Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Window I Used To Know

12107535_927995627294920_674304417_nThe place where Halal Guys BGC will be in used to be my favorite window in Bonifacio High Street.

Fully Booked’s shelves always had bestsellers, with a few unique finds here and there. Come October, they brought out the fake cobwebs and plaster skulls and the origami bats, and the window was filled with horror fiction novels. Come December, the window was dressed in tinsel and Christmas trimmings, with the year’s best novels on display.

Every now and then, that window announced a sale on books: on those days, I would leave the store with as many books as I can carry. And before I leave, the display facing away from the window offers me more choices: perhaps things I’ve ignored, or things that I’ve always wanted but never really found in the back shelves of Fiction A-Z.

It’s a window that beckoned me to fill my own shelves. But now, that window’s gone.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

On Handwriting

When I was a kid, my teachers put much stock on clean and neat handwriting. Since kindergarten, the Writing subject wasn’t about composition or sentence construction, but the finer points of print and cursive. An entire hour of school was devoted to the Writing class: direct and indirect ovals, parallel lines, and the cursive form of letters. “Writing well” wasn’t just about one’s grasp of prose, but one’s grasp of the pen. “Learning how to write” was just that: learning how to write.

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Our teachers taught us the difference between D’Nealian and Zaner-Bloser cursive (mine’s a cross between the two), but the importance of it. The Writing assignment was quite brutal by today’s standards: an entire notebook was filled with nothing but cursive forms and shapes, with painstaking effort given to headers and descenders under threat of pain (usually from a wooden footrule).

But like prayer responses and the Litany, it’s something most of us carried through adulthood. Today, I still maintain neat—although shaky—cursive handwriting, for no real reason other than it being there.

At least for now, I think so.

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Friday, 31 October 2014

Jumping the Tombs

For me, memorial parks are more like golf courses: manicured lawns, sprinklers, the reception area with marble floors and columns. The memorial park is like a slice of white-picket-fences America, lined with stunted and balding alder trees to give the burial grounds a more suburban, refined feel.

Before all of this, though, there was the venerable sementeryo.

I’m never sure about what to call “cemeteries” in the Philippines: as with a lot of things here, the Western ideal takes a whole new meaning. The Filipino graveyard is as much about life as it is about death: people do live in shacks in the graveyard, mausoleums become homes for caretakers and undertakers and gravediggers and their families. On All Saints’ Day, the land of the dead becomes everything in the land of the living: a marketplace, a picnic area, a park, a playground. A casket can become a photo booth (or at least one enterprising funeral home thought of that brilliant idea), just as the tombs in the front of the cemetery become sari-sari stores.

Far from the “Six Feet Under” feel of memorial parks, or notions of “the family plot.”

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Saturday, 31 May 2014

Making Skater Heaven

I’m not being a grumpy old man about skateboarding. It’s just that they need a place.

I’m a fan of skateboarding: I watch the X-Games, I used to play the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, and the history of skateboarding – Rodney Mullen, Jamie Thomas, Steve Caballero, Bob Burnquist – appeals to me. I don’t skate (and I can’t, for that matter), but I do appreciate the thrill of pushing the limits that comes with it.

At the same time, though, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt doing it. I’ve seen people twist their ankles on an ollie up the sidewalk. I’ve seen at least five skaters almost get crushed because they’re dodging cars while the “Do Not Cross” sign is on. I’ve seen two or three office workers get bumped by an errant skater.

I’ve overheard some conversations that skaters should be “banned” from BGC. I’m not so sure about that, though. The most authorities can do, I think, is to remind skaters to wear protective headgear and pads when they skate.

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