The Long Lunch


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...

December 13, 2016

Today is my birthday.

Thanks to the band Parokya ni Edgar, I can say I’m pogi years old. Hahaha. It’s not that I’m embarrassed by my age. In fact, just the other day, when a Ticketworld cashier asked me for my senior citizen card, I proudly announced that I was then only 55. It’s just that I don’t see any good reason to count the years.

I didn’t think I would make it past 50. My big plan was to exhibit great potential, then die young—cut down well before my prime by an assassin’s bullet or by an undeserved illness. Biographers would bewail my “unfinished life” and hail me as a hero, qualified to be buried anywhere, despite my lack of real accomplishments. Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for that plan has long passed. Now the onl...

December 7, 2016

The Golden Rule of Gift Giving: Give unto others what you want others to give unto you. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the late 1960’s, I gave my grade school classmate a box of Curly Tops. I would have loved to eat the chocolate myself. That’s why I chose it as my exchange gift. What did I get in return? A bar of soap. To this day, I don’t know why. Naliligo naman ako. I have been emotionally damaged ever since.

Give cash. Obviously, there are people to whom you can’t give money; but for everyone else, cash is a most welcome gift. In fact, cash is the gift from which recipients derive the most utility or happiness because they get to choose exactly what to do with it. Cash is the gift that gives...

November 30, 2016

First, the TV went on the fritz. There were vertical lines on the screen that didn’t go away, initially only at the left edge of the screen but later near the center as well. Then the TV began clicking off on its own. Just as a program was reaching its climax, the damn TV would go dead—black and silent—except for a blinking red light indicating that it was waiting for something. I’d try every button on the remote and sometimes the TV would come back to life, other times the red light simply kept blinking, but most of the time the TV would turn itself on and off repeatedly as if it was possessed by the devil.

Somehow my inability to get the TV to work properly felt weirdly emasculating. I grew up in an era of stereotypes. Women cooked an...

November 23, 2016

Back in law school, before the Internet, before laptops, before PCs almost and when affordable photocopying (Xerox, for short) was still a somewhat new and amazing thing, we had to read Supreme Court decisions in the library. We were there in the morning when the library opened, and we were there when it closed at 9:00 pm. We only left the library to attend classes and eat, and yet we were never able to read all the assigned cases. No matter how much time we set aside for library work, our reading load used it all up.

Through the many jobs I held, the same thing happened. Drafting pleadings and briefs (What irony!), for example, took all day, all night and all weekend; and just when I thought I was close to finishing, a supervising part...

November 16, 2016

The world is not ending. Not just yet. But it has changed. In our brand new world, the Statue of Liberty could soon be standing behind a wall. Filipinos can fish in the West Philippine Sea because China says it’s OK. And the Luk Yuen restaurants no longer serve lapu-lapu congee. Oh em gee.

Everybody’s talking about change—change is coming, change is here, change this, change that—right? Let’s talk about change. We’ve all experienced some kind of bone jarring, earth shattering, unwanted change. Moving up to the big school. Being forced to live in a dorm or boarding house. Breaking up with a girlfriend. As Rico J. Puno narrated, “Pero bakit ganun ang panahon? Kung sino pa yung mahal na mahal mo, siya pa yung mawawala sa ‘yo, siya pa na ka...

November 9, 2016

When our daughter was born, I watched her for hours as she slept. She had a million different facial expressions changing from minute to minute as if she was recalling memories she couldn’t possibly have yet. I guess her body was instinctively rehearsing her face muscles for the life she couldn’t possibly know she was going to live.

When our son learned to walk, we would take him to the mall and he would always run ahead, actually just fall forward and put one stiff leg in front of the other at breakneck speed. I would rush after him in short bursts to make sure he didn’t get lost or fall on his face, but I don’t think I was really helping, only holding him back.

Last week our son flew back to Washington, D.C. where he works with an inte...

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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.

August 31, 2020

July 5, 2020

June 8, 2020

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

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© 2020 by Dan Albert S. de Padua

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