Muscle memory

I looked straight at her face and noticed, for the first time, that she smiles a particular way.

Granted, I have not really met Mika a lot of times. This must be the third. The first was when I waited for Dia Frampton. We forced ourselves to spend some time together because there really wasn't much to do, and the conversation, at least on my end, was awkward. We're not complete strangers, but we only really talked through tweets before, buoyed by common friends and, arguably, common interests. And then, this.

The second time, I was treating her to lunch. A few months prior we had a bet. Something about American Idol. I had long stopped watching the program by then, as I had moved to a new job, but it was all still recent, so I predicted that a guy would win again. She thought a girl would. She won, so lunch was on me. The resulting conversation, at least on my end, was awkward, or perhaps it was because I was dwelling more on the fact that I am treating her to lunch because I lost a bet. She paid for dessert anyway - that frozen yogurt place has long closed - so I guess that's fine.

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Another birthday missed

A good ten years ago Arlene said that she will never forget my birthday.

It didn't stick with me because I'd gladly take anybody remembering my birthday. It stuck with me because that told me that I should not forget other people's birthdays, too.

I'd like to think I exerted some effort to do that. Facebook was a good tool to remind people of when you're born, at least until people hid their birthdays, perhaps in a bid to determine who actually remembers their birthdays. (I don't see the point.) I remember a few years ago when I went through all my friends' birthdays and put them on my phone. Every year I would get a reminder, down to the age. I'm still a sucker for specificity.

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Hipster by committee

1F Garden Wing, Alabang Town Center

This used to be a Mochiko. Shalla and I went there when we were still just dating for a few months. It's a Japanese dessert - of course she'd be there. The ATC branch had this wall filled with those lucky Chinese cats, all with one arm raised, knocking, out of sync.

Mochiko no longer exists. The Facebook page has no mention of goodbye, but the website is no longer active.

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I am safe...?

I counted. Jeany and I have been friends for eight years now.

I wouldn't call it a trans-Atlantic friendship. She lives in New York, sure, but I don't live in London. I don't even live in Lisbon. I live in Manila, which is not even on the side of the Philippines that's near the Pacific Ocean. I just think of our friendship as one that spans half the world in either direction.

Throughout those eight years, maybe nine, Jeany and I have talked about whether we'll ever see each other in person. Most of the time it involves her chiding me. "Go to New York!" she'd usually say. "I'll bring you to gigs."

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Nothing to declare

The fear is that, sooner than later, Rodrigo Duterte will declare martial law, consolidate power for himself and his cronies, and lord over us all for the years to come.

Well, it's not an unfounded fear, considering how often he uses martial law as a stick to beat everyone into following his bidding. "Do your work, or else I'll declare martial law," he often says, to the point - perhaps it is the point - that the thread has dulled, has lost its punch. It's not an unfounded fear, considering how often he ponders how much better things will be if the constitutional clamps on presidential power were removed altogether. Finally, no matter what some revisionists say about how the time of Ferdinand Marcos brought nothing but good tidings to the Philippines, the thought of martial law still spooks most, if only at the visceral level - the thought of being abducted, being found dead, or worse, not appearing anywhere else altogether.

I'm also pretty sure Duterte is smarter than some make him out to be. He would not declare martial law. He knows that, no matter who is in charge, the idea alone of martial law is not popular. Sure, people may yearn for the supposed peace and order of those days - "oh, things were just much better back then" - making a sweeping declaration to the effect will not go well for him. He may have noisy sycophants flooding the national discourse, but noise does not mean numbers. I think he knows that.

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