The assistant

"It is my honor and privilege to introduce our keynote speaker for today..."

She stands quietly by the side of the podium. She rifles through the many papers on the clipboard she was holding. She's been doing it for the past few minutes, but this time she takes the first few pages off the clipboard. Ten pages, single-file, double-spaced, filled with annotations and edits and highlights. It was the speech she wrote.

"Ladies and gentlemen, my boss..."

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pls reply asap ü

My first mobile phone was a Nokia 5110. It was a hand-me-down from my mother, who got herself a Nokia 3310 - a phone that I would later inherit, and then lose on my way home from a field trip.

While I had custody of that phone, it wasn't exclusively mine. It was also my sister's. It was 2001; we all moved to a new school, and the phone was there so we can update our parents on our whereabouts, which didn't exactly work because my sister and I were in two separate buildings, and we don't really cross paths, because, well, why would a high school freshman revisit the elementary school building? Even if that wasn't my elementary school?

Still, I had custody of the phone, which meant everything had to go the way I want it to be. All contacts in the phonebook - remember when SIM cards carried all contact information, and you can only put so much - had to be written in small letters. She had a friend called Sig (I don't think it's short for Sigourney) and on the 5110 it was written as "sig". She was her only contact; everyone else were either my classmates or my relatives.

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Supermarket people

Spot the accidental BTS reference.

"Ang suwerte ko na lumaki kayong sanay sa grocery," my mother said from out of the blue.

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Private members' club

The "third space" refers to a place outside of home and work where one usually spends a lot of time in. In the case of Manila, it almost always is a coffee shop. I mean, parks? We have parks? But that's another essay I probably won't write.

On Sunday night Shalla and I decided to just spend some time at a coffee shop. Schedule changes meant we haven't had Tim Hortons in a while, and we had an unspoken craving for their donuts. So, off to our usual branch we went, and on that night there was only one table available. All the rest was filled with people with earphones plugged in, and laptops in front of them.

Well, one was reading a book. She had one of those book stands, the ones you buy if you foresee that you'll spend a lot of your time in coffee shops and you'd rather not hold the book in your hand as you read it.

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Earphones off

At least this time the cab driver didn't mind... or he didn't notice.

I usually have my earphones on, but not this time. Not despite the long slug from the arrival gate, to immigration, to baggage claim, to the foreign exchange counter, to the queue for train tickets. Not despite the almost half hour on the train. Not despite the long wait for a cab, a wait we wouldn't have done if not for the fact that it's almost midnight, and the free shuttles to our hotel are done for the day.

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