Saturday book club reading: Crazy Rich Asians series

Crazy rich asians
via manrepeller

Godfrey Loh, the esteemed Supreme Court justice, could not believe what he was hearing in the stall next to his in the men’s room of the Pulau Club.

“Yeah, that’s so hot. Fucky fuck! I need a close-up. Send me a close-up, pleeeease.”

What in God’s name was happening?

“Wait a minute. The pic is still downloading – Wi-Fi’s terrible in here. Oh my God…I’m looking at it now. Phwoar! So…fucking…sexy!”

Someone is looking at dirty pictures on his phone right next to me! But who is it? Sounds like a Hong Kong accent. No wonder, all the men in Hong Kong are perverts. That’s what you get from a countty when you can buy filthy magazines right in the airport!

“Looks like it’s dripping wet. It’s so beautiful I want to lick it all over! Come on, come on, I’m ready for it now!”

Is this creep actually engaging in phone sex in the next stall? Godfrey had heard enough. He emerged from the cubicle hurriedly and went over the sink, washing his hands furiously with twice the amount of soap he would normally use. He felt dirty all over just listening to that heavy breather in the stall.

“I want to slip my whole foot inside.”

He wants to do WHAT with his foot? This man should be arrested. Godfrey banged his fist against the stall door and said loudly, “You are a degenerate! A complete disgrace to this esteemed club! Take your dirty business elsewhere! Not in our toilets!”

Inside the cubicle, Eddie looked up from his phone, completely mystified. “Sorry, I have no idea what that was about. Some ranting weirdo- Singapore’s full of them. Anyway, when will this last coat dry? Stop teasing me, Carlo. I need these shoes now!”

“Just a few more days. We are waiting for this latest coat of varnish to dry, and then we’re going to add one more. Once the patina is perfect, we can overnight them to you in Singapore,” Carlo replied.

“My uncle Taksin–you know, he’s a Thai prince–I can’t wait for him to see me in these. Taksin started wearing bespoke Lobbs when he was five years old. Nobody else will appreciate them like he would,” Eddie said as he gazed longingly at the picture of his new custom-made Marini shoes. These tasseled loafers were glazed a deep lapis blue, a process that took up to four new weeks to achieve in Marni’s Rome atelier, and the shoemaker, Carlo, had been sending him teaser photos of the progress all through the month.

“I’ll send them to you on the weekend,” Carlo promised.

Eddie ended his call, pulled up his pants, flushed the toilet, and walked back to the Lookout–the casual eatery with sweeping views of the nature reserve where Singapore’s oldest and most exclusive country club was situated.

-excerpt Rich People Problems (3rd book in the series)

Throwback Thursday: here’s looking at you, kid

As I was organizing raw digital photos in my computer drive that have piled up over the last six months, I came across this image I took of a float in this year’s Panagbenga Festival’s Grand Parade, that of a huge bahag-clad native and…little miss sunshine with the choicest view of all in the throes of uncensored delight.

Throwback Thursday: real as K-drama fiction goes

I discovered the K-drama My Father is Strange while in Mindanao during martial law. I’d been scanning the news for the next big K-drama hit – Bride of the Water God which I’d been following had concluded – and reviews pointed toward Father is Strange. I checked the K-drama series on the Viu app and wasn’t even halfway into the first episode when I already liked it. Firstly, because of Kim Hae Sook, whose Hitler-ish character as training manager of Hotel Ciel in the K-drama series Hotel King that starred my favorites Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae was a novelty, who played the sacrificing mother in this series. Secondly, for a scene in the first episode in which the siblings, the two elder sisters, had this epic hair pulling fight (Filipino drama fight scenes have yet to top this, I think).

In the scene, the younger sister had taken her older sister’s Prada bag on the sly. She had gone on a night out with friends and had decided the bag would perfectly complete her outfit.

Well, the older sister, a fashion-savvy lawyer, walking home late from work, happened to pass by the very spot her sister and her friends were and saw her treasured bag. Her stance by the window looking in is obviously that of an enraged tigress but contained nonetheless being the sophisticated career woman she is. Hell would have to break loose first before she’d let her her sister’s friends see her morph into a she-raging monster.

Instead, she went on home where rummaging through her sister’d wardrobe found her sister’s favorite dress. She calmly took it down and promptly ruined it in the shower. The younger sister, knowing her older sister and so going home earlier than what she’d planned with her friends, is devastated.

She ran after her older sister and pulled her hair. That started the fight. Their two other siblings tried stopping them but to no avail. Hair got pulled this way and that, bodies entangled here and there, and falling on the floor they rolled and fought some more.

They only stopped when their parents came home, too shocked at the scene before them, who had to shout at them to stop. A Korean-style lecturing was launched afterward.

Their parents asked for explanation especially from their eldest, the lawyer, to which she replied “I’ve told her several times not to get my things without asking me first but she gets them all the time anyway!”

I laughed so long at this scene that my stomach hurt, and loud that I feared my neighbors thought I finally went batshit crazy living by myself in the midst of a security crisis.

I could laugh at it then an outsider watching the fight scene but of course not when you’re the one in it. I’d been in a similar situation in fact. It was also with my sister about her using my things on the sly especially those with “sentimental value”. This despite frequent reminders that she tell me ahead at the very least. The nth time my reminder fell on deaf ears, I lost it. I’d been bottling up my irritation and frustration (what’s so difficult asking me? hell, if she wanted something so much I’d give it to her) for the sake of peace among us but I guess we all have a limit. I confronted her, storming into her room and unleashed all my pent-up anger at her, verbally, and then, walked out. I’d been up the stairs not a few steps when she came onto me from behind. To cut the story short, we ended up in a sort of wrestling match hair pulling included, the play room floor our ringside. Surveying myself after I saw on my thigh a huge horrible-looking bruise and also gradually became aware of body aches all over. My sister’s younger, taller, and more physically constituted than I. I remember the first sober thought that crossed my mind immediately after our brawl (apart from worrying how I’d be able to walk straight in the workplace the next day) was, holy shit, if this is what it takes to be a zillionaire, I’d never aspire to become a boxer or a wrestler, ever!

In Father is Strange the scene ended with all the siblings being grounded- going without dinner and sitting it out in the cold night air to reflect for as long as it takes them about what they did. The two elder sisters bickered at first but somehow patched up eventually with the help of their two younger siblings. The parents sneaking in on them afterward saw this and were happy to see it. Everybody’s happy once again.

In my case, my sister and I haven’t reconciled. My sister wants me to apologize to her and I want her to apologize to me. If I’m pig-headed in these instances she is even more so. And nobody is helping mediate us back together. This is the part that’s not exactly material for laughs.

In Mindanao then I only got to episode seven of the series and only resumed watching recently. I came by it as I was organizing almost-forgotten documents still in shipping boxes.

Friday Funny:  oh my label

My coat’s pretty warm, even though it cost 9.99 pounds and came from the flea market. It had a label in it, CHRISTIN BIOR, but I cut it out as soon as I got home. You can’t work where I work and have CHRISTIN BIOR in your coat. You could have a genuine vintage Christian Dior label. Or something Japanese. Or maybe no label because you make your clothes yourself out of retro fabrics you source at Alfies Antiques.

My Not So Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella

Reminiscing the year’s dead from around the globe because of poverty and discrimination: “Attack on Titan Christmas Carol”

​On the twelfth day of Christmas
the Titans gave to me.

Twelve dead friends,
Eleven dead friends,
Ten dead friends,
Nine dead friends,

Eight dead friends,
Seven dead friends,
Six dead friends,


Four dead friends,
Three dead friends,
Two dead friends,

And a teammate smashed against
a treeeee.

Source: ifunny

Happy national breakfast day!

national breakfast day at StarbucksThe event is McDonald’s, but for some reason branches in Baguio have not reached out to their customers earlier and openly hence the poor turn out. I got irritated when the crew who approached me trying to “sell” the PHP49 coupon of hash browns and coffee(?) couldn’t explain to me the mechanics well. I don’t get this grumpy easily but having fasted the night before and having let out blood first thing that morning probably had messed up my body chemistry. So I gave him back the coupons and told him and the cashier I bloody want BREAKFAST not a hash brown or a muffin. Somehow that got everybody behind the counter laughing – perhaps the way I spoke – which eased my conscience a bit.

Then afterward I had dessert at Starbucks, for the reason that McDo doesn’t have hot chocolate. So yeah- my side of the story on such a day. McDonalds (franchise owners) has to step up standardization of customers’ brand experience across the country. Staying true to it’s advertisements, the same level of quality in service and products regardless of location, in Jolo or in Makati City, should be in place.

I’ve been inside plenty of branches across the country and my experience of the brand in each was far from standard. Such impacts on the overall brand quality. The question in the mind of the customer is, what makes this or that branch stand out from the rest? if there are branches that meet the McDonalds standards, how come it’s not happening in all?

Fifty Shades of Grey Darker

red leather


Erotic not kinky, it’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.

– Terry Pratchett

Finally here is the second film installment of our favorite book, Fifty Shades of Grey Darker which contains most of the story’s BDSM scenes. Adapting that to film without turning the whole thing into porn mush must’ve been quite the challenge for the team behind the camera.

Even then news has it that hardly anybody’s “moved or aroused” and it was Lego Batman that took the lead on opening week in the US! Something’s really off when not even Kim Bassinger (beautiful and youthful still at 63) as Mrs. Robinson couldn’t lure more people into the theatres.

Maybe it’s the wait time. The first film was much anticipated, a hit in 2015, which raked in $560M from around the world. But then much has happened since. Greater and more shocking events than Grey and his red room games have shaken and rocked the world. Trump the real billionaire has usurped Grey the storybook billionaire. Coming into 2017, people are exhausted and like overworked stay-at-home wives simply can’t work up at the snap of a finger enough blood supply to that part of their anatomy (though Trump has nothing to do with global drop in libido whatsoever, this statement being fake). And Lego Batman, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy, had come in at the right time. Timing, is that what’s it called?

Nonetheless, I’ll include this second installment in my list to watch (for private viewing, that is, as I couldn’t imagine myself able to focus on the scenes with 100 others).

The press conference of a lifetime

Donald Trump leaks are real news is fake

US President Trump’s solo press conference was probably the most refreshing I’ve watched. Michelle Obama had her “when they go low, we go high” moment. I believe President Trump, channeling his savvy businessman persona, had his. I’ve not laughed so much in a long time! I believe this has cured my February maladies!

Right there was ‘white American’ in the raw. That ‘American’ whom peoples across the globe have had complicated relationship with- the one they “hate” and then also love. He’s no Mao or Stalin however who had histories of killing people and such. Thing was, in the press conference, that famed American bad-assedness was turned upon itself, against the American press that is. Suddenly, nations of the world became, for a change, the outsiders of an all too familiar treatment. 

But, if we don’t think too much about the President’s communication style and try to step away from getting embroiled in criticisms against him and into his shoes ie. a first time politician but nonetheless part of corporate America that contributes much to “US supremacy”, there are nuggets of wisdom in his statements that the press ie. corporations having journalism as their business really need to reflect on:

The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it. We have to find out what’s going on because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control. I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking, and really talking, on this very entrenched power structure and what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure. We’re talking about its entrenchment. As a result, the media’s going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort.The distortion, and we’ll talk about it, you’ll be able to ask me questions about it. We’re not going to let it happen because I’m here, again, to take my message straight to the people.

The President isn’t the first to call out the media. There are the celebrities constantly followed around by papparazzi who counter with statements like “fame comes with price” and “just doing our job”, and articles about their lives you won’t know if it’s true or not prompting celebrities to open their own social media accounts. Could media be ever honest? Billy Joel’s Honesty comes to mind-

If you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
Honesty is such a lonely word

On that the President and media, like Tom and Jerry, could go at it without end with nothing accomplished in the end. Perhaps it’s just a matter of managing expectations on both sides? It’s clear media has some preconceived ideas about the ‘President’ and his treatment of them and the new President has also his, of how media should cover him and his administration. I could understand how a first time politician, the US President at that, could feel so much pride for the smallest of accomplishments of his office and thin-skinned about any criticism versus the weary and cynical attitude of a press that has covered plenty of Presidents and failed policies. Would conceding those initial accomplishments to this particular President lead to a better relationship? In any case, both sides need to find their common groove.

More than just an interpreter

​The funny scene in My Girl wherein Gong Chan (Lee Dong Wook) and his business partners are eating while Yoo Rin (Lee Da Hae), her stomach grumbling with hunger, was still focused on translating the conversation at table because her employer Gong Chan had not permitted her to eat along with them reminds me of a similar experience. Real time translation looks easy peasy but it’s actually not. If it does seem a breeze, you’re seeing the result of skills honed by years of experience.

At the time, I translated for a team of researchers from abroad who did a study among Filipino youth. The primary methodology was focus group discussions with groups of eight to ten young men and women not necessarily high school or college graduates who understandably prefer to use Tagalog. There were also a few intervewees from agencies who preferred to speak in the vernacular. Hence the need to translate responses in Tagalog to English and back.

The first FGD was a test, to give us a feel of how we sync with one another ie. myself and the researchers. Although we had been communicating through email about the work ahead, we only met for the first time in person on the day we started with the first FGD.

We got caught in EDSA’s infamous traffic. Riding from Makati City to Quezon City, we arrived at the venue a little past noon, or a total 3.5 hours! Welcome to the Philippines! Mabuhay! Boiling up in our throats, a string of expletives held in place by good manners and right conduct. After a profuse show of apologies to everyone who had been waiting, we immediately got down to work.

I didn’t know about my companions but I was hungry. Really hungry. In fact, my stomach growled. Breakfast – banana and coffee – was my last food intake. I was sure the guy researcher, seated beside me, also heard my innards which in the ensuing two-hour FGD didn’t let up. He is apparently the quintessential English gentleman and so I was sure he heard nothing of consequence. At the start of the second FGD though, he sat next to me again explaining, I need to hear you more clearly. The aircon’s busted, I think. Was he humoring me? But since we already had our lunch before then, I said yes, sure confident there was absolutely nothing to hear that time around.

On-the-job rapport with the researchers went pretty well. The pace of the discussions posed a bit of a challenge though. Participants speaking spontaneously in reaction to another’s statement is hard to manage without some rules set early on, as for instance, reacting or adding to another’s statement will be done only after the interpreter has already translated said statement.

Also, the importance of making translations as close as possible to what was originally said. This is a challenge when Tagalog words or phrases especially those touching on local culture and life do not have exact translation in English. Bayanihan, for instance. Technically-correct translation is, aid or assistance from neighbors and community residents. But, in the context of Filipino culture, bayanihan actually goes deeper than that. When encountering this, I forego further explaning to the researchers so as not to stall the flow of discussion, take mental note of the words, and when I’m alone with the team, in the car while wrestling traffic or at the hotel for debriefing, that’s the time I expound. As a researcher myself, I’m aware that interpretation of context, place, people, or history has significant impact on the research outcome. That’s one of the limitations faced by foreign researchers- they need adequate time to immerse in the local in order to understand it and tell of it with authority, or lacking that, learn from a reliable source.

There was just this one hitch during the field work. On the first day of scheduled FGDs, the same guy who may have heard my hunger pains disrupted me while I was translating his colleague’s query (spoken in English) for the participants. He told me about the need to translate as close as possible to original statements. I got irritated, that I was cut in the middle of translation, my head screaming at him like, go to hell! I am doing it, if you understand Tagalog. But, I guess, these things are forgiveable on first meetings when we were all feeling each other out, so instead I looked him in the eyes, nothing antagonistic by it, just to transmit the message that I did know he’s from Oxford but I’m the interpreter so cool it. I noted on the side the wonderful color of his eyes before returning my attention back to the group. He returned to recline in his chair beside me.

In group discussions, the interpreter, putting into play various skills, is in effect the one touching base with participants- asking the questions in a language they understand, making them feel at ease (by telling jokes, related stories, and the like) in order that they’ll respond well, being present to their responses to be able to translate these in good form, expounding on terminologies not readily understood, etc. In short, bridging worlds. That’s why in the movie we see Gong Chan’s business partners asking for repeat service from Yoo Rin who charmed them in ways other than merely rendering translation.