Posted by: nastypen | March 8, 2007

Twenty-nine Gratitudes

(This may be the longest blog post for me to date. So, please bear with me. I started writing this a few weeks back in anticipation of my 29th birthday, because on my birthday, I shall keep my distance from blogging and do something else.)

….and it’s my birthday!….

Hey, I’m 29! I think, so far, I’ve had an ok life. Sure, I’m no billionaire. I’m definitely no saint. I am essentially a nobody on this earth. I’m not an achiever nor reaper of awards and fame.

And yet….

….I’ve seen so many things. Met so many great people. Learned a lot. Stumbled along the way. Flayed by failures and disappointments. Humbled by reality. I have had bouts with ambition. I learned the virtues in slowing down. It is hard to remind myself what matters.

But I do not mean to say that I am done with my life. 29 is a great year to start whichever path life leads me. Life is not meant to be lived in fear.

But, for now, I look back on the events, people and things that shaped me. I think life is meaningful if you have so many things to be thankful for. 29 is relatively a small number. This is in no particular order, of course:

1.) I am thankful for the family I belong to. There have been fights, momentous and epic, but it is my family that gave, gives and will give me love. My mother who is infuriating and meddlesome has given me strength and wisdom. She teaches me things that I am almost always caught flatfooted by her sheer unappreciated wisdom. My father was distant but his humor, ideals, and good nature are an inspiration. My sisters who drive me crazy, but make me laugh and the only sisters cool enough who will give a brother leopard print apparel and tell me my faults to my face and still hug me in the end.

2.) I am thankful that I have learned bitterness at such an early age. I was 21 when my father died. It made no sense and, frankly, I’m still in shock, albeit in a much lower degree, that he is gone. Just when it was time that Daddy was to get to know me better, he was gone. I remember the day I told him I got my first job as an editorial cartoonist he shed a tear and said he was so proud of me. I had such a big smile. Five months later, he is dead from leukemia. Nothing, absolutely nothing compares to the emptiness of a father’s death. My failures, my losses are nothing. What I would give to have my father back in my life….

3.) I am thankful for character-building moments. Back in UP ROTC days, I ran and fell face flat in front of the entire University of the Philippines corps of cadets. I was laughed at. I stood up, raised an eyebrow, dusted myself, saw that I tore the requisite black gloves and started to run again. And this is not the worse nor the only one. They are so many instances and many will happen in the future.

4.) I am thankful for the teachers that told me I was not good enough. A UP Professor gave me 2.75, my lowest grade, and i ended up in the field he was teaching. A UP Math professor accused me of cheating because I was just from the College of Fine Arts. I demanded a quiz and answered it in front of him. After that, I sat in front of that wonky-eyed bitch and finished all my exams 15 minutes ahead of everyone and will not answer the last five questions because “I don’t need a perfect score.”

5.) I am thankful for the close knit of friends that I have. Nemcy, please realize that you’re beautiful. Faye, thanks for the survival tips. Blas, who would have thought we would end close friends even though I gave you the cold shoulder the first time we met. Larry, Rocky, Andrew and James, we have had so many changes but we laugh still the same. Alivio, your humor and taste are a benchmark to me.

6.) I am thankful for the bigger net of friends that make me laugh. I have a friend that tells me the fall of Filipino comics illustration is brought about by the internet’s accessibilty to pornography which led many a horny artist to jerk off thus making the hand shaky to render such detailed illustrations. My friends have quirks and characters.

7.) I am thankful for my stretchmarks, because everyone needs imperfection.

8.) I am thankful for the Rainbow Brite and the Carebears sticker albums because they were cheaper to buy than the transformer toys.

9.) I would like to thank Archie comics for introducing me to American English. But my lifelong love for comic strips was ignited by Hagar the Horrible and Beetle Bailey, such straight men characters for a fagling but I do enjoy them.

10.) I would like to thank the Baroness in The Sound of Music, because even if Captain Von Trapp ended up with the governess Maria, nobody will argue the fact that Julie Andrew‘s butch hairdo cannot stand a chance against her platinum blonde coiffure. Glamour trumps wholesomeness, I learned that at such an early age. No matter that you lost, you’re still gorgeous and you don’t look like a wide-eyed unrefined novice.

11.) I am thankful that my Canadian white classmate back in 11th grade told me to return to the Philippines to make him some shoes. I told him I would gladly go home and make him shoes IF he beats me in English (his primary language) class. Foreigners topped the class. My only competition in that class was Polish redhead named Agneszieska. She topped the class only because I was too lazy. As for that classmate of mine who told me to make shoes, his definition of a sentence is “something that starts with a capital letter and ends with a period.” I will never make shoes for him.

12.) I would like to thank history. This is my most favorite subject ever. More than literature, more than visual arts, it’s history. I wanted to be an Egyptologist before, until I realized that Philippine history is interesting and substantial in its own right. I know that history is defining our very identity yet we genrally choose to ignore it, thus doomed ourselves to be without memory, like infants. Such is the importance for history to me.

13.) I am thankful that my father laughed at my jokes, because that means I could make an immensely funny man laugh out loud.

14.) I would like to thank the books. They keep me great company and never backstab me nor make me feel less of a person. they are always there for me. They teach me and they take me away to worlds that I need to go to, be it riddled with fantasy or mired in grim reality.

15.) I would like to thank tenderness. I have missed out the promiscuous party boy phase in my life because early on at the tender age of 17, I knew what love means, the flutter of eyebrows on one’s cheeks, the tenderness of the caress and that knowing smile that you are safe. I need no party nor drugs to validate my life.

16.) I would like to thank the Catholic church. Sure, they hate my kind. But think about it, if it were not for the Catholic church, art as I know it did not flourish for me. The cave paintings of Lascaux were an aspirational act, a spiritual connection between the hunters and the hunted. Centuries later, you have the Catholic church to have commissioned thousands of artworks that inspired future artists. I was fortunate enough to see the Sistine Chapel at the age of eight and the love for art never went away.

17.) I would like to thank the dogs of my life. Pluto, I offered you milk when you were a puppy in this dayglo orange saucer and your little tail wagged in appreciation. Now, Onyx when I was struck by hyperacidity or gout, you rest your face on the bed and lick my hands.

18.) I would like to thank homosexuality. though you may not be central to my very identity, you have earned me several bullies, a false girlfriend, a disappointed father and a burning conviction that there is nothing wrong with me. there is something wrong with the society that imposes its definitions of normalcy upon me. Never again shall I crumbleinto the closet. I’m tired of the mothballs. Homosexuality kept in touch with what is like to be marginalized, to be a label and the normalcy machine has no idea the strengths I picked up along the way.

19.) I would like to thank chicken pox. It was my first and only sexually transmitted disease.

20.) I would like to thank the sisters’ boyfriends. They’re great guys and they make the special women in my life happy. It’s nice to have more straight men in my circle, too. hahahaha. But thankfully, they are decent and kind and funny.

21.) I would like to thank the Walt Disney bevy of villainesses, they taught me how to live my life, with an evil cackle, arched eyebrows and won’t take shit from anyone. Happy endings be damned.

22.) I would like to thank comics. This is the art form that I truly love and belong to. Most especially to the indies, because I show the painters that I can write and I show the writers that I can draw. Only few comics people have this duality. Comics afforded me to nourish my love for scribbles and doodles.

23.) I would like to thank museums and galleries. They show me the power of art. Sure, it is institutional and only the rich can go to these venues. But I have to be esoteric and extol of that magical feeling I get when I see a beautiful work of art.

24.) I would like to thank having an elephantine memory. I don’t have use for things like remembering seeing my first grade teacher Ms. Pilar Lim pissing in the boy’s room. My friend wanted to pee in the cubicle, and I just went to the urinal. The friend kicked open the cubicle door and it was Ms. Pilar lim sitting and her yellow panties on her ankles. I did not pee and ran away with fright thus starting the formation of Kidney stones. See? That was more than 20 years ago and I still remeber it. I remember a lot of things. I hope Alzheimers won’t destroy my memory. this is why I’m an ok storyteller.

25.) I would like to thank my favorite mortal sins: wrath and vanity. Vanity, because I enjoy it and wrath because I have not achieved it….yet.

26.) I would like to thank editorial cartoons and comic strips. These are the best job, so far, I have. It is not for everyone and I am glad I took up the challenge. I’d like to thank my father for giving me that book of editorial cartoons of the Marcoses, Medal and Shoes and it inspired me to be a politcal cartoonist. Hell, my first cartoon was a hack job to draw the Imeldific one, I was paid with a couple of fillet-o-fish. Not bad for a really hungry freshman resident of the Kalayaan dormitory.

27.) I would like to thank the internet. I came from an era when I read this as science fiction before. I have memories of snail mail. But now, I am connected to the wired world. I am allowed to be masturbatory without having to ejaculate, like blogging for instance.

28.) I am thankful for Addie. He’s my partner. On and off since 1996, but finally stabilized in 2003, we have a long way to go. I am grateful that you are there. Despite the double D’s of destruction: Distance and difficulty, I’m yours. Don’t believe when I said that “Saying ‘I love you’ frequently wears out the sentiment.” Quite the opposite. You say you are not interesting. I disagree. You make me laugh with your jokes and you try to teach me chemistry, which I will never understand. Please age with me a bit longer…like until we’re 82?

29.) I am thankful for my closet optimism. I may be dour, sour and bleak, but deep inside I have that smile ready to go off at any chance I will allow it. Perhaps, I should give more chances for this happening, eh?

Ok, I have to celebrate life again.

Can’t stop the flood, bitches.



  1. Happy birthday! ๐Ÿ˜€

    This post is a very good read, by the way. You’re as much a writer as you are an artist, and don’t let anyone say otherwise. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHONG!!! :-)Karina

  3. Happy birthday mah fwend and most favoritest (lol) divah in the whole wide (pun unintended) blogging world. let’s go out again sometime! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. happy birtday chong! the most feistiest person i met. ever. hehehe. and i remember 2003.. hehehe you got a good heart and mataray na kilay. perfect. hahaha

    kita tayo sa long break ko sa october. sana nasa manila din nun si addie.

  5. 30th entry for your list next year: thank the cosmic forces for conspiring to give birth to you on international women’s day. they say the face of poverty is the face of a woman. i say, so is the face of graceful strength. aspire it and live it (the strength not the poverty)! happy birthday ‘se!

  6. Well, all the same whether it’s your birthday or not… in times that we bitch each other in a satirical way… I am always glad that you are my false boyfriend and there won’t be any other man perhaps who will defend me (besides tatay nad borthers).

    Thank you for stating to the whole world that I am beautiful. Still contemplating that I am Ugly Betty :p

    Wherever state you are now, it’s just a phase. Believe me. I am happy that you’ve gone so far. We rant. We whine. We always wish what we are not. And I guess that’s normal. You are normal.

    Ang dami kong sinabi at English pa. But you know what I am going to. Love yourself. Don’t be rude and just stay in your room. Let’s have fun and be happy sa miseries ng iba! :p


    Thanks for being there. For slapping it into my face on things that I deny to see and accept and still go back to that foolishness… youa re still there… thanks for still loving me, despite my “kagagahan”…

    Syempre blog mo ito, ang haba rin ng reply ko…

    Happy birthday na nga… alam mo naman I’m not good in composing or prefessing how I feel ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Siya… we are to meet pa. And of course, I am late again!

    Go spread the love, Dahlin’! Mwuah! :-*

  7. I love you, Chong. You’re the first male Pisces in my life and I treasure our memories of stealing tableware, as well as sleeping together in the Care Bear sense of the word. Nyahaha. I am your fan, always and forever.

    I thank you for letting me be your friend. Your bravery and sheer zest for life (even if you deny it) make me believe in stardust and magic. Corny but true.

    Happy birthday. Yes, I’m signing my name on this comment. I am proud to call you friend.

  8. Happy Birthday again! I don’t know how many times I’ve said that to you already! And here’s to another 29 more years! Hmm, I wonder where would we be by then? Feeling ko lang, palacial residence na ang drama mo! Tapos may aso ka pang dinadamitan at may sariling katulong! Gud lak! nyahahaha!!! Happy Birthday!

  9. Bro Bear, Happy Birthday! I could not stop thanking you for everything.I am yours forever.

  10. NEMCY…gwapa ka hija. Trust me. I speak the truth on this matter.

  11. Dear Chong,

    just surfed in again today…

    belated happy birthday! i wish you more of the best!
    i liked the painting you did for yourself…mabuhay ka!


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