the gapanese invasion is nigh!

"pinakamaganda ka nga sa buong kapuluan, pero latina na naman ang magwawagi ng korona at sash sa miss world! racism ba ito? lupasay!"

Saturday, December 30, 2006

under the canopy of stars


The venue is in ruins, much like the Parthenon or the Borobudur, but that seemed just apt to the purpose of the play. There were promenading lovers in parasol, their slow walking pace somewhat oblivious to the chorus playing in the background and their elaborate dresses—Maria Clara gowns for the ladies and barong tagalog for the gentlemen—reminiscent of the colonial Philippines. The decrepit walls of Intramuros, the walled bastion of Spanish Manila, served as the screen of the audio-visual presentation of “Land of Our Birth,” “People of the Philippines,” and “Intramuros: Sanctuary of the Filipino Spirit.” These three videos prepared the audience to “A Walk Back in Time,” wherein Philippine history, marred as it was by colonization, showed what even could not be rewritten might proclaim beauty and uniqueness.
Right at the beginning, the audience was not made to feel an outsider to the unfolding play. We were like guests, primed by our hosts of the Walled City that’s the gateway to Asia, the gem of the Pacific, the new Tyre and Sidon. When the Spanish fleet literally arrived, crushing the precolonial culture in its wake, we were swept off our feet and were excitedly brought inside the ruins. We were walking back in time. There, we caught a glimpse of the colonial Philippine life, aided by a young storyteller whose real identity would be revealed toward the play’s end.
When I come to think about it, the term “Filipino” did not become a reference to colonial natives until at a much later time. Philippine-born Spanish citizens were the first Filipinos, who were looked down upon by peninsulares, or Spanish denizens who saw the first light of day in the faraway mother country in the Iberian peninsula. From the way it looked, the Philippine-style caste system carried the sting of cultural contempt, because not only were natives initially denied of their rightful Filipino identity, but also were their own country’s lowest-ranked citizens next to the second-class Filipinos of the Spanish colonial era.
The play proceeded to unfurl history as it was during the time when miscegenation effected several changes in the Philippine setting, from the empowering of the mestizo class to the blurring of skin color. The intermarriage of the colonizers and the natives was a given, but the label mestizo more popularly belonged to the interracial union of the Sangleys and the Filipinos. Far from today’s regard toward them as the wealthiest Filipino citizens, the Sangleys—the Chinese of old—were repudiated and were rendered literal outcasts when their lot was forcibly concentrated in Parian, in what would be renowned as Chinatown. While the rise to power of the Chinese was marked by their determination and hardship, they showed so by being cheerful—they even clowned on street while peddling their wares. From the lowly panaderos, trinket sellers and clothes hawkers, the Chinese catapulted above the Philippine society to become mall owners, cigarette and beer magnates and realty stockholders. Being a Chinese descendant myself, I felt so proud that tears stood in my eyes.
The abovementioned intermarriage caused an amalgam of cultures, so much so that it became hard to imagine present-day Filipinos as pure and unadulterated. While the colonization of the archipelago was hardly an event to thank for, the nation it brought about in the process makes me swell in pride because we are a friendly, festive, and valiant people. We boast of intellectual children, who wisely used their expatriate education to help champion the cause of liberation. We are also proud of our popular rebolusyonaryos, without whose courageous work the Philippines would have not attained Spanish colonial independence. We take pride in ourselves, because this is the only country we have and it has us Filipinos for its sole children.
The play provides one of the ways to answer the lingering question of who is the Filipino: The Filipino is a race whose richly-layered culture is of a rare Oriental and Western blend characterized by Spanish exuberance, Chinese industry and native congeniality (not to mention American, Japanese, Malay and Indian influences).
At the play’s end, the young narrator revealed that he was not other than the fatherland. He said this using the Intramuros ruins as backdrop, under the canopy of stars. The setting seemed to tell that it was written in stellar constellations for the Philippine Islands’ history to be disrupted violently by colonization, but no matter what impossibility of rewriting is posted by the demonizing colonial experience, its influences lay important foundations of our lush Filipino heritage.

Friday, December 22, 2006

the gay-bedeviled evil cop (a nightmare before christmas)


having had less than forty winks the night before, i warned blueseraph that i'd just sleep inside megamall’s cinema 2, letting him watch the sequel of “shaolin vs. evil dead.” we caught the unweaving plot in medias res, so when i rose back to life, i told blueseraph that we should start the chinese action movie all over again. knowing that it's not mean feat to earn enough pesos to pay for a movie pass, i decided to plod on through the film, especially when the appearance of swords and dreams seemed to me a borgesque device (i love the argentinian writer's idea of absurdity).
fate would have it that blueseraph and i won't be able to sit through the rest of the screening for the man in the lower row, claiming he and his wife were disturbed by our constant leg shifts, hissed that “…’wag n’yong ugain ang silya, nababangga ng mga paa n’yo. naiistorbo kami ng misis ko. kung ayaw n’yo magkagulo rito…kahit malaki kayong dalawa sa akin, kaya ko kayo. gusto n’yo patayin ko kayo ngayon? isang baril ko lang kayong dalawa,” and, turning to me, rather dreadfully, “lalo ka na. matuto kayong gumalang sa pulis kung gusto n’yo pang mabuhay!”
threatened that the seeming intoxicated guy (his belch—besides his body odor—stank) would produce whatever weapon he has being out of wits, i was quick to make amends even as it dawned on me never to do so if he were less unreasonable. the wife, meanwhile, planted her humongous rear on her comfortable seat five chairs away, oblivious to the scene being created by her husband. it might be that the foul-smelling husband would gun our brains out, the crowd would disperse panicking, and she would be content sitting pretty, glued at watching her vampire relatives onscreen.
being too stunned to leave the balcony at once, we transferred several rows away. i lost my interest in the movie, so i begged to blueseraph for us to sneak out of the cinema. if the situation were less tense, i would have laughed when i saw the fat “policeman” haul an usherette upstairs, presumably milking sympathy that he and his partner were being bedeviled by two men holding hands in the dark. i slipped out quietly and waited for my companion to do the same.
we gathered later on that the complaining “cop” boasted to the usherette that he’s a colonel. that was too much power-tripping, so when blueseraph decided to seek administrative mediation, i acquiesced, provided that we won’t give out our names for security reasons. after being passed on interminably from office to office, a mall officer heard us out. and his reaction? “ako na po ang humihingi ng paumanhin sa inyo kung anuman ang nangyari.” yeah right, thanks a lot that this mall occasionally gets targeted by bombers, which explains why only when there are casualties that the administration is roused to action. the officer went on to assure us that the fat movie patron’s claim that he’s a colonel could be a figment of a distant wish, for no high-ranking defense official would risk his confidential status if only to act like a king. if the claim would be taken seriously, the guy could be at least a policeman whose identification card and license have merited him to bring his gun in tow in case of public emergency. i argued that given the lack of depositing stations inside the malls, some members who had the gall to taint the already deteriorating reputation of the police authority would wield their gun as their ultimate symbol of power (not to mention macho-associated phallus). as for public emergency, the fat patron was a fine example of a “cop” who would salvage (pun intended) the public at any cost.
it’s already repulsive that this world custom-built for heterosauruses should designate people like us to the dim peripheries. gays-catering cinema raids and late-night arrests using vagrancy as pretext have often assaulted the darkness we inhabit. the cinema incident blueseraph and i figured in is a relatively new story of how much hate is sowed against the tremendously discriminated gays that we are.
the irony notwithstanding, merry christmas to all of us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

handuraw


for dear friend albert.
***
Handuraw Dance Theater—not a few times did I hear about this famous act. It was beyond my wildest imagination that one day, I’d be a part of this group. I became its member full of glee and without an inch of regret because it’s in here that I experienced the meaningful thing that life is.
Early on in my first day, hardships became my baptism of fire. I had initial misgivings about staying long, but my willingness to learn had me endure no matter what. Difficulties have come aplenty until now, when I turned into a full-pledged member. It’s no laughing matter when I come to think of the strength, endurance and willpower I invested in order to belong.
Sincerity, integrity, determination, public dedication and industry—all these are ingredients to prepare myself to become an authentic dancer. In this group, I attest that there’s more to dancing for dancing’s sake: dancers must know how to bring wonder to their audience. Rehearsals alone can extract so much sweat, blood, and tears from our battered bodies; it may cost our lives but it doesn’t matter so long as our dancing makes our spectators happy. If only for the rounds of applause and praises, our dancing experience is worth it.
I also discovered that better than the skillfulness in dancing, right attitude and outlook fare. I will stand for this group; it is here where my true and admirable personality became polished. I and my fellow dancers offer our special craft to our audience, to the people we gladden, and to the ones who show us endless and unconditional love and concern. I must thank this group for opening my eyes to the genuine nature of life that’s to communicate happiness to others.
Because of the joys and sufferings we have experienced, I and my fellow dancers learned to face the world. More importantly, I brim with pride for my beloved and one-of-a-kind Handuraw Dance Theater.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the viscera sucker (for jm, who made my halloween happy...almost)























strangers both to this place
and to each other,
we come as ourselves,
against the thematic gore and gothic.
tonight, we can be complete fools
and be witches or nightmares or ghouls
but just to be safe,
i'm a virgin while you're a whore.
given these many removals,
i ask you anything that pulls us
on common ground,
and as i recognize your hometown,
the hellish air dampens your eyebrows.
i'm aware i'm not allowed to bite
the sacrifice that you are
for you belong to some other vampire.
but i myself belong to your hometown,
and it's amazing how your alien appearance
should invoke the familiar sights and sounds,
the country matters that count.
till then, you play a fool
and say, "i've been citified so long;
our gradeschool's a distant memory."
i imagine the whore in you grow batwings,
fangs and hair teased in all directions.
you're a stranger a while ago
and as you dart away now, half-bodied,
you're an alien all the more.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

transmogrifying palanggang sam in reverse


no, i'm not one of those too deluded to claim sam milby as more than just their sex object (but i got to admit he's such a yummy babe--right, piolo?). the reference is of course, my immediate past palangga, sam fuentebella, and in the case of our reunion, not my former beau any more, but my beau, period. hmm, everything comes full circle: we broke up most inappropriately during the affairs of the heart, last valentine's that is, and as the day of the dead approaches, we're reviving a homosexual love that's supposed to be long resting in peace somewhere in the dark recesses of the netherworld. last i visited him in his workplace, i asked the one life-altering question that either secures the crown in place or kicks me out of the latina-dominated final race: "so, tayo na ba uli?" to which he readily replied, "oo naman; bakit, may iba ka na ba?" complete with the lilting hiligaynon accent. i was so jubilant i almost purchased all the metal kitchenware he was selling to be thrown as confetti in the mall's glorietta. then again, i realized we're beginning all afresh. for a socio-politico-moral future so bleak between lovers of our sort, what's in store for me and my beautiful sam? we're both financially unstable, so how do we migrate to canada or anywhere same-sex domestic partnership is legally sanctioned? does being with sam mean having to revel and languish alternately over the numerous gays openly making passes at his gorgeousness? how about my extra-curricular activities--with sam as the right one, how may i resist outright the damn-hot wrong ones who can replay pavlovian experiments merely by flexing their biceps or by making their twinky eyes smile? and does seeing sam mean having to see and pine and lust over his priestly, hotter brother troy? methinks love of the homosexual kind's bound for a sisyphian-like suffering that i or any other paminta guy for that matter must endure. all together now: through the fire, to the limit, to the wall...

Monday, October 16, 2006

googling geek...ever after


I am online now. With me is my i-pod, playing Bonnie Bailey’s “Ever After” which, after having downloaded from Limewire more than a year ago, still enchants me. Fancy thinking how I need not fork in a part of my allowance to purchase an exorbitantly-priced house music compact disc containing this song as well as other chillout melodies. All I have to do is surf the net for the right sites, search by typing the title of the songs I’m obsessed with at the moment, and voila! The artist with his recurrent bass drum and crystal water effect croons before my auditory sense. I text my friends and drive them envious by boasting that I beat them into possessing the current craze first, and then urge them to check the website so they themselves may reproduce the song in their own i-pods. For those who do not have Apple pods yet, I promise to burn cd’s for them containing the music they can dance to. Talk about distributing goods. Across the global time zones, technology-savvy people likely duplicate what I’m doing for the mean time, conscious that the Internet being a cheaper source of digital information commodity, the better it is for their constrained budget. Why, the present technology merits the probability that exact copies of those contained in commercial digital products may be accessed even by the not-so-experts. I hear Bonnie Bailey whisper “You are my…twisted sunshine!” over my earphone and I recognize that this same girl is the one who rendered the original lyrics I hear in the malls, in the beaches, everywhere. I bet my dwindling peso that even the Net-accessing humans in far-flung Africa and the isolated Pacific can shake their booty to the tune of “Ever After” in their burned cd’s, as do the lower middle-class patrons of Cubao and Quiapo pirated cd’s. The pirates may have stolen the thunder of a royalty from the song copyright owners but hey, reproducing Bonnie Bailey has democratized the world at-large.
A Yahoo messenger interrupts my Youtube viewing of the hilarious Michael V. video “Hindi Ako Bakla.” My States-based classmate says hi, asking how things are going in the Philippine Islands. I’m pretty sure CNN has already informed her and the rest of the world that a miracle happened when the latest storm wandered away from the Manila just when it followed the heel of the other typhoon that battered Bicol Region. I tell her about the fugitive weather disturbance anyway, happy that everyone’s fine and would she love to send a video of her come Christmas so that the other high schoolmates may be updated on her way of spending the yuletide as an expatriate student. A little while and she is sending a bulky file of what proved to be a video. It makes me want to laugh and cry simultaneously to witness a slideshow of our old-time pictures back in high school, a product of her longing to be hanging around her reliable friends half the world away, more than of the dependability of the technology. Before chatting goodbye to one another, I request for her to inquire on the distance learning module on a certain graduate degree not for myself but for my sister who has just earned her degree from the homegrown State University. Owing to her demanding work in a giant media network, my sister laments that she can’t physically pursue graduate course offshore, so she opts to grab the next best thing: to join the growing clamor for online studies whatever Western institution offers such.
I don’t at once resume my video Googling after chatting with my trans-Pacific friend, for a buzz and a series of kissing emoticons bombard my computer screen. I am brought to chuckling when I discover that it is my male friend whom I just had class with hours ago. Not as if the kisses mean any more than a friendly gesture, but it cross my mind that the icons showing emotions make the person at the other end online seem next to me, smooching me with puckered wet lips. All the better if kisses were done online, for I don’t wanna be smothered by the saliva of the countless people sending me online kisses. The cyberspace is heaven-sent for its neither-here-nor-there space reality. The in-between-ness clips distances and, at the same time, prevents maniacal chatters from showering me with authentic goo, never mind the million times the circular yellow icon swells in the lips to deliver virtual smacks.
At the last minute, an e-mail from my teacher informs me and the rest of my Yahoogroup classmates that the deadline for our paper due the next day was moved, owing to vigorous complaints from most of the class. Thanks heavens as well as Yahoo site! Without having to bother myself rushing for the said paper, I am saved from going sleepless the night through just so I will be able to beat the arranged time. See, unlike when I have to go to school bodily, I do not have to get really dressed up to know about this class development. I imagine my teacher and the rest of the online classmates to be just like what I am in: pajamas and oversized night shirt. Funny how institutional problems get solved with people concerned not in their expected power suits, but in their lousiest clothes instead. When online, I do not have to look really immaculate with neatly combed hair and made up face under the pains of not being paid attention to by my class crushes; the grace under pressure is lax when I’m chatting while in the comfort of my home.
“__________ has tagged you!” screamed the next e-mail. That virus-infested message again, I thought. My friends desperately protested that such a mail hacked into their account, so I am rather cautious not to check on it lest I spread hate instead of love. Apparently, virus developers do not stop at trying to down virtual systems the world over, but I remember that a Filipino college dropout beat them to it. Years ago, the spread of the I Love You virus hacked into the US Pentagon, no less, among other global institutions from Japan to Scandinavia. Such mischief can only be lauded by the diabolically mad, or at least an idiot of a president. Instead of criminalizing the said malicious hacker, that would-be deposed president even tapped him as a genius worth taking care of. No law hauled the “genius” into the prison cell, and I vaguely heard he is now under computer training abroad since his expertise cannot be used hereabouts. To the people behind the guy’s training, never mind if the virus developer caused the sufferance of the soft files of parliamentary governments, banks and personal e-mail accounts. When I return to reality, I zap away the virus e-mail into the oblivion of cyberspace and proceed in Googling other hilarious videos over at Youtube.
So this is the Friendster-like testimonial of my young life as a technology-dependent geek. I’m absolutely certain that not a few geeks like me will find parallels to my experiences (even our lives are, like, duplicated if not fileshared, tsk tsk). After all, it is we who compose the information society, a society wherein people from all walks of life across the enormous world get together in one tiny global village, exchanging and accessing information all in the name of knowledge. Not many of us mind any more of the moral-ethical repercussions of having to copy the copy of the copy of the copy, ad infinitum, of the original, which is more likely to be patented for intellectual property. We are the information society delivering hi’s and hello’s and how are you’s over the cyberspace, defying time zones because we are located in different hemispheres and practically debilitating the snail mail and other slower forms of communication. Only, we have this virtual communication as a favorite substitute for genuine same-time-and-place bonding. This information technology generates not only benefits for but also menaces on the society relying on it, complicating life but whose owner is willing to negotiate if only because the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages. Who or what is to blame? The modernity? The Internet? The addicted users? My fast-paced time does not allow me to answer the question above, for I’m preoccupying myself watching my all-time favorite “Toxic” video by Britney Spears and her court of hot and spicy guys. Her big splashing return to the pop scene is a more pressing issue than the scapegoat thing for many geeks out there. Why not, she has filed divorce from that Fed(erline)-Ex guy and is now seen cavorting Hollywood with new “bestest” friend, pop rival Paris Hilton. The latest news, as I expect, is churned out from Yahoo.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

ephemeral, or why moving on takes an entire period of species evolution


It was inevitable: he and I were bound to appear on the same birthday party. The celebrant was a common friend of ours, and at that particular moment when I set my eyes on his direction, lit by the reception house’ shimmering lanterns, I wished the ground opened up and swallowed me. Marvelous: my former boyfriend, with a forgettable girl in tow. As if the spectacle wasn’t enough, they had the gall to place themselves in a strategic spot where I could see them sucking on each other’s lips in full French glory. My divine shame collecting into a facial redness, I had felt a sudden affinity with the sacrificial virgins at the Mayan pedestals, their throbbing heart and mine being bloodily ripped out of the ribcage for the crowd to see.
It was he, all right, but it was not he all the same. It was rather difficult to reconcile the immaculate guy that my ex-flame was to the considerably wasted savage that he is lately: somewhat unkempt, rarely shaven, given to disdainful remarks peppered with unprintables. This was the guy whom I traded I love yous for years until recently—the well-heeled, well-scrubbed guy from the Chinese school for boys near the Chinese school for girls I attended until both of us moved on to college. Now that we were of the same academic institution, we ironically grew apart, farther perhaps than the distance of disenfranchised Pluto from the rest of the solar system. Actually, he was Pluto: he could no longer take his planetary place in the universe of my being, not for anything else but his choice.
I really do not gather the reason for his cold-as-a-corpse treatment. What I remember, as always, was the fullness of life I felt when I still belonged in his arms. Sulking in my otherwise dainty room, I would excavate a boxful of mementoes he left at the course of our emotional understanding. This was the hotdog pillow he used to hug as a toddler, and he gave it to me because he claimed that the mandarin-colored sleeping cushion was my precursor. Since I were around, he added, of what use to him is the item when he could already hug the real thing? Meanwhile, this was the journal on which he reflected on our moments together, affording the dream that the only girl he mentioned in the dominantly pink sheets of stationery would be his wife and the mother of his children. I used to humor him for the choice of color, insinuating that maybe, just maybe, he would be the wife and mother instead of me. That was before: the very pallid shade of red turned paler all the more after being literally watermarked—the adorable writings he said to have flown straight out his heart were washed by my nightly tears. This one here was an album of our photographs together, with enough sweetness to cause tooth decay in an hour of browsing the pictures. This was the bulk of love letters when he was still courting me. In the epistles, he was short of offering me celestial bodies and asteroids and stardust and comets just so I would answer his romantic plea, but my former beloved was already adorable as he was—well, until lately. In the papers populated by his curly pen strokes, he declared his undying passion…and now… The rest of the door-to-door-type box, I see, was a motley of stuffed animals, sprays of flowers, perfumed shirts he would take off his shivering body, all given on various occasions that we were able to meet outside our hectic curricular schedules. When the knickknacks and the rendezvous began to rival the frequency of annual solar eclipses, wonder wove a web of woes in my heart. The text messages and the calls that used to render my mobile phone operations hanging eventually dwindled, like a rioting of sunlight giving way to the deathliness of the dark, sparing just a few sparkle of starlight.
I could only surmise that the mostly incongruent schedules we maintain broke the proverbial straw on the camel’s back. He would call one afternoon, vibrating in anticipation regarding having to rush from his home in Makati to mine in Quezon City just so we might eat out on a late luncheon, only to be told over the phone that I went to this place or that, my apologies let me make it up to you next weekend sorry I have an emergency meeting Mom has set me up an appointment with the dentist ad infinitum. I would place a return call, but his interest had gone down the drain, he would complain. On my many attempts for us to sit down and talk things over, all I would hear over the speaker was a raspy voice that seemed exhausted from the journey to the ends of the galaxy. The tired voice always transmitted the bad news: it’s over.
Yes, to him, it was over. No fanfare, no bravura performance of him while a tear-jerky Maalaala Mo Kaya background music floated in the air. Just that: frozen, unfeeling, non-negotiable. What about the completeness he brought into my life, let alone the years spent investing love for one another? His retort was as enigmatic as a black hole: he has moved on while I was still stuck in my illusion. For writing this piece about him, I proved him correct about my not having trudged along yet. The first instances his it’s overs rattled my eardrum, I would embarrassingly admit to having created scenes before my Mom. I keened and wailed like a banshee, milking for sympathy from my mother whose sleeping hours I molested for weeks on end. I still thought it was unfair, this: not being able to meet halfway with my fugitive lover to settle things once and for all. Technically speaking, he decided that we have broken up without me knowing it.
The girl at the party was not even the third wheel. My ex-boyfriend’s well-meaning friends would comfort me that the so-so date would pester him for a second meeting, to no avail. Even as she would travel all of Edsa on bended knees, she would not have my ex-boyfriend make a crazy idea ever anew, they would laugh. But all his shows were not a laughing matter to me at all; he was trying to hurt me for all the pains I indirectly caused him for not allowing enough time for the two of us. To be honest, he succeeded in his mission, for often, my dead-tired body would be at the mercy of his tormenting thoughts. Yes, Celine Dion, there were nights when the wind was so cold, and I was longing for the warmth of my former beloved’s embrace.
When the passionate outbursts tempered, I already resigned to the fact that his supposed eternal love was but a piece of rhetoric. Nevertheless, that particular acceptance barely assisted me in my emotional recuperation (or the lack thereof, dare I confess). I have not moved on yet, but it was pointless to beg for another chance at love from someone not unlike a graven idol without real divine capacity to make things happen. Somebody went to the absurd extent of advising me to write my relational petition to Wish Ko Lang, but even in my most desperate mode, I would try to keep my emotional anguish away from becoming a scandalously public knowledge of national proportions.
I felt sorry that my personal compromises had met an abortive fate: I would now have a slim chance of having my first boyfriend for a husband, of building a happy life with him as father of my own family, of not having any other love except him (not allowing myself to fall in love again would be the height of my sadomasochistic streak—I was really hoping my first love would also be my last, my one and only, so to speak). At times, when I think about it, I would like to poke myself in the head for having sworn my personal commitment, because words are such a binding force, at most, for me. At the opposite bank of the river, his declaration of deathless passion seemed to pale in comparison to, say, a promise of a lifetime housekeeping service or one of a leisurely swim across shark-infested waters. Such were the worthlessness of his words that near-impossibilities were being contrasted against his bombastic oath.
Following a friend’s advice that reading is a wonderful love therapy, I found myself inside a bookstore the weird way an atheist would find himself returning to the Church’s fold. I got to browse that friend’s favorite novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who made his character of a Catalonian bookseller articulate a line worth immortalizing in my former beau’s tattoo-meriting forehead: “Even the wildest, most tenacious love is an ephemeral truth in the end.” Bingo! That fitted his love description: he deluded himself into thinking he couldn’t live without me enough for him to swear everlasting love, yet currently, it’s as if I were the most detestable criminal in the whole world. I have repeatedly swallowed my pride in order to have back everything we were before, but all I get from him was a mindless answer so lousy it made telecom staples like “The number you have dialed is not yet in service” seemed more excitable.
At the end of the bend, I indeed have yet to leave my cave of oblivion to see the colorful world out there, and so has my former boyfriend, contrary to what he claimed. The mere fact that he would go his way to condescend me by picking up a cheap date to whom I would be miserably compared means he wants to avenge for the suffering I rendered him. Likewise, the devolution he has undergone is not a telling evidence of having recovered from the heartache. Finally, the robotic manner he deals with me at present manifests the emotional grudge he still carries against our frustrated relationship. As for me, moving on takes long because all things being equal, always and forever, I still love him. My masochist mantra: love, although it hurts. I don’t agree that stupid are those who love even the beloved’s folly, for who is perfect in the midst of this humanity? I have seen beyond his imperfection—he cannot be a Hugh Jackman or a Jude Law with impeccable personal characteristics. If continuing loving him entails the extreme sacrifice of self-preservation, so be it. I need someone to love apart from myself. Brand me a moron, but I will wait for the realized hope (or delusion) of being loved again by him even at the expense of my chance at other loves. In our present world of a very few miracles, loving even the unloving or those devoid of capacity to love is one miracle not entirely removed from the manner God loves the sinners among us.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

class, greek style


When at last, the Greek artists perfected the high-rank style deemed exemplary in such masterpieces as the Parthenon, the Classical Age of Greece (490-323 BC) was born. This was right after the Homeric Age, when the epics Iliad and Odyssey became the avenue for the description of athletic excellence, the means for the hero to show his virtue and attain social admiration not only for his physical strength but also for his courage, brilliance and, ultimately, virtue. Homeric values continued to influence the Greeks during the Classical Age, when the cultural excesses were moderated by classical virtues as justice, integrity, courage, temperance, decency, beauty, and balance.
One such fine example of classical bravery was demonstrated by Socrates during his defense at his trial, chronicled in The Apology (“defense”). In the Apology, Socrates alludes to the daimon (demon) inside him, that which serves as his spiritual guide, a divine and prophetic sign, a “voice.” The daimon started in Socrates’ childhood and endured his whole life through. Socrates claimed that the voice always forbade but never commanded him to do anything he was to do.
Socrates was tried for not ministering before the gods of the state and for corrupting the youth like the popular aristocrat Alcibiades who betrayed by helping the Spartans. While he could have chosen to exile himself after having been charged with such potentially capital crimes, Socrates decided to submit himself on trial. Believing Socrates would propose to be exiled so he would be rid of since none wanted him to die anyway, the prosecutor puts forth the death penalty. Manifesting great courage that epitomizes the classical climate, Socrates drinks the hemlock poison and dies and for such execution, Athens turned infamous.
On the other hand, Plato’s account of a bacchanalian feast where each guest is enjoined to make a speech on the nature of love and where the drunken gatecrasher Alcibiades joins Socrates and playwright Aristophanes is the Symposium. The classical Athenian perspectives of friendship, sex and sexuality and the social role of the all-male drinking party were tackled during the symposium.
"Justice and Power: The Language of Early Greek Tyranny," centers on dike or rightful share and its meaning with rulers from Homer. Lacking real concern for dike, Homeric kings were preoccupied with honor and vengeance; leaders contemporary with Homer and Hesiod, meanwhile, were accountable for the society’s well-being, specifically the safeguarding of justice. When these were considered to have twisted justice, a path was paved for tyranny. The oracles involving Kypselos of Corinth show that his tyranny's original purpose was to rectify the injustice of the city's leaders, a purpose shared by other tyrants. These claims founded a right to govern, but the tyrant's administration of justice could seem random itself, unjust and requiring its own correction, in the long run. The classical ideals were present, but the tyrannical excesses were way too intoxicating.
Meanwhile, the participation of women in Athenian ritual is examined by Mary Lefkowitz in "Women in the Panathenaic and Other Festivals." The roles of the arrhephoroi, the kanephoroi, and the ergastinai are investigated (their duties, training, and place in the religious life of Athens). The employment of women or young girls for these significant ceremonies hails back to the foundation myths of Athens wherein the daughters of Kekrops and Athena look after the would-be king, Erichthonios. The Eleusinian rituals were considered in light of the arrhephoroi, young girls (sisters) who care for a cast-out being. It is apparent that the classical values of compassion and selflessness may be discovered in this female participation.
While the classical virtues were being upheld as recorded in the four texts in question, the period was a violent one, extensive intellectual flowering notwithstanding (the three great philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all lived during the Classical Age). The initial year of the Classical Age saw the ferocious fighting Persians attacking Athens. The young democratic system, criticized no less by Plato himself, almost went fazed and very nearly returned to oligarchy in case decisions were slow to appear in the former, but novel martial tactics at the Battle at Marathon drove the Persians running and screaming the opposite direction, giving victory to the Athenians. 10 years later, Persia went war-freak again and fought against most of the banded Greek cities. The Battle at Thermopylae was lost, but the Battles at Salamis and Plataea brought defeat to the Persians. The united Greek cities save for Sparta contributed to create a formidable navy courtesy of Athens if ever the Persians attacked again, but the Persians did not return and so the cities backed out from sending money one after another, until excesses by Athens—using its military power to crush fellow cities which declined contribution and laundering money to build its own city—angered the other cities and triggered the Peloponnesian War.
When the hinterland north of Greece finally emerged as a powerful kingdom, Greece was conquered by Macedonian father and son leaders Philip and Alexander, and the Classical Age drew to a close. However, the classical trends were revived as the Macedonian conquerors disseminated Greek civilization across its empire running from Pakistan to Egypt. The style of Greek perfection endured history since, and when we mention the term classical today, the glory that was Greece comes to mind.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

silang mga anak ng mutya ng pasig


Fran Ng, Girl Valencia , Nikki Go-Alfar, Christine Bellen, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Jena Pamintuan, Becky Bravo, Mirava Yuson, Mookie Katigbak , Frances Alcazar, Rica Bolipata-Santos, Conchitina Cruz. Mabibilang pa sa mga daliri ang mga babaeng anak na iyan ng Kasalukuyang Panitikang Pilipino. Bago nasilayan ng aking paningin ang iskrapbuk ng nasabing mga babaeng manunulat, narinig ko na ang ilan sa kanila dahil nagtuturo ang mga ito sa mga kilalang pamantasan, samantalang nabasa ko naman ang mga likhang-sining ng iba pa. Sa pagkakataon ngang mabasa ko ang iskrapbuk, namangha ako hindi dahil ilang taon lamang ang tanda nila sa akin kundi dahil mas marami pa palang manunulat sa kanilang kategorya kaysa sa inaakala ko.
Hindi naman kataka-taka kung maging bata mang gaya ng mga nabanggit ay makapagsulat nang mahusay sapagkat wala sa gulang ang pagiging henyo. Ang nakagulat sa akin, bukod pala sa mga pangalang may dating na sa akin gaya ni Cruz na kahanga-hanga ang mga prosang tula o ni Bellen na guro dito sa Ateneo o ni Ng na kumakatawan sa boses naming mga Tsinoy, may iba pang ngayon ko lang makakatagpo. Napaglimi kong kahit sa disiplina ng panitikan, maaaring mang-impluwensiya pa rin ang ideyolohiyang patriyarkal. Akala ko, sa nagdaang henerasyon pa nina Kerima Polotan at Edith Tiempo—kapwa mayoryang manunulat sa lokal na panitikan—nauso ang pagtuturing sa mahuhusay na mga babaeng manunulat bilang minorya lamang. Pati pala sa panitikan ng kontemporaryong panahon, tahimik pa ring nananalanta ang perhuwisyong pangkasariang ito. Pakiramdam ko, pinapalitaw na lalaki lamang ang makalilikha ng pinakamagagaling na sulat, ngunit bilang babae, naghihimagsik ako sa maling kaisipang ito.
Sa pagkabasa ko ng iskrapbuk, napagtanto kong maraming babae sa kapanahunan ko ang kakikitaan ng galing ngunit hindi marami ang nakapapansin nito. Bilang tugon sa kawalang-balanseng ito, naisip kong dapat kong simulan ang pagbabasa sa kanila at ang paghikayat sa iba pa na gawin ang pareho. Sa gayon, maibibigay sa mga babaeng manunulat ng kasalukuyang panahon ang pagkilalang nararapat sa kanilang henyo.

Monday, October 09, 2006

invading the philippine idol

after my stint in malolos, i went to megamall to lend my cameraphone to partyphile, who badgered me into having his picture taken with the hypnotic ryan agoncillo through my phone's built-in camera. of course, the mere mention of ryan agoncillo would shatter all my apprehensions, so it was i who was rather excited in lending the equipment. tagging donita horse, a girl-friend my father mistook for my girlfriend (imagine the rain of leeches), along, i rushed to megamall before the philippine idol, the show where partyphile would chance upon ryan, opened up to the viewing public. the adrenaline pushing its way up my nose made me decide in the end to go watch the show myself, and donita being my voluntary date, cannot voice out her protest.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

aklas sa mga kapitalista: pag-alsa sa dulang “nasaan si kaliwete”ni clifford odets


Kapansin-pansin sa dulang isinalin ni Gerry de Asis na sa umpisa, ang kabilanang pinuno ng unyon na si Taba ang domodomina sa talakayan sa loob ng komite ng mgas unyonista, at ibig niyang kumbinsihin ang unyon na hindi malakas na instrumento ang welga para kalampagin ang panginoong kapitalista nila. Mababasa rito na sa papahirap nang papahirap na kondisyon sa paggawa ng mga empleyado, ibig palitawin nahindi pa pala makapangyarihan ang unyon at welga para maisulong ang mgakarapatan sa paggawa. Kesyo dehado na ang mapabilang sa kapisanan, matatanggal pa sa trabaho kung isang welgista, matagumpay man o hindi ang strike. Hindi yata at si Taba ang nakapanghimasok na anti-manggagawa sa unyon sa halip na ang mapag-alsang tinig sa komite na pinaparatangan niyang komunista. Kung hindi siya masasabing bayarang lihim ng kanilang amo, disin sana ay pangunahin ang malasakit niya sa kapwa empleyado at hindi basta aasa kung sino mang Pontio Pilato sa Malacanang sa paglikha ng aksyon sa kawalang-katarungan sa kanilang empleyo. Samantala, subersibo na ang sitwasyon sa wakas ng dula dahil boses na ng unyon ang nangibabaw sa halip na si Taba bunsod ng pagkahubad ng maskara ng totoong kaliwete o mapanlinlang na lider ng unyon at ang pagkakapatay ng pinunong si Kaliwete na mahihinuhang pinatahimik dahil sa pagpapangulo sa pag-aaklas ng mga unyonista. Sa pagbaliktad ng sitwasyon, tinig na ng unyon ang maririnig kaya nakapangyari na ito laban sa mga huwad na lider-mangagawa gaya ni Taba. Sa dulo ng dula masasagot ang titulong “Nasaan si Kaliwete?”- ang kaliweteng nagkukunwaring pinuno ay walang iba kundi si Taba samantalang natagpuan si Kaliweteng binaril ang ulo ngunit buhay na buhay naman sa representasyon ng mga unyonistang nagdesisyon nang kumilos para magwelga para sa kanilang mga karapatang niyuyurakan ng kanilang panginoon kapitalista.
Pangkalahatang atmospera ang panahon ng kahirapan sa modernong pamumuhay sa lungsod kung saan nakabase ang mga pabrika, mga kompanya para sa serbisyo, mga laboratoryo, mandin ang mga progresibong samahan ng mga manggagawa. Ang mga tauhang manggagawa sa lahat ng tagpo ay masyadong kinakalakal sa isang paraan o higit pa. Sa unang tagpo, ang drayber na si Joe ay nagtitiis sa kakarampot na pasuweldo ng kumpanay sa pagmamaneho na naglatag ng panganib sa pagkagutom ng kanyang pamilya at pagsama ng asawang si Edna sa dating kasintahang makapagbibigay-ginhawa sa kanyang buhay. Sa ikalawang tagpo naman, walang mabuting pagpipilian ang ibinigay sa katulong sa laboratoryo ng sandatang nukleyar: maging instrumento ng lasong gugunaw sa mundo o mawalan ng trabaho. Sa ikatlong tagpo, madilim ang kinabukasan ng magsing-irog na planong lumagay sa tahimik dahil sa hirap ng buhay at halos sumapat lamang na pasahod kaya walang kasiguruhang makatutulong ang paupahang drayber na si Sid sa nagdarahop na pamilya ni Florence. Sa sumunod na tagpo, napasaalanganin ang kapakanan ng mga unyonista dahil isang espiya ang nakapanghimasok sa unyon para tiwalagin ang samahan sa paglaban sa kanilang amo. Sa ikalimang tagpo, hindi pa man ay gumuho na ang mga pangarap ng isang batang artista para kuminang sa entablado at matulungang makapanganak nang maayos ang asawa dahil biktima siya ng diskriminasyon at samantalang hindi pa niya nababasa ang Communist Manifesto ni Karl Marx at Friedrich Engels, hindi siya makatatakas papunta sa liwanag. Sa huling tagpo naman,biktima rin ng diskriminasyon ang isang interno dahil pinili ang isang hangal para sa isang maselang operasyon sa isang ospital. Umiikot sa iisang kapalaran ang lahat ng mga taong nabanggit: silang mga nasa ibaba ay ginigipit ng mga nasa itaas dahil bukod sa kaya nilang gawin ito sa mga empleyado, iniilusyon ng mga amo na hindi mag-aalsa ang mga manggagawa bagkus ay sasarilinin lamang ang pananahimik at pagdurusa.
Mahalaga ang dula dahil naghaharing uri pa rin sa kasalukuyang panahon ang mga kapitalista at habang lalo silang yumayaman gayong ang mga manggagawang nagdadala sa kanila ng limpak-limpak na pera ay lalong humihirap, mabisang kritisismo ang dula para pakilusin ang mga uring manggagawa nang maipagtanggol nila ang kanilang karapatan sa kita ng negosyo sa porma ng mas nakabubuhay na pasahod, maayos na kalagayan sa pabrika at iba pang benepisyong alinsunod sa isinasakatuparan nilang paggawa. Hindi na lingid sa kaalaman ng mga may pakialam na iba't iba ang bisa ng kapitalismo sa mga bansang pinaghaharian nito, ngunit iisa ang banghay na tinatakbo ng relasyong kapitalista-manggagawa: puhunan lamang ang pinatatakbo ng may-ari ng kalakal ngunit ang malaking bahagdan ng surplus ay sa kanya napupunta sa halip na sa tunay na nagsisikhay na relasyon ng produksyon. Dahil hindi makatarungan at makatao ang pagmaltratong ito ng amo sa kanyang mga obrero, unyon at welga ang inihahatag ng dula na ilan sa mga solusyon para magkaroon ng balanse sa relasyon at bulabugin ang kapitalista sa maaaring isagawang isahang pagkilos-protesta ng mga trabahador niya. Samantala, sa buhay ko, mahalaga ang dula dahil ginising ako nito, gaya ng iba pang panitikang Marxistang naaral ko na, na maging maalam sa aking mga karapatan kung magiging manggagawa ako sa hinaharap o magkaroon ng konsensya sa mga karapatan ng aking mga empleyado sakali mang mamuhunan ako sa sarili kong negosyo. Panahon ngayon, ayon sa dula, para hikayatin ang uring manggagawa na pakilusin ang kapitalista sa pagbabayad ng nararapat.
Yamang nagtapos ang bawat yugto ng buhay ng iba't ibang uri ng manggagawa sa kawalang-pag-asa, hindi mahirap piliin ang mala-propagandang pagsasara ng dula dahil ito ang isahang tinig ng ginigipit na mga manggagawa sa lahat ng tagpo:
Tagapagpahayag (umiiyak): Narinig ninyo mga kaibigan, narinig ninyo? Putangina, makinig kayo sa akin! Baybay sa baybay! HOY AMERIKA! HOY! KAMI ANG SILAKBO NG URI NG MGA MANGGAGAWA. MGA MANGGAGAWA NG DAIGDIG…ATING MGA BUTO AT DUGO! At kung mamatay tayo, malaman nilang ginawa natin para mapabago ang mundo! Hesus, pira-pirasuhin na nila tayo. Mamamatay kami para sa ating karapatan! Tamnan nila ng mga punongkahoy ang pinaglalagyan ng ating mga abo! (Sa mga manonood) O, ano’ng sagot ninyo?
Lahat: WELGA!
Tagapagpahayag: LAKAS PA!
Lahat: WELGA!
Tagapagpahayag: Isa pa!
Lahat: WELGA! WELGA! WELGA!!!
Ang pangwakas na ito ng dula ang nagsilbing liberasyon ng mga manggagawa sapagkat sa wakas ay nagkatinig na sila at sa gitna na inpiltrasyon ng mga kunwang nagtataguyod ng kapakanan nila ay handa na nilang pagbayarin ang mga kapitalista nilang panginoon. Mahalaga ang pangwakas na ito para pagitawin sa isip ng makababasang uring manggagawa na may pag-asang hatid ang unyon at welga bilang pinakamabibisa nilang panlaban sa mga pang-aabusong kinakaharap nila bilang miyembro ng relasyon ng produksyon. Sa sama-sama nilang pagkilos-protesta, maaari paring matupad ang propesiya ni Marx na maitataob ang mga kapitalista at mababawi ng uri ng mangagawa ang dapat lang na maging bahagi nila sa kitang puhunan.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

a hand at rewriting world poetry


This personal interpretation of world poetry was a hard task to complete, to begin with. It needed an extensive research on the versical literatures of the nations represented here. As there were countries with no single representative poetic form, it pained me to use one and to neglect the others in the process, since all of them were worth interpreting. Space was also considered, so rewriting epics is out of the question. In the end, here is a sample variety of literary imaginings from the world over, from my very own country’s dalit to lines as diverse as a Barbadian proverb of the West Indies, a Skaldic poem of the Old Norse and a ghazal of the Urdu tongue. Having started from the Philippines, the chronology moves to the neighboring Malay Archipelago for its traditional pantun, the Chinese Tang Dynasty with its song, Japan with its globally renowned haiku, Korea with its once-popular sijo, India with its unlawful love poem, Sri Lanka with its Akam, the Hebrew nation with its Christian Biblical verse, Arabia’s “hanged” poems in Kaaba, Egypt with its ancient love poem, African tribes with Ibo- and Akan-flavored poem, Italy with its charming Petrarchan sonnet, Ireland and its mischievous limerick, Iceland with its alternative to the Eddaic poems, Barbados with its literary gem in miniature, South America with its eloquent “little life,” USA with its traditionally nontraditional poem, Hawaii Islands with its Hula, and New Zealand with its Maori lament song. Enjoy my humble poetic worldview.
***
1. Philippine Dalit:
We may be colonial people
But what’s important most of all
Is that our songs are audible—
Our distant mem’ry can recall.

2. Malayan Pantun:
The beginning is not even near
To what the next lines tackle on
This proverb’s meaning starts here
For the brown race to ponder upon.

3. Chinese Tang Poem:
The land’s majestic nature inspired wise men
To rhapsodize about the trees and the rivers;
The middle country is home to them:
Away and their spirit will be broken.
Summertime will soon creep in
And urge the poet to cast the satin off his skin.

4. Japanese Haiku:
The Rising Sun’s Land
Produced this short verse: charming,
Quick, but then, lasting.

5. Korean Sijo:
This haiku-like verse presents a problem in the first line
The second one presents the development or the turn
Meanwhile, the last line, besides resolving tension, provides surprise.

6. Urdu Ghazal:
This poem’s innate lyricism
Carries a Persian origin
Illicit love is always its theme
Unattainable in the context of Sufism.

7. Tamil Akam:
This love poetry can be any of these plants:
A mountain flower that keeps the lovers in secret
A water flower wherein the lady is left by the lover
An evergreen where the lovers run away
A jasmine wherein the lady awaits the end of the lover’s journey
A queensflower wherein the lover reconciles with the abandoned wife.

8. Hebrew Biblical Verse:
Chosen from the world’s multitudes,
Believers of God look up to Bible praises
For they will be saved by the nourishment of His word
Forever and ever. Amen.

9. Arabic “Hanged” poem:
In the sacred box of Kaaba
Dangled these literatures from pre-Islamic Arabia
Each line resembles a lace of pearls
So-called for its beauty and perfection
Even the Koran will pale in comparison.

10. Ancient Egyptian poem:
By the lily-filled river Nile, the lover lies
Waiting for the pharaoh’s maiden to come
He sicks at the heart when she fails to arrive
But he lets his hands write on papyrus his spurned love.

11. Ibo folk poem:
What occurred to this black tribe?
The White Man conquered the black tribe.
The White Man enslaved the black tribe.

What else did the White Man do?
The White Man took away the tribe’s resources.
The White Man depleted the tribe’s resources.

Without resources, what was left with the black tribe?
Only its identity, but then it’s contaminated.
The black tribe’s identity got polluted.

12. Akan folk poem:
The rains won’t stop, just won’t stop
Since the White Man came.
When I step out, the mud bore prints
Of feet too large for my people to have done.

It is this that the White Man asserts
We need Him to carry us up
Can’t he see we have our own feet to stand on?
13. Italian Sonnet:
Trees of cypresses shed their tattered leaves
Each time the snow-cold air begins to blow
Rome’s varicolored floras just won’t grow
In piercing drops of silver rain that grieves.
Younger have become the solemn eves
And yet, the poisoned Tiber ceased to flow
Knitted basil threads lament like crow
In want of traceless dew for thirsty sheaves.
Jaded is this life I lead today,
Obscured by haze of my own solitude
So sad I go for you’re away from view
Even lovely music shortens its stay.
Parting never does me any good;
That’s why I wrote these fourteen lines for you.

14. Irish Limerick:
Out of the world’s cold corner
Originated this nonsense verse
It may be satiric
And sometimes lunatic
Although it amuses at first.

15. Icelandic Skaldic poem:
Our homegrown queen conquers the world
She is last year’s most beautiful woman
With the grace and charms of a swan
She left spectators in awed murmurs.

16. Caribbean Proverb:
The dog looks up to its master
And asks if he gets a bone or a blow.

Water aplenty for one’s funeral
Begins with a pail early morning.

These short verses ring truth
In the West Indies setting.

17. Latin American Vidalita:
This little life is wrapped in melody
To be sung under the shade of the guava tree;
The lover strums his guitar while his lady
Breaks an aria full of harmony.

The canons of prose and poetry
Is incomplete without the Latinos’ mastery.

18. Modern American poem:
The bastion of non-tradition
Revels with the free verse, and more
As it looms before the entire planet
Contaminating other cultures with its own
No sonnets, no to conventional form
Liberalism is the name of the canon.

19. Hawaiian Hula Song:
I am inspired to compose letters
For these dancers in their grass skirts
Their ears abloom with gumamelas
Their ankles strung in garlands
The lei around their neck
Is like my poem: colorful and flowery.

20. Maori Tangi:
This poem from the South
Sings of the Pacific and the Sky.
The sun freshens the mountains and the grass
While the cool winds blow the scent of nectars
It is as if the beloved were still around
Although the single star in the sky says he’s not.

Friday, October 06, 2006

keeping the faith


As far as my memory can remind me, I have never been one to lose touch with my faith in God, not even when family, academic or personal plights seem too unbearable if others were in my shoes. Optimism always reigned in my system, until that fateful twilight when a car accident almost cost my life, to think that right before the mishap occurred, I just came out of a mass celebration.
It was one of those occasions when the whole family went out to hear mass, so all of us trickled out of the house of God nourished with His good news and with our respective faiths renewed. Repairing to the lot where our van was parked, I sat next to the driver’s seat while the rest of the family planted themselves behind my elder brother and me. As our vehicle approached a blind intersection, a speeding car abruptly loomed into view and it was too late for my brother to swerve to safety. A loud thud accompanied the car crashing against the van’s front, and I was jerked out of my seat and against the glass in front. Apart from the headache and swollen temple resulting from the collision, nothing proved too critical to merit medical attention, thankfully. We still proceeded home where my mother frantically treated my bumped head with an ice pack.
The moment the accident happened, time seemed to have stood still, for I vividly remember having felt mixed emotions right after the two vehicles smacked against each other. I felt enraged that a car should be so careless as to run along a blind intersection at a mad pace—it takes another screeching car opposite its direction to generate a freak accident complete with casualties. I also felt fright because any closer and I and my family would have looked death in the face and blinked fatally. Ultimately, I felt sad that the mishap should happen just when my family basked under God’s celebration of blessings. These negative emotions led me to grow dubious about my faith in God—why should it happen to His devoted daughter, whereas I was about to carry on His instruction of spreading the Gospel and of being blessed to others? I thought that I deserved better than experiencing such an ugly happening. I even thought that more people deserved that, from the erring driver of the other vehicle to other desperadoes whose lives may vanish from this earth and no one would even notice or care. Not my life, I pondered, not this life that’s worthy of living.
It must have been the dizziness I soon recovered from which brutalized me with such cruel thoughts, for when my mental processes turned sober, I had to apologize to God repeatedly for what I believe was an infidel’s phase. It was rather late for me to realize that the event could have been part of the divine plan of testing how fortified my faith has grown. I got reminded of the lay ministers whose weight of temptation on their shoulders practically whitened their hairs, and of other pious individuals whose life trials are more complicated than my own tribulations. It came to me that the accident right after the mass could be a way for me to practice what was preached at God’s house—to spread love, even to those who could have killed me, directly or indirectly. More importantly, it was my duty not to question God’s designs, for it hit me that the accident did not take my life in order for me to relish another chance at living, another opportunity to share my blessings to my family and to others long before I will not be able to because God’s gift of life has given up on me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

the voice


A call, and then silence. That disturbed me from browsing the Net to download pictures of His Royal Gorgeousness Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman. I was keeping in mind what Yaya told me during sleepless nights: that certain calls may not really come from the person one thought to own the voice.
In her faraway province somewhere down the archipelago, there is a tale wherein one young lass had the misfortune of responding to the call of her “grandmother.” The familiar voice said, “Psst!” and she was so attentive that she left the sewing machine to seek the voice’s source. Her heart failed upon seeing a transparent, rotten-faced ghost with blood all over its mouth, ready to take her to the world of the dead. That was how my Yaya’s people described the origin of the voice, but when I asked, “Has someone actually seen it besides the one who died of heart attack?” she could not tell for sure. What she was sure of was that many people have responded to such an imitating voice before the poor girl, and all of them were lifeless before they can narrate their horror story. Yaya’s way of storytelling was so powerful that I had no choice but believe her.
From then on, whenever I complained that maybe my brothers were making personal prank calls at me while I was busy studying in the music room overlooking a window full of Balete vines, she advised me not to answer at once any calls, because I cannot be sure of anything, especially about fatal ghost appearances.
Another call, a vibrating whisper that tingled in my ear. Yaya warned me before not to look back, and always I blindly—rather foolishly—followed. This time I did, and my eyes saw terror in decaying flesh.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

philosophizing motive, act, and consequence


Motive: Hume’s position is that an action has no merit deemed in itself nor has consequence but it is motive, with act acquiring merit only derivatively after having been caused by a virtuous motive. This is echoed by Kant, who considers character to be fundamental. Kant asserts that the moral value of an act is determined by two characteristics: the mental states of the agent involved in the performance of the acts; and the intrinsic character of an act itself; to have positive moral worth, an agent must perform an intrinsically right act for the right reason. For Kant, a good will is good not in virtue of wanting to bring about happiness; it is good in virtue of being motivated by a sense of duty. He said, “An act is right if it is consistent with the demands of reason and human dignity.” Socrates believes that virtue is a kind of knowledge, and if virtue is knowledge, then it should be able to be both defined and taught.
Act: Aristotle does not just consider motivations and their consequences, but the acts themselves. He states the rational principle upon which ethics or morality is grounded—the principle of truth in conformity with right desire, rather than truth in conformity with what or what does not exist. Aristotle lays it down that most virtues are middle grounds between opposing vices. His middle ground ethics is between Mill’s utilitarianism where only consequences count and Kant’s grounding where none of the consequences count.
Consequence: Mill’s utilitarianism claims that intention or consequence can justify any act. For Mill, the rightness or wrongness is dependent wholly upon the intention whereas the motive makes none in the morality if it makes no difference in the act. This runs opposite Kant’s grounding, because for Kant, consequences are not relevant in judging the moral quality of an act.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

gall of darkness

when the storm subsided before the end of the week, i didn't know to what extent its damage has wrought over the metropolis until i went out of my little comfort zone and saw most of metro manila plunged in utter darkness.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

brutal na kahirapan: pagsusuri sa “pula, puti, at saka blu, at marami pang korol” ni lav diaz


Pinapatunayang nakapagpapabrutal ang kahirapan sa“Pula, Puti, at Saka Blu, at Marami Pang Korol” ni LavDiaz (nasa Hulagpos, pp. 274-279). Taliwas sa pambatang kainosentehan ng pamagat, malupit at kalunus-lunos ang mga pangyayaring umikot sa mga batang-kalyeng sentro ng maikling kuwento. Hindi malayo ang madilim na paglalarawan ng direktor pampelikulang si Diaz sa mga kasalukuyang nagaganap sa buhay ng mga batang kalyeng nagkalat sa kalakhang siyudad ng Kamaynilaan: mga batang nanlilimahid sa pagtira sa mga bangketa o ilalim ng tulay at iba pang suluk-sulok ng lungsod, namamalimos o nagbebenta ng kinuwintas na bulaklak o basahan para may makain sa araw-araw, nagsisipagsinghot ng rugby o, pinakamasahol pa, inilalako ang laman sa murang gulang. Noong 1998, ilang pag-aaral ang nagpapakita na may 222,417 batang kalye ang pakalat-kalat sa 65 lungsod ng Pilipinas 1,at 75,000 rito ang napapasabak sa prostitusyon dahil sa kahirapan2, gaya ng sinapit ni Nenet at Dyong. Ang mga estadistikang ito ay hindi imposibleng hindi lumobo mula noon hanggang kasalukuyan, lalo pa kung ituturing ang tumitinding karanasan ng kahirapan sa bansa. Ayon nga sa pambungad na salita galing pa sa bayaning si Mahatma Gandhi, “Kahirapan ang pinakamasahol na uri ng karahasan,” at totoo nga ito sa mga nagtalabang salik para gawin ni Dodoy, ang yagit na protagonista, para gawin ang nakaririmarim. Inuusig ng konsensiya niya si Dodoy dahil siya ang dahilan ng pagkamatay ng kanyang ina siyam na araw na ang nakararaan. Hindi siya makakain ni makaiyak dahil paulit-ulit na umuukilkil sa isip niya ang sigaw ng saklolo ng kanyang ina at ang amoy ng nalilitson nitong laman habang nasusunog ang katawan nito. Gusto niya sanang isiwalat kay Nenet ang lihim ngunit nag-aalala itong baka magitla ito, na siyang naging reaksyon ni Toto nang mauna niyang sabihin dito ang ginawa niyang panununog sa sariling nanay. Samantalang nagtatalo sa loob ni Dodoy kung aaminin niya ang pagkakasala o hindi, sa tulong ng pagkasinghot ng solvent ay nakapaglakas-loob siyang magsabi sa kapwa-yagit kung para lamang mailabas ang bumabagabag sa damdamin. Sa kabila ng kabangisan ng pamumuhay sa kalsada ng lungsod, may pagkilala pa rin sa mabuti at masama sa tulad ni Dodoy. Maaaring nagdodroga silang apat nina Dyong, Nenet at toto, ngunit ginagawa nila ito dahil kailangan nilang takasan ang pagkagutom na laging nakaamba sa kanilang wala namang mga magulang na aasahang mag-aruga sa kanila at mag-asikaso ng kanilang pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan. Batid ni Dodoy na masama ang ginawa niyang paglitson sa sariling ina dahil labag ito sa dalawa sa sampung utos ng Diyos, at dahil sarili niyang magulang ang pinatay niya ay maituturing na pinakagrabeng paraan ito ng pambabastos. Si Toto mismo ay alam na mali ang ginawa ni Dodoy, patunay ang inisyal nitong pag-iling ng 'di-paniniwala dahil “[h]indi ...yun magagawa sa nanay [ni Dodoy]” (p.279) dahil magagawa lang iyon ng napakatampalasang anak. Lamang, kahirapan na rin ang nagtulak kay Dodoy para gawin iyon dahil “tuwing uubo [ang nanay niya], may dugo...yung katawan niya puro nana na at butas...nilalangaw siya...pag gabi, kinakain siya ng mga daga” (p.279). Kung hindi dahil sa kahirapan sa buhay, maipapagamot ang ina ni Dodoy at hindi lamang basta siopao at solben ang mag-iibsan ng kanyang karamdaman. Kung hindi dahil sa kahirapan, hindi tatangayin ng sobrang awa si Dodoy na magtutulak sa kanyang wakasan na ang pagdurusa ng ina sa pamamagitan ng pagsunog dito.
Sa batas ng lansangang nagtulak kay Dyong para iparada si Nenet sa mga parener (p. 276) bilang isang object at commodity, hindi pa rin mabubura ang pag-iral ng moral kay Dodoy kaya hindi nga lungkot lang ang nagpapawalang-ganang kumain kay Dodoy sa gitna ng “hamberger at kok” (p.276) na kinita pa ni Nenet sa pagpatol sa matandang Australyanong si Mr.Paul Honeycomb. May panloob na tunggalian sa sarili niya: kikimkimin lang ba niya ang kanyang ginawang krimen, o isisiwalat niya kay Nenet, na siyang pinakamalapit sa puso niya? Brinutal ng kahirapan ang mga batang kalyeng ito sapat para mapilitan silang isa-isang pumalaot sa putikang daigdig ng pagpuputa, gayundin para magawang patayin ni Dodoy ang sariling ina, ngunit ang kabrutalang ito ay hindi nagpalabo sa natitirang moral ni Dodoy. Kahirapan ang nag-udyok kina Dyong, Nenet, Toto at Dodoy para maging eskapista. Sa tulong ng solvent na inilalako ni Kenet sa kanila mula sa kanyang repairshop, nakakalimutan nila ang gutom at dusang kaakibat na ng kanilang pamumuhay sa lansangan. Dahil sa solvent, nakakaligtaan nila ang mabangis na buhay-lungsod at ang paligid nilang marumi at walang-kulay ay pinag-iiba ng damdaming “hay na hay”(p.278) at ng sari-saring kulay at ilaw ng rumaragasang Light Rail Train (p.275). Sa ginhawa ng solvent, malilimot ni Nenet ang lagnat, sakit ng ulo, at hapdi sa kanyang puwertang nahirapan sa pakikipagtalik sa sadistang pedopil na si Mr.Honeycomb. Gawa ng solvent, nakapangumpisal si Dodoy kay Toto hinggil sa lihim niyang paglitson sa sariling nanay at nang ma-bad trip ito sa kanyang brutal na krimen, lulong sa droga ay “lumipad na si Dodoy...sa magpakailanman” (p.279) pabulusok sa kanyang kamatayan sa ibaba ng labindalawang palapag na sunog na gusaling siya nilang naging tirahan. Dahil sa kahirapan kaya hindi nagawang uriin ng mga batang yagit na eskapista ang paglaklak ng solvent bagkus ay ang kawalang-perang pangkain sana ang nagtulak sa kanilang umiskor na lang ng droga kung para makatakas panandalian sa gutom at kahirapan.
Malupit ang lunsod para sa mga batang yagit na katulad ng mga tauhan sa kuwento. Para sa iba,kailangan pa nilang maging puta para lamang makabilang sa institusyong umiiral sa lipunan. Kung hindi magbebenta na sarili si Nenet at kalaunan si Dyong, hindi sila magkakapuwang sa kalakal-lansangan, na krusyal na kalagayan kung kakain ba sila o magkakaroon ng perang pambili ng ilang kutsarang rugby at damo. Malupit ang lunsod dahil brubrutalin pa nito si Dyong para manunog ng gusali kung para lang may matulugan sila kung saan hindi sila papalayasin ng guwardiya. Malupit ang kanilang panahon dahil wala silang mariwasang magulang na mag-aalaga sana sa kanila, na mag-iiwas sa kanila sa mananagasa sa daan, na magpapaaral sa kanila sa halip na mapasabak silang maaga sa trabaho at trabaho pa manding paglalako ng laman. Ngunit sa mismong magulang nina Toto at Dodoy ay malupit ang lunsod at panahon, dahil sila ay naging mga puta rin kung para lang magkaroon ng puwang sa siyudad at nag-iwan ng anak sa kung saan para gumaan-gaan ang pamumuhay sa lunsod. Sa ironikong tono ng naglalahad ng kuwento, ang “wow” para sa mga tauhan ay matinding dagok sa lipunang naaatim ipalamon sa kahirapan pati na mga walang muwang.
Naisiwalat man ni Dodoy ang paglitson sa ina, sukli nito ang kanyang kamatayan dahil sino ba ang makaiintindi sa ginawa niyang pagpatay? Kahit anong pangangatwiran niyang tinapos lang niya ang pagdurusa ng ina, hindi makatarungan ang kanyang krimen. Iyon na lamang ang natirang alternatibo sa kanya para matapos na ang paghihirap ng ina, pero uusigin naman pala siya ng kanyang konsensya. Sa mukha ng kahirapan, walang kapangyarihan ang bata para mapigil ang pag-urirat ng konsensiya. Ni hindi siya nailigtas ng droga para huwag tumalon bagkus ay napalubha pa nito ang kagustuhang lumipad na lang tungo sa kanyang kamatayan kaysa habulin ng panaghoy at amoy ng natutustang ina.
Dito mapatutunayan na ginagawang brutal ng kahirapan ang tao, na kahit magkakaanak ay babaling sa isa't isa para magpatayan, kung ito lang ang tanging paraan para umamot ng kaunti o temporaryong kaginhawaan o kawalang dusa. Malinaw sa mga balintunang tono at pananaw na postmoderno ang maikling kuwento dahil sa kawalan ng katuparan ng pangako ng modernismo na paunlarin ang buhay ng tao. Para sa mga nasa ibabaw na pinapaburan ng lipunan, hindi balakid sa kanila ang paggamit ng kapangyarihan para sa kanilang sariling kapakanan, ngunit sa proseso ay inilulubog nito lalo ang mga etsa-puwera gaya ng mga puta, mga anak, mga dukha, mga batang-yagit. Ang pamahalaan sanang responsible sa pagsalba sa mga batang lansangan ay nagagawang paboran ang interes ng mga naghaharing uri imbes na atupagin ang pagpapabuti ng lagay ng kanyang mamamayan. Dahil dito, lumalawak ang pagitan ng mga mayayaman at mahihirap, at sa dami nga ng mga mahihirap at sa lumalala nilang karanasan, grumagrabe rin ang lagay ng brutalidad sa kaso ng mga mahihirap. Sa sampal ng brutal na kahirapan, ginigising ang mambabasa sa malupit na reyalidad ng buhay-mahirap (buhay-lansangan sa kaso nina Dodoy) at kinukumbinsing huwag magtanga-tangahan sa dapat sana ay panlipunang pagbalikat para maisabalanse ang lumalalang puwang ng paghaharing-uri at kahirapan. Sa ganitong kaayusan lamang tunay na magkakaroon ng pula, puti, at saka blu at marami pang korol sa daigdig.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

philerasty (for y***)






















something in the manner you say "i'm old..."
intends to stress "...for you."
to say the least,
quarter-life revolutions
have waged aging wars
on my body.
the fruit swells--it is
perfect for the picking.
my experiences declare
i can make a home,
i can make money,
i can make any man happy.
then again, your smile of disdain
has a way of saying
your body has greatly survived
countless battles against the elements of time,
it takes a while before the bitter fruit
becomes ripe and,
compared to you--a man
wise to the ways of the world--
i'm but a schoolgirl
whose giggling innocence
no put-on grace can belie.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the feminist in rizal


Even when National Hero Jose Rizal lived and died before women’s suffrage became in vogue in the West and way before the second half of the 20th century saw the women’s liberation movement burst into the patriarchal world, he definitely knew the condition of the Filipina in his own historical location.
While Rizal wrote letters and articles prolifically, very seldom did his writings openly deal with concepts on the rights and status of women in the Philippine society of the 1800’s. These rather few literary works are therefore considered valuable by Filipinos.
Of Rizal’s beliefs on women’s independence and on inalienability of women’s rights, the most famous is the “Message to the Young Women of Malolos.” Upon the request by fellow Propagandista Marcelo H. del Pilar, he penned the epistle on February 1889 while residing in London in order to uplift the spirits of these young women. Rizal admitted to not knowing Malolos or anyone of the women save for Emilia Tiongson, whom Rizal met two years before. A bevy of twenty young women from Malolos town in Bulacan, daughters of the gentry, signified their intent to establish a school where Spanish language would be part of the curriculum. The lady daughters of the maginoos were as follows: Elisea Tantoco Reyes (1873-1969), Juana Tantoco Reyes (1874-1900), Leoncia Santos Reyes (1864-1948), Olympia San Agustin Reyes (1876-1910), Rufina T. Reyes (1869-1909), Eugenia Mendoza Tanchangco (1871-1969), Aurea Mendoza Tanchangco (1872-1958), Basilia Villariño Tantoco (1865-1925), Teresa Tiongson Tantoco (1867-1942), Maria Tiongson Tantoco (1869-1912), Anastacia Maclang Tiongson (1874-1940), Basilia Reyes Tiongson (ca 1860-ca 1900), Paz Reyes Tiongson (ca 1862- ca 1889), Aleja Reyes Tiongson (ca 1864-ca 1900), Mercedes Reyes Tiongson (1870-1928), Agapita Reyes Tiongson (1872-1937), Filomena Oliveros Tiongson (ca 1867-1934), Cecilia Oliveros Tiongson ( ca 1867-1934), Feliciana Oliveros Tiongson (1869-1938) and Alberta Santos Uitangcoy (1865-1953). It was on December 12, 1888 when these young women proposed to Governor-General Valeriano Weyler, later to be named “butcher of Cuba ,” for consent to open a “night school” where they might learn liberal arts including Spanish language through the supervision of Teodoro Sandiko.
However, the town’s parish priest, Fr. Felipe Garcia, opposed the petition and triumphed in aborting the idea by arranging for the governor’s disapproval. Nonetheless, the women persisted, defied the friar’s wrath and continued to push for their plan with the governor until such time their cause ultimately earned his permission.
The agitation for the Spanish school was a rarity in the Philippines during the period. When they succeeded in garnering the government permission to their plan, a condition was compromised that Senorita Guadalupe Reyes should be the one to teach them. The thing unheard of before in the Islands reached the faraway shores of Spain, where the Malolos women’s Bulakeno compatriot del Pilar would write Rizal from Barcelona on February 17, 1889, asking Rizal to transmit a letter in Tagalog—a noteworthy deviation from his customary Spanish writings—as a booster of the women’s morale.
Although in the thick of annotating Dr. Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, he set aside his literary business and wrote his famous letter and sent it to del Pilar for transmittal in Malolos on February 22, 1889. Because the simple deed transgressed the wishes of a powerful friar, the act was taken as a scoop by Rizal’s fellow reformist Graciano Lopez-Jaena and the National Hero’s lengthy letter would be published too in the official newspaper of the Propaganda movement, edited especially by del Pilar.
The consent gained by the young women of Malolos was for Rizal a victory that likewise belonged to the Filipino women at-large. At most, their success was for the Filipinos in general.
Every so often, women are seen merely as wives, mothers, sisters or daughters. Although the women perform these sterling roles in their daily lives, the conventional historians have obliterated the women out of the picture. Despite the suspicion that the women of Malolos were just tools of the ilustrados immersed in the reform movement, specifically Marcelo del Pilar, their action was by all means rare and revolutionary for their time and class. The oppositional rhetoric of the women of Malolos was founded in the old culture of women’s resistance to colonial trappings. Eversince the Spanish conquered the archipelago for a third of a millennium, women had fomented uprisings across the Islands from the babaylan rebels circa 1700’s to the iluminati native nuns residing in beaterios to the bolo-equipped women rebels of the 1896 Philippine Revolution.
The singular deed of the young women of Malolos created a deep impact on women in all corners of the Philippines . For one, the Spaniards were made conscious of the previously underestimated resistance being one involving the entire society, not only from the Filipino men but also from the Filipino women. The reformists noticed this, hence the urging of del Pilar for Rizal to advise the young women to champion their cause being proper female citizens of the country. Even as Rizal had a notion of them possessing “a sweet disposition, beautiful habits, gentle manners, modesty, excessive goodness, humility or perhaps ignorance,” he anticipated them to be “like withered plants, sowed and grown in the darkness. Though they may bloom, their flowers are without fragrance; though they bear fruit, their fruit has no juice.” Rizal added: “However, now that news arrive here of what occurred in your own town of Malolos , I realized that I was wrong and my joy was beyond bounds.”
The women of Malolos were not portrayed as helpless and highly dependent beings. Even at the young age, the ladies looked as if they were already taking extra care of their lives, as might be gleaned when they took the risk of challenging the curacy’s authority.
Writing to the women in Tagalog, Rizal commenced his message with the turning point of how he reflected on the question of the Filipinos’ possession (or the lack thereof) of the virtue of bravery. Sadly speaking, invoking the moments of his life as a young person, he found but rare memories of those that fit his standard of courage. He lamented that the girls of his youth were mild-mannered and charming and immaculate, except that they were also completely submissive to the powers that be in the society, the friars for instance.
In the 19th century, the Filipino woman’s colonial status has determined their social role and standardized her function as wife, mother, spinster, worker or dependent as well as dedicated and zealous colonial inside her social circle and group. The Spaniards’ laws grounded the extent of her womanly behavior and roles. When a Filipino woman before so much as partake of activities and roles running against those implemented by colonial rule and male dominance, her take on unfamiliar functions and activities may be independent choice, mere luck or urgent necessity, but she would create social tension in the process. That is why in general, Rizal looked at the Filipino woman as docile and non-fighter rather than a branded social nuisance.
Nevertheless, what dauntless act the young women of Malolos showed told Rizal that he was mistaken and this caused him great happiness. According to Rizal, the cause of the women of Malolos was one that surpassed their own struggle. He referred to it as a fight for the common good whose triumph was sure to arrive. Their waged war for the public welfare had rendered a role model out of them for the rest of the Filipinas who “like (the Malolos women) desired to have their eyes opened and to be lifted from their prostration.”
For Rizal, women in Malolos must use their reason and open their eyes wide since they are the initiators to the influence of man’s consciousness. He had them bear in mind that it is better to leave this world with honor intact than to continue living in the shadow of dishonor. He reminded them too that no one has the privilege of being subjugated by any other. The parish priests can no longer insist that they themselves are accountable for their unfair order since God gifted humans with reason and free will to dichotomize the fair from the unfair.
Rizal asked the women to discern the difference between false and true piety, the latter being composite of “good conduct,” a clean conscience,” and upright thinking.” Over and above everything, Rizal urges them to seek not for the wealth of the world but of the mind and spirit via education and knowledge. He convinces the women to reflect, see an overview of the Philippines , and see how they can stand and reap success and knowledge. Not anymore will the Filipina mother exacerbate the plight of her children in colonial darkness.
He criticizes the subservient Filipino mothers for the bondage of their sons and daughters under the Spanish colonizers, false authority to whom mothers enslaved themselves and set their very being as examples for their children to follow. To stop this social disaster once and for all by transfiguring their sons from men of bondage to independent men, The Filipina women must themselves be free. It could happen through the liberation of the Filipinas’ mind.
Rizal exhorts his countrywomen to liberate their mind, to cease from “bow(ing) their heads to every unjust order” and seek(ing) solace in humble tears…All are born without chains, free, and no one can subject the will and spirit of another. Why would you submit to another your noble and free thought?”
Rizal asserts that Filipino mothers should imitate the Spartan women who educated their sons that men are “not born to live for themselves but for their country.” For as long as the Spartan men had this for a credo, Sparta would be never be conquered.
Teodora Alonso, Rizal’s mother, was on her own very much like the Spartan women. She inculcated in her children the love for learning and industry, convicted that lacking these, any woman or man would not be too different from a ship captain without compass. For Rizal’s mother, learning and hard work makes one a good Christian and helps one realize his God-given talent in order to reach out to his compatriots.
It was most likely Senora Teodora who influenced him immensely, from whom he inherited the values of “honor, firmness of character and noble action” and most of all, strength—virtues that Rizal hopes the women of Malolos would be able to teach their own children so that they, in turn, will confront life’s challenges courageously. Years after Rizal’s execution in 1896, his mother would reject the government’s lifetime pension offer to recompense officially the family’s show of patriotism. She would say that her family had not been patriotic for any monetary reward.
In Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Rizal unveils the Filipinas of his milieu. There existed Doña Victorinas and Consolacions whose aim in life was to mimic and even upstage first-class Spanish ladies in their impeccable clothing and speech. Likewise, there existed Sisas and Maria Claras who were too feeble to ward off the maltreatment and unfairness in the hands of men, just as what battered women of contemporary times suffer under the present cruel breed of men. However, there also existed Salome, Elias the reformist’s comrade and friend. Salome lived independently and was self-sufficient, and she loved Elias without any fear of mentioning her feelings for him, even going the length of offering him to be part of her life.
Rizal may have his share of discrepancies and gaps in his relationship with women from his sweetheart Josephine Bracken to other beloved women to his sisters, but it cannot be denied that Rizal had an impassioned involvement in the battle for the Filipino women’s rights. It cannot be denied that the “Message to the Young Women of Malolos” is a significant contribution by Rizal to the history of women and the feminist movement. For Rizal, the women’s fight belonged to the Filipinos’ greater revolution for social justice and transformation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

edsa reenvisioned


A news article a few days ago lamented that according to a survey, fewer and fewer Filipinos remember the atrocities done during the Marcos regime. While this is not tantamount to saying that Filipinos are remembering less and less the EDSA Revolution that toppled such a dictatorship, it does suggest that it is so because the spirit of EDSA failed to deliver as was expected by the nation. No president so far was successful in alleviating the country from poverty and other social ills, and as the way the trend is going, the plight has become worse because the people feel poorer and hungrier than the previous years. With such a predicament, the gains of EDSA will just calcify in history.
It is true that there is a need to reinterpret the revolution that was EDSA 1986 because “old meanings are not enough, much has changed and the recovery of hope and meaning entails people’s continued responding.” The penchant of our disgruntled citizens in milling in Metro Manila’s premier thoroughfare located in Ortigas Area has incurred the negative remarks from international press that whenever we want political change, we stage parliament in the street, which is a wrong forum. This denigrates the cause championed by EDSA 1, not to mention that it somewhat illegitimatizes that of EDSA 2. Of course, what we did as a united people in EDSA 1 was sacred, believing that the voice of the people urging a tyrant into stepping down the pedestal of power was no less than the voice of God. The circumstantial gathering of the cross-section representatives of the society was phenomenal, so we need to update the meaning of these synchronic desires for change in the context of our present living. To remain wistful of the united act we made is not enough to keep our one spirit aloft, but to act that we can always gather for our revolution against daily struggles as a nation should mean much the revolution we had 20 years ago.
In the 20 years that transpired since EDSA 1, many changes occurred and so, a need to reinterpret the movement begs to be acted upon. The gospel tells that new wine should not be poured over old wineskin lest the container tears asunder and the precious liquid will be spilled away. When we apply the principles of EDSA today, it requires updating because tyrants and politicians have become more cunning so they can serve best their interest in the subtlest figure tolerable. We need discernment as a people, and our vigilance should be put to prime in order to keep the flame of EDSA 1 alive even as years have passed and much alteration has affected the way we view people power.
Ultimately, when we reinterpret EDSA revolution of 1986, we will refresh the hope felt by the Filipino people before right when we booted a dictator away from our midst. A change was in the offing, the people felt before, and even as times are getting harder, it is not likely that the EDSA 1 spirit will falter once the people power is reenvisioned. Our consensual work to radicalize the state of our country cannot be without meaning, because that tells much of our way of realizing our country’s longing to be finally independent. With renewed hope and meaning for our people power, we readily and continuously respond to the need to protect our democracy and not just let anyone divert the course of history. We must celebrate our freedom as a nation, and that we have shown and must continually show in the spirit of EDSA 1 revolution.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

of kokak and cruises


i trooped to guadalupe for my obligatory night out at joni's. i first detoured at robinsons pioneer, where i picked a modern american poetry anthology for just 75 bucks. not bad for an edition that featured such poets as louise gluck, philip booth, elizabeth bishop, among others. going to guadalupe, i crossed the rickety, vehicle-embattled infrastructure that not quite prevented people from falling off into the murky pasig river below, but that surely provided little help in masking off the dead river's stench. my grotesque bridge situation reminded of of one of the lower bolgia scenes in dante's inferno.
i was the first gay to arrive in joni's place. even papa edwin wasn't around, according to mama joni, whose tootache didn't seem to affect his usual convivial self. two ponstan 500 must have helped him get through the night with his faggoty sense of humor intact. we ate spuds while waiting for philippine idol to air over channel 5. in between our chitchat, the phone would ring to confirm to mama joni the prospective arrivals for the night.
the night wore on and the visitors were slow to arrive. to liven up the solitary house, we made comments on the contestants of the fox-franchised talent search. seeing how dashing a lad joseph pastor was, joni exclaimed that should the sam milby deadringer would screw me up, i do not have any right to be choosy. why, the muscular pampango guy was hot and spicy in his latino number, complete with an open-chested white polo and blue jeans so tight i could make out the contours formed by his leg veins. midnight was approaching, and no visitor yet. i casually said that three hours more and i'd launched in my customary 3 o'clock habit. at this point, joni told me of the latest gay hangout in the neighborhood: the rice-and-gas dealer betwixt two sari-sari stores a stone's throw away from joni's. he regaled me of last weekend's happening, when the wee hours had cruising gays being whipped into frenzy by a game help from the dealer, at the comfort room of which the handsome help was flirtatiously calling on for some lecherous lips to get his rocks off. oh. must i have missed on the great fun? my horny will and the game boy's be done, then.
to while the time more, i asked joni to enumerate classic pinoy films which he would like to see the remake of in the near future. he mentioned sharon cuneta's p.s. i love you, but the remake of vilma santos' tagos ng dugo was one that i found remarkable. he wanted claudine barretto, his favorite young actress, to star in it. it was sad that at the fap luna awards night concurrent with the idol show, claudine's nasaan ka man best actress performance was eclipsed by zsa zsa padilla's ako legal wife comic showing. better luck next year when claudine's sukob acting piece gets noticed anew, to the chagrin of her co-star kris aquino, who naturally wanted to be recognized for her acting (or non-acting, as the case may be). for my own list, i put temptation island on top, if only for the sheer campiness of the dina bonnevie starrer. the gradually increasing drips of kabaklaan made for a full-pledged queer avalanche when we rattled off other camp movies as secrets of pura k, virginia p, akin ang puri, nights of serafina, madonna ang babaeng ahas, etc. what brought the house down was the outrageous sex-fantasy kokak, wherein my kababayan rachel lobangco transforms from a slimy amphibian into a voluptuous woman of the world. talk about a camp version of the frog prince. in which case we suggested a number of starlets--has-beens before they reached full stardom--who might do justice to a kokak remake. the nomenclature yielded such flashes-in-a-pan as tina paner, marilyn villamayor, jennifer mendoza, jobelle salvador, joanne quintas, guila alvarez, nikka valencia, jan marini alano, and their ilk. by the moment we finished the list, we were doubling over in laughter and i hardly gave a hoot when other gay visitors started trickling in.
as there were no pamintas to incite my interest, i led an informal beauty pageant q&a, asking beautifully bronzed tantan and mestiza jay their thoughts about the possible social, economic, political, ecological and moral repercussions of such diverse issues as pluto's planetary disenfranchisement, the swapping of subic rape case with jocjoc bolante's agri-scam case, the aftermath of the guimaras oil slick, and the pregnancy of kris aquino. their answers sparked hilarity, especially when sir jay made a disclaimer that "to answer that question, i need an interpreter."
3 o'clock ticked, and i along with four other gays was ready to check out the rice store help. however, a tall hunk in grey muscle shirt captivated our attention, and the ever-domineering jelay asked us to stay behind as he cruised the guy. miracles indeed descend from the heavens, for a few minutes after, jelay was returning and coaxing me into going after the guy, who expressed his intent to meet me. it felt like the stars were about to fall from the heavens to serve as confetti to a newly-crowned beauty queen. what racy homoerotica occured after? that's a different story altogether.