Sunday, February 7, 2010

What’s Wrong With The Current RP Indie Comic Books (According To All Anonymous Out There)

This is SOPHIA BOOKS in downtown Vancouver, BC. This is my favorite comic store because it's multilingual. It carries all comic books from allover the world.

If comic books are dead, why do we always see these fans buying comics in Vancouver, BC?

Complaints, complaints, and more complaints.

That opening sentence is definitely fragmentary and Strunk and White of that age-old Elements of Style rules would have definitely chewed my ear off for using it, but fuck the duo. It is there to emphasize the dissatisfaction of many irritated, disillusioned-sounding “anonymous” posting their sometimes nonchalant, other times extremely bitter, if not abusive – comments against the status of RP’s indie comic books.

A Neighborhood comic book store in Vancouver, BC.

However, this is now the time to give all of you the opportunity to be truthful in expressing your views.

Would Bayani Fernando's alipores not kick you out of Cubao's sidewalks if you've worn something like this? Another "anything goes" in crazy Vancouver.

It has been going on for quite sometime now, that these – what we call in Bicol – “tawong lipod”, meaning the “unseen people,” have been harping day in and day out on the dismal state of the RP comic book indie publishing. The other group, however, would swear to high heavens, how excellent these Indie comic books are, and that the anonymous critics are so blatantly unfair. By the way, Tawong Lipod is used to describe the MALIGNO in the Bicol region. They’re there in our midst, but most people do not see them (just like the anonymice in the world wide web), unless one has been born with very sharp psychic perceptions.

Another neighborhood comics outlet in Vancouver.

Once and for all, I am opening a “portal” to let all the spirits, including poltergeists and other demonic entities, to enter into the world of “Tawong Lipod”, so that we can tackle this unsettling issue of RP Indie Comic Books. These unnamed critics have been pleading to be given the opportunity to unleash their dissatisfaction and their right to be heard. Well, the time has come for that opportunity.

Golden Age Collectables, one of the biggest comic book stores in downtown Vancouver.

But, let me make this clear, though. All comments will be screened. I am allowing the names of authors to be mentioned, the title of the book, and the review of the book. However, personal vendetta, invective, and/or innuendos, such as the ones relating to one’s sexual orientation, status in life, and other personal things, will not be allowed.

Would you be caught dead wearing one of these costumes in downtown Cubao? Comic book fans donning their favorite superhero costumes during Free Comics Day in downtown Vancouver.

I am expecting every criticism (pro or against a book) to be written with care and civility. We are here to express CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM, and nothing more. Constructive criticism, by the way, is an honest-to-goodness review of the book. It should be fair even if one is disagreeing with the book. Say why you like or don’t like a particular Indie Comic Book and the accompanying explanation. I will allow phrases that professional critics use in their work to make the language colorful and alive and to give emphasis to an idea, but any abusive word will definitely be flushed in the toilet.

Laban kayo sa kanya? He could barely walk, but he's already a comic book fan! Way to go, wee one!

Well, then, let’s hear your brilliant ideas, critics. Let’s also hear your response, Indie Comic Book creators. If your book has been critiqued, you are more than welcome to give your response. If you chose not to respond, that’s fine as well. Rest assured that I am doing this here in my blog to give both sides the opportunity to exchange both side’s ideas, and if we can come up with satisfactory outcome, it will be the best of both worlds for all.

Archie comics just won't go away. They're everywhere in every nook and cranny of the north American landscape.

The portal is now open. You are all cordially invited to express your views. You may come in.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Confronting Our Mortality

It is always good for us to confront our mortality.
It makes us see where we're going, what we can do to make our existence meaningful, hope to be good to our fellowman.

I usually stroll in cemeteries. I read what's written on gravestones and markers. Sometimes, what you read can make you sad. Some people die at a very young age, others very old, many are at the prime of their lives.

And now...
We can see images that are real to tell us how vulnerable we are as human beings.
Nobody lives forever, and the images we see can give us a very good lesson in life.

We have to be brave. Don't hesitate now. Let's go to:

and confront our own mortality.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Filipino Boy And The Death Of Murnau

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau – the tragic film genius

Despite the fact that the Philippines has been producing films in Manila sine 1899, Filipinos were never heard of in America, let alone in Hollywood, during the 1930s.

The first time a Filipino became an item in Hollywood was in 1931 when a freaky accident happened in Los Angeles, where German-born Hollywood film director genius Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau died. This tragic event was in fact the very first time a Filipino became part of the Hollywood scene – and how!

Nosferatu, Murnau's well-known horror feature is amongst the creepiest horror films

Murnau, a proponent of the expressionistic film movement in Europe and who directed the film NOSFERATU – a milestone in the history of world cinema – was gay. He was well-known to like young boys.

In 1931, seven days before the premiere of his film TABU, he allowed a fourteen year-old, exotic-looking, very handsome Filipino boy named Garcia Stevenson, for a ride in his limo. And for some absolutely bizarre reason, he let the boy drive the Packard vehicle. Stevenson, driving too fast and swerving to avoid a truck, eventually crashed against an electric pole, killing the legendary film director. Garcia was not hurt, nor the other person in the car, but Murnau’s head was cracked open on a roadside pole and died in hospital shortly afterwards. He was 42 years old.

A 1930 Packard 740 Series Phaeton, similar to the limo driven by Garcia Stevenson

It was reported later on, that while Garcia Stevenson was driving, Mr. Murnau was playing with the boy’s genitals, and one report even went further by saying that the legendary director was actually performing fellatio on the boy, which distracted the latter, and eventually resulted in the tragic accident.

One of the most memorable scenes in Nosferatu that scared the hell out of moviegoers

This tragic incident was predicted by a psychic in Los Angeles and told Murnau to be careful and never ever to ride in a car for this particular trip. Murnau listened at first, but changed his mind later – a choice which led to his death.

Before Murnau came to Hollywood, he was already a well-known filmmaker in Germany. He was the most distinguished and talented of all the directors brought over to Hollywood in the 1920s with major press blitz and received the most elaborate red carpet treatment.

His first Hollywood film, Sunrise (1927) has been firmly included in the ten best lists of critics and film-historians of the world.

Sunrise (1927), is on the favorite list of film critics

Along with Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst, Murnau was at the forefront of the outstanding creative German cinema of the early Twenties.

Pallbearers during Murnau's interment

While the scandalous rumors surrounding Murnau's death resulted in the appearance of only a handful of mourners at his funeral, Greta Garbo showed up during the interment. She requested that a death mask be made, which she kept on her desk throughout her life.

Murnau was buried in Waldfriedhof Stahnsdorf, a cemetery at the outskirts of Berlin

Greta Garbo went to Murnau's interment

And Garcia Stevenson?

Would you like to know what happened to our kababayan after the scandalous accident?

Well, one source revealed in 1986 that he was still alive and was still a hunk-looking grampa at 69.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do You Believe In Psychic Abilities?

In the mid to late 1970s, I was part of the fund-raising concerts for indigent heart patients at the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. We had Andy Williams, Jack Jones and Tony Bennett. The last concert I was involved with was the Tony Bennett Show, and I was in-charge of advertising, solicitation and the distribution of tickets. We were targeting executives of multinational companies and other large companies in the Philippines. The ticket for this dinner concert was Php 5,000 per plate. In those days, minimum wage was Php 13.00 per day (Php 260 per month). You can gauge how much the price of the ticket for this concert in those days.

The Manila Hotel.

One morning, I went to Manila Hotel to see the guy running the hotel, an official business regarding the concert. As I sat at the hotel’s restaurant, waiting for my breakfast order, a guy in Barong Tagalog approached my table, smiled and said:

“May I join you?”

The place was full of people, and I was the only one sitting alone at a table, and I told the guy:
“My pleasure.”

He sat across from me, and the waiter came. The guy in-front of me ordered his breakfast, and the waiter turned away. I felt the goodness of the person in-front of me.

“Since we’re sitting at the same table, maybe we should introduce ourselves to each other? My name is Brother John.”

“Now, that’s unusual,” I said. “You’re telling me that your first name is Brother, and your last name is John?”

He laughed nervously. “You already know my initials, but you refuse to concentrate to find what they mean.”

“Actually, no. I have no idea.”

“Okay, my name is John. John Edralin. I used to be a seminarian. My dream was to become a priest. Now, people I know simply call me Brother John.”

“And what happened to your dream?”

“Didn’t you know? Some are called, and others are chosen.”

“Interesting,” I said. “Did you know that my original dream was to become a priest as well? I’ve always dreamed of helping people of their spirituality. I’ve always imagined myself delivering the sermon, inspiring the congregation to have hope, believe in love, and learn charity. Man, it would have been the noblest thing I could have done for my fellow man.”

“We’ve actually known that, didn’t we?” Brother John said. “I have chosen your table because I felt you.”

“You felt me? What do you mean?”

“I guess I can’t encourage you to participate in an exercise.”

He took out his pen and several sheets of writing paper. He started to draw. Four hearts. Then a TV screen. Then he said: “You’re connected to these things, aren’t you?”

Is this guy trying to bull shit me? He must have known that I was involved in Imelda Marcos’ fund-raising campaign for the poor heart patients confined at the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. The hospital’s logo of course has the image of four hearts. And the TV screen, why, I was also involved in television.

But, before I could do anything, he spoke again: “You’re missing the Bicol Region. You adore the place. But, you were heart-broken once and you’re afraid to revisit sad memories of your adolescent.”

I felt violated, and I got up to bolt out of the restaurant.

“Your father is very sick right now. I am so sorry. It won’t be long now before he leaves us. But then again, this is no longer news to you, is it?”

I couldn’t believe what he said. I sat down.

A lone coyote in the memorial park. I tried to lure it to come towards me but it just went away.

“Please don’t play with my emotion right now. I’m so emotionally drained because of my father’s illness. If this is a joke, please stop it.”

“Why do you refuse to acknowledge what you have?” He started writing again. This time, a name: Erlinda.

“She misses you like the way you miss her. You bid her goodbye when you were thirteen. Tears were running down her cheeks when you kissed her lips. You miss her so much, don’t you?”

I felt a cold chill on the back of my head. This guy was pushing me to the brink.
“I do,” I said, totally succumbing to his words. They were all so true.

“You were not meant for each other, and you know that already. You have to think of her as one of your friends. You will meet other women and will eventually find your partner. You will be very happy, but it will be short-lived.”

“Short-lived? And why is that?”

The waiter came. He placed our order at the table. For me: Mango juice, Cassava bibingka, and a fruit platter. For him: Coffee, several toasted bread with butter, strips of fried bacon, truffled egg benedict.

“You already know the answer,” he said after the waiter went away. “Why do you still ask me? You still can live your life to the fullest despite all the outcome. When the right moment comes, you’ll be okay. It will be difficult, but there’s nothing that you can’t overcome.”

“You’re a fortune teller” I said.

He smiled like an imp.

“You know I’m not. You know exactly what I am. What I read, feel, you also do. We both know the past, the present and the future. You know you’re going to the USA, but you will live in a country that begins with a letter C,” then he laughed, almost giggling, teasing me.

“Not really,” I said.

He smiled: “Why do you still refuse to recognize your gift?” He said. “I know the things you see, you felt. They were trying to reach out for you since your childhood, yet you refuse to listen to them. You know what I’m talking about, and I won’t insist that you embrace it. Whether you accept it or reject it, there will be no significant effect in your life. If you decide to go for it, join the Rosicrucians. It will reinforce what you already have. I developed my gift fully after I joined the group. Don’t deny the things you’ve seen since your childhood. You’ve pulled the shut off valve to the spirits in the house, the evil ones trying to hurt you. You’ve shrugged your shoulders at them instead of acknowledging them. They will not leave you until you face them and pay attention to them.”

Mountainview cemetery in Vancouver, BC. Hundreds of Hollywood films were shot in this cemetery, including TV series such as Highlander, The X Files, Vampire Diaries and many more.

I didn’t say a word. I knew what he was talking about.

Finally, I told him: “If you’re indeed for real, tell me at what age I will die.”

“Is this a test?” He replied, smiling sweetly. “Here’s a piece of paper. Write down a number. Make sure you cover it so I don’t see it. I will write a number. I will hide it so you won’t see it. Then, both of us will reveal what we’ve written on the table.”

I took the paper, and I wrote a number. He also wrote something on his paper. Then, we both placed our pieces of paper on the table. Both papers said: 78.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So what – if today’s Filipino comic book practitioners want to dominate the world?

World domination.

This item had triggered much emotion lately in this blog. A group of people are totally against it, others are taunting the komiks practitioners whom they claimed to be stupid dreamers who are trying to fool themselves. Pretty heavy accusation, I must say. These critics are against any comic books printed on glossy stock, written in awkward “Filipino English”, whose themes, they claim, are nothing but mere imitations of Hollywood stuff that dreams are made of. These critics’ mantra is: the komiks should be written in Tagalog, printed on newsprint, in black and white, and must be sold cheap (I guess as cheap as products made in China?).

After 25 years of not drawing anything, I've decided to draw a book jacket using nothing but Adobe Illustrator pen tool and the software's effects. It's very quick, very good for PANG-DILIS and not PANG-LECHON work which Kapre described during his local komiks adventures. HHHHHHH. This type of graphic novel is thumbs down according to the critics because this is not Tagalog and not cheap paper.

Meanwhile, the Filipino superhero comic books are done in Tagalog, printed on newsprint, also in black and white, and cheap (maybe a little more expensive than those made in China products), and yet, these critics also reject the latter genre, because they claimed that the themes of superheroes are nothing but an (again) imitation of Hollywood stuff that dreams are made of.

So, what, according to these critics, are the acceptable local komiks?
Well, if you’ve taken any Yoga lessons, be prepared to say in unison:

And that means:
• Tagalog
• Newsprint
• Cheap
• No Superheroes
• No English
• Filipinos: in terms of theme, story, characters, sentiment, outlook
• No abusive slang such as: fuck you, what the fuck, you mother fucker, you sonofabitch, you fucking shit hole, you fucking ass hole, you piece of shit, you turd fucker, ass sucker, ass-peddler, bishop beater, monkey spanker, packet catcher, dicky-licker, dingle-dangle sucker...

...Oh, well. You get the drift.

This graphic novel will receive thumbs down because the characters are not speaking Tagalog, and the life it is depicting is not Filipino at all. Give me a little time to practice drawing again and you can add me to your list of world dominators. HHHHHHHH

Therefore, if your book does not conform to these requisites and/or guidelines – well, you’re out of luck, bud. They will fight tooth and nail, even to the death – to campaign against your masterpieces.

It would be healthy to confront this issue head on once and for all. Let’s brainstorm on what can be done to make these two groups meet in the middle? Let’s express our opinions as honest as we can (without naming names, please, and without thrashing my unsteady drawings from the lack of practice), so that we might find some sort of concession to settle this burning issue.

Don't worry about my drawings. This is just added to put some visuals here. What's important is your reaction to the topic that we all want to settle once and for all.

Remember now. You can express your feelings freely, but if you mention any names in a negative context, your message will be dropped like a hot potato... er... kamote pala. So, you can only mention someone's name when it is presented in a positive light.

And I ask, again: So what – if today’s Filipino comic book practitioners want to dominate the world? Do you have any suggestion/advice?

Speak up, my children, speak up.

-Your Father Confessor

Monday, January 11, 2010


Leopoldo Salcedo, dubbed as Philippine Movies' "The Great Profile"

“Guys, what are these prewar actors doing here in the studio today?”
Asked one of the production people on the set of one of my TV shows being taped.

“We’ve been seeing all these old actors come alive. I thought they have died already,” said another.

“Aha!” The Floor Director said. “I know why, it ‘s because Joemari Lee is here!”

Everybody blurted out laughing. This became a standard joke among my colleagues in BBC-Channel 2.

Of course, the production people involved in any of the shows I was writing for that time knew all along that when there was a role for an older person in the drama, rest assured that a prewar actor was always my choice.

Everybody knew as well, that prewar actors were the true performers. They seemed not to make mistakes during tapings and were they ever good.

One of these prewar actors was LEOPOLDO SALCEDO.

He was one of our most talented, handsomest actors, and he was someone who looked and act like a true, honest-to-goodness gentleman: always well-dressed, good-mannered, confident, stylish, charming, gregarious, and a very witty conversationalist. A true image of a debonair that I didn’t seem to see anymore in the younger actors of those days.

Leopoldo Salcedo with Nela Alvarez in SIERRA MADRE, BUNDOK NG HIWAGA
Photo from Kabayan Central

In the 1970s, he was still appearing in local movies and I made sure I cast him in my scripts in TV dramas. He was indeed a fantastic actor, he came on time, ready, all the dialogues memorized (just like Rosa Rosal). While the younger actors were all fumbling during the rehearsal before the take, Pol and Rose were patiently trying their best to understand the shortcomings of younger actors (except Gina Alajar, of course, who would also come to the set well-prepared, and whose caliber was A1).

One conversation I had with Pol that really stuck in my mind was when we were outside the studio of Broadcast City one taping day of the show Alindog. While waiting for all the cast to arrive, we both leaned on the railings on the top landing of the stairs leading to the studio, overlooking the vastness of the network compound – the same raillings where the child Romnick Sarmenta would wait before taping starts. The same raillings where, after seeing me arrive, the child would hurry to meet me, and would jump right at me where I would raise him above my head, up and down, three to four times, while he was laughing hysterically.

So, while Pol and I looked out to the vastness of the compound of the biggest network in RP in those days, he suddenly said:

"Joey, I'm celebrating my 66th birthday this weekend. Do you have time to come to my house?"

"Of course, I will find the time, just for you, Pol. I'm sure all your friends in showbiz are coming as well?"

"Oh. God, no. Many of them are gone now. The ones I worked with like Rose (Rosa Rosal) are much younger than I am. It's really sad when you grow old. You wake up one day, realizing that your closest friends are not around anymore because they have passed on. It makes you feel so all alone. In my youth, every time I would celebrate my birthday, it was always a big event. Producers, directors, movie stars, movie scribes, and even my fans would be there. It was wonderful. Life was beautiful. Now, they're all gone. Sometimes, some people I used to know would even ignore me when they see me."

I choked, and it took me a few minutes before I gathered myself together.

"Pol," I said, "you may be old now, some people may ignore you now, but always remember that you are Leopoldo Salcedo who made many ordinary people happy. They went to see your movies and for two hours, at least you've lightened their load. You made them forget their problems at least for a few moments, and they’ve gone home refreshed, inspired, even thankful for being alive – because there was someone like you who made their daily toil bearable, thus lessening their miseries. You are one of the Philippines' finest actors, and your name will never be forgotten for a long, long time. I will admit to you that when I write a character in my script, and I know that it will be you who would play that role, I feel so happy because I know that, that particular role will be in good hands. You are a great actor and thank God for giving you to us."

He said: "Thank you for all the kind words. You are a good kid. And each time I see you, I am reminded of my children. I wish I have been a better father for them."

I turned to look at him. He was looking away at the distance. There was a profound sadness on his face. We both remained quiet. After a long beat, I told him:

“Pol, nobody’s perfect. We are all infallible. There is no such thing as “slam dunk” formula for being a perfect parent. We all have shortcomings. The only thing we can do is to try to do our best. You’re not a bad father. I know you’ve tried your best.”

“I could have tried my very best,” he said. “But my career had always gotten in the way. I seldom saw them because I was always busy. I could have made them my first priority.”

“Sometimes, we are trapped by life. We have to make choices for our loved ones. Some parents are always at home with their children, yet they can’t afford to give them the bare necessities of life. You have chosen what you thought was the best for your loved ones and that was a wonderful thing. Don’t worry about the past. You’ve done okay as a father. “

I extended my hand to give him a handshake.

“Happy 66th birthday in advance.” I said. And we smiled at each other.

Leopoldo Salcedo with Vida Florante in SIERRA MADRE, BUNDOK NG HIWAGA
Photo from Kabayan Central

Suddenly, Charo Santos appeared at the landing of the stairs, greeting both of us. She was replacing Alma Moreno that day because Alma was filming in Baguio City. And we all went inside the studio.

In my mind, I remember the lyrics of one of Shirley Bassey’s songs:

“But love, if you had been behind the curtain when it fell
When all the lights were out, and I was all alone
You would have seen this actress crying.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010


At age 15 (two months before I turned sixteen), I figured I should stop asking our family driver or my older brother or older sister to be driving me around. Everyone at home became worried when I declared to the whole family at the dining table one evening: “I’m ready to drive a car of my own!”

My mother’s reaction was: “With the kind of traffic we have here in the city, I don’t think it will be sensible for someone as young as you are, to drive!”

My father seconded: “There are just too many reckless drivers out there, and you’re a bit too young. Wait for another year, maybe two – by then you’d be old enough to do so.”

“You always want to grow old too quickly,” my older brother told me. “Relax. I’m still here, and I can drive you when you go to the studio at midnight for your taping sessions.”

The words that came out of my mouth surprised everyone: “I don’t get it. If at thirteen, I was old enough to have sex, why am I not old enough to drive a car at fifteen?”

Silence. Everyone, especially my four sisters, glowered at me in disbelief and annoyance. We were brought up allowing to express our opinions freely, but this latest repartee was a rude awakening for everyone.

Cubao during rush hour, photo by Istvan Hidvegi

“You had your first time two years ago?” My brother said with wide eyes open. “My God, I’m a late bloomer, then. My first foray into sexual intercourse was when I was sixteen!”

“Now, I have no time listening to all your nonsense, boys! And especially you,” My sister (who became a nun) said with embarrassment and clearly offended, pointing at me. “And I thought you said you want to become a priest, thank you very much!” She got up and left the table.

My father took a deep breath and exhaled, then smiled: “Okay, okay. I’ll let you drive, but first, I want you to go to a driving school. This very popular driving school in Quezon City will train you to become an excellent driver.”

I got up, hurried towards between my dad and my mom, hugged them and kissed their cheeks. By the way, I forgot to mention that I came from a family of kissers. We kiss our parents when we arrive home, and they kiss us in return. We kissed our parent’s goodbye, we kissed them when we woke up in the morning, etc., etc. In short, we were like one happy Mafioso family (who even kiss their co-gang members scheduled to be butchered in a matter of a few minutes before execution). But, no. We did not execute any members of our own family.

But, you may ask: man, what has this got to do with my first driving experience?

A lot, actually. Because this incident was the plot point (from a scriptwriter’s POV) that made the story turn around, and which, had catapulted it into another direction.

I will not mention the name of the so-called EXCELLENT driving school that everybody talked about in Quezon City, which, I think, had hoodwinked many people including my own father.

So, I went to the well-known driving school. It had a presentable facade, spacious compound, and lots of standard transmission cars for student drivers.

Its syllabus was nothing to sneeze at. It divided the lessons in four parts:
• Lecture on the mechanics of a North American cars vs. European cars vs. Japanese cars.
• Familiarization of different car parts
• Lecture on trouble shooting and car care
• Actual road driving experience

Very comprehensive! I whispered to myself.

My first day was the lecture, and I indeed became enlightened to the difference between the North American, Japanese, and European cars. I also became aware of the different car parts and how to operate them. I also enjoyed the trouble-shooting lectures.

But, the actual road driving experience was another story.

On my first day of driving, I met my driving instructor on our way to the parking lot to go to the car I would be driving. The instructor began talking to me. The first thing I noticed was his somewhat slurred speech. I thought, oh, well, maybe he had some speech problem. He was bragging to me that he was one of the best drivers in the Philippines, that he got his international driver’s license in California and took the road test in Los Angeles, and got one of the three highest scores among the examinees.

Really. Then I must be in good hands.

When we entered the car, the first time he opened his mouth, I smelled alcohol. Hmm, what’s going on here?

The school bragged about their facilities, yet when I started the engine, I realized that he didn’t have his own steering wheel! He placed his foot on top of my foot to control the clutch. Oh, my!

First, we drove along the quiet road by the school and everything was fine. He showed me the “hanging” technique and how to control a standard transmission. The lesson was going well when suddenly, he said: “I think you’re ready to hit the highway. Let’s go to EDSA!”

I hesitated: “It’s now rush hour. Do you think it’s a good idea to go there?”

He was agitated by my suggestion: “Huwag ka na ngang nag-i-English at naiilang ako! At saka ba’t mas marunong ka pa sa nagtuturo sa iyo? Sino ba sa atin ang estudyante, ikaw o ako?”

“Di ba’t obvious naman ang sagot diyan, at di na dapat itanong. Ang inaalala ko lang, ngayon lang ako humawak ng manibela, tapos pupunta tayo sa highway, at rush hour pa.”

“Masyado kang matalino,” was his curt reply. “Basta doon tayo sa EDSA.”

So, to EDSA we went. Gosh, the reckless drivers were having their merriest moments. They passed, they cut, they honked like there were no tommorow. It’s not as bad as Interstate 5 leading towards the entrance to Seattle City Center, but EDSA was bad enough due to undisciplined drivers who didn’t seem to understand the meaning of Defensive Driving.

These snaking freeways leading to Seattle city center may look harmless, but try driving here during rush hours, especially during a long weekend, and you'd probably swear to high heavens never to take this route ever again. The flow of the traffic is extremely smooth, but nobody's keeping the speed limit. Everybody's speeding. One driver error could mean a huge disaster.

When I reached the Cubao area, I watched from my side view mirror a small orange bus coming in full speed, passed me and abruptly cut me to pick up a waiting passenger on the sidewalk.

The instructor had a conniption.

“Putang inang baby bus iyan, ah! Ginitgit tayo! Hintayin mong umandar iyan at ipapakita natin sa anak ng putang iyan kung ano ang ginawa niya sa atin.”

Don't let this bright, multi-colored lights outlining the Seattle Interstate 5 (I-5) leading to Seattle City center fool you as something exalting to your spirits. Only when your car becomes one of the many lights you'd realize why the moth in Rizal's story got burned by the lamp. Taken from Dr. Jose P. Rizal Bridge in Seattle, Photo by Charles Middleton.

So, when the little orange bus glided again, he ordered me: “Ngayon, habulin mo ang anak ng putang iyan.” He said while honking nonstop.

“Bakit pa, para ano pa?” was my protest.

“Putang... isa ka pa! Sinabi nang habulin mo! Habulin mo!”

He was fuming mad and was forcing his foot on the gas, so I had to obey. I drove like a maniac and ran after the baby bus. When we got ahead of it, my brilliant instructor who got his licensed from Cali (I don’t think so), told me to: “Gitgitin mo. I-cut mo ang putang ina. Dali. I-cut mo at ipreno mo nang bigla para maleksion ang anak ng putang iyan!

Well, I did exactly that. I cut right in-front of the baby bus and stopped.

SCREEEEEEECH! The baby bus missed us by a few inches.

The Dr. Jose P. Rizal Bridge in Seattle, Washington.

The instructor got out and hopped on the bus, and I swear he was about to beat up the other driver, but thanks to the lady konduktora and some civic minded passengers, the THRILLA IN EDSA had been aborted.

The incident had given me migraine. And I can say for sure that one of my most unforgettable experiences in life was my first driving experience in the Philippines.