Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sly is a genius

Funny how my brain works, one time, I had forgotten to buy new razors and so had to make do with old not so sharp ones. As I was daintily applying rubbing alcohol onto my freshly shaven face, I was reminded of a movie I once saw – Rambo, First Blood.

Remember that Sylvester Stallone flick? Remember what finally set him off on that murderous rampage? It wasn’t that he got arrested for some lame made-up reason or the police brutality after that. No, it was not even the lame-ass redneck version of the water torture. What finally set off Rambo was that the deputies were going to shave him without shaving cream. As I suffered from the micro-cuts of my haphazard shave, I understood the man. Sylvester Stallone is a genius.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tagalog is the word

I’ve a spokening-dollar nephew. Which is strange really, since no one in my family speaks English at home. Oh yes, like any typical Filipino family, English is our second language, and we resort to a phrase or two when discussing technical stuff. But Tagalog is our language.

I blame the baby-sitter – TV. Nickelodeon to be more precise. With both my brother and his wife working full-time, the young tot basically grew up with his tita and grandma preparing his lunches, and TV as the sitter.

One time, on the way to Sunday lunch, the 3 year-old enunciated in his perfect American twang “Come on lola, let’s go.” To which, the farmer’s wife from Nueva Ecija retorted “Lintek kang bata ka, pati ba naman ako i-inglisin mo!”

I see nothing wrong with learning a second language, of course, especially English, the language of commerce in the global business world. But let us not lose our precious cultural heritage. Tagalog is not just our language it is a very beautiful language. Really it is.

I’ve American cousins who grew up in the states who would love to learn it. But how does one teach the subtle nuances of the language?

It’s the plural “kayo” instead of “ikaw” when addressing someone you respect, usually an older person. Would that mean anything to an American? “Kuya” does not even have an exact English translation. It is an oriental thing. The Japanese and Chinese, I believe, have a similar word, having watched many an English–translated martial arts movie. “Older brother”, that’s the closest English translation. But nowhere near does it fully convey what the word truly means. My American cousins would never know what it really means to have a kuya or be a kuya.

It still shocks me a little bit, whenever I hear the younger generation refusing to use “po” and “opo”. They must be thinking they are all cool and gangsta-from-the-ghetto when they do that. That’s not cool.

What is cool is recognizing your roots. What it means to be Pinoy. What it means to be a “kapatid” -- that word, by the way, literally translates to “cut from the same (umbilical cord)”. So a half-sibling from the same mother would still be a kapatid. But a half-sibling from the same father? That would be, technically, a kabetlog. Now that is really cool.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rules of thumb

I try not to be judgmental, give people a chance, and not let first impressions become final conclusions. But guess what? Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.

Like, if you know another Led Zeppelin song apart from “Stairway to Heaven”, then you smoked a joint at one time or another.

If you’ve ever had a Britney Spears record, in whatever shape, form, or format, pirate or original (though much sadder if you actually paid full price for it), then your cellphone is way too expensive given your salary.

If you’ve ever attempted to sing an Aegis song in public, then you own at least one shirt a size too small.

If you can name all the members of either F4 or A4, then you just don’t watch ultimate fighting.

If you are a Ginebra basketball team fan, especially during the time of Jawo, then I must really watch it when I play cards with you.

If you’re Pinoy, born and raised, and basketball just doesn’t interest you. Whether it is playing or just even watching the FIBA, the PBA, the NBA, the UAAP, or the NCAA, then you are playing for “the other team.”

If you are always rooting for Pacman to lose, then you are that one sad loser who just has to sing second-voice in an impromptu “Happy Birthday” song.

If you’ve ever declared, whether written or oral, that “the Big Bang theory is true”, unless you have won a Nobel Prize for Physics, then you are a pretentious superficial prick.

If you are rated 8 or over on the universal prettiness scale of 1 to 10, then you will not last 2 months in the video production business. You might last a month, just to spite men. But no, two months is just too long in the trenches to prove the stereotype wrong.

If you like Willie Revillame and regularly watches Wowowee, then you’ve never used the insert table function of Microsoft Word.

If you just don’t like vegetables, not even a little bit, that you need to scrape the coleslaw off your burger, then you still secretly wish mommy would tuck you in at night.

If you’ve ever ordered garlic chicken with the specific instruction “no garlic”, then you think this list is very funny.

If you’ve never read “The Catcher in the Rye”, you will not find me funny.

If you like Jay Leno over David Letterman, then I don’t think I will like you as a person. If you prefer Conan O’Brien, then you are just too young and didn’t know David before senility. But Jay, are you kidding me?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ketchup lovers unite!

I was working overtime one night and decided to order take-out. And this is what I discovered. That popular hamburger chain will not deliver ketchup unless you specifically ask for it. Yes, even if you order burger and fries.
I asked the delivery guy “Why no ketchup?” and he tells me that he, one time, on his own initiative took some ketchup sachets to go with the burger and fries order. But to his dismay was reprimanded for it by his supervisor.

This is what we get. They pay that over-rated celebrity a gazillion pesos to endorse their product and we get scrimped on in ketchup. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was home. I always have ketchup, but sadly, not in the office. What is the world coming to? You have to specify that you like bagoong to go with your kare-kare? That you like your softdrinks cold?

I say “NO!” We need to put a stop to this nonsense. I refuse to believe that the fate of their entire multi-billion business empire rests on ketchup savings.

Even when you dine-in at their stores, they give you these little cups not much bigger than a soda bottle cap. They are betting, I am sure, that you are too lazy to make the five trips to the ketchup dispenser to finish off one regular order of fries. Maybe they should go ahead and just ask customers to sign an affidavit for the ketchup. I am sure they are itching to. Require everyone to submit an affidavit, police report, NBI clearance, and a notarized sworn statement for one full serving of ketchup.

A good friend of mine has taken the initiative to order take-out from the same chain, and refuse the order if there are no ketchup sachets in the delivery. I wish I was as brave. I’d rather not imagine what special sauce goes in the burger -- twice delivered.

But clearly, something needs to be done. Who’s with me?

Ketchup lovers of the world unite! Let us fight for our ketchup eating rights!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blame God

image from here

Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t have a client when he painted the Mona Lisa. And here’s how I know. It’s the most beautiful man-made creation without being perfect. The horizon behind Mona Lisa is not even level. Surely, a client, out to prove she’s not in the production meetings for the free donuts would have noticed.

“I like the general flow so far, Leo, but can we do something about the horizon?” I guess that one comment would be fine. Problem is these geniuses do not stop at that.

“I think it would be better if she didn’t have too large a forehead. Can we somehow deflect the focus from that?”

And some other genius, not to be outdone, “Ah yes, and she looks pale. Is she sick?”

At the end of 200 such production meetings, the most famous painting of Leonardo would have ended with a Hitler mustache. No kidding, it is a strong confident statement, some cubicle-jock daring to be known as a risk-taker would insist.

Once, a long-time client asked me to create a screensaver for her company. It was to be of the outer space and solar-system theme. Fine. Fine.

It took me about a day to get an artistic rendition of the sun. It was not just a yellow circle, trust me. That would have taken me 3 seconds flat. I spent a day just for the glorious sun – the centerpiece of my work.

Once I got the sun going, I meticulously began rendering the planets. I carefully straddled the line between artistic and realistic. Mercury would have disappeared and the Earth reduced to a dot if drawn to scale with the sun in the same frame on a computer screen. My compromise, I scaled the planets relative to each other and dragged the sun to the left of the screen, pushing about a third off-screen.

As to distances between planets, again I had to reduce the scaling to fit everything into one screen. Outer-space is mostly empty space. That certainly won’t look pretty.

And finally the planetary movements, once again I employed more or less the same solution but now with respect to time. It takes Mercury 88 days to revolve around the sun, the earth 365 ¼ days. I got Mercury revolving my sun once every half second and used that as my base to scale down all other planets’ revolutions.

One final touch, the coup de grace to my perfect universe, I saluted the great work of Johannes Kepler and had my planets sweeping equal areas in equal time intervals.

“Hmmm… I like the sun but why are the planets colored that way?” The long-time client asked in the meeting.

“Ah ma’am, I am sorry but the planets are actually colored that way,” I responded.

Did I expect the client to notice the subtle goodies I had incorporated in my work? That I had them moving to scale in the Keplerian way? No. I’ve never had such clients. But color? Is that all she can see? And I had all my planets colored the right way.

I proposed to give them a brighter hue, so they won’t look so “dull”. But no, Venus will stay blue, Mars red. She was happy with my Saturn, Jupiter and Earth, but why is Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto look so uninteresting?

I must’ve looked visibly pissed as I kept pressing the point that my colors were right. That all I can do is to increase contrast and brighten the hue.

“I saw on the internet, the planets look so much more colorful.”

Ah yes, the internet! Of course I have to concede the point against the almighty internet.

“Email me those pictures and I will use them as my guide to recolor the planets.”

A day later, my inbox had a ton of pictures. Clearly the client wanted to prove that she was right, and more importantly, that I was wrong.

I responded with an email of my own.

“Those are thermal scans and infrared pictures. People do not use CT scans of their heads for photo IDs. Do not blame me for the color of the planets. I did not choose the colors, blame God.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chunky corned beef?

It’s all a lie!

Here’s how it happened, I am nearly sure. Forget for a second that I am a conspiracy nut and almost always paranoid.

The machine that shreds cows and turns them into corned beef lost a tooth. Instead of uniform shreds of meat, it started spitting out chunks.

“Wait!” the supervisor exclaimed as he admonished his crew who were about to throw away the defective product.

“Let’s get Kris Aquino to endorse it”, and therein lies the genius.

Chunky corned beef? No problem. Get that irritating daughter of our most beloved hero to endorse it. She can sell anything. As much as we all want her to fall flat on her face, secretly, all women want to be her. And that is the saddest truth about women.

And what about her boy?

Some genius thought it was a good idea to get Boy Abunda to endorse shampoo. I wonder how that meeting went. No one? Not one? Not the client, the director, the copy-writer, the coffee-runner, noticed?

The man is bald, for crying out loud! The least requirement, I would think, for someone to endorse shampoo is to have hair. I, for one, am not getting on that buzz.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Norah Jones is Pinay

There has to be some Pinoy blood in Norah Jones. Yes, that singer. Why do I say this? Did I study her genealogy and find some secret Filipino lineage? No. I am too lazy for that. I leave the hard work and research to Ambeth Ocampo.

So how in God’s good earth did I come up with that earth-shattering assertion? Simple, the superfluous “h” gave her away. It's Norah, after all, and not Nora.

What’s up with the Pinoy and the superfluous “h”? Ghirlie. Bhryan. Bhoy. Sarah. Oh wait, that last one would be correct.

And those pirated DVDs that has the English subtitles all terribly wrong? I am guessing you need the superfluous “h” to apply for that job. Jhon Dhavid – DVD subtitle writer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Survivor Payatas

Forget the social contract. Politics, Philippine democracy style, is all entertainment. Name one president, nay, one public official who once elected into office actually fulfilled his campaign promise. So why even bother finding out their platform? It’s a total waste of time. The so-called intellectuals are not very intelligent if you ask me.

I say, we embrace the reality of Philippine politics. Let’s up the ante even. Instead of the mudslinging campaign period followed by the boring and arduous casting and counting of ballots, we do a television series, Survivor Payatas.

Sixteen presidential candidates, 39 days, dumped in the Payatas landfill. Give them minimum wage to live on. And no, the minimum wage is not free. It’s the reward! Challenges can be designed to reveal their skills in balancing the budget, the best to deliver his presidential commencement speech, or the best strategy to end the conflict in Mindanao. Let’s give it a slight touch of social relevance, just enough so our proposal is taken seriously.

One twist from the original, vote-offs will be cast by the audience via text. Last man in Payatas becomes president.

I know we may have to tinker with the constitution a little here. But hey, the men in congress always seem too eager to tinker with that, the very document they swore to protect.

The Mungo Conspiracy

Friday lunch, any cafeteria in Metro Manila, and I am willing to bet my lunch money that mungo is the vegetable of the day.

Why? Not that there is anything wrong with it. I myself love mungo. But what’s with mungo and Fridays?

Here‘s my theory. There is a mafia-like organization that controls the mungo market in the Philippines. These wiseguys force cafeteria owners to serve mungo on Friday lunches -- or else. This creates an artificial increase in the demand for mungo on Fridays, only to deflate dramatically come opening of the stock market Monday morning.

I am no expert, but I believe there is money to be made there somewhere.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What’s in a name?

The planet Mars has two moons. One named Phobos, the other Deimos. Jupiter has thirty, or at least thirty as far as I can recall from grade school. That translates to thirty exotic names all in all, to be memorized by young malleable minds. Let me see… Europa… Juno… Juno… Europa… argh… memory falters with age.

But here’s the thing. What’s the name of our moon? Moon, would be a common name. Not the proper names some nerd at the Harvard Observatory had to come up with for the Martian twin moons. Think about it. Our moon is nameless. No one has bothered to christen it anything. It’s like calling Pasig, the river. Notice, you don’t even need to capitalize the first letter of “moon”.

I am no great astronomer. I doubt I would ever discover a planet, a star, or a big enough chunk of rock in outer space to warrant a name. But as the man who first recognized the need to name our own moon, I therefore assume for myself the duty and great honor of naming Earth’s moon. I say, we call it Cory.

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For the few of you who know me in real life, my dear kamag-anak inc., and friends from my Facebook account, please know that while I blog mostly about my life and my posts are made in the first person point of view, I do, from time to time, exercise literary license. Yes, I lie! Lol. No. Some of the stories depicted here are fiction. That I do not tell which is which, makes it a little more fun, doesn't it?

No animals were harmed in the production of this blog. Parental guidance is advised. And no approved therapeutic claims. Hindi ito gamot.


Mungo Conspiracy would like to thank:

Kuya Bing for all the support without which I would not have been able to start this blog. My baby sister Charo, who has always been my number one fan. Gie for twisting Kuya Bing's arms to lend me support. Rocky for being the first follower. Chris for the free ad space on MTC.

I would also like to mention Kuya Jong and Kuya Rolly, Rex, Kim, and all of my pumpkins, Dustin, Innah, Jonas, Danwell, Glea, Jiro, Ram, Yzab, Hannah, and Annika, who are my inspirations for many of my stories here.

And thanks to the Iligan Chapter of the conspirators who were the first to fill-up my followers' box! :)


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