Friday, April 30, 2004

Episode: Sneaking Time Off To Do An Episode…

It’s just another hectic Friday (woo-woooh!)
Wish it were Saturday (woo-woooh!)
Cuz that’s my fun day (oh-woo-oh-oh-oooh!)


As Election Day 2004 nears, more and more political ads are polluting the already-contaminated airwaves. My most hated TV ads are, in no particular order:

[1] Jinggoy Estrada’s – with that barbed wire, the image of father hugging son, and erpat Erap’s voice-over, it’s so cringe-creepy one feels dirty after watching it.

[2] Lorna Tolentino’s FPJ endorsement – LT has acting chops, but when she uses her talent to malign other candidates… no acting genius can pull off cheap mudslinging that’s thinly disguised as endorsement.

[3] Ping Lacson’s “Eto Ang Beat” rip-off – not only a blatant rip-off, but a terrible rip-off at that. No wonder Coke sued.

[4] FPJ’s the best; FPJ, I like! / Youth Vote – these “youths” are made to say things about FPJ (and put down the other candidates) that are so sweeping and so simple-minded, it’s scary to think that some people will fall for such simple-mindedness. No wonder there’s a saying, “Bata ka pa. Wala ka pang alam.”

[5] FPJ’s platform of 3 promises – wearing a barong and with a Philippine flag in the background, FPJ looks absolutely presidential… and sounds exactly like an actor who’s memorized his lines but does not understand a word of it.

[6] JP Enrile’s “spaghetti song” – “Problema mo, sagot ko.” Eh problema ko ay si JPE.

[7] John Osmeña’s cellphone gambit – Are we to really believe that we owe John O. our cellphone-addicted culture? And should we thank him or condemn him instead?

Did I miss out on any?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Episode: The Obi Wannabe Kenobi Episode

Dramatis Personae:
Obi Wannabe Kenobi – a pseudonym and a not too subtle one at that. If you’ve been following The McVie Show closely, you’ll know who I’m referring to.

Very few people have disappointed me in my life. That’s because I look at life with realistic eyes (it’s a conscious decision I made after reading Linda Goodman’s seminal book, “Sun Signs.” Very rational, huh?) and so I understand it when things go wrong and when people fail me.

But it’s one thing to disappoint me once; it’s another to have a track record. And Obi Wannabe Kenobi is one such record-holder.

His story begins in grade school. When he failed in his bid at being class valedictorian, he and his parents complained to the school administration. Of course, the school refused to change their decision. No valedictory, no class.

In the summer between first and second year high school, Obi and I were held-up in Cubao by a guy who introduced himself as Boy Diablo. He threatened us with a knife and warned us if we tried to run he had hidden accomplices watching us discreetly at a distance. I wanted to run; Obi begged me not to. I thought, “I can’t leave him behind.” So we ended up forking all except 5 pesos of our money to Boy Diablo, which wasn’t enough. Boy wanted my watch. I refused to give it; Obi pleaded and promised he’ll reimburse me for the watch. Only then did I give in. (2 years later Obi wins this “Name Our Mascot” contest of Kentucky Fried Chicken. “Chucky,” his entry won first prize. Part of his prize money he paid me for my watch; the rest he used to buy a study table. How nerdy is that?!)

Fourth year high school: Obi coveted the role of eldest son in the Dulaang Sibol production of “Ibong Adarna” but was cast as the father instead. So he called our batch to a meeting and poured out his heart in an effort to convince us he must have that part. He claimed he “can out-Olivier Olivier.” So we asked Mr. Pagsi to grant him his request; he conceded. Take note: Obi would have played the eldest son; the actors cast as younger brothers were far taller and fairer-skinned than him. In the end another actor got sick plus Obi realized he wasn’t right for the part, so he took the vacated role instead.

I resented Obi for dragging us into that Adarna emotional rollercoaster. He forced us to go against what was very clear from the start: there are no small roles, only small actors. After that, I never took him seriously. And he didn’t graduate valedictorian in high school.

In college, Obi Wannabe Kenobi joined Tanghalang Ateneo’s production of Ang Paglilitis Ni Mang Serapio in the title role. According to other TA members he acted like a diva. He’d complain about how unprofessional TA actors were (to be fair, during that time we weren’t taking theater too seriously either.) Luckily the production was shut down early. Up to this day when his name is mentioned to TA old-timers, you get howls of “Yuck!” and “Ewww!” and “Oh… him.” (with matching eye roll). And he didn’t graduate valedictorian in college.

After college he went to law school. And he didn’t graduate valedictorian in law school.

He went from one job to the next. I don’t think he lasted more than 2 years in one place. He didn’t know what he was looking for. Then he joined the Jesuits. Then he left the Jesuits. Then he left the country—to join a para-legal non-government organization run by, you guessed it, Jesuits.

Last Christmas he was back in town for a few days. When I saw him he looked very relaxed. It seems he has no worry lines at all on his face. Has he found what he was looking for all this time? Out of the country and out of the clo…ister of the Jesuits.

Nowadays I’m not expecting a lot from him. I just wish for him a fruitful and happy life… and I hope he too realizes the same thing.

Changing the world need not be grand and dramatic. To live a good life… now that would be quite the valedictory.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Episode: Hair We Go

With all this heat, I need a haircut.

For me, two weeks is enough in between cuts. My hair is naturally kinky (yeah, yeah, go ahead… I’ve heard them all already) so I go for the close-cropped cut.

Back in the infamous eighties I allowed my friend to talk me into growing my bangs into a cowlick, cut my sides short, and grow the back of my hair long. Now my hair doesn’t really grow long, it grows thick, so I aborted the attempt. Besides, I would have looked like Prince circa “Purple Rain.”

Early 90s with the advent of “Miami Vice” I’d have it cut short but brushed back, so that my hair would stand—ala Crocket (played by Don Johnson). I couldn’t stand it for so long.

Then Richard Gomez buzz-cut his hair for a Bench TVC, and everyone including me followed suit. At last I found a hairstyle that fit my hair—by having less of it.

When in “ER” George Clooney wore a Caesar-cut, I also went for it. In the play by Shakespeare, when Brutus stabbed Caesar, the emperor turned to his senator friend and uttered, “This is the most unkindest cut of all.” Luckily that’s not the case with the hairstyle named after him. It fit me too. Now it’ll be my permanent cut.

I’ve resisted the gel-and-mousse invasion; I know I could never outdo the A Flock of Seagulls look. I’ve resisted having my hair straightened; a friend of mine told me, “Umamin ka na bakla ka, ‘wag mo lang aaminin na nagpa-straight ka” (“Admit you’re gay, but never admit you had your hair straightened.”) I’ve resisted the hair coloring trend (highlights and all).

These hair trends make me suspect that everyone is secretly unhappy with their hair. Or perhaps they’re okay with it but would be happier if it was different. I wish my hair was different but it ain’t. So I’ve learned to live with it.

And who knows… hair today, gone tomorrow? If I ever lose my mane, I’d most probably embrace it.

After all, bald can be bold.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Episode: Burn, Baby, Burn!

Working in an environment with a lot of high-end computers has its benefits: cold, cold air conditioning!

Can’t believe the heat these days! The moment I step out for lunch, I run into a wall of heat. And the sun is shining so bright, it stings.

Yesterday we went to have lunch at West Avenue; waiting for a taxi was literally hell. Good thing I have this mind-over-matter powers and can disregard the heat burning my skin for a few moments while waiting to flag down a cab. Besides, I’m too pale already what with working under fluorescent lamps for so long.

The heat makes me think of making El Niño and La Niña into comic book characters: mythical beings that have wet and dry powers. They make their presence known only when called upon; the best places to summon them are in wet-and-dry markets (they prefer Nepa-Q-Mart best of all). El Niño looks like a former child star of Philippine television and movies. La Niña looks like Celia Rodriquez in drag. Together they wreak havoc (ayan, Daniel/a, tama na ba, ha?) on the weather, wet t-shirt contests, and dry martinis.

Gosh, the heat has gone to my head.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Episode: Food, Glorious Food

I’m fatter. Damn it.

(The wake + 9 days prayer + Holy Week) x (pork + oily food + no gym) = Pakingshet!!!

I need a new workout program. I need to cut down on comfort food. That means less burgers, pizza and ice cream. But I’ve noticed that with those three “food groups,” there are at least two kinds vying for the top spot as far as my palate is concerned.

Burger: Okay, so I’ll admit that I went through a Big Mac phase before Jollibee re-worked their Champ. But I’ve gone beyond the two leading fastfood burgers. Now it’s a toss-up between Brothers Burger and Hotshots. Personally I prefer Brothers, especially their garlic cream cheese, mushrooms and onions on a half-pound pattie. While Hotshots’ patties are juicier, I’m not so hot on their bread.

Pizza: Before there was 3-M and Pana Pizza. Then Shakey’s opened in front of Ateneo and pizza for me was redefined. It had to be thin crust. Even their garlic-and-cheese was heaven; I’d save my baon so I can treat myself to a single-size order at least once a week. They tried the Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza, but that failed. So when Pizza Hut came in, I was introduced to thick crust. It was exotic at first, but then I ended up going back to thin. Then they introduced the stuffed crust; now there’s this triple-stuffed that’s so irresistible. Damn.

Now it’s Yellow Cab versus… hmmm. Napoli? Piadina? Parang hindi magka-level. So it’s Yellow Cab by default.

Ice Cream: Before, I thought Magnolia’s Cookies And Cream defined ice cream. Then Selecta was bought by RFM and they came out with an ice cream that seemed creamier than Magnolia. (Packaging also helped—the tin cans gave the impression that Selecta Ice Cream is fresher than Magnolia in their plastic cans.) But now it’s Fruits In Ice Cream, especially its Caramelo de Leche (caramel ice cream with pastillas de leche bits). Ang sarap, leche!

Now I’m hungry again. Grrr!

Episode: The McVie Top 5

On a lighter note, I’m re-starting my top five after a two week shut-down. Since I had no charts last week, there will be no “last-week’s position.”

[5] Let’s Get Retarded / Black Eyed Peas
My officemate was singing the chorus as “Let’s get platonic” until I yelled “Retarded!” at her. She thought I was insulting her. In a way, I was.
[4] I Believe In The Thing Called Love / The Darkness
They insist they’re not a joke band. If so, then they’re pretty serious about their comedy. Their full-tilt earnestness is the joke. When the lead singer hits the crotch-crushing high notes of the chorus and then screams “Guitar!” for the solo, it’s head-banging bliss.
[3] Yeah! / Usher feat. Ludacris
With a hook that refuses to let go plus mesmerizing moves by Usher in the music video, this song belongs to the soundtrack of summer 2004.
[2] She Wants To Move / N.E.R.D.
It contains unexpected sounds, beats and stops. Its unpredictability is what makes it stick in my mind. This is one song that plays over and over in my mind.
[1] Hey Mama / Black Eyed Peas
I had no inkling I’d like the BEPs because I didn’t like their first single, “Where Is The Love” and their next radio release here in the Philippines, the album cut “The Apl Song” (it had a rap part in Filipino.) But with the song currently at top 5, plus the former top 5 hit “Shut Up”, I ended up buying the BEPs album Elephunk. Plus the music video is eye candy, with the 70s look which reminded me a lot of Charlie’s Angels and Starsky and Hutch (the original tv series, not the new Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson starrer.)


And starting this week I’ll also include my Honorable Mentions: songs that aren’t being played on local airwaves (either they’re old or they’re so new radio hasn’t picked them up yet) but I’m currently listening to them over an over again.

This week’s Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
[a] Take Me Out / Franz Ferdinand
There’s already a boxed article about them in Entertainment Weekly and they’ve been featured in CNN’s The Music Room. Love the guitars and the sing-along chorus.
[b] Flamboyant / Pet Shop Boys
Any song that rhymes “tacky” with “Issey Miyake” deserves a standing ovation.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Episode: Pause

A constant pressence in my life is gone, and I was not able to prepare myself for it. Today would have been the 40th wedding anniversary of my parents.

I miss Daddy.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Episode: Cubao Is A State Of Mind

It may not be the geographical center of Metro Manila, but Cubao is undoubtedly its “transportational” center. That’s where most forms of public transportation converge so that people can transfer rides to take them to the four corners of the metro.

The heart of this “get-off, get-on” system is the length of Aurora Blvd, especially in the intersection of Aurora and EDSA. Jeepneys from the East and West, buses plying North and South, and the trains plying EDSA (MRT-2) and Aurora Blvd (MRT-3) dump more than a million Manileños in that area. At any given time you see people rushing from one mode of transportation to another. Then there are those who use Cubao as a stop-over. That’s why most stores and restaurants in Cubao make brisk business daily.

It is with this observation that drove my friend Marlon (who used to live in Cubao; his mom and sister still stay there) to declare, “Cubao is a state of mind.” I asked why so.

“Noticed how the people in Cubao are all just passing thru? These are people in transit, and Cubao is just a transitional space for them. Cubao exists so that they can go from, say, Marikina to Makati, from Balintawak to Buendia. The moment people stop passing thru, Cubao loses its reason for being. When that happens, Cubao will cease to exist.”

Wow. Imagine the whole Araneta Center, with the landmark Araneta Coliseum as its jewel, disappearing into thin air. That place holds a million-and-one memories from my childhood.

No more Isetann, with its department store on the first three floors and who knows what on the other floors above.

No more Farmer’s Plaza, with its color-coded floors (“You are here” according to the map). As a family we’d go to Ely’s Panciteria inside and eat pancit bihon. Afterwards we’d buy the softee swirl ice cream under the stairs.

No more Banco De Oro, which was formerly ShoeMart when it was just a shoe store. Every start of school, we’d buy new shoes there. My brothers and I were fascinated with this hi-tech dumbwaiter they had that transported shoes from the second floor bodega to the first floor.

No more Remar, Coronet, Diamond, and Quezon, my favorite moviehouses when I was growing up. I even remember New Frontier and Nation, which was beside Queens Supermarket (now there’s just a big gaping hole on the ground that’s become a huge pond.) I experienced being groped for the first time in Quezon Theater. He jacked me off; I was too scared and excited to resist.

No more Fiesta Carnival, with its Horror Train ride that was more fun than freaky.

No more Ali Mall, the first mall in the Philippines. I was held up there, along with my hapless, helpless friend who’ll remain anonymous. Itago na lang po natin siya sa initials na Bong Alikpala. Thanks to him I lost a watch but gained a great story (which includes a study table and “Chuck,” the Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot) which I never tire of telling. It’ll be an episode here one day. Promise.

And no more Ma Mon Luk (oops, this one had disappeared a long time ago) and Hong Ning, my dad’s favorite Chinese restos. He’d always take home some pancit and pata hamon. As kids we’d wait excitedly for our parents to arrive home, wondering what food they’d bring home for us (remember there were no cellphones back then and we didn’t have a landline either.)

Today Cubao the “transitional space” is now in a transitional state. They’re converting the whole Araneta Center into one big mall/shopping-and-entertainment center. It’ll take a few more years before they finish but construction is on-going, adding to the hustle-and-bustle and frenzied mess that’s Cubao.

Dynamic but dirty. Confusing and crowded. Nowadays memories of Cubao just pass through my mind as I pass through Cubao. It used to be my playground.

One of these days I’ll stop: “Para mama, sa tabi lang.” And play there once again.

Episode: All You Need Is Love

Got the following email from a Jed Estanislao this morning in the TA e-groups. It’s as if he was eavesdropping in on our on-line discussion re. love. Here it is, for more discussion-fodder.

My philo teacher sent this over my e-mail. Rilke's discussion does not offer a closure regarding the definition of love; rather, I believe he gives us young adults a refreshingly “defamiliarized” (i say defamliarized because it is most often the case that the familiar invokes contempt) look on Love.

“It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being, that is perhaps the most difficult task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, will all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, up-ward beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always long, secluded time, and therefore loving, for a long time ahead and far on into life, is--: solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished and still incoherent--?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person, it is a great demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances. Only in this sense, as the task of working on themselves ("to hearken and to hammer day and night"), may use the love that is given to them (who must still, for a long, long time, save and gather themselves); it is the ultimate, is that for which human lives are as yet barely large enough.”

-- Rainier Maria Rilke
“Letters to a Young Poet”

Episode: Can You Hear The Drums, Orlando?

I spoke too soon.

On my way home last night, Orlando’s radio started fluctuating. I thought at first it was the radio station, until I glanced down and saw that it was the car radio that would go off, as if the power was switched off. Then I noticed the lights dimming. Electrical trouble, I immediately realized. I pumped the accelerator and was able to get full electrical power back on. I got home, but not before experiencing power fluctuations twice on the road. Good thing Orlando didn’t die on me on the road last night.

This morning when I started Orlando, everything seemed fine. Orlando was his usual self. I tried to pass by an auto shop to have an electrical check-up, but they were either full or had no electrician. Hmmm! But I got to the office without incident.

Let’s see what happens on my way home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Episode: Today Is Just A Day

Today was an indistinguishable day. Nothing significant, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing much. In fact, if today didn’t happen, the world wouldn’t be any less rich or poor, happy or sad.

There must be days like this when nothing much happens to someone’s life. Of course, different people have different “nothing much” days. Mine could be today, yours could be tomorrow. In fact, today someone’s dad died—today is not a “nothing much” day for that person. Tomorrow morning my dad may make a ghostly appearance in our living room just as I’m about to leave for work—tomorrow will definitely be a supernaturally unnatural day for me.

Of course, with more than a billion people populating the earth, everyday is a “nothing much” day as well as a significant, memorable day.

I suspect that one day, fate will conspire so that everyone in the whole wide world will have a “nothing much” day. When that happens, it’s the end of the world as we know it. We just wouldn’t realize it was happening when it did.

The world will go out, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Episode: From Channeling Discovery Channel To Channeling Oprah

Please take note that the following are my thoughts on the matter. (Dear Kervs, you may disagree with some of the things I’ll mention here, and we can discuss them further face-to-face… and side-by-side, hehehe.)

I’ll just re-arrange the questions a bit.

[1] What exactly constitutes a relationship? A relationship necessitates that there’s both a connection (by blood, by marriage, by choice) and an interaction between two individuals in some form (physical, electronic, psychic, etc.) This includes work relationships (boss-employee) and even functional relationships (seller-buyer).

I believe both are needed. If it’s interaction without a connection, then it’s just a chance meeting, like strangers bumping each other, saying, “Excuse me,” then moving on. If it’s a connection without interaction (example, relatives who live away from one another—the longer they stay out of touch, the more they become distant), then their relationship is, so to speak, “on paper” only and is not functional.

[2] Does love really need to end up in a relationship? No. Look at Joey and Kris, hahaha!!! Kris says she still loves him (despite the STD, gun-pointing, crotch-grabbing and all), but despite the annulment (of Joey's marriage with Alma), they cannot be together… (and then Kris’ clincher) yet.

Seriously, there are a lot of examples both in fiction and in real life wherein two people love each other but do not end up together in a relationship. Also, love does not need to end up in a relationship if it’s not reciprocated.

[3] Can one be in a relationship without loving someone? Yes. It could be out of duty or mistake or both or more. The lines, “For the sake of the children” come to mind. If Princess Diana were made of sterner stuff, she could have said, “For the sake of God and the Empire… and my two gorgeous boys” (okay, okay, the “gorgeous” bit is mine) and prevented Camilla from ever getting a foothold in Buckingham Palace. Out of duty and out of spite indeed!

[4] What exactly does being "in love" mean? What qualifies being "in love?" Is it the same as LOVING someone? Does it mean mere infatuation in the onset? Or is it an intensity that lasts for a period of time? Because if it is, then it is also easy to fall "out of love?"

Here are MY current working definitions on the following terms:
(a) LOVE: is both a feeling and a decision; emotional and rational. It is also directed outward, giving and generous.
(b) INFATUATION/CRUSH: is just an emotion, usually on the onset. If taken to an extreme (especially if immature) then this emotion can be blinding, total and irrational, not to mention self-centered and inward-directed.

I feel that most people equate “love” with just feeling/emotion; tell them it’s also rational and they’ll scoff. Thus, for them the terms “in love with someone” and “loving someone” are both interchangeable.

I believe the maturity level of people will determine the delicate balancing act between the rational and emotional, the selfish and the generous, the self-centered and the other-directed.

If it’s just infatuation, then it’ll be easy to fall “in and out of love.” After all, emotions come and go. Life-decisions, however, can tide people over the emotionally rough spots.

That’s the argument for marriage. Both parties bind themselves before God and man so that when the feelings wane (counselors call it “dry spells” in a marriage) this “piece of paper” and/or “sacrament” will tide them over until their relationship encounters its “second wind” (or third, or fourth, depending on how long they last.)


My answers are so long-winded. Daniel/la’s answers are succinct and to-the-point (see “audience participation” in previous episode.)

Suddenly I feel like trashing this episode, hahaha! Oh well.

Episode: Wondering Xander, Part 2

Two more questions from Xander:

[1] i have another one that's been bugging me: how do you shoot a tv screen or a computer screen without showing those weird horizontal bars that move top to bottom? would you know?

Here’s the nerdiest answer I can muster for a nerdy inquirer.

What you see on the computer monitor is composed of still images flashed one after the other—in other words, the images are “refreshed” every so often—so fast that our eyes do not see the flashing of images.

Video cameras, like film cameras, capture images on a per-frame basis (film is 24 frames/sec, video is 29-30 frames/sec, depending on whether the video is drop-frame or non-drop-frame).

Now it so happens that the refresh rate of a computer monitor is “at odds” with the frames/sec rate of a video camera. Think of it this way: the camera captures the in-between flashing of the monitor, and it comes out as lines. (Why lines? Why not circles or other geometric—or non-geometric?—shapes? It’s another long-winded physics lesson, but suffice it to say that the monitor exposes the per-frame nature of the video camera.)

How does Hollywood eliminate the lines? The same way that Pinoys do it (this is especially true in movies and TV shows that have a director of photography who’s meticulous and a producer who’s not trying to cut corners.) And the solution is fairly simple, no need for expensive special effects. All they need to do is change the per-frame speed of the camera to match the refresh rate of the monitor.

A meticulous DOP will first check the refresh rate of the monitors to be used in the scene (or will insist that the monitors are of a particular refresh rate.) Then he adjusts the camera speed; for film and video cameras, they slow it down to about 20 frames/sec.

So how come we often see the lines in, say, local TV and movie productions? Plain laziness and a “puwede na yan” attitude.

[2] also what's your take on mcann ericsson's complaint re lacson's tv ad using chant and hand motions similar to the coke ko 'to campaign? copyright violation or public domain?

McCann Ericsson’s creative team took a kiddie chant with gestures (which is public domain) and created a chant with gestures that are particular for their Coke campaign (which “belongs” to Coke—yes, yes, technically McCann “created” it, but Coke “owns” it because they’re the client paying McCann for their creative services.)

Because Coke “owns” the Ito ang Beat chant-and-gestures, no one can lift or copy it without their permission. So Coke, through their agency McCann, has every right to demand that Ping’s offensive ad be pulled off-air. It is offensive in creative execution and in content.

McCann can formally ask the Adboard, which has jurisdiction on all TV ads (including political ads), to pull out the offending ad. The Adboard will decide if indeed Ping’s campaign violated Adboard laws of “copying” creative elements of the Coke campaign.

The only time someone can “use” or “copy” the chant and gestures without permission is for a parody. Obviously Ping’s campaign spot is not a parody… though it just begs, nay, screams to be parodied. Watch out for it in Bubble Gang!

Monday, April 19, 2004

Episode: Grave Business

The surest things on earth are births and deaths, so if you go into either the child-birthing business or death business, you’re sure to have regular customers.

The death business has always been very serious, for obvious reasons. That’s why the McVie Family, after our recent episode, has thought of several ways to lighten up this otherwise grave business.

[1] Thematic Wakes

The family can choose the kind of theme they want for the wake.

Hawaiian luau? The body will be placed on a surfboard. Torches will be lit all over the place in lieu of those garish lights. Hawaiian music—and an occasional Beach Boys and other surfing music—will be played. Every visitor will be given a lei upon entering; each lei will have a tag, “I got lei’d in Blank’s wake!” I swear, people will make that wake a must-see-and-be-seen happening event.

Rave party? Disco balls and black lights, booming house music—and the body on display inside an all-glass coffin… with the DJ spinning his turntable on top of the coffin.

Titanic theme? The whole viewing chapel floor will be tilted at 45 degrees. Water will slowly rise day by day, timed so that on the last day of the wake only the coffin—placed on the highest level—will be dry. Saves on food, candy, coffee, juice and other wake expenses. Comes with a free faux Heart Of The Ocean gem to be placed around the dead person’s neck.

[2] Customized Gravesite Alarms

We noticed how some people step on the graves of other people’s loved ones indiscriminately. Some even steal the flower pots and/or candle holders they leave on the gravesites.

To prevent people from walking all over other people’s graves, two solutions:

(a) The Voice Alarm. Pressure sensors on and around the grave will activate a pre-recorded voice of the dead person, saying, “Step off my grave, fool!” or other similar warnings. In case of sudden, unexpected deaths, or the death of people unable to pre-record for whatever reason, then a Vincent Price sound-alike will be hired to record.

(b) The Skeletal Hand. If the perpetuator still insists on standing on the grave despite the voice warning, then a mechanical skeletal hand will spring up from the ground and grab the ankle of the offending party… and not let go until the cemetery police come and apprehend the rude perpetuator.

No wonder the McVies aren’t known as entrepreneurs.

Episode: Love In The Gravest Of Places

In the movie Love, Actually, the prologue shows that love actually is still abundant in this world. The proof? Look at all the people in airports, whether arriving or departing.

There’s another place that’s so full of love, and I realized that only recently—the cemetery.

Visiting my dad’s grave yesterday, I noticed so many others visiting their dearly departed loved ones. Loyola Memorial looked like a picnic ground… well, a subdued picnic ground.

Not far away from my dad’s final resting place, I saw an old man praying in front of a grave. He had lit four candles around a bouquet of flowers. When I saw him, I thought, “Must be his wife.”

In other graves scattered throughout the cemetery, families gathered around their loved ones’ graves. Some were praying, others were having a picnic.

Sure, there were still many graves that looked neglected, abandoned. But for the number of people who bothered to visit their dead on that Sunday afternoon… the love they have is quite palpable.

Of course, the love found in cemeteries is mixed with sadness and melancholy. Even with the people who seem happy, there’s a heaviness in the corners of their smiles, and their laughter muffled.

When in cemeteries, one finds a grave kind of love.

Episode: Wondering Xander

Xander asks:

[1] is it ok for mcvie to reveal the other plugs he has worked on? and what his favorites are?
My all-time favorite is actually an old one. It was for a Sunday Family Cinema movie, Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. In that plug, I was able to take a very creative concept and execute it with fun and flair. It was also fun to edit all the different characters saying “James” and “Bond” one after the other (almost overlapping) then end with Pierce saying, “Bond, James Bond.”

[2] i remember one post when mcvie was really proud of his team for pitching a really great concept to a very picky client. which one was it?
The great concept was the original one for the current “Kapamilya Comedy, Natural” campaign. The current one is a watered-down version, though the watering-down was due more to circumstance rather than client playing safe.

[3] has he personally seen the gizmo connected to the tv that's supposed to measures ratings?
No, I’ve never seen it. When I was still in advertising I thought that the ratings thing was one big hoax. I mean, I never met anyone who knew someone who knew someone else who heard of a neighbor of someone who had the TV gizmo in their house. So it sounded like the ratings were an urban legend.
Now I know that the identities of these “ratings households” are a closely-guarded secret, and for good reason. If any TV network were to get hold of the identities of those families, they can “bribe” these families to keep their TV sets tuned to their station.
They say that the TV gizmo looks like the old cable TV box that they attach to the TV sets to access cable TV. I have no idea if this is true or it’s just another urban legend.

[4] ever considered writing for the sitcoms instead of plugging it, or are your tastes too high brow?
Taste has nothing to do with it. I have neither the talent nor the inclination to write dialogue, so count me out as either scriptwriter or screenwriter.

Episode: Nelz’s Seven Wonders

Nelz is wondering:

[1] will randy ever show his beautiful face to the audience? or will he remain in the curtains?
I sincerely think he’ll never show himself to us. Facelessness is his friend; it works to his advantage. I think if he shows himself up, there goes the mystery.

[2] will daniel/daniela be ever one?
He/she is one… heck of a headache, hahaha!

[3] will leigh find her perfect scent?
She has found it... the scent of a woman. Hooo-ha!

[4] will kerv ever grow chest hairs?
I’m sorry, but he’ll need hair implants.

[5] will xander the gander make randy go out/come out with the rest of the audience?
Xander is not gander enough to make Randy switch teams. Sorry, Xander.

[6] will mcvie continue to pun?
Yes. I’m a punny person… and “punny” is in itself a pun.

[7] am i boring you?
No, you don’t bore me. What a question.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Episode: McVie Does Randy

[1] Was Judas forgiven? (not only for the betrayal...but the suicide as well)....why and why not?
I think God in all His infinite wisdom and mercy has forgiven Judas, Herod, Ferdinand Marcos, high heels for women, punks, wearing of shoulder pads in the 80s… and everyone who’s ever dumped anyone.

[2] Where did the wives of Cain and Abel come from?
Logically from Adam and Eve.

[3] Are you allowed to have tea during coffee break?
If you’re a Brit. Or if you have diarrhea.

[4] A house fly, flying inside my running car (at 80 km/hour), doesn’t make untog sa windows ng car ko? Why?? Does that mean the fly is able to keep up with my car speed?
A fly doesn’t make untog to death, you know, cuz, like, the fly is smart enough to stop or swerve to avoid hitting the car window. You’re so ka-ka, ha! And yes, it can keep up with your car speed cuz, I’m sure, 80km/hr is the maximum speed your car can reach, hahaha!

[5] You are inside a falling/crashing elevator, at the exact moment that the elevator hit the ground… you jump up and down inside the elevator... makakaligtas ka ba?
Depends on how high the elevator falls, dearie. No amount of jumping will save you from a fall from the 50th floor.

[6] And finally, a Miss Universe question: Another candidate (your room mate/friend) knows the question to be asked by the judges… would you ask her the questions? Why or why not?
Not only will I ask her, but I’ll threaten to expose her if she doesn’t give me the questions. This is a beauty contest, not a morality issue.

Episode: Man In The Mirror

from Kervs: You can change one thing (or more) about yourself. What is/are they? Why?

I’m having a hard time answering this question—can’t think of anything specific off the bat. I’m asking myself, “If there’s one thing about myself that I’m dissatisfied with, what is it?” but still nothing comes to mind.

(after an hour editing a plug for a comedy show)

I want my hair to be straighter, but hair dissatisfaction seems common to most everyone. I want to be taller. I want firmer abs and butt. I want my physical appearance to go from generally average to across-the-board gorgeous. Why? Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?

But if I remain generally average, then I can live with that. That’s why I’m having a hard time answering this question; I’ve generally made peace with my current physical features.

(after another 45 minutes editing)

That’s it, I really cannot think of anything else. For now. Sheesh.

Episode: Missing A Dad

from Daniel: What do you miss most about your dad? Given his sudden death, are there things you wish you had said/done?

I miss his reassuring presence most of all. He was always there for us, for Mommy.

Are there things I wish I had said or done? None, no regrets.

Episode: Titular Answers To Mark’s Titular Questions

1. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
[a] if it’s Thursday evening, after work: Alone Again, Naturally [b] if it’s Friday evening, and I’m meeting Kervs: Together Again

2. Is There Something I Should Know?

3. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

4. Where IS The Love?
What’s Love Got To Do With It?

5. Why Did It Have To Be Me?
Who Do You Think You Are? :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Episode: Just Like A Miss U Pageant

Damn. I can’t seem to think of anything to write about.

Blame it on a post-burial mood. I’m not exactly depressed, but my mind’s not latching on to each and every little minutiae of my life right now. So when I sit in front of the monitor, my mind goes as blank as the Word page staring back at me.

Then while having dinner, a solution—thanks to Adaptation screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Why not write about my writer’s block? Hmmm. Predictable... and unoriginal.

So I’ll just turn to my ever present and loyal viewers. Let’s make this a question-and-answer session!

Ask me a question, any question. It need not be about me, of course, but that makes it harder for me to come up with answers. I’ll try to answer your questions as honestly and completely as possible. Of course, really, at the end of the day I reserve the right to answer it any manner I deem fit… or ignore the question completely. It’s up to you to figure out if I’m holding out on you or not with my answers.


Ladies and gentlemen, The McVie Show presents… our Q-&-A Portion!

Shoot me!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Episode: Shameless Plug… For A Plug

My latest “baby”, the 2004 Comedy Omnibus plug is now airing. It’s the one where our comedians are laughing in their most unguarded, most natural way.

I started working on that project before April 1. I was going to personally sit in on the editing, which happened Monday & Tuesday of Holy Week. Our director and editor, as well as my subordinates, had to finish it without me.

It starts with “Ang Kapamilya Comedy… sa totoo lang” and ends with the Comedy King and the line, “Sabay tayo sa Kapamilya Comedy, natural!”

You can surely catch it during our comedy shows (Mon.-Wed, 9:30 to 11:00 pm; Sat, 8:00 pm; Sun, 8:30 pm.)

Tell me what you think.

Episode: What Ifs

Sometimes it just comes when I least expect it, and in the strangest places. While starting Orlando, waiting for the MRT train, queuing up at McDonald’s. Sadness envelops me, and then a hollow feeling creeps inside me.

I remember taking my time to get out of bed. Get a shirt from the cabinet, change shirt. Shuffle to the bathroom, pee leisurely.

I see my mom massaging my dad, my brother JR’s hand on his chest. No hint of panic or worry. I remember how cold Daddy’s arm was. No pulse… was I pressing my finger down right?

That memory triggers a refrain, a refrain that keeps repeating in my head. A delayed realization: he was already dead on our sofa chair when I arrived, dead when JR and I carried him to the car, dead beside me in the backseat.

And immediately trailing after that realization, a nagging fear: I wonder if Mommy feels guilty she didn’t panic? Maybe she could have roused us earlier; maybe we could have brought him to the clinic earlier, maybe, maybe… and more maybes.

And maybe I feel guilty for not hurrying up.

And maybe I feel guilty for bringing up the what-ifs with her.

And maybe I’m the reason why Daddy told to my officemate Haley, during the first night of the wake when she visited, that he wants to linger on for a while. Daddy, Daddy, please head for the white light. Please.

a-ha sang, Maybe, maybe… I could be wrong, so wrong.

Sigh. I’m now quoting from an album cut (a.k.a., a non-hit) of a has-been Norwegian pop group from the 80s. Well, at least that's better than quoting Barbra and Barry.

I gotta get through this. I will get through this.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Episode: Back To Life, Back To Reality….

Because I’ve not been listening to music the past two weeks I’ve put my Top 5 on hold. But I must say that Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out is a blast. The moment their CD comes out in stores I’m going to get me a copy.

I’m also going to sneak out and try to catch the movies Love, Actually and 50 First Dates. Two love stories back-to-back? I’ll try not to retch. At least the latter movie has Sean Astin wearing fishnet t-shirts and tight shorts—very un-Samwise indeed.

My resources have been quite depleted. I swear, the high cost of dying! So I’ve decided to curb my DVD spending: I’ve limited myself to two purchases. I got The Matrix Revolutions (just to complete the trilogy) and Apocalypse Now Redux. I was itching to grab more, but… sigh. Still, I will not buy pirated discs just to save on costs. I’m a snob that way.

I need to have my workout program changed. All that wake food wrecked havoc on my fitness program.

I need to buy a hub cap for one of Orlando’s wheels. It fell off while on South Super Highway.

And after all that reality check, I need to relax and get away from it all. This weekend I’m going to fall into the bosom of Maria Makiling… and in the arms of my dear.

The Dead Scrolls, Part 5: If Daddy Were Elvis

My dad died before he and my mom could attend the 6 a.m. mass last April 1.

But that same morning two of the regular mass goers swear they saw my dad. One saw him inside the Blessed Sacrament room. Another saw him seated alone in the usual spot where my parents sit. She took note of that because she reminded herself to ask my mom why she didn’t attend the mass with my dad.

Both said he was wearing a grey t-shirt. Like the one my dad was wearing when he died.

At around 11 a.m. the same day, my cousin left her house to go to work; at that time she hadn’t heard of the news yet. They live near our village, and the FX taxi she takes to work always passes through our street. Passing our house, she saw my dad standing by the gate, watching the world pass by.

This time my cousin said he was wearing a white t-shirt.

When my officemates dropped by at the wake, Haley—our I-see-dead-people officemate—saw him seated next to our other officemate.

My brother’s friend also has a third eye; this time he saw my dad as a bright white figure standing next to my mom the whole time he was there.

Death isn’t necessarily the end, as the thousands of Elvis sightings have proven. It is the wellspring of stories… and legends.

Dream, a.k.a. Morpheus, should be envious of his older sister.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Dead Scrolls, Part 4: It’s All About Timing

My dad died April 1, 2004. That’s April Fool’s Day.

He died between 5:45 to 6:00 in the morning. He died when everyone in our house was still at home. If he died at a later time, he would have died in church. If he waited ‘til he and my mom got home from mass, by that time my brothers Andre and Jr. would have already left for work.

The 40th day after his death falls on May 10—election day. My dad was going to vote even though he’s not exactly hopeful of the outcome. Too bad for Raul Roco, he lost one vote. Then again, according to my dad, “Humph! Matatalo rin si Roco!” (“Roco will lose!”)

I think my dad really wanted to skip the elections altogether; only my sister was able to convince him not to waste his vote. Guess he changed his mind anyway.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The Dead Scrolls, Part 3: Eulogy

For the longest time I lived under the shadow of my older brother Mark. In the beginning it was a source of insecurity and angst for me, but that forced me to find ways to establish a different identity for myself. Pretty soon I learned to use it to my advantage. Eventually I learned to live with it, and now I’m pretty comfortable with the fact that both of us have our own unique strengths and weaknesses.

He has his own family now, husband to a wonderful and equally wacky wife, and father to two precocious kids. He also holds a key position in one of the PAREF schools (run by the Opus Dei) for boys. A teacher at heart, Mark has always been a leader by example. Because he doesn’t live with us anymore, I tend to forget that he also expresses himself well. He has to, given that he faces several classes every day.

In the final mass for my dad, just before we buried him last April 7, Mark was asked to speak about my dad on behalf of the family. He read the following speech, pausing several times because his voice kept breaking. But he was able to pull through and finish it off. Some people actually started to applaud after his speech, but stopped when they realized they were in a mass.

After my brother’s speech, part of me was envious. “Hey, I could have done that.” But that feeling lasted for a total of maybe three seconds. On hindsight he was the right man for the job. His speech hit just the right notes on that bright Wednesday morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, my brother’s eulogy:

As I was reflecting on the events of today, it struck me that this was so much like a despedida. Here we are, gathered together to give the best possible send off we can to Daddy. We have prayed for him, asking Mama Mary, all the angels and saints, to be with Daddy as he makes his way back into God’s arms. I understand, there’s even food from MacDonald’s later on—parang despedida party talaga!

But then I asked myself, WHO IS SENDING OFF WHOM? Is it us sending off Daddy OR is it Daddy sending us off back into our daily lives? If we think about it, in a despedida, we wish the departing person well because we know he will be starting a new phase in his life. Daddy won’t be starting a new phase in his life; he has already reached its pinnacle. He is with his Maker. What more can we ask for Daddy?

It is US who will be starting a new phase in our lives. And Daddy is sending us off—back into our daily lives that will not be similar to the ones we have led so far. For after today, we shall live with a void in our hearts—the void that Daddy’s presence used to fill. And Daddy is wishing all of us well because he knows it won’t be as easy as we want it to be.

And I guess, if there is a pabaon that Daddy wants to give us, it is this—live our lives so that we can bring ourselves and our neighbors back to God. How? By making the Mass a central point in our lives and by being a good example for others.

We all have our own memories of and experiences with Daddy. For me, two things struck me most: first was the importance he placed in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Mommy and he were daily mass goers. During his days in Caltex, Daddy would even serve at the masses said in the old Ateneo in Padre Faura. Second was his leadership by example. By this I mean that instead of giving us one on one, heart to heart talks about the values in life, he actually lived them out for his kids to see. He never gave me a talk on punctuality—instead he made sure that he would be at the appointed place earlier than the appointed time. We never had a father and son talk on love, commitment, and respect for others. Instead, he treated Mommy well; he treated us well; and those were more than enough lessons for me on how to deal with other people, especially my wife. He never gave a lecture on trust and responsibility. Instead, he handed the keys to the car, without my asking, without any fanfare or ceremony, when I started college. Of course, Daddy wasn’t perfect. But I saw the effort to be a good example for us, his children.

To end, let me quote a line I heard from a movie. If I remember correctly, a character in the movie explains that this line comes from an American Indian tribe. Before they go to war, these Indians are supposed to say, “Today is a good day to die.” They say this, I guess, to embolden them, to make them feel courageous prior to battle. “Today is a good day to die.” Whether this is factual or not, I am not sure. But the line stuck to me like calamay. And with Daddy’s passing away, this line has re-surfaced in my memory. “Today is a good day to die.” If we are consistent in receiving the sacraments; if we continue struggling to be the best living examples of virtues, then, ANY day would be a good day to die. For when we die, like Daddy, we will get to meet our Maker in heaven. And isn’t that why we live our lives here on earth for? To be reunited with God in heaven? This, at least for me, is Daddy’s pabaon, his legacy, for us.

The Dead Scrolls, Part 2: Break It To Me Gently / It’s Only Words

My mom, I noticed, is a fiction writer storyteller. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… kind of storyteller. Start gently then slowly bring in the conflict, including the scary evil dragon guarding the castle where the princess lay sleeping.

When she called up my dad’s older brother in Davao to tell him that [a] his younger brother has passed away and [b] can he sell his Loyola Memorial plan and plot to us? (plan-and-plot… so very murder mystery), she started with: “Your brother Dodie (my dad’s nickname), he had another attack this morning… he’s still in San Ramon Clinic… no, no, he’s not confined. (pause) He’s gone.” It took my uncle two minutes before the news sank in.

Me, I’m Korina Sanchez in TV Patrol—start with the headline in big, bold letters, then pile on the gory details after. When I called my younger sister Aisha at around 6:30 in the morning, I just went, “Aisha, si Daddy, wala na.” Daddy’s gone. Period. Omit needless words, said Strunk and White in their famous book The Elements of Style. Go straight to the point.

Of course Aisha got the point and went hysterical. “Kuya, kuya! ‘Wag mo sabihing joke lang yan!” (“Don’t tell me that’s a joke!”) she was screaming between uncontrollable sobs. For a split-second I was speechless. “This is not a joke. Sit down, sit down. Are you seated? Aisha, just sit down!” I had to pass the phone to my sister Vanessa who’s better at calming our youngest sister down.

While it somewhat peeves me that Vanessa is more credible to Aisha than me, I’m somewhat flattered that my sister thinks I’m capable of pulling off that such a pitch-black joke.

It was only after putting the phone down that I realized my dad died on April Fool’s Day. Later on my brothers and I (we share the same gallows humor) were joking that in a few minutes my dad would sit up and say, “Joke, joke, joke!”

Thankfully of all the people whom I broke the news about my dad’s death, in my headline-grabbing, omit needless words style, only Aisha was the one who went ballistic. I guess Strunk and White really were on to something, otherwise their book won’t still be required reading today.

When I went to the Inquirer to post my dad’s obituary in their pages, I forgot to include the name of my deceased younger brother Brian, who died when he was 4 years old back in 1982. Of course I only remembered when I saw the obituary on print last Sunday.

“Omit needless words,” I said as I slapped me in the head, “not names of deceased family members. Next time, ha!”

I hope not too soon though. Please God.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Dead Scrolls, Part 1: Dedma, Dead Pa, Dead Na

April Fools Day, 2004, 5:50am

My mom nudges me awake.

“Joel, let’s bring your dad to the hospital.” She is calm and matter-of-fact, like she knows exactly what to do… because in fact she does. She encountered this before already. Twice.

cut to flashback: Year 1992

My dad sat down on the bed. He was having difficulty breathing. When my mom held his hand, she could feel his cold sweat. Unfortunately my brother and I were still not home, so she instructed our maid to ask our next-door neighbor if he could drive my dad to the hospital (actually a neighborhood clinic about 5 minutes away).

There they diagnosed him as suffering a mild heart attack. He was put on medication. He conscientiously took those pills until the end of his life.

jump-cut to: February 2004

While walking back to their seat after communion, my mom saw my dad wobbling while walking. She sat him down immediately; again she felt my dad’s skin wet with cold sweat. So she massaged him a bit, until by the end of the mass my dad was strong enough to walk back home.

They went to the doctor to have him checked since they were supposed to go to the US in May. He was given a clean bill of health—well, his blood pressure was still high, but his regular medicines were enough to keep it at bay.

So when the third attack happened, my mom was very calm.

April Fools Day, 2004, 5:51am

Because my mom is calm in waking me up, I take my time. I change t-shirts and slip into shorts. I even take a leak.

When I get to the living room, my mom, my brother Jr. and our maid are huddled around my dad. His eyes are closed. Jr. puts his palm over my dad’s chest. I check his pulse—there’s none. But then I’m not exactly sure how to check for a pulse. I decide to leave it to the professionals at the clinic.

My brother and I carry my dad off the chair—I carry him by his shoulders, my brother takes his feet. You know how an unconscious person shifts when he’s lifted? My dad doesn’t move at all. My brother and I carry (literally) a dead weight. Right there and then the same thought occurs between me and my brother but we dare not voice it out. Plus we are too busy gasping and grasping as we carry my dad to the car.

We manage to place him in the back seat. As I squeeze next to him I hear air pass out of his mouth, “Ahhhhh!” “Oh good,” I thought, “He’s still breathing.”

My mom and my brother pile into the car. My brother floors the gas pedal. I bite down the urge to say, “Do you want us three to join Daddy?” because that would mean voicing out the fear I’m still keeping at bay: Daddy’s dead.

We get to the clinic. My mom, still very calm, informs the nurses that we have an unconscious patient. So the nurses, also very calm, help us carry my dad onto an operating table. So they start the preliminary put-the-tubes-in-his-nose, check-heartbeat-via-stethoscope, call-the-doctor SOPs. My mom helps them by staying at the foot of my dad, gently massaging his feet.

Five minutes later the doctor comes in; she places two fingers on my dad’s wrist then exclaims, “He’s got no pulse!” Then rapid-fire instructions to her nurses follow.

When my mom hears this, she turns to us, and for the first time that morning it hits her: what she and my dad have been trying to hold at bay with medicines has actually happened.

And then I see what no son should see: my mom’s face crumples completely—in realization, fear, shock, puzzlement… and pain.

Daddy’s dead. He has pulled off the Father of All April Fool’s Joke.

And for once my dedma demeanor doesn’t work this time. No quick quip, no ripping rejoinder. I go cold, my body suddenly weak, my mind now fully alert but totally helpless just the same.

That morning my mom nudged me awake… but my dad slapped me with the ultimate wake-up call.

Thursday, April 01, 2004









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