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.

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It must be you

Yes, not everything happens the way they do on television. There is no grand moment towards the end of the story arc where everybody comes together and unknowingly rallies for the same cause. People from near and far coming together to bring the show home, to push the ending towards happy territory for one last time, tie this plot nicely into a bow? That never happens. We all know that.

And yet, well, wouldn't it be nice if that happens?

Wouldn't it be nice if, in your lowest point, and just when you're feeling at your worst, people see and start rallying to your cause? Everybody you've met at some point - and, ideally, have forged relatively strong bonds with - recognizes you're at your lowest point, comes to you, and does every little bit, or any little bit, to pull you back.

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Present tense

I was one of those people who went straight to their bookshelves - although mine isn't really one - as soon as we learned of the death of Anthony Bourdain. I have one of his books, although it's not the one others are likely to have. I made a conscious decision years ago to buy his compilation of essays for magazines (with, at the end, some fiction thrown in), thinking it would be more helpful to me.

I haven't finished the book. It coincided with the time when I decided to drop everything - well, not everything, but I put a hold on my book queue and my television shows, a hiatus that is somehow still in place two and a half years later. I did not have a ready quote to cite in tribute, so I spent some time riffling through the pages, hoping for something, anything, to pop out. In hindsight, I shouldn't have put that much effort into making a meaningful part of the conversation. I mean, nobody would notice. There was a lot going on.

I am six seasons behind on Parts Unknown. That also fell victim to the hiatus. I'm perhaps the only person in this urban agglomeration to not have seen that episode on the Philippines, the episode where Tony (can I call him that, too?) ate at a Jollibee. After his death, I still haven't. There are other, more pressing things to be done.

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I liked this sort of photo at the time. Flash plus lots of action. It's a point-and-shoot; nothing was in my control. I use this today, ten years later.

I remember nothing about my graduation day, exactly ten years ago today.

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No pressure

I got my first wedding invitation today.

Well, I have been to many weddings before, of course. I was, at one point, the ring bearer, for the wedding of my aunt to an American. It wasn't for a Catholic wedding, but that does not matter one bit.

Still, all those weddings, I was a hanger-on, for lack of a better term. It's a relative getting married - an aunt, and later, cousins - and it's impossible to beg off. There were also two instances when it's a work colleague getting married, but even then I wasn't invited because I was a respected colleague, but because I also happen to be the son of their boss. I'm not sure if that does not matter one bit.

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