#30DayWritingChallenge: Winning.

Day Twenty-Five: Winning.

I rarely win in raffles.

Some people are born lucky. They are more likely to win in games of chance. Their names are often drawn, even for consolation prizes. I had a co-worker who was so lucky, it actually backfired on her: her name was drawn twice in an office raffle. Unfortunately, raffle rules state that employees can only submit one entry per person, so she was disqualified for both prizes.

Whenever I attend company parties, there will be that point during the eventual raffle when I’ll hold my breath waiting for the announcement of the winner, only to exhale in disappointed because, as usual, my name was not called.

That’s more than ten years of working and annual company parties, plus the occasional parties thrown by the account’s client or some other employee-benefit contest.

It’s the same outside of work, even when I was younger. During school fairs, in church parties, even in the occasional traveling perya. I would spend all my money playing the color game and lose all of it without really winning anything.

There was one particular time when I actually won a raffle that I do remember.

#30DayWritingChallenge: Losing.

Day Twenty-Four: Losing.

During the Nineties, Battle of the Brains was one of the more popular game shows on local TV. It was a weekly quiz show where different schools would send a team of delegates to compete with each other, answering questions from various categories (Science, Arts, Current Events, etc). During sixth grade, I was sent to compete in the Elementary School competition of the show with two other classmates.

Battle of the Brains

I’ve been in several inter-school quizzes before: Math Quiz Bees, Science Quiz Bees, Campus Journalism Meets. You can say I was the mental counterpart of school athletes. I was hopeless in sports and physical activities, but I was quite good in competitive quizzes. During grade school, I realized that it was an easy way to win high grades and exam exemptions from teachers. I still joined inter-school competitions in high school, but my more conservative high school teachers were not too impressed by it; my high school grades dipped because I was mostly a very lazy student.

Prior to the show, our team was put in a relatively intense training. Teachers sometimes pulled out from class so we can do mock quizzes and they timed us when answering various questions.

During the show proper, I remember being underwhelmed by the studio. It was much smaller than I expected from what is shown on television. It was grubbier and not as “high-tech” as how we thought it would be.

We lost. (This entry’s title was a giveaway, wasn’t it?)

We were second place, with a very close score with the winning school. Partly it was because of a True or False question that was initially answered incorrectly: I thought, because of only two options for an answer, answering incorrectly invalidates attempts to “steal” the points. The team that won was not above taking advantage of an answer that was practically given away.

“Kababawanan” and the sudden Lea Salonga hatedom.

It was during the height of the weekend AlDub vs Showtime Twitter war when Lea Salonga posted a tweet that was quickly noticed by local Twitter users:

Lea, being from Showtime’s network, may have been seen as dismissing AlDub. (If she were from the opposing network, many AlDub fans would probably have embraced it as a criticism against Showtime.) Fans of the show reacted in droves, calling her condescending for dismissing kababawan.

That was despite her stating in her tweet, “Okay lang sa akin ang kababawan”.

Was it really a subtweet against AlDub?

Yes, you could have long beautiful hair, too.

A few years back, Biolink created their VCO (virgin coconut oil) line of shampoo and conditioner. Along with it are some of the wittiest and most memorable ads from those years.

One of the earlier ads from that campaign was a exorcism parody that used the Filipino albularyo (local shaman-slash-herbalist-slash-animist-priest/ess) as the subject.

The ad was a wonderful play on Filipino folk belief which is still prevalent in some parts of the country. The only thing that kind of turned me off in the ad when I watched it again was how the model was a typical Filipina mestiza (i.e., someone who looked like a child of mixed-race parents with strong Caucasian features).

But Biolink redeemed themselves with later ads with dared to subvert the typical appearance of shampoo models:

In both ads, none of the models looked like the glamorous women usually found in shampoo commercials. One is even a man, and an ordinary-looking man at that. The message of these ads are worth applauding: the product is meant for ordinary women and men who would like to achieve long beautiful hair. Probably no other product before or since then has attempted to include men with long hair in their campaign.

Unfortunately, as popular and groundbreaking as these ads were, they did not translate to sales. So we’re back to seeing yet another shampoo ad featuring a beautiful mestiza actress endorsing shampoo that promise unrealistically beautiful hair.

So I appeared on cable TV but it didn’t look like I gained 20 pounds.

A woman named Susan called me a few days ago, looking for Jade. She told me she was a PA for DZMM, and that I was recommended by a former colleague (during my semi-regular Tarot reading days in Ortigas), and would I like to guest at Stargazer’s program?

The show was called Pinoyvibes and was hosted by Stargazer, a local celebrity psychic. I have heard of the radio program but have not had the chance to tune in, partly because of its schedule and partly because I don’t have access to AM radio. Likewise with its host, whose name is frequently mentioned among friends in the psychic and occult circles, but whom I have not yet met.

Initially I declined, thinking that the radio program schedule would clash with work. And then I realized it doesn’t, so I sent a message to Susan saying I’m free, after all.

It’s obvious that I’m keen on guesting to Stargazer’s program. I’ve never guested in a radio program before, so I figured what the heck. Even if I suck, at least I could say for myself that I’ve done it and laugh about it afterwards. Susan gave me directions on how to reach DZMM and we agreed that I will be there before one in the morning of Sunday.

Golden Tarot of Klimt: MagicianSo earlier, half past midnight, I found myself entering the ABS-CBN compound, telling guards “Hi, I’m Jade; I’m a guest for Ms. Stargazer’s program,” and told to walk straight ahead then make a right for the DZMM studios.

I’m no stranger to radio stations. I had friends who were disc jockeys before and we’d hang out by the DJ booth during their shift really during the wee hours of the morning. Radio stations are almost dead during those hours, with only a few remaining crew left.

I was met by Raymond, the guy answering the phones and minding the little knobs and switches outside the booth. He showed me where the toilets are, as well as the make up room. Make up?

While I was peeing, I remembered Bern joking that I will be appearing on DZMM’s cable TV broadcast. No, really? I tried to fix my hair into a less unruly mess, wore my gray sweater and made sure my face was clean. I decided against make-up since there was no one to help me put it on and I really don’t know how to put make up on myself.

Yes, some gay men don’t know shit about make up.

I finally met Charlie, the executive producer and Stargazer herself. She was a middle aged woman with a dignified air around her. She has a well-modulated and soothing speaking voice; she told me later that we worked as a disc jockey when she was in college.

We had a pleasant chat while she asked me to read cards for her and briefed me on what to expect in her program. She herself does not use cards as she mentioned she’s clairvoyant and sees people’s auras.

We finally entered the booth and Charlie showed me where the cameras are. Oh man, there are TV cameras. If I’ve known it sooner, I probably would have changed my mind; i have a mild aversion to appearing on TV. Not knowing about it is sort of funny, too, considering I was there as part of a community of people mostly approached by clients to foretell their future. But hey, I was already there; it’s not like I could fake sudden illness so I could excuse myself and go. I asked if the cards I brought will be shown on camera and was told they weren’t. That was a relief, since both the cards I have with me (I used the Golden Tarot of Klimt, with the Tarot of Secrets as my back-up deck) display quite a lot of nudity in the images.

The first thirty minutes of her show was meditation. A recording of Stargazer’s voice speaks to her listerners and viewers, guiding them to meditation, while we chat some more in the radio booth. I was trying to calm myself; although, to be honest, I was not as nervous as I thought I was. Maybe it was because the cameras were not much different from security cameras installed near the booth’s ceilings. It was just Stargazer and me, with Raymond outside; it was easy to forgot about the cameras.

When the callers started coming in, I realized it’s difficult to do my usual style of reading in that kind of set-up. I was used to reading at my own pace, amiably chatting with clients. While in the program, I must draw and interpret cards quickly, and immediately give an answer relevant to the callers questions. There were several times when I was slightly panicky. Stargazer seemed to enjoy how our answers to callers often agree; there were only a few instances when we were in slight disagreement. Sometimes, I’d catch myself in the monitor but quickly look away; I still don’t like the idea of seeing myself on TV.

The phoned in questions ran for an hour and a half. Before the program ended, I was asked by Stargazer to give my email address (“You’ll be flooded by SMS inquiries if you give out your number,” she advised before the show started) for listeners and viewers who wish to contact me. Until that time, I was successful in introducing myself merely using my first name. And then I realized that the only email address that I could give on-air contains my full name. Argh.

After the show, we stepped out of the booth as the people for the next program stepped in. I said good-bye to Stargazer and shook her hand. I stepped out of the ABS-CBN compound and walked towards EDSA under a drizzle for the bus ride home. I could take a cab, but I wanted to mull things over and read a book while commuting.

Except for my housemates, I never told anyone else that I was guesting at Pinoyvibes. Except that someone will always find out about things like that even when not told. I was already in Mandaluyong when I received this SMS from Anniel:

Congrats! Pinakinggan kita at pinanood ka ni Carlos. [I listened to you and Carlos watched you.] He told me you looked good on t.v. Too bad di kita nakita. [Too bad, I didn’t see you.] :)

Oh man. There goes comfort behind anonymity.