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Re-defining Our Fight

August 7, 2009 15 comments

The death of Cory Aquino spurred an emotion of solidarity among the Filipinos especially those who have witnessed the downfall of the Philippine Republic under the dictatorship of Marcos. The yellow flowers, ribbons and scattered confetti reminded us of the glorious day when the dictator was finally subjected to the undying thirst for justice, peace and clean governance, and we started to redefine our stand in more solid ground. Then we found ourselves looking at the bright aspect delineated to the changes in socio-political affair.  We have become a proud nation to achieve much in the global scene by crowding the streets armed with sentiments like that of the First Quarter Storm and the huge thirst quenching the EDSA revolution. We won the fight like eager mice trudging the dangerous path packed with hungry cats and successfully grabbed a piece of cheese that is worth our nation’s pride: exactly what Prometheus did among the sleeping gods.

Yes, we have won the fight. The question is what kind of fight? I do not claim to know more than anyone else about the ordeal of our country, but since the problem is apparent and could easily be pondered over a cup of coffee or a simple mind break in carenderia, it is my wish to say something  of what I percieve about it. After all, things are seen in various epistemological angles and one has the right to say what he thinks of the current situation in our country that escalates between the believers and the incredulous. Mind you, the danger may all be depending on what we believe. Sometimes, it takes more than courage and pure whim to unravel what should be done to re-define our common ground in order to prosper as a nation. And yes, we are constantly struggling to find our way to fight the foes that hurdle us to this redefinition of ourselves. Again – What kind of fight?

When you look back to our history, we could see that the Filipino people are fighting all their lives. First we showed our valor by toppling the Spanish colonizers only to realize it was just a coy for the entrance of Americans after we had been sold for more than a million dollars. After realizing that we are like turn-tables that have been passed from one hand to another, we plotted skirmishes to highlight our willingness to stand for what is right even if  it meant sacrificing lives against the super-power nation. It was a kind of fight where we repelled invasion just to preserve our natural identity as Filipinos. And after each success we tend to drown into oblivion the essence of such revolutions as an initial ladder to realizing our long-search for true identity.

The second phase of revolution has taken a different form. Unlike the first one which can be regarded as an external fight to defend our sovereignty, the latter is a kind of introspection: Our fight is not against external forces but individuals amongst us. Examples of this are the EDSA 1 and 2 Revolutions where we ousted individuals who have been traitors to their own kind. Because of our nescience on which ground to stand on, we allowed the budding evil to morph with us that in the end caught us off-guard. People have suffered more than they have during colonization because the adversary knew the nook and crook of how to play the devil’s game.  Thus, we have to fight harder to reverse the damage they brought.

Then the pattern continues. This time revolution moves deeper. How many times have we rallied in the street to shout that the government step out and leave their seats? How many times did we condemn cheating and malevolence in the administration because they have not been stealing from the national treasury? If you still consider this a good fight, then you are merely stranded in the second phase of revolution. What I am trying to say is that there are wicked individuals we see apart from ourselves. If you come to think of it, the worst enemy is ourselves which we are collectively unmindful of. We can all attest to this from the simple instance of throwing our garbage on the street to preserving corrupt officials by being loyal to them because of utang ng loob. We may laugh at this at times because this is so trivial to take into account, but when you look at its effect, there is no sheer difference between you and the one you are loathing. You cannot simply wipe out the dirt by dirt. Thus, by reflecting on it, it all boils to one ultimate premise: The Self. This self is not just the battle of some or of groups of political factions but of every Filipino who are tired of the maelstrom of history where a single mistake in the past is revived back to the concurrent political arena.

Hence, it is when we have waged war against ourselves that we become infectious and worthy in re-defining our ground. Just imagine how a good self can transform other lives like what Mother Teresa and of John Paul II did. If you replicate it a hundred times, then this country may already be a happy nation. Yet no matter how ideal this may sound, it could be achieved when we will it to happen. With what’s happening to our country, amidst turmoil, I guess, the greatest message of the death of Ninoy and Cory is just one: Beware, we are our greatest enemy. And by taking this message by heart, only then shall we authentically define the real fight for our nation.ninoy

Traveling: My Mental Escapade

July 27, 2009 14 comments

drivingLiving 30 kms. outside the city of Iloilo, I have to get used to traveling everyday. That means if I want to be in the office at 8, I have to get ready before the sun rises to catch a transport bus to Tagbak Terminal at 6:30. Since it usually takes an hour of bus ride from our place to Tagbak Terminal, I usually disembark the bus at 7:30 and have to board a jeepney right away for the office. Sometimes it takes more than 30 minutes before I reach my destination depending on the speed of a jeepney. Presumptuously, my travel is far longer than the SONA that President Arroyo will be delivering this afternoon – for if you sum it all up, you will notice that I travel one and a half hours for just going to the office. Actually I really don’t mind because this seems to me a natural routine and I have been used to transporting myself to at least 76 kms (to the city and back) daily excluding the distance traveled during my field works. In short, I am a traveler by my own rights.

But the distance doesn’t matter to me.  As you might notice, I even enjoy it. The farthest my destination is, the better it becomes. Let alone the problem of fares for I have the way to abate it by showing my UP ID which will expire on 2012 pa (hehehe). Anyway, traveling is such a leisure for me despite trudging the same route everyday. Why? Because when I travel, my mind travels with me and I couldn’t help but to think deeply on some things that crosses my attention. Let me share some of the most apparent things that I noticed today:

UNO: While looking outside the bus, you could see that the election is steaming up. This might be the same with other places around the country where electric posts and school façades are awfully ornamented by smiles of the prospective presidentiables. In particular, have you noticed Villar’s visage is becoming ubiquitous? From congratulating the graduates to welcoming the freshmen, from greetings of Mother’s day to that of Father’s day, from simple punch lines of Sipag at Tiyaga to Murang Pabahay, from Iloilo, Banwa Ko to Villards-tulong sa pagsulong ng Philippine sports, you could see his smiling face  in every corner through tarpaulins and streamers. Quack! If you notice, he is actually standing for his motto Sipag at Tiyaga – that is why he is campaigning as early as now. But if you think deeply, it’s about Pera at Tiyaga. Remember that politics connotes a big-shot money game, and whoever has the biggest pocket coupled by publicity and Tiyaga will definitely triumph; and Villar knows that very well. Don’t be fooled brethren! I just hope when you look at his picture, you would also think of the price of his smile or what’s at stake behind his smile. It is only by that that we come to think of other prospects who possess characters like integrity, intelligence, managerial skills, etc; or try to turn our gaze to other candidates that doesn’t speak but has engraved remarkable accomplishments like Bayani and Gibo Teodoro. Just think wise.

DOS: Who cannot notice of garbage in our surroundings? It flies, it rolls, and it happily crosses the street when blown by the wind. Although it provides opportunities for the poor to make money out of it, it nevertheless remains an eyesore. Let’s accept it: there is no such thing as waste. When man creates something, I am sure he creates it out of necessity. Whatever man created surely has use and possesses potentiality for other uses. Take the example of a plastic bag: aside from using it as a basket, it could also serve several uses such as container for other things at home. What is more interesting about a plastic bag is the fact that it can be recycled. And this is not just about plastic: all non-living things especially non-biodegradable are all recyclable.  And when you come to think of it, cleaning our planet is always in our reach and all you have to do is to think that “there is no such thing as waste”. So, when necessity is the mother of all inventions, waste is the most foolish invention a man has ever had – and it is not created out of necessity but lavishness and lethargy.

TRES: From 2008-2009, Real Estate developments in Iloilo increased by more than 50%.  This is quite amazing in so far as real property tax is concerned but may endanger the agricultural production over the year. At about 30% of some agricultural lands are converted if not declared as idle lands for further residential developments. The result is the appearance of streamers and ads on “House for Sale” or “Lots for Sale” that competes with the face of Manny Villar. Because the market in Iloilo is big, streamers doubled up in a matter of just one month. Tsk tsk tsk….Oh, Lord what happened? You gave us the land for free but were subjected into the enterprising elements of some. First, the land was divided into continent (Fine). Then by country (still fine). Then by administrative areas (ok, still fine). But this was divided again into small pieces down to a basic square meter which costs more than an average annual income of the poor (very bad!). Please have pity, oh God.

CUATRO: From Tagbak Terminal to office, I had a funny time counting the many Purified Water and Refill stations. In a matter of 7 kms.interval between the bus terminal and my office, I counted 13 stations. The number is believed to be unlucky by popular culture. Of course, it is unlucky since it will be doubled in a year because the demand for mineral water is constantly increasing. And surely there will come a time that when you speak of water, it automatically entails money. It is just amusing that big cities as New York, calls for the residents to take underground water because it’s clean and free. But that’s not the case in the Philippines. Whew!

CINCO: Last but not the least: When you are riding a jeepney, who wouldn’t notice a sexy lady sitting in front of you? In my case, she wore a green spaghetti dress with a very short skirt that will make you wonder if there is a shortage of textile in global market.

You know, it’s a big irony that amidst the global warming, clothes are becoming shorter and skimpier when in fact they should be made to hide our skin against UV rays. I guess the trend had turned a total opposite now. Today, nakedness becomes a trend where minimal clothing will suffice (hahaha). However, it could also be seen in a different way. Since we are sweating like hell due to extreme heat, I guess the picture below has a very good point.

global-warming-underwear

Anyway, that’s all for my travel amusement. Got to watch GMA SONA pa…hope something good will come out of it.

***

P.S. 1. President’s SONA is done. Superb! If there is one thing that can attest to her accomplishments – it is the statistics. Numbers just dont lie.

2. How would you imagine our country being managed by Estrada and Villar, or by rhetorical Legarda and Escudero amidst the global crisis?  I just couldn’t imagine. What we definitely need is a managerial president who knows every nook and crook of governance and have strategies to keep it working. With all conviction, backed by my experience economic research and urban planning job, GMA has provided that well.

3. “Too much for  Cory’s matter. Let’s shift our attention to her hacienda,” says an uring anakpawis.

Reading and Poverty: A Re-post

June 25, 2009 9 comments

SalvaRobertoBy Roberto S. Salva

I began to read prodigiously when I was around 17 years old. I was trying to make it on my own in the big city and found myself diving into abject poverty. If one of the priest-speechwriters of Jaime Cardinal Sin had not hired me as his research assistant, I would have been a janitor.

I applied as a janitor. I already had a plan. I would mop floors and clean rooms, and at the end of the day, I would come home, turn my lamp on and read. I could not have wished for a more comfortable arrangement.

I did research, instead, and read for work until late in the evening. But I still found time to come home and read for myself.

I had not probed into the reasons why I read and why reading seemed to iron out all the wrinkles at the end of my everyday life then. It is only now that I am able to ponder on reading after seeing the results of the Reading Surveys done by the Social Weather Stations in early 2003 and late 2007.

According to the surveys, around 91 percent of Filipinos in 2003 and 85 percent in 2007 read non-school books to gain knowledge and more information. As a statistician, I feel that something is amiss in the crafting of that category. Or, many of the readers may not have captured perfectly the reason why they read. (The next consistent reason given is “enjoyment.”)

It is hard to nail down the one reason why we read, much like falling in love. If we do give reasons, they do not give justice at all to the act. Yet, we continue to read, just as we continue to love.

The reasons given also seem inconsistent with the books read by most. The list is topped by the Bible (67 percent in 2007), followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent), and religious or inspirational books (20 percent).

Except for cookbooks, the books on the list are not the best books to read if we want to gain knowledge or more information. We do attain certain knowledge and get information from these books but if we are reading toward these ends, we are being inefficient. Enjoyment as the primary objective for reading would have made more sense, given that list.

But it would have been awkward for the survey respondents to give more emphasis on “enjoyment” rather than the more ideal reason of gaining knowledge as the reason for reading. We are a predominantly Catholic country after all, and we abhor any trace of pleasure in our bones.

Given also our education and our country’s poverty, reading for pleasure seems to be an impractical reason. And this is not the time to be impractical.

readerPerhaps reading is really not practical, especially if we are living in poverty. When I was 17 and poor, I did not read for some pragmatic results that reading would have in my life. But with my every reading, I was able to struggle with the imagination, rationality and ideas of Dickens, Chesterton, Camus, Kafka, Buber, Augustine, Marcel, Levinas, Chaim Potok, Fr. Roque J. Ferriols—some of the authors on my reading list then. (And yes, I am bragging a little.)

I found compassion and camaraderie in these authors. My own imagination and my own ideas surfaced and they were strengthened by being rubbed against their works. I had no illusions whatsoever that I was in their league. (But that is another one good thing about reading books: we rub elbows with the authors, even the big ones.)

Reading made me acknowledge the existence of my own imagination, my own ideas, and my own visions. My own mind. These were strengthened with every reading.

If you are poor and marginalized, you need to have your own mind for important discourses are taking place with every step you take toward development—every single step.

Being poor and marginalized—as I have observed in myself, in the urban poor I worked with before and among the people I am working with now—is like being stuck as a teenager. You do not seem to have control over your life. You don’t have your own money. Nobody seems to understand you. You hear a lot of voices telling you that you do not belong, how you should be, how you should live your life, how far you can go and what your limits are. The loudest voices come from within.

It is easy to be defeated by these voices when you do not have your own mind. It is easy to accept that you are poor because you are supposed to be lazy. You are a criminal because you live in the squatters’ area. You deserve to be ridiculed and treated badly because you are deaf or poor. You do not have to go to college because higher education is only for those who are “normal.” You do not have a future because you were born to a hopeless situation. You do not read because reading is only for the educated and the well-placed.

Most of the development initiatives do not touch upon the discourses going on in the mind of the poor and the sidelined. There may be livelihood projects, but do you know that many urban poor are paralyzed when they are asked to fill up a bio-data form or to take a personality test? Gawad Kalinga may build you a house, the microfinance institute may give you access to credit, and your community organization may give you a voice, but what happens when you have your house, money or voice?

Read.

[From the Philippine Daily Inquirer]

***

P.S. 1. In regard to learning, poverty is seen as the tallest bulwark to conquer. But hey, this boy proved that wrong by falling in love with books.  You know, it always saddens me to realize that we have a novelist as a national hero and yet we lack the love for books – books that are piling in the libraries that mingle with the dust of disinterest.  If books could  walk and speak, surely they’ll come knocking at our doorstep and urge us to make use of them. Alas, that will never happen.

2. My special thanks again to Mira for sharing this. Still, nobody beats her better with books. Should you like to take a peek, here’s a link to her blog : ஐ Les Fleurs d’un Livre ஐ.

Looking Back to the Ground

June 12, 2009 10 comments

PILIPINAS_by_luigi09 I watched the celebration of 111th Independence Day Celebration at Koronadal, South Cotabato at the local channel this morning. It was unusual for GMA to hold such celebrations outside Luzon when all memories lurk around the 8 provinces that fought the Spaniards during the 1896 Revolution. Though quite peculiar, I found the celebration very significant since independence is ought to be celebrated all throughout the country; not to mention, of course, the job packages that GMA had given the people of Koronadal.

Perhaps a lot of bloggers have posted the same topic over the net and my entry might seem a mere replica, if not, an elaboration of other posts. But I swear I haven’t read any of those yet and the thing that most intrigued me about our Independence Day may either be accepted or refuted. It is of the reader’s opinion which side he decides to camp with.

Does June 12 serve as authentic date of our independence? You may have encountered this query as often as the debate between Rizal and Bonifacio during college days; there is always the dispute between the June 12 and July 4 as to which should be the prime date to mark. Even the Philippine Historical Institute had found this very compromising and left the case to the national government to declare which date should be marked as the national holiday, and after a thorough consultation with historians and experts, June 12 was formally declared. And as far as my memory doesn’t betray me,  it was President Diosdado Macapagal (father of the current President) signed Republic Act No. 4166 into law, returning the Independence Day observance to June 12.Pilipinas kong mahal

The declaration was all based on one premise: June 12 was fought by Filipinos while July 4 was granted by Amboys. But we all know that the Aguinaldo’s declared republic in Kawit, Cavite didn’t last long when Americans took over our country. In fact, his government was never recognized outside the revolutionaries’ domain. One irony about it is the existence of a prior government that even Aguinaldo himself knew, and that could not be other than that of Bonifacio’s.

Andres (the Great Plebian), who existed in the other pact of KKK, had founded a government which he called “Katagalogan” far before Aguinaldo declared his own. Sad to say, only few know about this. I guess that Aguinaldo’s declaration became popular because of no complex reason except that the historians who wrote the first account of revolution were all Aguinaldo’s men. If ever there were independent chroniclers, they were too lazy to excavate the whole truth regarding the plight of the revolutionaries. So which is which? Should we not also consider the declaration of Bonifacio valid? If yes, then should we also consider Bonifacio as our 1st president?

Then came the Amboys. After the WW II, our country was finally given independence to start with the Philippine Second Republic which was eventually headed by Manuel Roxas. Unlike the 1st Republic, it wasn’t curtailed by colonization and this was the time Filipinos drafted a new constitution, though tinged with an American prototype. Although this was just granted and not fought for, it gave rise to what we have right now and that somehow shaped us as a country. I am not against June 12 so to say, but rather how it is implemented and how history should be “re-written” to make everybody critically understand about our past. Only then shall we redefine what constitute us as a nation with a profound past to start with. And lastly, if this conjecture is accepted, wouldn’t July 4 (Filipino-American Friendship Day) deserve to be marked red in our calendars too?

***
P.S. If Bonifacio’s presidency is accepted, then GMA is our 15th president. And if July 4 is marked as our Independence Day, then GMA falls as our 10th president.

The Worm Chronicle

February 18, 2009 11 comments
lemo-the-worm
lemo-the-worm

Blog Awards Winner

Whether man dies and new species are born, the thread of earth will still remain a fertile breast to nourish the life that feeds on it. The worm, which is deemed gross by lovely ladies, filthy and disgusting by aristocrats has the profoundest wisdom to claim earth as the most wonderful habitat that sustains life even when other environmental cycles stop. This is the very claim of Lemo the worm, who thinks that even in death the food web under the earth continues like an endless feast of ambrosia for his own kind. The cadavers that are buried under it give them the wisdom that even humans are not capable of grasping. If birth and development belongs to the human mind, death and decomposition belong to the abysmal worms that either make use of the flesh to satisfy their carnal drive or to perpetuate their own role to nourish the earth. They alone tasted all sexes; they alone slept with heroes and traitors alike; they alone savoured the difference of a saint and a sinner or a billionaire and the lowliest man  that they have become human themselves by morphing with their lifeless bodies. And when humans hold them in their arms, they assume that these creatures are nothing but mere fish baits and they use them to feed themselves. Yet even nature functions in a samsaric scheme, that when human thinks profoundly, he and the worms are never different. They both belong to the earth and their bodies share the same compounds. So when human eats water creatures, is he not also savoring a part of the death eaters?

***

Afterthought: 1. It always feels good to think that we all share the same compound with the rest of the nature, thus we should never think that we have far dominion over anybody.

2. Philippines, what is your place in nature? Isn’t it ironical that your ground has been emptied by your people in thinking that life in other lands is far better than yours, yet foreign people come to crown you a laureate for beauty? Better are worms then for they continue to nourish the land without being demanded.

Categories: being pinoy, philosophy Tags:

Pax

December 24, 2008 4 comments
The Buddy Christ

The Buddy Christ

In this holiday season … “Jesus is the Man!”

Merry Christmas everyone.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/desi/9455/

Categories: being pinoy

Jingle Bells

December 19, 2008 12 comments

oblationI happened to pass Gen. Luna St. last Tuesday because my boss wanted me to schedule a meeting with the researchers and planners who happened to convene in Iloilo. Working in ADB is no easy job and arranging the schedules made me exceptionally busy especially that we were on a given study for LGUs. I was supposed to meet them early but I was unfortunately trapped for 30 minutes in a traffic jam along the parallel lanes of UP. When I inquired what it was that caused the delay, the driver said, “Oblation run sir.”

“It’s APO day,” I presumed, looking at the members who gathered in the street to watch their bold brethren run. Amused at the sight, I thought that APO indeed was a metaphoric version of the Jingle Bells. With their genitalia dangling from to left to right, it surely was a merry show more than any Christmas carol could offer.  Girls and faggots alike swarmed the street to take a glimpse, not of the essence of the activity, but of the display of “birdies”. “Ang cute,” one exclaimed. Another said, “Ang dumi naman ewww. Ba’t maitim-itim?” The funniest I heard was a voice from a group of gays shouting, “He is so tiny!!!” Most of the spectators were giddy, while others were even too conservative to glance at the spectacle.

But I will not dwell there, otherwise that would mean endless funny remarks. What I am wondering about is the reason why APO sustains this tradition. They say streaking is their way of shouting their sentiments of freedom. In short it stands as a symbol of freedom. But why cover their faces? What’s the difference between a fully clothed man with an exposed face and a naked man but with his face covered? Nothing, I dare say.

With this “streaking”, I suppose APO is just publicizing their fraternity; “Hey join us, we’re cool!” while missing out on the action to actually promulgate something for the realization of freedom.

In Britain, for example, there was one time where people ran stark naked for a cause despite the cold weather. The nice thing about it was that they posed in front of the camera with no qualms. I am just wondering if the British did it with no  clothing facade, why can’t you run in the same way when you uphold in fact  a nobler cause – freedom?  This perplexes me to unravel the logic of this annual activity thus, whatever the cause, it is inevitable for me to stand as arbiter of its verity. It is not my wish to criticize APO, but I really cannot find any significance in what they are doing. If they call for freedom, let them have it in different ways and not like this ribald event which I deem facile wrought by maudlin sentiments. How in the earth could one claim freedom by running in the street naked and holding roses like bozos? Remember that a symbol for freedom will never match an action towards it. If you are really after freedom, gather your members and organize a fruitful and sensible event that would lead to something useful that the country would be grateful of. Imagine if you could gather 10,000 of your members for a tree-planting activity, you will also have 10,000, new trees to help curtail carbon emission in the air- a fair response to the effect of global warming  to give us a cleaner breath for our quest of environmental freedom. This might not be known to everybody, but you will be proud to know that you acted beyond the symbol of freedom.

But if they still wanted to continue, at least have the guts to follow St. Francis of Assisi who took off his clothes in the middle of the crowd and gave his garment to the poor man beside him. He simply wanted freedom from the hedonistic world. He was not shy of what he did even though society was run by a stringent moral standard in his time. Hence, I suggest that next time they do this, they shouldn’t cover their faces. And bring books instead of wilted flowers, and instead of posing in front of women to offer them flowers, to which with your keen consciousness will never suffice the claim of letting your sentiment known, run to the nearest palaboy and give him a book. By doing this, your efforts might be appreciated, or they might become a source of inspiration for street children to seek education (which I always believe to be an effective phase in achieving freedom). You might be laughed at and everybody would deem you crazy, but deep inside, you know you are doing a better goodness. At least your “Jingle Bells” will have a better errand.

True Blue Journalism?

December 16, 2008 7 comments
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When a question is expressed, it presupposes an answer. For what is a question but a profound insinuation of an answer. The world is moving forward either for betterment or for the disgrace of humanity. Everybody can attest to that, not just by the senses but through the innate understanding that life is changing; it goes with time and we see it as it is.

It was 6 in the morning and the breeze was seemingly cold. The sky remained incarnadine, painting gory nuances on the clouds thus presaging another day of misfortune. The sun wasn’t fully awake but the street started to get boisterous as vehicles and humans alike swarmed the place to catch or run after time. A brown dog settled on the pavement beside an old acacia tree and howled to send a signal for the other mongrels that lurked in other corners of this prosaic place. Upon hearing the call, they assembled their group and headed to the acacia tree that served as their rendezvous – a place of their dominance and brutality. Some settled beside the brown dog, other roamed the vicinity but not far from the rest of the pact. Upon observing their institution, the brown dog that remained calm proved to be the leader of the pact because no one among them could equal his contemplative demeanour and his valour was apparent in his fangs and bodily feat. He was also the biggest and there was no doubt why he claimed dominance over these filthy mongrels; there were sheer differences among them for some had scabies while others were filthy and stinky. Only the brown dog looked clean and his economy in movement had a charisma that affected the rest of them. The only thing that bound them was the sole fact that they were all askals and that they all lived and survived the harsh conditions of the street.  They had experienced the demeaning and industrialized ways of urbanization and had become masters of the streets – except for the brown dog who had not just mastered his ways but had claimed apotheosis of himself.  They had also been witnesses to the ups and downs of economy and the infiltration of immorality in the fast expanding Sin-City; all of them used this knowledge for the advantage that these would fit their designed scenario of survival. They held a single notion about the world – that the world is so wicked that even God couldn’t do anything to change it. This idea has prompted them to live brutally, to prowl for the next victim.

The name of the brown dog was Chiz. He had no tinge of whatsoever expression in his face and his eyes were blank and eluding. It made you think that he was a holy dog of St. Roque but if you looked beyond it, his diabolical aura exuded a contagious virus – a perfect virus that infected the mongrels around him. This was his game and those around him had no power but to succumb to his order, absolutely precarious of his commands. When the time had come, a perfect cameo for his concupiscence, he let a loud howl for everybody to follow. They rushed across the street where a female dog was fortuitously passing and started to surround the stray female dog. Frightened by the sudden twist of events, she gathered her guts coherent to her instinct and ran as fast as she could. Unfortunately, her legs failed her and all at once she was surrounded by these blood-thirsty mongrels. They attacked her, biting her legs and tearing her flesh. She let out a loud cry of pain as she struggled to free herself from them by biting and slashing whenever she could but the mishap had proven that these devils were far stronger than her. When she could no longer move, the brown brute moved from behind and raised his forelegs to thrust his penis to the female dog. She wept and cried as pain enveloped her and she couldn’t do anything but be docile until they were done ravaging her body. She was a helpless bitch uttering an anathema while gasping for her breath. In her agony she prayed hard even though she knew that nobody would come to her aid. One after another, they shifted turns and everybody had his slice of gratification. Their explicit display of brutality had left a stigma on her body beyond reparation. She stood up, her body was torn, swathed in blood, and tried her best to move away from them. In her urge to at least salvage a little shard of her dignity, she wanted to evade this evil in the world specifically from these devils…from their wickedness. She crawled near the gutter and positioned her lacerated and molested body to the iron bar. Resting her stomach gave a temporary recess from the pain but had not totally obliterated the pangs of wretchedness that she went through. Chiz moved close to her grinning. He let a loud howl of jubilation and stamped his feet to her head. The female dog with her remaining strength tried to shove his feet and raised her head to face the lenses. She let out a loud cry of sorrow, remorse, bitterness, and helplessness…”Are we done? Do they have to know?”

Think Pacquiao

December 8, 2008 9 comments

your blood is worth the nation's pride

your blood is worth the nation's pride

When was the last time I reviewed a book? I cannot even recall anymore. I’ve been long disinclined to that endeavor and have shifted my interest in writing stuff to my own fashion. It is not my forte anyway and I better leave that stuff to my Dabubu who has the magic to turn queer content into a sublime tribute. I believe that the value of books are subjective and that their application may all depend on one’s social orientation (or whatever orientation) in life. I simply love reading but never mention the kinds of books I am devouring – except to few who share my own line of interest. I just read and read and read… But I am not going to talk about reading here, rather, reflect on what happened yesterday.

When determination fraught with “will to power”, victory is very much possible. Not to mention the rapture of people who rally behind you with prayers and litanies to make you win. This was proven by Manny Pacquiao after pounding De la Hoya’s face to submission in the 8th round stoppage. Whether the fight was controversial or not, the fact that it was tested inside the ring, Pacqiuao undeniably won by TKO; a victory which everyone deemed dark before the fight – even among the pacts of Filipino sport scientists, due to the obvious disparity of statistics between two boxers. It was a great success not only for Manny’s camp but also to the Filipinos who believed in him and idolized him, much more to those whose dreams were audaciously embodied in the boxer’s life.

However, I am not about to give a sports canon on his spectacular victory which has already been subjected to press such as The Ring Magazine and all brands of print media. I am more interested on how this pandesal vendor transformed into the world’s best pound for pound boxer. Surely he had not achieved this if he didn’t dream and try; dreaming is a grace – a psychological driver that turns a road strewn with difficulties into a humongous arena of possibilities. What I really like about him is his undying desire to survive and to conquer poverty through a noble dream – boxing. Because he considers boxing as the only medium to achieve his dreams, he attentively utilized this for his fulfillment. The result: we never have imagined this lowly man rising to the top to be called the Pambansang Kamao (but with much appreciation to this person, I call him the Pambansang Kamay because of his charisma that in turn “gathers” all Filipinos to unite, at least for a very brief moment of his fights). Time in the Philippines stops whenever he goes inside the ring, it creates a temporary recess on political shenanigans and skirmishes in Mindanao, and it’s as if the people transcend the boundaries of differences among themselves . That is because he fights with ardent feeling of pleasing his kababayans. And every time he wins, all Filipinos share a little slice of his success. This is the beauty of Pacquiao.

Yet despite the fame he enjoys, he never thought his life would just end in boxing so he enrolled in school. He believes that education is still the effective way to uplift one’s status in a society where academic achievement is the basis for recognition. So with his eagerness to learn, he spent money for his studies no matter how awkward it is for his late age. His aptitude for learning is remarkable that when one observes his interviews, it is evident that his grammar has improved a lot. You know.

He is never shy to speak before the crowd even he becomes a subject of demeaning jokes among his fellow as if the only thing they prowled about is the obtuseness of Pacquiao.  No matter how exemplary his attitude, he remains a subject of ridicule not just to the common people but for the intellectual as well who in their sense of learning should be the ones to understand. Just because he couldn’t pronounce the word right or make his grammar straight justifies a reason to pin him down as laughing stock. But always remember that this gibberish man has wrought a national pride for the Philippines which few of us can equal. And what have some of us done to make our country proud as compared with his? This only entails that we have no prerogative to make him look like bozo. Think that some are very rich and have the liberty to go to school yet contribute nothing to their own locality. Some never even acknowledge God in their successes that Pacquiao on the other hand has been very faithful in doing. If only Manny could have been fortunate enough to go to school (bereaved of financial problem and boosted by determination) he would have been one of the respective intellectuals in the country. We never know.

When we pin him down, we also pin ourselves (so to say) because in doing so, we are only proving our own smattering. With our teetering for national advancement, it should be with respect to our fellow Filipinos who are trying their best to improve. Pacquiao is working hard not just to improve himself but to inspire many to strive for betterment. Pacquiao’s struggle is as effective as his fist and proving that being an underdog doesn’t mean defeat but a noble inspiration to bring the best in us. We must think on these things. You know.

Categories: being pinoy Tags: ,

knowledge center

November 18, 2008 4 comments

 

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The best place to be? I’ll answer with conviction that it is the library. Nothing equals the free knowledge that the library could offer. Aside from its sacred silence, the aura of the piles of books that invite readers is pervading. All you need is curiosity and you will realize how the library can be a great source of wonder.

When given ample time, I always see to it that I visit the Provincial Public Library to browse through interesting books that pique my attention – especially at the Filipiniana Section. It has been my ritual now to praise Filipino writers especially if their masterpieces depict a cogent aspect of Filipino culture and history. The librarian, who became my friend a week after I applied for a borrower’s card, asked me why I am so enamoured by Filipiniana. I couldn’t give her the best answer except that famous Aristotelian line: “I want to know more.” But after a month of personal research, I told her that Filipino literature is also a good source of entertainment. In bolder terms, more like “showbiz”.

Let me put it clearly by giving examples. The scholarly yet imaginative works of Teodoro Agoncillo creates a great shift of how history could be presented. His Revolt of the Masses revolutionized the imagination’s role in retelling the alacrity of the past by making it contemporary for the reader. It is not just dates or hard facts but the creation of atmosphere that draws the reader to a certain event in history that enables reading to become worthwhile. Now, let’s shift our attention to his student, Ambeth Ocampo (although I only read 3 of his books: Mabini’s Ghost, Looking Back, and Luna’s Mustache), he made history a sort of textual sitcom. I don’t want to elaborate more about his work of how Mabini jocularly danced with his rocking chair because he could not walk for a polka or how Francisco Balagtas could be so jingoist but fairly loved sex; it’s up to the reader to read the books themselves. So it is no wonder that he was awarded the National Fellow for Essay by the University of the Philippines for two consecutive years.

However the ones who are creating stories have also personal stories to tell. I wish to state some of my discoveries here and I hope will not be charged libelous by some of my conjectures. Did you know that Agoncillo and Ocampo were/are numero uno chikadoros? They both criticized the faculty of history in UP of having been mediocre in their quest for local and national history. Agoncillo never wanted to teach in UP had it not for his wife convincing him. “Nang hindi pa ako nakalikha ng libro, bakit hindi nila ako nilapitan para magturo sa kanila?” And then when he started teaching in Diliman, his colleagues, who all held doctorate degrees in philosophy, asked him, “Sir Agoncillo, why did you not take a doctorate degree?” He stood up and walked up to them, “Who will teach me? Ikaw?” Ang yabang! Although that was meant to be a joke, it bore the truth of his pride. This incident led UP to endow him the Honoris Causa. While Ambeth laughing to hear this, he admitted to Agoncillo something that seems blasphemously creepy, “Sir, the reason I entered the Benedictine Monastery… it was not a vocation but the desire to access their library which is not open to the public.”

In the case of litterateurs, there are actually eternal disputes among their pacts. When Nick Joaquin was on his peak, he looked down on the two groups of young writers from Sto. Tomas and University of the Philippines. He pinned down particularly Francisco Sionil Jose as blabbering young writer who used to quarrel with his boss. When Jose had etched his name as a professional writer, he avenged his pride, labeling Joaquin as a writer who lived luxuriously under the Marcos wings.

In one of the coteries of social gatherings the two writers met. Having them praising each other’s prowess, they came to the point of bickering whether Jose Garcia Villa was the best Filipino writer. Nick Joaquin argued he was, Sionil Jose refuted the claim because Villa never wrote based on the Filipino setting but in western paradigm. When Villa who was staying in the US heard this, he signified aid to Nick Joaquin’s camp pronouncing Jose as an insecure pen-ass. When Isagani Cruz, a good friend of Jose became conscious of this feud, series of critics had been published against them, thus the start of endless bickering and shenanigans. However, regardless of endless hurling of criticisms, they were right on the affirmation that each of them writes very well. But I doubt if the review of Joaquin on Jose’s work was authentic.  And now that  Nick Joaquin  has  finally passed for his eternal repose, I just hope that they are  in peace with each other especially that Christmas is nearing.

This discovery proved the wide array that the library could offer us. No matter how dearth the resources are, it always serves as the sanctuary of learning. If people only realize that this is one of the essential structures in the society that needs constant visitation and support from concerned people, then our library could truly be a great place to be. Although I could spot regular visitors, which I could make a mental note of their faces, they were nonetheless students who came to study and not to read. They were the same students who always occupy the same table. When I inquired the librarian (to confirm my conjecture) if they were researching, the librarian replied they were not. “What can you expect from nursing students but money? I hope you could make tsismis out of that,” she chuckled.

 

Categories: being pinoy Tags: ,

HISTORY 123: treasure hunting

November 3, 2008 7 comments

1. November is primarily about remembering the past. This is the time when we commemorate our dearly departed. The memories of places and times you experienced the beauty of love together creates a dimension where life and death meet. Then you always feel time never goes old….it instead swings us back to where we’ll always see the life of the people who touched us, and their souls will always be with us, not in some corner that would depict separation but within the confinse of memories and hearts. As long as they occupy a portion in our lives, they will always be present among us…and this is one of the best treasures in life.

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2. We always drool over foreign stories… such is the example of El Dorado.

If there is someone who could tell us what and where El Dorado (Spanish for “The Golden One”) was, Voltaire’s famous character, Candide, could. Even Spanish conquistadores and British pirates who have searched the trails of Peruvian forests have not found the place. Neither a place in Columbia nor Argentina had proven to have a resemblance of the Indian tale which in turn became a subject of kibitzing among artists like Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Milton to explicate how human desire could be so ninny during the moments when potential richness is known to the world. Obsessed by the idea of abundant treasure, the place became a dream for hunters that even locals of South America were eager to search for it. The dream of getting rich in a flash is always a treat for the greedy, thus creating a lethargic sense of life. You probably think why crime rates in urban regions keep on rising especially when national economy plunges – it is not because of poverty alone but the formidable yearning of man for “instant-money”.

In 1911, when an American historian by the name of Hiram Bingham fortuitously discovered the long lost kingdom of Machu Picchu thousands of feet above sea level where nobody thought it would exist. After the clamor spread in pace, people thought that the world had finally found El Dorado and the myth after all had a point of verity. Of course, there was no treasure found in that place except for another tinge of information about the spectacular Incan civilization. Although some argued that place really existed, the myth of El Dorado will remain a story until hard facts of pure gold will be unfolded before the world.

Nevertheless, this myth will serve as a mirror of how men are fascinated by treasure and discovery.

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3. Stop, look and listen… El Dorado is here.

You don’t need to look far ahead to find gold in foreign land. Right here, the treasure is buried and it only takes education and much reading to excavate it. When speaking of potential economy, the Philippines is not just abundant in natural resources but in “yamang tao” as well. It has been noted by historians that far back in our history, our country was once a prominent icon of possibilities – in trade, cultural wealth, and government. Chinese chroniclers who traveled to the Philippines in lieu of trade addressed our land as “Ma-yi” or Mountain of Gold. If Latin America has the Golden One, we have a far better Mountain of Gold; and that’s a total mismatch of ratio and proportion.

And what did Spain speak of us? We were not branded as Indios all the time. Some of the Spanish writers called us “Islas del Romero Feliz” and “Crown Jewel of Spain’s Overseas Possession.” However, it was only recently that this research has been made; and after all our loathing for the maltreatment of Spain, we come to realize that not all Español are cruel. Some of them appreciated our land in history but was only hidden during centuries of Spain’s subjugation of the Philippines – to strip us of the knowledge of their political mayhem.

With regards to the people, we almost permeated every country in the world. This put us as the ultimate competitor of Chinese in vying for world domination. This has a funny connotation but it speaks well of the true treasure of our country. When confronted with questions of how our economy survived, we always look at the remittances we get from our OFWs – the core that sustains our national economy. It is the people, the yamang tao, that is the primary drive of our economic foundation. Yet we are labelled lethargic or tamad. We are never sloth as far as Philippine main export, LABOR, is concerned. Our life is divulged by extreme poverty, but it is this destitution, that drives us to work hard. Then going to that misconception, I dare say that Filipino is never tamad and we know ourselves better than those foreigners.

Our country deserves a name that goes beyond many treasures… and Rizal has known this for so long that he addressed the Philippines as the “Pearl of the Orient Seas.”

Categories: being pinoy

On Filipino Identity

October 10, 2008 4 comments
delotavo's diaspora

delotavo's diaspora

I read a column on the Star about urging we Filipinos to understand our culture and make use of anything good from it for national development.  The point was actually simple: learn where your stance, look at the rest of the world and move out to prove your worth. This has  triggered me to post what I had written before in UP. Though this is just an excerpt of the whole article , it nevertheless bears the core content of my idea.

The Filipinos have become a legend the world over. So they say. They are known to be the happiest people in the world; the primary factor being their knack of finding something to be cheerful about in the midst of adversity, crisis, even in suffering. Pop psychology, culled from the various religious schemes from cultures around the world, have often pointed out that happiness is either: an acceptance of one’s present lot, shared in comity with the rest of human kind or the Aristotlean notion of happiness being the perfection of one’s capabilities by its practice and fulfillment. Which of these is the Filipino’s?

Analyzing recent pop icons of Filipino ascent [Manny Pacquiao, Filipino OFW’s, Pinay internet hetairas], it is clear that the cheerfulness that Filipinos have been famous for is intricately connected with roots of extreme poverty. Destitution is the motivation; the dream: a better life somewhere. There are necessary elements for a typical Filipino success story: A penniless childhood, devoted but poor parents working to make ends meet, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity propelled by heroic self sacrifice and fervent prayers to the Divine, leading to sweet happy endings of riches and infamy and becoming a household name that in turn will inspire thousands to reach for the stars. Filipinos have to work harder, one lifetime at a time, to achieve a state of existence that people at the other end of the world have only to work for in two hours stops, only to waste it away on boredom and marital, middle-life crises. But then, the same is true with every third world country. That Filipinos seem to have a good time through is beyond logic. That Filipinos could make jokes as they row through seven-feet high monsoon floods or still be the texting capital of the world despite an oceans-wide gap between the rich and the poor baffle, amaze and annoy most foreigners. What is their secret? they ask. How do Filipinos do it?

When other countries have become so well off that even Chinese toddlers already have laptops and a teenager from Notting Hill, London can buy a cappuccino that costs as much as two days’ wages for an average Filipino worker, why is it that Filipinos can still laugh so heartily as they lose their homes to monsoon floods or even make jokes about their own situations or feel almost nothing at the way their politicians have, time and time again, not only worsened the economic situation of the Philippines but have almost criminally debunked the hopes and dreams of those who have voted them because they precisely promised the opposite, even invoking the power of the Divine? It could not be that Filipinos are stupid: the country has had its fair share of intellectuals and history glitters with the achievements of these admirable men and women who have brought enlightenment and progress to the country. A very priceless commodity in the Philippine market today is manpower: individuals who have been schooled into skills and knowledge necessary to keep the cogs of the national economy from breaking down. It could also not be a political immaturity, for there was a time when the Filipinos, in one glorious exhibition of bravery and unity, brought down a dictator and ushered in a future pregnant with possibilities for a better society. The problem was, and it exists to this very day, nobody ever knew how to make those dreams of prosperity a reality. The country had to open its doors to the outside world and seek its answers there.

With the tsunami of foreign capitalism and its inevitable cultural ramifications, the Filipino barely had a chance to recover its breath, look around, analyze what has just happened, formulate answers derived from his own experiences of what had gone wrong with the system in which he was placed. Nay, the world was simply too fast for him. It could be that the cultural enslavement that has crippled the Filipino from the earliest stages of colonial rule up to now, more than a hundred years after its end, has not yet been overcome. We are enslaved by a poverty of identity. It is a hard reality that many Filipinos have less in life and suffer for it: no amount of policy or law can ever conceal that. It is also true that this has been the situation for hundreds of years, and many more. It is time to break from the prototype of how a Filipino is perceived by the international community.

Yes, they are happy, but it shouldn’t be because they accept their lot on life and suffer cheerfully. It shouldn’t be that the happiness Filipinos are known for should come from the fulfillment they feel from having sacrificed so much working abroad and in God-knows-where-else just to provide a better life for their loved ones. This is not how a Filipino should end up. Precisely, this cultural mechanism is being used to educate future generations of what progress should be, when what they need is a Cultural renaissance where the worth of the Filipino is not in how much he is willing to sacrifice in a foreign shore, but in how he can give so much of himself in his own land, for his own country, within the reach of his loved ones, and within the bosom of his own native home. The State should provide more opportunities for progress by utilizing its own resources, by feeding its own people, by fostering its own opportunities for growth not from foreign gold, but from what the people themselves can give: through a decreased export of manpower, through a better system of managing local assets and turning them into capital for the profit of its own native users. These, in the long run, lay the foundations of basic material stability and constant economic growth needed for a cultural system closer to the experiences and values of Filipino life. These are necessary for the establishment of a Filipino’s sense of being. These are the foundations of a true Filipino identity. By localizing Filipino pride with opportunities for economic prosperity closer to home and more grounded on native comity, the State will pave a way for a stronger, happier nation.

Categories: being pinoy Tags:

englishing pinoy

September 16, 2008 5 comments

I have never been more apprehensive about anything in my life than finding courage to write something for blogs. I already have a lot of compositions  but I guess that would seem mediocre compared to the rest who write with fashion and unique artistry that either influences or  becomes the germ for change.  There is what you call a strict line between sacred and profane, or a master and a neophyte – and I believe I belong to the latter. The obvious difference of an amateur and the prolific is the mastery of language (english) and maneuvering it to portray out their minds. However, the sole consolation I get through writing is the fact that I would be sharing my mind no matter how profane  or how shallow my ideas are (hell with the skeptics, we all have to have a share of them anyway) and regardless of this, each has each own role to fill up, because even the mundane has something to say about the world.

Francisco Sionil Jose
Francisco Sionil Jose

Last night, I was reading an essay on Fiction and National Identity by Francisco Sionil Jose-the Filipino bid for Nobel Prize laureate – and it prides me to know someone who can write prolifically about the culture of the Filipino from the ground up rather than being engrossed with politics and the popular trends within the confine of self vanity.   Reading his works, gives me sense of obligation that each has a role to write – not of the distant land but the very basic which constitutes our own being. Although we have been alienated by the growing culture of west, and that we use their language (English in particular), we can never exempt ourselves from the ground that nursed us till we get conscious of the complexities of life.  A proper account of our lives must be etched for perpetuity of our Filipino ways since there is a shift of literary scheme from oral to visual as Nick Joaquin put it.  Yet,  some among us despised our land, our own color, even our own race, to arrogantly believe that there is something far better in other grounds . and we started  to write about Tolkien or Rowling  rather than about Deriada, Arguilla, Javellana and even to the point of forgetting Rizal; that is because we always see  west as a fairyland and fantasize more about it. We think that economic security abroad means good culture because it promises us grands that we could send back home. This is an ominous misconception; this is what we call dreaming the mundane because if one may contemplate on the exact end of man, one may conceive that men may act differently in various shades of skin, but we have the same color of blood and we all think alike; we are all human beings. The only sheer difference that divides us are the boundaries within the multi-colored world we live in.

We in the east  have a bizarre culture where there is harmony between spirit and flesh as opposed to the western speculation that reason dominates the physical; we can never evade this culture. Since the growing impact of the western trend is obviously undeniable, hence must be understood in proper illumination .

When I was in college, a professor of mine told us that the dominant culture is dubious enough to seep into the human psyche and lure people into uniformity. If we try to break down the word, we will have two root words – uni and form. Uni always mean one while form means idea or perception. In coining the word, we buy the notion of “one idea” or simply to become one in style-and this is what this system is doing right now particularly the idea of globalization and, speculatively, the subtle influence of the English language. Actually, there is nothing wrong neither with globalization nor the use of the English language as long as we know where to draw the line, and audaciously stand on our culture. But if we succumbed to the ideologues that work behind it, to the point of being homogeneous with them, the future of preserving our own will be reduced to mere oblivion. If this happens, whose gain will it be?

We are created uniquely, with culture and ways of our own, and this is the only distinctive subject that divides us. If we lose it, where do you think the Filipino would credibly stand for?

The universality of man is not meant to divide but to unite, but sad to say that individualistic philosophy of western paradigm has created a trend that entices (inventing a need) the taste of our generation-the Generation-X that puts up feud rather than unity and respect fro diversity. Because of this influence, we forget where we are and what we are because of this influence. We may be good in English, but we can never be American or British. That is the fact. However, being good in English doesn’t mean we are no longer Filipinos.

English language has become an integral part of our culture to the brink of owning it as our third language. Admit it to say, from the moment we began to develop an acoustic ability in our early days, English language was already there walking along until we took the first step in our classrooms; it has become the main medium of instruction in all levels. So who said that English is not our own? It is ours; we have come to embrace it. Thus, there is nothing wrong to put the context of the English language and use it to make our own culture understood better. Nobody after all owns the English language in Asia better than the Filipinos and I stand to that claim. Some said that the proper way to explain Filipino is to use Filipino. What is wrong in using English anyway? Why not? As long as we stand to be Filipino, using English is absolutely fine. Our tongue may take different forms in the changes of time and the drive to assert the place of our race in the globe, but we can never lift our feet from the ground where we have bloomed; just change your tongue but keep your feet still.

There are various spectacles on how to address the multitude of language as propaganda or the herald of cultural influence, but I will not dwell with this further more because I am just highlighting the core of being what and being where- the being and theplace to be of Filipinos. And with regards to lEnglish anguage, what is important is that we gear it to discover our very selves and the place that nurtured us.  As what Gandhi said , he would welcome the four winds of the earth in his house but that he would see to it that his house is not blown down by any of them. Even Rizal understood this, and by far history , has used Spanish to portray the lives of the Filipinos- a species existing in the orient world that the western world and even America has been once nescient of.

Summing up all accounts, I commend that F. Sionil Jose deserves to be read by every Filipino for he has shown better the use of language either in English or not; and he firmly stands on his culture and on being a Filipino, despite being a polyglot by nature.

 

P.S. For thorough details read F. Sionil Jose, In Search of the Word: Selected Essays, De La Salle University Press, 1998.

Hello world!

September 15, 2008 3 comments

Welcome.This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Categories: being pinoy