A week in a life of a V staffer (slash) working scholar

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Jan 3 2011

By Deni Rose M. Afinidad

Monday: The art of covering books without using scotch tapes

Today, I’ve achieved something other than waiting for my V friends Rupert and Michael to nab me off my seat, and finally take me to the movies. I learned the “origamic” way of covering books without scotch tapes, from my boss in the high school library, whose words of whisk-dumb goes something like this: “Ayoko ng pasaway. Very familiar pa naman ako sa implement ng rule! Lagyan mo ng cover yung ‘Frogs of the World’ (FLAGS of the World), tapos pakihanap naman yung book na to.”

She handed me a piece paper, and whola, I’ve got to find, “Greet Mythology.”

Tuesday: How to become a pseudo Gloria D. and go home with two Ninoys in your wallet =>

I don’t know if I were to thank last week’s transport strike since it enabled me to “proxify” Elka who was stranded in Parañaque. In her place, I willingly had myself dragged to judge this Bulacan-based extemporaneous speech contest, which I realized after all the toying, was a regional competition between all high school and colleges in Bulacan.

Before that, Shar, Jason, Kuya Myk, Rupert, and I were fetched from the V office by a Starex van owned by a Bulakeño priest—a friend of Rupert. We first dropped by VJ Graphics to have Montage (the UST Lit Mag) prepared for filming. While Shar, Kuya Myk, and Rupee were in the VJ Graphics office, Jason and I bought some snacks from McDo and stayed at the van to wait.

Somewhere in the middle of our chitchat, Jason told me about how he “gunned down” their maid using a urine-bulleted toy gun (details available upon request). I can hardly eat, not that Jason’s story pulled out my orgasm for food, but because there was a pair of street children outside the window where I was sitting. While flies swarm their hands, the cheese from my mushroom cheeseburger slowly dripped from my fingers. It made me wonder where goodwill should take place if you’re hungry, but others are hungrier.

Star Circle Quest, Bulacan style

I slept during the rest of the trip to Bulacan. Traveling there from Manila is only a sweeping hour ride. The van parked in front of St. Paul’s Bocaue, and as we unloaded the vehicle, we’re like a pack of kids dropped off to school; or a Scooby gang off to kill Dracula before his fangs pierce the neck of a hypnotized virgin.

At the school entrance, we came chest-to-chest with a conventionally-stereotyped “atribida” or “securittee” guard, who bombarded us with “identity-unraveling” questions, until Rupert, in his most modest Abner Mercado-with-a-Bohemian-scarf stance, spoke to the irksome guard, and told him that we’re no kids looking for rural adventure, since we are, unexpectedly, the “judges” they’re expecting.

While the guard’s jaw was dropping, and continuously bouncing to meet the floor, he called up the teacher who’s doomed to become our GRO for the day. The ala-Joy Viado teacher escorted us to a room filled with “proud”, “presumably proud” or “wala lang-nakikinood-lang” parents sitting on swarmed chairs at the back. So the one-million-dollar question now struck me—where would the judges sit?

Apparently, I felt so lily-livered upon knowing that the judges were to sit on the three domineering chairs in front. The position of the chairs is so upstaging, that I feel like we’re the ones who’ll be grilled in front.

Each chair comes with a table and a pencil, a folder, and a bottle of mineral water on top of the table. As Kuya Myk (the, ahem, chairman of the board of judges, lolz!) pulled off the chair in the middle, and Rupert fitted his butt on a chair at Kuya Myk’s left side, I shyly occupied the last vacant chair, and felt the scrub of the audience’s eyes on my back.

Together, the three of us formed the phony version of the already phony Star Circle Quest jurors. The moment the first contestant took center stage to be scrutinized, or skinned alive, by the three of us, it was not just an air-gulping experience to her, but likewise, to me, a first-timer in judging this kind of contest. I know how it feels, and sucks, to be at the center, constructing your thoughts and holding on to them like they’re the intertwined strands of your lifeline, while the judges in front of you are trying to deconstruct you and disentangle your frame of mind by making rickety movements and noise, like tapping their pencils on the table and ruthlessly, yawning. Nevertheless, despite the foul treatment, there would always be consolation for being such a brave heart. Expect that when it’s your turn to strut your stuff, your friends and relatives would become perfectly civilized, at least, until the next contestant comes in.

Wednesday: Missing the pine trees

Good day, I shampooed myself with some lily-flavored irony today that’s why I’m having the smell of it the whole afternoon. I felt like having a withdrawal syndrome from a month of having mother-loads of work and sleepless nights at the V office—doing my assignments, redressing flimsy articles. Okay, now into the ironic part—I have plenty of time to shop today! That’s typically too abnormal. For one, I’m not buying clothes. Secondly, I’ll be buying books. I found a ghastly street downtown Manila, but it’s bountiful of great and rare novels in amazing Baguio-ukay-ukay-like prizes! I can’t believe I’ll find Session-Road artifacts in Manila, but I did! I just happen to stroll around to find an Elizabeth Bradford classic for my friend, then there, hoo-ha, I stumbled and found a book-lovers’ block!

Speaking of Session Road, oh how I missed my week in Baguio last summer. I missed my UST workshop fellas. We used to throw rock-salt insults on each other’s works in the morning, but turn down the tables during socialization nights.

Workshop panelist and V alumnus F. Sionil Jose used to pour Martini and Mariner on our glasses, while I, in turn, pour my share of Martini and Mariner in the flower vase or in my leftover soup or soft drinks while everyone’s making a “collapsing cry” at the videoke machine. The next morning, everyone would have a heavy head from hangover, except me! My only part of the suffering was to hold my breath while everyone else was puking.

Oh how I miss those guys. They sing awfully but they’re great critics! They know where to shop books in Baguio. I wish they were here to shop books with me.

Thursday: Stronger than Enervon

My co-writers here at V hugged me cuz they found my short story nice. *!_!* it’s so overwhelming coz all the while, I was thinking it’s one hella trash. It went through three revisions coz the first draft was too philosophical while the second one was very loosed and lenient. This is all despite almost tearing my body apart between my Filipino Journ assignment and Broadcast Journ project. One capsule of Enervon really isn’t enough for a strangling day like this. But just one hug from a fellow V writer who appreciates your work makes every pain worthwhile.

Friday: Chocolate, guys, and a whewing spree

My tummy was a chowate factory yesterday :D. Sir Lito (aka Lord Tolits, V’s publications adviser) brought in fun-loads of choco bars from Singapore, and Jason (our photogz coordinator) can’t hardly munch mouthfuls of those saccharine thingies because Tolits again used his Cambridgean airs to mutilate Jason’s morale. Jason is like a pig coerced to eat ‘til he gets the right weight for slaughter. But Jason wouldn’t just run away from Tolits’ sharp-edged teases. He would often attempt to slash Sir Tolits’ throat with vengeful replies, but I guess Jason still has to improve his dissatisfying pictures before he could vow for a payback. If I were to write my first chic novella, they would take the lead. There was so much romance in the Jason-Tolits quarrels that it encompasses all forms of terrorism and genocide.

Later that night, long after Sir Tolits left the office that made Jason finally shut up, ‘twas again a whewing spree for me as I finished pasting Rebecca Anonuevo, Rhandee Garlitos, and Genaro Gojo Cruz’s thoughts altogether for a threesome Montage feature article. Luis Gatmaitan wants to fling into that article, but I cancelled my invitation for interview. Besides the fact that I don’t want to hear Kuya TL’s usual ratatatatatat whenever I ask for coverage allowance, I’m yet too lazy to transcribe another possible kilometric interview (except if it’ll be in a coffee shop with some cute chinito boys to stare at while waiting for a pa-VIP interviewee! *chuckles* like the way I made some sticky eyeballing with a Taiwanese Valentino while sipping my chocolate cream and waiting for Garlitos. *lolz*).

Speaking of guys, I’m now learning to appreciate the guys that I usually snob in V. First, the ultimately devillish V EIC smells like cherubin chamomile yesterday. His scent was so addictive that I almost want to give him a lick (wow, talk about the behavior I get from Cosmo books!).

Likewise, I’ll never forget our managing ed, despite his despise-able disposition, for returning my spaghetti to the Wendy’s delivery boy after the sauce spilled on the plastic. Kuya TL wants me to eat neat food, and that’s absolutely extraterrestrial. I thought he’d rather see me eat bed bugs for dinner. !_!

Saturday: Comb! Comb!

Lastly, I got to spend my weekend with Jonathan and Elka. We banged our heads on a rock-filled playlist while finishing our stuff, until Elka had to leave us for a while to cover a late-night ballet concert. Jonathan was too kind to accompany me while I’m waiting for Elka to get back from her coverage. I suppose that guy’s still having his hangover from the head-torturing slumber party (a.k.a. press work) we had the whole week. I’ve bombarded him with too many poems to illustrate for Montage, and we’re talking about things in common that we actually hate being reminded about, like being Mediartrix looneys, which made me realize he was one of those superb guitarists who gave us an acoustic groove during last year’s poetry reading (in which I am “guest” poet since they apparently worship TWG-ers like me?).

Still sleepless, we went home the next morning looking like salvage survivors with disgusting oily faces; unbrushed teeth; smudged black under our eyes; and hair spilled all over our heads, outrageously shouting, “comb! comb!”

Sunday: LasSongSundayS

I could’ve gone home this weekend coz I terribly miss my siblings and some homegrown GENUINE food. Yah, genuine LUTONG BAHAY. Manila food tastes like phony. Anyway, I’m so stuck here in V (yep, on a Sunday afternoon) to interview some children’s fiction writer at Starbucks SM North. While waiting for 4 pm, I’m here listening to tracks that i kept on playing for the nth time, ‘til I get numb with ‘em and junk ‘em for another song. Here they are (songs playin in my media player from 10 am - 4): 1. Androgyny - Garbage (played 12 times) 2. Stuck - Stacie Orrico (4 times) 3. Sweetest Goodbye - Maroon 5 (twice) 4. Shiver - Maroon 5 (thrice) 5. Bent - matchbox 20 (4 times) 6. Blurry - puddle of mudd (thrice) 7. God put a smile - Coldplay (twice) 8. Everywhere - michelle branch (9 times) *the music isn’t so overwhelming, but gurrls, got to see the guy in the video, hee* 9. Breathe - M. Branch (twice) 10. Dizzy up the girl - Goo Goo dolls (twice) 12. Best I ever had - Vertical Horizon (5 times) 13. I promise - Stacie Orrico (4 times) 14. Woman - Maroon 5 (6 times) 15. Wash - Lifehouse (3 times) 16. Here is gone - Goo Goo dolls (3 times)-LUNCH BREAK- (1:35) 17. Iris - Goo Goo Dolls (9 times) 18. Let’s get the party in here - Black Eyed Peas (twice)19. a. One last cry - Camille Velasco (twice)19. b. One last cry - Brian McKnight (1/2)-just comparing which is a better version hee (camille’s is better) 20. Fallin’ - Alicia Keys (thrice) 21. Get up - Franz Ferdinand (thrice) 22. Hey baby - No Doubt (twice) 23. Underneath it all - No Doubt (thrice) - 3:30 I’M OUT ;). V

AB Journalism cum laude Deni Rose M. Afinidad was a former Filipino writer and top staffer of the Varsitarian from 2004-2005. She now writes a coffee table book on Philippine jazz artists, alongside writing and producing photo shoots for Bounce magazine, and covering events for the Lifestyle and Entertainment sections of Manila Standard Today.