Monday, December 22, 2008

A Year End Message from Your Sponsor

I’m really glad I started this blog. Writing has become my tool for emotional catharsis.

Processing my thoughts and attempting to articulate them in as concise a manner as possible is not always easy. The right words do not always come automatically. Often, I become infatuated with a turn of phrase that’s pretty but irrelevant (something I relate to personally). In these cases, self-editing becomes an agony.

I give myself weekly deadlines. Exercising the discipline to put words into paper (or screen as is the case) on a regular basis has given me a great deal of clarity on matters that would have otherwise remained in the periphery of my consciousness

What I write about is often a zeitgeist for my current emotional or mental state - my rant-du-jour, my relationships or anything else that happens to occupy mind-share at the moment (Food! Media! Travel!)

My topics are self-indulgent, if anything. I don’t think I can do this for a lving. I like the freedom of choosing my topics and not having to be accountable to anyone about what I write.

It’s been great for me to find out that people come and visit the blog regularly and like what they read. I appreciate the comments and look forward to them. I'm not shy about courting validation!

May you all have a blessed and Merry Christmas with your family, friends and the people that you love. May the coming year be one of prosperity, good health and joy! May all our dreams come true! May the name Bruno stick! May I reach 1,000,000 site visits by this time next year.

And, as always, may God continue to bless us all!

What the Pack!!

2 check -in luggage. 2 hand-carry items.

4 black winter coats. 5 winter scarves. 1 pair of pleather gloves.

1 black velvet dinner jacket. 2 black dress shirts. 1 polyster black tie. 3 black turtlenecks. 3 pairs of shoes.

2 black denim pants. 1 black dress pants. Thermals. Underwear. Socks.

1 dozen bottles of bagoong and tuyo.

All packed. Ready to go.

I’m leaving for New York in a few hours. It's snowing!

I’m going to have fun. It’s going to be a great Christmas.

My Sixth Sense

I was going through my archives and I realized that, without necessarily meaning to when I started this blog, a recurring topic seems to have emerged.

I write about dead people.

I don’t want to be the person who can’t move on from losing his mother, father and one sister. But, at the same time, I don’t know how I can separate the loss from the person that I am.

Every experience is somehow diminished by the knowledge that it can no longer be shared with them. Christmas and special occasions are specially difficult.

Reliving the memories is often a source of comfort and inspiration. Sometimes the memories cause pain so sharp it's almost physical. But, as in life, you can't take one without the rest.

I know that I can share new experiences with the people who are still present it in my life. And I do. I have a close circle of family and friends who are my life-savers.

I know that I should go ahead and create new memories. And I do try. That's what they would have wanted. More importantly - that's what I want for myself. There is so much left to do and try and taste and see.

But the fact remains – they’re gone. And I miss them. And I don’t want to relegate their presence in my life to the past.

I write about them because this is a way to keep their memories alive. I write about them because I want people to know that they lived, that their existence mattered.

I write about them because their influence in still very much apparent in how I now live my life.

I write about them because I know I write well. And I want to use that gift to honor them.

That's the way it is.

The Shame!

Forget about the shoe-throwing incident involving Bush.

Even before his much anticipated innaguration, Obama suffers from indigestion during a secret meeting with Philippine President Arroyo.

Talbog si Tina Fey at kanyang Sarah Palin impersonation. Love ko talaga ang Filipino humor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bruno is My Name. Coolness is my Game.

My birth name is Fermin Arcadio Concepcion Taruc III.

The name dates me. I don’t think anyone born after 1970 has been called either "Fermin” or “Arcadio”, much less both.

Had I been born a few years later – you may probably now know me as Kayne, Richard or Joshua, even – God forbid – Duane.

But,even for my time, I admit my name is unusual. I can only explain it by supposing that my parents were trying to get in the good graces of my grand-parents.

“Fermin” is my paternal grandfather. “Arcadia” is my maternal grandmother. They had no money so their good graces were not worth very much materially. This would be an entirely different post if I were Fermin Arcadio Vanderbilt or even Fermin Arcadio Ayala.

“Concepcion” is my mother’s “maiden name"(how archaic, this term, but it’s still in use apparently).

The “III” is like a transvestite’s penis - a useless organ. There is no other “Fermin Arcadio” so I cannot be “Taruc III”.

As a child, everyone called me “Jun-Jun”, true to the Filipinos penchant for doorbell nicknames, Everyone who still remembers me by this nickname is dead from old-age or close to it.

My parents called me “Sonny-boy” to their last breath. When my Dad was working abroad, his letters to me would all start with "Dear Sonny-boy:.

My grandmother still calls me "Jun-Love-First-Born-Apo" in one go, stringing the words like they were all joint together.

I never had a choice in any of these names. I always felt that none of them captured the essence of who I was or who I want to be.

“Fermin” sounds like a low-level municipal government employee who wears white socks and puts a comb in his back-pocket.

“Arcadio” sounds like somebody’s old bachelor uncle with epilepsy living up in the attic.

Nobody over 10 years old has the right to still be called “Jun-Jun” unless they were 400 pounds and still living with their mother.

Jun-Love-First-Born-Apo sounds like something my Lola would call one of her poodles.

With what I consider good reason, I have had to take matters in my own hand.

“Tarcs” is something a friend came up with about 20 years ago. It was a private joke until I decided I wanted everyone to call me by this name. Since I was shifting careers at that time, it was easy to get people to call me by my new name as they didn't have to unlearn an old one. Easy for everyone else – that is – except me. It took me a while to respond immediately when anyone called me "Tarcs". Twenty year is enough time to get used to it.

At 33, I was one of the oldest in my MBA batch back in 1996. I didn’t want my classmates to have any impression that I might be the fuddy-duddy-serious-party-pooper that “Fermin” or “Arcadio” would suggest”. “Tarcs” was fine but I was tired of it.

After much thought, I decided that I wanted to be called “Joey". The name seemed to conjure just the right images of the young, hip, easy-going, baseball-playing, gum-chewing person I wanted them to think I was before they found out otherwise (note to heckler - no, I didn't think they could tell just from looking and it's not polite to snicker) .

In all my school pre-registration forms, “Joey” was what I put in in the line across “name you prefer to be called by”. “Joey” was the name that appeared on my name-tag during the first day of class.

Unfortunately, my classmates were pretty smart. Without having to be told, I guess they knew instinctively that I wasn’t a “Joey” type. An Indian friend - due to my insistence on not responding to anything else - tried, but with his accent, what he called me sounded closer to “Jovy”.

I got the hints. I could never be a “Joey”. I stuck to “Tarcs”. Fortunately, it turned out that i had other qualities so I was still cool .

But, I’m rethinking my options. It 's time to try out a new name. I want to re-invent myself.

Looking back, it does seem like I get to do this every 10 years or so . Much less frequently than Madonna but definitely more than most normal people. But, then again, if I were normal, I would just have settled for good old "Fermin Arcadio" and you wouldn't be reading this blog.

I think I want to be called “Bruno” from now on.

“Bruno” sounds just right for somebody who shaves his head, dresses all in black, drinks Grey Goose vodka tonics and quotes Samuel Beckett.

Even if Bruno worked for a municipal government office, he would be the mayor's henchman doing all sorts of cool things with his machete. Even if he were an uncle living in the attic, he would be up there right now recuperating from being attacked by a bull in Pamplona. Even if he were 8 years old, Bruno would be the king of the playground "takin no shit from nobody, yo" with pockets bulging from other kids' lunch money.

I want to be a "Bruno". People have said I look like a "Bruno". Okay, that's settled - call me Bruno .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Try to Remember the Kind of December and Wallow..wallow...wallow...wallow

I’m homesick. I want to go home for Christms. I want to go back to my Dad and my Mom and my Manang and my sisters.

I want to have one more Sunday lunch with the entire family sitting at the narra dining table.that my parents bought even before I was born.

I want one more morning when my Mom surprises my Dad on his December 24 birthday with his favorite breakfast of corned beef shaped into a heart on the plate.

I want my Dad to drop by my office again. This time I’m bringing him out to lunch.

I want one more ride in our old brown Izusu Gemini car with my Dad driving and my Mom beside him and my sisters and I singing carols at the back.

I want to nap on our old rattan sala set with the faded slip-covers that my Lola got tired of and handed down to us.

I want our 10-year-old white, dusty, plastic Christmas tree with the red poinsettia Christmas lights that my sister bought.

I want to go back to dressing up for Christmas eve and staying awake for Manang’s arroz caldo before we open our presents.

I want to go back to stressing-out looking for the perfect Christmas give for everyone and having it all worth it by seeing their faces light up as soon as they tear open the wrappers.

I want to open up all the cabinets and drawers to let all the good luck in on New Year’s eve just like my Mom said we should.

I want the familiarity and comfort of my Mom’s smell back – that mixture of perfume, lotion, powder and lipstick that is so closely attached to my memories of her.

I want to go home. I want things to be just like they were before.

Everyone is gone. The furniture has been given away. Nobody else remembers the old brown Izusu Gemini car.

I go on alone.

This is totally counter-productive behavior but what-the-fuck, you know?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Please Do Disturb

My friend, Renee, posted this on her Facebook account today. I found this prayer very apt for where I currently am.

Prayer of St. Francis Drake

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love

(photo courtesy of Forti Suarez. Please do not copy without express permission)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wala Lang

Today is my Mom's 2nd death anniversary. I totally forgot about it. Manang had to remind me this morning.

Coincidentally, last night, I was out with the same group of friends who kept me company the night she died.

Some things change. Some things stay the same. Life goes on.

I'm sad. I feel left behind.

I'm hoping that prolonged staring at my miniature Christmas tree collection will cheer me up. Not working so far.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Unsent Letters from a Fat Man

Dear Treadmill:

Hello again. You were too much for me. I've tried to avoid you. But, now I know I need you. I'll die without you, You make me sooooo hot. Whenever I’m on you, I pump and sweat and grunt. When we’re done, I just want to roll over and fall asleep. Your big daddy’s going to see you tomorrow. I’m going to work you hard. Watch out.

Dear Size 36 belt:

You’re a control freak. You have to let me go. I need my space. I can’t breathe with how you so tightly hold on to me. You make me sick to my stomach. Goodbye.

Dear Fat:

I appreciate your loyalty. You’ve stuck with me when everyone else has left. I’ve tried to get rid of you several times but you’ve been cool – just hanging loose all over me. But, people are starting to talk about us. We have to be firm and end this now. Goodbye.

Dear Large Size Shirt:

I am so over you. Stop hanging around thinking we might go out together again – it’s not going to happen. I’ve gone on a totally different horizontal direction but you’re still stuck in our past, refusing to grow with me. I have a new size in my life right now - Extra Large. Go pack yourself. It’s over. Goodbye.

Driving Me Crazy

In my spare time – of which I have a lot – I read esoteric medical journals for leisure. I need to constantly feed my superior intellectual capacity.

I wish. Actually, all I've been feeding lately is my stomach. While digesting, I do a lot of random internet surfing.

I recently came across a study that claims the the part of our brain that controls our ability to sing is the same exact part that determines our ability to drive a car, among other motor skills.

This makes perfect sense to me. I suppose millions of dollars have been spent on research to establish this correlation. What a waste of money in these times of austerity. They could just have interviewed me.

I’ve already posted on my musical ability (or lack thereof). I may also be the world’s worst driver in the over-40/has driven-for-over a- decade category.

When I was learning to drive, I went through countless instructors including my dad, a former friend who doesn’t speak to me anymore and Mang Ernie from the AI-Driving Academy. At one point, I had to politely ask him not to shout at me so loudly. Between Mang Ernie's saliva showers and my excessive sweating, the steering wheel and the driver’s seat were drenched at the end of each of our one-hour lessons.

High-strung individuals have no business riding with me. Old ladies have had to resort to praying the rosary out loudly (Hello, Tita Pining!). Little girls have been reduced to screams until they faint from exhaustion (Hello, Carla and Chuchai!). Adult men have found themselves incoherently muttering unsolicited instructions (Hello, Stefan and Kristanto!).

My sense of direction is abysmal. My idea of defensive driving is incessant honking. I can not parallel park. I do not know how to change a flat tire.

But, hey I’m not so bad. Regardless of emperical evidence and whatever the egg-heads in the science journals say, I do appreciate the convenience of having a car and, on occasion, I do enjoy driving (short distances, familiar routes, good company, no traffic, favorite CD playing). Even then, I will drive if I have to and you’re welcome to ride with me but don’t say I didn’t warn you and, for God’s sake, don’t cry.

But, if you prefer to drive, I won't stop you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sayang's Fiction

Let me tell you my secret.

In the 1960’s, there was an international, top-secret project involving the breeding and development of superior human beings genetically designed to have the looks, skills and abilities necessary to rule the world.

I am a product of this project.

You don't know about the project because , obviously, you were never a part of it.

The laboratory site was invaded by a fleet of marauding aliens before work on me could be completed.

Deficient in hair follicles, a sense of rhythm and mathematical skills, but otherwise perfect in every way, I was able to escape.

I have since roamed the world searching for others who may have survived that horrible invasion – that I may banish the solitude of my genius.

But my enemies are never far away and I must escape them.

For protection - aside from my intellect, good looks and various skin care products - I come armed only with 36 pairs of shoes to match my various disguises.

In my wanderings, I have had to pretend to be a chef, a movie star in Japan, a teen-age dork, a model, a philosopher , an art critic and, most unfortunately, a vegetable salad.

At one point – oh the horror, the sheet horror – I even had to pretend to be a singer.

But I am weary of being a fugitive; tired of the games I have had to devise to amuse myself.

Tonight, in the cave that is my hiding place, I strip off the latex of my fat suit - my latest , most disgusting disguise - and stare into the mirror.

I see my real self - ripped, lean with a six pack abdomen with which glass could be cut.

I think of all that could be.

I sigh.

I say to myself….


Frances Grace Taruc Gets Her Wish

For a college assignment - she must have been 17 or 18 - my sister Grace wrote this essay:

If among us, there are those who wish to be remembered as people who have, in a simple way, given what little they have to make this world a better place – I would like to be one of them.

Many have dreams of doing something significant and momentous – making them remembered by generations to follow.

I only wish to be remembered with fondness rather than awe, respect rather than fascination and love rather than admiration by those who have known and been with me.

Tomorrow, November 28, is Grace's 18th death anniversary.

She did get her wish.

In a parallel universe, maybe somebody could play matchmaker and Grace and Wyatt could go out together or something. What do you think? :-)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wyatt Ammon Was Here

You know how it happens sometimes when you’re looking up something on the web – you come across a site that interests you; one link leads to another and, before you know it, you are where you are without necessarily meaning to be there.

I was doing some web research on the Peace Corps (long story, I’ll tell you about it sometime) recently and came across the blog of one volunteer.

His name is Wyatt Ammon

Wyatt arrived in Zambia on September 2005. He left his Project Management job in Washington DC and had committed to two years of social development work for a rural community. When asked as to his reasons for volunteering, he said, "I don't want to work for money or prestige, I want to work for change and satisfaction".

He started the blog to share his experiences with family and friends back home in the US.

On November 12, 2005 , Wyatt posted on his blog. His entry was funny and smart. It made me laugh.

No other entry followed. I became curious.

Following links on his blog, I found out that Wyatt died on on November 17, a few days after he last posted in his blog..

He was leaning against a glass window. It broke, He fell from the 5th floor.

He was 24. He had been in Zambia for only 10 weeks. He had just finished his training and was just about to begin his community assignment. How could something like this happen?

As one might expect, his close circle of family and friends were devastated.

Following one link after another, I realized that Wyatt had managed to leave an indelible impression on those who came to know him. He was loved and admired by many.

I am particularly moved by what his sister wrote in her own blog a few weeks after Wyatt was buried.

Three years after Wyatt’s death, a commemorative site his family and friends put up still continues to be active.

As with anything that catches my interest, obviously, I’ve obsessed on this subject.

Having had to deal with the death of loved ones myself, I’m relating to the pain felt by Wyatt’s family, especially since they’re all very articulate in expressing it.

When the memories are all that you have left, you want to make sure these are shared and kept alive by as many people as possible.

I know from my own experience that the pain never really goes away. I’m thinking it might be similar to having an arm or a leg amputated . Eventually I suppose you get used to the loss and you might even learn to work around it – but you’re never ever the same again.

Finding out more about Wyatt from the stories shared about him, I feel a sense of loss for the rest of the world from his passing.

He was someone who seemed to enjoy life. He had much to live for and much to give. You can imagine what else he could have done and all the good he could still have contributed.

And, in one moment, that was all taken away.

That could happen to any of us. Today - I'm writting this post or you're reading it. Tomorrow - who knows?

This makes me think about my own life and all the things I still want to do.

This is a reminder to live each day as though it might be my last – to be thankful for it, and not to waste any moment of it on regret, anger or hatred.

I don't know Wyatt Ammon or his family but, from thousands of miles away, this is my way of helping keep his memory alive. Wyatt Ammon was here in this world. I honor his memory and the life that he seems to have lived so well.

Rest in peace, Wyatt Ammon.