Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hayate Reflections: What Nagi's Victory Meant For Me



The world is empty… shallow… devoid of depth… would be my perspective right now if one thing had not happened on April 12, 2017 in our time – and of course, this would be Nagi Sanzenin’s total victory. Not only in securing the so-called Hayate bowl and being actually the one whom Hayate chose to be his true romantic partner at the end of the series. Certainly, it’s an open-ended type of ending with nothing really concrete said, but the implication is strong and quite clear – so let’s not argue about that. If you don’t like it, you’ve lost so stay salty forever~

But hey, I’m not here to talk about how salty you should be today. Today, I want to talk about what Nagi’s victory meant personally for me – and that’s just what we’re going to do.

So first of all, let’s talk a little bit about me. I believe that the best way that I can describe myself would be – an empty shell of a person. I am basically someone with no big dreams and no strong desires in life – and as such, I am also someone who does not fear death. That’s right, I’m not afraid of dying. Of course, I’m not suicidal and I don’t want anyone to kill me – that is a different story altogether. What I mean to say is that if I learned of my impending unavoidable death, such as perhaps through a terminal illness of some sort, then I wouldn’t really care that much about it. Certainly, it would force me to think about a few things and what I should do with the rest of my time in existence, but well… it’s really not something that I fear nor even a thought that really saddens. If there is one word that would describe me – it would be apathetic. Basically, I just don’t care.

Of course, I wasn’t always like this – and if you feel that you are like me, I’m certain that at one point, you weren’t always like this as well. This is my story.
Back when I first started working, I had a pretty meager entry-level salary (and I still do right now), but what I earned was more than enough to support myself. Over the course of just two years, I’d actually saved up a considerable amount of money and my savings just kept growing. This was a real morale booster for me since I started working just after I failed the Philippine Bar Exams.  The justices who checked my papers gave me a 71 and a 72 respectively on two questions which were pegged as “a test of English skills.” Naturally, I realized that the bar exams was total BS right away after this and I lost any desire to try again.

In any case, something happened around 5-6 years ago, which was neither my doing nor within anything I could control. As a result, it led to me partially shouldering a very small percentage of a debt that was never my own. Still, even if it was a small percentage, one unexpected expense led to the other and before I knew it, my personal savings had dwindled down to the price of a Nintendo Switch – and I have been struggling to keep it just a fraction above that level ever since. Now if I wanted to, I could probably get a second job and raise my income a bit – at the expense of my leisure time. However, since I’m still alive right now and still without any personal debts of my own, I have chosen not to. I mean, after all, the original problem wasn’t mine. Why should I have to work an extra job or two for it?

It was probably this event that caused me to lose my taste for life. Over the years, I have become jaded and apathetic and I really don’t see my personal situation improving or degrading in the near future – and as long as the status quo is maintained, I’ve given up any long-term plans. There was a time when I thought I could make my first million (worth about the price of a new entry-level car in my area for context) within five years – of course, this much is no longer possible.
Partially, this is why I turned to escapism. It was around 2013 when I discovered that I could really empathize a lot with Nagi Sanzenin in Hayate no Gotoku! It was around this time when the mangaka arc was wrapping up and the things that Nagi were experiencing really felt similar to my own experiences.

Chiharu’s Interference

In the long-run Chiharu’s interference for Nagi’s sake turned out to be for the best. Still, when I saw how high-handed she was in allowing Nagi to suffer for the purposes of her own growth, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I have personally had several experiences myself with such types of people who think they know better and who insist that you must suffer in order to grow as a person. Who knows? Perhaps those people were correct as well, but I know one thing is for sure, unlike Chiharu who was actually looking out for Nagi after all, these people were only feeding their own egos by advising someone whom they believe is below them – it’s just human nature, really.

Being Alone

Nagi’s greatest fear was always that she would be left alone and that Maria and Hayate would leave her one day. While this did come true eventually, she was more than well-equipped at that time to handle it.

However, during the mangaka arc, she was also left  alone to fend for herself in a way. During the mangaka contest, Chiharu prevented Maria from consoling her when she had all but given up. She felt desperate because she was running into one roadblock after another and Ruka was threatening to take Hayate away from her.
The worst part is that Hayate, clueless as ever, chose this time to ask for permission from Nagi to be together with Ruka and to help her out with her own problems. Think about it, the person you love is asking for your permission to be with someone else during one of the lowest most desperate points of your life. I’m pretty sure that this would be enough to cause severe emotional trauma even for a fully-grown adult – but remember that Nagi was just barely 13 and a half years old when this happened to her.
I felt a great empathy towards Nagi and her plight– and it was most definitely around this time that I really started to fall in love with her character. In hindsight, I was probably projecting a lot of my own experiences onto her – which is quite different from a lot of people who say that they can relate a lot with Hayate. This is probably also the reason why I am a Nagi shipper. At the end of the day, it is Nagi who resonates the most with me as a character and therefore, it is only natural that I would wish for her happiness – together with Hayate.

She Handled It Beautifully

And yet, despite being pushed  to desperation and actually suffering several emotional breakdowns in the process, Nagi did not give in to the desperation. She kept pushing on and despite having lost basically everything considering the super billionaire lifestyle she was living before, she persevered and finally achieved something of her own – which was to create a manga that people actually liked to read. I won’t say that she won an actual victory over Ruka, who actually allowed her to take the win, but I will say that what opened Ruka’s eyes to allow Nagi to win would be Nagi’s moral victory over Ruka. Unlike Ruka, Nagi was doing it for herself and for the right reasons. Despite having Hayate in the back of her mind as well, when it was time to start selling her manga at the convention, she was genuinely enjoying herself and she had actually written a story straight from the heart. In short, she had poured her soul into the task of drawing and selling her manga.

And of course, this was really the turning point for Nagi. This was really the part of the manga when she had actually “won” as an individual, as a character, as a truly worthy co-main heroine and romantic partner for Hayate.

While there were still many subplots to wrap up and a lot more drama to unfold between the butler and mistress pair, it was at this point when for her part, Nagi had achieved victory.

What It Means For Me

Nagi’s victory meant everything to me. At a point in my life when I was merely an empty shell of a person, I found someone whose experiences connected to me on a deeply emotional and I would say even spiritual level. As someone who views himself as a person who has basically lost at life with no dreams of his own, I found solace in watching someone else claim the type of victory that life had denied me.

Now I understand that the internet is a crazy place and of course, some clueless, insensitive individual will eventually read this and be like “ho hum, what a bunch of melodrama over nothing,” but just know that everything I said here comes sincerely from the heart.
This is lordcloudx and this has been Hayate Reflections. See you next week!

Fanart Corner

Testing out different watercolor sets this week. Two are from Student Grade sets (Bento Picasso and Sakura Koi) and one is an artist grade set (White Nights).  All of these were painted on a 4x6" piece of watercolor paper.








Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Earthquake in Davao -- A Short Story


An Earthquake in Davao (Inspired by an older Filipino classic)
Story and Art by lordcloudx


It was only halfway through March, but the humid temperature was already reaching hellish levels in the fair city of Davao, Philippines. In a tropical country, the heat is often compounded by moisture and humidity, making it extremely uncomfortable unless you have a job that allows you to sit all day inside an air-conditioned room.  

Unfortunately for Attorney Farah Duarte-Isidro, the split-type air-conditioning unit inside of her otherwise lavishly adorned office was currently out of commission. It was a fairly new unit and still well within the five-year manufacturer’s warranty. Of course, it had been three days since the service center had informed her that her unit was on queue for repairs because of the busy work load of its authorized service repair technicians.

Still, the sweltering heat was of secondary importance for the 34 year-old budding lawyer. The truth is that she had a lot of things going on in the back of her mind. In a few months time, the local elections would be under way and she had a lot of ground to cover if she was going to secure and entrench her position as the next mayor of Davao City. Over the past few months, aside from regular business meetings with her brand managers, she also had to make public appearances at all kinds of major as well as minor events in the city from the opening of new business buildings and shopping malls to every funeral parlor in town.  

Fortunately, Attorney Duarte was not new to the limelight which was part and parcel of political life in the Philippines. After all her father and her father’s father before her were once mayors of Davao City as well. It was almost a given that the next in line in the Duarte bloodline would eventually become mayor as well. It was not a political dynasty by any means. Each and every Duarte who came into power did so on their own merits and not because of their family’s political affiliations.

With that aside, the good lawyer was currently taking a much-deserved break by browsing social media on her office desktop. A sly smirk crept across her face as she scrolled through the trending posts on political issues in the Philippines.

Anonymous 1: President Duarte is a madman! His idea of solving poverty is to kill the poor. No poor = no poverty.

Anonymous 2: You’re the madman. Why don’t you be the president if you’re so smart? Our great benefactor Duarte only wants the best for all of us. The reason that so many people are getting killed is because they can’t even follow the rule of law. It’s simple. You break the law, you deserve to die. I for one am happy that there’s a few less stupid people in the world – including you. I hope you and your family get murdered in cold blood too.

Anonymous 3: I don’t know about you guys, but Duarte’s tax reforms are having a definite effect and I don’t like it. I work the graveyard shift in a call center and I used to enjoy hanging out with my buddies at this local diner on the weekends. I can’t do that anymore ever since the huge inflation caused by his new tax laws.

Anonymous 2: You’re an idiot! Duarte’s tax laws follow the example set by Singapore. You’re only seeing the short-term effects right now, but you’ll be singing a different tune 3-4  years from now when the Philippines is super-clean with a booming economy. You can take Davao as an example. We Davaoenos’ know for certain the good work that Mayor Duarte did in his time. The old guy cleaned up drugs and crime in the entire city by himself. Look at where we are now.

RING! RING!

Despite having a state-of-the-art Smartphone, Attorney Duarte was a woman of rather conservative tastes who still used a standard ringer.   A cursory glance revealed that it was someone she knew very well. She quickly swiped her finger to answer.
“Hello dear. How’s your day going? I’m still a bit busy at the office, but I am taking a little break right now. Did you want to talk?”

The voice of her husband, Nestor Isidro answered:

“Oh, not at all, honey. Just calling to remind you that we have a family date at the amusement park today after work. It’s Felicia’s birthday, remember?”

“Ah, certainly. She’d never forgive me if I missed that one. I’ll see you then.”
After the call was ended, Attorney Duarte’s fingers traveled to the 10x12” picture frame that she kept by her desk. It was a family picture of herself next to her husband, Nestor and their daughter, Felicia, who was just eight years old when it was taken.

Her eyes were transfixed on her daughter. She was a lovely young thing. She had thin lips similar to her father, but the chinky, but intelligent brown eyes were unmistakably that of a true-blooded Duarte.  She had a chubby face back then, but of course, this was four years ago.  Felicia was 12 years old now and her face was beginning to taper and not only was she taller, the shapely, palpable changes in her spoke of the voluptuous beauty that she would become in her teenage years.

“I’ll certainly have to warn her about how to deal with potential suitors pretty soon,” Attorney Duarte remarked to herself.

She was a caring and pragmatic mother who viewed her public life as a Duarte as equally important as her private life with her family.

Still, she was quite glad that for all the physical changes that her daughter was going through, Felicia was still pretty much a child at heart. She had asked to have her party at the Dleonor Water Park in Davao del Sur a month before. She really loved the water slides there the last time the family had a get-together at that place. 

She was also really thrilled because her elusive  Grandfather, President Antonio “Anton” Duarte had actually been around at that time.  Farah recalled their conversation:

“Well, of course. You’re now too much of a smart-ass. You even spoke up against my policies on national TV. Do you know how much damage control my spokesperson had to do to play that off as a family feud?”

“Dad, you know very well that I have my rights too. I just don’t agree with your drastic tax reforms and you wouldn’t listen to me in person. That was a last resort , if any. And anyway, you won. Also, what’s this I hear about charges of political killings being filed against you.”

“Bah! Mere rumors, I tell you. Don’t even listen to a word the biased media here in the Philippines tell you. If you don’t hear it come from my official sources, it’s rubbish!”

“I sure hope so. You know I can’t condone taking lives in the name of politics.”

“And neither can I, my dear daughter. You definitely take after me. Still, I truly believe that these tax reforms are for the good of the people of my country. In fact, I have the full support of the senate and a majority of the house to continue with further implementation of my three-point plan. Also, I’ve pinpointed the top seven troublemakers in congress from the opposition. Don’t worry, they’ll be cleanly removed from power soon enough. As for the taxes, they will make the prices skyrocket for a while, but just you wait and see. Once things normalize, the Philippines will be just like – no, more of a haven than Singapore ever was. … in any case. How is your campaign going?”

Farah’s face lightened up. She knew that there were many nasty rumors floating around about her father and she did disagree with his tax reform policies, but over-all, she understood that he was simply a good man, a pure-hearted man with a sharp tongue – but one that this country required in order to impose some much-needed discipline upon the masses. It was like Plato’s republic. Some people are just born leaders and she and her father – however much they disagreed with each other, were cut from the same mold – people designated under the stars to lead.

“Well, Dad. There’s actually not much opposition ever since I announced my candidacy. Even my main rival, Mr. Francisco Depedro has conceded that he has very little chance. He’s actually a pretty charming fellow. We met at the grand re-opening of the NCCC Mall just last December. He told me in private that he’d really like me to win, but there are people who have made investments in his name so he has to keep his game face on and pretend to be a bit hostile in public. Anyway, I would say that it’s pretty smooth sailing so far, but it is eating in a bit too much into my own private schedule. “

“Indeed… politics is a dirty business and not for the faint of heart, but you are a Duarte. You were made for this sort of stuff.”

“That much we can agree on, Dad.”

“Huh? Why are you and grandpa arguing so much?” A third, innocent little voice entered the conversation.

“We’re not arguing, Felicia. We’re just having a really exciting talk. Also, how many times have I told you not to interrupt when adults are talking, huh?”

“Hmph! Your mother is such a spoilsport, isn’t she, Felicia? What do you think about this Water Park? Are you enjoying it so far?”

“Oh yes, Grandpa! I really love it here! This is paradise! I could spend 99 years in here and never get bored. Oh and… and mom! Can I have my birthday party in here?”

Farah hung her head low in thought for a moment and then she turned and smiled sweetly at her daughter.

“I’ll tell you what, dear. Since you’re turning 12 now, you need to learn to be responsible. Why don’t you try earning the money for your birthday party here by yourself?”

“Huh? But like how, Mom? Do you want me to go to work at the office like you and dad do?”

“No, of course not. You’re too young for that… but… you could have a garage sale. You do have lots of extra clothes don’t you? I’m sure a lot of other parents with young children would love to buy some of the clothes that you no longer use. Also, those Lalaloopsies dolls and dollhouses that you don’t even play with anymore – I’m sure they’ll make some other little girls very happy.”

“Wow! That sounds like a great idea, mom! You’re a genius! You really know everything, don’t you?”

Felicia turned out to be a natural hostess. She started out a bit awkward at first and didn’t know exactly how to deal with the influx of customers, but after some coaching from her Dad, she was moving around and assisting potential clients much better than your average department store shop attendant. What is more, she really enjoyed the experience of earning her own money to finance her birthday party.

“And today is that day… my how time flies.”

RING! RING!

The ringing of her phone jostled Attorney Duarte out of her memories and back to her desk.

“Yes?”

“Attorney? It’s Frank . Just calling in to remind you that you have a business meeting with the City Development Planning Council after lunch. They want your input on turning the Port Area into a shopping mall. An investor from Iloilo is extremely interested in the project.”

Frank De La Cruz was Farah Duarte’s secretary, driver and all-around assistant. One could be forgiven for thinking of him as nothing more than a lackey, but that assumption is totally false. Frank was a magna cum laude graduate of UP Diliman and aside from winning various scholastic contests during his time, he was an amateur wrestling champion who had even been scouted by the URCC and ONEFC at one point. While having a nerdy look with his naturally curly hair and wearing very thick glasses, Frank was the epitome of the modern renaissance man, one who was competent and even excelled in a variety of fields. Farah personally scouted him out when she saw one of his amateur wrestling matches on TV and the commentators mentioned he was a scholar from UP.

In any case, it was a bit like pulling teeth getting Frank to agree to become her personal assistant, but Farah persevered and in the end, she got what she wanted – at the price of 250,000 pesos a week in salary with bonuses and benefits. Certainly an attractive offer and much more than the 13,000 pesos that an average white collar worker receives, but for Farah, Frank’s services had become invaluable over the years and she certainly did not regret a single centavo of what she paid him.

As an assistant, Frank had a curt, almost disrespectful nature when he spoke and although he was silent most of the time, he never held his tongue back if he thought he was in the right. In fact, Farah could not recall the last time she had won an argument with him, but he was also very professional. If there is one thing that Farah really admired in her assistant, it would be his ability to get the job done – competence.

“Ok, Frank. I’ll be right down and we can grab a bite by Mang Inasal on the way. I know you must be hungry.”

“Mang Inasal, is it? I’m actually cutting down on carbs, so no unli-rice for me, but sure thing. You’re the boss.”
“Be right down. Get the car ready.”

“Understood.”

It took Frank no more than five minutes to get the car ready downstairs, much faster than the fifteen minutes it actually took Attorney Duarte to finally leave her office. Farah used a White 2008 Nissan Sentra as her main mode of transportation.

Of course, the family had a larger car for long overnight trips, but the trusty pearl-white sedan had been a gift from her father and she had maintained it meticulously with her own hands – even going so far as to read every inch of the instruction manual from cover to cover and ask for tips from the local greasemonkeys at the Nissan Service center on proper car maintenance.

Farah herself was quite confident that she could handle a few simple breakdowns or two. Of course, she didn’t even need to do that much. Frank would handle everything just fine on his own in case they did have a breakdown. Aside from being a Political Science major, he had several TESDA certifications in almost everything from repairing cellphones and electrical wiring in buildings to plumbing, welding, and of course, fixing cars. It goes without saying that Farah had complete trust in Frank and his capabilities.

The nearest Mang Inasal was only 30 minutes away under light traffic conditions. Farah checked her scheduler app and saw that she had plenty of time. The meeting was still at 2:00 PM and it was just about 11:30 AM.
“So, Frank. How are your law studies going? I’m not keeping you too busy to study, am I?”

“No, not at all, Attorney. Also, it seems that your father has made some arrangements for the next year’s bar exams. I think we can expect a sudden influx of new lawyers by then.”

“Ugh… there goes my Dad again. Always doing something unnecessary.”
“’Unnecessary’ Attorney?”

“Well… sure. I mean, what do you think about his so-called arrangements, Frank? You’re a smart guy. I mean, of course you are. Don’t you think he’s demeaning the profession that way?”

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Of course…”

Farah Duarte braced herself. When Frank asked to be honest, it usually meant he would be very brutally frank – pun intended, and downright savage.

“I think that for the bar exams, the system was already broken from the start – what? With UP and Ateneo always dominating the top positions even though the curriculum is supposedly the same nationwide for all law schools. So I think that your father breaking the already broken system doesn’t do any harm. There was no integrity in the bar to speak of in the first place. All that talk about law being the noblest profession is just reassurance by those who have been through the hell of law school in order to justify their suffering.”
“Um… you’re serious aren’t you?”

Frank looked back at her from the driver’s seat with an almost piercing glare in his eyes.

“Yup, you’re serious, alright. And keep your eyes on the road. I trust you, but I doubt you have eyes in the back of your head.”

“Frank, do you… have a problem with the way my Dad handles his government?”

“In the first place, Attorney. It’s not his government. It’s a representative entity that belongs to the people of the Philippines and not just President Duarte. Secondly, no… if he thinks that raising taxes and nearly causing an economic collapse in order to fund long-term government expenditures is a positive development, then who am I, a mere political science graduate to argue? Of course, my position might change after I get my Attorney to my name. That’s why for now, I fully support his plan to allow more new lawyers in the integrated bar.”

“Yeah but…”

“Ah, we’re here, Attorney.”

“Wait a minute, I had something else to say… ugh, forget it.”

In her head, Farah Duarte was imagining her fist connecting with Frank’s arrogant nose, but even in her head, her assistant effortlessly deflected the blow and walked past her like it was nothing.

The Mang Inasal restaurant was jam-packed with customers at lunch time. Fortunately, the manager immediately recognized Farah Duarte and insisted on having the secluded area usually reserved for private parties opened up just for her.

Just then, Farah spotted three young individuals who were at a loss because there were no empty tables left in the restaurant. Farah waved and motioned for them to join her in her special table.

A scrawny, pimply faced young man was the first of the trio to greet her.
“Thanks, miss. We just arrived from the airport. We’re really famished and this was the closest restaurant. We should have known it’d be full at this hour.”

One of his companions elbowed him gently at the waist.

“Joseph, you doofus! Show some respect, don’t you know who this is?”

“Eh, what? Is she some kind of celebrity?”

The third individual, a quiet looking guy with scruffy hair that partially covered his eyes spoke up.

“Hmm… at the very least, she’s popular. You’re  Attorney Farah Duarte, aren’t you? The daughter of President Anton Duarte?”

Farah smiled and nodded in approval.

“Who-whoa! So sorry, about that Miss… umm.. Attorney. Forgive my rudeness!”

She held her hands up to calm the young man down.

“Relax, relax. It’s not a mortal sin not to know me. Anyway, I like having some company for lunch… well, there’s my assistant Frank who is ordering for me over there but that guy is like a robot, I tell you; totally devoid of emotions.”

Farah motioned at her assistant waiting in the queue. Frank nodded in affirmation.

“Anyway, guys. Lunch is on me today. I hope you guys don’t mind the PM 1 set. I just had Frank order for three more people.”

“Thank you very much, Ma’am. We’ll gratefully accept your offer,” the scruffy looking kid said immediately.”

“I’ll introduce us, Attorney. That guy with the funky hair is Simon, the one to my right is Joseph, and I’m Ronald. We all work at a call center in Manila. We’re just in Davao for a short vacation. We took our paid vacation leaves together. ”

“I see. I think you’ll have a lot of fun in Davao. In fact, I think I know a few places that young people like you might enjoy. Anyway, let’s get to know each other better over lunch. Tell me more about yourselves, boys.”

“Oh, excuse me.” 
Frank joined the table with a polite bow at everyone. He took a seat adjacent to Simon.

Ronald was the first to reply. It seemed to be a given that he was the spokesperson of the group.

“Well, the interesting thing is that we’re all professionals, actually. We were all nurses at the same hospital before working at the call center.”

“That’s interesting, Ronald. So what made you choose the call center over being a nurse?”

“Right, well… there’s the fixed working hours, the more comfortable work environment and…”

“Let’s cut to the chase and in a hurry shall we?” Suddenly, Simon, the kid with the “funky” hair spoke up.

“The real reason is because we couldn’t stand the so-called professional work ethics required of us as medical personnel.”

“Simon, are you going to tell them about that…?” Joseph interrupted.

“Interesting,” said Frank with one of his eyebrows raised up.

“We once worked on a patient together. When the family called us up to their deluxe room, the patient was unconscious. His respirator had been removed and he wasn’t breathing at all. I personally did a check of all his vital signs and they came up negative. For all intents and purposes, he was dead. We knew he was dead. We’d seen it before… but his relatives were watching us, hoping we could do something. So, we went by the book. We followed professional protocol and took turns performing CPR on the patient. At that point, we all understood that he was dead and there was no reviving him… but we kept doing it. We went through 20 CPR cycles before the attending physician arrived.”

“Oh my… was it the Physician’s fault?”

“With all due respect, Ma’am. Dr. Robles is a professional, so it wasn’t her fault. No one is really to blame… except maybe the hospital that assigns a single doctor to more than fifty patients. The reality is that our government hospitals are short of both nurses and doctors.”

“But, there’s a huge demand worldwide for Filipino nurses.”

“Exactly! That’s why most nurses would prefer to work abroad. The only reason that most of us work in hospitals here is to gain the necessary 2-year work experience to work in a hospital offshore.”

“So what happened to the patient?”

“Dr. Robles certified his death and we were basically off the hook. The only reason we kept trying to revive him was so that we don’t get blamed for the patient’s death out of a technicality. The local radio stations would have had a field day over that. We all decided to quit the job shortly after that. It was just too much stress. Also, Dr. Robles no longer practices. She actually joined the same call center as us a few months later. She said that she couldn’t stand the hypocrisy required of the medical profession. Even if it really is your fault, you have to make up some excuse so that it wasn’t – otherwise, you get blamed for malpractice. Of course, as long as you’re smart enough to fool your clients with medical jargon, it’s not a problem – but Dr. Robles is a person of conscience.”

“Wow, you seem to think really highly of this Dr. Robles.”

Ronald and Joseph smirked in unison.

“He should, Attorney. She’s his girlfriend,” said Ronald.

Simon’s cheeks reddened a bit.

“Well… at least you boys found your niche at the call center, right?”

“Hmm… I suppose,” Simon paused for a while and scratched his chin, “but it’s been getting a bit hard recently.”

“What? Why is that?”

“It’s the taxes and new curfew laws. We actually work the graveyard shift at the call center, and well, it leaves us mentally and physically exhausted. So we try to recharge during the weekends at a local diner and basically spend it drinking the night away. We usually finish by around 2-3 AM, which is out of the question now since the curfew law requires all business establishments to stop serving alcohol after 12:00 and anyone caught with alcohol on their tables can be arrested too. The new taxes make most of our hangout places a bit too expensive for our budget as well. Ronald over there has to pay for the schooling of his three siblings on his own. He has a sister who is a nurse abroad, but she has a family there too, so she can’t help out much. Joseph is in debt because of a business investment he made that went bad. And me, well… you could say that I’m paying for a debt that wasn’t my own to begin with out of my own pocket.”

“Everyone’s circumstances are different,” Frank said in a low voice.

“Bingo, um… Sir Frank was it?”

Frank nodded.

“But, you guys are here on vacation, right? That means you have some extra cash.”

“Actually, Simon here managed to have our boss write it off as a business trip, so the company’s paying for it. Pocket money, plane trip, hotel, basically everything.” Ronald answered.

“Hoho, I never pegged you to be that sly, Simon.”

“Heh, thanks… you’d be surprised at what a lot of people are capable of, ma’am.”

“With that aside, I think you should just bear with the taxes for a little while. Spend a little bit less and in 2-3 years, you’ll see some definite results.”

“Hmm… if you’re talking about President Duarte’s promise of an economic boom in 2-3 years… I just don’t know about that. It’s not a guarantee, is it?”

“What do you mean, Simon?”

“I think what he is trying to say, Attorney, is that there’s no reassurance of any positive results after 2-3 years and if it doesn’t work, your father can simply ask for an extension of 2 years, 3 years, who knows? 99 years on his plans? Meanwhile, the people are actually dealing with the effects of the tax reforms right now.” Frank intervened.

A deafening silence followed, which was only broken by the meals being served a few moments later.

Everyone then took to conversation by themselves. Joseph and Ronald continued conversing with Farah about their plans over their vacation trip with the Attorney sharing her knowledge about her beloved city with them. Meanwhile, Frank and Simon talked about political issues, which somehow drifted off into philosophy and even the plausibility of reverse time travel through multiple parallel worldines.

Sometime after everyone had eaten their fill, Farah noticed large ripples forming at the center of her water glass.

“It’s an Earthquake,” Frank noted, “Seems to be a strong one too. Everyone under the table, quickly. It’s hardwood, so it should protect us just in case.”

“Everyone! It’s an earthquake, under the tables and kitchen counters, quickly!” Farah Duarte’s natural leadership instincts that had been honed since she was but a little girl kicked in. She knew that this was the time for her to be looking out for her people.”

“Understood! Everyone do as she says!” The manager barked the orders to his staff as well as to all the customers inside the restaurant.
“You get under the table too, ma’am.” Simon urged her.

Farah took a quick look around and upon seeing that everyone else was safe, she also took her place underneath the table.

The tremors were strong and shook quite a few glasses off the tables causing them to shatter upon impact with the ground. This elicited some screams from the female patrons. The chandeliers swayed back and forth in every direction, very much like a swing on a children’s playground that had gone out of control.

Fortunately, it only lasted for about two minutes before things started to settle down.

It took about 20 minutes for Attorney. Duarte and her assistant to go around the entire restaurant and ensure that everyone was safe, including a few bystanders on the outside tables. Fortunately, there were no injuries except for one little boy who had bumped his head under the table.

“Sorry that had to happen during your vacation, boys. I have to go and check the entire city now for any casualties… Frank, cancel that meeting.”
Frank nodded in affirmation.

Afterwards, the boys thanked Attorney. Duarte for her hospitality and bid her and Frank farewell.

“We’re going straight to our hotel room to rest up for a bit. That was a little too exciting for our first day in Davao,” Ronald remarked.
Farah pulled up her smartphone.

RING! RING!

“Hello, Nestor? Are you okay? What about, Felicia?”

“We’re fine, dear. How about you? You’re not injured are you? We were in the mansion when it all happened. Your grandmother’s antique vase was the only casualty.”

“Oh pish-tush. I never cared for that old thing anyway, Nestor. I’m going to check around the city for any casualties. I need to be there if something big has occurred. Hopefully, nothing serious happened. Tell Felicia to wait for me. We may still be able to make that trip to the Water Park. I checked on twitter and they say they’re functioning normally. No damage and no need to close down the park for the day.”

“She’ll be delighted to hear that… hey, Felicia!”

“Mommy! We’re definitely going to the Water Park today, ok? Ok? I saved up for it all by myself, you know!”

“Haha! Certainly, honey. Wait for mommy to come home, ok? I love you. Take care of yourself and I’ll see you in a few hours.
“Ok Mommy, see you.”

CLICK

With the call ended, Farah breathed in deep and then she turned to Frank.

“Shall we go? We’ve got a busy day ahead of us.”

Frank nodded in affirmation.

The day actually proved to be mostly uneventful. There were some mild aftershocks from the Earthquake but nothing particularly worthy of note. The local radio station stated that it was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake. Some street signs had been broken and several cars had crashed into each other, but fortunately, only their bumpers were damaged. There were also a few cracks along the major highways so some roads had to be closed down. For the most part, it was business as usual in Davao City. The Davaoenos are a hardy lot after all and a tiny earthquake was no excuse for anyone not to be doing their job. Farah felt a sense of pride as she thought about how resilient her people were.

The only casualty was a senior citizen who had died of heart attack from panicking when the major tremor occurred. Farah paid the family a visit and expressed her condolences. Even though they were obviously impoverished still living in a makeshift house made out of scrap materials, the family offered her some food and drink, as is the custom for Filipino families, but she had to politely refuse since she was still full from lunch.

 When they left, Frank slipped five thousand pesos into the pocket of the eldest son. It wasn’t a bribe, by any means. Such things were considered standard operating procedure as far as Philippine politics is concerned.

By 4:00 PM, they had finished touring the most noteworthy places where the quake might have caused damage. She sent a text message to Nestor, but there was no response.

Farah decided to call it a day early. She dismissed Frank at this point and drove the rest of the way home by herself.

“I bet Felicia will be overjoyed to see me home early. That girl… she’s growing up so fast. Not too soon, sweetie. Mommy and Daddy still want to spend a lot more time with you,” she thought to herself.

It was upon arriving at the gates that she noticed that something was amiss. The gates were left hanging wide open. The Isidro family did not employ any security guards. They hardly needed any because Davao City was such a peaceful place. They did have cctv cameras all over the premises and a burglar alarm at night, but that was the extent of their home security system.

“Perhaps Nestor forgot to close it earlier.”

She parked her car in the garage and it was then that Frank’s parting words from earlier crept into her mind.

“Attorney, it’s a bit out of my job description to be saying this, but you should carry a gun with you. You never know when you might need it in your line of work.”

Foreboding thoughts gripped Farah Duarte-Isidro at that moment. She realized that she hadn’t made contact with her family for the last few hours. Her fears were multiplied when she approached the doorway. The door was hanging open and the knob had been wrenched off.

She tiptoed across the hallway, there dirty shoeprints all over the carpeted flooring. With fear and emptiness in her heart, she crept across the halls leading to the kitchen and dining area.

It was there that she saw it. A circular crimson, darkness, splotches of red on the table, across the floor and into the microwave oven.

“AHHH… AH… “ She wanted to scream but all that would leave her throat was a pained gurgle, almost a primordial snorting sound like a primate would make.”
“N-ne..nestor? Wake up.. Nestor? Nestor?” She nudged the limp body laid out on the chair by the dining table.

No response.

RING! RING!

With the energy completely drained from her body, and with time seemingly moving in slow motion, it took what seemed like an eternity for Farah to answer her phone.

It was Frank’s voice.

“Hello! Hello! Attorney? Is this you? I’ve been trying to call you for the last half hour but the hospital had a signal blocker in the emergency room. I had to run all the way up to the top floor. Are you ok? I’m sorry for your loss, but… I’m calling to tell you that I’m at the Davao Doctor’s Hospital. There was a wound to the chest, but the bullet passed through. She’s safe, Farah. Felicia is safe.”

CLICK.

And then the call was ended. The earthquake in Davao was over, but the results of the aftershocks shall remain forever.


THE END























 



Friday, June 29, 2018

Hayate Reflections: Missed Potential


First of all, a shoutout to MeteorD or GLaDOSVista or whatever you like to call yourself. Would have been nice to have one more Nagi shipper on board while the manga was ending, but hey, it’s never too late to poke fun at Hayate’s salty fanbase and talk about how awesome Nagi is together.

Now then, when it comes to the Hayate fandom, when you see the phrase “missed potential” uttered, it is most often about how Hayate should have been all lovey-dovey with some other girl who is not Nagi.  I mean, the salty fans of this series act like a broken record – and I believe it has to do with the lack of creativity of a majority of these salty fans. Don’t worry, if you’re not a salty fan, then this doesn’t apply to you.

Anyway, from personal observation, it would seem to me that most uncreative fans simply rely on the few people from their ships who actually read the manga and have the brain power to make inferences about it – no matter how wrong those inferences actually turned out to be in hindsight. So what these uncreative fans do is simply regurgitate the false information that they see from other fans who are a little bit more creative than they are… but hey, that’s just a speculation from me. Let’s get right down to the actual topic of today’s Hayate Reflections: missed potential.

So while I am obviously super happy with the ending of Hayate no Gotoku which more than favored my favorite pairing of Hayate and Nagi, there are some things that I wish had been executed much better – and here they are.


Athena’s Ring Box

Ok, let’s look back to chapter 266 or the closing moments of the Golden Week arc. It was here wherein Nagi and Athena first met face to face. They would become friends later on when Athena becomes Alice, of course, but it was here in this chapter when the two most important ladies in Hayate’s life (with Nagi being a little bit more important than others) really first met. 

It was a pretty simple scene. Nagi lost her favorite hat (the one that Hayate gave her back in Radical Dreamers – which also happens to take place during the Mykonos Arc, by the way, even if the chapter itself came much earlier.) So the hat was blown by the wind to some clump of trees. Athena, who happened to be there, catches it. She then gives it back to Nagi and impliedly tells her to take good care of Hayate (which a lot of fans misunderstood, of course. They thought that Athena was threatening to take Hayate back as her boyfriend and that she would do so eventually – which was of course, just silly fan speculation with no basis in truth whatsoever). But that’s not where the missed potential lies. 

When Athena departs, she leaves something else in Nagi’s hands – it’s the ring box for the ring that Hayate gave her. This is where the missed potential really is. The ring box was never really brought up again. I mean, you can actually see it inside of Nagi’s room later on near the end of the manga, but nothing really came of it. There was tons of potential for a romantic moment between Hayate and Nagi with this setup, but it was never used. 

Like, it was clearly implying that Nagi would someday fill the gap in that box with a ring from Hayate as well – but of course, Hayate showed his affection for Nagi in other ways – which was fine, but I just saw this as a real missed opportunity for a satisfying romantic moment.

Hayate’s Birthday Present

The second one would have to be Hayate’s birthday present, of course. Remember that sometime early in the series (also covered in season 2), Nagi promised to buy Hayate a birthday present with money that she earned by herself for doing a part-time job at café donguri and when she asked Hayate, he said he wanted a watch so that he could keep it with him all the time. Well, it’s actually brought up several times. At the end of the class trip arc, Nagi actually mentions that Hayate’s birthday is coming up. 

In the end, Hata skipped past Hayate’s birthday completely and then just skimmed over Nagi’s birthday. This was a really missed opportunity to have Nagi give Hayate a watch… or even if she did give him the watch off-panel, it could have been the trigger for him to realize his true feelings for Nagi later on inside of the Royal Garden. Sadly, it was never utilized – but at least Hayate still fell for Nagi in chapter 567, so it’s all good.

So with that said, that wraps up Hayate reflections for this week. Are there any particular scenes in this manga that you think might have been a missed opportunity? Do let me know in the comments.

Fanart Corner

Oh, and here are some fanart for the week. Some of them are a bit lewd, but it’s OK! Anyway, I’ll be on vacation away from my main pc next week, so I probably won’t have any Hayate reflections to show. With that said, I will try to make a blog post, so I’ll definitely still see you next week. This has been Hayate Reflections and this is lordcloudx out. By the way, Hata-sensei noticed my art this week again~ so happy!

Finally got a good shot of this. Prismacolor colored pencils and Nagi's glorious booty.

Dat ass is quite fine~
Actually just painted over an old piece that was becoming faded with age. Original was in colored pencils and felt tipped markers. This one is done in watercolors.

I should scan this one. Watercolors with Sakura brush pen for the outlines.




Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My 7-Day Trip To Kabankalan: Day 7


For our seventh day in Kabankalan, it was business as usual in the morning. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of pressure now because it was the last day and there was really nothing else to be done.  The graduation ceremony together with some presentations from the different groups would take up the entire afternoon. Meanwhile, many of the participants in the Purposive Communication class still had their comprehensive exams for the PhD’s and thus, were absent. 

Time  For... Some CARTWHEELS!

We arrived at around 7:45 AM at the CPSU Arts and Sciences building. Of course, this time, as expected, there were no students around. So my mother and I still took the time to set up the laptop on the big screen anyway.  She wanted to show everyone that the bloopers were now gone in the final video.

Seeing that there were no students around yet, we took to finishing up on some odds and ends such as the requirements to be passed to the administrators of the seminar and grading some of the students’ works that we hadn’t read yet.



It was a pretty slow day, so I had time for… some double cartwheels!
LOL! Well, that aside, I think about 4 students did come in by around 9:00-10:00 AM. We also learned that most of teachers went on a sightseeing tour of Kabankalan with their students. I think my mother was invited along, but she declined.

Lunchtime at City Mall

Since no one else seemed to be showing up, we decided to get back to Kabankalan City for lunch at CityMall with the four students who showed up today. We hitched a ride with a teacher who was on his way there.
I never realized that Nep had her own finance corporation.

There was a funny episode at the Mang Inasal stall inside of the CityMall food court. This conversation took place in Hiligaynon, but I’ll translate it. My mother kept asking the cashier whether she was a girl who was actually a boy quite jokingly. The clerk just kept smiling and said, “No, I’m a girl-girl.” And my mother answered “Of course you are,” with a knowing smile on her face.  Ms. CV, one of the students who accompanied my mother and I to the counter ran away.

You see, the cashier was really a girl, but she had a sort of masculine appearance and body structure, so my mother automatically assumed that she was a homosexual man. Anyway, she did return and apologize to the lady when we told her that she was mistaken at our table.


Departure Signs

Lunch had to be prepared inside of the Mang Inasal stall first, but before that, I was quite touched when the students presented my mother and I with some going-away presents. I was especially thrilled because they got me two 9x12” Sterling sketchbooks along with a 36 color set of Pentel Oil Pastels (the same brand that I actually do use).  I was just really happy that these people whom we’d just met a few days ago would be so thoughtful – and actually even select a present that would really appeal to me. Anyway, this is the first artwork I’ve done so far using the oil pastels that they gave me.

After lunch, Ms. G drove us to the hotel where we picked up a few things for Ms. CV who would be hosting the graduation ceremonies. My mother insisted on dressing her up fashionably. Also,  I accidentally closed the door on my mother’s hand because I took the passenger’s side from the driver’s seat and I didn’t realize that she had put her hand on my side of the door using the bar in-between the back seat and the passenger’s side seat to pull herself up. Fortunately, the pick-up was a new car with a child safety feature.

When we got back to CPSU at about 1:30-2:00 PM, the ceremonies were just about to start, so we made our way to Mt. Balio Hall. There were a few introductory speeches before each class was finally allowed to show their group presentations. Everyone had something unique to offer. Of course, for our Purposive Communication group, it was the video.  The class then presented my mother and I with some additional tokens to show their appreciation for us. I got a nifty red/black Japanese fountain pen. At this point, I started sketching a new drawing of Nagi that I planned to finish painting on this day.


A Short Farewell

After the ceremonies, it was time to say goodbye to everyone. The class actually wanted to treat us to dinner, but my mother politely declined because we were already scheduled to have dinner with the faculty group.

After that, it was once again time to drive back to the hotel. The representative from DENR entertained everyone inside the vehicle during the trip with her ability to do over 50 different voices and make up impromptu short stories with slightly derivative yet somewhat compelling short stories on the fly. It seems she was once a voice talent for a radio station.

We left some of our baggage inside the hotel and then we were driven over to a local restaurant for dinner with everyone. Dinner was fine, but I was actually a bit busy trying to finish my painting before the day was through.

At The Plaza

Everyone went on their separate ways after dinner. My mother and I got some ice cream at a 7-11 that was next to the restaurant and then we took a short walk around the plaza before we decided to ride a tricycle back to the hotel. It's funny because this was actually the first time that we'd had time to walk around Kabankalan City on our own. Unfortunately, most places were now closed.

Kabankalan City seems like a really peaceful place at night. There were even a few kids riding their bikes on the plaza – and it was already about 8:30 PM.
The hotel was only about 5 minutes away via tricycle and we were back in no time flat. It was now time to pack up our things. I finished my painting before this. Luckily, it was a Saturday and I had no work to do.

We would be leaving for Bacolod early the next day, so I took the time to snap a picture of almost all the gifts that the Purposive Communication class gave us together with my Nagi doll.

A Piece Of Me


Come morning the next day, it was time to say goodbye to this Nagi painting that I finished the night before. If you know me, then you would realize that I never ever part with any of the originals of my Nagi paintings… but I wanted to leave this one behind in Kabankalan for the CPSU Purposive Communication students. I never liked the place, really… it’s very scenic, but I’m a city-bred kid who is used to big malls and restaurants and other places that don’t close by 8:00 PM… but still, I wanted to leave a piece of myself in Kabankalan because of the many irreplaceable memories captured through the lens of my smartphone’s camera and the wonderful realizations that this place has bestowed upon me – inimitable moments that I will treasure forever, in the frame of my heart.

This is lordcloudx and this has been my 7-day trip to Kabankalan. See you once again in future travels to come.

I did make a digital version though :)



Friday, June 22, 2018

My 7-Day Trip To Kabankalan: Day 6


On the 6th day of our stay in Kabankalan City, I’d like to say that I’m getting used to living in this place – but that would be a big fat lie. In any case, Southland Inn is much, much better than Zaycoland in my honest opinion. We woke up earlier than usual having learned our lesson from the day before. I had the same breakfast of bacon, eggs and rice, and so did my mother. The difference is that this time, we had ample time to finish it.

After we were done, my mother took it upon herself to march straight into the CPSU vehicle and make a point… or something. Well, in all honesty, I’m pretty sure it was done in the spirit of petty revenge, but that’s how we roll~
As usual, we got off at the Arts and Sciences building at about 7:30 and after a short wait, the students all filed into the room by about 8:00 AM. Classes began with a short Zumba session again. This time, there was a demo teaching class performed by Miss C. who discussed how to write an illustrative essay in a very technical manner. Naturally, it was a competent presentation considering that everyone in the class is an educator after all.

After that, it was time for lunch, but I decided to skip it and stay inside of the classroom. This is because I discovered something a bit alarming. The raw footage for the video advocacy project hadn’t been compiled yet.

Time To Grind

Having worked on a tight self-imposed schedule with Visual Novels before, I just knew that there wouldn’t be enough time to compile the video – especially since no one in the class had any actual experience with video editing. With that, I took it upon myself to streamline the project and do the video editing myself. My laptop is an old Acer D732Z. At 2.0 ghz, 2 gb of ram and sporting a 2nd-3rd generation intel HD onboard gpu, it certainly was no powerhouse, which is why I downloaded VSDC the night before. I’d dabbled in the software a bit and I knew that it could run even on older systems like mine. Fortunately, Ms. C brought her HDD with all the raw footage. I spent lunch break taking out bits and pieces of footage from the waterfalls and splicing them together into a semi-coherent video. Rendering would take about 30 minutes, so I had to work against the clock. 

The worst part is that I wasn’t very familiar with VSDC since I use Camtasia Studio to do my video editing on my home desktop. I actually started to appreciate the power of VSDC a lot more after this experience.

In any case, what I did was to completely remove the sound from the raw footage and unfortunately for the students, I had to remove almost the entire plot of their skit. The video itself now just consisted of some really amazing shots of waterfalls and then some text messages spliced in-between. After that, I added in some music from Aquaria which was really fitting for the waterfalls and then used VSDC’s built-in “ripples effect.”

The new hotel has a nice little artificial grotto at the lobby.

By the time everyone returned from lunch, I’d had a somewhat passable advocacy video ready. I also took the time to write some impromptu prose about Mag-Aso falls which I planned to have different people from the class voice in turn. I mostly just took inspiration from the opening narrations of Aquaria.

VSDC To The Rescue

When my mother returned, she had a better idea and had them do the recording as a group via choral recitation. (She is a coach for verse choir, impromptu speaking, declamation, oration, and other similar contests) After that, the icing on the cake was to have one of the students, a Ms. H, who is a professional-level singer sing a local environmental song called “Kapaligiran.” Unfortunately, the recording hardware of my laptop just couldn’t capture her voice very well, so we just went with inserting the actual song ripped from youtube into the video.

Finally, I showed everyone the preview of the video and they found it quite impressive – of course, they did spot the fact that I’d somehow inadvertently spliced in some of the bloopers into the video. It looked ok, but it did kind of ruin the immersion. With that said, it would take 30-40 minutes to render the video, so I suggested that we just run with the bloopers since we were running out of time. It was about 4:30 when the video had finally been rendered and it looked ok. Everyone was pretty impressed with what I was able to do in that short span of time, but personally, I still wasn’t satisfied with it.

With that said, with everything out of the way, Ms. C entertained everyone with her powerful singing voice by plugging her laptop into the TV monitor and audio system and belting out several religious and sentimental songs which she played via a karaoke program on her laptop.

By 6:30, it was dismissal time again and time for dinner at Mt. Balio Hall. Then it was time for the  30-minute drive back to our hotel, Southland Inn. We stopped by CityMall again, so I took the time to buy some snacks for later.

A Little Bit Of Polish

Back in the hotel room, after getting all my work done (in record time because it was much more comfortable to have wifi in the room), I went over the video advocacy project again and after a quick google search, I managed to figure out how to edit them out via VSDC. So yes, I was using VSDC all this time without even knowing how to cut out certain parts of a video.

With that aside, everything was smooth sailing from there. The final day would be tomorrow and this time, there would be no pressure. Some of the students were actually having their comprehensive exams for their PHDs tomorrow as well, so not everyone would be able to make it. Fortunately, they would be graded based on their blogs and on the advocacy video.

Random Thoughts

As I lay on my bed contemplating all the things that had happened over the past week, it got me to thinking about Kabankalan City and how far away it is from the next highly urbanized city of Bacolod. There didn't seem to be any airports in the area, and I dunno, maybe there's a seaport or something? I was just thinking about how, despite the lack of any big shopping malls, 24-hour coffee shops or any of the hangout places that I'm used to in Iloilo City, the people of Kabankalan actually have access to pretty much the same level of technology that we do. Fiber optic broadband, tablets, high-end cellphones, PCs, cars, car service centers. 

Also, the facilities in the hotels and malls are fairly high-tech as well. Keycard system, modern elevators, etc. So it just got me wondering -- how do they transport all this technology as well as the things needed to these things functioning properly here? As far as I knew so far, the only way in and out of Kabankalan City would be by car -- and the nearest airport is a 2.5 hour drive away. I guess this is actually pretty normal in other places in the world? I have no idea, I'm naive about these things admittedly -- logistics and stuff. Still, it was some nice food for thought and it brought me back to the heyday of RTS games like Age of Empires, Starcraft, and Battle Realms and how you'd need resources to advance your technological level in games like these.

Thoughts like these pervaded my head as I eventually drifted off to sleep. See you for the final day!