My friends in exotic places

Yes, yes, social media is around mostly to tell other people how awesome your life is. What else explains seeing an endless stream of vacation photos, food photos, outfit photos, desk photos, couple photos, you get the idea, right? And perhaps the only time you see something mundane on your feeds - say, someone doing the laundry - it's often done ironically. "My life is not glamorous. Look, I still have to do the laundry!"

I know this, and I'm still trying to get used to it. I could claim, all I want, that seeing these things don't stir me like most people, I do. No matter how I convince myself that I am doing fine, saving my money for the more sensible things in life - a future together, for example - I still sit here wondering why I don't get the chance to do the things they do, or, specifically, the things they post about. Look, a friend posting a photo of her coffee cup at some third wave coffee place. Look, a friend posting a photo of a bowl of ramen sold cheaply at some hole in the wall place somewhere. Look, a friend posting a photo of herself dragging whoever she's with towards whatever door that is in wherever tourist trap they're in. Yes, I know it's shallow, and yes, I know it still, somehow, sucks that I'm not exactly in their shoes.

"I think that's smart, saving up," Nat told me in that rare video call we had a few weeks back. Well, it wasn't much of a video call because I had terrible lighting and everything just lagged.

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Set yourself free

The Lawson's near my office has pretty good sandwiches. I'm not saying this because they have the BreadTalk branding. I'm saying this because even if you know these items are cheap cast-offs - of course you will not find their floss bread there - they're still pretty good. For P39 you get what they call an Asian sandwich - essentially grated carrots, cucumbers (Japanese, they emphasize), a generous smear of liver spread, and a slice of luncheon meat. It doesn't sound glamorous, but it does taste good. And I think the bread's slightly toasted the French way.

I buy one this morning. Despite my wallet-based troubles I still find myself peckish at nine in the morning, and that sandwich does the job - not too filling, but tasty enough. I hold the sandwich bag in my hands - no paper bag; I always ask the convenience stores not to give me a paper bag if I'm buying items I can carry with my hand anyway, never mind it's newly warmed - and walk into the elevator. There isn't much of a queue. There are around seven of us, I think. Or eight. Three of them are Japanese men, walking in noisily and shutting up as soon as they settle in.

I press 19. Someone presses 16. Someone presses 17. Someone presses 18. Damn it. I just want to enjoy my sandwich in peace. At my desk. I know it's not dignified, but it's a sandwich, and the pantry at my office is not exactly a happy place.

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The Malaysian Driving Experience

They say the best way to learn how to drive is to drive around Manila. Just dealing with drivers who will squeeze themselves into every nook and cranny just to get ahead, with buses who veer past the yellow line just so they can get passengers, with jeepneys who stop in the middle of the road for the same thing - that, the logic goes, should make you a good driver anywhere, because everywhere else, or at least most of everywhere else, is much more civilized.

I can't possibly test that. I don't think I'll ever drive a vehicle outside of the Philippines. Not that I have to. The longest I've been out of these shores is eight days, and that was in Singapore, a country with a public transport system so purposeful you'd be an idiot to want to drive. (Well, there's also the fact that the Philippines uses left-hand drive and Singapore uses right-hand drive. That's a bit of a learning curve.) For the most part, I could subsist with public transport. I could find my way with a map, a proper train, and a few sacrificed calories.

But not in Kuala Lumpur.

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Grace Poe and the ever-changing criteria for being president

Finally, we can stop pretending. The worst-kept secret in Philippine politics is no longer a secret: Grace Poe, a neophyte senator, has announced that she is to seek the presidency in 2016.

It's just the middle of September, and yet everybody has their sights on the second Monday of May. At least three elected leaders have virtually stopped working, choosing instead to go on a not-so-impromptu, thinly-veiled campaign run. Jejomar Binay continues his bid to salvage what's left of his image by putting himself apart from what he believes are the failures of the current administration, to mixed (well, mostly negative) results. Noynoy Aquino has taken every opportunity to express his support for his anointed successor, interior secretary Mar Roxas.

And, at least until recently, Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte has teased the electorate like a stripper who refuses to take it all off, finally saying that he won't be running for the country's highest office despite billboards promoting road safety popping up outside his turf. That's not to mention the many other politicians who are testing the waters by any means possible - random television ads, spam text messages, marriages to washed-up celebrities - and looking to, one, see if they can get their names out there, and two, tell everyone that, hey, I'm here, and I'm possibly going to promise the world to you.

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By the numbers

I like pasta. Today my mother cooked up puttanesca - well, it's not exactly puttanesca, considering there aren't any anchovies and it's chunkier than usual. Tuna, olives, capers, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, that does the trick. I end up eating way more than I should, so much so that my mother would always warn me not to eat too much, especially at night. "You will have nightmares," she'd warn me. "You might die." She'd cite all these celebrities dying of bangungot, of how they had noodles before they went to sleep. Well, tonight, I will eat all the puttanesca I can handle, because it is my happy food.

"You think too much," Camille told me one afternoon. "They don't give a shit about you, so you shouldn't give a shit about them. Get it? May paranoid personality traits ka, I swear." I thought about it for a moment, and wondered if I really am just in the wrong circles, exposed to the wrong things, that sort. Or maybe me being potentially paranoid was just too, you know, heavy. Seeing those words felt like a judgment passed down from the heavens. This is how you'll be known from here on, the people up there will say. Yeah, maybe I'm just in the wrong circles.

I don't believe people when they say they have lost all faith in humanity. It's typical millennial exaggeration. There's this story of a particularly rude person, doing some disservice, something bad, solely because they don't give a shit, and automatically, they have lost all faith in humanity. And then someone does a good deed and boom! Faith in humanity restored. It's like, I don't know, Aylan. Nobody really cared about the refugee crisis until a dead kid washed up on shore and someone happened to take a photograph. "My heart is breaking," they all now have the urge to say. I guess it wasn't broken before.

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