46 “anti-social” days

I know that fasting or abstinence should be done in secrecy to make it sincere and meaningful. At the risk of being called a hypocrite for doing this, I will go on and share this with whoever would like to read it. I hope that in the process, we both learn from my experiences.

From Ash Wednesday until Black Saturday, I chose to abstain from all my Internet social network accounts, as well as all my online messaging and blog accounts. While handwritten daily, this whole entry was typewritten on the eve of Easter, ready for posting the following day.

Day 1

I knew that it would be tough for me (being an active social media citizen) and I wanted to take it back on the first hour. But then I thought, the tougher it is, the more meaningful the sacrifice would be for me. So here I am, typing this blog offline.

It isn’t as meaningful when you have no one to share it with.

Day 2

I think I can get used to this. The day went by without me missing my farms, restaurant, café, garage, pet, empire, crime lab, and all the other Facebook games I am into. I just dread the day when I get to return after 47 days and find my notifications page deluged with requests.

I don’t want to miss anything; but I have to step back once in a while to get a better perspective.

Day 3

8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan, causing tsunami as high as 13 meters. The worst in Japan’s history. A few hours later, tsunami reached Batanes, Isabela, and Ilocos. Panic and paranoia everywhere.
My brother lives in Kobe, far from the affected area. When I was there a few years ago, he showed me the remnants of the earthquake that shook Kobe. It all flashed back before my eyes as I prayed for his safety.

I didn’t want to send Nanay a text message about it, afraid that she might pass out. A text message from my sister-in-law assured me that my brother was okay. He was in their office building when the earthquake struck. He felt dizzy and was shaken by the suddenness of it all. They were asked to remain in the building for a few more hours to make sure that they were safe from any tsunami, before they were sent home. Yes, they were more afraid of the raging waters than the possibility of the building crumbling down from the tremors. Their buildings are that resilient.

Mother Nature changed the face of Japan. Is she beginning to reclaim what is hers?

Day 4

I woke up and find the right side of my face swollen. I look like I just had a stroke. My cheeks are puffy all the way down to the right side of my jaw and neck. My lips are crooked from the distension. Amazingly, my sense of humor is unharmed. I’ll take a photo of my face and send it to my BFF to show her that she hasn’t seen me at my ugliest yet.

We let special people in our lives see our flaws because we know they will never judge us. Just letting them in on our weakest moments only make us feel stronger.

Day 5

I realize that I go online whenever I’m bored. Where are the days when I would pick up a book, any book, to kill time? Nerdy, yes, but that’s me. It’s either books or movies or TV for me. I would go out biking if I still have a bike. I would go nature tripping, but the weather isn’t exactly as welcoming as the early days.

I got bored from watching Love and Other Drugs (Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway), so I reached for my phone. I almost checked my FB! Damn the Internet!

Though I am typing this on my laptop right now, I have been writing down my daily entries on a notebook. The feel of the pen stroking the smooth paper feels good – I forgot how this actually relieves me of everything negative. I should do this more often. I have too many notebooks and pens already.

There is one good reason why it is better to read and write a handwritten note or letter than a typed one: you can almost see and feel human emotion from the way each letter glides.

Day 6

My boss said that my social media abstinence is too easy. He should talk. He can’t even operate his Blackberry properly, or use a computer, or maintain at least one social network account. He is what I would call a cyber-dinosaur. But that’s his shtick. He should abstain from @#*^&#, %*@$(%, and &&*$#@)^. Then I’ll tell him straight to his face that “that’s too easy!” 🙂

A nuclear power plant in Japan exploded, sending fears of radiation. The world is watching, and praying for Japan’s quick recovery. Meanwhile, someone insensitive started spreading rumors via mobile phone, saying radioactivity has reached the Philippines. Some people are simply not born to have comic timing. What am I saying? It’s not even funny!

Because of social media, the world no longer sleeps.

Day 7

Arriving five minutes early for the pitch, we heave a sigh of relief. We were told that the first two agencies before us were called in 30 minutes later than the given schedule. Now, we have one hour for an agonizing wait. If I could only check my FB…

(two hours later…)

OMG, one of the clients in the presentation is cute!!! Among all five clients present, he’s the only one who truly appreciates and grasps our concept. I now baptize you “Mr. Electric Dream” 😉

The presentation went well. Simple, short, and strategic. Great job, Bingski! Hopefully, we get the account.

Much as I hate to admit it, I am really more productive and more focused at work without me checking my social network and messaging accounts. My officemates keep teasing me about it, particularly about Facebook and the updates that I cannot check. Well, this only makes the abstinence more worthwhile, I guess.

There will be times when we would confuse what is necessary from what is important.

Day 8

My dentist said it’s too late to save my troublesome tooth now (the one that made me look like I had a stroke four days ago). She said she’ll extract it instead of giving me a root canal, anytime I’m ready. Yeeeeeeeeyyyy!

I love this particular Glee episode, especially the two original songs performed by the New Directions. Rachel’s solo struck a chord – the one that made me go “ouch, sapul ako dun a”.

We only think we want to save a relationship because it is hurting us; what we don’t realize is that it hurts because we’re trying too hard to save what is already dead.

Day 9

It’s less than a week before Earth Hour. Last year, I made a countdown through my FB, asking relevant questions that I hoped would at least stir awareness among my circle of friends. I want to make this a (good) excuse to go online, but nah! My knuckles are white from holding tight to the edge of this abstinence wagon.

After seeing the before/after images of the tsunami devastation in Japan (courtesy of NY Times online edition), I realize that social media has really gone beyond merely sharing personal information. It can actually move people to take action. I can imagine the flood of information and cries for help and prayers on FB, Twitter, and all the other social media right this instant.

Misery does not just love company – it discovers humanity.

Day 10

I spent the day satisfying two long-time cravings: taho and pancakes. I stopped at one street corner to buy taho, much to the discomfort of my BFF. She is never the one who would stop the car to buy from any street vendor. It embarrasses her. That’s why I love rolling down the window whenever I see any street vendor and pretend that I’m going to buy, just to tease her. This time, though, I really did it. To my surprise, she asked for one cup of taho for herself. Wala na syang magawa e.

Later in the evening, we went to Waltermart to buy shirts for my BFF’s son. We chanced upon Pancake House and, to complete my day, went to get me my pancake sandwich (a sunny-side egg, runny, between two slabs of pancakes). Yummmm!

When the urge strikes, indulge; just make sure it causes no harm to anyone or anything.

Day 11

Chef Marc Chalopin’s Seafood Veracruz is enchanting! No, wait, the cute chinito student in the demo class is the enchanting one. The dish is delicious. Or is it the other way around? Or both?(wink, wink)

After the demo class, Jhen and I went to SM Makati for window shopping. Though there was a storewide sale, I only ended up with a small bottle of potpourri oil. Will power, anyone?

I can’t remember the last time I went on a pig-out, but this one today with Jhen is really guilt-free and fun. I had a wickedly huge serving of tuna panga for lunch. Two hours later, Jhen and I found ginataang halo-halo. I don’t know about Jhen, but I have a hectic night waiting for me so I have an excuse to load up on energy ;D

Tyra calls them “cheaties”. Whatever. It’s still food – glorious food!

Day 12

Tired from helping prepare a surprise birthday celebration for my BFF’s husband, I didn’t have time to change into what I wanted to wear for the party. No, I look decent and managed to take a shower before it all started, but I could have looked better.

I had much to drink, but the long and good conversation that went with it probably made me forget that I’m supposed to get drunk. Ever had more than six straight hours of good conversation with strangers? I just did, and it feels great!

Sometimes, it’s not who you talk to, but what you talk about, that makes a good conversation.

Day 13

I felt tremors at the office, at around 7PM. According to the news, Metro Manila also felt intensity 3 yesterday at around 4PM. I didn’t feel it (probably because they conversation we were having at Max’s party were more intense). Epicenter of the earthquake was at Ilocos Norte at intensity 6. Time to get paranoid again – a little bit.

Just a thought: perhaps we spend (read: waste) too much time thinking of a shoutout/tweet/status, that we don’t realize it is already causing us a little stress.

Day 14

I wonder how much Facebook is affecting the likes of Yahoogroups. My groups in Yahoo are now getting more (and faster) reaction and responses from FB’s own version of group messages and private messages. It is easier to gather people through FB than Yahoo simply because more people have FB than Yahoo – at least in my circle. I guess the study is true; there are more old people on FB than there are in any other social network sites. When you really think about it, that may be the very reason why FB is more successful than MySpace or Friendster and all those other social networks where the young and the restless get themselves tangled in. Then again, I may be just looking at my own circle of friends on FB.

Though I try to limit who I accept as contacts on FB, it helps to expand my network to those who I think are sensible ones. I am already restless having more than 500 in my FB list since I don’t really “know” some of them on a personal level. Sharing things like photos and status messages and other personal posts make me cautious about security settings. I guess it’s because my intention is to share with friends and family, not to grow a personal network.

It’s like a debilitating disease; once it’s out there, you don’t know if it will cost you a limb or your life.

Day 15

I’m afraid I’m getting used to not checking my cyberlife. Could it be because I’ve rediscovered the joy of writing with a pen and paper? Is this good or bad, or both?

Try disappearing once in a while. For all you know, that’s what you need to remember why you’re here in the first place.

Day 16

I miss the days when Edcel and I (with an occasional visit from Jacs) would sit in front of the office TV to watch Survivor and American Idol. What made those days fun were our passionate exchange of opinions about contestants and the game – who we love, who we hate, why this, why that. We even agree to disagree.

Passion is one human trait that puts us a step ahead of animals; but it is also passion, if untamed, that can drive us wild.

Day 17

I’m shocked that Casey and Thia landed in the bottom 3 after last night. I’m even shocked that Casey got the boot. Expectedly though too early, the judges used their only save on him. A very emotional moment for Casey (and me). Naiyak ako ha! JLo was mad at the result, and rightfully so! It could be that Casey’s fans got so complacent, thinking that he is one of the frontrunners anyway, that they didn’t bother voting for him. Okay, people, now you know…

Remember, it’s not reality; but it’s a damn good show!

Day 18

For the first time in five months, I washed my car on my own again. It’s been hard to do that when you don’t have the luxury of using your own garage. I feel like one of those car paint models pretending to wash a car in TV commercials. So, I made sure I’m wearing an oversized t-shirt and loose shorts even if it made me look like a malnourished streetkid. At least I got my car to be squeaky clean. Wag sana umulan wag sana umulan wag sana umulan…

When I want something done well, I do it myself.

Day 19

Darn stomach pain didn’t let me sleep last night. It was excruciating – something I have not experienced before. It’s the kind of pain that will drive you toward hypochondria.

I finally got the wooden baby Jesus sculpture given by a friend of one of my colleagues in the camera club. It’s so adorable! I placed it on top of a glass dish and surrounded it with pink potpourri before placing it by the altar. I hope it helps me get some sleep tonight because my tummy still hurts.

It’s all in the mind, so unload it!

Day 20

This pain is getting seriously bothersome, so I finally went to see a doctor. Nanay is getting worried for me, too, so I had to bring her along since I would be driving. I was asked to take a CBC and urinalysis, and then see another internist in the afternoon. I brought Nanay home before going back to see the second doctor.

After seeing the CBC and urinalysis results, presses in the abdomen here and there, and a short interview, the diagnosis is final. It was a…wait for it…hyperacidity! Hay naku! Um-absent pa ko para lang dito. Sabagay, sobrang sakit naman talaga kasi. First time, sorry.

No pain is too petty if it is already wearing you down. Sabi nga ni Kris Aquino, “talk to your doctor today” (accentuate on the “t”s).

Day 21

I saw that viral video of 6-year old Jan-Jan who was made to do his “macho dance” over and over by Willie Revillame on live national TV. Now on YouTube, the whole world is free to see how this innocent boy is made fun of by adults who found the whole thing amusing, including the boy’s own aunt.

I have to admit that when the boy danced the first time, I found him adorably cute and actually let out a chuckle. I didn’t think that the boy was crying because he was forced to do something he didn’t want to do. He was crying because he just came from a ‘patented’ Willie Revillame tear-jerking interview. What made me start cringing was when Revillame made the boy dance the routine several times more, with everyone in the studio laughing their hearts out. Revillame even went to the extreme of putting the boy on top of a hydraulic stage, with skimpily clad dancers gyrating beneath. The clincher was when Revillame, as he is wont to do, tries to justify what poverty can do to people just so they can earn some money. Disgusting.

Nobody is righteous. It’s just that we don’t take stabs at conscience too well.

Day 22

Associated Press formally announced today that “e-mail” is now “email” (no hyphen, duh). Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been doing that a long time ago. I didn’t know it was an issue, and I don’t care.

Also today, the three Filipinos found guilty of drug trafficking in China is executed by lethal injection. May this be an eye-opener for everyone.

Nobody is innocent in human laws, no matter the justifications; but God’s judgment is the only thing that matters, with or without human justifications.

Day 23

“Am I going to die today?”

Sally Villanueva, one the three Filipinos executed yesterday in China, asked that question when she saw her family that fateful day. I try to put myself in her shoes to understand why she had to ask that. I know the answer; I just need to ask so I can hear myself say it. Maybe, just maybe, my own voice can convince me that I have prepared myself for the inevitable. That, although I had prayed for a miracle, I knew that I still might die any day.

But I am not Sally, and I may never understand what went through her mind and how she must have felt that day…after getting a surprise visit from her loved ones, and not seeing her graduating daughter there…after seeing their sobs turn into agonizing cries…after not being able to hug them longer than she had hoped for…after not telling them enough how sorry she was, and how much she loved them.

I may not understand it all, but I do hope that she died knowing she was not in it alone.

I am not afraid of dying; what I fear the most is to die without anybody noticing.

Day 24

That goal by Angel Guirado was absolutely beautiful! It was even more gorgeous during the slow motion replay, with his long hair whipping the air while his long body floats for a few precious seconds. Another great game by the Azkals!

I am not knowledgeable about the sport. Then again, I don’t have to know the mechanics of a game to appreciate the human spirit of competition.

Day 25

When SMART Gilas started, it ignited a promise to excel in this western sport of basketball for homegrown talents. Watching them now playing against the toughest teams in the PBA, I wonder whatever happened to the likes of Dylan Ababou? Douthit, Lutz, Lassiter, Slaughter. Good thing they’re all too tall to take the spots of Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca and JV Casio.

It’s a sport. Not underwear. Anybody can like it, men and women alike.

Day 26

Looking for something to do or somewhere to go for the coming Holy Week, I’m thinking it would’ve been so much easier and faster if I ask my friends online. But I can’t. So, google it, just a little bit…

The Internet has imprisoned me. For a while there, I forgot that I could go out and actually meet up with friends.

Day 27

How do you break a child’s heart? You don’t. But I just did. I saw it in his eyes and heard it from his very soft voice. It is amazing how he can remember what I told him even when days have passed since then. What is even more heartbreaking is when, after turning his request down, he could only afford to say, “okay…” in his weakest voice.

This may be the reason why I want to remain a child at heart. So there would be no arguments…no reasoning out…no fights. Just acceptance, even if it hurts.

Someone once told me, “babawi ako”. Whatever happened to that? Oh, yes, I forgot. We’re adults, and we’re supposed to be aware of stupid pride.

Day 28

He’s right. I did my part. In fact, I tried everything I know to make things right. Now, I should just let go. I owe myself a little more respect.

Sometimes, you just have to hear what you already know from somebody else.

Day 29

I organized my WordPress blog today. From 18 confusing categories, it’s now down to 6. I feel great!

Reading through old blogs made me realize how things have, and have not, changed around me. Okay, so I said in the beginning that I will include my blogsite in my abstinence. Well, this isn’t exactly blogging. I just organized it. I didn’t publish any entries.

Technicalities. They spice up our insipid lives.

Day 30

I watched Source Code with Andy today, then a long catch-up chat at Starbucks. No coffee. Just organic, unadulterated conversation. I’m glad I have mature, sensible friends like Andy. I think it’s about time we set another trip with the rest of the Amihans.

The movie? Yes, it was good. Stimulating, but not in the “Inception” level. Could’ve used a better ending, though. The director forced mush into what could have been an understandable anesthetized ending.

Who needs coffee when you’re having a nice, warm cup of brewed discussion?

Day 31

Treated Mel and Jhen to a movie – Catch Me, I’m In Love. Such a fun movie! I am shamelessly loving Sarah Geronimo and her wholesome sense of humor. Juday can totally retire now (no, wait, just one more movie with Piolo, please). I can’t believe I am sharing giddy shrieks with the young ones in the audience! I had to stretch my jaw after getting conscious about my wide smile that must been on for more than 10 minutes while watching the movie.

Ang mabababaw na tao ang nagpapaikot ng mundo – Kumander Poyong.

Day 32

Bingski described me as “pop”, twice today. All along, he thought I was only thirty-something. Give me this moment…wait for it…oh, good feeling gone. I feel 45, really. Sigh.

What do they say about age? I used to know at least one good cliché about it, but now I can’t remember any. Must be age.

Day 33

Kai called in the afternoon to say they’re leaving for Bangkok. He then asked me if I and his mommy are still friends. My heart sank, but I had to tell him that mommy and I are still not talking. How can I tell him it’s an adult thing? That I’m trying to drive home a point? He’s 6 years old!

In the evening, she called to ask me if I can watch over their house while they’re away for four days and four nights. After being friends with her for more than twenty years now, I know when she’s trying to make peace. In short, I did as she requested. Ah, the joys and aches of being BFFs. No matter how much you fight, you know in the end that you’re still tight. Who says commitment is only for lovers?

Hang on to your friends. The real ones. They’re the ones with the open arms when the false ones are done with you.

Day 34

It’s funny how people would react when you confront them to clear things out. What’s even funnier is, they’re the ones who usually start the fire.

She probably didn’t expect me to catch on what she said. I savored the look in her eyes when I asked her, “Do we have a problem here?”. They should be aware by now that I always lug a big pair of scissors with me anywhere to nip things in the bud in case they grow without warning.

I speak softly, but I carry a b-i-i-i-i-i-g stick! – Bugs Bunny imitating Roosevelt

Day 35

Went out for dinner at Gilligan’s with Thea, Pao, Ramon, and PJ. We had little to drink not because we couldn’t, but because they ran out of Tanduay Ice! On a Tuesday night, three days before payday? Really? There was hardly anyone in the restaurant.

At the risk of sounding like a corrupted music file (during my time, we call it broken record), a good conversation will always save the day. We had fun just talking and talking until we moved to Starbucks. Then more talk until midnight. May pasok pa bukas e.

Who needs booze when you can get drunk on stories with good friends?

Day 36

Anger is both poison and pain reliever for the soul. I might regret the things I said because I said them in anger, but you just have to know when enough is enough. I have been wondering why I never cried about this since it began. Now I think I know why. And I can’t cry even if I try.

Now that it’s out of the way, I go back to regular programming…

I have so many regrets in my life, but I don’t allow those to bring me down. I am stronger because I admit my mistakes. So, will I take it all back? Time will tell.

Day 37

I had one of those light night’s sleep, which is giving me a hard time to focus right now. For the first time, coming up with editorial slants is taking me one whole day. I hate situations like these.

What do you know, I am actually happy with the result of my forced concentration. Damn, I’m good!

Pat yourself in the back for trying.

Day 38

Casey and Haley? Weh! Wait, I think I just saw Casey mouth the 1-4-3 words to Haley when Ryan announced that he’s safe and Haley’s not. So what if they’re an item? Me, jealous? I’m beginning to sound like Tarzan. Casey and Haley, Haley and Casey. Well, at least they rhyme. They can make beautiful poems together. And music, too.

Love, look what you’ve done to me; never thought I’d fall again so easily…kumakanta lang, ito naman…

Day 39

I got dressed up for a job interview — on a Saturday! I took the exam. After an hour and 45 minutes, I was told I passed and the usual Q&A took place between the HR person and me, then between the general manager and me. I’m hired in principle. I just have to wait for the offer sheet.

Life is full of surprises. You just have to know how to react.

Day 40

I finally finished reading “Babyface Killers” by Clifford Linedecker. Though not craftily written, the author’s accounts of murders done by children to other children in America are indeed very disturbing. The book started with one grisly massacre instigated by a 16-yeard old girl to elementary students in the 70s. There were other similar mass murders in the 80s, but most of the stories in the book involved the 90s. What is bothersome is that most of the killers either came from good families or are intelligent students.

And I thought the Columbine massacre was an isolated case.

We adults should take the blame for the end of our children’s innocence. We have become too busy trying to raise them, that we forgot why we are breaking our backs in the first place.

Day 41

Although I no longer miss my Facebook activities (no, really!) and no longer find the urge to sign in to my online messaging accounts, I realize that I can’t afford to let go of my cyberlife completely because of my work. Now I have to ask my officemate to check a prospective client’s FB account – if they have one. It’s a research thing. Important for my recommendations.

You can’t keep running away from cyberspace. It’s how people communicate these days. Unless, of course, you intend to turn into a cyberfossil.

Day 42

HR person called to ask how much I’m currently getting and what my benefits are. Said she’ll get back to me for the offer sheet.

Ask for more than what you want so you’ll get what you need.

Day 43

Someone, it seems, tried to steal my car’s wheels and failed. Whoever he/she/they are must have been stupid enough not to know lefty Lucy from righty Tighty. As a result, the nuts got stuck with the bolts. Had my front right wheel not gotten a complete flat, I wouldn’t have found out. Cost me around P1,700 to have everything fixed. The mechanic had to forcefully break three bolts and replace them so he can take the wheel out. I was planning to get my hair treated, but there goes my budget.

Turn left to loosen, right to make it tight. Lefty Lucy, Righty Tighty. Now you know.

Day 44

It’s official – I cry easily at the most unexpected TV shows. Heck, I cried from watching Junior Masterchefs Australia! I feel bad while watching those kids who didn’t make it to the final four. They were trying to put on their brave faces, but failing miserably. They were wiping tears as they embrace and congratulate the chosen finalists. Awww.

Allow yourself to cry. A good cry, even. It can help you catch some sleep.

Day 45

I finished reading Pete Fromm’s “As Cool as I Am”. It has the kind of ending that will make you hopeful and bothered at the same time. Now I know why I am more inclined to go against the RH Bill. Chapter 16-17. These two chapters alone made me realize how too much freedom can turn into potential disaster.

I went to Imus Cathedral and caught the “7 Last Words” presentation of the Imus Youth Ministry. The play was so moving, it got me crying again even as I try to steady my hand while taking photographs of the play.

Afterwards, I went to St. Joseph’s Parish Church in Las Pinas. The church was still closed, but a long line was already forming outside in time for the “pahalik” for the image of the dead Christ inside the church.

I walked toward the stalls, just outside the walls of the church premises, where we used to buy our merienda during breaktimes and dismissal. I went looking for my favorite banana cue stall, only to find that they no longer sell banana cues. Instead, they’re selling grilled jumbo hotdogs. Noooo!!!

I went inside the St. Joseph’s Academy campus where I graduated high school. Nostalgia filled me as I walked past the small window where we used to act as bank tellers for the student bank (as to how I became a student bank teller, I can’t remember. It sounds crazy today, I know). Walking ahead, I passed by the stairs leading up to the Banig Room where we used to hold our retreats. Right underneath is the tunnel that separates the boys’ quadrangle from the girls – the tunnel that no boy dared to cross for fear of crossing the wrath of Fr. Leo . Kidding, of course. Not really, but yes. No. Yes. Trying to stifle a giggle here.

I commuted all the way and back. If only traffic is this free-flowing on normal days, I can take the heat and commute everyday to and from work. I can save a great deal from it. I can only thank God for my BFF who is there to carpool with me.

Make good memories while you’re still young. You might want to feel good about it when you get the chance to revisit.

Day 46

Here I am, typing this whole thing away. I don’t know exactly how I should post this. This is quite long for one blog entry. It’s two minutes before my abstinence is done. I have to go to sleep now. Or at least try.

2 thoughts on “46 “anti-social” days

  1. Thanks, Menchie. Each day is meaningful, especially if you relive it through writing di ba? Ang dami ko ngang tinanggal kasi masyado nang personal. Hehe.


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