Ninja hair disguise.

I had a tarot reading gig recently in Canyon Woods in Tagaytay. It was for an Oktoberfest celebration and the organizers chose a carnival-like theme for this year.

We came there early and was lounging around the club house while the other performers where doing their sound check. To pass the time, I did some tarot readings for some of the organizers.

One of them, Edith, saw me after we just had our lunch. I was walking around and decided to undo my bun, letting my hair down.

“But you had short hair earlier!” she said, mildly surprised.

Yay! I can bun my hair using a hair chopstick again! Chopstick manbun, here I go.

A photo posted by Jade Tamboon (@antifornicator) on

It’s not an uncommon reaction. Tied neatly, I can keep my hair in a small man bun, typically tied behind my head. It also isn’t too obvious how curly my hair actually is.

Untied, my hair expands and occupies more volume, like a time-lapsed explosion. Even now, it looks like a Jewfro when I let it down.

When I was applying for a visa for India a few months back, the woman who handled my application asked me if I had a more recent photo; I told her the photo I submitted was taken just a week earlier.

My photo looked as if I had closely cropped hair because my bun isn’t visible. She saw I had one in real life because I tied the bun higher than usual on that day. So I untied my hair and made a bun lower, hidden behind my head, to prove that it was a recent photo.

I find it amusing how tying or untying my hair is enough to drastically alter my appearance. It makes me feel like I could turn myself into some kind of super-spy.

#30DayWritingChallenge: A trip I can’t forget. (Mumbai)

Day Twenty-Eight: A trip I can’t forget. (Mumbai)

The only weekend I had when I briefly stayed in Mumbai was nearly ruined when I went drinking on Saturday morning after shift.

There is a good local beer in India called Kingfisher. It comes in two variants: white and red label. Normally, I drank the lighter white label; but on that Saturday, I decided to finally give the red label a try. It was good. Kingfisher was less sweet than Filipino beer like San Miguel Pale Pilsen or Red Horse, but has a nice earthy flavor and little bitterness.

The local beer in India, Kingfisher, comes in huge-ass 650 mL bottles. Single serving.

A photo posted by Jade Tamboon (@antifornicator) on

Kingfisher Red also kicked like a motherfucker.

I was hungover when I woke up that evening, causing me to cancel meeting up one of the team supervisors who invited me over to his place near the sea. That really sucked major ass: the only Saturday I spent in Mumbai and I had to sleep it off. My hangover lasted well into Sunday and I was only able to go out after noon.

It is relatively easy to move around Mumbai.

#30DayWritingChallenge: A wedding.

Day Twenty-Seven: A wedding.

A favorite among the weddings I have been in was one where we blew bubbles as the newlyweds went out of the church. In most weddings, the guests would be throwing rice or flower petals. This couple thought of a nod to wedding tradition that was more environment-friendly.

The couple then both rode in bicycles — one for the bride, one for the groom — instead of taking a car to the wedding reception. It must have been a sight, seeing the bride still in her gown, riding a bicycle along the streets of Makati. People who saw them thought that it was a scene from a movie shoot.

Bride on a bicycle.

Sadly, it was also a marriage that did not last. The couple separated a few years later, possibly breaking many of the former couple’s friends’ hearts. Some love stories just do not end up in an ever after.

#30DayWritingChallenge: Memorable strangers.

Day Thirteen: Memorable strangers.

The last time I visited the lolas of the Home for the Golden Gays, they gathered in a small dance studio in Pasay, owned by one of the city councilors.

I enjoy visiting the lolas. They are always full of life when they are together, despite their situation after their former benefactor, Justo Justo, passed away. So as much as I enjoy seeing them, visits to the Golden Gays also give a sad, sorry feeling because I realize how little I can actually help them.

Pasay dance studio.

During this particular visit, there were young kids in the studio, practicing for a dance competition. The studio takes in students from among the lower and lower middle class families living in the area. The kids study various types of dance for free.

It inspiring, watching these kids dance, especially for someone who wasn’t gifted in highly-coordinated motion. They practiced their waltzes and rumbas, gliding easily along the shabby dance floor.

The studio takes in these students to keep them away from vice and bad company. I don’t know how effective the program is in practice; I know from experience that well-meaning projects like these are more optimistic in their aspirations than how things eventually turn out in real life.

Pasay dance studio.

While it is true that one can be taught how to dance, not everyone can dance with seemingly effortless grace. I do hope that many of these kids grow up not forgetting how to dance.

Saturday night at the Silverlens Galleries: Opera by Gabriel Barredo.

From Opera (Gabriel Barredo)

Sandy sure knows how to cheer me up. She invited me to the opening of Gabriel Barredo’s “Opera” at the Silverlens Galleries after finding out that I parted ways with my (now ex-)boyfriend and that an exhibit of nightmare-inducing sculpture and installation art is what I needed.

Well.

Sandy is also a fangirl of Gabriel Barredo and it’s not hard to see why.

At first, I thought the title “Opera” referred to the performance. In hindsight, there was a lot of theatricality and drama in the exhibit, what with the gloomy lighting, the often haunting music, and the wonderful performance that was included in the opening. But “Opera” also refers to the Tagalog (by way of Spanish) word for “surgery”.

From Opera (Gabriel Barredo)

The installations featured numerous human figures, many of them cut open, with parts removed and transferred to incorrect places. Lines of almost life-sized fetus hang in semi-transparent mesh run along the space. Syringes, lens, dental chairs, and other medical equipment are used in many works. Prints of Medieval anatomical drawings are joined by modern x-rays and CAT scans. Looking at the (real) scans can make someone (who is not in the medical field) uncomfortable peeking into a person’s most private aspects and has the effect of dehumanizing a person.

This dehumanization was reinforced by many of the works including gears and machine parts. Shoulders connect to long pieces of metal to replace the biceps, before rejoining the rest of the arm. Some moving installations had flesh-colored rods flex like rhythmically undulating tentacles, yet you can see the machine powering the movements. The exhibit highlight includes several machine-mounted bamboo rods that flail incessantly, which reminded me of angry, moving plants in some horror movies.

When stripped out of life and personality, the human body is no different from a person-less machine, complex yet generic.

From Opera (Gabriel Barredo)

What seemed more disturbing is the curious lack of gore. Blood is rendered like narrow streams of fluid or faint red mist that remained in stretched mesh that looked like the amniotic sac. As I told Sandy while we were talking about the exhibits, it was as somebody wiped the nearly all blood out. And very carefully, too. There is no sense of chaos in the grotesque images, like it was a product of sanity and obsessive attention.

At first I thought the sound of a man singing was part of the background sounds, but when I looked around, it was coming from an actor. He was dressed and made up like the Phantom of the Opera (aha) and singing wordlessly, while struggling inside a flesh-colored mesh. He pulls out a knife and slowly starts slashing his way out of the mesh. Ugh. I haven’t really been creeped out until that point.

Sandy introduced me to her friends, Fran, Karl and Carlo, and we talked of our reactions to the exhibit. Carlo also told us of an exhibit of art from immediately after the Second World War, particularly from Japanese artists, and how the war affected the nation’s collective psyche. Art isn’t always about what is beautiful; grief, horror, and shame can inspire powerful work. Sandy wondered aloud where Mr Barredo got his inspiration for his exhibit.

More photos from Gabriel Barredo’s “Opera”.