Saturday, March 31, 2007

Look at Ducat

Last Wednesday, 56-year-old philanthropist/civil engineer, Armando “Jun” Ducat, held hostage 26 children and four teachers from the day care center which he himself owned. The hostage crisis, as reporters called it, ran for about ten hours. It wasn’t unplanned. Ducat chose the perfect people to hold captive, the perfect place to stage his scene, the perfect ammunition to intimidate the authorities, the perfect banner to explain what he was doing, and the perfect speech to deliver his exact message.

Now Ducat is in jail for going nuts from 9 AM to 7 PM last March 28, 2007. The Palace seemed to imply that Ducat has embarrassed our country with his strong conviction and faulty execution. He threatened the lives of innocent children whose parents trusted him, no matter if he ensured that the kids get their toys and Jolly Kiddie Meals the whole time he held them captive. Unarmed and off the spotlight, Ducat is sentenced to pay for his debatably terroristic move.

The government reprimanded the media for being too involved in the crisis, for meddling in the negotiations, for giving Ducat the voice that he wanted, and for letting the mad assailant come out as a hero. The media overdid their part but that’s what they do these days, isn’t it? I wonder why the Palace doesn’t scold the media for overexposing irritating senatorial wannabes, the likes of whom Ducat especially enrage against?

Almost everyone related to Ducat had their few minutes of fame during the span of the hostage. None said anything against him. In fact, everyone was giving testimonials of praise as to how great a man Ducat is, how he helps people in need, how he gives to his community without hesitation, how he uttered that morning his intention to fight for the mahihirap. It has become a bit difficult to think badly of the day’s supposed antagonist.

The truth is, Ducat didn’t need money for he himself had wealth. He was insisting that the children who were with him in the bus and others more be ensured of proper education. He was demanding a housing project, not for himself, but for the less fortunate. And the whole time, he was ranting about rotten politicians and how much of a connoisseur they can be when it comes to graft and corruption.

As reported in PDI’s front page last Thursday, “Ducat’s spiel was both pathetic, hilarious and painfully true.” [BLOGGER’s NOTE: Can somebody explain to me what the “both” is doing in that sentence?] I couldn’t agree more. And while listening at the head-drilling sound of the AM radio in the office, I could not help but find great resemblance between Ducat’s passion and that of the old guy in Rizal’s novel whom we all know as Pilosopo Tasyo. Then I got home to see Ducat’s 7-PM-get-glued-to-your-seat-yet-anticlimactic surrender. And what do you know? Ducat did look like Pilosopo Tasyo!

What Ducat did was inarguably crazy. No question about that. However, he did us all a favor. He did what most of us felt like doing at one point in our lives—maybe while checking our tax deductions on our pay slips, or while finding ourselves stuck in a queue in a hostile government agency, or while being trapped in any possible frustrating situation in our own country. The thing is, Ducat had a point which majority of us share, but he was the only one bold enough to find a way to get it across.

Maybe I am suffering from the so-called Stockholm syndrome for admiring Ducat—the bad guy, the terrorist. But with what he did, fighting for the overlooked rights of most Filipinos in a creative way he could muster then having the decency to face the consequence of his actions, I find him more ballsy than anyone holding office in today’s government. Even gutsier than Chavit Singson and Bong Revilla who both owe him the media mileage he provided—the former for his senatorial candidacy and the latter for his acting career.

Ducat could have stayed at home for the whole of Wednesday. Then no kid’s or teacher’s life would have been threatened, no embarrassing media frenzy—both local and global—would have commenced, no interruption for Manila’s business would have taken place, no tough day for the police and everyone who were part of the crisis management group would have happened.


Had Ducat stayed at home, no one would have exposed that no matter how good we are at trying to be nonchalant about it, we are in a crisis. Our kid’s, our teacher’s, and our people’s lives are constantly at risk. We get bad publicity here and abroad every now and then. Business in Manila and the rest of our cities get disrupted for various reasons, mostly pathetic ones. We have such thing as the police and a crisis management group which should have a tough day considering that our crime rate is, well, far from zero.

We all did this. We and the government defamed our own country one way or another just by looking after ourselves, not after our nation as a whole, in pursuing our dreams. We are all guilty. And the funny part is, Ducat might have absolved himself from the guilt we all share by rising above us, by magnifying the hostage crisis we inflicted our own country.

We need not go as extreme as Ducat and run amok. God, that will make Ducat’s efforts futile! Ducat shouldered the hard part for us. Perhaps we all just have to wake up. That way, last Wednesday’s issue will be last Wednesday’s issue. And Ducat would be able to go back to bed without having to plan his fourth hostage just to make sure we won’t forget.

I guess it is about time we look at not just Ducat but ourselves in order for us to move forward.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Brief TMNT Splurge

From last week’s eight-pack “abed” Spartans, I went out tonight to see four-pack “tummied” turtles. This is how I placed watching TMNT to a berk: pang-celebrate yon sa lipas nang kabataan nating mga manggagawa. And true enough, it felt like a Friday night in the early 90s and I am tuned in to channel 2—the TV station which used to serve the animated series starring four heroes in a half shell exuding turtle power.

Like normal kids do, I claimed my own mutant turtle teenager ninja . “Akin si Raphael,” I used to say. I can’t remember how I ended up “owning” that turtle with the red band and a pair of forks. Funny thing there is that apart from his name, color and weapon, I no longer recall anything much about him. I knew Leonardo was the leader of the dudes, Michaelangelo was the funny dude and Donatello was the techie dude, but I have zero recollection about my dude.

It is enlightening to watch some of my childhood heroes with my 26-year-old brain—assuming my cerebral hemispheres are in synch with my biological age—as compared to watching them with my pre-teen brain. I now appreciate the turtles' psyche in a “real world” light. I end up finding out, too, why I was drawn to my turtle. I somehow identified myself to Raphael because he is me, minus the vigilante gig, of course. I shall not expound on what I have just shared because as it is, I know that self-searching is a lame way of watching a movie, let alone reviewing it. Let’s just say, I wanted my instant thought to go on record. That’s all.

It is the second day for TMNT so I will keep potential moviegoers in suspense. No spoiler from me this time around. Allow me to say, though, that seeing the teenage mutant ninja turtles hop around and kick ass were both entertaining and nostalgic, at least for me.

Let’s just see how it does in its opening weekend. And oh, by the way, please do stay for the closing credits. TMNT is a full-length animated movie. I believe it is but proper to sit through the names of the talents that made this movie possible. Who knows what entertainment you’d get? Probably spotting the names “Jebb Ng” and “Peter Pang” would do you good, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Read on to digest the meat of this piece

I ended up taking a stroll under the bright half moon (Or was it quarter? No I think it was 1/3. Is there a 1/3 moon?) at a little past 8:45 PM, after my failed attempt to get rid of my hair. Do salons really close that early? What if a woman gets depressed, say midnight, where will she run to? And I thought I lived in a town of a city that almost never sleeps.

Several barber shops were open but I wasn’t about to enter one especially since I was wearing a pink shirt. Now that I think about it, I think it was the same shirt I was wearing when some weird schizo texted me that he had a crush on me which was sooo a high school thing to do considering that we were in college. Not just any college. I’m talking UP. And in my UP voice, I couldn’t help but utter to myself, aloud, “P#tang *na, sabi ko na! Hindi ako dapat nagpipink.” He was the same weird schizo who texted one night, “Sumilip ka sa bintana. Ang ganda ng moon.” The poor guy who wanted to share the moon’s beauty didn’t know I lived in a bat cave made of marble with windows that weren’t designed for moon gazing.

So I was in my pink shirt under the pretty moon feeling restless. I seem to be in a restless mode a lot these days. There’s that perennial problem with family which I think I can handle, fairly. Then there’s me which I’ve been trying to handle for, oh, as long as I’ve been alive. It’s not that I’m giving up. Nor am I going to break. I’ve come to realize that it’ll take a lot to shatter me. Well it’s either some “lot” or my hormones. Whichever way, it won’t be easy.

But sometimes the “we” and “me” problems, when interwoven, can make an almost indestructible someone neurotic. Neurotic enough to decide to get a haircut at almost 9 PM. To aggravate the situation, the lady with whom I entrust my hair, not to mention eyebrows, had fled the country to search greener pasture elsewhere. No home grooming service for me this time around. God bless her.

Yes, you think some things just happen on TV. Then it happens to you. So you realize it sucks. TV is paid big bucks for making tragedies whereas you, you have to gather big bucks to prevent a tragedy from happening.

I don’t have to sulk for the reality that my brother needs a bone marrow transplant to sink in. It has penetrated my every neuron such that even when I’m pooping, it’s all I think about. Sometimes I just have to detach myself thus explaining my occasional spacing out. You know, staring into nothing, sporting a blank mind, not sleeping.

But then of course I have to become proactive sometimes and find ways to help save my brother’s life. The procedure will cost around 3.1 million pesos when done in a highly recommended hospital in Singapore. The huge amount is exclusive of the minimum of one month post transplant care and the cross matching which, as we gathered, will cost P13,000.00 per person—that’s 13K for the recipient and another 13K for every potential donor. I’ve checked with my health care provider. They are not backing me up in my noble reason for volunteering to have my bone drilled and have my marrow sucked. They assured me, however, that they will take care of me when I’m ill. But apparently they don’t give a damn about my family which is weird because my family is a huge chunk of me. It is one of the systems that make me whole. If one of my family gets into trouble, I am as good as ill. I wonder how my health care provider will take care of me then.

We don’t have a hundred thousand pesos in our bank account and now we need more than 3 million. Now I implore myself to think of ways to get rich.

An available option is winning the jackpot in the lottery. Which is unlikely to happen. The probability that I will find a man whom I can stand and who can stand me in return is bigger than me winning the lottery. And me getting a man of my own is next to impossible so you can just imagine how worse the lottery thing is.

A possibility which I am seriously considering is applying as a sultan’s concubine. Maybe Brunei’s sultan would want to add me to his collection. I wouldn’t mind becoming his slave because at this point, I need his gold. I know Bill Gates is richer than him now but I don’t think Bill Gates practices concubinage—in the old fashioned sense of the word. The wealthy geek may engage in one-night stands after all he is an American. I don’t think he keeps his women though.

OK, I can save my salary for the transplant cost but with what I make now, I’m afraid that it’ll take me around 20 years. That is, if I get my salary whole—no deductions whatsoever. Or I can get a new job, probably as a CEO of a certain company. I can be paid 1M per month. Then I will be able to raise the money we need in three months and a few days. I am just not sure if anyone in his right mind will hire me as a CEO given the credentials found on my resume.

Writing a book and selling it would take a very long time and the pay would undoubtedly be not that big. The same may go with writing a screenplay. Either of which, I’m too preoccupied to do. If I am lucky, I can be famous on both endeavors but definitely not rich.

I can appeal to politicians and foundations. Maybe they will pay attention to my cause. But politicians are too busy these days. The campaign season is at its peak; politicians’ priorities and pork barrel share are concentrated on them winning, not on them helping their constituents. I don’t think they’d be able to give me their precious time as of the moment. As of the foundations, I guess I have to start writing to them.

A bright idea I came up with is what I would call “People Power for Nichi”. It is easy really. Except for the fact that I will be begging individuals to spare me P500 each. And the even harder part is, I have to gather 6,200 individuals who are willing to dish out their hard-earned P500 just so I can raise the sum of money needed for Nichi’s treatment.

At this point, I really am serious. My “People Power for Nichi” might work. Besides, it is more decent than me selling myself to Brunei’s sultan, not that he is sure to want me but that’s besides the point.

OK I am going to beg people within my circle and those who’d extend up to my sixth-degree reach. And maybe I could touch strangers, too. I wouldn’t limit myself in begging Filipinos. I’d go global. After all, P500 is a minute 10 USD. The white race can afford that, right?

So I guess that’s what I’ll do. And if you’re reading this now, I’d appreciate you contacting me for your P500 pledge—even better if you’d help me find individuals who would constitute my 6,200 people who’d be willing to help prolong my brother’s life.

This is it. Begging starts now.

***You can reach me through the following:
email address:
mobile number: +639167911066

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

300 for 150

A good movie is always worth the money you paid for. 300 is a good movie. Not really something I would plan to watch, not with all the blood and dirt but I went ahead just the same. The truth is, I gave in to an officemate’s invitation with a few coaxing from a couple of 300 film reviews which I’ve read without the authors knowing. I’d say my 2 hours and 5 minutes turned out as time well spent.

Initially, 300 is about the Spartan King, Leonidas, and 300 of his best soldiers facing the thousands of men of a Persian king who fancies himself as god and probably as a lady. (Note that I added the latter part of that conjunction.)

Being the big film that it is, the movie goes beyond its well-buffed main characters and capitalizes on courage, loyalty, women’s role in a man’s world, leadership, honor, and all of those good stuff you can think of.

Personally, even with his eight-pack abs (it extends up to his stomach and lower chest, really—a result of rigorous workout) Leonidas would have lulled me to sleep. But the cunning makers of this movie weren’t all about drawing audiences to drool over manly meat. They wanted their art to matter. And they were successful.

Leonidas wasn’t like Maximus of Gladiator who was a hunky bore. He was more rounded than Russel Crowe’s character. He was regal, sexy and witty. And he was all three at the perfect time he needed to be. He was dignified and well-endowed…with a healthy sense of humor—exactly the factors that made this film more than just about war and serious talks albeit it being set during a war where serious talks often commenced.

The cinematography of this film is impressive—what with a year and a half of perfecting it! And if I further rave how great this film is I am afraid I will really go beyond the 300 word-quota I’ve set in writing this review as I am now on my 342nd.

We all know that the Spartans are warriors and part of their culture is their impenetrable defensive formation better known as phalanx. The phalanx got me thinking. Why can’t we Pinoys work the way a phalanx does? You see, if we work as one unit, we can move forward as the Spartans did amidst the thousands, if not millions of Persians pushing them back. Of course we all have to be committed because when one of us goes astray, our phalanx will have a weak point which may bring us to our downfall. We all wouldn’t want that.

About the traitors, well, perhaps we can take care of them by doing what the Spartan Queen did to their politician traitor: punish him in a way that won’t be quick, that he won’t enjoy because by betraying us, he has ceased to be one of us. Or we could wish him eternal life which he can spend bearing witness to the effects of his betrayal, the way Leonidas wished the Quasimodo-looking character.

When I was studying the Greek life, I always thought of the Spartans as barbaric war freaks. I guess, they’re not that at all. They were warriors, alright, but they were dignified warriors. If we were half as dignified as they were, we wouldn’t see potential politicians dancing on TV just to win our votes. We can be like them though. And if we were, things in our country may be better.

I don’t know.

I just spent hard-earned P150.00 for a well done movie. I got inspired. And perhaps I am finding a way to make the most of what I dished out. I got entertained and if I can improve my country, too, then I will get twice with what I paid for--that's a clear 300 for my 150!

Sunday, March 18, 2007


My dad reprimanded me for not reading the papers as often and as thoroughly as I should. This issue came up when I asked him who the Magsaysay guy running for Senator was. After which I asked him where the other Magsaysay is. I really seem oblivious about those Magsaysays.

Of course my dad answered my questions. But in return he must have silently wished that I do what every responsible and committed writer should do: read the newspaper.

That’s what I did today. Read the papers—well at least most of it. Despite my efforts, I seem to repel the front page. I scheme through its headlines then proceed on reading the part of its body typed in boldface. If I deem the news interesting, I read through the whole article, otherwise I abandon it and leave the rest of the story to my hunches and imagination. I look at photos, too, as well as their captions. That’s mostly it.

I wonder if the likes of Tessa Prieto-Valdez and Tim Yap read the front page. They both have a regular writing gig—with the Philippine Daily Inquirer at that—but I don’t think they’re the type who’d be interested in politics. Probably they are into politicians and their wives for socialization, parties and photo ops. That’s mostly it maybe.

Going back, I seem to do better with the newspaper’s lifestyle section. I guess, human interest wasn’t called such for nothing, at least for me.

This Sunday, PDI featured several fitting rooms of department stores and fashion shops. Their selected establishments were visited by their correspondents who in turn evaluated the fitting rooms based on the following criteria: size, cleanliness, basic amenities (hooks, shelves, locks, and chairs), mirror and lighting, number of fitting rooms, and service.

I shall not delve on the exact content of the report. I however hope that the managers of the stores cited use the series of articles to improve their business, for their best interest.

I myself have my own fitting room stories. For starters, I’m not fond of them. The small space isn’t healthy for me; I get kind of claustrophobic. The ones at Megamall’s department store are especially bad. Once I’m inside, I feel the floor shaking and the walls closing in on me. That’s when I start to hyperventilate. I almost panicked the first time I got my attack of claustrophobia. It really takes a lot of mind control to overcome it. Often times I change with my eyes shut just so I wouldn’t see how cramped the space is. Also, it helps to spend the shortest time in there as possible.

The dressing rooms of Bench, although well lit, are relatively cramped, too. I guess that’s how stores go these days. The space provided for the fitting rooms isn’t generous at all. For someone who’s as claustrophobic as I am, perhaps the ideal fitting room size will be as big as Cinderella’s and Bayo’s (at Megamall). If only Cinderella’s rooms were kept clean I’d say it’s the best.

It was mentioned in the report that the fitting rooms of Folded and Hung have heavy mirror doors that are hard to open. I observed that, too. And just as the one who did the report, I also waited for my turn to get inside for quite a while only to realize that it was empty. It was clean alright but it is by far the most unwelcoming fitting rooms I’ve ever been to.

Then there is Celine’s (Megamall) fitting rooms where you can literally die of suffocation. Once you’re inside, little or no air at all gets in as the whole room is sealed like a vault. I wonder what the management was thinking.

I have to admit that my important newspaper stop has a lot to do with the entertainment section. PDI has a column called “Only in Hollywood” which is authored by Ruben V. Nepales. Now, I don’t know anything about him. Nothing except that his job requires him to interview big Hollywood stars, the meat of which he publishes every week. Yes he gives us the details of his encounters but it will be awesome to share his experience.

This Sunday, Nepales featured Hugh Grant which ran for, I think, three pages of the broadsheet. I can imagine the words I was reading being enunciated by Hugh himself. And even in print, I find his words sexy. Well, we’ve got to hand it to the Brits. They’re eloquent and regal even while joking.

Incidentally, I saw Jay Leno’s interview with Hugh for the movie Music and Lyrics. In the middle of their chitchat, I noticed Hugh scratching his eye. (I can’t remember which—the left or the right.) Later, Jay noticed, too. Hugh had to comment how difficult it was to have a misplaced contact lens on live tele. Still, he insisted that they go on with the interview. It is enlightening to know that even celebrity contact lenses misbehave sometimes.

Jay, then, seized the moment to inject his humor. He asked Hugh, “do your soft lenses go hard when you’re excited?”

I know I wouldn’t think of my contact lenses in that light.

Another hot Hollywood buzz is Angelina Jolie’s 3rd adoption. After five-year-old Cambodian Maddox and two-year-old Ethiopian Zahara, she adds three-year-old Vietnamese Pax Thien to the family. I’d hate to think that Angelina is into collecting third world kids. Chances are, she really cares for children as it was reported early on that she and partner, Brad Pitt, visited the Vietnamese orphanage where Pax lived, bringing gifts for the orphans and even playing with them.

Angelina’s chosen children are lucky. Aside from being tucked in bed by Mama Angie, they all get a good-night kiss from Papa Brad. They are also ensured a bright future, what with the pay their new parents make just by smiling in Hollywood?

Then again, these kids do have a price to pay for the better life promised them. First in the list is being uprooted from their native lands and being transported to a foreign speaking country populated by white people. Next is trading their quiet orphanage life to a Hollywood life filled with flashbulbs. Then there’s the silent mystery: amongst all the kids their new parents can have, including the ones they can produce like Shiloh, why were they chosen? Probably the last thing these children will wonder is why they are being raised in a family that isn’t officially a family. Brad and Angelina are not married and if they were, there is a huge possibility that they won’t last—they’re a Hollywood couple for crying out loud!

Yes, I do worry about these kids. I don’t have anything to do with them but I wish them all the best.

Just as the Jolie-Pitt kids, I feel somewhat attached to Ellen Degeneres. Well, I watch her whenever I can and I have slowly morphed into a fan. Besides, after playing Dory who wouldn’t love Ellen?

Anyway I saw a rerun of her show aired the day after she hosted this year’s Oscars. The show featured the highlight’s of Ellen’s best Oscar moments plus the bonus behind-the-scenes which included Ellen’s first time to enter the Kodak theater for rehearsals, her suit fitting, script brainstorming at her house, and, believe it or not, her pre-Oscar beauty regimen.

After the Oscar clips were shown, Ellen was seen in tears. “I am crying because, well, I’m tired.” She explains and adds that she is just overwhelmed by the experience and the privilege. It wasn’t really a moving, dramatic moment. It’s Ellen. Even in tears, she is funny. Still, you can’t help but feel where she is coming from. She manages to make a point without being too cheesy, making her better than Oprah.

Ellen, Jay, and Conan O’ Brien keep me busy sometimes. I miss David Letterman, though. Our cable provider just reshuffled our channels and I can no longer find Jack TV which also re-scheduled their shows, making it extra hard for me to keep track of Dave’s whereabouts.

It may work for my advantage though. With the extra time in my hands, I can now find time to do what I have to do: read the newspaper.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ay si Cesar! Hayy, si Cesar!

Akala ko talaga si Richard Gomez na ang pinakamalaking joke sa darating na Senatorial elections. Yun pala, may magta-top pa sa kanya!

Cesar Montano po! Power to the people na ito!

May pagka kabute ang pagkandidato ni Buboy. Bigla na lang sumulpot! At ayon nga sa balita wala siyang maliwanag na plataporma. Noon pa nga ay naiulat na ang tanging ginagawa nya sa kampanya ng Team Unity eh ang i-introduce ang mga kapartido nya. Well at least hindi sya nagpapanggap. Pang-entertainment pa rin ang role niya. Emcee kung baga.

Baka akala ni Cesar ganoon din ang ginagawa sa Senado: Nagmememorize ng mga linyang idedeliver ng buong-puso para maantig ang damdamin ng mga manonood—para bagang yung ginawa niya sa Jose Rizal o kaya sa Muro-Ami, isama pa ang Panaghoy sa Suba!

The way I see it, parang napadaan lang si Cesar sa mga pulitikong nagmimeeting tungkol sa so-called Team Unity ng administration. Eh kulang ang kanilang roster, so inaya na lang nila si Cesar. Umoo naman yung isa. Kaasar kasi hindi man lang nag-isip; sumali agad!

Hindi naman ako tututol sa pagpasok ni Cesar sa pulitika kung karapat-dapat siya., kung may kaalaman siya. Kaso wala. And don’t give me that crap Goma gave! Yung something like, “I’ll be able to give a fresher input to Philippine politics being that I myself am fresh at this.” Ano yon? Yung batas parang script na pwedeng atakihin in a new untested artistic way? Baka nakakalimutan nila na bayan natin ang nakataya sa mga “fresh” if not raw political brains nila.

Sa usapang artista sa pulitika, sino pa nga ba ang magtatanggol sa mga kasalukuyang na-ookray? Syempre yung fellow artista na pulitiko. Isa sa mga umeksena ay itong si Kap na definitely ay hindi ko idol. With his irritatingly singkit smiling eyes, sinabi nya na huwag husgahan ang kapwa niya artista (hindi ko maalala if it was Cesar or Goma he was referring to but just the same I hate him more for his dumb comment). Bigyan daw muna ng pagkakataon yung taong artista na nagpapaka-pulitiko to prove himself.

Excuse me po, Bong Revilla! Saan ka ba nakatira for the past years? Bulag at bingi ka ba for you not to know what’s been happening in our country? Sa tingin mo ba maaafford ng bayan natin ang isang experiment? Eh ang isa pang pagkakamali?

Marahil, ikaw, hindi mo ramdam ang anumang economic slump dahil padded ng salapi ang buhay mo kaya may pumalpak man sa bayan, may taga-absorb ng shock para sa iyo at sa mga pamilya mo. Eh paano naman kaming mga kumikita para magbayad ng buwis? Eh yung mga swerte nga kung may kitain pa kaya di maafford magbayad ng buwis? Ang hirap kasi sa iyo at sa mga katulad mo, nakatira kayo sa subdivision kaya sa tuwing sumisilip kayo sa bintana, out of sight sa inyo ang mga barung-barong na may gulong sa bubong na gawa sa lumang karton. I suggest, bago kayo mag-planong mangampanya, i-try niyong mag-field trip sa iba’t ibang parte ng Pilipinas. Bisitahin ninyo ang iba’t ibang klase ng mga Pilipino. Tapos yon, doon kayo mag-isip kung ano nga talaga ang pinapasok ninyo.

Hindi ako nag-aamok dahil trip ko lang. Naiinis ako kasi ginagago ang ating bayan. Seryosong bagay kasi ang pulitika. Hindi naman yon laro kaya sana pinaghahandaan maigi.

Kaya, Cesar pati ka na rin Goma, kung gusto ninyong tumakbo, sana nag-aral man lang kayo para may background naman kayo sa politics. Mabuti nga kung sineryoso ninyo yung lesson ninyo sa HEKASI (o Sibika at Kultura pa ang tawag sa subject na yon noon?) tungkol sa steps sa paggawa ng batas. At least kung naaalala ninyo pa iyon, may starting point na kayo sa law-making. At alam ko sabi nina Maverick at Ariel, “dream big!” But that doesn’t mean, from nowhere e magsho-shortcut kayo to your respective big dreams. Pinagtatrabahuhan iyon. Try starting from the bottom. Siguro if you think that you are too popular to be a tanod, mag-konsehal kayo, o kaya vice-mayor. Yung ganoon. Para naman ma-earn ninyo ang dignity and credibility ninyo as politicians.

Oo sikat kayo. Maraming fans ang nagmamahal sa inyo. Pero sana, gamitin ninyo sa tama ang kasikatan ninyo. Alam ko, meron kayong urge ng maglingkod sa bayan. Bery gud kung ganoon. Pero isipin ninyo na your inexperienced political pormas wouldn’t serve our country or save our country.

Imagine, gagawa kayo ng batas? Gaano kalaking responsibilidad iyon? Ilang bilyon na ba tayo sa 7,108-island (low tide) natin? Lahat iyon maapektuhan sa pagportray ninyo ng roles sa Senado. At ang effect ninyo (or ineffectivity) ay hindi limited sa panahon natin, make-carry over yan sa mga darating pang panahon sa bansa natin. Ang akin naman, kung plano ninyong mag-iwan ng legacy sa bayan, make sure it will be something you and your future offsprings will be proud of. Yung ganoon.

Tapos, wag ninyong i-goal magkapera. Pagtrabahuhan ninyong mabuti para mga mukha ninyo ang mapunta sa pera—dahil may nagawa kayong mabuti. Dahil tunay ninyong pinaglingkuran ang bayan natin. Dahil naitaas ninyo ang antas ng pamumuhay ng mga Pilipino. Dahil hindi lang kayo award-winning na artista kung hindi magaling kayong pulitiko.

* * *
About kay Manny Pacquiao: ‘tol wag mong ipabugbog ang dignidad mo! Tigilan mo na ang tangka mong pumasok sa politika. Kung mahal mo talaga ang Gen San, ipaubaya mo na siya kay Darlene.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Divisoria Infusion

Last week, I went on my first Divisoria visit for 2007. It was an official trip. Actually, I wouldn’t have anything to do with Divisoria if my work did not require me to visit the place from time to time.

Prior to working, the last time I went to Divisoria was in late 1980 for the opening of classes—definitely one of the peak seasons of Divisoria sales. It must explain why the picture of Divisoria that stuck in my grade school mind was in a complete chaos. The two things I clearly remember my mom bought at that time were pencil sharpeners shaped as a padlock (which came with a key) and a rechargeable lamp. I didn’t think of Divisoria again after that.

I almost returned to Divisoria during college to source materials for a play we did. I was supposed to be part of the props committee specializing on the actors’ accessories. It was a Filipino version of “The Braggart Soldier” and was therefore called “Ang Sundalong Hambog.” The play was set in Rome, thus the need for authentic-looking, Roman-time, intricately elaborate accessories. But I backed out of the play—well, I broke my “academic” commitment with the play and just volunteered to help for the love of it—to concentrate on being part of the editorial staff of my other class’ magazine.

I thank my job for re-introducing me to Divisoria. By going there on a regular basis, I more or less have mastered the ins and outs of 168 Mall, New Divisoria Mall (which isn’t so new) and the so-called, Tabora.

If you’re not into exploring hot, dirty places (by “hot” I mean the temperature, and by “dirty,” I am referring to hygiene), go directly to 168 Mall. It is Greenhills-ish, only more cramped. But the prices are fairly low especially if you buy in bulk in which case you can avail of the wholesale price which can go lower depending on your gift in haggling.

But beware of some stalls that forbid buyers from haggling for it will deprive you of getting the lowest price for the goods you choose to buy. And without bargaining for the price of the things you buy, your Divisoria story would not be complete. It is easy to know these stalls. Well because they post signs which say, “Wag makulit, bawal ang tawad.” It will be best to abide by such sign.

Not all stores are as blunt, though. Take the one I saw last time where cartons with "LAHAT P88” written on them. To satisfy my curiosity, I went inside to ask the saleslady, “Kung lahat 88, ibig sabihin ba noon bawal tumawad?” to which she replied, “fixed price na po kasi kami.” And there, I got my answer. Needless to say, I left.

What can you find in 168 Mall? Almost everything! It is a department store, convenience store, hardware, school supplies haven, drug store, great techie gadget stop, souvenir supplier, toy kingdom, party needs shop, accessories department, clothes port, and a lot more. However, there is no distinct assigned section for these shops. They are randomly placed in the mall’s floor area. One minute you’re in a clothes store then if you more forward you’re in a hardware—there really is no predicting what shop comes after the other, unless you have mastered the place probably as much as I have.

168 Mall houses a decent food court on it’s third floor—mostly they serve Chinese food save for Jollibee and Greenwich, a Korean and a Thai food station plus two Filipino food stops. Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems with their food. And by the way, my favorite station is the Cantonese Dimsum House. Yum!

If you wish to look for more items at a lower price, you can visit the New Divisoria Mall. However, as I have said in my parenthetical remark above, New Divisoria Mall isn’t so new. The place is a bit worn out but I don’t think its ceiling will fall anytime. What I am saying is, New Divisoria Mall is not a new as 168 Mall and it wasn’t maintained properly to look as new as 168.

Here is one tip: if you decide to hop from 168 Mall to New Divisoria Mall (or to Tabora, for that matter) make sure to relieve yourself before leaving. That way, you are sure that nature wouldn’t be calling you in a place where comfort rooms aren’t as comfortable as they should be. But if you have high tolerance with the stench released by ammonia (a component of pee) and a bunch of unknown bacteria, then you may disregard my tip.

Back to New Divisoria Mall. The floor layout here is as topsy-turvy as in 168, maybe worse. But you will live through it. I know I did. Although I am not entirely sure, I seem to get the notion that New Divisoria Mall is bigger, hence more finds await. Also, sales people here are more welcome to haggling, too, meaning more savings.

Tabora is the least comfortable place to tread. It is a street which I can’t really describe where but I can point to if I were in 168 Mall or New Divisoria Mall. It however boasts of its bountiful and diverse stocks of raw materials great for do-it-yourself projects. If you have a healthy imagination, crafty hands and impressive patience, you can source for simple things here, make it grand and sell it. You will be rich in no time!

Divisoria has become all that and more at least to my eyes. It is not just a chain of shops that sell items for a cheap price. It is a walk-in therapy for people with money and without anything to do. It is a place where future entrepreneurs begin. It houses a big community of Chinese people who have found refuge in our country’s lucrative fascination with bargain commodities. It has become a cradle for Chinese babies being raised by Pinoy salesladies. It is an employer for a number of young women and men who wish to earn cash to pursue their studies—sometimes even while working.

Divisoria is a culture in itself.

And if that’s not enough, Divisoria is the home for Garfield, too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Epic Laughs

Three yuppies that will pass as college students (if not high school…OK, I won’t push it) entered an almost empty cinema.

One’s a graduate of Ateneo; the other two are from UP.

All three wore eyeglasses.

One brought a medium-sized can of original flavored Pik-nik. One wore barong. One almost choked from a single shoestring potato the other one brought.

All three laughed the loudest in a cinema that’s almost empty. All three laughed like they rented the theater for themselves. All three laughed at a movie that’s nothing but silly.

One may think that the three yuppies would pass as smart people. One will wonder why such smart people are laughing at something that’s nothing but silly. One will say, “Hmmm….”

All may think that the movie was silly. All will wonder why such silly movie draws audiences at all—and smart ones at that. All will say, “Three yuppies that will pass as college students who all wore eyeglasses, who laughed the loudest in a cinema that’s almost empty, who laughed like they rented the theater for themselves, who laughed at a movie that’s nothing but silly make Epic Movie funnier that it really is.”

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Foreword for My Exploit

It is an awful thing when one feels irritated and depressed. So to celebrate those awful feelings, I turned back to creative writing. Which was well. I ended up productive by channeling the negative vibes that were bugging me, intensifying them, and turning them to another direction. Thus The Curse That is Tita.

My first short story after two years (I think the last one I wrote was in 2004 for one of my classes in college) is some sort of a spin off of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Set in a town in Mexico, Like Water for Chocolate takes off with the lives of three sisters: Rosario, Gertrudes, and Tita; and their controlling mother, Mama Elena.

In my version, I tried borrowing the voice of Sandra Cisneros’ Esperanza of The House on Mango Street to further give life to Tita. And to add a twist, I attempted do what Neil Gaiman did with his Nicholas Was.

I can’t say how I think I did with my latest exploit. (Exploit seems more appropriate than creation.) In any case, I wish that The Curse That is Tita will stick not only to your minds but also to your hearts.

Besides, what better way to welcome the women month than to be acquainted to a woman nobody wants to become?


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Great Expectations: A therapy

Yesterday I received a message which says that the root of all disappointments and hurt, if summed up in a word, would have to be “expectations.” True? True.

Last year, I sent a distress call to one of my friends. I think my exact SOS was, “Feeling ko heartbroken ako.”

I got her attention alright. I just wish she didn’t fall off her chair or something. It’s just that “heartbroken” and me aren’t really the world’s most likely pair. Come to think of it, “heartbroken” and me are kind of impossible—well at least if you work on the more popular idea of being heartbroken.

It’s probably a common misconception that a heartbreak is solely caused by a romantic element in one’s life gone wrong. In my case it would have to be a boy, thus the need for me to explain my trouble further.

My heartbreak wasn’t limited to a boy. It was bigger than that.

I felt taken for granted by people whom I expected to value me. I felt deprived of my opinion on matters which, if we really are who we say we are, I guess I deserved to have had a voice. I was reduced to being a gofer—to do errands regardless of what was going on with me.

I wasn’t allowed to say no. Well I was allowed but it would have come with a price—resentment. So I was somehow forced to shut up and do what I was supposed to do.

I don’t know. Maybe I am such a pushover that’s why it’s so easy for people to order me around. Or maybe it is because of what I do and don’t do that’s why I give the general impression that nothing important is going on with me; they might as well pull me out of my life and let me serve them. In which case, I would be of greater purpose.

But the thing what broke my heart most is the fact that I never did receive from them, the people whom I expected to value me, a genuine concern—a sincere, “how are you doing?” An authentic, “I care so tell me the truth about what’s going on with you.”

Nope. I never got one of that from the people whom I expected to get it.

If I were fine, then all that I have said above would be last year’s story. But I am not fine. I haven’t been for a long time. But I tried to be.

My troubles are haunting me. They are the depression that visit me on a regular basis. I shake them off but each time, they get worse.

I know that I am never the strong one but I was forced to be. What with witnessing my youngest brother wither because of the multiple doses of chemo drugs induced in his body, seeing him grasp for air because his lungs had been betraying him, consoling him amidst his puffy red eyes while the doctors shove tubes down his throat, helping roll his stretcher towards the ICU, keeping calm as he loses consciousness and succumb to seizure, sitting by him as he fight infection after infection, and wishing helplessly that he gets through all the time. As if that’s not enough, my other brother had to acquire a heart disease which, thank God, hasn’t gotten serious. Then there are my parents. Well they are my parents; I know how they can be a handful especially when you live with them. And, oh, there’s my other brother whose life should be none of my business but for some reason bothers the hell out of me.

Then there’s my life where I continuously struggle to matter, to make a mark, to live with substance, which is hard to do when you are suppressing trauma, when no one’s there to support you, when you are trudging a great strange road by yourself.

No, this is not in any way another SOS. As my title states, I’m writing this for my so called self-implemented therapy.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Curse That is Tita

Call me Tita. I wasn’t born special. The weather wasn’t unusually hot nor was there a terrible storm when I arrived in this planet. My head wasn’t especially big either. I came out in a maternity hospital where a thousand mommies give birth to a thousand babies everyday.

I wasn’t born pretty, too. My skin color did not pass the standards of beauty. Even Papa had to double check if I was theirs. As it turns out, I was too dark to become one of them.

Mama had a way of reminding me of their first impression of me. She would call me names referring to black minorities. She did it even on a good day.

I knew I would not have a fair share of the spotlight looking the way I did. So I tried being funny. You don’t have to be pretty to be funny. It’s hard though—making people laugh when, sometimes, you are crying deep inside.

I wore hand-me-downs for quite a while. Until I noticed and posed a protest—a hunger strike to be exact. I could hardly talk then. Needless to say, I learned to fight for equal rights even before I learned to pronounce my words correctly.

Since I never tried to be pretty, I never wore a gown. Well, once, maybe, during my preschool graduation. I had on a white itchy gown. I guess that’s how gowns go. The prettier they are, the itchier they get. I never had a coming out party. As the fates would have it, the year when I turned 18 coincided with the year our mini-empire-that-never-was fell. It didn’t matter. Otherwise, the heavens would roll into laughter if I started pretending I was pretty.

I grew up with plenty of friends but not all of them were there forever. But I’m used to it. People come and go. Sometimes they come. Often times they go. I don’t care what they say. You don’t have to count on other people, especially not family. As long as you have yourself, you’re fine.

I never had lovers. I was Mama’s youngest daughter and tradition dictates that I take care of her with every last breath. I wonder if it’s her breath or mine. Whoever’s breath it is, it meant that I wasn’t allowed to marry. Having been sentenced of being single for eternity, I saw no point of entertaining romance. Maybe some of us are just not meant to love.

The wheels spun. Everyone moved on with their lives. Mama’s all wrinkly but I stayed the way I was—her youngest daughter. Dark. Unpretty. Single.

Sometimes I worry. Mama has me but who do I have? Who will stay with me when I am all wrinkly just like Mama?

A dark cloud hovers over my head when I think of those thoughts. But I can’t do anything about it. I can pronounce my words right but I can no longer pose a protest. I can no longer fight for equal rights. I got rid of the hand-me-downs but not being Mama’s youngest daughter.

Then I had a dream. I wasn’t Mama’s youngest daughter. I wasn’t dark. I was pretty. I wore a white gown that looked better than the one I wore during my preschool graduation. Everyone adored me. And far across the room was a man who waited for me. He adored me more than others. I paced towards him. But the more I walked to his direction, the farther the distance between us was. And then my white gown that looked better than the one I wore during my preschool graduation started to itch. I felt my skin burning. My fair face, arms and legs turned dark—toasted. Everyone laughed at me. I didn’t know what to do.

I knew it was just a nightmare.

Because when I woke up, I was Mama’s youngest daughter again. Dark. Unpretty. Single. The wheel will continue to spin and I will stay the way I was.

Not everyone will laugh, especially not me. And most of the time I wouldn’t know what to do.

And every time I wake up, I will know that it is just a nightmare.