December 21, 2007

100! and counting...

Something Like Life
Dec. 20, 2007

THIS is my 100th column for this super-excellent business newspaper.

I never would have thought I’d have enough discipline to do this every week and talk about a topic which matters to us most: our relationships. After all, I’m more a politics and business kind of girl who usually rants over the latest insane idea of the government, despite my having turned more to lifestyle writing.

When my editor first proposed to me the idea of writing about relationships, I was amused. I think I asked him if everyone else had turned him down before he finally approached me. Frankly, I thought the topic was very limiting and felt I’d run out of ideas each week. Besides, who would want to read about falling in love (and out of it), dating, adultery (woo-hoo!) week after week? Besides what right did I have talking about romance when I’m currently unattached, except to my Mac?

But as Gerard spelled it out to me, relationships do not only mean romantic love and its many configurations, but also the bonds that tie us to our work colleagues, our bosses, our family, our friends and, yes, even those who are within our periphery who may not be any of the above but who still make our lives work, such as our secretaries, assistants, househelp, etc. (A couple of months back, for example, a few people told me how they enjoyed my piece on finding the right househelp, and sympathized with my plight.)

Helping me through this weekly commitment of column-writing have been my friends, some of whose life stories have also made it to the pages of this section. Well, what are friends for if you can’t mine their experiences and regurgitate them for public consumption, eh? Seriously, I just love my wonderful friends, some of whom have been closer to me than my own family, and I’ve shared some of their own stories with you, so you already know just how much I have learned from them, too.

'The Entourage' (foreground, from left): Fil, moi, Donna, Marianne, Tita Nel; (back, from left) Tito Mon, Pinky Poo, Badang

So this year, as I give thanks for the great opportunities that have come my way and to my fabulous readers, I’d like some of my dearest friends to take center stage and talk about their favorite Christmas gifts. This is my “Entourage” — the people who have been around especially when things weren’t going so great in my life. It hasn’t been an easy year for me and my family, but I’m glad I have these splendid guys and gals to hold me up and lift my spirits. This is my own little way of saying thank you to them and hoping that all their Christmas wishes come true. (Okay, I didn’t bother to ask the rest because they don’t believe in Christ-mas anyway…heathens! I still love you guys, though.)

Fil: Back in 1987 when things weren’t that big, Larry (my life partner) bought me a 29-inch Sony TV which had surround sound. Big TVs weren’t in fashion yet then. But it was the biggest gift he ever bought me. Until now it’s still working!

Tito Mon: I was five years old and my mom gave me a bicycle. We lived in the province then and we weren’t rich. So it was something big for me already. Also, I remember that same Christmas, my ninang (godmother) gave me a basketball. The ball fell down the stairs and out into the compound’s ground. I ran after it and the German shepherd of my neighbor clawed at me. I was given 24 anti-tetanus shots!

Marianne: Everyone knows I love vinegar. A couple of years ago, a publicist gave me different kinds of vinegar—red wine, tarragon, malt, balsamic, sukang Iloko, etc. I really appreciated it because I wasn’t even close to her but she took the effort to choose these vinegars in nice different bottles and arranged them in a gift basket. It may be ordinary to some but I liked it because she put a lot of thought into the gift, which is something that you don’t expect from most publicists, right? Napa-bilib ako sa kanya! Someone actually paid attention to what I wanted! (Anyone who can guess who this publicist is gets a special prize. No help from Marianne, please.)

Jun: I was 11 years old, I received a doll dressed as Santa Claus. It was a gift from my favorite kuya who died from bangungot in December also, three years after he gave me the doll. It was the best gift I received because I guess it was his way of telling me that it was okay for me to be gay. He was 24 then, and it was his first job, he bought my doll from his first salary. Of all my brothers, he was the one I was closest to, and he was the only one with an open mind to what I was, what I am. That’s why I don’t enjoy Christmas that much since he passed away.

Donna: Just last Sunday I received a Tommy Hilfiger watch from a really good friend. It’s lined in pink with Swarovski crystals. I really wanted that watch. And although it’s not really that expensive in terms of watches, it was expensive for my friend to buy it. The last time she gave me an expensive item was several years ago. But it’s not really the price that mattered; it’s who gave it.

Ted: I must’ve been nine or 10 years old and our “Santa Claus” got a bundle from his huge Christmas sack and called out my name, “To Teddy.” I walked up to him, got the bundle, ripped open the wrapper and couldn’t help letting out a delighted yelp, “Santa’s finally got it right!” when I saw what it yielded: all the titles of classics illustrated comic books I had written on the Christmas wish list which I and all my cousins in the maternal family compound I grew up in Bacolod were asked to make before Christmas Eve. A Tale of Two Cities, The Prisoner of Zenda, Robinson Crusoe, Man in the Iron Mask, Huckleberry Finn, War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, etc.

Jun the fabulous, now based in Hong Kong.

Francine: Getting married two days after Christmas Day was the best Christmas gift I received…next to the sofa my husband (Peter) bought me today. Peter and I actually wanted to get married on Christmas Day but we wanted our friends around to share the day with us. People would still be nursing a hangover on the 26th, so we decided to hold it on the 27th. And also now (will be a good Christmas) because we have a baby, it’s his first Christmas. We just moved into a new house. We brought in a cypress tree from the garden into the house and decorated it with lights and Christmas cards. So we’re going back to trying to find meaning in Christmas. We want to make it more meaningful again, especially for us as a family.

It’s funny that as I was interviewing my friends for this piece, most of them had a difficult time remembering the outstanding gifts they received over time. I did, too. I sort of remember the food I ate more than the gifts. (But now that I think about it, the best Christmas gift I probably received was a dainty gold bracelet from an old boyfriend. He had come from Bangkok, where he attended a conference, and didn’t give me any pasalubong. Nagtipid ang gago — the bracelet was my pasalubong and Christmas gift rolled into one. What was interesting was that when we split up, the bracelet also broke…but then, of course, it’s 24k kasi. Confession: I still have the bracelet, repaired, which I still wear sometimes.)

But I guess as one gets older, the material stuff doesn’t really hold too much meaning for us anymore. We’re not as impressionable anymore as when we were little and all gifts were the best. These days, it’s the thought that counts, or whoever gave the gift that lends it some meaning. The fact that someone actually remembered and took time out to give us a present is quite heartwarming, more so if it comes from someone we really have great affection for. (Of course, if anyone gave me the stuff that was on my Christmas wish list published a couple of weeks ago, I will love him or her forever.)

So, with a gentle reminder to keep the Excedrin, Lomotil, Alka-Seltzer, apple juice and tomato juice on hand, my friends and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

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

No comments: