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!"

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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

chancing upon a cock


since i already gave gorgeous my favorite local fiction anthology, ma'am chari lucero's "feast and famine," during hunk's birthday, it is just a matter of time when i'll give him its foreign counterpart, any of gabriel garcia marquez' story collection. that means i have all of two months to scour for a copy of "innocent erendira," "collected stories," "strange pilgrims," or the one i have, "no one writes to the coronel." since also my favorite latin american fictionist alongside jorge luis borges and mario vargas llosa is a nobel laureate, i'm pretty sure any anthology will cost around half a grand--quite pricey but worth it, come to think. notwithstanding, i'm bent on gifting one on gorgeous' birthday, so my way of thoughtfulness will come full circle by encompassing the best of this side of town and of the opposite.
luck seems to be on my side because half a week before the booksale in national officially closes, a neglected copy of "no one writes to the coronel" lay unnoticed in the santa lucia branch. i almost didn't get there--after my emergency interview in an ortigas writing firm, i had to forego visiting the robinson's cainta branch, the one in sta lucia east mall, and that one in q plaza, all because i was running out of time to meet my boylet. he only had until 3:45 to take a break, but the traffic in cainta junction made me swear empty promises again not to create an impossible schedule. i passed by those bookstore branches, but when my boylet asked me to visit him at the department store, i figured that i have about a quarter-hour to scour the heaps of books. there i found, like a treasure trove covered by dirt, the silvery-brown background of a rooster (shall i queerly say, cock?) poised to peck a cob of corn. and the worth? 80% off the price i saw in powerbooks. the universe is so good to weird bibliophiles.
now, here's the problem: when i gifted gorgeous with "feast and famine," he complimented me that it's his first time to receive a gift as such, but he also admitted to having a hard time finding free minutes to read any of the five long short stories filled with philippine folk realism. if until now he hasn't read any, i'll be giving him this english-translated anthology as a second backlog. he challenged me into making him pick up the book for reading, despite his non-bookworm self. his smile made me remember hugh jackman's character in "swordfish" when he was being coerced into decoding the u.s. defense password under the pains of a bullet shot through his head. of course there was motivation, but i'm too naughty not to equate that motivation with gorgeous' challenge.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the snake writer must be latino


my cute boylet and i agreed to meet at sm north edsa to watch a movie. falling two days short of catching hugh jackman's new movie "scoop" and eight days short of screening the last of the pinoy go-go dancer trilogy, "twilight dancer," we settled for what we decided was the most boring movie at the tills: "snakes on a plane." now i believe some eyebrows have turned orbiting so fast that a new planet will soon replace the disenfranchised pluto--boring movie means less people and, therefore, lots of opportunity to explore the dark world of theater. this is the macrocosmic version of the marc and caleb's dvd episode in alan brocka's "eating out."
since i only had two hours of sleep after rushing a paper on same-sex adoption, i naturally fell asleep and woke up in at the climax of no, not my boylet, but of the movie, when all the snakes are on the loose, hissing furiously at the panicking passengers. having come, hmm, straight, hmmm, out, hmmmm, of dreamland, i thought i was just imagining a latin american marvelous realist movie gone on video, but the film was actually showing the fun part of passengers getting bitten all over by drugged serpents. i wanted to sleep more, so i asked my boylet to wake me up just when all the people on board were already foaming at the mouth as a result of the fang-injected venom.
the chuckling just won't subside so i took a peek with one eye and noticed how funny the writer must be trying, for not only is the movie incredibly out of south american la maravelloso real, but also peppered with metafiction after seeing allusions of reese witherspoon's "legally blonde" character, titanic wild crowd scenes, even the plummeting plane scene in "superman returns," in which case i almost expected bodyfitted brandon routh to appear in his red cape to save the snake-infested aircraft from sinking onto the sea. when the gargantuan anaconda slithered on top of a glass ceiling, i waited for divine j.lo to come out of nowhere to join the extraordinarily huge constrictor. "why are there snakes all so suddenly?" i asked in disbelief. i didn't have to wait for credits to roll to confirm if the writer was a latino/a attempting at hilarity, because the film was entirely ridiculous, samuel jackson's character mouthed something irate moviegoers will have concession to: "i have had enough of these motherfucking snakes on these motherfucking plane!"
now don't interrogate me as to whose snake i paid greater attention to throughout the movie.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

let's get 69


this blog is my 69th, and when that number gets conjured up in the air, i feel that i'm growing horns and tails behind my boyishly naive smile. having slept at rhoda's, i supposed i could go out and tour benighted cubao as a force of my three o'clock habit, but a splitting headache up there plugged me in rachel's bed (no, i didn't sleep next to a woman--rachel stayed overnight in the hospital her sister was confined in; i'm too aware that the world can still tolerate not being obliterated for its inhabitants' variegated perversions). only after lunchtime did i launch into the day, meeting a gigolo up north and sharing a threesome with a middle-aged guy i frankly didn't like. it tuned out that the guy paid the gigolo with some grands, offering some hundred bucks to me. tempted to get the money to buy discounted books i've seen gathering dust in monumento, i declined upon realizing that the receipt of prostitution money would reduce me into a literal whore. i've settled to prostituting my pen, thank you, and i actually got to purchase rare books as a result of this kind of whoring. lucky are those who get paid to do something they like, but the very act is so repulsive, how can i possibly submit myself to such debasement?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

camping at crame


my former teaching colleagues never fail to amuse me, especially jopay who, i confess, is a better quotable quote machine than i am. while inching my way to the cashier at a nearby convenience store (the term convenience is being disputed by donita horse--she argues that the guard has to fan himself in order to douse the terrible heat), she was regaling rhoda and novie about a documentary of an abattoir where pigs were being persecuted by butchers by bamboozling them and throwing hot water on them while the hogs shake and shriek to death. what's special about jopay's storytelling is that she shows a demonstration of her accounts: she reenacted the deathly trembling of the ill-fated swines. as we headed to their compound, a dog approached her, poised for biting, but instead of running away for dear safety, she lifted the sando bag she was carrying, afraid that the dog might snatch away the fish she'll prepare for supper. already i'm doubling over in laughter before we reached their place.

Friday, September 08, 2006

ang indibidwal sa kawalang-katiyakan: isang pampanitikang pagsusuri sa antolohiyang agaw-liwanag


Pagpapakaindibidwal ng tao sa harap ng kolektibismo sa lipunan ang pangkalahatang pananaw ng mga tula ni Bomen Guillermo sa antolohiyang Agaw-Liwanag (QuezonCity: High Chair, 2004). Nakalagay ang tao sa isang lipunang puno ng mga institusyong dapat niyang kabilangan para magkaroon ng identidad, ngunit pilit tinutuligsa ng mga tula ang pagkakahong ito sa pamamagitan ng pagsusulong ng indibidwal na pagkakakilanlan kahit pa naisasapanganib ang tao dahil sa kanyang kaibahan. Mapasama at mapasama man siya sa minorya, isinasaalang-alang ng indibidwal ang identidad niyang hindi agad-agad mauuri o makakategorya sa mga umiiral na isteryutipong katangian sa lipunan. Samantala, pangunahing kaisipang isinusulong ng koleksyon ang pagiging iba sa nakagisnan nang absolutong itim o absolutong puti ng katauhan; ang chiaroscuro na kakatawan sa isang indibidwal ang magbibigay ng tunay na karakter sa kanya dahil ang lubusang pagyakap sa alinmang panig ay magbabalot sa kanya sa nagbagu-bagong panlipunang konstruksyon ng kawastuhang pulitikal o political correctness. Dahil relatibo naman ang konsepto ng wasto o tama, berdugo sa turing ang isang indibidwal na sasabihing tama siya at ang iba ay awtomatikong mali. Dahil ang lipunan ang nagtatakda ng tama, mali o baliw na agad ang minoryang kalimitang binubuo ng mga makata, rebolusyonaryo, mga batang inosente pa sa kalakaran ng lipunan, “mga nahuli sa kanilang panahon, mga nauna sa kanilang panahon” ayon sa pansarang tula ni Guillermo sa koleksyon. Kalarawan ni Guillermo (at ng mga kapanalig sa sining-pampanitikan) ang mga minoryang ito sa bisa ng kaniyang obra-maestrang sa postmodernong pagpulso ay nabubukas sa mas maraming pagbabasa para mag-agaw ang liwanag at dilim, at hindi romansahin ang awtor sa paglalaan ng tanging itim-at-puti niyang interpretasyon sa sarili niyang mga tula. Nahahati sa mga seksyong Conftant ng Grabedad, 2002, 2000, at 1994 ang koleksyon. Pinag-uugnay ng maraming diskurso sa postmodernismo ang bawat seksyon para maisulong ang indibidwalismong nais kamtan ng tao sa lipunan niyang puno ng mga institusyon, gayundin ng sa postkolonyalismo upang maisulong ang kakaibang identidad natin bilang mga Filipino kahit pa o dahil naging kolonya tayo ng ibang bansa. Postmoderno ang Conftant ng Grabedad hindi lamang sa presensya ng mga elementong pastiche, bricolage at kulturang popular kundi sa kaibhan ng makatang si Balagtas bilang baliw na lumalaban sa institusyunalisasyon ng lipunan, gayundin ay postkolonyal ito dahil sa modipikasyon ng kolonyal na wikang Kastila upang ikustombre bilang katutubong wika. Samantala, postmoderno rin ang 2002, 2000 at 1994 dahil sa elemento ng kawalang-absolutismo bilang pagtuligsa sa makamodernong siyensya o tradisyunal na tunggaliang itim-puti, at sa elementong indibidwalismo bilang paggupo sa kaisipang magkakaroon lamang ng pagkakakilanlan ang isang tao kung kabilang siya sa isang institusyon. Ang nag-iisang tula sa seksyong Ang Conftant ng Grabedad, Capitulo XXXI ay may ganito ring pamagat. Labas sa pagkakaparehong ito, ibang-iba ang tula sa lahat o karamihan ng iba pa sa koleksyon. Una, prosang tula ito gaya ng VIII (p.17) sa seksyong 2000 ngunit hindi gaya ng natitira pang mga tula na bersikal ang porma. Pangalawa, postkolonyal ang paggamit ng wikang Kastila para magkaroon ng apropriyasyon ang kolonyal na wikang ito sa katutubong sensibilidad. Samantalang gumamit talaga ng Hispanisasyon sa maraming aspeto ng buhay-Filipino(halimbawa, sa mga wikang bernakular natin) ang mga mananakop na Kastila para mas madaling pamahalaan ang mga katutubo, hindi lubusan ang kontaminasyong ito para maging kayumangging Espanyol tayo; ipinakita sa tula na naangkin natin ang kanilang wika at halatang pinaglaruan pa dahil sa tonong walang kaseryosohan. Bukod-tangi rin ang tula dahil sa dami ng postmodernong elementong pastiche, bricolage at kulturang popular, na hindi sindami sa ibang tula. Pinaglaruan ni Guillermo sa kanyang pastiche ang obra ni Balagtas na Florante at Laura: si Balagtas mismo ang nakatali sa puno hindi dahil sa napatalsik ang mga kaalyado niya sa kaharian kundi dahil sa kakaiba siya kaya itinuturing at pinarusahang baliw. Namali raw siya sa pag-aakalang “mapapalis ang manga mang-aaping Dios na poti, hari, prayle at conquistador” (p.2) sa pamamagitan ng “sabing magaling at macatotohanan”(p.2) kaya kailangan niyang makawala at mahanap “ang boteng naglalaman nang tatlong patac nang grabedad”(p.3) upang gumaling sa sakit na kabaliwan. Nang magtagumpay siyang puksain ang pantastikong Hari ng mga Leon (ang kagila-gilalas ay isang manipestasyon ng elementong popular) sa “guerra[ng]” (p.3) tila mandin reality TV, nasaksihan ng mga manonood live via satellite (isa pang pakita ng elementong popular), ininom niya ang grabedad, natutunan na absoluto o iisa lamang ang kahulugan ng mga bagay-bagay “caya…hindi na cailanman maaring maging macata” (p.4) si Balagtas. Idagdag pa, sumama na siya sa “isang Rimbaud” (p.4) nabricolage at alusyon sa homosekswal na makatang si Arturo Rimbaud, na matapos pamanghain ang mundo sa retorika niyang “I say that one must be a visionary—that one must take oneself as a VISIONARY,” tatalikdan at susunugin ang kanyang mga obra dahil sa disilusyon sa napakabatang gulang na 21. Sa bisa ng batas ng grabedad ni Isaac Newton (na dagdag-bricolage sa akda ang anecdota ng nalaglag na mansanas), hindi niya hinayaang maging iba o baliw ang kanyang mga anak: walang makatang uusbong sa lahi niya kaya sa isang mala-alamat/anti-siyentipikong eksplanasyon,“sasampu ang ating mga daliri” (p.4). Sa tula, baliw ang maging iba, ang maging makata ayon sa hatol ng mala-berdugong moderno at siyentipikong daigdig, ngunit ang kawalang-kaseryosohan nito ang naglaro sa mga absolutong konsepto ng grabedad, ng kahulugan ng materyal na daigdig, ng wika, at ng mga institusyong batay sa inilalahad ng mga dominante sa lipunan. Walang absoluto ang sigaw ng mga tula sa seksyong 2002, mula sa magkakontrang damdamin ng “galit o…takot” sa Nanginginig ang Aking Mga Kamay (p.7), sa anti-siyentipikong paliwanag ng “pagsambulat ng…mga atomo” ng batong “walang mga kamay” sa Paanong HindiN agkakalansag-lansag ang Isang Bato (p.8), hanggang sa kahangalan o “baka maaari[ng]” karunungan ng mag-amang “nagbubungkal ng higanteng bundok” sa Ang Dakilang Pantas ng Tsina(p.11-12). Sa seksyong ito, representatibo ang tulang Huwag Kang Pumikit Kasama(p.9) dahil esensyal dito ang kalabuan o ambigwidad ng mga bagay-bagay na siyang bumubura sa absolutismong isinusulong ng modernismo at siyensya. Kinukumbinsing persona na “[h]uwag…isara ang…mga mata” (unanglinya) dahil kung nakapikit ang isang tao, sarili lang niyang kawastuhang pulitikal at hungkag na “[l]iwanagng/[kanyang] kalooban” (linya 4-5) ang makikita nito, samakatuwid ay magiging sinikal siya sa lahat ng paliwanag. Kung “magpakalunod [naman siya] sa/[d]ilim ng/[kanyang] kalooban” (linya 7-9), lahat ng paliwanag ay paniniwalaan niyang tila bulag, kaya wala nang silbi ang kanyang huwisyo para maghatol at pag-alinlanganan ang katotohanan ng mga bagay-bagay. Mungkahi ng persona na sa“[p]ag-agaw-liwanag/…[p]ag-agaw-dilim” (linya 12 at14) muna, “[s]a daigdig ng/[k]awalang-katiyakan”(huling dalawang linya) dahil sa daigdig ng kawalang kasiguruhan, naglalaho ang paghahati ng siguradong dilim at siguradong liwanag—paghahating maaaring magbagong radikal depende sa likwad ng paradima o paradigm shift ng lipunan. Sa seksyong 2000 na binubuo ng serye ng mga tulang napapamagatan ng Roman numerals, mga minorya ng lipunan ang pinapaksa—ang mga ibang hindi lubusang maagaw ng purong liwanag o purong dilim, mula sa literal na iba-ibang paksa sa I hanggang IV (p.14-15), sa mga bayani sa V, VI at kasalungat nila sa VII(p.16-17) hanggang sa mga bata sa VIII, IX at X(p.17-18). Binubuklod ang seksyon ng pagkakaiba-ibang mga tula, na nagbibigay ng pakiramdam ng pagkalito-pagkamangha. Mainam na katawanin ng tulang VI ang seksyon, dahil sa mga salungatan at pagkakaiba-iba ng mga salitang ginamit para ilarawan ang isang bayani. Pinutol ng mga berdugo ang hiningang bayani para sa pansamantalang pagdugtong ng sarili nilang hininga ngunit mababasa rin na ang sakripisyong buhay ng bayani ay para “madugtungan ang sa kanila”(linya 3)—ang sa mga susunod na henerasyong ipinakipagpatayan ng mga bayani. “Pinaikli nila ang [kanyang] buhay/upang maging/ magpakailanman”(linya4-6) ang buhay ng bayang pinagsakripisyuhan ng buhay ng bayani. Ang kamatayan ng bayani ang nagtanggal sa tinik sa lalamunan ng mga berdugo (linya 7-9) ngunit hindi ito magtatagal dahil sa tagumpay ng rebolusyong isinulong ng bayani, kaya nabuhay ang bayan at“nabuhay” (huling linya) ang bayani sa imortalisasyon niya sa kamalayan ng bayan. Iba ang bayani dahil wala siya sa panig ng mga ordinaryo ni sa panig ng mga diyus-diyosan/mananakop/berdugo ng kanyang panahon. Sa huling seksyong 1994, ambigwidad pa rin o kaibhan sa dilim o liwanag ang pinaksa ng mga tula, mula sa reyalisasyon ng isang ideyalistiko na naniwala sa absolutismo sa Pagsisisi ni B.(p.26), ang rebersal ng kalagayan ng isang mamamatay-taong kasalukuyang pinapatay sa Ang Pinagdaanan ng Isang Berdugo(p.27), ang pagkakapare-pareho ng iba’t-iba mang bagay sa Ang mga Pangangailangan (p.28), ang magkaibang sitwasyon ng kamatayan at buhay sa Talaarawan(p.29-30), ang halu-halong damdamin ng persona sa Hangin(p.31), magkaibang bersyon ng prinsipyo ng buhay sa Kuto(p.32), ang bunga ng absolutismo sa isang piloto sa Ang Pinakamahusay Pumaslang (p.33), at ang pagtatambis ng mga bata sa mga etsa-puwera ng lipunan sa Noong 1898, Nakaagaw ang Katipunan ng Ilang Tren sa mga Amerikano (p.35-36). Sa pangunang tulang Pagsisisi ni B., paulit-ulit ang panghihinayang ng persona sa “oras sa [kanyang] buhay/Ba’t di [niya] na lang ginamit sa ibang bagay?” (linya 5-6,11-12,17-18) dahil hungkag ang paghahanap niya ng katotohanan(linya 1), at ang paglilimita ng parametro at pagde-de-numero ng mga bagay (linya 2-3) sapagkat nagbabagu-bago ang totoo batay sa agos ng panahon—giyera (linya 4) sa kaso ng tula. Nagpakaideyalistiko siya subalit nasayang ito dahil hindi tinanggap ang kanyang damdamin at pagpapakatao (linya 9) “ng mga baboy” (linya 10) na hindi kumporme sa “ideal” (linya 7) niya. Nagpakabanal pa siya (linya 14) pero nang madiskubreng walang-kuwenta ang eternal dahil hindi ito umiiral, nadis-ilusyon siya sa buhay at handa nang magpatiwakal (linya 16-17). Ganito ang sinasapit ng mga taong buong-pananalig na nakakapit sa teorya ng absolutismo: kung mapag-alamang walang saysay ang pagbabaka nila, abot-langit ang pagsisisi dahil istrikto sa paniniwala at kinumpromisoang buhay sa isang relatibong prinsipyo.
Sa pagtatapos, indibidwalistiko ang identidad ng indibidwal na mailalarawan sa persona gayundin ang mga pinapaksa ng mga tula. Samantalang minorya sila kung tuturingan dahil sa kanilang kaibhan sa mga kolektibong nakainstitusyon sa lipunan, nagsusumikap silang “MAIBA NAMAN,” ayon nga sa huling linya ng tulang Ang Mga Pangangailangan. Etsa-puwera sila, oo nga, ngunit maipagmamalaki nilang may sarili silang identidad hindi tulad ng mga nasa institusyon na ang isang miyembro ay kasasalaminan ng pagkakakilanlan ng iba pa. Kung dudukot ng isa mula sa kalipunan nila, wala siyang kaibhan sa hubog, porma, laman-loob ng iba pa, kaya hindi kasing-kapana-panabik ng bukod-tanging indibidwal. Ang pagiging indibidwal ay hindi nalalayo sa kalagayang agaw-liwanag, dahil ang mga katangian ng indibidwal dito ay hindi singdalisay ng nasa institusyon ng liwanag, at hindi singsama ng nasa institusyon ng dilim, bagkus ay halu-lahong katangian ng liwanag at dilim. Angkop lamang ang paglalaro ng itim at puti sa isang indibidwal para hindi siya maging predictable, bukod sa ang absolutismo ng mgabagay-bagay ay relatibong konsepto.
Saad ng pamagat ng koleksyon, nasa agaw-liwanag ang lahat: walang absolutong katotohanan o kawastuhan, kahit pa siyensya na inaangkin ng modernismong siyang maghahatid umano sa tao sa isang bayang utopia, kahit pa mga institusyon ng lipunang nagtatakda ng identidad ng kanilang mga miyembro, o kahit pa ang mga nasa magkabila at magkatagisang panig ng bakod. Alanganin ang dapat pagtaya sa nagbibihis-absoluto o sa tila purong kabulaanan, dahil kinakailangan ng pagbabatayan ng katotohanan, at ano ba ang totoo sa pangkalahatang punto? Sa agaw-liwanag, binubura ng kalabuan o ambigwidad ang dikotomiya ng mga itim/puti, masama/mabuti, babae/lalaki at iba pa. Sa agaw-liwanag, ang ambigwidad ay isang uri ng konseptong maiintindihan din dahil bukas ito sa napakaraming interpretasyon.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

alas, the holy grail is found!


for quite a time, i wallowed in despair because the elements of the universe seem to be ganging up on me so that i may lose the very things i covet, just when i'm about to be their proud owner. of course, i'm not referring to gorgeous; i may be desiring him, but our friendship has secured the wedge that serves as my temporary restraining order from traipsing that territory that's his mysterious heart. and, for crying out loud, miracles happen but i'm not about to receive a manna from heaven in the form of his yes, yes, yes, for i've not opened up to begin with. to cut the story short, i lost two chances in a row of buying two on-sale books just when i'm about to fork in my savings at the cashier's counter. first, jorge luis borges' ficciones was sold by that high-end bookshop when my reservation expired, and the gay novel boyfriend material, which i made sure to stash away in a place i could return to when i would purchase it two hours later, miraculously vanished in that obscure spot in powerbooks. I even grew paranoid that partyphile, who was with me that time i saw and eventually hid the book, played a nasty trick on me by secretly putting the novel for all the bibliophiles to jostle each other for.
well, you lose some, you win some, for after an hour's visit at a senator's house to teach his low-profile daughter, i received a four-hundred-buck honorarium, enough to buy one of the three rare ficciones that appeared magically in robinsons galleria. Each anthology actually costs about half a grand, but the bookchain holds its annual sale so i got it with a 20% discount. on the way to meeting hunk in taft to give him the made-to-order tupig for him and gorgeous to share, i felt like dancing along edsa and not minding if the aerotrain station guard would ask me to taste the contact lens solution just to be sure i'm not sneaking in a liquefied bomb into the commuters-filled train.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the plight of flight-driven pinoys: star cinema's anak


Chito Roňo’s Anak (Star Cinema, 2000) chronicles the life of an overseas Filipino working mother who takes the pain of physical separation from her family just so she can provide for her children. This cinematic presentation finds parallelism in the context of today’s Filipino migrant workers who, because of socio-political volatility and lack of career opportunities hereabouts, leave abroad for greener pastures.
According to the National Statistics Office, our 80 million-strong Third World nation has 3.99 million or 10.9% of its labor force registered “unemployed,” the highest jobless rate in Asia. It is difficult when 5% of the populace has no work—people do the extreme from stealing food to wishing to become First World citizens—so a great number of Filipinos set their sight toward the lure of overseas employment. To be more statistical about it, a total of 7.4 million comprises the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world. That means almost 10% of Pinoys are expatriates working as teachers, engineers, “nurses, caregivers, entertainers, seamen, doctors and domestic helpers.” To many of us, these are just figures, but Anak with its top-caliber lead Vilma Santos gives these workers the face, the body and the heart of a parent who has to render the sacrifice of familial separation if only this will make both ends meet.
Data coming from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency point to the escalating number of migrant workers, with .6 million Filipinos finding work abroad in the first seven months of 2005. Roughly 3, 000 citizens leave the native soil daily, which could mean that in a few years’ time, the country’s healthcare, education and engineering systems would collapse for lack of specialists in these fields. Owing to this, the quality of graduates we produce is jeopardized with our best teachers absent, our healthcare endangered with our very medical officers going export-oriented, and our civilization’s structures weakened with our own engineers building the empires of our neocolonizers. As the film suggests, the mother may be helpful in rearing the kid of her employer, but in the process it is her kids that grow without a mother. In fact, her eldest has grown into a bullheaded woman who does not respect her even as a fellow human.
It is not a hidden fact that our OFWs’ remittances, the third largest in the world at 7.9 Billion, sustains the languishing Philippine economy as well as feeds the OFWs’ love ones home. Furthermore, the demand for OFWs reflects their comparative advantage skills-wise, although now threatened by stricter measures of foreign employment first in Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Some of our expatriate workers are even willing victims because they go undocumented just to land a job abroad. The neocolonialist ploy of economic hostage rears its ugly head when our workers disregard the hazards of leaving and of possible reversal of fortune (getting murdered like entertainer Maricris Sioson, scientist Victoria Suller, and nanny Delia Maga, or getting hostaged like Angelo dela Cruz and Roberto Tarongoy) just so they can feed the family. In the film, Vilma’s character has risked a life of solitude abroad, tidying the home of her boss, in the wish that her remittance will somehow fund the needs of her family, but her skill as a homemaker proves ironic because her own home in the Philippines is figuratively falling apart.
The worsening political situation causes our professionals to seek more stable jobs abroad. With the government’s ineptitude toward providing more jobs, upgrading working conditions and keeping investors, our professionals join the bandwagon of Diaspora. While political bickering exacerbates our economic meltdown, the professionals are pushed into trying better deployment overseas. As a result, the accelerating pace of brain drain has contributed to the aggravation of what the Philippine Health Alliance for Democracy termed as “national hemorrhage.” The bleak scenario in the medical profession is the same in the disciplines of teaching, engineering, and the like. As a maid, Vilma’s character has followed the trend of these migrant workers, and even at the film’s ending, she still went working abroad, seeming to get the message across that it is the only salvation OFW’s can get. For lack of better wages around, a significant number of teachers are forced to migrate to, say, New Zealand, Great Britain and the united States, where these teachers do not expect to teach mercifully in overcrowded, dilapidated classrooms or worse, under the tree shade, and be underpaid for all the zeal and talent they show in the educative process. Meanwhile, engineers are equally in demand in Developed countries if only for the tremendous help they give in literally building the nations (with infrastructures, skyscrapers, service and transport systems) they work in. In the course of building other nations, our own is deteriorating and as the film has shown, the country’s very basic foundation, the family, is the unit most endangered from breaking down irreparably.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

saturday night live at guadalupe

my clotheswear created so much upheaval that partyphile and i were sure of adding another punchline in our texting list: when attorney asked where i came from to merit an apparel as black short sport shorts, tangerine trpoical shirt, ankle-length socks and grey adidas sneakers, i casually replied, "from malling." everyone could have done a cartwheel for my laconic manner.

Friday, September 01, 2006

a plague in the philippine house


The present Philippine political chaos spawned by the alleged 2004 poll fraud corrodes the country more everyday. The moral degeneration this nation suffers from has manifested itself by way of bickering and squabbling and mudslinging on all sides. On one hand, there are claims of shameless cheating; on the other, the claimers are dismissed as plain sourgrapers who have nothing in mind but government destabilization. As a result of this political mess, the economy is fluctuating and the socio-cultural makeup of every Filipino is anything short of embarrassing. Needless to point out, the country is in a state of political calamity.
At the center of this crisis is the Philippine President herself, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Challenged formidably by the neophyte yet popular movie king, the late Fernando Poe, Jr., Gloria exhausted all electoral machinations, including the alleged diversion of ill-gotten Marcos wealth purported for agricultural modernization and widespread vote-padding, in order to assure her winning. She allegedly employed her executive influence to access government treasury to fund her election campaign and to manipulate certain agencies like the Commission of Elections (Comelec) to carry out the anomalous dagdag-bawas scheme: subtract her rivals’ canvassed votes to be added to hers. This unclean practice was done in the name of money and other favors. Here, mutual ways of moral malpractice are being exercised in the name of material things like money and executive power. Evil lives off in another evil.
Irate at the fraudulent exercise of yet another national election, some sectors of the civil society took to the city’s major thoroughfares in what has been Philippine-identified as parliament of the streets. The President cheated her way to the Malacaňang Palace, her opposition chanted, and defying illegal wiretapping laws, a source spilled the beans that a bugged conversation of the President with a Comelec official suggests that vote-padding indeed helped catapult the President to her executive seat. A probe on the “Hello Garci” tapes ensued but eventually died a natural death, even as the President, by virtue of her televised national apology, practically admitted she was leading the Philippines on a faked mandate. Ironically, the delayed honesty looked as if it was to be taken as yet another serious lie from no less than the supposed icon of national integrity.
Instead of the President’s “I’m sorry” episode punctuating the political mess, the furor inflamed more, with the legislative chambers launching into several investigations and the rallyists grew in multiple proportions. Enter two damage-control policies: Executive Order 464 and Calibrated Preemptive Response. The former was supposed to ban government officials from attending house hearings related to the political controversies, in the hope of aborting the possibilities of these officials’ turning against the President, what with more lies waiting to be uncovered during the legal inquiries. Meanwhile, the latter was done to extinguish popular uprisings—with water or police force—before they ultimately transmogrify into the same people power that installed her as “revolutionary” President in 2001. These damage controls were conducted to save the queen from letting the concerned and the people know the truth and from allowing the justice-hungry masses to demand yet again for another Philippine president’s head. Not only was the truth delayed but also was cast out of immediate sight.
The so-called death of the democracy ironically took its toll during the 20th anniversary of the EDSA I Revolution, what with the President issuing Proclamation No. 1017 or State of National Emergency. The sectors of Filipinos getting frustrated at the dismal administration of Mrs. Arroyo have swollen by the numbers, and should the government just dismiss this swirling mass of disappointed people as paid hacks by the opposition force, then the latter must have vast sums of money to fund all these rallies. The Presidential allies were singing hosannas regarding the rosy economy without effecting tangible improvements on the lives of the growing poor, so the civil society has used the media and the streets as people’s forum. Defiant as ever, the President did a Marcos by announcing a virtual Martial Law which somewhat legitimated warrant-less arrests of Arroyo’s arch-nemeses and censorship of media companies critical of her administration. The week-long emergency state might have been lifted, but with a prototype of Marcos’ Proc. No. 1081, can Martial Law under Mrs. Arroyo be far behind?
The impeachment against Mrs. Arroyo did not progress, so did cases filed against her before the Supreme Court. However, rallies continue to be called for her to abdicate from power, so the President went so far as proclaim a national emergency to serve warrant-less arrests of her known political enemies. A mutiny and a stand-off did not prosper in booting Arroyo out of office, but rumors of coup de etat continue to revive threats against her government and against the economy that has started to pick up after decades of horrible performance. In due time, this government’s act of self-preservation may produce significant political reforms as Arroyo may have wanted, but for now, the executive control being subscribed to by the President is all but a desperate attempt to maintain a semblance of equilibrium under a roiling sea of civil discontent over a perceived corrupt, dishonest and inhuman government.
The divide separating the rich and the poor having widened once more that even the bourgeois has wisely done some belt-tightening measures, the masses thought of themselves as poorer and hungrier than the previous years. While this impoverishment on their part and the failure to deliver on the government’s part must have alerted vigilance against further hopelessness, how may the underbelly of the society carry on with empty stomachs and blurred minds? The mass is made critically aware of the revolution that must take place but the uprooting of institutionalized social ills need endurance not only on most aspects of every person but also, especially, on the physical. This material problem notwithstanding, a waxing majority believes that the political crisis will not cease for as long as the President stubbornly stays in Malacaňang. This is short of saying that Mrs. Arroyo is perceived by dismayed electorates to be the root cause of everything that demonizes the Philippine society.
Were I a key actor in this political drama, I would be a representative of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and do the same clarion call for this country to undergo moral rejuvenation. As the institution I represent deems that this nation has succumbed to the curse of moral decadence, I in behalf of the CBCP would appeal for transparency and moral reflection regarding the issues circumscribing the political crisis. Also, I would convince the people that political vigilance should couple the moral change to equip oneself with, because the political crisis is perceived to be bedeviled in order to throw the entire country in political hell. The Philippines needs to refocus its priorities from the material to the spiritual, for as long as the earthly corrupts the soul of the people, the hunger for material power will not stop and this will hound the nation into a land of endless suffering. The First People Power has shown that the country can have a renewal with the significant help of pastoral leadership; surely this political impasse may yet be broken by the same spiritual hands that herded the Filipinos to freedom. A peaceful, morally-guided status quo is feasible for as long as the nation sustains moral integrity, and this can be done by upholding moral revolution amongst the rendered-vigilant people.