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!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

durkheim's definitions of society and religion

Emile Durkheim defines society as a complicated network with every part integrally working for the sake of the entire group. According to Durkheim, society comes in two forms: internal and external. First, the internal society forms the “collective moral conscious.” In other words, it is the defining mechanism in shaping our beliefs and attitudes for survival in the world. If society does not conform to the internal society, then social isolation, ridicule, and other forms of punishment could occur. Examples of internal society are the Bible, education, and laws. Society uses these devices to attempt to keep social order and construct a socially acceptable individual. External to society is the actual pressures from the community to conform to the collective. For example, ways of thinking, acting and feeling are external to society. Social facts exist externally to us and compel people to behave in a unified way, with norms that are constructed by society. These facts are recognizable through power that the external persuasion has, which can be exercised over an individual. Early on, Durkheim defined social facts by their exteriority and constraint, his main concern being on the operation of the law. Social facts possess various characteristics. One characteristic is constraint, which is the ability to mold an individual to conform to society. A second characteristic is generality, which is something that is potentially general and separated with a group. A final characteristic included in social facts is externality, which consists of a reality existing outside any individual. To summarize, Durkheim sees the society not as a mere sum of individuals but as a systematized association of individuals representing a specific reality with unique features.
Meanwhile, Durkheim’s theory of religion tells that religion, like the society and as a society, functions on a set of interconnected laws which members of the community follow. In the context of religion, these laws are the sacred things or “things set apart or forbidden” basically because these are the ones commanding the laws and, hence, above these laws. It is imperative that the behavior expected of the religious community be in the way of believing the sacred things and practicing the commandments of these sacred things, not for the sake of these sanctified objects but for the community’s own sake: for their assurance of salvation and sustenance of morality, which obliges of everyone to each other as well as to the entire group’s standards. Not only should the behavior be supposedly harmonious to the commandments but also should the beliefs and practices be consistent, because only when the laws within that community do not contradict one another will the members put their faith in by adhering to the laws. Such laws belong to all members, so they are held sacred in the context of their community, and being the moral standard by which people live, they symbolize the community and works as the reverence the society has for itself.
As a lawful society, religion keeps the community together by keeping the people in check. Though one’s religion doesn’t make the country crimeless, it keeps the whole aspects of life in the community revolving around it. For example, there are a few states in the US that are still against gay marriage, though there are some states in the US that approved gay marriage. Some European countries have approved gay marriages and some haven’t. The point here is that moral issues like gay marriage are complicated by the fact that the religion is inseparable to the society since the very members of society make up the members of the religious community. Meanwhile, most Islamic countries are strict and their laws revolve around them in such a way that some government policies have revolved around this belief of the people. Islamic violations, it must be remembered, usually result to death penalty. That is how highly regarded religion is to certain societies: adherents to whatever religion have to be united morally (in essence, lawfully) to the beliefs and practices, because only when the network of laws are upheld will the sacred things be truly taken seriously.
Religion is a product of the society because the very members of the society compose what religion is. When they realize that there is a greater power that controls the very things they cannot, i.e. the change of weather and seasons, the pattern of day and night, the events that surprisingly oppose their intentions, etc, they philosophize that there must be a Supreme Being that they cannot explain the existence of, someone who has immense power to do the changes they cannot. Hence, they resorted to myths in order to explain the mysteries of nature. By representing God in their minds, individuals have ceased to see nature as the prime cause of motion. The growing network of beliefs and the accompanying practices built into what is known as religion. It is the society that constructed it because the social members are the ones who created the beliefs and the ones that practice the same.
Religion is a product of society in that a society dictates religion. The more the number of a specific religion, the more one can control the society’s way of life like culture, laws, and everything. Society uses these devices to attempt to keep social order and construct a socially acceptable individual.
According to Durkheim, social facts are things not done individually like facts, concepts and expectations, but something done collectively within society to shape an individual. Religion, by way of what has been explained above, follows this route. It is a shared network of beliefs and practices among members; its laws are expected to be consistent with one another in order to gain the trust of the community adhering in it. Religion cannot be explained by biology or chemistry but by sociology which could explain why the whole society is doing these things—the upholding of rites, the creation of God in the social mind, the following of commandments, the preservation of morality; hence, social facts are explained using social facts. Social facts are shared by individuals so religion as a social fact makes a common God for a certain society, and unites the community into a single standard of morality.

Monday, September 29, 2008

picture of innocence

I remember well
The picture of our innocence
When we played by Gapan’s fields
How funny we looked like then!
We were so naïve at heart
And we flashed a childish gaze
At the horizon queer yet lovely.
Then, I could endlessly touch your hair…
…But you dyed it now
And the mere thinking of stroking it anew
Brought me to shame.
When I felt like touching your soft ears
I could do it at once
But hey, is that your Nanay’s earring
That today you are wearing?
I now resist touching your ears.
I wouldn’t dare do it anymore.

Your world is drifting you away from me.
I know I have to lose you
Since you are moving on with your life.
But please, leave your memories to me,
Memories that picture our innocence
So I may remember them well
And I may bring back the times
When we were so naïve,
Playing by Gapan’s fields
And flashing a childish gaze
At the horizon queer yet lovely,
When you haven’t dyed your hair yet
Nor worn your Nanay’s earring
And you were still here,
Here in my world.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

bottle of the brainless

Upon telling Solomon, your Nigerian acquaintance, of your plan to jog backwards around the University by daybreak, you were signaled by the President to hop in his vehicle so you, Tina, Kuya Bryan and Karlo might visit the Colleges of Agriculture and Fisheries ahead of other student officials. You wish you were seated beside Karlo, who was flanked by Tina and Kuya Bryan at the already occupied back seats, but since you could not defy the spatial law of Physics, you took the single available seat next to the President’s. You did not know where you were particularly headed, yet with the Lantern King around, you might ludicrously pass menacing Pulong Diablo for a paradise.
You reached the Food Bowl in which squashes, among other vegetables, were growing. The President told you in an indecent analogy, “Sex is not limited to humans alone, plants as well may engage in it for reproduction, with significant help from agents,” and picked a “male” squash flower, the pointed stigma of which he inserted into a “female” one’s sunk stigma. Challenging censorship, the rest of you followed the President’s pollination act through making flowers “perform sex.” Karlo jokingly warned you not to wander away among the thick vines, lest you might tearfully journey all by your lonesome to Fisheries when the ride would speed there minus one passenger that’s you.
Rejoining your companions, you tumbled along your path a Coke bottle with whoa, a genie inside! By impulse, you freed the little prisoner who in turn offered you gratuity in the form of three wishes. You longed to see no, not Prince Charming, but King Charming because the latter is probably cuter. “Bring me a King!” and your servant furnished your first wish: Karlo appeared in front of you. You appealed, “I intend to see a king in royal suits!” and the genie made Karlo reappear in that silk long sleeves and scarlet cloak he wore during the Lantern King quest. Uh-oh, you were growing furious with the genie’s incapacity to pick up right, but, hopeful as yet to see a blueblood colleague of the King of Spain and the Queen of England, you went on to spend your one final wish, which the rather literal genie fulfilled by adorning the nobly dressed-up Karlo his Lantern King sash, trophy and year-long title.
You were impressed to witness the Lantern King materialize right in your face, but your chances of seeing a true-blue King having been spoiled, you felt like smashing pumpkins against your genie’s empty coconut shell.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

boys will be boys

random sightings from the state u to its margins...:)

Friday, September 26, 2008

the fifteenth english major

a couple of days after my birthday, worthman told me that i am in for a surprise when i get to meet his batch' fifteenth english major. currently, there are lucky thirteen of them in the senior year, jomay (who is on leave) is the fourteenth and so, i conjectured that really, there must be someone who's about to return or shift from another program or transfer from another school next semester. i didn't find out until today when i asked the senior class to visit me at the faculty room for a little treat.
i was busy sorting criticisms on world literature when their invasion uprooted me from my seat. all excited, they prodded me into opening yet another birthday gift and voila, i discovered worthman's mystery person. how admirable their originality is!
so the image here shows the new look of my table, with a scanned version of senior english majors' caricature just outside the panel, above my class schedule plotting form pasted onto the wall. apart from the literature and criticism references, i have a new set of inspiration through the photos of lottie, shy, gesselle, prinsesa, angie, carla, jas, roxan, arlene, princess xaviour, blackcat, jomay, nel, worthman and our generation's superstar. the poem of pablo neruda completes the masterpiece. such a great taste.

and just when one by one my invisible homepage visitors confess to having enjoyed my wacky posts, another visitor in the person of princess xaviour emerges with what's supposed to be an artistic rendition of a previous post. like the quiet lady that she always is, she approaches me when everyone else is shuffling out of the faculty room and then hands me a piece of paper drawn with the image seen right here (a little game: who's who?). these young people amaze me with their talent, thoughtfulness and sweetness. what do i say but i love you piolo, este, english majors!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a reading of alan paton's cry, the beloved country

“There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills.” So begins the lyrical Cry, the Beloved Country (New York: Scribner, 2003), a gripping novel by Alan Paton. However, such poetic passage is a stark contrast of the issues present in the prose, like social injustice and racial prejudice. Not to be outdone, the themes of goodness and forgiveness emanate to give justice to this story of a native man and his quest of a lifetime.
In Book 1, Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu minister, travels from the picturesque South African countryside Ndotsheni to the urbane Johannesburg in search of his son Absalom and his sister Gertrude. He is moved to discover that his sister, originally intending to find her missing husband in the city, has been reduced to whoring herself and neglecting her son in the process. He gathers the mother and the child for home and, accompanied by another pastor, Msimangu, embarks on a long, tedious search for Absalom. The extensive journey leads them to the prison, where the young man is languishing for having accidentally slew Engineer Arthur Jarvis, a white Kafferboetie (an advocate to the cause of African natives), whose house Absalom, his cousin, and another native purpose to rob. Native burglary like these and other crimes are rampant in Johannesburg, so the alarmed white citizens “will ask for a new native policy, that will show the natives who is the master” (p.111) in a country growing apart because of hatred and racial discrimination. Book 2 brings the readers into the trial of Absalom, who is defended by a white, pro deo (for God) lawyer but is ultimately sentenced to death by hanging as a consequence of killing Engr. Jarvis. The murdered white man’s father, James Jarvis, feels that the verdict is, as pronounced by the widowed Mary’s brother, “right, absolutely right. It couldn’t have been any other way” (p.246). Nonetheless, this is not the lone development as far as James is concerned, because after being touched by his dead son’s pro-black works in the study, he begins to become a philanthropist, giving generous help to his son’s murderer’s famished village, in which James dwells as wealthy landholder. Book 3 follows the getting-through of the Ndotsheni natives, and the prevalence of the goodness and forgiveness of James for the senseless killing of his son. The story closes with the hike of Kumalo up the mountain to pray for his son, who is to be executed in Pretoria that very day.
The foremost protagonist in the story is the native pastor Stephen Kumalo, amplified by his being part of the commencement and closure scenes in he novel. Most of the scenes focusing on him show that he is a pillar of strength despite the disgrace by his prostituted sister, by his murderous son, and his yet-married, pregnant daughter-in-law. Above this disgrace, the compounding degree of hardship in dealing with his corrupt brother John, with the trial result, with his encounter of James, and generally with the deepening wound spawned by apartheid test this man of faith to prove the umfundizi (God’s servant) that he is. Kumalo himself philosophizes, “Who knows what keeps us living and struggling, while all things break all about us?” (p.94) and ends his reflection with Psalm 23:4. In a higher level, his struggle is representative of the struggles of the black people, because “the white man has broken the tribe…but it has not suited him to build something in the place of what is broken” (p.54). Kumalo the protagonist is a black man in “a country under white man’s law” (back cover blurb), the same law that has meted death to his son.
The antagonist, clearly not one of the characters (for the major characters Kumalo and James are presented in white), is the oppressive system that has “eaten up” (p.244) Absalom. This system that segregates the black and whites—shown in the bus protest scene, the court scene, the image of Mrs. Jarvis’ funeral—has the natives turning on the whites, who are criticized by the murdered engineer for coming up with racist rules on the permissible and the impermissible. In South Africa, the mine capitalizing whites become rich, while the black miners themselves—true sons of the land excavating for natural valuables—remain poor. In the words of carpenter-turned politician John Kumalo, “Is it we that must be kept poor so that others may stay rich?” When human rights violations occur, the newspapers scream with the headline, pinpointing “THE NATIVE” as culprit (although done by the native, why the need for reference for color?). An aside: when the novel was new in the market, the antagonist was institutionalized: South Africa’s Nationalist party implemented apartheid (racial segregation). Kumalo alludes to the fact that the natives leaving home for the city get corrupted because they get exposed and then become entangled in the web of system that promotes inequality and hate among South Africa’s people.
The main conflict involves Absalom: having been caught in the system (intending to consummate an evil purpose at a white man’s expense), does he have to suffer the action’s consequence or not? After killing the engineer accidentally, he is seen as confused whether to confess to the police or not. His conscience is unbraiding, but the plan comes late when the police arrest him. Absalom has turned evil when he is exposed to the city, but after losing his innocence, he is answerable for the misdeeds he has conducted. Hence, the court decides to mete out a death sentence to Absalom, although the readers’ sympathy falls for his father, and especially because justice deserves to be served to him and be offered to the grieving family of the man he killed.
Of the characters, perhaps the least developed is Stephen Kumalo’s wife, who appears only significantly at the start and end of the novel. Her limited visibility shows her as an understanding mother and wife. Nevertheless, she could have been pumped with more flesh and blood were she depicted to be non-repressive of her womanly emotions. For instance, when Kumalo along with his daughter-in-law and Gertrude’s son arrives at the beginning of Book 3, he informs her of the fate that has transpired him in his journey to Johannesburg, and she reacts by saying a sheepish “I understand you” (p.254) and then “bows her head” (p.254). References on her throughout the novel do not point to a strong woman, and the readers probably expect a woman who suddenly receives such shocking news to weep inconsolably (as in the case of Mrs. Jarvis upon her son’s death), to squat wailing on the floor (like Gertrude when she is confronted by Stephen on her prostitution) or to die of depression (arguably like Mrs. Jarvis). She can still be made more human.
The best recommendation that this review can give is for potential readers to go out their way and read the novel. In unjust times like these when binaries (black/white, male/female, straight/gay etc.) render a divided world, Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country shows that the human spirit is indestructible in the face of injustice and hatred. Truly, when inequality is existent, all sorts of weird things make people turn on each other, whereas the celebration of differences may be enough to be had. Only when justice is served that the world becomes one at peace. Quoting from the novel’s last line, “when that dawn will come…why, that is a secret.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

where's postcolonialism?

thanks for this ideology-subversive birthday gift, senior english majors!:)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

ang caregiver bilang muling pagkalakal sa diaspora

Sa mga mayoryang produksyong pampelikula sa Pilipinas, masasabing ang Star Cinema na lamang ang patuloy na kumikita dahil sa pormula nitong pagkapital sa mga malalaking artistang sikat din sa telebisyon. Sa ganito nababagay ang Caregiver: pinangunahan ito ng Megastar na si Sharon Cuneta, at todo ang promosyon nito sa kakambal na kompanyang pang-midya ng istudyo, ang malawakang ABS-CBN 2.
Gaya rin ng ibang pelikula sa Star Cinema, hindi lamang ito nagkamal ng limpak na salapi sa takilya, kundi humakot din ng mga papuri sa kritiko dahil sa pag-arte ng mga bituin at magandang produksyong teknikal.
Lamang, gaya ng iba ring pelikula sa nasabing istudyo—Anak, Dubai, o Milan—hindi lumayo sa nakakulapol na mga isyu sa diaspora ang Caregiver. Sinalamin nito ang tunay na kalagayang pang-ekonomikal ng mga Filipino na napipilitang makipagsapalaran sa ibayong-dagat kung para lamang kumita dahil sa kawalan ng oportunidad pangkabuhayan sasariling bansa. Kaya lang, muling ipinakita rito ang tila monopolyo ng kalungkutan sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers—na matindi ang binabata nilang pangungulila sa ibang bansa, bagay na paulit-ulit nang kinakalakal ng mga pelikula sa Star Cinema. Samantalang nalulungkot din naman ang mga iniwanan dito, madalang itong ipakita kaya nga hindi nabibigyan ng repleksyong pampelikula ang panlipunang katotohanang pareho lamang nagtitiis sa dusa ng pananabik sa bawat isa ang mga pamilyang nawawalay bunga ng diaspora.
London lamang ang naging lokasyon ng Caregiver ngunit kahit sa Hong Kong, Gitnang Silangan o Amerika man ito ginawa, unibersal ang ipinakitang reaksyon ng bidang titser ng Ingles na naging tagapag-alaga ng matanda. Una, ang alienation dahil sa biglaang pagkakabunot sa sariling kultura upang piliting makibagay sa dayuhang kultura. Ikalawa, ang pagiging second-class citizen ng mga kababayan natin dahil wala sila sa sariling bansa, at hindi naman sila lubusang matanggap ng nilipatang bansa. Pangatlo, ang pag-ako sa lahat upang makaraos sa buhay na sa kaso ng Caregiver, isang propesyunal na guro ang nagkaroon ng deskilling dahil naatim niyang maghugas na lamang ng puwet ng iba, na tila ba bagong paraan ng Kanluraning kolonyalismo dahil dumaranas nga ang Pilipinas ng brain drain o pagkaubos ng mga propesyunal na nakabase mismo sa bansa.
Maayos ang pelikula kung para lang sa punto ng pag-arte ng minamahal ng masang si Sharon. Hindi rin matatawaran ang malaking badyet ng pelikula para dalhin ang buong produksyon sa kabisera ng Inglatera. Lamang, nagkulang ang grupo sa puntong pagkalimot sa nangungulila rin namang mga pamilya sa Pilipinas. Kung bayani ang mga OFW, hindi rin magpapahuli sa kabayanihan ang mga kababayang matindi ang pagmamahal sa Pilipinas kaya nga ni sa isip, sa salita o sa gawa ay hindi umaalis sa piling nito, magtiis man sa hirap.

Friday, September 19, 2008

wanna join the karlo loyola fans' club?

as a tribute to my crush-turned-friend karlo coronel loyola, whose birthday he celebrated days ago, i will post some twenty essays and no song of despair, all of which i wrote for him at the turn of the century. see you soon ,barok!:)
Ever wonder why public servants are susceptible to giving in to foolishness? The papers banner it all the time and you need not open your eyes wide to take a baffled glimpse at these silly politicians messing about like they were fated to talk gibberish. You see, the fad of these people being possessed by some unknown crippling energy terribly afflicts most clown replicas in the government.
The strain appears to spare not even the USSC movers: they, too, are apparently infected. You receive news that they are driving their brains out or their skulls for lack of sleep and such. The latest is that they swoon over the last Lantern King of the Millennium (has the new millennium really started and is the word really so hard to spell idiots fail to memorize that it is never single letter “n”?). Right, it’s Karlo. Karlo Coronel Loyola, to be exact. That much-praised-over dashing Bulaqueño with the raving looks and all.
Of course, it is but normal to admire a gorgeous being, especially if he happens to land a foot on this weird university accidentally where the fruitfulness of the mango trees is adversely proportional to the chances or ideal-looking guys enrolling themselves at the stake of being fantasized or paddled at their godly faces. Nevertheless, if this buoyant emotion can send visibly intellectual people arguing who must and must not phone the unwitting talk-of-the-campus heartthrob at his dormitory, you diagnose frenzy. How else can you subtly term this madness, whereas you can readily throw these suddenly stupid creatures into a swarm of hungry crocodiles?
I doubt if one of this days, I won’t catch Karlo’s photo pasted as wallpaper in the computer monitor. Or find his class schedule neatly wallet-tucked inside one of the officers’ secrete pocket. Or read poetry devoted to glorifying Karlo’s cute visage and princely bearing. Or, I bet my Twisted books if this is impossible, happen to look into a picture with an autograph courtesy of Karlo himself. Kindly check if I seem like a “doom” prophet.
You just don’t know when these perfect mental patient materials will march the roads of the University clutching a streamer that either reads “The Loyal Friends of Karlo Loyola” or “Karlo Loyola Intergalactic.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

look what pangga has found

just when everyone else is busy deciphering his/her purpose in the universe, a bibliophile unearths Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 100 Years of Solitude.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

paparazzo pursues pizzazz

clockwise, from top to another top and another, and another, and another: upd boy waiting for an ikot jeep, waiting for godot inside the bank, at a cafe opposite admu, a schoolboy inside an ikot jeep, a handsome barker for a change...:)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

another letter to a young student

My dear student,
The best way for me to begin this letter is to comment on the miniature stars crowding the top and bottom parts of the pages. They’re lovely, aren’t they? They seem to wink when I run my eyes across their section or when I move the paper in a seesaw manner. Try to do what I just did and do not mind the ensuing hysterical laughter around you.
I find these stars a perfect analogy for those twinkling above us, and those sparkling amid us. The stars in the sky never fail to capture our collective imagination, what with the love, the hope, the beauty they inspire in us whenever we allude to them. In the same manner, the stars in our midst bloom like a million varicolored flowers, beautifying the earth with the humanity of their character. My dear student, you are one of them.
It’s not always that I come across with people like you whose star-like qualities are affective enough to ripple change in my life. Of course, none of us must be too naïve to decide that I’m referring to qualities that penetrate Starstruck or Star Circle Quests. Think of the times when we, your teachers, would rave at your dazzling model looks, and you hilariously admit, albeit self-deprecatingly, that the gorgeousness would last an hour before you finish studying, after which your appearance would resemble someone who just staggered out of a storm. Or when you were in the thick of a verbal test, I would whisper that you check my socks, and you whisper back that I check your socks, and we would almost fall from our seats discovering that we had on striped socks the colors of the rainbow. I have often believed myself to have prodded the funny side in you. Henceforth, I feel comfortable teaching you, because who wants to spend a fraction of his short life dealing with a moody student with chronic hemorrhoid? If only for that, I thank you.
May your tribe increase so that the funniness will shoot manifolds. This world so grim and gloomy needs something to perk it up and it does not take long for one to realize that the heavenly stars being away, the terrestrial stars like you are the ones this world can depend on for light, glitter and life.

Truly yours,
Little Gapanese

Sunday, September 14, 2008

footloosing downtown

Niño surprised the entire faculty by beating the earliest birds in arriving at school. Morning classes start at 7, and the guard pointed out that he signed in at 5:12 AM. Niño revealed that a petty quarrel with his antagonistic brother drove Katherine from Hacienda Amadesto the night before, and he found himself in the most unusual company of a burger girl at an unholy hour near the obscure college.
This prompted him to ask me and RR to accompany him in searching for a place to rent in Manila area. Teasing colleagues accused us that we are just using the house hunt as an alibi for an actual visit at third-run movie houses in Recto. They went on to tell that a surveillance team from XXX is out to stalk on us while we are engaged in some sticky business with bakal boys or pamintang buo. We could just laugh.
Our first stop was at the optical media pirates opposite the Quiapo Church to swap the defective man-to-man VCD’s I had bought earlier. We were set to leave after having fulfilled our purpose when I noticed the cute straight pirate manning the adjacent porn videos stall. I urged RR to buy a DVD from him and actually started flirting with Israel the savior when his devil’s advocate of a sister joked that we didn’t even buy from her. Our apocalypse became complete when their mother meted out an end-of-the-world verdict addressed to her daughter: “Wala kang lawit kaya huwag ka nang pumalag!” The three of us gays dashed off like we were being chased away by a storm of stinging scorpions, leaving the tisoy pirate chuckling boyishly.
We scoured the backstreets of The Royal and Pontifical Catholic University of Santo Tomas and Morayta area trying to find a decent place for Niño, but we only ended up boyswatching throughout the whole period. The universities are disgorging their gorgeous students, and at least one house resembled a massage parlor where the male residents traipsed around topless. RR and I agreed that Niño will have a field day lusting over the boylets of Manila.
From the University Belt, we decided to walk all the way to Chinatown to find a McDonald’s restaurant. I encouraged my colleagues to perform our racial duty by patronizing our homegrown fastfood Jollibee, but they gave me the sole option of eating at a seedy Chinese joint. The brief power outage in the area made the travel difficult what with the danger of skidding, getting held up or being gang-raped, but my boylet friend whom we saw along the Isetann corridor gave my Filipino major friends a “luwal sa pighati.” The Avenida trip seemed a breeze, and the dinner at McDonald’s Binondo was so much lighter than I imagined. If the downtown boys are the reason, then they should be awarded for contributing to the beautification of Manila.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

the return of juday

I had been laughing at the line “‘crazy female lost piglet’” of Fil-Indian poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “Swear Words” when my attention was lured by the trailer of Humiling Ako sa Langit. It is ABS-CBN’s new soap opera offering topbilled by no other than Judy Ann Santos. Here, she plays a nurse, a light-year away from the cook role she played in her recent soap Ysabella. I bet my gay friends will yet again refer to me campily as a nurse after having been called Pirena, Lavinia, among other villainous characters at various times in the past.
Next thing I’m watching was another program teaser from the same network: Fear Factor South America which will be hosted by Juday’s fiancé Ryan Agoncillo. That makes perfect sense: I may not be seeing the gorgeous Latinas and Latinos most of the time because the contestants are Pinoy, but I will be able to marvel at the lush Latin American milieu that’s produced inventively in that continent’s magic realist fictions. Neither Juday nor I will be there, but with Ryan around, it’s as if the open-ended world of Macondo on the one hand and that of Krystala on the other have come full circle.
If that is not enough, I chanced upon the news that Regal Films will celebrate its 48th anniversary with the Juday-starrer Mag-ingat Ka sa…Kulam! which is about a wife who started to behave strangely after a car mishap. The picture below so fascinated me that I immediately used it as my new Friendster profile primary photo:

Then, it should not be forgotten that Juday’s beautiful film Ploning becomes the official Philippine entry to next year’s Oscars Best Foreign Language film. Indeed, love sells: a labor of love which is itself about the many manifestations of love will never go unnoticed no matter what sabotaging it gets along the way. See, the world is about to witness not just Juday speaking in Palawan Island’s native Cuyonon but, most especially, one way by which Filipinos imagine themselves.
Welcome back to my world, Juday. Then again, with your ads and showbiz articles about you populating the multimedia, you have never left at all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

goodies in hoodies

On my way to my Chaucer class, I suddenly craved for red sago “na distilled naman ang water” because I had just eaten skewered chicken entrails dipped in chili vinegar. I passed by the Shopping Center, where I noticed the advertisement below:

No, I took notice but my purpose was not the usual maligning of grammar or the celebration of wordplay. Reminiscent of that classic Albatross deodorizer ad, I looked for the bird—I mean, at the boy. If only for this boyish-looking mestizo, I’m doing this free online promotion. The product price is most probably affordable because of the target student market, but model is not included.
I already have a UP Maroons jacket, which draws the envy and much pestering from friends who covet it. That means I didn’t have to buy one from the marketer only because the ad model is cute or something. However, if only I came across the ad before August, I would have ordered one for Pangga as a gift for his birthday. As it is, I already purchased a gift of a UP jacket—one that celebrates UP’s 100 years of existence as the country’s premier university—and see how it looks good on him:

I love the UP Centennial jacket, wearer included.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

epistaxis galore

I was told by RR that one of my students had a literal nosebleed seconds after she read the essay part of my midterm test. I asked which test was it, and he said “Survey of English and American Literature.” His graphic description of how two vermillion drops luxuriously oozed out of the unwitting student’s nostrils had me wondering, so I checked my manuscript and reread the question:
"Make a comparative analysis of the British epic novels The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis in terms of:
1. Fantastic elements
2. Christian theme
3. Literary quality"
Huh? My Pangga theorized the correlation between the epistaxis and the discussion portion and I quote him verbatim:
“Sa kakaisip at pilit pag-intindi sa topic na ‘di talaga maintindihan kahit anong pilit, ‘yung brain desperately need[s] sustansya kaya dumudoble supply ng dugo pataas then ‘pag ‘di kinayan [sic] ng brain, [i]nilalabas ‘yung sobrang dugo sa ilong.” If that were true, I suppose other cephalic cavities like the ears, the eyes sockets and the mouth should have leaked blood, too.
I researched and here’s what I found from
"Many nosebleeds are idiopathic - that is there is no obvious cause, or the cause is unknown. But in children frequent colds and the drying effect of central heating can cause irritation of the delicate mucus membrane that lines the nose. This becomes inflamed, crusted or cracked, and is much more likely to bleed.
Bumps to the nose, especially once it's inflamed, and vigorous nose blowing can trigger a bleed. Rare causes include tumours and thrombocytopenia, a shortage of platelets - the tiny cells in the blood that plug damaged blood vessels. This causes problems with the blood's clotting mechanism, especially in children."
It was the second case of nasal bleeding that I know of which happened just when some complicated scholastic lesson was within listening range. Jel and I were once studying for her Physics finals when her maid, having eavesdropped our spirited dialogue regarding the application of centrifugal and centripetal forces on such regular objects like the ferris wheel, started to drip red liquid from her smelling organ. Jel’s room is air-conditioned, so could it have been the jargon? The whole scenario suddenly reminded me of a gay friend who, hearing some Anglophonic colegialas chatting in the cinema popcorn queue, clamped his nose before declaring “I hate English!”

Sunday, September 07, 2008

heroes overload: a comparative analysis of superman returns and x-men

Hollywood-spawned superhero fantasy movies abound nowadays. Some of them are reprisals of classics like the Spiderman franchise and Fantastic Four whereas some are altogether fresh from their creators’ imagination, like Hancock. Some of them are animated like The Incredibles while still others are brought to life by real human actors like Lara Croft and Hulk. By virtue of their wholesome appeal, superhero fantasy movies almost always become box-office hits, not only because they provide great escape from current problematic realities but also because the allegedly “lost” generation of today needs heroes to identify with.
In the vein of superhero subcategory of fantasy genre do the Hollywood movies Superman Returns and X-Men fall. Both science-fiction classics, Superman Returns and X-Men were helmed by famous director Bryan Singer at the turn of the millennium, the first film having been released in 2006 while the latter, in 2000. Although the abovementioned are already striking in their parallelisms, there are more to these films for comparison.
First, both films are originally from comics. Superman first saw light as part of many anthology features in Action Comics #1 published on June 1938 by the National Periodical Publications, now called DC Comics. Due to the strip’s popularity, National had to produce a separate strip altogether for Superman exactly a year after, trailblazing the superhero comic book. For twenty years from 1986 to 2006, it went with the new title Adventures of Superman but carried on with the original title up until the present issues. Meanwhile, X-Men was born in the pages of the Uncanny X-Men #1 published on September 1963 by Marvel Comics. The creation of this team of fictional superheroes is credited to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. X-Men is so popular a comic series that, like Superman, it has successfully penetrated the multimedia, from television to video games.
Second, both films are faithful to their comics origin. For its part, Superman Returns adheres to the plot of an inhabitant from planet Krypton sent to earth where he becomes a champion of justice and truth. Also, he is still romantically linked to Lois Lane whom he works with at the news bureau The Daily Planet. He likewise wears the obligatory red and blue costume that he reveals when the world in distress needs him. On the other hand, X-Men is loyal to the plot of mutants with superhuman abilities out to protect themselves and the world that fears their evolutionary mutant superpowers. Also, the X-Men are still under the custody of Professor X who trains them against his archnemesis Magneto and the villainous Brotherhood of Mutants. They also get to wear costumes, although their bright-colored costumes in comics are tamed into earth colors in the film version(s).
Third, both films run the motif of epic heroes out to sacrifice themselves for the sake of not only national, but also global survival. In Superman Returns, Superman appears to save humans from criminal elements lurking across the globe. For instance, he stops a distressed airplane from crashing into a baseball field. Most importantly, he thwarts the plan of his archenemy Lex Luthor to build a Kryptonite continent that will erase North America from the face of the earth. Even as Krypton is Superman’s Achilles’ heel, he took great pains to throw the growing crystal landmass out in space. Meanwhile, in X-Men, Professor X’s trained mutants battle it out against Magneto’s followers who hatched an evil plan to mutate convening world leaders in a conspiracy to democratize mutant creatures. Even as they are endangered from the very people they are saving, the X-Men team halts Magneto’s scheme to turn humans into the very creatures they are afraid of.
Fourth, both films have the protagonists maintaining double identities. In Superman Returns, Superman has a human alter-ego, Clark Kent, who works as a gentle-mannered reporter. On the other hand, X-Men has mutants hiding their superpowered identity in the mask of ordinary citizens, for which Senator Kelly files the Mutant Registration Bill in an effort to distinguish the so-called homo superiors from normal humans.
Fifth, both films have then-unknown actors playing major roles, something of an enormous risk in big-budgeted, celebrity-capitalizing Hollywood films. In Superman Returns, a relatively unknown Brandon Routh jumps from the television to the silverscreen. Meanwhile, in X-Men, Australian actor Hugh Jackman bags the coveted role of Wolverine, which seems the film’s most hyped-about character than renowned actress Halle Berry ’s Storm or Oscar Awardee Anna Paquin’s Rogue.
Finally, both films will eventually generate sequels owing to their success at the tills. Superman Returns’ sequel, Superman: Man of Steel, is currently filming and is due for release in 2011. On the other hand, X-Men’s sequels, X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand, were already shown in 2003 and 2006, respectively, completing the expected trilogy.
Whereas the abovementioned show how similar Superman Returns is to X-Men, there are also points wherein the two films are different. First, there is only a single superhero in Superman Returns while there are many in X-Men, from Storm to Wolverine to Jean Grey to Rogue to Professor X, to name a few. Second, the superpowers are diverse in both films, with Superman having a steel-like composition, x-ray vision and bullet-speed pace whereas with Storm having the ability to control the weather, with Wolverine having a self-healing ability, and with Rogue having the capacity to absorb other mutants’ super-ability. Third, in Superman Returns, the superhero is not an earthling but an alien from outer space whereas in X-Men, the mutants are still humans after all. Fourth, Superman is already expert in his use of his abilities whereas the X-men experiment with their ability for the first time in their battle scene at the film’s finale, their super-strength gaining better footing at the second and third installment of the X-Men franchise. Lastly, the films trace their roots from rival camps: Superman Returns, as already mentioned, harks back from DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Entertainment whereas X-Men, from Marvel Comics, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment.
It is seen that there is a whole lot of oneness and difference in the Hollywood superhero fantasy movies Superman Returns and X-Men. The stable popularity both are enjoying is a proof that indeed, in their similarities and uniqueness, their followers find not only entertainment values but also means through which this contemporary generation can construct its identity.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

god as symbol and demythologization

God is a symbol of God. God cannot be part of finite experience in any way, but there can be something meaningful to be said about God. It only takes all languages of God to be symbolic rather than literal, hence the term God being a symbol of God. It is God alone who knows much about Himself, making it hard for us to know who this God is in our own linguistic terms. This symbolism of God does not mean God is not real. In fact, language just falls short of comprehending the unreachable glory of God, so human description of God necessitates symbolic language in order to make approximating representations of that Who cannot be fully understood in human terms. Language makes possible the pointing god’s reality in a symbolic manner without necessarily identifying it as the reality. Hence, symbols are glorious in that they permit humans to describe what is normally indescribable, breaking levels of reality that are shut out from literal language.
The only authentic response to the demythologization of religious symbols is to break the symbols.
Demythologization of religious symbols depreciates the mystery of the divine in the encounter with humans, so as a response, breaking the symbols is needed to interpret and, ultimately, to know them. Explaining the symbols must be done because this mitigates the overwhelming difficulty of interpreting a much larger realm of that being represented; the action gets to interpret not only a religion’s verbal elements but also its physical objects, imagery an the things the make for religious rituals and practice. In this manner, religious symbols make sense and prove to be manifestations and ways of knowing God. Also, challenging demythologization through breaking the symbols brings the divine into the concrete and into action in time and space. It turns the infinite into the finite in order not to remove the myth—the collection of symbols of man’s ultimate concern—from human spiritual life.
Maintaining the symbolic nature of mythical and ritual language prevents faith from generating into either superstition or a secularist system of mere social demands.
Superstition or secularism makes real out of the unreal, so if faith is reduced to this level, the symbolism through which God makes sense to humans becomes insignificant in interpreting the mysterious divine. Hence, the symbolic nature of mythical and ritual languages must be maintained because by then, faith turns more concrete rather than wanting of meaning, and humans can somehow make approximations of who God is despite His inscrutability. Languages of faith such as in myths and rituals elevate language to a level wherein interpretation of the normally unintelligible becomes possible, so they are beyond the artificial because in their symbolic nature lies their power and truth. It must be remembered that nothing less than symbols and myths can represent the ultimate concern.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

and the best visitor is...

If humans weren’t warm-blooded mammals, I would never release my usual combativeness at people. However, it occurs to my head that in the irritating presence of uncultured animals, it is but justifiable to show verbal violence instantly if it calls for barbarism and degeneration.
When a human-masked simian derided the USSC borrower’s slip by deluding he could “take out” the conference hall (like a boxed doughnut from the counter) because he “could use it”, I relented myself from prickling him and shrieking, “To hell with you, marmoset! Is the word “borrow” limited to just using something outdoors or anywhere except its point of origin?” I composed my bosom’s mad surges, reverberating, “I juggle in mind better things to work upon than pay this fool my rare attention!” only when he nonchalantly asked me if he could destroy the properties then that he could borrow the hall did I finally blow my top and curse him, spewing out, “Do you think it is freedom, huh? If you cannot make use of properties (I should have said tiny brain, if ever there was) properly, you are most appropriate to get lost!” Thanks to spontaneity, it rendered him mute and defenseless.
To sublimate my outburst of emotion, I recollected in deep silence the ideally humane USSC visitors, synchronously erasing the most forgettable from the roll. By virtue of reciprocated human civility (promise, no personal prejudices nor all-time favorite), I enlist Karlo on top. How come he leads?
Karlo exudes the maximum absorbed culture he has acquired in his youth: home, school, wheresoever. He does not boast of what he abundantly possesses (intelligence, skills, not to mention DNA) nor does he try to give you hints about all these. When he enters the portals of this office all by his lonesome or, often, with Kuya Bryan, he will, in a soft-spoken voice tone, seek permission before sitting in front of the computer to play interactive video games or summon who else to provide public affairs-related data. Also, he is not a know-it-all, meaning he talks of and accepts bright ideas. Aren’t these reasons valid enough to put Karlo first among the roster of good visitors?
Now I pray Karlo won’t sojourn here in the USSC, this time wildly deranged as to grab the Office’s computers then, in his undefined upset, smash them forcefully the floor one by one.

Monday, September 01, 2008

guilty pleasures: the false virtues of the pardoner in canterbury tales

More than his tale, the Pardoner in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales exhibits a far interesting character. While he is employed by the Church, he does not practice the very virtues of a Christian. This hypocrisy is evident in both his prologue and his tale.
The Pardoner, like his fellow pilgrims, brings with him to Canterbury the things identified with his profession: papal indulgences as well as a sack containing dubious relics. He offers suspiciously signed pardons for specific sins to the repentant, who would give a donation to the Church via its employed pardoner. In the long run, the penitent’s act of charity morphed into a necessity in receiving indulgences, which the Pardoner pockets instead of reaching the intended destination. Meanwhile, his false relics include a stone-filled brass cross which may be readily mistaken for gold and a glass jar crammed with animal bones which the Pardoner claims as those of saints’ and which can serve as amulets. By selling forged papers which pledge spiritual clemency and “sacred” objects that ward off evils, the Pardoner capitalizes on religion during pilgrimages that double as tours. As if that is not enough to scandalize and to anger both the church and its faithful, the frank manner in which the Pardoner tells this deception and his offering of pardons to other pilgrims point to an even graver outrage that a Christian should feel toward the falsely virtuous Pardoner.
Chaucer’s fictionalization of the medieval period’s controversial pardoners matched the actual criticism by some church people, who condemned the notion that a sinner may be purged of sins by bribing the Church. This practice came under greater fire during the Reformation Movement, when simony as well as the excesses of the priests themselves ran opposite the Christian teachings of self-denial and of the renunciation of worldly possessions.
Prior to the prologue of the Pardoner’s tale, the freshly-told Physician’s tale about a father’s murder of his beautiful daughter so horrified the Host that he requests the Pardoner to narrate a more cheerful story. His agreement to the plea only after having stuffed his belly with food and corny ale reminds one of the capital sin of gluttony. On the other hand, his agreement to the pilgrims’ request that he tell a moral story is ironic since the Pardoner himself is amoral.
After swigging his drink, the Pardoner narrates his exemplum, a special kind of anecdote contained within a sermon during the medieval times and is intended to establish the truth of a moral. His tale’s idea is an ancient one, and its theme “Radix malorum est cupiditas (Greed is the root of all evil)” a universal one, but what is more striking than either the tale or the maxim is the latter’s reflection of the Pardoner’s own avaricious interests as proven by his frank admission of misappropriated donations as well as his actual selling of slips of counterfeit indulgences.
Apart from the disgusting bluntness of the Pardoner regarding his professional corruption, he is also given to preaching, which is his way of retaliating at ill-motivated people but not his way of rectifying their offenses. He constantly preaches avariciousness over material things, but confesses that he himself is stung by covetousness over money, supported by the fact that he will rather deprive a hungry family of its last penny rather than surrender the comfort offered by his income. In effect, he sermonizes against swindling, gluttony and greed, yet violates the very same sins in such a proud manner that his amorality attests to the unchanging universality of greed being the origin of all ills.
The seamlessness with which the Pardoner tells his tale and his interspersion of his long sermons in it are proofs that he is very much aware of the tale’s moral. Why not, when he practically lives it out? He denounces swearing yet mentions Christ’s name in vain, attacks gluttony yet indulges in drunkenness, reviles greed yet asks for contributions from pilgrims whom he had just informed of the relics’ bogusness. While he may not be expecting that his fellow pilgrims will give donations that he will only pocket, the Pardoner may just be testing the extent of believability to which his hypocrisy has rendered them credulous.
His tale is just an extension of his personality, because in telling his moralistic story of three Flemish malingerers who found death with their materialism and in his intermittent sermonizing, the Pardoner wants the pilgrims to grow so guilty of their sins and so fearful of the penalty of their misdeeds as to make them pay him to forgive these through his plied trade. The relatively insignificant characters of his story are created consistently negative—materialistic, excessive, and murderous—so the Pardoner can launch into his condemnation of these sins, some of which are vices that he shamelessly indulges in.
The Pardoner, the representation of the section of the medieval society that’s the mighty church, is presented by Chaucer in a farcical, necessarily bad light, mocking him by virtue of his defiance of the moral system he is truly conscious of. This marginalization of the Pardoner’s character is best captured by the symbolic scene in the General Prologue: he comes last of all the twenty-nine pilgrims heading the sacred shrine of the Canterbury. What is more, he will probably come last among the penitents in terms of absolution for alas, the Pardoner most probably needs the greatest number of pardons, after all.