Tuesday, November 25, 2008

i wish i were british

the 2008 american music awards honored annie lennox with their version of the lifetime achievement award. before she received the crystal pyramid from justine timberlake, whom the host called the most attractive man in america or some other thing hard for people of my demographic category to swallow, she sang Why.

its the kind of song people like but do not admit to liking. like depeche mode's Somebody, for example. though its a notch better than saying you are fond of air supply, its much less cooler than knowing the lyrics of an obscure british band song from the 80s, like... wait. i don't know the lyrics to any obscure british band song.

so annie lennox sang why accompanying herself on the piano, effortlessly proving herself deserving of the award. HOWEVER, she sang the song without the extended wailing of the title, the part where you go "whaaa-aaa-aa-aa-ay?". it was disconcerting and a bit annoying.

yen: why didn't she say the why lines?

husband: huh?

he didn't even notice and must have thought it was a new song, so different sounding as it was. don't get me wrong, i loved her performance. it was just that you would get irritated too if they removed the haunting ambient sounds at the start Somebody.

of course they gave her a standing ovation. but what really confirmed her idol status for me was that during her acceptance speech, the first thing she mentioned was her gratitude to her eurhythmics partner dave stewart. george michael never ever mentions that other wham guy, andrew ridgeley. and, still in her acceptance speech, she admitted to being 53. madonna never ever mentions her age.

to have that unusual voice, to be such an electrifying performer, and to have the confidence to admit to being old, and acknowledge that other people helped you. this is an ungrammatical sentence but i want to keep it that way.

i like her first picture up top but this picture below is how i best remember her. she was a chic androgynous dresser. i love her clothes much, much more than, say, pussycat dolls' (during the rare times that they remember to put on clothes). i think british celebrities outdo americans in the dress department. that's probably why madonna and gwynneth live in london now.

annie lennox reminds me a little julie andrews and sinead o connor. they have a lot in common: the close cropped hair, the provenance (scotland, england, ireland respectively), the stage presence, the otherworldly voice.

annie may be a little less sweet than dame andrews perhaps

and a little less belligerent than sinead

but she really does make me wish i were british.

Friday, November 21, 2008

agua vida

before the time of water refilling stations in the city, people drank water from the tap. at least my family did. and most people we know did. and since there were nine of us in the family, that made for a huge circle of friends relying on zamboanga city water district.

its different now. people have diarrhea when they drink from the tap. it could be because their stomachs got used to filtered water, or, horrors, it could be that the water from the utility is dirtier now. or it could be both.

we used to buy bottled water only for baby gabriel, and everybody else drank tap water filtered with this un-reassuring made in china device with bits of ground charcoal inside that you append to your faucet's spout. we got it, what, three years ago. the instruction said to replace the device once the charcoal grains turn white. this was probably an unintentional exaggeration brought about by the manufacturers limitations in english technical writing, but still, i have stopped believeing it'll ever lighten maybe eight months after purchase. today, the charcoal's as black as ever.

why i never bother replacing it? because it worked. i haven't had our water tested for potability at city health in pettit barracks (only a few bucks, someone said), but the family's never had a rash of diarrhea that could be blamed on the water. the last time we had an epidemic, no one doubted it was brought on by my experimental sauteed fish roe.

for the past month however, everyone in the family has been drinking bottled water. we got sort of carried away by talks in the neighborhood that the reason why our water was different lately (i have to admit, the post shower feeling is more slimy than fresh now) because our supply came from a deep well. maybe as opposed to a fresh mountain spring.

we now consume 25 gallons a week, which translates in pesos to 600 a month. when i realized the cost last night, i almost gagged on my water. our water district bill never exceeds 150. but my mother would say that's only because our clothes are washed at her place, and she would be right. but still. 600. that's 7,200 a year. that's two 21" inch color tv from the korean surplus store.

Friday, November 14, 2008

they chose jollibee

architect-conservationist-columnist agusto villalon apparently is happy with conservation efforts in the city.

i dunno. it may be that things have changed. i still remember the dismay i felt when told that they (i don't know who exactly) were taking down Broad Building, the old multi-storied edifice beside shopper's plaza, facing the sunken garden. at the time that they leveled it, the place looked like it didn't really want to go on existing anyway, but i think resuscitating it was still within the realm of possibility.

talking of sunken garden, they did fix that, but then they fenced it and gated it and people can't really go in. its a virtual secret garden. so secret many people not of my generation (read: younger than me) don't know it exists.

my favorite old building in zamboanga is BPI on Valderoza Street.

The picture of BPI here, taken from the online database of Heritage Conservation Society, does not really do it justice. But this one below, of Plaza Manila Building, right across City Hall and fronting the Rizal Monument, is a good photograph.

Both still exist. The other old and beautiful commercial building in this area, BPI Family Bank, is now.........Jollibee.

this photo was taken and posted by marseilles on igougo

when bpi family bank closed operation in zamboanga, ateneo tried to acquire this building with the intention of converting it into an art gallery cum museum. though ateneo now has a kick-ass gallery within its la purisima campus, this downtown location would have made it more accessible to the public. such an ideal location not just for accessibility but for the atmosphere. upon exiting the building, you will see, from left to right, city hall, rizal monument, the AE Colleges (it looks old, art decoish; and btw, it's now Universidad de Zamboanga - a very olde worlde name, don't you think?), then finally, plaza pershing.

but they chose to put a fastfood there instead. i wonder who made that decision. because it sure sucked.

except for this part, downtown zamboanga does not look pretty. the old buildings look run down. the new buildings can be divided into two categories: blah and boring or hideous and horrible.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the great escape

sigh. it's happened again.

the problem with overly optimistic people like me is that...we are overly optimistic.

this was my reading list on October 20, 2008, on the cusp of a languorous semestral break (or so my insane mind envisioned).

now, it's november 10, 2008, the first day of the second semester and i managed to read only one of the five. i am about 50 pages shy of ending another but i have not had the chance to even just hold the book for two days now because i have been pre-occupied with preparing my three syllabi.

the one i did manage to finish is the one second from the top, Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke. I read it because we have her other, more popular, book at home, Inkheart. Igraine the Brave is the most juvenile book in the bunch. yes i know, the reading list is made up entirely of juvenile books, but this one is so juvenile, i feel such a delinquent reading it.

how juvenile? it's my daughter jana's first attempt at reading novels. jana's seven. i read my first novel at grade four, at around 10. (johanna sypri's heidi). but i am not out celebrating yet. note that i said "attempt". jana has stalled at chapter eight. she reads with the aid of a cardboard -- used as bookmarker and as guide to keep her eyes on the line she is currently reading.

credit for nudging jana into reading the book goes to rashdi, the true owners of the books up top and a surprisingly patient mentor. he defined terms for her and helped her understand concepts. the book is, after all, a magical story set in medieval europe.

the one i should be finishing soon is yet another harry potter clone. i don't know where my sister got this advanced copy of the tapesty: the second seige. the first page says that it is not meant to be sold, that it was meant to be an advanced copy for, i don't know, critiques? proofreaders? it's paperbound with a glossy cover. however, there are no illustrations in the inside pages yet, just blank pages that says "ArtTK".
some parts of the book are exciting and interesting. some parts are incredulous.

rashdi finished all five in almost as many days. he recommends peter and the starcatchers which he says explains how the creatures in the peter pan story got to be in neverland (michael jackson invited them?), is non-committal about bridge to terebithia, and disparages endymion spring for being so boring. and because -- don't say i didn't warn you -- i am optimistic i have made for myself another reading list. but this time, it's shorter: two gossip girl books.

because the fantasy books above were not escapist enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

8th in 2008

i didn't realize i was having the seven-year itch until it ended on october 28, 2008.

in fact, i didn't even realize the day was significant until husband told me the reason he came home that day from manila was in honor of our wedding anniversary. our 8th! in 2008!

when i say our marriage is a work in progress, i mean it literally. it IS work. But there is progress.

i am proud of us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

cebu pacific, mahiya naman kayo sa sarili nyo

i am in manila but i should be in dumaguete. i am so angry at cebu pacific that i am frothing in the mouth. but i can't write a post looking like a werewolf because i am in an internet cafe in makati near my sister's place, a cafe teeming with call center agents with nice skin and shiny (rebonded ) hair. zamboanga girl has standards.