Superficial (3) (Fiction)

Made it to the other side of  the road without any trouble.

Ah, Metro Manila. I wonder why people with boring lives tend to look for adventure and thrills, spending money for trips and accommodation just to go bungee jumping, white water rafting or swimming. Just get out of your apartment and what an adventure it would be. Good thing this meeting is happening on daylight.

I shudder at the thought of going out at night. Used to feel all invulnerable and immortal, going out. drinking and painting the town red. I’m not particularly tall, but built like a barrel. Years of getting beat up as a kid made me tough on the streets. But nowadays, you can’t be too sure. That red paint could be my blood splattered on the pavement.

But anyway, such morbid thoughts on a day like this when a chance to earn is at hand.  I stopped at a corner, lit up a cigarette and scouted the place for coffee.

9:45am, still enough time for one.

Took out my white Kata S10 and typed a message that I’m already in the area. I’m prompt this way. Sms does it for me. and email. But calls are something I avoid receiving , or giving in fact. If you have had the chance to work for Pocketbell in the nineties, you’d know. Talk about having your ears fall off from answering too many calls.

Got myself a rather flat tasting coffee at a nearby fast food chain. And went out again to light have another smoke.

Nasty combination. Caffeine and nicotine.

A steady flow of students chattering pass by me. People who are hurrying to someplace they’d rather not be. You can see it from the pinched expression on heir faces. Looks of disgust and disappointment, and the looming possibility if being late. I smiled a bit. At least I am the master of my own time.

If only I could earn as much from this.

Almost time.

Mr. Joseph should be arriving soon.

Then something occurred.

Actually, three things happened in this one setting.

A box filled with clothes and stuff came hurtling from above me, maybe several floors up. It hit the taxi below who have just taken a fare and was idling to look for another passenger. The cardboard box gave on the roof of the taxi and garments of ghastly colors and knickknacks flew everywhere. Something like a mug found its way into a bystanders forehead, shorts and underwear scattered like dry leaves. A shoe hit a woman on the back of her head, just as she was slamming the door and was walking away.

All happened in a span about 9 seconds or so . . .

A strange tableau of non-coordinated colors and ungraceful choreography. With a rather silly soundtrack playing somewhere near, maybe from one of those watering holes with a videoke machine, a steady stream of “Pusong Bato”.

Now I’m no hero.

But I caught that woman who was stumbling towards me, and managed to get a hold of her before  she hit the gutter with the dried up vomit. Not much of a rescue. I hurt my knee on the sidewalk, her bag hit me in the face as her hands struggled to grasp anything that would break her apparent embarassing tumble. Her sundress caught on her pumps, and we sit there for a moment like lovers in a Sharon-Gabby movie, but in a comical fashion.

It was at this moment that I noticed my own bag was tangled with the rest of the stuff she was encumbered with – her own bag, a manila folder,  and that stereotypical kikay kit females are fond of holding in their hand when it could be safe inside their own shoulder bag.

I helped her up, but not without any trouble. Her dress was torn a bit from having been caught in her suspiciously lethal spikes for heels. Also, to add insult to injury, her elbows hit me on the chin while she fumbles to fix herself , and I took a step back to catch my breath.

About 35 to 38 years old. Long hair in a bun, now a bit loose. Good neck and shoulders showing on her sundress with spaghetti straps hanging snug, smooth brown skin. Good teeth.

Darn. My own teeth are falling off one by one.

You alright. miss . . . . ?

Josephine. Call me Josephine. And thanks.

(To be continued)

She picked up her fly shades.

Leap of Fate [Faith?], Anyone?

Leap of Fate [Faith?], Anyone?

Why the title?

Hmm. I’m not really sure.

Maybe  things lately have been just that: close yer eyes, clench them fists and just jump into, whatever it is that is in front of you.

Maybe it’s the decision to go full freelance, not really sure if there are available work for a has-been animator like me, who recently had a gig with book illustration but management screw-ups made me think twice and head on out the open door and run as fas as I can. In the dark. Not knowing the direction I’m running into.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have seen Kuroshio leaping from a corner post and slamming a straight leg down on The Bodyguard during one of the most tiring, nerve-wracking, energy draining, geeking-out thing I have done in recent years since  getting trampled on the floor while playing wrestler at home.

I’m no expert. Keep that in mind. I have met people who can distinctly point out a certain move by Tajiri on Akira. I have known officionados who are devout followers of Mia Yim. Foreigners who have asked about Ray and Leon’s opponent while briskly replying on Twitter. Googled Alia and Lady Loryfor background info. People like Mikers Litton, who graced the occasion by being the commentator, Ouel and Bombay who, true to form, are on site and hands on, even the group they’re in brought Syuri flowers and a cake. Even the folks at  with Martin, and Hub pacheco, they know more about wrestling nowadays than I do.

It’s not that I don’t don’t really know anything, I’m just outdated.

But I was with the team that organized the Joshi+Jam Manila event. With just 45 days to make things happen, creating the posters and event name (we didn’t even have a name for the event!), made some hastily done teasers on AfterEffects and Premiere, and from thereon in, it was going someplace, talking to suppliers, and with some help from the younger wrestling fans, things went well, better than I had hoped for.

Up to the point when it was just days before the event, the ring itself was plagued with problems. From the start, ticket sales will be just an afterthought, with us, the organizers focusing on GAB licenses , working permits for the wrestlers, venue arrangements, ticketnet problems with issuing sales against offshore issued credit cards, light and sound suppliers, trucking, food. You know, stuff that happens in the background that keep the machine working without the audience knowing. We got good footage. We got people noticing. But things always seem to go haywire.

Murphy’s Law.

Still, show must go on.

Because, darn it. I could draw and illustrate meticulously. I could create UI. I could whip out motion graphics. Wrestling is something I wanted when I was a kid. I could get this done.

It’s like being an animator for TOEI Animation, doing hard scenes and cuts with shows like Dragonball and Sailormoon, One Piece and a bunch of other popular anime. I swear, the otakus and anime fans know more about the characters and the stories more than us who draw in-betweens and animate the darn thing. And in this case, wrestling fans tend to be know-it-all about their idols.

I have a better vantage point where no fan nor officionado can replace. Our team. We who worked our asses off, often neglecting personal stuff and family affairs, just to get things moving. No fan can tell me I fucked up with the arrangements while I go headbutting with the inept Ynarez staff, or when the ring provider was late in coming. No  other derping moment can replace the fact that I ate and drank and even joked around with Lady Lory and Alia, The Bodyguard and Kuroshio. Even those few exchanges with Rionne McAvoy were fandom fodder.  There’s a big difference between a blogger whose source is only what’s unravelling before his eyes, and not from behind the the walls.  They can rant and rave, they will never guess how it is to be the one turning the wheel. To be that hamster. To be among those who worry and fret about things. From ingress to egress, I was there, talking to bouncers and looking for house staff who are always nowhere to be found. When Tajiri walked in I managed to do my duties, but my will is weak.

By the time Akira and Tajiri locked hands, I was screeching and screaming like I was in the front row (I was doing this while walking the hallways and dugouts). And as the matches progressed, me worrying about the ring giving out under the intense slamming and jumping around. I shuddered, thinking if those fans from Taiwan, HongKong or Singapore got to buy tickets, the whole event would have been louder, raunchier, more animated. But you know what, even with the small audience, I have no regrets. the fans made it happen. They made the event all worth the time and effort, cliches we often hear, but it is what it is.

Two days after Joshi+Jam Manila, dealing with the last thing at hand, I was bushed.

Certainly made quite a number of mistakes with the organization and production. Even with dealing with people, so much to improve as of today.

Again, this pretty much sums up how I deal with real life: I learn as much as I can, deal with the flaws, improvise, improve and then do it again. But with better results.

Kinda like a leap of faith. Or fate. However you might want to call it.

There’s no knowing, or what to expect, until you went through it.

One thing though. I think I fucked up pretty bad with allowing fans to play around with the ring and be present while the wrestlers do a tech rehearsal. Tajiri’s still pissed off at me, I guess.


Losing Track of Time . . . .

As I grudgingly sit in one of those white-knuckle bus ride to Novaliches earlier today, at least the driver and conductor felt the need to play some music in their nightly plights of EDSA.

“..It’s three o’clock in the morning and it’s starting to get light . . “

Don’t get me wrong. I said “grudgingly” not because I am angry or anything, but rather, disappointed I had to leave Villamor earlier than I had anticipated. In one of those clean up and wash runs for the kitchen, my right index finger got hurt and I can’t scrape the large rice cooker pan clean enough. I guess I’m not that young anymore. I remember moving heavy tabletops, chairs and dinner stuff up and down Capitol Hills Golf Clubhouse years ago without my legs nor bones staging a protest, vehemently, I should add.

Still, time passes.

And being with the volunteers, with the smiles back in our faces at Villamor, time, really does fly. Like those Ospreys we saw lifting off like space ships from off the runway.

I’m distracted.

As we give out food prepared by volunteer cooks and chefs, sandwiches lovingly made by other volunteers at the tent, we have a good gig running – a coffee commando stand, the long table for hot meals, the kitchen all a buzz, the sandwich pantry busy like any bee hive , it had to wonder what will the survivors be doing in Camp Aguinaldo.  We tried to talk to some of the survivors as they wait patiently, although as of 4:30pm yesterday, the survivors were already in buses but were still waiting to be transported  for 3 hours already.

Imagine that.

In Tacloban Airstrip, they had to wait 3 days, or at least 48 hours to be on a flight to Manila. The flight is about an hour and a half, and at Villamor, they have to be grouped and processed, some for immediate medical attention, the rest mostly documentation and records, so give a an hour or so.

And I complain about a 3 hour bus ride to Magallanes just to switch buses bound for FTI to alight at Villamor.

But at the site, time passes, like rain drenching me when I was at Camp Aguinaldo meeting another volunteer who’s doing psychological support for the survivors – Ms. Tetchie of Gold’s Gym ,whom, by the time I got to ArtRelief at Villamor sent a group of young ones to help out – the rain poured and  fell and washed the streets I walked to EDSA.

The rain went quickly, and these weather mood swings seem to be the norm nowadays.

Arrived at the site, buzzing.

And I began to lose track of time.

Maybe because I lost my Casio watch while enjoying the camaraderie. It was a 10-year battery , and about to die on me. That was a long time to own a watch, even for me. Goodbye, old watch, hope the person who found you can use the time to appreciate, even with the dilapidated state.

Maybe because  doing volunteer work does wonders for the soul.  And if auras are visible to the naked eye, the whole setup will be glowing bright colors, should you see the faces cooking, stirring, slicing, chopping, packing food, giving out water, minding the discarded stuff , cleaning up and then messing the place again with a new set of food preparation. By 1am this morning, Oplan Hatid was back in form, adding to the radiance of people and smiles.

And I lose track of time.

Maybe because I really don’t have to.

Photo stolen from Juan Benedicto’s FB

Photo stolen from Teddy Arellano’s FB

[Apologies to Teddy Arellano and Juan Benedicto. Sorry guys, I gave up on photography long time ago, so I steal from Indios and you guys. Thank you!]