Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano

http://amzn.to/2oROsmK

I have always loved rain. There's just something in its pitter-patter on the sidewalk, the petrichor it leaves, the wistfulness it brings about.

As so, it surprised me to know that someone named Rain would hate days when her namesake falls from the sky.

And fall she does. In Fall Like Rain, a book by Ana Tejano, Rain encounters deep, brown pools she would love to drown in over and over again - in her best friend's eyes.

Unfortunately, she isn't quite sure if he, Mark, feels the same way about her. So she clings to him as they dance, shifting their toes in and out of the friend zone, unknowing whether to stay in line or take that dangerous step into love.

Add to that the fact that her cousin Lissa is moving in next week, and she may just have taken an interest in Mark too.

Fall Like Rain is a whirlwind of a tale, centering around a busy career woman caught between a family she doesn't know and a good friend she knows too well.

It's a simple enough story, but one woven in the lives of the millennials of Metro Manila. A story wherein, despite the ease of communication technology brings today, people still find it hard to share their true emotions with one another - even if they see them every day.

Peppered with the opinions of good friends, a surprisingly nice ex, and the usual flash floods, this book is a look into the relationships we have with the people around us, the food we share with our loved ones, and the uncertainties we are faced with when it comes to relationships.

Read this book to reminisce the could-bes and the what-ifs. Read this book to remember the electricity of a touch and the crush of disappointment. Read this book to recall fond memories of your family and the scent of your lola's good cooking.

Read this book to fall like Rain.


Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Again

Here I am
again.

Drinking in your
sorrow
between my sips of
tea.

You're talking about
that person
again,
the one who
never calls back
never listens to you
never seems to
love you
like
you them
or
me you.

Today, you opt for a strawberry sundae
to douse your
pain
while I choose English Breakfast
for
mine.

I see you swallow the sweet
with bitter
tears, allowing the cold
to numb
your crushed
heart.
(It is as
bitter
as the tea
I've been drinking
that has lost its
warmth
from staying with
you
for so
long.)

You tell me
the same things
you've been telling me
for the last
6 months
you've been
together.

You tell me
the same things
you've been telling me
for the last
8 years
we've been
together

as
friends.

Friends.

That's what they always say you two should be.
That's what you always say we two are.

You fall
and fall
and fall
in love with
someone else,
while I fall
and fall
and fall
for
you.

Today,
you cry
and wonder
when you'll ever find
your
someone.

Tomorrow,
you will get
up
and find
a someone,
a someone
that's not
me.
 
Me,
I will
smile
pay for your
drink and your
time
and take another sip
of the bitter drink
I will always choose
with
you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bittersweet

I see you
walk into this
coffee shop
every
day.

You enter the
doors,
buy a large
upside
down
caramel
machiatto,
and walk to your
favorite
table.

You used to have
another
corner,
but it has been
taken
by another
that you are
taken
with.

You lay down your laptop
bag,
remove your cup's
cover,
enjoy its sweet
fragrance,
and take
a drink.

A little bit of foam
usually covers
the top
of your lip,
and I wonder
if it is
as sweet
as the caramel
I
slowly
precisely
lovingly
pour
on your coffee
every
day.

You take a few more sips,
sometimes swaying to the
music
that I started playing
all the time,
ever since you said
it was your
favorite.
As you silently
sashay
on my mind,
your eyes never leave the
corner
you gave up
for another.

I notice you
 notice them
 noticing you
but never
noticing
me.

You never
see
the smile
I give you
when you say
my name
as you order
the coffee
I make
only
for you.

You never
feel
the touch
of my hand
when I give
you your
change,
a small
spark
as electric
as espresso.

You never
hear
the thank you I say
each time
you go,
leaving behind
the
moments
you
and I
imagine
in this

space.

I know you will
never
see
me
while seeing me
every
day.

But
I will be
here,
making
your coffee,
enjoying
your smile
as I make your
drink
perfect
every time,
drinking in the
bittersweet
of a
secret.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moment

Hello, you.

Yes, you.

Sitting in this coffee shop, 
 your brow furrowed,
 your fingertips on your laptop,
 your mind trapped
  between your work and a cup of Joe.

You come here often,
 almost as much as I do.

You usually order a
tall
brewed
coffee
with one cream.

On other days, when you enter the doors
with
a wide grin
and
a heart full,
you get a large
soy
mocha.

You have a corner
(it used to be my
corner, until you came)
where you carry your
 drink
 and plug in
  your laptop
  your mouse
  your headphones
  your
stress.

Sometimes, 
I notice you 
  notice me
  noticing you
but only
for a second.

One
cursory
glance.

But while your eyes are on me
your thoughts are in
 the words you type
 the lights that dance on your screen
 the cup you press
to your lips.

I often wonder
if we work for one man
and he destined
for us to be 
coworkers
in this little

space.

Hoping the cups we drink 
are ample substitutes
to the watercooler
he will not
pay for from a
million 
miles away.

But your eyes flit to your computer, 
always clouded with
 unending deadlines 
 bills overdue
 worries
of your success.

I know this because 
my own screen pulses
with 
 dreams
 desires
 doubts.

I hope one day
you will look
up to see
me
raise my
cup
at you
with
a smile
and a silent
hello.

And I hope
on that day
you will
lean back
raise your
cup
and have a moment 
with
me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

[Video Game] 3 Things I Love About Badwater Basin



I take in a deep breath and look over the land with great fondness.

Ahh, Badwater Basin. Nope, not that real life basin of "bad water" over at Death Valley. I'm talking about one of the oldest maps in the Team Fortress 2 universe, the second Payload map added to the game. Yep, good ol' pl_badwater.


That's right, the little basin in the shape of Australia, you bloody fruit shop owners.

Badwater Basin has always been one of my favorite maps in Team Fortress 2. I believe I started falling in love it when I was a wee lad with only 100 or so hours in the game. You know, back when Quick Play existed and we didn't have that new game mode people can't get enough of.

I mean seriously, I've never flipped it 3 times in a row yet. [Source]

There may be plenty of maps available now, but I still find myself drawn to the Basin today. Its charm has never quite dulled for me yet, and probably never will. As so, here are three things I just love about Badwater Basin.

An all-class map


I've played in many maps in TF2, but Badwater Basin is among the maps I find to be balanced enough for me to enjoy playing as any class I choose. There's just something about its pathing and choke points that allows me to be flexible with characters I want to play with... Until some pubstomping tyrant angrily points out having 5 spies in his team.

Roof Sentries - Badwater
 But we need the combined power of our 5 spies to beat the 5 sentries of the other team! [Source]

Whether you're a market gardening Soldier or a Lime Scout, Badwater's got enough space and corners to let you do your own thing. Just remember to push the payload - to extend the time for mischief and other hijinks.

Teamwork in TF2?!


I've always been a casual player, which means that I am used to being called a tryhard if I want to, you know, work on the actual objective of the game. However, for some reason, 90% of the time I'm on a Valve Badwater map, I notice that I tend to actually try for the objective, and that many of my other teammates do, too. Sure, you get the Strange Farmer here and there, but it's not uncommon for me to see communication for coordinated pushes or tactical brainstorming happen.

OKAY TEAM, THROW YOURSELF AT THE CART NOW! [Source]

While I sometimes laugh at how serious some are over a casual game, I honestly relish the teamwork that is fostered for at least 20 minutes in this particular map. I'm guessing this is in part because of how Badwater is among the maps used for competitive TF2, but it's more likely because of the hypnotic serum Valve has incorporated to the map to awaken the competitive beast in their players.

That is, unless your team is full of players who just installed the game 10 minutes ago, then scrap that and enjoy the spawncamping.

The PTSD Nostalgia


Okay, it's true. Badwater Basin was one of the maps that I spent hours upon hours on when I was working towards my first hundred hours in Team Fortress 2. That being said, I probably know this map like the back of my hand, and each little nook and cranny gives me a hint of nostalgia over the memories of when I was an inept bumbling merc (especially now that I'm a not-so-bad-but-still-kinda-inept bumbling merc).


I also have plenty of memories of those trollgineers that found (and exploited) each nook and cranny. [Source]

Yep, this was where this young Padawan trained to be fit for the battlefield - and ended up miserably dying over and over again. But hey, thanks to Badwater's eternal sunny skies and cheerful industrial buildings, it always pushed me to get up, try again, and frankly stop being a crybaby. (Oh wait, that was thanks to the unending abuse I got while training as a young Medic. My bad. Still, Badwater's pretty great.)

Good Ol' Badwater


As you probably have guessed, I really, really love pl_badwater - almost as much as aabicus loves orange chicken. As so, even today, I tend to be among the ranks of mercenaries who fight in the gravel wars of the Basin. Oh, I know it's not a perfect map*, by all means. But it's one close to my heart, and no new Payload map will ever change that (though I do enjoy a good match on Borneo).
 

What about you? What do you think of Badwater? Do let me know in the comments below!

So yeah, I guess you know where to find me when I say I'll hop on TF2 now. (No, it's not in my parents' basement.) See you in the Badlands, friend. Gesundheit!


*I mean, I really wish Blu's spawn moved up sooner, and that the second spawn actually had more entrances. (If only pl_badwater_pro were in circulation!) But I believe that Medic here nitpicks about it in an anti-Badwater article, so watch out for that. Don't forget to also check out the rest of the entries for A Week of Love and Hate 3!


This article also appeared on The Daily SPUF.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Writing] Bubbles the Survivor



In the game Town of Salem, you can leave random notes on your "will" that everyone in Town can view once you die. Ideally, you would write things in it that would help the players (especially those in your faction) figure out who has which role. I usually leave helpful (and not-so-helpful) notes on mine, but sometimes, I get struck by inspiration and end up writing a story instead.

This particular will story came about when I ended up as a Survivor named Bubbles.


I always liked looking at the sea. The ripples and waves are just beautiful. The sparkle of the sun, the glitter of the ocean spray, the little rainbows over the sea.

The bubbles, in particular, are spectacular. Especially when coming from a drowning man's mouth.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

[Music] Rediscovering Filipino Music, Thanks To Spotify

Pare Ko / Ipagpatawad Mo / Dahil Ikaw / Ikaw Lamang / Ang Aking Awitin.
And no, this is not a sponsored post, hah.
  


Spotify is one of my favorite mobile apps. Since I always need to have music on the go, I almost always have Spotify on too, playing just the right soundtrack for whatever my current mood might be. It's definitely an added bonus that this particular app helped me rediscover original Pinoy music (OPM) all over again.

OPM Love

I've always loved listening to Filipino music. I guess there's just something about it being homegrown that touches me, plus it's always nice to have a good OPM song echo in your head for hours. Siguro'y malapit ka na ring sumali sa Supermodel of the Whole Wide Universe!

The OPM treasure trove that today's music stores don't carry like they used to. Leave me alone to my Third World devices, kids. Image from earthings!.

That being said, I remember how difficult it was for me to actually listen to OPM back in the day. I'd constantly switch radio stations in hopes of hearing Rivermaya or Sandwich. I'd rejoice if I saw the music video of Ang Huling El Bimbo on MYX. I'd longingly gaze over the rows of Filipino albums in record bars, hoping to someday be able to afford them all. I didn't have much of an Internet connection either, so I'd feel bitter towards friends who used Napster or Limewire to get their music fix. #Batang90s


Enter Spotify Philippines
 
Fast forward to 2014. When Spotify was officially launched in the Philippines, I was excited to discover an app that can stream music through my phone. Since I was (and still am) a Globe subscriber, it helped that the telco added Spotify access to its mobile surfing bundles, but what really pushed me to downloading it was learning that the app would have a collection of OPM hits in a very robust OPM catalog.

So I abandoned playing music via YouTube and started streaming exclusively with Spotify. I would later also discover that forking over money to Spotify monthly meant having the option to download the tracks I loved on my phone (plus no ads and unlimited skips!), so after a month, I upgraded my account to Premium, an arrangement I have loved ever since.

Its acceptance into Philippine society grew pretty quickly, making the Philippines become Spotify's 2nd fastest growing market in the world for 2015. I guess it helped that they brought Hale back, too. Image from ABS-CBN news, data as of 2014.

 All-Tagalog Playlists, Please

Spotify would soon be my music partner wherever I would go. Nevertheless, while I enjoyed the OPM playlists Spotify curated, I soon felt that what they had wasn't enough to satisfy my craving for Filipino music. (Besides, I had grown weary of the bubblegum hits by Jadine and Kathniel that I would constantly find in their playlists.) So I started creating my own lists, particularly ones that had nothing but Filipino/Tagalog hits in them.

A few of them would include my chill OPM playlist, my lakbay playlist (for tunes that my friends and I love to jam to while on the road), and my OPM alternative rock playlist. I would later go on to make a few more, always with the thought of keeping them full of only Filipino/Tagalog songs.

One of the playlists I am most proud of is my OPM Karaoke Playlist, which is full of Tagalog hits for all those birit moments. 'Di makatulog sa gabi sa kaiisip...

Discovery and Rediscovery

The fun thing was that, while I was able to curate a few playlists and add a couple of tracks that I really enjoyed, I was soon discovering lots of songs that I totally forgot about. I was reminded not only of Tootsie Guevarra, 17:28, or Aegis, but also of Smokey Mountain, DJ Alvaro (Ang Tipo Kong Lalaki), and Richard Reynoso (the original Ale).

In this regard, one particular highlight for me was when I started compiling hits for an all-Filipino bossa nova playlist. (And by all-Filipino, I mean all-Filipino language tracks.) Sure, there was Sitti and that bossa nova album by The Company, but that was about the extent of the OPM bossa nova I knew of.

With luck, research, and Spotify's related artists feature, I soon compiled 25+ hits of bossa nova tracks in the Filipino language, including a bossa nova cover of popular Visayan track Usahay and a song or two by Bong Peñera (which, up to now, I'm hesitant to keep there, since they sound more like samba than bossa nova).

(By the way, if you didn't know, Bong Peñera, with his band Batucada, was known as a major proponent in the Filipino samba and bossa nova music scene. His influence dates all the way back to the 1970s, too. Here are my sources.)


To be honest, I had a hard time compiling more than 20 tracks for this bossa nova playlist. Here's to hoping for more Filipino bossa nova in the future!


Thank You For The (Pinoy) Music, Spotify

Besides this, I am happy to continuously discover new singles and albums from different Filipino artists through Spotify. Thanks to the app, I discovered Jerika Teodorico's Labyu Langga, enjoyed PhilPop albums, and found that Miss Kita Pag Tuesday song that used to be the cause of my LSS way back when.

The Visayan pop music industry is thriving, especially with the VisPop Music Festival! Image from MetroCebu News.

Needless to say, I am thankful for Spotify and how it helps me connect with OPM in this little way, especially since I'm frequently on the go and need a reliable source of music for my needs. Also, thanks to this app, I find myself thirsting for more OPM news, getting excited over live concerts nearby, and having fun with V81 Radio, a Filipino-owned company I've been freelancing for that broadcasts "All Hits All Pinoy" over the Internet.

Yes, I know there are other music platforms out there. I just happen to enjoy Spotify among them. So what about you? What's your preferred music app of choice? How do you listen to OPM? Let me know in the comments below!

In the meantime, I'll probably be adding a few more tracks to my playlists, like my Abangers one or the one I titled Mahal Pa Rin Kita. (You will really find a common thread in Pinoy music the more you listen to it.) You can check out my Spotify profile here, or tweet me a good OPM song at @geekyDC. Happy listening!

With my many OPM playlists on Spotify, I do welcome suggestions! Sige na, [please] na, [please] na please, pambayad ko sa jeepney kulang pa ng diyes.


PS: I really wish this were a sponsored post, but it isn't. I just truly enjoy using Spotify, and highly recommend it to my friends and family. :)