Under the shadow of Mr. Lee

Judging from the news coverage early on Monday morning, you would think that Lee Kuan Yew made quite an impact on the world. He has, to an extent. In reality, though, it's not that evident to anyone who lives outside of Singapore.

If you do go to Singapore, you wouldn't even notice much of it. Sure, on the surface, you'll see a city-state that works. You'll get your baggage quickly. You'll ride a cab passing smoothly through expressways and avenues. You'll take a comfortable train system. Sure, there'll be stories of how a lot of things are not allowed, how a lot of things are fined and how a lot of things have strict limits, but there'll also be stories of how great it is to live there, how easy it is to do things, how you have everything within reach.

The Singapore you see - progressive, efficient; it just works - is all attributed to Lee Kuan Yew, the country's first prime minister. He led the country from 1959, when the then British colony gained autonomy. He pushed for a merger with Malaysia, seeing it as a way to finally end British rule. He got what he wanted in 1963, but a tense relationship between his government and the central government in Kuala Lumpur - mostly revolving around the latter's worries of increasing political involvement from the Chinese in the former - culminated in Singapore being expelled from the union in 1965.

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Give me Benedict Cumberbatch, or give me bacon

"Ayoko na kay Ian Somerhalder," my girlfriend said.

"Bakit?" I asked.

Ian Somerhalder, with his piercing eyes - especially his piercing eyes, perhaps - has been a bit of a topic between us two. Rainy's been swooning over him since she began watching The Vampire Diaries, and I try my best to, half-jokingly, pull her away from any Penshoppe branch that has his face plastered in front.

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Hold the wheel and drive

I was actually in Cubao for a baptism. Rainy's troll of a nephew. While the priest was talking, he already had his mother's car keys in his hand, and he was attempting to - pretty much - burn it with the Paschal candle. Usual grown baby stuff, but between the godfather and the aunt, well, "troll of a nephew".

Apparently the baby's dad, Rainy's brother, asked her to invite me to their place for drinks. I didn't know about this until a couple of days later. Anyway, why don't I come around for drinks? By then I had already dropped her off at her place, and I was on my way home, and she was preparing to meet her friends, and in between she was rattling off a quietly pre-approved list of reasons why I can't stay long.

He wants to go home early.

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"Number 27 has stretch marks!"

This image is girlfriend-approved.

I pressed the wrong button, and we made the wrong turn. It's understandable on my end, because no matter how well my sense of direction works, if I don't know a place, I don't know a place, and Cubao is one of those places that I just don't know. Rainy, well, Cubao is a place she's pretty intimate with, so her going along with that wrong turn was something.

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For Nikki

My high school classmates called me Dexter, not because of the glasses I wore, but because I spent a lot of time in front of the computer. I'd fire up FrontPage - remember that? - and do a terribly basic job at making web pages. Then again, I only had FrontPage. I didn't have photographs, or any sense of design, or frankly, any knowledge.

And yet I decided I wanted to be a web designer.

So I bought a handful of books on web design. There was this one book I eyed a lot at the Data Blitz store at the Alabang Town Center. It's this web design basics book: a bit on HTML; a bit on when to use GIFs and when to use JPEGs; a bit more on tapenade. I eyed it for months until I finally had the money to buy it. I flicked through it back and forth, and back and forth again, until I wore out the covers and I was compelled, belatedly, to have it covered with plastic.

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