the gapanese invasion is nigh!

"pinakamaganda ka nga sa buong kapuluan, pero latina na naman ang magwawagi ng korona at sash sa miss world! racism ba ito? lupasay!"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a prayer for the closing year and the approaching one

supreme being, the origin of all things and all nations, you have bestowed upon us the freedom to fulfill our destinies and the values to overcome the challenges that we encounter as we pursue truth, goodness, and beauty.
in times of desperation, you have bestowed hope upon us in order to make us look beyond our current predicaments.
in times of discord, you have bestowed love upon us in order to calm us from divisiveness.
in times of anxiety, you have bestowed faith upon us in order to encourage us to hold on beyond the bleakness of our situation.
once again, we gather all these virtues to direct and trust ourselves in order to continue seeking freedom, peace and solidarity for the facilitation of human progress.
we appeal to you to fortify these values you blessed us with, in order for us to construct a humane and peaceful society.
in return, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of goodness and righteousness. may your will be done.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the nation and ninotchka rosca's state of war

When Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War (Mandaluyong City: National, 1988) was published in novel form, the University of the Philippines-bred activist girl best known for her Marxist short fictions has embarked on imagining a larger picture of the NATION, a recurring topic for most if not all of the Philippine novels in English. Ninotchka and other Filipino novelists, because they are in the most privileged position to tell stories (of the country, for instance), make use of the subject Filipinas or what Filipino critic Bienvenido Lumbera coined in 1972 as “The Growth of the Nation” because in doing so, they all resolve at some extent the question of the Filipino as an exile—someone who cannot accept or change his history due to his country’s colonization by Spain, the United States of America, Japan and, again, the U.S.A. This way, Ninotchka (who was a literal exile, having been banished as a result of her criticism’s incurring the ire of Martial Law dictator Ferdinand Marcos) confronts the bedeviling problem of self-search by imagining a country in all its amalgam of Western influences and Oriental cultures. State of War is one novel that depicts the Filipino identity through the consciousness lent by its author.
Philippine history as a whole has a hand in shaping the boundaries of the novel because of its integration into the text—a powerful means of illustrating the Philippines. The mention of Philippine-specific details from the Spanish conquest to Martial Law regime crystallizes the text as an authentic evidence of Philippine imagination as Ninotchka describes it. The country’s history provides a rich material for Filipino authors to mine, and Ninotchka was successful in producing a masterpiece that will help Filipino readers identify themselves and their nation in Anna, Eliza, and Adrian and these characters’ spatial setting, the Central Philippine island of K—. The Philippines, if one must be reminded, is one such country that is always in the state of war against colonialism: colonialism by foreign powers, colonialism by poverty, colonialism by feudal, patriarchal and ethnic oppression, and colonialism by capitalistic imperialism.
Then as now, Ninotchka (she was christened a Russian-sounding name by no less than the literary giant Nick Joaquin, since this UP activist writer was truly endeared to him) championed the cause of the oppressed, organizing a labor union strike in her first job at the desk, criticizing the human rights violations of the Martial Law up to now, when she speaks around the world in behalf of Purple Rose, a global network tasked at stopping sex trafficking of Filipinas the world over. Her activism is obviously infused in the novel in question as well as her other literary works. For a few months, Ninotchka was included among those held presumably because of sedition or rebellion at Camp Crame. She declared to having sketched her second story collection there, an anthology that was to be published in Australia ten years after. She saw to it that her half-life in Camp Crame detention was congruent with the larger prison of the nation in general.
State of War is similar to Ninotchka’s short fiction anthologies like Bitter Country and Other Stories (1970) and Monsoon Collection (Brisbane: University of Queensland, 1983) and her follow-up novel, Twice Blessed (Manila: St. Scholastica/Gabriela, 1988), in that all her fictions reflect her Marxist ideology (class struggle) largely informed by her radical upbringing in the State University, renowned for being a bastion of student activism. On one hand, she is being criticized for coming on too strong with her hard-fisted political fictions that intensely batter the Philippine macho ideology. On the other hand, she is said to interpret nationalist and feminist power in the context of the country’s colonial history through pessimistic protagonists who take risks in order to survive.
Ninotchka strategized a narration that spawns an analysis of palpable social conditions. Fittingly, this analysis maps out the subsequent tactics: the use of female sexuality to injure the totalizing patriarchal hegemony, the insight of power relations in terms of class struggle rather than the social equilibrium, and the establishment of these means of intrusion towards larger-than-life proportions to strengthen the faith and ardor which lead to liberation.
State of War ambitiously attempts to encompass centuries of Philippine history through the intertwined lives of Banyaga, Villaverde, and Batoyan families, and it is noteworthy for its familiarity through the development of vivid details, its flowery language, and its ironic worldview reminiscent of Filipinos’ comic perspective about tragic events. State of War signifies much about the Philippines as "a singular and a plural place."
Ninotchka employs history to imply the infiltration of foreign powers into the Filipino people’s lives. She weaves her time setting from the late era of Marcos’ dictatorship (who is simply referred the Commander), during The Festival (supposedly the Ati-Atihan) celebrated yearly on the Visayan Island of K—, to a narration of centuries of colonial paralysis of Philippine bloodlines, visible in the Banyagas, Villaverdes and Batoyans, with the ultimate comeback to The Festival as it gets reduced into a frenzied yet aborted assassination try. The purpose of this strategy is to suggest that Filipinos have been shackled in a recurrent state of war against military, economic and cultural conquests dating back to Magellan’s intervention in Lapu-lapu's tribal affairs and loss of his life in Mactan; henceforth, the author provides an indirect yet dramatic plea for a wholly nationalistic independence.
The lead characters Eliza and Anna, sun and moon deities respectively, infuse color from and shower color to The Festival. They are an alluring duo. Both aged 27, Anna Villaverde is the depiction of vengeful widowhood while Eliza Hansen is the depiction of frivolous independence. Meanwhile, Adrian at 23 is sketched as a rich scion who discovers Anna as his employee who would be his love object. Eliza’s feelings for Anna appear sometimes to be shared consciousness, other times sentimental sisterhood, or even latent lesbianism, yet never quite acknowledgment of their kinship as cousins. The nuns have discoursed Mayang to be sexually docile even with her husband; however, it is lust at first sight with Hans. When Manolo tries to slay Rafael, his wife Anna stabs her knife into his head’s back. Eliza dies in the melee in a melodramatic manner. Later, Anna listens to her husband, amazed at his tapes and whether this decision rendered him heroic or not. Anna does not think about such queries and, yes, will sire a son to her. Here is a son in a literary production where women seem more invulnerable than the opposite sex.
Anna and Eliza are beautiful representations of 20th century women, but holistically for prospective extents sadly left shapeless. There are other things presented but not discussed which might have permitted Ninotchka a way out of her characters' or culture's matrix. Anna listens to Guevarra say, "We begin as accidents and end as the sum of accidents. The rites of this land seize us by the hair ad force us into a design begun a long long time ago." Anna fails to reflect in that text or is incapacitated to do such. How is Anna able to digest Guevarra’s words? How is her interpretation parallel with the notion that her forthcoming son will become "the first of the Capuchin monk's descendants to be born innocent, without fate?" Her statement is simply one more romantic dream, timely in the heel of tiredness after so many lives lost in The Festival. It is deemed only the compulsory solitary silent note, like skylark atop the forest after an earth-shaking sound play.
In both the Monsoon Collection and State of War, to juxtapose two of her works, her protagonists seem incapable of finding love and loyalty compatible and, under pressure, are ready to sacrifice the beloved to a generalized ideal. This penchant of supplementing to natural double-bladedness by cutting characters short is evident in the short fiction anthology, while the abandonment of the alleged beloved for some undefined principle pictures the central development in the novel in question. The ideal in its elusiveness may crumble into a justification for self-congratulation. If persons are instantly disposable (Guevarra's wife and son, for example), then why exclude characters? It does not matter if sympathies become artificial or transferable at own volition, for as long as the author remains to be perceived as sympathetic in her portrayal of the characters.
Ninotchka never misses a beat in the course of her fluid narrative as she profiles the lives of leads Anna Villaverde, Adrian Banyaga and Eliza Hansen, molding a concoction of plots and subplots, of libido betrayed through history, how the names and faces get altered but never the circumstances. Finally, the state of war being manifested here is the isolation ubiquitous in life, however intertwined people’s lives may look.
The author is most sympathetic to the character of Anna, whom one might consider as Ninotchka's alter-ego. Anna is an underground person on the island of K—, requested to help implement a conspiracy to bomb the stage where some political stalwarts are about to explode into bombastic speeches. She is the daughter of the last foot-bound Chinese woman and Luis Carlos Villaverde, a man obsessed with a saxophone. She survived the sexual molestations of her military captors while detained, as well as the electrocution on her nipples. Anna's presentation is that of survivor.
Eliza Hansen is a lady who defies pigeonholing: she is gorgeous, yet elusive as ever. She traipses about with transvestites in the town square doing the hala-bira rhythm, and acts as buffer to the "stormy relationship" of Anna and Adrian. She has this liaison with a high-ranking military officer, whom she uses to cover the tracks of Anna. In more ways than one, she is the other woman, and her frailty is the cause of her doom: she ends up as the festival's sacrifice to the sea, representing the only deliverance from her chained existence.
There is no lack of humor, either, as in the oft-repeated phrase about how “Magellan, crazy old coot, took some ships and circumcised the globe.” There is the ever-present image of the cock, the protruding symbol in a patriarchal society such as ours where, ironically, a woman is the central figure. There are the sexual interludes that Ninotchka seems to revel in, relationships based on equal parts caring and suspicion.
Anna is irresistibly lured into the festival mob dancing around the village plaza-"her feet found their niche in the drumbeats...the intricate pattern they wove on the asphalt, a pattern of small steps and halts"—and through her mind occurs "the disquieting thought [that] she was dancing the pattern of her life." Dance is translated into a metaphor for the process of one's life or, since this is inside a novel, narrative.
Ninotchka stitches together the novel's three movements by the use of an ostinato, a recurring popular song “Skyboats” which describes “a boat in the sky bearing a woman who said no, she'd rather not, thanks but no.” This image initially refers to Anna's grandmother Mayang, who becomes emotionally estranged from her husband, but later refers to Anna herself, as she joins the anti-government resistance and then endures police torture.
Ninotchka is relentlessly postmodern: her characters are assailed on all sides by the crushing forces of society, the schizoid montage of late-twentieth-century life, the haunting, double-edged beauty of an endangered world. Against such a tangled backdrop, the drama of State of War is embodied in questions of individual physical survival and, by extension, moral revival—questions which revolve around the person as well as the body politic, the singular as well as the plural.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

of sainthood and humanity

Francis, Ignatius, Therese, John Paul and Mother Teresa were able to show the humanity of the Church through their relationship with family, friends, and the society. When they felt the calling to serve God through their service to the poor, most of them became in conflict with their human relations. For example, Francis’ family ties sagged when his parents thought that he was not only wasting his time but also throwing away the money for which they labored hard in order to amass. He also became in conflict with his friends who stoned and threw mud at him for doing charity works and for reducing himself to being a beggar. Francis seemed a disappointment to his parents and friends since they expected him to do anything other than distribute clothes, goods and money to the poor. Meanwhile, Ignatius suffered persecution for converting young people into the Christian fold. He courageously took up his jail term when he was accused of harboring beliefs that were not of the Church. On the other hand, Therese had a mild human conflict when she was not allowed to become a novitiate because she was still underage. She already felt the calling at a tender age, but was not permitted to join her sisters in the convent until the pope interceded in her behalf. Meanwhile, John Paul had a contradiction with his Polish society since his Christian beliefs were not necessarily compatible with his country’s Communist stance. Besides that, his threatened deportation to Germany during the war could have spoiled his chance of becoming a priest. Even when he became a pope, some nonbelievers attempted to assassinate him, a proof that no matter what good Christian relationship he wanted to build with the society, some did not share the same advocacy. The same was true with Mother Teresa, whose country of destination, India, is a study in contrast. While she helped many poor and sick Indians, the social neglect continued. Even her venture into the outside world took time, since she was bound within the four walls of the convent and she had to face the Church’s refusal to establish new religious communities. It was a difficult process for her to gain approval to leave the cloistered community to join the poorest of the poor in the streets and trade her habits into the less inconvenient sari and sandals she wore while ministering in Calcutta.
On the other hand, all five showed the divinity of the Church by enduring the mockery, rebukes, the discomforts and all sorts of contradictions made by the people they loved since they had the noble tasks of following the ways of Christ and doing charitable acts to the poor. Francis departed from his free-wheeling ways in order to renew himself and to adapt more to the Christian way of being a man for the poor and the needy. By being spiritually inspired to be resilient, he sanctified himself with all the meditations and fasting he had undergone to suit the sacrifice that entails becoming one with the poor, the sick and the hungry. The same was true with Ignatius, who turned away from a life of privileges and turning to extreme poverty and fasting in order to become one with the social outcasts. He renewed himself by embarking on pilgrimages that will proclaim the gospel. He bounced back despite being persecuted for his missions because he believed that bearing the anguish that resembled that of the persecuted Christ was part of the spiritual heritage. Meanwhile, Therese had a renewal each time she produced her testimonies of God’s goodness despite suffering from a terrible illness. While bedridden, she went on and on about writing the miraculous ways through which her life was being blessed by the Lord. On the other hand, John Paul did not waver in his papal duties although the world becomes increasingly negligent of its Christian duties. Instead, he continued to fulfill his duties by always turning his country visits, his book publications and issuance of holy documents as opportunities for Church renewal. Finally, Mother Teresa found spiritual renewal in the company of the poor, the ill and the starving whom she served in her parallel service to God. She became increasingly selfless in her mission of helping the neglected people.
All these saints have influenced the history and life of the faithful by showing that their lives can pursue Christian perfection despite hardships, trials and sufferings. Francis, Ignatius, Therese, John Paul and Teresa had varying degrees of setbacks throughout their respective missions but these did not stop them from fulfilling their duties however daunting these problems may appear. They endured through them all and did not surrender even in the face of the devil’s temptation or of social persecution. They transformed the problems into opportunities to grow more as Christians. They produced permanent legacies in the forms of books, meditations, movements and foundations which can attest an undying Christian devotion despite their brief, earthly lives. These, along with their very lives, leave an impression of the infinite possibilities of serving Christ and humanity in the face of persecutions or other such obstacles. For the faithful who are aware of how fellow humans before them had achieved saintly status through sheer faith in God and courage of spirit, the impact of these saints’ lives will inspire them into taking up their own crosses and into becoming active participants in the quest for salvation. The saints had made it possible, so the faithful can also create history by drawing the Christ-like out of their very lives with the greater consciousness for emulating God’s humility, compassion and love for the community, and helping the Christian brethren.
All five saints reflect the identity and mission of Jesus Christ by turning their lives into replicas of Christ for others. Dismissing human and circumstantial limitations, Francis took Christ’s humility, became one with the poor, and taught and shared with them the blessings coming from God. It did not matter that his own close relations shunned him for Francis pursued his love for the brethren and other living things the way God loves all. Ignatius imitated Christ’s endurance during trying times for he did not surrender his faith even though authorities have imprisoned him for supposedly corrupting his newly-converted Christian brothers. He bore his persecution with the dignity of Christ, believing this was insignificant next to the greatness of spreading God’s love. Meanwhile, Therese had to die young and had to endure bodily suffering but these did not matter in terms of her mission of living a life in the approval of God. Her disease did not stop her from continuing her call to God’s service, up to the day she died. On the other hand, John Paul had a relatively long life replete with the mission of sustaining the flock of God. Like Christ, he served as a shepherd of this Church community so that the latter continued to mature despite the challenges of the modern times. Even in sickness and old age, he went on to spread the Word of God so that his duty can fulfill the objective of providing humanity with salvation. Finally, Mother Teresa took on the mission of helping the poor and the needy because Christ Himself cares for them more than the privileged ones. She mimicked Christ’s humanitarian ways in fulfillment of His second greatest commandment that’s love for others. She could have chosen to stay within the convent but she ventured out into the world to suffer other’s suffering, and to save the neglected. All these saints lived their lives the way real Christians ought to be: compassionate, enduring, redeeming.

Friday, December 04, 2009

the life of saint ignatius of loyola in a nutshell

Born in Loyola , Spain in 1491, Ignatius worked in the king’s court until he was 30. A cannonball injury almost cost Ignatius his life, but a miracle of dreaming about St. Peter touching his wound made him well. While recuperating after three operations, he discovered the books The Life of Christ and Lives and of the Saints, which inspired him to devote his life to God. Like Francis before him, Ignatius cared for the sick, practiced austerity measures, fasted, and became prayerful. One night, after witnessing a Marian apparition, he went on a pilgrimage to Montserrat wearing a long habit and a sandal for his limping leg. While on the journey, he tended the ill, fasted with the bread and water given him as alms and knelt for hours in complete meditation. He himself fell ill, so he bolted out of his great penance and regained his peace. It was during this time that he produced his Spiritual Exercises for those on retreat. He attempted to go on a mission to the Holy Land but was obliged to return to Europe by the Provincial of the Franciscans. He continued to convert Spanish people to the faith, to teach catechism, and to reform juveniles in Alcala. He also got to study in Paris in extreme poverty, joining the poor in their meals at the hospital. He and six of his young disciples established the Society of Jesus, which aimed at serving the Church and saving lost souls. They continued to live in dire poverty while following Christ’s Passion and suffering persecution from nonbelievers. He landed in prison in Salamanca on suspicion of heresy but until his life full of love for Jesus Christ was taken away from him, Ignatius confronted the persecutions with Christian courage, which became the quality of the Company of Jesus that he founded.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

the life of saint francis of assisi in a nutshell

Born in Assisi , Italy in 1182, Francis was friendly and pleasure-seeking as a young boy. Once, when a beggar asked for alms from him, he realized life’s poverty and misery. While he gave all his money to the beggar, his friends and own father rebuked him for his charitable act. After sometime, he became very ill for several months until his prayer and vow to serve other people gave way to his miraculous recovery. Notwithstanding his parents’ disapproval and friends’ mockery, he determined to surrender his old ways for God’s service. He became a recluse by living in the hills and meditated for all of two years. While he sometimes received food from sympathizers, he often went hungry. However, he was undaunted since he wanted his body to be under strict discipline and control despite the frequent deprivation of food and water. Francis loved not only the outcasts and the depressed, but also the birds and the beasts, which he treated as he would treat humans. He preached, taught, cured and distributed wealth in all of Italy and encouraged people to follow his example. Soon, the good news of Francis’ love and kindness became renowned in Europe . Before dying in 1228, he was able to organize the Order of Mendicant Friars or Franciscans, who promised a life of poverty, chastity, love and obedience.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

a look into guiseppe tornatore’s cinema paradiso and malena

Cinema Paradiso’s theme, “Life is not like in the movies,” may be integrated into the following symbolisms: the rusty anchors by the sea which are Toto’s collective force pinning him down in his non-progressing town and the deep blue sea beyond which is an opportunity-rich place that is always farther away sum up Toto’s boring, tragic life, so unlike hopeful, happy-ending movies. Meanwhile, the unwinding yarn knitted by Toto’s mother which is Toto’s untangling opportunity to destroy the past he visited and his gained recovery when he left Giancaldo synthesizes Toto’s life’s unbraided yet flawed self-return and self-rediscovery, so unlike the neatly-wrapped up, crafted movies. Lastly, the demolition of Cinema Paradiso which is a signal for moving on to reality is an anti-thesis for life as a fairy tale, so unlike the fantastic, perpetually ideal movies.
Sensing that the projectionist is a frustrated man, I think Alfredo was not right in breaking up Salvatore and Elena’s relationship just because he did not want Salvatore to tread the same fate as he did. Salvatore might have been successful in his career when he left Giancaldo and his girlfriend; nonetheless, his success was bittersweet because his love life was compromised and his jagged, insecure relationships were eventually put at expense. Alfredo had no right to impose on Salvatore the destiny he should fulfill, and for this, I assess that Alfredo is a miserable man desperate for a company in the embodiment of the love-disappointed Salvatore.
Teary-eyed Salvatore’s lingering look while watching the collection of kissing scenes is one of longing for a love that never was. There flashed movie scenes of passion that might well have been consummated in his own life, but his life is different from the movies—he was deprived of all romantic opportunities by trading these to the professional victory he savored at the moment. All he could do now was envy the kissing couples because he could have had a girl to exchange kisses with, yet he could not.
Compared to Salvatore’s character, Renato’s is, for me, the more sympathetic because he has seen his love Malena at her best and worst, and yet his passion for her did not diminish. While the successful Salvatore still came out a lonely man due to his dejections on love affairs, Renato evolved into a mature man for the love of Malena, despite all those liaisons with other girls. Whereas Salvatore was stuck in the past, Renato moved on by learning lessons on love.
I spotted the following symbolisms in Malena: The burning of the ant under the magnifying glass is the personification of Malena and her suffering under the scrutiny of the town. The people made Malena their subject, enslaved by the words people say against her. Eventually just like the ant, she got burned out too. Another is the hair that was Malena’s pride, beauty and life. It was the pride that rendered her formidable against the townsfolk’s scrutiny, the beauty the women of her town envied, and the colorful life she led as a mysterious wife, a reluctant prostitute and a battered victim of women’s wrath. Lastly, Renato’s throwing out into the sea of the record of Malena’s theme song for her husband is indicative of Renato’s letting go of Malena, who left her town in order to save face after her castigation by the women.
I think that Malena’s becoming a prostitute is well motivated because her basic need for food is at stake. While it is understood that she has to keep her dignity and morality intact, it was not beyond her to use her charm, albeit reluctantly, in order to feed her stomach and save herself in the process. For women like her who can see no brighter prospects in acquiring daily bread but through selling body, Malena does not meet any reason why she would not go to the proportions of surrendering herself to male objectification in exchange of something to eat. Her character is realistic enough for anyone of us to meet Malena in actual life: she is a human who is willing to shed her dignity and morality if her physical satisfaction is endangered.
Of the two movies, Malena touched me more because of the disturbing happenings in Malena’s prostitute life which is somewhat of a contrast with the relative lightness of Salvatore’s twisted love life in Cinema Paradiso. Malena taught me to be humble because I am blessed to have more than what I need while some people like Malena would go as far as be reduced to whoring in order to fill her stomach. Also, it taught me to love unconditionally, like Renato whose love for Malena did not expect to be returned as when the movie ended with his note, “The one I’ll remember is the only one who never asked.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ang tula at nobela ng panahong kolonyal: isang pasada

Hinugis ng patakarang kolonyal ang tula bilang anyong pampanitikan sa pamamagitan ng relihiyosong ideyolohiya na pinapairal ng mga prayle upang papaniwalain ang mga katutubo. Dahil sa aroganteng perspektibo ng mga kolonyal na mga Kastila na ang mga indio ay ‘di-sibilisado at, parang “lost sheep,” naging sintomas ng kamalayang ito ang mga relihiyosong tula na nagsasaad ng pagkakatagpo at kaligtasan sa pamamagitan ng pagsamba kay Kristo. May anyo ang tula na nagpapakita ng pagkaapi at sakripisyo ng Panginoong Hesu Kristo kaya dapat, ang mga indio rin ay sumailalim sa mga sakripisyo na isang dahilan sa pagiging kolonisado ng Espanya. Naging predominante ang pagtuturong Kristiyano sa tulang kolonyal kung itatambis sa pagtuturong “paganism” sa tulang tradisyunal, at sa bisa ng mga tulang kolonyal, ipinagmalaki ng mga taga-Kanluran ang kanyang ilusyong kagalingan at kabihasnan kumpara sa mga Oryental.
Nahugis ang nobelang El Filibusterismo ni Jose Rizal ng mga subersibong kondisyon na unti-unti nang naiipon at pagkatapos ay nagbunga ng pambansang himagsikan noong 1896. Itinuturing na pulitikal ang anyo ng nobela dahil sumipot ito sa panahong ang mga pagpapahirap, pagkawawa at pang-aabuso sa mga katutubo ay hindi na kasugutang pantao sa mga sakripisyo ng Panginoon kundi ay nagsisimula nang manggising ng damdaming makabansa sa mga indio sapat para isiping makalaya sa mga represibong gawa ng kolonyal na pamamahala ng Espanya. Sa Kabanata 7, kinuwestiyon ni Simoun ang implikasyon ng panukalang Academia Hispanica nina Basilio at kapwa mag-aaral dahil sa paghingi ng mga katutubo ng “assimilation” sa Espanya, pinapatay umano ang pagkakataong magkaroon ng pambansang identidad. Kung gayon, subersibo ang kondisyong ito dahil inaayawan ni Rizal ang pagdagdag pa ng Espanyol bilang wika sa napakarami nang wika sa Pilipinas at dahil may suhestiyon ng paghulagpos mula sa kolonisasyon upang sa kalayaan ay magbuo ng sariling identidad.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

musings on marriage

Marriage is a term that is not really common to daily conversations. There are just lots of other subjects under the sun to be tackled at length and marriage is perhaps the last to cross the chatters’ minds. Often, this topic is brought up only when two people in love feel that it is already time for them to be joined by their faith with each other. Before this gut feeling occurs, love usually passes by the couple. Hence, my definition of marriage is the occurrence of that certain gut feeling when love passes by.
Marriage is compared to many things. Some people compare marriage to a tree that makes the impression of bearing a lot of fruits. Other times, marriage is compared to freshly cooked rice which can be easily spewed out when its hotness scalds the mouth. Sometimes, marriage is compared to Cupid’s arrow hitting two persons at the same time in such a way that they feel mutually bound for each other. For me, marriage is the time and place wherein the best of two families meet in front of God and promise to make this world a better place for each other to live in.
Marriage really is a very controversial topic. The few who take it lightly joke that instead of the customary settling for good, the settling turns for bad. More often, people change their mood set when talking about marriage. Usually, they become more serious because marriage is a life-changing phase in the first place. The conversation becomes intense since the life changes involve not one but at least two persons’ lives, not to mention their respective families’ lives. People who get that marrying impression try either to think about their personal virtues and ideals which will be acquainted to the partner way into the married life. Marriage often reveals to the partner the true character of a person he or she swears to stay united to, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Early marriages are the paths some young loves eventually lead to. Youthful couples who are barely legal fall insanely to intimate passion that they swear to trade anything in the universe for the union of their livers to one another. These days, early trigger of Cupid’s arrow amongst the young ones initiates a decision regarding marriage even if they are not yet ready physically, materially, psychologically, and spiritually. In the heart of young people, they sense that they can really have a fulfilling life already with someone else. They argue that with love in their hearts, their married life heads the direction of bliss, till death do they part.
Will love alone lead to a successful marriage?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

epikong kolonyal: isang pagsusuri sa florante at laura

Halaw sa panahon ng pananakop ng mga Kastila noong 1521 hanggang 1898 ang Florante at Laura, isang mahabang pasalaysay na tula ng katutubong si Francisco Balagtas. Dahil sa pamamalakad ng mga dayuhan, nagkaroon ng maraming pagbabago at karagdagan sa katutubong panitikan lalo na sa uri at paksa. Sa kaso ng Florante at Laura, isa itong karagdagang uri sa katutubong panulaan sapagkat isa itong awit (na binabalatkayuan ang totoong katutubong porma nitong epiko). Makikita rin sa awit na ito ang mga pagbabago sa paksang panrelihiyon, pangmoralidad, at pangromansa na mga katangiang palasak na sa Europa noong panahong iyon.
Samantala, awit man ang Florante at Laura, nasa nakalimbag na porma na rin ito sapagkat inangkat dito sa Pilipinas ang sistema ng imprenta. Sa pananalasa ng mga hiram na panitikang Europeo, masasalamin sa akda ang mga dayuhang kaharian at tauhan sa halip na katutubong kalikasan.
Samantala, dahil sa kolonyal na kaligirang bumabalot sa pagkakaakda sa Florante at Laura, masasalamin dito ang dayuhang tradisyon ng pulitika, pamamalakad ng kaharian, pagtrato sa mga di-Kristiyanong lipi, pag-aaral, kaisipan ng katarungan, Kanluraning kaisipan ng kagandahan, Kristiyanong pananampalataya at pagpapahalagang naiimpluwensiyahan ng mananakop.
Tungkol naman sa diwang sinasambit ng Florante at Laura hinggil sa indibidwal, mahalagang isakilos ng bawat mamamayan ang paggawa ng kapalarang nasa awa ng Diyos. Sa kaso ni Florante na bida sa awit, mahusay siyang mandirigma ngunit nang sakupin ng traydor na si Adolfo ang kahariang ipinagtatanggol ni Florante, nadakip ang huli at iginapos sa kagubatan. Kahit patraydor ang pagkatalo ni Florante kay Adolfo, hindi nito naisip na paghigantian ang taksil bagkus ay nanawagan ito sa Diyos sa malaking bahagi ng kanyang hinagpis sa gubat.
Tungkol naman sa diwang sinasambit ng Florante at Laura hinggil sa kolektibong mamamayan, ipinapakita na kinakatawan ng bayani ang pagpapanatili ng sarili sa kabila ng pananakop. Sa kaso ni Florante, nananatili siya sa kahinahunan kahit dapat niyang paghimagsikan ang pananakop ni Adolfo sa kaharian ng Albanya. May paghihimagsik man, hindi dahas ang kinasangkapan ni Florante para labanan si Adolfo bagkus ay ipinagkatiwala na niya sa Poong Maykapal ang kapalaran. Dahil dito, masakop man ang bansa ng kung sinu-sino, mananatili ang sarili alinmang pagkakakilanlan ang kinamulatan.
Nanggagaling naman ang Florante at Laura sa konteksto ng Panahon ng Pananakop kung kailan naipapamalakaya na ang mga buto ng himagsikan. Dahil hindi na eksklusibo sa mga imprentang pansimbahan ang mga palimbagan, nakapaglimbag na rin ng mga akdang hindi nauukol lamang sa mga Kristiyanong ritwal at panalangin. Nag-umpisa na ring makapaglimbag ang mga katutubo ng mga akdang panromansa, anti-Kristiyanismo at anti-Hispanikong imperiyalismo at isa na sa mga iyon si Balagtas sa pamamagitan ng kanyang obrang Florante at Laura. Gumamit man si Balagtas ng mga dayuhang tauhan at tagpuan, ginawa lamang niya ito para pagtakpan ang paghihimagsik sa pananakop ng mga traydor na Kastila sa kahariang walang iba kundi Pilipinas. Sa adaptasyong ito rin ni Balagtas ng maraming dayuhang sangkap pampanitikan, ipinapamukha rin niya na kaya rin ng mga indio ang gumawa ng obara-maestrang nahahawig o nalalagpasan pa ang mga Europeong akda.
Sa kaso ng Florante at Laura, para sa mga indio ito na nagsisimula nang magising ang kamalayang makabansa. Ginawa ni Balagtas ang kanyang subersibong awit upang ipakita ang pagkakagapos ng mga mamamayan habang nasa pananakop ng mga Kastila ang kanilang bayan. Naghahari sa bayan ang kasamaan ngunit sa pagpapakitang ito ng kahima-himagsik na kalagayan ng bansa, ipinagpapasa-Diyos ang kapalaran dahil darating din ang panahong matatapos ang pananakop, gaya ng pagtapos ng armada nina Florante at Aladin sa pananakop sa Albanya, dahil magtatagumpay ang mabuti para sa Pilipinas.
Sa ngayon, matutunghayan pa sa kasalukuyang panitikan, lipunan at kasaysayan ang natirang impluwensiya ni Florante. Sapagkat maraming aspeto pa ng lipunang Filipino ang hindi nakakalaya matapos ang apat na dantaon ng pananakop, lumilitaw pa rin sa panitikan ang mga bayaning rebolusyunaryo na kinokondena ang pananalasa ng kapitalismo, neokolonyalismo at imperyalismo. Halimbawa ng mga akdang ganito ang Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah kung saan nagiging superheroine ang baklang bida upang kalabanin ang mga dayuhang Ingleserang pseudo-peminista. Sa lipunan naman, lumilitaw pa rin ang mga kabayanihang nagpapakita ng taglay na katapatan, kalakasan at pagkabansa sa pamamagitan ng mga Filipinong manggagawa sa ibang bansa na napagkakatiwalaan ng kanilang mga amo, ng mga taong nagsasauli ng kagamitang hindi sa kanila, lakas ng ‘di-matinag-tinag na ispiritu ng mga mahihirap na nananatiling may pag-asa sa kabila ng karukhaan at mga mamamayang nagsisilbi pa rin sa loob ng bansa kahit maraming oportunidad ng pag-unlad sa ibayong-dagat. Nasa dugo pa rin nila ang mga katangian ni Florante. Sa kasaysayan naman, makikita pa rin ang impluwensiya ng mga akda sa bisa ng mga Rebolusyong EDSA na nagtaboy sa mga abusadong Presidente upang panaigin ang demokrasya sa bansa. Tulad ni Florante, bayani ng bayan ang mga bayani ng EDSA.

Monday, November 09, 2009

the good, the bad, and the ambiguous: americanization and the thomasites-sponsored philippine education

Before the turn of the twentieth century, shortly right after the military loss of Spain to the United States of America over the colony known before as the Philippine Islands, the U.S. Army established the first public school in the historic Corregidor Island off Bataan Peninsula. Without formal training in teaching, the soldiers nonetheless could be credited for having laid the bricks of the Philippine public school system via teaching English to the natives less than one month after their designation in the archipelago. The first batch of real teachers arrived—all 48 of them—aboard the “Sheridan” to teach not only English but also basic education to the Filipinos.
These were the precursors of the teachers called “Thomasites,” who were in turn the forerunners of the present-day U.S. Peace Corps. What these American mentors and those that followed them became known for was the vessel that transported them to the Western end of the Pacific—it was a former cattle ship called USS “Thomas.” Numbering 530 of whom 365 were male and 165 were female, the Thomasites docked at Manila Bay on August 21, 1901 and after two days of quarantine, were permitted to disembark the ship. They were subsequently deployed in provinces as far off as Cagayan, Zambales, Batangas, Masbate, Negros, Cebu and Sulu. Thus began the education that reached beyond the privileged classes in post-Hispanic Philippines.
Establishing public schools that attracted the Filipino masses, the Thomasites taught basic education using English as the medium of instruction. The attraction factor was mainly due to the opportunity seen by the underprivileged to become part of the elite once educated. Centuries before, the Spanish priests taught the natives no more than religious prayers and rituals and, rather belatedly, the Spanish language in mid-19th century. The teaching of English was a revolution away from the Spanish-sponsored teaching which was primarily done in the indigenous languages. With the American-sponsored public education, the average Filipino was now capable of attending school and had an equal academic footing with the elite. Effective education of the masses, however, did not come as easily since the pupils tended to attend classes at random and be absent during, say, town and other such festivities. The elementary schools were followed by vocational schools which the American teachers deemed as preparatory institutions for Filipinos pursuing their respective careers. The founding of the country’s only national university, the University of the Philippines, opened to Filipinos further American-sponsored primary courses in the tertiary level.
Aside from the more pronounced basic education on English, grammar, reading, mathematics, geography, practical arts and athletics, the American teachers also taught their culture, values and their homegrown style of democracy to the natives. The pioneering batch of the Thomasites was succeeded by other Thomasite missionaries that educated the Filipino people. Those taught by the Thomasites with brilliant academic showing were further honed by being sent to the mainland US as pensionado students. These predecessors of the Fulbright scholars studied in the mother country and then returned to the Philippines to apply what they learned there.
The American-sponsored education in the colonial Philippines is an amalgamation of the good, the bad, and the ambiguous. It is good in that the Filipinos were given the chance to study, a fact that was denied to the natives by the Spaniards. It is an accepted truth that education liberates people by the acquisition of empowering knowledge, and with the teaching of the Thomasites, the masses’ dream of upward mobility was closer in reality. Hence, this explains why most Filipinos treat education as a significant element in their lives. Furthermore, the establishment of the public school system in the Philippines was also good since education was not any longer limited to the wealthy or elite classes; rather, it catered to the masses which case advanced the literacy movement in the Philippines. In this light, the American sponsors of this institution brought social change in the Philippine landscape.
This very alteration in the Philippine society spawned the bad side of the colonial education under the Americans. The manner in which the Americans taught their homegrown education was such that it planted seeds of Americanization in the minds of the Filipinos. By imbuing American values and culture to the locals, the Thomasites displaced Filipinization that the youth needed to identify themselves with their motherland and, worse, made any other culture as inferior compared to the Americans. This accounts for the lingering “Stateside” mentality among Filipinos whether they actually set foot in the US or they were further corrupted by the imperializing powers of Hollywoodization, McDonaldization and other such neocolonialisms.
The ambiguous comes in the form of the Philippines being the third largest English-speaking nation in the whole planet as a result of the American-sponsored education. On the one hand, the proficiency in English comes handy in landing professional positions here and abroad, especially in consideration of the increasingly globalizing world. With English as the dominant language of business and information, how can an Anglophilic Filipino lose? On the other hand, it is this love for the English language that contaminates the Filipinos’ sense of identity, for in the process of placing status symbol in English, the Filipino language languishes in its derision as a mother tongue associated with the bakya or the jologs. This ambiguity places the American-sponsored education in the middle of a tightrope wherein the question of the boon or the bane of this colonial legacy remains a debate among the colonialists and the nativists.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

seizing the moment

There are many ways through which I may seize the day. I may do now the things I have been postponing to do or have not been able to do in the past for one reason or another. I want to seize the day by visiting the Philippine countryside. I want to travel to Baguio to experience the cold again without having to go to wintry countries. I also want to go to Boracay to experience the sugar-white beach that bewitches local and foreign tourists. I want to see the amazing rice terraces to feel proud of a world-class Filipino heritage. I likewise want to visit Bohol to marvel at the chocolate hills and the tiny yet adorable tarsier. Seizing the day by seeing the best of the islands is something I have been raring to do, given the chance to pursue my plans. I may also spend quality time with people I rarely keep company to or I want to meet. I want to spend recreation time with my family in any part of the countyside. I also want to spend leisure time with my inang in amusement centers, the way we used to be together years ago. I want to be with my friends for some bonding time at the mall, the way we used to when semestral breaks allow us. I want to meet any national leader and gather tips on how to run country affairs effectively. I likewise want to be with my literary idols in order to learn a thing or two about becoming top-caliber artists. Seizing the day by spending quality time socially is something I ought to do, given the free time for everyone involved. Finally, I may savor the time I have now as if these are the last hours I have on earth. I want to finish my plans of action as is expected of a leader fulfilling his duty. I likewise want to do charity work outside the academe's mission so I may share my personal blesings to the less fortunate. I want to make more friends in order to learn more lives before earth time expires. Lastly, I want to experience playing nonstop, dancing in the rain, or perhaps hiking the mountaintop just to get some baptism of fire. Seizing the day by doing what I intend to do before the world ends is something I look forward to, given the opportunity. Not everyone is lucky to maximize the miracle that's time.

Monday, November 02, 2009

negative ethical, social and environmental effects of genetic counseling

While there are positive implications that may be drawn from genetic counseling, there are also negative ones which consist of the foregoing:
Genetic counseling is not advisable since the tests that frequently accompany it is found by consensual researchers to be inaccurate in diagnosing illnesses. For example, genetic counselors may tell a patient that he has a certain disease which gets him the label “at risk” due to a tested gene factor. This will make the patient anxious since uncertainty will loom in the picture. He may not be even told that it is one factor to have an “at risk” gene and another to have the environment to aggravate the prognosis of diseases.
Genetic counseling also creates a leeway of false hopes for patients. It does not give any comfort for a patient to know that he will acquire an incurable disease. It does not help in making one live a normal life devoid of pain and suffering. For instance, genetic counselors may tell a patient that they are at risk of getting ill, but not when the disease strikes, how severe the symptoms are, whether the disorder will progress over time or if treatment can still be made. It becomes harder then to have that patient have his children tested if they inherited his illness and will die a young death as he will. Genetic counseling provides a backdrop for a difficulty of having the patient's children know or not know whether they will suffer from a potentially inherited disease. This places excessive accountability on the patient, who may feel his anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, tension and guilt increasing all because of a counseling aftermath. The same feelings may be felt toward family members when information coming from the genetic counseling need to be revealed to them.
Whereas an unknowing patient may live long enough to survive a potential disease, a patient who gets advised that he is at risk of acquiring a diease may become psychologically assailed that he will inevitably develop such a disease. When a patient notices this illness, he may eventually heighten the risk. A patient may have a genetic trait that leads to a disease, but this is not a guarantee that the patient will get it. The patient may only have a higher risk if not counseled, but the very act of counseling may put the patient in a psychologically-torturing decision whether to pursue the advise to reduce the risk.
Also, genetic counseling can push nature to the limits by rendering science into messing with nature, especially when done the wrong way. To illustrate: parents can be advised by geneticists to abort an unborn fetus if it is discovered to have undesirable features like deformation, disease or maternal threats. Genetic counseling, then, reduces conception down to selective breeding. This may also result to prenatal anxiety that runs the risk of miscarriage because of psychological consequences.
In relation to the aforementioned, pregnant women advised by geneticists to have undesirable fetuses may run the risk of being blamed and guilt-ridden for their pregnancy result. The counseling made on them may create a negative impact in such a way that these women will suffer disrupted ties with their family members and community. Also, if they risk to bear their children, the counseling may pose an interference in the bonding of the mothers and children, who may be diagnosed to have disabilities. Meanwhile, genetic counseling may also discover false paternity, which will possibly tear apart marital ties.
Likewise, genetic counseling can be disadvantageous to job seekers, as they may suffer employment discrimination. If advised to have the potential of acquiring hereditary diseases which case appears as medical information, the potential employee may not be hired because the company does not want to invest time and money training the person who is predetermined for an illness.
Genetic information can also be used by insurance companies against a person. The result of genetic counseling may be used by paying insurance companies to deny coverage to high risk clients. In order to avoid paying for expensive treatments and hospitalizations, insurance companies may use genetic counseling outcome to declare that the client's high risk status is a pre-existing condition.
The same information gathered from genetic counseling can create privacy, social stigma and confidentiality issues. There is the question of who may access the information. Many people would not want anyone to see what their genetic makeup looks like. People themselves would be concerned about being counseled on their genetic status. Without intending to, their privacy may be intruded as well as their family's.

Friday, October 30, 2009

rapunzel: a feminist revisionist tale

Once upon a time, there was a couple who did not have a child. They longed to have one, but the heavens have yet to hear their prayers. One day, while praying for a child to grow in her womb, the wife saw from her window a clump of plants with the most mouth-watering appearance. She longed for it but the husband did not dare ask or steal it from its owner, who was a witch living in the neighboring house. The wife grew so sick that the husband had no choice but to sneak into the neighborhood to pick up the plants, only to be caught by the witch. The witch allowed him to get away with the plant on the condition that he would give her his child, the very reason why the wife was sick. When the wife gave birth, the witch appeared from out of the blue and fetched the child. She took her in the middle of the forest and imprisoned her in a tall tower. She was named Rapunzel; she was beautiful, fair, and gifted with a long, lustrous golden hair. The years passed by and Rapunzel grew hair more than 15 meters long. The witch could get to Rapunzel's tower to deliver food by climbing onto the window using Rapunzel's hair as scaffolding.
The lonely Rapunzel longed to see the world beyond her tower, and while she was afraid of her jailguard of a witch, she was curious as to what could be waiting for her out there. One day, a prince happened to pass by and fell bewitched by her beauty. The prince became obsessed about rescuing Rapunzel, and collected his guts in order to ask her to throw her hair down to allow him to see her the way the witch regularly did. Rapunzel saw this a rare opportunity, but let it pass unclaimed, for this Rapunzel was a different woman altogether. It occurred to her that she could do the escape herself, so one night right after the prince pined away for her, she tied her hair in her bedpost and climbed down using the rest of her hair volume. With the pair of scissors she uses to trim her hair to splendid beauty, she cut her hair to shoulder's length and ran away, leaving her golden burden behind to a promise of a future without bondage, either from evil witches or obsessed men.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ilang kaugaliang pilipino

Maasikaso, may utang na loob, nakikisama, magalang at makapamilya ay ilang mga katangian na makapag-aangat ng antas ng kultura sa Pilipinas. Kabilang ang mga ito sa mga litaw na kaugaliang Pilipino na madaling mapansin ng mga banyaga. Mahalaga ang mga kaugaliang ito sapagkat mas matanda pa sa panahon ng pananakop ang pag-iral ng ganitong mga katangian. Dahil sa katandaan ng mga kaugaliang ito, malalim na ang ugat ng mga ito sa sensibilidad ng mga Pilipino kaya hindi basta-basta maaaring bunutin kahit pa man mahaba ang panahon ng pagkakasakop sa bansa ng mga dayuhan. Buhay na buhay pa ang ganitong mga kaugalian dahil nga malalim ang ugat ng kinalaglagyan ng mga katangiang ito sa katauhan ng mga Pilipino. Samakatuwid, mahihinuhang naisasagawa pa rin ng mga mamamayan ang mga kaugaliang ito sapagkat hindi ito madaling burahin ng impluwensiya ng pananakop.
Nagsimula ang pagkamaasikaso noon pa mang Panahong Prekolonyal. Dahil sa pakikipagbarter ng mga katutubong Pilipino sa mga karatig-bansa gaya ng Tsina, India at Malaya, naipakita ng mga katutubo ang pagiging maasikaso. Isinasabuhay nila ito noon sa pamamagitan ng pagsalubong sa mga kapalitan ng kalakal, palakaibigang pakikitungo sa kanila, magiliw na pakikipagtalastasan at pag-aasikaso sa mga bagong dating. Noong papadaong ang mga Kastila sa isa sa mga islang kalaunan ay bubuo sa kapuluan ng Pilipinas, kagila-gilalas na sinalubong sila ng mga katutubo hindi ng pagkasindak sa mapuputing dayuhan kundi ng mga ngiti at pag-aturga. Dahil gutom na gutom ang mga dayuhan, inasikaso sila, pinakain at pinatuloy sa kanilang pamayanan. Sa pag-aasikaso sa mga bisita, makikitang nakangiti sila, magiliw sa pakikipag-usap, palakaibigan, masayahin, at mapag-alok ng anumang pag-aari nila. Naipagkamali pa ng ito ng mga mananakop bilang kahinaan at pagkaalipin. Mahalaga ang ganitong kaugalian sapagkat mas pinahahalagahan ng mga katutubo noon ang kapayapaan at pakikipagkaibigan kaysa pakikipagdigmaan. Sanhi lamang ng gulo at kamatayan ang digmaan samantalang nagpaparami ng kaibigan ang pagiging maasikaso. Samakatuwid, mapagmahal sa kapayapaan at kapwa-tao ang mga taong kabilang sa lipunan noong Panahong Prekolonyal.
Panahong Prekolonyal din ang pinaghuhugutan ng katangiang may utang na loob. Dahil noon pa mang Matandang Panahon ay may umiiral nang sistemang panlipunan sa kapuluan, naipapakita na rin ang katangiang ito. Sa mga pagkakataong may naililigtas ang buhay, nabibigyan ng trabaho o nakapag-aral, nagkakaroon ng ugnayan ang natulungan at nagbigay ng tulong. Mistulang regalo ng tumulong ang ibinigay niya sa natulungan, na nakadarama naman ng pangangailangang ibalik ang tulong dahil utang na loob niya ito. Maaaring tumakbo ng maraming henerasyon ang pagbabayad-utang na ito at maaring humingi pa ng ibang porma ng bayad-utang ang nagbigay ng tulong. Makikita rito na hindi lubusang matutumbasan ang naiabot na tulong dahil sa pambihirang pagkakataong nangailangan ng tulong ang isang tao, ang nagbigay ng tulong ang tutuusing nagdugtong ng buhay ng nangailangan.
Mula pa rin sa sistemang panlipunan ng Matandang Panahon ang katangiang nakikisama. Dahil sa maliliit na pamayanan ng panahong iyon, magkakakilala ang lahat, kung hindi man magkakamag-anak. Sa lapit ng ugnayan ng mga tao sa bawat isa, hindi na sila nagkakahiyaang magbigayan ng tulong. Nakaugnay dito ang bayanihan, batares, at iba pang porma ng pagtutulungan. Mula sa magkakabahay hanggang sa magkakapitbahay, nagpapakisamahan ang bawat isa upang maisaayos at maisulong ang kanilang komunidad.
Mula pa rin sa panahon bago masakop ng mga dayuhan ang pagiging magalang ng mga Pilipino. Samantalang produkto na lamang ng pananakop ang respetong maiuugnay sa relihiyong Katoliko, likas naman ang paggamit ng “po” at “opo” sa pakikipag-usap ng mga batang Pilipino sa matatanda. Bukod sa “po” at “opo,” gumagamit pa ng mga magagalang na pantawag gaya ng “kuya,” “ate,” “manong,” “manang,” “lola,” “lolo” at iba pa.
Dahil nga sa mumunting pamayanan ng Panahong Prekolonyal, magkakalapit ang bawat tao. Karamihan sa kanila ang magkakamag-anak na may maganda at malapit na ugnayan. Pangunahin ang kanilang katapatan sa pamilya higit sa anupaman. Kung nasaan ang isa, naroon ang lahat. Inaalaagaan nila ang isa’t isa.
Makabago man ang kabataan at lipunan ngayon at madalas man kaysa hindi na may malaking impluwensiya ang pagkakasakop at pagdating ng modernismo mula sa dominanteng mga bansa ng Kanluran, may ilang bagay na konserbatibo ang mga Pilipino at ilan na rito ang mga naturang katangian na may natatanging katutubong istilo. Makikitang buhay na buhay pa rin ang mga katangiang ito ng mga Pilipino kaya nga malaki ang pag-asang maiangat ng mga ito ang antas ng kultura ng Pilipinas.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ang pagbigkas sa meron bilang galaw ng katauhan

Bumibigkas ang tao ng meron upang ipakitang buhay siya na siyang pagpapagalaw niya ng kanyang katauhan. Sa pagbigkas ng meron, maaaring gumamit ng salita upang ipaliwanag ang material na mundong ginagalawan niya, ngunit may pagmemeron na sa kilos ibinabatay ang pagbibigkas, at ito ang mas nagbibigay ng katauhan dahil galaw itong mas may lapit sa meron. Lamang, dapat maging maingat na huwag makihalubilo sa konsepto lamang dahil ang mga ito ang mga bagay na naiisip lamang, may hangganan, kung gayon ay nagiging kulungan at sagabal sa pagmamatayog ng ating pag-abot sa meron. Sa pakikihalubilo sa konsepto, nakikipagtalaban lamang sa isip samantalang hindi lahat ng bagay ay masasakop o makukulong ng isip. Oo nga, makapagbibigay-liwanag ang konsepto para makadaan patungo sa meron, magagamit bilang alaala ng mga bagay na binibigyang-pangalan, makabubuo ng tanong tungo sa mas malalim na pagtingin sa mga bagay na maaaring paguhuin ang hangganan at makakatalab ng buong isip. Ngunit hindi meron ang konsepto kaya lagi na itong nasasakop ng hangganan. Hindi umaangat sa mas mataas na taas tungo sa meron ang konsepto dahil nakakapit sa mundong inilalarawan n gating mga pandama.
Kaya nga sa meron tayo dapat makihalubilo dahil daigdig itong labas sa hangganang pumipigil sa isip na tumalab nang higit pa sa pandama. Sa meron, napaguguho ang mga hangganan, ang kulungang sagabal sa paglapit sa meron nang pinakamalapit na lapit. Samakatuwid, nakasusubok na maabot ang maganda, totoo at mabuti habang lumalagpas sa hangganan ng isip tungo sa daigdig ng meron. Hindi na mahalaga rito ang konsepto dahil higit pa sa madarama ang magpapaliwanag sa isip kundi ang liwanag ng meron. Higit pa sa maiisip ng konsepto ang kayamanan ng kahulugan ng meron dahil hindi na madaragdagan pa ang katotohanan ng meron. Sa pakikihalubilo sa meron, hindi tayo nakakahon sa mga hangganan. May matatakbo pa ang isip nang higit pa sa maiisip natin at ito ay ang meron.
Gusto kong makita ang aking sarili na hindi bilanggo ng konsepto kundi nakahalubilo sa meron, dahil gusto kong makaalam, maliwanagan at maging buong tao sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigkas ng meron. Gusto kong malagpasan ang pagtingin sa kulay pula bilang isang kulay na nakikita ko. Gusto kong lagpasan ang maiisip ko rito bilang kulay ng dugo, ng bolpeng pantsek ng papel, ng bilog sa gitna ng watawat ng Hapon. Gusto kong maiugnay ito sa kulay ng galit, o di kaya ng pag-ibig. Ngunit ayoko ring ikahon ang aking sarili sa pag-iisip na ganito lang ang maaaring itakbo ng kulay pula sa aking isip. Gusto kong makarating sa mundong hindi materyal na bagay ang pula kundi isang pulang meron sa daigdig ng meron nang higit pa sa maaaring isipin ko hinggil sa kulay na iyon. Gusto kong magkaroon ito ng laman at kahulugan ayon sa pagbigkas ko ng pagkameron ng kulay na pula.
Sa pagitan ng daigdig ng isip at lagpas sa isip, hindi ko maipagpapalit ang sistema ng meron na walang hanggan sa paglarawan at pagpapaliwanag sa mga bagay na binibigyang-pangalan sa dagidig ng isip ayon lamang sa kung ano ang maikakahon ng pandama rito. Sa sistema ng meron, makakahalubilo ko na ang mga bagay na may tunay na ganda, katotohanan at kabutihan higit pa sa maaaring bigyang-hangganan dito ng konsepto ng isipan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ang konsepto bilang labi ng meron

Ang pagbigkas sa meron ay binibigyang-daan ng paggamit ng isip, na bumubuo naman ng konsepto. Higit pa sa maaabot ng isip ang meron, ngunit sinusubok na lapitan ang merong ito sa pamamagitan ng konsepto. May kakulangan man ang konsepto sa paglarawan, pagpapakahulugan at pagpapaliwanag ng totoong meron, mabuti nang may maiiwang mapagsisimulan pa ng ibang magmemeron kung tapos na sa pagbigkas ang iba. Kaya nga hindi malayo sa representasyon ng labi ang konsepto, dahil ito na lamang ang naiiwan sa isip bilang alaala at hindi ang tunay na nakapagpaliwanag sa nagmeron. Sa ganitong kalagayan, maaaring maging sagabal pa sa pagbibigkas ang labing ito ng konsepto dahil baka mapagkamalang ito na ang totoong meron. Bukod pa rito, ang mga labing ito ay may hangganan kaya nga hindi makalalagpas sa isip hanggang subuking makihalubilo sa labas ng kahon ng madarama tungo sa daigdig ng meron. Sa pagpapakitang ito ng pagkakaiba ng konsepto at meron, makikitang mas sinauna ang meron dahil ito ang sinisikap talabin ng isip. Ang meron ang binibigyang-pangalan ng konsepto kaya nauna muna ang pagkameron bago ang pagbibinyag ng pangalan bilang konsepto. At gaya nga ng katuruan ni Tsuang Tzu, higit pa sa labi ang maaaring mahita mula sa meron kaya balewala ang konsepto kung mas mahalaga ang maipapaliwanag ng meron. Salita nga nang salita kung kulang naman sa gawa, hindi rin tunay na makahulugan. Lahat tayo, upang matawag na tunay na dakila, dapat magsumikap na gumawa ng gulong at hindi lang basta bumasa nang bumasa kung paano makagagawa ng gulong.
Sa pag-aaral ko ng pilosopiya, nasisimulan ng konsepto ang pagbibigkas ko ngunit dapat kong tandaan na makasasagabal ito kung papag-isahin ko ang tingin sa konsepto at meron. Dapat kong malaman na labi na lamang ng mga pinagmeronan ang lahat ng inaaral ko sa pilosopiya at hindi ang tunay na meron. Wala itong pinagkaiba sa pinagbalatan ng kendi: hindi ito ang tunay na matamis at nakaaangat ng damdamin kundi ang merong binabalot nito. Maaari ko namang gamitin ang konsepto para makapagmeron dahil sa isip naman magsisimula ang pagbibigkas. Kaya nga lamang, tatandaan kong mas una ang meron dito; pangalawa na lamang ang konsepto dito na nagbigay-kaisipan (at nagbigay din ng hangganan) sa meron. Gusto kong gayahin sa Tsuang Tzu na hindi minahalaga ang pinagkataman ng umano’y dakilang taong hindi dakila para sa kanya. Totoo namang dapat isagawa kung ano ang alam dahil ang mga gulong ay walang pinagkaiba sa natututunan sa pilosopiya: hindi magiging makahulugan kung sa salita lamang at hindi sa pagsasagawa. Gusto kong ilapat ang natutunan ko sa pilosopiya sa gawa nang hindi nakakahon sa salita lamang. Anumang pagbibigkas ko ng meron ng pilosopiya, higit dapat sa hangganan ng salita upang sa kaliwanagan ko ay mabuo ang aking pagkatao.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ang pag-uulit bilang pag-unawa sa tunay na pag-iisip

Para kay Heidegger, para makaunawa sa tunay na pag-iisip, kailangan ang seisvergessenheit (pagkalimot sa meron) at balikan ang pag-unawa sa kasabay nitong nagpapahayag ngunit nagkukubli. Dapat pakilusin ang isip dahil meron ang nagpapahayag ng aletheia, na totoo at aktong nangyayari kaya hindi mapasusubaliang isang kilos na tuluy-tuloy lamang ang pangyayari kaya hindi mahuhuli. Hindi bale dahil may gelasseinheit naman na para siyang gamiting pagpapahayag at pagpapaubaya sa pagpapakita ng meron. Dapat na isinusuko ang sariling magbigay ng rason dahil anunman ang mangyari, ito ay meron na, hindi na kailangang itakda ang dahilan, ipinapaubaya sa meron ang lahat, nagpapaubaya at nagpapalaya ng puwedeng ipakitang meron nawawala ang hawak sa akin. Aaminin na hindi hawak ang lahat. Nawawala ang lahat sa akin.
Halimbawa nito ang kahulugan ng kaligayahan, dapat kong limutin ang salitang kaligayahan dahil salita lang siya na kumakatawan sa isang estado ng isip na meron naman talaga kahit hindi pa naimbento ang salitang pantawag sa kanya noon. Kailangang makalimutan dahil kung may okupasyon akong isipin iyon buong maghapon magdamag, mawawalan siya ng tunay na kahulugan sa akin bagkus ay magiging salita na lamang ito. Sa panahong sabihin kong masaya ako, mauunawaan kong hindi ako tunay na masaya dahil kung napakasaya ko, bakit hindi ko hayaang ipakita nito ang kanyang sarili sa gawa at hindi sa salita? Totoo namang may kaligayahan gaya kapag pumasa ako sa mga pagsusulit o sama-sama ang buong pamilya o nagpaparamdam ng lambing ang minamahal. Ang kaligayahang ito, hindi ipinagsisigawan ang kanyang sarili bagkus ay nagkukubli sa kaisipang alam na ang kanyang katangian noon pa mang wala itong pangalan. Hindi na kailangang umapuhap ng rason para sa pag-iral nito dahil ang kaligayahan, meron na sa iba't ibang panahon at lugar kaya dapat nang ipaubaya sa pagkameron niya ang kanyang kahulugan. Anumang pangalan ang ibigay sa kanya, hindi pa rin ito lubos na mahahawakan o maikukulong ang kahulugan. Meron nang kaligayahang lampas pa sa pangalan at iyan ang dapat na maunawaan.

Friday, October 16, 2009

game of love and other notes on dead stars

The game of love in which the three characters of the Paz Marquez-Benitez' story "Dead Stars" figured in did not make any one win. Alfredo was a loser because he could not choose to marry Julia, the person he loved more than Esperanza. He had to follow what the society expected of him: to be a man and marry the woman he was engaged to. Julia was also a loser because she was not chosen by Alfredo although she was more loved by Alfredo than Esperanza was. Esperanza was the last loser because she was married only out of convenience. She was not married by Alfredo out of love. No one among the three win the game of love because they were all victims of a love in a wrong place and time.
This story was written during the American period, a time when Filipinos are struggling to create their own identity. As such, the setting appears as if entirely devoid of anything American (except of course the language). The setting, therefore, was Filipino. The space setting is in the Philippines, the time setting was the 1920's, a period of relative tranquility because it was in the middle of American Occupation. The best visualization of this is perhaps Alfredo's world, because this world seemed to give him everything--social respect, material wealth, among other things--except the one thing that will give him fulfillment: marrying the one he really loved, Julia.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

food paradigm shift

In the last forty years, the relative availability of staple foods like cereals, pulses and starchy roots has declined in almost all geographic regions of the earth. There are partial shifts from staple foods toward vegetable oils and sugar in low- and lower-middle income countries; towards vegetable oils, sugar and meat in upper-middle income countries; and towards vegetable oils and meat in higher-income countries. The relative availability of fruits and vegetables has only slightly climbed in most countries and still far from the recommended level in both developed and developing countries. The food availability changes on nutritional standards of the diet has created the following impacts: there are likely impacts of increase in total fat content and decrease in total content across the globe, increase in energy density in both developed and developing countries, decrease in fiber content throughout the world and decrease in protein content in developing countries. Meanwhile, there are possible impacts of increased saturated fats, decreased vitamins and minerals, increased glycaemic index and decreased bioactive compounds like flavonoids, among others. Since this is the case, the food availability changes in the last forty years are parallel with the changes in human diets specifically in association to the prevalence of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, particular types of cancer, and other nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. This deterioration is aggravated by the lower replacement of staple foods by fruit and vegetables in place of meats, fats and sugar. The low availability and consumption of fruits and vegetables and the consequent excess in the availability and consumption of meats, fats and sugar causes the deterioration of human nutritional diet anywhere in the world.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

pagtatambis ng pampamilyang istruktura sa litisang bilog ng caucasus at labaw donggon

Magkaiba ang istruktura ng pamilya sa Litisang Bilog ng Caucasus at ng sa Labaw Donggon.
Sa Labaw Donggon, machong-macho ang bayaning si Labaw Donggon dahil tatlo ang naging asawa niya mula sa lahat ng antas panlipunan, isang basehan ng pagkakakilanlan ng kapangyarihan. Napangasawa niya sina Gintibitinan na galing sa bunga ng ilog, Doronoon na mula sa ilalim ng lupa at Nagmalitong Yawa na galing sa langit. Samantala, sa umpisa’y biktima ng Madonna/whore binary si Grusha dahil naeeskandalo siya sa pagkakaroon ng “anak” na si Michael gayong wala naman siyang asawa. Tuloy, inaakalang disgrasyada siya. Kaya nga, upang makaiwas sa pag-aalipusta ng lipunan, nabiktima naman siya ng patriyarka nang mapilitan siyang magpakasal sa isang nagsasakit-sakitang lalaki para may maging padre de pamilya. Habang tatlo ang asawa ni Labaw Donggon, isa lang ang kay Grusha, dahil nadiborsiyo muna siya bago nagging karapat-dapat ipakasal sa sundalong kasintahang si Simon.
Bukod sa nabanggit, hinamon sa Labaw Donggon ang institusyon ng kasal upang makapagpakasal ang isang nakatataas sa antas panlipunan sa isang nakabababang antas. Nahirapang maghanap ng asawa sa langit si Labaw Donggon dahil sa kaibahan niya ng antas, ngunit nang mapangasawa si Nagmalitong Yawa na mayaman, hinamon niya ang sagabal sa pagpapakasal nito. Samantala, kasal-pangginhawa o marriage of convenience ang nangyari kay Grusha sa Litisan. Katulong lamang siya sa bahay ng gobernador at mahirap kaya walang pambuhay at pambahay kay Michael. Kinailangan niyang magpakasal sa isang nakatataas ng antas sa lipunan upang miasalba ang naging pamilya niyang anak ng kanyang amo.
Panghuli, nakasalalay sa pamilya ang pagiging bayani ni Labaw Donggon. Sa impluwensiya ng pamilyang sina Alunsina at bunsong anak, nakatulong na maipanalo ni Labaw Donggon ang pakikipaglaban niya sa lipunan. Samantala, likas na kabutihan ang pinanggagalingan ng kabayanihan ni Grusha. Sarili niya at hindi kinakailangang pamilya niyang si Michael ang nakatulong para mapatunayang siya ang ina nito. Dagdag pa, hindi niya inasahan ang alok ng pagkaama ni Simon para maipanalo ang asunto laban sa tunay na ina ni Michael. Sa taliwas na istrukturang ito ng pamilya ni Labaw Donggon at ng kay Grusha, mapapatunayan na magkaiba ang dalawa.

Friday, October 09, 2009

double burden of malnutrition

Double burden of malnutrition means that underweight and stunted children outnumber the overweight children in both 0-5- and 6-10- year-old age brackets. In a hundred 0-5-year-old children scale, 27 are underweight and 30 are stunted whereas only two are overweight. Meanwhile, in a hundred 6-10-year-old children scale, 26 are underweight and 36 are stunted whereas only one is overweight. Also, there is also anemia and vitamin A deficiency problems affecting the various population groups in public health proprotions. There are two out of three infants 6m-less than one year old who are anemic. This means that they are in the risk of suffering from long-term mental deficiency. 46% of pregnant women may be affected by vitamin A deficiency. Among income class children, there is a double burden of malnutrition because only children benefiting from the high-income class have the least risk of malnutrition. The four classes below the highest class, meaning the levels at which income becomes less and less, have children who suffer malnutrition increasingly. The lower the level, the greater the suffering in malnutrition. Children from the lowest-income class suffer the biggest in manutrition. Meanwhile, children benefiting from the high-income class are found to have the highest risk of being overweight. This becomes less of a possibility as the case descends through the lower income classes. This means that the lower the income class of children, the greter that they are not overweight. Among children and adult of both sexes, the double burden of malnutrition is seen with the persistent undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies maong children and vulnerable groups along with rising overweight, obesity and diet- and lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases in adults. There is a 20.9% coexistence of underweight child and overweight adult in same household. This means one out of five housholds with an underwieght child is a coexisting overweight adult. The double burden of malnutrition becomes riskier since poor growth is perpetuated through the cycle of persistent undernutrition, high incidence of newborn children with low birth weight, high incidence of poor child growth and deplorable infant and children feeding practices, low rate of milk intake and of consumption of fortified foods resulting in abnormal dietary patterns, negative changes in dietary patterns like declining fruit intake, tubers and other traditional staples and increasing consumption of sugars and low level of physical activity.

Monday, October 05, 2009

ang litisang bilog ng caucasus: isang pagbabalik-tanaw

Sa pagtatanghal ng Ang Litisang Bilog ng Caucasus ni Bertolt Brecht sa bersiyong katutubo, angkop ang paggamit ng sayaw na igal, isang masining at maindayog na galaw ng mga Sama ng baybaying Timog-Silangang Asya, halimbawa ay ang Sama Dilaut (o Sama ng Karagatan) at Sama Badjao ng mga isla ng Sitangkai at Sibutu sa Lalawigan ng Tawi-Tawi. Masasabi kong angkop ang paggamit ng sayaw na ito sa nasabing Kanluraning dula dahil mas nakakaugnay ang mga Filipino sa pagsasakatutubo ng alinmang bagay na dayuhan, dahil nakakapagpayaman ng dulaang Pilipino at pandaigdig ang paghahalo sa Kanluraning klasikong dula ng mga katutubong motif, at dahil nagbibigay-buhay sa teatro ang paghahabi-habi ng dula, musika at sayaw sa bawat eksena ng Litisan.
Dahil sa paggamit ng sayaw na igal sa pagtatanghal, mas nakakaugnay ang mga manonood dahil hindi na dayuhan ang pagtrato dito. Nakatulong ang indihenisasyon sa pamamagitan ng katutubong kumpas ng mga kamay at galaw ng mga paa para mas mapalapit sa katutubong sensibilidad ng manonood ang banyagang dula. Kahit sabihin pang orihinal na Kanluranin ang dula, nakikilala ng mga manonood ang Pilipinong elemento nito sa mga kilos na tangi sa sining pangkatawan ng kababayang mga Badjao.
Dahil pa rin sa paggamit ng sayaw na igal sa Litisan, napapayaman ang dulaang Pilipino at pandaigdig. Sa paglitaw ng mga katutubong motif sa Kanluraning dula sa anyo ng sayaw-Badjao, naipapakita ang unibersalidad ng dula at nabibihisan naman ito ng ibang kultura. Matalinong naipapakita ng igal na mayaman ang kultura ng bansa at mababahiran nito ng katutubong kulay kahit pa banyagang dula.
Panghuli, mas buhay na buhay ang pagtatanghal dahil bukod sa dramang naibubunyag sa bawat eksena, sinasabayan ito ng musika, kanta at ng sayaw ngang igal. Nakaeengganyong panoorin na habang nagsasalita o kumakanta ang mga tauhan o tagapagsalaysay, kumukumpas ang kanilang mga kamay at umiindak ang mga paa.
Ang mga nabanggit ang nagbibigay-kaangkupan ng sayaw na igal sa hinalaw na dula ni Brecht. Sa pamamagitan nito, nakita ang Pilipinisasyon sa Litisan.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

pag-uulit bilang pagbabalik at pagkilala sa tunay na sarili

Nang mahiwalay si Kierkegaard kay Regina dahil ayaw nitong mapakasal sa nobya, inakala niyang magiging sakuna lamang siya kapag sila ay napakasal. Ayaw niyang ipilit ang kanyang sarili dahil ito na ang sakunang tinutukoy niya: ang mawalan ng pagkabuo ang isa't isa kapag may iba nang maghahawak ng kanilang sarili maliban sa kanilang sarili sa bisa ng nagpapaisang kasal. Hindi akalain ni Kierkegaard na mas malaking sakuna pala ang mahiwalay kay Regina dahil nawasak siya. Samakatuwid, si Regina ang nagpapabuo sa kanya dahil natututunan niya ang pagka-siya dahil sa pagbibigayan nila at pagtupad sa obligasyon. Sa pagsubok na makabalik siya sa piling ni Regina, natagpuan niyang sa nobya siya nagkakaroon ng pagkabuo kaya sa pag-uulit na ito ng kanilang pag-iibigan, mababago at mananariwa ang kanyang pagkatao. Dahil mabubuo siya sa piling ng nobya, ang buhay niyang nawasak ay magiging buhay na buhay pa rin ngayon at ang potensyal niya dati ay potensyal pa rin niya ngayon dulot ng pagkakataong mabuo sa pag-uulit. Lamang, hindi na siya makaulit sa panahong kasama niya si Regina kaya nga nanatili siyang wasak at naiwang prinoprotektahan ang kanyang sarili. Inakala niyang makabubuti silang magsipag-isa sa buhay ngunit mas nangailangan ng pag-uulit na magkasama.
Gusto kong makita ang sarili kong ganito rin ang pagkabuo gaya ng gusto ni Kierkegaard: na para mabuo, kailangan ng pag-uulit na natigil dahil sa isang pagkawasak. Nang ang dati kong kasintahan at ako ay naghiwalay, naramdaman kong tila isang bahagi ng sarili ko ang namatay, partikular na rito ang damdaming makatao na maging masaya dahil sa pagmamahal. Dahil sa pagbibigayan namin kaya kami nagkaroon ng kabuuan. Ngunit sa paghihiwalay namin, tila nabawasan ang ganoong kabuuan: wala nang kasiyahan, bagkus ay lungkot na lamang. Dahil hindi naman namin maaaring ipilit sa isa't isa ang aming mga sari-sarili, nanatili kaming hindi buo, nangangapa sa kaligayahan, hindi buong tao dahil hindi hinahayaan ang pag-uulit.
Ngunit hindi lahat ng pag-uulit ay kinakailangang sa parehong tao, dahil kung ganoon, malaking sakuna ang ipilit ko ang sarili ko sa kanya o ipilit ng sinuman ang sarili niya sa iba pa. Sa nauunawaan ko, ang pag-uulit na ito ay kinakatawan ng pag-uulit na magmahal muli, dahil kung ito ang pag-uulit na maaaring makabuo ng sarili ko, bakit hindi? Walang taong gustong mawasak ang kanyang sarili, lalo na ako na mas nakadarama ng kahulugan ng buhay kung buo ako. Kaya nga umulit ako ng pag-ibig, upang mas makita kong wala palang pinagkaiba ang buhay ko noong nagmahal ako noon at nagmamahal ngayon, na ang potensyal ko noon sa nakaraang relasyon ay umiiral ngayon sa bago kong relasyon. Sa bago kong pag-ibig ngayon, sariwa ang pag-uulit na maging buo dahil sa pag-uulit na ito nadama kong bago akong tao.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

the lotus in the lagoon

you pay homage to my lake world
all wise warnings you have ignored
these ripples sought by men before you
are collected tears impossible to hold
each dew-kissed satin petal
is as much a venom as ecstasy
to mortals who came of their own accord.
away with your hands--
your obsession stands no chance.
i allow you not to pluck me
much less touch my fragility.
i belong to this fluid sanctity--
be content in living twice removed
because beggars like you
never have the luxury of choice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

an analysis of five poems by tita lacambra-ayala

Tita Lacambra-Ayala is a poet who gets her inspiration from anything that she experiences, be it the environment, people, relationships, a trip out of town, or even Haagen Dazs ice cream. The word that we should take note of is “experience.” All writers, whether of fiction or poetry, are in certain degrees moved by the things that indeed transpired in their lives. As for the poet in focus, she only writes about things that she knows. The knowledge about things can be mined to fullness in the arts, as poets like Tita Lacambra-Ayala do. “One can write, strongly, clearly and comfortably on what is familiar, close and which you can feel.” (qtd. in Elizaga). This is precisely why she writes (and even paints) about nature and the domestic life. Living in Davao and encountering nature every single day, she is able to write several poems about the beauty and danger of the environment that surrounds her. Such qualities of nature were captured, for instance, in the poem Cactus, a poem chosen by no less than Philippine National Artist Jose Garcia Villa for inclusion in the landmark A Doveglion Book of Philippine Poetry. Being a mother of six children, she is also able to write about the everyday experiences of the youth, of domestic life, and of women. Apparently, she has lots of things to write about motherhood, being the mother of no less than performing artists Joey Ayala and Cynthia Alexander. All of these may be seen in several of her poems. They are a recurring theme in her poetry such that she knows the subject like the back of her hand. Change is a tricky subject to write, yet in Tita Lacambra Ayala’s poetry, it is seamlessly sewn in the poem’s fabric. This is a testament to her deft recognition of her poems' central concern: even change becomes a familiar subject to her. A touch of wittiness in her words brings about power yet subtlety in her poems, and this is what we will see in these five poems.
As revealed in the title, the focus of this poem is the cactus and the poem provides us a clear picture of the cactus and its situation. There is no mention of any other form of life in the poem. The cactus stands alone in a lake sand under the sun. Its characteristics were described as well. The thorns were thoroughly illustrated in the first stanza, as more exotic words were used. The second to the last stanza also states that the cactus is green, particularly “freshly green”, and it is even “juicy”. The whole imagery of the poem paints a vivid picture of the cactus and its surroundings.
The first thing that the speaker described is the thorns sticking out of the cactus’ body. Notice the manner of describing. The speaker tries to make us “understand” the situation that the cactus is in, by entreating us to pardon the cactus for its thorns. Also, notice the words used to describe the thorns (excuse, quills, attempt, and self-defense). The word choice was important at bringing about sympathy from the readers.
Observe the change in the choice of words for the second stanza. The words bleed, old, and fossil connote death. Instead of drawing sympathy from the readers, we are made to think that the cactus is of no use (we will notice later that this was refuted by the third stanza, as it says that the cactus is “not quite futile”).
The speaker’s choice of words for the fourth stanza makes her sound amazed about the ability of the cactus to live in a desert without any form of nutrition except for the sun. By adding side comments in parentheses, the astonishment of the speaker is further highlighted.
The speaker used “as if” in the last two lines. The catch of the poem in the last stanza is emphasized because of the repetition of words. Again, word choice and word order (having “as if” as the first two words of the two lines) create a different impact on the readers.
With the help of imagery and diction, the tone of the poem was further emphasized. We may actually notice that the stanzas were divided into the different tones in the poem. For every stanza, a prominent tone is seen, different from the tones of the previous stanzas.
There is a certain tone of politeness and pleading in the first stanza, again with the intention of grabbing sympathy from its readers. In the second stanza, the transition from a tone of pleading to a tone of melancholy surprises us. This shift in tone is like the act of self-defense, as if the speaker is trying to cover up the “guilt” of the cactus having thorns by mentioning its sad state. Another shift in tone occurs in the third stanza. After trying to convince us of the cactus’ unfavorable state, it tells us that the cactus is not that pointless. The tone of admiration in the fourth stanza surprises us, since we would not expect praises after signs of weakness, such as the thorns and fossil-like appearance. We can picture the speaker giving out a sigh if the last stanza was read aloud. The speaker feels that the cactus just tries to “deceive” by assuming superiority over the land, by being able to survive in spite of the desolate land it is in, even if in truth it does not live for anything else but just the barren desert.
However, the poem revolves mainly around irony.
The speaker uses “quills” to describe the thorns protruding from the cactus. This is ironic since the word “quills” is usually pictured as exquisite and gentle, while in reality thorns can prickle our skin and can hurt us easily. This irony was made to draw the attention of the readers, as it is also an attempt to draw sympathy from them. Again, this is ironic since no sympathy is needed. The cactus thrives in barren deserts where other creatures cannot. By using the word “excuse”, we can deduce that the speaker knows of the cactus’ thorns being undesirable.
By comparing the cactus to a fussy fossil, the comparison becomes ironic. A cactus is green and plump, and it would be very unlikely for anyone to compare it to a fossil—something dead and brittle. Because of this comparison, we realize that the speaker is dropping hints: the cactus is not exactly as hale and hearty as it seems to be.
The stanzas after the eleventh line are supposed to prove how the cactus is not so futile. However, we realize that that stanza did not prove anything about the cactus being beneficial to its surroundings. That long stanza only describes how the cactus can manage to survive on its own in a desert that has only “sun” and “sand”. This line was placed in the poem but there was no proof for it, making its presence ironic.
As the speaker personifies the cactus, we see irony in the lines “as if inspite of/ as if in fun.” After describing the cactus as strong and thriving, the tone of the speaker suddenly shifts as these lines conclude the poem. By creating this irony, more emphasis is given to the message implied by these last two lines. Contrary to the picture created by the poem in the second to the last stanza, we are told that it is still not “fun” to be in the desert even if the cactus is in good condition.
“Home is Where”
The long “I” sound in “wide” and “mind” in line 2, when pronounced, is always prolonged. This long sound gives us a sense of vastness, just as it describes love as wide as mind.
The very basic words “of”, “lost”, and “on” placed in one line to create assonance simply add beauty to the poem, and creates a smoother flow of the poem.
The two words, “feathers” and “bird”, can be very much associated to one another. This similarity of sounds in the middle creates an even closer relationship between the two words as it links not only their meanings, but also their sound.
We find two different sounds of one letter (I) in one line. The four words “binds”, “like”, “in”, and “skin” with two different “I” sounds are arranged alternately for playfulness and continuity to the line.
Even if the assonance of the poem may be detailed, this poem uses simple vocabulary. This is very appropriate because the poem is about the home, and at home no extravagance is needed. The home accepts you simply for who you are, without pretenses. However, there is one word that is not as elementary, since this word is needed for its message to be seen.
Of all the words to describe the situation, the speaker uses the word “illusion” and not fantasy or deception. After reading the subsequent lines of the second stanza, we realize that illusion should be used because indeed, an illusion is simply a mistaken idea, whereas fantasy is something that is not possible and deception is act of fooling. Illusion is the word most suited for this line.
Aside from the simple language used, there is a word order present in the poem. Each stanza aims to continue the “incomplete” title. Home is where—then what? Each stanza answers the title by giving its own visual interpretation of what a home is like.
The strength of the poem’s word order is complemented by the images provided. There is intensity in the first stanza as it provides us with strong statements. By having this stanza ahead of the other two, the speaker draws the emotion of passion from her readers at the very start of the poem. The imagery she used in this stanza shows the vastness and power of the love we experience at home, while it is from the imagery used that the similes are created to precisely show the extent of the lines.
The speaker of the poem emphasizes that it is at home where we experience love like no other. By using “quick” to describe love, we are immediately taken by the “quick” appearance of this word in the poem. As the speaker compares quick love to the mind, she is trying to say that love at home has no boundaries, just as the mind is free to explore.
These third and fourth lines are very powerful. It provides us with a concrete image of boats being sucked in by the sea. This imagery strengthens the description of love we experience at home. It is saying that this love is unconditional, as it “drowns” all the boats that are in it, so the home fills with love all those who occupy it and does not choose.
We notice that the next stanza’s imagery shifts from an intense picture to a fragile and delicate one. A bird that has not learned to fly is still young. It is only time that will give it the opportunity to have more feathers so that it can fly. Similarly, this imagery suggests that home is where we start and learn to build our dreams, so that when it is time for us to leave our homes and “fly”, we are already more capable of achieving these goals. As we are compared to the weak bird, we notice the importance of the home and its role in our formation.
The last stanza gives us a picture of safety and assurance. The imagery provided makes us visualize home as a safe haven. Having it bound to us like skin suggests that we will always feel safe in the boundaries of home, and that anywhere we go, we can still feel home is near. The last two lines feature nature. Just as home serves as our sanctuary, it is a place that we can always go back to, as naturally as flowers and green sepals. The speaker also used the image of a flower to describe the person because she is showing that we are delicate and that the green sepals (our homes) will protect us from being hurt.
“Poem for Veronica Grown Older”
As the speaker described what they used to do with Veronica, we are able to picture the two old friends that used to have the time of their lives by doing the most superficial things. The imagery produced by the words “bare feet, hair unset and de-banged” gives us a carefree feeling. By describing the scenery—roadless mushrooms, singing trees, and rusty trunk), we can imagine them being unconscious and unmindful of the people surrounding them, simply enjoying what they were doing.
There was no formality in the way the speaker addressed Veronica. She used conversational words in the poem, and we find out from line 8 to the last line that Veronica was the speaker’s childhood friend. They used to be very carefree and they actually shared their personal lives with one another. Evidence of this can be found in lines 8 to 12 and lines 15 to 16. This is why she was able to address Veronica very casually, using simple words that they both can understand. The choice of words (scented letters, mildewed diaries, and bandanna) also showed the close relationship they had before.
The words in the poem formed sentences, but the stanzas were not formed sentence by sentence. In fact, the sentences were cut irregularly. We see that it looks like it was written in a notebook, and that when the speaker reached the end of a line in the notebook, she would continue the rest of her sentence in the next line, and then the next again, and so on. This makes the poem look like a journal or diary entry.
The tone of the speaker also makes us conclude that the speaker is older than Veronica. It was emphasized that they were “like unpaired shoes worn by one pair of feet”, and by this she meant that the generation gap was not a problem when they were young but has become a problem now that they are adults already. The last line of the poem shows us that she is disturbed by how they drifted apart. The experiences that they had were very different, and this is largely due to the generation gap that they have.
Overall, there is an underlying tone of sadness and yearning. The speaker is sad that Veronica has outgrown the simplest things that used to make them happy, and their being carefree. Veronica is attached to the norms created by society, wherein women have to go to beauty parlors and dress up. The speaker is left behind to recall their happy moments together. She misses the old times they had together and actually wished that Veronica would look back on those times. The speaker continues to hope that Veronica will recall the memories that they had together. However, the speaker knows that it would be nearly impossible for this to happen.
We see this from the vivid description of Veronica, how she was before, and how she is now. She was once a very sweet and expressive girl, happy with every smile she saw and heartbroken with every sadness. However, she changed as she put more importance on her physical appearance, going to the beauty parlor and caring only for what she looks like.
“The Dragon”
We are given a vivid description of the dragon in the poem. With the conversation between the dragon and the speaker, we find out a lot about their personalities. We are also given a detailed picture of what is happening in the poem.
However, we do not see any description about the speaker of the poem. This is because happenings in the poem are told from the speaker’s point of view (a first person point of view). The only part of the poem that can give us details on the speaker is the answer she gives to the dragon. From these lines, we can deduce that she is a domestic woman, a wife with children.
The dragon is sitting in the basket chair, curling its tail, and smoking. His actions are also described. He tells the speaker to lower the volume of the radio, puffs out smoke, flexes his toe, and then begins talking. From this description, we know that the dragon is not literal and that it must be a representation of a man.
We are made to wonder why of all the representations the speaker could give to the man, she used the dragon. He offers to bring her to a place that she would surely enjoy, but then she calls him a dragon. We will be able to understand all this when we read the whole poem.
A dragon is a kind of monster. Ever since the olden times, people consider a dragon to be dangerous, since it can breathe fire and destroy things in a matter of seconds.
This is how the speaker sees the man to be. Through his speaking lines, we are able to paint a picture of his character. He tempts the speaker to leave her household duties for the pleasures that he would give her. He tries to convince her to go to some beautiful place with him. The words he used to describe the place make it very inviting and convincing.
The woman is of course tempted to join him, since the offer is very attractive and she is obviously tired from her duties at home. She wants a life different from what she has. However, she declines the invitation because she knows that her obligations are more important than the temporary pleasures the man can give her. Her way of answering the man makes us realize that she knows her priorities.
We can also see the contrast of the two characters in this poem. The man is seated comfortably in the chair, and is smoking lazily, puffing smoke as he observes the woman. He does not think of the obligations the woman has towards her home, but thinks only about what he wants. The man is selfish and apathetic towards her. On the other hand, the speaker is a stressed domestic woman burdened by the chores she has at home. The man is carefree and selfish because he just wants to satisfy his own pleasures, but the woman sacrifices her own desires and comfort for her home.
“The Flowers of Youth”
The whole poem gives us three kinds of images, separated by stanza. First is an imagery of nature, dying and withering. Second is of things collapsing and shattering. The third and last stanza provides an imagery of the act of mailing a letter. We shall go through these images one by one so as to be able to visualize the poem better.
The image of a young flower is provided in the title. We read the title of the poem and assume the poem will talk about a beautiful blooming flower. However, the first line of the first stanza immediately changes our impression of the poem as it gives a disturbing picture of a young flower wilting. The following lines even mention of buds not blooming, and of leaves falling. It is an unpleasing picture, and moreover there is a hint of irony. The adding of “of youth” to the title but associating it with wilting—gives the readers an unexpected change in the mental picture of the poem.
Personification is present in the second stanza, which emphasizes about loss of bearing in a bridge. The pieces of wood that make it up are split into pieces. They are “caught” by the rivers, and they are left to float and be carried by the current. This stanza mentions having the splintered wood like the boats drifting, only that we know boats always have a direction while the splintered wood doesn’t.
The first four lines of the third stanza provide us a break from imagery as abstract concepts like strength, weakness, memory, and time (hours) are mentioned; however, the last four lines have a very clear imagery—a small photograph like that of a stamp is on an important letter and is mailed far away. By showing a set of abstract concepts at the start of this stanza, and then shifting to a very concrete image of the act of mailing, there is a stress created on this action.
The “flowers of youth” do not only serve as an image. In fact, more than that, it serves as a symbolism not just of young girls, but of adolescents in general. A familiar theme of aging is de-familiarized by Tita Lacambra-Ayala by associating it to very almost completely unrelated images. Flowers of youth being linked to aging, the collapsing of the bridge personified, and the act of mailing as a symbolism for growing up are unusual and unexpected.
These young people are delicate, innocent, and carefree beings. They do not realize how fast time passes. Their unrealistic hopes and dreams soon decay, and this is when they realize that life is not a bed of roses. From having an idealistic view of life, these young people live just a little longer to become conscious of the challenges they have to go through to be able to achieve their goals, and they then realize that they have to face the harsh realities of growing up, and eventually, of adulthood.
Nature in the first two stanzas shows easiness, however, the last stanza provides a formality and sense of maturity as it talks about abstract concepts and sending of mail. Abstract concepts can be linked to the complicated philosophy of the real world, while the act of mailing represents the business world.
Notice that assonance was very helpful in bringing out the symbolism of this poem. The assonance is obvious and abundant in the first two stanzas (brown and around; grow, no, and unfold; their and bearings; float, so, and boats), but purposely omitted in the last stanza. The speaker provides a little playfulness in the start, as the poem shows a transition from adolescence to adulthood. By the time we reach the last stanza, we find no more trace of the playfulness of assonance. The finality of the last stanza and the omission of assonance create an impact on the message of the poem, and this is that young people will inevitably have to face the difficulties of adulthood.
These five poems of Tita Lacambra-Ayala speak about nature, life and realities for survival. With the organic characteristic of nature, indeed there is a time to live, and a time to die. The poems exuded this natural cycle of beginnings and ends and everything in between, with the poet using powerful imagery that point to nature as inherently recurrent—it dies, only to live. As a set, it speaks of its different aspects and phases of life. Nature may be organic, but it really depends on its capacity to survive to prolong its life, or the lack thereof to cut this life short. Also, these poems give a glimpse of core Filipino values and characteristics—that of love for the family, the important role of a home in preparing the young in its quest for independence, the realities of friendship, adaptability, survival skills, and self-sacrificing characteristics of Filipinos. These Filipino themes run Tita Lacambra-Ayala's poems because this is the way the West's Other may write back to the mainstream. It is already enough to use a colonial language for the poet to communicate her experience creatively and in her unique worldview; she feels it is her duty, through her passion for poetry writing, to convey the Filipino experience the way Filipinos understand themselves. It is, in a certain way, a reconstruction of the Filipino identity fragmentized by cyclical and violent colonization of the Other's Other.
In the poem “Cactus,” the author was actually talking about nature and its struggles of survival. It is being fertile amid the bareness of the sand and the mercilessness of the scorching sand, but that is more of an allegory for life. No matter where we are placed, we should know how to “live” by adapting to the environment and becoming useful, although doing so requires us to defend ourselves to survive. “Home is Where” depicts the reality of a home. It is where love is, where dreams are formed, and where we feel safe, so that when we are ready to fly, we can. The home is always there to welcome us anytime. As for the “Poem for Veronica Grown Older”, it speaks of a childhood friendship gone cold as the two characters matured differently, lived life differently, and had different priorities as compared to the simple joys and activities they both used to enjoyed. This again is a reality of friendships and of human nature. “The Flowers of Youth” speaks about the fleeting moments of youth. It is just another phase in life, an aspect of human life, a period of transition as we mature physically and emotionally. The lure of carefree domestic life in “Dragon” contrasts and conflicts with a young wife’s domestic troubles as opposed to a man’s less complicated life of not having to worry about kids as much as women do. This also personifies the opportunities and temptations in life. We need to make decisions that are difficult to arrive at, as it is about survival, choosing priorities, our wants (like a grand beach holiday), vis a vis our roles and responsibilities in life. In the end, it is the moral foundations and the convictions we have that guide us as we make our strong-willed decision of what we stand for.
All these poems and the themes they communicate are a testimony of the genius that Tita Lacambra-Ayala is. She may not be as well known as the major poets of the Philippine canon, partly because of her marginalized gender and the minoritized location of Philippine poems in English in the English-speaking Literary world. Nevertheless, the sincerity of her poetic reconstruction of human experience and her truthful rendition of the Filipino sensibility capture images of life in a refreshing manner. Her emotional strength capitalizes on her capacity to show worlds in miniature, and five examples of such worlds are found no less in her five poems.