"Huwag ka ngang bastos sa magulang mo! Pinalaki ka nila, inalagaan ka nila, nagpakahirap sila para maging maayos ka, tapos gaganyanin mo lang? Eh ano naman ngayon kung mali sila? Magulang mo pa rin sila! Tumahimik ka! Huwag kang kumontra! Magulang mo sila!"

"Huwag ka ngang puro reklamo sa presidente! Nakita mo naman, ginagawa niya lahat para gumanda ang Pilipinas! Wala nang korap! Maraming pinagagawang kalye! Wala nang trapik! Maganda ang ekonomiya! Ano ba ang nagawa mo para sa bayan? Puro ka reklamo, puro ka kontra! Putang ina mo! Tumigil ka sa kakakontra! Sumuporta ka na lang, gago!"

"Huwag ka ngang makulit! Sumunod ka sa batas! Kailangan natin ng disiplina! Hirap rin sa Pilipino, eh, kahit simpleng patakaran hindi masundan. Sabi nga, bawal manigarilyo, eh 'di bawal manigarilyo! Pupuslit ka pa. Walang hiya ka. Pero ako, dapat pwede ako dito. Hindi ako nagyoyosi. Nagbe-vape ako. Dapat pwede ako mag-vape dito, sa totoo lang..."

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Hello there

Well, yes, I did know it will take me a while to actually write here in September. This is, after all, my busiest month. And to complicate things further, the event I work on this time of the year should be happening next week, but a complicated string of events mean it's not until early next month, so, you know, I'll be dead for longer.

That said, hello there. How have you been doing? Did you miss me?

No? Well, I was hoping for a yes, but I can take a no. I have always taken a no.

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Palanca letter

To be honest, I was not going to dignify your presence with an essay.

I mean, technically, you did not do anything to me. And perhaps that was the problem: you did not care at all. Not that I wanted you to care. Not that I wanted you to like me. I don't think we'd ever be good friends anyway. I just wanted you to not hate me - and hate me you did.

Well, okay, you can argue that it's all in my mind, that I'm just being paranoid. But that's saying I'm just imagining you dismissing anything and everything I say by changing the topic, or by turning to the others and starting another conversation, preferably with an inside joke, which will be followed by laughter.

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Out of the way

I'm writing this from my hotel room. I have three hours before checking out and I've done most of my packing. I don't feel like taking a bath because that just accelerates your timeline and once you're past that, you feel like you should be leaving. It's not that I don't want to leave; it's just that I'm a little anxious about the delays to my flight back to Manila, the delays that I am very sure will definitely happen.

The other thing that's definitely happened is my transformation into a business traveler. Not the Monocle kind, not ever, but still. I arrived here in Cebu on Thursday night - was supposed to be Thursday afternoon, but again, flight delays, "additional servicing of the aircraft" making things a bit more tense - and my hotel is closer to the airport than it is to the city center. And Nat and I weren't able to meet - she wasn't available - so, let's be honest, what else is there to do?

Well, the hotel I am in is on the main road. I often pass by this hotel in my previous trips to Cebu, often while in a cab going into or out of the airport. In theory, I can easily hire a cab and go into the city, but then, I am alone, and what am I supposed to do once I'm there? I'm tired and I may or may not have work left to do. So I just booked an in-room massage , awkwardly attempting small talk with the masseuse that came in.

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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.

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