WHEN FITNESS AND FASHION COLLIDE

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 10.54.45 am

Partnering with Fitness First, Star World Asia premiered the newest fitness and fashion oriented show on TV: Fit for Fashion. It was unlike anything that I have seen as twelve contestants strut it out and do some heavy lifting to be the last man (or woman) standing. It was practically a fitness bootcamp and the payoff is, well, being fit for fashion; but beyond that, the goal of the show is to make each contestant elevate their confidence and feel good about themselves.

From gruelling physical challenges that pushes their limits to glamorous photo shoots that highlights their individuality, this show has got it made and this is only just the beginning.

It was premiered on 16th October across Asia and will air every week (Thursdays, 9:45pm).

ON WORDS THAT I WRITE ON PAPER

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 2.35.06 pm

Blue, red, blue, red, blue, red: this was the cadence that I marched to back in kindergarten during writing class. To those who remember, writing classes were as repetitive as a five or six year old cold imagine. One swoop up, one swoop down, and several loops later we have written some semblance of a letter in the alphabet as best we can in our clumsy hands on that sheet of paper with blue and red guide lines.

I had terrible penmanship back then. I scribble like a doctor stuck in his office with a full bladder; but beyond that, I enjoyed writing by hand albeit my first love was drawing things on paper and it was when I got my first fountain pen that I begin to develop my handwriting.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.32.22 pm

Back then I really had no Idea about calligraphy. I just enjoyed writing with a sleek pen that stupefied even my teachers in high school.

Over the years I’ve lost two identical fountain pens (one was dropped on its nib; and the other was never returned to me – a mistake I will never make again) and around Christmas in 2001, I think, I was gifted a new fountain pen that I still have and use today, a gold Parker Sonnet (the old pens I owned being Parker themselves). From college to today, I still write with it and it has gone through quite a lot: told many stories, signed many papers, and doodled things while passing time).

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.37.45 pm

There is something about writing by hand, regardless of what kind of pen you use, that makes the exercise of writing a little more rewarding than just tapping away on a keyboard. The hand cramps we get and the feeling of accomplishment after completing a letter or a story, or simply a thank you note reflects a degree of discipline and patience we have committed on a blank card or sheet of paper, not to mention that it is good practise to develop a signature penmanship or get creative with it.

It was years later in college that I was given my first calligraphy set (and now I have three). I was always enthralled by the exercise of having to actually dip the pen in an ink bottle before writing anything (and getting your hand messy at the same time) which only shows that writing by hand is both a discipline and a process, both technical and creative. It was a challenge, at first, to write with a calligraphy pen since it came with a set of nibs with varying “broadness” and it took me quite some time to figure out which nib is for which kind of lettering.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 12.49.16 pm Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 12.47.58 pm

I’ve always thought that the art of writing by hand is one that people have tended to overlook in the age of instant gratification and the internet. The discipline of putting pen to paper, stroke after stroke, requires the patience almost equal to that of handling a most precious gem; and, indeed, I find people who take the time to write things by hand quite remarkable characters.

Recently, I have stumbled upon an article about how people who write by hand tend to commit things to memory a lot better than those who type them down or take photos of notes: that people who write by hand tend to be more sharp on spotting details. I do not know if this is accurate to me or to everyone else. All I know is that, at least to me, having to write by pen seems to make you zero in on the important details more since you can only write as fast as you can follow a dictated lecture.

On being expressively creative, I have been dabbling into calligraphy mostly because I have a very fancy quill that I received as a birthday present last year. I won’t claim it to be therapeutic but it sure does keep me as focused as when I write stories.
Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 12.47.31 pm

Over the years I have had several changes in my penmanship. From the clumsy primary school block letters to the more swirled  script that I have now adopted as my own. I think it is kind of like photography, writing by hand. You need to go through a lot of messy and “aesthetically challenging” ones before you get to find and develop a style that is more a reflection of yourself. It is rather enjoyable to see it develop before your eyes as you go through pages and loose sheets of writing: notes, scripts, letters, and whatever else.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 12.48.25 pm

Most of the time I get compliments on my handwriting and some people would remark that it looks like it belongs to “Ye Olden Days” or that it looks like a font that you use for invitations.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 12.48.51 pm

One of my good friends even asked me to do a tattoo design for her using my handwriting and I was honoured to have my script stamped on her skin forever.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.49.21 pmScreen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.49.42 pm

Until now I still prefer the labourious task of writing my stories by hand whenever the opportunity presents itself. Because, face it, if you try to stop using a pen for an extended period of time, your penmanship becomes a bit wobbly and your hand needs to readjust and reacquaint itself to holding a pen. It has happened to me on multiple occasions since a lot of my jobs both past and present required me to spend more time doing things on the computer than committing things on paper.

Sadly though it is a dying art form. While the world is moving fast and eliminating the need of a pen and paper in favour of a computer or tablet screen, the skill that we tried to learn and develop since our very first day in school is slowly being edged into obscurity.

I have high hopes though. I think the pen will still remain eternal. It’s like that one argument about books and their electronic counterparts: just because a lot more people prefer the convenience of e-readers and e-books it does not really imply that books are going to be extinct, in fact people still flock to bookstores to pick up their favourite paperbacks to read and share to their friends.

Everything is just a matter of perspective.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 4.52.37 pm

Besides, if you feel that you seem to have forgotten how to write by pen, you don’t need to worry. It’s just like riding a bicycle: once you have learned it, you can’t forget it. It’s going to feel strange at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.

FICTION FRIDAY

THE COLLECTOR

I met the most peculiar man one day and my life has never been the same since.

It happened one afternoon when I decided to get a new tattoo at a shop owned by a friend downtown. I’ve been getting inked for a good three years now and I’ve never been proud of my “pieces”. It is true what many people say. You become a walking gallery once you start getting inked up. My first tattoo was a drawing I asked my only daughter to pen on me. It was a strange looking scribble of circles and odd shapes and underneath had the word “Daddy” written in her childish hand. It grew from there. From the simplest to the most complicated of designs, slowly, over the years, my body became covered up by magnificent colours and creatures; some with significant meaning, while some were just a result of an alcohol based decision, but none were the least bit regrettable.

The shop was not entirely busy that afternoon when I came in for my appointment. My tattoo artist, “Gizmo” as he proudly calls himself though I do not know why, was just laying about with a magazine in his hand. “Take a seat,” Gizmo said the moment he spotted me. “I’ll get my stuff ready.”

It was at the bench in one side of the shop where I met this most interesting man. He was an elderly gentleman in his mid-fifties wearing an almost perpetually white suit. He was short and a little stout and had a pleasantly plump face, the kind that you will only see in children’s picture books. At best, he looked like a cartoonish Colonel Sanders.

I sat there next to him, quietly tapping my phone and browsing my messages when he began to speak.

“Do you collect?” he asked, looking straight and blankly at the wall across us.

“Pardon?” I said, convinced that the man in white was talking to himself.

“Do you collect?” he repeated. “Art, I mean. Do you collect art?”

I was a little bit confused. My eyes strayed to my arm and studied the details of a Chinese tiger (like the ones you see in parades). “You mean tattoos?” I asked the man in white.

“Yes. Indeed. They are quite extraordinary, aren’t they?” he replied. “Extraordinary pieces of art on their own.”

He had a throaty voice; the kind that reminds you of Danny DeVito if you would close your eyes. It was throaty, but, oddly enough very friendly.

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

“So,” he pressed. “Are you a collector?”

“I think so.” I stretched out my arms in front of him, revealing the intricate patterns and designs that left no skin uncovered in brilliant colours and shades.

“Astounding!” he said in the most interested and amazed voice. “I have never seen such artistry before!” His eyes fixed on my arm and moved to the tattoos peeking from under my shirt collar. I think he may have felt my discomfort that he turned his eyes back to the wall across us. He sat silent for a minute as if studying the wall like someone who could not figure out what to put up on it.

“I too am an art collector,” he said. His eyes still fixed on the wall.

“Really?” I asked, trying to break the ice. “Do you have any on you?”

“Oh no! No! I’m afraid that I am far too ancient to have some permanently painted on my old, dry skin.”

He breathed.

“I collect art pieces and mount them in frames,” he continued. “Extraordinary pieces. Nothing that anyone has ever seen before.”

“How long have you been collecting?” I asked.

“Quite some time now. My collection is quite extensive and, shall we say, eclectic?”

Gizmo appeared from the back room of the shop. “Oi! You ready?” he called out.

“Coming,” I said and turned to the man in white. “It was nice talking to you.”

“And you,” he said as he bowed his head. “You need to see my collection some time. I have a feeling that it will make such an impression on you, and you on it.” He handed me a card with nothing more than an address.

“Of course,” I said, as if on impulse.

“Magnificent!” smiled the man in white. “I will be expecting you soon.”

***

                An uneventful week came and went and the final details of my tattoo were under way. I never saw the man in white, and when I asked Gizmo about him he said that he shows up from time to time just sitting there quietly, sometimes keeping the customers entertained while they wait. “He doesn’t make any trouble, so we just let him sit there,” Gizmo explained. “Why do you ask, anyway?”

                “Nothing, really,” I said. “It’s just… well he seemed interesting.”

                “Interesting?” Gizmo snickered. “I’d say weird. But then again, he makes no trouble so we let him be.”

                “Any idea who he is?” I asked.

                “Not a clue. He likes to talk about his art collection a lot though. I got talking to him once, friendly bloke. Asked me if I wanted to see his collection.”

                “Did you go see it?”

                “Nah, my schedule was packed that time he invited me. Although I might check it out next week. I need some inspiration anyway. I feel like I’m losing steam. But yeah, don’t get too creeped out by him. Just think of him as our shop mascot.”

                “I guess.”

                I sat there with my back to Gizmo, trying to drown out the thought of the man in white under the buzzing of the tattoo gun as it broke my skin and painted the final details of my piece; Gizmo’s arm moving up and down like the snake tattoo that covered it in delicate precision.

***

                Six months later I decided to drop by the shop unexpectedly to talk to Gizmo about another tattoo I would like to have made. It was a breezy Sunday morning and the streets were packed by people doing all sorts of things, going to all sorts of places.

                “Gizmo around?” I asked one of the artists as I entered the busy shop.

                “Gizmo?” said the shop keep: a lanky kid of eighteen or nineteen who gave me the impression that there are people out there who could be thinner than Gizmo. “He hasn’t been around for months now.”

                “What?” I asked, a little surprised.

                “Yeah,” answered the shop keep. “He does that sometimes. Last time I saw him he says that he’s going to see this old bloke about art and stuff. Says he…”

                “… needs inspiration.” I interrupted.

                “Yeah. Didn’t say when he’s coming back though, if that’s what you want to know. Maybe I can help you with that tattoo,” he said after noticing the sheet of paper in my hand with my next piece.

                “No, thanks,” I said politely. “Maybe I’ll just come back when he’s around.”

                “Suit yourself, mate.”

                Peckish, I decided to get something to eat and sit at a bench watching life go by. The morning was wearing out into high noon and here I was with nothing else to do since my ex-wife had our daughter for the day.

                I crumpled a napkin in my hand and stuffed it in my pocket when I felt a tiny item jab my finger. I pulled it out and found a white card with just an address on it. A present from the man in white I met at the shop months ago. Somehow, I could hear his voice clearly at the back of my head inviting me to see his collection; his cartoonish face flashing before my eyes as I blinked the blindness from the sun away.

                I guess there’s no harm in checking it out, I thought to myself.

                A can of soda and a few blocks later, I reached a place a little outside the neighbourhood I was familiar with. There were not much houses in that part of town. It seemed like it was a place that was forced to be forgotten.

                The address on the card led me to an old house. It was an echo of the old days when people used to have wide porches and white paint was the most fashionable colour of the era. It was wide and had two storeys; impressive even in its obvious age and disrepair.

                The front door swung open and there was the man in white waving at me and inviting me inside. He had the most pleasant smile on his face as if seeing a relative he has been out of contact with in years.

                “I have been expecting you,” said the man in white as he led me into his home.

                “Were you?” I humoured him.

                “Yes,” he replied. “Although I have to admit that I was already losing hope that you would visit.”

                “Well, I didn’t mean to…”

                “Nonsense!” he said as he grabbed my arm and pulled me into a giant room. The main parlour he called it. It was carpeted and had tall windows around covered by wispy curtains that danced in the wind. The furniture was old and so was the smell of the room. Something about it reminded me of an old, dusty library or an antique store. At the very centre of the wall across from where I was standing was an impressively huge painting. The man in white might have caught me looking awestruck by the painting that he began to speak.

                “Beautiful is it not?” he asked. There was pride in the sound of his throaty voice.

                “It is!” I said.

                “It’s the pride of my collection. Took me years to acquire it in its entirety.”

                The painting was massive and almost covered the entire wall it was hung on. I could feel the man in white smiling behind me as I studied the painting a little more, although I have not moved an inch from where I was standing.

                It looked like a great collage of images put together to create this gigantic piece. I knew little of art, but I noticed that the illustrations had distinct details; each more unique than the next. It was obviously not by one artist’s hand, I concluded.

                “I have many others,” said the man in white, breaking my stupor. “Some of them small, some of them big:  all around the house in hand crafted frames.”

                My eyes moved around the room and to the hall outside and noticed a number of framed paintings in different sizes. There were Japanese paintings, modern pieces, even cartoon characters. There were several Marilyn Monroes in the style of Warhol, and there were several of those melting clocks by that artist with the weird moustache; a number of portraits of what seemed to be a random assortment of people also covered his walls.

                “Who made these?” I asked with genuine curiosity. “Do you know the artist?”

                “Artists,” the man in white corrected. “And no. Unfortunately I have lost track of the artists who made these. None of them were popular, I can assure you that. But they are, as you can see, as equally impressive as their mainstream contemporaries.”

                My eyes strayed to one corner of the room and noticed an easel covered by a sheet. “What’s under that?”

                “Hm? Oh! That’s a piece I have recently acquired a few months ago that I am carefully restoring,” said the man in white. “This one is proving to be a challenge since it’s a little difficult to stretch it to the frame. Not much canvass to work with, but the pieces on it are brilliant!”

                I was reminded again of the heavy smell of the room. There was something chemical in the air that I could not figure out that made me dizzy and swoon a little. I let out a cough to clear my tightening throat.

                “Oh, goodness!” exclaimed the man in white. “Where are my manners? Please sit down and I shall bring something to eat and drink!”

                “You really shouldn’t bother,” I said politely as I sat down.

                “I insist,” said the man in white. “You are my guest and I would not be able to forgive myself for being such a terrible host!”

                He left the room and I tried to regain my senses. All around, the paintings that decorated the room seemed to have made everything else in it insignificant. The porcelain animals and the antique furniture paled in comparison to even the smallest frame hanging on the wall. My eyes moved from one painting to another and to the giant tapestry on the wall. All were impressive and yet had a very strange and eerie way of making an impression on you. The kind of impression that sent chills down your spine. I did not admit this to the man in white to not offend him. But there was something about these paintings that, even in their magnificence, made it’s physical existence a little “wrong”, like it should not really exist, let alone be displayed in gilded frames.

                I stood and studied the paintings and found myself particularly drawn to the one in the corner, mounted on an easel, hidden under the sheet.

                In the other room I could hear a familiar scratching sound, like steel being dashed across something rough like stone. It went on and on in a strange cadence.

                I walked towards the easel, walking past the giant tapestry of images and the dusty vases on the floor. My heart began pounding madly in what I can only assume was anxious anticipation to see what was underneath. The air in the room seemed to have become heavier as I approached the easel. The heavy scent that hung in the room pierced my senses and I began to gag and choke. Gathering my senses, I reached a hand out and began to slowly lift the sheet and reveal the piece on the easel.

                What came next was too much to stomach. Up on the easel was a floppy canvass of disproportionate size that danced as the wind blew through the windows. The canvass was cold to the touch and had a sickly hue of grey. It was leathery and almost dry, but even though the canvass was turning into a morbid hue, there were unmistakably brilliant colours that covered it. There were faces and illustrations of different kinds covering almost the entire thing; illustrations that were frighteningly familiar, images that I have unmistakably seen more than once in my life.

                My heart began to pound even heavier in my chest as my eyes began to be drawn to one image on the leathery canvass: an image that I have seen only months ago. I looked closer to validate my fears and saw that it was there, that ornate snake that only one person could have had. That ornate snake that I have last seen on an arm that painted the final details of my piece in the shop not far away from this house.

                I may have heard someone walk from behind me while my eyes were still deeply transfixed on the snake painted on that greying canvass and what happened next was a complete haze after feeling the cold sensation of steel across my neck.

FAST CARS AND GREAT MUSIC BROUGHT TO YOU BY GLOBE

Looking for something to do over the weekend? Why not head on over to Bonifacio Global City and see fast cars and great music?

Globe brings you SLIPSTREAM, an outdoor music festival featuring Up Dharma Down, Yolanda Moon, and many others!

And the best thing about it is that it is absolutely open to all!

Head on over tomorrow, 30th August at the Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater. Bring your friends, bring your lovers, bring anyone and everyone that you love and enjoy!

Gates open at 4:30pm. Be there.

 

10620609_10155057515875355_5407428301677953182_n

FICTION FRIDAY

THE DAY THE VISITORS CAME

No one knew why they came. They just arrived one dark night without warning or anything. I can clearly remember it like it was yesterday.

It was one evening when everyone was gathered at the table for dinner. Mother made her stew and father had just come home from work. It was quite an ordinary night like any other and no one was really expecting anything extraordinary. My brothers had just come home from school as well. I was the youngest of three; and these two brothers of mine were huge and very rowdy. One might think of them as ruffians if one would come across them in a dark street.

As I said, I was the youngest and I kept mostly to myself. I was teased a lot in school and at home (by my brothers), but one learns how to cope and “survive”. I mostly kept myself in the company of books and stayed away from anything else that may be too, shall we say, strenuous for me. I loved to read.

The space adventures were my favourite. Worlds beyond distant stars and universes that are just a breath away from where we are sitting kept me in my room for hours. I liked thinking that there are other worlds out there other than ours; that there are other beings beyond our sad, blue moon – and that they are coming to meet us and teach us things.

I would always save up what I can so that I could buy the weekly serials from a corner store just a block away from my home. It’s a most peculiar place one would ever see. It was a narrow, old shop with narrow panels to let the outside light in. The door was rickety and squeaked at the hinges. Inside were glass cases and shelves upon shelves of books and magazines on any topic that you can imagine. The store has been around for ages as I was told by my father, once upon a time. And it has been run by the same old man.

He was a gentle old soul who, like me, just kept to himself. He knew me well since I was a frequent visitor picking up a new copy of my weekly serial. He would always have that copy set aside, waiting for me to pick it up. And whenever he was in a cheerful mood, he would tell me stories of a bygone day when our streets were full of shops and people were running about. He talked about how wonderful this place was until a great, big explosion out of nowhere created chaos and had to force almost everyone to leave. It was just my family and a few dozen others who chose to stay.

“It’s a wasteland, she is,” he would say as he looked out the window into the grey streets. “Sooner or later, we’d all be running off someplace.”

He seemed to always contemplate on things when his eyes would stray up into the sky or at an empty street. He was an odd man, but still he adds some colour into this dreary old town.

His stories would go on into the early evening when I would excuse myself to leave and go home. He would walk me out of the shop, carrying an old lantern tied to a stick; his little, yapping dog at his heels.

The stories he had, I have to admit, were far more interesting and curious than those that I read every night under the sheets.

But one day his stories just became too scary.

I walked to the shop one afternoon to pick up my weekly serial when I saw him sitting on a bench across the street, his “lantern-stick” planted in the ground and his dog resting on his lap. Curious, I went to him and sat down. There was an odd chill in the wind that afternoon and the sky was a little darker than normal.

He sighed. A heavy one. It was the sigh of worry.

“It’s all about to end, my boy,” he said. “Soon we will all have to leave this place, like it or not.”

I asked why.

“Don’t you feel it in the air?” he asked. “Something is coming and I suggest that you and your family start packing.”

A gust of wind disturbed the napping dog and made the lantern dance comically as it hung from its frail-looking beam.

“You read them adventure serials, you should know how it all ends,” he continued.

I was a little bit confused with what he said and pressed him to tell me more.

“My boy,” he started after a contemplative silence. “I have been here longer than you or your parents have. You might say that I was one of the first – well, the only “first” – who came and walked here with nothing to keep me company but this dog, and nothing to keep my way warm and lit but this lantern.”

He paused. Another gust of cold wind. My hands were starting to get numb so I decided to shove them in my pockets.

“I’ve seen them all leave the first time,” he continued. “And I’m afraid I’ll see you all leave for the last.”

Still confused, I asked what he meant.

“Those stories that you read,” he looked at me. “Those weekly serials. What are they all about?”

It was a bit odd that he asked me what the serials and the books I read were about when he knew what they were. So I told him. I told him of stories about space men exploring new worlds, aliens from distant stars invading new territories, starships, laser guns, and parallel universes. I also told him about the weekly serials about this one man who saves universes all on his own and how he has seen it all from the very beginning of the cosmos.

“Hm,” he said. “Those stories, do they all end happily?”

I was about to give him an enthusiastic yes until I remembered one book I read about a band of time-travelling scientists who ended up stranded on a desert planet and are being killed off one by one by an unknown creature that hides in the dark.

“You better prepare, boy,” he said. “Things are going to happen that will change everything. You better prepare to hide or leave this place. They are coming.”

I was sent home still confused. I even forgot to pick up my magazine. I didn’t know what he meant by “hide or leave”, and I especially was at a complete loss when he said “they are coming”. Who was coming?

***

      That night, when I got home, the table was already spread and mother was laying down the last of the food. I went up to my room to wash up and went down after. Father was already seated at his place and one of my brothers was already sitting next to mother. I pulled up a chair and sat. Seconds later my other brother arrived and threw his weight on a seat that it almost broke.

It was a wonderful evening dinner despite the unusual darkness outside. The sound of our transistor was in the background playing music.

Halfway to the end of dinner was when it all happened.

Our lights began to madly flicker until it went out. I could hear mother crying and my two brothers consoling her, assuring her that it was just another power interruption. Father was looking outside, seeing nothing but darkness and a blue moon.

We could hear the transistor still on. The voice from it was almost unintelligible as it drowned in static. “Don’t… panic…” were the last words I heard until the signal was completely devoured by static noise.

And then our walls began to shake. It may have felt like the ground was shaking beneath our feet but it was not. Our home was shaking to its very foundations and we all took shelter where we could. A loud noise followed the shaking. It sounded like a growling or a wailing creature. Whatever it was, it was deafening. I could see my mother cry out but could not hear her over the noise. Father ran to her. My brothers huddled under something for safety. I was in one corner looking out.

I saw lights. Bright, blinding lights and noticed that the dust outside were being disturbed by a gust of wind. The noise began to die down as the lights came.

As if on instinct, I slowly stood up from my shelter and walked slowly to the window. I could hear father, in a hushed voice, protesting, but I walked on until I reached the window.

I stayed low. Now that the noise was gone I could hear mother and my brothers. I think they said “move back” or “get away”. I was not sure.

The light outside was white and bright, almost blindingly bright. I heard a different kind of static, not from our transistor, but from outside.

I took a deep breath and rose to have a better view. And there, outside our window, I saw it. The old shopkeep was right. Someone, or something was coming and it has arrived right next to our home. I could see a gigantic metal monster with lights coming from its belly. It was a bit round and it hissed, disturbing the dust underneath it. Moments later, one side of its body opened like a mouth and rolled out its tongue.

My eyes widened as I saw something climb out of it. It was enormous and white. It moved clumsily under its own weight. It had a robust body with tubes attached to it. It had a gigantic head and a single dark eye in its centre. My senses could not believe it and I was frozen in both amazement and fear.

It climbed out of the beast that brought it and seemed to be floating as it strode. There were garbled static but I tried to make up their words. It was a strange alien language but somehow it was a little intelligible.

I tried to focus and listen hard beyond the wave of static noise, but from the mouthless creature, I could only hear the words:

One small step for man…”

GOING FURTHER THAT EXTRA MILE WITH FITNESS FIRST

Print

 

 

Win an iPad Mini or fly to Bali, either way Fitness First’s GO FURTHER TOGETHER photo competition will let you win exciting prizes and be your perfect motivation to be fit and fabulous! Find your “fitspiration” and share your story through photos by making that first step to joining and getting that dream body.

Here’s how to join and start getting the chance to win awesome stuff.

 

 

SAIL ON, OH CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!

75

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring…”

~Walt Whitman, “Oh Captain! My Captain!

“Thank you”, said Mr Keating with a glimmer of immeasurable gratitude  in his eyes as he turned to the door. He knew it was over now but as his students stood proudly on their desks, giving one last hurrah to their Captain as they have grown fondly to call him, Mr Keating also knew that it was a beginning of something much bigger.

Just as the character of Mr Keating stepped out of that classroom in the final scene of Dead Poets Society, we – like his students – bid farewell to the great Robin Williams.

It was in the morning of yesterday, 12th August, here in Manila when I woke up to the heartbreaking news that one of the greatest actors that I look up to has finally set sail to the hereafter. It was, at first, rather difficult for me to process as the utter disbelief overwhelmed me. I was in a stupor and until now as I scroll through my Twitter and Instagram, posts and news about how we all lost this beloved man still flood my screen. Even now, as I write, I still feel my chest tighten and my eyes on the verge of opening the floodgates.

However, I will not write about how he died. We have already had so much of it in the news; and to talk about a man’s death is not a way to celebrate his life. Instead, I shall tell you about how this man, though not personally, has made so much difference in my life growing up.

If you would ask me what my favourite movie of all time is my answer will not be The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, or Batman or anything epic or with a childhood comic superhero in it. It has been and always will be Mrs Doubtfire

51HPX1AAVKL

I was a kid that spent a great part of my childhood growing up with my mother after she separated with my dad. Although I have nothing bad to say about how I was brought up (believe you me, mom did a great job in raising me), I still missed having around. I was very young, not even in preschool yet, when my parents decided to live separately. My mom had me on weekdays when I started going to school and my dad would have me on weekends. Fridays were my favourite days, I remember; because it was when my dad would pick me up. We would go out and bond, go to arcades, I would throew fits and tantrums at a toy store because I wanted him to buy me whatever it was that I saw (and he would: right after we had gotten home, he would go out and come back a few hours later with a toy in his hand), On Sunday afternoon he would bring me back to my mom. This was how we did it as a family for a few years until my dad said his final goodbye and passed away two weeks after my eleventh birthday. I was crushed and devastated after losing him but I knew, later on, just how much of a good father he was: the stories about him that I never knew, how he would linger on in the neighbourhood of where our old apartment was (where mom was living) making sure that I was safe that night when my mom was working late.

It was during the years when my parents separated and my years growing up after my dad passed was when I turned to Mrs Doubtfire. I remember watching it with my mom on a weekend morning at the cinema. I think I was 9.

At that time I had no idea what I was watching. I didn’t know what it was. To me, it was Robin Williams being his colourful self onscreen doing voices and impressions, dressing up as an English nanny; but later on, when I was a little older, I began to realise how much I could relate to the movie. Though the kids were siblings in the movie, it still hit a home run with an only child like me. The point that parents sharing their kids on a schedule was a large part of the story of my childhood. Robin Williams’s character, Daniel Hillard, was a dad who just wanted to be the greatest dad to his kids if not in the world. 

His character as the dad who would do anything to be with his kids was remarkable and – though it may sound ridiculous to many of you – I saw my own dad in him. Sans the dressing up as a nanny part, Daniel Hillard and my dad were the same. How they would go to great lengths to spend even just an hour with his kid was a quality that never vanished from my dad; and, deep in my heart, I knew – if he really could – my dad would actually go dress up and disguise himself as someone just so we could spend the day together.

In retrospect, perhaps it was not what the kids in the movie were going through that left an impression on me but how Robin Williams’s character of the dad reflected so much the qualities of my own dad and how the movie made me think of him a lot more.

I never was aware of Robin Williams’s massive body of work back then. All I knew, back when I was a kid, was that he was Genie in Aladdin, Peter Pan, and Mrs Doubtfire. It was only later on that I came to discover that his work is as numerous and colourful as the characters that he has played onscreen and onstage. Truth be told, I watched Dead Poets Society in my early years on college. A film that has been floating around for the longest time that everyone in my circle of friends have seen, I have only recently, back then, came to discover.

To say that he was a brilliant actor is a gross understatement. He was more than brilliant. He has touched our hearts and our lives one way or another through the characters he was dressed up as or through his movies.

He was someone to many people: he was Genie, he was Mork from Ork, he was Popeye, he was Mr Keats; whatever character or movie, Robin Williams has undoubtedly left a most indelible mark in our hearts.

And that mark, to me, was Mrs Doubtfire: the dad who wanted nothing in the whole universe but to make sure his kids are happy no matter what the consequences are, no matter what the hurdles are.

With your final bow, we give you a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

6a00d8341c9cc153ef0111689cc949970c-500wi

Fly high, Peter Pan.

Strut your stuff, Mrs Doubfire.

Sail on, oh Captain! My Captain!

CROWNING GLORY

Last night, a friend asked me if he should go get a hair transplant after watching a video on the procedure. “Are you sure you want to walk around for a month with scars and a wounded scalp until it all heals up?” I asked. “Don’t. Just embrace your baldness.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I have a flat head.”

I shrugged.”Plus you’re not really balding.”

“I’m not, really,” he replied. “I just have a very high widow’s peak. I actually have thick hair if I let it grow.”

“Then be happy with it,” I said. “I have a receding hairline.”

I forgot how the rest of the conversation went because we were both still dazed from a long day at work but it got me to thinking about the inevitability of baldness (or, at the very least, thinning hair).

Let’s all admit it, men care as much as women do when it comes to hair. There is something about a full head of hair that makes people go gaga and makes heads turn when you’re walking down the street or at a party; and let us not discount the number of styles you can wear it. Compared to people who have male pattern baldness, receding hairlines, or a thinning crop, a glorious head of hair is incomparable to anything known to mankind.

However, I do raise the question: is it really about the hair or the insecurity about losing it?

It is rather depressing to many men when they start noticing their hair thinning out and falling. It’s like being hit with a ton of bricks and then realising, “Shit, now I have to wear a hat for the rest of my life – or, worse, a toupée!”

Of course there are a hundred options and procedures – from the quack to the legitimate – out there that can restore even a semblance of your crowning glory, but they all cost money; not to mention not everyone will have the same reaction to it: some people may end up losing every strand of it or get some kind of allergic reaction to it.

The fact of the matter is, baldness and thinning hair are realities that a large population of gentlemen are prone to with little hope or escape.

It may appear that solutions to this problem is as few as the strands on your head, fretting about it and living a life as a hermit in a cave are not answers to this problem; but among the seemingly few solutions that do not cost as much money as surgery and transplants are two gems that you gents can actually consider:

 

1. EMBRACE IT AND EMBRACE IT WITH GUSTO

Probably one of the best (and perhaps only) advice I have some across when it comes to losing your crop. It all boils down to confidence. The kind of confidence that gets you out of bed every morning, the kind of confidence that makes you smile at that cute girl (or guy) across the bar, the kind of confidence that makes you dance like a flailing muppet on fire at a wedding and loving every minute of it. Think of it as turning a weakness into a strength. Losing your hair is not a curse. Carry it with pride and exude that air of self-assurance that you are still awesome. Besides, a full head of hair really does not define who you are entirely. Other people may disagree with this, but I can name you a few awesome people (and why they continue to be awesome) who have shiny chromes and hairlines that are on the retreat like a failed army:

Gary Oldman

 The Graham Norton Show - London

This suave gentleman is perhaps one of the most brilliant actors in this known universe.

Sir Patrick Stewart

images-1

Who is not impressed by this man? A brilliant screen and stage actor and he was knighted by the Queen. Yes. He is a Knight of the Crown and he is not ashamed of his chrome dome.

Stanley Tucci

stanley-tucci

Need I say more?

Jack Nicholson

ibtszyzsFdN4cv

He’s got a hairline higher that the Himalayas but I’m pretty sure he still gets laid anytime he wants.

2. DON’T SHAVE IT ALL OFF RIGHT AWAY

The common practice for most men when they start seeing signs of losing hair is that they cut to the chase and start cutting it all off like a coked up gardener leaving no part of the scalp unshaved. There are other options than just getting frustrated and turning on that electric clipper. Especially for men who are just suffering from thinning hair to reeding hairlines, haircut options are abound. It’s all a matter of creating an illusion and finding a cut that you are comfortable with. From buzz cuts to cropped sides, learn to explore first before doing the Hail Mary option and saying goodbye to your locks.

With both of these considered, a final advice is to take good care of your scalp. Thinning or balding, you still need to keep it in top condition. Most men lose their hair because they either neglect to take care of their scalp. Washing it with shampoo everyday actually strips your scalp or its natural oils and can dry it up, leaving your follicles a little malnourished. Too much chemicals like your basic shampoo to your hair dyes are not good for your crowning glory if used a little too much than what is needed. You’ll just speed up the process of losing it all even more or worsen it.

If you would ask me, I’d say stay away from medical procedures like hair transplants or miracle shampoos that promise a fuller crop of hair in twenty minutes. You’d be wasting a lot of money and risking whatever side effect it may have on your scalp. Your hair is your crowning glory, but it should not be the root of your manly confidence.

Hair or no hair, always get up in the morning feeling good about yourself and liking every single thing about it.

FICTION FRIDAY

It has been a while since I have posted something a little bit lengthy in this blog and quite some time since I have actually posted anything. So, for this day, which I will solely dedicate to fiction pieces, I am going to share an old story I have written a while back and published in my old college literary folio.

On this blog, Fridays will be solely devoted to fiction, mostly short stories. Some of the stories you will see you may have already read or may be new to you but are stories nonetheless; and for the first Fiction Friday entry, I give you a story I call:

 

DUMPSTER BABY

(Originally Published in The Bedan Herald, vol 15; “Bugso”)

Mother said that I was never wanted when I came to her that day. She said that father didn’t want any part of me in their lives that father made a mistake that one night with mother, and father said that father will forever regret it.

 

I used to feel what mother felt. I could sometimes taste mother’s tears; even smell the creeping fear whenever father would come home inebriated. Although I was unscathed, I knew that mother had scars from cuts and burns, and bruises from when the nights where mother would be completely in father’s disfavour. I could feel all of it. The kicks and blows; I could even hear – as if from a distance – the screams and yells. There were days that I wish I could help mother, but I couldn’t. I felt trapped and helpless, and afraid.

 

There were days that I thought I would slip away from mother’s embrace; be washed away in a dark and hot river. I could have sworn that I could taste the bitterness of that liquid.

 

This happened every so often. But mother said that I was strong to not let go and be swept away. Mother said that I was blessed.

 

Until that day when the cold claw of that monster came.

 

It started as a moment of discomfort, followed by pain. I tried to move away. I tried my hardest to scream and ask mother to come to my aid. I tried but the cold claw grabbed hold, and it grabbed tight. I could not do anything but hold on, but I soon slipped through those warm walls.

 

Mother’s screams became louder and louder as the beast with the cold claws dragged me. I thought that this was finally the end. I thought that I could never be with mother; to watch mother, to love mother, to protect mother.

 

Until finally a bright light blinded me and a cool sensation enveloped my body and entered it. There was a sensation of freedom, of life.

 

But it ended all too briefly.

 

I felt being moved from one person to another, away from mother whose cries I could now hear clearly. There was a darkness that followed and then the smell of a putrid liquid. Later on, I realized that I was imprisoned. I could feel the cold walls surrounding me. It was cramped. I felt the putrid liquid on my body, burning me, even entering me. It was unbearable.

 

I didn’t know how long I was in a half-conscious state inside that unbearable prison. Not long after, I slowly drifted into darkness and silence.

 

And then.

 

Release!

 

I was awoken by that familiar cool sensation, although there was a festering stench that overpowered my senses. It didn’t matter, I was alive again. I felt a warm touch on my cheek and a faint voice, all too recognisable. I knew I was safe.

 

I could not make out mother’s words but I felt the soft patter of liquid on my skin once, twice – everytime I felt mother tremble and jerk.

 

I felt a warmer touch on my skin and mother let me lay comfortably on something. The stench became stronger as I was laid there, but it did not matter. Mother was there now.

 

Bright and dark came and went and mother would always come to be with me. Although there were days that she would not. Days that were dreary and wet and cold. On those days I could feel mother’s pain. The pain that mother could not be with me and protect me from the wet and cold. But I knew all this would pass and mother would be with me again.

 

On better occasions, mother would come and talk, although I could not make out what mother was trying to say. On those days, mother would lift me up and lay me next to mother. I am getting used to the stench now, knowing that mother would always be around. Sometimes I could even hear mother be happy, I could even feel it.

 

On days that I would feel a very sharp pain in me, mother would come to nourish me. Somehow mother knows when I would feel this. Mother always came like the certainty of the bright and the dark. This would go on and on and I would feel much closer to mother.

 

Until the times that mother came became rare. There would even be days that mother would not come at all, even on days that I would feel the pain that calls for mother’s nourishment. On these days I would lay quietly, hoping mother would come. Sometimes mother would, but most of the times mother would not. The darkness seemed to grow deeper and go longer. I could feel little things crawling on and inside me.

 

Where was mother?

 

I could feel little pinching and pricking inside me. Mother will make this better, I know.

 

But mother just stopped coming.

 

There was one time that I heard screaming and yelling. I could recognize mother’s call for aid. And, for the first time in a long while, I heard the contemptuous voice of father. I wished to come to mother’s aid but found myself in a state beyond helping. I could now feel the little things that were inside me crawling out of every crevice on me, even crevices that were not there when I first saw the brightness.

 

I wished that I could help mother.

 

I wished that everything would be alright.

 

…that mother would be back.

 

…that mother would come.

 

…that mother would stay.

 

Until I felt movement.

 

Something heavy fell next to me. Something warm spattered on me and I could taste that all too familiar bitter liquid. And then something else seemed to have rolled out of something. It touched me. It was warm and I recognized it.

 

Mother! Mother has finally come.

 

Mother has come to be with me.

 

And I know that she would be with me forever.

 

If you can’t wait for Doctor Who series eight, here are a load of new snaps to make the wait even harder

Metro

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until: 31/07/2014 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *** THIS PICTURE IS UNDER STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 31ST JULY 2014 00.01 *** The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Adrian Rogers (Picture: BBC/Adrian Rogers)

The hotly anticipated new series is mere weeks away, and yet for many that is still too long.

If only we had a Tardis to fast forward in time.

Well, we don’t, so the BBC have released a whole new load of sneak peek images from the first episode Deep Breath to tide us over. Or to make the wait even more difficult. Yeah thanks.

Peter Capaldi is set to assume his role as the twelfth Time Lord, following in the footsteps of Matt Smith, with the first feature length episode airing on August 23. In the latest release of snaps, he can be seen looking all serious and pensive in the 11th Doctor’s last garb post regeneration.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until: 31/07/2014 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *** THIS PICTURE IS UNDER STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 31ST JULY 2014 00.01 *** The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Adrian Rogers (Picture: BBC/Adrian Rogers)

The images confirm the return of a fan favourite and the Doctor’s pal Madame Vastra, who can be seen analysing a notice board. What does it all mean?!

View original post 161 more words