Someone should’ve given us a copy of How to Walk in High Heels by Camilla Morton when we were in our teens; it would’ve saved us years of social ineptitude and torment. Oh right, it hadn’t been written yet.
The title may sound shallow, but this book is immensely practical—a compendium of things you need to know in order to make your way in the world. There are chapters on how to play poker, how to appreciate art, how to tango, how to have good manners, how to change a plug, how to eat tricky foods, how to lay tiles, how to sew, how to reverse-park with style. And of course how to look good—choosing your wardrobe, doing your hair, applying lipstick and so on. There’s an excellent chapter on relationships: everything from how to make the first move, how to rebuff unwanted advances and how not to become a character rivalling Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. All written in Camilla Morton’s breezy, candid, often hilarious style.
There’s also useful advice from guest experts: Manolo Blahnik on how to pick shoes (He advises height—we’ll pass, out of consideration for those we may injure), Vivienne Westwood on how to appreciate art, Gisele Bundchen on how to look good in a photo (“Always have mouth slightly open, enough to put a penny between your lips, as this will make your lips look fuller.” Slightly as in “hindi nakanganga”), Anya Hindmarch on how to pack, and many other nuggets of wisdom. All these for Php385 at National Bookstores. A tiiiiny investment that will pay off, trust us.
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We just saw The Woman in the Fifth starring Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott-Thomas. Of course we cannot look upon Ethan without noting how he’s aged, and if one can remember how Ethan looked in his youth it means. . .Kristin Scott-Thomas always looks fabulous—between the bone structure and those eyelids we totally buy the idea that her character in The English Patient was still gorgeous many days after she’d expired in the desert cave (Well the air was dry).
The Woman in the Fifth is a self-consciously arty mediocrity but it did contain bits that might be useful in real life. When Kristin meets Ethan on a balcony right in front of the Eiffel Tower she engages him in conversation, then casually hands him her card and says, “You should call me.”
Not “You must call me” which sounds like a command, or “Call me” like a request, but “You should call me” as something that can only be for your own good. Say it with us: “You should call me.”
Of course there is the added impact of the line having been uttered by Kristin Scott Thomas, but never underestimate the power of effrontery.
Then when Ethan Hawke does call, she does not coyly pretend to have forgotten him or ask him why he telephoned. She just says, “Come by between 5 and 8.” It’s all in the delivery. Not a smidgin of doubt. Try it.
I really can’t help but feel offended when my officemates make some comments on how i pronounce certain words and how strong my Filipino accent is. I’ve been working in Singapore for over a year now. I admit I’m really not very fluent (like MTV VJ fluent) in speaking English. I have to think of the right words to use, I have to construct sentences and phrases on my mind before i speak them out. I feel discriminated. I have so much respect for them but I really have no plans of adapting the Singlish grammar and accent. You probably know someone who does work here, you may want to hear from them. I want to be fair and neutral. I want to try to learn to remove the Filipino accent too. I want to speak the English language correctly. How can I learn to speak with the proper tone auntie? In general, how can I speak English better? And how can I stop feeling discriminated?
Dear Overseas Gay,
I remember a time when I was on holiday in Singapore a few years ago. My cousin took me to a place where Singaporeans ate their breakfast before going to work. We had the “traditional” Singaporean breakfast consisting of two poached eggs, coffee, roti, and whatnot. I have this habit of standing in places and spots that cause great inconvenience to other people. At that time, I was inadvertently standing behind a line to the counter. A pretty well-dressed Singaporean girl addressed me in a nasally-sort-of-British accent “Are you in the queue?” My brain froze. “Cue? As in barbecue?” I thought stupidly. The girl was smiling at me brightly and politely. Theme song of Jeopardy started playing in my head. After five seconds “Ah Q-U-E-U-E! Queue as in line!” my brain screamed triumphantly. After my epiphany, I said in my best Emma Thompson impression “No. I’m not in the queue”. I smiled sweetly and moved the hell out of the way.
Speaking English with a good accent is a skill. It is a result of training. The kids nowadays have better facility in speaking English because they have been exposed to Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network since they were a year old or earlier. They hear how it is spoken every day and the whole day, that’s why they speak like little Americans.
We, on the other hand, who were raised on Tagalog-dubbed Cedie, Princess Sarah ang Munting Prinsesa, Ghost Fighter, Sailormoon, Slayers, and even Magic Knight Rayearth need to undergo formal training. I was fortunate enough to have gone to schools which put great emphasis on speaking English correctly( it’s not “eygsheyls” it’s “eggshells”!). We had drills and regular exercises and it was coupled with my interest in numerous American TV shows. Because of that, I can almost perfectly approximate an American accent despite the fact that I have never set foot in that country. But, I only use it occasionally(pang-porma or whenever I find myself holding a microphone) and I employ my average Pinoy accent in my daily life. It would be ridiculous if I make porma at the carenderia.
I suggest you enroll in a formal speech class. Yes, you have to spend on this because it is an important skill in your workplace. When it comes to acquiring skills, we should get trained by the best or if not at least by those who are very good at it. The quality of our skills largely depend on those who trained us. We should not scrimp on this for the skills we acquire, we carry forever.
Once you have trained in speaking proper English, you should look for venues where you can employ your skill regularly. Knowing how to speak English properly does not mean you are also adept in conversing with it. Musicians practice everyday with their instruments. Constant practice is the only way one can maintain, hone, and sharpen one’s skill. So as a speaker, you should talk. A lot. There are public-speaking clubs out there(some of them non-profit) whose sole purpose is the improvement of the public-speaking skills of its members. In order to speak properly, you should be around people who love to speak.
I used to be a member of one such organization and I have seen many people who were very inept at speaking at the beginning gradually blossom into competent and very talkative speakers. They gained confidence and expertise by constantly employing the speaking skills that they’ve learned.
But the most important thing in knowing how to speak a language is by reading works written in that language. By reading in a certain language, you will learn how to think in that language. You will understand the different connotations and nuances of the words. People seem to forget that thinking and speaking are intricately related.
These are actual letters received by our advice columnist Auntie Janey at firstname.lastname@example.org and published in their original, unedited form.
I’m one of the gays got wild went worst. Being rejected by the most handsome guys I’ve seen from elementary to the present time, I knew the obvious reasons. I am fat, ugly, unfashionable and the butt of jokes. I am not loved in return, romantically. I hate handsome males as much as I drool over them. They make both my libido and blood pressure high. To compensate for that, I get myself laid with the guys same as my wavelength. (They’re also fat, ugly, unfashionable, insecure, not choosy etc.)
Along came Ulysses, my handsome and younger dorm mate. His kindness freaks me out since I’m not used to it. This gentleman takes up his Bachelor of Science in Accountancy in the same university as mine (which I flunked two years ago to tell my mom in her face that I wanna take up AB English). He morphed into my crush and obsession that I’ll never have. So, I decided to transform him into my sex object which solely satisfies me.
On a Sunday, I set my phone alarm at three in the morning. I obediently woke up and unlocked his door. Then, I sneaked in and sat right next to him. Since I have the moves like Jagger, I wanna hold his dagger. My heart beated as my hand marked the spot. I tried to grab his jewel but he jolted and lifted his leg. I let it go but he held his phone under his pillow, pressed the keypad and the light from it flashed. Good thing, he only saw my back. After the light faded, I went out and slept on my black mat in the living room. Then, I dreamed of him going out of his room, turning the lights on and scolding me. Hours later, he asked me about what happened earlier and repeated his rant. Out of that confrontation, I only remembered this: If I’ll molest him again, I’ll be experiencing his terrible wrath. He still managed to give me a plate of pancit canton before that talk.
By the time you’re reading this, it’s been three or four days since the incident. Can you give me other ways to move on except from moving out of the dorm? I don’t know now what love is and I want him to save himself away from my ‘childhood habit’.
Dear Sex-Starved Circe,
The phrase “I decided to transform him into my sex object which solely satisfies me” freaked me out a bit. This conjures images of you doing unspeakable things to yourself. Someone is turning into swine, with whose wand I do not know. Hermes better intervene soon.
So this is what is known as gapang. Pouncing on a victim around dawn during which time the victim is in, um, full length thus making him more accommodating when touched. The simplicity of the strategy amazes me and must be very effective because you employed it so casually. But, it did not work this time.
Ulysses seems to be a nice guy. Only very few people would give you pancit canton after you attempted to molest them. A forgiving guy and a good friend material. Don’t blow it. There are few nice people left in this world.
I find it sad that you look at yourself in such a bad light and you are throwing yourself to anyone just for cheap thrills. If you think of yourself as cheap and low, other people will think that you are cheap and low. When you convinced yourself that you are fat, ugly, and unfashionable, you had already doomed yourself.
Only you can stop yourself from molesting Ulysses and other males within your vicinity. Only you can redeem yourself. Ulysses gave you a chance when he forgave you. He still respects you after what you did. You should also respect yourself. Respect is a precious gift, so cherish it.
Instead of going around looking for someone to jerk off with, I think you should engage in productive and engaging activities. Activities that could enhance your latent abilities and increase your confidence. Confidence is very attractive.
Do not hang out with people that you consider to be fat, ugly and unfashionable because you will become one of them. Osmosis does not work only at a cellular level but is also in effect in human relations. Be with people who possess traits and characteristics which you want to emulate.
Kung ayaw mo maging panget, huwag kang sumama sa mga panget.
Five or six years ago, my mother and I sat in a darkened theater talking about a couple we knew. The wife was an executive with Ivy League degrees. The husband had some nebulous part-time job, but mostly he stayed home with the kids. What, I wondered, does he have that’s attractive to her? There was a pause. Sperm, my mother replied.
I love reading your responses to your letter senders! Straightforward, honest, exact advices, I so love that! The best ka po talaga!
I decided to take a shot and tell you my little piece of problem, and it goes like this: This started a long time ago, and it is still happening now. Now I feel the need to get this over with, with a few plans in mind, but I can’t seem to get to my final plan of finishing this off. Let me give you a little history or should I say background about my little piece of problem.
I have a crush on a gay guy. I decided to officially tag him as my “crush” because I believe he’s harmless (because he’s gay) and all I can ever do is just admire him. But as time passes by, it seems like he’s not totally harmless at all. He began to notice that I’m checking him out. Para pong ganito iyon analogy, I look at him and he would look back. An example scenario is this: there was even a time I caught him staring at me, there were times when I think he wants to do something, but never had the courage to do so. I tried my best not to assume anything at first; but I went ahead and over my head until I realized that I already have an interest of getting to know him more. I was not able to do anything about it because I’m extremely shy and I ain’t sure what’s his deal. Is it men? Is it women? Or both? Funny, isn’t it?
Fast forward to current-but-not-so-current turn of my little piece of life events. I never saw him for quite a long time. I thought I forgot about him, completely. Then there was a time I got a chance to see him and hang out with him. Ever since I got that chance as often as the situation permits, I started to feel something for him, and it made me really happy but annoyingly uneasy.
Unfortunately, that interest of getting close to him is still there, all this time. I hated that, dapat hindi na ganon. But I feel so happy and all-smiling every time I get the chance of hanging out with him. I know this sounds crazy and stupid, especially since I really think he is gay. Can I confess that I love that he’s like that, effeminate, soft, all-cute and charming. I can’t understand why but I love the way he is. Also, I still notice the same things I used to notice about him. All the more making me swirl into a pool of chaos and confusion. Yes, I am guilty of assuming he might actually like me. That little piece of assumption gave me a lot of sleepless, insomniac nights and I’ve had my share on the pool of tears too. I want my questions answered, but I honestly do not know how to get it.
I plan of telling him what I feel, this year. A year-round plan is long enough, but I still have my doubts as to whether I should do it or not. Whether it’s necessary or not. Maybe I could just wing it, try to forget it. But every time I rehearse my script, I ended up blabbering, rambling, just plain magulo. It felt right planning to tell him what I feel. I can even imagine that liberating feeling, finally it’s out there, finally he knows. But if he’s really gay and can never be interested in a girl like me and if I already know that I’m just headed for a great historical disaster of being dumped by an obviously homosexual man, then I shouldn’t do it. Rejection is pain, and pain is a hard thing to deal with. But sometimes, I think I’ll be ok with rejection because at least, I gave it a shot and I’ll have no regrets. At least I had the courage to face what I feel and I took action. Can you sense some confusion in me now?
Please give me slap-on-the-face (figuratively) advice on my little piece of problem. I can’t seem to get to my senses, I need my sane senses back. I feel so blank.
Lovingly hopeful for a destined love,
Thank you for the exclamation marks.
I cannot sense your confusion but I would say that you are inaccurate. You are not doing your job as an admirer. You are not even sure that your love interest is gay. In the third paragraph you declared that you have a crush on a gay guy. In the fourth paragraph, you pronounced him effeminate. Finally, in the fifth paragraph you pronounced him homosexual. You even asked “Is it men? Is it women? Or both? Funny, isn’t it?”
Ano ba talaga ateh? All this wringing of hands would be for nothing unless you confirm that you and your object of love are sexually compatible. Confeeerm mo muna because I feel that you are one of my people who are very susceptible to delusions. You should also polish your powers of observation. You managed to hang out with him and you did not even report on how he interacted with you? Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I think there is some self-absorption and self-deception going on here. You only mentioned his actions towards you that you could interpret in your favor. Selective reporting! More tsks!
If he is gay, he might have been staring at you because he was thinking of ways to make you over. And confessing your love for him is absolutely NOT necessary. ARE YOU NUTS?! What do you need this drama for? Is your life so blah that you would humiliate yourself before a potentially gay guy? Do you know what that would do to your social life? You will be mocked as the lame girl who went out and confessed her love to a gay guy. Honey, this is something people will remember for a long, looooooong time. Wait, something just occurred to me, do you need attention?
If he is straight and interested, he would have made a move by now. You should have already heard whispers about his interest in you and his friends would have teased him and you when both of you are in the same vicinity. He would have made the most of the time that you hung out together to know you more.
Even if he turns out to be straight, I still advise against your planned confession. For one, it would be freaky for him if he is suddenly confronted by a girl who proceeds to confess her love. I have a feeling that despite the occasional interactions, the two of you don’t really know each other that well. For another, I believe that these romantic feelings of yours are a result of something else. This is not about the boy but really about you. You want DRAMA that’s why you have these musings on how liberating it would be to confess your love, on how you will be dealing with rejection, and on how there will be no regrets. Blah, blah, blah.
I should point out that most of the things that you’ve recited here are just assumptions. Maraming namatay sa maling akala.
I have been single for the past two years and some months now. Previously, I had a boyfriend who seemed to be an amazing man of God. We would exchange passages each morning from our daily devotions, he would fetch me after work, we would spend time talking with each other and just having a good time watching movies and listening to music. One morning, I just found out that he was still married and everything he said about his supposedly ex-wife is a lie. After finding out that he was cheating with me, I broke up with him and have been single since. It is not like no one has ever found interest in dating me, but I just have not found interest with the men who have been asking me out on dates. However, 7months after the break up, I started hooking up with a good friend of mine and we’ve been like that for a year and some months now. He is in a long distance relationship and has been on and off with her, and sometimes I think to myself “couldn’t it be that its you and me?”
Now am 25, turning 26 in December; and he is 36 turning 37 in December as well. At my age now, many of my friends keep on saying that I should settle down already, and have kids of my own. I keep on telling them that I cant even take care of myself how much more other people. And they would tell me that I should start to shape up, because my “expiration date” is coming up really fast. In reality, of course I want to be in a serious and stable relationship, but am too scared to really start dating and opening myself to other people again. At the same time, I have this man whom I have been seeing consistently for the past almost 2yrs, but I have no idea if he sees me as someone he could fall in love with or just really someone he could release all his tensions to. My thinking is that if the two us is ever going to work out as bf/gf, then it should’ve happened a long time ago. Maybe its stupid of me, because in spite the fact that i know he has this long distance girlfriend i still stood by him and still hope a little that one day he wakes up in love with me.
Recently we had this pregnancy scare, and both of us made sure that i was not gonna get pregnant. He research on female body clock and at the same time i took a 24hour pill to prevent possible pregnancy. During that phase, he showed concern about how i was doing and feeling, but thats about it. I think he was more concerned on assuring that i was not pregnant. Then i told him that if in any case the situation present itself, i am not going to force him to do anything he doesnt want to do. The next morning he apologized for how he acted and i told him that it was ok. Now, we are again back to how we were… We go out to movies, dinners, and whatever else.
So this is telling you my story in the hopes of maybe clarifying somethings in my life. Should i stop seeing this man and just find someone else to date? And if its better for me to see someone else, what exercise could I do so that I do not shut down immediately men who find interest to date me? If its a good idea to try and be with this man, then how should i begin telling him that i want us to try us be bf/gf?
Thank you Auntie Janey, hopefully I could read from you soon…
I’m writing this while taking a break from packing my stuff for a three-day trip to some remote beach in Camarines Norte. I am not particularly fond of the beach but I do take interest in rock formations, marine life, and in anything that would allow me to pretend I’m hosting a nature show on Discovery Channel. In the process, I make myself paranoid. I remember a time that I went to this island called Snake Island, because literally it was the nesting site of sea snakes during high tide. My inner Discovery commentator with a British accent said “Sea snakes are one of the most venomous snakes in the world”.
Speaking of snakes, I think you are playing with one. It’s a dangerous game that you are playing and you got almost bitten once. We all have this fascination for the dangerous despite our misgivings and it is such a thrill to do something which we know could backfire on us. It becomes more thrilling knowing that if we eluded harm or injury once, we could do it again. So we continue the dance.
I think you already know that you are just there to relieve his tensions, figuratively and literally. All the convenience without the corresponding obligations. Why should he make it more complicated by anointing you as his official girlfriend when he already gets what he wants without you making such a fuss about it? And as you yourself observed, if he wanted the two of you to be together, he would have already declared on Facebook that the two of you are in a relationship.
You could test the waters by withdrawing all your services from him. Let him chase you around a bit. Make yourself less available and try to do things on your own and with other people. I’ve written about this in my first ten columns or so, please look them up. If he pursues you, well and good. There is a chance that he would discover that you are the one. If he just let’s you go, well honey at least you had some good boinking.
It would be a bad idea to tell a man that you want to take things to the next level. “The Talk” will not do any good in your situation. You have been doing all the duties of a girlfriend or wife yet you do not have the official status. It has been going on for so long that I think you are just a buddy with benefits for him. A self-cleaning tissue, some mean people would remark(me).
I think you will have a hard time letting him go and dating other men because you have spent so much time on him already. But, if you do want to date other men, the best exercise is to go out there and actually date. When we are constantly exposed to something, our defenses are eventually lowered because we are already comfortable with it. You have only gotten used to just one man and by allowing yourself to meet other men(meet ha not sleep with) you may eventually get used to them and be at ease. See less or no more of him and throw yourself into the dating circle.
I’ve just noticed that my newly-bought humongous mountaineering bag(the original plan was to climb up some mountain) still has lots of space, I must restrain myself from stuffing all of my closet into it.