8/11/2018
Power dressing

This essay would not exist if I wasn't a non-sexual masochist.

I could have chosen an easier commute. I know the shuttle I take to Makati does not stop at Buendia, or at least the part of Buendia I have to be in: the side near the intersection with EDSA, the side that's close enough to the central business district, yet far enough to be inconvenient. Yes, there is a point in me going down the corner of Dela Rosa and Paseo de Roxas: I haven't had breakfast, and it's better to eat when you're there rather than eat home and later find yourself queuing for an hour for your ride. (For anyone reading this outside of the Philippines, no, scheduled buses aren't really a thing here, and so is a proper public transport system.)

But then, once I've had my bagel BELT and double double, I could have chosen to hail a cab to my ultimate destination. Or, I could have stayed in the shuttle all the way through, go down near Makati Medical, and take a jeep the rest of the way. No. I'm a bit stingy. I'm also convinced I need to have some sort of exercise. So, instead, I walk, from the old Insular Life building at the intersection of Paseo and Ayala, all the way to just near the intersection of Buendia (technically Gil Puyat, but you only use that name in business cards) and EDSA. It's a good twenty-minute walk, including the times when you can't cross the street due to the red man. Me knowing that I sweat easily is not at all a deterrent, not even the fact that I have to look prim and proper for a day-long meeting with career bureaucrats. Yes, I will stink. Yes, I will still walk.

Read more »

8/04/2018
This has to go on Snapchat

"Is it still rainy there?" I asked Camille.

"Yes," she said.

"That's great," I said, sarcastically. "I was expecting thunderstorms here, not there."

Read more »

7/31/2018
Don't you feel guilty?

Yes, I have been writing more on a notebook, with the view of eventually transferring those essays to the blog for the world to see. Yet, here I am again, filling space.

I have two essays on that notebook waiting to be published. They're not spectacularly insightful ones by any means. They probably will mean nothing when you read it - not for the lessons nor for the aesthetic. Whatever, I'll still publish them - but not now. Not yet.

That makes this scenario - of me filling space to, once again, hit a quota that nobody really should be honoring - all the weirder. I could just be transferring one of those essays here, but instead, I am starting one from scratch. Too many thoughts going inside my head? Thoughts that need releasing, thoughts that will definitely be dismissed because, again, who needs them? Why can't I just shut up?

Read more »

7/29/2018
Everybody hates a critic

For some reason I've been reading a lot of restaurant reviews lately. It's not that I'm trying to live vicariously through them, pretending that I have a seat at some of the world's (all right, London's) most interesting restaurants, although one review did make me crave for a bowl of laksa. For me, it's more about how these writers capture the essence of what a restaurant is, whether it ultimately is a good bet or a ridiculously bad one.

I've enjoyed reading these because, let's be honest, not everybody can do that. I can't. I write in an extremely self-involved manner. I noticed this when I was reading back at old essays and realized that most of them start with the word "I". I - I - also noticed that these essays are peppered with sentences that refer to an I. But of course, you might think, for this is your personal blog, and this is essentially a diary but only out in public. But then, a part of me is hoping I would be able to get past constantly talking about me, and instead looking at the greater world around me. I'm turning thirty, for heaven's sake. Stop being so self-absorbed, Niko!

But then again, not everybody likes people who write about the greater world. That's a different kind of annoying. Oh, great, you know everything about the world. Please, tell me more. Sure, it's partly down to how some people write these things, but then, it's more down to how people don't want to be talked to. And then it's also down to how people don't want to be seen. No, we aren't idiots. We don't need to be constantly guided around. We're grown-up. We're smart, too. You're not the only one who's smart. Actually, you're not smart. You're a smartass, pretending to know a lot when, actually, I know a lot more about you. Fuck you. Why should I be listening to you?

Read more »

7/23/2018
Save face

They tried to show that this year's State of the Nation Address will be different. No listing of achievements, no off-script moments, no cussing. For the first, the government organized what they called "pre-SONA" events, where heads of relevant government agencies do the listing down of achievements.

For the second and third, well, it is a miracle that Rodrigo Duterte stuck to the script for the most part. I counted one off-script remark, but that was related to what he was talking about before - and that was kept short and sweet. Also, no cussing, which must have been a sigh of relief for network censors and sign interpreters alike. And true enough, this year's SONA clocked in at 47 minutes.

The short length is not just because he kept his thoughts to himself, although, again, someone must have done something extraordinary to prevent a stubborn man like Duterte to do that. Part of it is because he's really saying little new. Apart from the signing of the Ease of Doing Business Law - which compels government agencies and local government units to streamline processes with the view of making public transactions faster, providing them with a deadline of up to three years to implement reforms - and a call for replacing the current quota system on rice imports with a tariff-based one, everything he's said is a variation of everything he's said before: his views on mining, his views on (supposedly) independent foreign policy, his views on corruption, his views on why we need federalism.

Read more »