Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pre-Birthday Sentiments

The month draws now to a close. September will come, tagging along my birth date. And so in lieu of a celebration, I choose to lay down a few thoughts here before that day comes. I am at present in the most active stream of youth period. Better make the most of it while the awareness is still there.

Looking Onwards

The things I’ve expressed on a semi-personal entry (Moving On, Moving Forward) still hold. We can only carry our past into the present and future. No forms of denial of the past can make our lives better. And so better move on and look onward to better things. Quite optimistic? Yes. It has to be.

Of Interests and Mismatches

Even at this age I am still surprised (and annoyed to a certain extent) when people convey directly, but most of the times indirectly, how I could have been this or that person, or how I could have had this or that career. Pity.

I was trained in the sciences with a love for literature especially poetry; existentialism; politics and international affairs; concepts and theories on conventional and unconventional warfare; music, among others; a deepening interest in Philippine history; and an almost addictive urge to travel to different places and dig in about their history and look for old houses. I wonder why even some from my own family circle does not appreciate when I was able to publish poems when they could easily relate to our acquaintances who made it to some popular TV contests. And I wonder why they cannot appreciate simple accomplishments on my part (research undertakings, etc.) when they can readily talk about the affairs of some of my friends.

This is not, in any way, a sentimental musing. Through such enumeration, I get to see that I have been indeed a person of mismatch history. It feels good to see their passive acceptance of what I have become. It only shows that I have created for myself so far a personality devoid of any un-filtered character influences. I recall just now what I wrote in my bio-note for a poetry anthology: “Pangarap nyang maging manunulat-siyentipiko.” That is a dream. And dreams are pursued on a personal level, not discussed among people.

Plans and Resolutions

Plans can be made now. Plans can be made later in the evening. Plans can made ten years from now. For now, I take each day as if it is my last, confronting challenges and answering problems that present themselves along the way. What I am trying to say here is plans (and definitely resolutions) are things not really meant to be broadcasted to accidental blog readers. They are crafted on a level deeper (and I hope more mature) than the personal level. Can I describe it as psychological level? I do not know.


Although some quarters say that celebration of day of birth is reserved only for the heathens, I would like to share a final thought on that vein. In every celebration, a birthday in this case, it is a personal hope that one would not get lost in the pomp and lavishness of the celebration. Instead make that date as a day of reflection, as a day of taking stock of one’s achievements and failures, and as a day to make renewed resolves for the remaining parts of one’s life. We have only one life (or to put it another way, we are only given one life); let us not waste it in nonsense endeavors. Learn a craft. Live for someone else. Anything. For as long as it gives meaning to your life, one cannot ask for more.

Did these sentiments make sense? I hope so.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the Possibilities and Impossibilities of Food Technology

A longish travel under the indifferent rains inevitably led us to talk about pristine topics such as childhood recollections. My share of story concerned my grade school years, when food from the school canteen were rationed to our room so that we have a choice of buying and not going out of the room during recess time.

The food delivered to us was composed mostly of different rice delicacies, mga kakanin, and the ubiquitous soup placed in green plastic cups. The soup cost 1 peso and I always made it a point to buy one. When I had to go out during the break time, I often went to the other school gate to buy cheese bread (for 1 peso) and palamig (again, for 1 peso). Needless to say, my daily allowance at school was 2 pesos since I walked to school everyday and I went back home for lunch.

Such recollections created the question of: Is room-to-room delivery still done today? I answered in the negative. What I thought was with the coming of new technology, of new techniques to manufacture what they (companies and advertisements) claim as “nutritious and safe” food, modern-day parents most of the time would choose to prepare pre-packaged (that is, factory-made) food for the children. I wonder if parents of modest earnings give their children bananaque or puto as baon. I think they are just relegated to the level of snacks, as pamatay-gutom. I jested that children probably prefer nuggets because they could form their names with them. That activity cannot be done with a banana-que or a camote-que.

The discouragement in the choice of home-made food sold (or prepared) for children springs from that thinking that pre-packaged food is cleaner. Hygiene has been observed in their preparation. The irony is highlighted with the fact that these cleaner foods are oftentimes loaded with preservatives (let us not deny this) enough to preserve our bodies when we die.

The choice between home-made food and pre-packaged food is an everyday food battle. This is true for children and adults alike.

But in the end, the choice is up to the individual. To fall or not to fall in the delusion of safety and nutrition, that is the question.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Philippines acquires “New” Warship

Shown in newspaper headlines today is the photo of the country’s newest warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar. Named after a Filipino general during the Philippine-American War, this warship is actually a de-commissioned US Coast Guard cutter. It is yet another sign of the government’s intent to defend its seas, obviously on the country’s western seas. More than this warship, the President is also looking into the acquisition of more ships, fighter jets, and armored carriers (“PH buying more ships, says P-Noy” by Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 24, 2011, Vol. 26, No. 257, front page, A6).Of course, such desire is not geared towards an all-out military action as we all know that we don’t have the full capability yet nor the resources to engage into wars, much less battles. The President’s plan only goes to show a focused intent to defend our sovereignty, particularly over our waters.

It is likely that critics are huddling together now, brewing up counter-statements to the government’s actions. But we must look forward into the future and see that if we play softly against those who make aggressive advances over our territories, we cannot hope to earn respect from other states. We can only back up and support the government with these initiatives.

The issue of such ships having originated from the United States will be hot soon enough. But that’s another story.

Inquirer article: “President Aquino: Ship symbol of our defense”
Photo credit: Mike Alquinto/ NPPA Images

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving On, Moving Forward

Being alone for almost a day has given me a chance to reflect more about myself and my life as well on a larger context. My mute audience composed mostly of my books, magazines, and numerous notes and drafts added to the conducive atmosphere. And such reflection dwelt on the concept of moving on, or moving forward.

With the past few years literally drenched in confusing events, sorry moments, and mud holes for secret keeping, there came certain moments when moving forward seemed no longer a promising step. One loses the initiative and the proverbial road in front disappears, only to be replaced by guilt, fear, and anger.

I have just reread a favorite book (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) and in it surfaced a line that splashed through me like cold water after a long slumber: that “…guilt is a poor foundation for a life...” And I venture to extend this and say that fear is a poor foundation for a life, that anger is a poor foundation for a life. Yes, there are heaps of things to be straightened out from a past that has not been given proper thought for the future.

But the present is always a clean slate on which one can act to prevent the ugly past from sipping into the future. I have always known these, known this in passing, and it always felt good to be reminded of these – acting properly in the present for the past and for the future. And just now, I see that it will never be in a linear form of thinking. Past, present, and future blend together. To deny one’s self of the initiative to move forward is not only to deny and disown the past, but is also to deny and disown the present and the future.

And it is for this reasoning that I continue to live each day. I do not know if I can found such thought in the quarters of my beloved existentialism for this is essentially optimistic in nature. But nevertheless it is purifying to breathe them in. Not a bad thing after all: a cleansing day, a cleansing of the mind.

To move forward each day, yes; without any question.

(You are free to consider this as random thoughts or perhaps a bit worse, dear reader.)

Public Transports, Drivers, Conductors, Barkers, and Attitude

I write this in the wake of a biter encounter of an intimate with a conductor with apparently brusque manner. Instead of attempting to dampen the heat of the argument, this conductor of a well-known bus line continued to act as if he owns this intimate of mine, as if he is the boss of the bus aisle, as if manners are no longer require for their job. It was for a valid reason that this intimate of mine blurted out: “Kuya, kaya konduktor nga lang e!” pertaining to his coarse attitude which most likely pushed him towards that job.

A clarification: this is not, in any way, aimed in disparaging such job, or a driver’s job or even generalizing them into one particular description. Our family’s breadwinner was once a bus conductor too. This blog entry is meant to point out that some of those who work in the transport sector often times forget that in every piece of work they do, manners (at least in the level understood by elementary school children) still matter.

I have already encountered bus conductors who only lack a whip to use for the passengers. Some of their harsh words are certainly not appropriate. They may not have finished formal schooling but that is not a reason for them not to treat the passengers well. To play with a common phrase, passengers are customers too, and customers are always right.

As with the drivers, my point concerns in particular jeepney drivers who belch out cigarette smoke as if they are chimneys to the great irritation of non-smoking passengers. I fully understand the feelings of craving for smoke, but to do the smoking inside a public vehicle despite an existing law against this practice is something really out of place. Their on board stereo with their ear-splitting twitters and chest-busting bass are, to be straightforward, rude too. Modulated sounds would to good for a ride.

Lastly, for a “job” that is obviously sewn in a fabric of charity, a little politeness would be enough. Barkers would do well to make their actions a reflection of their desire to earn money for their family and not as a reflection of their lack of education. Tax-paying people own the streets and highways (including the barkers to some extent) but that does not endow the right to rule the streets as if they are gods.

This is indeed an ugly picture in our environs. If the majority of the people shout of living moral lives, then we might as well fulfill this by performing the basics of such morality, devoid of religious strings – and that is treating people with respect. I may not have been out to different places with different cultures and political set-ups, but I think it is from this concept of respect that the sense of humanity blooms.

As a final note, there is still much more to be improved in our transportation sector and its varied transactions and mechanisms.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CATS’ The Lab Magazine 7th Edition Now in Distribution

* part of the cover design of the The Lab Magazine 7th edition

* previews from the first few pages;
note the author before me, she’s Ms. Ainne Frances dela Cruz,
a co-contributor in The Lab and in a number of publications in the Philippines

* snippet from my poem

After several weeks of anxious waiting, my copy of The Lab 7th Edition has finally arrived. My message of thanks is sent to the Cultural Arts and Theater Society (CATS) staff from Underwood International College, Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. It has been a pleasure to be part of your publication. And the staff’s handwritten letter, however short, radiates with sincerity. I am personally looking forward to contributing more in their future literary endeavors.

A Final Note on Ninoy

It would be eventually quite irritating were I to repeat myself every year about my confidence and pride in the works of Ninoy Aquino during the very dark times of Martial Law in the Philippines. A plethora of critics and cynics abound who go against the man on our 500-peso bill, but I care not. History is often made by small things* and whatever attempts the others do to belittle the efforts of Ninoy to confront the iron fist that was Martial Law, we cannot deny that he did his part and was quite well aware of the role he was manning during those times. Through small things, he aided in bringing forth a greater thing – the eventual crash of Martial Law.

Perhaps my earlier note on Ninoy (read the entry A Short Note on Ninoy’) which is now linked in the website would sum up what I think of the man. As a final note, I encourage each one, especially those who I call the post-EDSA I generation, to pick up those books relaying the events in the country from 1972 to 1986 and feel the moving spirit of Ninoy all throughout.

* from “A Letter of Mary”, by Laurie R. King, USA: Bantam, 1998,. p. 127

Friday, August 5, 2011

Creativity for a Living

.Humor poked in again one time during a travel on a bus. I was once called such ingenuity (if I can call it that) a form a racket (see my entry ‘RACKETS aboard’). But then as I think about it, one really does have to be creative in order to earn a living.

But on a more general context, isn’t such things symptomatic of a pervading lack of decent jobs for the Filipinos? When I say decent I mean to say a job that would adequately answer the needs of the person and his or her family, a job whose payment is enough to enable them to survive for month. And after all, once or twice, we have been irked by those vendors.

This is something to think about this coming weekend.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A SONA Late Review

* screenshot from the website:

It has been more than a week since the President delivered his second State of the Nation Address or SONA. And between that day and today, a multitude of activities has hindered me to sit properly in front of a computer and create words out of this eternally blinking cursor.

I initially intended to make a comparison of the contents of his SONA last year and his SONA this year. But owing to: 1) time constraints and 2) the most logical attack I could think of right now, I thought it better to dwell on his most recent SONA. Let us him give the consolation (for lack of a better term) for the first one. The second one deserves all the scrutiny.

A quick survey of his speech would reveal that reports of accomplishments certainly surpassed the number of pinpointing / blame statements. And the manner in which he delivered them – through the common Filipino or Tagalog flow of speaking – made it quick to absorb and easy to understand. I don’t know but the way he used concepts and metaphors reminded me of some of the speeches of Ferdinand Marcos which I have read or watched online. (Such form of re-emergence of the past has been noted by Sir Ambeth Ocampo in his article yesterday in Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled ‘Rape in 1896.’ He expressed a thought/query on the possibility that the ‘Matuwid na Daan’ concept is just like the ‘Bagong Lipunan’ before.) But the way Marcos articulated in English is certainly different from the simple approach in Filipino of President Noynoy. I will stop here so as not to make this entry a comparison between Aquino and Marcos.

The whole of the Address is fluid in character and much of the country’s various issues, sectors, and needs I would say were left un-discussed. To that extent, my activist acquaintances certainly have all the rights to describe it through different names. Some said it was no SONA at all. Some said it was all “wang wang”. But whatever noise we do, it was still the SONA of the President of the Philippines.

But personally, I think the next twelve months will be (or must be) the work grounds of the President on which to prove himself as a capable leader. I cannot say that there will be no detractors anymore. That is far from happening. But I bet a handful of hope for the next year. By that time, I think he ought to give a stronger message to the Filipino people who are impatient with development but at the same time do not do much to aid the administration. At least a few minutes before his third SONA, everyone and everything can be given a tinge of hope.

This Time, On Freedom

This quote, when I found it, gave more color to my rather liberal concept of existence. It is quite hard to elaborate on that concept but suffice it to say that the quote definitely situated the way I view and live life. It matters not whether the quote is American in origin or not. Freedom, as with other concepts, a universal thing.