Tuesday, February 28, 2006

De Quiros Says He Loves Cory, And I Feel Like Throwing Up

I was pleasantly surprised that the open letter that I wrote and posted yesterday is going around various email groups. Thank you to those who forwarded it to others.

That was a very long post, so I will try to do a short blog today.

I have stopped agreeing with Conrado de Quiros a long time ago, but I continue to read him every now and then (actually, I scan through his column in the PDI, and then decide if it is worth reading or not – usually not! This is a man who has become bitter and grumpy in his old age).

But his column today was hilarious because he ended it with "what can I say, I love Cory!" referring to Cory Aquino. I was tempted to bring out my copies of de Quiros’ books (compilations of his PDI columns) which contain essays where he actually called Cory a lot of names (and they were not endearing), lambasted her for incompetence, and in general came this short of calling her boba and tanga (I actually believe he did).

And today, because they are on the same side, he professes affection?

Talk about being principled!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Open Letter To Our Leaders

Dear Tita Cory, Senators, Congressmen, Businessmen, Media people, Leftists, and all Bleeding Hearts Out There:

I am angry. And I know that there are many out there who are angrier than I am for the same reason. And that reason is simple. I am sick and tired of all you guys claiming to speak for me and many Filipinos. I feel like screaming every time you mouth words about fighting for my freedom and my rights, when you obviously are just thinking about yours. You tell me that the essence of democracy is providing every citizen the right to speak his or her mind and make his or her own informed judgments, but you yourselves do not respect my silence and the choices I and many others have made. In other words, your concept of democracy is limited to having your rights and your freedoms respected, at the expense of ours.

I am utterly flabbergasted that you still do not get it: we already responded to your calls, and our response has been very clear - we chose not to heed your calls to go to EDSA or to Fort Bonifacio not because we do not love our country or our freedoms or our rights, but precisely because we love our country even more. Because quite frankly, we are prepared to lose our freedoms and our rights just to move this country forward. You may think that is not correct, you can tell me all the dire warnings about the evils of authoritarian rule, but quite frankly all we see is your pathetic efforts to prop up your cause. You tell me that you are simply protecting my freedoms and my rights, but who told you to do that? I assure you that when I feel that my rights and my freedoms are at a peril, I will stand up and fight for them myself.

You tell us that GMA is not the right person to lead this country because she has done immoral acts. As someone who sees immorality being committed wantonly in many ways every day and by everyone (yes, including the ones you do), I may have become jaded. But you have not been able to offer me any viable alternative, while GMA has bent over backwards many times to accommodate you while continuing to work hard despite all the obstacles and the brickbats you have thrown her way. From where I sit, she is the one who has been working really hard to move this country forward while all of you have been so busy with one and only one thing: to make sure she does not succeed. So forgive me if I do not want to join you in your moral pissing contest. Forgive me if I have chosen to see things from another perspective. You say she is the problem. I say, we are the problem, more to the point, I think you are a bigger problem than she is. Taking her out may solve part of the problem, but that leaves us with a bigger problem: you. That is right, YOU!

While I felt outraged that she called a Comelec official during the elections and that she may have rigged the elections, I have since then taken the higher moral ground and forgiven her. Yes my dear bishops, I have done what you have told me to do since I was a child, which you say is the Christian and moral thing to do: forgive. Especially since she has asked for forgiveness and has tried to make amends for it. Erap certainly has not apologized and continues to be defiant, continuing to insult us everyday with his protestations. Cory has not apologized for her incompetence but we have forgiven her just the same because like GMA, she has worked hard after all.

I know you do not think that GMA's apology was not enough, or that she was insincere, or that that apology should not be the end of it, but please spare me the hypocrisy of telling me that you do so for the sake of protecting the moral fibre of society. The real reason is because you smell blood and wants to go for the kill.

Well, I have news for you. I do not like her too. I did not even vote for her. I voted for Raul Roco. But as much as I do not like her, I do not like you even more. I may not trust her, but guess what, I do not trust you even more.

You know why? Because all you do is whine and sabotage this country. You belittle every little progress we make, conveniently forgetting that it is not just GMA who has been working so hard to achieve them. Every single day, we keep the faith burning in our hearts that this country will finally pull itself out of the mess and we work so hard to do that. Every little progress is the result of our collective effort, we who toil hard everyday in our jobs. Yet, you persist in one and only thing: making GMA look bad in the eyes of the world and making sure that this country continues to suffer to prove your sorry point. In the process, you continue to destroy what we painstakinly try to built. So please do not be surprised that I do not share your cause. Do not be surprised that we have become contemptuous of your antics. You have moved heaven and earth to destroy her credibility, you have convened all kinds of fora and hearings and all you have done is test our patience to the core. For all your effort, you have only succeeded in dragging us further down. I say enough.

Don't get me wrong. I am not asking that we take immorality lying down, or that we let the President get away with anything illegal. But you have tried to prove your accusations all these time and you have not succeeded, so it is time to let things be. Besides, you are doing something immoral as well if not utterly unforgivable. The Magdalo soldiers are consorting with the communists - the same people who have been trying to kill democracy for years. Cory has been consorting with Erap and the Marcoses.

So please wake up and take a reality check. In the absence of true and genuine moral leadership, many of us have decided to cast our lot with the President, even if we do not like her. A flawed leader is better than scheming power hungry fools who can not even stand up for their convictions in the face of an impending arrest.

Your coup attempts and the denials that you have consequently made only underscore what we think is true: you are spineless and unreliable people whose only defense is to cry suppression when your ruse do not work. You are like bullies who taunt and provoke, but cry oppression when taken to task for your cruelty.

I would have respected you if you took the consequences of your actions like real heroes: calmly and responsibly instead of kicking and screaming and making lame excuses. You say you are willing to die for us, that you do all these things for the country and the Filipino, but you are not even willing to go to jail for us.

Come on, you really think we believe that you did not want to bring down the government when that is the one and only thing you have been trying to do in the last many months?

We love this country and we want peace and progress. Many among us do not give a f*&k who sits at Malacanang because we will work hard and do our share to make things work. If you only do your jobs, the ones that we elected you to do, things would be a lot simpler and easier for every one.

The events during the weekend only proved one thing. You are more dangerous and a serious threat to this country than GMA is. We have seen what you are capable of doing - you are ready to burn this country and reduce everything to ashes just to prove your point. If there is something that we need protection from, it is protection from you.


There was no coup attempt? The government over reacted? They were just celebrating the anniversary of the people power anniversary? They just wanted to pray at Fort Bonifacio? Read this TIME magazine article.

Inside the Philippines Coup Plot
A TIME reporter witnesses a meeting of opponents
of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
BY Bryan Walsh

Friday, Feb. 24, 2006Twenty years ago tomorrow, Filipinos took to the streets and brought down a president. Could it happen again? Capping a week of tension and coup rumors, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo proclaimed a state of national emergency late Friday morning, announcing on television that she had crushed a coup attempt by several prominent military officers. Arroyo appealed for calm, even as security was tightened further at the presidential palace and at military bases around Manila. Earlier in the day, the army detained three high-level officers—Brigadier General Danilo Lim, the commander of the √©lite Scout Rangers, Marine brigade commander Ariel Querubin and police superintendent Narzalino Franco—for allegedly conspiring against Arroyo. Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor told reporters that at least eight military and civilian figures were still being sought for involvement in the plot.

No official details have been released about the nature of the alleged coup, but on Thursday evening a TIME reporter witnessed a meeting held at the home of Jose Cojuangco, brother of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, where plans were being hatched for what one of the ringleaders called a "withdrawal of support" from President Arroyo. More than a dozen middle-level officials and businessmen were at the meeting, which went well past one in the morning. While Cojuangco's daughter Mikee kept the buffet table piled high with chicken sandwiches, macaroni salad, corn and cookies, Pastor Saycon, a businessman and longtime Arroyo critic, planned for a new government. As the others listened, Saycon spoke over the phone to a person he identified as an American official in Washington, assuring him that the post-coup regime would still be friendly to the U.S. "You will still be our friend, not China," he said. Then, Saycon phoned a man whom he addressed as "Delta" and identified as General Lim. Over the speaker phone, Lim confirmed that it was "all systems go" for the planned movement against Arroyo. According to Saycon, a military component was to march on Friday morning to the EDSA Shrine in Manila, where the 20th anniversary of the People Power revolution was to be celebrated. At the shrine they would be met by a contingent of Catholic bishops, and a Marine general would read a statement withdrawing support from Arroyo's government. The bishops, according to Saycon, had one request: that the coup be bloodless.

General Lim, however, was arrested by the army early Friday morning, and the planned coup appears aborted for the moment. (Neither Saycon nor anyone else at the meeting had been arrested as of Friday afternoon.) Though massive protests had been planned for Friday, including one led by former President Aquino, the police have banned all street rallies and are out in force throughout Manila. Defying the ban, 5,000 protesters marched to the EDSA shrine Friday afternoon, where they were dispersed with water cannons by riot police. But the real hinge remains the military—Arroyo cannot remain in power without their support. Though top army leaders have repeatedly pledged their allegiance to Arroyo's administration, the military announced on Wednesday that 14 junior officers had been briefly detained for allegedly plotting a separate coup, and rumors of unrest among the armed forces have become common. In her televised address this morning, Arroyo told the nation: "As commander-in-chief, I control the situation."

That remains to be seen.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Just Another Weekend in Chaotic Manila in dear Old RP

For many Pinoys, Friday and Saturday were quite stressful, thanks to the antics of politicians and media people. They huffed and they puffed and tried to create pandemonium. In the end, what I and many others have been saying all along came to bear - people are just tired of this people power thing. People just want to move on.

So I was looking forward to a stress-free Sunday.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. By 5:00 pm, the TV stations were again breaking their regular programming to report on a supposed brewing incident at Fort Bonifacio. Again, lots of huffing and puffing and spellmaking. The usual suspects immediately descended on the scene like vultures on the lookout for blood. Imee Marcos, Teofisto Guingona, Nino Muhlach, and the leftists were all there. Media people tried to make it appear that there was something truly worthwhile happening that justified all that precious airtime being laid to waste (the kids in the house could not understand why Going Bulilit was being cancelled). I know how this is going to end - with the status quo.

I almost fell off my chair when I saw the leftists there. Huh? These are people who have spent all their lives condemning military people as fascists and all of a sudden, they support te marines? I know that there are no permanent enemies in politics, only permanent interests. But for crying out loud, whatever happened to their ideological struggle?

In the meantime, the Inquirer weekend magazine features APO Hiking Society's Jim Paredes who is migrating to Australia. This is sad and tragic. Jim is a nationalist, a veteran of the EDSA revolution, and a foremost Pinoy artist. If someone like Jim is deserting the Philippines, then this is a portent of things to come.

By 8pm, I decided to read a book. Ho hummm.

Of coups and other Pinoy pastimes

Talks about a coup run high towards the weekend. On Friday morning, classes were cancelled and the roads were deserted. I travelled to Antipolo from Manila in less than 40 minutes, a feat short of a miracle. I passed by EDSA and turned right to La Vista and Katipunan right in front of the People Power Monument and was met by a phalanx of military men all geared up for war. Wow. A showdown was looming. I wondered if people would come. More to the point, I wondered if I would show up at EDSA if someone did call for people power again. The fact that I actually thought about it was indicative of just how people are tired of the whole thing.

By lunch time, the television sets at the Training Center's dining rooms were all glued to the media coverage of the "events at EDSA." The TV stations cancelled their regular programming to devote full coverage of the "unfolding" events. By merely listening to the hysterical running commentary of the broadcasters, one would conclude that a million people have showed up at EDSA, or that Malacanang had been overpowered. The broadcasters kept on talking about an impending, forthcoming, expected, looming event - but none happened. They kept on talking about rallyists, about throngs of people, but their cameras couldn't show the bodycount. The roads were deserted. All that media hype was just that - hype. In fact, the coverage bordered on egging on a confrontation just so that they could report something exciting.

By afternoon, the TV stations resumed their regular programming. They probably figured out that cartoons were definitely more exciting than the so-called events unfolding at Ayala. It turns out only about 15,000 people showed up and most of these were core leftists (who rally about anything and everything everyday), Erap loyalists, and Brother Eddie's religious flock. By 7pm, the crowd had been dispersed. All that posturing by the opposition people have gone to naught. The people did not come.

Here's why. At least here's why I did not go:

1. As much as I think the President had done something wrong, and as much as I believe that there are more than 1 million people who are just as capable to become president, the people clamoring for GMA's resignation or removal from office has not been able to propose a viable alternative.

2. I may not like GMA, but I abhor, detest, hate ERAP even more. I love Cory, but sorry, I just can not stomach seeing her beside Erap cronies. It simply is not right.

3. If GMA cheated and she did not win the elections - then she placed second. The supposed winner is now dead. Had there been a protest and a recount, it would have taken this long to determine the actual results of the election so GMA would have been proclaimed just the same. People did not vote for De Castro for President. Many did vote for GMA for President.

4. I truly just want this country to move on. I am sick and tired of all these power struggle.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Being harassed under the guise of faith

I was in Antipolo Friday and Saturday to help run a training program and before coming down to Manila Saturday noontime, we decided to drop by the Cathedral of the Lady of Good Voyage. It's been almost seven years since I last visited the Cathedral and I thought it would be great to spend a few quiet moments in contemplation before a miraculous image. Plus of course, buy pasalubong for the relatives in Manila.

We were coming up to the Cathedral from the Marikina side. A kilometer away from the cathedral, there were men and boys by the road making the Thai "thank you" sign (both hands clasped in front) and running after vehicles. Of course it struck us that they were making the "praying" sign but my passengers and I could not agree on exactly what it was they were offering. Surely they were not doing it as a form of touristy welcome. I thought these people made a living out of taking commissions from vehicle blessings (this is the church of the Lady of Good Voyage after all and many owners of brand new cars go up to the Cathedral to have their car blessed there).

There was this guy who ran all the way down the hill following our vehicle up to the steps of the cathedral - a very exhausting physical work out! When we got out of the car, he approached us and asked us to buy pasalubong from a certain store (Lengleng's Pasalubong Stall). All that running just to get customers to buy a few hundred bucks worth of kasuy (cashew nuts)! Whew! Either life is really, truly hard or the pasalubongs items are way overpriced to warrant hefty commissions for their running salesmen. And interesting aside on the stuff they sell at Antipolo: most of the things they sell there (except for Ibus, the suman wrapped in coconut leaves) are brought up from Manila, so the whole thing does not make sense. Think about it. You buy stuff up a mountain to bring down to Manila, when these stuff were originally from Manila anyway.

The running salesman was not the highlight of that trip though. That kind of commercialism paled in comparison to the kind of shameless harassment that the sellers of religious icons and flowers (jasmine garlands) use on hapless churchgoers.

When we got out of the vehicle, we were automatically besieged by all types of vendors selling all types and makes of religious stuff. Before we knew it, we had all kinds of icons, medals, anting-anting, and other ornaments hanging from our clothes. Somehow, they were able to pin these things on our clothes. Some were hanging from our hands - they would touch our hands and press these things on to us. Years of Catholic upbringing have conditioned us to think that dropping religious images is sacriligeous so of course we had to return them nicely.

The vendors were demanding that we pay for them, nicely at firs, then becoming more insistent, and finally being pushy and threatening. Imagine that! I thought this kind of harassment only happens in Quiapo. What was really annoying was that old women who looked truly devout and wearing religious garments were the more brazen. Some of them even faked the way they stooped, would say a prayer, or would beg in eerie voices capable of spooking even the most hardened person.

The same hellish situation met us inside the pasalubong center and on our way back to the vehicle. It was like an eerie obstacle course - only we could not jump over people or callously cast them aside.

I know people have a right to make a living, but for crying out loud, must they employ harassment? And around a holy place at that! It was enough to make us swear not to come back to the Cathedral. This was really too bad because Antipolo is such a great place to journey to, both metaphorically and physically.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

115 things about me

This post is lifted from my friend Jerome's blog. The idea was actually simple - find out how many items apply to you (and hopefully help you get to know yourself better). I know, I know I am intellectualizing it (a common lament about me! hahaha). So here's my version of it - naturally and very typical of me, with corresponding comments and opinions (shempre pa!).

01. I miss somebody right now.
I actually miss many people right now. Five of the people I miss the most: my youngest brother Cy who is somewhere in the waters near Pakistan, my College best friend Arthur who is at Louisiana State U (am very proud to add that he has a Ph.D. already and is Assistant Professor there), best friend Franz who is Department Head at Bicol U, Tatay who is probably the person who understands me the most, and someone I used to do baby talk with.

02. I watch more tv than I used to.
The TV is always on in my room. Even when I am not watching it. Even when I am listening to music. Bad, I know.

03. I love olives.
Only when it is in putannesca (yummm!). I haven't developed a taste for alcoholic concoctions that have olives in them.

04. I love sleeping.
Not really. If I can do without it, I would. What I actually dread about sleeping is that I have difficulty doing it. If there was an honorary doctorate degree for tricks done to get to sleep I would probably win it hands down - from taking all kinds of pills and concoctions, to imagining all sorts of things from sheep to running water on a stream, to reading really boring books, ad nauseum.

05. I own lots of books.
I own more books than I can read in two lifetimes. I have accumulated books gathering dust in my library reserved for retirement reading (when oh when!?).

06. I wear glasses or contact lenses.
Yes and Yes.

07. I love to play video games.
Nah. It's not for me. I remember one time when a friend stopped talking to me because I could not get the whole point of that computer game called "Doom." I kept asking "what's the point?"

08. I’ve tried marijuana.
Okay, students who are reading this: just because I have doesn't mean you can or should.

09. I’ve watched porn movies.
Who hasn't?

10. I have been in a threesome.
Ehem. That's actually a low number. Hehehe.

11. I have been the psycho-ex in a past relationship.
Nah. If there is anything I am proud of about my past relationships, it is that they all ended quite well. I always made it a point to end amicably - no bitterness and regrets.

12. I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
Usually is the operative word.

13. I have acne free skin. (mostly anyway)
I never had acne, but lately I have stubborn fat deposits that just won't go away!

14. I like and respect Kris Aquino.
Ewwww. Read a previous post please.

15. I curse frequently.(I try not to)
I actually do not like people who curse.

16. I have changed a lot mentally over the last year.
I would like to think so, but I never really got to learn the things I intended to learn last year.

17. I have a hobby.
I have lots of them. I just don't get to do them more often. My collection of dendrobiums are in pitiful state, my arts crafts are gathering dust, and the books I am supposed to read are accumulating. And oh, we haven't done in a long while the usual "judging" my long-lost barkada used to do whenever we went out.

18. I’ve been told I have a nice butt.
Never. Not even by those who were strangely attracted to me. Sigh.

19. I carry my knife/razor everywhere with me.
I actually do not own one. Somehow, I believe that possession of a defense weapon merely invites an assault.

20. I’m really, really smart. I’m not a genius, just smart.
Ehem. Modesty dictates that I pass on this one. Hahaha.

21. I’ve never broken someone else’s bones.
I am not proud of it, but I have. When I was ten, I accidentally pushed a cousin during child's play. He broke a wrist.

22. I have a secret that I am ashamed to reveal.
I have too many. I am sufficiently ashamed.

23. I love rain. And thunder.
Yes and No. I do love it when it rains - when I was in College, my friends knew I would definitely show up at a gimik when it would rain. But I hate thunder. My mom likes telling people that my first "fear" ever was "dander." The easiest way to scare the hell out of me was to threaten me with "dander."

24. I’m paranoid at most times.
Sad, but yes. The concept called "psychosomatic" was named in my honor. And I tend to imagine the worst affliction. When I get a headache, I begin thinking of tumors.

25. I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar free.
I would. I really would. Honest. Doctora Belo are you reading this?

26. I need money right now.
Yes, lotsa lotsa moolah.

27. I love sushi.
Yes. I can survive on sushi. I am sushi monster... growlll.

28. I talk really, really fast. Really, really fast.
Guilty. It is a running gag among my students and training participants.

29. I have fresh breath in the morning.
I wish. And darn it, I still have to meet someone who has fresh breath in the morning.

30. I have semi-long hair.
I used to have really long hair. I had it cut two weeks ago. I am still feeling a bit disoriented that I do not have long hair anymore.

31. I have lost a lot of money in gambling.
Nope. I do not know how to bet or gamble. I have been taught how to play mah jong many times. I still need to be oriented everytime I sit down to play it. I just do not have the aptitude for it.

32. I have at least one brother and/or one sister.
This is actually complicated. I have a half brother and a half sister on my father's side. I have one full sister. I have four half brothers and a half sister on my mother's side. We are a classic example of an extended family. But truth to tell, we do not consider each other half siblings.

33. I was born in a country outside of the Phils.
Nah. I am Pinoy all the way. And I wouldnt have it any other way. Pramis.

34. I shave my legs.
What the heck for?

35. I have a twin.
I probably have, given the fact that I have been rumored to have been seen in places I would never dream of being in (although I honestly would not mind doing the things I have been rumored to be doing in those places). But no, I was a solitary fetus.

36. I couldn’t survive without a mobile phone.
I was one of the last among my friends to own a cellphone. And if JT did not sell me her old 6100 for a song, I probably would still be lugging around a 3210. That's how unimportant a cellphone is to me.

37. I keep a to-do list.
I try, but I am not good at doing it. I still miss appointments because I forgot to write them down.

38. I like the way that I look.
Hmmm... I can lose a few more pounds.

39. I have lied to a good friend in the past 6 months.
Yes. Guilty.

40. I know how to do cornrows.
What are cornrows?

41. I am usually pessimistic.
I am eternally optimistic. I believe that the Philippine economy will recover soon. I believe that the political turmoil will settle down soon. I also believe I need a reality check.

42. I have mood swings.
No, I do not have mood swings. I have mood rollercoasters.

43. I think prostitution should be legalized.
I think prostitution exists precisely because it is illegal. If it were, it would just be plain sex work. Should sex work be allowed? Absofuckinglutely! I think that it is hypocritical to think it would ever go away. The fact that it is illegal prostitutes those who are in it.

44. I think Britney Spears is pretty.
Nah. I think she is a bimbo.

45. I have cheated on a significant other.
I reserve my right against self incrimination.

46. I have a hidden talent.
Who knows? I think I will still be able to surprise myself one of these days.

47. I’m always hyper no matter how much sugar I’ve had.
I can be hyper without the benefit of sugar.

48. I think that I’m popular.
Notorious is more like it.

49. I am currently single.
By choice, by choice. Or that's how I try to justify it.

50. I have kissed someone of the same sex.
If done by two consenting adults, I don't think there is anything wrong with it.

51. I enjoy talking on the phone.
Not really. Unless some heavy breathing is involved.

52. I practically live in PJ pants.
I don't wear PJs anymore. I have outgrown them.

53. I love to shop.
I find shopping a chore. I can shop in 30 minutes. I did my whole Christmas shopping last year in three visits to the mall. Seriously.

54. I would rather shop than eat.
Yes. Definitely.

55. I would classify myself as ghetto.

56. I’m bourgie and have worn a sweater tied around my shoulders.
When I was in high school, yes. But I was a leftie in college and was a "camisa chino" guy for years. My dad's friends actually asked my dad if I had any other clothes other than white camisa chinos.

57. I’m obsessed with my blog.
I need therapy from this blogging thing.

58. I dont hate anyone.
I try not to. I really do.

59. I’m a pretty good dancer.
Dancing and Bong Austero do not rhyme. Period.

60. I don’t think Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington.
I think Mike Tyson is capable of anything. Heck, I think he should be blamed for the sinking of the Titanic.

61. I’m completely embarrassed to be seen with my mother.
Hmmm. Not really. My mom is pretty cool in public. It is being alone with my mom that embarrasses me. Hahaha. My mother tends to smother me in private.

62. I have a cell phone.

63. I watch MTV on a daily basis.
I don't get what is cool about MTV. I prefer conjuring my own images to go with my favorite songs.

65. I have passed out drunk in the past 6 months.
Never. I am amazed that some people claim amnesia the day after they got drunk. I always remember the day after everything I did and said while drunk. Even the most embarrassing details. That is why I do not like getting drunk. The memories haunt me.

67. I have never been in a real relationship before.
I am a relationship person. It is an affliction. I do not just fall in love - I plunge, sink, crash into relationships.

68. I’ve rejected someone before.
This brings back painful memories of someone I loved but rejected because I was in another relationship at that time.

69. I’ve graduated college.
I am extremely proud of my Alma Mater. I hope the feeling is mutual.

70. I have no idea what i want to do for the rest of my life.
On the contrary, I have clear ideas about what I would like to do for the rest of my life. Get rich. Buy a farm. Grow plants. Hang a hammock. And read, read, read while I watch plants grow.

71. I want to have children in the future.
I already have. I am not looking forward to having grandchildren yet though. Please god, not yet. Lol.

72. I have changed a diaper before.
I was barely 13 when I first did it. My youngest brother was born when I was 13.

73. I’ve had the cops called on me before.
Not deliberately. But yes, I was part of a rowdy bunch that the neighbor complained about and a policeman did ask us to keep it down. I stopped talking to that neighbor for two years.

74. I bite my nails.

75. I am a member of the PBB fan club.

76. I’m not allergic to anything.
I used to be allergic to crabs but luckily I overcame it. Now I can't eat crabs due to hypertension.

77. I have a lot to learn.
Oh yes. I still have to learn how to read the stars, how to fix car trouble, how to speak 10 other languages, etc. So many things to learn!

78. I have dated someone at least 10 years older or younger.

79. I plan on seeing Ice Cube’s newest “Friday” movie.
I would rather pull my nails with my bare hands.

80. I am very shy around the opposite sex.
I am never shy, except when selling something.

81. I’m online 24/7, even as an away message.
Nope. Mahal ng internet.

82. I have at least 25 away messages saved.

83. I have tried alcohol before.
Yesteday, today, tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after...

84. I have made a move on a friend’s significant other in the past.
I wanted to, but had an attack of ethics. Darn. I still regret not doing it to this day.

85. I own the “South Park” movie.
I don't like South Park.

86. I have avoided assignments at work/school to be on my blog.
Not inconceivable, but so far, not yet.

87. When I was a kid I played “the birds and the bees” with a neighbor or chum…
Oh god! snicker, snicker.

88. I enjoy country music.
Some. I owned a John Denver album when I was in High School and was a total Jim Croce junkie when I was in College.

89. I go/used to go to the gym.
Used to. I will go back soon. I swear I will.

90. I think that Pizza Hut has the best pizza.
Hmmm..not really. I like Cosa Nostra pizza better.

91. I watch soap operas whenever I can.
Guilty. I try to follow the convoluted affairs of Jang Geum.

92. I’m obsessive, retentive, and often a perfectionist.
Obsessive only.

93. I have used my sexuality to advance my career.
I wish. I do not think anyone would take me up on it even if I were crazed enough to try though.

94. I love Michael Jackson, scandals and all.
I honestly do not have an opinion about Michael Jackson.

95. I know all the words to the Sesame Street opening song.
I was not into television when I was younger. I was the nerd who preferred to read rather than watch TV. Now I am making up for lost time.

96. Halloween is awesome because you get free candy.
I think Filipinos should not even celebrate Halloween.

97. I watch Spongebob Squarepants and I like it.
Ewww. I dont.

98. I have dated a close friend’s ex.

99. I’m happy as of this moment.
I can be happier.

100. I have gone scuba diving. And snorkeling.
Snorkeling yes. And I miss doing it. I don't know if I will ever take up scuba diving.

101. I’ve had a crush on somebody I’ve never met.
Not really. How is this possible anyway?

102. I’ve kissed someone I knew I shouldn’t.
Oh yes, and I will do it again. Lol.

103. I play a musical instrument.
Two: the guitar and the piano.

104. I strongly dislike math.
Dislike is a strong word. Let's just say I will not volunteer to do it.

105. I’m procrastinating with something right now.
Two. Three. Four. Five. Darn it... the count can go to double digits.

106. I own and use a library card.
Yes. I actually suffer from withdrawal symptoms when I don't get to visit a library.

107. I fall in ‘lust’ more than in ‘love.’
I wish.

108. Cheese enchiladas rock my socks.
Nope. They melt my socks.

109. I think The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest things ever.
Yessss!!!! Yesssss!!!! Oh yesss!!!! I think JRR Tolkien is a god.

110. I’m obsessed with the TV show “Lost.”

111. I think Beyblades is the coolest show in coolsville.
Nah again.

112. There are more things I could be better at, if only I tried harder.
I think that this is a good mantra. I honestly think that people could always do better than their previous effort.

113. Sometimes I don’t like food.
Never. I think eating is underrated.

114. I worry sometimes that I’m not being the best friend I could be to the people I care about.
This is something that I worry about constantly. I worry that I am letting down my friends.

115. I desperately want people to respect me, but it rarely happens.
I just want them to recognize me. If they respect me as well, fine.

You're still reading this? I actually surprised myself that I reached item 115. Thanks for getting this far - I am touched. Hahaha.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Stop logging now!

Seeing footages on TV of the landslides in Saint Bernard (Southern Leyte) sent me into panic mode - it's a town a few kilometers away from the town of my birth (Abuyog). In fact, my parents still live in Abuyog along with three siblings and a whole caboodle of nephews, nieces, aunts and relatives. Thanks to texting (yes, my parents also communicate through SMS although deciphering their text messages takes some time but at least they try to keep up with technology) I was reassured that everyone is well except for the usual laments that aging people inevitably gets into - the weather is cold, a sibling is a pain in the neck, etc., etc. Sometimes I do think that the older people get, the more the need for a sounding board for their various complaints.

What got me worried about my hometown is that just like Saint Bernard, it is a town whose forest cover is already gone, courtesy of years of wanton illegal logging by its elected leaders. When I was growing up, the main industry of the town was lumber and practically everyone who was rich in our town owned a sawmill. Eventually, the industry died simply because there were no more trees to be felled from the mountains that surrounded the town. Consequently, the town started to get flooded everytime it rained hard.

In the next few weeks, there will another round of blamestorming as our leaders try to fulminate and wash their hands in public.

The tragedy is not new actually. This is the second landslide in Southern Leyte in a just a few years (not to mention the Ormoc flood that claimed thousands of lives). The reason why these landslides happen is simple: the mountains are getting bald, the soil is getting loose because there are no more trees that bind them.

The solution is simple and it only takes political will to enforce it: total log ban.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Through Reading Glasses

I knew it was bound to happen; I just did not think it would happen twice in a year.

I am talking about upgrading the lenses of my reading glasses. I started wearing reading glasses only in May lasy year (I started wearing glasses for astigmatism since I was in Grade 5 though). Months after, I started having headaches, which meant getting new reading glasses again. And then this week, the symptoms came back and I had to march to the opthalmologist's clinic (again!). She prescribed higher grade reading glasses. Arrrghhh.

I do not like wearing reading glasses. I abhor the idea of having to take off my regular glasses and wearing a new pair just for reading. I know, I know...I should get progressive glasses (I am not very vain but wearing doble vista glasses just won't cut it for me). Problem is, I am also a person who wants instant gratification. I do not like waiting four days for a new pair of glasses - I want them pronto.

Sigh. I am getting old.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mass hysteria on CD

A friend and I (both loveless but not necessarily lonely) talked over the phone last night and somehow the conversation drifted towards which artist (or pseudo artist) is holding a valentines concert and where. I am told that valentines day is the time when concert artists and producers make tons of money from suckers out there. He ticked off the list - from Richard Merck and Isabella, Sharon Cuneta, Gary and Zsa Zsa, Regine, etc., etc. Then he asked me "don't you miss going to a valentine's day concert?" I was stumped, because truth to tell, I can only recall one and only one valentines day concert which I and a significant other actually went to. But yes, I do wonder what music they sing at those concerts - must be a collection of the truly cheesy musical pieces ever written (King and Queen of Hearts? Can This Be Love? Endless Love? aarrrghhhhhhhhhhh). Then he said "well, you can always buy the cd." Most artists today scrimp on recording costs and just produce recordings of their concerts.

I think that this whole phenomenon of selling "concert recordings" is ripping off people in a grand way.

We Filipinos love to sing. I can tolerate impromptu choral renditions during sprinking sprees where seven people sing a song together, each person singing it in a separate tone and pitch. I can also spend a whole night in a sing-along bar listening to the many ways Frank Sinatra's "My Way" can be sung, recited, declaimed, chanted, bawled, or even acted out. What the heck, I can even forgive and forget mass singing during concerts where I spend hard-earned money to listen sana to the artist sing his or her song, but end up being tortured by the sound of ten thousand people singing their guts out.

I have great tolerance for sentimentalism. I have profound respect for everyone's inalienable right to make total fools of themselves.

But what I can not stand are concert recordings being sold as albums that actually include portions where the audience sings instead of the artist. This is not only a cop out, it is a major rip-off. People pay hard-earned money buying cds to listen to and consequently enjoy music, not mass hysteria. If people want to witness mass hysteria, they need not pay for it. All they need to do is watch on TV how some religions leaders with atrocious clothes whip people up to a frenzy. Applause before and after a song is tolerable although just as tacky. But whole refrains and practically half of the song being sung by the audience - now, that's pushing it too far. It ceases being cute.

If the Philippine recording industry wants people to value Philippine music, they need to provide more quality.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

In Memoriam (Abes, 1996)

It being valentines day today, I decided to unearth that long lost column in a regional newspaper which I wrote in 1996 for my very dear friend Abes. As I wrote in a previous blog, my assistant at the office asked me last week what to do with a whole bag of clippings of previous columns. I have forgotten about these clippings and thought I already lost them. But well, the clippings surfaced and now I do not know what to do with them.

Requiem for Abes

WE can all feel bad about losing money to a thief, or belongings to a fire. We can all feel bad about losing a bet, or an election. Losing is always a painful experience no matter what perhaps because it makes us come to terms with the fact that in this world nothing is finite, that everything eventually comes to an end. Losing jolts us to the very sad reality that in this world, there are certain things that we can not hold a claim to forever, that everything is fleeting and temporary.

The painful thing about losing someone is that very often it comes unexpectedly, suddenly. Unless one is born a loser, losing is not something one wants to aspire or prepare for so that when it happens, one always feels that wrenching pain in the gut as if something that is a large part of us has been ripped off unceremoniously.

We feel bad about losing because in a very real sense, we simply do not lose a material thing, or a warm body. We also lose a part of ourselves. Every single possession, every experience, every single person we love or who has touched our lives - they all occupy a space in our lives. And when they are torn from us, there remains nothing but space, sometimes a wound - that is very difficult to get over.

I lost someone very dear to me recently. His name was Abes and he was my best friend. He was one of those very rare people who was born a "giver." You know, the type who would give away the shirt on his back to anyone who needs it more. He was always giving something away - things, favors, his time, his energy. He worked at the PAL cargo department, and everytime someone he knows would arrive, he would always be there to assist, even if he had been specifically told not to do so.

I am not just eulogizing - I know we have this tendency to attribute all sorts of tributes to a dead person. But this piece could only be written five weeks after his death because well, I could not do it earlier and because I did not want to indulge in oversentimentality even if as my best friend he truly deserves it.

The painful thing about losing Abes was that we lost him quite suddenly and under extremely tragic circumstances. He was a victim of man's inhumanity, of extreme viciousness and cruelty. He was a victim of a foul play; perhaps a frustrated hold up attempt, perhaps a vicious game, perhaps a vendetta. Perhaps. Nobody actually knows what happened. His wounded body was simply found one morning in a grassy knoll in the heart of Quezon City. No leads, no witnesses, nothing.

One day he was a warm, affable person. The next day he was a cold body inside a box. Just like that. It did not matter anymore that the man was barely 30 years old, that he had a bright future ahead of him at PAL, that he had just bought a house for himself and his family, that he had parents and siblings and friends whose lives would never ever be the same again without him.

The questions scream for answers. How could anyone snuff someone else's life in just a few slashes of a knife? What kind of a person offers a deaf ear to someone's plea for life? Why would anyone want to hurt someone who did not have within himself the ability to inflict harm on another human being? What kind of society is it that breeds criminals, that allows killers to hunt the streets at night for easy victims?

As in the movies, the questions merely shatter the stillness of the night. There are no answers forthcoming. At least not yet. His death is being investigated by the NBI. I do not want to think that my best friend - he with the generous and trusting heart- would end up as just another statistic in the police files.

But frankly, and sadly, there is not much to go by. He had no known enemies. There was simply no reason for him to get killed other than the fact that he was on the same road that night with someone with unspeakable evil in his heart. In the end, it is simply between him and god.

In the meantime, we grope in the dark trying to find our way around this world without Abes anymore. It is like walking up the day after the dentist pulled a molar - you go through the day trying to find the tooth where it used to be and feeling very uncomfortable in the process. In time we will all get used to the absence. The loneliness will become a part of us; perhaps no longer as painful, but it will be there. Meanwhile, we grieve for a dear friend and for everything that could be and could have been.

Goodbye my dear friend. Sleep tight.


I wrote this piece in 1996. Nothing came out of the investigation. Today, I still find myself thinking about Abes sometimes and missing him awfully. I still use a greeting for Abes as a password for some files. I truly do not want to forget him ever.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thoughts on valentines day

Is it time to fall in love again? This question occurred to me over the weekend. The boy in the house (who has had a girlfriend since last year) was asking about how to get to Dangwa (the depot for fresh flowers in Manila) and about prices in general of valentines day gifts and I could not relate. In the college where I teach, I scheduled a major examination on Valentines Day (and warned students that failure to show up would result in dire consequences). Bah! I was in SM window-shopping for a new backpack and I found the valentines day displays cheesy and tacky. I have become the valentines day equivalent of Christmas’ Uncle Scrooge. Nooooooooooo!

Not that Valentines Day was ever a big deal in my life the way Christmas or Good Friday is. And please do not get me wrong, I am not exactly heartless. I can be romantic when the situation is ripe for it. I think my problem is something similar to performance anxiety - I can not be romantic on cue. For me, valentines is best spent with friends in as normal an environment as possible. And up until two years ago, when careers and tempers started to get in the way, this was how our barkada celebrated valentines – as a group taunting couples (never mind if there were couples within our barkada).

Yesterday, I caught Kris Aquino on television being serenaded by two men (James Yap and Boy Abunda) with that song that goes "you will always be beautiful." I am not a Kris Aquino fan and I can not relate with her "If it can happen to me, it can happen to you too" logic. For one, she is Kris Aquino and whatever happens to her, good or bad, is not just the same when it happens to somebody else. But there was something between her and James Yap that appealed to me – a kind of innocence and naivete.

And that really got me into thinking that these are crazy times that we live in. There are so many things in the world today that simply do not make sense. Perhaps falling madly in love and doing crazy things in the name of love just make so much more sense than politics or economics or social justice.

So by all means, lovers out there, get crazy, get madly, wantonly, giddily in love!

Happy Valentines.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Movie Review

I wanted to watch the movie on the big screen and in a regular moviehouse because I would have wanted to see how the audience would react to it. But I came across the DVD copy and I had some time in my hands today so what the heck, I decided to watch it. It blew me away.

Brokeback Mountain is a love story and more. It is a modern epic, a gripping commentary of life, a major work of art. Yes, I am gushing here and please forgive my unabashed admiration of the film. Very few films have affected me the way this movie has. Come Oscars time, I would be terribly disappointed if it loses in the best picture race.

What I truly like about this movie is its honesty. It tells a heartbreaking story of two people - and the fact that they are both men (cowboys at that) is forgotten halfway through the movie. Of course, the fact that they are men (and I must stress that word strongly because the two characters break all stereotypes about gay men) is central to the story. If there is something that the movie succeeds in presenting, it is this: a relationship is a complicated thing - we can romanticize it, we can sugar coat it, we can even make fun of it - but it is never as simple and as predictable as we would want it to be. And this movie does a good job of presenting the complications - psychological, social, political - without the hysterics and the contrived dialogues.

The characters in this movie do not resemble any cardboard creation. For once, here is a movie which enables the audience to see the actual characters - not the actors playing them, not the people that anyone would want them to be - what we see are people so real we do not have a hard time empathizing with their conflicts and their points of view.

The wife (played superbly by Michelle Williams of Dawson's Creek fame) breaks all expectations of how "wives" caught in that situation are supposed to react - her pain and confusion are so real we can't help but feel for her, yet not sympathize nor hate her. Even the parents towards the end of the movie blew me away - you can't put a finger to what they must be feeling- yet the pain, understanding, affection, regret, loss, perhaps even shame - all these are so palpable the air hung heavy with unspoken emotion.

It is a sad movie, but one that is surprisingly liberating as well. You don't know exactly why the "unfulfilled" union of two hearts, while admittedly heartbreaking, is not as painful at the end. Perhaps because the characters have been written and portrayed with such stark honesty making judgments about them becomes difficult and irrelevant.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spooked by Carrie and other high school stuff

Just got back from a workshop that totally drained my batteries. Ever been on one of those gigs that left you emotionally, mentally, creatively...wasted? This was one of those, but multiplied ten fold. Anyway.

I had a few minutes between meetings and decided to check my friend's blogs. Jerome's blog had this short entry reminiscing about his high school days which, true to the spirit of blogging, was inspired by another blog (tin's). These got me into thinking about my own high school days.

Let's cue in Sharon Cuneta's "high school days, oh my high school days how exciting kay ganda..." Yup, I was in high school when Sharon hit national prominence courtesy of that song Mr. DJ. So here are the things I remember most about my high school days.

1. I played xylophone in the school band. I was a freshman when I was picked to be the xylophone player - mainly because I could read notes and played the piano although how this was related to playing the xylophone was a bit stretched. Silly me, I actually thought it was an honor - but a year after, I realized it was such a burden. The darn thing was heavy and I was this thin, gawking geek. That stint probably accounts for my hunched posture today.

2. For some strange reason, I was the school's pambato in the declamation and oratorical contests. My older sister was better at it, but somehow, they thought it was something in the genes. So I got drafted and trundled around reciting "Oh Captain My Captain our fearful trip is done!" I won some, but also lost some. I refused to memorize a male version of "Vengeance is Mine" (yup, that piece that begins with alms...alms... spare me a piece of bread...give me your mercy") which got the ire of our principal and thus ended my career as an orator.

3. I fell in love big time! hahaha. (Writing this one actually sends goose pimples all over my body and am grinning like an idiot while I write this). My first love was this girl who was a transferee to our school. I was late by a week that school year and I was the last to meet her. We ignored each other for the first four months, became kulitan partners in the next four months, and fell in love right at the end of the school year. Waaahhh! We did have a theme song (give me a break, Jerome, I was a kid then!) and she was the one who picked it... it was Morning, Noon and Nighttime (morning noon and nighttime i still think of you...morning noon and nightime wanna be with you...). I met her again a few years ago...and we had a blast reminiscing our kulitan blues. hahaha.

4. The swing was the in-thing at that time. Too bad I had two left feet even then so that was one activity I was terrible at. But I did try to learn how to dance "Rock Baby Rock."

5. The movies that defined my high school life were Carrie (with Sissy Spacek in it), Saturday Night Fever, Voices, Star Wars. I distinctly remember Carrie for two reasons. One, it's theme song was this haunting love song (I Never Dreamed Someone Like You Could Want Someone Like Me) that everybody was singing at school "could it be...that the lady is me in that photograph...I'm not sure cause it feels so wrong and I want it so bad..." I even pestered an older cousin to teach me how to play the chords in the guitar so I could show off to my friends. The second reason was that we were on a group date when we watched it...and everyone pretended to be spooked like crazy at that last scene when a hand from the grave suddenly came out. It was a perfect excuse to hug the person next to you.

6. We actually had a blast in scouting and CAT training. We took long walks, camped in the hills, cooked our own food, and did all sorts of supposed character building things. Yup, I heard that there were lots of sex activities going on too.

To be continued someday....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday Rage

I am sick and tired of the way those idiots at ABS-CBN are churning out all kinds of senseless yarn. Please, enough of this "nobody wanted it to happen," "we just wanted to entertain and make people happy," "we are all victims, here" line of reasoning. The only official statement that makes sense is this: we are responsible and we will face up to the responsibility. All anyone needs to do is review all the footage of Wowowee days prior to the stampede and see for yourself how they enticed and practically promised everyone a reward just for them to go to Ultra. They did it for the sake of ratings!

Cut the crap and sentimentality, pay up, and make sure this does not happen again.


I am up to here with these so-called experts that say desperation and poverty caused people to line up at Ultra and get crushed. Oh puhlease! It is insulting to the poor. The people who were at Ultra did not even comprise .1% of the total number of Filipinos living in abject poverty. Poverty wasn't the reason why people went there.


Will someone please tell that crybaby Willie Revillame to stop bawling on TV? Sooner or later, someone will get to the the irresponsible statements he made to entice people to go to Ultra and when the time comes, he better have something better than his bawling. His bawling only highlights and validates the fact that this is a person whose heart is in the right place, indeed, but unfortunately, all the other parts seem to be in the wrong places (if they exist at all).


What is with Cory Aquino? There are talks that she has entered into an alliance with Joseph Estrada, Susan Roces and their ilk. In fact, there were pictures in the news today showing them with Senate President Frank Drilon. This is so wrong!!! The moment Cory hooks up with the Erap side, she is spoiled goods politically. People may not like GMA, but I think they dislike Erap even more.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Random thoughts on a stampede

I work in Ortigas and go home to Manila, which means I pass by Ultra everyday on my way home. Since Wednesday this week, traffic in the area has started to get unusually slow as a growing number of people have started to camp out in the sidewalks around Ultra. I actually meant to write about it in this blog. I also caught Willie Revillame on TV once enticing more and more people to go to Ultra and promising all kinds of rewards. In his words "rather than stay home and do nothing, you are better off at Ultra where you have the chance to win a million pesos, taxis, and tricycles." I guess that pretty much summed up why thousands went.

Didn't any one see this coming?

The ABS-CBN executives and broadcasters kept on repeating that "this was an incident that nobody wanted to happen." Of course. Who doesn't know that? But what exactly did they do to make sure that what happened would not happen? They enticed people to dance with death.

In fairness, however, I do think that their handling of the crisis has been quite admirable beginning with the visibility of most of their top guns at the site of the crisis. And I applaud them for taking full responsibility for the tragedy. About time someone did something like that in this country where leaders make a career of washing their hands in public.

I can see lots of fingerpointing and pompous posturing coming in the next few weeks. I am sure politicians and sectors of the media are now salivating at the prospect of being able to foist their self-serving dissertations on the general public.

And then afterwards, when the hysteria has died down and something else has caught the public's attention, it will be business as usual.

Television shows will once again do anything and everything for the sake of ratings. Ordinary people will once again be treated like dumb driven cattle being herded to produce the biggest ever audience at an extravaganza. And when tragedy strikes, they will be blamed for having the get-rich-quick mentality, for their desperation and for their hunger.

Friday, February 03, 2006

When Violence Comes to MacDo Across

As I am writing this blog at the College where I teach, everyone is in a state of agitation over a shooting incident which happened just a few minutes ago at the MacDonalds outlet. The air is thick with all kinds of speculation.

Here are the sketchy details so far:

The Assistant Manager (male, 37 years old) of the store walked into the office of the Manager (female, no other details yet) and shot her twice. She was dead on the spot. Then the Assistant Manager climbed on to the roof of the store and committed suicide by shooting himself. One report says he is fighting for his life at a nearby hospital, another says he has expired.

A case of work rage? Or a lover's spat? Or personal grudge? No one knows. But this is a MacDo outlet - a place for kids! What is more, this is an outlet that is always full of students from nearby schools - DLSU, CSB, St. Scho, etc. There are kids there at all hours!!!

What does it say when violence comes to MacDo and to school in the Philippines???

Yuck Time

Nobody can tell what the universe will send up your alley. Yesteday I came across a compilation of newspaper columns I wrote for a weekly regional newspaper in Leyte from 1996-1998. These are essays written in another time - and I do not just mean this in a literal way. I thought I have lost these columns - I knew I had copies of the newspaper somewhere, but I thought they got lost when we transferred houses. But such is life. One day someone simply comes forward to ask you what to do with a bunch of old newspapers stashed in a box that has not been opened for five years and voila! the past has come back to haunt you.

I do not know what to do with these columns. There is a part of me that says I should burn them to protect myself from unnecessary public ridicule. But there is also a part of me that somehow believes history should not be tampered with and thinks these columns should be thrown back into the box and left to the designs of fate.

Anyway. But in fairness, there are some columns that I think can pass off as serious attempts at writing. One of these was a piece on the death of my best friend Abes - someone I still miss very very dearly to this day, almost ten years after his death. I am looking for a picture of Abes so that I can republish that essay along with his picture.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who Actually Knows?

I stayed up late last night watching a documentary on Stonehenge. This is one place I would truly love to visit the moment I win the lotto jackpot (yes, I have started betting although not regularly). The others would be the Inca temples, The Great Wall of China, The Red Square, The Leaning Tower, The Grand Canal, The Ankor Wat, Ayers Rock, The Pyramids at Giza, The Grand Canyons, and The Vatican. There. Too many places to visit, too little resources. Sigh.

But back to Stonehenge - how did they do it? They have theories including that bit about Martians doing it with superior technology. There are some things in this world that are beyond comprehension. I think some things are best left that way - they should be enjoyed and appreciated even if they are not fully understood.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Slow Food - romancing philippine cuisine

I am currently reading "Slow Food: Philippine Culinary Traditions" a compilation of Philippine essays on traditional Filipino cooking. I must say that this is a very scrumptious book and a delight to devour from cover to cover.

The concept of the book is profound in its simplicity - get people to write about food that is prepared the old-fashioned way, which means, no short-cuts. The idea is actually admirable when one comes to realize that many kids today just do not have memories of hours spent in the kitchen helping put together family heirloom recipes. Today, even coconut cream comes in cans and there are all sorts of powdered mixes that has taken away the tedious manual labor of having to pound, squeeze, grate, marinate, etc.

These are essays I can relate to on many levels; essays that evoked powerful personal memories from my childhood and growing up years - of countless family reunions and special occasions, of terribly-longed for family recipes and delicacies (just thinking about them makes me awfully homesick). The whole book is like a delectable pot of sinigang. Each of the essays seems too unique and disparate on its own to blend with the others. But just like sinigang, the individual ingredients do come together quite beautifully in the end providing just the right amount of sourness, tartness, sweetness, and saltiness. Slurrrppp. Burp.

Of the many essays, my top favorite is "Remembering My Grandmother with Binuburan" by Joy Subido. This is a very personal piece, brimming with love and affection for a grandmother who, just like my own amah, must have been such a benevolent tyrant at the kitchen. So potent is the writing of this essay that even if I have never ever seen binuburan in my life, much less taste it, I could actually picture the fermented rice in my mind and could practically smell it while reading the piece. The piece is emotional without being melodramatic, for instance, it merely hints at some family pains and hurts being soothed over by the power of good cooking. This piece won the 2004 Doreen Fernandez Food Writing Award and I am not surprised at all.

Another piece that touched a raw chord was Pangalay Food by Cecilia Juntereal. This piece is about traditions and how food is somehow woven into it - or the other way around. In our country, in my family most specially it seems, traditions are often mere excuses to prepare feasts for everyone. Juntereal's piece is about biko and how she would always find this served on All Saints Day. Perhaps this is not at all strange, but there is a parallel tradition in our family which I have also imbibed and has practiced in my own household without even questioning why. We also prepare biko on All Saints Day along with pancit - and we share these with our neighbors. When I was living in San Andres, there was another family, from Negros who also did the same except that they cooked arroz a la valenciana (or what the Ilocanos call Bringhe).

There are more essays in the book worth mentioning - but I found that thinking about them produced two things: hunger and longing. Actually, I think both are the same in this case. So I am going to end here. Go check it out yourself. The essays are not that long and they come with recipes as well just in case you feel the urge to share the writers' experiences not only vicariously but in a culinary way as well.