Apr 172014


Happy Birthday!

As your birthday approaches my mind automatically gets excited. The instinct is to plan, but instantly another part of my mind kicks in and shouts, plan what? What is there to be excited about?

I have all these happy memories of you, but as soon as I want to be happy, the thought that all I have are just these memories makes me all just depressed and weepy. Okay, in the words of your friend Jojo Medina, I just turn all faggoty.

In a way I guess you know what I’m talking about. You have one of those birth dates that can fall on Good Friday. The mind wishes to celebrate, but reality rains on the party. You want to be happy, but you cannot.

So what do I do now? I will post to FB, or my blog, or both, to mark the event. Some of our friends will be sad. But maybe they too will remember how much you brightened their lives.

It’s so weird, I don’t even know if you can still be happy on your birthday. I should probably just remember that this day marks your birth and because you ‘were’, that paved the way for you and me to eventually meet and get married and be together for 19 years. You made me. Thank you.

Sending this out to the ether and hoping this reaches you wherever you are.

April 17 2014

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Sep 292013


I turn to Candy and say, “He won’t make it.  He’ll be late.”

It was 5:30pm, and Fr. Michael was scheduled to handle the 6PM mass over in St. Paul the Apostle along Mother Ignacia.  We were over in St. Bridget’s where Fr.  Michael had just said mass for the first death anniversary of a family friend of Candy’s.

Normally, I’d say the trip was barely doable in the time required.  But it was 530pm on a Saturday, and it had been pouring for almost an hour.  Ask any Metro Manila traffic veteran and he will tell you that it couldn’t be done.  The trip would  take at least 40 minutes with lots of luck involved.

He comes over, and asks if I can get a cab for him.  And of course I tell him that we will just drive him over.  Fr. Michael has been a good friend of the Inciongs for some time now and so there is no question that we should forego merienda if the kind Father needs our help.

Father Michael is Indian and so we really have this conversation in English.

Me:  ”Father, I don’t think we can make it there by 6pm”

FM:  ”Don’t worry, I will show you the way.”

Now, when a priest tells you that he “will show you the way”, you just have to shut up.

It is dark out and it is still pouring.  It seems more like 8pm than 530pm.  He asks me to take a route that I’ve just recently learned via Waze and I know that at some point we will have to pass the market,  where passenger jeepneys would likely be clogging the street, but again, when a man of God wants to show me the way, I let him.

And the jeepneys are there as I thought they would be.  We are stuck for about 10 mins and I can see the Father glancing too frequently at his watch.  It is less than 15 minutes to 6.

We soon hit Anonas and he asks me to take a left through one of the “K-” streets.  Those “K-” streets can be pretty tight, almost just big enough for a lane going and a lane coming.  It’s in a residential area and since it’s a weekend,  parked cars on either side make it practically a single lane road.  We are soon at a crawl again, and I spy a “someDriving Institute” car ahead of us.  And I’m amused as I catch Fr. Michael muttering something like, “Student Drivers should get off the road”.   Then the leftmost lane is suddenly clear of parked cars for a bit, and I instinctively overtake, making it by probably less than a foot.   I hope I did not scare the student driver too much.

The road ahead is clear, except for the pouring rain, and I floor it,  remembering to ease off at the intersections.   No real close calls.  As soon as we cross EDSA he asks me to turn into Scout Rallos. Scout Rallos’ entrance is just big enough for one car.  Should a dog decide to take a dump in the middle of the street, then I will have to think about running the poor thing down.  But there are no crapping dogs.  The road widens a bit ahead, but cars are parked left and right and I dread having to play chicken with any car coming our way.  The dashboard clock says 5:54.

I soon realize we will have to cross Scout Tobias, a street I had been avoiding for many weeks now because of ongoing road work.  I tell Father Michael that I don’t think we can cross Tobias.   He says I will just have to slow down and cross slowly.   I nod and say, “OK”. Mentally though, I steel myself and prepare to hear my front spoiler scraping the asphalt.

We reach Tobias, and the road is now smoother than I thought and we make it across without any trouble.   We soon stop and Father Michael is getting off and thanking me.  We are at St. Paul’s the Apostle with 5 minutes to spare.

Why am I telling you this story?

For sometime now, I’ve had this habit of looking for meaning in seemingly random everyday events.  I started doing this, I think, when Luth had gotten sick and I was struggling to find answers from everywhere.  Call it self-indulgent if you will, but I think it helps more than it hampers and I’m just happy at some of the realizations I’ve gotten and maybe sharing them could make a little difference in someone’s life.

We sometimes have doubts and a darker outlook simply because things have not turned out the way we wanted.  But keep your faith and trust in God, and He will take you where you need to be, with five minutes to spare.  It sometimes feels like things are at a crawl, and one obstacle after another is placed before us, seemingly testing our resolve.  In the end you realize that what makes everything really stressful are just all your fears and negative thoughts.   But trusting God doesn’t mean that you throw out all care and everything works like magic.   Over the years my driving skills have taught me to recognize when it is possible to risk a tight maneuver, and when one shouldn’t, and how I should take a turn so that I have room should there be an oncoming car.   We are given the skills.   Learn them well, apply them wisely, shut off the negativity, and God will take care of everything else.


Cho 9/29/2013


 Posted by at 3:44 pm
Jun 252013

To lose the beloved forever is one of the saddest things that one can go through. But today, I learned it is even sadder to lose the beloved and not be able cry out in pain nor be angry nor be able to grieve honestly.

To you my friend, I am sorry for your loss.  It is best to stop asking the why. Instead be grateful still for the priceless gift lent to you.

Cho 06/25/2013

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 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Mar 142013



As forty-nine winds down, I feel compelled to mark letters into the ether. My God, I shall be fifty!

Thoughts flash of a young me, 8 or 9, sharing profound innocent thoughts about the world with a classmate. Long-haired hippies and aktibistas clashed with authority outside the school gates. It seemed to be that way in the world, too. We wouldn’t have school for a while because of the rallies. The world was probably ending. And that was okay. I didn’t have to worry about falling in love and getting married and having a family and getting a job and all that adult stuff. It seemed so complicated. And I could never know how to do what all those adults did. So the world could have ended for all my boyhood cares. I only wished it wouldn’t be painful.

Some forty years later, the world I knew ended. Painfully. But everything didn’t really end. The world died, yet I stood there – unsure and terrified.

I rush to the covered courts to where the school buses prepare to bring us kids home. I am running because the last period teacher had gotten upset and decided to keep us 15 minutes longer. Bus number 32 is nowhere. It has left. My world died. I stood there, not knowing what to do. My dad is all the way in Bacolod. My mom would be at work and I didn’t know how to reach her. The world died and left me standing there. But I had to get home. I had no choice. Wiping away my tears I start my long walk home.

And here I am still on my way home, where I can have a good merienda, watch TV, and lose myself in our tinsel Christmas tree. There I would be safe and cozy and everything would be right. It is a long walk, and though my feet are tired and my shoes hurt, I see things that make the trek worthwhile.  The kids I am travelling with are no longer kids.  They are men.

I see new faces – young, old, pretty, ugly, fat, thin, fake.  Most do not see me pass, as they too are busy going home.  Or maybe somewhere else other than home. Some light the path with  smiles, encouragement, and happy stories, while a few feign interest, reserving true interest only for what they can take from me.

To you who believe and continue to see me through with true love and affection, I love you back.  You make the adventure worthwhile.  May you reap what you sow a thousand-fold.

And to those who make the journey unpleasant and tiring, my love to you still.  May you reap what you sow a hundred-thousand-fold.


Cho 3/14/2013


 Posted by at 11:31 pm
Jan 212013

Crosswinds Resorts Suites in Tagaytay provided the backdrop the two and half-day team building and planning session for ISG.  And if we go by the battle-cry for this year’s event, then 2013 promises to be an AMAZING year for the group!

Thank you very much to TrainStation Philippines for that refreshing and learning-filled team building session.


To my ISG friends, if you want a high resolution version of any of the pics below, please email me.



 Posted by at 6:32 pm
Dec 192012


Sa lahat ng bumasted sa akin, maraming salamat. Tinuruan niyo ako kung paano masaktan at kung paano bumangon at magsimula muli. Mas may laban ang pusong may kalyo sa mundong ito. At oo nga pala, kungdi dahil sa inyo, di ko pipiliting paghusayan ang panliligaw. Kaya nung dumating ang mas nauukol, eh marunong na ako.

At dun naman sa mga akala kong nauukol pero hindi pala, isang taos-pusong sori. Sa maniwala pa rin kayo o hindi, it was really me, not you. Well merong you, pero wag na natin pagtalunan kasi nga baka matapos na ang mundo sa biyernes. Pero kung di man matuloy, wala na ring ungkatan. Move on, ‘ika nga kasi matanda na tayo.

Sa lahat ng aking mga naging bossing, kaopisina, ka-eskwela, maraming salamat. It was a pleasure working and going through life with most of you. Pwera lang yung peborit boss ni Ledz. I have a feeling hindi kami magkikita nun sa pupuntahan ko, and that is good. Kunsabagay medyo naguguluhan nga ako. Sabi kasi nung CBCP malamang mapunta ako sa mainit dahil Pro-RH ako, pero pag tinitignan ko yung mga Pro-RH sa mga kaibigan ko eh mukhang mas masaya sa pupuntahan namin. May mami-miss ako na Anti-RH, pero yung iba kasi sa kanila nakukulili tenga ko. Hmm. Dahil Anti si Sotto, eh malamang magkakasama sila. Ayus. Bawal na balimbingan ha.

Salamat rin sa mga nag-l-like ng mga pinaglalalagay ko sa FB. Humihingi naman ako ng dispensa sa mga nagtiis sa mga weird at maingay na YouTube vids. Oo. Rocker na semi-Goth ata ang kalahati ng puso ko. Yung isang half Jazz at standards. May katiting pa na mga kanta galing dun sa DWLL- The Mellow Tats. OO rin, more than 100% ang puso ko pagdating sa musika. O kung ano man yun tinatawag kong musika. Di dun kasali sila Bieber. Hmm… sana kasama nila Sotto si Bieber sa kabila.

Sa mga pinagmumura ko sa daan kasi babagal-bagal or tatanga-tanga magmaneho, ok lang naman siguro kasi madalas naman nakasara bintana ko so hindi niyo na alam yun. Sa mga nakarinig at nakakita ng kamay kong naka-ngatngat, eh pasensya na. Sabi nga ni Joworski, its part of the game. Saka marami naman na akong pinagbibigyan sa daan. Courteous na ako.

Teka lang. Matatapos na lunch break ko. Ganto ata talaga pag di maka-gala ng lunch dahil wala na datung. Edit ko na lang ‘to pag may naisip pa ako.

Babu. It was good overall. One more time please, kung may recycling in the future.

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 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Nov 142012


Oy Pare!
Punta ka ba sa happening sa Sabado?
H-ha? Dehin ko alam yun ah. Ano meron?
Labo mo naman o. Tipar, pare. Sa haybols nila Jake.
Dami chiching? Baka puro kelot.
Dehin. Pero, chimay nga lang.
Hahaha. Hawa.
Dehin. Dami talaga chiching. Andun si Beth. Stay-in pa!
Wow! Baka naman puro rugged.
Dehin. Sampits ko mags-spin.
Sparkling in the Sand?
Sakto yun pag ka-sweet si Beth
Ramdam jogs.

(Low fives exchanged)

Pare bago yoyo mo ah. Pati toga!
Bigay ni ermats.
Baka naman may sondo ka?
Tapwe lang.
Ok na yan – yosi muna tayo kila manang.

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 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Oct 082012

The years have gone by very quickly.  About 5 years ago, I imagined this little virtual club of sorts. The members were Luth, Kiko, Daboy, Tita Cory, and Marilou. 

Luth would be the odd person out because Kiko, Daboy, Tita Cory, and Marilou probably really knew each other in real life. Oh yeah, there was Farrah, too.

Cancer linked them. And any little bit of news of success from any of the celebs gave us strength and gave us hope.

Daboy was the first to go. Then Kiko. Then Farah. Then Tita Cory. Then Luth.

Marilou looked like she would win the war.  And I wanted her to.  Because as surely as she gave hope to us, then she must have given hope to hundreds or thousands more.

RIP Marilou. Thank you.

I’m older now. Not necessarily wiser, but wise enough not to ask WHY anymore.

Borrowing Neil Gaiman’s words: “You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.”

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 Posted by at 10:30 pm
Sep 252012

And we just lay there on the grass, young boys of 13 or 14. The school bell had rung hours before and we were free to go home. But we didn’t. We just lay there downslope of what our sons’ generation would call the Boston Garden. Not that the basketball court resembled that famous arena. It was just so forlorn surrounded by growing cogon grass that the sarcasm was perfect.

What was it that so engrossed us as we lay there? Was it that we couldn’t agree what was the best track on that Foghat Live album?  Or was there something so magical in that moment that we never wanted it to end?  We felt powerful, giddy, and happy.

To make sure it lasted we said we’d only leave till we saw a red DM bus pass by. DMs were always white and never red.  That was JD. JDs were always red.

And as if to spite our pride and conceit,  a red DM maintenance truck soon passed by.

Reality is always a killjoy.

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 Posted by at 5:34 pm
May 202012

Yesterday, I posted the following on Facebook:

sharing bits of an FB friend’s status: 
“So my daughter xxx’s UP summer is over. And I tell her she’s getting a gift, that I’m buying her a ticket to the Lady Gaga concert. “How much is it?” she asks. 

“A bit pricey,” I say. “My friend who’s with production says they aren’t allowed to give out discounts.” 

A beat. And my 22 year-old goes, “Can you just donate the money to Lordei Hina’s hospital fund?”

Lordei is the UP student who was stabbed by a thief with an ice pick, at the Vinzon’s Hall. She’s on the way to recovery, but had spent quite some time at the ICU of the Capitol Medical Center where a huge bill remains unpaid.

xxx was born at the same hospital, 22-plus years ago. 

I’m a proud nanay. A very proud nanay.”


When our first baby was born, the first thing my wife asked me was, “Anong kulay niya?”  And I laughed and and replied back, “Ha? Eh alangan namang black and white?”  or something.  It turns out she had been thinking about that medicine she’d been taking to fight a recurring UTI.  It had colored her wiwi extra-yellowish and she’d apparently worried it could turn him extra yellow, too. Then she asked if his fingers and toes were complete.

A few days later we’d observe if he reacted to sounds and if his eyes followed us… and after weeks… and months… we’d wait for you to say words… start walking… and so on.

Those were the worries of a starting parent back then.  And in what seems like a much shorter time that it has been, they’re all grown up and making decisions on their own.  And as a parent, you wonder if you’ve done enough.  You wonder if you’ve taught them well.

Will he make the right choices?  Is he going to squander a bright future just because it’s cooler to just hang-out and bum around and enjoy life as a hedonist?  Is he going to make a difference, well maybe not to the world, but at least to his future wife and family? Or will he have me singing a’la Freddie Aguilar, “… anak ba’t ka nagkaganyan?”

The boys seem to be doing pretty good, given that I’m the only parent they have left.  My eldest surprises me with his cooking every now and then.  He doesn’t go home smelling like chico and when I tell him he shouldn’t be taking jeepneys or riding buses at 1 in the morning, he’s sorry and he doesn’t do it again.  And on those days when I’m out late and he can’t wait up, he will SMS me with a goodnight and an I love you.  My second is an incoming college freshman, and my youngest is an incoming high school freshman.  And yes, given what they’ve been through, I think they’re doing pretty well and are on their way to becoming good, responsible, adults.  And that makes me proud, too, like my FB friend above.

But what about those kids who seem to be forever just hanging out and getting drunk?   Those kids who seem to think the world owes them a good time?  I wonder what their parents go through.

As a teen, I never really realized that parents worried about these things.  I, Me, Me, Mine.  I couldn’t understand why my mom was so upset that I had joined a protest rally and had walked all the way from UP to Lawton as a high school senior. I thought she was so uncool.  They didn’t understand me. They were old-fashioned. I knew naman what I was doing.  That was my reality then.  Madami pang ibang ganoong situations. And while I didn’t get any young girl pregnant, nor did I get hooked on drugs, just the realization of the anxiety I must have put them through makes me wish I can go back and perhaps undo some of the stuff I did.

It’s another one of life’s ironies.  You finally understand why they did the things they did, when it’s too late to undo the things you did.

 Posted by at 11:49 pm
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