Life is Motion

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gomenasai, Mianhe, I'm Sorry.....I have to leave again

On paper, I finally landed a dream job. I work as a communications specialist for a development agency. I get to write about things that actually mean something in the greater scheme of things, meet a bunch of people all the time, work with the media but not within the media sector, and despite the NGO nature of my company, I still work in a service oriented organization (which is totally ideal for do-gooder but still capitalist-at-heart like me).

But silly ol' me is still getting cold feet. I still want to leave the country.

I feel like Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride." No matter how great a deal falls on my lap, I easily get ansy and restless and feel so wired that I could flee any minute. What's wrong with me?

So what do I do? I leave.
No, I don't leave my job. I just started.
It's not my job, it's where I am.

I will leave the country for a few days. I need to de-pressurize myself from Manila, from the Philippines, from the politics, and all other social pains that are crowding my world here. I'm like that-- an addict. Everytime I start a new job, I will leave the country for a few days before immersing myself wholly in my job. I feel that my last days of freedom are those days outside the country, all by myself and just my thoughts, and anonymity (well, sort of).

I need to leave the Philippines soon, and not come back for a long time. Call it existential issues, wanderlust, burn-out, over-saturation of a culture and socio-political structure that have been increasily difficult to relate to as I grow older and more worldly....I need to leave home for a while.
It may be the only recourse to take for me to want to stay here once again.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Angelina's version of Bono's song, "One"

Angelina Jolie Takes Out Ad for Darfur Aid

Crusading actress Angelina Jolie plans to take out a large advertisement in USA Today next week, urging an end to the violence in Darfur, Sudan.The Tomb Raider star and United Nations Goodwill ambassador is preparing for the upcoming birth of her baby with Brad Pitt, but felt compelled to draw attention to the plight of people in Darfur.

Jolie tells People magazine, "I chose to take out this ad because when Congress returns from recess, they have the chance to fully fund peacekeepers in Darfur. "The situation in Darfur has been going on far too long. It's only getting worse. "Reports are pouring in about mass atrocities including children getting raped and killed. "If people are aware of the facts, I believe many will be driven to action."

The Mr. and Mrs. Smith star, who noted in the ad, "I'm an actress, and certainly no foreign policy expert," has visited the region twice--once in October 2004 and again in June 2005.

I like Angelina Jolie. I really do.

She’s beautiful, sexy, rich, and yet far from perfect. She tries to do good and has sincere intentions. She’s also, in my opinion, a bit koo koo. But that’s why women like Jennifer Maniston hate her. Angelina didn’t need surgery to get that face and she doesn’t need to breathe yoga and eat gym to maintain her body. How can any self-respecting L.A. girl who has her plastic surgeon in her speed dial not hate Angelina?

My one beef with the earth goddess Jolie is her way of trying to save the world—it just doesn’t convince me as efficient or intelligent. She’s an amazing woman, but doesn’t seem very smart.

When Angelina Jolie spoke in the UN Economic Conference in Switzerland a few months ago, she sounded simple, or simple in the category of a highschool debater compared to a masteral student defending his thesis. This extraordinarily beautiful woman looked ordinary because her words and the information she was sharing didn't strike me as critical information that would deserved space in a UN forum. She began to look simple to me. Her glaring American accent in a room of multi-lingual people did not help either. Even Bill Gates spoke another language (programming). I know a British accent doesn’t increase you I.Q. by 50% just because you can speak English from the dictionary, but listening to colloquial American accent (specifically L.A.) really affects one’s opnion on a person's analytical skills (thanks to Hollywood starlets for forever branding Los Angelinos). Average American English uses so many slangs and word mutation (Brilliant vs. cool; like vs. therefore) that it sounds inarticulate. But regardless of her accent, she just did not share useful information that is not quickly accessible through google. If she’s serious about being a credible voice in foreign policy agenda, then she should quit movies for a while and concentrate on educating herself more.

If you didn’t know she was Angelina, you wouldn’t understand why she was invited in the forum in the first place. I can read what she spoke about just by clicking on

I like Angie, but I think she shouldn’t be talking too much about foreign policy and simply just concentrate on letting her action speak for itself.

She’s no Bono. Bono is a damn intelligent person regardless of being a rock icon with all the preconceptions that goes along with the title. He’s well read, well informed, and analytical enough to impress even Bill Gates who doesn’t seem to have the inclination to associate with people who don’t fall within any of the ff category: his income bracket, visionary predisposition, or I.Q. level.

Yeah, I love Bono! He’s talented and intelligent and a strategist—what’s not to love?

Angie, you’re a good person, but don’t try to hard. It looks painful.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, shante'

look at the lights, not at my sister
designers and models take a bow
moi trying to work it?

I was thinking, should I write about something exotic? Something most people-- well, atleast most middle class asian people, have never experienced before? Should I write about my trip to the Altai mountains and the infamous Russian banya(sauna)?

That would be different, and so exotic you'd get rashes just thinking about it....

But, I was cleaning my room and found some great pictures of one of my trips to Hong Kong and I decided to shelve the Altai trip for next time.

These were taken during the Hong Kong Fashion week in January 2004. We were lucky enough to know the PR man (imagine an asian Samantha Jones--chic, sophisticated, sexy, and gay!) who handled the event. He gave me and my sister front row tickets for most of the fashion shows during the one week event. My sister is a major fashionista who can channel Nicole Ritchie, Kate Moss and Stella McCartney on any given mood or day. So it was a big deal to her, and it was a chance for me to pretend I can be vogue for a day!

We pretended to be young Anna Wintour wanna-bes when we assumed our VIP seats. Personally, I'm not much of a clothes horse(I cant do a Hollywood starlet lifestyle since I dont travel with an entourage), but it was a nice ride pretending to be VIPs in an international fashion event. After our 4th show, we joined Hong Kong and international fashionistas, magazine editors, buyers and designers for a nice champagne and hors'douvres cocktail. I felt so P. Diddy with the free flowing champagne.

The event was held in the city landmark, Hong Kong Convention Center in Wanchai.

Trust me, whenever I think of Hong Kong, I would so miss the smell of commerce and business. Even mega-Moscow didn't have that strong capitalist vibe like World City Hong Kong.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Russian Story

my pretty colleague, Katya Grebenshchnikova
planes and tanks of the Great Patriotic War (world war 2 as we know it) . This park is just a 3-minute walk from my apartment.

Novorsibirski Geroi (Novosibirsk heroes)

“It’s a story during the time of USSR,” Katya explained to me (as if it wasn’t obvious), as we queued towards the exit. “Do you know anything about Russian history?” she asked.
Shamefaced, I shook my head. I did not know a lot about Russian history except from the movies I saw, and the news that I watched on TV while growing up. I have never even finished reading War and Peace or opened the book Anna Karenina. “Russian people are required to read all the classics,” she told me.

“You mean you’ve read War and Peace, The Brother Karamazov, Onegin?” I asked incredulously. I was imagining the thick volumes of required reading Russian kids had to finish.

Katya nodded, “Of course.”

“And how was it?” I remember that Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were discussed and quizzed back in high school, but now I only have a vague memory of the books that are considered classic Filipino works and the depiction of our history.

“I like it, almost all of it,” Katya replied sincerely.

“You really liked it? Even if your teacher didn’t ask you to read it?” I had to be clear about this because from where I come from, reading the classics is not one of the to-do-list of young people.

“Yes, I read some of it more than once,” she replied casually, as if we were talking about Harry Potter instead of Russian literature.

I was left gaping.

“Russians like to read, and Russians read Russian.” Katya said proudly.

And so it seems that Katya was part of the majority and not an exemption. I’ve spoken to many young Russians during my stay and all the time they left me amazed, impressed, and also ashamed that they take their history, and Russian classics as a part of their identity and not merely relics of their past. They told me their heroes were the brave men from history who fought in wars to defend Mother Russia. The bronzed statues of hometown heroes are part of the itinerary when they show the tourists around the city because they are sincerely proud of these brave men long gone.

I remember walking down the main avenue of Krasny Prospekt one afternoon with my friend Andre and a Brasilian friend and all I wanted was to arrive to the bus stop so we could sit inside a martshrutka taxi (Russian version of the Philippine FX service vehicle) after walking 2 kms. But Andre was enthusiastic to play the local guide and kept showing the sights and explaining their history. When we were just 10 minutes from the Richnoi Vakzal bus stop, we passed by a statue located in the middle of Krasny Prospekt, placed in the center of an island. Andre slowed our pace and pointed to the statue. “Do you know who he is?” he asked.

The longer I was in Russia, the more stupid I felt for not reading and memorizing Russian History (a.k.a. “Before Putin was President”)
“No, I don’t know him,” I replied.
“Ahhhh, he’s the first Russian ace who downed a German fighter palne during the Great Patriotic War (that’s how they call WWII), and he’s also a son of Novosibirsk,” Andre explained.
A son of Novosibirsk. When have I ever heard someone call Jose Rizal a son of Calamba Laguna with so much pride?

Upon reflection, which I don’t do a lot lately, I know Russia is far from being described as a happy or even immigrant friendly country, and the vast land can really be harsh to less resilient people. But even with those factors and more, I can say that the Russians really know their history, have a strong sense of identity and pride in being Russians, and they love their language. There is no confusing hybrid of Renglish or Russian-English for these people. They probably produce the cheapest and biggest volumes of books I have seen in a developing country—all written in Russian, with people actually reading them beyond the classroom.

Back in the USSR

I worked in a media company in Russia and shared the room with the public relations and marketing department. I was fortunate that the PR ladies, Ina and Marina were one of the most sought-after teams in the city and they invited me to join some of their PR activities.

One event that I won’t forget was a musical that we attended for free because the girls were friends with one of the actors. I was excited to watch my first Russian musical even though I already saw a small college production 2 weeks after I arrived in the city. This was a major deal and it was a big budget production.
The musical was very popular and it was difficult to score tickets, and since we were attending the finale for the year, the audience attendance was up to the rafters. My colleague, a slim, brown-haired, doe-eyed girl named Katya was kind enough to act as my translator, or to at least try to translate the script and the lyrics for me.

We left the office at 17.00 and trooped inside Ina’s brand new left hand drive Toyota. Ina was just getting used to driving left hand so most of the 10 minute drive to the theater was hairy. We arrived at the theater a few minutes before curtain call. Once inside, it took us several minutes to find our seats because there were just too many people, and even with the crisp weather of late spring, we actually needed airconditioning because the theater was stuffy.

Presently, I could not recall the details of the musical, but the theme was unsurprisingly about the peasant revolt during the time of communism. It was surreal listening to an all Russian musical, and watching the colorful costumes, and the amazing set display that portrayed Russia before the fall of communism. I could distinctly remember the tanks, the ax and sickle, the peasant costumes, the soldier uniforms, the loud marching beats, the grand chorus, and the blazing red flag of the former Soviet Union. It was a pity that I could not understand the words because I felt dislocated whenever the audience laughed from the dialogues, or when I saw my colleague discreetly wiping away a tear during one of the songs, or when every one stood up to a rousing applause after the finale. The production was grand and they did not spare on the sound system and the orchestra, so every beat and me

Saturday, April 15, 2006

SK Telecom

It's pathetic.

One of the most exciting memories of travelling to Russia is the stopover in Incehon Airport, Seoul, South Korea. How sad is that? I was going to a land that may as well be Mars to most Filipinos, but what I was itching to see was Incheon International Airport.

I was air sick almost the entire flight from Manila to Korea and I hadn't even noticed the cute Korean guy sitting beside me. You only see in movies or read in books that a woman actually gets to sit beside a cute guy in an airplane, and it happened to me when I was green with airsicknes. Well, I was such in a bad shape that I didn't care if the man thought I looked wretched because I felt like hell.

I arrived in Incehon at 5.30am. My legs felt like jelly, my head was swimming, and my stomach was still somewhere over Taiwan when I disembarked from the tarmac. I thought that nothing was going to make me feel the slightest bit better as I walked miserably towards the transfer desk. Russia? Siberia? What the hell was I getting myself into? I couldn't even survive a flight to Seoul, and its been my goal to go to South Korea since falling like a headless chicken for Bi.

And then I saw him. or saw it.

There on my left, dominating the the middle section of a twenty feet high wall, was a lighted billboard of Bi smiling down on passengers while holding an SK telecom cellphone. I swear, my headache vanished and I stupidly felt like smiling back at him.

Friday, April 14, 2006

From Russia, with no love

Lets get the bad part over with.

Before I can really share my Russian experience, I have to get over one major obstacle. It was an incident that forever changed my perception of travel and precaution: no matter how experienced you are and well prepared, at the end of the day, you are still a stranger in a strange land.

It was Saturday and I wanted to go to the city center. I lived 30km from the city, in a district called Cafe Ogonyok. Going to my apartment, you have to travel south from the city where there are more trees than houses, apartments, and people. It felt like living in a forest with just a cluster of buildings in the center.
ANyway, one Saturday just a month since arriving in Novosibirsk, I decided to go to the city. My Russian was sufficient enough to communicate for commute-- "Skolka?" (How much? "Spasiba" (Thank you), "etta" (here).

I alighted in Richnoi Vakzal(River Port) Metro Station to take the train going to Ploshad Lenina, the main stop in the city. Just after dropping my token on the machine, it took less than a minute when I suddenly felt a kick behind my left thigh. I turned around and saw 3 youths (age guess is between 17-21), 2 girls and a guy, and they were shouting at me. At first I thought it was a case of mistaken identity, but before I could do more than shout the instinctive, "What!" one girl punched me on the face. I didn't fall down, and when I saw their faces, I saw all three were laughing. Since I didn't know how to say, "Help, some fuckers are going to beat the shit out of me," I ran to the nearest Metro personnel I saw. I mimicked a punch on my face to explain to her why I was anxious and I pointed to the 3 youths who were still hanging around and looking at my reaction.

The lady official didn't speak english, but probably understood enough, so she she stood up and started walking towards the hooligans. When the group saw this, they turned and ran. We ran to catch them and we did. When the lady official started speaking to them, I knew without speaking Russian that they were vehemently denying everything. When the lady official turned to ask for assistance from the other guards, the 3 bolted and ran to the exit. I ran after them, and when I was close enough to grab one of the girls, the guy with them grabbed my shoulder and pushed me several times. In the end, the stupid guards weren't able to catch the three hooligans.

They brought me to the metro security station for "questioning." No one spoke a word of english, and my Russian was just on the baby gibberish level. The station was small, with one sad looking ceiling fan desperately trying to pretend it could ventilate the stuffy interior. There was one desk, and a stern looking and shaved-head militsya (police) seated behind it and was trying to ask me questions in Russian. I saw that there was cell just across me to the left--to hold whatever culprit they would be lucky enough to catch, or someone stupid enough to be caught by an inept militsya. There was a small bulletin board hanging on the wall near the entrance with some official looking documents written in unreadable (at that time) cyrillic characters.

It was the first time in all my travels, which began when I was 8 years old and my parents brought me to America for my first vacation abroad, that I felt scared and alone being so far away from home. It was that moment that I knew I was going to cry for the first time because I was afraid to be in another country. I realized the cocoon of safety developed through experience and smarts that a seasoned traveller convinces himself to have is actually just a flimsy rationalization of the mind. I was in Siberia, I have not seen any foreigner aside from myself, no spoke a language I could communicate with, and I was alone in a Russian jail because I was attacked out of a sick whim by the locals. I was a city girl, cautious of city crimes like pickpockets, holdaps, kidnaps, stealing....but I was not expecting nor prepapred to experience a race crime.

In the end, the guy from the company who picked me up from the station advised me it was useless to file charges because 1.) the police wouldn't be able to catch the hoologans anyway, the security cameras in the metro station dont work, so there was no way to identify them, 2.) even if the 3 were caught by some miracle, they only need to pay 200rubles each to bribe the police and they walk.

Scent and Sensibility

I'm squeezed in between a girl who stands 5'11 and another one at 5'8

Applying for a Russian visa is pretty much the primer for any tourist, worker, or expat, of his future in Russia. Application is long, tedious, chaotic, and sometimes, even shaddy. I had to wait for 2 months to get my visa, and during those two months, my co-applicants became my comrades. We all experienced the same shit and insanities of application, so inevitably, we shared some personal stories about each other. I met a lady who said she was going to work in a Moscow Citibank branch, and a met I couple of seamen who were going to be stationed somewhere north in the eastern region of Russia.

Most of the applicants were not first timers, and they shared their personal experiences to me-- the novice, the virgin, the first timer. The men told me Russian women were beautiful and tall, but smelled funky. I already heard some stories about Russians and their propensity for the musky dizzying type of oflactory stimulation, so I wasn't suprised. I figured, the cold climate probably turned them off from bathing. I promised myself that as long as humanly possible without killing myself, I will continue to be hygenic even in Siberia (read: I will take a bath once a day).

So I arrived in Siberia, and indeed, I saw women that could be trees and some who could give Angelina Jolie a run for her money. I'm Asian, so I'm considered slim in Western countries like Europe and America, but in Siberia, I was just average. A big letdown on my smugness.

But what about the smell? The infamous funky smell?

Well, I arrived early spring, so it was still very cold. I suppose making a daily excursion to the shower and hand washing your clothes with freezing fingers did not appeal to Russians. I was so paranoid that I would start smelling like the general population that I overdid washing my laundry (My first apartment had a washing machine) and of course, bathing was never a question. It was so surreal when I decided to eat my Kimchi noodles inside the office, and my not-so-fresh-smelling colleague in the next cubicle kept giving me the evil eye. I asked him if my noodles smelled bad, and he replied sarcastically, "Well, its not the best smell in the world." My eyes almost bulged out from their sockets. He had the gall to tell me this when I dont even have to see him to know that he has entered the room because I can already smell him a few meters away!

So, inspite of looking like Slavic goodesses who lost their way from the catwalk and ended up in the streets with normal people, I always knew that I smelled better than my Russian counterparts. (ok, bitch alert)

Then again, maybe they thought I had a weird smell because I smelled of soap?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Phi Phi and Bi

I've been to Phuket.

It may not be as exotic as Russia or Siberia, but it is a big deal to me.
Did I go crazy becuase of the beaches? The night life? The resort?

All three were great, but we have all those in the Philippines.

The real big deal was because of 2 reasons:
1.) I encountered those horrid sea lice that made snack on my skin and left me with more spots than a leopard.
2.) Bi went to Phuket as well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Russians can teach the French a thing or two

Time Magazine Online
The New Land of Opportunity

(my comments in brown font)

Posted Sunday, Apr. 09, 2006

I have a modest suggestion for how to end France's impasse over youth job contracts: the French government should pay for a group of student leaders to spend a couple of weeks in Yekaterinburg. It wouldn't cost much, since there's now a cheap direct flight to and from Paris operated by Ural Airlines (slogan: your dreams. our wings.)

Yekaterinburg is Russia's fifth largest city, about the size of Marseilles and Lyons combined. Assuming the French students have an open mind, they should be astonished, unsettled and perhaps a little ashamed of what they find there. The under-25s in Yekaterinburg dress much the same way and listen to some of the same music as those in Lyons and Marseilles, but they live in a world that couldn't be more different. In today's Russia, nothing is easy but everything is possible; in France, by contrast, everything is easy but nothing is possible.

(I was in Russia when the bird flu first entered the country. The entry point was Novosibirsk where I lived. Coincidentally, I was also in Paris during the height of the riots. Two very tense events, but very different reactions from the French and the Russians. I totally agree that European and Russian youths may look the same, but they have little in common. The Russians handled the entry of the asian virus in their territory with pragmatism and none of the hysterics that I saw when I was in Europe. Barely anyone spoke about chickens or sickness in Novosibirsk even when the health department officially acknowledge that the Avian virus has entered Russia. It's hard to shock these sturdy Russians).

There is zero job security in Yekaterinburg. France has a plethora of long-term, short-term, temporary and limited work contracts that are at the heart of the current dispute. Russia in theory has a civil code that lays down workers' rights, but in practice you get hired the same way you get fired, at the snap of a finger. Précarité, the word that brings millions of young French people out into the streets, is the norm there. Forget about a pension big enough to retire on—you have 40 years to figure that out. Health care is more problematic, since getting sick puts you on the fast track to poverty. If you're unlucky, your employer runs out of money to pay you. If you're really unlucky, you get caught in the middle of an extortion racket. But if it all works out—as it increasingly does—you get to shape your own future in a way French kids would envy.
(the joke between us foreigners in Russia was that you could hardly recognize a millionaire in Russia except in Moscow. Many Millionaires were blue collar workers during the Soviet Union who made strategic, if shady, connections and started buying companies at dirt cheap prices through these connections during perestroika).

First of all, there's plenty of work. Youth unemployment is about 23% in France, and almost 1 in 10 school leavers does not have a permanent job five years after taking the baccalaureate. In Yekaterinburg, being out of work is a luxury few can afford. The demand for energetic young people is so high that ads for the best jobs scroll along the bottom of prime-time programs on local TV. A free newspaper with job openings, the Urals Work Weekly, would be as thick as the yellow pages if such a phone book existed. Russia hasn't yet discovered equal opportunity laws, so most jobs stipulate that only those under 30 or 35 need apply. Then there's the range of opportunity. Want to become a sushi chef, a marketing consultant or a bank manager? No problem. No previous experience required. Nobody else in the country knows how to do those jobs either. Or why not set up your own business? There's no shortage of people willing to lend you money. (But watch out for those extortionists.)

Tatiana Bildyug, to take but one example, is in her early 20s and switched from accountant at a uranium-processing factory to development director of a shopping mall. The pay's not much better, but the job is a lot more dynamic and fun, she says. That sort of career move is typical of this generation, the first truly post-Soviet Russians. They are the best customers at Pavel V. Kukarskikh's string of restaurants in town, and the only people he will consider hiring. "The young want to live well," he says. "They have a taste for life. In 15 to 20 years they'll be running the country, and that's good." (Here's another interesting feature in the Russian workforce. Since capitalism is young, few people have the educational foundation which prepare them to work in a post-communist Russia. I met people who worked in international trade but didnt have the educational qualifications for the demanding position. They got the jobs because they could speak a language aside from Russian, thus, capable of communicating with foreigners).

It could all go wrong, of course. Even if it does, Yekaterinburg's youngsters are unlikely to copy the French and stage rallies demanding that the government provide long-term job security. Russians have already been there and done that. It was called communism, and after 74 years of failing to make it work, they dumped it. Once French student leaders have soaked up this atmosphere, I would expect them to be asking themselves some difficult questions. Viewed from Yekaterinburg, French kids are far better off than they realize. You don't go hungry if you're unemployed. Everyone has access to a wealth of social and health benefits that Russians can only dream of. If anything, the French are too well off. A 2005 poll shows that 76% of French 15- to 30-year-olds aspire to civil-service jobs from which it's virtually impossible to be fired. But if you don't take risks when you're young, when will you? Russia's total precariousness is scary. But France's total absence of it is almost as bad. It's a recipe for stagnation. In 15 to 20 years, some of those millions of French students who are taking to the streets today will be running France. Only a foolhardy gambler would bet that they'll do a better job than their Russian contemporaries. (too bad I did not have the chance to go to Yekaterinburg. It's 2 days by train from Novosibirsk, and circumstances back then were too crazy for me to make a short stop in the Urals before heading to Moscow)

taken from:,8599,1181588,00.html

No escaping the Rain

I work as a freelance writer for a couple of magazines. One of them is a music magazine. So being that I am crazy over a certain singer, how can I not squeeze him in as the subject of one of my articles?

SO I did.

It was pretty straighforward reporting, but it was hell for me to be objective and not salivate over my words.

But I managed to do it! Fighting!

Monday, April 10, 2006


What does a person need to know about Russia that I failed to prepare for when I left? Let me enumerate:

1.) Expect a lot of bribery: This should be a breeze to the average Filipino because this country’s government and bureucracy practically patented a brand for bribery. Philippine politicians and police should feel right at home in Russia.
--Bribe the guards of the Russian embassy so you can submit your visa application before your 50th birthday, or before GMA resigns—whichever comes first
--Bribed the guards so you can receive your visa before you turn 50 or before GMA resigns.
--Bribe the guards…..ok, I think you get the idea.

2.) Bring your passport, visa, and resident permit all the time when you’re in RUssia. The Russian police (militsya) are everywhere and they can randomly choose anyone they see and ask for all three documents. If you can’t produce them, be ready to bribe the policeman 100-200rubles (200-400pesos) or be detained in jail where you have to pay a bigger fine. Sounds close to home?

3.) Learn Russian if you are going to Russia alone. Majority (around 98%) of RUssians, even the newly moneyed Moscovites, do not speak or understand English. If you want to survive and be able to buy products for yourself, you need to learn RUssian and be able to read their Cyrillic alphabet. I practically lived as a mute in my first 2 months there because I could barely speak to anybody.

4.) Be vigilant, don’t be stupid: Even if the Russian Government PR (public relations) machine claim until Siberia stops having -40C winters that news about racism and race-related harassments in Russia are exaggerated, do not easily believe these spin doctors. I personally experienced being physically assaulted by a group of Russian teenagers for absolutely no reason. These youth gangs are notorious in harassing, hurting, and sometimes killing foreigners, especially those who are non-whites—the darker skin your skin, the more dangerous for you.

5.) Washing machines are a luxury. Even in a country notorious for its freezing winters, it is mind boggling how RUssians often wash their clothes using their hands under negative temperature. I keep imagining frostbitten hands trying to wash a bunch of shirts. Washing machines are so sought-after amongst our group of foreigners. I could pull the hair of any of my friends who were lucky enough to get a flat with a washing machine. Sometimes, we would be so overwhelmed to see a revered washing machine, our eyes would practically tear up in awe.

6.) They do have summers. Yes, the temperature can rise high enough between late July to early August for you to wear shorts. During these short months, be ready to see a lot of skin on display in Russia—I mean A LOT. The summer is Siberia was very hot, but the air is dry, so the heavy feeling you experience in ASia due to the humidity is not a problem in Russia.

7.) Men will introduce themselves to you anywhere except the women’s bathroom. DO not immediately scream “harassment” when guys suddenly talk to you in the streets, ask for your number, walk alongside with you, or have a car with a bunch of men follow you while they ask for an introduction. I was so freaked out the first month when this happened, I would accent my “foreigness” (Ya nee gavaroo pa-Ruski: I do not speak Russian) as my excuse to ignore them.

Gdyeh doma? Where's my home?

My apartment building, in Ulitsa Titova (Titova Street). I live on the top floor.
see the laundry hanging? I handwash (no washing machine)no matter how tired I am or how cold it is.
my flat in Novosibirsk

I work so I can travel and meet a lot of people.
I’ve had a brief insane period where I tried to pretend I could be a researcher, and it was a disaster. I stayed at the office everyday, surfing the net and reading magazines as research materials for the book I was drafting for my then-employer. Suffice to say, the claustrophobia of staying within the walls of my cubicle proved to be too much for me.

So I left to work in Russia. I went to Siberia, the hinterlands of the giant Russian Federation and just up the northern borders of Kazakhstan and Mongolia’s mountainous region. How did a media and communications person like me end up in what seems to be the middle of nowhere of planet earth? It was probably rebellion from the suffocating confines of my yuppie Manila life, and the exhaustion from the nauseating corrupt politics deeply embedded in Philippine society. I was disillusioned, tired, and cynical—I needed to get out.

And indeed I left the Philippines for the last place on earth any twenty-something city girl (even if the city is in a 3rd world country) would choose to relocate—The capital of SIberia in the former Soviet Union: Novosibirsk.

He's a whole lotta spice! (Hotter than Kimchi)

During my entire stay in Russia, my gonads were in hybernation. Not one Russian guy whom I've met could shake them off their lethargy. Suffice to say, I was in need of serious stimulation in Russia.

Maybe I'm just not attracted to white guys. I am not being racist, its just like saying I am not attracted to pretty boys (read: prettier than a girl) or loud boneheads.

Then again, maybe because of this certain sexual animal called Bi. He's Korean.

This is not meant to be a dirty little diary of sexual fantasies about Bi, but he's a man that certainly elicits fantasies ranging from a schoolgirl's innocent crush, to a mature woman's leading man in classier version of a Paris Hilton sex tape.
Bi has the gift of illusion. In him, women see the promise of hot mind boggling sex. And where else aside from Cosmo magazine do you find that?

I can imagine most older women were fantasizing when they saw Uma Thurman's movie "Prime" where 37 year old Uma carried a hot and heavy affair with a 23 year old guy . The idea of having a firm, strong, young and energetic flesh at your beck and call is fabulous in itself, but imagine that young man--with all the vibrance that youth brings-- is not only hot, but doesn't have the gaucheness and insecurity of a novice.

A dream lover, no doubt.
He's fresh and young, but not too enexperienced that you have to do most of the work; he is youthful, yet mature, playful yet focused.

It's the perfect man. And Bi gives the illusion of being all that and more.

He is unabashedly sexual when he performs and his moves promise any woman in the audience that in private, he can do even more because no one else is watching and his focus is solely on you. He walks around comfortably in his uniform wifebeater even when you think he should put more clothes on when he's out in public. Yet, his body language tellingly says, "I dont give a shit"---and that is so hot.Yet, he will contradict his potent careless sex appeal by giving shy little smiles and polite replies to questions when he's around adoring fans or when being stalked by the public and the media.

Whatever he is, the women who are not close friends and family have already painted a graphic picture of him in their minds that only becomes raunchier as Bi grows more into a man.

What women think(not even my words):

--we all know that every Biers in here wants to atleast DO him once!!but u know if we get the chance to have a night with Bi im sure its not just ONCE but as many times he can DO!!!

--Yup. Just give me the sex.

--That clean just-out-of-shower look makes me want to dirty him...

Every woman deserves to experience those grinding hips atleast once in her life. In case I haven't been explicit, let me say it plainly -- this man is HOT.

Welcome to Siberia

The City Center and where I worked. I have never seen so many old cars in one place before.
A Russian Orthodox Church in the middle of the main avenue Krasny Prospekt
Ploshad Lenina (Lenin Square) is just a 10 mins walk from my office

As a primer, here are some of the pictures of Novosibirsk Siberia, Russia, where I spent half a year in 2005.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why bother?

Why do I bother to write when there are millions other blogs out there?

Well, like the next person, I want others to know I exist.

Why would you be interested to know I exist?

I've travelled a lot, and some of those places, I bet most of the people out there have never been before. Out of curiousity or sheer boredom, I know some of you would like to know about it. And for those who are more inquisitive, yes I will tell you--I plan to travel a whole lot more. It's my thing.

What else will I write about?

The hottest man in the planet for me right now.
He's Korean,
he's a shade over six feet,
and he moves his body like nobody's business.

He's so hot, he gives me fever.

What else?

bitching, most likely.