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!"

Sunday, November 30, 2008

resembling enemies: contrasting the american and japanese periods in philippine history

The Philippines during the American Era and the Japanese Occupation is a study in contrast. The foreigners present during those times may be similar in being conquerors, but there are basic differences between the Americans and the Japanese that resulted to the disparate appearance of the two colonial periods in Philippine history.
First, there is a difference in the manner of conquest by these two colonizers. On the one hand, the Americans tried to be as subtle as possible in their intent to take over the Philippines after the Spanish colonization. While the Spanish-Philippine War raged on during the turn-of-century Katipunan Revolution, the Americans—a newly-emerged superpower—seemed just to look on, waiting for events to unfold. Inspired by the crumbling of the Spanish Empire primarily in Latin America, Filipino revolutionaries asked for the help of the United States in freeing the islands from Spain. Their plea was responded to favorably, except that the US, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris, had another thing in mind apart from assisting Filipinos to their colonial independence. When the Spaniards were already driven away, the Americans proved to harbor a naked motive of staying for good in order to seize the Philippines as its first colony. The rest of the Americans’ policy involving the Philippines is, as is often said, history. On the other hand, this subtlety was not displayed when the Japanese interrupted the American Commonwealth government in the Philippines at the onset of 1940’s. Forced by the economic paralysis sanctioned by the US upon it, Japan bombed the American state of Hawaii and the Western Pacific Rim where the Philippines is in what turned out to be the beginning of the World War II this side of the globe. When the Japanese succeeded in invading the entire archipelago, they uprooted the American colonial government and laid down their own in the name of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Whereas the overt goal of the Japanese was to create an Eastern-oriented cooperative of countries, the actual goal was to establish a Japanese Empire. Nonetheless, comparably, the Japanese were less subtle in occupying the country than the Americans: the former instituted educational, political and economic policies in the name of Japanese Imperialism while the Americans masked their imperialism with the euphemistic Benevolent Assimilation.
Having mentioned the colonial policies of the two, it is imperative to present the nature of the motive behind these policies. In creating GEACPS, Japan intended localization to happen in East Asia so that the colonies in its empire will look up to the local culture thriving commonly between these neighboring countries. Hence, as part of this empire, the Philippines was intended to be more Oriental despite the influences of two Western colonizers. Filipinos were supposed to learn and appreciate the Asian culture of conservatism, family-orientedness, and the like. Meanwhile, the US’ Benevolent Assimilation intended Westernization of the Filipinos in the effort of producing brown Americans who will look up to Western culture as superior for its modernism, individualism, and the like. The Philippines was intended to imbibe Occidental culture in order to civilize its citizens in American fashion.
The two colonial periods are also different as presented in history. While the American period proved to be more deadly than its Spanish predecessor with its martial policies like the Howling Wilderness of Balangiga, Samar among other military strategies, Western-centered Philippine history textbooks portray the Americans as saviors of the Filipinos for leaving the English language, a Western-style democracy, and American popular and consumerist cultures as legacies—legacies that only honed us to become dependent, colonial-minded breed of people. The Japanese, meanwhile, were not as lucky in historiographic depictions, because the War they initiated in the Pacific caused them to be portrayed as traitors to Americans and the rest of the imperialized Asians. No matter how Japan itself tries to redress and justify its martial causes, Philippine history has remained marked by Japan’s lingering criminality during World War II.
Readers of the American and Japanese Periods in Philippine History, most especially Filipinos, have a lot to learn from these eras of colonization. First is the lesson of trust. The Philippines had been betrayed by the Americans many times during the course of their stay here (and, seemingly, even beyond, meaning now). Right after the flushing of the Spaniards from the islands, the Filipinos expected their seeming American friends to leave as well, having been done with their humanitarian duty of assisting the Filipinos to their colonial independence. However, history has it that they remained to establish American Colonial government. Also, for implementing Benevolent Assimilation, the Americans yet again betrayed the Filipinos for instituting colonial policies that will have far-reaching effects on the Filipino psyche, from colonial mentality to consumerism. When the Japanese succeeded in occupying the Philippines, the Americans ruined again our trust by leaving us to fight all on our own while they tried to defend their country and the US’ allies in Europe. On the other hand, Japan has a hand in betraying the Filipinos too by bypassing the common Asian heritage and conquering the country for its selfish sake of establishing a Japanese Empire in Asia. It seems that Japan put more importance on national pride than in realizing an intercultural community devoid of traces of Western influences.
Related to this lesson is that of the virtue of self-reliance. No colonizer can claim that they know how to save us from our social problems. They are outsiders to our own milieu, so there is no way that they can fully understand how our culture functions. They cannot justify their colonial motives with supposed assistance like Benevolent Assimilation and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Americans in particular cannot even stand up to their messianic role when they left posthaste with the Japanese Occupation. Hence, Filipinos can only rely on themselves in terms of trying to save their country.
Another lesson from those periods is the brutality of war. Not only does war take away the humanity in both the conquerors to the colonized, but also does it cause wide-ranging issues like racism, poverty and cultural relativism. Not only were Filipinos dehumanized by their American and Japanese invaders with the ravages of war, but also were they treated as racial inferior, were deprived economically and were contaminated culturally. Because history cannot anymore be rewritten, Filipinos still had to cope up from these social ills even with the post-War period.
Despite everything, there is still a saving grace from these periods, because not all legacies from these colonizers are bad. Some of their cultures are not outright detestable, like the American individualism which taught Filipinos to celebrate individuality in spite of the onslaught of collective institutions, and the Japanese nationalism which taught Filipinos that the ultimate sacrifice a citizen can do for its country is to die for it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

reason for being in my saturday class

here's one reason to attend my contemporary american literature unfailingly every saturday afternoon. i just hope that i won't get intellectual constipation for studying too hard for this class in which each person speaks his/her mind out with a thick american accent.

Friday, November 28, 2008

shut the windows

Shut the windows
the rain may seep in,
for all you know
it wets you all over.
Dry clothes to change
the drenched ones with
may not be at hand
since you get to enjoy
flirting with the rain.
Go on with life.
The rain has been unkind
To come then leave you
Now that it returns
And tempts you to play
Around with pain,
Say “Never again.”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

at academia de sta. faustina's english month

this is one moment (no, it's not juday's spiel in fitrum!) wherein i have a time off where i teach and it's because my classmate mary ann (the one in blue) invited me to be a judge along with ma'am rivera (the one in knitted top) and a faculty from st. scholastica's, miss villegas (the one in stripes) in the english-related literary contests in her school. i had a grand time there but details shall come later (i'm rushing to find a hard copy of a raisin in the sun anywhere in this insane metro!). meanwhile, here are the pictures:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

he's got the look

this semester, i got to teach general education courses so some freshmen and the sophomores might be scampering to transfer to another class to try evading me, only to find out that i'm still the instructor in the new class. too bad for them who find reading and writing a time-warped lenten season. others say that they actually looked forward to being my students so finally, they get their wish. i felt like having them watch Wishmaster, hahaha.
in one of my small classes, i have this student who reminds me of a special someone back in up film, boyish face and all. last i met the class he's in, i gave a quiz that was labeled "pang-prelim na ito, sir!" earlier in the morning. what happened was, right after i took the pictures below, i caught this student staring at me. i had to stare back but then, he maintained his gaze before his lips broke into a grin. with hemingway as my witness, i shall never stare that way again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

karlo clones on the loose

You have just crossed paths with Karlo midway of the Gymnasium and the track Oval. You even had a short conversation whether there will be no classes or otherwise come Thursday and Friday when the University will be the host to the annual Luzon Science Consortium. If by pure luck there will be none, he has promised to come over to the USSC Office to begin drafting his OSA Student Week narrative write-up as the Junior RSCU Head, uninformed that the report has long been asking to be printed out of the computer software.
Not a few minutes have passed and, to your natural awe, your visual sensory recaptures near the Tau Gamma Park the same old charming human matter you have recently come across with halfway of the Gym and the Oval. Automatically, you sit beside him who has tagged Romualdo along and initiate a dialogue with the two of them. Easy, you are not alone in heavily loathing the spoiled chance of discussing individual essentials in due permission of the sensational tuition fee hike issue. Well, you are just seizing the rapturous moment of keeping Karlo company, but honestly, you do not imbibe my point. Don’t you notice Karlo’s omnipresence in the University (take this literally, in case you hunch that I am citing Karlo’s primal participation in mass daydreams)?
Only a meager sum of celebrated saints has the divine ability of bilocation—appearing in flesh in two different places simultaneously, not unless their apparition is beamed globally via satellite—therefore it is highly suspicious that Karlo can bilocate as well, disregarding his saintly personage. You then resort to a more scientific explanation on Karlo’s presence in the College Annex one time, his showing in the Men’s Dorm #8 another time and a sighting of him walking along the Lagoon a little later—all incidents happening in a relatively brief hour span—and you conclude that he has CLONES.
It is your advantage that omnipresent Karlo has acquired look-alikes performing separate tasking. It follows that you are not necessitated to pay him homage at the dorm on a patterned basis, knowing that you will readily meet one of his replicas biking around the Old Market or another consuming ensaymada with Kuya Bryan at the Marketing Center bakeshop. It also means a reduced risk of missing Karlo every once in a while since all you need is to take a glimpse of the passersby anywhere you are and viola! One of Karlo’s clones is among the crowd. Anyway, who is reading this, a Karlo clone or not?

Monday, November 24, 2008

the man in orange

He thinks it best to wear black
Since all the blue shirts littered the laundry bin
But to his dismay,
The closet’s darkest isn’t even gray
So he picks orange
And the color is fire in the eyes
He seems to exude its loudness
Yet the brilliance artfully belies
His true self—
Handcuffed by hopelessness
Imprisoned within walls of uncertainty
Locked behind bars of loneliness
Languishing in cruel conditions
Of lost love and brightness.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

eat before you gaze

it's rare that my fascination finds a moreno object but this dusky-featured guy may be of interest to exoticists. just because he's eating does not mean that i'm suggesting he's for imperial consumption. by the way, i gathered that this one's named nico.:)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

every man is an archipelago

After scouring for books to be given to my friends celebrating their respective birthdays, I chanced upon my long-unseen friend Donna, who became prettier than ever. We met her sister Novie and we all gathered at Roma’s house for a triple party for Jopay, Donna’s sister and the host. One more November celebrant, Santa, could not make it. If Rhoda weren’t in Hong Kong as well as other former co-teachers like Julie Ann who works in Bataan, Ate Jotabs who manages fruit stalls in Las Piñas, and Mylin and Celia who have since migrated in the Middle East, we would have been complete. It’s very rare that I get to see these much-treasured friends of mine—last we gathered was during the town fiesta of Jopay’s Nueva Ecija hometown where we traipsed the rustic scenery in search of green mangoes—so I could not afford to miss the opportunity to be with them even for a brief time. Why, it’s the fullness of the moment which we are after, so I intently listened to them as they updated me with what’s going on with everybody. Ruel (alone at the bottom) said he’s saving for me a copy of Ricky Lee’s novel for autograph signing, Roma (the bespectacled one behind me) and Jopay (the one wearing black bolero) are classmates in a Math subject in UP, Zenkit (the one in gray, whose husband Melvin is in yellow) is as ever-doting to my godchild Sam, Leah (the one between me and Zenkit) was praised by her boss for being the company’s most photogenic, Rhea (the one in red) prepares for her much-awaited betrothal to her fiancée Jun, Donna (partly hidden by Ruel’s hair) has just wrapped up her master’s, Riza (the one in blue) regaled us with her terrifying experience as a witness to a pickpocketing, Novie (the bespectacled one next to Jopay) remains in her boarding house after Donna transferred near EARIST, Lyn (the one in brown) continues to be as timid as a nun while Rachel (the one in extreme left) is on the family way. Hay, the delight of bonding with time-tested friends!
I hold precious this circle of friends as well as that comprised by pamilya kumarab-as, that by my high school classmates in Nueva Ecija, that by my schoolmates in UP, that by my former University Student Council colleagues, that by the pink sisters, that by my childhood friends in Tarlac, and that by my present colleagues. These friends have stayed with me through thick and thin, through hell and high water, showing me their care and affection and faith despite other people’s deception, envy, opportunism. Destiny brought them all to me to teach the lesson that the world need not be lived in isolation.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Barely peering from the secluded Arayat,
the sun wearily surrenders
to the creeping night of Gapan,
letting my rampart be carpeted
in dead monochrome.
I witness my prancing spirit,
Wandering restlessly, searching
For your Narcissan beauty
To tranquilize this raving madness
Of an anxious moth in me,
Excited and persistent
To impress a kiss
In your rapturous flame.
Alas! In the rice paddies,
I chance upon you
Sitting unflinched,
Trifling with the entirety
of the world
in your young hands.
I go near you,
Open you inside out
And have found
Your unchanged heart,
Savoring pursuits
Of celebrity and crystal pleasures
While unfeeling of my existence.
Like a ready prey
To a ruthless sphinx,
I begin yielding
to the claws of death again,
bleeding more profusely than before,
eluding your puritan smile
that can’t be my salvation

Thursday, November 20, 2008

dangling with the stars

Every so often, the school serves as a location for television shoots because the Vice President’s spouse, the ever-bubbly Miss Lucille, is connected to a few networks (talk about formidable social capital!). In the past, GMA-7 starlets like Andrew Schwimmer and Felix Roco have visited and the more fearless of my English majors would interview them during breaks. This time, teen actresses from ABS-CBN 2 were around for a taping: Paw Diaz (in yellow) and Empress Schuck (in blue). With me are Miss Lucille, my colleague RR and the anak ng Dyosa. According to RR, "Hindi naman nagkakalayu-layo sa ganda."

Sorry to disappoint you but I did not appear as an extra because I have classes to attend to, plus I was told that no male stars were present, so what’s the point? I better prepare my acting prowess for the abattoir or factory or whatever scene with Juday when Ruel tags me along at the junior superstar’s Maalaala Mo Kaya Christmas special. I did see interesting looking boylets in tight-fitting shirts, supposedly extras, but I was more impressed with the smart-talking gay guy with the Comparative Literature major, supposedly a think-tank in the production. The anak ng Dyosa later told me he’ll give me the guy’s number and some excellent titles from him. Should any book turn out to be a collection of Neruda’s poems or of Arabic fictions in English translation, I will keep his number. I say that with a “Promise!” in Inday Badiday’s husky voice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

komiks presents...ben anderson

On my way to Contemporary British Literature class, I remembered the news that back in UP in his capacity as a Rizalian scholar is Benedict Anderson, the world-renowned author of the much-praised book on socially-constructed nationhood entitled Imagined Communities. I was among the jampacked crowd the last time he visited to talk about the obscure European literary references of the National Hero’s two great novels. The talk’s impressive revelation made me see Rizal the writer in a different light such that I was influenced into returning to listen to Dr. Preachy’s Cornell University colleague, who showed how El Filibusterismo responded to the temporal (read: premodern) way in which the 19th century Other was imagined by his modern colonizer. I was lucky to have the opportunity to be photographed along with him and my favorite Comparative Literature professor, but not lucky enough because, well, just look at the direction of Ben’s gaze. I felt like I’m an outsider in his imagined community, hahaha. By the way, if Carl is reading this, I’m giving you the chance to guess who took our picture. Whoever it is that you’re thinking, you could imagine him feeling like performing a lupasay in the midst of Bulwagang Recto when Dr. Legasto called him to act as a one-time photographer. Basta, laking Bear Brand siya.
Just outside the hall, in FC Gallery 1, there is a very interesting komiks exhibit of which I took snapshots for the world to marvel at the global-class talent of Pinoys like Mars Ravelo and Francisco Coching. Popular culture enthusiasts may want to check out this blog to see what else is in the offing for the komiks aficionados in the week-long Philippine Komiks Convention called Komikon 2008. And yes, gay icon Darna may be found there, with the classic issue showing young Narda’s transformation into the bodacious superheroine after swallowing her amulet. Lunukan pala ang labanan, ha…mga bading, ang bato!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Wala ako sa sarili,
Bumibigkas ng kung anong orasyon
Na hindi ko mawatasan,
Patungo kung saan
Habang ibang tao’y sumasalunga
Binabagtas ang talunton na
Hahangga sa Main Gate
(Pauwi siguro sila sa kung saan mang lupalop).
Sa wakas ay nagkamalay ‘ata ako,
Nakapagtataka naman kasing
Bawat makasalubong ko’y
Ngumingiting may pangungutya,
Pinararatangan akong bulaan
Dahil hindi naman umano
Masanghayang tanawin
Ang lagoon
At banyaga raw sa kanila
Ang taludtod ng hamog
Na gumigiyagis sa luntiang damo.
Hindi ko sila pinansin;
Mapupunan pa ang kalahati
Ng salop,
Makakaya pa ng dibdib
Na pigilin ang pagbulwak
Ng rumaragasang damdamin.
Mentras akong nagtitimpi,
Lalong nag-uumulol ang
Kanilang naising ibagsak ako
Mula sa luwalhati ng
Pagsasatitik ng aking nadarama.
Sila ngayon ang wala sa sarili;
Ako naman ang lumuluha ng dugo.

Monday, November 17, 2008

my bangs or your head bangs

Nice haircut, Karlo. You can project better with that oh-so-fresh look. You prove to be more than just the head-turner that you are: you can make your admirers’ heads literally spin 180 degrees-wise. I have witnessed those entranced people, myself too, earnestly follow your path in CAS lobby till the necks abnormally whirl to their backs, imitating the ghost’s orbiting head in The Poltergeist. Your latest crown statement has eventually caused me to decide to sport a new hairdo myself (I don’t expect stirring a considerably sensible public to manifest a 180-degree-neck-rotation peculiarity, though).
However, when my classmates finally set their worried sights on my recently fashioned top, they play criminal investigators and put me under close interrogation, bombarding my pained ears with inquiries sufficient to drive me nuts. They ask me, “May nakatampuhan ka siguro, ano?”, “Are you unable to sleep the whole night through?”, “Gusto mo na bang matulad kay Samson?” etc. and the ultimate of all is that which can incite a loser beauty pageant contestant to seal permanently her prober’s tactless mouth: “ARE YOU FRUSTRATED?” to which I give an alarmed reply, “NO! NO! NO!”
I don’t promptly decode people’s purpose of associating new hairdo with frustration; must be the Biblical tradition of shearing one’s hair and throwing ashes in the air when tragedy strikes. I am by all aspect human, but it does not follow that when sulking in depression, I will eradicate anyone’s empty existence right before his wide-open eyes. I only demand for thinned scalp, period. I am devoid of negative psychological tendencies, suicidal whatsoever, so I will have my tress run through by scissors without the barber fearing that I will bang his head over and over against the shop’s walls after his session with me.
Speaking of barbers, how lucrative therefore their business will be if beyond one’s new look a repressed voice is crying, “I admit it: I’m frustrated to the nth power!” From time to time, the hairdresser’s stall will be flocked by thwarted beings wanting their fine hairs trimmed to fluctuating lengths depending on the degree of anguish, e.g., dropped a subject—an inch cut; flunked the course—three inches shorter; abandoned by love partner—totally shaved head; so on and so forth. And so before the economic necessity for more hairdressers’ salons blows up because of everyday snare and frustration incidents, I will be opening my own to strike it early at the competition level. What now, Karlo, an army cut?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

lupasay over friendster

After what claims to be a temporary maintenance, it’s back—but not without causing me some distress. Why not, when about 300 of my friends vanished from my list? Yes, not all my friends, relatives, classmates, schoolmates, teachers, students, former boylets and the like are internet-connected, much less Friendster-linked, but the few who are in my list are either so busy or so remote that the only way we keep in touch is through this social networking site. The ugly face of modernism is at it again: it cannot be fully relied on no matter what utopian promises it has created along with its birth.
I immediately informed my ex- that I disappeared from his list not because I deleted him from mine out of my ongoing romantic agony but because, theories have it, the website was infested by a mighty virus and a programmer hacked into the site. Someone from a popular gay social networking website advised that “Friendster has suffered a great damage…as a computer virus named h4xor-nytmare had infiltrated [its] database. It is best advised not to log in your accounts or add friends for the time being as the Friendster team is currently recovering the losses that were inflicted.” Ganun? Sige na nga.
I checked on Friendster and here’s what I found posted inconspicuously: “Your friends list may be inaccurately displayed. Please be assured your friends list will be accurate soon.” Ayun naman pala e. However, further search brought me to this somewhat funny advice in the site’s Frequently Asked Questions: “MY FRIENDS HAVE DISAPPEARED: We are aware of this issue and will have it fixed ASAP. Don't worry; your friends are not lost, they will return. We apologize for this inconvenience.” If my students will discover this, they will likely complain, “Pati ba naman sa Friendster, may diaspora?!?” This rivals in hilarity the note I read somewhere: “please verify that you are a human.” Some gays confessed to having 500 enlisted friends who were reduced to forty-four, seven or, worse, this: “Ba’t ganun? Isa na lang ‘yung friend ko sa Friendster. Ano’ng nangyari, Friendster team?”
Speaking of complaints, some bitches have the gall to scold some innocent gays firing questions about the Friendster brouhaha. People, not because you started the thread, you have the right to whip others into frenzy. If you don’t feel like answering their questions, shut up. Don’t contradict yourselves by claiming “I’m not tryin’ to be rude” or “no offense meant” and proceed to do just that: being rude and offensive. Don’t make them feel the stupid ass that you actually are. And please, check your grammar; a past participle follows the future tense “will be.” Lastly, be finesse in segueing into your hidden agenda of promoting and having prospects verify heaven-knows-what in your account.
Friendster is one of only four URLs I regularly visit everytime I’m online, the others being my accounts at, (and the blogroll therein), and With the inconveniences I always experience in Friendster such as unmanageable blogposts, adding difficulties, photo uploading hassles among others, I might just take the suggestions of friends to shift to Facebook or Myspace. Tama na ang lupasay; let’s go forth and!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I was a cadaver.
You came, gave me a heart,
Made a human out of me.
I became alive, breathing,
Full of emotions.
But soon enough,
Just when I started
Enjoying your gift,
You inflicted in me
A pain like a thousand deaths.
Who would have thought
That a creator like you
Could become the same person
To destroy?
How come you took back
My heart
And changed me into a cadaver again?

Friday, November 14, 2008

combating deschooling: on rustica carpio's "education and changing perspectives"

“Education and Changing Perspectives” by Rustica Carpio tackles the problems of contemporary education and the available solutions to these problems in order for education to prevent people from turning into what Ivan Illich terms as a “deschooling society.”
The main argument of the essay is that education has turned against itself because individuals concerned are guilty of “misdirecting and disorienting the course of education, of misleading the paths of educational institutions and the approaches and techniques of teaching.” The essay further asserts that the problems must be faced to cope up with the challenges of education’s changing perspectives.
The author substantiated her argument by saying that “hazardous beliefs and wrong practices” like repressing the intellectual growth of students and teachers in favor of tradition deviate education from the actual learning experience. Also, obsolete systems by administators and teachers like ancient policies and curricula stray the school as an institution. Finally, the mechanical manner in which students learn—students acquiring static theories instead of applying them—departs from the correct style of teaching. The author proceeds to suggest that education must be modernized as well as humanized.
Indeed, the author is agreeable for stating that a person’s education should not be neglected for fear of mediocrity. I say this because education brings about knowledge necessary to translate ideas into action and capable of opening social consciousness leading to wide-reaching change. I also agree that facing the problems is a hard challenge, but one that is rewarding once overcome.
Among the strengths of the essay is the author’s series of citations of various intellectuals, a proof that she herself is being educated by insightful ideas, in a manner suggesting that she applies what she preaches. This is a good way of encouraging students to research, an effective means of learning. On the other hand, among the essay’s weaknesses is the unfamiliar choice of vocabulary which may alienate younger readers and, therefore, defeat the purpose of getting across the message to a significant sector of her disciplinal topic. Just in the initial sentence, the term “replete with” appears when a simpler one like “full of” will do. The introductory paragraph goes on to mention words like “muddled,” “besmirched,” and “iniquitous.” The first page would manifest the words “inanities,” “social cleavages,” “cloister,” “elucidates,” “milieu,” “tenable” “palpable,” and “flux,” and this is not to include the remaining pages. It seems to suggest that the essay is itself somewhat guilty of disorienting learners.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

yes, i am an asian!

The Philippines seems to be having a field day conquering Asia after Karla Paula Henry became the first Asian to be crowned as Miss Earth days ago and Ishmael Bernal’s Himala being recently voted online as CNN’s best Asian film of all time. Hours ago in Hong Kong, Miguel Syjuco’s debut novel Ilustrado won the second Man Asian Literary Prize, our continent’s answer to the prestigious Man Booker Prize in Britain. The novel, touted as “a fictional account of a young Filipino caught within a notorious scandal spanning over the Philippine history” and described by the judges as “possess[ing] formal ambition, linguistic inventiveness and sociopolitical insight in the most satisfying measure…[b]rilliantly conceived, and stylishly executed…ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour," had been earlier awarded the Grand Prize for the Novel in English by the Palanca. The novel of the boyish-looking Ateneo graduate now based in Montreal beat Sir Krip Yuson’s The Music Child, Indian writers (again!) Kavery Nambisan’s The Story that Must Not be Told and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay and Chinese Yu Hua’s Brothers. Congratulations! I’m happy that Filipino authors like Chuck are putting the Philippines in the world literary map. Last year’s finalist from the Philippines, Sir Butch Dalisay’s Soledad’s Sister, is a good read—about two people whose lives get intertwined since the arrival of a coffin containing one of the 600 dead OFWs that come home annually. Too bad Jiang Rong’s Wolf Totem beat it to the inaugural prize. Well, the literary spotlight’s on us this time. Hail to the Filipino writer!:)
To fellow blogger noir1, thanks for the compliment! Let me rephrase my reply to your comment “prolific”: writing’s a good therapy for the broken-hearted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

truth is, you just want to die

You wish it were just a bad dream from which you would eventually wake up. The photographs do not exist, old wounds have not reopened, farewell words remain unexpressed. Then again, destiny has a twisted way of mocking you, and your worst nightmares have already crawled out of your unconscious to slap you in the face. You can’t deny this happening; your world is about to experience apocalypse.
You try to save as much of yourself as you can by rewriting history. You delete numbers and stored messages, file pictures away, muffle theme songs, change wallpapers and screensavers, edit profiles. You prepare lessons, attend lectures, discuss ideologies and how these influence social conditions and stratify classes. However you vainly attempt to feign that the good things are here to stay, fact is, they are never bound to last.
While you learn your lesson the hard way, you also realize that your difficult times do not even matter in the wake of more difficult instances sprouting the world over. The US is back to its recession jitters after achieving a milestone in its political history. China executes market recalls of its life-threatening products. Global warming rapidly melts polar ice caps, soon flooding the low-lying terrains. Banks go bankrupt, workers get laid off, corruption worsens, hunger and illness rates sharpen from Latin America to Africa to Asia. Don’t even compare your personal tragedy with those of others; you have not been gang-raped, your shelter does not get demolished, you do not anguish over land-grabbing, ethnic displacement, police extortion, abused rights. You hurt and try to get over it all on your own, because life goes on no matter how you die a cruel death inside you.
When this side of the world sleeps, you stay awake. You think of him, wonder whether he loved you all these years, ask how your personal savior could ironically turn into your angel of death. In a few moments, you are reminded that your private destruction is not the end of this world, and he is sound asleep, his innocent beauty looming, his dreams quivering to life but without any more trace of you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am as good as blind
For faraway faces loom
Only when they arrive.
See what words have cost
These eyes, opening them
Only to close
In a while.
The riotous fireflowers atop the trees,
The glassed malls,
The aerial train hurtling past
Will in time escape the light.
But memory is an illuminating lover,
Bringing closer to my ears
The heartiness of your laughter
Warming in my touch
The lifepulse in your hand,
Educating me with
your Wired’s mild fragrance.
My future may not see you,
But other senses will conjure up your beauty
Just as well as the eyes do.

Monday, November 10, 2008

up bank heist: a postmortem

I earned enough from paper editing the previous week so that after my class, I headed straight to UP to pay for my tuition. Getting past the highway took me 15 minutes but the kilometric stretch from Old Balara to MWSS was agonizing in an hour-long traffic jam, so I grew anxious that the cashier would close just when it’s my turn in the queue to part with my money. My mind raced, scheming a hysterical scene in order for the tellers to accept my payment even past office hours. I left my krystal at home so I had no choice but to run in such a manner that would make Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros weep in frustration. Two minutes before the operations in the PNB wrapped up, I was all ready to treat myself to a twenty-peso (“twinkle” in gay parlance, according to Niño and Edwin) apple shake.
I was about to leave the fruit shake stall to buy isaw at Mang Larry’s when police sirens erupted in the air. Kibitzers started to speculate that the mobiles must be running after the holduppers of the bank. Which bank? Holduppers in UP? What are the UPD Police doing then? I could not trust hearsays, so I had to find for myself.
An online source revealed that hours before my arrival at UP, an armored van of the Philippine Veterans Bank branch located in Bahay ng Alumni was robbed, with the masked robbers peppering a teller and two security guards with bullets before fleeing with bags believed to contain money. This is the latest of the crimes I know of which have happened in the campus, the earlier ones including an Ikot jeep holdup in which a varsity, jumping out of the passenger seat in an effort to escape, smashed his head on the pavement and eventually died of hemorrhage. Another is the broad daylight holdup of a couple, the husband being stabbed dead. Hazing, rape, murder, all of these are disturbing, enough for the average person to want to have the campus tightly guarded by the police.
Here comes the problem: if the existing security force in UP would so much as get reinforcement from outside police, even perhaps the military, there is a great danger that the latter would just sow fear or, worse, human rights violations in the supposedly liberal academic community. Come to think: the outside society is actually peopled by the military and the police, and yet crimes are still perpetuated. The UPDP should just be strengthened instead of putting the state university at the mercy of repressive state apparatuses. I believe that the community values its freedom as much as it does its life.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

kid brothers

The other day, while walking toward the school after taking my lunch, a bunch of street children came up to me, begging for loose change. All these boys looked no more than six years old, greased on their faces, their tattered clothes wet with sweat, phlegm and heaven knows what else. Something in their innocent look stirred a deep sadness within me, such that I found myself tagging them along as we crossed the road in the midst of flying jeepneys. I told them that instead of giving them alms, I would rather treat them to their first meal of the day (or, possibly, in days). Greatly overjoyed, they jumped in unison, as frogs would at the first drops of rain.
We went to a nearby food stop, where I ordered four solo meals of tapsilog. I thought that the combination of beef, fried rice and sunnyside up was not enough to make up for the meals they had skipped before, but the delight in their voices could not hide the pleasant surprise of being able to eat at last. I watched them as their tiny hands pushed the spoonful onto their mouths, chewing like famished goats, their wide eyes staring back at my face. The service crew filled the boys’ cups with icy water, which they gulped in between swallows of yolk-splattered rice. For a moment I feared that one of them would choke, throw up all he had eaten, or burst his full stomach. I encouraged them to take it easy, mapping their faces on my mind in order to write about them sometime soon.
And that sometime is now, when I try to unleash again from my memory the despairing looks of street kids who could have been my brothers, except that the accident of fate had drawn the line between my privilege and their lack of it. I could still hear their words—“Salamat!”—pronounced with sheer joy and sincerity as they left their seats grimy with their dirty bottoms. The tallest among them said they would have to cross the street again, and without so much as a breath they zigzagged their way through the traffic. When they reached the opposite lane, they let go of one another’s hand and, seeming choreographed, waved at me their soiled palms.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

karlo sat beside you

“Ay, si Karlo!”, you succinctly blurt out, resembling a caller who heaves a sigh of relief upon eyeing the fragments “Local Call—Please Insert Coin” registered in the telephone booth at the Alumni. You start to behave restlessly as Karlo approaches your way, thereby you notice his cherry lips break into an adrenaline-pumping grin. You feel your little heart thumping like a resonating drum surface, sending an alert signal to your brain that you must edit whatever you tell him: “Hi, Karlo, Kumain ka na?” Not too fast. “O, Karlo, Kumusta ka ba?” Daring. “Pauwi ka yata, Karlo?” Detective-type. And you end up with nothing slipping from your looped tongue.
Next thing, you inspect yourself at the mirror in the SC comfort room (or shall I say discomfort room because of its usual untidiness and gift inconvenience?). You come face to face with your reflection, as if you act puzzled why you just can’t hire yourself as a cosmetics product model. Shifting your gloomy mood to a sprightly one, you breathe “Karlo…” complete with a big smile like that of the sinister Joker in the Batman series. Suddenly, you get astounded upon seeing Karlo’s image shaping from the foam of water spurting off the faucet. What, Karlo’s face?! This can’t be but, but it’s the handsome Karlo, no less!
You commence counting Karlo’s ivory teeth as you two sit side by side down the floor, he grinning widely. You point at his teeth one after another, reciting the immortal line “He loves me, he loves me not…” Just as you are finished, you realize that you last orate, “…he loves me not.” Disaster! In this perilous state, you weigh two schemes, both of which can toss your Lantern King between Scylla and Charybdis: loosen one of Karlo’s milky teeth or grow his wisdom tooth prematurely. No way, you assert, yet there is NO OTHER WAY. You poise yourself for one of the operations (good pun, isn’t it?) by gripping away one of Karlo’s left molars, that you may predict his honest feelings for you through his odd-numbered teeth. Then the Student Regent slams the CR (or DR) door open, and you regretfully advance the words “Goodbye, Karlo!” seeing his precious mirage slowly vanishing into thin air.
After witnessing Karlo disintegrate before your very eyes, you repeatedly punch the Regent’s swelling belly, rush an office resignation letter and fly to the market to order your hotdog substitute, Teriyaki.

Friday, November 07, 2008

matapos makawala

I went to the premiere of Joel Lamangan’s Walang Kawala, Director’s Cut in the UP Film Center with Pangga, anak ng Diyosa, Prinsesita ng Anak ng Diyosa and Gelli. Apart from seeing the place filled to bursting with gorgeous gay people, I chanced upon my good friends Ruel and Alfie. I was told recently by Ruel that Judy Ann will appear in the Christmas special of Maalaala Mo Kaya for which show he writes, so I badgered him into bringing me along to the taping so we could act as extras. I was already imagining that I’d have a confrontational scene with Juday inside a makeshift house or in the garbage dump or in the streets pockmarked with puddles of brackish water. Gelli insisted that first chance Maricel Soriano returns to MMK, he was willing to be an extra, too, even if it meant creeping along the mud and being made to shed a tear only with his left eye.
As for the film, it was a gay version of Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag and had echoes of Macho Dancer. I was thinking that it would have been better if the plot largely relied on the forbidden love between two straight-identified men in their bucolic fishing village. It was ironic that the rural and city settings swapped pacing—the country setting were wrapped up in the first few minutes as opposed to the slower pacing in Manila. Meanwhile, the transfer to the urban location made the movie scream with commodification and objectification. The homoerotic scenes were, hmm, nakakabitin, hahaha. I recognized the gay bar as that managed by my friend Genesis; seeing the seductive macho dancers made me want to visit Planet Xanadu yet again. Emilio Garcia’s acting was terrific, Polo Ravales’ was good enough, Paolo Rivero’s should have been mined more, while Joseph Bitangcol’s and Althea Vega’s were deplorable. The film could have done away with Jean Garcia in playing the abusive cop’s wife’s character; she’s too fine to be a miscast. Anyway, sans everything, the love affair between Waldo and Joaquin was one that truly captures the gay experience: it goes against all the odds of the straight world. To quote Polo’s character: “Sasabog ang buong mundo kapag nalaman nila ang tungkol sa atin!”
Anyway, here are the photographs taken with the director and the night’s object of gay desire after his controversial frontal nudity, Marco Morales.