sábado, junio 13, 2009


from this point on, i will be leaving this blog for a new, spankinly better one.

my friends, please redirect yourselves from now on to "I am Dano Tingcungco" at danotingcungco.posterous.com.

there, you'll see photos, videos and music that are relevant and important to me.

of course, also a glimpse into where i'm at now, definitely a farther place than where i've been on this one.

please change your links, and enjoy the newness (apologies to the Palm Pre ads) that is
"I am Dano Tingcungco."

see you there!


miércoles, enero 28, 2009


On my way home from extended graveyard duty last Sunday, i ditched the car and the MRT commute and decided to take a cab. I didn't know how to react when I found myself hailing a cab that looked like an airport taxi. 

No it wasn't one of the nauseating yellow cab types that normally line up in NAIA 1 or 2. It was the average white cab with the sign on top. Unlike the sunburst cabs, it didn't charge an exorbitant P70 flagdown, nor did its meter drop at P4 per three minutes at full stop or so; like its ordinary siblings, the cab had the usual P30 flagdown, and an average P2.50 a pop meter. What gave it away though was the logo it had on the side. It sported the logo of the Department of Tourism. And when i stepped inside, the cab had no traces of the usual cigarette smoke or expired air freshener sent commonly found in average cabs; it was surprisingly comfortable: it smelled of disinfected flowers, the white cotton upholstery looked immaculate, and the window handles were all intact. 

The cab's driver (because I was too engrossed in what he told me, i got down and paid and forgot to ask his name. Let's call him Ted) told me he's been driving cabs for more than a decade --- since 1993. And unlike the million cabs I rode before his, Ted was actually proud of his profession. No traces of remorse, regret, sour graping, or having white-collar delusions. Nor was he complaining about how Manila's driver tend to be jackasses 90 percent of the time. He loved his cab, even if it wasn't his own. He didn't have a potbelly. He had salt and pepper hair and lines in his face are competing for attention, yes, but he had the air of someone who's lived a full life. Anyone could even wager he came from a old rich family and cut himself off to live his own life, and he wouldn't be far off from the truth. 

He was the first pleasant taxi driver I've had in a long time, outpleasanting even my own. Except for one thing: his taxi meter was running at a furious pace, popping P2.50 in the virtual piggy bank meter every chance we got to stop for more than three minutes. 

Not wanting to spoil the overall nice mood, I diverted the conversation to his meter. "So, your meter's not like the sunburst cabs, no?"

"Nope, they're of a different breed." I was expecting overtones of suspicion, shiftiness or just a slight flicker of uneasiness on his face or his voice. I didn't get any. 

He continued: "Actually, they get to charge more in flagdown and meter cos they're limited to getting passengers from the airport. They're supposed to go back. Now, if they get themselves passengers outside, it has to be along the way back to the airport.

"It's crazy. Look at their cabs. They can't have the signs we have, like the one on top of mine. And they can't pick people up outside the airport. That's why they get to charge more. My cab, NAIA approved us getting people from the airport. But we have to have our signs on top taken off everytime we drive inside the airport. When we drive outside, we have to get our signs back up, or we get ticketed. It's crazy."

I had to ask about the meter at this point. "But at least your meters get to charge like the ordinary ones. And you get to pick up more passengers. And i just noticed your meter's not like the airports that charge through a 3-minute countdown. But why does it seem to me your meter's a bit off?"

"Off? How come?"

"i must tell you, at this point in Kamias, our meter should at the very least go to P45 before P50, at which point we should've already been in Xavierville. It's kinda fast for me. Cos now it's at P55, and we're not even in Xavierville yet."

He didn't drop his cool demeanor. "It might drop too fast now, but believe me, you'll get to your rate when we get to your house."

At this point, I unknowingly entered myself into an impromptu crash course on taxi meters. 

Ted told me apart from the actual meter itself (the big amount line on the lower center line), a meter measures by distance traveled and length of time the cab is in a full stop. 

The upper left numbers in the meter measure the time the cab's on full stop, popping P2.50 every 3 minutes. It moves everytime the cab stops, and measures by the second. So when the time reaches 3 minutes, the meter moves P2.50.

Another way, Ted told me, taxis charge is through the distance meter, which is on the upper right hand corner of the meter. The distance meter pops P2.50 for every kilometer traveled. Like the time meter, it adds up the cumulative distance traveled by the cab, and moves the meter when it reaches one kilometer. 

"There was one time a passenger asked me, 'Boss, why is your meter so fast?' He told me the meter dropped to P5 in less than a minute, P2.50 every thirty seconds. I explained to him it's because the distance and time meters simultaneously filled up to their required distance and time. It was purely coincidental that it looked to run so fast because the time and distance meters work solo, and don't depend on each other

"Actually, sir, it kind of irritates me when people tell me my meter's fast. It's not fast, it just looks that way because there's a system behind it. And for post 2004 model cars like mine, it's hard to put in cheats on the meter anymore."

"Why so?" I'm usually skeptical, but in this instance I believed him.

"You know about the batengteng? The switch drivers use to push their distance turnup faster? That's usually done on older cars, like the old 90s model Corollas and the old Sentras. You know how their cambio has the leather cloth covering at the bottom? That's where they put the switch. So if you see a driver touching the bottom of the cambio too much as if looking for something, you got your batengteng right there."

But how does it work? 

Ted told me a batengteng switch boosts up the speed meter in the car --- without putting any excessive force into the engine --- to fool the cab meter into thinking the cab has travelled so long. "That's why when you see drivers putting towels on the dashboard to cover the speed meters, you have a reason to suspect they're using the batengteng switch.

"But we also have another way to cheat on the meter. See this U-turn in Aurora? Have you ever asked yourself why most taxi drivers make a U turn or turn on the outer corner of the turn? That's because the outer turn adds a few meters to the distance meter.

"i tried it myself when i drove along Elliptical road (in Quezon City). When i drove on the outer lane, I had at least 300 meters added to my distance, as opposed to when i drove on the inner lane, i had 400 meters less. 

"Another way we cheat is with the speed. Drive fast, and on the outer lane of any turn, then we get to make the most out of the road, without the passenger ever knowing we cheated. He can check the meter for the batengteng, but he won't find any."

But even as he told me all these, he never practiced what he exposed, at least while I was in his cab. I looked at his cambio, he wasn't holding it too low, and it didn't have a leather base but rubber, making it hard to implement a switch. I looked at his dashboard; no towels covering the spedometer. And when we made that U-turn in Aurora Boulevard, he took his time to make a U-turn on the inner lane. 

"It makes me feel bad when i learn all these. I mean, I've only found out about this when me and the other driver gather and talk about it. We earn money anyway; it's not a losing business like everybody wants to think. Why do they need to do this?

"When I was new to this job, one of my passengers asked me the same question you were asking now. My answer was like that of many drivers today; 'Sir, I don't know anything about that.' It just made me feel stupid and it made my passenger suspicious because I couldn't explain why my meter was being that way. So I took my time and studied how my meter works. I just hope everyone else learns how to explain to their passengers. Because even if they're not doing anything wrong, it becomes a losing battle when passengers start to get suspicious. 

"The drivers who tell me about these ways to cheat are usually the ones with vices or more than two families. They have to make money fast in the shortest time possible so they can have time for their vices. Like the drivers who sniff shabu or play tong-its after only two hours on the road. It's a thriving business. There's no reason to cheat on paying passengers."

When we got down to my house, true enough, my meter stopped at my usual going rate: P105 from GMA 7 to my house in Marikina. I paid him P150. He told me jokingly he was charging me more for his stories. So when I made good on it, he took the cash with some hesitation. "Sir, really, I was only joking. Let me get you your change."

"It's okay, it's yours. Let's just think your meter had a batengteng on it."

jueves, octubre 23, 2008

over the past year

over the past year and a half since i left this blog to focus on what antoine de saint-exupery's little prince calls "matter of consequence," so many important things have been kept away from this blog. 

since leaving this blog, i met my partner, the love of my life, my d2. i finished my thesis, won an award for it in university, got hired as a reporter for a major television network, and had an all-access pass to people some would only dream about brushing into at the mall. i brushed into some of these people and realized how some of them never really deserve their vip status. over the past year and a half, i changed phone numbers twice, had all my phones with my old phone numbers stolen at different occasions, got mugged, got harassed at different occasions, and found a way to turn everything in my favor. 

i've been out of town, i've covered major stories i would only hear or read about in the news before, covered small stories, had people asking me for help, had people refusing help from us, covered crime stories, had a first look at brains freshly escaped out of their skull cocoon. i've seen rich people in all their gaudy excess, poor people in their cramped shelters, i've seen mangled corpses in cars that fell victim to drag-racing, mangled bodies killed in the least dignified ways possible, rape victims who pretend nothing happened to them just to mask the pain they nurse inside, and dead babies stuffed in things the catholic church will shudder at. 

over the past year, i lost weight, gained weight, lost it, and gained it back twofold. i changed wardrobes, lifestyles, and brought one back. i discovered how to make music and not just be a critic of it. i lost my cultural capital by getting myself focused on work and work alone. i lost my nightlife, and got it back by getting myself on the night shift. i've been a cunning bitch to colleagues from other organizations, and incidentally had that same quality gain me friends from most of them.

i've been an ear, a mouthpiece, a megaphone, and a muffler. i've been a shoulder, an arm, a hand, and a fist. 

i've shed tears and made some people shed tears for me. i've lost my pride and gained too much back. i've had fat and put myself in the painful process of losing it. i felt like i stagnated and found a way to get out of the rut. i lost friends, lost contact with friends, gained friends, and gained too much contact with the new ones. i gave birth to ideas that never saw the light of day. i got exposed to the light of day with a terrible drought of ideas to serve as my shade. 

i've learned to forget, and i've learned to remember. at some point, i've learned that some things are best forgotten, while some work best when they're kept fresh in the memory. 

i've learned how to write fast, and learned how to write simple. i've learned how to ditch my notebook and pen for the notes app in my phone, and the memory app in my brain. and at some point i forgot how to write.

i've grown.

one by one, the memories of the past year and a half will flow as another chapter in my life sets in. they will flow together as context to the more recent events in this life i'm leading. 

i've once built a fortress of a dike to stop the water from flowing. now it's time to demolish the dike.

muscle spasms

one night, i was testing IM+ one of the 70++ apps i've downloaded and installed in my iPhone. despite the crappy EDGE connection i've had to live with, i was able to update my Facebook, read the NY Times, and log on to YM using it. if i'm lucky to have linksys as my internet service provider for the day (read: wifi hotspot), i get to call up some skype friends using Fring. but that night, i was testing IM+. 

first order of business was chatting with this friend. what was originally a hi-hello message turned out this way:

by the time i went online properly, he'd already signed out. 

my last line was really a knee-jerk reaction, not an attempt to sound smart. but it made me think. beyond the physical, literal bullshit, can you really sprain your heart? and when you do, what's the cure?

makes me feel sorry for this friend, who's almost sworn himself to celibacy. 

miércoles, octubre 15, 2008

suddenfiction1: numerology

i hate the number 4.

i don't understand.

i should hate the number 3: oro, plata, mata. death.

4 means gold, half of number 8, eternity in bliss. eternity of bliss.

fuck it. even fuck has 4 letters to its name.

but everytime tragedy enters my system, i look for any piece of wood and knock 3 times.

damn it, i knock three 3-knock sets just to drive the thoughts away and keep them there.

i should blame family friends for this.

one of them's psychic.

he told my mother never to use number 4, or have anything associated with it.

bad luck. supposedly.

so i trained myself to hate the number 4.

4 means even division, a selection of sides. two sides. i liked to fencesit.

at least three gave me a good bench to sit on while i dilly-dally which side to take.

maybe i should hate myself in the process.

my name has four letters.

lunes, septiembre 01, 2008


for the past couple of weeks, i have silently shuttled back and forth between work and working on this remix of the mariah carey song "i'll be loving you long time." vote for me asap if you like it, and pass the word to your friends and lovers and fiends! the more votes you have cast in my direction, the more chances this remix could get included in an official international release. so help me push my luck! VOTE NOW!

love y'all,

miércoles, julio 23, 2008

there are so many things i want to write about

but i guess i just don't know where to start 

more than a year since i put this blog on tempo leave, so many things have happened. 

i have not been the same xanana ventura. i have changed into someone, well, practically different i'd like to believe. 

i'd also like to believe i had been a better person. 

there are so many photos in my arsenal i want to post. 

another 60 gigs of all-new music i have gone gaga over the past year i want to stream in a revitalized media player. 

but a little more time, i guess. the mojo will find itself back.  hehehe

later, xananananananana

miércoles, julio 02, 2008


after a loong time of absence (reasons for which are work-related), i am happy to announce:

to everyone who's been looking forward to seeing another post in this hellhole of a blog, this will be my first one in over a freakin year!

it's not polished, i know, and blogging for me these days still feels like a baby learning to walk, i'm confident, though, that in no time, i'll be relearning the ropes that i've been so familiar with in the past, and i'll be happily typing away like it's second nature, so much like last year. 

so many things have happened to me since my last post, and slowly, i'll let you in on my life and how it has transformed. 

in the meantime, the blog is now officially open!

loveliness, xanananananananana