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!"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

in galleria

i was goofing around in a mall looking over a crossroad famous for big rallies when i thought about eating chocolate cake. the elevator being filled to bursting and the escalators being miles and miles away, i descended the nearby flight of stairs to the food court. the two bake shops lamented that they ran out of what i demanded but i refused to give up, short of making a scene. the more my desperation for chocolate cake grew, the hungrier i got. as i mustered enough strength to locate yet another store, i realized why the universe threw me on that very spot that very moment: there L was, queuing to pay for some mango tarts. my heart did its wild tap dance, more when L looked my way and broke into a radiant smile. i found my chocolate cake. does he remember me, the person he was once introduced to in a party two summers ago? talk about serendipity...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

cyclical land injustice: a reflection on lupang hinarang

Banasi. Calatagan. Luisita. These haciendas have gained media mileage for quite sometime, owing to the owners’ non-recognition of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. While the lands are supposed to be awarded to the tenants who have farmed the haciendas for a couple of generations, the transfer of ownership remains elusive, like a dream that forever escapes reality.
This very case gets a film treatment in Ditsi Carolino’s Lupang Hinarang. Since the agrarian vision’s encounter with reality remains an impossibility for the Sumilao folks and by extension, all the hacienda workers, it might as well be captured onscreen to serve as a reminder to its audience today and in the future that what seems a daily fare populating the tri-media is actually a grave injustice not only to the poor tenants, but also to the Filipino people who have lived in a culture of oppression since colonial times. Never mind if there are not many viewers who will find time to sit down and experience vicariously the bitterness of agrarian defeat; if it gets immortalized in film there is a chance that the tiny band of watchers sometime soon will be so moved as to make the appropriate action due the farming folks.
For now, the land stays as the lupang hinarang, barred from the access of the very people who spend all their lives just so the land and the individuals that benefit from it will survive. The agrarian reform law might have transformed the land into a lupang hinirang, but the chosen land in principle is miles away from application. Sure there are complaints flying all over (hence the media coverage of the injustice), but they were ignored until the deadline for land conversion nearly expires and it becomes too late to do damage control. As a result, the beloved land in the national anthem seems more distant than ever to these farmers who generally suffer in silence.
The Bible assures that blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. But when?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


As far as my memory can remind me, I have never been one to lose touch with my faith in God, not even when family, academic or personal plights seem too unbearable if others were in my shoes. Optimism always reigned in my system, until that fateful twilight when a car accident almost cost my life, to think that right before the mishap occurred, I just came out of a mass celebration.
It was one of those occasions when the whole family went out to hear mass, so all of us trickled out of the house of God nourished with His good news and with our respective faiths renewed. Repairing to the lot where our van was parked, I sat next to the driver’s seat while the rest of the family planted themselves behind my elder brother and me. As our vehicle approached a blind intersection, a speeding car abruptly loomed into view and it was too late for my brother to swerve to safety. A loud thud accompanied the car crashing against the van’s front, and I was jerked out of my seat and against the glass in front. Apart from the headache and swollen temple resulting from the collision, nothing proved too critical to merit medical attention, thankfully. We still proceeded home where my mother frantically treated my bumped head with an ice pack.
The moment the accident happened, time seemed to have stood still, for I vividly remember having felt mixed emotions right after the two vehicles smacked against each other. I felt enraged that a car should be so careless as to run along a blind intersection at a mad pace—it takes another screeching car opposite its direction to generate a freak accident complete with casualties. I also felt fright because any closer and I and my family would have looked death in the face and blinked fatally. Ultimately, I felt sad that the mishap should happen just when my family basked under God’s celebration of blessings. These negative emotions led me to grow dubious about my faith in God—why should it happen to His devoted daughter, whereas I was about to carry on His instruction of spreading the Gospel and of being blessed to others? I thought that I deserved better than experiencing such an ugly happening. I even thought that more people deserved that, from the erring driver of the other vehicle to other desperadoes whose lives may vanish from this earth and no one would even notice or care. Not my life, I pondered, not this life that’s worthy of living.
It must have been the dizziness I soon recovered from which brutalized me with such cruel thoughts, for when my mental processes turned sober, I had to apologize to God repeatedly for what I believe was an infidel’s phase. It was rather late for me to realize that the event could have been part of the divine plan of testing how fortified my faith has grown. I got reminded of the lay ministers whose weight of temptation on their shoulders practically whitened their hairs, and of other pious individuals whose life trials are more complicated than my own tribulations. It came to me that the accident right after the mass could be a way for me to practice what was preached at God’s house—to spread love, even to those who could have killed me, directly or indirectly. More importantly, it was my duty not to question God’s designs, for it hit me that the accident did not take my life in order for me to relish another chance at living, another opportunity to share my blessings to my family and to others long before I will not be able to because God’s gift of life has given up on me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

la frontera

sometimes, what english majors see as pinoys' glaring errors in the colonial language may actually manifest a subversive side. caribbean stories with native characters mouthing off broken english have done it; paolo manalo's jolography has a brilliant take on it. anyhow, these domestic rental ads were posted (but eventually removed--somebody must have gotten the message) in an overpass connecting the state university and the iglesia ni cristo central church. postcolonial feminism ito, gloria anzaldua.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

beauty judge, second time around

i was again invited to judge in a high school beauty pageant somewhere in my neighborhood. i'm wondering whether or not the organizers ever found out my ambivalent take on beaucons, but something in my personal profile--probably the entry on socio-cultural criticism--won over their urge to cancel the invitation altogether. meanwhile, i accepted upon the agreement that it will not match or even outdo the catatonia-inducing length of time of the latest tilt i appeared in. i was assured that it won't; in fact, the organizers had the brilliant idea of splitting the program in two parts, the pre-pageant being that day and the finals having been set two weeks from now.
i arrived just in time so i didn't get to enjoy the opportunity to buzz my fellow judges in the cheek. to begin with, i don't know any one of them. which is such a bummer: i noticed, upon the introduction of the board of judges, that seated next to me was a cute starlet who has speaking lines in some independent films. i asked which films he appeared in, and he bashfully admitted that my ignorance of the titles he had mentioned might be largely due to the fact that they were being produced for a foreign audience. aray. neocolonial commodification ito.
anyway, the pre-pageant was held in a makeshift stage that called to mind mutya ng barangay beauty quest locations, the ones adorned with tarpaulins bearing local politicians' reminders of the forthcoming elections. however, seeing the young male and female contestants in their made-up selves, i could surmise that their transformation from budding flowers to ravishing beauties must be tremendous. the female bets were elegant in their choices of dresses, while the male bets looked rather mature for their age, and that's a compliment. i'm looking forward to a more spectacular finals night on the 31st.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

on being cruised

The sweetness of sugar apples
Refreshes in my memory
With your smile and the scent of your body
While in the pallor you stand shirtless,
Silent as starlight,
Oblivious of brazen hands
Tugging at your towel.
My mind travels,
And as I return to climbing trees
I take the corner you desert,
Feeling the surfaces you’ve touched
To revive the seasoned fruit,
Sensing your wafting fragrance
To relish again an atis’ pulp,
Enduring our distance
To escape a fatal fall
For you come closer to my dream
Than reality can ever call.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the cost of economic imperialism

One case of the hidden cost of economic development in the Philippines is the onslaught of white men’s disease such as chicken pox, cholera and dysentery, which the foreign invaders have brought from their land of origin during the time of colonization. This is most especially true to the Americans, whom Filipinos regard as the most economically influential colonists of the country, what with the multinational investments made by renowned U.S. companies like Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and the like. These industries likewise wreak havoc to the environment by polluting the air with industrial exhaust, poisoning the waters with waste by-products, and depleting the land’s nutrients by dumping toxic trash. The country must be benefiting with the big taxes these corporations pay the government, but this benefit is far outweighed by the sanitary and ecological problems that went along with the arrival of the foreign investors. While there are damage control measures undertaken by those so-called agents of progress like becoming increasingly ecologically-conscious and spearheading environmental campaigns like sewage cleaning, the Philippines should not be forced-fed into assimilating transformations in most of its conventional lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

rewriting chocolate war

The following day, when one of The Vigils reported to Archie that Jerry casually detached his notice of chocolate sale assignment and threw it onto the waste bin, Archie sought for Jerry. Bursting with anger at such defiance but effecting a composed disposition, the bully found him at the locker room and warned him with just one sentence: “Dare, and you’ll see.” Jerry shuddered at the implication of the warning, but there was no way of backing out. He decided last night that he could not be sheepishly made to do something he did not like. That was a bad as just existing, not living: having his own life but actually having others like Archie live it for him. Why, it can take even just one man to change the universe of The Vigils, and he was certain he could muster up enough courage, as when he endured the football tryout. One man changing the universe: he felt it made tremendous sense to sustain his decision now. A public call was issued about Brother Leon ’s announcement of the chocolate sale program, and Jerry resolved to say “No” in spite of all hell breaking loose.
Indeed, all hell broke loose after he said “No” to Brother Leon back in the Trinity Hall. He was waiting for a ride home later in the afternoon when Emile, the bully who siphoned off the gas from Carlson’s car’s gas tank, joined him at the waiting shed. Then, another member of The Vigil. And another. He felt terribly uneasy that the bullies of The Vigil were now crowding the area, and he wished a commuter bus would arrive. Finally, when Archie joined them all in the shed, two members held him in both arms, determined to keep him even as he desperately tried to squirm loose. The bus sped off even as he shouted for help, and the disturbing trouble which last night loomed in his imagination while weighing his go-or-no-go options, was bound to become a reality now.
“Why do this to me?” he addressed Archie, images of The Vigil’s notoriety flashing before his mind. He was reminded of Brother Eugene’s crashing room, and he felt sorry that it was his turn to be unscrewed now. A punch jabbed at his stomach, and the battered feeling he got during his initial tryouts at the football varsity returned with the familiar horror. “This is what stubborn people deserve when they defy the will of The Vigil,” calmly said Archie, his characteristic coolness enveloping him. Another jab made him feel like vomiting, and it was as if he was still trapped in the football field brawl. A thrashing in his ribs made his breathing difficult, and two subsequent punches brought him back at the football ground, his coach muttering cusswords in the person of Archie and his ilk. He envisioned himself at the hospital right after this awful confrontation, bones all broken and body wrapped mercilessly in plaster, his father doubling in grief after this dreadful incident came at the heel of his mother’s demise.
Jerry could not physically escape his present plight, so he might as well take his mind off the pain, the anguish he was undergoing at the moment. The routine of life merits that a person, despite the torment and the sorrow and the hardships just like this current mauling by The Vigil, has to go on living no matter what. He torturously looked away from the beating, the sun already untraceable in the horizon, darkness overpowering the last streaks of daylight. “Nobody said defiance was any easy,” Jerry thought; he could use more courage, could use being more of a man: to stand up after a fall, holding back tears, feeling stronger although weakening inside. They can’t kill me, he assured himself, what won’t kill me makes me stronger. Dare to change the universe, he repeatedly thought to himself, while all balled fists were upon him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the political dimension of the elgins marble debate

While the debate of whether to return the Elgin Marbles to Athens or to retain them in London is a largely socio-historical matter, it can also be read as a political one. It must be remembered that the states involved have stakes to care about, which will be sustained or missed depending on how the power relation between Great Britain and Greece will yield a decision affecting the ownership of the classical relics.
In comparison, Greece is a less developed country as opposed to Great Britain, which belongs to the First World. It may be that Greece was the center of Ancient Western civilization, but the glorious days are now gone. As a country with a struggling economy, Greece may be questioned over its capacity to keep the cultural heritage of the past intact. It may be the rightful owner of these relics, but could the concerned Greek museum’s state-of-the-art technology match that of its British counterpart for the safeguarding of the world’s classical works of art?
Meanwhile, Britain’s economic capacity and touristic accessibility may overshadow the accusation that the Marbles were illegally obtained. These political advantages, however, cannot be helped being interpreted as Britain’s powerplay over a comparably inferior rival. Just because Britain can maintain what Greece cannot itself restore from the ruins, it is already accorded temporary ownership of the collection. What about the Greek sentiment of having been robbed of its artistic self?
The political issue surrounding the Elgin Marbles debate will never die down unless power struggle gets struck down from this European cultural crisis.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

the only instance to favor cha-cha

“Completing the Picture of Cha-Cha” is a return to the 1987 constitution, assessing the current proposals for a shift in government form, completing the picture and fetching possible responses. The review of the existing supreme laws of the land reveals its unique features such as economic nationalism, social justice, separation of powers and the like to be somewhat flawed. Thus, the parliamentary and federal forms of government are being evaluated for their viability as substitute for the current presidential form. As it is, charter change is a serious responsibility that entails long discussions by convention participants, extensive consultation with the Filipino electorate, a reasonable critique, preparation for a building of general opinion, and founded on the fundamental knowledge of the most number of Filipinos possible. The probable responses include education, awareness raising, debates and discussions, concerned Filipinos hindering politicians from pursuing their naked motives through manipulation of deliberations and constitutional amendments in lieu of radical revision.
The article merits a commendation for delving into a subject that will favor the average Filipino. I dare say that indeed, not all Filipinos know a substantial deal regarding the charter, much less recognize the benefits and implications of the basic laws of the country in their civil lives. It greatly fascinates me to be living in a very interesting time when a major change in our government structure provides a variety of possible improvements in the lives of the Filipinos in general. The study of options representing other government forms and the benefits which may be derived from them creates a leeway to analyze if indeed, we need cha-cha to alter our civil lives. There seems to be more fuss about cha-cha today unlike in previous years, so there also seems a consensus that a shift in government is acceptable if only to improve our living just for once. If experts see the constitution as riddled with mistakes, then it is for the better if they propose amendments which we, the people, will approve through an non-railroaded constituents’ assembly.
It is recommended that a charter change be considered if only because the 1987 constitution is increasingly becoming obsolete and we cannot afford to follow laws that will further embed us in degenerative idealism and historical impracticality. The study of structural alternatives must be put to prime so that the presidential form of government, if in any way less pragmatic, may be changed. Also, self-serving politicians should be cautioned for fear that they pervert the deliberation of cha-cha to their advantage. Seeing the whole scenario helps in pinpointing what aspects of our laws must be rectified and the democracy that we are should remain vigilant in order to safeguard our rights and freedoms, for which the constitution exists to begin with.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

from x to your desk

You now receive tailor-made essays from a relatively unspecified source. You get bewildered why you are the only subject of all these compositions, as if you are the sole rich attention-drawing specimen there is. Maybe you are dead sure, you are truly the lon alive reason for the eloquent words you, your dorm mates and classmates constantly browse from the wee morning hours until midnight. You might turn out to be the beautiful, inspiring world around which the lingering sight of the anonymous author seriously resolves.
You formulate wild clues regarding where the expositions hail from besides the official carriers Kuyas Wacks and Bojo, two of your USSC acquaintances. You discount the inkling that these have descended from the high heavens, and your classmate Romualdo’s brother has tumbled upon them by chance. Likewise you scarcely entertain the concept that your kalalawigan Kuya Bojo has craftily woven them himself, you being English-proficient than he is. Well, they can’t either have flowed out of the dorm water tank’s canals then have darted straight into the lavatory, quite implausible. You then cling to the solid fact that someone makes then somewhere in the University, highly presuming the fountainhead to be within the USSC Office confines.
“Hmm…Could Tere have initiated the writings?” you query yourself, basing your hypothesis under the ground that Tere has a feverish desire to become your resident phone pal. “That’s one difficult maze to untangle,” you simply relieve the notion, since Tere singly resorts to the secret (sic) admirer she claims herself to be who allegedly dwells in the uncharted telecommunications dimension. Needless to declare, you freely junk Tere’s possibility of punishing herself even worse through burning your dorm’s cable simultaneous to winning you as her regular paper subscriber.
You pass up the suspicion on Chairman Glen, Kuya Joy, Pre, Cani or GH—they are perfect strangers to your system. Similarly you dismiss the opinion that the coveted eggs in your Easter Hunt certainly represent any of the five other unmentioned councilors—Tony, Tina, Bien, Ron and Cesario—but with the last. You have yet to meet the first four, meanwhile you got introduced to Cesario one August evening of 1999. Is he the unknown?
Mystery deepens so you must delve more into the pitch-black abyss.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

up-d sightings

after meeting my essay coach who possesses this reliable midas' touch (for she continues the streak of making her student trainees win championship trophies in regional competitions), i went to fetch my gay colleague at the bus terminal. i convinced him to promenade first in elegant gateway, but he chose to cruise the up-diliman campus instead. since most of his adult years were spent in the lovely los baños campus, i thought that it would do him good for me to tour him around my pamantasang hirang. it happened that apart from my staple blackforest shake, skewered chicken entrails (read: isaw), pancit canton toppings and such, we would be treated to several other goodies for patiently sashaying the grandstand area, the shopping center, the sunken garden and, yes, the graduation site behind dear, old oble.:)

Friday, July 03, 2009

ibong adarna: isang alternatibong pagtatapos

At sa gayun nga ay isinumpa ni Haring Salermo ang nagtanang magkasintahan para makalimutan ni Don Juan si Donya Maria. Habang papatakas ang dalawa sakay ng matutuling simaron, sumungit ang panahon, nagsalimbayan ang kulog at kidlat, bumangis ang hangin at yumanig ang lupa tanda na nagkakabisa na ang sumpa ng inulilang hari. Lalo pang binilisan ng magkasintahan ang paglayo mula sa engkantadong kaharian nang mapansin nilang isang kulumpon ng ulap ang sumusunod sa kanila. Sa wakas ay naabutan sila ng ulap at nag-anyo itong si Haring Salermo.
"Sa ngalan ng namayapa mong ina, sundin mo ang utos ko, Maria, na iwan ang lalaking iyan at manahing mag-isa ang kaharian," dagundong ng boses ng hari mula kung saan sabay sa pagbuka ng bibig ng hugis-taong ulap.
"Sa ngalan ng pag-ibig, Amang Hari, hayaan ninyo akong maging masaya sa piling ng lalaking pinakaiibig ko. Hindi ko kailangan ng alinmang yaman sa daigdig hangga’t kapiling ko si Juan," sagot naman ng prinsesa, na hindi natilihan sa pagpapausad sa kabayong hindi nabagabag ng paglindol ng lupa.
Ang ulap na sumusunod sa magkasintahan ay dahan-dahang lumapag sa lupa at nag-anyong pagkaganda-gandang dalagang sakay ng nagdudumaling puting olikornyo. Sumabay ito sa magkasintahan at nang masilayan ni Don Juan ang mahiwagang binibini, nahumaling agad ang kanyang puso. Dulot ng kung anong salamangka ay hindi hamak na mas kaakit-akit ang dalagang umusbong kung saan kaysa kay Donya Juana. Animo ito isang bathalumang inianak ng araw sa kaputian ng kutis, ng hangin sa kayumian ng kilos, at ng tubig sa mala-aparisyong pagsipot sa mundo sakay ng tumatakbong nilalang ng mito. Nagsikip ang paghinga ng binata sa humahangang pagkamangha sa panaginip na kaalinsabay nila ngayon sa pagtakas ni Donya Maria, na inusbungan ng panibugho pagkaramdam na kumagat sa maalindog na pain ng ama ang nililiyag niyang prinsipe.
"Nililinlang ka lamang ng mahika ni Ama, Don Juan!" puno ng alarmang sigaw ni Donya Maria.
Tila napatda pa si Juan ng may tumawag sa kanya ng bunog pamilyaridad. Paglingon niya ay hindi man lang niya mapagsino si Donya Maria! Lubos siyang naakit sa bagong litaw na dalaga.
"Sino ka ba? Paano mo ako nakilala?" walang muwang na usisa ni Don Juan kay Donya Maria habang patuloy sa pagpapatakbo ng kabayo sa gitna ng dalawang nangakabayong mga binibini. Anumang pilit na paalaala ni Donya Maria ay hindi niya mabasag ang bisa ng sumpa ng ama sa kasintahan, kaya nanggagalaiting inipon ni Maria ang lahat niyang kapangyarihan, handang makipagsagupa sa dalagang nang-agaw ng pansin ng kanyang minamahal. Batid niyang kung magagapi niya ito sa isang pagtutuos ng kapangyarihan sa kapangyarihan, maibabalik ang alaala ni Don Juan. May ngiti naman sa labi ang mahiwagang dalaga pagkabasa ng nasa isip ni Donya Maria, at bilang pagtanggap sa hamon ay nagpatihabol ito sa kanya. Ang nalilito naming binata ay hindi ibig mawalay sa luwalhating ibinibigay ng mahiwagang binibini, kaya pinasundan niya sa kanyang kabayo ang olikornyong kinasasakyang ng dalaga. Samantala naman ay tila bulkang sasambulat na sa isa’t isa ang kanya-kanyang mahika ng dalawang dalaga.
Nagbatuhan ng makulay na liwanag sa isa’t isa ang mga babae at nagpatingkad sa luwalhati ng paligid ang pagsalpukan ng kanya-kanyang kapangyarihan. Patuloy pa rin sila sa pagpapatakbo sa sinasakyang mga hayop ngunit naghahagisan pa rin sila ng malakidlat na liwanag, na hindi naman hinahayaang tumama sa kanya-kanyang katawan. Kapwa sila nakakaiwas sa hirit ng kalaban, at makaraan ang dalawang oras ng digmaan ng mga liwanag at sagitsit ay wala pa ring malinaw na nakalalamang. Mataman namang nakamasid lang si Don Juan na lubhang nagitla sa pambihirang sagupaan ng dalawang mala-bathaluman upang makialam pa at itigil ang away. Napasa-istratehiya ni Donya Juanang patamaan ng kanyang kapangyarihan ang nag-iisang sungay ng olikornyo, at sa pagdapo ng malabahagharing kidlat mula sa mga palad ng dalaga patungo sa sungay ng maalamat na kabayo, nagunaw ito at sabay na naglaho ang mahiwagang dalaga at kabayo. Tila naman nagising mula sa malalim na pagkakahimbing si Don Juan, na nang masilayan si Donya Juana ay nagbalik ang katinuan.
"Mahal kong Juana!" bulalas ng binata palapit sa hapung-hapong dalaga.
"Don Juan, giliw ko!" sagot ni Juana, na lumakas ang loob nang makilala na siya ni Don Juan. Nagyakap sila nang mahigpit, at sa dako ng papalubog na araw ay pinatakbo nila, magkahawak-kamay, ang kanya-kanyang kabayo.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

the evil of human trafficking

Human trafficking is the contemporary version of old-time slavery. It still involves the master-slave setup, only that it gets updated in the form of syndicated rings-victims. Notwithstanding the modern form, it remains true to its ill motive: to exploit people at their own expense.
Human trafficking operates in order to produce money out of its victims. It transcends national and international borders if only to make maids, industrial workers, or even prostitutes in their slaves. They are made to work, but their salaries go to their traffickers. At times, they work for free, because their traffickers are their own bosses.
Human trafficking denies its victims their basic human rights. Apart from the right to gainful employment, other rights that get violated include those of life, liberty and property, of privacy, of free speech, among others. As such, not to mention their current condition, the victims are treated inhumanely. Their humanity has been stolen, and their abductors are their culprits.
Filipinos are not exempted from this violation. Every year, many Filipino women and children and a few Filipino men are coerced into joining other nationalities from mostly Third World countries in becoming victims of human trafficking. They are forced to perform subhuman labor conditions, form prostitution to sweatshop work to factory employment. They hazard their lives working for employers who give them little or no compensation.
Human trafficking is a serious crime against humanity. Thus, concerted efforts must be done in order to prevent people from getting victimized by syndicates. People must be vigilant so that they will not fall prey to human trafficking rings. They should not hesitate to report this crime to the authorities. Meanwhile, the police should be able to protect the people by employing their full force in order to crush syndicates. When the government and its citizens will cooperate against human trafficking, there is a chance for making this world a less dangerous place to live in.