Saturday, December 22, 2007

Perished Poinsettias, Dying Holidays

(Or was it only me who’s in the horrid mood? A holiday survey showed that there is slight increase in people- across all socioeconomic classes-, compared to the previous year perceiving that their respective Christmases will not be spoiled by Scrooges.)

Last year my boss called me to pick up several potted poinsettias to make livid a seemingly lackluster office that’s being run by a non-disciple of the school of embellishment. Those poinsettias whose lush bracts were flaming red decadently lost their beauty until what are left of them are the desiccated stems and the cracked soil; the vestiges of a past, ephemeral celebration of Christmas. The Christmas shrubs were easily forgotten as soon as the season ended, that was after Epiphany, but I guess it ended much earlier than that. Their beauty actually lost charisma right after the office party last year. Right after the office party, the potted poinsettias lie there at the veranda together with immensely accumulated rubbish. The potted poinsettias are dead by now, so I guess. They’re gone. Their flaming red bracts dwindled fast post-Christmas like blossom petals torn apart by a demented beau seeking instant answers on love. In reality, they were feasted upon by hungry worms.

Or just, it is an all-wise scheme of shadowing the gripes of the worst experiences and painful realizations in life. In pure attempt of ratiocination, I tried to gather as much information to understand a festive and supposedly jovial mood that is required of Christmas and Christmas per se and this is what I found.

Christmas developed from paganism. Early Europeans celebrate during winter solstice to alleviate their longing for longer days and extended hours of sunlight. They slaughter as much cattle which they can’t feed and have oversupply of fresh meat at the end of the day. The Norse does it by burning large logs and feast until the fire die down with the belief that each spark created represents a pig or a calf that would be born the next year. The Christians adopted this tradition and approximated that Christ was probably born at such point although many skeptics believe that He was probably born early in spring because shepherding could not be possible during winter. And so it is believed that the birth of Christ is probably between the months March and April. Traditionally, Christmas has been celebrated every December 25th.

In the early 17th century, the celebration of Christmas was changed in Europe because of major religious reforms. The Church particularly was said to be the cause of the decadence in its celebration because it allowed varied ways of celebrating it. For instance, the existence of such “lords of misrule” (mostly beggars) leads to pandemonium when they terrorize members of the upperclass who fail to give them the best food and drink upon demand. Christmas was cancelled by the Puritans when they took England because of this. It was only restored during the time of Charles II by popular demand.

Because of the entry of religion particularly Christianity, values were infused in the celebration of Christmas. The Christmas upshot came to the extent of pacifying the mood in 1914 when German and British troops declared a truce among themselves on the dawn of Christmas day. In the Philippines, the first Christmas mass was celebrated in Pangasinan by an Italian monk at around 1280 to 1320. The Italians back then planted the first Christmas tree. Experiences of Christmas during the Early Hispanic period is not that quite documented, so I guess again. An article of Ambeth Ocampo details the experience of an American woman during her first Christmas in the Philippines. Although quite ordinary as I see, the account was rather an outline extant of local tradition and only vibrates the festive mood of the expatriates who brought with them nostalgia of homegrown tradition. How about the Indios?

Hah. Well, it came late to my senses that it is already 9 o’clock in the evening and I’m still here at the office alone typing on the keyboard, having occasional goosebumps. I haven’t bought gifts yet maybe will join the rush tomorrow. Looking back, the past eleven months were quite easy on the way to look at because they’re shredded and still here in the box right at my corner. But, realistically, they’ve been a truckload of yoke I don’t want to commit to memory. Early in the week, I came upon this article by Fallows, the parachute journalist who got a bird’s eye view of the country with a damaged culture. He was writing post-EDSA and from there assessed the renewed vigor of democracy which mirrored hopes for social change and progress. My initial reaction was: “I want slit this vein and die!” because, in my opinion, the essay taken as a whole was bitterly true. It was written in 1987, but I was like reading fresh from the page of the daily I bought from the newsstand on that day.

Last December while walking down Session Road I nearly collided with a young girl whose begging late in the night from penny-pinching passers-by. She gave out a smile and wished me a Merry Christmas. I asked her to go with me inside the store where we nearly banged but she was reluctant and said that she will wait outside instead. She watched and leaned on the glass wall while I buy the box of Donuts for her. I remember her while I hand a 20-peso bill to a bunch of kids who sang carols for us in the office late in the night. I remember that experience when I witnessed this person yelling at a mendicant who’s asking for a peso or two. I can’t find the wisdom of help in its truest sense when you refuse to give the monetized value of a minute of your labor and adding insult to the injury by telling the poor person that she/he must work rather than beg. I can’t find the wisdom in rebuking street charity and all in all vilifying the dignity of a beggar whose suffering is overwhelmingly cruel than yours.

I realize as I write these thoughts that Christmas celebrated since childhood by me was unutterably unhappy. And it grows unhappier through the passing of years. Nonetheless, when the season strikes, I try to pretend to be jolly and all but never being pretentious in living its spirit even just for a week or so. Even just for a week or so, other people should be the Ebenezer Scrooge depicted at the last stave.

Finally, I want to tell the world that I’d be finally quitting my job for God’s sake, I mean for school’s sake. My job for three years in an NGO had been full of learnings and realizations but time has come when you just have had enough of bleak and false realities haha but I’m happy to enter a new industry which has grown promising for me so opined by a good friend who’s based in Shanghai, CN.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Still a Long Walk for the Farmers. . .

After convening in Baguio, summer of 1997, the Second Division of the Supreme Court finally decided on the controversy brought before it regarding the validity of the “Win-win resolution” which originated from the Office of the President through Deputy Executive Secretary Renato Corona (settling the issues posed by the biased decision of Executive Secretary Ruben Torres) by allowing the farmer-beneficiaries of Sumilao, Bukidnon a share of the 144-hectare land allegedly owned by Norberto Quisumbing. In that win-win resolution, the Office of the President ordered the distribution of the 100 hectares to the farmer-beneficiaries and the remaining 44 hectares to be devoted to the conversion plan proposed by Quisumbing and approved by Torres.

After a long and arduous wait, the Sumilao farmers who have long been fighting over the ownership of their ancestral land finally had the attention of the nation after taking their pleas before the streets of Manila. On October 9, 1996, these farmers staged a hunger strike in front of the DAR office, supposedly in charged of implementing the CARP which is supposedly aimed at redistributing the vast lands of hacienderos to tenant-farmers. That hunger strike was devastating to the government as it was boasting the fruits of economic growth back then. Thus, it intervened, albeit harshly against the farmers, at first, when it issued an order approving the conversion plan applied for by Quisumbing which covered the entire area of 144-hectares. It modified subsequently its own order upon pressures from the church and civic groups. Corona issued the so-called win-win resolution granting the 100 hectares to the farmers and the 44 hectares to Quisumbing. . .a little too late.

A little too late because back in the province of Bukidnon, the local government units have been in haste adopting the first order issued by Torres; a bitter betrayal for their own constituents.

And as if to validate the fact that justice does not come easily for the underprivileged, the Second Division held that the first order issued by the Office of the President is already final and executory, thus, could no longer be assailed. To quote the ponente, Justice Martinez:

Now to the main issue of whether the final and executory Decision dated March 29, 1996 (Torres’) can still be substantially modified by the "Win-Win" Resolution.

We rule in the negative.

The rules and regulations governing appeals to the Office of the President of the Philippines are embodied in Administrative Order No. 18. Section 7 thereof provides:

Sec. 7. Decisions/resolutions/orders of the Office of the President shall, except as otherwise provided for by special laws, become final after the lapse of fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy thereof by the parties, unless a motion for reconsideration thereof is filed within such period.

Only one motion for reconsideration by any one party shall be allowed and entertained, save in exceptionally meritorious cases. (Emphasis ours).

The Supreme Court ruled out based on technicalities. But in the same ruling, the Second Division apparently misquoted how equity is weighed in controversies affecting the marginalized sectors of society.

Be it remembered that rules of procedure are but mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be avoided. Time and again, this Court has suspended its own rules and excepted a particular case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice so require.

As if to castigate further the petitioners on the misavoidance of the rules , the Supreme Court added:

In the instant petition, we forego a lengthy disquisition of the proper procedure that should have been taken by the parties involved and proceed directly to the merits of the case.

Supreme of all, the Supreme Court erased any silver lining that should supposedly be gleaned upon from this sad plight of the farmers. It ruled no less that the MAPALAD farmers are not real parties-in-interest. In its own words:

The rule in this jurisdiction is that a real party in interest is a party who would be benefited or injured by the judgment or is the party entitled to the avails of the suit. Real interest means a present substantial Undoubtedly, movants' interest over the land in question is a mere expectancy. Ergo, they are not real parties in interest. interest, as distinguished from a mere expectancy or a future, contingent, subordinate or consequential interest.

And so Norberto Quisumbing really had his day in court without even stepping into the hall of justice. The petitioners were peculiarly the local government units of Bukidnon and the Corporation owned by Quisumbing. The defendants were Corona and the DAR defending the validity of the win-win resolution the former issued. The MAPALAD farmers filed a motion to intervene, but the Supreme Court denied the same. Few years after, the conversion plan approved by Torres did not materialize instead Quisumbing conveyed the questioned land to the SMFI. SMFI is now claiming ownership over the land and is now developing it into an agro-industrial estate divesting further the claims of the farmers. And so the long and arduous walk. . . Protesting to suffer or to suffer in protest?

The long walk by the Sumilao farmers from their lands to Malacanang to press the government to order SMFI to return their lands which were subject to CLOAs previously could never be a shooting for the moon even at this stage where legal ownership has already been vested to SMFI. It is a continuing struggle that transcends any legality constituted improperly and based on wrong and malicious political favors. However, it is very distressing that the suffering of the farmers for relentlessly invoking a right has gone this far. The long walk is pregnant with symbolism. It no less than confirms that the government was too far for the South. It was unable to reach out for centuries even at this point of time. Not even a Senator who’s born from Mindanao could disprove the fact that services are too controlled to trickle down south. Really, if the Honorable Senator has the balls to mediate and reach out to the farmers, at the least to assuage them because of their torn lives right there at their homeland, he won’t be waiting for that photo-ops outside the Senate: he, extending his right hand to one of the protesters who was squatted there under the blistering heat of the sun. Disgusting!

I still have the faith that the struggle of the farmers would end with the farmers reclaiming the lands taken from them. But I’m sure there’s still a long walk to take with the current administration’s disregard for even the most basic of human rights. There’s this news, for instance, which reported that the government would finally intervene before the Left gets into the picture. Imagine!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

There was an Earthquake Here!

There was an earthquake here past noon. It registered a 6 on the Richter scale, reports say. It registered a 9 based on the Trauma scale, if there is any, among the people causing a little like hubbub over this mountain city. Sirens deafened all ears as paramedics rounded the business district moments after. At a nearby university, hordes of students came rushing in exits leading to a busy road causing severe traffic downtown. The mayor ordered classes and public offices suspended this afternoon in anticipation of aftershocks. In our office, the manager who was casually chatting with us about development issues was shocked by the sudden and prolonged tremor (about a minute, I think). The rest of the people at the building were seen heading for the front door at the instance of the manager; defying panic with the slow and calm pace. We stood by the front door with all the cloud of doubt around our heads if it’s the safest place to be with all the rootless and decomposing tall pine tress and electric posts before us. Nonetheless, the epic ends there as the tri-colored building cat prowled over downstairs toward our direction in that quotidian comportment. What would you expect from such aristocat lounging over after feasting from the leftover menu of a fine-dining resto right next to our building? A blessed cat indeed.

So life for this day went on but, of course, not without shoo-in roundabouts that slowly surfaced memories of a tragedy more than a decade ago. One shared something like her friend who happened to be pregnant at that time feared that her baby would be like a rotten egg. Another shared about trapped survivors eating their excrements for food and urine for water. Those were the last survivors of a ruined hotel who managed to hang on with their lives for weeks until rescuers found them deep in the rubble. Still, another shared how antipathy works among Filipinos even in times of catastrophes as when foreign relief like quality sleeping mats and tents are malversed and transformed into local banigs and mosquito nets instead. More than a thousand were killed in this city alone on that fateful day, July 16, 1990. That tragedy is being commemorated ever since. There’s this policy (or is it a moratorium only?) for instance prohibiting the construction of tall buildings more than two stories high which, however, never came into play as evidenced by high-rise structures sprawled all over the business district. In my school, for example, a 10-storey building was recently completed without any opposition. As it comes, the monuments of development (or mere urbanization) are like mushrooms ubiquitously springing up even in most peculiar scenarios like a mall in a forested hill or a flyover in an open and traffic-less junction road; very surreal phenomena indeed.

On a more personal level, I remember Murakami’s stories in After the Quake; on how the earthquake in Kobe became a subtlety to the different wrought directions mustered by the lives of different lonely and pervert individuals; on how such a devastating quake proved to be less than devastating compared to a person losing his sanity with a mammoth worm and a super frog in mind and another Komura who’s too engrossed with live TV footages on the shattered Kobe unnoticing the abandonment meted on him by her not-so-beautiful wife. I remember myself as a grade-school student being prodded by the teacher outside because of lack of fear and too much interest in solving a math problem on my notes. As we were crouched on the wide open space right next to our classroom where the flag ceremony is being held, I noticed that most of the pupils were looking up in the skies as if waiting for some kind of manna. In our small village, talks about a relative wailing for her daughter who was then billeted at the Hyatt Hotel together with a Japanese became an overbearing news much like a television series where every scene is sumptuously awaited and devoured. The teleserye ended abruptly days after because of a news which mentioned a Japanese sounding name as one of the survivors together with the relative’s daughter. They were apparently enjoying at the Burnham lake when the earthquake hit. In sum, the quake left me nauseated all through out the week with all the shaky experience not to mention the hullabaloos-the most glaring of which was the scene of confessed sinners similarly wailing because of their presumed perdition.

Earthquakes are occurring regularly, so too are ineffable discomforts rooted on tragic memories, and like a seismologist so opined, most of them no longer pass our thresholds of feeling.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Safest place to be

Two fowls at two opposite and distant directions desperately cluck to announce the coming of dawn. The sound magnifies a mournful of spiel, so traumatic and daunting to bear. They consistently return each other’s clucking as if indulging in an operatic discourse that’s plagued with itinerant swings of joy and sadness. In my mind, they seemed like harbingers of death perpetually lulling the cockles of the heart to sleep and die with truth. The feeling’s like this when you refuse to believe that someone you loved is at the other end of the line, trying to breathe her last and rummaging whatever is left, few minutes after the pumping of life; memories of important events in her life which includes a bittersweet understanding of a lifetime of sacrifice. A sacrifice devoted to a generation ahead but so close to her heart.

I waited for few minutes at the station for the bus to come. Booked for the first trip and ended miscalculating the time, earlier by half an hour. Everyone has their jackets and sweaters except me. This is the early days of January and the cold front still sets low reaching this part of the country. I don’t feel the cold. My body is numb all over. Smoke comes out of my mouth occasionally because of heavy and deep breathing. It is still dark. Few people roam the streets. A number of passengers boarded the bus as soon as it arrived. Never passed a glance at their faces like I used to. For quarter of an hour until I boarded myself my eyes are focused at only one direction, to the skies. The bus left the station at about 4:45.

At 4:45, a distraught man was seated at a lonesome bench. His aura effused a certain feeling, so desolate and unknown. The bus maneuvers towards his direction until it finally sweeps the dust in front of him. He was still all the while; his presence pregnant with undefined emotions.

Grief, they say, is abstract until it crosses your path. Unlike any other emotion, grief is seldom felt in our everyday life until someone close to our heart leaves this physical world. When I was on travel to attend the wake of my grandmother, I witnessed the coming of dawn like never before. As the bus runs along lines of trees, paddies and finally the shores along the gulf, the bulwark of the spill of light gradually swallowed up the dark and venomous abyss on the horizon. The beauty of the coming of the new day has never been this overwhelming yet, for a moment, my heart was unable to respond.

For almost a year after her death, I paid a visit to her grave and brought few dozens of white roses. Shed a tear for the wonderful memories and told her that I will never be the same again; like a stolid marble sculpture of a human figure with broken arms. “I suddenly remember you telling me that you will spook me even in broad daylight if I still don’t get married after you pass away. Go on Nay, won’t bother.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

At the Hangar Market and Beyond

It is but an ordinary day here at Hangar market, October 17, 2007 at about half past twelve noon. The sky above us is grayish and forebodes a rather reluctant downpour amidst a humid air. This is a very busy place like no other. The small stage where the band BINHI will perform is occasionally surrounded by spectators who are mostly laborers: haulers, stevedores, vendors trying to sneek a little of their time to see a different yet familiar milieu in their time. This is where the foils of the earth seethe into growing and unkempt nails; into tonic muscles that reflect woven veins, dead-beat yet sardonically resilient. The smell of air undulates a deferential mixture of smoked fish, aroma of freshly picked and washed vegetables, the stink of the sewers, and the stupor of sweat. This is Hangar market; the heart of trade; trades of all kind. The place of payout for hard-earned work and produce.

The amplifiers worked to stir curiosity among the busy crowd; to attract each and every one in the market that something’s happening at this side, more than minutes of entertainment, this is to celebrate and dignify your labor: the fruit of one’s blood and sweat. Please come, please come. This event is simultaneously conducted nationwide to press the government to live up to its promise and to its covenant in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, one of which is the eradication of poverty in the country. The government pledged to this undertaking more than a decade ago. Four administrations bore witness to many reminders, events like this at Hangar market. It pledged time and again to eradicate poverty through institutional policies and hard-on statements of immediate action. Unfortunately, we’re here again to remind. Years have passed and the goals remained to be goals. Goals that are difficult to realize and achieve. The supposed timeline until the MDGs are reached is from 1990-2015. Previous administrations were able to cut poverty incidence by only single-digit percentages. Half of the population in the country is still living in poverty as of this year. They’re waiting for the Gods.

Why? Because there is no definite and sincere action from the government; only “motherhood” statements and initiatives. The current 10-point agenda of the Arroyo administration to eradicate poverty in the country is but a show-off; a metaphorical set of words perpetually inscribed on a tablet. Policies and programs adjunct to her agenda lacks any clarity and definitiveness. Programs being monitored by the National Anti-Poverty Commission implemented by national agencies breathe the ardor of traditional practices that could never be a rung to the fulfillment of poverty-reduction goals. What the country needs is an aggressive and motivated effort. Not mere mascots like Mang Pandoy and the Bangkang Papel sort that further annihilates hopes for a positive change.

But still, what will you get from a government which settles down at saying: “We have infused P1.5 million for the health care services of geographically isolated and depressed areas; P2.5 million in health care financing in the form of grants and subsidies . . .blah, blah, blah” (and more than a billion for the defense? Defense from what?).

And so here we are again. Reports say that this event has drawn more than seven million people all over the country pledging to end poverty. Here at Hangar market, the audience numbered at approximately 200+ individuals: mostly vegetable haulers, vendors, common tao or maggagawa as you may call them. Most of them listening intently to the music of BINHI while someone at a nearby stall plugged his ears with his two hands because of a newfound noise that stirred the latter’s usual life at the market. Another at the side was busy washing the soiled carrots and packing them in a transparent plastic bag. The woman peeking at the window of an old building is staring blankly at the skies. I looked up. The man standing beside me looked up, the others looked up. Our stares pierced the gray skies. After a few moments, BINHI ended the event with their finale song “Lalaya” which narrated the struggles of the Filipino people from the hands of the conquerors to the realms of poverty. BINHI sang the undying hope for freedom and the struggle that must be for its attainment.

As the sounds fade away, the crowd slowly dispersed until what’s left around the space is the small block of wood used as the stage and the inanimate words spoken before it that slowly drifted into the air like a feather dust blown by time. Hangar market was busy. . .busy until the end.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Quarter of a Century

Nine tall bamboo poles make up the raft that is hitched in one of the mangroves in the bank. It is there stagnant during weekdays. Its life mostly limited upon leveling itself to the tides of the river. It is a forsaken bamboo raft, abandoned by its owner and left to the whims and caprices of whoever will come by and use it. Its existence shrouded by a grasp of communality among the members of our village, fortunately. So that for long years, the raft became a childhood refuge of many who wished to paddle it along the river after a furious whipping by the masters of a house or after a delirious infatuation with a childhood crush.

Mike will later on be the first one to learn how to swim. He frequents the river more than I do. He was my younger brother and more often than not, during those days, he’s the one between the two of us who could discreetly pass by the back of our house [at the prompt of the head of the gang who will signal the boys through a distinct whistle] without being caught by our stern mother; both hands clutching two white plastic water containers for his added floatage in the water. He will run fast as he could towards the road without anyone knowing it till he produces that violent shriek when he’s already on the road to boast of an ephemeral but joyful freedom. There was never an attempt to drag him back home, not even with the presence of nanay, who will just put up a squalid face while muttering to herself: “That wily child.” It’s my brother’s price for pursuing happiness in spite of fear, in spite of consequential punishment. His being quite a liberal will help him later to sire a beautiful child sooner than his older brother. And all I could say afterwards is that: “You seem to be more-good-looking than me.”

I drowned three times in that river; saved only by Badong in that three, sporadic, and failed attempts in trying to swim without the help of two, white water containers. He may never remember it anymore that for a time I consider him as a savior, a life-saver in that morose river. He may never remember it anymore that for a time I have been religiously reminding him that his birthday will come soon and, when privileged to have saved coins and paper bills in that cylinder coin bank, a modest gift on his special day [hehehe]. . . for the gratitude and brotherhood of not divulging such fact for me to continue my swimming endeavor. [or that, unconsciously, you had just let it pass?]

The last incident of drowning happened in a rainy Saturday afternoon. I was crouched on the middle of the raft looking on the splashes of water coming out in between the poles as they jump from it into the river when the raft suddenly overturned together with me. I struggled to stay afloat but I was blocked by the raft above me till my cousin pulled my hair up all the way until my head was above the surface of the water, effortlessly like a tiller does in uprooting onion bulbs. I drank water more than I should need on that day. My belly’s protruding with liters of salt water in it. In spite of it all, I was still able to joke on him: “Your arm seemed to have stretched too long. How did you do that?” The ordeal was quite fruitful for the day after I saw my self doing the dog-swim till I reached the other end of the narrow river.

I am now twenty five. Lived on this world for a quarter of a century already. The atmosphere these days is very, very different decade ago. Not just because of the hard times and physical changes I have gone through but rather because of the knowing feeling that a clock is ticking somewhere even if you persistently and consciously don’t wear a watch on your wrist or don’t hang a clock in your room; and days passing by even if you try to detest the existence of a calendar, its leaves torn down discreetly at the glimpse of an eye. This seemed to be a period for me where I try to measure up relentlessly the things I have done and the choices I have made in those years that contributed to my emotional and spiritual growth. The search now could be likened to a lost pin amidst a fine shrubby ground. The search is even worse if you’re living in a secluded island like me.

One night, in one of my evening classes, Atty. Abiog, a professor in Forensic Medicine lectured on the importance of death to legal matters. Prior to her lecture, however, she gave a lengthy introduction on death in a positive manner to displace the seeming morbidity attached with the subject. An antidote to the succeeding discussions on antemortem lividity, putrefaction, the oozing of lipids, the occurrence of maggots, etcetera, etcetera. Death, according to attorney’s philosophy, is an inevitable circumstance which should be dealt with as it is, as it comes. Death, to her, because of its inevitability, should be taken in the context of day-to-day living. Her talk sounded like an overgrown philosophy much of a passé minus the relenting attitude of neglect because of the I’ve-been-hearing-this-again-and-again kind of distaste. Her voice streamed through like a fresh whisper in a jaded ear that gave a positive reaction felt as far as my strained toes.

My last visit at home was a certain kind of awakening. I had this sentimental walk to our favorite hangout. The river is just a few meters away from our house. You will just pass by three houses, the two-storey house of my aunt, the family home of my cousin Badong, his name appearing on a black, rectangular board that hanged high in the front wall, underneath his name spelled his achievement : certified public accountant, and the house of Apong Konsing, the sister of my beloved lola. Beyond those three structures you will turn left and pass by a small concrete bridge leading to an inner sitio. Few feet away from that bridge is a pasture land and near it is the river bank where we leave all our clothes before we soak ourselves in the water. To my surprise, there’s still a bamboo raft drifting along the bank and I supposed the worn out and dilapidated raft lying there on one side is the one we used to play with? It looked very dry, without life and seemed inutile at its state. I tried to push it to the river and let it drift for one last time.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Waiting. . .In the Bank Waiting

A brown suede shoe incessantly taps on the white tiled floor, rhythmically, as if carousing in a joyful beat of music. One-two. . .One-two. . .One-two. The sound produced by the tapping wistfully creates a disturbing thought that dances in a sound-proof room devoid of any motion, beat, and understanding. The bank usually gets busy when the week starts, usually a Monday; or after the seceding of spates; tropical storms which interrupt business operations for long days; or after holidays. However, I have never been trapped in a bank for just one transaction for long hours, waiting and waiting and waiting, as if eternally, like a groom torn by the sudden breach of promise to marry by her bride-to-be after the former waited for long hours at the entrance of the cathedral. It’s just like a hopeful waiting. Like a thought of waiting for something, something which has died away long before, some resolutory condition that is not going to happen, or an inevitable circumstance which suddenly become avoidable.

Flashes of faces passing by tired my vision. For once in my whole life, I have never tried to guess the personality of a person by the look of his or her face this much. And as I’ve said, the very judgmental undertaking is tiring. This husky man beats her wife, that old woman is a primadonna, that man who whistles away his irritation is a meek person, that lady crouched on one of the belchers has her semblance with Julie Delpy; her eyes lovely and calm, her lips resembled a mound of a thousand shiny red apples, so polished that they reflected every man’s eyes who looked through them. Her eyes pierced mine, for a split-second I saw her strumming the chords of a guitar, her hand dropping so gently as if caressing and feeling a fragile object (hehehe). Then I asked intently: “Could you sing me a waltz?” Out of nowhere, the voice of a child pounded in my ears like a high-pitched note that almost broke my eardrums. “Ma, could you buy me a toy later!” The mother whispered in the child’s ear: “I will, hon.”

It’s half past twelve. The line’s slowly moving. Teller number 4 and 5 went out of their compartments to have a break. Only two tellers are now accommodating hordes of clients continuously flooding the lobby. Looked at the clock again, its second hand drops heavily, the ticking becomes the beat of the pulse palpitating strenuously because of stress and various forms of agitations. The rancid air aggravates the torment. Suddenly, the walls became sources of comfort.

Framed poster No. 1 taunted the time wasted as if doing a mockery of alienated lives trapped in the four corners of the bank for a day. Sir Emilio spoke cordially:

Huwag mong sayangin ang panahon. Ang yamang nawala’y mangyayaring magbalik, ngunit panahong nagdaan na’y di na muli pang magdadaan.-Emilio Jacinto

Okay sir I got your point. Thank you for such veritable wisdom you have there and for keeping this idleness robust with great learnings and wonderful ponderings like what you’re doing with me now. But, really, the day’s great today the sun’s up and the wind’s blowing smoothly along trails of flowers in the park, its gentle coldness rushes up to here, hours spent waiting should have been allotted for leisurely walks in the park. Nah, but I won’t give up my seat for nothing. Hours wasted are wasted, can’t do nothing about it.

Framed poster No. 2 is quietly reneging my last statement.

It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.- J.P. Rizal

Okay sir I will remember that. But a stone is a stone. Objectivitism would tell us that a stone’s destiny does not always end up happily in structures you know. Like, a big stone- rock could attain greatness in itself. I know, you’re referring to small rocks capable of being thrown but it’s just the same; a small rock could attain greatness in itself without being commixtured with sand and cement. A desolate raspy voice whispered in my thought. “I know kid, enough with the stone. This could well be a faulty metaphor, but at least, the adage suits nice with how the stone’s depicted.” Okay, okay. However, idealism cannot feed thy stomachs these days. It can nurture you but it can’t feed you. And it’s really hard being idealistic and being practical at the same time you know.

Framed poster No. 3 flared a paintly red face of Bonifacio in rage because of my last statement. Think of our nation above anything else. . .hmmmm. when almost everybody is thinking of something else.

Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog ng may pusong mahal sa Bayang kumupkop; Dugo, yaman, dunong, katiisa’t pagod, buhay ma’y abuting magkalagot-lagot.- Andres Bonifacio

There was a rush of relief when teller no. 3 blurted out the word: “Next!” As if the word propounded as much wisdom as the framed posters which immortalized heroic ideals. I rushed towards the teller, she never looked at me. She quickly checked the amount and the payee on the check, stamped on it and let me sign. She counted the bills with her hand leafing through them, double checked on the counter and handed the bills to me. There was a sudden feel of monotony with her as she automatically grumbled on saying “Next!” every after transaction, every after client she serves.

A realization came to me as an afterthought. Money’s quick in revolving and revolving round these halls. Money bills come and go. What’s my point? Well, nothing hehe it’s just that I discovered a different kind of life inside the bank while I am waiting. It’s me just trying to make sense of wasted time. . .could I still consider it wasted? [Poster No. 4 luring: “Former Secretary Teves still got something to tell!”]

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Letter to My Son the Day before the World Ended

Encrypted: Capsule Casket Code: 22445544 Origin: Pacific

Year of the Earth: 2500 A.D.

Last entry in memory:

July 21st, 2050 4:00PM

Dear Son,

The last news I heard about you is that you are chosen among those to be billeted to the Greenhouse, scientists erected in Mars. You’re lucky son, for all you know part of your genes which helped you to be qualified in the gene test screening came from your father who is now living afloat somewhere in the Pacific in a transparent capsule casket, scientists have provided for those who were not among the short listed and those who chose to stay and witness the coming of Armageddon.

The world became inundated since the spark of escalating temperatures, which melted the ice left at the arctic and antarctic regions. I am telling you this in the frailest of hopes that somewhere in time this history could be imparted to you in your Martian refuge. I do not know how will this be possible since you were allegedly been reprogrammed in a tabula rasa state. They have meted out on you the worst of all crimes against humanity, and that is to take away from you the earthly memories you have. Scientists have long been floundered on including ethics as part of their constitution but not to this harshest degree. According to them, their intention was for your flock to start waywardly anew in that habitat and to cleanse your understanding about harmony with the world. This may be true but this leaves you to be eternally detached from your ancestry, your mutual connection to those you have left behind including me, your forlorn father.

I have never seen the beauty of the skies this much, son. I am living each day like a castaway in this compartment the size of my body. But, the experience is unexplainable. I am lying buoyant for exactly sixty days now and I never got to see in my lifetime the splendor of the first light of day and the descent of the sun below the horizon. The magical play of the Divine creates million of hues at the big dome making it an infinite canvass where a billion of portraits and landscapes are painted every second. Two days ago, an albatross alighted on the curvature of the capsule, which eased a momentary feeling of solitude in me, and stared at me for a minute. That stare took me several miles to your heart; for the bird’s eyes reflected a lost son in his father’s embrace.

This is the day before your scheduled trip to the Greenhouse and I am bidding you goodbye for now. Today is the end of the world to me. This capsule is made to give you choices. The inventors did a good job for injecting freedom in this small and lonesome space. There is a portable switch at my right hand’s reach for the suicide and on my left the switch to record in memory my testament. In lieu of an epitaph-like memento mori, I would like to make a letter to you, son with the hope that somehow in the distant future, the memory of this capsule would be encrypted and relayed to you. Some scientists projected that in a few more decades, the waters will recede and will rapidly evaporate into space, and this planet will soon look like your new habitat; a desert. I am not sure if this will happen soon in your lifetime and what will happen to this hopeful capsule. But, in any case, the possibilities of imagination are always at hand to bring your presence to somewhere else together with your doting father and recover the time unspent and the foregone joys of being together. But, still, experiencing it firsthand is still primordial. Letting you know the sincerest desires of your father of finally meeting you and being with you for a moment through this letter could well be the last wish of personal happiness I can demand before the world ends.

Two days ago, my capsule collided with three other capsules. The two I was able to ascertain, are now resting in peace while the other gleefully looked at me and thrust a thumb’s up. Millions are said to have chose to float by themselves maybe because they already lost their loved ones and are living by themselves like your father. The earth is now but a pool where floating caskets abound. I do not want to see this as the last hurray for humanity’s proclivity for his ego but for the unending road towards his search for his own being. Noah’s ark would become a commonplace for people wanting to immerse themselves and thrive again in a community. However, since the tragic consequences brought about by such age-old idea, people in this ending era now want to regain themselves and try to live out a Tom Nealish adventure.

The water is still and quiet today. A thunderhead could be seen on the far north, however from here I could see the crispness of the lightning sparks which reminded me of a childhood memory I want to share with you. When I was a little boy like you, I used to travel for miles a day, walking along footpaths which traverse hectares of paddies to reach a small cogon hut where your grandfather stays after a long day’s work of feeding the fishes he cultures in a little pond near the hut to bring him his dinner. Usually during the interregnum between the coming of the rainy days and summer’s ending, I travel early in the afternoon to the hut because I am afraid of the lightning and the thunderclaps, which usually happen at dusk especially that I travel along wide-open spaces, which I believe would bring greater chances for me to be struck. One afternoon, I was late in preparing for your grandpa’s baon, so unfortunately I was caught up in the dreaded walk along the paddies. The lightning was crisp and the thunderclaps were deafening. I ran fast as I could to reach the hut but when I was midway I tripped and fell down flat on my face with all the rice and the ulam splattered on the ground. All I could do was to cover my ears and stay put until the storm will pass. It did not rain, and when the thunderclaps were gone I looked at the sky and saw a big mushroom cloud on the north that illuminated brightly like a big firefly in the night. The feeling of dread was transformed into joy. For in that moment I experienced a sudden rush of relief, the kind which made my heart euphoric. I heard your grandpa calling my name. He rushed towards me, lifted me up and carried me on his back to the hut. We didn’t eat that night. We decided to sleep and have a full breakfast the day after. Before we slept, however, I told him about what I saw in the skies and in return, he told me a tale about thunderheads. He said that behind those thunderheads lie an enormous gold castle where fairies and giants live. The lights produced behind those clouds signal that there is an occurring war in their kingdom. When it rains thereafter, it means that the good ones lost in the battle and that the rain symbolizes the tears the noble ones shed in the war. When it does not rain, it means the otherwise, that the bad ones lost and that the kingdom is rejoicing for yet another victory.

Your grandpa was a good storyteller. I owe him much all the wisdom I learned from the stories he shared with me. I hoped I could impart to you the wisdom as well but time and destiny won’t allow that to happen now. I love you son. The sixty days will be enough to add up to the days, weeks, months and years of not being with you.

Your Father

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An Evening with the Bar Topnotcher, the Singer with a Sultry Voice, and the Peddler of Festooned Ylang-ylang

We ‘re all asked to dress semi-formal that night. It was a mere request actually for it turned out that some are really stubborn in acceding to the magnanimity of the one who requests. So that in the ballroom, fully-carpeted, chandeliered, and plush with royal curtains, you can see someone parading her backless gown. . .and there’s another one doing it on the ramp with her seductive, strapless suit. The latter caught all the guys’ attention because of her obtrusive pinning-down-the-aisle-along-the-red-carpet motion. “Och, you can do that more gracefully!,” said one. The people on the table at our back were hushing around. “Is she one of the honorees?” asked one. She answered herself: “Think she’s not. She has no flower brooch; think she’s just an usherette.”

The Bar passers, and apparently along with Bar flunkers were being honored that night.

The nobility behind such event is beyond reproach, the college head expresses his compassion to those who tried their best but unfortunately failed, : “We’re still here for you!” However, the wisdom behind it has its own cracks. Oh well, this explains why, as I later on realize while lying on bed after that gruesome four hours and a close-to-being esculent dinner, why someone from the corridor was overheard saying that one of the testimony-giver that night was undeserving. That was mean. Never mind him retelling incorrectly, what the school head previously told about self-transformation being the mission of the school. He proudly said: “We should always remember what Sir told us; that beyond all these achievements of our great school, what matters is our self-confirmation!”. . .what aggravated the fact is that he repeated this over and over again.

The Sir was unabashed, maybe. . .just maybe, the two concepts correlate each other or that he was not just listening previously. I said: “Forgive him for his grammatical errors but not for keeping the dinner waiting because of his one-hour long-standing speech which circled around self-confirmation.” hehehe

Over dinner, a svelte lady and a guitarist climbed up the stage to soothe everybody’s indigestion, apparently because of the lousy menu: creamed chicken with vegetables, tendered beef with gravy sauce, sweet and sour fish fillet [am not really sure about the real name of the dish; just judged it by the way it looked and tasted] , rice, and a supposedly bottomless serving of iced tea which will never be true in a place where waiters taste and drink what they serve at the back kitchen. (I must confess: I saw three of them gulping down from the pitchers!)

While the people were busy devouring what is there to devour on their plates, the singer was also busy (what else?) singing and trying to get helplessly the attention of the deprived attendees of this grandiose occasion. She even used her eyes and hands. . .her graceful hands reaching and swaying and luring the people to look at her and listen. . .in vain. (Except me miss. . .If you’d only look at this direction. . . .pssst, here, here.) She sang smoothly in my ears. . .in that classy jazz style. . .Moon River, The Way You Look Tonight. Her performance being interrupted by little applause until she was wrapping up. “This will be my last song for tonight. Hope you enjoyed?” [Yes, yes, your croon’s different, I mean distinct from all. . .look at my plate I didn’t even touch it because I watched and listened to you. Your show’s great. Please, please. . .more, more] And I’m probably the only one who’s in that line of thinking. . .the host thanked her and said: “If you want to catch her she performs at Gilligan’s and The Manor.”

The host called the man of the night. He was apologetic upon standing at the podium because according to him, he did not prepare a speech. [But, judging by the way he delivered, this man’s a certified orator]. He started by relating how the past few days, weeks and months has been perceptively too long for him. Too long because in that past few days, weeks and months, the aftereffect of meeting the high authorities of the land still lingered in him. Imagine, he was able to meet the “bantam” president and the Supreme Court en banc. He shared a piece of him: when he was a kid he wanted to be an astronaut; to live up to his dream he entered college and pursued a degree in engineering; when he got bored he took up accountancy. . .passed the licensure thereafter; got bored again, entered the college of law and passed the Bar besting all examinees all through out the land. [look at what boredom worked for this guy; how I wish my boredom worked that way] He continued: “It’s a matter of reinventing yourself.” “My classmates before probably didn’t know about this; that I am continuously reinventing myself.” [He was not at the top of his class. The Dean just after the bar exam results were released was caught pointblank when asked by a reporter to comment about the guy.]

How to hurdle and slay the dragon? He reached for the microphone and emphasized his tip to all of us. . . [all ears]. . . “Do you remember the movie Gattaca?” “Well, in that movie there are two brothers competing with each other. . .” Gattaca is a futuristic film. The story’s centered on two brothers. . .the one’s strong while the other one’s a weakling . In one of the scenes, the two brothers agreed to prove themselves in a swim-fight to test their respective strengths. They ran from ashore to the ocean. The weakling eventually won the fight because he was able to surpass his brother. The weakling was then asked how he did that. He answered: “Because I’ve put all my energy in my swim to the ocean and did not mind the swim back.”

The chandeliers above us were strikingly beautiful with the dynamic steel formations it possessed. They breathed life. Took a deep breath and told myself: “This night is enduringly painful.” Painful in two aspects. One: the food and the waiting. Two: wisdom imparted that’s starkly true and real creates a big balloon in my head. . .not that it’s overwhelming but because it is parsimonious yet relatively elusive.

I was bombarded by cold air on my way outside the hotel. It’s half past midnight, the crescent moon illuminates in the sky. While on my way to the coffee shop to warm myself, I passed along a peddler holding festooned ylang-ylang. I asked: “Do you still sell that?” “No, I’m about to throw them.” “No, let me have it. How much?” “They don’t have the smell anymore.” “It doesn’t matter. I’m not after their fragrance anyway.” “Okay, you can have them.” . . . . Saw him pass by the shop. He looked at me and bore a smile, which spoke to me intuitively: “A lonely man, you are.”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Too Much Sex in a Foggy Evening

The city’s been experiencing gloomy afternoons & evenings lately with all the drizzling showers and descending clouds that smudges melancholic mist among lonely souls. Been forgetting to bring the umbrella consciously to become wet from head to toe at the day’s end and feel the soothing spray of rain on my deadbeat face. The occurrence of foggy afternoons in this mountain city is so rare these past few years except in cases of violent storms which never allow someone to walk along the streets and feel the feel of such blissful mist. A decade ago, while touring the city; me and my little friend Nico almost got lost in Burnham Park because the visibility is so low ; worsened by our astigmatic eyes clogged with hazy glasses. Little Nick said: “glasses with wipers are yet to be invented.”

* * *

The excitement of today’s wisdom-gathering was defined by the common thread of topics which came out from the mouths of no less than our three teachers, Atty. G., Atty. T (which was the subject of an earlier post because of her seeming pedantry) and the salacious Atty. E. For the first period, Atty. E discussed, to the pleasure of his students, the intricacies of the crime of rape. . .particularly its history: how it became a crime against persons from being a mere crime against chastity; about the impossibility of it not being committed in its frustrated stage because of peculiarity. The Campuhan doctrine explains how the crime of rape is committed in a very esoteric manner. . .(the language of the Supreme Court sometimes beguiles the reader as if it is a lyrical prose). Atty. E, drums up the beat, “Do you remember class [pause] [winks at Ms. Beautiful seated at the right aisle] . . .the words of the High Court in People vs. Campuhan?” “Who’s under me in Criminal Law I. . .Criminal Law II. . .[no one answers] [all is stale, some docile] Atty. E continues. . . “Ok, I’ll refresh your memory.” He scribbles on the board, left hand in his pocket, his swaying right hand carouses on the gleaming writing board and produces a cursive script, too cursive. . .extant of any angular form which may impress on Atty E’s frugality with style and reproach on the rubbish. He faces the class and points on the board. . . He read his writing thrice. . .

“Mere bombardment of the castle of orgasmic potency or mere shelling of the citadel of passion is only attempted rape.”

“But mere bombardment of the drawbridge is invasion enough even if the troops did not succeed in entering the castle.”

On the third time, upon Atty. E’s cue, his students read aloud like in a nursery class his point (Atty. E’s style of teaching could be compared to a Sunday worship- the Amen affirmation thing). For the fourth time: Atty. E’s repetitive act became annoying. . . “Meeere. . .” Class: “Bombardment.” Atty. E: “. . .of the castle.” Class: “of orgasmic potency.” However, I’m still grateful with this. At least the retention is positively great!

Atty. E wants to illustrate his point further. He tells the class: “You know class how it is easy to illustrate and to act out the crime of homicide/murder like what we did the other night but in the crime of rape it is nigh impossible. He advances: “Di ba Ms. Beautiful Lady seated on the right aisle?” Many sniggered. . .then came a passing thought: we’re all preoccupied. Who says he’s not?

* * *

Then came Atty. T whose eyes always glimmer in mystique that I can’t keep myself from staring at them, straight and uninterruptedly, within that short and ephemeral sixty minutes. Atty. T speaks in rapidity, with minimal and short pauses, one just wonders where she gets oxygen and the necessary fluids to maintain her vocals. She started with the provisions on legal separation and related these with void and voidable marriages. Atty. T underscored the mutual responsibility of married couples to copulate in order to actually consummate marriage. Impotency could be a ground to annul a marriage. Likewise, excessive desire to copulate on the part of one spouse that border in perversity could be a ground for legal separation. “. . .so that if one spouse is either suffering from nymphomania or satyriasis, the normal spouse could petition the court and ask for legal separation.” She continues: “However, if such perversion is consensual as between the spouses, for instance both engage in sadomasochism, one spouse could not later on complain that she/he is aggrieved by the sexual conduct and behavior of the other spouse.” Very Freudian huh. The imagination flickers in the air, speech balloons popping out tremendously above everybody’s head. One slouchy student appears to be aroused. . .the one beside her drools. . .like a deprived Pavlovian dog. I particularly diverged myself and remembered the bonobo chimpanzee and Freud’s definition of love: “Looove is the instinctual derivative of sex.” Quite true. [Me: And when sex disappears in this world, what would most likely happen?] [Flourescent bulb: Earth would be renamed the Insanity Planet!] The tantra was ended by Atty. T’s violent closing of her little black book that produced a shocking and embarrassing sound that somehow implied that we’re not allowed to indulge at the moment. She strutted her way out, passed the aisles her left hand clutching at her “hairy” handbag.

* * *

Atty. G walked in the classroom holding a plastic cup splattered with coffee stains on one side. . .took one sip before he began talking. “Okay, class where did we stop last time?” Atty. G is quite demure in his ways but he occasionally blurts out his repressed thoughts. His discussions mostly punctuated by green jokes on girlie-night bars and the indispensability of going nocturnal on weekends. While explaining the national ID system that was previously rendered unconstitutional he joked on his other companero who is apparently Atty. E. He said: “You know class, on hindsight, I think the ID system would benefit persons like Atty. E, because in such case Atty. E wouldn’t appear to be a Don Juan at the pleasure of his virile students who go nightly at his favorite bars using his name when asked at the entry point by bouncers.” Nothing but sex keeps the house alive on this soporific and supposedly romantic evening with all the mists and the lonesome walk at dark alleys partially illuminated by the dying light of lampposts.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Of Pre-Made Lawyers & Robotics

Lawyers are made; they are not merely born to be in such profession.

What we want to settle here is: are lawyers predetermined beings right from the start or are they developed by their environment. Would an unconditioned gene survive the path where it ought not to take? Or is there really such restriction that pervades the human system? My stand is in the negative.

Lawyers like doctors, musicians, artists are not, right at birth, destined to take the fields they belong to. They are molded by their environment in the course of their development so that they, as human beings, choose the path where their social consciousness dictates them to take. These social imperatives are more likely to manifest in the law profession.

Ask a law student about the reasons why he chose the field and I am hundred percent sure that he would not answer that it is because his genes are programmed for a lawyer. Law students, those who are really motivated by their ideals, would likely cite reasons pertaining to social order: the improvement of the present justice system; to bring justice to the marginalized sectors or at least make money in the profession.

It is well settled in psychology that nature or the environment has the biggest impact in the development of children. Many studies have shown that the biological factors bring in less impact to child development as opposed to the role of environment. One notable breakthrough in the field of psychology is the concept of emotional intelligence proposed by David Goleman. Emotional intelligence is an overhaul in the age-old thinking that intelligence does not have a relationship with the affect side of the human being. As opposed to conventional intelligence, EQ is not innate; it is developed. EQ is a product of the social environment where a person grew with. EQ, as Goleman asserts, is more likely to be determinative of the success or failure of a child in the future.

How can you say that intelligence would suffice? Disregarding the fact that abnormalities come out like that of a person who has low IQ, intelligence even average for that matter, rely on the quality of environment which is either facilitating or neglecting. An illustrative case, for example, is an 11-year-old juvenile delinquent, who spent his crucial developmental stage in prison. Would this child, in your opinion, even if he has the innate intelligence, grow up as an intelligent person in its truest sense? Compare the child to one that has a nurturing family, would it be the same even if he has only an average IQ? Common sense would dictate us that a difference between the two children’s potential in the future is manifest. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that a bad environment also develops resilience so that in certain cases intelligence flourishes alongside personal strength. Van Gogh never had facilitating childhood experiences, but his craft was honed.

In the 17th century the French philosopher René Descartes set out views which held that people possess certain inborn ideas that enduringly underpin people's approach to the world. The British philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, on the other hand, took a more empirical approach emphasizing the role of experience as fully contributing to behavioral development. It is Hobbes and Locke’s views that find acceptance in many scholars. You can find the evidence in persons who are acculturated by a different societal framework. Now you can see Filipinos acting and behaving like Americans but, of course, never Americans acting and behaving like Filipinos except in exceptional circumstances.

On a side note, I want to share a joke on lawyers: A man went to a brain store to get some brain to complete a study. He sees a sign remarking on the quality of professional brain offered at this particular brain store. He begins to question the butcher about the cost of these brains.” How much does it cost for engineer brain?, asked the man “Three dollars an ounce, answered the butcher." "How much does it cost for programmer brain?.” "Four dollars an ounce.” How much for lawyer brain?" "$1,000 an ounce."
The man cannot accept the price so he went to ask: "Why is lawyer brain so much more?" The butcher proudly answered: "Do you know how many lawyers we had to kill to get one ounce of brain?"

Lawyers are indeed created and destructed by their environment. It is not intelligence, per se, that would determine judicious and fair judgment that lawyers must embody in their ideals. Intelligence is mechanical and robotic. Let alone, intelligence will muster over the ends of justice.

True lawyers are brought into the world, not by the order of nature but by the impinging concerns that slowly kill the society.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Inside the President's Mind

Spasmic synapse explosions are occurring at both sides of her brain. She has in particular three ominous and protruded thoughts that flutter somewhere in the anterior portion. They imprint their specific categories in spyro-like pattern that glitters passionately ahead of other predilections. These are power, power again and wardrobe. She has seen privately, the TLOR trilogy and witnessed how Smeagol turned into the lustful Gollum. Her ponderings were concentrated on the ring and the nibble of wisdom it imparted. She threw Gollum into the subconscious and shoved her memory of the ring in the prosencephalon, anyway, this is the object she can highly relate to. She liked the ring, and the feel & power of invincibility it possessed. From then on, her pons responded spectacularly with the sight of rings. In her blank state, when struck by sudden impulses she pulls out her most precious wedding ring, and calls out in the open air, silently, in spite. . . “Maaay preeeciioushhh.” Her granddaughter was shocked and terrorized by her semblance of that monster in TLOR; child called her dad at the other room and told him that she just saw Gollum. Dad: “Little darling it’s just your lola!”

Her memories’ repulse with bits and pieces of I-should-get-that-trophy moments. She’s hungry for achievement. Her heart’s fraught with the absence of failures and dignity and respect for others lives. This might be the result of childhood insecurity. As the family poses for the camera circa 1960, her reluctant smile was captured by the monochrome shutterbug. The photo shoot was scheduled in the morning that day. She was frank with her emotions and her father cajoled all that there was to convince her baby. He even promised her a gold plated trophy as tall as her in vain. Her father was then surprised to see her in a yellow plaid dress and well-shined tresses. The father appreciated such meekness and understanding but nonetheless, her little girl returned a vicious smile. The lens-man was preparing his doodads when the family arrived. Two wooden chairs that shined in antiquity were placed at the center. “Mister President you could sit on the right. . .that’s it. . .the little boy could stand beside you. . .the little girl could. . .” until little Glory interrupted the unassuming man. “No! I will stand by my father.” Her voice was plush with authority and it echoed round the hall, which put everybody at a standstill. It was like a riveting explosion albeit silent in its nature that distracted momentary peace. Her father was not nettled by the sudden commotion and gave her sour response approving of her little child’s demand to be at his side. The little girl could be seen biting her lips and hiding one of her hands at her back. The flash of light was blinding and everybody except little Glory turned away from the camera’s focus.

The petite features of Gloria defies the rabid power and discretion she exercises over her constituency. How can that be? There’s parallelism with the irony imposed by her physical features vis-à-vis her insurmountable power with the case of the twins that lead the Karens. But unlike the children rebel leaders her stay in power is not grounded on idolatry nor tradition to say the least. Her continued existence could be well-explained by bribed support and wily tactics. It is likewise reinforced by the citizen’s apathy and the decline and corruption of vital institutions. She couldn’t stare at herself on the mirror while her personal servant does her make-up few minutes before her appearance in Congress to appraise them and the nation of the state of the country. She rubbed her faced violently with her two bare arms, so fiercely that her attendant moved feet away from her fearful and shocked at the sudden outburst. “Please, get out of the room,” she appealed. She continuously asked her spirit, relentlessly as if she wanted to prove herself something and that she wanted the answers in an instant. In bare futility, all her efforts transformed into a blabber. . .words cascading themselves away from her; from logic and reality. She finally realized, her reign is close but no cigar.

She stepped out of the room composed but surprisingly docile. All’s well that ends well. Forget the means in achieving a prejudiced end. She succeeded in power because of the people’s revolt. She was not the best option but all was in high hopes. She promised a lot. Those promises speedily dropped like flies. Her academic achievement was astounding. She could have used it very well in the service of the nation. But power’s influence is really expansive. Optima corrupta pessima (the best things corrupted, becomes the worst) She has three years remaining to prove whatever she has to prove. She gave us a glimpse of her ambitions: she wants to remain in power at all costs.

Authority intoxicates,

And makes mere sots of magistrates;

The fumes of it invade the brain,

And make men giddy, proud, and vain ...:

By this the fool commands the wise,

The noble with the base complies,

The sot assumes the rule of wit,

And cowards make the brave submit.
(Hudibras, Butler, 1680.)

The use of metaphor in her speeches has never been so disorienting to the learned. She banks so much on the people’s inability to evoke the sovereign will. But will this prosper? En route to Malacanang by a plane, a cabinet member was astonished and emphatic as the president quipped, while staring blankly at the window which gave a good view of the green islands, “ano kaya ang pwede pa nating magawa para mapaunlad ang ating bansa?,”. The cabinet member, in one of her interviews, revealed the observation on the president’s sincerity because of her unrelenting concern for public good even in peculiar moments. She was indeed a GOOD ONE. The same cabinet member later recanted such conjecture. She was only trying to be good. The president has only one thing in mind, the cabinet member realizes. Power. Forget the wardrode as stated earlier. The emperor has no clothes!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Note on my desk, December 10, 2006

Note from Prof. delos Reyes:

Thanks Det! Hold on and persevere. I am confident that you will have a bright future. Take care!

Dear Ma'am,

My bowing has yet to improve. The music of my violin doesn't satisfy me. I will yet to settle on playing vicariously on my pc. . .am playing now edelweiss and moon river. . .The music is infectious and comforting. The wind is blowing hardly on the leaves of the tree outside my window. . .the holidays. . .fast approaching. See you soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Mythical Finance Cave

Seesaw It breathes the ardor of unfinished business. Stacks of magazine file boxes surround the lone gas-lift chair rolling around the space during sloppy afternoons. There are several law textbooks shelved in a makeshift cabinet hanging from the ceiling. The four walls are painted in pink which makes me wonder if they’re the ones who make most days lousy and unproductive. Strewn papers crowd the glass table at the corner. Sometimes when necessity requires the presentation of certain documents to funding officials I hobble around those papers in search for a certain document which I recall was laying down somewhere deep among those garbage as a workmate often calls it. A tall CD organizer is full of mixed up CDs which was once organized to no avail. A white telephone near the door occasionally rings. And when it rings the sound fills the empty spaces in the hall. Rumors have it that spirits populate this room. And the sound of the telephone became a dreadful sound that leaves everybody shocked.

An abysmal cat who’s owned by the old woman at the basement frequently visits until after she was caught in a silent controversy by bringing in her kittens, all three of them. Some say they brought fleas during those rainy months which made all the people feel itchiness to death. One kitten was punished to death by a guest who can’t take the torment not to say the sight of the poor kittens. The cat and her two remaining kittens were never seen again. Two paintings by a student in UP hang in one of the walls. It was rarely appreciated. Once the painter visited, he said he was very much elated to see his works again hanging among those walls. A high window facing the east portion was hardly ever cleaned. Its glass was blurred by the dust that’s probably glued to it forever. One, as tall as me could peek from it. Our neighbor has a playground below. Few children play there and only during Tuesdays. You can hear their shrieks and laughs from here.

A former office mate tagged this place as my finance cave. I can have this lonely place forever she said in jest after our head told everybody that no one can enter this compartment without permission. And so when one’s looking for me they answer in such spontaneity as if my life is only within the bounds of the four corners of this room. He’s in his cave. This is half-true, I stay in this part of the world 8 hours a day; six days a week. I say half-true because my spirit frankly resented the absence of verve. Sometimes I find myself peeking at the window again trying to find sources of comfort among the inert see-saw and swings. Hoping to hear the raucousness and gaiety produced by these playful objects in the hearts of those children during Tuesdays.

Raising Awareness Through MyBlogLog Community Exchange

We could not be just innocent bystanders in our own country because being complacent on the issues affecting us as a people will do nothing but to murder the ethos left in us. We should just not whine over economic and social problems instead we should make a stand on every issue faced by our nation. It is the least we could do to contribute to the resolution of these issues and problems. Grumbling constantly about the hopelessness surrounding the Filipino nation is an utter indignity. The tremendous blood shedding by our forefathers for this country to be free should not be repaid by passivity. . . because there are thousands of reasons and millions of ways to be patriots of our nation. One of which is joining this meme in support of the call to put an end to electoral killings.

If you believe in sending the message of ending senseless political violence and at the same time reach a wide range of bloggers join the Raising Awareness thru MyBlogLog Community Exchange. The rules are very simple:

  • Join all of the MyBlogLog communities on the list below.
  • Copy the list and create a new post on your blog on the victims of electoral violence and paste the list onto your post.
  • Write a brief paragraph that explains what the game is above the list (just as I have done here).
  • Add your Blog using the URL of your entry on Victims of Electoral Violence plus 2 or 3 more MyBlogLog communities to the list and then publish the post.
  • If you want to be added to this list, simply drop me a comment below with your Blog Name/URL and MyBlogLog URL.

Participating in Raising Awareness thru MyBlogLog Community Exchange is just a small step that has the potential impact of raising awareness while increasing your traffic, increasing the number of regular readers as well as help increase the number of backlinks you have pointing to your site. Making a difference thru blogging is a rewarding experience that may lead the way towards a better community not just on the online community but in Philippine society as well.

The Raising Awareness MyBlogLog Community Exchange List:

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Liability in Truth: A Tribute to Musa Dimasidsing

Nobel laureate Jose Saramago’s recent novel Seeing details how the plague of blank ballots would turn politicians vapid and malicious. Saramago’s enchanting story clearly depicted the extent of the power in a vote and how the voting power, when unexercised, would render the whole essence of democracy meaningless. I find such political allegory in Saramago’s words relevant for the Filipino psyche in their understanding of the electoral process and the whole lie that surrounded it during the recently concluded elections.

One of the President’s minion was quoted as saying that why protestations still pervade among the opposition party when the results show that they are leading in the Senate run. Short of saying that: Nanalo na nga kayo, reklamo pa kayo ng reklamo. But the point is, would the citizens be ever so calm and unperturbed in the same way that the opposition party reacted when the election was plagued with violence and widespread cheating? Thank God, the overwhelming voice of the people did not match the political machinery deployed by the incumbent administration to foil the elections. But, unfortunately, lives and rights are trampled upon in their unflinching desire to maintain political security in the next few years. Bitterly, these evil forces wrecked havoc on civilian lives in utter disregard of the laws and the Constitution.

Soon after the Maguindanao COCs were canvassed, everybody could do nothing but laugh. A 12-0 in favor of the administration slate in the province was never been logical to the learned. And there was Musa Dimasidsing, the Chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors in said province, confirming the commonsensical improbability of the results; that massive cheating was done-ballot switching, tampered electoral returns, and all. He exposed the naked truth that backlashed at the ego of the perpetrators, thus his life became the price. His death marked the paradox of the times: that adhering to truth and justice in this country has never been so punitive and that in stark contrast, falsehood is always benefited with deplorable impunity.

There’s wisdom in Saramago’s words: “. . . we pervert reason when we humiliate life, that human dignity is insulted every day by the powerful of our world, that the universal lie has replaced the plural truths, that man stopped respecting himself when he lost the respect due to his fellow-creatures." Quoting and inferring from him, I can say that in this country, reason is often perverted. But still, I believe that many souls in this country refuse to pervert reason. However, they’re constantly dwindling in our country where the government seems to monopolize over its steel hands to shut the horses’ mouth. Maybe, I’m wrong with this. But one can't just help to think in this direction when the present government still stays in power amidst its many blunders.

Hope springs from brave souls like that of Musa Dimasidsing. Let him be a living memory and a constant source of angst among us to live by the truth and to assert before the government and its infamous President that sovereignty always resides in the people!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On Being Emotionally Potent

Black ants have been rounding about the crevices of the fridge in the office. They’re just like eating up left-over foods that have been filled up with molds because of their century-old existence inside the fridge. And all of us find it weird. Last year these ants were a no-show in this kingdom. maybe this is just one of so many confirmations that this world is heating up so rapidly that most species of insects now thrive in higher altitudes in search of colder climate. One could not just imagine what will conditions be like as living things gear up for the greatest battle of all time, the survival of the fittest.

Anyways, this time I’ll try to write about these persistent and lugubrious thoughts that have been tormenting me this past few days. one: the granting of a wish have never been exaggerated this much. I always prayed that I’d be having dreams at night so that at least I’d be entertained at one moment in a day’s life to break the monotony and the hubris of my wakeful state. and what have I got? nightmares!. Continuously, like a horror series, I’ve been dreaming of ghosts & zombies running after people, cannibals’ rampage over a village and fauns & other creeps from the underworld gloating at me. If this were the result of devouring horror (28 weeks later, 28 days later, the pan’s labyrinth, etc.) flicks this past week, I’d be equally satiated & at the same time appalled. why? I’ve been irked by said movies several times not by the goriness of 28 or the sadomasochistic El Capitan in Pan’s Labyrinth but by the gross inanity of the characters. Little Ofelia is the epitome of obstinacy just like what the siblings in 28 do. While viewing these movies, my cat & I kept whining about why in the world these characters foil themselves into the most obscure situations like Ofelia eating what she’s not supposed to eat and the two siblings in 28 saving their mother and as a result allowing zombies to propagate. My cat & I just sighed at such follies and couldn’t help to shout in duet: “there, you got what you deserve!” back to the nightmares, my short-term memory obliterated every detail of the dreams upon waking up. What I most remember of such flaccid dream experience is that the plots are great and worth the venture to make them into the greatest horror movie of all time.

Two: the impending life in toxicity of being a fourth year learner in the glorious halls of the college of law. I have to make a major overhaul in my planning schemes. Because in the next three hundred sixty five days of my life, I will embark on a journey of making fool of myself. I will try to take on the greatest feat of absorbing information from tons of books into my 1500g-mass brain like no spongebobs had ever done in their dreamlike existence. I will endeavor on the greatest sacrifice that will require no more than mental & physical endurance but emotional potency. On the road to becoming emotionally potent. . . !!! hehehe. And when all things fail as planned (scapegoatism?), I will call it an aside to the true and enigmatic life of a student of law. Knowledge of justice is grounded both on common sense and moral law as one teacher puts it. And when you’re lost in the wordings of the law, knock on its spirit.

Ha! dwelling on these thoughts is consuming. Yep, dearest cat?

Cat: Things will pass, master!