Getting a nipple ring

The (Nipple) Ring 
By Walter Ang
November 2003 issue
MTV INK Magazine

February 
I don't know when it was exactly that I decided I would get a nipple ring. But when I finally got my head to agree with my heart, I spent a few days scouring the internet to research body piercing. I figured if I was going to get it done, I'd better know what the hell I was getting into!

I got loads and loads of information and used my super editing skills to trim it down to a four pager summary. Prepared with my research, I proceeded to find an appropriate piercing parlor where I could have my procedure performed. (Don't you just love alliteration!?)

A friend tipped me off to a tattoo/piercing parlor in a Makati mall. I went to do a visual inspection, or more commonly termed in the Philippines as "ocular." It seemed clean enough. They had a Certificate from the Sanitation Department on the wall, which what I thought was a good thing. I asked a couple of questions and got suitable answers. It also helped that there were a lot of people getting tattooed that day and I could see the piercers in action. I decided I would return the following week to get the procedure done.

But first I had to find a ring. It was not an easy task! There are basically two types, rings and barbells. Most of the barbells I found were either too long or too thick, and I settled on an aptly sized stainless steel surgical ring. The stainless surgical steel sounds so ooh-la-la, but it serves a very important purpose. My research indicates that other metals (like silver and gold) will tarnish and the thought of me getting silver poisoning is definitely not ooh-la-la.

March 
The day of the pierce (Wince rating: 3 out of 5. But you know you want to read on.)
I recruited my friend Donna to go hold my hand in case anything untoward happened. It didn't hurt when the needle went in. It hurt a little when it was coming out the other side. What hurt the most was when he was pulling the needle out while inserting the ring! It felt like a giant lead pipe was being dragged through my chest!

The embarrassing part is that after the ring was in place and just before the piercer screwed the bearing in, I started trembling and before I knew it, my whole head went numb, I couldn't hear anything and I had this overwhelming sensation of wanting to sleep.

It was so trippy! I had never fainted in my entire life before and the funny thing was, I had three different thoughts running through my mind simultaneously.

Thought # 1: Oh my God, I must not faint! I must not faint! It's not macho! It's so wussy!

Thought # 2: I *must* pay close attention and remember what fainting feels like so I can write about it in the future. I am a writer, after all.

Thought # 3: Oh boy! I'm going to faint! I have to tell them before I pass ouuuuuu . . .

A few minutes later When I came to, I could smell ammonia and felt a hand supporting my chin. And yes, my friend was holding my hand, bless her.

One final sweep of the piercer's hand screwed in the bearing to hold the ring in place. All done!

They let me keep the needle that was used to pierce me. How cool! It's like bringing home your own appendix after they take it out!

That afternoon
I walk around the mall with my two hands holding the front of my shirt away from my chest. I'm sure I looked like a total doofus, but my whole pec left was hurting so much. Even the wind made me cringe.

That night 
I call my med student friend to ask why I fainted. He thinks it's because I was probably holding my breath too long from the pain and my body compensated by making me hyperventilate and faint. I suspect what he really wanted to say was, "The reason you fainted is simply because you're a wimpy geek!"

I am afraid to even take a shower. What if I faint when the water hits my ring?! What if I faint and fall on the cold tile floor and hit my head and die!?!

On Monday
I show my coworkers in the office. They all scream. Even the guys.

The following morning
I receive a text message from one of my officemates. "Sobrang ayaw ko sya. d ko makalimutan noh. ASAR ka talaga. U shldnt have showd me dat. Now i can't get it off my mind!"

A few minutes later, I get another text message from the same person. "NAIINIS AKO SA IYO!!!!! Naalala ko ung nipple mo. BWISIT KA!!!"

A few days later (Gross rating: 5 out of 5. You have been warned.)
There are mornings when I wake up and there are white crusty thingies around the holes where the ring goes through.

On some mornings, pus comes out of both holes. Blech! I have to squeeze my tit to get most of it out. Double blech! I warned you!

Months later 
My nipple and areola were tender for about a week after the piercing. But after that it was pretty okay. Now that months have passed, icky stuff doesn't come out of the holes anymore and the ring doesn't hurt at all. In fact, when properly ? err, handled, the pleasurable sensations are more than doubled compared to my pre-ring days. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

When people ask me when I'm going to get my other nipple pierced, I say, "Fainting once in my life is enough. Thank you."

Whispers and quivers: Walking tours of Manila's cemeteries

Whispers and quivers 
By Walter Ang
November 2003 issue
MTV INK Magazine

As November loomed closer, I felt the earth quiver and heard it moan with whispers from souls beyond our world. Just kidding! I didn't really hear anything, but I did feel it was the perfect time to take a walking tour of the La Loma, Chinese and North cemeteries.

I've known my friends long enough not to invite the ones who'll look at me like I've taken crazy-pills, nor the ones who will cross themselves and sneak glances at my forehead, trying to see if horns are beginning to grow. Instead, I rounded up a bunch of morbid freaks, I mean, ehem, adventurous, curious and fun-loving individuals to join in this enterprise.

We met up with our tour guide Carlos Celdran, a bubbly and gregarious fellow, and began our journey at the La Loma Cemetery. Energized by the bright afternoon sun, we were eager to explore the earth and see what stories it would reveal.

Beginning at the end
Away from the city noise and clutter, the tombstones and statues of angels stood tall and erect, serene monuments calling our attention to the Netherworld. Carlos, who also does walking tours of Escolta Street in downtown Manila and Intramuros, started off with extremely insightful historical and architectural tidbits on how the cemeteries came to be. He wove in economics, politics and all sorts of trivia -- all without sounding like a droning teacher from Social Studies class.

In fact, seeing tangible remnants of what he was talking about made it so much fun and entertaining I wondered why we didn't have this tour as a field trip back during my student days. My tourmates got so into it that they were practically shouting out names of laws (feeling like game show contestants, I'm sure) that I had long buried in my brain like the Tydings-Mcduffie Law, Jones Law and some Hare Krishna Law. I, on the other hand, had flashbacks of terror teachers asking questions I didn't know how to answer. The past really does come back to haunt you!

Before we left La Loma, we tried to sneak into the church and stumbled upon a group of men having some sort of religious meeting. I was once told never to be afraid of dead people, "it's the live ones you should look out for." No words rang truer at that moment. Apparently, it was some secret exclusive men's faction and these guys wouldn't allow the women in our group to go in ? talk about freaky.

Next stop was the Chinese cemetery where Carlos gave us joss sticks (incense to the rest of us) and "wishing" paper money to burn so we could do ancestor worship. Just like the Chinese, how exciting! We solemnly did as instructed, watching smoke from the tips of our burning joss sticks float to the sky, our intents and desires along with those ethereal wisps, onwards and upwards.

The Chinese cemetery is a cornucopia of visual delights, with rows and rows of mausoleums that featured a mixture of Oriental and Christian motifs. As Carlos gave us an overview of Chinese death rituals and burial customs, we were led to a mausoleum with a glass fa├žade and a velvet curtain keeping its innards away from prying eyes (like those of nosy, noisy tourists, ehem).

This particular mausoleum, according to a source, is the only one in the world to have been included in the Guinness Book of World Records for having an airconditioner. Lots of mausoleums have those now, but I suppose this one started the trend. These days, there is nothing beyond those floor to ceiling curtains, since its, uhrm, residents have been moved to another cemetery south of Manila.

The high cost of plots have spurred a steady migration, leaving a lot of the graves in this cemetery empty now (what our tour guide described as "desecrated tombs"). This strange fact, along with the stillness of the air and the sight of crumbling walls and fallen angels cracked in half added to the eerieness and sadness of it all. I have grandparents buried there so the place was not new to me, although I imagine it must have provided a surreal, otherworldly experience for the rest of the group.

A grave for everyone (and their dog, too)
Our last stop was the North Cemetery, a veritable melting pot of races, classes and religions. And stories -- this place is a treasure trove of lore and juicy, steamy tales.

We go to see the plot of the Thomasites, the Katipunans, the Freemasons, and yes, even our country's first World Flyweight Boxing Champion, Pancho Villa. The circumstances surrounding their deaths are as colorful as Pancho Villa's headstone and as textured as the intricate carvings on some of the statues punctuating the cemetery.

What surprised me was that this cemetery is apparently the final resting place of a lot of the former presidents of our country. So this is where they end up! For those of you who think dead presidents are only good for having their faces printed on money, this tour will definitely change your mind.

"Remember, it's not tsismis if it's true," Carlos began, and proceeded to dish out tales about our former heads of state that made our eyebrows arch and jaws drop. Affairs, conspiracy, murders ? twists of truth that would put any telenovela to shame.

Our last stop was the stately plot of former president Manuel Roxas. As we took time out to digest and relish all the information we had learned that quiet, lazy afternoon, we were challenged to find out where the Roxas's family dog had been buried. The night had begun to steal away the sun and the sky had turned a pale gray. Someone from our group finally found Bogie's little niche, a pet who left his family forever in his tenth year of life.

Feel like waking (stories of) the dead? Contact Carlos Celdran at 671-7726 or 0916-783-1383 or celdrantours@hotmail.com.