devil years

The years 2004 and 2005 were metal years for me. I got involved in NU 107’s Metal Madness (now history, but the noisiest shit on Philippine radio back then), and was frequenting those smoky Malate hellholes with then girlfriend Charmaine for our live metal fix. Except for our marriage and the birth of Raven Lee, none of the things that happened to us in the succeeding years can be compared to what transpired in those 24 months of beer-soaked heavy metal abandon. The only weird thing was my hair.



‘Tis the season for hangovers, and as I write this, I am nursing the mother of them all. At the office! Of all places.

I blame my sorry-ass state to those last-minute, late-night beer-and-wine sessions I had with office-mates and college friends. With liquor flowing virtually nonstop from midnight of December 23 to dawn of December 27, no wonder I celebrated Christ’s day in a coma.

The last clear memory I have for December 25, 2009, was jumping off a bus in Nueva Ecija, squinting at the morning sun and dust, and walking toward my second family’s ancestral home where a reunion was raging. Everything after that were like bits n’ pieces of a half-remembered hashish dream. My engine finally conked out noontime.

It was already early evening when I regained consciousness, with my head screaming grand opera and the reunion long over. So much for Christmas 2009.

Multiply friend Isa Pilapil once shared her secret anti-hangover recipe to me, but I lost it somewhere. All I remember is that it includes honey and apple cider vinegar.

The best anti-hangover advice that came my way, though, was from a shot glass given to me by my sister-in-law, Nikki, many Christmases ago. It says: Avoid hangovers, stay drunk.

Why not? I can almost see Jack Kerouac raising his wine jug to that.


Saturday night in Antipolo, while waiting for our roasted pork belly in Shopwise, Charmaine and I discovered the Germans’ secret to happy livers.


Priced less than two cans of the local Red Horse, but twice the wallop. Tastes better, too.

You have to give it to the Krauts. After all, as my wife pointed out, they gave birth to Octoberfest, which is to beer freaks what Wacken Open Air Festival is to heavy metal junkies.

Anyway, it was an eventful weekend we had, with the imported ballbuster providing the proverbial icing on the cake. Even our little Raven, still far from croaking ‘Nevermore’ but getting there fast, was drunk with new experiences.

the victim

“Anything can be misused. Furthermore, every individual has to assume responsibility for his or her own actions, even the poor and the young. A social system that decrees otherwise is inviting intellectual atrophy and spiritual stagnation.” – Novelist Tom Robbins on the use of illegal drugs.


Big words there: intellectual atrophy and spiritual stagnation. And I can’t help but notice these in some of my friends who are walking around these days with a weird sort of jerky uneasiness, like zombies in a George Romero flick. I saw one of them earlier, in Antipolo, looking dazed and confused and shaking his fist at Pepeng. “That motherfucker!” he kept on referring to Pepeng, as if Pepeng was a member of the House of Representatives.

I’ve been hanging out with this freak for so long that I instantly knew what’s troubling him. A notorious “frequent flyer,” he’s no doubt talking about The Stuff. Now that Pepeng has rendered many North Luzon roads impassable, there have been significant delays in the delivery of almost everything from that region.

Everything, including my friend’s precious Stuff.

(For those who are not in the know, North Luzon – particularly the provinces of Kalinga, Mt. Province and Benguet – has been endearing writers, loners, poets, artists, musicians and perhaps Bernard Palanca for years now for its… its… well, just click here.)

I put my hand on my friend’s shoulder and told him about how depressing the days are and how somebody seemed to have kicked the world in the gonads. But he wouldn’t have any of it. He just looked at me and I saw that his eyes were crystal clear, like a baby’s. That’s all I needed for a conclusion.

The bastard has been clean for days now, and he’s not comfortable with it. Another victim of the “motherfucker,” indeed.