Wednesday, August 31, 2005

With Apologies to John Mellencamp

A little ditty about Jack and Azon,
an American kid and a Boholana lass
growing up in Chocolate Hills land.

My aunt met her future husband, an American GI named Jack, while he was on a tour of duty here in the Philippines. Jack fell in love not just with the woman but also with her home town. Upon the end of his military stint, he packed his bags and went back to Bohol to court her. They married 27 years ago. He decided to stay in Bilar, Bohol for good so he can live a simple country life like the one he had growing up in Iowa (although he kept his American citizenship).

For the past 18 years of their marriage, Tita Azon was aware of Jack having mistresses in succession. They forged an uneasy truce regarding his side projects—so long as he came home to her and that those girls didn’t set foot in their house, Tita Azon was willing to turn a blind eye to his indiscretions. After all, she was running for public office and needed his US pension dollars to fund her campaign (she held the position of mayor of Bilar for two terms; after that she ran for a spot on the provincial board and is now in her second term).

Jack’s latest mistress is a 23-yr old with a child from another man. Like Jack, she’s a high school graduate who grew up in the country; he found in her a kinship he increasingly couldn’t find in Tita Azon. After all, my aunt was a teacher when she married him; with her flourishing political career, people have been egging her to run for vice-governor. Her personal growth didn’t match his; she grew by leaps and bounds, while Jack was happy being a simple country boy who’d love it if “his old lady” would wait on him during meal times. He grew increasingly insecure as her political clout got bigger. Sadly the only clout he has is his booming voice (complete with country drawl) and several hand guns.

Last month both Jack and Azon went to the U.S. to attend two weddings. His mistress kept calling him on the phone every day, crying. She was worried she’d lose him while he was with Azon in the States. My aunt chided him about having a crybaby for a mistress. He decided to cut their trip short so he can fly back to his mistress. She threatened to leave him. He chose to pursue a life with his mistress because he felt he can give her a better life. She let him fly home earlier. He took his stuff out of their house and got an apartment in Tagbilaran for him and his mistress. Both got their own lawyers.

I’m actually not surprised with the turn of events. Jack had slipped in past conversations about his indiscretions; I was just surprised my aunt lasted this long. They actually made a great tandem, she with her political savvy and clean public record, he with his pension dollars and his numerous civic projects. I never really liked Jack’s boorish manners (he’s a die-hard Bush supporter and thinks American democracy is best for everyone), but I could see that he genuinely cares for the “little people” in society.

What’s also sad is that my aunt now fears Jack might harm her (he has guns, remember?) to get her properties. That’s why she consulted her lawyers to make sure if anything happens to her, her properties won’t go to him. After 27 years, trust has been replaced by fear and suspicion.

Then again, 27 years was a good run.

Ooh yeah, life goes on,
long after the thrill of marriage is gone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In The Company Of

At first I was amazed at how many people younger than me still have that romanticized notion that the company they’re working for: [1] will love them back the way they love the company; [2] will give them a secure future. What naiveté. A commercial company exists to profit; without profit, its existence is in peril. A company will value an employee so long as that employee is of use to it. And the company rewards its employees’ time, effort and devotion with his salary.

So I find it frustrating that some people think that just because they poured their hearts out into their work, the company owes them fair treatment for their devotion. Hello. Fair treatment means they got paid and got the benefits as befitting their job description. Beyond that, the company doesn’t owe them sh*t.

Gone are the days of our parents when their life plan consists of finding a stable company, devoting their whole lives to it, and growing old and retiring. Gone are the days when a successful career means staying in one company for life. With changes occurring at breakneck speed these days, gone are the old ways of looking at what a career should be.

But I really shouldn’t be too harsh on the young ones. They’re young and inexperienced; some are still trying to figure out what they’re really capable of doing. Being forced out of a comfort zone is unnerving and scary.

At the end of the day, it’s a choice between charting one’s career path within a company set-up and forging one’s own path outside of the confines of a company. It’s an exciting, scary world out there. How one adapts to it will determine one’s true grit.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Weekend Report

Before the weekend, the news of the murder of a gay writer in his QC home shocked our office, because he was working for one of our shows in our network. People are postulating that this latest murder may be linked to the spate of gay killings in QC several months before. The “gay serial killing” scare caused the reduction of the pick-up trade along QC Circle for a few months, but now business is back again. Of course, this latest murder may turn out to be unrelated, but for the meantime gays are being advised to be extra careful and not resort to picking up strangers especially in the QC area.

* * * * *

Last Friday I played tour guide to some of the TA kids who wanted to go to Bed for the first time. There were four of them, three gay guys and their fag hag. We entered the place at around 1am, and I immediately brought them to the second floor where it was still not so crowded. There I briefed them on the whos, whats and wheres of the dance club. After everyone got gin tonics for their first drink for the night, I left them upstairs and mingled with the crowd. Soon I saw them going downstairs, and I stayed with them on the dance floor. After a while they decided to step out for a while and grab a bite to eat.

While waiting for the food, one of them—let’s call him Face—bemoaned how the other guy, the tallest of the three—let’s call him Height—was getting almost all of the attention from the guys inside Bed. Actually Face is the better looking of the three, but Height’s advantage means that he often gets noticed first. I reassured Face, “You know, you guys have something I cannot ever get, no matter how hard I try.” What’s that, they asked. “Youth, freshness!” I replied.

We went back to dance the rest of the night away. But then Face decided to approach this semi-cute guy he spied across the room. Pretty soon we saw the two of them locking lips. After several minutes, Face went back to us and said, “I’ve been invited to his place.” Because the others had hitched with him going to Malate, I rescued him from his dilemma by offering to give the others a ride home. “Promise me you’ll play safe,” I sternly warned him before he left.

The following day when I dropped by the theater, the others were talking about how Face scored the night before. One of them asked out loud, “But doesn’t Face have a boyfriend right now?”

“Really?” I asked. I mentally kicked myself in the ass for not asking out about it that night in Bed. With the kids of today it’s next to impossible to hide such indiscretions. His boyfriend will find out soon enough. If Face and his boyfriend get into a fight because of that, it’s their problem. Still, I would have preferred to have been able to remind Face of the consequences of his actions.

Feeling Big Brother ako bigla.

* * * * *

Sunday the family had lunch at Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay. My younger brother wants their wedding reception at that place, so we decided to try out their food and at the same time celebrate the birthdays of my mom and my aunt. He brought along his 4-month old daughter Naya. My niece is the type who’s nangingilala; she cries whenever a stranger picks her up. But surprisingly I’ve been able to connect with her and she allows me to carry her. So last Sunday I played babysitter to Naya while her parents met with the staff in Sonya’s for the reception arrangements.

Strange. For so many years I’ve always maintained that I don’t like kids in general; I find the responsibility of taking care of them too daunting. Yet I find myself having the patience and the instincts of an effective baby sitter. My niece Naya and my godson Luc seem to enjoy having me around them. And Ipe’s nephew and niece seem to find me an agreeable playmate. Yuck, I actually connect well with kids! Still, being a good babysitter does not a good father make. Nope, I still don’t feel the need to have a child of my own. Let the straights take care of the “Go forth and multiply” commandment. I’m more into coveting thy neighbor’s husband. Thank god He didn’t include that in his 10 Commandments.

(P.S.—For those who may be thinking of getting me as a babysitter, forget it!)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Act One

Less than two weeks before opening night, and I’m excited and anxious at the same time. On the one hand, I have a better fix on my character plus my lines and cues are more or less memorized (a couple of more run-throughs and I’ll have the words and cues down pat). On the other hand, I still stumble on certain lines and I still have to work on delineating my longer character arch (the transformation of my character from my first scene to my last). What’s making me anxious is that I’m pushing myself as an actor. You see, I’ve never really viewed myself as a “serious” actor; I’m more of a comedian or a company party host. I banter well, and I’m quick with the quips. But give me drama and I get all jittery.

I can trace back my dramallergy to my very first lead role in a drama. It was back in my third year in college, and we were lucky to get Junix Innocian, a well-respected actor from Repertory Philippines (this was before he auditioned and got into the first run of Miss Saigon), to direct the play Gabun by Tony Perez for TA. The play’s a great acting piece for two actors: it’s about two half-brothers meeting for the very first time, set a few weeks after their father died. I played the older and poorer of the two brothers, the one whom the father chose to leave behind (along with my mother, his first wife). Junix decided to cast alternates for both roles, so that he can work with more actors. My alternate was Noni Buencamino—yes, the Noni whom you see everywhere on TV and in the movies, usually playing a strong support role (if not for the lack of matinee looks, he could easily have made it as a premiere lead actor). I was also to perform against RJ Leyran, another talented thespian (unfortunately he died unexpectedly last year). With such great co-actors and a well-written script, Gabun promised to be a great theater experience for me. Unfortunately, Mr. Perez’s script also specified that my character breaks down into tears towards the end of the play.

At this point you have to understand something about me: growing up, I learned to keep my emotions in check. I learned to use my mind over my heart, and humor was my prime tool. So when Direk Junix asked me to let go of my emotions and just let it all out, my gut instinct was to go, “Ngyek.” My mind rebelled against the playwright and the director; not a good sign for an actor. (Worse than an actor who’s difficult is an actor who’s incapable; the worst is an incapable actor who’s also difficult, but usually they end up being theater critics.)

During rehearsals, Junix was very patient and encouraging. “Don’t cry if you don’t feel like it,” he told me. Thing was I never felt like crying ever. On the other hand, Noni tore through his character with gusto and bawled for real in the crying scene. I felt like crawling under the stage every time I watched him perform with RJ. And when I’m onstage, all I could think of was, “Oh my god, my crying scene’s coming up, my crying scene’s coming up.” It was one of my worst moments on stage ever.

(My ultimate worst moment was in Subic, when we were touring Twelfth Night. I completely blanked out onstage and forgot my next line. I spent the next 30 excruciating seconds stammering and groping for the words. I retraced my steps, hoping that my body would remember what my mind couldn’t—fortunately that did the trick. But that was the longest 30 seconds of my life.)

After Gabun ended its run, I swore off drama onstage and off.

A few years and several comedies later, I decided to act in Macbeth, but only because my role was a small supporting one and did not involve any major histrionics or gnashing of the teeth. And the first ever full-length play I chose to direct was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy. (Riiight, I’m afraid of crying onstage but I’m not afraid to tackle the Bard head-on. Hahaha.)

Now I’m in a play that requires me to play it straight in more ways than one (my character is married with child). But thanks to advanced age and experience I’m more comfortable now in tackling a straight drama again. I remember reading an interview of William Hurt, who said that to be an actor, one needs to be 40 years old. Now I understand what he meant. I needed to be comfortable with myself before I could really take on another persona.

Of course, knowing how to do it onstage and actually doing it are two different things altogether. I hope I can pull it off; come opening night, we’ll see.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Isn’t He The Cutest?

The enemy of blogging is… CHUZZLE! Yes folks, I will admit that whenever I have free time in the office, instead of writing new episodes for The McVie Show to entertain you guys, I’ve instead been entertaining myself with this cutesy-wootsy video game that’s so totally addicting. Almost everyone in the office is also doing it, so our boss isn’t exactly worried or bothered. A year ago I was hooked on another video game, Zuma. But I’ve grown tired of it. Don’t worry, I’ll also tire of this temporary time-filler.

In the meantime, please cut me some slacks, cuz you don’t know what I have to put up.

National Albums

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me just what a fool I’ve been. I wanna be your lover, I don’t wanna be your friend. So I’ve tossed a lot of nickels in the wishing well, and saved the fortunes that the fortune cookies tell. Still, you cheated and you lied; I hope you’re satisfied. Oh, why won’t you let me be? Today, I’m on my own; it’s my first day alone. There must be a reason. I’d like to know why, oh why? Oh, I’d like to know.

Recognize the words, dear viewers? I’m sure you do. Don’t deny it, you know those songs.

I think even before ABBA, Kalapana and The Eraserheads, The Cascades are one of those hidden national treasures, the Philippines’ most popular overlooked group. I suspect each and every household in the 7100-plus islands has a copy of The Cascade’s Rhythm of the Rain in some kind of format: cassette, long-playing album, open-reel tape, 8-track, or CD. I know I already have mine on MP3.

Last Friday I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that several of my cast mates, all of them around 25-27 years old, were familiar with The Cascades’ songs. I was amazed that a generation that’s a decade or so younger than me would know the songs “Rhythm of the Rain,” “Lucky Guy”, and “Angel on My Shoulder”. When I asked them why they knew the group, they all had the same answer: their parents played the album Rhythm of the Rain to death when they were growing up. I know my dad kept playing it every Sunday morning (he also played to death the soundtrack of The Sound of Music and a lot of Ray Coniff albums). It seemed to me that The Cascades only had one album and after that they never released another one. Like most, I believed in the story that The Cascades died in a plane crash.

So in between rehearsals we had a mamaraz blast singing their other songs: “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, “Let Me Be”, “My First Day Alone”, “There’s A Reason”, etc.

I have a theory: every generation has one album that almost everyone knows or owns. For our parents that album is Rhythm of the Rain. Another album that I’d nominate as the Pambansang Album is Ray Conniff’s We Wish You A Merry Christmas album. Who knows, maybe the next generation’s Pambansang Album is Eraserhead’s Ultraelectromagneticpop or, heaven forbid, a Michael Learns to Rock album.

What’s Up, McVie?

I received an email and a text message today from two regular viewers of The McVie Show, asking how I was. It seems my silence on-line had the two worried.

Actually I’m fine. In fact, I’m having a great time with the play. For the past couple of weeks our rehearsals have been daily, MWF at 5:30-8:30pm, TTH at 7:30-10:30pm. We have an alternate cast, so we need the daily rehearsals to make sure that both casts will be ready by opening night on Sept. 8. I’m still a bit worried about my memory when it comes to my lines and my cues. But the more I get a grip on my character, the more I find the rehearsals exciting and exhilarating.

Now my weekday schedule looks like this: workout in the morning, work until late afternoon, rehearse the play at night, bond with the student cast and crew during after-rehearsal dinners, then drive back to the office to preview plugs and finish pending work. Yes, I’ve been super-busy but I’ve never felt happier. Perhaps I’m just so busy, there’s no time to worry about insignificant stuff like the lack of a love life. My life is more focused, priorities are much clearer.

It’s amazing how a person can achieve a certain sense of contentment and happiness if he keeps himself busy and productive.

* * * * *

Thanks to Quezon City Day last Friday, I had a long weekend. Though we had rehearsals Friday afternoon, I had visions of going out of town or catching up with the movies I haven’t watched yet. Unfortunately Fate didn’t want me to go out of town.

Friday afternoon a huge boulder hit Orlando’s underbelly, causing oil to leak and damaging a pipe. That scratched my Friday evening plan of going to Bed. Saturday morning I brought Orlando to the shop for repairs. I took public transportation to meet Phillip in Libis so we can watch Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros at UP Film Center in the afternoon. Good thing the mechanic finished the repairs by 5pm—but it set me back by 6,000+ pesos! Argh! So instead of going to Bed Saturday evening, I decided to save money and just stay home. But Sunday afternoon I got antsy so I watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Blue Wave Mall.

Still, it was a relaxing change of pace, staying home instead of going out.

* * * * *

Going back to the play, I’m inviting you guys to watch Tanghalang Ateneo’s production of BAYAN-BAYANAN Pinoy sa Diaspora at the Rizal Mini-Theater, Ateneo de Manila College of Arts and Sciences.

Production Design by Salvador Bernal (National Artist for Theater Design)
Lights Design by Donato Karingal
Direction by Ronan Capinding.

September 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24 | 7 pm
September 10, 17, 24 | 2 pm

There are two casts, but I’m sure you’d want to watch me perform instead of my alternate, right? So far the assignments have not been determined yet, so just wait for my update.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Maddie Birthday

Thanks to Nelz for reminding us all that it’s Lola Madonna’s birthday, and in honor of Her Royal Re-inventor, here’s a song from her:

Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken; I loved you so
Freedom comes when you learn to let go
Creation comes when you learn to say no

You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress you had to burn
Pain is a warning that something’s wrong
I pray to God that it won’t be long

There’s nothing left to try
There’s no place left to hide
There’s no greater power
Than the power of goodbye

Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken; I loved you so
You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress

There’s nothing left to try
There’s no place left to hide
There’s no greater power
Than the power of goodbye
There’s nothing left to lose
There’s no more heart to bruise
There’s no greater power
Than the power of goodbye

Learn to say goodbye
I yearn to say goodbye.

“The Power of Goodbye” (Madonna)

Reversal Of Fortune

The recent spate of stealing in our office has taken a twisted turn.

Last Friday morning a laptop was stolen in the general area where most of the previous losses occurred. Apparently the owner of the laptop forgot to bring it home Thursday evening. People started asking our very own “I see dead people” psychic to ask her ghostly friends who the thief was.

Here’s where things get twisted: the owner of the laptop (let’s call her Miss Laptop) strongly suspects Miss Psychic of stealing her laptop. Furthermore, Miss Laptop confronted Miss Psychic last Friday, and now there’s tension between the team members. Miss Psychic has already asked our boss that she be allowed to take a leave of absence because she feels she cannot work in an environment wherein her former friends are now accusing her of theft. (That the accuser is now the accused is neither surprising nor unprecedented. When I was still working in CCP, the resident theater company experienced a rash of losses during rehearsals—a total of six victims, one after the other, sometimes just a couple of weeks apart. It turned out that the second “victim” was actually the kleptomaniac; she faked her loss to throw off suspicion against her.)

To make things worse, Miss X—our initial suspect in the loss of cellphones—found out about that fact last Friday. So now she’s fuming mad, and she demands that her name be cleared and that an apology be given to her.

Our boss is already talking to HR so that an investigation (preferably from an outside agency) can commence soonest. Furthermore, he didn’t allow Miss Psychic to take a leave.

I agree that Miss Psychic should not be allowed to go on leave. Also, I think no one, not even Miss X, deserves an apology while there’s an investigation. Until the investigation is done, no one’s name can be cleared yet. I think everyone in the office should be considered a suspect, me included. I’m willing to be subjected to a lie detector test. Everyone should also be tested.

What is fascinating to study is how people perceive things, how memory can be very selective. Before the latest twist, most people wanted to believe Miss Psychic’s statement. They gave several examples of how Miss X could have had both the opportunity and the motivation to steal. When Miss Psychic was accused, people started to remember things, of how Miss Psychic also had the opportunity and the motivation too.

Truth to tell, I am inclined to consider the possibility that the phone thief and the laptop thief may not be one and the same person. I’m looking at a copycat thief.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mister DJ

I don’t remember the first time I was asked to provide music for a TA party. I think it was back in the early 90s, I already graduated from college, and people knew I had a more extensive CD collection than most. The party was held in this mansion in QC which is often used as a haunted house location by local showbiz. I started with bringing just one Case Logic (I think it holds about 24 CDs). The party organizers often provide the player—often it’s just one simple boombox, and I’m forced to eject the previous CD and slip the next one in and fast-forward to the next song all in less than 30 seconds. If I take too long the partygoers start complaining: “Ano ba yan, ang tagal ng music!” Several years and several batches passed until someone eventually came up with the brilliant idea of providing two CD players. Of course it was a crude set-up, and the only cross-fading I could do was to manually fade the songs in and out. But then again the TA people are really easy to please—they don’t need seamless segues and masterful mixing, they just want to dance to their favorite songs. So more than learning how to mix music, I focused instead on knowing what songs are big hits among the kids of today.

Of course, my CD collection has also grown considerably over the years. Nowadays I lug along the same Case Logic container. But I also bring along a traveling bag (the ones you see at the airport, with the wheels and the folding handle) full of CDs, and one or two (depending on the composition of the party guests) boxes of “just in case” CDs (that’s where I place my 80s and other eclectic discs). And I’m proud to say all of my CDs are original copies.

Last Saturday I was the DJ again for another TA party. Since there were a sizeable number of alumni guests belonging to the 90s era, I prepared a lot of early Britney, Spice Girls, late Madonna (meaning, songs from her GHV2 album), and the “greatest TA hits”, or songs that even until now are still big hits in TA parties: “Love Shack” by the B-52s, “Sweet Soul Revue” by Pizzicato Five and “Macarena” by Los Del Rio.

For the kids of today, I brought along a lot of current Kylie (I’m sure if I play “Locomotion” or “I Should Be So Lucky” I’d draw blank stares from them), Destiny’s Child (and Beyonce’s album), Usher, current Britney, Gwen Stefani and Ciara. I noticed that today’s pop music is actually hip-hop and R&B. But because these kids also grew up with the music of the 90s, they were singing and dancing along to the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Christina Aguilera.

Nowadays they have decent equipment: at least two CD players (with matching speed and pitch control) and a console. But I still don’t really “mix” songs; instead, it’s all about the playlist—what songs I should play, and playing them in the right order. It means the previous song should segue easily into the next, and that I determine the pace of the party.

For me one of the greatest sounds in the world is when I start playing a song while the previous track is fading out, and the kids squeal in recognition and excitement. Last Saturday evening (actually Sunday morning already) I heard that heavenly sound not once, not twice, but more than thrice! Priceless.

It was worth missing the Madonna night in Bed last Saturday.

(Of course, I always end up “working” during TA parties while everyone else is having fun. My next goal: I upload my playlist in my iPod, and let it play. That way, I can also dirty-dance with the kids. Hehehe.)

Extra Rice, Please!

I’m really a rice eater at heart. I mean, sure I’d fantasize about doing it with Brad Pitt or Josh Hartnet, but at the end of the day it’s my fellow Asians who really take my breath away. Got the following off, where they had an article listing down their top 10 handsomest Asian men. Some of them I’m not familiar with but the ones below are really delicious:

Edison Chen is an actor/singer from Hong Kong. I’ve only seen a picture or two of his in Star World before we switched to Destiny Cable and now I really miss all those Chinese movies!

VJ Utt… ahhh, just uttering his name makes me wanna utt him! He’s utterly gorgeous. Never mind that his upper body’s not exactly hunkalicious—fez pa lang niya, ulam na!

I’ve seen Takeshi Kaneshiro play an angel in this movie which unfortunately did not have any English subtitles when it was shone on cable. Still I watched it just for him. Then he starred in The House of the Flying Daggers. He’s not the most talented of actors, but I watch him not for the acting.

Before reading the article I had no idea that there was this Japanese football player named Hidetoshi Nakata. But the idea of him crushing me between his thighs is, oooh, taking my breath away, literally. And his chinky eyes are just sooo cute.

Another “Whoa, who’s he?!” moment. Despite him having to share the cover with another model, I had no problem zooming in on his muscular shoulder and arm, side laterals and oooh, that butt! Ay shet, may mujer pala sa cover? Hindi ko napansin. He goes by the name of Joe L, “L” meaning nakaka-L siya!

Oh my. I really cannot go on an Atkins or South Beach diet. I cannot live without my rice!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Theater Tales

Working in theater after all these years feels like coming home. I remember all these stories we’ve passed on from generation to generation, stories of backstage and onstage boo-boos, faux pas and blunders. We should really start collecting them into several volumes, just like Pinoy Ghost Stories. Here are four such tales:

A. “They both squint!”

In the play “Beckett”, there was one scene wherein a monk is seen seated on a bench, and the one of the lead characters would refer to him, saying, “See the monk? He squints!”

During one performance as the actors were preparing for that scene, they realized that the actor playing the monk was missing. Frantically, they asked another actor to substitute for the missing actor. When the lights went on, the substitute actor was shocked to find someone seated beside him—the original monk! Apparently he was just waiting all the time at the wings, with the curtains hiding him. That’s why no one was able to spot him earlier.

So when the lead actor turned to refer to the monk, he paused for a second then said, “See the monks? They both squint!”

B. The Stench of the Dead

In another play, a guy playing a corpse farted during a performance. Luckily, the scene involved a noisy crowd so the audience didn’t hear the passing of gas. But the actors nearest to him—they were playing his grieving family—didn’t escape the deadly stench. They ended up gasping in between giggling and mourning.

C. The Wayward Panel

Back in the early 80s, TA would stage plays in a converted classroom, G-306. Because of its small stage space, most set changes were done manually. One time a stage crew brought in a panel for the next scene. Unfortunately, he took too long in setting up the panel; the lights went on before he could leave the stage. He spent the next several minutes behind the panel while the scene played out. What made it worse was that the rest of the cast and crew were in the wings, laughing and pointing at him helplessly trapped onstage.

D. Nun Of The Above

In one performance of “Therese ng Lisieux” one of the extras playing a nun entered the stage during the blackout in-between scenes. When the lights went on, she discovered to her horror that it wasn’t her scene yet; worse, the current scene was an intimate conversation between Therese and her father in her hospital bed. The extra nun pretended to just pray the rosary while slowly inching away from the bed so as to give the father and daughter some space.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


All work and one play makes The McVie Show a dull show.

I’m sorry but with the play and all, my daily free time has been drastically reduced. I’m forced to focus on my work and my rehearsals. But don’t worry—I’m not happy with the situation either. I’ll incorporate The McVie Show into my new daily routine as soon as possible.

In the meantime, enjoy the following which I got from an email.

* * * * *


1. The more the many-er.
2. It’s a no-win-win situation.
3. Burn the bridge when you get there.
4. Anulled and void.
5. Mute and academic.
6. C’mon let’s join to us!
7. If worse comes to shove.
8. Are you joking my leg?
9. It’s not my problem anymore, it’s your problem anymore.
10. What are friends are for?
11. You can never can tell.
12. Well, well, well. Look do we have here!
13. Let’s give them a big hand of applause.
14. Been there, been that.
15. Give him the benefit of the daw.
16. It’s a blessing in the sky.
17. Right there and right then.
18. You’re barking at the wrong dog.
19. Now and there.
20. I’m only human nature.
21. So far, so good… so far.
22. In the wink of an eye.
23. The feeling is actual.
24. For all intense and purposes.
25. I ran into some errands.
26. Base-to-base casis.
27. It’s as brand as new.
28. I can’t take it anymore of this!
29. Can’t you just cut me some slacks?
30. How dare you are!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Feeling Elvis, Only Alive

Last night after rehearsals, we had dinner at McDonald’s Katipunan. While I was talking to a fellow cast member outside, I heard someone ask, “Are you McVie the blogger?” He was in shorts and a cap, and was holding a drink. He looked like a typical student or dormer living near the school campus. He shook my hand and said he reads my blog.

Oh my! Because this is just my second time to be identified in public as McVie the blogger (the first one was in Bed with Jom), I was too taken aback that I forgot my manners; I failed to ask for his name or to introduce him to my companion. But I told him, “Go comment in my blog. I like audience participation.” And I’m glad he did.

Memo to me: I should start practicing my showbiz smile, shake and wave. Mwhahahaha!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Cynic Route

Funny how certain songs in the soundtrack of your life seem to preserve your feelings and memories of a particular era. And when you hear the songs again after a long time, it’s as if those feelings and memories are unleashed again in between beats, notes and pauses. Last Sunday I rediscovered the song “Getting Away With It” by Electronic. The song is memorable to me not because it was a song I shared with someone significant, nor was it a special someone’s theme song (ick!) Instead, the song encapsulated for me my long-standing feelings regarding my so-called love life.

You see, for the longest time I feared I wasn’t good enough for someone. My love life consisted of unrequited longings, and after a series of having my heart pounded mercilessly by circumstance, I started imbibing the notion that maybe I would never hook up with anyone ever. That made me very wary of falling for anyone. I kept repeating, “hold on, my heart” to myself. So when I heard that song, I thought, oh wow.

I’ve been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose.
I’ve been forcing myself not to forget just to feel worse.
I’ve been getting away with it all my life.

Okay, so I never did anything overtly dramatic as walking in the rain on purpose; I’m not into grand, drama-queen gestures and I hate getting sick. But I don’t need to force myself not to forget—my mind won’t let me. I replay things endlessly in my mind, asking tons of questions. What did he mean by, “You know Joel, I like you”? How did he say it? What made me fall for him in the first place? Why did he invite me to accompany him? Is it because he likes me? Or does it mean he like me that way? Yes, I can be very emotionally masochistic back then.

But it’s the song’s chorus that’s the killer:

However I look, it’s clear to see—
I love you more than you love me.

‘Nuff said.

I hate that mirror, it makes me feel so worthless.
I’m an original sinner but when I’m with you I couldn’t care less.
I’ve been getting away with it all my life.

Have you ever felt that tug-of-war between feeling inadequate and going for it? It can be infuriating, especially if you go for it and get rebuffed. Then you end up telling yourself, I told you so.

I thought I gave up falling in love a long, long time ago.
I guess I like it but I can’t tell you, you shouldn’t really know.
And it’s been true all my life.

Nowadays I’ve been trying to break out of that self-destructive mode. As another song says, be good to yourself ‘cuz no one else will. So I don’t think of myself as unworthy anymore; if anything, I’m tempted to think that no one’s worthy for me, mwhahaha! Talk about a 180-degree turn, eh? Seriously, I’m just shrugging off my past as, well, the past.

But still, I’m wary when it comes to the affairs of the heart. I may not have given up on love yet, but I’ve buried romance six feet under.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Jill Sobule

At the height of Alanis-mania, when almost every song she came out with hit the charts, I discovered this other female singer-songwriter who was, for me, a welcome anti-Alanis balm (don’t get me wrong, I liked Alanis, but she was just all over the place). If I remembered correctly I first heard Jill Sobule’s song “I Kissed A Girl” in NU107, and when I saw her self-titled album on the shelves of Odyssey, I immediately bought it. I never regretted it ever since. I like her simple storytelling style of writing.

I Kissed A Girl

Genny came over and told me about Brad.
He’s such a hairy behemoth, she said,
And dumb as a box of hammers—
But he’s such a handsome guy.
And I opened up and told her about Larry
And yesterday how he asked me to marry—
I’m not giving him an answer yet.
I think I can do better.

So we laughed, compared notes.
We had a drink, we had a smoke;
She took off her overcoat—
I kissed a girl.
I kissed a girl.

So she called home to say she’d be late.
He said, he worried but now he’d feel safe;
I’m glad you’re with your girlfriend,
Tell her “Hi” for me.
So I looked at you, you had guilt in your eyes
But it only lasted a little while.
And then I felt your hand upon my knee

And we laughed at the world.
They can have their diamonds,
And we’ll have our pearls.
I kissed a girl.
I kissed a girl.

I kissed a girl, her lips were sweet;
She was just like kissing me.
I kissed a girl, won’t change the world—
But I’m so glad
I kissed a girl.

I kissed a girl, her lips were sweet
She was just like kissing me (but better)
I kissed a girl (for the first time)
I kissed a girl (and I might do it again)
I kissed a girl (won’t be the last time)
I kissed a girl

Another song I really like from her is this simple story/song about a girl who isn’t what she seems.

Karen By Night

Karen, she’s my boss at the shoe store,
We sell to the rich on Madison Avenue.
I come in late from Brooklyn on the F train,
Karen says, “Honey, make this your last time.”
But we like her, she’s firm but approachable,
Dresses in style, pretty conservative.
We ask her, “Hey, come out with us after work.”
Karen, she always declines.

And we talk about
Karen by night.
We imagine she must lead a very dull life,
With just a cat and a book by her side.
We know her by day but we don’t know
Karen by night.

In the stockroom searching for a 9B
I overheard Karen whisper on the phone.
She said, “Meet me at the club;
There’s a shipment coming in
And I can’t pull this one off alone.”
Well, I didn’t know what to think—
Was my mind playing tricks?
Was there more to this Karen then realized?
I had to know, so I followed her home.
I could not believe my eyes.

And then I saw
Karen by night.
The leather comes out under the moonlight;
Takes off her Chanel and hops on her bike,
Looking like young Marlon Brando—
Karen by night.

Saw her leaning on the bar with a drink in hand
And a cigarette dangling from her bright red lips—
She looked like she was looking for someone,
Like she was looking for a fight.
Then a young blonde buck walked in,
She grabbed him by the collar,
Kissed him hard on the mouth,
And slapped him on the cheek!
Then I thought she spied me in the corner of her eye,
So I ran outside. But all night all I could think about was

Karen by night.

The next morning, I’m late as usual,
Karen’s there fresh as a daisy.
She says with a smile, “You look like hell,
And where you last night?”

Karen by night.
The leather comes out under the moonlight;
Takes off her Chanel and hops on her bike,
Looking like Marlon Brando,
Looking like young Marlon Brando—
Wish I could be more like
Karen by night.

Looking like young Marlon Brando…
(not like the old fat Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now)—
Karen by night.

I especially like how she injects humor in her lines. I laughed out loud at the end of this song when she breaks out of her singing to speak that line: “not like the old fat Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now”.

She also wrote and performed the song “Supermodel” for the soundtrack of the movie Clueless. Sadly I didn’t quite like her follow-up album Happy Town. Too bad she couldn’t top her self-titled album.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

This Is He!

This is really is he! The guy in the Bench billboard along C-5 near Market! Market!
I woke up late as I usually do on a Saturday morning, got the newspapers, opened the page in the Super section, then stifled another round of oh-my-god’s from escaping my lips (my mom was just a few feet away doing reading her Catholic’s Digest; I didn’t want fire and brimstone to descend all of a sudden) because—THERE HE WAS…

…with his angelic smile (The eyes! The dimples! And in fairness, ang sarap din ng shoulders niya!)…

…and that devilishly sly pitchfork rising up from his, uhm, heaven. (Baliktad yata, noh?)

Of course the full impact is diminished in a print ad versus a billboard, but still. Oh, and I also saw the other Bench billboard featuring Rafael Rosell with his legs spread apart—but this one is along the Katipunan fly-over. The nuns in St. Bridget’s must be doing double-time in confession by now. The nuns in Sta. Clara monastery must be breaking a lot of eggs by now.

Okay, so he’s not Alvin Alfonso. Alright! Whoever gives me this cutie pie’s name is the WINNER! (As in wagi ka, ‘day.) Anyone who can set me up on a date with him will be deified for life here in The McVie Show.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Is That McVie I See Before Me On TV?

Yup, that’s me in the Big Brother TV plug. You see, whenever we need talents that are readily available and very generous with their time and talents (read: no talent fees), then we resort to using in-house talents (read: officemates). Since we often produce very economical plugs (read: no budget), the people here in our department are not camera-shy anymore. In fact, some of them have become camera-whores. However, I’ve often resisted being an on-cam talent. I’d always beg off, saying that I’m busy or I cannot make it to the shooting sked. Truth is, I’d love to be an on-cam talent—for me it’s just another acting job. However, with the pervasiveness of television, I’m sure I’d get calls from people saying, “Hey, I saw you on TV!” or “Was that you on TV I just saw?” Because many people will see me, I’ve decided to manage my television appearances. A-hahahaha! I mean, I might as well choose my parts, right? Riiight.

And oh yeah, NOPE, I’m not a contestant in Big Brother. I’m not even involved in the promotion of that show—another team is handling that. There was a nationwide search for contestants, and to date the list is down to 25 guys and gals. The list will still be trimmed down to the final 12 contestants (plus those who will be on standby as back-up). I’ve seen pictures of the 25; there are some cute guys, of the hunk or the boy-next-door type. (And for the guys, there’s even a former FHM model.) At first I was totally indifferent to this show, but after seeing some of the potential contestants, I’m suddenly looking forward to it.

All Work And One Play

I hate this.

For the past few days I’ve not been able to put on a show here because of work and rehearsals. Not that I don’t like them—I like my work and I’m enjoying rehearsals—but darn it, I miss blogging. Worse, suddenly nothing much seems to be happening in my life (I rarely blog about work for obvious reasons, and rehearsals are interesting only to the actors involved). I need to get a life!

* * * * *

I went to watch the Dulaang UP play “St. Louis Loves Dem Filipinos” at the Guerrero Theater last night. It’s the musical version of the same play staged several years ago by Dulaang UP. It’s about the group of Filipino tribesmen, led by Datu Bulan of the Bogobo Tribe, who were brought to the St. Louis World Fair in 1902. It’s about the tragic consequences suffered by Filipinos who went to the United States looking for a land of milk and honey but instead faced the Great Depression. It’s about Filipinos who were uprooted and forced to be “reconstructed” to fit into American society. It’s about them trying to “lift their heads up proudly” and stick up for who they are.

Most of the music is very melodic and memorable; the lyrics though are a little clunky in certain songs. I hated the instrumentation and arrangement—the spareness of the recorded music cannot match the soaring melodies of the composer. It’s like asking a chamber quartet to give life to Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy”. The set is puzzlingly painted in bleak-gray—hated it. The performers fare better, especially Arnold Reyes, Leo Rialp, Ron Cabigting and Don Karingal.

I just found it ironic that the creators used a very Western format—the theater musical, which is so Broadway and West End—to tell the tragic story of Filipinos “reconstructed” to become little brown Americans. We discussed this after the play, and the others wondered if perhaps that irony was part of their point, albeit made rather subtly. I argued that nothing in the production or direction clearly showed that the creators were making that point. It seemed to me that they were more oblivious than subtle.

Still it was fun to watch a play again after a long time. And it was also fun to walk around UP campus looking for cute college boys.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Don’t You Forget About Me

Suddenly I’m on an 80s trip. I decided to burn several songs from the following albums, and now I’m trippin’ on them:

Whammy! by The B-52’s. I only like one song from this album, “Legal Tender”. I remember back in 4th year high school, a party wasn’t a party if that song wasn’t played again and again.

She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. Side A of this album reads almost like her greatest hits: “Money Changes Everything”, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, “Time After Time” and “She Bop”. Plus I also love “When You Were Mine” (her cover of a Prince original) and “All Through The Night”.

Electronic. Technically this album shouldn’t be on the list since it came out in 1990. But it is the self-titled debut album by the power duo of Bernard Sumner of New Order and Johnny Marr of The Smiths, two huge 80s acts. Plus they have the Pet Shop Boys as guests in several songs, so they all infuse this highly electronic album with a very (late) 80s vibe.

Dare by Human League. The 80s is not the 80s without “Don’t You Want Me”. Plus I also like the first three cuts in the album.

Freeze Frame by the J. Geils Band. “Lights out! Ahh-haaa, blast, blast, blast!” Whoops, wrong song and act, hehehe. But that was the solo effort by their front man Peter Wolf. From their most commercially successful album came “Centerfold” which undoubtedly inspired Ely Buendia to write “Magasin” for Eraserheads. The band sounds like they’re having fun the whole time, even when singing a break-up song like “Do You Remember When”. But it’s their kiss-off last cut, “Piss On The Wall”, that really shakes my booty.

Aside from those albums I’m also tripping on the following 80s songs: “Wouldn’t It Be Good” by Nik Kershaw, “Cruel To Be Kind” by Nick Lowe, “Pop Muzik” by M, and “Talking In Your Sleep” by The Romantics.

Gosh, I can feel my shoulder pads thickening and my hair flipping into a tsunami.

No Kidding

Two Saturdays ago I accompanied Leigh and my inaanak Lucien, together with Leigh’s mom and sister, on a road trip to Tagaytay. I actually had a fun time playing with Luc, especially when he’s just discovering the use of his legs. He loved to “jump” up and down while I’m holding him. Last Saturday when my niece Naya was in the house, I also enjoyed playing with her; like Luc, she’s still figuring out how to use her legs so she can stand up. Both kids cannot hold themselves up yet, but I’m pretty sure that soon they’ll have developed their motor skills sufficiently as to cause havoc by running around. But this isn’t really about the kids. I actually surprised myself; I never thought I’d find the patience to watch over small children for more than a minute, much less play with them.

My nephew Migo is now 13 years old, his sister Lilay is 10. When they were little kids I’d carry them for about a minute or two, then I’d immediately pass them over to their mom or dad. Now I wish I was more patient with kids then.

But still, I prefer to be ninong or tito than be a father. When Luc or Naya gets fussy or starts crying, then I immediately toss them back to their parents. Plus they don’t wake me up in ungodly hours because they need milk or a change of diapers. People have asked me time and again if I wanted to have kids. I always tell them no. A child is a major responsibility. I’m still too selfish and self-absorbed to make that kind of sacrifice.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Mane Event

I like how Ipe does my hair. He’s recently finished a hairstyling course and I’m a very willing guinea pig for him to practice what he just learned. Thanks to Ipe I’ve decided to not go back to my semikal look. You see, I’m still blessed with hair while most of my contemporaries—and even some of my younger friends—are slowly losing theirs. So why not fully enjoy my hair while I still have it? Besides I’m still discovering what can be done with my hair.

You see, I never really appreciated the kind of hair I have, which is somewhere between curly and kinky. Growing up I wished I had straight hair. It took me forever to comb or brush my hair; each strand had to be “in its proper place” and I hated it when people messed up my hair. But now I don’t mind messing it up. Of course, I still can’t completely shake off my tendency to exert control over each and every strand of hair, so I tend to take long in putting each strand into their “messy” place.

Of course I have to travel all the way to Laguna to have my hair done, but the relaxing weekend road trip is part of the fun and allure.

Thanks, Ipe!


While I seem to find it harder these days to memorize new stuff, I still remember particular pieces from my past. For example, after reading in Sky’s blog his inability to remember the “Panatang Makabayan” I took a deep breath and recited out loud the following:

Panatang makabayan. Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas. Ito ang aking lupang sinilangan. Ito ang tahanan ng aking lahi. Ako’y kanyang kinukupkop at tinutulungan upang maging malakas, maligaya at kapakipakinabang. Bilang ganti ay diringgin ko ang payo ng aking mga magulang. Susundin ko ang mga tuntunin ng aking paaralan. Tutuparin ko ang mga tungkulin bilang isang mamamayang makabayan, sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa. (May kulang ba?)

After that I recited out loud the preamble of the 19-something Philippine constitution:

We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody our ideals, promote the general welfare, conserve and develop the patrimony of our nation, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of democracy under a regime of Justice, Peace, Liberty and Equality, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.

When Tita Cory rewrote the constitution in 1980-something, I remember they changed “Divine Providence” to “Almighty God” or something like that. Whatever.

Weirder still is how I still remember the poem “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne:

Death be not proud / Though some have called Thee mighty and dreadful, for Thou art not so. / For those, whom Thou think’st Thou dost overthrow, die not, poor Death! / Nor yet canst Thou kill me. / From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be much pleasure / then from Thee much more must flow. / And soonest our best men with Thee do go, / rest of their bones and souls delivery! / Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings and desperate men / and dost with poison, war and sickness dwell. / And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well, / And better than Thy stroke. Why swellest Thou, then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally. And Death shall be no more. / Death, Thou shalt die.

While I don’t remember my lines anymore from the plays I did in grade school and high school, I still remember one line from a play I did in college for Spanish 2: “Si, no es verdad todo lo que dije, mi latigo acabara contigo!” (For you Spaniards out there, sorry for the wrong spelling, if any; I only memorized what the words sounded like, not how they’re spelled.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have a few pages to memorize for the play.


Sunday evening while driving home from having a haircut at Ipe’s, I was at C-5 approaching Market! Market! on my left when my eyes were diverted by this huge billboard on the right side of the road.

First, let me qualify: this wasn’t the billboard along C-5. It’s the same brand, same product, same talent, but different pose. He wasn’t looking down but instead is smiling for the camera. And what an angelic and boyish smile it was!

Okay, with that out of the way, let me describe to you my reaction. (Take note, I was alone in the car.)

* * * roll VTR * * *

McVie: (glancing at the billboard for the first time) …!

McVie’s car goes nearer the billboard.

McVie: oh my god.

Nearer and nearer. The car is traveling at a leisurely 80kph pace, but it never occurs to McVie to slow down. He’s just mesmerized by the oh-too-cute smile on the boy’s lips, and that tattoo!

McVie: Oh. My. God. Oh my God. OH MY GOD.

McVie goes past the billboard.


* * * end of tape * * *

I spent the next one-and-a-half minutes finding out new and different ways of saying the words, “oh my god.” The only reason why I had to stop was because of the stoplight and there were cars beside me.

(Now that I think about it, I could be wrong. The talent in the picture above may not be the one in the billboard. I must pass by C-5 again.)