Tuesday, September 2, 2008


pen and ink on paper
14" x 20"

“How long did you have that tattoo done?”

“Ah, about an hour man.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Naah, it’s just like being pricked by a needle.”

“Duh-uh… it IS being pricked by a needle – a thousand times no!”

“Oh yeah. It’s also like putting a lighted cigarette on your skin several times over.”

“Ooooh… that hurts.”

“Ey, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

And so went my conversation with Al – a rastafarian I met at Ricky’s tattoo shop. I’ve been going back there a million times now, still undecided if I’m going to have a tattoo on my right shoulder or not.

For a hundred times, I’ve been procrastinating on having mums tattooed on my shoulder up to the side of my arms. And for a hundred times, I always end up just hanging at the tattoo shop.



Just around the corner from my place is Leveriza St. It's where the cheapest grocery I've ever found is located (Liana's), the best place to find great longganisa and exotic fish (Cartimar), the best deals on bikes and the best tasting tofu from the several Chinese and Japanese shops along the area. Leveriza, at night, is also where I can hang out and watch some of the funkiest street dancers I've seen in the city.

They come in all shapes and sizes, dance grooves and what they call "gangs". There's the Batang Hippers made up of 15 to 20 year old kids who are either young fathers or moms. There's the Tropang Troopers who are still stepping into puberty but can cuss like seasoned 50-year old men. The Khool Ghurlz made up of teenage girls from the local college here in Pasay. When they step out and do their J-Lo numbers on the street, they become a magnet to all the horny salivating men.

My favorite though is the funniest, and I think the hippest. They're a group of four old transvestites, the youngest is in his/her late fifties and the oldest is Lolo/Lola - a 70-year old grandma/pa who works in a run-down parlor across my place. They would come out on Saturdays, put on their merriest and most colorful gowns and sit in front of Old Mameng's - a 24 hour eatery. Holding their grass fans, they will be fanning themselves haughtily as they watch the kids do their dance stuff. Every now and then, when a young man would catch their fancy, they'd either wink at him or purse their lips at the young creature.

The fun part comes when one of the kids would dare the Lolas/Lolos to do their stuff. With great aplomb and a shake of their tresses, they'd stand up holding their fans and start doing in a very choreographed manner, an old fandango that harks back to the slow dance steps of the fifties. Amazingly, they'd do it in a very synchronized manner - like they've rehearsed it a million times - to the tune of Rhianna's Umbrella Song. Their dance builds up. The crowd hoots and applauds. And like clockwork, near the end of their number, the kids would then all jump in and do their own beats. The Lolos/Lolas, tired from their exertion would go back to their seats, fan themselves furiously and giggle (or sometimes cackle) like a pack of teenage girls.

When I saw this video on youtube, I thought, the hiphoppers in this video could pick a thing or two from the locals of Leveriza especially the Lolo/Lolas... :-)

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