Everybody’s having their weird dreams lately.

The other day, I woke up and saw a rather long SMS from Alejandro:

Had a really weird dream. In it, my father was Severus Snape, my mother was Miriam Defensor-Santiago, my nanny was Mae West, and we had Jeeves the Butler as our… well… butler. You can just imagine the conversation. Oh plus throw in a couple of huge iguanas for pets. One scarlet, the other black and white. Weird. I should really stop watching youtube before bedtime.

I replied that with a family like that, their dinner conversations should be really lively. Alejandro answered that with how the real-life conversations of his family is like, he’s not really inclined to pump up the weirdness factor.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Speaking of weird, Bern also sent this SMS just as I was about to sleep that morning:

From Mhai: Bernbern, bahay ka na? Help. Na-lock ako sa loob ng bahay. Hehe. Nakalimutan ko kasi yung susi ko tapos pinabaklas ko kina kuya yung knob. Nung clinose ko na door, lock na ko sa loob. Di ko makalabas.

Bern, are you home? Help. I got locked in the house. Hehe. I forgot my keys so I had the door busted open by the maintenance guys. When I closed the door, I was locked inside. I can’t get out.

I went down to Mhai’s apartment to see how she was. It turned out that while the maintenance guy removed the knob, he did not remove the bolt for the door’s lock. When the door closed, the bolt got stuck and I had to pull it out of its slot so that the door could open.

Mhai was already rattled and close to panicking because she was alone in the apartment. After we got the door opened, I asked her why she didn’t call us instead of having the door forcibly opened; after all, she gave us a spare key. But she’d rather have the doorknob taken out than bother us, even as I tried to explain that Bern and I agreeing to keep a spare key also meant that she could definitely bother us if she needed it.

That same morning, I also left my wallet in the office. I found out about it just when I arrived at our building and had to call Leo to go down and pay for my cab. It seemed like a small wave of craziness had spread around many people that day.

Shooting the messenger.

A few minutes ago, I got a call from the building maintenance asking if the request I made for repairs in our unit was completed yesterday. I told them, they weren’t. The man said some of the maintenance people kept knocking at our unit but we weren’t replying. I asked him what time it was and he told me it was during the afternoon.

“We’re already asleep by then,” I told him. The man repeated that they went back several times, as if it was our fault for not being awake to let them in so they could complete the repairs.

shower valve

The handle of our shower’s valve is busted. I still don’t know how that happened, but bathing using a pail and dipper isn’t that easy if one has a rather long mane to wash every day. The apartment also needed to have a couple of exposed electric sockets replaced and have the unused hole for an airconditioner covered. I went to the apartment’s office the other day to request for repairs and they were scheduled to be done yesterday, before 10 in the morning.

By 9:30, we called the building maintenance if the plumber and electrician were on their way. The guy who answered said he didn’t know but promised he’d ask the office. By 10:30, we called again; the new guy who answered also didn’t know if there were repairmen coming and gave the impression that they are not made aware of repair orders for individual units.

Given the way things work in this building, I am not surprised. But that did not make me any less annoyed for delaying my sleep, waiting for nothing. By noon, I decided to join Bern and grab some sleep for work later.

Kuya,” I told the maintenance person, “we work at night. During the afternoons, we’re asleep. Do you expect us to stay awake all day, waiting? What’s the point of having the repairs scheduled when they won’t be following the scheduled time anyway.”

The man asked me if it’s alright to have the repairmen over today. I told him, I’ll be awake until noon and could wait for them until noon.

“Only until noon?” the man asked, still unable to wrap around his brain the idea that some people work at night and sleep during the afternoon.

No. Don’t bother,” I snapped. “Tell the office I’ll go there tomorrow and have the repairs rescheduled.”

It’s a good thing Bern has not yet arrived or there would be two of us fuming and probably giving a considerable piece of our minds to the unfortunate maintenance person who would call our unit.

A few minutes after I got the call, the carpenter who will cover the aircon hole arrived to take measurements of the area he should cover. Well. At least it seems we could have that done today.

Good grief. There are carolers in the building.

I’ve closed the front door and windows, turned off nearly all the lights, and shut myself inside my flatmates’ bedroom until they’ve done their rounds on our floor and have gone away. There are carolers in our building.

I could hear several kids singing while I was sweeping the floor and could make out the tune of the ABS-CBN Christmas jingle. It was followed by the familiar “thank you” sung by kids after a Christmas carol, where the lyrics are changed depending on whether the household gave them money or not.

I don’t know how and where that “thank you” jingle started, but it became popular among kids when I was around eight or nine, eventually becoming a staple for carolers. What happens is if you gave the carolers money, they’d sing “ambabait ninyo” (you’re kind/generous); if you didn’t give them money, they’d sing “ambabarat ninyo” (you’re stingy).

When I looked down to the corridors, I saw five kids singing in front of a unit one floor below. Most carolers would end their songs immediately when given money or if the house occupants shoo them away. Some of the more persistent kids, if not told to leave, will sing three or four songs before giving up. These kids, however, seem to finish their songs even after given money. It’s nice because it shows how they’re not just after collecting something from the units they visit; but at the same time, the way their voices echo around the building is getting annoying.

You could probably tell the actual state of the economy by how much the carolers would get from each household, on average. Except that nobody probably interviews the kids to find out. When I was in grade school, I’d join some classmates in caroling and we’d split the collected money equally afterwards. I used to envy the some schoolmates who played bandurria in the school band because people tend to give them more money as opposed to carolers who only had home-made drums and tambourine to accompany them.

I’m surprised the building maintenance folks allowed kids to go around caroling. I can’t make myself complain about the noise but I don’t really want to encourage them so I’ll be staying inside this room for an hour or so until they’re done and have returned home.

Right now, throwing a chair at someone would be very satisfying.

The construction job currently running next to our apartment building begins around after lunch, prematurely waking me from my sleep. After four days of getting roused in the middle of the afternoon, I figured I’d head to the office and get some shuteye in the sleeping quarters a few hours before my shift.

The Scream

Just when I was able to fall asleep, agents who came to the office early and stationed near the sleeping quarters started discussing their exchange gift for Christmas. The way they talked sounded like they were shouting at someone from the other corner of the building even though they were really just seated three chairs apart.

A crowd like that won’t be complete without some bossy person with the most piercing voice that drowned everyone else while dominating the conversation. I was contemplating throwing one of the spare mattresses to that woman when I realized she was the team’s supervisor. Hellfire and damnation! And I was thinking of approaching a supervisor to report the agents.

I could never understand why people from this company can’t seem to function without noise in the background. From three different music players blaring across my floor’s work area to agents shouting at each other in ordinary conversation, loud manic excitement seems to be a cherished part of the office work culture.

House-cleaning and the overlooked “pamana” from the parents.

As I grow older, I realize much I begin to resemble the parents.

Filipinos usually use the verb “mana” when pointing out the similarities of the children to their elders. The noun form is “pamana”, which means legacy; “mana” could refer to a child’s genes, mannerisms, beliefs, as well as material heritage. It sums up the Filipino’s faith in tradition and continuity. Rebellion against one’s parents is often seen as a refusal of one’s heritage, which is worse than merely going against the parents’ wishes.

Old photo: bedroom

It sounds lofty, but I was merely musing about house-cleaning.

When I still lived with the parents — and it’s not uncommon for Filipinos, and other Asians, for the children to live with their parents well into adulthood or even after they have been married — I disliked house-cleaning. I had to do them, initially, being the eldest in a family who didn’t have a house-cleaner.

The parents were, and still are, very critical of house-cleaning. It’s common among the middle class to substitute luxury with cleanliness. One may only have humble furnitures in the tiny living room, but by God! The living room must not have a single speck of dust. When the father was done sweeping and wiping the floor, there was always an urge for me to learn how to float so that my feet will not spoil a work of art.

Eventually, when the siblings grew older, I stopped doing the house-cleaning and merely bossed them around to do the work for me. I grew tired of living with the family and, because I had a long-time boyfriend that time, decided to move out. One night, I told the mother that I found an apartment and was moving in with co-workers (almost true because the other house-mate was a co-worker); two days later, I’ve packed my things and went.

I still dislike house-cleaning. I don’t think I got that from the parents. But I get fidgety when the apartment is untidy. And there are days when I wake up too early and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I clean the apartment. It wouldn’t pass the parents standards, but that belief in cleanliness has crept into me despite myself. Should I be surprised that one day, I’ll realize that I also have begun cleaning the floor in a way that will gleam with middle-class pride?

The thing that sucks about legacies is how you often don’t have a say which legacy you will be getting.