That sounds like a horrible word.  It even rhymes with the equally horrid tetanus.  

Tinnitus IS horrible.  It comes from the Latin word that means “ringing.” 

Nothing horrible about ringing, really. Not when it comes from bells, alarm clocks, and the telephone.

But when it happens 24/7 within the human ear, mine particularly—its' @#$%!

After reading my friend Yay's blog about her migraine woes, I wrote her: “We are all going through some kind of pain, Yay. Quitting is a cop out. Easier said than done, but in our noisy moments, when we debate with ourselves, we hear another voice that says, 'Be still and know that I am God.'"


Travel to the Perfect Country

I made it to the cover of TraveLife Magazine, July 20 special edition!  How many copies in circulation? One.  

It didn't go on magazine stands—it came straight to me via email from an artist friend, Ryan.

Why would anyone go through the trouble of making me a beautiful TraveLife cover on my birthday? I ask myself that question whenever I receive a gift painstakingly done.  And then I look at me and what I joyfully go through to give my friends and loved ones a gift I labored on. (When I handed my friend Rose a faux pearl necklace I designed and strung myself, her eyes misted. Oh, but that's another story.)   


Amok Runs Amok

I am running amok with superlatives; I am raving over the indie movie, Amok.

Now showing at the 7Cinemalaya 2011, Amok was one of three full-length movies we (JC and three friends) watched last Saturday.  By far, it was the fairest of them all.

Going to Cinemalaya has been a yearly birthday grace for me through my boys.  In all those years, there have been films that really stand out —films that raise the bar and make me proud to be a Pinoy. 

This year, Amok, makes me immensely proud.  (I still have not watched some of the movies like the much-touted Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and Patikul in the competition, but thus far, Amok is already in a class by itself.)     

The theater was crowded so we took seats separate from each other, but when we finally got together after the movie, we were one in our squeals of excitement: “Excellent!” 

It was directed by an idealistic young man, Lawrence “Law” Fajardo, who has yet to perfect his spoken Filipino.  He hails from Bacolod so that explains the language difficulty. But that's only when you hear him speak (he and the production staff took time to take questions after the showing).  Watching his film, you know he is a master of Manila's soul.

My main complaint over Filipino films, in general, is the pacing. Editors love to linger and dawdle on a scene, over-explaining and making it a tad too—well, boring.  

But Amok cuts and cuts—at the right places, just when your emotion is on a high gear. The first half is a series of vignettes reflecting real people's heart and soul, and I say to myself, “How on earth is the director ever going to put all these riveting—but totally unrelated—mini conflicts together?” 

Fajardo does.  He seamlessly puts them all into a powerful, unified whole. Little wonder, he himself is the editor, who is deep into TV ads.   

All the elements in the movie contribute to making it gasp-enducing: 1) Cast.  “Acting,” as Stanislavski puts it, “is believing.”  All the characters (Mark Gil, take a bow) are believable;  2) Concept.  Every frame—close-up, medium shot, and long shot—enhances the temper's quick rise to boiling point;  3) Framing. Never dull, never predictable; 4) Editing. Fierce, fast, and fiery; 5) Direction. Sensitive and incisive;  6) Tonality. It deftly combines suspense, gore, and humor.

And oh, what a charming creative touch on the graffiti: I  AM OK.

In addition to the director (the long-haired man in red whom we sought out for this photo op), kudos goes to: Screenplay, John Bedia; Script Consultant, Paul Sta. Ana; Executive Producer, Krisma Fajardo; Director of Photography, Louie Quirino; Producers, Tessa Aquino and Lawrence Fajardo; Asst. Director, Jobin Ballesteros; Production Designer, Lawrence Fajardo; Production Managers, Philip Buena and Ron Capili; Editor, Lawrence Fajardo; and Sound, Mike Idioma.

The only hiccup in my litany of praises (at the risk of being branded a prissy prude) is: the bed scene.

Snipping away some 60-seconds of overt footage will not diminish the art nor the drama. All one needs is a few seconds to get the point. Overstating the creative intent often drags fluid storytelling.
Squatting in line for the next movie    


We Are All Interconnected

Carl Sagan, et. al., and most writers of extra-terrestrial intelligence, have written about our interconnectedness, how the cosmos is within all of us.  The atoms and all the tiny elements of the universe are somehow borne from stars to people, from asteroids to clouds, and from us to us.

I wouldn't go as far, or as deep, as that. When I speak of interconnection, I simply want to write about four friends, and how they became so, in various timelines.

Here they are, after enjoying a low-salt, low-cholesterol, low-sugar Filipino dishes.
I met friend no. 1, Ellen, when I was a copywriter trainee at a multinational ad agency—then the biggest in the country.  She was likewise a trainee in audio-visual production.  Both wide-eyed newbies, we went through a steep uphill climb under the wings of our demanding and exacting bosses.

Years later, now as a Creative Director in another ad agency, I met friend no. 2, Tere.  She joined our company as a concept writer and, together with the staff of the Creative Department, we braved mini duels, medium-sized battles, full-scale wars, and uneasy pacts with clients—and survived. She left the place to see to less stressful matters before I did.  

A few more years later (my life these days), I met friend No. 3, Yay, in a milieu totally different from the corporate world—the academe.  She was teaching Marketing and I, Advertising.  As both subjects fall under the same department, we would bump into each other often—corridors, cafeteria, and library.  We soon found a common passion and love—writing about God's amazing grace.   

In this age of cellphones and e-mails, Tere—from out of nowhere—invited  me to speak before her students in creative writing. In that event,  I found out that Yay was her close friend way back in college!

Meanwhile,  Ellen (who now lives in Arizona) finds me on Facebook.  After a few exchanges of notes, she is surprised to discover that her former church mate, Yay, is my friend! 

One day last week, Tere emails me with a heading, “Serendipity.”  Ellen (her long-time friend!) is in town and since friend no. 1, 2, 3 and I all knew each other in various eras, she said nothing could be grander than a get together. 

A lunch date is arranged quickly and so all four friends from different time zones meet face to face for the first time.

Happy ending?  Not yet.

During our loud and rowdy catching-up-on-the-in-between-years chat, we discover that many of my friends are also theirs and vice-versa.  

How's that for interconnectedness? 

God peppers the universe with people who interconnect at some point in time to become dear friends, in preparation for the eternal interconnection with Him in that glorious place where He lives.

Yes, the cosmos, the cosmos of grace, is within all of us.


No Fishy Tale

After my three sons' seventh or eight birthday parties, the rituals of our small family have always been spartan, if not austere.

This no-frills tone must have been set at our wedding moons ago.  I wore a pant suit (the trend in those days) and something on my head, which was too puny to be called a bridal veil. I held a yellow rose instead of a bouquet. Although Tony and both our dads wore coat and tie, they couldn't wait to take them off after the 15-minute ceremony.

The 12 people in church, immediate members of our families, then proceeded to a Chinese restaurant for an informal, noisy lauriat.

Many years later, what does a couple, who prefers shorts to slacks and an intimate supper to a formal dinner, do to celebrate a wedding anniversary?


The Trouble with Video Calls

Video calls are uninspiring. 

Please don't think I am whining.  We have enough whiners (and bellyachers) in this country. 

When I speak of video calls, I am simply thinking of its ancient counterpart, audio call: the good-old telephone, which I feel is a tad more inspiring than seeing an image that is a poor copy, a warped poor copy, of the living, breathing original.   

Last night, JR rang me up while I was seriously revising a book chapter. We haven't heard from him for at least a month and a call, any kind of call, would certainly be met with no less than New-Year's-eve thrill, watching fireworks, and awaiting another year of grace.

His face popped up on my monitor.  And as soon as I answered the ringtone, my own face popped up on a smaller frame by his chin. I hit the maximize button and my workroom felt like it suddenly had two doppelgangers from some galaxy alien to ours.    

Oh, what faces!


An Early Surprise

It's a Saturday, the only day of the week when I allow myself to loll in bed and contemplate nothing. There are no scheduled appointments, and I had done my umpteenth (and hopefully last) revision on my forthcoming book's manuscript before I hit the sack last night. 

An hour of idleness is all I could take, though, so I rise to visit the World Wide Web. 

Surprise! I come upon the number 100,000—my blogsite hits thus far.

I might have sworn off numbers, because they don't represent the real readers (who stay and come back and sometimes leave a comment), but a figure reaching six digits can't be ignored.

What shall I do next?  Well, like I always do when I celebrate a blog breakthrough, I change my old header: .

Here's my new one:
Thank you, everyone, for contributing to this awesome number.

Thank you, Lord, for the grace of 100,000 friends in cyberspace.


One Man's Meat

Is Another Man's Poison 

This idiom has not surfaced in my consciousness for years, till yesterday.

My friend G and I were having lunch in a Japanese restaurant after a client call.  I looked through the glass panel and saw rain pelting the road.  Ahh . . . I never felt so divine!

I've always loved rain—as an innocent child and now as a wise (okay, atrophied) woman.  “Oh, I wish it would keep raining,” I thought aloud.  The sound of rain on the roof is my lullaby. 

“Ugh!” G grimaced. “Rain is out and out noise; it keeps me awake at night so I turn on the air-conditioner.”

I pondered the things that I love, which other people hate; and the other way around. 

Snakes unnerve me; they are kept as pets by a friend.     

Movie stars love crowds; writers relish solitude.


A Kiddie Pact

At right, in this photo taken a month ago, is my Manang Nieves.

She's three years my senior and she's been my friend since forever.  After my graduation from grade school, however, we hardly ever saw each other—she stayed put as a housewife in the town where we grew up, and I wandered to various places.  

But when I go home to Umingan, we see each other in church.  She has remained an active member of that place of worship, where we both used to sing in the choir. She still sings soprano (or tenor, in an all-female chorus) and is a driving force of the women's group.

Nieves was a huge part of my childhood. 

Her mother, Manang Ibay, helped my mom in caring for my little brothers and with the household chores for almost 40 years—till her last breath on earth. Since Manang Ibay was in our home 24/7 on weekdays, Nieves would be there at daytime, too (after school), before she went back to their house in the farm for the night.