Never Too Old for BMX

 

The first quarter of this year was when I made my slow return to riding my BMX bike again. Our new place is less than five kilometers from a park where local BMX riders hang around. While my riding sessions haven’t been as regular as more than 20 years ago, I once again become aware and interested in the country’s and international BMX scene. And I can see that BMX sport continues to evolve. BMX riders are now more daring and the new tricks they can do are just unreal. My favorite flatland isn’t the flatland that I used to know. Good signs that behind the seemingly common fixies, MTB’s and Triathlon bikes, BMX too has become just as popular.

To prove that local BMX is gaining grounds, riders in the Philippines have been celebrating BMX day. It isn’t clear though when it first started. Even Google doesn’t offer a definite answer if, when and where the first BMX day originated. But July 23 seems to be the D-Day. So on Saturday riders of BMX bikes in the country gathered together in their respective rendezvous. Fans and pros alike pedaled around in numbers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to celebrate. Knowing the potential of this sport, I would have loved to be part of this celebration.

Back in my younger years, we never had an annual BMX day event. In my days, every weekend is our BMX day and, for the lack of Facebook and social media, I only know that our team was the only BMX freestyler (hint on the term) team in Bacolod City. I even would bet that in the city’s BMX community anyone would recognize the name Linear Radicals. We were a familiar sight in the Bacolod City Lagoon—bikes were allowed inside back then. People stop and stare when we start jamming around. We would make heads turn when we do impromptu tricks in the crowded streets during the MassKara festival. There was even a time when we packed our bikes in a small pickup truck and headed somewhere far north to be part of a town’s fiesta. There was another team who did the racing event but ours took over the stunt show. Modesty aside, for once, we were famous in our own rights.

Not me, not my pic. (Image from the web.)

Fast forward to 2016, the BMX scene changed a lot. Think of heavy black rotary phone versus sleek smartphones. Change was rad. I remember the first time we saw on Betamax the first time an American perfected the tailwhip air on a vert ramp but locals nowadays can pop one from a bunnyhop. It is just unbelievable to see that the BMX flatland tricks my generation once do are now considered basics. The scuff tricks are now used to progress to far more technical rolling tricks. Even young riders nowadays would transition from one trick to another through a short squeakerson, front yard, backyard, or funky chicken. And did I mention they do all these brakeless?

My own old  bike turned brakeless.

While the BMX flatland tricks have become more complicated, the BMX parts and its setup is the opposite. It is now common to see totally brakeless bikes which means brake levers, calipers and detanglers are starting to be obsolete. BMX flatland riders also now prefer chainwheels with only 25 teeth and they have also set the seat lower than before. With lesser and smaller yet better parts, what’s left is the basic bike that is less cumbersome thus making it an effective street or BMX flatland bike. Despite its simplicity, prices do not come cheap. Popular price range is 10,000-20,000 pesos.

The BMX sport will surely get better and bigger. In the Philippines alone, popular riders like Paulo Gepulango (proudly from Bacolod) and Renz Viaje, who in the recent years joined an It’s Showtime contest, continue to inspire new generations of BMX flatland riders. There’s also this promising BMX team in Bohol who made me realize that there’s more to this place than just its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers—I would definitely try to find where they hang out if I get the chance to travel down south.

Philippine BMX flatland videos always zap me back in time when all we care about is BMX (yup, I’ve skipped classes for it).  Every time I see one makes a part of me a very young boy eager to get on a bike to see if I can pop a wheelie for starters but another part an old man conceding that what these young lads do aren’t for me anymore.  By the way, those guys I hang out with in Tanauan are half my age so I guess I could claim to be their father of BMX. Regardless, I think nobody is too old for BMX so I will remain to be a big fan of this sport and would like to continue seeing more of it. To old-schoolers and young BMX riders alike, more power.

 

This was also posted on Flatmode Philippines (Official). Paulo Gepulango is this FB page’s admin.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Almost on tip-top shape.)

 

 

Old School Flatland, Anyone?

I have found my second lagoon. In my younger years I hang out a  lot with my friends in Bacolod Lagoon to kill time with our bikes and to test ourselves if we can mimic what we saw on BMX Trix 101. I can’t recall if it’s on Betamax or VHS format, definitely not on disc, but it’s the only video source we have back then–YouTube wasn’t around yet. I continued with freestyle until before I got married in 1996.

Years later, I would soon find myself on my twenty-year old Haro bike, stepping on its pegs, figuring out if I can still do either the scuff or rolling tricks that I like to do. And I still can. I am now in the midst of the new generation riders—and I’m lost in their lingo and the names of the famous riders they know. These guys use bikes with small sprockets, low seats, and mostly brakeless. I have an old school setup. One remarked that my Spintech detangler is now only available on eBay. My freestyle bike is the heaviest. But yes, I am among the few here who can do flatland. The rest do street.

I am now on my third week of mingling with whoever is at the Tanuan plaza–yesterday we transferred to their other location as a political campaign was ongoing. I have a list of routines to recover but I was able to do a satisfactory frontyard yesterday and I got a short clip of myself doing a backwards forkwheelie. Need to avoid skinny jeans though.

***

To be with other BMX riders is already almost home but to speak with others in my own dialect makes it a lot better. I did not expect that here in Batangas I would meet others who are from either Ilo-ilo or Bacolod. The guy who can do time machine is from Ilo-ilo while the one from Bacolod (he’s here for a vacation) rides with one of the current popular riders, Paulo Gepulango, who happens to be a friend of a Facebook friend. My FB friend is the son of one of my best friends and BMX teammate. Then last week, I was in bike shop whose owner and their mechanic are from Negros Occidental, too. Small world?

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I need a bike rack so I can take Marcus and his wheelchair with me.)

New home sweet home

New home sweet home. (Pic from wifey’s Instagram)

The day we leave our old house eventually came. Waiting for it to happen made the past seven months after we started the deal feel like a year but the last few weeks were the hardest for me, if not for the three of us. Everything was running thin, patience and finances. Silent prayers became more frequent than before.

Luckily, my in-laws did not hesitate to take charge while the payment for our house is still pending. Some extended financial help, the others manpower, and some provided whatever support to keep the house construction run parallel along our selling process.

The paranoid in me would like to believe that the construction was made covert from our other neighbors, although the sight of me every Saturday coming in and out of the house to load our trusty sedan with boxes would have been pretty obvious that something was going on. Everything was like clockwork every weekend: I take a relatively short sleep coming from graveyard shift; we box; we go transfer stuffs. This activity carried on early December until the second week of March. The only time we stopped was during Christmas vacation. (Thank God, I was never sick but Marcus skipped two weeks of tagging along as he had asthma attack later part of January and needs to stay behind with her mommy to recover.)

Now the fruit of everyone’s labor is finished. What started as a draft on yellow paper is now a house and this new house is now our new home. While it isn’t a lot bigger, it is definitely better than before as we designed it to give access to Marcus as much as possible by having wider doors, bigger toilet, ramp, etc. It is still doesn’t  second floor–we didn’t want can’t afford it. Admittedly, there are flaws, not one house is perfect anyway, and the longer I stare at it, the more I see the would-have-better-ifs–most I could live with but others would need to be corrected soon. That’s probably how it goes when one moves and starts all over again.

For now, the whole process is reversed. There are still boxes to be unpacked, stuffs that need to be found among the pile of packages but these are problems I’d like to have. Yes, we have moved out of our home for almost 16 years in Cavite and now reside in Batangas. New neighbors, new routine, new life.

***

After my first five working days coming from this new place, the car remains unharmed. Few more backing in and driving out and I should get used to parking in our tight space.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Finally, a normal Saturday.)

Goodbye Bad Hair Day

Shameless selfie.

What was supposed to be a short trip with Marcus to a sari-sari store to buy a Coke led to something else. This was after I realized that the stores I used to know near wifey’s place have either closed or have ran out of softdrinks. And so moving farther we eventually reached the area close the barber shop where we both get cheap haircut whenever in Batangas. Feeling the late afternoon heat I decided that it was the best time to get a haircut. Or rather something shorter, cleaner–a bald head.

It was my first time to have my head shaved cleanly. I was excited, Marcus was curious. I can see him watch from a bench behind me with a funny expression when the barber started using his razor to remove slowly every bit of my hair that was left by the clipper. At some point I was thinking if I should, or could, still stop the barber from proceeding further as he slowly exposes my scalp. But it was over soon. Barely ten minutes after I saw nothing but shiny flesh.

Stepping out of the barber was weird. So was walking back to wifey’s place. And I had that same feeling when I finally arrived home that night and stared longer at myself in the mirror wondering once more if I regret the new look. Then there’s that anxiousness showing up at work bald for the very first time. Thankfully I got over it sooner than expected. It was just a matter of meeting every people I know and showing them the new me–whether they like it or not.

Since then, a month and two weeks after, I have learned to love being bald even if it takes new routines to maintain it.  I don’t know if I should be glad that my hair all over my head still grows fast as it requires me shave my head every other day just to stay bald. I have yet to perfect shaving it myself so every now and then I get those nasty cuts especially if I do it in a hurry. And while I have lessened my need for shampoo, my head needs an aftershave and a lotion to prevent it from flaking and razor rash. Right now I use wifey’s lotions, good thing she doesn’t have those with strong scents that I smell at work, but the internet tells me that there are products appropriate for bald heads.  Well, there’s always a price to pay for everything, a price for saying, “goodbye bad hair day!”

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Car needs battery.)

Learning from two inuman

While I was in high school, I have this scroll hung up in my room: 

If we drink, we get drunk

If we get drunk, we fall asleep

If we fall asleep, we don’t sin

If we don’t sin, we go to heaven

So let’s all drink and go to heaven.

I never knew what it meant then (just like any other framed messages we once had) and I never knew that someday, it will be one of my favorite poems. I don’t know who put it up on my cabinet’s door: if I get the clue from the word drink, it might have been my older brother or father; if I get the clue from the last word, heaven, it could have been my mother. Whoever it was, I owe you one.

***

Yesterday, I had another drinking session in my wife’s place in Batangas. I was with the usual suspects, my brother in-laws. The session went on as predictable as it always was – bottle of beer, pitcher, tagay glass, pulutan (finger foods) and stories that goes along with all of it. Everything went perfectly well as if a script was followed but not until before everyone called it a night. One of my in-laws suddenly said, “Cris, sensya ka na, lagi kaming ganito, maingay…at pansin ko tahimik ka lang lagi (I apologize, if we are always like this, noisy, but this is just the way we are…and by the way, I always notice that you don’t speak up a lot).” It was a drunken remark, but I smiled back and answered nevertheless.

Kuya, ok lang sa akin, sa totoo lang gusto ko lagi nakikinig sa usapan kasi natututo ako (It’s okay, in fact, I like listening to such conversations as I always learn from it),” was my reply, drunken as well, but well meant. It is every time that I get the chance to join them in their inuman (drinking) sessions that I get to know them better and especially how they live their everyday lives; that no matter how humble it is, they seem to be contented at the end of each day. More so, I always secretly admire how some of them, married and with kids, and with just enough income still manages to make both ends meet. All these interactions make me put myself in their shoes, sober or not, and ask myself, “kaya ko ba maging katulad nila (can I be just like them)?”

Well, until now, I can’t seem to honestly answer that, although I hope I will, soon enough, with a confident yes. I know it’s a tall order for me to adjust to that level of contentment, but I think I need to before it’s too late. They say that man is never contented, but with each drinking session I spend with my in-laws I really beg to disagree because if there’s someone I’m so envy at right now, it’s not the rich but it’s the contented. Cheers to that.

***

I had another drinking session just last Tuesday but this time it’s just the complete opposite of the Batangas setting in so many ways. I was with several perfect strangers, classy place and perfect ambiance with free good food and beer. I was in Rockwell Club Makati.

What’s more interesting about that session was that it’s a class activity wherein we were allowed by our professor to stay with our group, have dinner outside the campus but with just a couple of conditions: discuss our life book among our group mates and just come back sober.

I was with a diverse group made up of a military major, someone close to the Manila mayor, a Chinese expat, a BPO personnel (who sponsored the free dinner) and a bum – well, that would be me. It was quite an interesting exchange that although there’s an obvious difference between one another’s story each was able to somehow relate to it – the struggles, the challenges, new experiences, having connections, etc. (It was during the class wrap up that we all learned what was common – Feelings. Simple yet, very well true).

An hour and a half later we were back to the classroom with me following our professor’s first condition but violating the first. Hahaha. Isn’t MBA fun?

 

 

(Posted from Sn. Vicente, Batangas)

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

 

 

 

One drinking session and Two phone calls later

 

Last Saturday was the one of those days that everything that has happened are in my favor. By lunch time we were in San Miguel, Batangas to attend the town fiesta at my in-laws’ place. And as usual the variety of fiesta foods were once again overwhelming and as usual, the promise to be on a diet has to be sidestepped – both to my delight and guilt.

Of course, fiestas here are never without a drinking session and this time, I’m all for it with only the thought of doing the tagay (a practice of passing drink to everyone around the table using only one glass) holding me back. But the gloomy and the scattered rain showers made the setting even more perfect and justifiable; and with the overused dialogue, “malamig eh, painit tayo, tara na inom (it’s cold, let’s get warm by drinking)” making the alcohol intake a definite go.

As expected the drinking session went on like an ever familiar routine: an ice-filled pitcher is filled with beer; a tanggero (one who distributes the tagay) religiously passing the drinks to one drinker at a time; and of course my favorite, other than having the beer, is eating the pulutan (finger foods) which is normally pork in any form. And among the pulutan that day was dinakdakan (recipe originally from Ilocos) which is made of pork meat, pork brain, spices and coconut milk. Yes it’s cholesterol-filled, but then again it’s one of life’s guilty pleasures.

My alcohol binge however was abruptly disturbed by two separate calls. The first one was from our time sharing company – RCI — and although the agent sounded a little bit apologetic for the news she’s about to deliver, I on the other end of the line was glad that there might be some cancellation on our resort reservation which my wife and I discussed a day before to delay just so I can attend my first two MBA classes in Ateneo (I didn’t know that it will start this May instead of June). The resort in Bolinao didn’t give any commitment yet if when they’ll be able to fix what was affected by the tropical storm Emong but I’m OK with the delay nevertheless.

A few hours and several rounds of tagay later came the most welcomed call. It was a phone interview from a call center company I’m applying for. I don’t know my alcohol level at that time, but if my judgment serves me right, I was at least within driving tolerance – I was thinking then that if I can drive sanely, then most likely I can accommodate and answer the phone interview and hopefully, pass. Well, several spoken English later, I was right. I was given an invitation for a written examination somewhere in one of the towers in Makati next week. If only personal job interviews can be done while under the influence of alcohol, I think I’ll be hired. Hahaha.

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Memories from the car clutter

 

Yesterday I finally had the time to vacuum the interior of the car. I’ve washed its exterior at least twice in a month but the hectic schedule and the crazy weather prevented me from taking the vacuum cleaner out of the house and into the car. Yesterday, everything was perfect: sun’s up, I woke up early, and nothing more to do but clean.

The interior, in my own standards, was in a total mess. The carpets had all sort of dirts – grass, dust, sand and gravel. On the leather seats were materials that the CSIs would love to have (the only missing are those that would glow under the black light). And in the trash bins were candy wrappers, crumpled toll gate tickets and wet wipes that have gone bone dry just short of being fossilized. It’s weird but over the loud and monotonous buzz of the vacuum cleaner I was reminiscing what we’ve recently been through with our grayish car – and most of the time, Marcus was with us.

 

 

One grumpy clutter monster.

One grumpy clutter monster - won't take a sit at his own seat and loves rearranging the stuff toys.

Mary, our car’s name, has sent us to several domestic destinations already within a month: a couple of places in (and back and forth trips) Batangas, Bacolod and Subic.

 

1. Munting Buhaning, Nasugbu 2. Balulan, Manapla, Neg. Occ. 3. Resort somewhere in Bitin Bay, Laguna 4. Subic Park Hotel

1. Munting Buhaning, Nasugbu 2. Balulan, Manapla, Neg. Occ. 3. Resort somewhere in Bitin Bay, Laguna 4. Subic Park Hotel

Although I wish I could have brought the car with us in Bacolod thru the RORO ferries, it was with us at least until Park N Fly where it stayed and accumulated dust because of the offsite (parked outside the covered area) parking during that time due to the peak vacation season.

Mary also endured the twists and turns and the continually changing lanes of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) due to the ongoing constructions. It likewise muscled its way up and down the undulating road going to Munting Buhangin beach in Nasugbu, Batangas. 

 

I cant resist but grab the cam and take this picture while driving.

I can't resist but grab the cam and take this picture of one portion of the SCTEX while driving.

And the recent long distance trip to Subic was tiring yet at the same time satisfying because of the perfect road conditions of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the newly opened Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the Americanized traffic standards of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) free port where I gladly complied and actually loved the “first to stop, first to go” or what I’ve known from training as the “first-at-the-intersection” rule.

Some of the Pictures taken in Subic.

Some of the Pictures taken in Subic.

It took me about 30 minutes just to put everything in order inside Mary. Now, Marcus’ stuff toys are standing upright; and the China-made Tigger is once again back hanging on the ceiling; the old gas station receipts have been removed and accounted for, and the dashboard dials are once again dust-free. The trusty Honda City is once again spic and span. It’s now covered and ready for the next driving days ahead – let me check though if our budget will allow.
 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!