The Outcasts of Jupiter!

Back in 2007, while working at the place where I met the most awesome people in the world, I met Shobo Coker (I called him Chris or Coker. He still insists on He-man). At the time, he was the managing editor and therefore my boss. Unlike most expats at the place though, he was friendly, if a bit shy. We became friends over coffee, talking about comic books, 90s cartoons, toys, and video games.

Over the years (Seven years? Can you believe that!), we talked about our various projects – Jonah Jupiter for him, and various work-in-progresses for me. We were both stuck – because you know, pursuing your dreams always coincides with the need to pay for rent (sing with me, BUT THE LEGEND OF THE RENT WAS WAY HARDCORE!) and the need to eat regularly.

Earlier this year though, Coker had launched a project in collaboration with his two equally awesome siblings, Shof and Funlola, called the Coker Coop. They were going to make a comic set in the Jonahverse, and I watched their progress unfold on their blog, www.CokerCoop.com, and on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/cokercoop.

And – drum roll please – they’ve launched a KickStarter for the Outcasts of Jupiter!!!

Personally, I’m a little jealous (because my own projects are still up there in the ether mixing in with soul-sucking responsibilities and brain-withering technical papers), but I am mostly proud of Coker. And of course, I’d like to see the book in print (and a shirt too!) so I urge you and the other peeps stuck in a creative black hole to support this project because anything this mind-meltingly awesome needs to see print.

(Watch the video on the KickStarter to see Rita, the T-Rex.)

The Better-Late-Than-Never Obligatory Valentine’s Day Post

My idea of romance, and the mythical happily-ever-after, was admittedly gleaned from years of watching rom-coms and Disney movies. Just now (really, as in just now), as I was cooking dinner and an Angelu de Leon and Bobby Andrews flick was playing in the background, I realized that my idea of grand romantic gestures had changed. I’m not sure when this happened, but I’m glad it did.

In movies, romance is when you stand at your girlfriend’s circular driveway, boombox in hand, with In Your Eyes blasting at full volume. Romance is coming back to the castle despite the angry mob armed with farm implements. Romance is when you make a deal with the evil sea witch – nevermind that it could spell trouble for your daddy’s under-the-sea kingdom. Romance is agreeing to meet again in six months at a train station, and leave posters with your contact numbers when she doesn’t show up in said train station six months later… Then writing an entire book about that one night, in the hopes of finding her again.

The exception, I think is Up‘s first few, tear-soaked minutes. There are no sweeping declarations of love – just an unspoken promise of an adventure together. It took me so long to realize that that was what I wanted, an adventure with my best friend, but I guess like this post, it’s something that’s better late than never.

You know, romance is when you go out on an early Sunday evening to drop off the laundry and do groceries. Romance is lying down on equal sections of couch, spending an afternoon lazing around, watching TV. Romance is having dinner at home, talking about anything, everything, and nothing.1 I guess that’s what other people would call boring – there are probably tens of thousands of Cosmo articles about ‘spicing things up’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day though, that’s what I want – that comfortable silence while sitting in traffic, holding hands and playing a game with plate numbers. That Friday night spent at home, sitting on the couch completely exhausted from the work week, watching Master Showman and howling in laughter at the complete absurdity of it all.2

That promise that all dragons – real and imaginary – will be slain together, and that promise that whatever happens, we will work things out.


1. Love is having a bad bout of gastritis, your partner going to the store to get you bottles of Gatorade, and telling you that you’re pretty despite the fact that your bowels have gone into the future, trying to shit food you haven’t eaten yet, and you therefore have to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes.


2. There was a Korean boy band who was lipsyncing so badly, I wasn’t sure they really knew the lyrics to their song. This spectacle was closely followed by a scantily-clad girl band with a name straight out of the kabaret. Then there was a boy band-ish group of gay dudes (gay boy band? That seems little redundant, I don’t know why) who sung about Blind Items. If there is such a thing as “mindless entertainment” this was it. I could feel the brain cells shriveling up and dying.

Oplan Balik Yaman 2014

So I’ve finally managed to open a real savings account. /cue flashback

A few months back, Mabie and I discussed the shabby state of our finances. Really, the best word to describe the state it’s in is “in tatters”. I’ve been working for more than a third of my life and I didn’t have any money in case I trip and break my leg. And so to cure both our money-related ails, I proposed a challenge that shall henceforth be known as Oplan Balik Yaman 2014. We set our goals, a deadline, and a consequence in case one or both of us fail to meet our goals on the deadline.

I set a goal of 10,000 pesos in a Savings or Checking Account, Mabie set a deadline of February 28. The consequence is a 2,000 peso fine that will go to a communal pizza lamown kamown fund.

I therefore needed to open a Savings or a Checking account.

According to Remi, the ideal set up is to have a savings account for contingencies, a savings account for actual savings, and a checking account for bills and such.

I had two savings accounts. One I used for Paypal, like a money funnel that brings the money in and then takes the money to various bill vortices. The other one I had intended to be my contingencies account, but it has since been misappropriated into another money funnel from me to my Nanay to rent.

I scanned the banks nearby for initial deposits, interest rates, and requirements. I had an account with BPI, and I thought it was a logical choice to just open another account with a bank that I already have an account with. So then I applied for another one. To which BPIDirect replied:

Per checking, we have noticed that said application is your second
application and we have already opened a savings account for you last
02/21/2013
May we suggest to use your existing account instead.

I took that to mean, “We don’t understand why you want another one, your other account’s balance is 0 pesos.” That’s true of course, and anyway, I’ve been using the account in a way that it was never intended.

A mini-segue: Do you know how hard it is for freelancers to open bank accounts? It’s very hard to explain where the money comes from. Every time I say, “I’m a freelance writer who works from home. My clients are overseas,” bank people seem to hear, “I am a unicorn, I pluck my money from the blinking ether!” They’d ask for company and government issued IDs and ask questions about my employment. I patiently explain that I am effectively self-employed, but I don’t have a business. I get work, money for the work done (if I’m lucky), and that’s how I get to eat three times a day. Some get it, others stare at me, mystified. I could almost hear what they’re thinking, “Is that even a real job?”

Anyway, so I scanned the other banks in the vicinity. After the hell that was ChinaBank, I swore never to enter their bank premises so that left me with Security Bank, Bank of Commerce, and Banco de Oro (BDO). Today I dressed up, intending to ask around the said banks. First stop was Security Bank. I asked about their deposit products, having read up on their Build-Up Savings and e-Secure Savings accounts. I was informed that I needed a regular savings account to get the e-Secure account. I asked what the requirements were for the Build-Up Savings account and was informed that I only needed an ID.

Oh, joy of joys!

Yay!

I stood outside the branch, holding a passbook and an ATM. I lit a cigarette and looked at my watch. I had spent a grand total of 30 minutes inside the bank. The entire process didn’t take me a lifetime! I signed a deposit slip, a signature card, a passbook receipt, a form saying that everything in the application was accurate info, and a photocopy of my driver’s license. I filled out a short application form. That was that.*

*Caveat: Ease of banking transactions and overall awesomeness of customer service depends heavily on any bank’s branch.

Dear Asthma,

So I came home from the ophthalmologist today and I just wanted you to know: Fuck you. Or, as we around these parts would say, “Pakyu. Pakyu dobol.
Let me start from the beginning. Back in October, when the heavens had deemed it necessary to fall upon us biblical amounts of rain, I bought a tube of sealant and applied it on the ceiling – because drippy gutter led to leaky ceiling which further deteriorated into damp bed. Anyway, I got an itch on my right hand, and I ignored it. About a month later, the itch turned into a reddish, scaly, dry patch of annoying skin. By December, I felt like Typhoid fucking Mary. After going to a dermatologist who looked suspiciously like my friend Jex, I was given a prescription for mild soap, moisturizer, Betamycin (steroid), and petroleum jelly.
Around that time, something weird was going on in my eyes. I am not even going to tell you what. All you need to know is that I was scared to death. (Hey, don’t judge. Overactive imagination + scalpel + eye = AAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!)

So back to the nice ophthalmologist from Medical City, Dr. Ranier Covar. After checking out both eyes, the good doctor asked me a few probing questions, “Do you have asthma?” Check. “Do you have allergies?” Check. “Do you have eczema? Skin asthma?” Check and check (see above). He then told me that the shit going on in my eyes is a. quite common because of the cold weather, b. I’m the third person today to consult him about the same thing, and c. I basically have an allergy in my eyes. I wasn’t even aware that that kind of shit could happen.
AND the eczema and the eye shit both come from one thing… (drum roll please) you, Asthma. I was also told that my kind of asthma is the type that brought along a whole spectrum of side allergies – including but not limited to allergic rhinitis, eczema, and the eye allergies. Wunderbar. Prescription this time? Allergy pills (steroids) and two eye drops (one of which contains steroids). Steroids are friends, though like some friends, they’re only good when taken in moderate amounts.
So my dear Asthma, I fucking hate you. You are a bitch. What are you doing, making up for lost time? I’ve only had you since 2004, did you want to make up for the other 21 years? Demmet.
To wrap up. Asthma. Pakyu dobol, I hate you.

[Also, that weird rash you have? You may want to get that checked. If you’re a freelancer like me and you have no health card, don’t be scared of getting a consultation. I only paid 300 for the dermatologist and 500 for the ophthalmologist. The thing that will cost an arm and a leg are the drugs. Next stop, checking out the HMOs. Stay tuned.]

Volkswagen Restoration: Week 2 and 4

Okay, so Car-car, my 1972 Volkswagen Beetle has been at ROS Autoworks for a month (tomorrow), and Remi and I have visited twice since my first post about it. The work is going quite nicely and now that they’ve scraped the paint down to metal, we could clearly see just how much damage and rust is under there.

Wait, before I get ahead of myself, I’ve had a number of people ask me just what I’m having done on the car and how much it’s going to cost me. First off, here’s the job order:

  • Remove seats, glass, lights, carpet, ceiling, gas tank, fenders
  • Underpaint, interior paint, body paint (Anzahl with top coat)
  • Strip to metal
  • Bodywork

As for the quote, let’s just say it’s a little over the price I’d have to pay for a year of parking. I think I got a good deal, considering that I’d gotten the 6-month payment term and considering that somebody once gave me a quote for 70,000 pesos. In case you’re planning to have your bug restored, I suggest you ask for quotes from a lot of shops.

Dean Montalbo, a friend from the Las Pinas Volkswagen Club, swears by a Volkswagen specialist in Paranaque, Kuya Nanding. I wasn’t able to visit their shop, but if you’re located near the Valley 1 area, you may want to give them a visit. Another friend, Bong Reyes from Artiken Marikina, offers body work and repainting services as well, so you will want to visit him if you’re in the Cainta-Marikina-Quezon City area. He wasn’t available last June, so I wasn’t able to get a quote from him either. Everybody has his or her own suki so be sure to ask around. I didn’t have much time to do canvassing, but I had a fair idea of how much it would cost since I’ve been asking around for a few months – libre naman magtanong, libre din mangarap.

Since no two project cars are the same – I mean, they can be from the same year, but the damage and rust wouldn’t be the same on each – my quote may vastly differ from yours. I have a banged up headlight and hood from the accident, and I have a mysterious leak where water seeps in if I park the car outdoors. So yeah, ask around.

Anyway, progress. Some bodywork has been done on Car-car. It’s been stripped to metal and we could plainly see previous work done on the body, as well as additional holes that we hadn’t noticed before. I saw that some of the existing metal patches on the body were pretty banged up (spot-welded), though hopefully, they can correct that.

Week 2 pictures:

Also, if you saw two girls carrying a pair of bumpers at Kamias, Cubao about two weeks back, that was Remi and me. I had bought a set from BatVolks member James. They were dirt cheap and I had them sent over via bus. A middle-aged dispatcher helped us fit it inside the backseat of Remi’s Vios.

Also, if you’ve seen a Vios flashing its lights or beeping, that might be us as well. We do that every time we pass somebody driving a Beetle and we get disappointed when they don’t greet back. “Dahil ba naka-Toyota tayo?”

Week 4

* If you want to know about how I’d rate ROS Autoworks after pulling out Car-car from the shop, please contact me here.

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.

Interiors

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.