It is perhaps the most bloodcurdling moment for hardcore, authentic football fans the world over- the time when insufferable idiots like me jump into the World Cup bandwagon to join in on the booing, cheering, pseudo-online analyzing and hashflagging because not doing so practically isolates one from the cool part of the world. Sorry we’re not, sor-ry, waka waka, eh, eh.
Truth be told, I am the Jon Snow of football. I knoo nuthin. I played only joke football (sipa bol) outside school when I was a kid, and my appreciation of the World Cup was only confined to buying a team Brazil Havaianas and an oversized ¡Españoles Luchan! shirt in 2006. I watched the Netherlands and Spain final in 2010 without rooting for anyone, saw the Philippines versus Sri Lanka match live in 2011 (viciously supported the Philippines with face paint) and interviewed the Younghusbands for an article, and that’s about it. Those are about the most footbally things I have ever done in my life. I don’t watch matches outside the World Cup; I don’t have a clear grasp of who plays where and I don’t use a first-person personal plural pronoun when referring to clubs (We won against Bayern Munich today; Our team will do better next time; We’ll never walk alone, etc. etc.). I’ve always regarded football as a sad, boring sport full of vain multimillionaire drama queens who regularly flop because they can’t properly score a goal.
But the World Cup, like any other major international sports event, is something one shouldn’t miss. It’s the biggest sporting event in the planet and it’s like the Halley’s comet: it only appears once in a long while and by the next time it happens you’re probably dead already. There’s just something about fighting for national pride by kicking a ball that captivates people to a point approaching religious fanaticism, and how could you just miss that? How could you?
But if you’re a football noob like me who wants to take part in the Waka-Waka Tiki-Taka Goo Goo Gaga awesomeness that is the World Cup, it’s not enough that you just randomly babble on about stuff without doing your homework. If you’re faking it, fake it good. Fake it til you’re so fake and don’t let others blow your cover. Don’t tweet go David Beckham win for England. Don’t. Let me help.
(Originally written for jessicarulestheuniverse.com three years ago. Happy Independence Day, Philippines!)
Maynila, 1896 — Isang misteryosong sakit ang dumapo sa mga Katipunero. Halos kalahati sa kanila ang isa-isang tinubuan ng nagnanaknak na pigsa sa singit, na nagparalisa sa kanilang pagsagupa sa mga Espanyol. Dinala ang mga maysakit sa tahanan ni Tandang Sora, upang magamot at magpagaling.
“Conching, bunutin mo ang puno ng bayabas sa harap ng bahay,” ang utos ng 84-taong matanda na matamang nakatuon ang pansin sa mga nakabukangkang na Katipunerong namimilipit sa kanyang harapan.
“Ngunit Tandang Sora, nakabaon sa semento ang puno ng bayabas.”
“Nais mo bang tumulong sa Inang Bayan, Conching?”
“Over!” ang tahimik na sabi ni Conching sabay labas ng bahay bitbit ang isang gunting.
Wari’y nagsasagot ng Sudoku ang matanda habang nginunguya ang mga dahon ng bayabas na nasa kanyang harapan. Maya’t maya’y idinudura niya ang mga nginuyang dahon sa isang palanggana. Nang maubos niya ang buong puno, tumayo siya.
“Makinig kayong lahat mga Katipunero. Bihira ang sakit na dumapo sa inyo. Hayaan ninyong isa-isang itapal ni Conching sa mga nagnanaknak ninyong singit ang mga nginuyang dahon ng bayabas.”
Ilan sa mga Katipunero ay narinig na nagsabi ng “gross” pero wala rin silang nagawa.
Nang matapos tapalan ng bayabas ang mga singit ng mga Katipunero, lumapit ang matanda kay Conching.
“Ipahid mo ito sa kanila pagkatapos gumaling ng sugat,” sabay bunot ng isang bagay sa bulsa ng kanyang saya.
“Ano po ito, Tandang Sora?”
“Contractubex, para mawala ang peklat. Dyahe kaya yung may peklat ka sa singit.”
“I know right!” ang sabi ni Andres Bonifacio na nakikinig pala sa matanda.
There’s this positivity campaign on the internet called #100happydays, where, simply, people share photos of things that make them happy, for 100 days in a row. Sounds cute. Pictures may include radiant selfies, group selfies (groufies?), new shoes, a cinema ticket, a meal, a made-up inspirational quote against the sunrise or sunset, Jesus Christ, and so on.
As I’ve observed within my social media network, there are two kinds of people at either end of the #100happydays campaign- those who do it and those who think it’s a steaming pile of horseshit.
I wish you were bold enough to insult me about my favorite television shows and songs, why they reflect my poor taste and why I should feel insecure about myself. I wish you were confident enough to tell me that I sometimes suck, and that you know I won’t get offended anyway because it’s you. I wish you were more comfortable in saying things that would break the great wall of all things awkward.
I am the third and youngest child in a family with three children. You’d normally think I was the spoiled little devil, but not really. At least not absolutely. My older brother and sister both went to private schools until they graduated in college. When it was my turn to study though, my parents decided to enroll me in the central public school in our town. They told me studying in a public school is as good as studying in a private one, but I really think they just ran out of money for my education. I’m looking at you, parents.
I studied for seven years in a public elementary school and the entire experience was interesting and weird, with just the right amount of being fucked up. I’ll tell you why.
1. Child labor. When I was in the sixth grade, our livelihood education teacher brought us to a grass-covered empty lot and asked us to clear the area. I thought this was just in preparation for a gardening lesson, until he started bringing shovels and wheelbarrows. We were asked to remove our shoes and start digging deep in the earth. Hours into digging, I learned that we were making a fish pond. Not the teeny weeny kiddie fish pond, but a fucking fish pond. I didn’t know elementary schools double as concentration camps, but I obliged anyway. I was that type of student. So if by any chance you come across my elementary school, check out that fish pond at the back of the Japanese building. It’s one of those things I can put in my resume- I was once a child laborer who made a fish pond.