Friday, September 28, 2007

Traysibot diaries

While I have previously indicated my delight over riding on an empty or even a near-empty jeepney, I have sometimes come to detest riding a tricycle (in Davao we usually refer to it as traysibot), another ingenious Pinoy mode of transportation that have earned some notoriety in the daily hurly-burly of Juan dela Cruz. Undoubtedly, it has created its special niche (along with the jeepney) in contemporary Pinoy pop culture. Few months ago, news reported a road accident in Manila involving a tricycle which crossed a highway.

The common picture we have of a tricycle is usually the one which has the motorcycle in the middle with two wheels on both sides of the attached part (which I think is quite illogical because then you would have four wheels and thus it should be called quadri-cycle). However, the attached part of a traysibot, or in the layman Pinoy machinist’s term is called the sidecar, only needs one wheel to be completely mounted.

My trips to some Mindanao cities have also introduced me to some charming versions of the tricycle. In Cagayan de Oro, it's motorela (sounds like the mobile phone brand). While I've seen motorelas in limited routes in CDO, the tricycles in Butuan and Zamboanga graze the city streets like the jeepney and they
look pretty much the same in assembly. In Butuan, however, you can easily identify them because they're all colored orange and they have humongous ID numbers painted in black.

In Davao, traysibots are common in subdivisions, villages or housing compounds because the size allow them to navigate the narrow streets. However, they are prohibited in highways because aside from the added congestion the whole anatomy of the poor thing can become an eyesore especially if metal parts are already rusting and clunking and it looks like an overblown version of a dilapidated toy tarak-tarak. Riding in the traysibot is another hell of an experience. The motor, depending on its age can really test the ultimate decibel levels, so answering your phone or talking to your traysibot-mate is close to impossible. And depending on the age of the entire thing, the moment you step off, you have your insides all shaken up.

But despite the occasional unpleasant experience, every nuance of the tricycle or traysibot experience is truly and distinctly Filipino.

I actually own one now. Not really own because it's still a liability. I practically loaned the whole thing. I got the motorcycle for a 5,000++ downpayment with no hassles of registration because they the company took charge of it. When interviewed by the agent, you're supposedly to tell every reason why you're going to purchase one except use it for business like jamming up a sidecar and make it a traysibot.

So I lied. And perhaps I believe it's a known secret that just gets passed off as a perfunctory response. Which explains why a lot of people consider it as an easy way to earn fast daily income. Something that pays my siblings' daily meager allowance. Something to buy a kilo of rice for or a bundle of firewood for cooking.

The motorcycle is not really for my own use because I've never driven anything in my life. I still have some phobia left from falling off twice while riding and getting whacked by a coconut palm because I didn't wear a helmet.

So this whole traysibot business is up, but it hasn't been running for the past days because there were no available drivers (who usually thrive on boundaries) who are usually just our neighbors.

Given that it's really mine, I think I have to start learning to own the thing. This might be the career path that has unconsciously eluded me. O, sakay namo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

First Day High

Jeez. The first-day jitters. I just have to blog this because it's historical. Well at least for silly me. As if to throw a big welcome bash for me, almost the entire Mindanao was debilitated with power. Something wrong with the power grid or transmission line in Bukidnon. Great. It's as if I sucked out all the energy into my own vacuum.

"Guys, this is Jay, our new (enter sounds of computers shutting down and generator buzzing)."

"Uh, hi."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A bureaucratic week

The past week I've literally jostled myself from different points in the city, or at least in the downtown area. Name every clearance one has to accomplish in transferring work, I labored through all of it. Perhaps I'm yakking because I never went through this bureaucratic shit when I applied for the job which I just left yesterday.

I never had the patience queueing up. When I got to the NBI processing center in one of the malls (this is first thing when the mall opened), people just attacked the information guy like he was Dao Meng Su. Uh-oh, I said to myself I'm never gonna bust myself through this so I went to process another one of the clearances.

This is also the first time I subjected myself to a medical clearance. Just when I thought that life can't get anymore shittier than mine, I realize that some people go through shit everyday of their life. And I mean a lot of shit. Some soft in consistency.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Smells like Oscar popcorn

My film blog has been shamefully lagging for the past month. I had written only about 3 articles and the first one I wrote this month is on The Bourne Ultimatum (The Lookout and Knocked Up on pending mode), the last movie I saw, which was like ages already. In the States, usually after summer, the most exciting of the season ensues contrary to the popular but understandable commercial period of summer blockbies. It is also the time when prestigious film festivals start handing out accolades, and this early, forecast what we will expect come next few months.

So after thorough sifting here’s the top five films I look forward to watching (and no, despite the early hype and looking all so Oscarly dolled up, no Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise):

Lust, Caution by Ang Lee. This just won Golden Lion, the top trophy in the recently concluded Venice Film Festival. And though it stirred mixed reactions on its supposed worthiness towards the other top contenders, I just couldn’t resist that trademark Ang Lee. This Chinese-language film is a tempting espionage set in 1920-something China. Tony Leung is forceful than ever and Lee introduces the serene and beautiful Tang Wei.

I’m Not There by Todd Haynes. This is the other film I was talking about who has kept critics saying in the top tier as Lust, Caution. Who wouldn’t? This is a courageous conceptual biopic of Bob Dylan, supposedly the only one he seems to agree to. I’m particularly excited about Cate Blanchett (who just won Best Actress in the same festival) who plays Dylan in one of the artist’s musical periods. Haynes is one of the directors I haven’t seen. Velvet Goldmine, prepare to be scratched.

Margot at the Wedding by Noah Baumbach. I have yet to see Kicking and Screaming but The Squid and the Whale just did it for me. I’m going to watch this because Noah Baumbach is one hell of a writer and his semi-autobiographical funny take on divorce is one of the best of 2004. I can’t wait for Nicole Kidman and Jack Black in an indie and Jennifer Jason Leigh is long overdue for a nod.

3:10 to Yuma by James Mangold. I was tempted to put Rescue Dawn by Werner Herzog because I really picked this one because I felt this would be the year for Christian Bale. But something about 3:10 to Yuma is so appealing that I would like to see it more than the former. An early review looks promising and the Crowe-Bale tandem is a tour-de-force. This is a remake of a 1957 classic based on an Elmore Leonard short and if the film lives up to its hype come awards season, I have a feeling that it will be this year’s The Departed.

There Will be Blood by Paul Thomas Anderson. Boogie Nights and Magnolia are among my favorite movies and both are of the same director. PTA is one of the youngest talented directors around and what makes this film exciting is the fact that it’s a totally new genre for him and he is not working on an ensemble. Moreover, he adapts the screenplay from a Sinclair novel titled “Oil”. Daniel Day Lewis is inevitable but besides PTA, I’m excited about this because Paul Dano is so good in the trailer that I actually forgot his name.

Atonement by Joe Wright. I’m so looking forward to this one that I’m reading the book now by Ian McEwan. Everything in the trailer looks like it’s headed for Oscar. Even Keira Knightley is staggering despite being unbelievably thin and I’m sensing a James McAvoy mania right now. If last year, Children of Men has the famous cinematographic moment in 2006 film history, this year, by the looks and raves of it, Atonement has it for the running.

My runners up include two favorites at this year's Sundance: Grace is Gone by James C. Strouse. Something about this film is so strikingly orginal. One of the big winners in this year's Sundance, Grace is Gone tells the story of a father and family who copes with the death of the mother, who is a military official, in the Iraq war. John Cusack's performance looks Oscarrific. The Savages by Tamara Jenkins has Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney playing as siblings attending to their dying father (the trailer is so funny that I shouldn't dismiss this one). Other notables include the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men and Julie Taymor's Across the Universe.

Will link up the trailers as soon as I can and possibly add up some if I've seen enough trailers.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

words are falling like an endless rain into a paper cup

So does John Lennon sing... And because I'm still collecting whatever staple wires I can...

Riding along with Girard's meme. Anybody can just tag along, para mas masaya hahaha. So here are random weird things or little-known facts about me (now they're not obviously).

  1. I'm obsessed with my hair. I think that I really look good with my hair now. Sometimes, I find myself caressing strands of its smoothness between my thumb and forefinger like the cliched depiction of a deranged person. However, I'm not "level-headed" or in vernacular, pihing (hahaha, what a reliable translation). So no matter how I wanted to be bald at one point, I can't. Or else I'll look like a deformed monay.
  2. When I sit, I often curl my right leg in a way that is hinged by my left leg. It looks like I'm semi- Indian sitting. I have to constantly remind myself, whenever in a meeting, to sit with my two feet parallel because people will ogle at the dirty sole of my shoe.
  3. I cannot, for the love of God, go near a cockroach. Call me sissy, but I can't even bear to kill one. The shanty that is our house has lots of them and I am constantly on alert of their "sudden flights of fancy" or whenever they are roaming around the floor.
  4. My first kiss was when I was five. I forgot her name but I can very well recall that we used to hide behind the curtains, and no, it was no smack. I scored 15 years after and that was it. I never had a girlfriend or at least be in a relationship.
  5. After college, I observed that I had an increasing intolerance for crowded places especially the malls and especially when there's midnight sales. I think I have vertigo. There was this one time that my ears rang and everything was just going in circles. I had to literally sit down on the floor to regain my balance and sense of things.
  6. I learned the hard ways of working as a food crew or at least something related to food when I was about 10 or 11. I assisted my aunt who used to rent a balbacua-han in Agdao Public Market. I get free food and fifty pesos at the end of the day. After finishing first year college, when my chances of going back to school has gone from slim to none, I worked for the entire summer in a bar and billiards restaurant that required me to stay awake until 3am. Back then I didn't need diet to look like Nicole Richie-thin.
  7. I almost got mugged and killed by a bunch of thugs because of that work. One guy who was at my back whacked my head, the other one was holding an ice pick. Good thing that the guard of the nearby convenience store, who was also my constant chit-chat friend during those wee hours everytime I pass by the store, was quick to rescue me. A group of trigger-happy hippies came in a short while and a race ensued. They bludgeoned my assailants with big rough stones. When the police dropped me home, I saw pools of blood along the street. I learned in the news the day after that one of the thugs was killed.
  8. While working as a waiter in that bar (I faked, or rather my parents, faked my age), I had an avid fan who says that he is a prince from Malaysia. He once caught me rapping to Eminem and asked if I can rap in toto some of Eminem's songs. I did and got 100 bucks per song.
  9. I find riding a jeep with few, or barely no passengers at all, one of the most enjoyable thing to do. There are times that I forget where I'm actually headed. However, I abhor the contagious disease of people inside a jeep when they start paying the fare when someone does or some people who pass their fare when you're about to go down. I also like buses. On the other hand, I am terrified at riding planes. I find it tedious. I cringe even at the slightest jerk. I dream of riding a train in Europe passing by the mountain range and all of the connecting countries.
  10. When I was five and when we still lived in this barangay called Barrio Pogi, I was chased by a rabid dog. It stopped when I stumbled on a sharp stone that hit my head etching in eternity an inconspicuous pahak at the left side of my head. I thought then they would open up my brain or something. That's why up to now, upon chancing on a strange dog with the likelihood of rabies, I bite the tip of my tongue and stop at my tracks to drive the beast away. Luckily, this supertitious belief still works for me.

INSTRUCTIONS: A person who gets tagged must write in his or her blog ten weird things or habits or little known facts about himself or herself. He or she should also state this rule clearly. At the end, he or she should tag six other people, except the one who tagged him or her.

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a f—king big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f—king fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f—k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f—king junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f—ked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Renton, Trainspotting