Archive for April, 2008

The Strange Brew

April 28th, 2008 1 comment

There is one show that I missed watching on the local TV channels – The Strange Brew (ang show na may tama) which starred Arvin “Tado” Jimenez, Angel “Erning” Romero, Ramon Bautista, Jun Sabayton and directed by R. A. Rivera.

It was a down-to-earth, crudely indecent, irreverently hilarious yet educational and a good reality checker show. Its unconventional format gave the show its unique mark and signature in our TV industry that is driven and dominated by commercialism and escapism.

Strange Brew tackles the most ordinary of topics about everyday ordinary things and people. In this show, the man/woman/people behind the balut, the candy factory, the LRT/MRT, La Loma Cemetery, toll gate, etc…are given face and life as who they are and what they do. They don’t appear as objects to be poked and ridiculed just to solicit laughter, like those we see everyday ad nauseam on TV Game shows like Wowowee. These ordinary people are interviewed with questions about the what’s and how-to’s of their work, wares or products. They’re also asked questions like, “if your life is going to be made a movie, who’s the actor you would like to protray you?” In spite of being taken aback by the question, yet all of them had a ready answer for it, as if it is a very common question for them.

The Strange Brew’s brand of comedy is plain and simple. Other than being smart and intelligent, its sense of humour will surely get the approval of one happy dobbie brother. Watching an episode of Strange Brew is one heluva educational laughing trip, sans the doobie of course. I can single out the episode with Kefeir Ocampo, the taong grasa – ang pinakamatalinong tao sa UP, and it simply ROCKS.

Strange Brew was first shown at UNTV, a less known local TV Channel, in 2001. The show immediately gain a loyal following from among the youth, particularly the isaw-eating-rugged -looking-activist-type horde and not the classy-english-spokening-burgis-konyotik few. Despite the show’s obvious handicap in terms of exposure and casting, as it was fronted practically by unkowns at that time, yet all existing mainstream local comedy show pales in comparisson with it in form and content, even until now. For some arcane reasons, Strange Brew suddenly went off-air. One of those Jesus Fans Club TV show took its slot.

I miss Strange Brew. “Erning, ihanda mo ang oto,”. “Tama!”

Click here to view some STRANGE BREW flicks

Categories: Just like in the Movies Tags:

Here comes the Rain

April 20th, 2008 Comments off

Last week in the middle of a sweltering summer, a low pressure zone suddenly visited the Philippines . It was a welcome respite but only for a while. The rainbringer didn’t want to stay longer, perhaps because it was oppressively hot and humid in the Philippines at that time. Usually rain starts to fall in May ushering the rainy season that comes in a most inconvenient time, that of during the openning of schools.

When you grow up in the province you become familiar with natural signals heralding the rainy season. The most common signal is the sudden appearance of tiny winged termites swarming around all that is lighted in the night. They swarm light bulbs, tv monitors, and all lamps ersatz or real, from desk lamps, table lamps to lamp shades. They become quite annoying because you need to turn all the lights off just to shoo them away.

The freak low pressure zone that visited us last week had sent wrong signals to these tiny winged creatures. Out from nowhere, they suddenly appeared swarming the lighted flourescent lamps in our living room, desk lamps in our room, the monitors of the computer where I was working on and on the TV where my little girl was watching her favorite cartoon show. They thought it was already their call time. Some of them bumped a calendar hanging in a wall near a lighted floor lamp, saw the month and got confused.

We turned off all that was lighted in our house. My baby Maia and I just sat outside our dark front yard watching our uninvited visitors fly to the lighted street lamp post at the corner of our house. I told my baby girl, those little creatures will surely be back sometime soon.

Categories: Family and Me Tags:


April 15th, 2008 Comments off

A year ago today, I visited my Dad in his house.

After the usual talks about developments in Philippine Masonry, which was his favorite topic whenever I visited him, I proudly showed him my newly bought Masonic Ring. He was delighted to see it. He tried it on his frail fingers and said he once had one like it, but more beautiful than what I have.

Afterwards our conversation drifted into his usual nostalgia of places his been to and friends that he missed for a long time. I gave him some updates about the places, but I stopped when it comes to those friends he was longing to see. Most of them were already dead.

I bade goodbye to my Dad that day in our usual parting fashion, by exchanging Masonic handshakes and signs, and then we laugh like two little kids sharing our little secrets.

Two days after my visit, my Dad died, in his sleep.

Categories: Family and Me, Freemasonry Tags:

The Case of the Missing Decal

April 11th, 2008 5 comments

There are stories we read in fiction novels written in the Da Vinci Code mystery genre, about icons that were lost or stolen and later on found or rediscovered. The common plot of these stories is the theme, that whoever discovers the lost icon and is worthy of its care is granted immense powers. But for those unworthy hands who stole it, if not killed, they succumb to an unbearable torment inflicted by a supernatural source.

It is common knowledge that those who posses the Square and Compasses symbol are Masons or Freemasons, members of a worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry. These symbols had become ubiquitous as car decals. Some erring Masons and many pretenders have this wrong notion that these decals can bail them out from being charged with traffic violations. Admittedly this ancient Masonic symbol has been abused for selfish interests and mercenary motives both by Masons and pretenders alike. However, we Masons have our own methods in determining a pretender from a real Brother Mason. The general principle of displaying Masonic symbols is to remind the bearer that he should conduct himself in accordance with Masonic principles and his Masonic obligations. It is not to boast one’s membership or to be used as a ticket for privilege and badge for special favors.

squareancom.jpgI have Masonic symbols displayed in our house. Most of it can be found inside the house while I have two on our gates. The symbols glued on our rusty iron gate are the Seal of the Order of DeMolay Alumni Association and on its top is a smaller blue and gold Square and Compasses decal. These icons or symbols remained glued on our gate and left untouched for many months.

Until one night, two weeks ago, when I arrived home I noticed the Square and Compasses decal was gone. It was deliberately unfastened from where it was glued. The DeMolay Alumni seal was left untouched. I was disgusted and angry. I cannot do anything about it, but curse. And curse I did, that whoever stole it and use it for whatever purpose will eventually find himself in a situation that he cannot comprehend.

This morning, as Bambit and I stepped out of our gate, we were surprised to see the stolen Square and Compasses decal, glued back to its original position on our rusty gate. We were both wondering, what made the one who stole it to return the decal? And why would he take extra effort in pasting it back to its original position, when he can just throw the decal inside our house?

One can only posses the Square and Compasses symbol, if you are brought from darkness to light.

Categories: Freemasonry Tags:

A Green House office

April 10th, 2008 2 comments

Finding a new office is not easy as it sounds. First you will consider the cost, then the space that you need and the other pros and cons (i.e., car park, water supply, neighborhood, etc.). Next difficulty is the negotiation with the owner of the house. There are house landlords who will give you a litany of stiff rules to be observed, like a curfew, number of visitors allowed, pets are limited, and so on and so forth.

This is what we did since last month. We are currently looking for a space, a house, for our office. But aside from confronting the difficulties mentioned above, the most annoying in our quest for a new office is our boss’s fickle-mindedness. When we found a house-for-rent with a lower rental cost, he would say the space is too small. So off we go again to find another one. And when we find a big one with a higher rental cost, the first thing he’d ask if that house has a big lawn for a garden.

My boss wanted an office that has the semblance of one of our offices before in Quezon City. We once had a big office with a beautiful lawn, like it’s maintained by TruGreen, and on it was a long table where we all used to have our lunch al fresco.

So on we go and continue our quest for an office with a nice lawn – this now becomes our main requirement in finding a good office.

Categories: Other Stories Tags:

Monuments of Anachronism

April 10th, 2008 Comments off

bukidnon houseIf you frequently pass the highways of Mindanao countrysides, you will see many beautiful and quaint old structures and houses standing proud like honor guards in a parade. A magnificent view to behold, a sight that gives respite to every passing weary traveler.

It amazes me how such ancient structures can retain its beauty and still exude the aura of its past grandeur. Even when viewed only in fleeting seconds, these houses never fail to tell me something. In my mind I make up stories about the place, about the people living in that house. Perhaps it is only through our fictional reconstruction of stories about these structures and its habitues shall they be assured of longer existence. Because in most cases, they are faced with the dreadful eventuality of being demolished to give way for modern structures.

I find it saddening and disturbing all together, our proclivity of demolishing old structures in order to build new ones. In Europe and anywhere else in the world they maintain and preserve old structures not only because they serve as aesthetic monuments of anachronism, but for their sense of history and intrensic value as places of abode.

If only we learn to appreciate that houses are silent witnesses to the making of family histories. They are structures that we will always visit when we stroll down memory lane at night. We can no longer re-invent history, but we can preserve our family histories by making sure that our Homes, like those being served and protected by American Home Shield, are maintained to stand the test of time.

Categories: My Mindanao, Other Stories Tags:

Summer Adventure Trip

April 10th, 2008 Comments off

Its summer time and most people choose to tread the beaten paths of summer destinations, like beaches, or chill out to places like Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines. Those who can afford, fly to holiday tours somewhere else in the world.

But there are other alternative summer escapades for those who want to spend less but enjoy more. It’s an offbeat track, a road less traveled by summeristas, a less costly yet full of excitment and discovery adventure trip. To go to places in the Philippines where you’ve never been to armed only with a few cash, a sense of adventure and stories from friends who’ve been there, which serve as irreverent yet important guide books. It’s a backpaker’s fare, or a localized Ian-Wright-lonely-planet type of back channel adventure trip.

So here’s some tips for those who want to have a back channel adventure trip this summer. For starters, travel light. Aside from your basic light-wash-and-wear-dark-colored clothing, bring only necessary stuff like a Cambodian Krama or any shawl, a flashlight, a standard compact digital camera, (a dslr is not advisable) loose change or coins, a cheap cellphone, a bottle of water, some candies, alcohol, few basic medicines including insect repelent lotions. Of course, don’t forget to bring your own identification cards.

Choose the place at random, i.e., put a map on the corkboard or a dartboard, shoot a dart on it and wherever it lands – that’s where you go. Take three shots so you will have three different spots to go, one after the other. Look for some friends who are from these places or has been to these places before. Ask them for some basic information about the place, like: transportation, local culture, do’s and don’ts, interesting places to go, cheap watering holes and eateries, extra advices and tips and of course referals to and contact details of persons in the locality in case of emergency or when some snafu arise. It is also important to know where the cheapest hotels and lodging houses are. Hotels or lodging houses in second class municipalities are hard to find. If you can find one, more often they’re pest infested. Mosquitos and bedbugs will keep you busy the whole night and cockroaches keep you company while you stay awake and dream of Terminix.

It would add spice to your adventure if you ride the popular mode of public transport in going to or commuting within the locality, like the train, the tricycles, pedicab, an ordinary bus (not the airconditioned buses). Try riding on the “taplod” (topload), a logging truck or the “habal-habal,” a single motorcycle with nine passengers riding on it. In all these travels, try not to attract too much attention. Blend with the crowd, it is important to be conscious about and maintain liminality. Using fancy gadgets is a no-no. Try not to overdo your get up by looking too fancy – like you’re a CNN embeded journalist in Iraq, a National Geographic reporter or a typical tourist on Four S (shorts-sandals-shirts-and-shades). Always have that warm smile and talk to people in tagalog if you do not know the local dialect. Don’t try to talk in the local language if you do not know how to speak it. You will not only sound and look stupid but more importantly you might insult some sensitivities. On back channel adventures like this, the most basic rule is, if you’re in doubt about something, don’t try it.

Try this adventure trip with friends. Three is the ideal number to compose a group for this kind of adventure. And for best result, travel with no detailed plans or even maps. Let the adventure current take you and go where ever your feet will take you.

Categories: Other Stories Tags: