Friday, December 12, 2008

Have Earphones, Will Travel

From now up to the 19th, I'm one of the cool dudes in Makati.

You see, I'm walking around the concrete jungle toting uber-fashionable earphones in my ears.


Yup, I got an mp3 player. Well...technically it's not mine. I bought it for my daughter as my gift for this Christmas. She's been harping about wanting to own an mp3 for the longest time. I wasn't planning on actually giving her an mp3 yet but when I passed by a CDR-King outlet and saw a relatively inexpensive mp3, I just bought it.

It's quite a cute toy, actually. It's a little smaller than the palm of my hand, it can carry 2GBs'-worth of songs, it's got its own speaker, a blue mini-screen, a recorder, an FM radio, and it comes in a gold casing that lights up with pretty LEDs running the entire face of the mp3 whenever the mp3 function is played.

Now I'm using it -- until I have to surrender it to her on the 19th when I go home to Leyte for the holidays.


Ingrid (my daughter) was so excited when I told her about buying the mp3 player. Now all her texts are dedicated to either telling me what songs she wants downloaded or developments about her school crush.

Being the dutiful mother that I am, I'm currently downloading her songs, with a sprinkling of my own tunes, from my office computer. (Take that, Xlibris!)

Now I'm walking around Makati grooving to songs spanning from the Googoo Dolls' Iris to the High School Musical gang's We're All in This Together.

I even bought a nifty mini-speaker to plug onto the mp3 player so I won't get an ear infection from wearing earphones all day at home.

Yup, I'm the epitome of cool...


I never really understood what the big fuss was over mobile music. I was thinking: there's enough noise in the streets already, why add to the din?

Now I understand.

First, listening to music while commuting gives one a steady gait. You can actually keep in step with the tunes playing over my earphones.

Okay, so that was a lame reason. Oh, here's another. Since I got this mp3 player, I've been quite alert when commuting. You see, those who have commuted with me on a regular basis have noticed how I managed to take snoozes while travelling from Point A to Point B. One even nicknamed me "Jack Piraw." Now that I have my earphones on, I have been quite awake lately. It's better than getting a caffeine kick.

Also, I'm now more in tune with the latest hits. In fact, I've already updated my knowledge of music from the early 90s, and now I can say with pride that I so truly like listening to Jordin Sparks' and Chris Brown's No Air, as well as Flo Rida's Ayer.

One more thing: now that I go around town with earphones in my ears, I now share an affinity with other Makati dudes and dudettes who strut around to mp3/mp4/ipod-induced music.

Now, I'm "cool."

Until the 19th, that is.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kids These Days...

Remember this name: Tricia Isabel Borres.

After this blog, you’ll want to wring her pretty little Aeta-untouched neck.


In the PR agency where I am currently connected with, I am the only alumna from the University of the Philippines. My officemates are from the more affluent schools like Ateneo, DLSU, and Assumption. Notwithstanding, I get along pretty well with these people, especially the Atenistas.

One day while I was quite busy at work, our senior consultant (one of the Atenistas) forwarded me a compressed file, together with a snide comment about how kids these days think. Since I was – like I said – busy, I just disregarded her message, as well as the file.

As we were about to wrap up our work for the day, she and the other Atenista came to me and insisted that I open the file she sent. They were both fuming mad, and I thought they were mad that I just set aside this file. Thinking that it was work-related, I immediately opened it. Then I knew what made them fuming mad.

Inside the zip file was a series of jpeg images of a blog on a Facebook account. The account is owned by a certain Tricia Isabel Borres. The blog’s title is “I’m NEVER doing that EVER AGAIN!” (Capital letters intended.)

What I read amazed me.


My Atenean officemates gave me a backgrounder on the entire frame of reference for this blog. According to them, there is this Theology subject that all Ateneans have to take (kinda like a GE course for UP kids), and it involves having to be immersed in a place where the residents’ culture and economic status are vastly different from theirs. They can actually choose from different areas for their immersion. It can be a farming village, a coastal barangay, a mountain tribe, etc. They can also live with prostitutes, senior citizens, and the like. The point is, they will have to personally understand what it feels like to be in the shoes of the residents. I guess this is what can be called “participatory research” in Anthropology studies. After the entire immersion experience, the students are then made to come up with a reflection paper on what they experienced and learned from this trip.

This Tricia Isabel Borres is an Atenean who apparently just completed her immersion trip, and she chose to live with the Aetas. However, instead of becoming a better person after then experience, she decided to come up with this blog that literally bled with her rantings on how unfortunate she was to be living with dirty, undressed, snot-faced Aetas, and how her immersion trip was simply one miserable experience that she would rather drown out with tons of shampoo and perfume while swimming between the sheets in her airconditioned room. De putang batang ‘to, ah…


Here are snippets of the now-notorious blog:

“Did not sleep AT ALL because I was too freaked and for the longest time I was just seriously curled up in a ball in my bed trying to condition my mind to survive the ugliness.” (Seriously Iha, nothing can be uglier than your way of thinking.)

“THERE WERE SO MANY CHILDREN!!! Seriously! These people have no concept of family planning whatsoever! Even worse SO MANY DIRTY KADIRI CHILDREN!!! Like in my (adoptive) family, I had this killer little Aeta boy with constant UHOG in either only red shorts or an over-sized shirt with NOTHING UNDER who was CONSTANTLY WARBLING TO HIMSELFOR SINGING WITH A SIBAT!!! OH MY FUCKING GOD.” (God wouldn’t listen to your elitist cries. He even probably assigned the Hogan boy to be your adoptive brother as karma for your being too overacting.)

“I seriously did NOT WANT ANY OF THEM (the Aetas) TOUCHING ME!!!” (After this, I don’t think even your Theology teacher would want to touch you, too.)

“By the end of the day my foot was over scrubbed with lahar and rocks. I swear they should market like a Lahar Body Scrub only with moisturizer. It was like grey sand.” (So nice naman of you to make isip that idea, you whiny @^%!!!1#!@@1!!!)

“So that night I was surrounded by a flock of children this girl goes ‘Ate tawa ka na lang! Parang boses ni Dyesebel!’ WTF, WTF…” (Even Dyesebel would be insulted by the attribution of your laughing to hers.)

“I just couldn’t eat their food even if they didn’t give me anything gross, mostly veggies. But everything made me barfy and even the rice tasted funny! So whatever food I stuffed in my mouth I would just hold my breath and swallow. I hated meal time because I always felt bad. Tatay would always tell me ‘Pasensya na blahblahblah’ so I would keep insisting that I don’t really eat even in Manila but nanay’s cooking’s really good…I felt really bad!” (They did a bad job poisoning you. It didn’t work.)

“So we finally reached McDonald’s and I soaped myself so many times and everyone I think knew that I was the one who had the hardest time and they all laughed when they saw my McDonald’s tray. I won’t mention everything that I ate because Meling might un-friend me.” (No matter how many times you wash your hands, nothing would still compare to the utter filth you have for a personality, Iha. I hope Meling realizes that and does “un-friend” you.)

“Mum and Daddy picked me up and mum met me halfway while I was walking towards the car. First thing she said when she saw me? ‘Oh my God!’ Wow. Either I looked that ugly, miserable, or both. Then inside the car Dad tried to joke me and told me that I smelled like an Aeta and I laughed. I said I know it’s disgusting and he shut up. I was so in grumpy child mode.” (By the way, maybe your Mum and Daddy could also join you in the personality compost heap.)

“I don’t think I’ve ever loved the shower that much…I shampooed and scrubbed my hair and body until they hurt…apricot scrubbed myself…totally over perfumed. Hygiene I love you. And I just had a two hour full body massage while listening to a mix of Jack Jackson, Jason Mraz, Kings of Convenience, and Postal Service. Music FINALLY.” (Tsk, tsk, tsk…squeaky clean on the outside, totally despicable on the inside. What kind of monster taught you to think like this?!)

“Seriously though the only thing that kept me sane was the really pretty view being on top of a cliff and all and how everything was so airy and spacious. Life there is so monotonous and droll and time was soooo sloooow but so weird I got kind of jealous at how simply happy they were.” (You obviously didn’t learn a thing from your immersion trip.)

“But honestly sorry St. Ignatius, I was NOT immersed. (Yes, you weren’t.) If anything, the trip was like a test of true patience for me and how well I could mentally block everything. Like aside from being the girl in our group who is now known for her amazing bladder and colon control skills, I’m like also the girl who can keep sleeping anywhere and everywhere. It was like my spacing-out skills at its finest.” (What were you expecting at your immersion anyway? A field trip? You should’ve gone to Nayong Pilipino instead and approximated the experience.)

“Ugh. I swear though. I’ve developed like penis fear (my parents should be thankful) from all the naked dirty children. And if for the next couple of days I see children, even cute white ones, I swear I will kick them. Same goes for animals. Not even my potential fluffy bunny. (I hope they kick you back, too.) Or if I hear some dialect, I will throw a hissy fit. (An im iroy ka nga yawa ka…) P.S. Niche and Sib! I AM NOT PREGNANT KNOCKED UP CARRYING AN INDIGENOUS OFFSPRING!” (I pity the father…)

“GUYS. I BURST INTO TEARS WHEN I WAS ALREADY IN BED UNDER MY SHEETS. Parang the nice smell of my bed and the aircon and all the familiarity was too much. POST TRAUMATIC STRESS. Seriously.” (You still didn’t learn anything from that experience, did you?)

“Meling: You found an Aeta boy gwapo?? ! As soon as I arrived home I told yaya to absolutely NOT put ANYTHING in my room. Then I left my slippers and clothes all outside and practically walked naked to the bathroom hahahaha!” (This time, yaya’s so not the loser here…)


Dang, I wish I could attach my copy of the original blog here but there's no function that enables me to make attachments. However, those interested can visit my Multiply site for the attachment. And like I said there, read it and enjoy the ride.


Before you fellow UP people start bashing the Atenistas to Kingdom come, let me remind you that even the Ateneo alumni themselves are furious over the thoughts this whiny kid shared in her blog. My Atenean colleagues emphasized that this kid is a mere aberration of all the teachings of Ateneo, and I tend to believe them. They may be more elitist than us UP pips, but they are very much in touch with their social responsibilities. Only, they don’t show it with the same kind of fervor we Iskos and Iskas have. According to our senior consultant, Ateneans let their minds rule over their hearts. We, on the other hand, let our passions get the better of us, and we bring these passions to the streets. (Haha, so true.)

Reading this horrendous blog brought a lot of questions in my mind. First, How many more kids out there have the same way of thinking as that of Tricia? Second, how did this kind of kind of thinking come about?

I could only blame Tricia’s parents for giving her this warped disposition. People could be filthy rich, and yet capable of understanding the differences in culture and status of everyone else. Apparently, Tricia’s parents instilled in their child the idea that one should not get involved with the “natives” or else suffer the same plight these natives have.

It’s already demeaning as it is that we’re being discriminated for our skin color and poverty by those in more developed countries. Thus, it becomes more infuriating that a fellow native is ruing her own kind for being naked, poor, and dirty.

Dear Tricia, those dark undressed simpletons you have encountered may well be your distant relatives, considering that they are fellow Filipinos. Fortunately for you, you have access to clean water, a nice bed to sleep on, a car to ride in, and all the other comforts of a technologically-advanced way of life. Plus, your blood has already been muddled with strains of foreign descent. On the other hand, Aetas are the purebloods of the Filipino race. They don’t need an MP3 player, an airconditioning unit, and all those other pleasures you so blatantly enjoy. With food on their plates (no matter how simple and “gross”) and family (no matter how dirty or naked) around them, these are all the riches they would ever want to have. And so they are happy and content with their lives. This is what you should’ve learned from your immersion if you weren’t too busy thinking too much about yourself.

News flash, Iha: the world doesn’t revolve around you. Deal with it.

And since I’m very sure that you’re already receiving hate emails from your fellow Ateneans, wait until the UP people start writing you and hating you to Timbuktu. I swear you’ll find hiding among the Aetas to be a great idea after all.

That is, if the poor Aeta tribe you lived with would still accept you at all. Seriously.

Manny, the Golden Boy, and Politics -- a Strange Combination indeed

Whoa…he won?!

No, honest: he won again?

This was my instant reaction after opening the TV exactly after Manny Pacquiao’s fight with “Golden Boy,” Oscar dela Hoya.

I intentionally didn’t watch the so-called “Fight of the Century,” being quite sure that Manny’s gonna be kissing the floor in an embarrassing knockout. However, out of curiosity, I did decide to tune in at about 3:30 pm, hoping that the boxing match would be all over by then and all that I would be catching would be recaps of Pacquiao’s defeat.

My jaw dropped when the first images on my TV came out. It was a downtrodden puffy-faced Oscar dela Hoya being interviewed by this American sports commentator. Questions he was answering pertained to his plans after his defeat in the hands of the Pacman.

Soon, recaps of the fight were shown, and the former Mexican boxing legend was seen being reduced to a punching bag by Pacquiao’s fists of fury.

True enough, the proof of Manny’s victory was splashed all over my TV screen.

What was touted to be the “Fight of the Century” turned out to be one big letdown for those who really wanted to see a flurry of punches flying around. Dela Hoya was almost like a sitting duck, barely sending any of the killer punches that made him a three-time world champion of the sport.

Even critics who initially predicted Manny’s loss were very surprised by the turn of events. More surprised (and a few hundred bucks lesser) are those who placed their bets on Dela Hoya. Despite this, everyone was very happy that Pacquiao managed to defy his detractors’ ominous predictions.

Yeah, I admit: I’m happy that Pacquiao won, too.

But for crying out loud: I do hope that our local politicos who keep on knocking at Pacquiao’s gullibility (Attention, Chavit Singson, DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, and GMA herself: I’m talking about you and your fellow trapos!) would stop convincing him to transfer his wars from the boxing ring to the political arena. You guys can hardly handle your own political affairs – how much more can you expect from Manny who can barely keep himself in school?

Let’s just keep Manny in the boxing ring and perhaps, also do an Oscar dela Hoya and have a statue made in his honor.

Trust me: everyone else will be happier that way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Procrastination Gets the Better of Me

I'm in the middle of several deadlines -- a questionnaire for a bank perception audit and a publicity proposal for an upscale company, to name a few -- and I'm writing a blog.

So what the hell am I doing writing a blog in the middle of crunchtime?

Beats me. Only that I need something non-work related to do while I'm trying to compose my thoughts.


Don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining. In fact, I actually enjoy the thrill and freshness of my new job as manager for editorial services in a PR company right in the heart of Makati.

It's soooo unlike my old job where I got stuck in the rut of writing spam, spam, and more spam.

Yes, I did realize that there actually is life after that wonderful self-publishing company in Cebu.


So what do I do as manager for editorial services?

I service editors.

Of course, that was meant as a joke.


I actually have a lot to do as manager for editorial services. Most of my work revolves around media relations, media planning, and other stuff related to media. There's also that little thing about research and writing, and I'm also in charge of that -- considering that these two endeavors are considered as editorial work.

I just thank God that I got exposed both to the academe and media because what I learned from these two professions are very useful in my current line of work.


Somehow I find it kind of funny that I still ended up in Makati after many attempts to avoid working in it again.

But I'm not complaining now. My office is located along Perea Street, and it's very close to the walkway that winds all the way to Greenbelt, Landmark, Ayala, SM, and eventually, to the Ayala MRT station. And since my new boarding house is also in Makati, it only takes me 30 minutes to commute from my place to my office.

I also don't get to spend too much on commuting because my officemates live near my place, and they have cars. I just join their car pool as often as possible.

Life is good...


Can't say much about my boarding house, though.

I live on the boundary between Manila and Makati somewhere near Sta. Ana. (But my landlady's father says that we're already on the Makati part.) My new room is probably 2/3 of my Cebu room, and I have to share the CR with the rest of the family I'm boarding with, as well as the other boarders.

My neat freak ways are being blown to smithereens whenever I use the CR. *shiver*

I miss my room in Cebu...

However, in fairness to the family who owns the place I'm boarding, they're a really kind and accommodating lot.

And the place is so near the office. And near to almost everything else.

Nonetheless, I may be transferring by January to my officemate's place in Sta. Mesa where they also accept boarders. She has this room which was formerly her sister's dental clinic. All she has to do is to clear the room of its clinic-like appearance and transform it into a real room complete with its own CR, cabinets, and even a small kitchen. It even has its own entrance so I won't have to knock on the owning family's door to get in. And she's reserving it for me! (Yay!)

The best thing about it is that I still get to live in Manila where I grew up.

Another yay!


And thank God too, my ordeal with that Godawful 2Go forwarding company is over!

Danged forwarder misdeclared my Cebu things and was asking for something like almost P6 thou for a bunch of personal stuff which no one else may even want to rummage through!

As it turned out, some smartass in Cebu (either the encoder or the one who got my things from my Cebu boarding house) wrote in the bill of lading that the declared value for my stuff is a whopping P500 thou!

Geez, I never realized that worn clothes, an Orocan, a dirty electric fan, a battered 14-inch colored TV, and a bunch of baldes could actually be worth that much -- unless they were all gold-plated.

Of course, in my crazy bitch fashion, I ranted and raved at the poor customer service reps who had to deal with my wrath.

My officemates were amused by my irate statements, and even started quoting me. Here are just some of those quotable quotes:

"Huwag niyong sabihing ako ang nagkamali sa paglagay ng declared value na yan dahil kayo ang nag-declare na worth P500,000 ang gamit ko!"

"Paano naging P500,000 ang declared value niyan, e wala naman akong itinagong gold bars diyan!"

"Sino ba sa inyong opisina ang gustong kumita at my expense? Pakilapit nga sa akin at nang mapatay..."

"Pag hindi niyo yan ayusin, isusuplong ko kayo sa DTI!"

Oh well, my bitching did get the work done. Thus, my payment was reduced from almost P6 thou to P2,400+.

It does pay to be a bitch.


And barely two weeks since I returned to Manila, I've been swamped by reunions with old friends, relatives, and former media colleagues.

As of press time, my November calendar is almost filled to the brim with schedules to meet this and that -- professional or otherwise.

Once again, not that I'm complaining.

I'm just getting less sleep these days, that's all.


Geez, I really should be getting back to work.

I procrastinate. So shoot me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Manila or Bust!

I guess this is it: I'm finally going to Manila come November 1!

My new office just found a place for me in Sta. Ana, Manila. I'll have to share the CR with another person, but at least I'll have a room all to myself. And it's in the city of Manila where I grew up. Thus, it's back to Mayor Lim's jurisdiction for me.

I'll miss having my cats around, though. Brought them all to Leyte where they'll be cared for by my mom and daughter. When I get a place of my own, will be bringing my entire family -- feline and human -- to Manila. In the true essence of Lilo's and Stitch's ohana, no one gets left behind.

I'll also be back to old haunts, friends from way back, and all the other things -- good and bad - that defined Manila for me. In fact, as of this very moment, I've got my college buddies eagerly waiting for my return so we can have an instant reunion.

I don't know what Manila has in store for me this time. However, one thing's for sure: I'm returning to Manila a wiser, more responsible, and stronger person.

I'm going to make sure that the city doesn't eat me alive this time, come Hell or high waters.

Sabi nga nila, it's Manila or bust!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



My crush, Speaker of the Opposition and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila President Adel Tamano, just accepted my friend invitation on Facebook!

'La lang, just wanted to share the love...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coming Out of the Comfort Zone

By now I guess everyone who knows me has this question on their minds: is she moving to Manila or not?

A phone call I got at lunch today provided me with a final and definite answer: Yes, I'm moving back to Manila -- with a vengeance!


I left Manila almost 10 years ago feeling helpless and pessimistic. It took a while for me to truly get back on my feet again and to get a good grip on the reins of family responsibility, but I managed to do both in Leyte. Sure, I may have transferred to Cebu to work but Leyte was still home to me.

Now, I find myself returning to my place of birth again. And very soon, my family will also be reunited with me.

I'm excited -- and scared.


The good thing about returning to Manila is that I get to achieve all four goals which I set for myself before I turn 40. I wouldn't be able to attain these if I went elsewhere.

My first goal: to get a job that will provide me with the stability and security I need in my career. At my age, it's quite tiring already to keep changing jobs. Career-wise, I need to get my feet firmly planted on the ground already -- and my new job (to be disclosed later) is just the thing to give me exactly that.

My second goal: to get my family reunited again. I was forced to leave my family in Leyte when I transferred to Cebu to work. While I had a respectable salary, it was always divided by two because I had to send half of my salary to my family every payday. Thus, I ended up barely surviving with the little money I had left until the next payday. If we were together in Manila, then we won't have to buy separate items just to keep two households up and running. Besides, my daughter's already a teenager and I'd like to be there as she passes through this most confusing stage in her life. After all, she is the reason why I work in the first place.

My third goal: to get my master's degree. In my younger years I ballyhooed anyone who advised me to go to graduate school. I thought to myself: heck, I don't need one. After all, I was getting good jobs. Years later (and after many career heartbreaks), I realize now that a master's degree is crucial not only for additional knowledge but also as a fallback (just in case I want to return to teaching) and for purposes of promotion.

My fourth goal is more personal in nature. Just to give an idea on what this is all about, it involves not losing again what I almost lost before.


So what scares me about returning to my lupang sinilangan?

Manila may have changed a lot since I left in 1999, but there are still things about that place that remain the same -- mostly bad things.

First is the traffic. Oh Lord, the traffic. But thank God for the LRT and MRT, going from Point A to Point B has now become less of a hassle. One will have to contend with the throngs of fellow passengers, though.

Second, the floods. When I was still living in Sampaloc, Manila, our place became a virtual river whenever there were heavy downpours. I doubt it if this problem of flooding will ever be solved, considering that Manila is said to be sinking by several millimeters every year.

Third, the high cost of living. They say that when in Manila, every move you make constitutes to money coming out of your pockets. And even when you're just staying put in one place, you'll still have to shell out cash for something or another. The materialistic lure of the city can truly create big holes in one's pockets.

Fourth is the high incidence of crime. I laugh every time I hear news of the Waray-waray gang striking again. These criminals obviously hail from my province, but they obviously honed their skills in Manila. Lawless elements left in Tacloban City and other areas of Leyte are just mostly small-time pickpockets or snatchers, with a sprinkling of rapists and murderers. Like I said, small-time. In Manila, you'll never know when you'll be the next victim. I already experienced my wallet getting snatched, my mom became a victim of the Budol-Budol Gang, I got mashed in Quiapo, and I got held up in a jeep which was in the middle of rush-hour traffic.

Fifth, major upheavals/occurrences always have to happen in Manila. Blame it on the city being the center of Philippine politics and commerce. That's why there are rallies happening left and right, jeepney strikes, and coup d' etats. I already know the feeling of being hit by tear gas. I don't want to experience that same feeling again.


Nevertheless, I believe that at this point, there is simply no other place for me to go but to Manila. It's a calculated risk that I have to take.


Parang kelan lang. Several months ago, I was resigned to my fate working for a BPO in Cebu. Someone rued my situation and noted that I was afraid to come out of my comfort zone. "Don't be complacent," he kept repeating to me. This person added that I still have much to offer, and if only I was in Manila, I'd be able to find new opportunities commensurate to my knowledge, experience, and expertise.

As it turned out, he was right.

Thank God for voices of conscience like him. Bless his soul.


So I guess this is it. It's back to Manila for me.

Wish me luck, everyone!

Featured Story: The City Dragon

Found this really engaging short story on Written by Clefton Twain, it was listed under the "Mythical Creatures" category. It's short, so please don't stop reading until you reach the end. This tale reminds me of the "Why did the chicken cross the road" joke.

Curious? Then read on...


The City Dragon
By Clefton Twain

Eliot Schmidt walked out his house just like he had done every workday for the past five years. He tucked his briefcase under his arm while fumbling with his keys to lock the front door. He slipped them into his pocket. I hope it's still there, he thought as he turned to go to his car.

It was. It always was.

Eliot looked up to see it wrapped around and clinging to the smokestack like a barnacle on the underside of a ship. A dragon. Bright green with wings of gold, the creature was there every morning as if to greet Eliot on his way to work or when he got the paper on weekends. It had taken up a position there two years ago, much to the dismay of the city management.

At first, nobody knew what to do with a dragon. What does one do with a dragon? It wasn't going Godzilla on the city, destroying everything and eating everyone in sight. No, it simply clutched the smokestack, wrapping its long tail around the pipe, and stayed there until sometime around noon when it would simply fly off, only to return the next day.

There had been talk of exterminating the creature. Mayor Johnson had raised issue with safety concerns. "Something that big on the loose is unsafe for the city and its citizens," he had proclaimed, banging his fist on the podium. But days and weeks passed. Nobody did anything and the dragon continued its peaceful visits.

Initially, the people had been both awed and frightened. Who wouldn't be? If movies and stories had taught him anything, Eliot knew that dragons ate people and breathed fire, acting like savage animals on the loose. Again, no destruction, no deaths.

As time passed, most of the fascination with the dragon slowly calmed down and people eventually came to accept the critter as being a normal part of life. The television news magazines had done more than enough so-called journalistic pieces on the dragon. Eliot remembered the last one he saw--supposedly the dragon had a mate and they were getting married! Good for them!

But Eliot was still intrigued--still captivated by the dragon. His wonder and excitement never waned. The reporters never got it right. They had never tried talking to it! Maybe it just wants some company? A friend? So much had been reported, yet they knew so little.

Well, I'd better get to work. I've got that meeting at 9:30.

Eliot got into his car, setting his briefcase on the seat next to him, and rolled out of the driveway. Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was playing on the radio. They sure do like this song. Or they really hate it and think playing it all the time will torture us.

"Kurt!" he yelled, putting the car into first gear. "English, man! Sing in English!" Laughing to himself, he headed down the road to the stop sign where cars streaked past on the busy road before him. He flicked on his turn signal, the flashing right arrow reminding him of which way he was to go.

As he watched the cars go by, his mind wandered back to the dragon. Maybe it was a mystical protector, sent by someone to watch over the city? If a dragon was real, maybe wizards and trolls were too? That would certainly make life more interesting! More interesting than a nine-to-fiver for five days a week.

He anxiously tapped his thumbs on the steering wheel as the song neared its end. Finally a break in the traffic appeared. He tapped harder, watching the gap, looking both left and right but not moving. A car rolled up behind him, horn blaring at him. Eliot looked both ways and then, with squealing tires, turned left.

"You're going to be late," he muttered to himself, still tapping his thumbs on the steering wheel. The song had given way to commercials but he hadn't noticed. "What are you doing? Turn around!"

But he kept driving, turning left at the first stoplight and heading toward the power plant. The dragon hadn't moved at all. Maybe it was sleeping? It took up nearly a third of the smokestack, positioned almost perfectly in the middle. I wonder if it sleeps on there? How does it keep from falling off? Eliot's foot pushed harder on the gas but quickly had to slam on the brakes, nearly rear-ending the car in front of him as it turned right onto a side street.

"My fault," he said as if the driver could hear him. "I apologize." He waved to the other driver and, once they were out of his way, hit the gas.

Approximately five minutes later he was sitting in his car in the gravel parking lot next to the power plant. The lot was only half full, probably awaiting the influx of people arriving at 8 o'clock. He took a deep breath, staring straight ahead at the sign in front of his space. "Reserved for Municipal Power Plant Employees. All violators will be towed at owner's expense." He sat for another minute or two, his mind furiously working on all sorts of thoughts running through his head. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he wiped it away with the sleeve of his suit coat.

To Hell with it.

The car door squeaked as he got out, slamming it behind him. He walked nervously around the fence, gravel crunching beneath his feet, to the other side where he could get a better view of the smokestack and, more importantly, the dragon. He'd never been this close before! Of course many people had come this close but he had always decided the dragon needed space. It would be intruding if he were to get too close. Dragons probably need their space, right? By doing this, he was violating that law.

Finally, he came to the perfect spot. He stood on shaky legs and looked up at the magnificent creature wrapped around the smokestack. It's so damn big! The creature's bright green scales were a stark contrast to the drab black tube upon which it currently perched. Eliot could only stare, rubbing his hands together nervously.

He wasn't sure exactly how long he stood there, watching. He figured it must have been at least ten minutes. Several employees walked past him on their way to work but didn't stop to talk or get a look themselves. They must be used to this by now, seeing it every day. They don't even recognize the wonder anymore.

The dragon was still. Was he expecting it to notice him and suddenly decide to do something? It was a dragon! What did it care? Still, it would've been nice.

Finally, Eliot mustered the words and spoke.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Dragon! What are you doing here?"

No answer.

Eliot kept thinking of all the mystical reasons why the dragon would be here, in his city, on this smokestack. Fighting evil? Waiting for its friends to arrive? What could possibly be its purpose? Could it have somehow been summoned from a mystical world and now it was stuck here? Eliot was nervously shaking with anticipation and excitement. Surely the dragon had heard him!

But the dragon still did not move or make a sound. Not at all. Its tail did not twitch. Its head did not turn to acknowledge him. Nothing. Eliot continued to stare up at the beast for several minutes after, glued to the spot. Still nothing happened. Finally, disappointment crept into his heart and he sighed.

"Well, I just thought I'd give it a try," he muttered sadly and then he turned to go back to his car. What did you expect to happen? It's probably like trying to talk to a dog or something.

As he started back, he heard a sound from behind him and he quickly turned to see what it was. There, a mere few feet from him, was the dragon's head--it had climbed down! Its eyes looked over him as if appraising an object carefully, taking everything in. The rest of its body still clung to the smokestack as it stretched its long neck out. Eliot was speechless. For the first time in his life, his mind had gone completely blank. He nearly wet himself.

Nothing happened for what seemed like hours as Eliot and the dragon stared at each other in stark silence. Eliot's feet told him to run but he stayed planted on the spot. Sweat poured down his face but he made no move to dry it off.

The dragon sniffed Eliot, its nostrils flaring with each breath. I've made it mad and it's going to breathe fire on me and then eat me! This is it. I'm dead. Eliot wanted to close his eyes and wait for the end--it would be over quick, he figured. But his eyes were transfixed on the dragon itself. Nobody had ever seen it this close before.

And then it spoke. Its voice was like a low-rumbling engine, only much more gentle sounding--almost like a very deep cat's purr. It spoke slowly, taking its time.

"Why am I here?" it asked.

"Y-yes, sir. I mean, dragon...sir," Eliot stammered. He couldn't believe he was talking to the dragon! His nerves subsided and his excitement returned. Whereas before he could barely move before he now wanted to jump up and down.

"Because," the dragon replied in a matter-of-fact tone. "This smoke pipe is warm."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Belt-tightening? Bring It on!

Just last night on the news, MalacaƱang has given word to Filipinos to do some more belt-tightening. This is in the light of the massive economic slump in the Land of Plenty.

Geez, so what else is new?

We have weathered the fiercest typhoons, the most violent earthquakes, several political upheavals, military coups, dictatorships, numerous human rights violations, food shortages, pestilence, civil strife -- almost every natural and man-made catastrophe ever imagined.

And yet we're here with belts cinched to approximate Barbie's waistline, and still as sturdy as ever. May ngiti pa sa labi.

Government no longer has to warn us of dark times ahead. It's already dark as it is. Despite this, Filipinos can simply laugh off these problems or drown them with a bottle or two of beer/tuba/lambanog/any other local alcoholic drink.

This is how resilient Filipinos are.

I guess we have just gotten used to swimming in deep fecal matter already that we have developed an immune system for these kinds of onslaughts.

I can't say the same for people in the Land of Plenty, though. I'm sure incidences of suicide over there are rising again.

And even before this specter of an economic slowdown occurred, many of their kids have already been cutting themselves simply for the heck of it, then they would blame their parents for their pathos.

Disaster management simply isn't one of their strongest points.

See what happened to them when a strong hurricane struck, and when terrorists blew off to Kingdom Come one of their primary landmarks one day in September?


Filipinos have seen worse. We get hit by typhoons almost on a monthly basis, and the same terrorists who destroyed their Twin Towers even trained for warfare here. But we don't go whining like crybabies.

Or cut ourselves.

I know we'll survive this. We always do. We Filipinos may not be perfect: we have an immature democracy, the line that separates the rich from the poor is very distinct, we bicker, we are sometimes lazy, etc. However, when pushed to the limit, Filipinos learn to act as one.

It's no small wonder that Ninoy Aquino said those immortal words: "The Filipino is worth dying for."

Given all our shortcomings, we are still a proud and resilient race.

And thus I say to the so-called incoming economic crunch, BRING IT ON!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Writ on Water

Allow me to share with everyone an article on BusinessWorld Online by Prof. Luis Teodoro, former dean of the UP College of Mass Communication (and our UP Journalism Club faculty adviser). It talks about how some student activists turn into the very people they were up against.

It kinda reminds me of the specter of apathy in UP Tacloban where I used to teach. Brought about by the possibility of not being able to avail of relatively cheap but quality education in their province, students who see the evils lurking within the UP Tacloban system simply prefer to clam up and turn a blind eye to what is happening around them. And those students who are a little more affluent just don't care.

In this article, Prof. Teodoro airs his laments toward a self-proclaimed former UP student activist who apparently lost his perspective on his generation's struggle and eventually turned into the administrator whose agency is tauted to be responsible for many human rights violations in this country. I share the good professor's disappointment, as this subject of his article is only one of many former activists who eventually got eaten up by the system.

Writ on Water*
By Luis V. Teodoro

It’s a common occurrence, and sad for this country and its poor and marginalized. A student activist graduates — and sooner rather than later — becomes one of the people he or she used to rail against.

Or some civil society type once committed to the bitter and dangerous struggle for change throws up his hands and joins those he says can’t be defeated anyway.

In too many instances are both forms of surrender driven by self-interest. But these acts of selfishness are often cloaked in some lofty principle.

For former student activists, the surrender is usually prompted by the coming of payback time; they have to bring home a paycheck and/or support the education of younger siblings as payment for those carefree years when they were parental scholars.

But it may also be due to the opening of all those doors to opportunity that, say, a University of the Philippines education virtually guarantees. Our ex-activist may have said often that the poor and uneducated don’t have the wealthy’s opportunities. But he discovers soon enough that his UP education has set him apart from those he used to champion.

Not that ex-activists from other schools don’t manage to stand before those very same doors.
Some do — and far too many quickly push their way through, casting off their activist pasts while attempting to explain the act as something beyond the call of that basest of all motives, self-interest.

He may not have known that his is not the only case of apostasy on record (both his words and tone suggested that he thought he had, like Columbus, discovered something previously unknown, like the New World). But the new chief of the Philippine National Police was doing precisely that last week — attempting to explain in grand terms why he’s ended up heading a government agency that in protecting the flawed social and political order he claimed to have opposed in the 1970s has become the worst violator of human rights in this country.

Jesus Versoza claimed last week that he was an activist when he was a freshman at the University of the Philippines in the 1970s. The declaration of martial law, he said, made him enroll in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) because he "wasn’t a real advocate of armed struggle" (and what’s the PMA’s advocacy, maintaining the status quo through debate?). What he was an advocate of, Versoza said, was "cultural change." In addition, he went on, "I began to see that there was no future in the movement. It offered no alternative solution."

What "movement," exactly, was Versoza talking about? In the 1970s, it couldn’t have been anything other than the student movement, which at that time was spearheading the Second Propaganda campaign — it was a movement for cultural change if it was anything, and not at all involved in the "armed struggle," or the guerrilla war that was then in its infancy.

If he was at all paying attention, Versoza should have known that the student movement in the1970s was focused on giving Filipinos an accurate understanding of their history, and the roots in the colonial culture of the Philippine crisis of economic backwardness and limited democracy.

The readings favored by student activists reflected this focus. The writings of Renato Constantino were at the top of their lists, as were the speeches of Claro M. Recto. The student activists of the 1970s were after all waging a cultural war, not ambushing government troops.

But what’s of interest equal to Versoza’s flawed recollection of the 1970s student movement is his declaration that he saw no future in "the movement" and his claim that it offered no solution to the problems it was exposing. In the first place the future he was apparently talking about was his future, the declaration of martial law having put the fear of state violence — imprisonment, torture, and/or murder — in the still raw minds of adolescent activists, among others.

As for solutions, there’s this thing about exposing problems: the exposure and criticism themselves often suggest the solutions. As Nobel Prize-winning novelist and philosopher Albert Camus was saying (in his collection of essays,The Rebel), conventional wisdom disdains criticism as a negative act. But you can’t criticize, and you can’t rebel against what exists without measuring it against definite standards. The cry in the streets against feudalism in the 1970s was certainly based on the demand for the democratization of land ownership, for example. And democratization WAS a solution to the land problem.

But let’s not assume too much. Versoza’s case is far too typically a relapse from Paul back to Saul to be taken too seriously. The entire country’s crawling with former activists — with some having been activists far, far longer than Versoza ever was — who’ve become part of the system they once denounced, lackeys of the very order that dooms millions to short brutish lives of misery, hunger, and despair.

Not that apostates and opportunists are not well rewarded. In exchange for houses in posh villages and humungous bank accounts, some have become tyranny’s worst apologists and henchmen. They defraud during elections the very citizens they once said they wanted to serve. They devise the strategies that have led to the killing of activists who’ve remained true to their principles.

But they’re not only in government. Many are also in the private sector, where they nevertheless wreak as much havoc as their state counterparts. They broker for crooks, or are themselves corporate crooks.

They’re the advocates of the monsters of deception the black lagoon called Philippine elite education breeds. They no longer serve the people, but those narrow interests that when not ruining the environment are dispossessing further the legions of the poor.

They’re farthest from the bright light of selflessness where true humanity dwells.

They’re the exact opposite of the heroes the country needs, the self being their focus first, last and always, rather than the poor who have always been with us, and in whose service talent and skill and knowledge are best devoted.

They proclaim that change is impossible-and they see to it that it can’t happen by opposing it.

They’re the self-fulfilling prophecies that have helped keep this country in the depths of the brutality, despair, hunger, and hopelessness that defines life for the millions fighting for survival in these isles of want.

When the time comes they will be remembered only with contempt; their names are truly writ on water.

*The poet John Keats thought he would not be remembered, and said his name was "writ on water."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the Twilight Zone

I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone these past few days. I've been treated (or shocked) with surprises and new challenges left and right.

First, I finally resigned from my present company. Now I'm getting out of my comfort zone, taking another big risk, and I do hope that this big risk would be so worth it because I'm scared as Hell on what its outcome will be.

Next, I became reacquainted with friends from my media, college, and high school days, thanks to my new Facebook account. (And now I profess my love for this online social network. If ever I conceive again, my nextborn shall hereby be named "Facebook.")

Then I get an invitation to another online social network by someone who I know used to be so hostile toward technology, primarily toward using computers.

Also recently, some of my older cousins and I managed to get in touch with each other again via Yahoo Messenger. The last time I got to talk with one of them was when I was in high school, and that was a long LOOOOOOONNNNGGG time ago. I was young and full of hope then. Now I'm older and just plain hopeless.

Today probably is the climax of my Twilight Zone syndrome. A special friend's brother just called me on my mobile for a favor. I can't divulge details about our conversation, only that I'm shocked beyond my wits. And I thought he didn't like me being friends with his brother...

As of press time, I still couldn't concentrate on my work because of his call.

Hmmm...I guess desperate times do call for desperate measures.

Now all I need to complete my Twilight Zone experience is the confirmation of my appointment in this PR agency I applied for. If all goes well, then it's back to Manila for me. If not, then there's still this other job waiting for me. It's a sanitary engineer job at the SM Mall of Asia. hehehehe...

I'm soliciting for prayers at this point. It's this PR agency job or nil -- so help me God.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Blue Eagles Soar

I may hail from the land of the UP Fighting Maroons, but my next favorite UAAP team in the league is the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

And I would like to congratulate these Atenean cagers for snatching the championship title from the beleaguered De La Salle Green Archers in this season's UAAP Games.

Di man lang pinaabot ng Game 3 ang UAAP Finals. These guys literally creamed the Archers, foiling any attempt of the latter to regain their crown.


The Season 71 finals of the UAAP was probably the most-attended one after a long time, considering that it was the Eagles and the Archers renewing their age-old grudge match on the basketball court. It was something reminiscent of the old Crispa-Toyota games in the 70s that saw the Araneta Coliseum filled to the rafters with cheering fans.

You Atenistas should really be so proud of yourselves now -- and you deserve to be. You got a very strong team this year.

But we Iskos and Iskas will be meeting you guys head-on in other battlefields: debate and law school. Let's see who among us gets ground into minced meat the next time we meet.


My previous paragraph reminds me of a joke I heard from way back when I was still a struggling undergrad in UP Diliman. It goes this way:

Two college guys -- an Atenean and a UP guy -- take a pee using the CR cubicles. The Atenean goes first, then while he turns to the sink to wash his hands, the UP guy uses the facilities, comes out, picks up his bag, and gets ready to leave the CR.

With a disgusted expression on his face, the Atenean says, "Yuck, you UP guys are so disgusting -- not even bothering to wash your hands after using the CR!"

The UP guy turns to the Atenean, smirks, and replies, "That's because we UP guys don't pee on our hands."


College rivalries... I miss them...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Damn Proud

Parang kailan lang, we were fresh UP graduates trying to make a name for ourselves in media. He was an artist, I was a writer. Something developed between us then (No Einstein, it wasn't a picture!), and although it didn't work, he'll always have a special place in my heart.

Many years later, he's in Singapore still doing what he loves best: making his art. And I'm...well...languishing in the urban jungles of Cebu, still as an unnamed writer/spammer. He has really made a name for himself, and I'm so damn proud to have been part of this guy's life.

Please visit this link to
The Manila Times online edition and you'll see what I mean.

Manny Francisco, bilib ako sa 'yo!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

All you Martial Law babies out there who would like to reminisce "the good, the true, and the beautiful" would really appreciate this.

It's a website dedicated to this wonderful icon of Dekada 70 who -- together with her equally dashing husband -- so wonderfully led this nation to an era of darkness, fear, and despondency. Check out
The Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos.

And don't forget to also click on the links there.

A word of warning especially for those from my generation: have your fill of antacid before browsing through this. It may just cause unnecessary attacks of hyperacidity. hekhekhek...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sayang, Mang Pandoy

Mang Pandoy is dead.

For those not aware who Mang Pandoy is, he was the "mascot" of Pres. Fidel Ramos when the latter decided to give a prominent face to represent the impoverished Filipinos of that time.

In fairness to Mang Pandoy, he properly played the role until his death.

He lived poor. He still died poor. And probably, this will also be the same fate the rest of us are destined to have.

Mang Pandoy did experience a breather during Ramos' term when he was given a consultant position in the House of Representatives. His children were given scholarships, they were given a small piggery, and it even came to a point when he was given a co-hosting stint in a television show.

But when Ramos' term ended, so did all the giving. And Mang Pandoy, for his part, faded into the background and reverted back to his isang-kahig-isang-tuka ways.

Is there a lesson to be learned in all this?


I can't blame the former president, or any president for that matter, for not following through with the charity provided. After all, government can only do so much to help the poor.

Mechanisms have been built to provide the impoverished many with means to help them in helping themselves. However, a lot of these people deem it much easier to just wait for alms from government. Thus, they mishandle livelihood projects, loan more money from their respective cooperatives than they can repay, and misuse logistics meant as rolling funds for sustainable and/or capability-building programs.

At the end of the day, they go back to Square One: still as dirt-poor as ever.

And then, we'll be seeing these people on TV whining to the president to help them with their day-to-day problems. "Presidente Gloria, tulungan naman po ninyo kaming mga mahihirap." Geez...

The president, through her different government agencies, did try to help. It was just that either many of them were too busy squandering whatever money they had for drinking sprees, or making babies.


My assessment of Mang Pandoy's fate was that he simply had no idea what to do with the newly-found opportunities that came his way. Perhaps the lack of education became a factor to his "downfall," but that could have been remedied when his children continued with their studies and eventually graduated.

Notwithstanding, it is evident that a blatant mishandling of opportunities led to Mang Pandoy's return to poverty.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Animal Cruelty as only Humans could Do It

Look at this video and tell me what kind of heartless being could so such a thing:

I have seven six-week old kittens of my own right now, and I just couldn't imagine them suffering such a cruel fate like this.

Sometimes, situations like this reinforce my opinion that animals make better companions than humans...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Batis ng Diwa

For some strange reason, I am suddenly pining for my alma mater, the Manila Science High School.

Lord knows why I'm feeling this way. I remember almost barfing at the mere mention of my high school just exactly after graduation. But now...


It was already difficult as it was to be a teenager at during those days. I then added the perennial nail to my personal crucifix of teenage woes by deciding on getting myself enrolled in MaSci -- as we fondly call our high school.

Plus, the years between 1983 and 1987 were very turbulent times for the country -- and I was a direct witness to history unfolding while languishing in MaSci.

Pimples, rallies, studies, CAT, Geometry, the Tagisan ng Talino, terror teachers, crushes, The Nucleus, singing contests, violent crowd dispersals, Physics, EDSA, science projects, Martial Law, Ninoy Aquino's death...Mash all of these together into a glutinous pinkish goop and that will technically summarize my life in MaSci.


Back when I was still a graduating student at Dr. Albert Elementary School (Yes, I'm a proud product of public schools!), I took the entrance exams for Philippine Science High School and MaSci. I managed to pass in both schools, but instead of getting into PhilSci , I opted for MaSci. These were my reasons for opting to study in MaSci:
1. I couldn't see myself taking a science-related course in college, and this is a major requirement among PhilSci grads.
2. MaSci was closer to my place in Sampaloc, Manila than PhilSci.
3. MaSci was my best ticket for getting into the two top universities in the Philippines -- UP and Ateneo.
4. Hell, not everyone could enter MaSci, and I wanted to be part of the "elite" crowd who was given the privilege to study there!

My mom had other plans, though. She suggested that I study in Ramon Magsaysay High School. She knew that between MaSci and Monsay, I'll get to enjoy my teenage life more in Monsay. Plus, she was sure that I would excel there, considering that the said school gives equal weight to both academic and extracurricular activities -- and I was very active in extracurricular activities. Life would be more relaxed in Monsay, she added, and she was sure that I was going to be among the more popular students there. Even the principal of Monsay at that time who was my mom's acquaintance was waiting for me to enrol there.

But I persisted with enrolling in MaSci.


During my freshman year in MaSci, I was placed in the section, Archimedes. That was probably the only time I was placed in the first section in my entire high school life. From there I was placed in the middle sections not only because I was one of those unfortunate souls who were stinking bigtime in math subjects but also because being in the middle sections meant that I didn't have to come too early to school due to the 9 am sked.

Let me recall the names of all my sections in MaSci:
* I-Archimedes
* II-Millikan (my best year and section ever!)
* III-Hertz
* IV-Newton (stinks to the highest degree)

Archi (as we nicknamed our freshman section) was okay, but that's where I was exposed to the horrors of Algebra. For the life of me, I have yet to understand why it is so important to explain why x=y. And when the polynomials started coming in, I ended up staring into blank space.

Millikan was a lot better for me because this was the time when I found my set of friends who was to stick with me until we graduated from high school. Plus, our adviser was also our English teacher who appreciated me, primarily because I did very well in her subject. I also developed a love for Social Studies, thanks to my Social Studies teacher who even tried to train me for the Social Studies segment of the District Quiz Bee.

The friends I had in Millikan were still my classmates when I got to Hertz. We also conjured a cheesy name for our group -- Rosheilene Jeberdine. It's actually a combination of all our first names: ROchelle, SHEIla, MyLENE, JEnnifer, BERnadette, and GeralDINE.This was the time when we really started going on mischievous adventures like going "over da bakod," giving our security guard the slip (We did those things for a noble cause: to buy materials for our Science project. Honest!), and spending our Friday afternoons off watching movies at the apartment unit we used to live in Manila. Back then, home movies were being shown on betamax format. (Kinda gives you an idea how ancient those times were, huh?)

I dunno: somehow I have very little memory of my Newton days, except that it was my graduating year. Oh yeah: my Newton days were spent reviewing for this and that exam from the NCEE to the UPCAT. We even got in hot water for garnering the highest batch average in Manila for those who attained 99+ in their NCEE results for the nth time. This, despite efforts of the Division of City Schools of Manila and the Department of Education to make things difficult for us. We were made to take the NCEE at nearby St. Scholastica's College instead of at our homegrounds, our proctors made us stop answering our questionnaires even before the allotted time was up, and we weren't even allowed to leave our rooms during recess.


Being in MaSci was quite a humbling experience for me, considering that all through my elementary life, I was always in the first section. It was also humbling that after excelling academically in the elementary years, I then drowned in the sea of mediocrity in MaSci. After all, each one of us there was a first-rate student from his/her respective elementary school, so what could be considered above-average in other schools was just average in MaSci.

But in fairness, I was not lagging in the brains department. I may have stunk in math (except for Statistics. I got a whopping 98 there!), but I was the consistent topnotcher in all our English periodic exams from first year to fourth year. Unfortunately, MaSci didn't care much for English topnotchers, precisely because the said school gave more credence to those who excelled in Math and Science, Thus, I was a mere second-liner compared to my counterparts. So sad...


Feeding on my inclination toward English, I decided to take Journalism and Technical Writing classes as electives. And it was because of my joining our school papers, The Embryo and The Nucleus, that I got the only medal I received in my whole pathetic high school life. But in fairness, it was a gold medal in Feature Writing, and for being the highest individual pointer in that category. (gloat, gloat...)


Yes, probably pathetic would be a term I could use to describe my life in MaSci. While I was an athletic and tall girl in elementary, I was a fashion-challenged average-faced girl in high school who really stank in Math. I was creative, though, but that didn't count for much in MaSci.

During my time there, our school was headed by a principal who apparently believed that the only way to go was through Science, Technology, and Math. Anything other than that was to be considered a passing fancy. Thus, she took away our Speechfests and the cheering competitions then left us with only the December Carolfest and Foundation Day floor calisthenics to look forward to. We didn't have any athletic team, and the theater group was just a ragtag group of kids who just wanted to have fun after school hours.

I decided to join the theater group, and I did manage to take part in several school plays and skits. One "famous" scene I had there was a scene where I played a fish vendor. I was using all the skills of the trade (selling my fish cheap, almost giving them away, having a buy-one-take-two promo, etc.) to wrangle customers from a rival fish vendor who was also employing equally-uncanny marketing skills to sell her own fish. In true Filipino slapstick fashion, we ended up throwing fish at each other, and everyone joined in the bedlam.


My pathos extended to my lovelife. MaSci did have its share of gorgeous boys and girls, but all I could do was to stare at my crushes there. I had a crush on a guy who turned out to be gay, then on another guy who was tauted as an Aga Muhlach lookalike. There was this guy from our neighboring school -- Araullo High School -- who became my biggest high school crush. This was because I would encounter him often during inter-school singing contests. But alas, just like all my other high school crushes, this one also came crashing down in flames.

Probably this would be the biggest manifestation of my pathetic love (and social) life in MaSci. I attended our high school prom during my junior year, but because I was so BORED (to the nth power) by it, I decided not to attend the prom in my senior year. Not that I was a wallflower: I did get to dance with some male friends and my groupies. I mean, how can one truly enjoy a prom that started at 7 pm then ended at 9 pm? Plus our get-ups were sooo lame -- I think I burned my prom pictures or left them with the neighborhood stray dog to chew on.


Let me take a moment to remember several memorable teachers we had from MaSci:

*Miss Rodriguez. Apart from sharing a family name, there was nothing else common between me and this General Science teacher. She was the one who literally yanked us from our respective pedestals during our freshman year by saying, "If you were honor students in your elementary days, here, you're just average lowly students."

*Mrs. Galicia. Ma'am Galicia was the English teacher and class adviser I was referring to earlier in this entry. After a so-so freshman year, Ma'am Galicia renewed my fervor for learning. She was quite formidable, but was in fact, very loving to us Millikan people. Parang nanay.

*Miss Mancera. Sexy, very chic, but utterly scary. She was our Geometry teacher, and we'd almost pee from sheer terror whenever we were in her class. It was bad enough that we were having difficulty with theorems, planes, and angles -- she only made things worse with her stoic expression and husky Visayan accent. Once she confiscated my Science textbook because she thought I was opening it during her class. I had my mom come over to get that book from her, and I was surprised that after her meeting with Miss Mancera, they came out of the faculty room like BFFs. As it turned out, Miss Mancera was also a Waray, but from Samar. Nagkasundo ang dalawang matitigas ang dila.

*Mrs. Ongjoco. She was our Chemistry teacher during our Hertz days, and our section initially felt that she hated us. During every session, we were served with a tirade of insults about being slow learners, irresponsible babies, etc. However, as the school year went on, we realized that she was just challenging us to do our best. In fact, I did quite well in balancing chemical equations despite my not being able to memorize the whole table of periodic elements. That was because she was such a good mentor.

*Mrs. Yumang. She was our boys' Practical Arts teacher, and she turned into a legend of sorts due to the boys' stories about her selling materials for projects and getting a small profit from them. I dunno if this was true, only that she was reported to be of the very enterprising kind. Sometimes, the boys would break out into song and sing "We're only Yumang (human)...of flesh and blood, I'm made..."

*Mr. Bobby Obsequio. He knew I was hopeless in Advanced Algebra but somehow I was redeemed because he loved my teeth and my singing voice. He was openly gay, but of the dignified kind. Nonetheless, the Hertz boys dedicated a classic 80s tune to him, and it went a little something like this: "I want some-Bobby to share, share the rest of my life...share my innermost thoughts...know my intimate details..."

*Mr. Castillo. Cool, composed, dashing (through the snow)...that was our Sir Castillo. He was our Calculus teacher who never lost his cool whenever he gave quizzes or exams, and I submitted blank sheets of paper with only my name on them. With a lopsided grin, he'd
just call me to the faculty room after a disastrous exam and tell me to sing before the faculty members present there. And that was my secret to passing Calculus.

*And last but not the least, Miss Puyawan. She may not have stayed with us for too long (Just one week, in fact), but I crown her as my batch's most memorable teacher. She was a stand-in for our Social Studies teacher who went on leave for health reasons. How could she not become memorable when it was only she who could deliver these lines with utter seriousness?

"Okay class, my name is Miss Fuyawan..." (Stated while writing her name as "Puyawan" on the blackboard. She ends her name with a period.)

"I want someone to do a refort on the Panic Wars, and the pounding of the Roman empi-res." (We frantically look for such topics in our book until we come upon the Punic Wars and the founding of the Roman empire.)

"Can I assign a volunteer?" (The class's snickering gets a little louder.)

"After your report, flease write it on cocon bam....(???? Oh, coupon bond...)

"Why you lapping? (Laughing) If you lapping (laughing), you done that in the corridor!"

She got the same reaction from all the other classes she attempted to handle. I dunno what happened to her after that. Some said that she just couldn't take the lapping anymore...


Like I said earlier, I was privy to major upheavals in our country while in MaSci. Ninoy Aquino was assassinated during my freshman year. It was a Sunday when it happened. The next day, one could feel a certain heaviness in the atmosphere. That dark mood prevailed the whole day, and it was because of the uncertainty of events that classes were dismissed early. But then, by the time we were dismissed, the roads were virtually empty and we had to walk home.

Walking home from school seemed to be the usual order of the day, especially when there were big rallies going on in Liwasang Bonifacio or Plaza Miranda. Both police and rallyists were highly-strung in those days, with rallies ending in violence and death. And hapless civilians like us usually ended up in the crossfire.

So far, the most violent dispersal I experienced was the one where a tear gas canister exploded beside the jeep I was riding in. Almost blind from tears, all of us passengers had to run out of the jeep. Unfortunately, the police started rounding up people, and I became a target because of my red, puffy eyes. Thus, I ran from City Hall to the Quezon Bridge in the direction of Quiapo. Thinking that I was safe there, I got into a jeep bound for Dapitan where I lived. Unfortunately, the rallyists from Liwasang Bonifacio transferred to Plaza Miranda (in Quiapo) and were raging-bull mad at the dispersals. They ran toward the bridge and started shaking the jeep in front of us. I didn't stick around to see what they intended to do with the jeep, I just ran like hell toward the Muslim colony in Quiapo. It was there where I bumped into my older cousin, and he accompanied me to Morayta where I safely got a ride home. I was absent the next day because my eyes were still stinging from the tear gas.

By the time I got to my junior year, the very first EDSA Revolution happened. But since I was still quite apathetic at that time, I was just happy that we didn't have classes for almost the entire month of February.

I also remember that the LRT was first launched during my freshman year in MaSci. And since our school was just along Taft Avenue, it wasn't difficult to get to the main station just behind City Hall. We were among the very first people to ride for free during the maiden voyage of the LRT trains. After that, we eventually got used to the distracting whir of the LRT train engines during our classes.


To end this blast from my high school past, I'd like to share the Manila Science High School anthem with all of you. We used to just mouth these lyrics like some church hymn during our flag ceremonies, but it makes more sense now than ever before. We are/were not only Manila Science High School students: we're proud denizens of the Filipino race.

I attempted a rough Dolphy-Panchito translation of the MaSci anthem for those non-Tagalog readers. Here goes:

Batis ng diwa, ginto't dalisay

(Stream of fervor[?], golden and pure)
Kanlungan ng Karunungan
(Threshold of intelligence)
Sa agham ay tampok na tunay
(Truly adept in the Sciences)
Pangalan niya'y mutya at mahal
(Her name is beautiful and loved)
Sikapin natin at pagyamanin
(Let us strive and develop)
Aral niya'y ating sundin
(The knowledge she imparts, we should follow)
Sa bawat sulok ng bayan natin
(In every corner of our land)
Kanyang bandila ay dalhin
(We bring with us her flag)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Have War, Make Money: The Mindanao Crisis

War makes good money.

Or at least, some people in Muslim Mindanao seem to think so.

I mean, honestly: I doubt it if anyone would like to live by the gun every single day -- unless he/she can profit from it.

This is probably the ultimate reason why fighting in Muslim Mindanao continues up to now. Several enterprising individuals out there are benefiting greatly from this strife. It is no longer a question of ancestral domain, ideology, or religion: at the end of the day, it all boils down to money.

Let us look at present circumstances: government forces and leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were so close, so close to signing an agreement that would possibly end the conflict on ancestral domain. Yes, the MOA was a bit -- no, very sketchy, considering that several of its key features were created outside the framework of the Philippine Constitution. This is on top of complaints issued by residents of several areas to be covered by what is supposed to be called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) that they were not given prior consultation before this said MOA was drafted. Nonetheless, this MOA by the government and the MILF was supposed to be one genuine step toward lasting peace in Mindanao.

Then suddenly, renegade forces of the MILF decide to storm into several towns in Maguindanao and Lanao del Norte, ruthlessly killing civilians and/or using them as human shields, ransacking commercial areas and residences, and ambushing military troops.

Heartless, trigger-happy pigs who think with their balls and guns...
mga leche kayo, lumaban kayo ng patas!

What appalls me more is that the MILF Central Command is apparently coddling these traitorous creatures, making no move to restrain their ranks. When asked by media on why such attacks were undertaken, they rationalized that some of their men were already getting restless due to delays in the signing of the MOA.

Under all the euphemisms being mouthed by MILF leaders, the crux of the matter is that they are simply finding a license to loot and kill -- and they found it in the delayed MOA signing.

Why don't we just cut through all this bullshit and see things for what they really are? The MILF doesn't give a hoot for peace. They don't care much for ancestral domain either. Poor Allah would turn in his resting place if these terrorists even mentioned religion as their cause.

At the heart of it all, it's money that keeps the MILF at war. If the MOA was signed by the Chief Executive, then there would be no cause for seizing whole villages and pillaging homes. The firearms business will die because armed struggle will be a thing of the past. What kind of reason would these bandits provide to rationalize any of their attempts to take hostages again? There will be nothing to fight for because of the ensuing peace in Mindanao.

The end of the war would certainly be bad for business.


On the side of government, I am disappointed that they acted haphazardly with regard to the drafting of the MOA with the MILF Central Command. Instead of drafting something that would bring Mindanao closer to the rest of the Philippines after years of political and economic alienation, they come up with an accord that could further isolate Mindanao, making it a "state within a state."

The said MOA calls for the creation of the BJE. Under this, the group of provinces under its jurisdiction will have a free hand in creating its own system of laws, political leaders, and governance. This accord even calls for oversight and maintenance of the BJE's own natural resources.

Technically, the creation of the BJE is tantamount to the creation of a federalist system of government, and this is not allowed under the present Philippine Constitution. Thus, with this MOA in mind, several members among our "esteemed" congressmen are once again calling for charter change.

The more observant among our political personalities, as well as several civil society groups, saw right through this ploy and are now in arms against it. Probably the most prominent among these anti-ChaCha advocates is my crush and opposition spokesman Adel Tamano who is a Muslim himself. Despite the promised benefits that the MOA can give to his fellow Muslims, he noted that it was only used as a coffer for the present administration's alleged grand scheme to extend Pres. Gloria Arroyo's term of office and to do away with the Senate.

However, with the recent spate of violence in the South, even the president is distancing herself from discussions pertaining to the MOA signing. She has, in fact, already made known her intention not to sign the said agreement.


So, to sum it all up, the MOA for the creation of the BJE is as good as dead, peace talks between government forces and the MILF are on shaky ground, and Lord knows how many more civilians will be butchered by MILF bandits.

It's just going to be another regular war-torn day in Muslim Mindanao.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Lot of Kitty Love to Give

There was once a middle-aged woman (who doesn't look middle-aged, hehehe) who lived in a room in Cebu.

She had so many kitties, up to now she doesn't know what to do...

Halp! My room is teeming with cats!

It all started with three cuties whom I adopted exactly one year ago. Now, the two females gave birth to seven kittens, and all of them are healthy and adorable....

But I know I can't keep them.

I'm planning on transferring elsewhere, and I cannot simply lug around 10 cats with me.

The three originals, I intend to keep (and I also intend to end my tomcat's "happy days" by having him castrated). But the little ones...

Much as they have grown quite attached to me, I need to find new families for them. Soon.


Please...anyone...please be a loving "parent" and adopt one or two of my kittens for free!

By the way, I'm not giving my kittens to those who happen to be taking Biology or any other course that involves dissecting animals for Science and Research. You evil people...

Those interested can just reply to this blog so we can make arrangements to see the kittens in my room and select the ones they want to adopt from the litter. I can also teach them how to start on their lives with their precious new feline adoptee.

Give your heart to a sweet kitten or two now!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

For Debaters, Lovers, and Everyone else in between

Allow me to share with everyone this really cute piece written by Ric Reichert in

Debaters, lovers, and everyone else in between, this couple could be you.


Opposing Perceptions of the Same Argument...with Both Arriving at the Same Conclusion
By Ric Reichert

"Cheryl, have a look! I believe you'll agree that this equation is absolutely extraordinary."


"Extraordinary: Strange, unexpected, astonishing... and perhaps, even remarkable. Absolutely: Definitely and completely, unquestionably."

"Jeffrey, I've examined this hypothesis before. You're completely mistaken."

"Of course you think I am, Cheryl. You're contrary."


"Contrary: Opposing, obstinate, and difficult. That's you in a nutshell."

"Your name calling does not alter my professional and scientific opinion."

"Right. You automatically assume the contrary view to any of my observations and discoveries. I say, recondite DNA and you say, boring... old hat. Nothing new."

"And exactly what was that supposed to mean, Jeffrey? That sounded terribly personal."

"I'm sorry, my dear. For your illumination... and for those owning microscopic intelligence who haven't already figured it out for themselves... you're a colossal bitch."

"Then this is personal. Now you're acting childish."


"Childish: Marked by or indicating a lack of maturity, puerile."

"You're sidestepping the issue at hand, Cheryl. On the table is my mathematical equation. I've worked on it for nearly a year. It establishes the--"

"Very well, let me read it again. Now, exactly what is this coefficient?"

"X in the term of X times the sum of A and B, divided by A squared over E."

"E equals?"

"The predictable measure of motion."


"My formula is striking, don't you think? Condensed in such a simple equation, I've managed to make clear the relationship between the elements and the whole in a set of principles that guides and directs the whole, without altering the random actions of the sub-elements."




"I know exactly what is happening here, Cheryl. You're envious."

"Over poppycock?"

"Refrain from saying that, please."

"What? Poppycock?"


"Poppycock, poppycock, poppycock."

"You're impossible."

"Because I think you're using first grade arithmetic to explain your thesis?"

"No, because the last original thought you had involved two laboratory rats and a bell. That makes you envious."

"Ha! And you believe this equation is original?"


"Jeffrey, you can be just like your mother."


"Your mother is doggedly bullheaded, maddeningly insensitive to anyone's feelings other than her own, and she can be dismissive."

"That's nasty, Cheryl."

"We've been married ten years, Jeffrey, but her little boy still runs to his mamma for counsel and consoling, a glass of milk and cookies whenever your feelings are hurt. You should consider untangling yourself from your mother's apron strings."

"Now that's nasty multiplied by itself."

"Purely my analytical observation, that's all."

"Is that right?"


"One could postulate a valid argument that a man marries his mother."

"Now who's being nasty, Jeffrey?"

"You're right. I'm sorry."

"You called me a bitch earlier."

"I'm sorry about that, too."

"I'm not a bitch."


"I can be, at times."


"But I wasn't a bitch at this instance."


"I have an idea, Jeffrey. It's not very original, though."


They kiss.

"What prompted this course of action, Cheryl?"

"Quarreling stirs the emotions, raises one's blood pressure, flushing the skin, and increases heart palpitation, often resulting in an unexpected outcome."

"But today is not Saturday."

"The key word is unexpected."


"That was absolutely amazing, Cheryl. You've reaffirmed my initial attraction to our union."

"More astonishing than my conjecture about polar ice caps on Mars?"

"And warmer."


Now, isn't this cute?

If you want to see the original piece, then just click on this link.