The same place where we began

Yesterday, the United States State Department named Pasig mayor Vico Sotto as one of twelve "anti-corruption champions" around the world. Citing his efforts to promote transparency in his city, they called him "a fresh voice with a new, more transparent approach to governance" and "a standard-bearer for a new generation of Philippine politicians".

In response, the mayor sought to, as always, deflect attention away from himself. "I hope this helps raise awareness," he said in a tweet. "If we want better long-term governance, we need to fight corruption. We have to denormalize it, get it out of our culture."

Well, that's going to be hard, of course.

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The chase

I don't remember my dreams. I mean, the ones I have at night, whenever I go to sleep. In almost all instances I can't stand in front of you and give you a complete-ish narrative of what my subconscious conjured while I supposedly rested.

Frankly, I'm a little jealous Shalla could do that. Many mornings she'd tell me what she dreamt of, and all I could do inside is wish I could do the same. All I could do is tell her very general things about my dreams. It's in a busy setting - perhaps a crowded city, or a shopping mall that's closed for the day. It always involves me with another girl - not necessarily someone I know, but just another girl. We're always being chased by someone, or something, but almost always someone. My dreams rarely go to supernatural territory.

"They're anxiety dreams," she'd tell me.

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The world waits in your heart

In 2017, a new shopping complex opened in the heart of Tokyo's upscale Ginza district. Ginza Six boasts of 241 stores, including flagship outlets for some of the world's most renowned luxury brands; 24 restaurants; a 480-seater theater showcasing the traditional Japanese drama called noh; a 4,000 square meter rooftop garden; and modern art installations, all enclosed within a building designed by celebrated architect Yoshio Taniguchi.

Of course I haven't been here. I only know about this because, around the time of the launch of the mall, someone posted about a song that was commissioned to mark its launch.

I still had the music blog at the time, so naturally I kind of obsessed about it. It was kind of an easy sell. Around this time I was also obsessing (again) over Sheena Ringo's "A Long and Short Festival", a song that Monocle 24 used to play with regularity. I did some sort of deep dive on her music as part of the blog's primer on Japanese pop, so I kind of understood her appeal. And then this came along. "The Main Street" is a collaboration with Tortoise Matsumoto, the vocalist of Ulfuls, a band I, of course, had never come across. While I'm not into showtunes, I like myself a lush, bloated production, and this fit the bill, even if all I had to watch was a 90-second promotional clip.

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Masks for babies

It's going to be a year since we all had to go through all this, and some of the time I've been wondering about babies.

They're growing up in times different from us. We were able to go out. They aren't. I highly doubt they've been in a mall. Then again, despite the ban on under-18's to visit malls, I have seen little kids on there, and nobody seems to care, as is standard. But then, people seem to care more about babies than slightly older children.

But then, I have been around babies and toddlers in the past year. I've seen Shalla's nephew and niece, and they seem fine. What apparently is different between them and us is how they associate wearing masks with going out. They did know a world before a pandemic - okay, her nephew does, as he's turning three years old in a week, and he always like it when he leaves the house. Like, whenever I visit, he'd ask me (however babies do it) to carry him outside, and we'd just look at the trees and dogs and streamers, and we'd talk (however babies do it) until he inevitably falls asleep in my arms, in which case I come rushing back home to his mother. "Inaantok na!"

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Shalla's been into Milo lately. A better alternative to coffee, she surmises.

It shouldn't be a problem, as I have been choosing Milo over coffee for as long as I live. There's always a pack of powder in the kitchen cabinets. It's a childhood habit that's hard to shake, even if recent years have seen more exceptions to the rule.

But she's been into the ready-to-drink kind. Easier to get from the fridge, and arguably, tastes better. Yes, I know there's fun in making your own glass and having to contend with the powder rising up to the top despite your every effort to stir. I remember seeing members of the Singaporean and Malaysian diaspora romanticize it online and going, well, that is our thing too! before remembering that I felt it a waste of powder at some point and deciding the best solution is to add a little almost lukewarm water to dissolve the Milo before you add the cold water.

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