonetheless, when the day is over and one returns the board he has rented and paid the instructor the amount they agreed on, what stays in one’s memory is that moment when he successfully stands on a surf board, even though it is only a little longer than climaxing.

Indeed, he will not go back to that beach again, will not attempt to learn surfing again, will tuck away in the farthest part of his wardrobe that pair of unforgiving board shorts, but he knows that the memory of riding the wave for a mere 5 seconds is something he can revisit in the future when things worsen, when age has permanently caught on, when dreams, hopes, even passion is paralyzed to a standstill.

That’s the beauty of surfing, of those little memories of islands of happiness. We, humans, need them.


Fitness and aging

I find the way I pursue fitness these days almost too religious. Due to the recent freedom I acquired, of course with so much misery it has caused me, I have now more time in my hand to work on my pecs, abs, glutes, and all those other muscle groups whose other half of what they are normally called in an anatomy class in the university are amputated and replaced with the more fashionable -s and -es suffixes.

I’m at the nearby gym for two hours every night, from 7pm to 9pm. I rest on Sundays. Even God rested on the seventh day. I’m already beginning to see visible effect. I feel pride whenever I see my reflection in the mirror, sweat bestowing my growing shoulders and arms that beautiful glisten one can only achieve after having spent hours pumping iron.

I train regularly because I’d rather fill my free time with something that benefits my health rather than spend it on useless pursuits such as daydreaming or watching online porn. Of course a man my age will never admit having enough free time. One’s worth after all is measure by how much time he spends working and keeping himself productive. And I have not outgrown this fallacy, hence the almost dogged adherence to routine.

But, it seems to me now, that this has nothing to do with routine, or any reason that runs along the same vein. I think that what keeps me from abandoning this routine is because until now I, and I’m not sure if I will ever be, am unreconciled to death.

It’s my hopeless attempt to hold death and its advance party, led by aging, at the gates. One morning, I woke up and saw myself looking intently at the reflection of my yet-to-be washed faced in the mirror. I was surprised me to see myself looking shocked and awed at the sight of fine lines on my forehead. Fine lines were never an issue before. I’d stay in the sun for many hours oblivious of the effects it will have in my skin all because of that golden tan that made me look healthier than I really was.

Suddenly lines became everything. And I am faced with aging and it visceralness.


The party-lists and their obsession with the letter A

This is going to be short, but I will not promise it is going to be sweet:

There are, to date, 144 party-list groups that the Commission on Elections recognized, which simply means they are already included in the 2-foot ballot that will be used in the first ever automated poll in the country. The Comelec, as it has always done, missed the spirit of the party list. Anyone can now build his own organization, purport that it represents a marginalized group, and he’s on his way, if his party list is lucky enough, to receiving roughly 200 million pesos (4.5 million dollars) a year worth of pork barrel. Not bad, easy money.

But of course, politics in the Philippines is a business venture of some sort. Unless a party-list can prove it will be able to launch a national campaign, Comelec is kind enough to give it an advice gained through the commission’s extensive experience in elections to quit the campaign; the advice sometimes comes without a word which in common parlance means simply ‘disqualifying’ it. Financial viability and not its representation of little-heard sectors will ultimately determine whether one is a legitimate party list or otherwise. Legitimacy until this time is a tricky and shaky word in this side of the word.

And because a campaign has begun morally corrupt, in the end, things narrow down to a simple question of whether a group can recoup the investments it has placed on the campaign, and so the vicious cycle of corruption all Filipinos are aware of continues to feed itself.


Thoughtless bandwagon resulted in a very funny list we have now of our party-list groups. More than a half of them starts with the letter A, an obviously daft effort to get the chance of being the first in the ballot. The sheer number of As will place Abakada, Abang Lingkod, Aba Ilonggo, etc at a disadvantage. None of them fought to be in the end of the list, a spot that can be as strategic as being the first. The use of article ‘Ang’ did not help Ang Ladlad or Ang Kasangga. AA-Kasosyo Party reminds me of an organization of reformed alcoholics. AMA, I didn’t know a computer school can be referred to as marginalized, but maybe it’s a totally different one.

Bums now are also beginning to see their inherent worth (A Tambay). Are Filipino-Chinese? What is Chinoy doing in the list? And when did beauty become an issue in Philippine politics since Imelda Marcos? Oragon.

Aawas showed its decisiveness by renaming itself 1-Tubig, but this is not enough to dislodge 1-Aani as the number one in the list. So did other think they can, in the end they all find themselves drowned in the plethora of As and annoyingly uncreative names.

How to get those rock-hard abs?

How to get those rock-hard abs?

Asked an almost obese guy to an overly-muscular gym instructor in a TV ad that tries to sell a machine that promises to give a rock-hard abs in four minutes.

The obese guy, miraculously transformed himself into an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like specimen after two weeks. “Impossible, but true,” said the closing spiel of the fat-man-no-more.

Second to a huge penis, a modern man is obsessed with his abs. But unlike the penis whose length and girth are rather for life unless of course evasive surgery is done to extend it, which is beyond the capacity of most men to pay, developing the abs is generally easier, at least compared to penile enlargement.

Abs is a commonly used colloquialism for the abdominal muscles. It is the group of muscles running up and down in the abdominal wall that contains the rectus abdominus muscle, “rectus” meaning straight.”

Media has conditioned the consumers’ mind that abs is sought after by everyone, a sign of health, and discipline if we extend it further. Men, and even some women, want it because it looks good. And what looks good in a society like ours is not actually based on philosophical or metaphysical definition of aesthetics, rather beauty as how it is portrayed and misrepresented in television. So if a certain popular movie star is donning a stupid Mohawk haircut, then Mohawk, no matter how atrocious it looks, is going to be beautiful. Same is true with having abs.

However, as regards abs, no matter how hard the work out and long gym time time needed to ‘sculpt’, or impossible for some who are not genetically destined to have toned abdomen, most men still pursue it not wanting to abandon the dream of having six-packs, at whatever expense.

Here are simple, easy to follow guides to have this wash-board abs:

1. Do 10,000 crunches everyday, that is, if you have time to spare. (If you do it, say one second per sit up, then it will roughly take you 2 and a quarter hours, without rest, and you’re on your way towards having the dreamed abs.

2. If you are overly endowed with fat around the waist area, give up the 10,000 crunches scheme. You may have time to spare, but the sculpted abs will never appear unless you get rid of all those fats. Not eating anything for a week, is the best advice since your body fat will just be enough to supply your energy need. In a week’s time, six pack coming up!

3. If the first two do not work, and the content of your bank account is rather considerable plus the fact that blood doesn’t scare you, then liposuction is for you.

4. If the third one still doesn’t work then refer again to number one and do the entire process all over again.

According to a 2004 study conducted by David A. Frederick, Daniel M.T. Fessler and Martie G. Haselton of the University of California, Los Angeles, men overestimate the degree of muscularity that is attractive to women, and women overestimate the degree of thinness that is most attractive to men.

Consistent with the thesis that sociocultural input influences such body type preferences and beliefs, they postulated that magazines aimed at a male audience would portray a more muscular male body ideal than would magazines aimed at a female audience. Systematic comparison of popular magazines (Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness) revealed that the ideal male body marketed to men is more muscular than the ideal male body marketed to women.

Herein they introduced the Physical Trait Overvaluation Hypothesis, which proposes that gender-specific media fuel emphasis on certain body parts in within-gender prestige competitions. The resulting competitive escalation creates a disconnect between the preferences of one gender and the personal aspirations of the other.

While searching for the definition of abs, I chanced to read this usage of the word: Abs are no longer abs, they’re queer abs, and anybody who has abs, is queer. It occured to me that although the study conducted by the UCLA Department of Psychology does hold water, it is worth mentioning that these male muscle magazines that target the male market also victimize a segment of that market: the homosexual health buffs, who like heterosexual males, are also inclined to be as muscular, with the development of the abs as their top priority (no study has been conducted so far with regard to this predilection for six packs).

For now, modern society’ penchant in having the toned, well-sculpted, abdominal muscle is here to stay.