Before Midnight (Not a Review)

I come from a generation that had been fed fairy tales. We all thought that true love was as easy as making a deal with the sea witch and trading your voice for a pair of legs, kissing the beast to get the prince, and maybe even riding a magic carpet – shining, shimmering, fucking splendid. Then we grew up and realized that nope, it doesn’t quite work that way. You have to date, kiss a multitude of beasts and frogs and find out that they were no more than beasts and frogs.

Last night, I saw Before Midnight, the last installment of the Before series. Now, the Before series follows the story of Jesse and Celine. The first one, Before Sunrise, explored magic. How two people can meet by chance, and have such a great connection. It wasn’t quite like a fairy tale, Jesse didn’t ride a white horse and save Celine from a dragon. (Actually, I think she’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and Jesse, though he has a flair for grand romantic gestures, isn’t quite the type.) The story isn’t fairy tale-ish, but it is something we all wish for at some point: Meeting your soulmate – or at least, somebody who looks like him or her – on the train.

The second one, Before Sunset, made us question this entire soulmate business. (Spoiler alert. But then again, why are you reading this if you haven’t seen any of the films?) If they had been so meant for each other, then how come they didn’t live happily ever after? They’re the opposite of happily ever after, in fact, they’re miserable. Over the course of film though, we see that they’ve grown older, wiser, and aren’t quite so starry eyed anymore. In the end though, we’re about 99% sure that they’re going to end up together. I mean, after that song, we were all ready to marry Julie Delpy.

Then comes the third and last installment, Before Midnight. It’s a love story we so rarely see – between two middle aged people… with issues. This is not a rom-com. There is no slapstick humor or comedy of errors. Just two people starring in their own love story. It isn’t the pretty part of the story either, no cutesy-fied scenes and definitely no chasing each other on the beach. Just an honest portrayal of a middle-age couple. Watching the film felt like voyeurism of some sort, like we’re watching private moments. They’re not strangers to us, and we’ve heard this story before, but as I walked out of the cinema after having watched the film, I realized that this must be the most realistic love story I’ve seen outside of real life. No castles, no shining white horses, no singing dwarves. Just the kind of love that takes hard work to keep going. The kind with teeth grinding compromise and plain old vicious arguing.

Is it a happy ending? Depends on your general outlook on these things, really. It’s hardly the end, rather, it’s a new beginning.

How Megaworld Got Me to Restoring My Bug

So last Wednesday (a holiday, Independence Day), I went to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia to get my bug a new carb spring. While at a vulcanizing shop, Remi and I noticed that we were leaking engine oil. The engine had to be removed, since the oil gaskets needed to be replaced. I also got a new generator pulley and had Kuya Ter check the distributor parts (condenser, rotor, and contact points). I also had a change oil.

Happy with having the car maintenance stuff out of the way, we went home. To a memo. From Megaworld. It basically said that I could no longer park for free outside the condo-slash-suburb’s perimeter and that I have until Monday (June 17) to move my car elsewhere. They graciously offered to give me a list of available parking slots for rent inside the gates. Just how much is parking in Rich People Ville? Here’s the breakdown:

Security Deposit: PHP 7,500
Advance Payment for 3 months: PHP 2,800 x 3 = PHP 8,400
Subsequent Payments for 9 months: PHP 2,800 x 9 = PHP 25,200

7500 + 8400 + 25200 = 41100. Forty-one thousand, one hundred pesos. For a year. Of parking. For the purposes of comparison, my house rent is 3,000 pesos.

In my mind, I had three options: a. find myself a new parking slot elsewhere (because fuck you Megaworld, and fuck you too, homeowners’ association), b. park at Rica’s parent’s house in Sikatuna Village (which isn’t really near, but near enough), or c. sell the car. Option C seemed the most likely and practical to me, but Remi thought it was stupid. She’s right. Why would I want to sell the car because of a stupid memo?

She then offered Option D: Restore Car-car. It’s a brilliant solution. I don’t have to sell the car, I won’t have to worry about parking in the next 3 or 4 months, I would still pay but the money would be better spent in restoration than in aforementioned Rich People Ville parking.

As it happens, while waiting for the repairs to finish last Wednesday, I got a flyer from Kuya Nards. It was for a shop called ROS Autoworks[1], and they were offering body work and painting services with a quite yuppie-friendly payment option (6 months to pay). I contacted the owner of the joint, Rex Oliver Sembrano, and by Saturday, we were at his shop in Greenfields in Molino, Cavite. I got a very reasonable quote for body work and paint, and we commuted home. Funny how the universe works, no?

Anyway, work on Car-car is underway! I’m very excited. In lieu of this, I’ve decided to finally buy bumpers (the square ones from the Brazil models) and I’m getting a rain gutter for the decklid as well. I can’t wait to see the progress, and of course, the finished product as well.

1972 Volkswagen Beetle

Oh rust, thine greatest nemesis.


The bug in front is in far worst shape than Car-car.

Front fenders and hood removed

Scrape to metal, stat!

At the moment, it looks like somebody shot at my passenger side door.

My relatively okay engine and semi-scraped rear-fender.

Seriously, I can’t wait to see Car-car back to his shiny, pogi self. Let the War Against Rust begin!

1. If you want to know how that turned up, contact me.

Hung-over Sugarfree: A Sa Wakas Review

I’ve always believed that everybody comes with their own background music. There are some days that seem to follow the rhythm of Hit Me Baby One More Time or Don’t Cha – no judging – and there are times when whole swaths of your life seem to be outright rip-offs of a two-bit song. Whole sweeping segments of your life told in every lyric word, in every note, in every falsetto. This seems especially true in the happiest moments and ironically, in the most tragic as well. As we’ve discussed before, Sugarfree has chronicled those (mostly love-related) moments and have therefore provided the songs of both triumphs and tribulations for an entire generation. Specifically, mine.

Sa Wakas, A Pinoy Rock Musical
When I saw the teasers for Sa Wakas, a rock musical featuring the songs of Sugarfree, I immediately went into fangirl mode. I must watch this. They better not mess this up, I said, for a thousand Sugarfree fangirls (and fanboys) will descend upon them. Our hate mail will blot out the sun! Yesterday, we watched Sa Wakas, and this is not a rage-fueled, vitriol-laced review.
The Story
Sa Wakas revolves around the lives of three yuppies: Topper (Fred Lo), a photographer working to make a name for himself; Lexi (Caisa Borromeo), a doctor having trouble juggling her relationship and her career; and Gabbi (Kyla Rivera), a magazine editor hoping to find inspiration. It’s all about passion for these three, passion in their chosen careers, passion for their hopes and dreams, and passion for their relationships and in their selves. It’s a story we all know, a story we’ve heard from a friend or have played a lead role in.
Intertwined (more like embedded) in their story is the music of Sugarfree. Relationships are falling apart before us, and Sugarfree hits every note. I’ve always had a vague suspicion that Ebe Dancel, Sugarfree frontman and main lyricist, had looked into the most vulnerable parts of our lives – the breakups, the hung-over musings, and the longing for long lost loves – and wrote them into swak-sa-banga, sapul-sa-mukha songs.
We see the characters at their most vulnerable moments, at their weakest and most miserable, and I was sure that every single person in the audience could relate to at least one of them. We could all relate to those moments when the Universe throws everything at us, including the kitchen sink and the kitchen.
The Characters
Topper, bless him, knowingly plays the Asshat. He’s the guy in the middle of every drama like this. He knows he’s wrong, and for that I could not find it in myself to sympathize with him. At the end of the first act, I felt he deserved testicular cancer. Lexi on the other hand is a girl who knows what she wants. There are times when I felt she would have fit better in a medical drama, but we all know the feeling of wanting to excel in both our personal and professional lives and failing catastrophically in one (in more tragic stories, we fail in both). Sadly, she cannot have her cake and eat it too. Then Gabbi. I found her character very sympathetic, despite never having been in her situation. She exemplifies all of our bad timing and our wrong-place-wrong-time decisions that often lead us to disaster.
At the end of the play, I felt my applause was not enough to show my appreciation. The actors were effective – awful, playful, and funny in just the right parts. Kyla Rivera is adorable and has great comedic timing, and Fred Lo too, as I laughed when I wasn’t busy hating his character. Caisa Borromeo embraces the role of a woman not defined by her relationship status and I found myself empathizing with her as a victim of circumstance and indecision.
The Play
Sa Wakas didn’t need to impress me with the music, I already love Sugarfree, but still it did. The band and the ensemble were awesome. The arrangements were well thought out and the execution was great. It was surprising at times, with the transitions sometimes jumping from hopeful to sad to sadder. It works though. The music, set design, and lighting made for an altogether immersive experience.
The ballsiest move on the part of the producers and writers is the storytelling itself. Personally, I was confused until the first few strums of the second act. Upon our exit from the PETA Theater, the buzz was intoxicating, but I couldn’t help overhearing some fellow audience members asking what exactly happened to the characters. While it probably wasn’t the best way to tell the story, it worked for me. For the most part, it worked for me because of the poignant ending. It wasn’t the closing of a book and the opening of a new one, instead it was a painful and emphatic period (as in, The End, period.).
Sa Wakas works. It works because it tells us the story of ourselves, or at least, the stories told to us that nestle close to our hearts (like One More Chance). It shows us that things aren’t as simple as pushing the big red button marked “Self-Destruct,” it’s a long and drawn out process of things that go wrong, things that feel right, things unsaid, and things screamed at each other.
That said, why haven’t you watched it yet? Even if you aren’t a fan of Sugarfree, I’d recommend you to watch it anyway. There are exactly four more shows left. Go, dammit.
  • Sa Wakas is brought to us by Culture Shock Productions and FringeMNL. If they made more plays like this, I’d probably watch more theatre.
  • If you are driving to the PETA Theater, be sure to get there early. Parking slots are few and far between.

Life After Dropping Out of College

My favorite probinsyana, Annabs of Suburbia, has written a wonderful guide on job hunting, an article that has inspired me to expound on it. Couple of weeks back, I was trying to write something about the UP Manila shitstorm but was too angry to finish it, but the gist of it was this: There is life after dropping out of college. I’ll not get into why people are forced to drop out, just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise.

Anyway. So you’ve dropped out of college. Cue the dreaded question: What now? You have two options, a. find a job, or b. find a job. (Of course, this won’t apply to everybody since not all of us have to quit college because of financial difficulties, but I digress.) At any rate, finding something with which to support yourself is the next logical step.
Handicap, Schmandicap
First, remember that you are already at a disadvantage. The lack of a college diploma is a handicap with which you will have to contend. It will sit next to you at every other job interview and will poke at you incessantly while you’re filling out an application. BUT (there’s a big but in all of that) that handicap also makes you more persistent and relatively more street smart. Enter pointless anecdote:
In 2005, my friends had just finished college and they’ve asked me to be their Makati tour guide, so to speak. At the end of that day, I was the only one who walked out of a company’s doors with a job offer in hand. My friends were not by any chance idiots, it was only that I a. had work experience and b. knew how to use my skills to my advantage.
Therefore, the first thing you’ll need when Job Hunting Without a Diploma are skills. Sit down, get a pen and paper ready. What are your skills? List everything you ever received a “Best in” ribbon for. Debating skills can translate to good communication skills. Those Photoshop skills can translate into good design skills. A drafting class in high school translated to a draftsman’s job for me. Good English language skills got me a job in a call center then a video game website.
Next, you will need experience. This will come with time. Every little job you get adds to your experience, and subsequently, they all add to your skill set as well. I’ve been a tutor, a drug store clerk, a liquor store clerk, a data encoder, a draftsman, a tech support agent, a marketing agent, a creative writer, and a freelance writer. In between those are bouts of being a bum and looking for a job, of course. What sort of skills have I developed from teaching squalling children to staying at home and writing in my pajamas? A lot. Your job now can teach you a number of things you will have use for in the future, say, how to deal with people too drunk to count their money or how to find creative ways to teach a kid.
Experience will also help you “level up.” (Pro-tip: You don’t have to list all of your work experience in your resume. Sometimes, listing only the pertinent ones – pertinent to the company to which you are applying – saves time for you and the HR people. You don’t want to spend several uncomfortable minutes explaining why you left that company notorious for pushing out pornographic content, do you?) Working at a bad job or for a bad company can help you weed out the things you never want to do again. After working at a call center, I realized that I never wanted to do that ever again. The Universe, who for most of the time is a motherfucking bitch, will somehow help you find your place under the sun.
To Recap
So, handicap schmandicap, skills, and experience. There are several unquantifiable things you will need in your Job Hunting Kit, including 2 cups of diskarte, 3 cups of confidence (don’t go over, don’t go without), and a dash of luck. You will eventually develop a thick carapace to deal with rejection from assholes, but in the meantime, take a few tons of kakapalan ng mukha with you. Eventually, you will learn to shrug off comments and ads that discriminate against undergrads. Take my word for it, you don’t want to work there. Always be willing to learn and eventually you’d have leveled up enough that the piece of paper won’t matter – or at least you’d have amassed enough money to go back to school.

Why One Arm is Darker than the Other

Since getting the 1972 Volkswagen FrankenBeetle out from the shop, a lot of things have changed. For one thing, I now reserve a column for ‘Gas’ in my expenses spreadsheet and as soon as BPI approves my application, I’ll have a bank account for car contingencies. I’ve also applied for a savings account with life insurance bundled in – you know, in case I de-limb myself in a horrible accident.

Aside of being partially ready for accidental dismemberment, other changes have happened. For one thing, as my mother so kindly pointed out, my left arm is two shades darker than the right one. What changes have happened?
1.     I am not ashamed to be seen in a car that seems to be held together by rust and cracking rubber. It is 41 years old, and by sheer force of will and mechanical miracles, it is running. After 3 and some years of being parked in various places, it rose back from the dead.

2.     I have masking tape in the car. Why? Because I need it to keep my air vents in place (while driving). We were taping the windows in place while gassing up, and the gas station crew and the owner of the Vios beside us stared in wide-eyed wonder.

3.     For entertainment during drives from Quezon City to Buendia, Pasay City, Remi and I have resorted to singing ditties. The radio works, but I don’t have speakers. I don’t plan to get speakers any time soon, I enjoy listening to the steady rumbling of the engine. I’ve come to take note all of its small burps and backfires.

4.     Whenever we see another bug on the street, I beep twice. They beep, flash their lights, and wave back. It’s like I’ve joined a cult. An obsessive, extremely geeky cult, though extremely nice and good-natured. (While at Kuya Nards’ shop last Sunday, we saw a silver 1966 Beetle. The owner was buying parts, and I was having my front shocks replaced. He chatted us up, and he noticed my lack of bumpers. He gave me his card, told me that if I want bumpers, he’ll give me the ones he has at home if I could drive to Imus, Cavite. Also, we passed a beautiful brown bug on Boni Serrano, and the driver flashed his lights twice, beaming the entire time.)

5.     The largest part of the adventure of getting from Point A to Point Bis whether we’d get there at all. I’ve taken to calling the car Sheer Luck (or formally Sherlock) because of this.

6.     My Want List now has 2 shock absorbers and 2 tires at the top of the list. (I’ve already replaced the front 2 shocks and tires.) Disc brakes and a new paint job are my new expensive daydreams.

7.     I now groan with Remi whenever Alvin Elchico announces a gas hike. (In other news, however, I’ve only gassed up twice in two weeks.) I also have a schedule for oil changes, tune-ups, and brakes checks.

8.     As previously mentioned, one arm is darker than the other. Simply, I drive with the windows down. I’m not sure if I’ll have the AC unit in the car fixed.

9.     I now know that I have a 1972 German Volkswagen Beetle with a 1600cc engine (that came from a Brasilia). It will take about 40 liters of gas for a full tank, and is a comfortable ride once you replace the old shocks.

10. It’s amusing to see people hitting each other when I pass by. It’s the slightly twisted, but ages old game of Pendong Peace.

Image via:

So anyway, yeah. That’s why one arm is darker than the other arm. Any more questions?

Ang Sakit, Ang Sakit-Sakit Na: The Valentine’s Day Sugarfree Playlist

Music plays a large role in love. Remember that scene in One More Chance where exes Popoy and Basha are stopped at a red light and a jeep pulls up next to them with speakers blaring out, “Nanghihinayang~ Nanghihinayang ang puso ko~!”? In real life, it isn’t quite as dramatic or as provident as that, though there are times when you kind of wish it worked like it did in the movies.

Now, bands like the Beatles and the Eraserheads have such extensive discographies that they have a song for every possible thing that could happen to you. Sugarfree, I’ve realized recently, seem to have condensed a boy-meets-girl-and-disaster-happensstory in four albums. To check this theory, I listened to their songs and have made myself inadvertently miserable for the last four days. I can’t help it. It doesn’t matter if I’m not single, it doesn’t matter if I’m perfectly happy, and it doesn’t matter if I’m emotionally stable (I am, really, at least some of the time). It doesn’t matter. Sugarfree has collected all of your heartbreaks and distilled the mix into a misery concentrate.
This misery concentrate contains every heartrending experience you’ve ever had, from that time your crush called you dude to the night you once considered the end of the universe.
Part 1 – Hamsolonely, Ligawan, at General Landian Phase
Kailan Ka Ba – Sino? Nasan? Kailan ka ba, darating at ako ay sagipin sa mundong malupit, at naiinip. Sino? Nasan? Kailan ka ba?
Remember what everybody tells you? Yung, “Darating din yan.” Syempre gusto mo silang sakalin pag naririnig mo yan. Asan ba naman kasi? ASAN?
Kwentuhan – Kwentuhan lang, wala namang masama. Usap lang, ibaon mo na sa limot ang lungkot.
Uuuy. Dito madalas nag-uumpisa ang lahat. They seem relatively harmless, those talks about nothing and everything that go into the night and extend into the early morning. Exercise caution though, since this can branch out into the dreaded Friend Zone. That’s like the Twilight Zone, except for some people it’s much, much worse.
Telepono – Natatandaan mo ba kagabi, apat na oras tayong nagbabad sa telepono. Inabutan na tayo ng umaga no’n, ngunit bakit ngayon, malamig ka bigla. Magdamag na sa tabi mo, wala man lang “hello.”
Angyare, ate? Kuya? Tinamaan ka lang ba ng katorpehan? Hingang malalim, in out. Ayan, okay na?
Feels Like – Just when I’ve given up on this game they call love, oh something about it tells me, life will never be the same again.
Ohohoho. Ayan na nga. Nahulog ka na sa patibong! Sarap ng kilig no?
Hari ng Sablay – Ako ang hari ng sablay, ako ang hari ng sablay.
Babala: Nakakatanga talaga ang pag-ibig. Wag na tayong maglokohan. Okay lang yan.
Prom – Ito nang gabing di malilimutan, dahan-dahan tayong nagtinginan. Parang atin ang gabi, para bang wala tayong katabi, at tayo’y sumayaw, na para bang di na tayo bibitaw.
Ayan na ang mga simtomas: malalagkit na mga tingin at pang-oOP sa lahat ng kasama nyo.
Ikaw Pala – Ikaw pala, ang aking hinahanap-hanap.
Andyan ka lang pala, bakit di ka nagsasalita? Kanina ka pa? San ka galing?
Part 2 – Sorry na nga kasi. Sige na. Please? Putangina naman Bash, ganyan ka ba katigas? (also, the Catastrophic Failure, the Relationship Collapsing Upon Itself, and Wawa Semplang Phase)
Heto Na Naman Tayo – Heto na naman tayo. Ano ang ating gagawin, pag sinabi na ng damdamin, di sapat ang pag-ibig? Upang buhayin at paikutin ang ating mundo. Ilang sugat pa bago sumuko? Ilan pa ba bago tayo gumuho.
Araykupo jusko. Ansakeeet. Here’s when you realize that somebody needs to go fucking invent a pain pill for heartbreak.
Martir – At kahit na ilang ulit mo pa akong saktan, basta’t sa susunod di mo na ako iiwan.
This is usually ill-advised, but if you can’t help it, why not? “Balikan mo lang ako di na ako magyoyosi/iinom/maliligo! Gagawin ko kahit anong gusto mo! Sige na.” 🙁
Limbo – Nasan na ang umaga, matagal na akong naghihintay wala pa siya. Di kaya na traffic o nasiraan, baka naman, nalimutan na niya.
Ay, eto madalas mas mahirap kesa sa Friend Zone. In Limbo, you don’t know what your status is exactly. And no, you can’t ask for an update.
Tummy Ache – And every time we come together, we watch and we discover that we can’t be together.
Ayun. Deads. You’re two parallel lines that extend on the same plane, but never meet.
Wala – Wala nang Lotlot sa iyong Monching. Wala nang Romnick sa aking Sheryl. Wala nang Gabby sa ating Shawie. Wala nang love sa ating team. Oh, meron pa ba?
Anong gagawin mo kung wala nang love ang inyong team?
Pagkatapos ng Lahat – San na napunta, san na napunta? San na napunta, san na napunta? Ibalik ang kahapon, ibalik ang kahapon, ibalik ang kahapon, bago maging huli ang lahat.
So san nga ba napunta? Magandang tanong yan actually.
Huling Gabi – Kapansin-pansin ang iyong ganda ngayong gabi at ang lungkot sa iyong mga ngiti. Ang kisplap sa iyong mga mata’y wala na, kita sa ‘yong tinging nagsasabing, “Tapos na ang lahat sa atin.”
*Sniff, sniff* Engeng tisyu, pesteng Sugarfree to.
Unang Araw – Wag mo akong sisihin, kung minsan ako’y iyakin, ito ang unang araw na wala ka na. Ito ang unang araw na wala ka na. Nasanay lang sigurong nand’yan ka, di ko inakalang pwede kang mawala. Yan na nga.
Eto na. Ito ang madalas kong tinatawag na “Next Day, Wasak.”
Dramachine – Ayaw na nyang bumangon sa kama lang maghapon, mukha nya’y parang langit na malapit ng umambon. Ayaw na nyang manalig sa tunay na pag-ibig, bakit daw ba kay bilis mawala ng kilig.
If we were discussing the stages of grief, this would fall under Depression.
Insomya – Nananabik, na muling dalawin ng antok. Nananabik, na muling tawagin ng hilik. Di ko alam kung ba’t ako, nagkaganito, di ko alam kung ba’t ako, nagkaganito.
Remember that time? Yung di ka makatulog sa kilig, daig mo pa ang call center agent sa pagpupuyat? Well, ngayon lungkot naman ang ayaw magpatulog sa ‘yo.
Hang Over – Mahirap bumangon, anong nangyari kahapon, pano umabot dito, kumikirot ang ulo at puso.
So uminom ka, pampatulog lang naman, di naman madami.
Get Over It – Sleeping in her clothes won’t bring her back, erase the past. I tell you, this one’s real.
Ayan na, nag-iintervention na ang mga kaibigan mo. Wag kang magagalit, nag-aalala lang sila sa pagche-chainsmoke at pag-inom mo araw-araw. Naghihinagpis na ang atay at balunbalunan mo, baka magstrike sila’t maubusan ka na ng lamang-loob. Plus, hindi masayang magbasa ng emo status messages mo sa Facebook.
Part 3 – “Sana tayo na lang, sana tayo na lang ulit” Phase
Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sakin – Kung ayaw mo na ako, leche, lalong ayoko sa ‘yo. Alam mo naman kung saan ang bahay ko, baka sakaling magbago ang isip mo please.
Ayaw mo na ba talaga? As in talagang talagang talaga? Andito pa yung jacket mo sa kwarto ko, di mo ba kukunin? Hello?
Patawad – Ako’y patawarin, di sinasadya, na ikaw’y mapaluha.
Sorry na please, I’ll do anything balikan mo lang ako. Pasensya ka na may pagkatanga lang talaga ako paminsan-minsan. :’(
Wag Ka Nang Umiyak – Kung wala ka nang maintindihan, kung wala ka nang makapitan, kapit ka sa akin, kapit ka sa akin. Di kita bibitawan.
Tulog Na – Tulog na mahal ko, nandito lang akong bahala sa iyo. Sige na tulog na muna.
Sinta – Pano kung ligaya ko’y bigla na lang mawala? At sabi mo malayo pang bukas, tapos na ang kahapon. Ang mahalaga’y ngayon, nandito ka ngayon.
Wala Nang Hihilingin – Kung gabi matulog ka sa ‘king tabi, di mo lang alam, dala mo’y ligaya. Kung marinig mo ang tibok ng aking puso, sinasabing habang ika’y kapiling, wala na akong hihilingin.
And that’s that. Sometimes it’s a happy ending. Sometimes, it’s not. Either way, di bagay sayo ang emo. Happy Valentine’s Day.

What Happened on the Way to Mini-Stop

Also, ‘Never, Under Duress or Any Other Circumstances Including But Not Limited to Laser Eye Beams of Death Are You to Divulge Any of the Information Found Here to My Mother. Please.

So last Tuesday, Remi and I went grocery shopping – because heck, supplies don’t magically reappear in the cupboards of hungry yuppies. I drove. Now, you need to know two things: One, Car-Car (the tentatively re-named 1972 Volkswagen Beetle) has been home from the mechanics’ shop since Saturday and in case you’re counting, Saturday to Tuesday = 3 days; and two, I’ve been practicing driving since Car-Car made it home, an aforementioned 3 days.
So anyway, Shopwise didn’t have Marlboro Lights. At least a third of the five people who read this blog can sympathize with this. I, with nary a stick, will have to find some other place from which to buy a pack of cancer sticks. The only place that hasn’t (yet) failed to sell me cancer stick packs is the Mini-Stop in Katipunan Avenue. I therefore took the turn right to Katipunan instead of left to go home.
So we were rolling along merrily in 40 year old Car-Car, along Katipunan. Everything was fine and dandy in the world.

Earlier that day, I had taken Car-Car for my first solo drive to a gas station (also on Katipunan). Also earlier that day, I was chatting with Mabie about opening a new savings account. I never really told her why I wanted one, but for the interests of posterity and irony, I’ll have you know that I was planning to set aside money for car contingencies. Like if I ever need new tires or if I ever meet an accident, which I was sure I would because shit, I’m only beginning to like the idea of owning a car, and already I am deeply and intimately acquainted with the fact that I am a bad driver. So yeah, a car contingency account. Another irony was that I was checking out the savings accounts that included free life insurance.
Was that flashback necessary? It is, dear gentle reader. It is.
So we were rolling along, yes? Just before the stoplight at C.P. Garcia Avenue, I lay off the gas and stepped on the brake. Nothing. Nothing is the last thing you want to happen when you’re practically standing on the brake pedal (and of course, the clutch too) because kids, if there are any laws you can’t break, they’re Newton’s Laws of Motion.
*Let’s pause for a moment for a Science Break.*
The first Law of Motion, popularly known as Inertia, basically states that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. (Or: A body moving on a level surface will continue in the same direction at a constant speed unless disturbed.)
Applied in practical terms, an object, in our case the car, will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, which if everything had been fine, dandy and working as intended, were the brakes. Instead, the outside force that “acted upon” Car-Car was another car, a white Vios taxi.
Shit on stilts.
I’m not sure if this has happened to you, but the scene replays in my head in slow motion every 15 or so minutes.
Stepping on the brakes, Remi’s saying, “Masyadong malapit, masyadong malapit,” the taxi’s rear end coming closer and closer, the jolt to a stop, the taxi launching a foot from Car-Car’s front end, me saying, “Oh shit, sorry,” the cab driver getting out of the car and surveying the damage, me getting out to negotiate. Repeat ad nauseaum.
In hindsight (which is infinitely better than my foresight, see paragraph about savings), I realize that I could’ve pulled the handbrake (didn’t work in that scene in The Princess Diaries though, just saying) and that I could’ve pumped the brakes Jeepney-style, among a hundred other things that I could’ve or should’ve done. Pending an investigation of the said brakes, I’m operating under the assumption that it was not the brakes’ fault at all.
Because a. I left most of my pride on a curb along White Plains, and b. twenty-nine years of learning from mistakes had taught me that owning up to one’s mistakes is always better than digging one’s heels into the dirt and bullheaded-ly insisting one’s faultlessness like a child.
Anyway, Car-Car’s fine. Or at least, much okay-er than the taxi. The taxi’s rear bumper had caved in, and the trunk was stuck. Car-Car, at first inspection, was fine save for a crack on the handle’s hood. Once I had a chance to look closer though, I saw that the left headlight was slightly (like 2 centimeters) askew. It basically got mashed into the fender. Other than that, there were no visible signs of damage. The cab driver said, “Sa totoo lang ma’am, lugi ako. Volkswagen yan eh. Makapal ang kaha.”
At the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show last year, I saw a sticker that said, “Invest in Precious Metal” referring to the thick German steel but until last Tuesday, I never really took that seriously. Or at least, not THAT seriously. Remi, the cab driver, and I are also okay. I admit though that my remaining pride and my poor wallet took the brunt of the impact.
At the end of it all, Remi said, “Actually, I think you handled that pretty well.”
“Why, because I didn’t burst out crying the first chance I got?” I said.
“No, but crying does help.”
I shrugged. I never asked what made her think so. I didn’t think so.
Anyway, Remi said that it was bound to happen. Like a trial by clusterfuck, I guess. For all I know, Batman may be sending me a convoluted anti-smoking PSA. Or maybe it’s just the adage “Just when you think you’re ahead financially, something expensive breaks” coming true and rubbing its nasty ass on my face. Either way, no one was hurt and for that I am thankful (thanks Batman! And yay working seatbelts!).

Volkswagen Chronicles: IT’S ALIIIIIIIIVE!!!!

So about a month back, we made the decision to pull out the 1972 FrankenBeetle from Batangas from its then shop in Las Pinas to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia, Pasay. Towing a car, as I’ve heard, is a huge pain in the ass/wallet, but thankfully I got the services of Nino Ayroso and got the car from Point A to Point B without a hitch (and without blowing a fuse). I also got to save a lot since towing only cost me 2,000, a fraction of what the other towing services are extorting/charging.

Anyway, three mechanics started working on the Volks as soon as it landed in Kuya Nard’s shop. Right off the bat, they found many, MANY problems. There were a lot of wrong settings, the belt was too tight, and they suspect I have a hole somewhere in the engine that was causing the oil to leak. Everything was fixed, everything that was broken were replaced. They even gave my tires a new lease at life via a simple vulcanizing trip.
And thus after 3 years and four months, I am finally able to use the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. It took 2 parking spots, 3 auto shops, and two towing stints, not to mention the blood, sweat, tears, and money (lots and lots and lots of money), but I finally got it where I want it. I’ve been test driving it around since Saturday, and it’s a thrill to be able to use it.
Every time I slide into the driver’s seat, I think, “They were right.” Tama nga sila. Remi, the folks at the forum, and the random people I’ve met who told me, “Tatakbo din yan.” After replacing the faulty ignition coil that caused our launch failure, it worked. I even had the mechanics break it in for me (i.e. use it for a week).

 Tatakbo din yan, tatakbo din yan. 

Volks Chronicles: Failure to Launch

So last Saturday, Remi, Mabie, and I were dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs.

The plan was simple. We were to pick up the Volkswagen from Kuya Nards’ shop and drive it back to good old Quezon City. It’s simple enough, but if you’ve been following this series of posts, then you know that going from Point A to Point B is never simple. The simple enough plan turned into an unfortunate series of events that turned our Saturday into something Lemony Snicket may come up with.

Faint of heart, turn away now.

11:00 AM. Remi and I arrive at Kuya Nards’ shop and wait for Mabie.
11:30 AM. Mabie arrives, and we were off to the nearest gas station for gas.
11.50 AM. As we were pulling out of the gas station, a cab stops in front of us and thus I step on the clutch and brake. As the cab drove off, I release the clutch too soon and we stall. The car refuses to start.
12.00 PM. Helpful kuyas pushed us back into the gas station. I texted Kuya Nards and he told me to wait for the electrician.
12.10 PM. The electrician arrives and adjusted the contacts on the battery. The car started up fine.
12.30 PM. We were driving northbound along Buendia. I drove like an old lady. I popped the clutch a LOT. Seriously, if the car could scream for a better driver, it would have. (In my defense, I was driving as carefully as I could. Among the three of us, I’m the most inexperienced behind the wheel plus two of the most important people in the world for me were in the car.)
12.45 PM. Do you know the Buendia-SLEX intersection? I stalled there more times than I can count. I was getting frustrated and thus I asked Mabie to switch with me. (Quoth Mabie, “At this rate, we’ll get there by five.” Famous last words.)
12.50 PM. We were stalled in the middle of the intersection. The car was having trouble starting by this time. A traffic enforcer strolled over to us to ask what the problem was. The car started. Then I noticed the handbrake. It was up. (This Tanga Moment was brought to you by none other than Rio.)
1.15 PM. We were golden again. Mabie was behind the wheel, we were starting to hate the numerous intersections of Gil Puyat Avenue, and it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to revive the car after dying on us. I asked Mabie to pull over just after the gate of Dasmarinas Village and I tried to contact Kuya Nards again. All of his mechanics are out, and we decided to wing it anyway.
1.35 PM. We were cruising on EDSA. No hiccups, no stalls. Just cruising on EDSA.
2.00 PM. We took a right into White Plains and we were still moving when the car died. I couldn’t think of a reason why a car would do this save for spite.
2.20 PM. Stalled just before the stoplight at White Plains. Trying to start the car. An enforcer walks toward us and asks us what the problem was. The good enforcers volunteer to push the car to the safety of the curb.
3.00 PM. The mechanics aren’t back yet and the car was simply refusing to start. We kept trying anyway. We tried many, many times until it finally did fire up. I took the driver’s seat (Me: Are you sure guys? Both answer in the affirmative.) I successfully take the U-turn, but again popped the clutch when the light changed to green.
3.30 PM. The enforcers again push the car to the safety of a curb, this time on the shoulder right near the Latter Day Saints’ church. Still no mechanics. The car was refusing to start. Kuya Nards suggested that I hit the battery contacts myself. I do as instructed, but it was no dice. (Note: It started to drizzle and we all flashbacked to September 7, 2009, also known as Muntik Na Tayong Mamatay Day. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. Did the universe feel that our friendship needed to be reaffirmed?)
4.00 PM. MMDA tow truck pulls up right beside us.
5.00 PM. We were back at Buendia, having talked the tow people to get us back. (See Mabie’s Famous Last Words. We got there by 5 all right. We just didn’t get to the right Point B.)
5.30 PM. We were on the LRT, heading for Roosevelt. At this point, I had exactly 30 pesos in my pocket, having paid the tow people all the money I had left.
6.00 PM. Roosevelt station, LRT. We get off the train and take a cab back to the condo. Traffic was heavy, but workable.
6.30 PM. I noticed that the cab driver was popping the clutch. It was a No-Judgment Day, and seriously, I have fallen off the driving high horse and had been trampled underfoot by that time so I didn’t say anything. There were no problems, except that the cab driver was having trouble with dealing with Heavy Traffic + Incline + Gitgitan. There was a loud BAG! and a sudden jerk. Remi, who was riding shotgun, turned and said what everybody was thinking, “Did we just hit somebody?” Yes, yes in fact we did and the other guy’s getting out of his car right now.
6.35 PM. The cab driver was young, and he seemed like a sensible person. But at that moment, he panicked. We hastily paid him the fare and got out. The cabbie drove off and I caught sight of his bumper. It had a nasty gash.

It was 7 o’clock when we finally got to the condo and collapsed on the couch. At 1 AM, the day was officially over and we decided it was safe to leave the house. Remi and I brought Mabie home. On the drive back, a Volkswagen Beetle overtook us on EDSA. I laughed. Yes, Universe, I got the point. The Universe drove the point home with a semi-totalled Fortuner. Glass was strewn all over the street, and the Fortuner’s passenger side was crumpled in where it had hit a 16-wheeler.

At the end of the LONG day, it felt like I was dropkicked in the face. I was tired, broke, and my back was killing me, but I felt lucky. So incredibly lucky. Why? We didn’t stall on EDSA, we didn’t get hit by any ten ton trucks or buses, we received help, and while technically we did get in a car accident, no one was hurt. We got home in one piece, we didn’t have a meltdown, and we celebrated our small victories with burgers, because fuck you bad day. There’s nothing like transfat to improve one’s mood.

Also, at the end of the long day, I had two of my most favorite people beside me. They didn’t suggest that I send my car to the scrap heap and they rode in a vehicle while it was being towed for me. For that, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

Additional Notes:
Bad Vibes Check – This is also known as a BV Check. This is similar to a stress check and should be done to avoid any sudden FOs (Friendship Overs). When the Universe is conspiring to make your life a living hell, it is important to periodically check on your Long-Day-Bus seatmates. Are you okay? Do you want coffee? Are we still friends? As soon as we get out of this curb, I’ll buy you anything you want.

Famous Last Words – In hindsight and in case magdilang anghel, it is important to specifically indicate both time and supposed destination. (From Mabie: yes. be specific. cos when i said i wanted to brush up on my parking, i did not mean for us to sit parked on various curbs and intersections for hours on end.)

No-Judgment Day – When among friends, it’s important to set days when no judging is to be done. This is to ensure that both sanities and friendships are left intact.

In my family, there was an instance when a cousin was renamed because he was sickly as a child. Maybe I need to rename the car (or have it exorcised for good measure).

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

I’ve mentioned before how the Philippines has very healthy VW community (, and every year the community gets together to celebrate a perfectly good geekdom in classic car ownership. Remi and I went to this year’s annual VWCP Car Show to ogle at the various forms of VW nerditude and the eventual products of said geekdoms.

We were not disappointed. As we looked for a parking slot, we assured Subbie, Remi’s Toyota Vios that all the other cars she’ll see on the show are technically subcompact cousins from Germany). We parked, got out of the car, and suddenly, I was in the mothership. Every other car on that parking lot was a Volkswagen.
We took a walk around the lot and I classified each section in my head: the Daily Cars, the Kafer Cup Vroom Vrooms, the Hippie Buses, the Karmann Ghias, the Herbies, and the Ooooh Shiny Ones. The Daily Cars are my favorite of the bunch, simply because these cars are the ones you will see every day and frankly, isn’t it a wonder how those cars can still run perfectly well. They run better than most 40 year olds I know. 
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Bili na kayo, Volks kayo dyan~! 


The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It looks like Mo, but not quite the same shade.

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
I’m sure he’s not hiding Lindsay Lohan in there.

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It’s not a car… It’s a Karmann Ghia.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Vroom! Vrooooom!

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
It’s so pretty, and shiny, and pretty.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
The Hippie Bus
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Dune Buggy

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012

The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Plus, I’m older than you are.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
This is how you cultivate the ‘Bug Bite’ in little children. Note to self: I must get one.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Notice anything? It’s an automatic.
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Car Show
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Universe, are you trying to tell me something?
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
Pretty in Pink
The Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show 2012
This has given me quite the idea.
I missed seeing Bacchus (Kuya Clark’s orange bug, my inspiration for what Mo could look like in the future) and Hershey, their Volksrod. Still, it was a fun Sunday afternoon.