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, April 30, 2008

flawed historiography in richard II

The national history of England was dramatized by William Shakespeare in two tetralogies which encapsulated English history from 1398 to 1485 and the second of which includes Richard II. All of Shakespeare’s history plays may be considered historiography, meaning the playwright presented history interpretively based on his critical assessments of primary and secondary texts. By depicting historical occurrences using the abovementioned methodology, could Shakespeare have rewritten his country’s history as he deemed suitable to the context in which he lived? Most probably yes, given that history is written in the narrow perspective of the victors. In Shakespeare’s case, he wrote the plays supposing that Elizabethan England will learn from its past, a motivated action that has repercussions until now by virtue of the persisting belief in what patrons view in the plays. The contradictions between real-life events and their dramatized versions in Richard II or any Shakespearean history for that matter prove how Shakespeare in particular and historians in general can modify, highlight, or manipulate historical events that will serve best their agenda.
In the play, Shakespeare puts Richard II and Bolingbroke side by side in order to show how the characteristics of the weak king would pale compared to those of the strong one. Richard II taxes the people too much, squanders his funds, and greedily sequesters John Guant’s property. Richard II’s exhibition of selfishness is that which angers Bolingbroke enough for him to usurp the king’s throne. While the Medieval and Elizabethan eras were drenched in providentialism or the belief that monarchs are divinely chosen to reign and no usurper should dethrone them, Shakespeare exaggerates Richard II’s ineptitude so Bolingbroke may be legitimized in his usurpation of the throne.
However, the focus on just one out of the 22 years of reign of Richard II begs for an interrogation since that one wasteful year may not be satisfying to determine Richard’s monarchal incompetence. Shakespeare has decidedly omitted the king’s achievements in the other 21 years such as ending the Hundred Years’ War. The historiographic alteration was meant to juxtapose the king’s overemphasized negativities and Bolingbroke’s honorable qualities. Bolingbroke is portrayed as a humble, fair and just king so that he would serve as a model for future kings. For instance, Richard II’s fictitious death scene is meant to show that Bolingbroke did not hate Richard II or intended to wrest the throne away from him, so he reprimands Exton for having murdered the former king. In here, Bolingbroke is presented as being compassionate and conscious of his morals. As such, he is depicted as having usurped by chance, a chance that God permits so in the course of history, a divinely anointed king would emerge.
Shakespeare’s changes and compression of events are his way of helping shape a national identity for Elizabethan England. However, in his rewriting history, he wielded the power to influence the future, as is evident in the way contemporary people see English events as truthful using Shakespearean historiographical perspective.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

drawing the social realist experience in hugot

The era of independent films has spawned a queer variety, of which there is a surge being produced across the globe, the Philippines included, to capture the many-nuanced gay experience. Hugot is no exception, but its social relevance—presented via a handful of postmodern tricks—goes far beyond the preoccupations of a few on titillating and providing escape for the audience.
Capitalizing on mostly neophyte production and acting teams, Hugot is a trilogy interrelated by a storyteller who practices the contemporary rage that’s weblogging. The first of these stories-within-a-story is about a lad, clad only in brief less to homoeroticize than to exhibit the closest thing to his true self, who is assailed not only by a recurrent dream of a clothesline aflame but also by a man in his same state of undress. It is suggested that the man is his conscience, and the very reason for the lad’s inability to finish his eulogy for his mother is the criminal act he had done against her, for which he is accosted by his conscience and dream.
The Freudian plot shifts to the gritty reality of urban Manila, where the remaining two stories about two activist nursing students and a cellular phone snatcher get entwined. In both plots, the audience stands witness to the brutalizing effects of poverty: the commodification and objectification of humans as well as the emergence of the baser nature of man.
One segment shows the mobile phone snatcher, fresh from plying his illegal trade, being slapped by his mother because he is not around when his younger sibling meets an accident. Apparently, he takes on the responsibility for the brother’s hospitalization. Since he is poor, he has fewer alternatives: to accept the meager contributions of his sympathetic gigolo friends and gay clients, and to prostitute himself. When a greater opportunity presents itself with the appearance of his newly-crowned and P8, 000 richer Miss Gay client, he chooses to go past prostitution and steals the gay’s cash prize, leaving the battered beauty queen for dead.
On the other side of the urban jungle, the other segment unreels with one of the activists, exhausted from a rally, falling unconscious while crossing the footbridge. A cruiser of a passerby offers to help the other activist by having the classmate brought to the former’s house until the patient recuperates. As the night wears on, the owner of the house convinces the nursing students to stay and join a drinking spree with the former’s fag hag. A little game ensues wherein the classmates get to answer questions ranging from student activism to sexual activities.
In the intertwined stories, the characters engage in an orgy of deals which had compromised their humanity in their pursuit for survival. The boy snatcher doubles as a sex object of his clients and the gay policeman for a little sum of money and for immunity from crime-bust, respectively. When his first objective falls short, he drops what little humanity he has and robs the beauconera (gay parlance for a veteran Miss Gay contestant) the amount required to save his brother. While his end is noble since anybody is willing to do the extreme for one’s family, his means begs for the question of just how extreme one can get: does this include trading one’s dignity, of which the snatcher gigolo has little remaining, to begin with? The course of the story affirms this, a proof of how poverty can make people turn on each other without any more regard for human compassion.
The nursing students, on the other hand, are drawn inexorably in the danger of the seemingly innocuous Socratic game. Parodying television shows that bait contestants with money in exchange of being publicly ridiculed for their bad command of English or hilarious sing-and-dance, the game show episode presents the activists stripping to their barest if their responses to questions fail to merit them the hundred-peso pot money. When the ultimate query of homosexual availability warrants the answer of “depende kung kaya ng bading ang presyo” (depends if the gay can afford the price), the owner of the house schemes by having the nursing classmates perform sex together. Joining them is the housemaid who, egged on by the fag hag, is forced to use her body if only to gain access to the ongoing spectacle. She, too, is made to disrobe by her master and, being powerless against the commands of stripping along with the activists, is seen wearing a face of defeat as she takes off her last satin-laced underwear. The following morning, the nursing student attending to the matricidal lad in the first episode is seen counting the payment for his previous night’s sexually-charged showing, implying that his personal principles had gone negotiable.
Notwithstanding the greenhorn that the production and acting teams are (manifested in designating the disorienting dream segment as the introductory episode, and in raw scenes wherein pixelated shots hurt the eyes, voices mimic the musical quality of tin cans and ham is seen in another way besides acting), Hugot is commendable for its witty dialogues, its attempt to appropriate postmodern treatments of fragmentation and metafiction, and its close simulation of urban social reality, all within the shoestring budget of P250,000. In a drinking session scene in which yet another commodified human, the female prostitute, advises the good-looking snatcher to fly to Japan “para maghosto” (to work as a male guest relations officer), she gets lambasted for something she herself cannot become rich from. A verbal retaliation follows, with the call girl dubbing all the boys as “pahada” (blowjob trippers) with the casualness of low-class people who have persevered much in life.
Like its anagrammatic fellow film Tuhog, Hugot can be viewed beyond the sex element and the title’s phallic overtone, for the blogger’s voice-over at the onset of the story rings truth: “Lahat ng kuwento, may paghuhugutan.” Whether one becomes a victim or one becomes an exploiter of power, one has a story to tell, drawn from the richness of experience, no matter how dehumanizing the experience may be.
Hugot, starring Ana Capri and written and directed by Jonison Fontanos, will have its scheduled commercial run soon owing to its successful premiere back-to-back with cinematographer Joni Gutierrez’ anagnoristic short films Cyberdaddy and Gutom in UP Film Institute last April 23, 2008.

Monday, April 28, 2008

the merchant of venice: a look beyond the book

Having read the text of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, I was expecting that watching the film adaptation was coming along the way. When it did, I had several expectations before finally sitting through the film. First, I expected that the comedy would be more pronounced in the film than in the original Shakespearean play. Next, I expected that the movie dialogues would be modernized and, therefore, more understandable to the audience than those used in the original form, which was in the Elizabethan English. Third, I expected that the film version would be more condensed to customize the Shakespearean plot into the limited audio-visual medium. Then, I expected that the film would carry on the bias I and other people read in the text against the Jews. Lastly, I expected since it is a period movie, it might be less appealing to me than most contemporary films.
These five expectations of mine received different ends in the course of watching the film. For one, I was right in predicting that I would better understand the comedy in the film version since I could see that element unfolding effortlessly before my eyes, unlike when I had to imagine the comedic acts in the book form. Also, I was surprised that the film retained the original Shakespearean dialogues but fortunately, most of them are more understandable than in the book form, perhaps because they are visually set into context. Furthermore, I was correct that a more condensed form was present in the movie by virtue of the shorter text, considering the limited audio-visual medium that the film is. Likewise, I did see the anti-Jew sentiments in the film as I did in the book form, but the film version seems to have been more sympathetic to the antagonistic character of Shylock. Finally, it surprised me again that despite the period costume and the Elizabethan English, I did not get bored watching the movie since the costumes were attractive and the dialogue was understandable.
After watching the film, I feel that I should point out a few comments on the audio-visual interpretation of the English Renaissance comedy. First, the film looks well researched because for one, its costumes were historically accurate to 16th century Venice. Second, the anti-Jew sentiments may have put Shylock in a more sympathetic light, but it only shows that social discrimination was present before as it is now and will still be present in the future unless it is seriously acted upon. Next, the use of Venice as film location made the film more authentic as the landscape and waterscape are visually realistic. Fourth, the casting is appropriate since the actors performed convincingly and brilliantly, from the veteran actor Al Pacino as Shylock to the younger Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio. Ultimately, the director tried and was successful in being faithful to the Shakespearean text because he interpreted the comedy without doing away from the original text and from the imagined 1700s Venice look.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

commodification in the merchant of venice

One of the most salient themes of The Merchant of Venice is the extent to which revenge can corrupt humans for its own sake. This spiritual thirst fuels the major characters involved to commodify their very objects. Whereas previously, these objects had not been treated as economic goods, they were thereafter transformed into tradeable commodities, all in the name of avenging, as in the context of the play.
Such is the case of Antonio who, earlier in the comedy, is portrayed as a ruthless man. While a Christian, he loathes the Jews and the usurers and the very combination of both, Shylock. He kicks and spits upon Shylock and is not even apologetic about it or about repeating the abuse if he deems it necessary. Therefore, it seems ironic that the mauled Shylock should allow himself to give loan to the very person who treated him badly. Nonetheless, the compromise reached between the two has an underpinned motive of revenge on the part of Shylock who hates Antonio so much that only the latter’s life can compensate for the maltreatment.
So here comes the point at which Antonio gets commodified: a pound of Antonio’s flesh is all that is required by Shylock so the debt may be repaid in case the money owed is not returned. Antonio agrees to the peculiar mode of payment, hopeful that his ships laden with goods will arrive before the month-long loan expires. When Antonio’s ships get lost at sea and the bond cannot be repaid in any way, Shylock affirms his resolve to maintain the carnal bond. He is bent on doing this to exact a vendetta over the cause of his miseries.
In Shylock’s demand that the unreturned debt be paid in a pound of flesh, Antonio gets treated as if he were a commodity. Antonio’s noble title should have been enough to be used as a credit but in the name of retaliation, Shylock engages in the inhuman act of compromising someone his flesh just so he can take the life of this abuser. While the Jew could justify that Antonio’s flesh is the only price to pay for his sufferings, his Draconian means displays the putrefied state to which his humanity has devolved. Meanwhile, Antonio’s willingness to stake a part of his body thinking the bond will not materialize anyway shows how the mercantile temperament of the times has changed the way people perceived themselves and their world. Then as now, people have expanded their commodity market to include otherwise non-commodities like the human flesh. In the name of monetary opportunities, one is willing (or forced by oneself or others) to trade one’s body.
The commodification of Antonio’s flesh is a ridiculous human affair whose permutations may be found in slavery and prostitution, exploiting humans like marketable commodity and taking away their human qualities in the process. The manner commodification has generated the social impact of fetishism and people’s social participation via trading their bodies is deplorable, because humans should not be sold or treated less than the dignified, free being that they are.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

leap of faith in paulo coelho's the fifth mountain

The Fifth Mountain is a timely story by Paulo Coelho in a world recurrently persecuted because of seemingly futile faith. People across the globe suffer for upholding beliefs that seem not to pay anyway: advocates of peace are confronted by wars, whether virtual or civil, which wreak havoc, presently, with a global magnitude; technological promise of food revolution is mocked by widespread hunger and varying threats of biochemical infestation; escalated modernity in science and technology that instead of addressing the needs of the populace, becomes a tool to perpetrate evil intents (i.e. computer viruses) or aggravates the human condition (ozone-unfriendly CFC-emitting air conditioning and refrigeration units). Social injustices prevail elsewhere, however man remains faithful while struggling for his life’s betterment. Even worse, he is roundly derided, cursed, or beaten up for harboring what existentialists balk as “delusions” of realizing things in the face of impossibility.

The novel’s retelling of Elijah’s tested faith under exacerbating circumstances can be a collective voice of the few who have opted to cling on to unwavering conviction that things shall turn up roses. True, the world and life at-large are nasty with their treatment of human beings; nonetheless, the few that count still probe the skies for stars, and that is more than enough testament that their essence comes long way before existence—God’s love, not God’s blunder or joke, made way for the Creation of Man. Lest they forget, the persecutions they experience are only earth-bound, and since they are a Bible-believing bunch, they should “be glad and joyful, for a great reward is kept for you in God (Matthew 5:12).” Life is a struggle of challenges and sufferings, and sticking around is an essence of living. By staying alive, the faithful can always wield their desires no matter what, whether this desire is simply passing a quiz or is comparable to the proportions of Elijah’s sacrificial fire and heaven-sent rain. A workable faith is never pointless; The Fifth Mountain itself can be a symbol—and at this point, Coelho realizes his purpose—for a renewed faith that refuses to give up because God wills it so.
There are several highlights of the story, but two stand out from among the rest: Elijah’s hike into the gods-inhabited Fifth Mountain as a punishment for the misfortune he allegedly brought along in Akbar, and Elijah’s turn to call on God to rain heaven’s fire as a precursor of the drought-ending rain. In the former, Elijah communicated with the angel of the Lord, who conveyed God’s instruction for Elijah to invoke the widow’s dead boy to return to life, a scene teeming with the idea that God never abandons the faithful. In the latter, Elijah prayed to God for heaven’s fire, which descended to roast his sacrifice, a scene that resolves that faith produces awesome results.
Of the characters in the story, Elijah made the most impact to me because of his unwavering faith against a series of tribulations. He was persecuted throughout the novel all because he would not drop his faith. While his faith swept high and low, from the time he faced death in the arrow of Jezebel’s soldier to the duel against Baal’s prophets, never was when he lost it altogether. I believe that I can be taken for a person like Elijah, because like him, I am confronted by challenges of sort, but they are not too grave to be unbearable. Even as I get invariably criticized for my attempts, for instance, to employ words in extraordinary ways during essay writing, I still persist, grasping on the faith that someday, somehow, I will be able to resort to career in writing perhaps.
Paulo Coelho’s legend-like style of storytelling gives The Fifth Mountain, among his other works like The Alchemist, a touch of fable; only this time, he blends the human element with the divine in the historical context of the Bible. As a powerful storyteller, he enthralls his readers into becoming a first-account witness right where the delicately depicted scenes are unfolding. Because of the inherent moving-canvas quality of the novel, I believe that the story is worth the reading time of prospective audience, not only for the authorial perspective’s fantastic retelling of a strong faith amid a tumultuous Biblical period, but also for the perfect timing it is to be read by a world whose faith needs strengthening.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

indianera: isang etimolohiya

Sa patriyarkal na lipunang katulad ng atin dito sa Pilipinas, naging paghamon o subversion ng mga bakla sa ideyolohiyang homophobia ang pag-imbento ng lengguwaheng (dati ay) eksklusibo sa mga bakla: ang gay lingo. Dahil na rin sa paglaganap ng gay liberation movement mula sa Kanluran patungo sa dalampasigan natin at sa tulong ng ilang tagahubog ng kaisipan ng komunidad—ang akademya at ang midya, nagtagumpay ang mga bakla sa pagpapakalat ng swardspeak, sapat upang maimpluwensiyahan pati na ang unang-unang dapat na magtakwil dito: ang mga lalaking “diretso” o straight (halimbawa ay ang kaswal na pananalita ng isang lalaking heterosekswal: “Wala ka pa bang Papa? Puwede ako,” o “Carry pa ba ng powers mo iyan?”).
Sa sanaysay na “Gayspeak in the 90’s”[1] ni Murphy Red, may kaakibat na mini-Bading-tionary—isang “hilarious glossary”[2]—na nilikom si Ram Garcia na kakikitaan ng mga salitang Chaka (mula sa karakter ng Star Wars na si Chewbacca, “pangit,” kabaliktaran ng Guash, “guwapo”), Enter the Dragon (“pumasok sa loob ng bahay”), at Nora Daza (isang dalubhasa sa pagluluto, “magluto”), matatagpuan din ang pandiwang Indian na ang ibig sabihin ay “hindi siputin, hindi lumitaw o hindi magpakita.” Ang iba’t-ibang anyo ng pandiwang ito ay Inindian, Iindianin, mang-Indian, at iba pa. Ang mga permutasyon nitong gawa-gawa rin ng mga bakla ay Indiyanero/a (taong hindi sumipot), Miss India, at Sushmita Sen (Miss Universe 1994).
Sa konteksto ng ating lipunan, ang Indian o ang mas partikular na Bombay, isa pang biktima ng diskriminasyon—ang ideyolohiyang xenophobia, ay pamoso hindi lamang sa kakaiba nitong amoy o makakapal na balbas, kundi sa prinsipyong pangkalakalang five-six (magpapautang ang Indian ng, halimbawa, P5,000; ang bayad, kasama ang interes, ay P6,000). Pagkasara ng kasunduan sa usurerong Indian, ang Pilipino namang palasunod sa sawikaing “Utang kalimutan” ay hindi sisiputin ang kawawang Indian dahil walang perang pambayad-utang o talagang walang intensyong magbayad. Sa esensya, Iindianin ng Pinoy ang Bombay. Sa paglakad ng panahon, nanatili sa kamalayan natin—hindi na tayo Inindian—ng hindi-kaaya-ayang konteksto ng salitang Indian.
Gamitin natin ang iba’t ibang permutasyon ng salitang Indian:
Hindi ka sinipot ng boyfriend mo para makanood kayo ng pelikula ni Judy Ann Santos sa Megamall. Nang tumawag siya sa cellular phone mo, sisigawan mo siya: “Indianero ka talaga!” habang pinupunasan mo ang mga luhang bumura sa iyong mascara.
Si Lolita ay madalas lumiban sa klase, kaya ino-okray siya ng mga baklang kaklase sa titulo niyang Miss India.
Nagpasabi kang magpapa-relax ng buhok sa suki mong parlorista, pero hindi ka dumating sa oras ng usapan. Sa unang pagkakataong magkikita kayo, sasabihin sa iyo ng baklang tagaayos na, “Win (panalo) ka sana, Ate, kung hindi ka Sushmita Sen.”
O, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Iindianin ko na kayo para sa iba pang tagapagsalita. Babushka!

[1] Nakasama sa Ladlad 2: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing. Pinamatnugutan nina J. Neil Garcia at Danton Remoto. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1996.
[2] Philippine Gay Literature. Nasa Performing the Self: Occasional Prose ni J. Neil Garcia. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2003.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

sexual radicalism in a midsummer night’s dream

In contrast with the prevailing anthro- and hetero-normativity in the sociocultural location in which A Midsummer Night’s Dream emerged, the text of the play can be possibly interpreted as showing renegade sexuality. While the play may not have been written as one of sexual radicalism, there are gaps in the comedy which point to queerness apart from the more popularly explored homoeroticism.
The abnormal practice of bestiality can be read in Titania’s short-lived affection for the donkey-headed Nick Bottom. Bewitched to fall in love with the first creature she sees upon waking up in the forest, fairy queen Titania indeed becomes enamored with the vile creature to which the originally human Bottom had been magically turned. Her lavish attention and noble treatment for the transmogrified weaver is none other than a case of someone who has gone lovestruck over an animal. This unusual setup upsets the anthro-normativity of the world outside the text, for the social norm allows only the union between humans and not between a human and an animal. Titania’s state of devotion over the assified Bottom proves to be of a bestial nature, something that is queer and impermissible to the society if only for the disgust and horror it generates from the strictly anthrophilic norm before as well as today.
Another queer signification in A Midsummer Night’s Dream includes the obsession of fairy king Oberon over making Titania’s Indian ward of a boy as his page. The epic battle between the enchanted royalties is such that Oberon schemes to have Titania applied to the eyes with a magical flower juice so, as a punishment for her disobedience, the aforementioned falling in love with a despicable being will take place. This exaggerated persistence of Oberon to possess the boy for his use of him as knight begs for a sodomitical reading of the text: with his wife already distracted and with his freedom to own the boy as a page, he seems bent on using him to the extreme point of making a sodomite out of him. Then as now, sodomy in general is a crime, in which case Oberon is committing something that is sexually offensive to the society. Not only does this make him a homosexual but also does this make him a pedophile, cases which may be independent of each other but find tangency in Oberon’s circumstance. Notwithstanding homosexuality’s and pedophilia’s legal difference in most socio-historical locations (the latter being punishable by the written law while the former, by ostracism among other bigotries), both concepts antagonize the normative sphere of the society. Pedophilia, in particular, causes social opposition because somebody of minor age is involved in a practice warranting legal age for consent and recognition.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s queer interpretations communicate sexual ruptures in human civilization which, until now, cannot be socially negotiated. Bestiality and pedophilia are considered sexual anomalies meriting legal punishment. If only for these sexual rebellions, the prevalent social order is being interrogated in the dissidents’ attempt to push legal rigidities to the limit.

Monday, April 21, 2008

No, it’s not the usual manner through which I always lose accessories like wallets, hankies or umbrellas: my lack of tenacity. On one hand, that’s a positive sign of not being materialistic, but on the other hand, I can be faulted for being burara or worse, being incapable of holding on to things. I don’t want to be accused of something that I’m not, especially of mishandling friendships or love affairs.
Careless or otherwise, I lost my phones to theft. I rushed to get a shower but the recharging phone I had checked before entering the bathroom vanished after 20 minutes. Just that: gone in 20 minutes. Returning from bathing, I saw the main door ajar, the recharging phone and the camera phone inside a fake lacoste purse nowhere in sight. Slowly, expecting the worst, I reached for the tattered black bag containing the laptop I had used earlier to copy syllabi from. It was untouched. Maybe the thief was too idiotic to realize that the laptop is more expensive than the two phones combined, or maybe s/he was too much in haste to sneak away a bulky machine that might catch the attention of the kuyog-ready crowd downstairs. Whatever the case, the morals of the story include: 1. appearances deceive, 2. poverty breeds desperadoes, 3. trust no one as evil lurks everywhere, 4. huwag magtapis pagkatapos maligo.
Theft is far less traumatizing than holdup, which happened to me many times in the past. I would nonchalantly ride a public utility vehicle, and the next thing I know, holduppers were already declaring their means of livelihood. Last time I waited for a jeep on an ungodly hour, two men came up to me using the alibi of asking for time. One produced a shiny, dangerous fan knife and barked that I hand over my phone. Fearing my entrails would be used as the following day’s pavement wax, I gave the Nokia 3210 which I previously intended to discard, having bought another phone to use alternately with my camera phone. Unlike in anecdotes wherein N3210’s are being returned by holduppers since such phone model isn’t worth the risk of being busted by cops, my 3210 wasn’t tossed back on my lap. The heavens listened to my plea for my new phone to remain silent. Only when my muggers had left that it rang—my friend ben-hur texted “kumusta? can you set me up for an orgy?”
The surviving phones would disappear two years hence. It did not matter that their values have much depreciated over time or that phones have become so much cheaper nowadays; I depend so much on these for contacts from clients (which qualifies me as a call boy, pun intended), I have since discarded my manual phonebooks, my memory card contains some nostalgic songs, pictures, audio recordings and videos, among other essentials. In short, the thief caused a paralysis in my life that entailed my starting all over again. With lost phones, I’m practically plagiarizing the condition of colonized countries: I am back to scratch, my history is erased, but life must go on, beginning anew.
It didn’t help that on the way to work, a long queue leading to nfa rice stalls signaled a real food crisis. It depressed me more, since what happened to me might be repeated sometime somewhere owing to the aggravating poverty. I imagined my thief, ignoring his/her screaming conscience, selling the stolen phones to afford the skyrocketing commodity prices. S/he could be one of the hard-up faces in that crowd, and I felt sad that the face masks an inclination that’s no different from those of corrupt government officials. This is what my poor people have been reduced to.
I knew I had to see pangga after my devastating experience, notwithstanding the lovers’ quarrel a couple of nights before. His mommy let me in, and pangga was not in the least surprised to see me around. In fact, he was expecting that the visitor was I. I told him what happened, adding that “mawala na ang materyal na mga bagay sa mundo, pero kailangan kita sa buhay ko.” That sounded to me like claudine barretto singing a rey valera song, but it was enough to melt his heart. He took the phone which my student lent me temporarily and keyed in his mobile number. He suspected that I was “nagpapaawa” when I lied that even the laptop had been stolen, so he frisked my bag and verified his suspicion. He said that according to his mother, things like that occur so that accidents will befall on one’s most cherished possessions instead of on oneself. That was believable in the context of sacrifice: one lets go of one’s most precious because in the end, the benefits are at their greatest. Gollum could not agree more.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

simply put, my phones got stolen (gory details to follow)

i'm living in a parallel universe now without any means of contact except the internet, so please leave a message in my friendster inbox (handle: containing your mobile number so i can go beyond watching you from a helpless distance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

the things of a small god (for m., whom i love without regret or doubt)

The day started awry and I should have read the signs. I woke up early but refused to leave my bed until I was, yet again, an hour late for my first summer class. My second class fell apart when pangga asked me whether the sentence “my mobile phone and the sim that comes with it is provided by the company” should have the verb “was” to signify that the action was done in the past. I replied that neither was correct, for the compound subject required a plural verb, supplementing a colloquium on tenses—past, present, past perfect and present perfect—to have him decide for himself the ideal time in which the event occurred. Little did I know that he was again in the manner of correcting some person’s grammar and this time, an English major’s ego was bruised in such a manner that would tame the furious hell of a woman scorned. Acting as a flamebaiter, pangga traded my and his call center textmate’s messages. I and pangga were contemptuously told by the agent to review our lesson on subject-verb agreement, to which I reacted that the person was psychologically projecting his own error and that in a derridian deconstruction, he can only tell others to be aware of their grammar if he himself is conscious of it. The pride-wounding issue aggravated to downgrading schools, scoffing at salaries and contracting colonialism, so I told pangga to spare me the distraction from my Shakespearean paper due at 3pm and to tell his textmate to stop his diversionary tactics and face the truth that to err his human.
The motif of eluding would repeat itself throughout the day, for when I queued up at the cashier’s office to get my salary, I was informed that I wouldn’t be able to receive it since I have yet to submit my clearance form for the immediate past semester. I went to my superior and told her that without my salary, I wouldn’t be able to report to school next week. Since the salary I lined up for did not include my suspended pay and since I am a part of the institution until next semester, I reasoned that I would not be able to escape from my remaining accountability. It turned out that she had a hand in my withheld pay by scheming that I wouldn’t be compensated for my labor unless my pending requirements of fifteen (!) syllabi were submitted. Never the person to beg to people with the notorious obsession to see rebels being reduced to wimps, I bargained that I would give what she wanted next week if she signed my clearance. I wasted much time engaging in a circuitous argument with her before she acquiesced into signing my paper. That was just the beginning, for I would have to seek nine more signatories—such a complicated process for such a tiny school. Problem 1: the librarian went undertime for a business in Laguna and problem 2: the accounting officer did not report for work. I was thankful that the powers-that-be were miraculously around and that they allowed other signatories to clear me in the two absentees’ behalf. By virtue of adrenaline rush, I fulfilled my clearance requirement in a little more than an hour of shuttling from office to office, ultimately sparing me from being demoted into a lower socio-economic status.
While already more than an hour late, I still managed to reach UP just in time before the library doors shut out my application for this semester’s library card and before my professor dismissed the class. Ma’am said I missed seeing powerpoint presentations of Shakespearean actors in the buff so I graciously insisted my usb to her yet she wickedly tantalized me to wait till next meeting. To console myself, I tagged along with my classmate to the shopping center where we indulged in kwek-kwek and sago gulaman “na distilled naman ang water.” I received a text from pangga asking me out on a movie date, to which I agreed but something in me urged me to send him a disclaimer that a sermon was in the offing. I was riding toward mrt when I received his reply that said, “lupasay!”
Meeting pangga in megamall, I took a brief trip to the bench store where I looked for a small-sized, yellow-necked purple t-shirt, which had already disappeared ahead of its medium-, large- and extra large-sized kin. I settled for a long-sleeved shirt just so I would spare pangga the embarrassment of my choice of hibiscus-printed beach polo reminiscent of former manila mayor lito atienza’s floral polos. When we went out, a gay guy who saw us looked surprised that it’s the uglier guy who got to be shopped for by the good-looking one, instead of the other way around.
At the dining table, I already started my dissertation of how my relationship with pangga turned lackluster, and it’s all because of my trust on him that vanished since he tried to cheat on me. I summoned him why he could not assure me exclusivity in our setup whereas he could choose not to hurt me when he’s unattached and looking. The problem was, he still occasionally acted like he’s single when in fact, we’re together for almost one and a half years. I mentioned his textmates (including the ballistic one earlier in the day) whom he uselessly tried to lie about, meriting me to say, “hindi ako tanga, kaya huwag mo akong gawing spare tire habang naghihintay ka ng perfect mate.” I pointed out that it would be less complicated to dump me altogether so he could look out for other guys his worth without stepping on somebody involved with him. He wouldn’t do that so I accused him of being so guiltlessly insensitive of my human feelings, which caused him to stop making emoticon faces in his desperate effort to calm my rage. My unstoppable stream of angry words in flawless english with ilocano accent so overwhelmed him that he could just whisper, “I do not have the gift of words.” His eyes started to redden as if about to shed copious tears but his question finally broke the camel’s back: “hindi ba tayo manonood ng sine?” He wouldn’t leave even if I insisted on staying so I grabbed my laptop with judy ann santos’ pictures slideshow as screensaver and bolted out in haste. The lovers’ quarrel scene was straight out of melodramatic pinoy pop movies.
While I waited for a ride heading for quiapo, it dawned on me that pangga had only promised once since the day we became lovers, assuring me that I am the only one in his life. Given the difficulty of keeping one’s promise, the rapid pace at which people change, the uncommonness of unconventional relationships like ours (much less their success rate) and the rarity of miracles in the world, I should’ve learned to compromise, but only my pride prevented me from hurling myself onto the tracks of speeding vehicles in shaw boulevard. On the way to jangeum’s house, I saw from the open window a couple who appeared to be in a bravura moment, the guy kneeling before the girl, seeming to ask forgiveness. I envied him for being so brave in doing so amid the probing public eyes. I distracted myself by looking at the handsome passengers: a tisoy guy wore a white tank top to show off his gym-built torso while another still looked boyishly fresh from his eight-hour duty from the office. A team of nurses memorized mmda traffic enforcers’ spiels being repeatedly announced on select street corners (“ tumawid sa tamang tawiran…ito po ang mmda…”). I dropped by a pirated video stall whose foul-smelling vendor offered one customer a dvd he called 88 minds, which his fat sister was quick to correct: “baka 88 minutes!” the stall in which I rubbed elbows with fellow pamintas while perusing provocative m2m titles like sikreto ni kuya, salat sa kaligayahan, and the big gangbang had already closed. I could reimagine the owner’s daughter announcing publicly that the porn film whispered by an embarrassed, bayong-wielding discreet gay guy had “nagsasayaw na hubad na mga lalaki!” I picked up a pirated pinoy movie currently shown in theaters, one which pangga and I initially planned to watch if only things went out all right. I thought that I would watch alone if only to escape for the meantime my state of romantic suspension. I paid for my copy of manay po 2: overload before sneaking away from the benighted muslim community.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

pag-ibig o obsesyon: pagsusuri sa tauhang si cristino sa dulang veronidia ni cirio panganiban

Isang popular na teksto ang nagsasabing “Iisa ang uri ng pag-ibig ngunit isang libo ang imitasyon,” ayon kay Francois La Rochefoucould. Sa kanyang sarili ay mahirap bigyang-kahulugan ang pag-ibig lalo na kung kailangang ikunsidera ang perspektibong dapat gamitin upang pakahuluganan ito. Ayon sa Banal na Kasulatan na napili kong diksyonaryo ng aking perspektibo, “Ang pag-ibig ay matiyaga at magandang-loob, hindi nananaghili, nagmamapuri o nagmamataas, hindi magaspang ang pag-uugali, hindi makasarili, hindi magagalitin o mapagtanim ng sama ng loob sa kapwa, hindi nito ikinatutuwa ang gawang masama ngunit ikinagagalak ang katotohanan. Ang pag-ibig ay mapagbata, mapagtiwala, puno ng pag-asa at nagtitiyaga hanggang wakas” (I Korinto 13:4-7). Sa puntong ito, madali nang paghiwalayin ang ibig sabihin ng pag-ibig laban sa obsesyon na, sa aking pananaw, ay isa sa mga libu-libong konseptong naipagkakamaling pag-ibig. Samantalang ang pag-ibig ay walang hinihinging kapalit, kabaliktaran naman nito ang obsesyong ipinakita ng karakter ni Cristino sa dula.
Ang obsesyon ni Cristino kay Veronidia ay isang pag-aangkin sa babae bilang isang bagay na makapagpapasiya sa kanya o, sa teoryang pampanitikang postmodernong pemenismo, ay walang iba kundi objectification. Hindi nakikita ni Cristino si Veronidia bilang isang taong kapantay-kasama sa buhay; sa halip, gusto niyang kontrolin si Veronidia mula sa kaligayahan nito. Halimbawa, binigyan ni Cristino ng pasayaw si Veronidia, ngunit sa katatanong niya kung nasiyahan ito, may “suggestion” na ibig ng lalaking malaman kung naibibigay niya ang makakapagpaligaya—sa punto ay makakapagkontrol—sa babae.
Sa kaso ni Cristino, sa manipis na linya naghihiwalay sa pag-ibig at obsesyon, masasabi kong obsesyon ang nararamdaman niya patungkol kay Veronidia dahil sa mga kondisyonal ang “pag-ibig” nito sa kanya. Sabi ni Cristino, “Ikaw ay isang babaing divorciada, at kahit na maraming dalaga rito ay natangi sa akin, paano’y ikaw ang aking buhay (p.96, Hulagpos).” Pinamukha rin ni Cristino na ayaw ng kanyang ama kay Veronidia, subalit ipinaglaban pa rin niya si Veronidia kahit tinangalan siya ng mana. Hindi ito dapat sinabi ng isang tunay na umiibig na tulad ni Cristino, na utang na loob ni Veronidia ang pagdampot ni Cristino sa kanya, at sa obsesyon ng lalaki ay dapat na bayaran o tapatan nito ang ibinibigay niya. Noong namatay si Roselyo, gusto ni Veronidia na pumunta sa burol, pero ayaw siyang payagan ni Cristino. Kung tunay na mahal ni Cristino si Veronidia, na nagtitiwala siya rito, pinayagan niya itong makiramay. Sa mga aksyon ni Cristino, nagpapakita siya ng obsesyon kay Veronidia na siya lamang ang dapat makinabang dito bilang “object” niya.
Sa pangkalahatan, hindi pag-ibig ang nararamdaman ni Cristino kay Veronidia kundi obsesyon na pansariling interes lamang ang pinangangalagaan.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the individual as agent of social change

The birth of modernism and postmodernism gave rise to the interrogation of the legitimacy of traditional authority of institutions over individuals. Gradually, waves upon waves of questions flooded the ideological state apparatuses regarding their power to create the identity of an individual only when that person becomes an integral member of the Church and the State, among others. Why not, when social change proved to have no place in these traditional institutions that, in fact, conserve status quo if only to continue their domination over the whole society of individuals? The liberalism associated with the modernist and postmodernist movements becomes tantalizing, then, for people who, despite being integrated to the mainstream society, still find themselves ironically alienated because of their absence of identity in the face of collectivism. Today, it is not an entirely abominating idea anymore to be different, to be an Other—actually, there is a redeeming value in celebrating an individualist identity because the previously ostracized Other can now justifiably speak for oneself even as one divorces oneself from the identified shadow of the collective. Liberalism has made it possible for an individual to see one’s worth in creating progressive change. After all, the small trickles of changes coming from individuals can accumulate into a large-scale change that shall give the society a refreshing facelift. Indeed, an individual can proclaim “I am change” because first, the collective has fallen short over the introduction of changes owing to its inherent nature of conservatism and equilibrium and second, change starts in and with individuals, above all.
Individualism and collectivism are antagonistic perspectives of the nature of humans, society and the link in between. On one hand, individualism considers the individual to be the foremost unit of reality and the final standard of value. While this perspective never denies the truth that societies exist and people gain from being associated, the society is to be held as something not over and above people but a collection of individuals. On the other hand, collectivism considers the nation, the race, the masses and many other such groups to be the foremost unit of reality and the final standard of value. While this perspective never denies the reality of the individual, one’s identity is formed through one’s relationship with others or one’s interaction with a group.
Also, individualism views people dealing foremost with reality and other people constitute one part of reality while collectivism views the group rather than the individual dealing foremost with reality through the one mediating among interactive people.
Furthermore, individualism considers that no person must be signified at the expense of another person because everyone is an end in oneself whereas collectivism considers the group’s needs and goals as being more important than those of the individual’s, necessitating personal sacrifice for the good of all.
Lastly, individualism considers the individual to be the origin of progressive change because one creates a new achievement by superseding what has been previously achieved by others while collectivism considers progressive change as a social product, with individuals participating in the collective process of change.
However conflicting, the views of individualism and collectivism can coexist. Individualism is misconstrued as isolation or being alone or beyond the outer bounds of society. The essence of individualism, in truth, cannot be seen in the absence of other humans. It does not push the individual into divorcing oneself from the rest of humanity but only promotes the idea that the individual rather than the group constitutes the society.
Hence, there is no truth in believing that individualism is isolationist and, therefore, opposing cooperation. It does not follow that if one is an individualist, one will never get along harmoniously with the group. An individual who refuses to listen to other people and does things in one’s way even if that way is inefficient, cannot be anyone but a close-minded person. In actuality, a real individualist considers truth as being more important than any authority, even himself, so he pursues the best for himself without any myopic regard for the origin of that best alternative. It is therefore an undeniable reality for individualists to see living in society and cooperating with others as beneficial, although not all coexistential and cooperative arrangements can be said so, as may be proven by the Spanish-Indios relationship during the colonial Philippines.
Also, there is no truth in believing that individualism can be contaminated in any way by collectivism, because the extremes of both philosophies cannot be fully correct. Their truth may be found in the middle of both philosophies. Since these are oppositional thoughts, no middle point exists between them. Individualism opposes the collectivist view that the group is over and above people. Collectivism views the group as the primary influence of everyone else while individualism views individuals influencing one another. Collectivism views individuals cooperating with the whole group while individualism, with other individuals. Collectivism views individuals as constructing progressive change through the society while collectivism, through every individual. Therefore, making the two philosophies go hand in hand is mere acceptance of collectivism because this thought’s point of view adjusts individuals such that the society’s sake will not be superseded by placing more importance on the individuals’ interest.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

gender dissidence in twelfth night

Twelfth Night is among the most excavated textual sites for the dissertation of the queer in Shakespeare. On the one hand, there is the transvestism as appropriated by Viola; on the other hand, there are homosexual and bisexual attractions between the major characters. These queer manifestations on the characters’ part point to the gender subversion in the prevailing society then up to the contemporary times.
When she gets shipwrecked in Illyria, The female character Viola masquerades herself as a man in order to enter the service of Duke Orsino. This must mean that as a woman, she cannot be a page to the duke. However, by using the male disguise as a device for Viola to pass for a eunuch, the playwright had challenged gender conventions of his time. It must be remembered that during the time, the biological females with the royal exception of Queen Elizabeth I were banned from the theater and so, the exclusively-male domain of the theater had been tangentially interrogated by Shakespeare via the visibility of a female in male drag.
The aforementioned engenders a sexual confusion as the Countess Olivia becomes enamored to Viola’s guise as Cesario, who was asked by Duke Orsino to woo Olivia in the bachelor’s behalf. A lesbian reading of this presents Olivia being in love with a female, notwithstanding her thought of her as a male. Meanwhile, Cesario falls in love with the Duke but cannot articulate this love since the Duke assumes she is a male. The latter is not the case, however, since it can be read that the Duke, besides being in love with himself (a narcissistic love that can also be interpreted as homosexual for that self is the same: male), is attracted to the feminine-featured Cesario as he is attracted to Olivia, making him bisexual. Long after Viola sheds her male manservant disguise, Orsino still raves over the beauty of Cesario, an implication of his attraction to the male, not female, masquerade. When Orsino declares his love to Viola, he alludes to her as a boy and calls her by her male name, suggesting that the Duke is in love with Viola’s male mask. The revelation of Viola’s true female identity does not seem to stop Orsino from enjoying the pretense of his eunuch’s masculinity. Meanwhile, the homoerotic subtexts become already explicit in Antonio, who is enamored with his friend Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother. He does everything for him, even risking his life and giving him wealth, all in the name of love. His homoerotic desire for the shipwrecked boy may have been unrequited, and heterosexual marriages may have ensued after the ambiguities are resolved, but these two are mere complicities to the compulsory heterosexuality of the socio-historical context in which the comedy was produced.
If not for the gender-bending Shakespeare resorted to in presenting the play, Twelfth Night would have been an ordinary love charade. With the question of gender and sexuality coming to the fore, the comedy makes the reader examine the social construction of identity as indicated by gender. This has been expressed by the ambiguous impacts of Viola’s transvestism. Likewise, this has been shown by the non-exclusionary sexual representation of the homoerotic love between Orsino and his page, Olivia and Viola and Sebastian and Antonio. The gender dissidence in Twelfth Night serves as a subversion of the hegemonic dictatorship of heterosexuality in Shakespeare’s times’ until today’s norms.

Monday, April 14, 2008

absence 1

Trees of pomelo shed their tattered leaves
Each time the snow-cold air begins to blow
Rouge gumamela petals just won’t grow
In piercing drops of silver rain that grieves.
Oh, younger have become the solemn eves
And yet, the poisoned waters cease to flow
The knitted cogon threads lament like crow
In want of traceless dew for thirsty sheaves.
Too 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.
This parting never does me any good;
Home isn’t home unless I am with you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

some of what i need to know in life, i learned in playing pacman (for my batchmates, my former colleagues and my pangga)

Before my fellow skilled workers left for greener yet equally capitalistic pastures, they gave me something to crow about even in the dead of night: a soft copy of a folder of games including classic favorites like scrabble, text twist, galaga and pacman. I immediately dragged the contents to my newly-reformatted laptop so I could play at once. However, since the laptop’s sound device had yet been recovered by my repairman of a colleague, I had to provide my own sound effects of screeches, shrieks and grumbles. I can endure vilma santos’ amulet-swallowing darna hollering the magic word yet in complete silence, but in order to humor myself, I had to overpower the wee hours’ deafening quiescence with my falsetto vocals with enough decibels to compete against the sound of a space rocket being launched.
As grade school kids in nueva ecija, my friends and I trembled in anticipation whenever the town fiesta was approaching. That meant the arrival of the rented slot machines wherein pacman and galaga programs, among other videogames, might be played. While the straight boys turned to violent brawls like x-men and streetfighter, the girls and the badinglets would push buttons and manipulate joysticks in order to annihilate space aliens, escape ghosts, run after growth-enhancing mushrooms, plant bombs amid walls or shoot animal-carrying hot air balloons. When my pangga pointed out that he had been playing atari and nintendo games at a much earlier time, I argued that he belonged to the privileged class whereas we schoolmates could touch slot machines only when we had saved enough coins to buy our childhood happiness.
Notwithstanding class conflicts and marxist discourses, the following are the lessons I learned from playing pacman:
1. It’s a dog-eats-dog world out there. Yes, I understand that the mantra of some versatile gay guys is “eat and be eaten,” but I find it vicious that in order to escape being devoured by tentacled ghosts with such tellytubby-like names as blinky, pinky, inkey and clyde, the yellow mouth that I am had to swallow (the glowing “mutya”—take the leer off your face) and then eat the fear-harboring ghosts who have since turned purple. If only to comfort my colleagues who had been victimized by the character-assassination of some talentless, phantasmically madeup dogeater, listen to my ranting one more time: the greener pastures have more glowing mutyas albeit with more dogeaters to deal with.
2. Many twists and turns are strewn along the way and it’s all up to you to give yourself some direction. You don’t need to have a bird’s eye view to see the pacman that you are being determinedly pursued by ghosts—you anticipate that. As a result, you turn where you feel like you are most secure and most rewarded, hoping to stumble upon your success along the way. With great pride, I admit that our high school batch is among the most stellar in recent memory. However, when classmates tell me that this junior or that placed 6th in the engineering board or passed the bar, I secretly hoped one of us pursued med proper or became a full-fledged lawyer. Then again, who will ever forget of our resident nerd’s topping the chemical engineering board exam? Like pacman, we went where serpentine life had taken us and became teachers and healthcare officers and government workers who help contribute to the building of this nation. (beauconera #1?)
3. Just when you’re so near the glowing mutya that shall give you super strength, the ghosts will have succeeded in their stalking chase. And no amount of cheers, screams and breast thumping from your spectators of classmates will have saved pacman from being reduced to the smallest fraction. In real life, you are so close to introducing change in the institution, then you incur the ire of the powers-that-be, a paper appears stating that your services are no longer needed. It’s ironic, right, Alanis?
4. Codicil to lesson #3, the evils of the world do not give so much as a blink when they harm you. I hate it when the ghosts’ eyes remain glowering even as pacman starts to disintegrate as a result of his defeat; I hate it too when conscienceless people concoct falsehoods in cold-blooded fashion just to fortify their employment position but at the expense of their colleagues’, more so when they shed crocodilian tears in the pretext that the departed will be missed. Tantanan mo nga ako, miss lacoste-a rica who can lie through your teeth without batting an eyelash.
5. Codicil to lessons #1, 3 and 4, expect the worst so run as if ghosts are after you. Whatever career you step in, the system will prove to be dystopian. Thus, be like pacman: avoid as much as possible the causes for your own ruin. Be single-minded over hitching your wagon to a star. Yeah, right; this from a self-confessed distracted individual who aspires (or despairs, depending on whose perspective) to gain focus in order to achieve inner tranquility required to contribute to social development and world peace! (beauconera #2?)
6. Codicil to lesson #5, when your spirit is at its strongest, the evils of the world will cringe at you. See pacman how he could chase away the ghosts turning violet in fright (complete with the funny fluctuating lip line) after chomping on the glowing mutya. In much the same encouraged manner, you can make the evils eat their hearts out by possessing an indestructible spirit. No amount of fired employment, lost childhood or career disappointments should ever dampen your bravery. They are meant less to terrorize but more to humanize. (beauconera #3?)
7. 23 years of experience will not give you the immunity from being ganged upon by ghosts. My pangga boasts that since he has been playing videogames as early as four years old, he has practically mastered the more primitive programs like super mario and bomber man. He grew mestizong-mestizo when pacman’s successful evasion of the ghosts drew gleeful claps and ravings from me. Then the inevitable happened: no matter how fast and cunning he made pacman appear, the ghosts always and always found their ruthless, conspiratorial way of meting out pacman’s sudden death. So much for romanticizing the expertise of a modern guy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

gaano ka-Pilipino si Plato?

Bagay ba ang pilosopiya ni Plato sa kasalukuyang lipunang Pilipino? Maraming pagkakapareho at pagkakaiba ang kanyang paniniwala at ang konteksto ng lipunan kung saan tayo nabubuhay. Sa paraan ng pagpili ng pinuno ayon kay Plato, likas na talino ng anumang kasarian ang dapat sanayin sa pag-aaral at paglilingkod sa estado upang maging bahagi ng “guardian class.” Sa Pilipinas, hindi kinakailangang napakatalino o nakatanggap ng diploma; sa katunayan, may ilang naihahalal dahil sikat o kamag-anak ng pulitiko, kahit pa walang kasanayang pang-edukasyon o lingkod-bayan. Dahil sa pagkakaibang ito, nabubulok ang katayuang pulitikal ng ating bansa kumpara sa demokrasya noong kapanahunan ni Plato. Sa isang banda, may pagkakahawig ang dalawa sa paghatag ng gulang para sa mga lider dahil sa paniniwalang nahahasa ang pamumuno sa pagtanda ang tao, kaya may pangsalba—edad—ang pagpili natin ng lider.
Sa ugnayan ng tao at estado, magkatugma ang prinsipyo ni Plato at ang kaligirang pampulitikal ng Pilipinas na kung ano ang mamamayan, ganoon din ang estado. Ang kaisahan ng dalawa sa puntong ang tao—binubuo ng kanyang mga hangarin, damdamin at isipan—ang magdidikta sa kahihinatnan ng kayang bansa ay kagila-gilalas, gayong magkaiba ang konstruksyon ng hangarin, damdamin, at isipan noon, kung kailan mas nakakiling sila sa kumbensyon o tradisyon at ngayon, kung kailan nakakiling tayo sa modernismo at pagbabago.
Sa ideyal na estado, may pagkakapareho rin ang pilosopiya ni Plato at ang kontekstong pulitikal ng lipunang Pilipino. Ang klasikong kaisipang ang mga grupo ng mamamayan ay gagawin ang nakatakda sa kanila para sa kabuuan ng lipunan ay makikita pa rin ngayon dahil sa kaisipang kolektibong dulot naman ng ideyolohiyang moderno. Ang mga grupong ito—ang mga manggagawa na siyang pupuno sa mga pangangailangan ng estado, at ang mga militar at mga pinuno na siyang nagdidirekta at nagkokontrol sa mga manggagawa—na kaaaniban ng bawat mamamayan upang makasama sa kolektibo ng institusyong pulitikal ay hindi tama dahil nawawala ang indibidwalismo o pansariling pakakakilanlan.
Sa pananaw ukol sa demokrasya, hindi bagay sa lipunang Pilipino ang mapang-insultong kaisipan ni Plato na itapon ang indibidwalismo at demokrasya para paboran ang pagkapailalim ng mamamayan sa estado. Kahit pa sabihing namamayani ang kamalayang kolektibo sa Pilipinas bilang pagkilala sa institusyon bilang “mas mataas” kaysa mamamayan, mas mabuting manggaling sa indibidwal ang kapangyarihan upang maging mas katanggap-tanggap para sa kanya ang kahihinatnan ng kanyang bayan kaysa estado ang magdikta ng kanyang kapalaran at sa proseso, isa lang siyang asong sunud-sunuran sa bawat sabihin ng among militar at pinuno.
Sa katarungan sa estado, pareho ang prinsipyo ni Plato at ang lipunang pulitikal ng Pilipinas kaya maituturing na bagay ang klasikong kaisipan sa konteksto ng lipunang Pilipino. Ang pagtugma ng uring manggagawa, militar at pinuno sa kabuuang pampisikal, pang-ispiritwal at pangkaisipan ng tao, ayon sa pagkakasunud-sunod, ay pagpapakita ng estado bilang institusyong kaugnay ng mga mamamayang bumubuo rito. Mahirap nga lamang sa tugmang sitwasyong ito ang panganib na sa umiiral na hirarkiya ng lipunan, hindi mabibigyang katarungan ang indibidwalismo bagkus ay katarungang kolektibo lamang. Kung gayon, ang katarungan sa estado ay totalitaryan at hindi demokratiko—hindi kinakailangang akmang-akma sa lipunang Pilipino.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

serbis in arayat country

with seasoned actress jacklyn jose

with respected writer armando "bing" lao

Friday, April 04, 2008

minatamis at iba pang tula ng pag-ibig: isang pahimakas

Pag-ibig, na ayon sa kontemporaryong manunulat na si J. Neil Garcia ay siyang pinapaksa ng lahat ng panitikan, ay siya ring tema ng antolohiya ng mga tula ni Joi Barrios. Pagmamahal sa mangingibig, pag-ibig habang nasa ibang lupain, at kolektibong pag-ibig sa bayan at sarili ang mga pinaksa ni Barrios sa kanyang mga tula. Maging ang namamayaning emosyon ay pangangamba (gaya ng “Tula sa Magdamag”), inspirasyon, (gaya ng “Bituin”) o pagsasapalaran (gaya ng “Rosas de Alas Diyes”), sa iisang tema umiinog ang mga tulang ito—pag-ibig.
Mapagsiwalat ang tono ng mga tula ni Barrios. Gaya ng dapat asahan sa mga tula, pagbugso ng emosyon ng pag-ibig ang asal ni Barrios sa kanyang antolohiya. Mula sa kanyang tulang “Pagbati sa Pagsinta” (isang pagtingin sa pag-ibig bilang realistikong bagay na hindi hinubog sa “fairy tales”) hanggang sa “Pagsamba” (isang pagtaya sa mangingibig bilang mala-diyos na nilalang na dapat alayan ng pag-ibig), kakikitaan ang mga ito ng selebrasyon ng pag-ibig ng isang nakakaramdam nito. Madarama sa mga linya ng mga tula ni Barrios na naranasan na niyang umibig, at ang tula niya ay manipestasyon ng kanyang pagkatao dahil sa karanasang ito sa pag-ibig.
Sa pananaw-sa-buhay, dalawa ang dominanteng pagtingin sa kalakhan ng mundo: humanismo at pemenismo. Masasabi kong humanismo ang nilalaman ng kalipunan ng mga tula dahil ipinagdiriwang ang kakayahan ng taong magmahal. Makikita ang manipestasyon nito sa mga tulang “The Gentleman Caller” (ang pag-ibig na lagi na ay tama sa panahon para sa umiibig) o “Dalawang Tula tungkol sa Pagbuburda: Alay sa Pasko” (pamumukadkad ng pag-ibig sa pagitan ng dalawang tao). Samantala, namayani rin ang pagtinging pemenista dahil sa ilang tulang may selebrasyon naman sa pagkababae ng may-akda, mula sa tulang “Ang Kapatid na Babae ng Ilustrado” (partisipasyon ng babae—kapatid ng pambansang bayaning si Jose Rizal—sa rebolusyon), “Paglisan” (pagkabuo pa rin ng babae kahit pa sa paglisan ng mangingibig), at “Pangarap” (pag-ibig sa babae sa kung ano siya at hindi ayon pinapangarap ng mangingibig).
Malayang taludturan ang ginamit ng may-akda sa kanyang mga tula, isang paghalo sa tradisyunal na tema ng pag-ibig sa modernong konsepto ng pagsusulat ng tula at sa postmodernong perspektibong gaya ng pemenismo at may lakip ng postkolonyal na diskurso. Halimbawa nito ang “Mga Bulaklak ng Tagsibol” na sa mga linyang “Alaala ng Flores del Heidelberg./Paanong hindi magnanasa sa baying sarili/kung saan isang buong taong namumukadkad/ang sanlibo’t isang bulaklak?” makikita ang kumbensyonal na konsepto ng pag-ibig sa bayan, inilapat sa modernong malayang taludturan, nagsaad ng postkolonyal na pagtrato sa bansang walang hihigit sa kagandahan at paggamit ng simbolismong mga bulaklak sa mga kababaihang progresibo ang pagkatao “buong taon.”
Mahusay ang makata dahil nakasulat siya ng matatalinghagang tula hindi lamang sa wikang Filipino ngunit naisalin pa ang mga ito sa wikang Ingles. Simple lamang ang mga ideyang ginamit ngunit makikitang tunay na tunay nga ang bawat isa sa totoong buhay, lalung-lalo na sa mga taong nakaranas nang umibig. Halimbawa, sa kanyang mga tula para sa kanyang asawa, sa kanilang romansa/pakikipagsapalaran sa Korea, naipakita ng may-akda ang kalinawan ng kanyang mga kaisipan, dayuhan man ang karanasan ng pagpatak ng niyebe (“Unang Niyebe”) at taglagas (“Haiku sa Taglagas”).
Nasasakyan ang kanyang sensilibidad dahil gumamit siya ng mga payak na emosyong nararamdaman ng mga pangkaraniwang tao. Lahat ay nakakararamdam ng pag-ibig kaya lahat ay makakakita ng pagkatulad. Ang mga emosyong kaakibat ng pag-ibig—sakit (gaya ng “Pilat”), pagluluksa (“Ritwal”) diliryo (“Bawat Mangingibig ay Makata”), at iba pa—ay naramdaman na rin ng tao sa isang punto ng kanyang buhay.
Hindi natatangi ang kanyang perspektiba dahil sa pagiging unibersal ng paksa. Masyado nang maraming nasasabi tungkol sa pag-ibig. Kahit na balibaliktarin mo ay tama pa rin. Isa siyang malaking “oxymoron.” Tulad na lamang ng kasabihang “love is blind” and “love sees all”. Magkabaliktad ang mga ito pero parehong tama. Ang mga tulang “Paglalakbay” (sapalaran ng pag-ibig) o “Minatamis” (“ginagawang matamis/ang asim at pait/ng tag-araw”) ay pareho namang pakikipagsapalaran: magkabilang dulo man ng mundo ang agwat, pareho ng perspektiba.
Maraming mga tula ang pumukaw sa isipan. Kahit na hindi pa ganap na umiibig ay masasabing may sapat na nalalaman tungkol dito. Ipinapakita rin sa mga isinulat ng may-akda ang kanyang pagka-peminista. Sa unang basa ay maaaring hindi makita ang mga natatagong mensahe. Gayunpaman, kapag natagpuan na ay nakakaramdam ng paghanga dahil sa kakayahan nitong pagdikit-dikitin ang mga putol-putol na ideya upang makagawa ng isang buong kaisipan. Tulad na lamang ng tulang “Pagbati sa Pagsinta” kung saan ginamitan niya ng iba’t ibang fairytale icons o mga sikat na fairytales gaya ni Sleeping Beauty o Rapunzel upang maipakitang ang pag-ibig ay dapat hinaharap ng buong buo: walang labis at walang kulang. Sinasabi din na dapat ipapakita lamang ang tunay na sarili sa pag-ibig.
Ang “Haiku sa Taglagas” ang suminsin sa mensahe ng pag-ibig sa bawat puso ng tao: “Sa kabundukan/ay dagat kang dumating,/pusong kaylalim.” Sa kabundukang ito na tinatawag nating mundo, ang impluwensiya o dating ng pag-ibig ay singlawak at singlalim ng karagatan, katunayan ay higit pa nga, ngunit hindi sapat ang bokabularyo upang bigyang kahulugan ang nadarama.

“Philippine Gay Literature.” Mula sa Filipiniana Reader, Priscelina Patajo-Legasto, patnugot. Quezon City, University of the Philippines, 1998.
Mula sa dulang “ Midsummer Night’s Dream” ni William Shakespeare.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

pinoy hero in focus: andres bonifacio

Andres Bonifacio, a central figure in the Katipunan, was born into a lower middle class family. This was one of the reasons why Katipunan attracted many from the ranks of the masses: people from under the social strata identified with Bonifacio who was one of their own.
While he was so poor that he did not go beyond second year high school, he was a voracious reader especially on the subject of revolution. Among the books found in his home when it was searched by authorities included copies of Rizal's novels, Les Miserables, The Wandering Jew, La Solidaridad, masonic papers and revolutionary speeches.Bonifacio was not a barbaric person who put up an armed struggle because of his violent nature as what some textbooks produce. His fascination with hundreds of foreign novels, books about the French revolution, politics, law, and religion prove the sophisticated individual that he was. The books that he consumed became his instrument to realize that freedom is the most significant element of a sovereign nation. He knew that it mattered to be free from the bonds of a foreign ruler. He interrogated the unfair rights given to the Filipinos, while the Spaniards, who were the real foreigners in the country, were given all the privileges.
Bonifacio was one of the founders of La Liga Filipina, the reformist society organized by Jose Rizal. While it was relatively harmless, the Spanish authorities believed it attracted people who desired drastic social changes and had Rizal arrested and deported to Dapitan. While the league was a brainchild of an ilustrado, Bonifacio reorganized the league until its split into factions strengthened the secret society called Katipunan. This proved Bonifacio’s capacity to synthesize the middle class and the masses. After all, theirs was a common struggle that defied class and racial structures: the experience of colonialism which had to end. What started as a movement for peaceful assimilation shifted to radical separation.
In the beginning, the early leadership of the Katipunan fell into the hands of the middle class, but its composition and subsequent leadership belonged to the masses. As mentioned, the synthesis of the ilustrados and the masses was made possible by Bonifacio, an implication of his popular leadership. The Katipunan itself was able to recruit workers, peasants, soldiers, government officials, employees, merchants, teachers and priests. Bonifacio’s charisma suited him as a leader of the numerous cross-sections.
When the Katipunan was discovered prematurely, Bonifacio and other Katipunan leaders went to Balintawak where they met the masses at the yard of Melchora Aquino to convince the movement to start the revolution. They tore their cedulas in a symbolic gesture of breaking the ties from Spain. The Katipuneros, led by Bonifacio, had to prepare for the inevitable: the struggle for colonial independence.
When the revolt spread, Bonifacio set up camp in the mountains of Montalban where Katipuneros joined them daily. Their gained strength enabled them to attack the Spanish troops in San Mateo and to take over the town. But since Bonifacio had no military training, Bonifacio suffered numerous defeats in the heightened campaign of the Spanish government. His reputation dwindled at the moment Emilio Aguinaldo, his colleague and rival at the Katipunan, was earning prestige in the Cavite rebellion. However, Bonifacio could be said to be a lot different from Aguinaldo in that he had that single-minded motive of seeing his country independent from any colonial power. His lack of martial training, he compensated for his sincere desire to fight to the end for Philippine freedom.
The rivalry between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo led the latter to wage a campaign to replace the former as leader of the Katipunan. When the Tejeros convention yielded the presidency of Biak-na-Bato Republic to middle-class Aguinaldo, the mass-led Revolution by Bonifacio was superseded by a pact made between the Spaniards and the revolutionaries for the revolt to end in exchange for the people's revolutionary demands. The day Aguinaldo assumed leadership of the revolutionary government, the cause of the common people as believed by Bonifacio had already died.
The defeat of Bonifacio at Tejeros was the signal of the masses’ surrender of the Revolution to the ilustrados. Bonifacio believed he was still the Katipunan's Supremo so he founded a new government apart from the one formed in Tejeros. When he refused to submit to Aguinaldo's authority owing to the rigged election that stole the leadership from him, Bonifacio was charged with sedition. He was tried but in fact, Aguinaldo only wanted to eliminate him so Aguinaldo can take charge of the Revolution. Bonifacio had to die to stabilize Aguinaldo's leadership.
His trial was rather unfair, for Bonifacio was not even allowed a good chance to give self-defense. Bonifacio was eventually sentenced to death, because an alive Bonifacio would just cause threat and division in the revolutionary movement. It was allegedly in the best interest of the revolution to do away with Bonifacio.
One of the significant heroes during our country’s armed quest for independence, Andres Bonifacio may not have lived to see this ambition being fulfilled to reality, but he is one of the main reasons why the Philippines gained freedom. Bonifacio is known as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution.”

Constantino, Renato. The Philippines: A Past Revisited. Quezon City: Constantino, 1998, 166.
Constantino, 158-159.
Constantino, 175.
Constantino, 176.
Constantino, 177.
Constantino, 180-181.
Constantino, 198.
Constantino, 190-191.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

the sorcerer

Silence biding itself
To self-destruct,
Your apparition speaks to me
Of wisdom known beyond
What the zealous eyes can see.
In this darkened room where
You never treaded with fancy feet,
The fireflies come alive,
Sparkling in grotesque corners
Of distant longing
And Placid Naivete.
Potent smile and starry eyes assert
Even in surreal imaginings,
Never telling when the potion
Spoils its powers
Nor when nuances
Cease to fake the gray.
Farther away,
Cast into a realm
That is your home, my home
The charmer lays in quiescence
Among books, roses
And ardent mobile phone.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

deceptive reflections: the symbol of the mirror in nick joaquin's "may day eve"

There is more to the mirror in Nick Joaquin’s “May Day Eve” than meets the eye. It may be a literal image in which the lives of the estranged couple Agueda and Badoy are inextricably linked, but by figurative extension, the mirror resembles, suggests and associates something more and something else.
For one, the mirror symbolizes the illusory love between Agueda and Badoy. When they first met, the mutual physical attraction was strong as may be confirmed in the recollection made by both. On the part of Agueda, her physical attraction was evident in seeing the young Badoy’s “very black and elegant” mustaches, “his fine clothes, his flashing eyes, his curly hair” as they were reflected in the mirror. On the part of Badoy, his physical attraction was evident in seeing the young Agueda’s “charms,” “tremendous beauty,” the “eyes she had,” “bare shoulders gold in the candlelight and delicately furred,” “the mobile insolence of her neck, her taut breast,” her enchanting “fire” and “grace,”“her hair that was like black waters” as they were reflected in the same mirror. However, their attraction being founded on something so superficial as physical appearance, their love’s roots are not anchored deeply so their feelings for each other did not endure. Just a few years after their chance meeting by the mirror on a May Day Eve, with the product of their marital union still a very young girl, Agueda is already referring to her husband as the “devil” and attaches negative descriptions to him like having “a scar of sin,” mustaches“dirty and greying and smelling horribly of tobacco,” and horns and tails. Badoy has the similar antagonistic attitude against his wife, whom he refers to as a“horrible,” “dark, fatal creature” of a “witch” who “tortured” him and “ate [his] heart and drank [his] blood.” This reversal of Agueda and Badoy’s initial passionate pronouncements toward each other implies that like a mirror reflecting analmost-similar yet actually false image, the skin-deep love they had already disillusioned them. Whereas before, the coyness Agueda had shown in the guise of feistiness hid her true interest over Badoy and the anger Badoy had felt toward the spunky lady intensified into a realization of love, there was now noreason for them to veil thinly their disenchantment toward each other after their shallow love had dissipated. The mirror in which the husband and wife had seen each other’s image reflected illusions of realities that when they took seriously, deceived them into a married life of bitterness and estrangement. The deceptively superficial beauties they had marveled at in the mirror did not reveal the essential selves which in the course of their marital union were suggested to be not as attractive as their physical masks.
Also, the mirror symbolizes the illusion of feminist strength in young Agueda when she dealt with young Badoy fiercely during their encounter at the sala. The recently-arrived lad from Europe was so intoxicated that he made to feel the country lass as stupid for admiring herself in front of the mirror at midnight. She was, in truth, experimenting on some imported superstition but would not want to be caught doing a more stupid thing so she brazenly asked to be permitted to pass. The lad felt so encouraged to deal with such a tigress of a beauty that he acted more obnoxious, reducing her to tears. When his attempt to pacify her earned him her bite on the knuckles, it seems that the woman had the upper hand on the matter. Her eventual marriage to him and the unhappy life that followed suit proved that what seems may not be what is, for the patriarchy had yet again won for making Agueda pay a high price for her spunk. Much like the mirror that showed an almost-but-not-quite-real reflection, Agueda’s ferociousness may appear to dismantle Badoy’s macho ideology single-handedly, but her decline into an unhappy, resentful wife manifested the containment of her strength by the actually more powerful patriarchy of her society.
Another symbol of the mirror is the variant of realism called magic realism. The events chronicled in the story may very well have happened in real life except that they are so hyperreal and so mundane that they cannot be mistaken for anything else but magic realism. In this kind of realism, the ordinary is interspersed with the fantastic, i.e. the enchanted element of the mirror, the tensed encounter between Agueda and Badoy, such that the effect makes the miraculous seem like an everyday thing. Ultimately, this effect creates a reflection-like impression of reality whereas in fact, the mirror is far from being magical and the lovers’ quarrel, far from being too cinematic.
The aforementioned symbolic representations of the mirror in “May Day Eve” prove that some things are meant to be viewed beyond the deluding façade because these, ironically, are not what they seem.