Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Fun With Philippine English

First, a shoutout to Fred's mom who I think is cool for having been a contemporary of Madonna and Laura Branigan in New York in the early 80s. I think with her, I can now say that tens of people read my blog.

Second, let's continue my rant against the odder side of Philippine English. Today's victim: "titlemania." That's a term I made up for the Philippine tendency to make "official" what are really sort of (supposedly) popularly-derived superlatives, titles, etc. It's like professional wrestling, really, where wrestlers get some sort of gimmick name or title ("man of a thousand holds") and the announcers (and sometimes the wrestler) drill it in your head constantly. This is all part of the marketing for that wrestler of course, and part of the fun is how the storylines are set up so that the wrestler can "prove" he or she deserves the title. It's one thing "to be known as" or to have the moniker of, but only in the Philippines will people go the extra mile and make it like getting a diploma.

Take for instance, Larry Alcala, a prominent cartoonist here. He was actually bestowed the title "Dean of Philippine Cartoonists" by the Philippine Board of Books for Young People. I mean, the guy is a great cartoonist, but he's not the Duke of York and I know that the Philippine Board of Books for Young People isn't the Queen of England. Or, take for instance the new title given to Manny Paquiao: "Mother Nature's Crusader" given to him by the Department of Energy and Natural Resources. And, not so much because he's been crazy about recycling before, but because he's a good friend of the new department secretary. But, heck, he's got the title, and, considering that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for Peace, maybe being Mother Nature's Crusader is just as good as being Super Featherweight champion of the world.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two Worlds

Of course, what do I do when I'm not working? Wear expensive jeans and watch Animax. If some of you are unconvinced yet that the Philippines is a land of extremes, consider this week's episode of Mad Mad Fun, hosted by a certain Rhian Ramos, who, if I were five years younger and just as confident as I am now, would probably enjoy breakfast with me. In any case, Mad Mad Fun features a weekly band interview and performance (this week with Pedicab, you know, from a few Mondays ago?), along with a "challenge" segment where they put the band through some form of real or imaginary torture. It's looked pretty lame in the commercials, so I'd never purposefully watch the show, unless I feel like being a letch.

But Mad Mad Fun is like the Philippines on Great Gatsby-dosage rich pills. Because Rhian is mestiza and leggy as all-get-out, she's allowed to wear the world's shortest shorts, which the Catholic Church here (and certainly Catholic private schools) outlaw along with spaghetti strap tops and board shorts. Second, Pedicab's challenge this week was to eat as much food as possible and when a member stopped eating, Rhian would punch him in the stomach. Imagine this: a barely legal woman wearing nearly nothing on her legs compels a very nerdy band to stuff itself with sisig and bulalo, just so that she could punch the guys who give up in the stomach.

Let's be clear. She did not hold back: she really punched these guys. But, since I assume they wanted someone to throw up, no one did, so either they didn't eat enough halo-halo, she didn't punch hard enough, or they were trying to humor her (read: get in her barely visible pants). But still, what kind of show is this? "Eat all this food -- most of which is out of the daily diet of a vast majority of the people here -- then be induced to vomit by a gut punch by a damn sexy girl." Sign me up! What? No! Don't sign me up!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last-Minute Research

Between now and the time I leave, there will be many last minutes. During these last minutes, I will be conducting anywhere between frantic and desperate research, hoping to find the last possible nuggets of text that say "middle class." Tomorrow morning, I'm fitting in three hours of quick research because I saw an article on "Armchair Revolutionaries" in one news magazine from the 80s, and I'm deploying my RAs to do some last-minute combing through the 1990s to see if I can't get more mileage out of the middle class stuff from then.

I still have to keep writing this monster. Well, it's not a monster yet, it's still a... well... baby dragon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Getting Up Early Suite

First, it all starts with going to bed early. Well, intending to go to bed early and then finally doing it at 11:30, which is like Christmas falling on the 1st of December for people in their mid-20s. Second, it involves getting up early -- at 6:30 -- and then deciding to get up later -- at 6:45 -- and in those fifteen minutes, you're not really sleeping; you're just expecting the alarm to go off again and you're just not gonna go back to sleep (well, at least).

So once you're up, you remember why you're getting up early (to go to the gym), and you know you're pushing it already. But you go through the motions anyway -- do some stretching while your shake is blending, get your stuff ready (well not really). And then, with 10 minutes left before your designated "point of no return," you decide to drink your shake while you check your e-mail. And then it's like what the Pinoys say: "patay!"

But you still don't have to be anywhere for an hour, and you figure, "heck, 30 minutes is a lot longer than 15 minutes" and you go back to sleep. And you know, you shouldn't have gotten up early today anyway.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hit in the Head, Stars in My Dreams

I'm watching the replay of the Pacquiao-Barrera fight, but I'm far more interested in the ads since they can split up the fight by rounds and then show an "American" amount of commercials between them. Sort of interesting to figure out who they suspect are watching the fight tonight, based on the ads, though I'm sure that a more dialed-in Filipino would know all this to be true already: lots of ads for souping-up your fighting cock, fertilizing your hogs, beer, painkillers, hotdogs (or rather hotdog balls), corned beef, iodine, cellphones, auto loans, Nike, and for LBC ("Hari ang Padala! or "The King of Delivery!"). Interestingly enough, I have not yet seen an ad for anti-dandruff shampoo, which, I argue, is like a national obsession.

Then there was a surreal commercial for some sort of ultra-flea repellant. It was done entirely in ancient CGI and featured a poodle, a rottweiler, and some other dog as contestants in a game show. The CGI host asked, "What kind of society is best for dogs?" The poodle, of course, answered, "High society?" but that was deemed incorrect by the CGI dog host. The rottweiler responded "Civil society?" but that was wrong too, and it elicited this response: "Civil society is for humans fighting for civil rights!" The correct answer was "Pet Society," which the winner grabbed with his mouth and ran off the computer-generated stage. I have to say: Salvador Dali? Mr. Sparkle?

... I just saw the end of the fight. Manny Pacquiao was giving what I'm sure was a pretty surreal interview for him -- well after getting nailed in the head so many times and because it was given by none other than A.C. Slater himself -- and all of a sudden, the Vice-President of the Philippines, Noli de Castro, appeared in the ring and spoke for a bit. Mario Lopez clearly did not expect that to happen, and said with a pretty surprised chuckle "well he's got some political power here" as he probably realized how surreal the whole deal was in actuality.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dora the Destroyer

OK, what do you think of when you see this:
If you said this man, then you're absolutely correct. Yes, because Manny Pacquiao is fighting a Mexican, the Rockwell Club has decided that Saturday will be una gran fiesta. They'll be showing the Pacquiao-Barrera fight at 8am live, and right afterwards, you can send your kids to "The City of Lost Toys" (La Ciudad de Juguetes Perdidos) where Dora and Diego will interrogate free will (it's at the end) in the "Tower of Knowledge". It's two 'Latin-American" parties (well one is technically a "quest") for the, well, hefty price of Php1000 for the fight and as you can see above, Php200 for the kids to learn how to say "I like boxing" in Spanish.