the rest is still unwritten

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In Reel Time - Sex and the City 2

My cousin summarized this sequel best: "So, basically everyone needed a vacation and Samantha's still a slut". Don't get me wrong, I'm one of SATC's biggest fans, but the sequel left much to be desired. I slowly left the theater scratching my head wondering, "What just happened?"

Had it not been set in Abu Dhabi, the movie would have flopped. The exotic locale added much extravagance and drama to an otherwise underwhelming and poorly executed plot.

New plot twists in the character's lives and developments were introduced that seemed totally random and were never sufficiently resolved.

The character developments were inconsistent with the four girls that we "know" and love. I guess it was refreshing to see more of Miranda's quirky and funny side, and that we got a glimpse of Charlotte's more vulnerable less-than-perfect side, but these aren't the reasons why we fell in love with these characters. I was hungry for Miranda's sarcasm, and was waiting for Charlotte to do something annoying, but was disappointed.

I also feel that there is one aspect of the show that just spiraled out of control in the movie: wardrobe. I feel like Patricia Field overworked the costumes, it was simply too much. It became a case of 'dresses wearing the wearers'.

There were some gems in the movie though, Liza Minelli performing Single Ladies?! YES.

All that being said, I'll always love the girls, and will never truly mind watching anything from the SATC franchise. However, if you're new to the institution that is Sex and the City, then skip this movie for now. It's a poor representation of what SATC is all about: strutting through love, loss, laughter and life in just the right pair of heels.

Movie poster from

LifeTrack: Something to Talk About - Bonnie Raitt

The first song I'm posting under the LifeTrack category holds a special place in my heart:


Gah, I just love this song. It's sassy and fun - makes you feel gooood. This song basically talks about making the most of people gossiping about your private affairs. And when you're a boy who looks like a girl, who likes boys that like girls, there exists a general widespread preoccupation with the people you, umm, (insert verb here).

This song cemented its position on the top of the list of my favorite songs of all time when I chose it as my senior solo for my college a cappella group: the Buffers. It's a shame I was only able to rock out to it onstage three times, but I know there's a video somewhere, and when that surfaces you best believe it'll be on here.

For now, enjoy this clip I borrowed from YouTube. I could only find the live version (it has a swankier tempo anyway) since the video version couldn't be embedded. Enjoy!

and give 'em something to talk about!

Video imported from YouTube

Thursday, June 17, 2010

People Watch: Ongina - RuPaul's Drag Race

Well, today is my birthday, and I decided to add another category to this blog: People Watch. It's basically going to highlight certain personalities; celebrity, fictional and 'real'. They're mostly going to be happy happy posts, but there will be times when I will post some duds, people that society can probably do better with less of. There is only one person I can think of who would be perfect not only as the first person to watch, but also the person to be featured on my birthday. So today, spotlight on:


Ongina was a contestant on the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race. What struck me about this tiny Filipino spitfire of a drag queen were her humor, congeniality, commitment to life and her unapologetic middle finger to the sex/gender binary. Well, and her bald head and fierce eccentric 'hats'.

In the course of the show, she won a major challenge whose prize gave her the position as spokesperson for the Viva Glam makeup line. Viva Glam is a line whose proceeds all go to benefit AIDS research and awareness initiatives. After winning the challenge, Ongina shakily confesses her situation: She has been living with HIV for the past two years. Through sobs and tears, she tells us to celebrate life, because no matter what, she keeps going, we all keep on going.

Admiration is a word insufficient to describe how I feel for this tiny queen's vivacity, strength and energy. She truly is an inspiration. From her fierce runway walk, her couture fashion sense, to her humor, dignity and good heart: she is unforgettable. Ongina teaches us that life is full of adversity, but there is also much to celebrate. It's too short for us to wallow in the problems that we face, but more importantly, in the problems that we sometimes create for our selves.

We can only expect great things from this diva.

So in her own wise words: "Life is a CELEBRATION!!!"

Images from:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From Where I Sit: One Student Many Voices

I wrote this piece for the Hamilton College newspaper: the Spectator. It was published on April 8, 2010. The section, From Where I Sit, features articles on the experiences of International Students. Enjoy!

I was born to speak many languages. Growing up in a developing country, a post-colonial one at that, I was inundated by the pervasive and destructive mentality that the idea of the foreign other was always better: foreign movies, foreign goods, foreign tongues and foreign husbands. Growing up in the Philippines, both English and Filipino were spoken in my home. Our house was run by a general—I mean an actual military general, a prominent and politically active one. So the need to master the English language was tantamount. My siblings, cousins and I, as the grandchildren of this man, should convey the dignity of our lineage through everything in our carriage, including our appearance, our manners and our speech. Blah, blah, blah.

In the Philippines, it's not just what you say or how you say something that matters. Even your accent could be used as measurement of your prestige. From the way I spoke English, one would assume my gender (feminine), what school I attended (the expensive International School), how much my parents earn (less than they think) and how much my family is worth (to me, much more than they can imagine).

The term slang is given to the 'American' accent some Filipino English-speakers have (or fake). It's classy. When one is slang a direct connection is made—that person has the means to travel abroad, attend prestigious American/International Schools, or better yet—they grew up stateside. Fil-Am. Am-boys and Am-girls. Growing up speaking English, and attending the International School Manila for seven years, here I am: slang.

But you know what's really funny? At Hamilton, the assumptions continued. Accents are relative. My slang accent at Hamilton translates to having no accent. So it was always assumed that I was from any one of these places a) New York City b) LA or c) Hawai'i. Wrong.
"Oh, I grew up in Manila."
"You're so fired."

But like I said, I was born to speak many languages. Not only am I linguistically ambiguous, but the language of my gendered performance blurs the edges of my identity as well. Growing up, I was taught a very Masculine vocabulary—one I never mastered. My pidgin performance of gender was often reprimanded. Feminine gestures hushed like cuss words. My mom would comment on my imperfect slang. It was too sing-song-y. Emphasis and vocal flourishes are not part of the Masculine vocabulary. Talk like a boy. Forget about mascara and stilettos.

But you can't forget your mother tongue. My home was run by military men, but my female cousin and I were raised by women—Mommy, aunties and an ever-changing squad of nannies. It's like my Masculine grammar was learned in the classroom, but my Feminine words were learned in the playground. My Valkyrie protectors in effect taught me to speak Woman. In more ways than one, it's my mother tongue.

As English was preferred to Filipino, Tagalog specifically, so Masculine was preferred to Feminine. It was expected—no, demanded—that I speak English and Masculine only. I tried it for a while: BO-RING, and honestly, a little depressing. In time I was ready for high school. It was the time when boys became men, and girls became women. What would I become? What should I speak? English became literature and Tagalog was reserved for gossip.

Throughout high school and now here at Hamtech, I've learned many things, but the most important lessons really were not learned in class. It's this thing called life—living, I mean, really living—that teaches you so much more. I've learned that regardless of how we speak, we all have something to say, we all have stories to tell. Somehow, I managed to muster up the courage and just speak. Speak to my friends, eventually to my parents, speak to the world. Once I started to speak, I simply became.

Now, the language I speak—words, accent, gestures, mascara and everything—let me tell you honey, it's pretty damn romantic.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little Things.1

So I've decided to add a new category of entries to this blog: Little Things. These entries will be the most saturated with cheesy optimism. I was about to name the category 'Little Things that Make Me Smile', but then tagging each entry with that title is simply too long. But yes, basically these snippets are about exactly that: little things that make me smile.

So for the first one:

I was walking to the gas station to get a pack of cigs, in the middle of Virginia - the South, a red state - and I passed a parking lot; and a bumper sticker on one of the cars read:

"Hate is a learned behavior"

Granted, I couldn't conclude whether the car's owner was advocating compassion, or that we should teach hate, but I'd like to think it was the former. Seeing this public statement of advocacy makes me happy and hopeful.

The Miss List

I just purchased my plane ticket from Washington, DC to LAX, and from Los Angeles, I fly back into Manila, the Pearl of the Orient. Sitting on the deck, iced coffee melting from the Virginia heat, cigarette in hand, a wave of nostalgia swept over me. There are so many things I'm going to miss about the "Land of the Free":

* The Four Seasons
Winter - the snow; the moment after walking through the bitter cold, then you walk into a building and are blanketed by warmth, warm, warm ,warmth everywhere - that exact moment; sitting inside - reading, writing, art-ing, or listening to Billie Holiday with a cup of coffee - and just watching the snow fall; diving into five-foot snowbanks.
Spring - who wears short shorts? Flowers everywhere. The green green grass, bonfires on Minor field, the general uplifted feeling of a campus waking up from the sleepiness of a long winter, oh and watching the bros flex on the quads.
Summer - being thankful that it's not snowing and you can sit outside and read or just chill; BBQ's; tanning while walking? - yes please.
Fall - the season with the best colors; and best wardrobe - warm enough for skimp, cool enough for boots.

* Hamilton Haunts
The Howard Diner, the smoker's table outside of Opus 1, the 24-hour room in Burke, List Painting Studio

* Freshmen
So impressionable, jailbait. Freshmen of note - Sarah Song, Dani Brockmann, Leigh Pomeranz, and of course: James Keefe, Eli Bunzel, Pat Kennedy, Luke Walsh and Michael Breslin. Thank you all for reminding me of how it is to be young. I would have loved to see each of you grow into yourselves. One day we will meet again, and we will talk and laugh about the good old days.

* The Buffers: Past and Present Bo's
My Hamilton brotherhood. Initiations, New-Bos, concerts, rehearsals, Cotillion, Buffergrams. Chilling with and outshining the other a capella groups =) .
It will take me a while to thank each of you individually for how you have affected my life. So I will just mention a few things that are freshest in my mind that i will miss. Being silly with Zak, my wonder-twin - watching RuPaul's drag race on Muffy, the futon. Picking on the new-bo's lovingly. Coming home to a room of people I love.
One thing I will not miss - coming home to a room of people I love and not being able to get in because the door's locked - Carl...
And the music, man, the music.
I'll really miss you guys.

* Jenny Pistrang, Kate Staykova and all the wonderful people I've been fortunate enough to meet
Among them, Katherine Kuharic, Preetha, Cody Thornton, Caitlin O'Dowd, Erin Hoener, Kate Northway, Ann Horwitz, Nate Fedrizzi. I can write volumes on the wonderful qualities of each of them, but this list is already too long. I love each of you dearly.

* My non Hamilton haunts
NYC- as a city, must I really explain myself? Joanne's apartment, Ate Che's apartment, Ria and John, James and Dave.
Aaron and Alex's Big Gay apartment in DC.
Tita Susan's home in Virginia, which is where I'm at now.

It's funny, there are people who I'm not particularly close to that I know I will remember, if not forever, then for a very long time. Even if I haven't spent the same amount of time with these people as I have with other people on this list, I automatically felt a connection with them, which I hope is mutual. I felt at once, comfortable and at ease. And these people do hold a special place in my heart. Sakhile Matlhare, Matt Breen, Alex Americanos, Alex Benkhart, Amma Owusu, Eugene Nahm to name a few.

I'm sure that when I least expect it, nostalgia will hit and I will find myself reminiscing about any combination of these. I know there are more things I will find myself missing that are not on this list, when that happens, maybe I'll let you know.

Don't get me wrong, there are a countless number of people and things waiting for me in Manila. My family, first of all, my beautiful friends - Crystal, the SoJos, my badminton peeps; my dog Bailey and the other superpets. But it's downright foolish not to look back on the places you've been and the people you've met. These are the things that make you who you are.

In the words of Janet Jackson: "You don't know what you got til it's gone." So don't take anything for granted, and live everyday to the fullest. Life is not only short, it's full of twists so you really don't know where you'll end up tomorrow. But know this, each day you wake up, you're alive - and you get another day at least to keep on keeping on.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Letters to a Higher Power

The title of this blog comes from a book I've been trying to write for several years now... Letters to a Higher Power. It is a book of letters, an epistolary tackling issues that I find important. Each letter will revolve around a specific issue like marriage or sex or identity, gender or choice.

Once a letter is completed, it will be posted here and hopefully sent out to as many people as I can get to. The book itself will be a compilation of my and your letters. The ideas and feelings in these letters will stem from real lived experiences. None of that theoretical, statistical crapola. Being a sociology major however, theory and stats may or may not seep in there... But the meat of it will come from real words from real people.

Should you feel compelled to comment, please do so! Write me a letter! You can address it to me, to your mother, to your own higher power, or to whomever you feel your letter should be addressed to. You can reach me at Or you can search for me on facebook or linkedin and send me a private message. Only responses or comments in letter form will be considered for the book.

Also, if you know anybody who you think should read any of these letters, please feel free to share it with them! Anyone can respond to any, all or none of the letters, no presh. It's not necessary that you agree with my letters. Just send me whatever letter you want. Whether it's an agreement, a disagreement, a clarification or a confession. Basically send me whatever my letters have inspired you to write.

I wanna start a dialogue. We all have opinions that we believe in strongly. And we can scream and preach and march and protest all we want, for whatever cause, but as long as people don't listen, don't talk about these topics together then nothing would or could change.

There isn't really a schedule for when the letters will be posted. When I do post a letter they will have the heading of LTAHP and the issue that the letter is about. I'm still in the midst of actually writing the letters. And if anybody has any clue as to how books get published, let me know! That'll probably regulate the writing schedule. There are already some letters in the works, and other entries as well. So just keep an open eye, an open heart and an open mind. Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Beginnings are full of excitement and anxiety. It might be the first stroke on a canvas, the first note of a song, the first beat in a dance, the first smile at a stranger or the first word of a sentence. This blog is no different. This blog has been set up for a couple of weeks now. And it's taken me that much time to compose a proper 'beginning'. So, Beginnings - question mark? Well, the only real beginning we have is birth. After that, a beginning is just an arbitrary point we choose on the continuum of our personal historical narrative. So here I go:

I begin this blog in a time of great confusion and anxiety. I was hoping to find myself sitting here, excited and overwhelmed by the possibilities of the 'real world' - a fresh grad - but through ugly and muddy workings, that has not happened. But not to fret, if you are looking for a blog of gloom and self-pity, then this will not be it.

Although this may be a time of uncertainty for me, I promise it won't be boring. This blog at times may be filled with cheesy hallmark optimism, but hopefully, it will provide an opportunity not only for myself, but you, dear reader, to look at the world differently. This blog will serve as journal, cookbook, portfolio and much more.

Unsure about what else to write, I leave you now with an entry from my actual journal, Carrie (I name just about everything I own):

" November 29, 2009

Mise en scène. In my experience, a journal is hard to start. Much harder to keep. Impossible to finish. But something in me knows that this one will be it. So much has already happened in my short-long span of 24 years that it's almost impossible to just pick a jumping off point. Hence, mise en scène. Characters come and go and come again. New faces, fresh faces, faces you wanna forget, faces you can't wait to see again. The plot? Who knows... It's a thread whose color and pattern I think I know, but the actual weaving sometimes frays leaving me desperate to connect the complex fibres. New threads, old threads, threads revisited, twists introduced, twist upon twist - FRAY. "

And so here we are... Our brave and beautiful hero(ine) typing away with RuPaul's Drag Race gagging on the eleganza and extravaganza in the background. The bitchy drag queen catfight providing a welcome distraction from the taxing exercise of mentally untangling these new threads. I must admit, the optimist in me is starting to believe that these threads are slicker and more manageable than I first thought.

Okay, I'm dropping the thread metaphor. I don't even sew... yet.

It's three in the morning and my own thoughts are now winding down as I surrender to Ru's queens and sleep. All I know is that tomorrow is a brand new day.