The Long Lunch


Before we got married, I did my own grocery shopping. I knew enough to check the expiration date of the bread before taking it from the shelf. I also knew that I had to watch the prices as they were rung up by the checkout girl to make sure they matched the price tags. I also watched the bagger. I remember how heartbroken I was once when I got to my apartment, discovered that the package of sweet ham I bought was missing, and the toasted ham and cheese sandwich I was so looking forward to became a cheese and cheese sandwich.

But it’s been a while. At first, the wife and I did the grocerizing together. I would push the cart, occasionally turning it into a kick scooter zipping through empty aisles or alternatively pretending it was a deli...

Three men, theoretically, show up at a hospital with COVID-19 symptoms—fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, the works:

       • JR is, let’s say, a 29-year-old call center operator who is on leave without pay while his company’s business is on pause. He arrives alone but has a wife and school-age daughter at home.

       • Mac is an executive currently working from home for one of the big corporate groups. He’s in his fifties, has hypertension and diabetes, and is a friend of the family that owns the hospital.

       • Tranquilino is 72 years old. He was recently brought back into government service. He has five children and seven grandchildren. Even his friends call him “Sec Lino”.


February 18, 2020

The VD celebrations this year seemed, well, half-hearted. The malls and restaurants were decked out in red hearts and flowers, but this season’s theme appeared to be caution rather than passion. For one thing, bawal ang beso beso—a prohibition long overdue as far as I’m concerned (but that’s another story)—and how romantic can HHWW PSSP* really be when you have to douse your hands in alcohol every few minutes?

But it can’t all be about the viri. (Cactus, cacti. Alumnus, alumni. Virus, ?) Because if you are still wearing a mask in the mall, either you are sick and immunocompromised (in which case, what are you doing at the mall?) or you weren’t listening in class when the DOH issued its advisory on masks. Granted, there are other reasons...

January 16, 2020

First, I read that Harrison Plaza was closing for good. Then came the news that Crossover 105.1 was gone forever. I kind of knew these changes were coming, but nothing prepared me for the shock of learning that the Jollibee Champ had been phased out. (Three tearful emojis) As 2019 bowed out, it took with it at least three generational markers all at once as if Thanos had snapped his fat fingers again; and suddenly I felt lost, adrift and alone.

Seems like we keep suffering end-of-an-era losses. Blink, turn around, and something else is gone. It’s not just the little but no less heartbreaking things like Luk Yuen dropping Lapu Lapu Congee from its menu. It’s Fiesta Carnival, Big Bang sa Alabang, Payanig sa Pasig and the memories that wen...

November 4, 2019

After my mom died and shortly before Dad went, too, he gave me a sheaf of old papers tightly bound together with lengths of mottled yellow masking tape clearly meant to preserve the collection and also somehow indicate that it had been kept private, that the scribblings had not been read; but, of course, if that were true, how would they have known not to throw them away? They had most likely found the papers among the things I left behind in the rush to go off to college in the big city, and had kept them for decades through at least two moves to new houses.

It was sort of a journal. Written in bits and pieces, on scraps of ruled paper and partly in a hard-bound Work Ed blank book, in an inconsistent scrawl that never matured into penm...

At age 29 I was happily married with two children. Increasingly, however, young people these days seem to be postponing this next stage in their lives until they’re well into their 30’s. Let me be very clear: I’m not saying this is wrong in any way. In fact, I’m all for building a career and a bank account, accumulating post-graduate degrees and titles, and seeing the world and all it has to offer before settling down. To my own kids, I’m saying I’m in no hurry to have grandchildren and sleep beside a grandmother every night. Take your time.

What I was wondering about is why my generation got married so early; and while walking around our village in a futile attempt to lose weight, I think I found the answer. Blame it on the music.


My phone says it’s 35 degrees centigrade. Feels like 40. It’s so hot you can fry eggs on the window sill. I know because I sat on the window sill to try to catch a breeze. Aray. It’s so hot you wake up in a pool of sweat despite the airconditioner and two electric fans working full time on the highest settings. It doesn’t help that you’re waking up at noontime but, hey, it shouldn’t be that way, right? It’s so hot that I’m willing to risk facing the Night King and ten thousand white walkers just to enjoy the snow north of the Wall. To those who proudly say they don’t watch Game of Thrones: Go away. Mainit ang ulo ko.

But, seriously, it’s hot.

I want to get out of the city and maybe go to the Summer Capital of the Philippines—Japan. Every...

February 25, 2019

Visited the graves of my parents today. Bouncing around in my head was a question one of my kids had asked: “I’m turning 30 and what have I done with my life?”

Try turning 60 and having the same question.

My mom and dad passed on at 75 and 83, having lived lives that were, in my eyes, full of achievement, and yet I wonder if they ever asked themselves what they had really done. 

How do we measure a life? In terms of power, prestige or possessions? Hell, yeah! Don’t you want to be able to simply look at a guy and have him shrink in fear into nothingness? Aren’t you willing to do anything to amass more power than you have the competence to wield? You drool over that low numbered license plate. You want a yacht. You want another yacht. But t...

December 14, 2018

I didn’t realize I was doing it until recently: Before I sit down in church, I reach back to the pew to check the distance and steady the descent, then I slowly lower myself into my seat. It’s such a “Lolo” move. Something I remember my grandfather doing. Time was when at the barked command “Take seats!” I could instantly drop into a chair or onto the ground with all the other cadets. But my days as a Bro and even as a Tito are long gone. Waiters and cashiers everywhere routinely (perversely!) ask for the senior citizens’ card that I am not entitled to, yet. Something to do with my phenotypic age. My students, born in 1997 when I was already deep into my second career, respond with blank stares when my jokes require some knowledge of 8...

November 3, 2018

Are you the type who goes out with the gang but always excuses himself early to go home and spend the rest of the evening curled up with a book or watching Netflix? When you say you’re going to the restroom do people say goodbye to you because they know you’re about to make a French exit? When you get several invitations for the same evening do you usually end up ditching all of them?

Do you need time alone to recharge your batteries? Thus, do you enjoy taking long drives alone with the radio off? Savoring meals alone? Reading Time magazine alone? Do you sit in the very first row of the movie theater so that you can at least pretend that you are watching the movie alone, as in with no one else in the entire theater?

At the office do you...

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In my mind, this is still how I look.

The photo wasn't really taken that long ago, but admittedly a lot has changed since then. For one, I retired and wrote a column that appeared weekly in

BusinessMirror and many of the articles here were edited and published there. Oh, and I have some gray hair now.

January 16, 2020

November 4, 2019

April 19, 2019

February 25, 2019

December 14, 2018

September 6, 2018

November 27, 2017

December 28, 2016

December 21, 2016

December 13, 2016

November 30, 2016

November 23, 2016

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© 2020 by Dan Albert S. de Padua

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