May 25, 2007

Does he like you?

Something Like Life
May 25, 2007

SO you’re done with the first date with Mr. Hottie. You had a grand time. How do you know whether he really truly likes you or he’s just playing you?

Men are pretty transparent with their feelings. Unlike us women who can play those weird relationship games, men are usually pretty straightforward about what they like and don’t like. You will know if he likes you if:

1. He calls. He will take the time to chat. Or text. Not stupid forwarded jokes but he will ask real questions like, “Hi. How r u?” or “Wat r u doing?”. He just has to touch base with you constantly, yup, even if he’s superbusy.

2. He asks you out on more dates. This means he wants to get to know you better. He will want to know everything about you. These dates will help you as well to assess your real feelings for him. I mean, he may be hot, but is he good enough to have a long-term relationship with? (Ladies, if you like him but not enough to be more than friends, then make sure he knows it. Don’t give him any mixed signals by leading him on.)

3. He respects you. He will want to know if you feel comfortable in a situation, like, say, he wants to have sex for the first time; he will ask if that would be okay. If you don’t feel ready for it, he will understand and respect the limits you’ve set for physical intimacy. When he sets dates, he will do it a day or two prior to the actual event, so you won’t know it’s just a booty call. (Of course, if that’s all that you want, then by all means, go ahead and accept a last-minute invite from him.) He will make you feel very relaxed even in your own skin—and, yes, even if you look fat in that dress.

4. He will want to impress you. Not in a braggart or arrogant sort of way. But he will want to order the best for you, try to take you out to the finest restaurants, watch the latest film, pay huge bucks just to watch a concert with you. Oh, yes, he will try to be funny. In a world where looks are very important, men now know that what will turn things in their favor is wit and a good sense of humor, more than just having a hot body.

5. He listens. He will sit in rapt attention, with eyes focused on you, listening to what you have to say. He will want to know your opinion especially on issues he cares about. You know he is listening when he remembers what you said months after you’ve said it.

6. He visits you at home. If he wants to know more about you, he will want to see where you live. He will inspect your abode, perhaps sneak a peak at your bedroom, basically see how you function in your own space. He will do this, especially if you live on your own. If you still live with your family, he may put it off until he knows for sure where he wants this relationship to go.

7. He introduces you to his friends. If a man likes you enough to think of having an expanded relationship with you, then he won’t hesitate showing you off to his friends. Besides, he will likely turn to them as well for approval so he will introduce you soon enough. A man and his friends are tight. He wants to make sure you and his buddies get along.

8. He asks you on an out-of-town trip. You know he’s getting serious when he is no longer content with just seeing you for three-four hours over dinner, or watching a movie, or just hanging out at a café. He will want to spend an entire day with you or even overnight at some place. My buddies tell me that they got wake-up calls about the women they were dating by seeing how they functioned while on vacation. One friend actually told me he decided not to pursue a girl he had been dating for a while because he couldn’t stand her being “maarte.” She seemed sweet enough most of the time they were together, but she was just too fussy about the resort they stayed in, the rooms, the guest services…just very uncool and bitchy about the whole thing.

9. He introduces you to his family. If you’ve been going out for quite some time already, and he feels sure about you, he will want you to meet his folks or siblings. The mom, especially, is the key factor in any relationship for a man and so, usually, he will need her stamp of approval on you. When he asks you to meet his family, just be on your best behavior. Show them you have manners. Be polite and respectful toward the folks. Oh, if you still don’t feel ready to meet the parents, then say so.

10. He will talk about the future. He will tell you if he thinks you’re the girl for him. He will open up and express his feelings, if he’s very serious about wanting you to be in his life. He will not mince words. One girlfriend told me that after a few dates, this guy told her he was going to marry her. She didn’t believe him because she wasn’t even sure about how she felt toward him yet. True enough, they got hitched and are celebrating over 20 years of togetherness.

If you still can’t read him and pick up the clues, dumb woman, then just ask him. Sure, it will shock him a bit, but if it’s important for you—after, say, three months of dating—to know exactly where you stand in his universe, then just ask him straight out.

If he says he likes you, and wants to keep seeing you, then accept it, and close the topic. Men detest having long drawn-out conversations about relationships, so the shorter you discuss the topic, the better.

If he says he likes you, but just as a friend, then take your business elsewhere if you were looking for something more serious. Don’t hang on thinking that you will be able to change his mind soon enough by whatever acrobatic feats or magical tricks you are planning to conjure. Just appreciate his honesty and enjoy more good times with your new friend.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of BusinessMirror. Photo from BusinessMirror)

May 18, 2007

A mother-daughter relationship in perspective

Something Like Life
May 18, 2007

ON Mother’s Day, we were treated to what was perhaps the most spectacular outburst ever made in Philippine showbiz history. Those immortal words uttered by the still unparalleled stage mother of all stage mothers, Annabel Rama, were truly unforgettable and will likely be the gold standard by which all other stage mothers will have to measure themselves. With tears streaming down her face, facial tissue in hand, Annabel—in her trademark Waray-accented Tagalog — implored her celebrity daughter Ruffa Gutierrez on national TV: “Kung gusto mo akong matigok, pumunta ka sa Maldives. Kung gusto mo pa ako mabuhay ng matagal, mag-stay ka sa akin. [If you want me to die, go to Maldives. If you want me to live long, stay with me].”

Emotional blackmail? It sure sounded like it. What kind of mother would directly sabotage her child’s efforts at making a marriage work by saying that she would keel over if the child left her side? To those who missed another stirring performance by the one-time showbiz starlet, Annabel last Sunday was interviewed by a fumbling, verbally challenged Pia Guanio on the state of Ruffa’s marriage to Turkish businessman Yilmaz Bektas. Annabel was trying to prevent Ruffa from going on a vacation with her estranged husband where they were supposed to work out their troubled marriage.

Of course, everybody suspects ulterior motives on Annabel’s part as she tried to put herself between her daughter and a son-in-law whom she admits to have grown to love. Was she trying to force Ruffa—virtually incoherent on another channel, with tears as big as the diamond earrings she wore—to give up on her marriage to Bektas, and resume her very profitable showbiz career? In turn, Annabel would reassume the role as her daughter’s manager and thereby reap the benefits that she had to forgo for seven years? Wasn’t this woman content with the earnings she was receiving from managing the acting careers of her handsome twins?

But for anyone who has ever been a mother, and who has sacrificed so much for her children, and gone to great lengths to keep her family afloat, Annabel’s outburst was quite understandable.

Sure, the accusations from some quarters about her being “materialistic” could be true in part, but Annabel can never be blamed for trying to look after her children’s welfare. And for someone who never had real acting talent herself, Annabel has actually been pulling off what is probably the greatest performance of her life for the past decades—being the strong foundation and guiding light of the Gutierrez family. She has singlehandedly built up her children’s careers despite the fact that some of them probably don’t even have the real goods to justify their huge talent fees.

More than Annabel’s OA threats of dying prematurely, it is perhaps due to those reasons cited above that the well-poised and polished Ruffa decided to stay with her mom and turn her back on her husband. Ruffa was reported to have expressed her continuing love for Bektas, despite the rumors of physical abuse, and to which Annabel herself hinted at. And what kind of mother would she be if she didn’t try to put an end to her daughter’s suffering? “Gabi-gabi ’yan, tumatawag sa akin umiiyak [Every night she would call me crying],” was how Annabel succinctly described the condition of her daughter’s marriage.

Despite all her instincts that her daughter’s union with the English-challenged businessman with a doubtful background was headed straight for the rocks, Annabel, to her credit, allowed the marriage to push through. She perhaps realized how much her daughter was in love with her Turkish Prince Charming, so much so that Ruffa even converted to the Islam faith. Besides, she knew that Ruffa would have the material comforts that the latter could never have, and all her child was to do was sit pretty beside her “Lovee” and bear his children. It may be argued as well that this marriage could have been Ruffa’s way of struggling out of her mother’s firm grip, although we don’t know much of what goes on 24/7 in the Gutierrez household to safely conclude that.

But, surely, Annabel didn’t want her own daughter to experience the hardships that she herself suffered, selling pots and pans to her neighbors while living in the US, just to put decent meals on their dining table. And while Ruffa is indeed beautiful, statuesque and articulate, Annabel knew that an entertainer’s life is harsh, and fame all too fleeting. Just look at what happened to her husband. Naku, mahirap, ’dong!

So with Annabel’s blessing, for seven years, Ruffa did get to live out every young girl’s fantasy of being fabulously married to a handsome rich husband, living in a palatial home and giving birth to bundles of sweet joyful children. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the white picket fence, so to speak, was missing. The harsh realities of a cultural divide finally impacted on her marriage, and while she did try to make things work, Ruffa had to finally admit that despite her strong love for her husband, she was no longer happy. “Hindi ko na kaya [I can’t take it anymore]” was what she answered when Boy Abunda asked if her husband abused her.

After trying to shake off what we imagine as her mother’s tons of advice and dire warnings across miles and miles of fiber-optic cable, Ruffa finally decided to listen to Annabel and come home where she was safe and well-protected by those who loved her. And all her mother wanted was for Ruffa to stand firm in her decision and to choose a life of freedom, though she may not be fabulously rich, instead of a miserable existence with her wealthy husband and his never ending gifts of diamond-studded jewelry. We can just imagine her mother getting tired of repeating herself and advising Ruffa what she should do if she was unhappy with her marriage.

With the bearing of a sage now, Annabel said Ruffa was still young and could start her life all over again. She would surely meet someone who would make her happy. The bad marriage happened. End it. Then move on. Ever the practical woman, Annabel even advised her daughter not to waste her in-laws’ money by making them fly all the way to Manila only for her to tell them that she wasn’t going back to Turkey with them.

And so Ruffa has realized the universal truth that all women must come to acknowledge at some point in their lives. Mothers know best.

UPDATE: As of press time, rumors are swirling around that Ruffa has left for the US—to meet with her estranged hubby perhaps? Oh, well, the heart chooses what it wants. And Annabel Rama will surely live another day to give her daughter—and us—a piece of her mind.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday, in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. TV grab from BusinessMirror)

May 17, 2007

Melinda exits 'Idol'; what the...?

MELINDA Doolittle, the best contestant that has every graced the American Idol stage, is gone!

Again, what the....? How could this be? For someone who delivered consistent performances throughout the duration of the contest, she was expected to be a shoo-in for the finals. What a range! She was great in jazz, country, pop, even rock for heaven's sake!

But then if you look at the past winners of the show, most of the best singers actually didn't win. Remember Mandisa? Again, she was the most vocally prepared and strongest of all the contestants last year, even Barry Manilow told her he would hire her if she didn't win the contest! But she too had to go, not even coming close to the top three contestants.

But I guess you can't deny the shrieking fans surrounding Blake and Jordin. If you watched the homecoming clips, the hysterical fans were all kids! They are exactly the ones who would be patient enough to keep dialing in to make sure their favorite would win. Sure Melinda had her fans too. And coming from a southern state like Tennessee should have had a lot of support. She did/does, but they weren't as crazy for her as they were for the young Blake and Jordin. Melinda's groupies were older, more mature Bible thumping believers, you know?

This is really a sad day for Melinda believers like me. I hope Simon gives her a job. She's way better than those fake pop opera pretty boys of his anyway.

My prediction of who will win as Idol? I think it will be Jordin. I think Arizona, like Alabama, just knows how to take care of its own.

May 12, 2007

Mommies Dearest

Something Like Life
May 11-12. 2007

MOMMIE DEAREST was a very controversial book published in 1978, where Christina Crawford, the adopted daughter of that marvelous old Hollywood diva Joan Crawford, accused the latter of child abuse and having sexual relations with other women. Christina also claimed that Miz Crawford (she of the arched eyebrows and finely chiseled cheekbones) only adopted her and three other children for publicity’s was all for show and nothing more. Miz Crawford had no real love for her children, Christina claimed, as she was more engrossed with her film career.

Published a year after Miz Crawford’s death, the book made a riveting read, especially to those like me perpetually enamored with the juicy gossip and scandalous stories involving Hollywood’s royalty back when the town made really good movies. Although several of Miz Crawford’s friends have disputed the revelations in the book, her name has since become synonymous with child abuse.

Just what kind of woman would harm her children?

When you think about mothers, you often equate them with nurturing, teaching, food and its wonderful smells wafting from the kitchen, kindness, protection, and warm, unconditional, unquestioning love.

Women are also thought of being natural at motherhood. We see a baby and we want to pick him up and kiss him all over, sniff his yummy milky baby smell, and make blowing noises on his tummy just to hear him chortle. Motherhood is supposedly our singular role in this world. We get pregnant, we give birth, we nurture our kids to hopefully become near-perfect happy and successful citizens of this world.

Those who are childless obsess about becoming pregnant, because they feel it is their “calling” to be mothers. They feel incomplete, even betrayed, if they don’t have children, and will do anything to have a child—be it by force, through legal means, or even via the “miracle” of science.

It may be surprising, however, to learn that there are some women who don’t hear that calling at all. They refuse to have children and don’t think they are cut out to be mothers.

This is not just any postpartum depression felt by new mothers, à la Brooke Shields, who don’t care about crashing their car even if their baby is sleeping in the back seat. (Thank God for Paxil! Woohoo!) I’m talking about turning one’s back on her “role” to aid in multiplying and improving the human race. And of a guiltless attitude of not having any motherly feelings at all.

When a former classmate of mine got married to her sweetheart years back, she and her husband deliberately decided then and there not to have any children. I thought this was a bit sad as I’d known how her husband liked to dote on kids. He struck me as someone who could be a great dad.

But I wasn’t surprised at how this marriage turned out and at the decisions the couple made. I thought their choice to be childless was reflective of the physical and verbal abuse my classmate had suffered in the hands of her father. She absolutely hated him for the violence, and her mother for just looking the other way.

Maybe she was afraid of becoming violent as well toward her children, if she actually had them? Most studies do show that those who inflict pain on their children have been abused by their parents as well. Or perhaps she thought mothers were weak? After all, her own role model was too afraid to protect her child.

Some women don’t need any reason to repudiate their “mother” calling.

One woman actually told me she had felt nothing toward her children. Though she is now absolutely in love with her grandkids, she said that when she gave birth to each of her three children, she didn’t feel any tender Little House on the Prairie feelings welling up inside of her. Postpartum blues? I doubt it. She confessed that these “nonfeelings” toward her children continued through much of their youth and until their adulthood. Yep, even until now.

Sure, when one of her kids got sick, this woman said that she would take care of the child. But she assured me she did not do this out of love, but out of...what? Duty? Just because she had to, she told me. After all, no one wants to be accused of neglecting their children, right? Especially not someone of her economic stature and her place in society. It’s a good thing she had nannies who helped her take care of her kids.

Interestingly enough, her children seem to absolutely love her. They can hardly make a move in their careers or their personal lives without consulting their mother first. This is a woman who hardly has any funny stories or gripping anecdotes to narrate about her children when they were growing up. She used to tell me that she always understood why some animals ate their young. She was dead-serious that it actually scared me.

Then, there’s this woman who lives in our neighborhood who can’t seem to stop screaming at her kids whenever she gets home from work. And wouldn’t you know it? I found out that she’s a nurse...someone who is supposed to be adept at taking care of people. Yet almost every day she would berate her children for some infraction, imagined or otherwise. Now I hear she’s going off to work abroad and is planning to leave her kids with the maid. (The husband apparently is a seaman who is also out of the country most of the time; but whenever he comes home, he doesn’t spare the kids his mouth either.) What’s that number for Bantay Bata again?

Of course these days, we hear even crazier tabloid stories about pregnant women trying to flush their newborn babies down the toilet, or putting the baby in a box and throwing it in the trash can, or mothers who just beat up their children for no apparent reason.

It’s strange, I know, to hear of these mothers who don’t behave like mothers at all. It isn’t natural. This isn’t the way how the world should work. Why, you ask? I don’t have any answers.
* * *

ON a lighter note, I want to greet my dearest mama (no Mommie Dearest, she) a Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday! You drive me nuts, mom, but I love you just the same!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror.)

May 04, 2007

Men you should avoid

Something Like Life
May 4, 2007

ONCE in a while, in our endless quest for true love, we women come across chumps who, for some strange reason, perhaps by fate or due to our temporary insanity, we seem to have fallen in love with.

In our heads, we all know that he is wrong for us—maybe he talks too loud on his cell phone in public, he’s an arrogant SOB who feels he is God’s gift to humanity, can’t spell properly, or just has bad breath – and yet we still stick by him, defending him even to our friends and family, because we love him. (Or do we?)

I can’t stress this enough. We women are gifted with a rare ability to sense the unseen, what lies beneath the surface of people and events, and we should do well to trust our instincts. It’ll save us a lot of heartaches in the end.

From the many experiences of my girlfriends and gayfriends, here are some of the examples of men we women should steer clear of:

The overly jealous/paranoid guy

IT’S nice to see a boyfriend sometimes get all pinched and bothered when he sees you talking to other men or just laughing with them. Or perhaps he plays hurt after you have just gushed over a half-naked George Clooney in Vanity Fair. This is all cute and makes you want to kiss your boyfriend some more.

When he starts getting gruff, crazy mad (c’mon girls, you know the difference between a man whose ego has just been a bit slighted from someone about to run amuck), starts shouting and threatens you bodily harm, then this isn’t just a simple case of jealousy.

A girl I knew once had a boyfriend who would tail her wherever she would go, even if she was just having coffee with us, to make sure she wasn’t seeing any other man. This, my dear girls, is classic cuckoo behavior. Your boyfriend belongs in a loony bin!

Mama’s boy

DOES your boyfriend still live with his mother? It’s fine when both of you are still 16, or even 25. But if he’s reached 30 and he’s still tied to his mom’s apron strings, beware! He will likely want you, his girlfriend, to treat him the same way his mama does.

The Mama’s Boy is a man who can’t say a single sentence without mentioning his dear mom, cannot refer to any important or exciting experience unless it involves her, and will probably compare everything you make in the kitchen to his mother’s cooking! Ouch!

In a woman, the Mama’s Boy is only after one thing, the same creature comforts provided by his dear mother…so expect to take care of your boyfriend’s every need, just as his mother does. Honey, if you’re not ready to take care of a child, stay away from men like this. Besides, you will never ever be more than his mother could ever be to him.

The metrosexual (kuno)

I DON’T care what all the magazine articles say, metrosexuals are not! real men. I think “metrosexual” is just another brand thought up by marketing geniuses who need to move more men’s clothes, vanity products and accessories.

Metrosexuals are just homosexuals who haven’t come out of the closet yet and who need an excuse not to be branded as gay, even as they indulge in their favorite flowers, monthly spa treatments, cry at romantic movies, etc. Men are either gay or straight. There is no in between. (Yes, even if your best gayfriend insists that the guy he is seeing is straight. Sweetie, if a man is screwing around with a homosexual, he ain’t straight, he’s gay! Hello!)

Sure, we want a man who takes care of himself, is well-groomed, smells good, is sensitive to your needs, and is always presentable to your family and friends. But, c’mon, if he goes to the salon more often than you to get his roots treated or get a facial, there is obviously something amiss. Girl s’ya, anoh?!

The serial philanderer

IF he’s cheating on you while you’re still dating, it is more likely than not that he will still be the same when you’re married to each other.

Men don’t change. Not overnight, not for any woman. (Good luck, Pia Guanio!) I would want to give you a deep psychological evaluation on why men cheat on their girlfriends or wives. I’d even like to say that your man won’t cheat if he loves you very much. But you know that things aren’t as simple as that. They will cheat, if given the opportunity, and they know they can get away with it. (I’m not being unfair to men...yes, I must acknowledge that women do cheat as well.)

But if you’ve caught him with other women, not just once or twice, but three times and more, then perhaps it’s time for you to stop making excuses for him. It’s not true that it’s the woman who is the last to know. The signs are there. Sometimes we just refuse to acknowledge them. If he doesn’t have room in his life for just you, then sweep him out of yours.

A man and his ex-

A MAN who can’t stop talking about his ex- is obviously still hung up about her. Sometimes it will happen during the most innocent of conversations, or situations. The topic about his ex-girlfriend will suddenly crop up. You want to be polite and be a good listener, but be true to yourself. It’s annoying!

Maybe he doesn’t talk about her. But he still has her stuff all over his place. Or in my case, he gave me a bracelet his ex-girlfriend made—as a Christmas gift. (Aside from her regular job, she makes fashion accessories on the side.) She and “my guy” were together for the longest time, but after she called it quits, did he still have to support her business? Well, I wasn’t about to be the girlfriend for the man on the rebound, so I was out of the scene as fast as my red high heels could take me.

The man who is still wrapped up in memories of his ex needs some time alone. He has to have time to digest his feelings, mourn, get mad, accept the situation, before he can truly say he’s over her. If he’s still in any of those stages before the actual recovery, you’re just setting yourself up for a really painful ending.

Sure, there may be exceptions to the rule. Like if the mom of your mama’s boy thinks the world of you. Or if the overly jealous guy does actually have a good reason to be so, you flirt. (Then it’s you who has to change, not him.) But other than those exceptions, there is every reason in the world for you to stay away from the aforementioned types of men. It will save you a lot of heartaches and perhaps your sanity.

Let’s just be friends na lang, okay?

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BusinessMirror)

May 03, 2007

Mike Arroyo drops all libel cases vs media

FIRST Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo on Thursday ordered his lawyers to withdraw all of his libel cases filed against members of the Philippine media.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye on Thursday read Arroyo's statement before members of the Malacañang Press Corps, saying it was the First Gentleman's "gesture for peace."

The announcement came the same day that World Press Freedom Day was being celebrated. (The rest at GMA News TV. Photo from the BBC)

Hmmm...a hospital epiphany, perhaps? Or mega-PR gimmick? Whatever it is, pakibaba ang mga kilay, people. Mag-thank you nalang.