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!"

Monday, March 31, 2008

pampanga's best...well, not quite

one humid afternoon, my childhood friend in tarlac texted me, asking if i wanted to taste a sampling of pampanga's best. i'm a fan of this producer of tocinos and other processed meat, so i replied, "yes." it so happened that he was referring to some hot pampango guys that, while not the best lot from arayat country, are delectable all the same. fyi, aside from ilonggo boys with romantic hiligaynon lilting tongue, i drool over malalagong pampangos, pardon the quadruple entendre. now the capampangan men queng bie ku are a-coming: talk about "alay sa bathaluman." first chance i received an mms of a guy in brief, my blood pressure climbed dramatically. here's the proof:
he second chance my friend sent an mms, it was a wholesome picture of a trio--all cute and manly. i immediately got interested with the tyrone perez-looking guy at the extreme right. darn, the guy's taken, i was told. like the day i acquired a jorge amado novel and a margaret atwood novel at P35 each and let go of two latin american novels each costing P20 because they were, well, in original, unintelligible (for me) spanish, i just shrugged, "you win some, you lose some." but tyrone, is that you?
then, the interrogation began: question #1. how did my childhood friend find these cuties across the expanse of this crazy, ruthless universe? answer: when he and ms. ghana toured angeles city for some gorgeous lays, an acquaintance helpfully gave the numbers of these guys who are currently employed in some temple of capitalism sitting in the once-lahar-stricken mexico...pampanga. hint: my erstwhile pangga also works for one of such chains of megamalls. life insight #1: the world is still populated by a tiny number of samaritan souls, and when you are in the prowl for some exotic adventure in foreign lands, you encounter them. life insight #2: when you've stopped looking for love in the strangest places, tell the boyzone you have not stopped looking for lay, anticipating that you will ultimately be rewarded.
question #2: did my childhood friend lay them for a pay? i asked because my friend is such a bisexual (he buys sex) despite his maria clara upbringing, and i'm not going to turn into his ilk for as long as ganda lang can work miracles like the latest olay. thankfully, the guys are for free. life insight #3: nothing beats freebies. life insight #4: gorgeous guys like these who create tremendous sacrifices in order to make the gay community happy should be nominated for the lambda award, if not for sainthood.
question #3: when can they be met asap? my childhood friend informed that they are still busy with work so i can do nothing less than wait for their career schedule to clear up. hmm, april 2 is the start of the summer classes where i teach, and exactly a week after, summer classes in UP will begin. perhaps i will have to invoke the deities of the earth and of the sky and of the air so they will conspire to make the meeting possible the soonest. life insight #5: patience is a virtue, so please bear with the inconvenience; the boys are out to improve your social activity. life insight #6: challenges are strewn along the path to glory. life insight #7: have faith, for the deities listen to the most ardent prayers.
for my parting shot, i texted my friend: i'll book a trip to angeles city...very soon.:)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

magdarna (to t-, whose surname sounds like trillanes)

For all I care
If we own The Symbol
Our power, twice as much,
Never moves The Cross, at all.
Hence, I can't be standing down,
The cause is winning its campaign
And the journey, thunderous at the offing,
Blows a mind-opening sail.
Untie now the yellow ribbons
In the old Oakwood.
As we cry the last revolution,
Have the red armbands secured.
I envision a compact
That's more than written in blood
Because, above This State,
I'm a mutineer for your love.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

on art, life, and jean anouilh

“Life is very nice, but it has no shape. It is the purpose of art to give it shape.”
Jean Anouilh indirectly described a life that doesn’t need art for it to continue. However, all lives lived, being lived and will be lived on earth will never look apart from one another if they only have one binding characteristic that’s continuity. Life springs, flourishes and then meets its demise, so it means the pattern for all lives is similar: organic. Therefore, there is nothing to hold life down to define it more precisely in a way God is defined differently from nature, or state is defined differently from religion (although certain people argue that God and nature and state and religion can become one and the same). Without anything else to define life apart from being organic, it can be likened to space: shapeless, chaotic, dull. And whatever happens to lives that go on unprecedented toward their logical end without even taking shape, definition or excitement? They are boring, ordinary, unfulfilled.
It is nice to have life, why not? Without the need to argue with philosophers, I am way better than lifeless things, say, a pebble, a mineral or a cloud. But what makes my existence different from any if, as I mentioned above, my life is lived only to reach its predictable conclusion called death? Lacking the anticipated detours, speeding up or slowing down, my life can never be better defined than a mere passing. And this time, having always survived the ravages of time, the existence of the pebble, the mineral or the cloud is luckier because not transitory unlike mine.
That is why there is art to give meaning to life if only to bring it up to a higher level of definition. Whatever art one engages in, be it visual arts, literature, music, architecture, it is there to lend life some shape. Like water assuming the form of its container, life assumes a figure, because with art as life’s reflection, individuals can imagine their lives as forms of creation, production and reproduction. With this perception, they will be able to see life as meaningful, that they can dole excitement out of it, that far from life’s fatal predictability, it is actually capable of being immortalized through art that outlives their existence. Long after the artist is buried under the grave, his art is still very much studied, criticized, appreciated. The artist may not have lived long enough to see his art’s immortality, but he virtually lives as long as his art does.
This is especially true today when the modern world is basically a tug-of-war between the capitalist age and the technology age. The preoccupations, therefore, are reduced to how much more money can be generated from money, or how to make use of technology to make life better, notwithstanding the perceived failure of technology’s purpose in general. How does art figure in here, then? Art humanizes people when money and technology turn them into cold-blooded capitalists, alienated working class, or dehumanized technological rats. With art very much around in the contemporary times, life today can still be defined as exciting because art makes it rise out of the ordinariness of money and technology.
My own take on the interrelation of art and life is “life's an adventure and adventure is art.” I share an agreement with Anouilh because we both see life as an extraordinary journey because of its association with art. Human passion is often translated into art forms so a life which does make its passion transformed into art becomes beautiful because the road it takes as it exists is purposeful and not monotonous. It breaks the monotony of my life lived under the pressures of the capitalistic and technological world. Surrounded by the fleeting trends of modernity, I see my life extending beyond the temporal with art that, to paraphrase Anouilh, gives it outline, beauty and humanity.

Monday, March 24, 2008

black-and-white and basis: a comparative analysis between the novel and film version of pride and prejudice

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was recently reprised by Hollywood with Keira Knightley as lead. However, an original adaptation of this literary classic has appeared at a time when black and white films were still in vogue. Rooted during the aristocratic New England era, this masterpiece is noteworthy for its simplicity and excellence suited to a reader's sense and sensibility. It thrives on universal topics such as love, marriage, importance of wealth, social standing in society and, to go with Austen's times' conservative context, the book also talks about manners and right etiquette. It gives one the notion that almost everything necessary to know in the novel was covered by Austen—somewhat impossible yet not altogether untrue, notwithstanding the constrictions of her distant time and countryside upbringing.
Having mentioned the first film version of the novel, it is interesting to point out that nothing appears to beat the original form (the letter form, that is), even in today's postmodern period wherein the copy of the copy of the copy within everybody's access gets just better, it seems. The novel has characters whose mind one is able to follow, even when one picks the mellowing pride of Darcy or the passionate prejudice of Elizabeth. However, the predictability of the novel's episodes does not flesh out familiarity in, say, the film characters of Elizabeth and Jane. One is regaled with moments with these characters but oh-so-briefly that the subsequent events poured in faster than one can swallow a handful of popcorn. Given the lack of roundedness in a limited medium such as cinema, the film as a replica of the novel begs for a substance that was provided only by the director's interpretation of it. In Pride and Prejudice as in any other novel, one may want to sit down through the entire text till kingdom come, and one does not get choked by the captivated sights, smells and textures being conveyed, since one is time and space's master. The film may have been faithful to some parts of the book, but one cannot help but argue with some of the director's cramming point of view.
To cite a few examples, some key characters in the novel failed to grace the movie such as the significant Gardiners. They played the important role of bridging the love of Elizabeth and Darcy in the text form but the movie, at most, made these characters flicker existence by virtue of just a short letter sent by Mr. Gardiner. A major difference generated in the movie makes one turn devoted to the novel because it was with the Gardiners that Darcy and Elizabeth’s love story sprang a second look at love. Also, Lydia’s fate was helped along by the Gardiners. Moreover, other events in the novel do not correlate with the movie because of obvious alterations and differences. While the movie is supposed to stimulate color (the reference is not satiric of the black-and-white format, only with the film's feel) and visual effects, it makes one wish a novel materializes before one's hand to feel the aura and the flow of the story as one follows the events of inheritance, elopement, escape from spinsterhood and visits at the manor. Since the two forms are devoid of parallelism, the film's inconsistencies with the book confuse one with what taste and style one has built in one's mind. How does one relate to the absent transition of Darcy's hatred for Elizabeth transforming into full-pledged love? The film lets the viewer think way too independently of the said lovers' mutual development. What is more, the happenings in the lives of Lydia and Mr. Wickham were left open-ended by the movie.
Film or extra-textual adaptations of literary works should be a welcome matter to reading fans, but with a black-and-white Pride and Prejudice quite failing to deliver, one all the more appreciates that Jane Austen (or any other literary giant) was a writer first and foremost.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

isang pagsusuri sa makinilyang altar ni luna sicat-cleto

Ang mga sanaysay, kuwento, nobela, dula, at tula na nag-aalay ng mga paliwanag sa mga bagay na hindi natin maintindihan, ng pagbubunyag sa mga katotohanang nakakubli at ng pagpapaunawa sa kaibahan ng wasto sa kabuktutan at maging lahat ng uri ng katha na nagtataglay ng sari-sariling halaga sa buhay ng tao ay hinugot sa kaloob-looban ng mga manunulat matapos silang makipagniig sa imahinasyon, at ipaglihi, ipagbuntis at ipanganak ang mga bunga ng pakikipagtalik na ito. Ang mga bungang ito ay mga tekstong pawang mga sintomas ng iba’t ibang isyu sa konteksto ng lipunang ginagalawan ng mga manunulat.
Bawat isa sa kanila ay may sari-sariling paraan ng pagbagtas sa mga proseso ng pagsusulat na nabanggit sa itaas. Bawat isa ay may sari-sariling kahon ng pagsusulat, palakihan, paliitan, may kumplikado, may mas kumplikado, may simple, may pinakasimple, may makasarili at may makatarungan. Bawat akdang isisilang ay may bahagi sa pagkatao ng manunulat na maikakahon, may bahagi na maghihingalo kapalit ng pagsamba sa makinilyang altar.
Matapos ang masinsing paghimaymay sa nobela ni Luna Sicat-Cleto na Makinilyang Altar (University of the Philippines Press, 2002), lumabas ang tunay na damdamin ng mga manunulat sa kanilang propesyon at saloobin ng kanilang mga pamilya sa pagtanggap dito. Malinaw na isinalaysay ni Luna Sicat-Cleto ang sariling buhay sa katauhan ni Laya at ang buhay ng sariling ama bilang manunulat sa katauhan ni Deo Dimasupil at kung paano sila sumamba sa makinilyang altar. Hindi na siguro makakatkat pa sa ating kasaysayan ang pangalan ni Rogelio Sicat katulad ng kung paanong hindi na malilimot pa ang kanyang mga obra gaya ng Moises, Moises, Saan Papunta ang Paru-paro?, Tata Selo at Impeng Negro. Subalit ang hindi natin alam ay ang mga sakripisyo kapalit ng pagsilang ng kanyang mga akda kung kaya pinapaksa ng papel na ito ang tunggalian ng sarili at pamilya na naglalayong suriin kung makatarungan ba na sa pag-ibig ng manunulat sa kanyang propesyon ay maging makasarili siya laban sa kanyang pamilya. Sa kaligiran ng lipunan dito sa Pilipinas na isang bansang lubog sa kahirapan, nakapako ang kamalayan ng Filipinong atupagin muna ang ekonomiks ng tahanan upang huwag magutom ang pamilya bago aturgahin ang pag-ibig sa propesyong hindi makakagarantiya ng kabuhayan ng pamilya. Pumapasok din dito ang ideyolohiyang bilang lalaki/ama, marapat na maging tagapagtaguyod ng kabuhayan samantalang bilang babae/ina, tama na ang maging makapangyarihan sa loob ng tahanan. Samakatuwid, ang tunggaliang naranasan nina Deo at Laya ay magreresulta sa pag-ayon ng sosyedad ngunit pagsupil sa identidad, o pagturing bilang walang silbing magulang ngunit may kakintalan ng sarili.
May konsepto ang mga manunulat na kailangan nilang lumikha ng sariling mundo kapag sila ay nagsusulat. Isang saglit kung saan makakapaglakbay ng tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang imahinasyon, isang saglit kung saan makakapasok ang kaluluwa ng mga diwa upang magkaroon ng hininga ang mga hinabing salita. Katahimikan upang makasalok ng mga kaisipan sa balon ng imahinasyon, dahil para sa ilan, sumpa ang kaingayan sa panahon ng pagsusulat, dahil “mahigpit na pangangailangan ng isang manunulat ang paggalang…sa kanyang pag-iisa (p.18).” Isa rin ito sa mga inhustisya ng pagbibigay ng marka sa mga taong may propesyon, at sa kaso nga nina Deo at Laya, sila ay mga eksentrikong artistang may sariling mundo, sukat-sabihin ay mga baliw sa sarili nilang pamamaraan. “Sinabi, at totoo naman, na impraktikal ang manunulat (p.32).” Hindi maikakaila na naging mabuting ama si Deo kung sukatan ang prinsipyo at pinansyal na pagtataguyod—isang pagsunod sa patriyarkal na kaisipang magiting ang lalaking nakakapaghanapbuhay—subalit may mga panahon na pwedeng panghihinayangan niya para sana mas maging mabuting ama sa kanyang mga anak. Ito ay ang panahon na nasupil ang paglalaro, pag-iingay at pangungulit sa panahon ng kamusmusan nina Bituin, Amor at Laya, mga anak ni Deo, upang pagbigyan ang kaniyang pagsusulat, na hindi na maibabalik pa matapos silang mamaalam sa bahaging ito ng kanilang buhay. Magiging mabuti ba siyang ama o mabuting taong kilala ang kanyang sarili? Sa pagtanda ng magkakapatid at sa muling pagbalik sa alaala ng kanilang kabataan, kaylungkot isipin na hindi sila makakalikha ng mga kwento tungkol sa tawanan at pakikipaglaro sa sariling ama. Sa mura nilang edad, natutunan na ng magkakapatid na tanggapin na may oras ang kanilang ama na hindi nila maaangkin kahit ito ay katumbas pa ng mga oras na ninakaw sa kanila ng ama dahil sa propesyon nito, hindi man nito sinasadya. Kaya nga kahit nagngingitngit ang mga murang kalooban, pinili na lang nilang manahimik sa sa isang sulok, pinili na lang magsiksikan sa isang silid sa pagtulog para lang maibigay ang hinihinging espasyo ni Deo. “Natuto ang kanyang pamilya na igalang ang kanyang katahimikan (p.61)” Isipan pang sa isang pamilya, dapat manatili ang patriyarka kung saan ang mga anak at asawang babae ay tagasunod nang walang oposisyon sa amang bukal ng kapangyarihan sa tahanan. Marahil kung hindi siya naging manunulat at naging ordinaryong guro lamang, mas normal siguro ang takbo ng buhay ng kaniyang mga anak dahil mas marami siyang oras na magugugol sa paghubog sa kanilang pagkatao at mas magiging normal dahil mas magiging ordinaryo at makatotohanan ang kanyang pagiging ama sa kumbensiyonal na konseptong inihahatag na lipunan. Kung pwede nga lang sigurong ibalik ang panahon para hindi na muling lumipad pa ang kanyang isip sa paghahagilap ng bagong susulatin at mawala sa loob na kailangan na niyang sunduin ang kaniyang mga anak mula sa pag-aaral upang hindi sila maiwanan ng shuttle papasok sa kanilang subdibisyon. Kung mas may matinding pokus sana siya sa kaniyang mga anak ay hindi mararanasan ng mga bata na gabihin at sumabit sa trak ng bato pauwi sa kanilang tahanan dahil sa wala ng masakyan bunga ng kaniyang pagiging abala sa kung anu-anong isipin. Hindi man makatarungan na ibintang sa kanya ang pagkakaroon ng kakaibang mundo ni Bituin at ang hindi maipaliwanag na obsesyon nito sa payong o ang di normal na pagkimkim ni Amor ng mga sariling alalalahanin sa halip na humingi ng saklolo sa sariling pamilya ay maaaring responsible nga siya dahil sa mas madalas niyang pakikipag-usap sa kaniyang kuwaderno kaysa sa kaniyang mga anak. Inaasahan ng lipunan na bilang isang ama, si Deo ay dapat maging magiting na lalaking makakabuo ng pamilyang katanggap-tanggap sa mga matang nakapaligid. “Ano nga kaya ang hatol sa kanya ng kasaysayan? (p.28).” Ngunit sa kanyang sarili, ito ang umuukilkil, na namutawi sa pagmumuni ng kanyang anak: “Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit…inuusig ako ng aking panulat at papel (p.2).” Umiigting ang tunggalian.
Natagpuan ni Deo si Gloria sa kainitan ng kaniyang pagsusulat at pagpapalaya sa subersibong kaisipan. Sa kabila ng magkaibang likaw ng kaisipan, isang laman ng rally at demonstrasyon at alipin ng lapis at papel at isang accountant na nakikipagniig sa mga numero at teknikalidad ay nagkaintindihan ang kanilang mga puso. Pinanindigan ni Gloria ang kaniyang sumpa nang sila ay ikasal ni Deo na mag-iibigan sa hirap at ginhawa maging sa kamatayan kung kaya’t sinikap niyang sakyan ang kakaibang takbo ng kaisipan ng kaniyang kabiyak. Inirespeto niya ang hinihinging espasyo ni Deo para sa pagsusulat, kinalimutan niya ang pagdaramdam sa mga oras na nakakaligtaan siya ng kaniyang asawa. Ito naman ang pagsunod ni Gloria sa ideyolohiya ng lipunan: ang maging babaeng mapagpailalim sa asawa, ang magkaroon ng identidad bilang asawa at ina lamang. Kahit pa nga mas madalas ang pakikipagniig ng lalaki sa kanyang kuwaderno sa pagsusulat ng nangyari sa buong maghapon. Nilunok ni Gloria ang paninibugho na tila may mga panahong mas mahal pa ni Deo ang mga karakter sa kanyang mga kwento at dula kaysa sa sariling asawa. Pinilit niyang pagkasyahin ang paa sa sapatos na ibig ipasuot ng kaniyang sinisintang kabiyak upang at dahil dapat siya ay maging tagasunod at tanging tagasunod lamang sa patriyarka. “Matamis ang [kanyang] ngiti, ngunit…may itinatago iyong pait (p.25).”
Auditor si Gloria ng isang kinikilang kumpanya, hinahangaan ang kaniyang husay sa pag-aanalisa ng mga numero at graphs, matalas ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagsususri ng magiging kapalaran ng isang negosyo. Nasukol lamang siya sa disorganisasyon sapagkat bumibilis ang tiyempo ng paghahagis-pagsasalo ng tungkulin bilang ina, asawa at executive kaya napilitan siyang magbitiw sa trabaho sapagkat mas mahal niya ang kanyang pamilya kaysa sa kaniyang pangarap. Ngunit “iniisip niya kung naging makatarungan ba noong pinapili niya ito kahit hindi niya binigkas ni minsan na mamili nga ito (p.69).” Kung kumikita lang sana ng higit sa sapat-sapat si Deo, marahil ay hindi niya panghihinayangan ang pagbibitiw sa trabaho, sayang din naman ang perang kinikita niya sa kompanya para sa ibang pangangailangan ng kaniyang pamilya. Sa panahong iyon, hindi kayang pakainin ng pagsusulat ang mga bibig na umaasa, hindi kayang pag-aralin ang mga isip na nangangarap buti na nga lamang at guro si Deo sa isang unibersidad kung kaya’y natutustusan ang kanilang pangangailangan. Kung pwede nga lang sana niyang maasahan ang lalaki sa pag-aalaga ng kanilang mga anak sa panahong libre ito para hindi na niya kailanganin pang magbitiw sa trabaho, ngunit kailan nga ba ito malilibre kung walang oras ang pagkatok ng pagnanasang magsulat, sumisingit ang pagkahumaling sa paghahardin? Sana nga lamang ay nabibiyayaan sila ng isang mapagkakatiwalaang yaya subalit wala sa kabila ng kaniyang kabutihan. Ipinagpalit niya ang kanyang karera sa pag-ibig kay Deo at sa kanyang pamilya. Dahil sigurado siyang hindi siya ang pipiliin ni Deo kung sakaling hilingin niyang magbitiw ito sa pagsusulat kaya siya na lamang ang nagsakripisyo kaysa pag-ibig ang magdusa. Sinikap niyang irespeto ang sinasambang altar ng kanyang asawa. “Nauunawaan nito ang kanyang pag-ibig (p.61).” Sa isang malakihang pagtanaw, ang palsong kamalayan ng pagdomina ng mga lalaki ay opresibo para kay Gloria sampu ng kapwa niya babae dahil ibinabatay ang kanilang pagkatao base sa relasyon nila sa mga lalaki: ang kanilang pagiging tagasunod lang, ang pagsasakripisyo sa ngalan ng pananagumpay ng kanilang lalaki (asawa man o anak), ang hindi paghahanap ng identidad maliban sa pagiging ina at asawa lamang.
Sabi ni Oca, kaibigang manunulat ni Deo, minsan sa kanilang inuman na ang asawa, kapag nakakasagabal na sa pagsusulat, sa “gusto [niyang] gawin, kaya [niya itong] iwanan (p.64)”—isang sobenistikong pagtaya sa babae bilang katumbas lang ng pagsusulat na sa iba ay simpleng libangan. Tila yata nakalimutan nito na ang nakasagabal ay ang nakakairitang inuman katulad ng mga gabing hindi makatulog ang kanyang mga anak dahil sa ingay ng halakhakan at kwentuhan ng mga lasenggong manunulat at higit sa lahat, mas sagabal ang pambababae niya. Ang problema kasi ay nakukulong ang marami sa konsepto na ang manunulat ay mahirap intindihin dahil sinasabi nilang sagrado ang kanilang propesyon at kaiba sila sa mga pangkariwang empleyado kung kaya’t binibigyan nila ng sariling katuwiran ang mga maling konsepto sa kabila ng katotohanan na nagiging makasarili sila dahil sarado ang ilan sa mga posibilidad na pwedeng ibagay ang pagsusulat sa hinihingi ng sitwasyon. Ang pagsusulat ay nakabase sa sariling motibasyon, nakabase ito sa uri ng pagkatao ng manunulat at makitid ang kaisipang nagsasabing baliw na may sariling mundo ang manunulat.
Hindi ibig manlahat ng papel na ito subalit marami sa mga manunulat ay lumilikha ng ideyolohiyang kustomado sa mga gusto at pag-ibig nila. Lumalampas sila sa hangganan ng katotohanan at pagbibigay-katwiran. Parang kahit mali ay nagiging tama dahil nagagawa nilang ipaliwanag at bigyang-katarungan ang pagliko. Nagiging abuso sila sa paglaktaw sa kumbensyonal na pananaw. Dahil dito, naiiwan ang mga mga taong nakapaligid sa kanila na hindi makasakay sa kanilang pagharurot, silang mga naiiwan, silang mga kumakain ng alikabok. Malungkot. Isa ito sa mga dahilan kung bakit nagiging makasarili ang isang manunulat nang hindi nila nararamdaman. Ninanakawan nila ng katwiran at karapatan ang mga pangkaraniwang tao. Ayos lang ba ang pambababae ni Oka dahil hindi naman niya pinababayaaan ang kaniyang pamilya, o sobenistiko lang talaga siya? Ang madalas na lasingan nilang mga manunulat dahil nakakahugot naman sila ng mga kwento sa mga kwentuhan kahit nakakaabala na at naghihintay ang kanilang asawa’t mga anak sa kanilang mga tahanan, pakitang macho lang ba? Ipinambili na lang sana ng gatas ni bunso ang ipinambili ng serbesa. Ang talim ng mga panulat para tuligsain ang kabulukan ng gobyerno, oo nga at isa itong paraan ng pagpapakita ng pagmamahal sa bayan kung dalisay sana ang hangarin at hindi nasasakop ng pansariling paagnanais ng mga ilang huwad at kung malinis sana ang pagkatao ng isang nagsasalita. Kaya nga malaon ay pinagtawanan na ni Deo ang mga rally, demonstrasyon at ang mga nagsipag-underground. “Oo, pinag-uusapan [ng mga aktibista] ang rebolusyon—ngunit ang rebolusyong ito ay saan nila ibinatay? Sa libro? (p.51)” Ang pagdalaw ng dati niyang kasama na si Ernani ay nagpaalala ng kanyang pagsasayang ng panahon sa sinasabi nilang pakikibaka, dahil hindi naman pala ganoon kalinaw ang makabayang motibo. At hindi niya ibig magamit ang kanyang pagiging manunulat, kahit pa sabihing moda naman ng produksiyon ang panitik na sinusulat niya. May kayakap sana ang isang asawang nilalamig sa halip ang yakap niya ay malamig na baril sa malamok na bundok kung hindi sana na-brainwash ng maling pulitikal na ideyolohiya. Ang nararapat sana ay sila ang magmulat sa mga tao sa katotohanan at hindi ang lumikha ng sariling katotohanan na lilikha ng kalituhan. Gustong ulitin ng papel na ito na hindi lahat ng manunulat ay makasarili; isa ito sa mga ipinaunawa ng nobela na may mga makatarungan pa ring manunulat. Kabilang doon si Deo at si Laya na kaniyang anak.
Ang pagiging manunulat ni Deo ay naghatid sa kanya sa tagumpay: naging dekano siya ng unibersidad, kinilala at iginalang ang kanyang mga akda at dahil dito, maaari siyang ipagmalaki ng kanyang mga anak—samakatuwid, isang magiting na lalaki ng lipunan. Taas-noong masasabi ni Gloria sa lahat ng tao na “si Deo Masupil ang aking asawa”—at may identidad din siya sa bisa ng identidad ng kanyang asawa. Hindi bale na ang mga panahong napabayaan sila ng asawa, na may mga parte ng buhay nila na naisakripisyo kapalit ng pag-ibig sa paropesyon. Pero may mga piping pagsisisi na hindi na nakawala, na kung binalanse lamang niya ang propesyon at ang pamilya at natuto siya para sa ilang kompromiso, siguro ay mas naging maligaya siya sa piling ng mga minamahal, gayundin ang mga nagmamahal sa piling niya. Masyado siyang naging matigas sa mga sarili niyang pananaw, ng pagnanais na “awitin ang elehiya ng makinilyang altar (p.19).” Gusto man niyang iwasto at bumawi sa pamilya, kapos na ang kaniyang hininga.
Ang ama ni Deo ang unang sumamba sa makinilyang altar, subalit hindi na niya naituloy ang sukdulan ng kaniyang pagsusulat sapagkat wala naman siyang nararamdamang igting upang ipagpatuloy ito. Hindi man lubusang tinukoy sa kwento na nakipagbuno ang lolo ni Laya sa pagitan ng pagsusulat at kaniyang pamilya ay nag-iwan ito ng malinaw na impresyong mas mabigat ang tawag ng pangangailangan, na nakapaloob sa pagsunod sa dikta ng palsong kamalayan. “Mas mahalagang may maiuwing ulam sa mesa, para makakain ang mga supling (p.111).” Masasabi kayang kasalanan nito ang pagtigil sa pagsusulat sa kabila ng makakahabi nga siya ng maririkit na tula subalit ano ang silbi ng mga salitang iyon sa pagdaraos ng tutukain sa araw-araw?
Mula sa pag-akda ng mga katangi-tanging panitikan gamit ang pluma ay nakalaktaw na ang tao hanggang sa makinilya at ngayon ay kompyuter. Mas gumaan at bumilis ang proseso. Kung may pag-unlad sa teknolohiya ng pagsususulat sa mekanikal na aspeto, maaari ring paunlarin ng mga manunulat ang paraan ng kanilang paglikha ng mga akda upang maging madali ito sa mga taong nakapaligid sa kanila at hindi nila kailangang isakripisyo ang pag-ibig sa pamilya para lamang mairaos ang kanilang propesyon. Nararapat nilang hanapan ng tamang lugar at panahon ang kanilang trabaho ng walang ibang taong nahihirapan. Maraming lugar na tahimik at naaayon na maaaring puntahan sa oras na mangulit ang tawag ng panulat nang hindi kailangang supilin ang hagikgikan ng mga musmos at manimbang ang asawang minamahal.
Hindi nararapat na ipilit ang isang kumplikadong kaisipan kung iyon talaga ang taglay ng isang manunulat sa mga taong nakapaligid sa kanya. Karapatan nilang magkaroon ng sariling pag-iisip at pagkatao. Kung hindi nila kayang ibagay ang sarili sa iba, mas mabuting magsarili na lang kaysa ang iba ang piliting makibagay sa takbo ng kanilang kaisipan. Ang asawa ay asawa, ang pamilya ay pamilya, ang propesyon ay propesyon at ang isipang kailangang mamili sa panahon na hindi na kayang timbangin ang dalawang ito ay hindi parang pagpili ng palabas sa sinehan na maaring iwanan kung mairita sa pelikulang sobrang daldal. Kung sakaling sagabal man ang isang kabiyak sa pagsusulat dapat maging bukas ang isipan na maaaring nagiging sagabal din ang propesyon sa pagsasama kaya hindi na maunawaan pa. Ito ang punto na kailangang timbangin ang dalawang bagay: ang tunggalian ng sarili at pamilya. Maraming matatagumpay na mga manunulat ang may matagumpay na pamilya; sila ang mga taong may respeto hindi lamang sa makinilyang altar kundi maging sa altar ng kanilang mga minamahal. At ang isang responsableng manunulat ay nagtataglay ng malawak at hindi nakakahong kaisipan. “[Ang artista] ay tinatarakan, siya’y nagdurugo, ngunit kailangan niyang bumangon (p.52).” Walang duda na mahirap ang pinagdadaanan ng mga manunulat, una walang malaking pera sa pagsusulat, hindi lahat ay nabibigyan ng pagkakataon na maging mabili ang mga akda. “Sa mga manunulat na nahumaling sa altar na ito, inakala nilang tiwalag sila sa mga nangyayari, inakala nilang mababakuran nila ang kanilang mga sarili, nabubulag sila sa ilusyong ang panahon ay maaangkin (p.112).” Subalit ang paghubog ng pagkakakilanlan ay ang ultimo ng paghubog ng pagkatao ninuman, at “hindi…niya kailangang magpaumanhin kung ito ang pinili niyang landas (p.147).” Ideyolohiya lang ang nagsasabing nagiging makasarili ang isang nagmamahal sa kanyang propesyon nang tila higit pa sa pag-ibig sa pamilya. “Hindi sila nagpalamon sa pagkukunwari (p.51).” Sa punto de bista ng isang manunulat, sabihin mang palaimbento siya ng mundong tinitignan niya sa tangi niyang perspektibo, may katarungan siya sa pag-asikaso sa pamilya habang pinakikintal niya ang kanyang sarili sa pamamagitan ng kanyang propesyon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

a critical analysis of "let neri testify"

There are fallacious claims with their respective assumptions and supporting grounds in the March 9, 2008 article “Let Neri Testify” written by Artemio V. Panganiban whose column With Due Respect appears in Philippine Daily Inquirer.
First, Panganiban claimed that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s revocation of Executive Order 464 and Memorandum Circular 108 was legally irrelevant based on grounds that these were mere symbolic acts and that that their major parts were already declared unconstitutional. This is fallacious because the President has the executive powers to issue such an order and circular, making the move relevant because the Constitution guarantees the President’s rights to execute. If these were just symbols, then the President would be merely deluded into thinking that she possesses executive powers that were merely symbolic too, which in truth were not. Also, if some parts of the declarations were unconstitutional, then some unmentioned parts are actually constitutional, making them not entirely irrelevant.
Second, the columnist claimed that “the congressional power of inquiry is as extensive as the power to legislate” based on the grounds that in support of legislation, the Congress “has a constitutional right to obtain information from the Executive Branch” and in response, the executive branch is bound by the duty to supply information needed by the Congress to consummate legislation. This is fallacious because the executive privilege already limits the extent of the congressional right to information, making its right to legislate more extensive than its right to inquiry. The Congress may have right to get information from the President but as the President deems fit under certain conditions, she can invoke executive privilege, hindering the legislature’s completion of its inquiry no matter how important this is to the lawmaking process.
Third, Panganiban claimed that “disclosure is the rule and secrecy is the exception” based on the grounds that the public’s interest is prioritized and, therefore, the executive privilege must be evaluated in the context it is made out of. This is fallacious since the term “secrecy” is semantically problematic because it seems to suggest that the President is hiding something abominable to the public, whereas the President is all ready to disclose relevant information as long as state affairs would not jeopardize military and diplomatic affairs, identity of informers who report authorities violating the very laws they are sworn to enforce are protected, and discussions of formulated state decisions and policies that will cause public threat or alarm—in short, the President can selectively disclose in order to make superior the public’s interest.
Fourth, the columnist claimed that only President Arroyo has the right to executive privilege based on the grounds that Cabinet members get involved with the privilege only as presidential consultants and that they can invoke the privilege only when authorized by the President. This is fallacious since the executive department does not just involve the President but her Cabinet members as well. Hence, what the President can invoke, the Cabinet can do likewise being members of the executive branch of the government. Being an indispensable part of the executive department, the Cabinet has as much privilege as the President in remaining silent if circumstances merit it.
Fifth, the author claimed that “executive privilege refers to categories of information, not of officials” based on the grounds that practically anyone can gather and, thus testify for, state information and that the public is barred from accessing the state’s secret information. This is fallacious because the privilege, in fact, refers to officials and not categories of information by the fact that it is qualified by the term “executive.” Anyone cannot just divulge state information, only officials of the government, no matter how strategically positioned that one is vis-à-vis the collection of the top-secret information. Also, the public’s right to know is limited by circumstances including the eventual generation of public hysteria, of massive revolt from the national defenses or of tensed breaking of diplomatic ties with other countries.

Friday, March 21, 2008

this lenten season's queerest question

it's that time of the year when the aegis-obsessed neighborhood ceases to grab the videoke mic but sings anyway; this time, the song tatooed sigas perform in my area is about the passion of the christ. fancy thinking that the pasyon, apart from being the historical saving grace of revolutionary pinoys according to prof. reynaldo ileto, will be sung by shirtless hunks in their sexiest baritone. the population of manila gets decimated abruptly primarily because the disappeared have returned to the old country or have cavorted on the beaches or have spent some quiet time in tagaytay. Owing to a multitude of papers to finish, i begged off from the subic and galera outings i had been invited to. the workload also prevented me from doing a bravura homecoming to either tarlac or nueva ecija. o, boy, i didn't imagine myself becoming such a loser early on in my vacation. being on self-imposed house arrest, nothing eventful unfolds before my very eyes so perhaps, to invoke the precipitation of fire and brimstone, i will have to pose this question to top and bottom gay people who happen to browse this side of cybertown:

saan ba ang pakuan?:)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

mapping the cacique democracy in the philippines

Benedict Anderson’s “Cacique Democracy in the Philippines ” covers up to the post-EDSA period of Corazon Aquino’s administration and from that point on, our political maturity can be said to have not improved much. This can be explained by how colonial and local influences have molded the power structure in the country based on the colonial and indigenous systems that persisted over time. Throughout the periods in which the examination ran from the Spanish Colonization to the Revolutionary Government to American Era to the Commonwealth Period to the Japanese Invasion to the Postwar Republic to the Marcos Dictatorship to the EDSA Redemocratization, there has been a characteristic power structure inequality in the political process. This inequality has upheld the interests of the elite. Based on the tradition of ownership and accumulation of land, the patterns of inequality harked back during the Spanish colonial period when the principalia class dominated the control and concentration over farmlands. In addition, the right to suffrage limited to the literate and landed classes historically assured the elite domination of electoral office. With the emergence of urban economies, patronage systems have decreased but elites now resort to other means like force to secure their position.
The consolidation of a national oligarchy in the government continues to create a perfect adaptation of the ambitions of the mestizo nouveau riche in the legislative and executive systems. If before, these caciques enjoyed control only of their respective local political fiefdoms, now they enjoyed national-level access and exposure. This is most evident with the creation of political dynasties across the archipelago, with family members holding key political positions in their bailiwick areas of responsibility. Thinking of their relative predecessors’ electoral posts as political inheritance, they deepen their consciousness as a ruling class. As they exploit the opportunities presented to them by their privileged position, their relationship with the country gets defined as cacique parasitical.
Since our political institutions are weak, the different leadership styles of the four post-Marcos presidents have a tremendous impact on political results, all of which cannot be said to contribute to a much-desired political maturity. Aquino can be characterized as an elite restorationist, since she was able to rebuild the elite-dominated democratic structures weakened by authoritarian Ferdinand Marcos during her 1986-1992 administration. Meanwhile, former military general Fidel Ramos’ rule from 1992-1998 can be characterized by his skillful manipulation of traditional patronage politics, relatively successful in effecting economic reform. On the other hand, the self-proclaimed populist former movie star, Joseph Estrada, built a strong following from the masses and then made a redistribution of wealth in favor of his family and cronies before being ousted from office in the January 2001 EDSA II Revolution.

Presently, economist president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can be characterized as a great compromiser because of her willingness to accommodate anybody with the ability to help her keep the presidency. The patterns of elite domination remained the same even in contemporary times because of efforts of democratization wherein an elite democracy rules the country today. The following liberties characterizing the post-EDSA cacique democracy have become apparent: the manipulation of exchange rates, the sale of monopolies, huge central bank loans, pork barrel legislation, and family-ruled bureaucracy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

mga unang bugso ng panitikan ng pilipinas: isang alaala

Ang panitikan ng Pilipinas bago mapailalim ang bansa sa impluwensiya ng mga Amerikano ay mahahati sa tatlong bahagi: ang panahong prekolonyal, ang panahon ng mga Kastila, at ang panahon ng pagkamakabayan. Dahil ang mga panahong ito ang mga unang bugso ng panitikan ng bansa, repleksyon sila ng pinakamatatanda ngunit “laging-sariwang alaala ng [ating] lahi,” ayon sa Pambansang Alagad ng Sining na si Rolando Tinio, sa kanyang tekstong Panitikan para sa Kaisahan ng Bayan. Ang karakter ng bawat isa, mula sa pagiging oral hanggang relihiyoso hanggang nasyonalistiko, ay salamin ng sosyo-historikal na kaligiran ng lipunang pinagmulan ng panitikan ng mga sinaunang panahon. Samakatuwid, ang mga panitik na ito ay pinakamainam intindihin at angkinin kung pag-aaralan bilang mga ekspresyon ng kultura, mithiin, at gawi ng buhay—kung gayon, alaala—ng ating lipi.
Ang prekolonyal na pinakamahabang panahon sa panitikan ng Pilipinas (mula ___ B.K. hanggang 1564) ay kakikitaan ng tradisyong oral na naisalin sa atin ng ating mga ninuno sa porma ng mga epiko, kuwentong bayan, awit, bugtong, at salawikain. Ang mgapinakasimpleng porma ng panitikang oral na bugtong at salawikain ay nagbibigay ng palaisipan at ng matalinghaga ngunit puno-ng-karunungang kasabihan, ayon sa pagkakasunod. Ang mga awit naman tuwing may ipinapanganak, namatay, kasal, digmaan, anihan o punlaan, oyayi, awit ng pag-ibig, awit ng panambahan sa mga anito, at awit ng gawain ay nakasama sa pang-araw-araw na ritwal ng mga katutubong ninuno; ilan dito ay sinabayan ng mga sayaw at naging basehan ng drama. Sa prosa, ang mga mito, pabula, alamat at kuwentong kababalaghan ay naging repleksyon ng pagtanaw sa mga pinagmulan ng mga diyoses, ng kalikasan, pati na ng hindi maipaliwanag gaya ng tiyanak, aswang, kapre o nuno sa punso. Sa tula, may tanaga, diona at ang pinakaimportante dahil sa kaangkinang paniniwala, pagpapahalaga, at buhay ay ang rehiyunal, naratibong epiko gaya ng Biag ni Lam-Ang, Hinilawod, Tuwaang, Bantugan at Indarapatra at Sulayman. Ang mga nabanggit na piraso ng panitikan ay nagsisilbing tagpi-tagping mantel ng prekolonyal na karanasan ng ating mga ninuno at dahil sa salik na tradisyon, naipamana sa atin ang nabigyang-anyo at makabuluhang katutubong alaala upang bigyang “-dilag, ngalan at dangal” ang ating pagkabansa.
Sa pagdating ng mga Kastilang nagkamisyon ng Kristiyanisasyon sa Pilipinas, ang panitikan ng Pilipinas sa panahong Kolonyal (1565-1863) ay nagkaroon ng katangiang relihiyoso. Sinimulan ng pagkalimbag ng unang libro sa Pilipinas na Doctrina Christiana noong 1593, naimprenta rin ang mga manwal ng katekismo at kumpisal, mga aklat-gramatika at diksyunaryo. Dahil opresibo ang panahong ito, ang mga tradisyong oral ay hindi nailimbag at kung mayroon man, hinaluan ito ng Kritiyanismo ng mga prayleng nagtala ng mga ito. Sa panahong ito nabuo ang pinakapopular na relihiyosong panitikan, ang pasyon at kamatayan ni Kristo gaya ng Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Kristong Panginoon Natin ni Gaspar Aquino de Belen. Nabuo rin ang pinakapopular na awit, ang Florante at Laura ni Francisco Balagtas, isang maituturing na alegorya ng protesta sa rehimeng Kastila. Pinakapopular namang prosa ang libro ng kagandahang-asal na Pagsusulatan ng Dalawang Binibini na si Urbana at Felisa ni Padre Modesto de Castro. May iba pang uri ng panitik noon gaya ng duplo, karagatan, at komedya, isang drama ng digmaan sa pagitan ng mga binyagan at Moro. Naimpluwensiyahan man ng dayuhang puwersa ang ating pagkilala sa sarili, hindi mapapasubalian na ang karanasan natin ay nagpayaman sa ating alaala at unti-unting humubog sa tinatawag ni Frantz Fanon na “National Culture” (Pambansang Kalinangan). Ang panitikan sa panahong Kolonyal ay kabilang sa “kabuuang pagpupunyagi na nililikha ng tao” kahit pa nga nasa ilalim tayo ng klima ng kolonisasyon at, samakatuwid, paglalagalag ng identidad. Ang panitikang nabanggit ay “habi ng lahi at pinaiiral” natin ayon sa ating karanasan bilang bansa.
Ang panahong Propaganda at Rebolusyon ang bahagi ng panitikan ng Pilipinas na nagpatibay sa ating pambansang kalinangan dahil sa “mga kilos na nagiging limitado sa kaugnayan sa palagiang reyalidad ng lahi.” Ang kolonyalismo ay inusig ng kontra-memorya ng mga propagandista at rebolusyonaryong naghangad na bawiin ang nawalang pagkakakilanlan dahil sa represibong kamalayang idinikta ng nanakop na dayuhan. Ang mga nobelang Noli Me Tangere at El Filibusterismo ng Pambansang Bayaning si Jose Rizal ang mga pangunahing panitik na nagsulong para buuin ng ating bansa ang ating Pambansang Kalinangan. Kabilang ang mga tekstong Katapusang Hibik ng Pilipinas, Liwanag at Dilim at Dekalogo sa ilang panitik na naglayong palayain ang bansa sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng katangian sa panitikang mas kapani-paniwalang Filipino, samakatuwid ay mas buo ang identidad. Ang ating karanasang naisatitik sa mga teskto ay hindi na mabubura dahil ito ay ating alaala, ang ating pagkakakilanlan, ang ating pagkabansa.

Monday, March 17, 2008

after tuhog, hugot

This one's by and for joni, my good friend who's now a full-pledged director :)
“HUGOT” A Digital Queer Film starring Ms. Ana Capri
Premiere Showing @ the U.P Film Center, Diliman, Q.C 7 pm April 23, 2008 (Wednesday)
Produced by Wilbert Ting Tolentino Written and Directed by Jonison Fontanos
Introducing:Jerome Ebreo Christopher Canizares Cris Castillo and Alvin Espinosa
For tickets, please call or text 0918-4697443, 0918-4697391
HUGOT Synopsis
Episode 1: “Raymond”
When Raymond’s youngest sibling, an out-of-school youth, fell victim to a hit-and-run, the obligation to collect money for the hospitalization was left to Raymond. One night, Raymond and his best friend Nolan scoured the entire city to find a victim. They are cell phone snatchers.
The transsexual Dorina, fresh from her victory as Miss Gay and P8,000 richer, would be their prey. However, not only robbery would be committed as the partners in crime would accidentally kill the veteran gay beauty contestant.What destiny awaits the two friends? Raymond’s critical sibling? Will justice be meted out for the slain gay?
Who is the true victim?
Episode 2: “Anton”
Anton’s nightly dreams are evocative: the rice field clothesline where burning garments are hanging, the ash of which gets into his eyes.
What do his dreams mean? How are these related to his present anguish and solitude? Will these inspire Anton into finishing his poem-in-progress, the poem for the beloved who left him or whom he left?
Episode 3: “Bimbo”
While youth activists Edward and Bimbo are heading home from a rally, the latter falls to the ground unconscious due to hunger and exhaustion. A middle-aged man helps Edward haul Bimbo’s body. Because the stranger’s apartment is nearby, he offers his place for the two to rest in before going home.
When he comes to, Bimbo learns from his friend Edward that they are in an unfamiliar place—the house of Leandro, the stranger.
Leandro prepares food for the young men as Melody, Leandro’s best friend who is a funny liberated woman, visits the latter’s pad.They both convince the boys to spend the night through. The friends agree. They cannot decline the drink offered by Leandro. They become tipsy and their conversation meanders from politics, activism, gay rights and…sex.
Who is Leandro and what motive does he harbor over the teenagers?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

a short take on hemingway's "hills like white elephants"

Ernest Hemingway’s very short story “Hills Like White Elephants” features a couple who are arguing whether or not the girl should go for abortion or not. While abortion was not mentioned in the story, Hemingway proved his point through the literary elements of setting and symbolism.
The first paragraph introduces the tension that is felt throughout the story. The place and time setting is Spain in the late 1920’s. In the very hot atmosphere of a rail station overlooking long, white hills, the couple is in the midst of a decision-making wherein two choices are left, just like the two directions on which the rail is headed. The open atmosphere of the station suggests that the problem must be addressed now, for there is no way to run and back out. The hotness boils and screams under the pressure taking place.
The girl looks at the hills like white elephants, and in here the girl anticipates the birth of her child, rare like the unique white elephant which some cultures consider sacred. White refers to the purity and innocence of the unborn baby. When she sees the fields, she sees fertility, which represents her pregnancy. The river, meanwhile, gives life by irrigating the field. While appreciating the fields, the shadow of the cloud appears, which represents the abortion of the fetus and that causes her unhappiness. When she looks again at the fields after an exchange of words with the man, she sees the dry side of the valley, which symbolizes the preference of the man to abort the child, which he says to the girl in order to convince her to commit abortion. The dry valley also represents the girl’s body after abortion: barren.
The man wants the abortion because he wishes to keep his present lifestyle. The bags he looks at after the argument are labeled from all the hotels they had slept in. These bags symbolize the man’s lively spirit. If the girl proceeds with the pregnancy, he will have to settle down and raise his own family, sacrificing his young desires to see what the universe can offer. For him, the baby is indeed a white elephant that is holy for some but actually a burden to carry since it has to be fed without getting anything in return.
The story ends with the couple transferring from the barren side of the station toward the rail on which the fertile valley’s side is located. This means the couple chose to go on and drop the plan of the little operation.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

of geeky reporters and activist characters

yesterday was our last day in graduate school and i happened to be the last reporter. since the night before, i have been preparing for a postcolonial discourse on salman rushdie's MIDNIGHT's CHILDREN and the effort seemed to pay off because i didn't lose a nerve and prevented myself from repeating what our newly-crowned binibining pilipinas-world had done during the question and answer portion of the pageant night. the shawarma rice i ate before going to my class must have done wonders because i refused to fall asleep, to feel un-geeky or to humor my audience of four women with blunders like "us americans do not know their geography because they don't have maps so they should educate people from iraq, south africa and asian countries" or "i told you i'm so confident because i came from the tough ten...okay, eto family, they was my inspiration." in that case, i would have asked for the earth to open up and devour me or for myself to disintegrate into a million specks of dust, just like what occured to the novel's protagonist.
i would have to discuss the postcolonial in MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN in a separate blog, since my professor has asked that i and my classmates develop a publishable paper out of our respective reports. all i can let you zero in is that the novel's postcoloniality can be traced with its magic realism about which third world authors write most effectively, with the issue of fragmentation of personal and national identity after the period of colonization and with the alternative historiography as a way of the colonized people's writing back at the imperial center. mouthing academic words like these naturally did not spare me the teasing that i was being nerdy but let me ask you, was i any weirder than my classmate who, without so much as a sign, just ran outside the building to witness the torch-lit ecumenical rally for the ouster of the corruption-hounded president? any active student from the state u would have done the same, but less probably when the class was right in the middle of a literary criticism action. well, i reconsider: that is what makes UP students creatures all their own.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

a reading of john steinbeck's of mice and men

Man’s predatory nature. Fraternity. Impossible American Dream. Imbalanced social power structures. All these themes are central to John Steinbeck’s acclaimed tragic novel, Of Mice and Men (New York: Penguin Books, 1993). The Story about Lennie and George friendship provides insights in life regarding the natural law of the strong disposing of the weak, the sense of belonging in brotherhood, the unrealistic fulfillment of a utopian world, and the tendencies of the oppression made by a weakling against a weaker fellow.
The time setting of the story is in the 1930’s, a period when idealism is so strong that people aspire for an ideal state of life even as its attainment becomes highly improbable for them who live, on the average, a hand-to-mouth existence. Meanwhile, the space setting is in south of Soledad, California where the hardy lives of laborers like Lennie and George make the friends hope for better living in a kinder world where they work not for other people and they live for their best interest—an ideal place opposite the difficult vegetable fields.
The novel’s characters have all sensed loneliness and isolation at one point in their lives; hence, they feel the need for companionship. Lennie is physically strong, but his potential goes unrealized that he becomes a helpless creature in the midst of overpowering events. This innocence of Lennie’s flat character brings him doom because he is rendered defenseless in the face of unavoidable dangers posed by Curley and his wife and the world in general. On the other hand, the loving and dedicated George once took advantage of the weak by abusing his friend Lennie, but which he realized was wrong. He soon discovers that the world is destined to harm the weak, so he ultimately relinquishes his hope for an ideal world when his and George’s present world proves unkind to fraternity aspirants like them. Candy meanwhile is an aging farm handyman who fears the coming of his uselessness so he futilely dreams of becoming part of the ideal place—a one-acre farm where the men can grow and produce vegetables and livestock—Lennie and George aspires for. Curley’s wife is a martially dissatisfied temptress whose rather impossible hope of turning into a movie star gives her a human quality and whose vulnerability drives her to look for larger vulnerabilities in others like Lennie’s intellectual deficiency, Candy’s old age and Crook’s dark skin tone in order to safeguard herself from real life’s harshness. Lastly, Crooks is a Negro stablehand who is extremely lonely that he desires too of having a place in the ideal farm that Lennie and George want to own primarily to cure his loneliness through company.
The story is told chronologically by a third-person omniscient narrator. The protagonists are Lennie and George while the antagonists, Curley, the society, and the human existence’ predatory nature. The story begins when Lennie and George arrives at a farmhouse to have themselves hired as laborers and to escape a manhunt on Lennie, whose weird liking for soft objects gets him accused of rape of a satin-dressed woman. Hoping that someday, the duo may have a farm of their own where they do not really have to engage in hard work, they get to meet the people in the farm and become aware that there are ill-motivated persons as there are good-natured ones whom they can let join them in their dreamland. The conflict is reached when Lennie accidentally slays Curley’s wife at the barn, after which the falling action follows: Lennie runs away from the killing scene, the men discover Curley’s wife lifeless, Curley commissions a mob to hunt and kill Lennie, and George find Lennie in the clearing and, while recounting their farm dream, guns him down in the back of the head. The novel’s tones are sentimental, tragic, hellbound, predetermined, rural, sermonizing and comic.
As mentioned initially, there are four universal concerns present in the novel, namely man’s predatory nature, fraternity, impossible American Dream and imbalanced social power structures. Man’s predatory nature is prevalent throughout the novel, wherein almost all the characters have felt loneliness and isolation, which makes them helpless but, despite their weakest state, they plot to annihilate people weaker than they are. Also, brotherhood prevails in the novel by virtue of the belongingness need characteristic of human nature, which need draws the men together in such a manner that they act brothers to each other, bearing in mind the friend’s best interest, protection and concern. Similarly, the novel looms with the impossibility of the American Dream, that the wish for unceasing happiness and freedom to do one’s will shall remain elusive and unfulfilled. Lastly, the damaging imbalance of social power structures wherein oppression is not only in the hands of the mighty or the influential but also in those of the weak towards the weaker can be seen in Of Mice and Men. Holistically, the novel presents the values of the inequality among men (therefore, the uniqueness), the aspiration of what is attainable only, and the sense of oneness with a fellow human being.
In the current world where everything is fast-paced and made artificial, it is somewhat difficult to find a room where fundamental human needs like dreaming for relatively “better” life and keeping a true friendship can be satisfied. Although in Of Mice and Men, the tragic ending of Lennie leaves his American Dream unattained and his fraternity with George interrupted for good, the ever-kindling human desire for betterment lives on, prompting the renewed faith in persisting until the dream is made true and real friendship asserts amidst impermanence and disenchantment. Of Mice and Men is an enchanting read for those who fight incessantly and are determined to win at their own expense and pursuit.
The world is thought of to be cruel to existing creatures dwelling on it, so unkind that one tends to deem life as purposeless, what with the unfulfilled justice, dream, friendship and equality. Seen in a brighter perspective, the world just acts as instrument of destiny by hurling challenges such as predation of the weak, impossible dream, unappreciated friendship and social power imbalance so that these challenges, when overwhelmed, will make these creatures stronger and wiser. Regardless of this world’s cruelty and gift of disillusionment, the creatures remain hopeful and unfazed until they get some sense of achievement.
If things are only learned to be assessed in proper perspective, everything is beautiful and is deserving of hoped-for betterment, despite life’s disenchantment and injustice, even the world of mice and men.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ang 'di malupig: isang maikling kasaysayan ng mga muslim sa pilipinas

Nagmula sa Arabya noong ika-7 Siglo ang Islam na isang paniniwalang pinasimulan ni Propetang Muhammad, kung kanino ipinatuklas ng diyos na si Allah ang kanyang karunungan at propesiya. Nang sumakabilang-buhay si Muhammad, ikinalat ng kanyang mga tagasunod ang Islam sa Gitnang Silangan, Hilagang Africa, Espanya, Gitnang Asya at Silangang Europa. Kapagdaka pa, umabot ang kanilang relihiyon sa Sub-Saharan Africa at Timog-Silangang Asya. Noong kalagitnaan ng ika-13 Dantaon, tumalon ang Islam mula Malaya at Borneo patungo sa katimugang isla ng Pilipinas na Mindanao sa pamamagitan ng Kapuluang Sulu.
Hustong noong 1380 nang makarating ang unang misyonerong Muslim na si Karim ul’Makhdum sa Jolo, Sulu. Ilang misyonerong Arabong Mulim kasunod ni Karim ang nagpatatag ng Islam sa bansa mula Mindanao kung saan pinakamalaki ang konsentrasyon ng mga naniniwala hanggang sa mga baybayin sa hilaga gaya ng Maynila. Maraming sultanatong Muslim na kalat-kalat sa Mindanao ang pinag-ugatan ng Islam sa Pilipinas at ilan dito ang Sultanato ng Maguindanao at ang Sultanato ng Sulu. Maliban kay Karim at iba pang misyonerong nagturo ng relihiyong Islam, ilang mangangalakal na Muslim na may palagiang pasakalye sa Pilipinas, ilang lokal na pinunong Muslim na nagbinyag sa kanilang mga nasasakupan, at mga katutubong naakit ng kaisahan at tradisyong Islamiko ang nag-ilak sa pagpapalawak ng paniniwala sa buong kapuluan.
Sa pagbinyag sa Islam ng mga rehiyon sa Pilipinas, saka dumating ang mga Kastila upang sakupin ang bansa. Isinasagawa pa lamang ang Islamisasyon sa buong kapuluan nang mapanghawakan ng mga Kastila ang hilagang Pilipinas noong 1571. Matapos makabuo ng kontrol sa hilagang bahagi ng Pilipinas, paulit-ulit na nabigo ang mga Kastila na buwagin ang matibay na sultanato sa timog.
Anim na taon mula nang sakupin ng mga Kastila ang aktibong pangkalakalan, pulitikal at pangkabihasnang sinapupunan na kilala ngayon bilang Maynila, napatay ang pinuno ng mga Muslim at bumagsak ang Maynila at malaking bahagi ng kapuluan sa mga kamay ng mga Kastila. Sinakop ng Espanya ang Pilipinas nang mahigit na tatlong dantaon. Pahiwatig nito na pinamahalaan nito ang ekonomiya at administrasyong pulitikal, at dinala nila sa mga katutubo ang kanilang kabihasnan pati na rin ang kanilang paniniwala. Isinabuhay ng mga Kastilang mananakop ang paniniwalang Katoliko at hinangad nilang gawing Kristiyano ang lahat ng tao sa Pilipinas. Hinangad nilang binyagan ang mga katutubong naniniwala sa mga anito, pati na rin ang mga taong naging Muslim noong mga nakaraang dantaon. Samakatuwid, nagpadala ang Espanya ng isang malaking hukbo at ng pulutong ng mga Filipinong naging Kristiyano sa mga Muslim na sultanato sa timog. Doon, nakipaglaban sila sa mga Moro, ang tawag nila sa 13 pangkat ng mga Muslim sa Mindanao at halaw sa mga Muslim sa Aprikanong mga bansang Mauritania at Morocco na nakalaban din ng mga Kastila. Gustong sakupin ng mga Kastilang mananakop at ng mga binyaang Filipino ang mga sentrong pangkalakalan at angkinin ang mga sultanato para sa kolonyang Espanya. Hangad din nilang mahinto ang pamimirata ng mga Moro. Sa pagitan ng 1635 at 1663 na buong panahon ng pakikipaghamok, nasakop mila ang lugar ng Sulu. Mas kumpleto ang kagamitan ng mga Kastila kaysa mga Filipinog Muslim dahil mayroon silang barkong pandigma noong ikalawang hati ng ika-19 dantaon: isa itong bago at modernong imbensyon noong panahong iyon at mas matulin sa dagat kaysa iba pang barko. Maraming-maraming Moro ang naghina habang nakikipaglaban sa mga Kastila samantalang hindi na nagprotesta ang iba pa laban sa mga mananakop. Maraming-maraming tao sa katimugang Pilipinas ang kumilala sa mga Kastila bilang namamahala ng bansa, at maraming Kristiyano ang dumayo para manirahan sa lugar. Nagtapos ang pananakop ng mga Kastila noong 1896 nang makialam ang mga Amerikano. Ngnuit,hindi ito nangangahulugang malayang bansa na ang Pilipinas. Sumunod na nanakop ang mga Amerikano.
Sa sumunod na dalawang dantaon, sinubok ng Espanya na sakupin ang Mindanao sa pangalan ng inang bansa,ngunit bumuo ang 13 pangkat ng mga Muslim sa Mindanao ng isang pangkat na nag-alsa laban sa buong pananakop ng buong kapuluan sa sumunod na tatlong dantaon. Ipinagpatuloy ang pag-aalsa hanggang sa pamamayagpag ng mga Amerikano mula 1898 hanggang 1946. Matatandaang Katoliko ang mga Kastilang mananakop. Sinubok ng mga Amerikano na kaibiganin ang mga Muslim sa timog, at itinuring namanng mga Muslim na kakampi ang mga Amerikano. Subalit kinalaban din ng mga Amerikano ang mga Muslim upang makakuha ng kontrol.
Ginanyak ng mga Amerikano ang mga Kristiyanong Filipino mula sa hilagang Pilipinas na mandayuhan sa Sulu at iba pang bahagi ng Mindanao. Binigyan din nila ng pagkakataon ang mga tao sa timog na makapag-aral sa Maynila, ang kabisera ng Pilipinas, at tinuruan sila ng moderno at Kanluraning pamamaraan ng pamamanihala ng buhay-pulitika, ekonomiya at panlipunan. Bahagi ito ng istratehiya ng mga Amerikano upang mahuli ang loob ng mga Muslim sa timog ng Pilipinas. Hindi katulad ng mga Kastilang mananakop, hindi ipinilit ng mga Amerikano ang Kristiyanismo nang may dahas. Sa halip, sinubok nilang ituro ang kanilang mga kaisipan sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaaral ng mga pinunong Muslim sa timog. Noong panahon ng mga Amerikano, may iba pang mga pagbabago sa lipunang Muslim: tinanggal ang pang-aalipin, at nagbangon ng mga ospital, paaralan at mga daan. Samantala, hindi naman kusang-loob na tinanggap ito ng mga Muslim. Naramdaman nila na gustong palitawin ng mga Amerikano na nakahihigit ang mga Filipinong Kristiyano kaysa kanila, kaya ipinagpatuloy nila ang pag-aalsa laban sa pananakop at pagsubok na baguhin ang Pilipinas bilang isang Kanluranin at kapitalistang bansa.
Inayawan ng mga Moro ang pananakop ng mga Amerikano. Nangyari ang mga labanan sa pagitan ng nga Muslim at mga Amerikano noong nagsisimula ang ika-dalawampung dantaon. Samantalang marami sa mga isla ng Pilipinas ang nagdusa sa malawakang kasiraan noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig, hindi gaanong nadamay ang Mindanao. Bilang huling lugar na natira sa panahon ng pagbuo, naging layon ito ng mga pampamahalaang proyektong pananakop.
Ginamit din ng mga Amerikanong mananakop ang taguring Moro sa mga Muslim na nasakop nila sa pamamagitan ng malakas na puwersa noong unang bahagi ng ikadalawampung dantaon. Bilang radikal na tugon sa insultong ito, isinatama ng mga separatistang Filipinong Muslim ang paggmit ng Moro at binago ito tungo sa isang simbolo ng kolektibong pagkakakilanlan—isang taguring sumakop sa mga mamamayan ng bagong bansa. Sa maraming taon, tinuklas ng mga aktibistang Muslim ang kanilang sariling Filipinong Muslim, paminsan-minsan sa pamamagitan ng armadong pag-aaklas. Nagbunga ang pagsisikap nila ng layunin sa bahagi ng pamahalaan na mag-eksperimento ng isang pangrehiyong autonomiya para sa Islamikong timog at kumondisyon ng mga pang-estadong tugon sa mga hindi nasakop na minoryang pamanayan.
Matapos ang Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig (1941-1945), naging malaya ang Pilipinas. Nagkaroon ng republikang may tagapangulo, at naging pangunahing paniniwala ang relihiyong Kristiyano. Nakaramdam pa rin ng panganib ang mga Muslim sa mga Kristiyano, at kinapootan na mas maunlad ang hilagang Pilipinas kaysa timog Pilipinas. Mula noong 1950, maraming Muslim sa buong daigdig, kasama ang Saudi Arabia, ang umayaw sa panganganib ng Islamikong paniniwala at gawi ng buhay sa timog Pilipinas. Gusto nilang palakasin at suportahan sa maraming bagay ang pamayanang Islamiko. Nagbibigay ng pera ang mga pamahalaang Islamiko sa mga Filipinong Muslim na kinita mula sa pakikipagkalakal nila ng langis mula sa mga Kanluraning bansa, at sinusuportahan nila ang pag-aaral ng mga Morong mag-aaral sa Saudi Arabia. Inaanyayahan nila ang mga pinunong Moro sa mga Arabong kumperensiya upang tumalakay ng mga suliranin, at patuloy sila sa pagpapadala ng mga Islamikong misyonero upang magturo ng paniniwalang Islam sa timog Pilipinas. Simula naman noong 1970, maraming gurong Muslim ang dumalaw sa bansa at maraming mga Filipinong Muslim ang nandayuhan para dumalaw sa mga sentrong Islamiko layon ang hajj o pag-aaral. Bumalik silang matatag ang pananampalataya at masigasig na patibayin ang taling nag-uugnay sa kanila at sa iba pang mga Moro ng pandaigdigang pamayanang Muslim. Bilang bunga, maraming Muslim ang nakapagbangon ng mga bagong moske at paaralang pangrelihiyon, kung saan natututunan ng mga mag-aaral na babae at lalaki ang mga basikong ritwal at prinsipyo ng Islam at ang pagbasa ng Qur’an sa Arabiko. Ilang institusyong Muslim para sa nakatataas na pag-aaral gaya ng Jamiatul Philippine al-Islamia sa Marawi, ang nag-alok ng mga kurso sa Pag-aaral Islamiko.
Unti-unti, hindi lamang sinuportahan ng mga bansang ito ang Islam, bagkus ay pinagtibay pa ang kaisipan na mabuti ang maging malayang pulitikal ang mga Moro mula sa kabuuan ng Pilipinas. Pinag-ibayo ang pakiramdam ng pagkabansang Moro. Mula 1960, isinatinig ng mga Moro ang kagustuhang maging malaya o maging hiwalay na bansa mula sa Republika ng Pilipinas. May mga taong sumusuporta sa kaisipang magkaroon ng malayang bansang Moro at ihiwalay at buuin ang kanilang mga sarili bilang hiwalay o rebeldeng kilusan. Mula noong 1960, nakaranas ito ng paglaki ng populasyon at mabilis na pag-unlad. Nagdulot ng seryosong mga suliranin ang ganitong mga pagbabago. Naramdaman ng mga Morong nauungusan na sila sa bilang at marami ang nawalan ng tirahan, kung kaya gumanti sila sa pamamagitan ng gawaing terorista. Nang subuking ibalik ng sandatahang Pilipino ang kaayusan, nagbunga ito ng matinding sagupaan. Noong 1968, isang malaking grupo ng mga kabataang sundalong Moro ang nilikida ng pambansang sandatahan nang walang anumang uri ng pagdinig ng kaso. Mula 1969 hanggang 1970, libu-libong mga tao ang napatay at daan-daang bahay sa mga nayon ang sinunog. Dito nagsimula ang buong serye ng mararahas na sagupaan at labanan sa pagitan ng sandatahang gobyerno at ng mg separatistang Moro.
Simula noong 1990, matatag na sa kanilang paniniwala ang mga Filipinong Muslim. Taun-taon, marami ang magpupunta sa mga hajj patungong banal na lungsod ng Mecca; pag-uwi nila, kinakabitan sila ng titulong hajj para sa mga lalaki at hajji para sa mga babae. Sa maraming pamayanang Muslim, may isang moske kung saan tinatawag ng muezzin ang mananampalataya sa panalangin limang beses isang araw.
Nagsasama-sama ang tipikal na pamayanang Filipinong Muslim upang maipagtanggol ang kanilang mga sarili laban sa madudugong sagupaan sa pagitan ng sandatahang pambansa at ang mas mapag-alsang mga grupo ng mga Filipinong Muslim. Nitong mga huling taon, naging kanlungan ng mga separatistang grupong Muslim ang timog Pilipinas sa paggawa ng mararahas na gawaing terorismo. Isang istratehiya na nagpopondo ng kanilang mga gawain ang pagpapahirap sa pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng pangingidnap. Halimbawa, madalas nangingidnap ang rebeldeng Abu Sayyaf ng tipikal na mga Kristiyanong Filipino, mga Kanluraning dayuhang turista, mga mangangalakal, at mga madreng Katoliko. Responsable rin sila sa mga pagpapasabog ng bomba na kumikitil ng buhay ng marami. Simula noong 2002, nasa timog Pilipinas ang sandatahang Amerikano upang tulungan ang sandatahang Pilipino sa pagpapahinto sa mga terorista ng kanilang mga gawain at upang mapalaya ang kinidnap at ikinulong na mga biktima. Layunin ng pagpapadala sa mga Amerikano ang pagpapatiwasay ng kalagayan sa Mindanao, ngunit hindi maiwasang nagdudulot ito ng mas matitinding karahasan. Maraming Filipinong umaayaw sa presensya ng mga Amerikanong militar, sapagkat naaalaala nila ang panahon ng pananakop ng mga Amerikano na mahigpit at maraming patayan.
Sa kasalukuyan, may estimadong 3.5 milyong Muslim sa Pilipinas. Samantalang kumakatawan sila ng kaunti sa 5 bahagdan ng populasyon ng Pilipinas na nag-iisang kalakhang Kristiyanong bansa sa Asya, nakasentro sa timog na bahagi ng bansa ang mga Filipinong Muslim, karamihan sa Sulu at katimugang Mindanao. Nananatili silang may hiwalay na pagkakakilanlan sa mga Katolikong Filipino hindi lamang sa pagsasabuhay ng Islam bagkus sa pagkakaiwas nila ng tatlong dantaon ng kalayaan mula sa dayuhang mananakop.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ang isyu ng diaspora sa milan

Sa masikip, mainit, madilim at hubad na kwarto nagbukas ang kwento habang magkayakap na natutulog ang mag-asawang Lino (Piolo Pascual) at Mary Grace (Iza Calzado). Siguro nga’y hindi sapat ang pinagsasaluhan nilang init ng pagmamahal para mabuhay nang maayos at makalimutan ng babae ang hangaring makarating ng ibang bansa. Siguro nga ay nakakairita na ang alinsangan ng kakapusan sa materyal na bagay kaya hindi na napunan ng pag-ibig ang panlalamig ng sikmura. Ito rin marahil ang dahilan kung bakit marami sa mga Pilipino ang nasa kabilang panig ng karagatan at tinitiis ang panginginig sa lamig ng yelo.
Isang eksena ng paghahahanda sa pista, maluhong hapag para sa isang magarbong pagdiriwang. Kung maiisip lamang sana ng pamilya ni Mary Grace na may katumbas na pawis ang bawat butil ng pagkain at patak ng inumin ay marahil ipagpikit-mata na lamang nila ang pistahan. Idagdag pa ang pagpapakasasa sa imported na mga gamit sa kabila nang isang lalaki ang nagdurusa sa paglisan ng kabiyak na ngayon ay itinatago pa ng pamilya sa kanya matapos niyang matagpuan ang mga sulat ni Mary Grace sa sariling pamilya.
Dinaanan ng kamera ang tila walang wakas na linya ng prusisyon at ang hindi mapatid-patid na kasiyahan ng kanayunan na lalong nagpatingkad sa lungkot ni Nilo dahil sa miserableng kinasapitan ng relasyon nilang mag-asawa. Habang nakangiti ang lahat, ngumingiti naman ang luha sa gilid ng mga mata ni Lino.
Puno ng kaba ang dibdib nilang mga tinaguriang TNT habang binabagtas ang madilim na gubat. Halos hindi maaninaw ang kanilang nilalarakaran na isang malinaw na imahen ng maaaring kasapitan nila sa pangingibang bansa: ang mga lubak, mga tinik at mga hayop sa loob ng gubat ay siya ring mga sagabal sa pinili nilang buhay-dayuhan. Kasabay ng mga litanya nila tungkol sa sayad na pamumuhay sa Pilipinas ay ang pag-asa nilang makaahon sa karalitaan.
Kayod kalabaw ang mga migranteng obrero; lahat ng pwedeng pagkakitaan ay pinapatulan. Dito sa Italy walang puwang ang pride kung gusto mong mabuhay. Si Attorney ay abogado sa Pilipinas, teacher si Vangie, mechanical engineer si Lino pero dito sa Milan lahat ay katulong. Ipagkikibit balikat lang nila ng balikat ang pagiging alila tutal pag-uwi nila ng Pilipinas ay mas mataas na ang ihi nila kahit pa sa isang empleyado sa bangko. Pantay-pantay lang sila sa Milan, TNT, domestic helper, bakit kailangan pa bang pagandahin, pwede namang katulong! Ang kanilang mga amo ay mas may pagpapahalaga pa sa kanilang mga alagang aso kaysa sa manggagawa.
Ang bago dito ay kung paano natagpuan ng mga OFW’s ang mga sarili nila sa ibang bansa, kung paano nila makita ang ganda ng buhay sa kabila ng miserableng paninirahan sa lupang puno ng diskriminasyon, kung paano nila makahanap ng puwang para sa kanilang mga sarili at matutunang tanggapin kahit malungkot ang katotohanan na binubuhay nila ang tao para sa kanilang mga buhay. Ipinakita ito kung paano ayawan dati ni Jenny ang mga kalapati dahil para daw itong mga tao na lumalapit lamang kapag may kailangan hanggang malaunan ay magustuhan na rin niya dahil wala na rin naman siyang magagawa tungkol dito. At sa kabila ng lahat, nakita pa rin nila kung gaano kaganda ang buhay dahil lahat ng ito ay may mabuting dahilan.

Monday, March 10, 2008

a comparative female protagonist analysis of the novels pride and prejudice and bridget jones’s diary

A century apart, the romantic comedies Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary are remarkable for having created female protagonists that depart from the traditional portrayal of women as the male-dominated society want them to be fashioned. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth and Helen Fielding’s Bridget are strong-willed, independent-minded females who seem to defy the macho men around them. What is more amazing is that Elizabeth gets borne out of a more conservative England as opposed to Bridget who is right at the heel of the feminist movement, making Elizabeth a woman ahead of her time and in the same league as Bridget’s. Austen portrays Elizabeth as one of the five daughters of Mrs. Bennet. By being just one out of five, Elizabeth could have been herded into the general category of women without any defining characteristic to distinguish her from the rest of the Bennet brood. Even their mother was single-minded about her fate which was seen to be the same destiny her other sisters would figure out in as well: to marry them off to some capable bachelors just so Mrs. Bennet won’t be trapped with the dishonor of five unmarried daughters. However, Elizabeth is depicted as the most practical of the women in the family. Indeed, she plays along when the Bennet sisters attend the ball to improve their social and economic prospects by meeting Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, but women of 19th century England could not be expected to be anti-socials under the pains of spinsterhood. But going there does not follow that she is too desperate to get hitched; in fact, when the snobbish Mr. Darcy refuses to dance with any of the girls (deciding that no one looked pretty enough to dance with), she takes it with a grain of salt. For Elizabeth, it is not the end of the world if she in particular does not appeal much to Mr. Darcy. By acting that the insult is not a big deal for her, Elizabeth shows the different breed that she is from her sisters, who are far too keen than her about the outcome of the social event. Even when she admits that Mr. Darcy’s wealth and looks legitimize his pride, these were not enough for her to like him, a condition she sustains despite Mr. Darcy’s eventual apparent liking for her. She even threatens to bust him for eavesdropping on her conversations, a proof that she is not afraid to take it against him who intrudes into women talk. When Mr. Darcy all too proudly says that he does not mind dancing with Elizabeth, she refuses, citing that dancing her out of pity or pressure is a no-no. As Elizabeth’s acts of defiance against Mr. Darcy unfold one after another, it becomes too clear that Elizabeth is a woman who is not about to make a compromise with men despite the latter’s display of power and arrogance and despite her own social status being endangered. Elizabeth does not affirm women’s inferior status of her time by not compromising before a husband material, by forming a mind independent of the men and male-influenced women around her, and by subscribing to her own will. A hundred years after and women of Elizabeth’s ilk populate modern England. One such woman, Bridget Jones, is an update of Elizabeth, but with a twist. In Fielding’s novel, Bridget is already in the age of spinsterhood, thirtysomething, and yet she remains single in the urban jungle of London. Like Elizabeth, her social prospects could have been better if she chose between her boss, Daniel Cleaver, and Mark Darcy. However, when the boss proves to lay his interests in another woman and Darcy appeals to her as repulsive, Bridget can be viewed as not too desperate as to compromise her romantic happiness by settling for what’s available and not for what is best. Even if it looks like her love choices are not necessarily picking up, she does not surrender to men who know no better than womanize or fear commitment. Even if she gets plagued with the perennial question about her love life, she does not compromise herself just so she can get hitched. She is more than Elizabeth in that she goes on a diet, struggles to give up smoking and attempts to be independent with friends in a quest to be responsible to her herself and not for any patriarchy-inspired rule. More than just subscribing to silly self-improvement schemes or to the dictates of the society, Bridget is conscious that the only person who can make her fulfilled is herself.
Elizabeth and Bridget may be years separated and yet they show qualities of independent women that are different from the norms of their respective times. For their strong will, they deserved to be admired instead of being labeled as wild women.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

rising from the grave

much to your relief, i'm still alive. it took me a while to recuperate but not with my broken heart--i just recovered from a terrible fever which sent me to a delirious state minus jomari yllana. i didn't have any illusion of possessing the twang of g toengi, anyway.
i was bedridden most of the time. i did attend classes but listening to students serving as guest teachers just gave me the opportunity to whip them into frenzy and to warn them to shape up under the pains of nazi-type inquisition.
it amazed me to be going home before sunset and amazed me more to be hitting bedtime sooner than the manananggals. my sickness was teaching me the value of being early to bed, which did not necessarily teach me to be early in rising. it pained me to miss on reading even if i did not have much to do--i was that ill-feeling. now that i'm doing better, i'm consuming a novel in filipino with the rich bicol folklore for a mine. when i should have finished this, i would finalize my paper on MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN'S magic realism as postcolonial device.
the other night, i went to see my friend genesis who was celebrating his tenth year in the gay entertainment scene. i was pleasantly surprised that the gay bar he is managing featured really cute boys (not of minor age, anyway) who cavorted onstage in their skimpiest undies. one go-go boy by the name of steven possesses an angelic face and the tisoy features i love. upon learning of my midnight romp, mareng edwin told me never to be involved with men like steven since they are set to wipe out my bank account. of course, i should know better than run after their ilk. it was just great ogling at them, especially for someone who spent a moment in romantic hell only to land in a week-long purgatorial fever.
that, more or less, was what happened in my relatively long hiatus. i hope to return soon to watching movies, playing at timezone, and malling with or without a pangga in tow. i must remember that i've been a human for the longest time before i got hitched.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

the inscrutable: a reading of vicente rafael's contracting colonialism

The conversion of the natives and the translation of language and the entire Tagalog cultural systems around the initial Hispanic conquista years of 1565 to 1760’s are the subjects in focus in Vicente Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism (Quezon City: Ateneo De Manila University Press, 2000). While the Spanish colonial masters originally intended only to convert the natives, the objective extended into a full colonial system. Spanish encountered difficulty in assimilating itself into the lot of Philippine languages, which is why it became necessary for the colonizers to devise a Spanish-Tagalog basis of translation in order to communicate to the colonized. The book displayed the indispensable connections among conversion, translation and colonialism in the archipelago as well as the significance of these concepts during the early Spanish era. Rafael asserts that outlines the limit of conversion to a certain degree, yet as the meaning got across, the natives were free to interpret it.
Using Hispanic missionary texts, the author points out that for a successful conversation in Tagalog, it was required to organize the language by developing a grammar and setting it in God’s system of languages using Spanish instead of the vague native writing system baybayin. In the process of translation, the arrangement between Castillan and Tagalog was evident but fell short of the total empowerment of the missionary, with the natives responding to “fished” Spanish words even as they missed the words’ point.
Colonial system and conversion, Rafael argues, were the products of the misinterpretation of the translation by both the colonizers and the colonized. The untranslatable Espiritu Santo, for example, was interpreted by the natives according to their own meaning, which defeated the colonizing purpose of the missionaries. Rafael went on with the subsequent chapters to explain the various odd features of the Tagalog-Spanish relationship using mutually misinterpreted facts through an overview of the translation of Spanish and Tagalog texts. As a result, the colonial system got arranged whenever it became necessary to do Tagalog translation.
Contracting Colonialism describes a linguistic order coming out of a colonial governance in relation to other colonial institutions like politics and culture. Language plays an important role in a colonial mission because the colonizers should articulate their objectives and the colonized, their response, giving indispensability to translation. Communication is inextricably linked to language, such that linguistic translation is necessary and even emphasized, though translation runs in congruence to all cultural systems. The Spanish molded Tagalog in many ways through the codification of grammar and the promotion of its use so as to centralize and control communication, only to fail.
The linguistic order gains strength with translation and customization coming out of the necessary communication between the colonizer and the colonized. Colonial authority may be seen from this order and its formation results in the natives’ capacity to upset this authority using their original, non-hierarchical native language as well as its semantics. This linguistic hierarchy is a result of and is employed to disseminate the colonial order. A number of colonial social institutions, from political to cultural to religious, realized the translation and linguistic appropriation generating the hierarchy. The recurrent translation was necessary so as to achieve the colonial mission of converting the natives.
To interrelate conversion, translation and conversion during the early Spanish regime, the author cites Tagalog- and Spanish-language Christian text, linguistic manuals and secular letters. Rafael’s basis for analysis is widely encompassing, using rather scarce sources. While this is so, it must be pointed out that there were not many texts printed in the islands during the early colonial period. The examiner might have left this gap unfilled, yet the weighty interpretation suggests that he decided more than he needed to perform heavy reading.
Rafael stresses how texts work: a Tagalog grammar of Spanish is interpreted primarily to view the native Tagalog concepts about languages to prove that the Tagalogs rather succeeded in failing the motives of colonial signifiers. Furthermore, an analysis of the subjects written in the language manual are used to reason out why the Tagalogs meant the grammar as a tool to struggle.
The author uses his analyses to serve his conclusion on the perception of Tagalogs and Spanish Christians regarding various cultural objects and their relationship through an erratic translation. Other than that, he uses them to explain a few riddles in early colonial religious history and subsequently moves to discuss a part of how the entire Spanish colonial instrument in the Philippines achieved notoriety. This type of device needs to win the belief of the audience, and tends to be beneficial, all the same. The author’s analyses are engaging; for instance, he depicts that the limitless grievances of the Spanish over the incomplete conversions by Tagalogs could be explained by the native’s idea of utang na loob, interpreted by the colonizers as the translation of debt of gratitude to God, which in reality encouraged sporadic and unconsummated repayment of debt. Meanwhile, these analyses are beyond belief to some proportion, because Rafael’s interpretations appear to have been imagined, lacking the convincing power that works within the territory of truth. Whereas Contracting Colonialism is brilliant and highly sophisticated and riveting, the book looks self-contained. The author seems to give the impression that the reason for the thick analysis of the textual sources was to appropriate this into a predetermined hypothesis which carries a strange distance or proximity to truth. Nevertheless, the book is clever in subverting a narrative of homogenization by means of depicting how the natives disabled colonial tools from containing them within the foreign tradition and putting them on an unjust lower level than the colonizers. Whereas there are existing binaries that effect religious and linguistic distortions done by colonial encounters, colonialism did not completely marginalized the natives and could not claim to having triumphed in contaminating the native consciousness as to deform the identity of the natives. The mission to civilize the “savages” fell short from succeeding, yet the colonized remained human anyway. The colonial violence they had to bear did not completely penetrate to found norms within the colonial system, as was manifest in the text. Contracting Colonialism is a glowing picture of the socio-history of language in a circumstance wherein the bounds of language are truly important and attractive and an insight into the workings of colonialism in general is established. Moreover, it shows how language origins, often an inherent feature of existing languages, can be developed effectively for historical reading. This paper hopes to assert the old-age wisdom that language is an important matter of argument as well as the more controversial ones like gender, race, religion and culture. The qualification of language as a historical relic paves the way to a productive and revolutionary undertaking. At certain points, the native might have contracted colonialism, but this colonization did not come unchallenged when the natives showed linguistically our resistant brand of impenetrability.

Friday, March 07, 2008

the real in riles

Ditsi Carolino’s Riles is a powerful representation of urban poverty as seen in the life of a mere duck egg vendor and his family. Mang Eddie, the balut-tending subject of the documentary, resides along the rail road tracks with five of his children and his wife, a patient who already underwent breast cancer surgery and who works as a washerwoman. Their home along the riles is just rented out to a landlord who himself lives in the area. The neighborhood shows the picture of abject poverty as reproduced by the media for the benefit of those who have and perhaps never will be a part of it: squatter’s area with makeshift houses, improvised bathing places, and cheap thrills like videoke singing by resident tambays.
I believe that there is a far extent to which the documentary’s subjects were exoticized and commodified. With superb sound and cinematic editing, the film was able to capture the appearance of urban poverty which, considering the bourgeois upbringing of the audience, is recognizable to Ateneo students only through the perpetration of the media of such social realities. Nonetheless, it was done in such a sleek way as to make it appeal too different from the audience’s domestic reality. As a result, the documentary appeals as interesting, in spite of or precisely because of its foreignness. This is the other-ing in media production as criticized by Elfriede Fursich in “How Can Global Journalists Represent the ‘Other'?: A Critical Assessment of the Cultural Studies Concept for Media Practice.” While the reality of Eddie is perceived true, it is produced and repeatedly manufactured in such a way that the film presents beautifully what is actually a very abusive reality. Ordinarily, the audience should grow disgusted with the represented poverty, but the moment they get fascinated with the projected reality, does it mean the beauty in that harrowing condition should stay as is? One of the goals of media is to be an agent of social transformation, but the purpose becomes defeated when nothing ever happens after the rough reality gets hopelessly recurrent.
Also, the film has somewhat commodified the subjects as object of sympathy, for when the subject actually surfaces after the film’s presentation, he sold balut and the audience is too willing to part with their P15 in exchange of an overpriced duck egg. It happened because the depiction of the subject’s life must have been so intense as to elicit compassion from the viewers. For ending in a hopeful way, the documentary can also be perceived as a propaganda to express the idea that poverty can be laughed at, however brutal life lived in it can get. The concept can be best expounded by Ken Sanes in “On the Truman Show.” The film or any media for that matter is a form of agenda with the project of mocking people’s sense of reality. What they see in film is just a representation, but when they get so convinced of the represented reality such that emotions are eventually involved, media has once again conquered viewers. This is an attestation of the power of media over people, aggravated when the sense of reality is further confused by the actual guesting of Eddie, balut and poor man’s clothes and all.
The documentary is laudable for making the audience understand that it is true to its form as a representation of reality. Its agenda, of course, was to show that its power as a medium cannot be undermined, however the audience wants to see a different reality. By the audience’s mental reproduction of some previous knowledge of urban poverty, it expects that this will be standard to which the urban poor reality in the film will be set against. And Ditsi does not let down, for captured in the film is that reality no different from the stereotypical projection of urban poverty in most media: limited means, hanging on together, mockery of poverty through singing or laughing, among others. Stuart Hall’s “The Television Discourse—Encoding and Decoding” simplifies this process by stating that Ditsi’s production team took the role of encoding and decoding of codes and symbols attributed to urban poverty in order to carry across the message that yes, this film is about urban poverty and nothing else besides. Media is supposed to have been invented that manner: structured to propagate certain ideologies that sets apart signs or wealth and impoverishment, hope and desperation, truth and reality.

Fursich, Elfriede. “How Can Global Journalists Represent the ‘Other'?: A Critical Assessment of the Cultural Studies Concept for Media Practice.” Boston College, Chestnut Hill , MA , USA
Hall, Stuart (1980). “The Television Discourse—Encoding and Decoding.”
Sanes, Ken. “On The Truman Show.” From