Filipino guy in Los Angeles, talking about his daily blah, reality tv, world events... a little bit of everything

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Highlights/Complaints/Praises and other random blah of the day


*I know I havent finished my Birthday related postings.... instead of having a separate posting, i'll just summarize it. After an eventful dinner (wherein more than half of the people didnt get there till an hour after our reservation and The Croatian's BF called our server a "bitch" in an endearing way), we went to a karaoke place (who'se name I wont mention because i'm an unhappy customer, and I dont want to promote their establishment which is run by a Japanese version of a karaoke-Nazi). I got to sing "Overjoyed" by MSW (Mr. Stevie Wonder) in honor of American Idol's theme that week. I did a little bit of "Crazy, Sexy, Cool" scaring The Boyfriend a little bit because of my amateurish lap dancing attempt (refer to the picture). Lots of stories....but I think everyone had fun. I just wished The Boyfriend actually sung (gr?) for me (hint hint).

Anyway, we ended the night with a trip to The Abbey in West Hollywood, had a nice drink, got a little tipsy (i'm such a lame drinker now) so I let The Boyfriend drive home....all in all it was a great night.

*Go UCLA!!!!! I cant believe that the Bruins made it this far. Although I picked them to be in the NCAA Final Four in a Yahoo pool that I'm part of, I picked them because of loyalty. I should've believed in you guys more! Anyway, cant wait to watch the game this Saturday.... unfortunately, I'm not going to win the pool I'm in (first place is $175 I think). But to my credit, I was leading last week (till all the upsets screwed up my choices...Connecticut and Villanova...I'm deeply disappointed), well I was tied for 1st place with a total 35 people! Enough Final Four talk, thats pretty much the only "straight thing" I do every year.... I dont even watch the super bowl but I just cant miss March Madness.


*I cant stand it when people question me why I have stickers for both UCLA and USC. First it was the guys at EZ Lube heckling me about it (why cant they just do their job, change my oil then tell me that everything else is messed up in my car and that they have to charge me an arm and a leg and my first born child for repairs I didnt ask for) and then this morning, the garbage collector did the same exact thing. Sometimes I just smile and say "I like them both" trying to avoid explaining myself. I understand that there is a rivalry blah blah blah... why cant I be a Bruin and Trojan at the same time?


*I've been reading tons of blogs (i'm such a bad student) at work these past few days and I happen to find this guy's blog. At first I wasnt sure what to think of his blog but the more I read, the more I got a sense of why he seems so angry. He talked about painful details about his life without any hesitation...I left him a comment praising his courage to let it all out for the world to see and to stop worrying about what everyone is thinking about. Unlike him, I still hesitate as to what I talk about here and worry about what people think of me. Like what this guy said, I should stop being a "slave to public opinion". Its a long way to go but I'm trying.

Other Random Blah

*I'm finally dealing with my dental dilemma. Loose all my teeth or pay someone to inflict pain on me and pay them bazillion gazillion dollars.....hmmmm I opted for the latter. So in two days, I'm going to have two root canals....wait i'll have to type it again ..... TWO ROOT CANALS !!!!!
This weekend is going to suck ass....

* I got gifts for my b-day (thank you everyone). The best one is Best Friend #1's gift. She gave me a gift certificate that you can use for a lot of online stores, restaurants etc. I used it for my favorite cafe/restaurant (Panera Bread), and bought two cd's, 80's pop hits and TLC's Crazy, Sexy Cool Album ( one of my all time favorites...awwww I miss the original TLC). Thanks BFF#1!

*I got tickets for a sneak preview of "Take the Lead"...the Antonio Banderas movie. I went with my USC Girls (aka I.B.M.) to the Grove on a horrible, rainy night...where streets are flooded and LA drivers are doing their usual crazy driving....anyway, the movie was fun, not exactly the best movie but very enjoyable. Not to mention Dante Basco was really cute in this one....go Rufio! Thank you STAR 98.7 for the tickets and the trucker hat that has the title of the movie printed on it ( I probably wont wear it, maybe I'll sell it on E-bay).

*I cant even start talking about all the tv shows I've been watching...I know I promised it before, but I swear, i'll talk about the following shows: Amazing Race, America's next Top Model, American Idol, Top Chef and other shows....gosh I miss Project Runway (I'm sooo pathetic).

Monday, March 20, 2006

25 part 2

I know my last post was such a downer but this one is completely different. I did end up celebrating my birthday...a very a long celebration. Here's the time line and pictures.

5:45 AM-- Woke up, prepared breakfast (bagels with cream cheese) and lunch ( a very tasty
turkey sandwich with provolone, salad mix and romano caesar dressing).

6:30---Drove to Azusa, got there early, so finished breakfast in the car. Met up with the rest of
folks who is going to go bungee jumping.

8:00---Officially signed documents saying that if I somehow break every single bone in my
body or my brain ends up somewhere on the creek its not the companies fault. Drove to
Angeles national forest following a caravan. ( I was the last car....I hate being the last car)

9:00---got our instructions before the hike, started hiking. Temperature around 50 degrees,
getting cloudier by the minute.

10:00---halfway through the hike...the group has been separated into the lead are
the marine guys, second group and then theres our group...the slow folks. Unfortunately
I didnt get to take pictures because we were trying to catch up with the rest of the folks,
not to mention we're just trying our best to stay warm....crossing the waist-deep-
freezing cold creek is not exactly comfortable.

11:15---finally got to the bridge, got our last instructions, tried to stay warm but it was pointless
coz it started raining. Had lunch (wasnt quite sure if it was a good idea to eat before we
jump but I was starving). Finally, one by one people started to do their jumps

12:35---After getting my last minute instructions...and double checking my harness and the
rope, I started to climb over the bridge on a narrow red platform.

12:36---A little bit of hesitation not really sure if I wanted to jump forward or backwards... I
decided to do the latter. The instructor told me to concentrate looking at him, and just
countdown with him.... 5.....4......3......2.......1 BUNGEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12:37---No my life did not flash before me, but I could feel the adrenaline surge...On my way
On my way down I was screaming on top of my lungs...and when I hit the lowest point of
the bungee I apparently (one of the guys pointed it out when I finally got back on the
bridge) dropped the "F" bomb. I was a little shaky when I got back on the bridge but as you can see I was all smiles (i know its not a flattering picture but I just freaking jumped off a bridge...cut me some slack).

12:55---The Boyfriends turn to jump. He opted for the forward jump. This jump requires for a swan dive but as you can see from the picture...he didnt quite get there : )

1:15---Decided to leave earlier than the rest of the group...the rain is on and off, the
temperature dropped some more, and I can not feel my toes anymore. Two girls and one
other guy decided they're coming too.

2:30---Without a guide it was much harder finding the correct trails without crossing the creek
too much (at the end of the day we crossed it 20 times). To make things worse, it
started to hail, and then rain....its getting much colder and we still had more than an hour to hike. Also, the girls were scared of climbing down some of the trails that we found so we had to wait for them.

4:00---Finally got to my car....drove home with my heater on full blast.... to be continued

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to celebrate my birthday this year. I didnt want to bother plan things out but I finally told myself that it would be a good reason to get together with some of my closest friends. So the past few days, I've been busy trying to organize something. Im also going to get to do something quite exciting (although not as exciting as my backpacking trip last year), The Boyfriend and I are going to go bungee jumping from this unused bridge in the Angeles National Forest. Its an all day hike to this "bridge to nowhere" and we get to have a picnic for lunch right after we jump off the bridge (I just wanted to type that coz its soo insane...its soo not me!!! I'm the Asian gay guy version of Bree Van De Kamp...what the hell am I doing jumping off a bridge?!?!?! Anyway, I knew that its going to be a great weekend to celebrate the first quarter century of my life....until I talked to my sister tonight.

Our conversation was something like this: (this is translated from Tagalog)

Me: "So whats up? You left me a message two days ago but I couldnt get hold of you".
Ate Anne: "I just got home?"
Me: "From work? Thats kinda late (I called her 11:30 P.M. East coast time)."
AA: "No from the hospital?"
Me: "What happened?"
AA: "Its J. (one of her roomates, the husband of her bestfriend)....he's dead."

At this point I was just in complete shock...I've never met J. but it seems like I know him from my sister's stories. She then proceeded to tell me exactly what happened... the entire time, I was shaking...he died from a stroke. He was only 28, married for only a year, just getting ready to start his life with his new wife, a great career (he's a physical therapist but he went to medical school in the Philippines). Now its all gone....

I talked to The Boyfriend afterwards, told him the story, but I could not stop myself from getting so emotional. "Why am I crying? I've never met this person before." I knew exactly why (even The Boyfriend realized it and mentioned it). J.'s death is eerily similar to my Mom's, and at the eve of my birthday, I couldnt help but think about my mom. Twenty five years ago, my mother gave me the best gift of all...the gift of life. Although its been a decade since she passed away, my memories of her are as clear as if it just happened yesterday...especially the small details.

I remember her Sunday routine. She would turn on the tv to watch her favorite soap opera and at the same time iron our school uniforms for the coming week.

I remember how she would spend hours on her sewing machine making clothes for us.

I remember the distinct taste of her cooking and the smell of her hair.

I remember how generous she is, teaching practical skills to other women in our community such as sewing and baking and her volunteer work both in my school and local health center (cooking for the needy).

I remember the fear in her eyes when someone robbed our house

I remember the strength and bravery she exemplified when we had to evacuate our house because of volcanic eruption.

I remember her odd sense of fashion with those Dynasty-esque shoulder pads, and large patterns to compensate for her petite stature.

I remember her business savvy; our little piglet farm and how she managed several properties.

I remember her crying when the Pope came to visit the Philippines and how she cried and grieved when grandma died.

I remember our weekly trips to the market. I hated it then, getting dragged out of bed every Saturday morning. Now, I see it as OUR time together. I was always a Mama's boy. I remember that she would always get the stinkiest fish paste in the market.

Lastly, I remember how she loved us, unconditionaly. She always put us first no matter what happened. I remember when I went home that one day, and she wasnt there anymore....

I love you Mom.....I miss you a lot. I wish I was able to tell you that. Thank you for everything.

Ernesto's Travels: Grand Tour of Italy the title is somewhat deceiving. I didnt go to the southern section of Italy, skipping Rome, Naples, Sicily etc. Technically it should be called "The Grand Tour of Northern Italy with an inadvertent sidetrip to Paris". I cant believe that its been a year! As I write this post, exactly a year ago I was on a train from the Tuscany region on my way to the Italian Riviera. Wow, looking back I dont know how I did it. The hardest part about my little adventure wasnt exactly when I was already there, it was in fact making that decision to go by myself in a country I've only seen in movies and travel books. I still remember the very moment when the idea came to was during a car ride to Big Bear. A couple of friends have done the tour of Europe and both just loved Italy. After hours talking about their trip I came to realize why not go for it. At that time my spring break was around my birthday and I have some savings... when will I get the chance again? I also felt that I needed to do something spontaneous, something out of my comfort zone.

The next few weeks after making that decision I occupied myself with getting as much information as possible; travel books, magazines, websites, renting dvd's and talking to friends who'se been there. Although the inner Ernesto in me wanted to plan everything down to which underwear I'll wear...I had to stop myself. I found a good balance of planning and not planning. I made certain reservations but if I decided to just completely change my itinerary then I'm free to do so (thats one great thing about travelling alone). I cant just completely b.s. my whole trip because I'm going to waste so much time looking for a place to sleep or not knowing when the trains leave...its innefficient and certainly frantic. The first task was finding out where I wanted to go. Like every traveler, I made a list of cities/towns and things to do in each one. The initial plan was to start in Barcelona, Nice and Monte Carlo, France the Italian Riviera down to Rome. Quite ambitious for 10 days (and expensive). After much research, I knew that its going to be a disaster because I'm going to end up travelling every day without getting a chance to really explore these places. I went back to the one-country plan; Italy. It turned out that a friend of mine has a really close friend in Florence (she is there for culinary school). After several emails, I found someone to host me (saving me money and at the same time, a semi-local to show me around). Florence became my first stop. After watching Rick Steves I knew I had to visit the Cinque Terra (in the Italian Riviera). I was also inspired by the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" I knew I had to visit Siena and the neighboring towns. Finally, I remember when I took an Italian film class (easy A hehe) when I was at UCLA, I remember telling myself.... "I gotta go to Venice". With these places in mind I knew I had plenty to do and see.

Hmm....I think I'll continue my story later. I'll divide my story for each city/town I went to. I'll also add some snippets of my journal (that only lasted for the first two days), and tons of pictures. Here are some of the pictures;

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

The above title is that of the short story by Annie Proulx printed on "The New Yorker". Originally from her book, Close Range: Wyoming Stories, this short story is the basis for the movie every gay man replays in their sleep, "Brokeback Mountain". I got a copy from another blogger's site so I decided to print it out because I wanted to see how close or different it is from the movie. I went to my favorite coffee shop (Silverlake Coffee on Glendale Blvd and Silverlake Blvd go check it out coz theres a new barista who is total cutie), got myself my single-shot, non-fat mocha, sit my ass down in one of their comfy chairs and finally started to read.

I was captivated. I read non stop, almost ignoring the guy in the next table who just spilled his coffee on his oh so fancy pants and maybe on his laptop too. The movie really sticked close to the short story. Normally I dont like watching the movie before reading the book (in this case, short story) because I find myself distracted by the scenes from the movie when I imagine what the book is describing. In this case, the scenes from the movie provided complimentary visual aid to the story. Some of the most famous lines from the movie were taken word by word from the story. Surprisingly, the story was a bit more vulgar than how the (in)famous tent love scene was portrayed in the movie. Not that its sleazier, its just more honest. Reading the ending, once again broke my heart. Thank you Ms. Proulx.

Exploring Los Angeles: Glassel Park

Last night, I was looking at the city lights from across the 5 freeway. It occurred to me that I've never really explored the neighborhood across the way. So after work, I drove towards Glassel Park (situated between Echo Park, Atwater Village, Silverlake and Lincoln Heights). Its an interesting neighborhood, mostly residential, lower middle to middle class and mostly Latino. The houses are very much like stereotypical California abodes; some have little vegetable gardens in their front yard. The commercial area is mostly on San Fernando Blvd. The Metro Blue Line zips by as I drove next to a huge open lot east of this neighborhood. Large trucks and other machineries tells me that this lot parallel to the LA river and the train tracks will undergo a major development. Its most likely going to be high density residential buildings. If the developers can persuade the city of LA to create a Blue line stop here, then the units will sell like pancakes because it will have a direct connection to downtown and also the valley without driving. Unfortunately, this means that this cute little neighborhood will suffer from he spreading gentrification much like certain neighborhoods in L.A. Im not saying that any sort of projects by developers are always a bad thing. I just think that the people who currently lives in these neighborhoods might be driven out (by force or by choice). I would like to see what will happen to Glassel Park.

While I was exploring this neighborhood, I stopped by the local Out of the Closet store. I love shopping for new clothes but once in a while, I find myself going through racks and racks of old, used (some vintage) clothes in search of bargain and anything that might strike my interest. Unlike the vintage stores in Melrose (where a freaking Mickey Mouse cotton shirt can cost me $40), this store is definitely for bargain hunters. I know...I'm kind of hesistant to pick up some of the items coz....well.....they're used. I have no idea who used to wear this clothes. Did they donate it because its out of fashion? Is it because they spilled some unknown liquid on it? Or maybe because they've gained a few pounds and they finally admitted that their favorite jeans is two sizes too small for them now. One thing is for sure, their donation will go to a good cause. It funds AIDS Healthcare Foundation and in some stores they even have HIV testing. How convenient is can go shopping and get learn about your HIV status! Anyway, so here's a couple of things I found. I didnt get to try them but I can tell that they will fit and has no suspicious stains. A light blue, cotton, short sleeve shirt from Structure and a light grey, also cotton, short sleeve polo shirt from Hanes. Totale price for both; $5.00

Highlights/Complaints/Praises and other random blah of the day

*I just took my midterm exam today. How did I do? ehh...not so sure. The class is too mixed (ie. masters students in epidemiology, PhD students in all sorts of programs and even residents) so its hard to gauge how the class in general will spread out the curve. Now I'm on the home stretch for this school year. If I pass the class then it might just be my very last formal class (as a student).
*I have mix feelings about the Academy Awards last night. Although I was expecting an upset by "Crash", I was still disappointed that my prediction came true. Lots of speculations about the reasons why "Brokeback Mountain" didnt win best picture but the important thing is that this movie has definitely brought into light that romance is not restricted between a man and a woman. I cant bash "Crash" coz I really did like it (not as much as Brokeback). This is my sixth year in L.A. and its great that this movie was able to tackle sensitive issues that occurs in this city (maybe a little bit on the extreme side, definitely more dramatic. But if it isn't as bold as it is, then it would just be an "interesting" movie and not a great one).
*Amazing Race was cool! I'll expand at a later post.
*I went out to Tiger Heat last week with The Croatian and his boyfriend, The Tall Mexican and his friend and Ex-Roomy#3. That place used to be very laid back, with a great unpretentious crowd, good music and fabulous drag queens. Nowadays, its turned into any other 18 and over mixed crowd club (lots of straight folks now). I think its time to drag my friends to another place (I decided this after two fights started right next to us...lots of hitting, pulling hair, scratching...this place has turned way too ghetto for me).
*I'm reverting back to my old farmer-self. I bought some basil plants, tomatoes, and spring bulbs. Here are some of them. *For an update, the plant shown on the second picture is now dead...what happened to my green thumb?*

*It sucks that Jose "Sway" Penala was eliminated last week on American Idol. He can sing but he picked a song that has been sung five gazilion (some make up extremely large number) times. He should have stucked to the whole pimp look from two weeks ago...apparently being a pimp is hot right now (ie. Oscars awarded to "Hard Out Here for a Pimp").
* The Boyfriend and I planned on spending a long weekend on a roadtrip. We were going to drive to the Death Valley, a night in Vegas, camping in Zion National Park in Utah, stop by Lake Powell and finally the Grand Canyon. Tonight, I checked the weather.....rain, snow, freezing temperatures...basically this trip will just have to be postponed....