Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Re-lay-shun-ships’

Auntie Janey’s Old-Fashioned Agony Column #57: The ever-present ex

May 25, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Re-lay-shun-ships No Comments →

Dear Auntie Janey,

I found a picture of his ex girlfriend in his old Hickok wallet. The wallet is slightly tattered, but it is something I would still use compared to the black one he had when we went steady. This black wallet can be folded in three, like the brown Hickok and the Seiko he just bought. But it was coming apart in all sides, looking out of place amid my smiling graduation photo.

Read the rest in Auntie Janey’s own blog
, where you can post Comments and speak to Auntie Janey directly.

Auntie Janey’s Old-Fashioned Agony Column # 56: Getting good grades

May 18, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Re-lay-shun-ships 7 Comments →

This is tiresome but we are repeating it for the benefit of readers with poor reading comprehension skills.


There. On to this week’s letter.

* * * * *

Dear Auntie Janey,

(Please Auntie Janey, sweet frank Auntie Janey, if you happen to be reading this on a good May’s day pay attention to this so I could still wake up and make necessary actions before the enrolment is over. Thank you.)

First like most of your letter senders I’d like to extend my gratitude and praises for your mere existence. You (or your writing and podcasts) somehow make me forget how boring my life has been for a couple of years now. But yes, sincerely, thank you. (Okay, I’m thanking much, like Wesley Gibson).

I’m a student of a pretty difficult 5-year course which naturally comes as a 4-year course (ledgers, balance sheets) to most schools. You see I study at a state university here in my hometown south of the country. I like it here anyway – life is simple and carefree. The problem is I flunked a subject on my 3rd year – 2nd semester so I am spending the whole of summer agonizing over this. (No we can’t study major subjects over the summer.) For the blame, I’ve found an addiction to Harry Potter since December 2011 so naturally I’ve been reading the books, rereading them, watching the movies, watching them again and searching all related materials on the Net (character profiles, actor profiles, quotes, fan fiction). But then again, it was my choice and I was happy all along. It was somewhat a childhood dream you see.

It’s not that I’ve spent time to think solutions to my problem – just that I need more help with my options.

Auntie Janey’s Old-Fashioned Agony Column # 55: Scarred for life? Really?

May 11, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Re-lay-shun-ships 10 Comments →

Auntie Janey,

Although he was not the first guy who slept on my bed, he’s the only guy whom I exclusively dated. It was the bitterest August when he added me on BBM. It was fun at first with silly conversations and getting to know stuff and calling each other ‘bro’. Nothing much extraordinary until we did the deed.

It was fun sharing the same interest with someone new. After my relationship with my former girlfriend two years ago, there he came. We had no terms and we discussed nothing about what we were having. I got attracted to him.

From unzipping to pulling of sheets to wiping of mouth and to zipping again, we shared it all. I started to notice however that he’s just the same bisexual guys whom I know. He’s a real flirt. I suspected that what we were having was not exclusive at all. I did not confirm it but drowned myself in pool of tears and agony. I silently hated him but I maintained my composure and way of dealing with him.

Things eventually changed and there became a gap between us. I had no means to change it since I have taken off my access in all networking sites where I used to connect with him. I even decided to use a new phone so as not to have BBM and be reminded of not so happy memories.

What bothers me until now is…now I don’t know what really bothers me. Perhaps he’s the real one who got away. Nope! What bothers me is I miss him so bad. I am still hopeful that we’d be able to bridge the gap between us. I am not even sure if it could still happen.

Do you think he was even interested with me, Aunt Janey? What were his ‘I miss you’ lines then for? He’s gay right? (coz he denies it!!!)

I don’t know where I failed to satisfy his urge of seeing me again. Maybe it’s the drama that I started… I am not sure and it’s too obscure now. Perhaps it’s his relentless effort of dating girls too that made him stop seeing me. I hope I could catch up on things that I lost when I tried to compose myself and reach out to him. If all things continue like how it failed, I hope it will be a better life for me. His stay was short and he scarred me forever,


Dear Johan,

Scarred you forever, huh. My idea of things that leave you scarred for life, aside from violent accidents and vicious physical attacks, are those which involve psychologically traumatizing events like rape, torture, child abuse, cataclysmic catastrophes, horrible deaths of loved ones, or wicked betrayals by lovers and friends. Yours, if I may say, is not devastating.

Reading your letter was like watching The Lucky One. I eagerly waited for the passionate and cathartic sex scenes and all I got were people groaning under a shower head and people groping each other in semi-darkness. Nothing was going on. But I did enjoy looking at the trees and the dogs.

I think you have too much time in your hands that’s why you wrote this letter which does not really say much. You are not even sure what happened and you seem to have even forgotten what transpired. Why are you dwelling on things you can barely remember? And oh, he was interested in boinking you then he got tired and moved on to boinking others. Get over it.

I sense that you have aspirations of writing creatively but your approach was wrong. You went for effect and totally ignored the plot or character development. This made your writing frivolous.

Let me apply this to your life.

I think you are constantly straining for effect that you miss out what is essential and substantial. You lean on the frivolous side. If you were truly seeking advice, you would have thoroughly remembered whatever “scarring” turmoil you went through and narrated the details as best as you could. Those who truly want to understand get obsessed over the components of the things that baffle them.

One more thing, you’re wondering whether your ex-lover was straight or bisexual? Well, at least now you have something to occupy yourself with.

Truly Yours,
Auntie Janey

You can reach Auntie Janey at If you feel your problem is insurmountable and you need to talk to someone right now, call the In Touch helpline for free counselling, (02)8937603.

Auntie Janey’s Old-Fashioned Agony Column #54: Defying the parents

May 04, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Re-lay-shun-ships 12 Comments →

Dear Auntie Janey,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for ages but I cannot seem to bring myself to do it until now. It’s just that I don’t quite know how to put my situation into words but I recently, something happened which prompted me to write and know what you can say of my situation.

My parents do not like my boyfriend. Come to think of it, do not like is an understatement. They are vehemently against him. Please don’t get the wrong picture and think he’s a smelly good-for-nothing or an unemployed drunk.

It’s that my parents are very old-fashioned and with all due respect to them, can be quite self-righteous. They’re like the typical “church” people who tend to look down to others who do not quite fit into the category of what they consider “eligible” for their children.

They do not like my boyfriend because he has a love child, he lives in a place in the city they consider below their standards and cannot seem to mention without wrinkling their nose as the very mention of the word brings a nasty smell, and because as my mother says, “his sister works in Japan!” with an expression and tone which said this alone should be enough reason I should never go out with him. Yep, I still live in a place wherein working in Japan is still quite taboo.

They thought I broke it off with him but to be honest, we’re together for nearly 5 years now and I am so, so tired of living a double life. At least, that is the way I feel.

Auntie Janey, my parents stereotype my boyfriend and believe me when I say he is a kind, hardworking, honest man. He is good-looking, talented, loves his family, patient, and he does love me very much. I actually have a slight physical deformity which is a sensitive issue to me and which I never quite found any acceptance except from my boyfriend. My family’s attitude towards is: hide it and have it fixed one day. All my life, I thought that was the only thing to look at it. Growing up, they were never sensitive about it. At times my family would make fun of me for it. Other times, their words are scathing. I would go on and pretend everything is fine but always I’m hurt, confused, and angry. Not a very good combination to be honest.

Until my boyfriend came along. For once, I have been accepted and loved. For once, I wasn’t told to hide the real me and all that’s not right about me. He accepted me entirely and loved me for me. I have never felt so relieved. It’s as though a burden has been taken off my shoulders. I never even knew I was yearning for acceptance until him. I have been living in shame, ashamed and hating myself for what I am until him. He taught me to love myself by simply loving me. I even heard the chains of shame and insecurities cluttering on the floor when he told me he loves me for me. I have never felt so free. How can I tell my parents that? They always pretend nothing is wrong. They always pretend everything is okay. Don’t rock the boat is a silent rule at home.

You might be wondering about his love child. He has gotten his ex-girlfriend from college pregnant and learned only after they broke up about the child. He learned through a common friend she was planning to abort the baby and upon knowing this, spoke to his ex first and when that proved futile, talked to her family about her plan. She got mad at him for telling her family, and never gave him a chance to see his kid. Even until now.

When my father learned about all this, he emailed my boyfriend and said unspeakable things to him (which I only learned after gaining access to his email after trying out different passwords. LOL!)

Anyway, the idiot panicked and told my dad he doesn’t in fact has a kid. (this was in the earlier part of our relationship when we’re much younger) Okay, I know that sounds horribly wrong but you could have seen what my dad has been telling him! Even I could not believe my dad knows those cuss words, or that those cuss words even exist!

He was sorry and wanted to talk to him and tell him the truth once and for all. He wants to own up to what he said and tell him imperfect though he is, he loves me.

In all the years we’ve been together, my boyfriend never said anything bad to me. Even during our tough times. I know he wants so much to meet and talk to my parents. He feels bad sometimes and think that I’m embarrassed of him which is utterly not true.

The reason, I cannot bring myself to talk to my parents is because, well, talking was never really a thing at home. That is, talking about emotions. What more, my mom had once physically hurt me upon knowing I went out with my boyfriend. They are very concerned about their image, of what people might say upon knowing their daughter is dating “someone like my boyfriend”.

Gaad, I hate the drama of it all. I don’t even watch, let alone like teleseryes but I sometimes feel like our love life is from one.

All my life I’ve let my parents dictate what is best for me. Who to make friends with. What college degree to take. What school to go to. All my life I never really stood up for what I want. Until now, 5 years after I have graduated, I still think from time to time what I could have achieved if I took the course that I am really passionate about. I am still now, I am still reeling with what-ifs.

I don’t want to be spending any more years thinking about what-if about another important thing in my life. I am so exhausted, I want so much for my parents to understand and accept and at the very least, give my boyfriend a chance to prove himself worthy of their trust. But their answer is always a definite no. And I am terrified of what they will do to me if they found out.

Please help me, Auntie Janey. I honestly don’t know what to do. I love my boyfriend so much and he loves me just the same.


Dear Juliet,

I remember a time when I was living with the Van Der Luydens in New York. Society was so particular on whose party we should attend, on when to wear the dresses we bought in Paris, on the guests to invite to our soirées, on where to summer, on when to decorate for the holidays, on what paintings to hang on the wall, on what street to live, and, yes, on whom to marry. It is a stifling world wherein people are required to maintain appearances and conform to the norms. For the record, I am not Newland’s sister. She’s a gossip and I’m not. I spent most of my time in Skuytercliff but I got so tired of it all and left America.

Honestly, I know how it is to be raised in such an environment. The clan I belonged to was matriarchal. My grandmother controlled all her sons, attempted to control the favored daughters-in-law(those who were deemed unworthy were given the cold shoulder or treated shabbily), and even controlled those grandchildren, including me, who lived under her roof. There were many rules and my grandmother was very adept at suppressing rebellions by family members or reigning in those who attempted to break loose. Emotional and psychological manipulation were her key weapons. And yes, she was very, very religious and a devout follower of the Sto. Niño. So devout that the archdiocese was always glad to let her and my grandfather play Hara Amihan and Rajah Humabon, respectively, and my two eldest cousins, the royal children. My sisters did their tour as princesses in Flores de Mayo. Each individual family member was expected to perform a role and maintain an appearance. The family image was to be protected at all costs. It did not last of course but it lasted long enough for me to be born into it.

I believe everything you say about your boyfriend. He sounds like a good man. But we both know that being just a good person is not enough. They want somebody who has the right address, the right pedigree, the right social stature, the right amount of income, and most important of all, the right amount of prestige. There is no point in convincing them to think otherwise. Talking will not help as you know.

You have to make a choice. If you finally decide to stand up to them, it will be very hard. I hope your parents are not like my grandparents. When my father erred, they sent the local police to hunt him down and he had to hide in a cemetery. When you decide to break free, they will try to clamp you down. They will use intense emotional and psychological blackmail. They know you very well and they know how to push your buttons. They will have the ability to cut you off from everything and will attempt to crush so that you will come crawling back to them. I’ve seen it done.

Going off with your loved one to be free and independent sounds very romantic but it will also test your love for him, his love for you, and most of all your resolve. Money will be the main issue and the moment you lose the trappings of your status, you will also lose some of your power in the relationship. Sad but true. There is a chance that you will become his dependent. You will also have to adjust your lifestyle. You may also have to turn your back to certain relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Let’s just say that some of the fallen in my family even resorted to selling vinegar on a rented pedicab to survive. Very dire but could happen to anyone.

I am not discouraging you from asserting who you really are. What I want you to do is plan your rebellion carefully. Most important is that you amass a lot of resources and make the right connections. Rebellion in whatever form is very costly. Plan the details of your would-be independent life. Where will you live? How much should be your monthly expenses? If you plan to quit your current job(most likely your parents will barricade you there), where will you work? How far is the reach of your parents’ influence? Do you get what I mean. Being independent sounds glamorous but it requires constant work and attention. You always have to fight to keep it.

Proving something is not done through words but through deeds. The two of you will have a lot of proving to do. You have to prove that you are made of steel while he has to prove that he can take very good care of you. Proving yourselves will take years. It is also preferable that you maintain a great distance from your parents while constructing your new life. Independence requires that you outgrow certain things of your past and for that you need distance. Your family buried a lot of hooks into you when you were being brought up. You have to remove them one by one from your being and it will be painful.

Juliet, are you willing to fight hard? If yes, then do it.

Truly Yours,

Auntie Janey

You can reach Auntie Janey at If you really need to talk to someone right now, try the confidential In Touch hotline, (02)893 7603.

Most useful book we’ve read lately

May 01, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Re-lay-shun-ships 4 Comments →

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.

* * * * *

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.

Auntie Janey’s Old-Fashioned Agony Column #53: Feeling discriminated against

April 27, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Re-lay-shun-ships 4 Comments →

Dear Auntie Janey,

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?

Overseas Gay

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.

Truly Yours,
Auntie Janey

If you need psychological counseling immediately, consider calling the In Touch helpline. Numbers on the left side of the page.