Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mourning the Death of the Hostages

Two days after the Quirino Grandstand (or Luneta) Hostage Crisis, we are now in mourning. Several killed foreigners. One dead culprit.

This is a limbo period, where we are now hastening to put a cap to the investigations and where blame throwing is at its height. More is to be said about the deterioration among the ranks of our police force, the alleged overdoing of the media coverage, the worsening culture of being usisero and usisera, and of the now strained ties between the Philippines and Hong Kong.

But for now, let us go down to the personal level and allow the mourning. However foreign, they are deemed innocent ones, a few ones that have unfortunately been caught in the realm of the perturbation of the mind of the hostage taker.

Death is always close, yet we all must learn to dodge it, at least for the present, and move on with our respective existences.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On Ninoy and Death

I have not missed so far in remembering the Ninoy martyrdom every August, and in looking back, I have exhorted more or less the basic things that revolve around this day: the iron rule of Marcos, their tight fight, his assassination, and the offspring of his death. It seemed that there is no more to be known for what Ninoy has done.

But in this I was terribly wrong.

Let me relay first what led me to this novel dimension in looking at Ninoy’s martyrdom. I was recently at a small gathering in celebration of a birthday and despite feeling already the alcohol taking a hold of me, I was jerked into consciousness when that single incident happened. One of the attendees fired several rounds from his gun. And I was no more than five feet away from him. He was drunk, for that I could be certain. And he could have missed his target and fired one fatal shot to any of us there. It was the closest that I have been to death. To realize the reality of death is to enable one to prepare for it.

Ninoy was certainly beyond mere such realization. His entire being was prepared to come back, for it was here in the Philippines that the battle must be fought. He could have preached all he wanted in the United States about the ills of a martial law ruled Philippines but it would simply not have been enough. He should wage the battle on Philippine soil.

But then he was firmly aware that his enemies might possibly put a stop to him the moment he returned. And perhaps the thought of death have occupied his mind prior to his trip back. Yes, he wore a bullet-proof vest but he could have done away with it. He has come into grips with death and was, in fact, ready for it already. He could have predicted his own death.

[And personally, the concept of choice dominates this theme of the day. We may come to understand deeper the reality of death. But it still up to us to chart our course towards it: whether we shall choose to have a meaningful death or not. After all, this very existence is a pursuit for the meaning, the purpose of our lives.]

Ninoy shall live in the hearts of those post-EDSA I children who know about the nightmare of the past where they were conceived.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Surprise

My idling last night inside a 7-11 store gave me one big surprise when I found my poems printed on the last pages of a Philippines Graphic Magazine. It turned out that I am already a week late as it was an August 9 issue (Vol. 21 No. 10). The copy I asked was promptly sent out as a souvenir (read: show-off).

It never fails to give me that uplifting feeling whenever I see a work get printed. That is already a prize for me. Cheers!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Force of the Harry Potter Series

Ardent followers of the Harry Potter series have probably devoured already the seven books and the six film adaptations of the first six books. What remains to be seen now is the two-part movie for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’.

I eventually fell for this Harry Potter series. Nine years ago the first movie was released and was met with indignation on the part of some religious groups who deemed it a poison to the minds of the young people. Briefly lost in this wave of confusion as to how to deal with it, I later turned into it with an open mind. This is a product of a creative mind and personally, I only delved into it for the story’s richness and intensity, rather than those issues being wrapped around the Harry Potter series. I leave the religious moralists to their brooding. There are many things in the series that are being missed out by those who hold contempt for it.

For one, the bulk of the story is something I can call compact. I am no literary critic, but what has been described as ‘exposition’ technique, which has been used in some parts of the series was indeed instrumental in giving it a compact feel. As one progress in reading the books, pieces of details unexplained in a previous book are gradually given light in the next, or several clues are laid out as to what lies ahead. After reading the seven books, I was able to appreciate those widely distributed little details, details that made the series a fine read.

Although the series is set in JK Rowling’s home country some of the characters, scenes, and developments take universal forms. The imperfection of Harry, his woes and triumphs, are some of the things that a teenage reader can readily relate to. Even the side of romance is given gradual treatment in the book (as in the case of Harry, he eventually found his love in the person of Ginny who was earlier a semi-obscure character in the series).

The concept of family is also given notice although in many different forms: the lost family of Harry Potter, the comic family of the Dursleys, the seeming lonely past of Severus Snape’s family, the tumultuous family life of Albus Dumbledore, the wizard blood-line ‘purists’ like the Malfoys, the colorful and adventurous lives of the Weasley family, and the many turns and tales of the ancestry and eventual family of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Also in many instances, a keen reader would be able to get a glimpse, through the series, the form of education they have in their country, the ups and downs of the students, and the likely characters of their educators.

As a whole, the series is essentially a story of a boy wizard trying to learn about his lost family under the shadow of a dark wizard seeking dominance over the wizard and non-wizard world. There is this thrill in reading about the characters with different views towards power and their different motivations for wanting or not wanting it. I cannot say that it can be conveniently placed under the label of a ‘fairy tale thing’, where good is expected to triumph in the end. The characters possess weaknesses and strengths and we see towards the end of the story that the main antagonist’s ultimate downfall was caused by his failure to think about some small details but decidedly important ones. Voldemort essentially prepared his plans for his ascension in power in the course of the seven books only to prepare at the same time his demise.

Despite that, his character is an interesting study, together with two other characters that I have come to appreciate more than the other character in the series. I shall be sharing about them later.