Saturday, October 27, 2007

N47, T

Written on: My Own Desktop, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Impromptu. Full on Sisig and some Corona Beer. I also have the TV on with Godfather Part I showing on channel 26 on basic Shaw Cable - "Speak Softly Love" occasionally punctuating the movie's soundtrack.

Previous Post: September 17, 2007

"O, may Sisig ako! (Hey, I brought home sisig)", was the first thing my Dad said the first time we saw each other today.

Ahhhh Sisig. That dish whose origins are actually from leftover lechon ( 1, 2 ) is in itself a perfect example of the admirable Filipino spirit of making the most of what you have - or what you have left.

It was around an hour ago, 6pm maybe. Both him and I just got back from work. Him from his job assembling gigantic fluid valves, and myself from my landscaping job where I either pilot a single axled, big block V8 dump truck with a 12 ton gross capacity, or build cool backyard landscaping features.

My parents and I, we never get to see each other until the end of the day during the weekdays. Until a full day's worth of hard work when we get home - that's the only family time we


...the only family time we really get in this hustle and bustle Albertan boom economy.

Being the only occasion where we could really get together, you'd think we'd make up for it by having a grand dinner where we talk about the day behind us and the days ahead of us. You know, the stuff you see the Italians, the Spanish, the French or any other Latin culture doing all the time on TV and movies. Loud, boisterous, happy family dinners.

But no, we don't even have time for that.

No time to cook anything. Besides, being in a blue collar line of work means we're also too tired to prepare anything that takes longer than a few tens of minutes. And being in the lower tier income bracket we really haven't enough disposable income to devote to eating out in restaurants too much.

Just microwave something out of the fridge cooked by mom over the weekend.

Open up something canned.

Or maybe on the rare occasion, I may get to have those ready made meals. The kind where the bottom is black molded plastic and the top is clear cellophane that you're supposed to stab with a knife before putting it in the microwave. This is so the heated gases don't pressurize the cellophane to the point of explosion.

Whatever. I always make it a point to not to stab it anyway just so I could have some dinner entertainment. I may have to clean the microwave later, but at least I saw something pop and make a mess.

This is what passes for my daily life here in Canada.

This was supposed to be a place where I'm supposed to be having a much more improved quality of life.

But as I pause and reflect on that - as in, how exactly do I define "Quality"? As far as I remember, this type of rushed and pre-prepared dinners was daily fare when we were still in the Philippines. Mom worked in the capitol and had no time in the mornings or the evenings, and Dad too was busy being an in demand veterinary consultant. So I wonder: Am I necessarily living a better life as I would have if I were in the Philippines? As in, supposing I never moved? Or, maybe I did a re-migration?

It's hard to picture the possibilities for they could range anywhere from the most mundane to the most fantastic. It's hard to really picture anything, for if I learned anything during my travels, anything is possible, really.

Whatever the case, aside from taking home various sorts of images, impressions, and mindsets, I also took home a great deal of self realization.

One of those is the realization that I am actually quite low maintenance.

(oh, they just showed the scene during Michael Corleone's honeymoon in Sicily. You know, the scene where they show Appolonia's boobies)

Where was I? Oh yeah, low maintenance.

I found out that I could exist with very little provided that I get to experience two things: Some excitement once in a while, and the time to pause and reflect.

I found out that I could actually have less, yet still be happier.

As well, I especially remember the words I spoke in reply to the most commonly asked question as soon as I got back here in Canada.

The line of greeting usually went like, "Good to have you back."

"I'm not sure if I'm actually glad to be back", I'd reply.

(Sonny just got killed at the toolbooth. They cut out some of the more violent clips, notably the one where one gunman with the Tommy Gun fires one last burst point blank range to make sure Vito Corleone's eldest is dead.)

"Isn't Canada good enough?" they'd then question me.

"No, it's not that," I then would answer, "It's just that, it totally answered for me the question of 'Can I leave my Canadian life?' The answer is 'Yes, without a second's hesitation.' "

And why is that you ask?

Don't I have any vested interests here?

(Appolonia just blew up inside Michael's car - she triggered the car bomb that was meant for Michael)

Nothing that I can't leave behind.

(Below, my Right Hand Drive, Japanese import, 1992 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1 that's converted a III. Photo by Ian Gulinao )
Even now, even after I've just dropped nearly 9 grand into a car that I find so hot, exotic, fast, and absolutely insane in its power and speed potential, I don't think I'd have second thoughts in turning it over - so long as it's for some profit or the same price that I've spent on it so far.

Ok, so maybe I haven't bonded with the thing yet. previous car, a 1988 Mk1 Toyota MR2 NA Hardtop, was something I've gone through hell and back. It was a car that I've assaulted blizzards of winter, the promise of springs, the heat of summers, and the gloom of many autumns. It was a car that I knew inside out and then some. I've raced it... I've cruised it... I've driven it for long stretches... for short jaunts... I've even crashed it! I went through everything with that car and knew her character inside out. It handled great, and it was a unique, funky, quirky car. I had the most fun with that thing.

It may have had rust. It was relatively slow and weak. It was less car through and through. However, she was MY car. photo credits : Matt Pearson, Shawn Bishop, Shawn Bishop. All posted without permission. Would gladly remove should the said photographers deem this unacceptable usage.

The Lancer Evolution 1 (converted to a III) however, hasn't really inspired confidence in me - what with all the damned fixables and serviceables I'm finding right now.

Despite that, I'm giving it a chance.

Despite being a car that was the foremost reason why I'm not going to the Philippines this time.

In fact, that's actually why the car is fast becoming one of my biggest regrets; I fucking traded another Christmas and New Year spent in the Philippines just so I could have this car.

And what kind of car did I get?
(Photo by Ian Gulinao)
The suspension, in it's stiffness and lowness, is a tarmac setup meant for absolute speed that it'll be undrivable in the gravel and dead of winter without a few changes. The brakes also need servicing in the form of new Rotors, Pads, and a full brake flush. The underbody needs some undercoating - in Japan they treat cars so disposable, they don't bother to undercoat their cars with the rock proof tar.
And just recently, the 15 year old plastic radiator cracked.I have a full aluminum racing radiator on order, but the wait is killing me. The car, for all intents and purposes, is undriveable in this condition and will be until the rad gets here from Hong Kong. That's what I get for buying an exotic. They're not much. I can do them all myself - in fact I've repaired far worse from the MR2.

It's just that... Right now I'm not sure if my enthusiasm to have a fast driving and awesome handling car is enough to make me want to keep this thing. It's A LOT of car for the cash I shelled out, but I'm not so sure if I'm willing to put up with its quirks as I did with the MR2.

As pretty...
...and as hot as it may be.

Rally racing heritage. 250hp, 0-100kph in 5 seconds. Turbo, All Wheel Drive. Tommi Makinen, anyone?

(Photo by Ian G.)

(Photo by Ian G.)

So anyway... all these. These frustrations, setbacks, and regrets.

They're all swimming in my head right now that, for once, I was thankful the meal that my dad brought home turned out to be take out Sisig he got from Shun Fat, a Chinese Grocery store with a ready to eat meal section.

Despite heating it up in the microwave, despite adding mayonnaise instead of the authentic Ox brain, and despite it not being decadently greasy, it was enough to bring me back to a few months ago when I had Sisig in the Philippines.

I'm not even sure how many times I ate this dish whilst over there. Whatever the case, two instances stand out: During my last hour in Sabang Beach, Palawan (although I had the Tuna Sisig variation), and during cousin Marco's birthday with the Sisig that cousin Jojo prepared himself complete with sizzling plate.

This was food prepared with painstaking preparation and loving attention to detail so that it tastes just right. When it was eaten, it was done so in the loving presence of all involved.

None of this instant, ready made, reheat it up, and then consume, kind of food.

That latter kind isn't so much a meal as it is ingestion of necessary food materials for sustenance. Sustenance just so we could keep on functioning and serving this boom economy that is Alberta's.

I hunger for meals that are at least a bit more ritualized, where food itself is regarded with a bit more respect and art.

More and more the meaning of Tyler Durden's words strike a chord with me...

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need"
-The Character Tyler Durden, in Chuck Palahniuk's "Fight Club"

No time for self. No time for family. No time for any real personal fulfillment and development.

Hell, I haven't even got time to update this blog too often.

That's my gripe.

I'm learning more and more that material crap that's turning out to be not exactly all that fulfilling. The Sisig, being a dish of leftover Lechon parts, became a reminder that sometimes, good things could come out of un-extravagant things - you don't need opulence to feel good.


I'd like to end this on a happier note - to put a more cheery coda that summarizes my previous rap yet see it from a perspective that's more positive - but I can't.

"The things you own end up owning YOU."
-the character Tyler Durden, from the the book "Fight Club"

(Don Vito Corleone just had a heart attack in the tomato Orchard whilst playing with one of his grandsons)

I just can't.

(Tessio just arranged his betrayal of Micheal during Mama Corleone's funeral. Hey, despite being "impromptu" I do take a while to write things out because I revise, re read, and tweak it many times over)


UPDATE: The Next Day.

Here's that good note.

Today, the morning after last night, I had brunch with the family. Kare kare with authentic Bagoong from Pangasinan.

Good stuff.

Next Post: Why Keep On Telling the Story, Part III

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