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!"

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!
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.