Peter Parker’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, December 30, 2004 was originally posted on January 04, 2005.

DAY 439:  Back in June when I was on a tour in Morocco with Vancouverite Sebastian, we had a good laugh in the minivan talking about how funny it would be to travel around the world with a Spider-Man costume, so one could take photos of Spider-Man out of the context of New York City — Spider-Man riding a camel, Spider-Man in the jungle, etc.  Little did I know at the time in Morocco that our idea would realized before the end of 2004.

MY COUSIN JOEY DESIGNS NANOMACHINES at his job by day, but by night he is quite the avid comic book fan.  On vacation, he didn’t go anywhere and just stayed home to make the most realistic Spider-Man mask he could with ordinary craft material:  an old red t-shirt, pieces of rubber, clear plastic like the kind from a report cover, and a tube of fabric paint.  The end result was an amazing Spider-Man mask that could have been made by a Hollywood costume designer.  It was this mask that provided for hours of hilarity as we toured around Intramuros, the old Spanish neighborhood of Manila, that New Year’s Eve morning.

It was JayPee who brought along the mask and wore it everywhere we went, as a complement to the red t-shirt and blue pants he wore, similar to the outfit Peter Parker used before he designed the familiar Spider-suit.  My Tito Pepito drove us, along with Joey and Jessica, from the house in Parañaque towards Intramuros, not too far away.  There was of course traffic, and with it came the beggars and vendors that worked their ways through the slow-moving cars to approach the passengers and drivers stuck inside.  My uncle’s car’s windows were tinted so one couldn’t really see inside without the window opening.  The face of one particular beggar boy lit up when JayPee opened the window to give him some change and revealed the Spider-Man within.

“Spider-Man!  Salamat!” (Thanks!)

And so began the day-long visual gag of Spider-Man out of context.

IN MY INTRODUCTORY BLOG ENTRY TO THE PHILIPPINES, I quoted Let’s Go‘s description of the country, “a hodgepodge of ‘Malay, Madrid, and Madison Avenue.’”  Intramuros is the definitive “Madrid” in that statement, as it was where the Spanish came and built their own style of architecture and surrounded it with a fortification wall in the late 16th century.  Little did they know that centuries later, a guy in a Spider-Man mask would wander its streets and alleys as a goof.

“Hey, Spider-Man!  Buko?” (Coconut?) one of the street vendors called out in a Filipino accent.

“Spider-Man!  Soft drink?” called another.

The Spider-Man mask not only attracted the attention of the vendors and the parking lot attendant and the security guard and pretty much everyone walking by, but it caught the eye of the guy we eventually hired as a guide for the next couple of hours to show us around Intramuros in the classic Spanish way, by horse-drawn carriage.  His name was Jorgie, as in “Jorgie Porgie pudding pie, kissed the girls and made them cry” as he recited to us; he was an elderly but youthful Filipino man who had been guiding tourists for 23 years, including John Denver and U.S. First Lady-turned-Senator Hilary Clinton during the Clintons’ visit in 1997.  He was excited to lead us around, especially since he could address someone simply as “Spider-Man.”

Jorgie Porgie was a well-informed guide who spoke in length about the history of the neighborhood, its roots in Muslim settlers way before the arrival of the Spanish.  The Spanish eventually arrived and developed the area in a style similar to home, with cathedrals, cobblestone streets, and a Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza), renamed Plaza Roma in reciprocity of Plaza Manil, found in Rome.  It was all very interesting to see, even more so since I was with a guy in a Spider-Man mask.  JayPee continued to grab attention from everyone, giving hi-fives to those nearby, and posing with an excited group of street kids that climbed all over himOur Spider-Man also posed on top of an old Spanish cannon, on a horse, with statues of former President Quezon and General Douglas MacArthur, and in group photos with not only us at the Manila War Memorial, but with some Korean tourists

Jorgie Porgie noticed I was trying to jot down most of his historical lecture in my journalist notepad and asked me why.  “I’m a reporter for the New York Post,” I said.  “It’s the one The Daily Bugle is based on,” I told him, continuing the Spider-Man theme of the day.  Here I go again, milking that one article I sold to the NY Post, I thought.  (It was hard to re-establish relations with my “Jameson” there since they had switched travel editors on me after my big break.)  When he paused mid-lecture to get my name, I replied with “Peter Parker,” which was fitting since I was shooting photos left and right like a freelance news photographer.  My “press credentials” got me special privilege to take photos in the museum since it normally wasn’t allowed.

Our tour ended at Fort Santiago, a former Spanish military barracks on the Pasig River.  “What is the national fish?” Jorgie asked us.

“Bangus,” I answered correctly.

“Good!  You know.  And what is the national flower?”

“Sampaguita,” I said, two for two.

“And the national hero of the Philippines?”

“Spider-Man,” we all said.

The correct answer was of course Jose Rizal, and it was at Fort Santiago where he was imprisoned by the Spanish and ultimately executed after a long, historical march to his death, which is now immortalized as the bronzed “Freedom Trail.”  Jorgie Porgie showed us around the former barracks explaining more history, from the baluarte (former prisoner and treasure area) to the courtyard where the government threw a welcoming party for Hilary Clinton.  He ended his informative tour with a recitation of some of Jose Rizal’s patriotic poems and then bid us farewell to guide the next group of people whom I will assume, did not have anyone wearing a Spider-Man mask.

After a short stop in Manila’s Chinatown to pick up some hopia pastries, my uncle took us and our cousin in the Spider-Man mask beyond Manila City Hall and the alma mater of he and my father, M.I.T. (Mapua Institute of Technology, although my dad just loves saying the initials).  We ended up at Rizal Park to not only check out the Rizal monument, but to get more out-of-context Spider-Man photosstanding with the flag of the Philippines, trying to hail a cab on Roxas Blvd., and showing that he is not actually Spider-Man, but my cousin JayPee with his gut

THE SPIDER-MAN MASK HAD A BREAK that afternoon, but resurfaced that night when we went out to ring in the new year.  While my 2003-into-2004 New Year’s was a rather quiet and introspective affair in a Peruvian oasis at the bottom of the deepest canyon in the world with an Aussie girl named Heidi, this one would be a louder, much more public one.  After some celebratory glasses of wine at dinner, we drove over to Fort Bonifacio in the Manila’s trendy Makati district, an upscale neighborhood with fancy harborfront shops and restaurants, where MTV Philippines had its headquarters.  It was there we attended a live televised concert akin to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve in America, broadcasted not by MTV Philippines but by ABC-TV Channel Five to a national audience.  Throughout the course of the night, the biggest names in Filipino rock stars performed on stage, from Michelle Branch-like Kitchie Natal to Dave Matthews-esque Parokya ni Edgar.  Meanwhile, off stage in the crowd, JayPee was quite the celebrity in the Spider-Man mask (picture above), with people coming over to meet us and compliment my cousin Joey on his craftsmanship.

The emcees of the event were former MTV Philippines VJay Caro Terona and Filipina actress/model hottie Bianca King.  The two of them were at a loss for words most of the time, trying to think of things to say and do to kill time before the clock struck twelve.  They killed time in between music acts with corny Filipino jokes (“You’re just my type… my blood type”) and with stupid audience participation stunts to appease their sponsor, the SMART mobile phone company.  One stunt came in the form of a contest; everyone in the audience had to text the answer to a Smart-related trivia question (answer: “smart”) as fast as they could to receive a free Smart cell phone.  When the time came, Caro announced the number of the winner in the audience.

“Right here!” my uncle called out, raising his hand.  It was actually my cousin Jessica with the fastest fingers who had won the contest, but representing her was Joey, me, and JayPee in the Spider-Man mask and t-shirt of course.  It was nighttime, so it was harder for JayPee to see anything behind the mask, and he had to be escorted by either Joey or me all the time.  We walked up to the stage with the cell phone that had sent the winning SMS message while Caro the emcee addressed the audience and the live television cameras, not knowing exactly who won the contest yet until we came into sight near the stage.  I can’t remember the exact words, but Caro said something to the effect of, “Okay, we have a winner for our first question in the Smart trivia contest.  He’s coming up to the sta—what the… What the hell are you doing hanging around with Spider-Man?!”

Caro and Bianca continued the live event as Joey, JayPee and I were greeted backstage where all the stagehands, producers, and roadies were hanging out.  The next music act came on, giving me the opportunity to meet the hosts at stage left.  “Can I take a photo with you two?” I asked.

“[Here, I think it’ll be a better photo with you two,]” Caro said.  I gave him my camera for him to shoot me with Bianca before she went on her way to the dressing room.

THE CLOCK WAS COUNTING DOWN TOWARDS 2005 with still about an hour to go.  Since we had won the first question, the people behind the scenes really didn’t know how to organize a win, so there was a lot of waiting around backstage.  I interviewed some stage producers to try and figure out who was who and where they were from, and continued to snap photos like a good freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle should.  Eventually we were led from this place to that place by Smart representatives and were told that the winner would be interviewed on live TV in a bumper before a commercial break. 

We were led to a staging area where a cameraman and lighting crew had set up for the televised segment.  JayPee patiently waited with the new cell phone until our introduction to Filipino teen heartthrob Juddah Paolo and Filipina actress/model and FHM and Cosmo covergirl Giselle Toengi who’d interview JayPee in the segment.  There was debate over whether or not JayPee should wear the mask or not; in the end, he decided not to wear it so that his friends might actually believe it was him with Filipina hottie Gi Toengi.  The producer cued us for the segment and the camera started rolling.  Juddah put on the mask and did stupid Spider-Man poses as they went live for Gi to do the interview.  I can’t remember the exact words of it all, just JayPee saying it was “Astig!” to win the phone, and Gi closing the segment with something in Taglish to the effect of “More to come as the countdown to 2005 continues!” 

Afterwards we snapped some photos before Gi and Juddah went off to appear in other parts of the show.  JayPee gave the new cell phone to his sister Jessica for her to have a Happy New Year with her very first cell phone of her own.

THE LAST ACT OF 2004 was a performance of the number one rock band in the Philippines of 2004, EMI recording artist Bamboo, who swept the Philippine Music Charts as Band of the Year with Song of the Year and Drummer of the Year, etc.  With a sound that was sometimes reminiscent of Dave Matthews Band, sometimes like Rage Against the Machine, and sometimes like Bob Marley, Bamboo rocked the stage from 11:30 to 11:59.  Joey and I head up to the mosh pit with the die-hard fans to mosh the last half hour of 2004.  Ten seconds before 2005, Caro and Bianca were back on stage for the final countdown.

“Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two… one!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!” 

Fireworks bursted in the air over Manila Bay in an impressive pyrotechnic display that lasted half an hour.  Instead of “Auld Lang Syne,” the Beatles’ song “All You Need Is Love,” was sung and broadcasted on the Jumbotrons and the TV audience at home.

It was officially New Year’s Day 2005, another red letter day in the history of The Global Trip 2004 (which entails 16 months like a 16-month calendar does).  As far as New Years are concerned, it was a happy and memorable one, all thanks to my Tito Pepito, cousins Jessica, Judiel, JayPee and Joey, MTV Philippines’ Caro Terona, ABC-TV Channel 5, Filipina hotties Bianca King and Gi Toengi, and above all, my friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.


Next entry: Casual Saturday

Previous entry: A Brief History Of The Philippines

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Comments for “Peter Parker's Rockin' New Year's Eve”


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  04:50 PM

  • I have to say…that this is probably the GREATEST entry EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!
    Spiderman Rocks!!!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  05:38 PM

  • Good stuff! At least now I have something to look forward to on Superbowl Sunday!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  08:01 PM

  • Hey Erik,

    I got your postcard from Vietnam, thanks.

    . . . and Happy Belated New Year.


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  08:55 PM

  • Ha! That was awesome! Just reading about what you did on New Years was more fun than my whole new years night.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  01/03  at  09:40 PM

  • Wow, the pic of spiderman with the fireworks in the background is awesome!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/03  at  10:54 PM

  • I’M STILL BEHIND 3-4 DAYS… BEAR WITH ME.  In the meantime, there’s always Spider-Man…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  12:18 AM

  • Simply proud of you GUY!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  12:25 AM

  • Simply proud of you GUY!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  12:25 AM

  • TITO PEPITO:  The Spider-Man Goes River Rafting pictures will be up soon!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  12:32 AM

  • Awesome man…. 

    And Bianca and Gi…. wow!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  02:08 AM

  • ANIN:  You TOTALLY have to follow through on your plan to pimp out your brother as a teen heartthrob in the Philippines.  Perks galore.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  04:04 AM

  • I like the picture of the old Spanish fort with grass growing in/around/through/etc it. Neato.

    Fun pics of Spidey - you could get some good money for that at the Daily Bugle, man.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  06:18 AM

  • hillarious and awesome!

    Posted by Alyson  on  01/04  at  06:39 AM

  • Hey Erik, I just missed you online. The “JayPee patiently waited with the new cell phone” gets a 404 error. 


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  01:07 PM

  • Erik - Got the Vietnam postcard too…THANKS!!!

    That is one awesome mask…your cousin should think of making more and selling them! 

    Gi Toengi - Every girl wants to be her and every guy wants to be with her…I’m sure all these guys are jealous!

    Are you going to make any of those TV Variety Shows like ASAP Mania and MTB?  You might get some perks w/your freelance journalist status. Or, you might just get lucky again and get to go on stage and get interviewed, etc…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  01:13 PM

  • TMESSING:  Thanks for the tip; the photo is up…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/04  at  03:00 PM

  • LOL - too funny

    Posted by Liz  on  01/04  at  03:55 PM

  • that was just great….

    is the SMB, drink moderately campaign still going on?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  02:57 AM

  • MARKYT:  Nope, haven’t heard the slogan… The latest addictive jingle is the mellow “Jammin… 88.3” radio jingle that Tito Pepito sings along with in the car.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/05  at  04:43 AM

  • I think the new years entries are my favourite. Expecially when they include shoutouts and fillapina supermodels.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/06  at  03:24 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Casual Saturday

Previous entry:
A Brief History Of The Philippines


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