Augustly August

August 3, 2009 9 comments

In Memory of the Yellow Bell

People huddle on the streets and the heaven weeps at your last breath. At least, you have rested back to the soil in this gloomy weather of August where our Creator welcomes you to His door. You know the time never ends when you leave an earthly branch to die, only to proceed to a more promising life. Thus you died peacefully amidst the prayers of your people. Your separation from the mortal life may signify a great pain especially for those who are left to behold your integrity to restore what is due to them, but your legacy will unite them in joy to continue what you have started. Yes, you have restored democracy back to where it should reside and made honesty your ladder to governance. And you know in your heart that these things are what people deserve. So in your last day, people remember you in your piety and honesty amidst the mundane world stained by immorality. And just like a yellow bell that falls naturally to the ground to die in beauty, you too shall be welcomed back by the soil which will unite us in a single element; just like a yellow bell that grows back when it marries the earth, so shall you live in our memories forever.

aquino

Let the Augusts stand August

Although I am forlorn because of the death of our great leader, my emotions were balanced on this day with my mom’s birthday. She is now 48 and made remarkable accomplishments in rearing us all. Up at 5:30 am, I knocked at her room and kissed her. But instead of usual greeting, I thanked her for all she has done for me and for my siblings. I know my gratefulness will never equal what she had done for us, but I know that she deserves a big “Thank You” rather than a greeting of “Happy Birthday.” Of course, I also greeted her a happy birthday. For what is happier than the day you know you are born – either to suffer or to rejoice depending on how one should take life. In her case, she loves her life and loves every life that emanates from her womb. And how I love her so much not because of normative functions but by how she taught us to love. How I wish that one day I could repay the life she nourished within me especially now that she is getting older and wizened. For i know, it is when you know you are reared in love that you will look back to serve in love.

***

St_Alphonsus_LiguoriToday is also the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church. Had I not read the page of Dfish which reminded me of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, I would have also forgotten St. Alphonsus, founder of Redemptorists Congregation.

Back in the seminary days, I and my batchmates (we were 24 in number but nobody made it to priesthood) merrily organized reach-out programs to badjaos, lepers, scavengers, pier laborers, and the people of Carbon, Pasil and Ermita, Cebu City. As our apostolate, we would talk, listen and even live with them every weekend to experience their lives and their way of surviving the world amidst marginalization and social injustices inflicted on them not just by the private sectors and the government but by their fellow individuals as well. By delving into their lives, I know that there are so many things that need to be changed in this world. These people need to be heard but don’t have the voice to use; these people need to be noticed but nobody pays heed to them. And when one chooses to take the yoke to fight for them, one has to be cleansed inside out. It doesn’t have to be a remarkable effort though. Instead, a simple change that starts within us will suffice – a change that would create a difference. Life, as Saint Alphonsus put it, is a life never lived unless it is changed for the glory of Jesus Christ. By that, he meant changing the lives of others as well. Only in that way, we bring salvation known to others. That is what it means to be a “Redemptorist.”

Although I did not proceed to become a priest, I still cling on to his teaching and serve the church in my own simple ways.

***

P.S. This is supposed to be posted on August 1. Unfortunately, Iloilo had 2-day blackout.

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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.

Payo’ng Kuya

July 24, 2009 10 comments

warning-sign-thumb4385840‘Cuz, after a very busy week in the office, I feel happy now to get back to my computer and write things that caught my attention during my entire field work. I have noticed that while traveling, my mind soars high to think why the sun has to be yellow or why water has to be wet. And as exactly what I had feared, I have now turned out to be very speculative. Grrrr!

By the way, forgive me if I have been damn serious about some things with the tendency of attaching peculiar thoughts on them. This blog has been colored by some as a philosophy page simply because I was thinking weird. Sorry, I cannot help it. If there is anything or somebody whom you could trace back as to why I have been behaving like this, please turn your gaze to my course and my teachers for inculcating oddly ideas in my hollow cranium. Even when I have been speaking with ideas, deep inside I hate philosophy that I was eager to unlearn everything to get myself back to the ground.  But much to my gusto to keep away from it, I know it is now too late. Once philosophy takes hold of your brain, you no longer have the power to pull it out.  It is like the HIV virus – once you get infected, you have to bear with it for a lifetime. It will flow in you like blood and will grow like budding Parkinson’s, too capable to distort your cognitive skills. Once philosophy lures you, be sure to stand on guard or else you’ll be washed away with delectable baits of intelligence which serves like narcotics to drown you in elation. And you will be the biggest fool if you succumb to it. Why?  Because, in the end, after having been subjected to thorough indoctrination, you’ll realize that the simplest principles in life are what we learned from the children, from the farmers, from the priest, from your friends, and not the airy ideas of Santayana, Marx, Wittgenstein; and other boring names such Kierkegaard, Sartre, Bergson, Jasper; not to mention of course the hard to stomach lines of Mills, Hobbes, Spinoza and Descartes.

You see, there is a terrible risk in taking philosophy. My advice is simple: do not drink it nor eat it.  It might send you to a pedestal where you will be transformed into an oracle of Plato or a mooter of Aristotle and would be very busy cogitating about fascinating topics all for the sake of discussion. But I assure you in the long run, you will be too pre-occupied with ideas and you will start to get forget to put on your slippers or bakya in ascending to the pedestal – the more you progress, the bigger the gap grows between your feet and the ground.  Anyway, I just hope that I made myself clear. The risk of philosophy is high and I suggest do not take it as your course in college. Aside from the danger of losing your ground, you will find it hard to earn money to feed your stomach; and not just that, if you ostentatiously prove your mind, you will be mistaken to be crazy. So save your best for something worthy and while you still have time, SHIFT! After all, there is so much beauty in natural sciences than liberal arts. But if you really want to know about philosophy, all you have to do is read. It doesn’t need 4 to 5 years of finishing the course, either AB or PhB, to know it by heart. A little brain will suffice.

***

P. S. Joke! Hehehe.

Will vs. Nature: My Aesopian Revival

July 10, 2009 11 comments

scorpion and frogThere was a scorpion who wanted to cross the river after the rain had waned. “How can I cross this torrent when I don’t even know how to swim,” the scorpion said to himself as if he had another self who would reply to his question. He stared at the deep water whose current had grown very violent because of the storm. He pitied himself for his incapability to conquer such problem, so he forlornly waited for the water to ebb.

Eventually, during the rainy season, frogs by their amphibic nature came leaping from the thick pickets of leaves and swam to the ponds down to the river. They were the creatures who hailed their vespers on rainy season better than on summer; they were the ones who received rain with earnest gratitude, for water sustained their lives: too perennial for the perpetuity of their kind. These joyful species danced and sung in chorus now that the rainy season had finally begun. However, from the large group of amphibians, a green frog got lost in the crowd and preferred to find a good shade to rest. Then he chose to rest on the bank where he could look at the water to calm his mind. When he reached the bank, he noticed the scorpion atop a dry dead bark looking sadly at the gushing river.

“What’s wrong brother scorpion?” he asked jovially. “I want to cross this river and be at home before night fall to avoid the danger of being eaten by rats and nocturnal birds,” answered the scorpion. “Should you have the heart to carry me on your back, I will be able to cross to the other end by mid-day.” The frog suddenly felt compassion for the scorpion but remained reluctant to carry him.  “How will I know, by the way, that you would not sting me when we get to the middle,” he asked the scorpion. “Because  that would be my own death as well, we will both drown,” replied the scorpion.  “What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!” stressed the frog as he began to look suspicious of what might be the outcome. ” Brother frog, I don’t really know how to swim. I could not dare do that,” said the scorpion. But the frog became incredulous over such matter and asked a wise question. “Brother, i know that the moment we successfully cross to other side, you could still kill me. How would I know then if I can still go back safe to the other side?”  “This is true brother, ” agreed the scorpion. “Yet, by that time, I will be filled with gratitude that I could no longer think of anything aside from thanking you.”

After giving a thought  and driven by so much compassion towards the scorpion,   the frog lowered his back and helped the scorpion up. They jumped into the water and started to cruise their way to the other side. Not far from the point of their departure, the frog felt the weight of the scorpion getting heavier. Then he felt a pang of pain and his body became numb – the scorpion stung him! And as they were drowning in the middle of the river, he furiously asked the scorpion. “Why did you do that, you fool?  Traitor!” The scorpion replied. “Brother frog, it is my nature to do that. You should have thought of it before agreeing with me. ”

***

P.S. 1. Let me  borrow the line of Giancarlo Livraghi in his essay, The Power of Stupidity:

The concept is applied in all sorts of ways to the analysis of history, or of recent events, on the “dark” side of human behavior.
There are countless variations. In a Lebanese version, the scorpion’s final words are «My dear, this is the Middle East». And, of course, this could apply to several other places.
There are infinite ways in which someone can be placed in the role of the scorpion – or the frog. In this irritating tale there is a disturbing truth: it really happens that people behave in incomprehensible manners with no excuse other than, “that is my nature”.
There is no aesopian “moral” of this fable. Its strongest meaning is that it can’t be explained. It’s the essence of stupidity (harming others at one’s own disadvantage) taken to its extreme consequences. A disease that lies deep in human nature. There are many examples, practically every day. We can laugh when they are just funny. But some are dismally tragic.

2. Are you acting out of your nature or by will?

We are All Weird

July 7, 2009 43 comments

weird_eyesWell, some things are normal; others are too bizarre by relative standards. Some things are good; others are evil. Yet, also, there are things that hit the point of normalcy. While others step towards the bi-polar (extreme), others are too comfortable to stay in the middle. Isn’t that weird? The varieties, the multitudes, and the differences of things are like jigsaw puzzles where a single amorphous slice is mustered with the rest to form a single picture.  So with much oddity, we claim this jigsaw puzzle as the world we live in.

You might  wonder what suddenly prompted me to write about this. Let me tell you what has dawned on me yesterday while doing my survey in the northern municipalities of Iloilo.  In the long range of the national highway, I saw a motorcycle running on its own towards us.  I wonder how a ghoul could hold such speed when his body is much lighter than a feather to possibly resist the strength of the wind and the law of momentum. Unless he had the power to turn himself as a solid bulwark, or he had been sent by God along with the city of angles, then that would be acceptable. When our marks  cross in paradoxical points of the Zeno principle, I was perplexed to see a man lying prostrate on the seat while driving his motorcycle. Wow, cool! Was this man practicing for a race or just mastering how to sleep comfortably while driving accordingly to aero-dynamic theory? Even our driver was greatly amused that he doubted whether what we saw was truly a man or an alien showcasing his valor.

Well, it is just strange how human behavior, by means of folly, can sometimes turn someone into a bozo.  All the while, I thought that there were people who are created to be like that and we often call them “the weirdos” simply because we do not know them personally. On the other hand, most of our acquaintances are considered normal, except for a few, since we have accepted their idiosyncrasies: their uniqueness has turned homogenous with our perception. What do I mean by that?

Imagine, a new employee could look horribly at first glance, only to realize that she isn’t that bad looking after a week of being with her. This is due to the changing of perception in time. The “uniqueness of man” is what makes him weird to others. But that would potentially fade when we get to know him better. Now if we try to cleanse our common perception and be a little keen over these things, we discover that all, including man, were created by means of oddity. And there is no way we could avoid such ordeals because, whether we like it or not, we meet them everyday in various forms and in various ways. For instance:  I remember how my fiancée danced awkwardly over Yoyo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil and  personally believed she was the best dancer in the world. Ngeek!  She even called me “weird” when I suggested to make her kimbot-kimbot a little graceful given that she was dancing in latin rhythm. What is weirder is when she repeatedly apologizes for her weirdness which I find hilarious at times. OMG, if she just realizes that she performs better by playing music than in interpretative dancing.

You and I and everybody we know are weird. On the contrary to the claim that weirdos are people we just noticed recently,  which might be true in some instances, and if we draw our perception deeper, even the persons we get accustomed to are weird in their own “unique” behaviors.  It is just that we couldn’t notice them because we have accepted all their crookedness .

Now with this conjecture, we inevitably start to ask: Is there someone we could find as perfectly normal? The answer may either be complex or too simple depending on our judgment: That someone is still we have yet to know and we still have yet to encounter.

***

P. S. 1. Sometimes, weirdness tacitly implies negativity which, in fact, is very wrong. On the contrary, it is this weirdness that colors this world beautifully.

Categories: philosophy Tags: ,

In the Land of Praying Mantis

July 4, 2009 18 comments

war_prayerThe first day of April begins. The once lush nara trees are stripped of its green canopies as the wind blows warm against the thick picket of the jungle. The new sprout will come out soon in a month where the praying mantises will be feeding on the soft saps of the trees that offer them a juicy delight after a long sleepless night of prayers. They remember that the past few days were like living hell where machines and humans with gritting teeth were hungry for living blood that it was such an honor to see their own kind fall to the ground as cadavers. All of these are happening just for the thirst of fulfilling their man’s belief. How terrible! In the tribe of the faithful, where prayer is the arche of existence, it is such a horrible sight, especially for the young, to continue praying with all this crackling and strafing in the jungle that result to mats of lifeless bodies and dissected guts, laid un-honored by men who blindly believe in the pragmatic sense of killing. Their machines, which a long time ago had never intruded the mantises in their night of prayers, have now morphed into indestructible and ferocious monsters that end all life that cross its way. Yes, all mantises witnessed these and how they loathed every sight of it. What is more horrible is to see men, who were once the herald of protection and the steward of nature have become the slaves of machines and as a result, killing his own kind without qualms. Such a blunder for human race to make machines and turn them into deities! Yet their belief has paved off well – to think of fighting to achieve a greater good in bid of a few lives that do not adhere by means of these machines. Not just that, even the young ones, the mothers, the elders, the natives, pay the price for all of these. Woe!

These mantises had been praying night and day asking nothing in vast cycles of life but a nourishment of soul where all creatures would live in harmony to praise heaven for its gifts. Yet no matter how they shout their lauds, nothing happens for it is impossible now for fools’ souls who have been devoured by the devil of warfare to change. Isn’t it an irony that amidst the cross constellation and the bright crescent moon, a herd of praying mantises are flinching to pray for peace yet given a raining bullet of destruction in return? Trapped in between two camps of fools, they feel abandoned, oppressed, and doomed. Such a pity that even yesterday, another young mantis was shut to death while reciting his morning matins…and how many more mantises will be knocked off in the coming days all for the sake of ideal peace? Woe!

***

P.S. South, what has become of you?

Categories: education, philosophy Tags: ,

Dreams

June 30, 2009 71 comments

Lost-in-DreamsLet the story proceed when the reader is hooked by its content, otherwise it would be a trite shamble of lines where one has to pick the best and muster the rest in a tedious way to decipher the idea of an author. So with all human affairs where platforms are laid for implementation once they gain approval from the beneficiaries. What about you? Aren’t you too deserved to continue once you woo the mind and buoy the heart of man so desperate to cross a different reality? But why are you elusive – too elusive even compared to human behavior? With how you feast on the futile mind of men, so others are foolish to easily believe in different realities molded by you. You are a selfish god that feeds the soul with flavors yet fails to quench its thirst; you are tricky devil that flaunts in men with so much delight; you are like a burner that singes the stove and suddenly gets bored and puts off your heat leaving the spices on top of you uncooked. Woe to you great magician who plays the mind with follies and keeps it form there with illusions!

Such a powerful dictator you have become. When ideas are slaves of the mind, you sneak like a burglar, so mischievous to leave a trace and escape like a bullet while paining other beings on your way out. Yet all of these happen in the same mind where the seat of ideas is controlled by human will. Are you really there or not? But even if you are there, you remain an enigma laughing on your tasks of creating characters in human sleep. If ideas are structured by the mind, you, on the other hand, work independently apart from it the way parasites feed on their host yet maintain a different identity of their own. But despite that, I exalt you for you alone are the biggest story maker, the best scene director, the most wicked script writer, and the admirable bohemian producer of all. Only you have the power to dominate the subconscious state – either to inspire and or lead it to its doom and insanity. You are a wicked genius. Has your intelligence prompted your creativity to toy my mind, let it be in exchange of a favor: do not leave me too soon.  Please, I just hate it when you do that because you will take a different form when you come back; and just for this moment, do not shut me out again. Not in the bookstore where between the piles of books, I see my heart’s desire: the beauty that has taunted me for years. And as I see her walking towards me, I beg you not to leave as darkness says goodbye at day-break.  Not in the bookstore where a blue floral skirt sways gracefully to capture my heart. After all, this is your creation…and I wish you continue it beyond the end of June.