Da quiz.

Dahil nga sa aking katamaran — at mula sa tsismisan at kung anu-anong kagaguhan with my besman, ang Ginoong Romeo “Jun-Jun” Alfredo “Sulpicio” C. Quintana — napagisipan kong mag-umpisa nang isang tribya quiz. Or, to cite its original title, The Pinoy Pop Culture Trivia Quiz.

Sinimulan ko ito noong Abril 1997, along with advance notice sa soc.culture.filipino, with the following questions:

1. In the Hotdog song, “Pers Lab,” where exactly on Ella del Rosario’s face could pimples be found?

2. Who played the policewoman Emma Henry in the film about Emma Henry?

3. Who was the woman in the Shell commercial that later starred in “Ang Boyfriend Kong Mamaw?”

4. What do the letters T.O.D.A.S. stand for?

Pito lang ang aking contestant noon, pero ito’y lumaki at lumaki hanggang naging mahigit na sinkwenta sa isang linggo. Naubusan ako nang oras — masyadong mahirap mag-tally nang mga sagot, much more mag-isip nang maitatanong! — and so the quiz died a much-mourned death on May 17, 1998. It’s only been over a year, but that year proved to be one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve had on the net, with da eksepsyon op my kontrobersiyal site, The Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos. Halatang-halata na ang mga tanong ay galing lamang sa mga taong ako’y nabubuhay (at nakatira sa Pilipinas), from circa 1970 hanggang 1990.

(Totoo bang nagkatuluyan si Camilla at si Gino A. sa inyong long-distance romance dahil sa quiz mismo, o wishful thinking lang ba ito on my part? Maitanong nga sa UPRHS mailing list…) Nadagdagan ito nang mga pangalan nang tao from whom I haven’t heard in a long time — si Boyong V., Cito S., Jun B., Tatie A., Cecile M., Alex G., Bambam Q., Mario S., Johanns F. and more, not counting my old high school classmates (Waldo, Asa (alyas Mr. Tabinga), Alice, Jenny, Mia, atbp.).

At least two people have written and asked if they could include my quiz questions on some university org quiz contest (meron pang isa na gagamitin daw sa TV); another person wrote and asked if they could publish the questions in book form. Someone spotted the url mentioned in the Philippine version of Cosmopolitan, and another saying that the questions were used (without my permission, of course) on trivia flash cards that were actually marketed. (Putang ina, nagalit ako talaga noon. Kita na nilang labor of love ito, tapos peperahan nila yung pagod ko?)

Pa-minsan-minsan meron akong editorial comment, kagaya noong tanong ko na iisa lang ang nakasagot: “The brutal torture and slaying of Kilusang Mayo Uno / Partido ng Bayan leader Rolando Olalia in November 1986 was one of too many signs that the Aquino government was following its predecessor’s footsteps. Who was the man abducted and killed along with Olalia? At ang sagot: “Olalia’s companion was Leonor Alay-ay; may their names live on as more than mere answers in a trivia quiz! A few months later twenty-one people would be killed during the Mendiola Massacre.” O meron akong mahabang diskurso tungkol sa rise of the Manila yuppie at CityLite 88.3 (baka i-publish ko later).

Or I would have something completely off-the wall:

1. You are standing on a beach when a woman on a white horse, in a red bikini (the woman, not the horse) starts coming towards you from nowhere. She is holding a bottle in one hand, and wordlessly hands it to you. What does the label on the bottle say?

Sagot: The woman waves goodbye as she gets back on her horse and rides up the beach. Speechless, you look at the bottle now in your hand. “White Castle Whisky,” you read aloud to yourself. You shake your head, pondering the significance of what had just happened. You open the cap and tip the bottle to your lips. The horse and her rider disappear off into the distance. You can barely make her out, the woman shimmering in the heat.

In any case, check it out! Kung ganahan ako, baka umpisahan ko ulit! (I still get about a dozen e-mail messages a month asking about whether the quiz would return.)


Philippine News Day

Philippine News Day. [It’s hard typing this with one hand, as I’m cradling Izzy with my left arm.] Yesterday I went to the 40th anniversary party of Philippine News, held at the SF War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. Usually I consider this sort of thing as work (part of my research and all), but I was really looking forward to being there. Seeing old friends (Cherie, Salli, and so on — I must have lunch again with you folks one day), enjoying the beautiful weather (the balcony looked out over Van Ness and City Hall), and drinking the champagne (flowin’!) — this wasn’t work. =) Okay, I managed to sneak in a few discussions with academics as well (see, it was work-related after all).

The Pinoy glitterati was there in full force, along with the usual cast of characters at Bay Area events, with various dignitaries and indignitaries. Mayors of different cities proclaimed August 24, 2001 as “Philippine News Day” — something Willie Brown seems to do at the drop of a hat — and Speaker of the House Kevin Shelley gave a nice little talk about how PN had supported his dad Pete as mayor of SF back in ’63.

By far, one of the two highlights of the event was founder Alex Esclamado’s speech. (He was somewhat upstaged, though, when the keynote speaker — Phil Bronstein, executive editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and animal-bite survivor — and his wife made their fashionably late entrance amidst snapping flashbulbs. I was standing a few feet away from her, and she looked pretty glam, but was paler than I expected.) In my writings, I’ve been a little critical of PN before, pointing out their gleeful celebration of various society events (balls, debuts, and whatnot) and how this inadvertently contributes to a vision of Asians as the model minority. But I do recognize, at the same time, that this is a “function” of the immigrant press, i.e., staking a claim regarding belonging in America, and this is, I think, a particular immigrant predicament in which the ethnic press in general finds itself. Still, there was a certain undeniable bravery when PN did what it did in the ’70s, and now, listening to Mr. E’s understated reminiscences, I had to agree. There was genuine emotion in his voice as he singled out the most loyal staffers. Even as he went into his usual spiel about how the newspaper began “in the garage of his small house in San Francisco’s Sunset District” — something I’d heard and read many times — my heart still went out to him a little. He was right to be proud.

The other highlight came not from any speech, but from a musical performance. I have been a fan of Joey Ayala for many years now, since my high school days, and when I met him about a month ago I was too tongue-tied to say anything (I even forgot to bring out the CD I wanted him to sign). So he comes up on stage with a guitar, and tells the audience that he’s a songwriter from the Philippines, and that he’s written 150 songs, but the song he was going to sing today was not he had written — in fact, he said, “I learned it from you.” This is your song, not my song, he said, introducing it as “an English folk song from the 1800s” which he just learned here in the U.S. And then he promptly launches into a stunning version of the Star-Spangled Banner — in Tagalog.

I wish I can remember the lyrics exactly. But I can’t. I suppose I can ask him for the lyrics later, but I think it would spoil it. It began with “Nakikita mo ba?” and then went on as a hymn dedicated to the immigrants of the United States. His lyrics had allusions to the Filipino American War and ended with something about “Hinirang na bagong lupa” (a clear reference to the Philippine national anthem) and “Kasaysaya’y pinapanday.” All in all it was too brief a moment, possibly two minutes: Ayala had the audience in the palm of his hand, and then it was gone.