© 2020 by Dan Albert S. de Padua

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The Long Lunch


When the daughter of a friend announced that she will be getting married and chose as her principal wedding sponsors two members of our drinking dabarkads* but not me, I was a little hurt. Actually, since there were only four guys in our group to choose from, it was pretty painful. Hahaha. [*dabarkads – a mutation of the word barkada referring to the group of friends who arrived on the same boat]

I guess I’m not the type of person that people readily think of as a good Ninong, which just tells you that people really don’t know anything. For the information of all concerned, I give the absolute best wedding presents. I may not give Christmas gifts or pasalubong but I take godfather duties very seriously. Plus—and here’s the biggie—all th...

In my mind we will always be eighteen.

We were standing in the dark, trying and failing to get out of the rain under the eaves of a Marcos-type prefab building, a few meters down the road from where we had been told to report for overnight indoctrination. We had been ordered to come in as a group, supposedly to build unity and esprit de corps in our batch. I don’t think they called it team building or bonding yet back in the 1970’s. I suspect they didn’t want us to arrive individually because an early bird or a latecomer might be singled out for special hazing. Our seniors were kind to us in that way. But they also required us to know the full names of all our batchmates. If one of us didn’t know the middle name of one other guy, we wer...

Call it my post-graduate short course in musical theater.  I was in New York City for a two-week intensive survey to try to determine what shows can be produced in Manila, what cannot, which musicals will make money, which ones might flop, and ultimately what plays have roles that will still hold some challenge for Mr. Nyoy Volante.

The oft-repeated remark that ‘it’s tough work but someone’s got to do it’ implies ironically that my job is easy, possibly even loads of fun. Granted, it is more enjoyable than preparing tax returns or carrying stones to the pyramids but, believe me, it is exhausting work. We had meetings every day, sometimes two or three, with producers, rights holders, licensors and creatives (as a non-creative, I skipped...

November 27, 2017

To be honest, not too many months ago you couldn’t drag me into a theater to watch a musical play full of hyperactive brats. To this day, in fact, I generally believe young children are meant to be smiled at briefly then dismissed. I’m the guy who glares at children who run around restaurants screaming as if they’re at a playground. I own noise-cancelling headphones in case some inconsiderate parents on an airplane fail to drug their wailing babies with cough syrup. And I fully intend to formally petition the church usherettes to deal with all fidgety, loud-question-asking runts by forcibly imprisoning them in the soundproofed crying room at the back or better yet by kicking them out of Mass entirely.

But then I got involved with Atlant...

[As a member of the aristocracy of the mind, also known as the legal profession, I tend to talk trash about doctors a lot. It turns out they do some pretty cool stuff and have some smart things to say, too. The piece below was written by my sister, a neurologist specializing in epilepsy in the U.S. --Dan]

What a week. Started call on Monday. Admitted 3 unrelated men, all obtunded, minimally responsive, with EEG monitoring showing continual electrographic seizure activity. Dozens of decisions---trying this, trying that, adjusting this, adjusting that---all day, all night---seizures would stop, then recur. ...figuring out ways to stop the seizures without having to give them so much medicine that they would need ventilatory supp...

We always end up ordering too much food. We know it’s just the two of us and we don’t want to get a doggie bag of leftovers we will just stick in the ref for nobody to eat, but we pore over the menu and choose enough dishes to fill two tables anyway. Habit, maybe. It could also be a subconscious yearning for the good old days of big family gatherings. Or merely a case of greedy eyes (takaw mata) coupled with an utter lack of self-discipline. It’s true, not too long ago we sat around long tables with everybody telling interminable stories while wolfing down enormous quantities of oily, fatty, carbo-loaded unhealthy food because family days were always diet cheat days. But now it’s just the two of us.

Besides, we can’t eat that much anymo...

1968. She was in Grade 7. I was Grade 1. Standing on a pile of gravel looking out over the jungle behind the house, my sister passed on three nuggets of wisdom that I have never forgotten:

1.  Snakes live in tall grass.  Many years of experience, plus the movie "Snakes on a Plane", have taught me that snakes can actually be found almost anywhere. In the bamboo grove. In the office. Among friends. But I believe the intent of the lesson was to keep me from going into the jungle behind the house. And the fact is, if you walk into the tall grass, that is, if you allow yourself to "get into the weeds" you will likely find people there who will betray you. Be warned.

2.  Water contracts when it freezes. Ice expands when it melts.  I actually g...

April 18, 2017

[When The Long Lunch was launched in January 2016, I imagined it as a conversation and invited readers to join in. This essay, sent to me last week and published here with his consent, was written by Dr. Luna, whom I have not met, after my article “Who Are All These Old People” resurfaced on his memories page. –DDP]

Sobering. I appreciated this gem of an article enough to post it last year, and it hardly registered a bleep on my friends' list radar. Last year, my 86-year-old mom was diagnosed to have a highly-invasive form of cancer. I am still hoping it was all excised, never to show up again, but who knows. This year, my dad with end-stage kidney failure had serious infection which led to septic shock, all from a tainted catheter. Tha...

December 28, 2016

Feels like breaking up via text. Or ending an online friendship.

This will be my last “Long Lunch” for the year and for the foreseeable future. Writing this column was a lot of fun—probably too much because as soon as I submitted each article I started thinking about the next one—and I especially found pleasure in reading and responding to your comments. Retired guys like me need to be told several times a week that they can still do something valuable. Hehe. The one-year break from responsibilities and the chance to do something close to creative writing were great. But it’s time to get back to work and try to earn serious money again.

The thing about leading a stress-free life with time for exercise is that you get a little healthier;...

December 21, 2016

The world appears to be going crazy. It has never been as screwed up as it is now, it seems. Whether we’re talking about politics, business, relationships, money or, hey, even adobo, somehow it all feels frustratingly, overwhelmingly wrong. It’s gotten to the point where the common topic at gatherings is: What’s your Plan B?  In other words, where will you run and what will you do if everything goes to shit?

I needed to clear my head, so I decided to make a quick trip out to Los Baños, the university town where I grew up. I rarely go home anymore. The house we lived in has been demolished, and Dad and Mom aren’t around to talk with anymore. Talking to their headstones just isn’t the same. But the drive calms me down and the sight of fam...

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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

November 16, 2016

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