Arcade computer games with Manong and Sean

Years ago, when computer games were more popularly played with joysticks and tokens bought for give pesos apiece, my brothers and I would find ourselves falling prostrate before our mother's knees, begging her for money so we could go to the mall and play Street Fighter. She'd give us a generous sum of money which we divided among ourselves equally.

But it wasn't fair; I should've been given more. After all, my brothers Ralph and Sean were excellent video game players--they still are. I was the exact opposite. It was as if they had hands whose chief purpose was to turn the joystick in all directions, while mine could only press one button at a time. Their mind-eye-hand coordination was inexplicably amazing; on the other hand, it took me minutes to realize that I had to jump or move to the left or go forward or use this and that power combo.

A sore loser I was.

Brothers dear

So picture this: I would wait for hours for them to finish playing because even before Manong and Sean actually lost in their first game, I would have used up all my tokens in all ten games. I'd sit on a monoblock chair beside them, my ears drowned with the familiar noise of children shouting at each other, of that manly voice in the computer shouting "K-O!" when someone was finally defeated, and of exclamations of pride because someone had beaten the master antagonist.

Treat me to the arcade one of these days. Through a miracle, I might just prove myself wrong.

Give me fin!

Everything was unplanned. A spur of the moment--yes, you can call it that. After the YCF core meeting this morning, I told Es, "Let's watch a movie, Happy Feet. They say it's fun. And I happen to like penguins." She beamed at my suggestion. Though hesitant at first, she agreed to go with me. We invited some more friends, but they either had classes or other academic things to do. After lunch, we barged in to SM North Edsa, bought tickets, and decided to eat lunch after the movie. We had fun. On our jeepney ride to UP, I said, "Sana maulit pa 'to, no?" Praise God for the most wonderful time of relaxation. It was truly a break from the hustle and bustle of academic life.

Gimme fin, Es!

The discipline of a shut mouth

The realization came to me as a shock. I was jolted when it finally hit me, and the feeling was too overwhelming that I had to go out to breathe a sigh of relief, to utter a word of silent prayer, and to remind myself that things happen because God allows them to.

"The volition [to sin] comes from something more deep-seated than the volition itself," Kuya Butch said when he talked about sin. I've been talking too much and too loudly, to the point that the words that come out of my mouth no longer glorify my God.

The realization? I should shut up.

Extended fellowship at Philcoa

It was supposed to be called "Wednesday Dinner Date With Kuya Derf," but he didn't come because he had a masters class at the Asian Theological Seminary. So it came to be known as the Extended Yakal Christian Fellowship at Philcoa. We all had a great time, laughing, eating, and sharing one another's burdens. But it was "laughing" mostly.

YCF in Kung Food

From left, clockwise: Riza (in pink), Ate Lavs (Ate Lavs for those younger than her, Lavs for those who are older), Paul Velasco, Jaylord (the small Chinese guy with the glasses), Shean, and Paul Balite.

Razel, YCF, citrus sculpture

Razel; Kuya Butch, Jason, Paul Velasco; the citrus fruit sculpture that defied physical laws.

The Green, Green Glass of Tea

Epileptic fit

People who are close to me know that I have near-zero tolerance for romantic talk. I cringe at the mere notion of hearing people in close proximity to one another (so close, in fact, that they can smell each other's breath) mutter, "You are my life, and I am not the same without you." My system would, under ordinary circumstances, fail to tolerate the increased dose of corniness. (It's not that I hate it. On the contrary, I think it's all normal). When people begin talking about their romantic lives and pursuits, even heartbreaks, at my presence, I would try my best to pay close attention; and I somehow manage, because these people are my friends--and what do friends do to each other but to listen and care? And though I sometimes find it hard to relate to them, God would be so good as to enable me to give them sound advice: "beware of the deceitfulness of the heart, be mindful of God's will for you."

But when people begin asking me things alluding to romantic relationships only for the sake of extracting valuable information about my past--who were my crushes and who are my crushes (none, I tell you)--I would either abruptly change the conversation; or, if they still pursue with the topic despite my obvious allergic reactions, I would direct the questions to someone else. And it usually works that way. Most of the time, at least.

It's not a wonder why my friends, for the sake of making me uneasy and uncomfortable, would, out of the blue, tell me, "Lance, iba talaga 'pag may minamahal, no?" I would normally dismiss the thought, and talk about something else. But my friends would laugh at me, as if to tell me, "I got you there, Lance." Well, they got me there. But because of prolonged exposure to conversations like this, I am led to believe that my tolerance has somehow increased, though still not enough to help me survive cheesy Tagalog romantic film episodes. If you have romantic problems to share, I say with Boy Abunda (my doppelganger, I'm often told): Kaibigan, usap tayo.

And better have an ambulance ready, or you might just see me have an epileptic fit.

MBB lab, the first time around

Click on the photos to view full size.

I still don't have much to say about my first MBB laboratory class, except that it starts from 1 pm and ends at 7. That's six hours of labwork.



The trio, breathing sighs of relief after hours of looking through the microscope.



The Group of the Older Ones. Except for Dianne, they're all past their fifties.



Taking a break from work.

The Group Three

My group, exhausted after the exercise, but still as fresh as the green grass in the morning.

Light laughter break with Wegs

A moment of light laughter with Wegs.

Now who says we don't have social lives?

Impressed

I hope I'm not giving anyone the impression that I am not patriotic, that I do not love this country, and that my heart beats hatred for Manny Pacquiao, especially now when he has just knocked out Morales in their recently concluded battle a couple of hours ago. Please. Don't think of me that way.

I also hope that by writing the aforementioned paragaph I'm not giving the impression that I have become a Pacquiao convert. You still won't find my name in his Fans Club roster of members. You won't find me queueing to get his autograph. You won't probably even hear me call him "the new Filipino hero."

But, even if I rooted for Morales (to the dismay of some of my friends who think it absolutely unthinkable for someone so brown-skinned and flat-nosed as I am to support someone from another country), I think Pacquiao did a great an awesome job.

Member

An official member. That's what I am now after finishing my application for the UP Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Society, which, in this blog, shall hereunto be referred to as The Org. After the interview, the sig sheets (which I had to do all over again because of my irresponsibility), the tambak, the talents night, the fun day, and many other things in between, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Finally, it's over.

Special thanks goes to Ate Richelle, The Org's membership committee head; Jade, who spearheaded the talents night preparations; and to Coy and Arielle, for going the extra mile of sharing their stacks of newspaper during the times when I badly needed them. Just yesterday, I was wondering how I could possibly gather 7 kgs--seven!--before this Saturday morning. I thought of buying old newspapers from newsstands, even buying new ones, for the sake of meeting the quota required for application. My desperation, in fact, led me to ask for the phone number of the kind "magazine lady" at SC.

Still, it's over.

The long jeepney ride

The jeepney was eerily quiet when I hailed it. It was about 7:30pm. Except for the para po's of the few passengers, everyone was silent.

When we passed by Bio, the jeep halted. Then came two women whose faces I will forever associate with the cool, wood-paneled lecture hall and my experiences during the last two semesters in UP. I smiled at both of them upon greeting them good evening.

"What are you doing here, Mister Catedral?" Dr. Jacinto asked. She was my Bio 11 zoology lecturer. I explained that I had been detained at Albert Hall for a choir practice.

"Are you still very movable?" Dr. Amparado, my Bio 12 zoology lecturer, asked. I said, "Yes, Ma'am, I'm still as movable as before, but I'm eating a whole lot more now." She seemed pleased. We used to discuss the unequal distribution of energy throughout the earth's ecosystem when the topic of malnutrition came up. She was engrossed with talking about it when she singled me out from the rest of the class, and said, "O, ikaw, malnourished ka." She made a deal: if I could fatten myself before the end of the sem, she'd give me an uno. You can read all about it here.

"My husband used to be very thin before. But when he got older, oh no... he now has trouble contolling his weight. But you look better now," Dr. Jacinto said, to my delight. The last time she had seen me was two sems ago. I was must've been a whole lot thinner then. It's a comfort to know that my efforts to stuff food into my stomach have not been in vain.

"Ma'am, I'm finally done with Bio." I told them. They smiled back. They asked me many things: what has been keeping me busy, how I was with my studies, where I lived. I was surprised when Ma'am Jacinto told me she would see me frequently walking along Yakal. It was a delightful conversation altogether, but something that had made me slightly uneasy, considering that they've been my professors.

"Sino nga ba 'yung ka-sparring mo dati?" she asked.

"Ah, si Juanchi po."

'Ah, yes, si Mr. Juanchi Pablo. Nagdadaldalan pa rin ba kayo?" I told her, yes, sometimes, followed by jerks of laughter from all of us. I told her how we would talk about how she told Juanchi to transfer to another row, away from me and Wegs, so as to stop all of us from talking. Those were the days. She laughed when she heard that.

The jeepney finally stopped at Yakal. I bid them goodbye, to which they said, "Good night, Lance. See you around." They still remembered my first name. Bio professors do have superhuman memory powers.

From Yakal and back again

Click on photos to enlarge.



Yakal grounds. Everyone passes by the green lawn to get to Shopping Center, where readings are photocopied, snacks are bought, and meals are eaten. I know of some friends who'd rather take their food out and eat in their rooms instead of squeezing their way into the small "restaurants." These are the people who have the ATP and the zeal to wash their dishes after a fulfilling gastronomic pursuit.



Still green on the opposite side of the road where the notorious dorm (do I hear Jac and Luther protesting?) called Molave is erected.



The way.



I'm not sure about this, but I guess a chivalrous group of artists, probably from Fine Arts, painted these nice graffiti on walls, electric posts, and public surfaces. (Well, yes, public surfaces isn't that bad a term, is it? You should read Kuya John's coinage of "elevating to a higher semantic pedestal." I love your blog, Kuya!) Now back to my point: Chairman Fernando should contact these artists and recruit them for a paint-the-city project. I've not heard of anyone impressed with the MMDA art, despite its pinkness and geometric regularity. These UP students are the people for the job.



And that would be me, refreshed after a good night's sleep.

Expanding connections




A typical night in my room:

I’d be in front of the computer. Splattered on the table would be scraps of paper inserted in the pages of thick books. Al would be at his desk, reading history books. Mark would be lying on his bed, tinkering with his laptop, waiting for me to finish so that the lights would be turned off, and he could go to sleep.

And then, just when the clock ticks to 10:30, Art would come rushing in, tired after classes, org meetings, and church involvements, carrying his stacks of books, his backpack, and sometimes, food for all of us. He’d throw his things on his desk, wash his face—take a bath even—and then tell me, “Lance, anong oras ka matutulog?”

“Mga 1:30 na siguro, Art,” I’d reply.

“Pagising naman, o.”

“Sige ba. Any exams tomorrow?”

“Oo, may thesis pa akong tatapusin. Tapos, may take home pa,” he’d say, followed by his incessant reminder for me to get enough sleep because I shouldn’t tire myself, otherwise I’d get even thinner.

I’d tell him, “Art, I’m okay, don’t worry. Sige, Art, one of these days, mag-jajogging na ako, magbabasketball pa. Tatalunin kita. Maghanda ka na.”

Now that the sem has just started, Art is no longer around. Last sem, he finished BS Business Economics in three-and-a-half years, considering that he shifted all the way from Polsci.

For about two years of living together with him, I’ve seen how he has grown in faith and love for God. He’d often tell me of his concerns, praise items, among others. During my low times, he would remind me of God’s faithfulness and goodness, and what a blessing he has been.

I saw him a couple of days ago, hanging around in the dorm lobby. He’s applying for a coveted post in Globe. He’s on the last leg of the interview, and we’ve all been praying that, if God wills it, he’d get the job.

“Art, ‘pag nasa Globe ka na at may cellphone na ako, don’t forget to send me free load, ha?” I said.

He gave me his famous grin (something that ladies dream of looking at forever), cracked one of his bloody corny jokes, and gave me a tap on the shoulder.

Si Baste


"Lance, ilagay mo naman ako sa blog mo," Baste tells me, wiping the sweat trickling down his face after a long basketball match in the dorm's court.

"Bakit?"

"Para naman sumikat ako."

I laugh. I tell him that my Sitemeter doesn't give the actual number of unique visitors that have come across this blog--90% of it is because of me. "Pero sige, ilalagay kita."

"'Yan ang gusto ko sa 'yo, Lance, eh."

So there, Baste, aka Sebastian Julian, you're in my blog now. Hehe.

The Catedrals. Bow.

I thought I shall never see
Noses as flat as these three
Noses that smell the cool, clean air
As the breeze that enters the Catedral's lair
The first is Ralph whose passion is law
And whose face only Nanay can draw
The second is handsome, whose name is Lance
He talks aloud but can never dance
The third is smaller and is called Sean
Run fast and shoot the ball? Oh yes, he can!
These three brothers, they live and play
Under the hot, stifling summer day
At the end of the day, what do they say?
"Thank you, O Lord, this we pray."

Quiet



Still about a week to go before enrollment.

So far, I've spent most of my time in quiet retreat. I'm usually at home, reading stacks of good literature, editing and proofreading the August-October issue of the Torch (the church youth ministry's quarterly magazine), sleeping, eating, and watching cable TV.

I've just read William Golding's masterpiece, The Lord of the Flies. It's a novel so gripping and moving it would lead you to ask fundamental questions on the evils of this world. Golding accurately gives an answer, albeit a subtle one: that the problems that plague society are caused not by the present system, but by the innate nature of the people who run the system.



I'm now reading The Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a Christian classic that tells of the sufferings of martyrs for the sake of Christ. God has used this book to show me how I ought to live: to live for Him alone. These martyrs have thought of Christ to be their sole treasure whose value is greater than their lives.

During quiet mornings, I would read 365 Days With Spurgeon. A couple of days ago, this is what I've learned: that we should be grateful to God when we are chastened. Who are we to deserve so great a privilege of being disciplined by the Father Himself? I've never thought of God's chastening hand that way, until I read all about it.

My prayer is that my friends will not find themselves wallowing in excessive pleasures like sleep or watching TV or malling or surfing the internet, but will use these refreshing moments of sembreak to fill their hearts with the Word of God in quiet retreat.

New template finally!

I had to change my template, not so much because Manong and Kent and Jef have changed theirs lately, but because there was a problem with the Blogger commenting service. The comments, for weeks, did not get published at all.

I thought, perhaps, the problem was due to my switch to Blogger Beta [I made the bold move because this new interface (or program, whatever) allows me to organize my entries into categories]. I waited for the Blogger Team to do some tweaking; perhaps, commenting was the loophole of this innovation, but my waiting proved futile. I figured that the error must be inherent in my blog template. Thus, the radical change.

Nevertheless, I hope you find this template--I'll call it Bottle of Olives--convenient. The links can be accessed by clicking the "Pull" icon in the upper right corner of the blog; a drop-down window will cascade before your very eyes, much like an avalanche or a stampede that will crush you at your wits' end (I'm being too metaphorical here, but really, I had to write this because some friends visit my site for the links, so much so that my blog has become the portals to the blogs they actually read, which is okay. Haha.)

I've also updated the links. I've removed some of my friends' blogs that have remained, uhm, dormant for the past few years, and added quite a few (Jade's and Jeric's) that I've enjoyed recently.

So there.