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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In Medias Res

I don't know why you still love me or why you've even started to do so some ten years ago.

Last time I checked only technology defies time and space. Not love.

Love, as most people know it, withers over time regardless of the intensity it was ushered in.

Love, as we know it, forgets when absence becomes permanent.

Love, as we know it, looks the other way and finds another -- over time when reason rules over faith.

But you must really love me to remember the smallest detail that could have easily been forgotten about me. (Like the night I was embarrassingly drunk and sung "Crazy For You" to you.)

You must really love me to allow yourself want something you know you cannot have and not care about its futility.

As for me, I love you beyond the physical, the psychological and the emotional.

I love you not for the same reason and the same way I've loved the others before and after you.

I love you because if I don't, my life here will be a worthless sail across an endless voyage.

You happened to me in medias res. Like a story starting in the middle, my life started when you happened.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Video Killed Not Just the Radio Star

Conrado De Quiros' column today entitled "Hangover" juxtaposes the way Willie Revillame and Ellen Degeneres help those in need. While Ellen was a class act, Willie was simply an act. Willie would dry up his beneficiaries to their last teardrop; Ellen "would crack a joke or draw attention to something else or go into commercial each time the beneficiary got tearful." Willie would bask in the limelight as his beneficiaries kiss his hand in gratefulness; the poor beneficiaries looking like stray dogs being given last night's leftovers. Ellen "has basic appreciation for people, she has basic respect for people." Wille has only basic and primal appreciation for money.

We do not need to look far to realize the level of doom this country has found itself. We need only switch on the TV set to local channels on primetime.

When we talk of TV, there are two things that hit my negative memory button; the two things that TV had done that I will never forget.

One. Wish Ko Lang.

I am not sure if it was still with Bernadette Sembrano or with its current host Vickie Morales. A boy in his teens was shown playing basketball with his pals. He had the moves. He could do rebounds. He was fairly tall. He was laughing and playing. What do you know, he had cancer. He had this huge mound of flesh somewhere in his body where the mass should not have been. His family wrote to Wish Ko Lang for help. With the usual drama and theatrics, Wish Ko Lang granted the wish and sponsored the boy's operations. Two or three episodes later, the boy died. My sister and I were stunned. And we cried. We still remember that episode to this day. To this day there is no disclaimer that says "Ask at your own risk." Just a long list of sponsors at end credits.

Two. PBA.

It was that terrible game when Terry Saldana fell on his knee that broke and got dislocated in complete reverse. I still get the shivers remembering it. How could I not? Thoughtless, inconsiderate, callous PBA crew must have ran the replay in slow-mo over a dozen times a minute while the announcers commented on every screenshot minute detail. I was but a little girl enjoying the game with my father. The PBA that time was riding on a big wave of success. It was the time when most Filipino families had only one TV set. It was the time when fathers called the shots on what to watch on TV. And when it's PBA time, it was all PBA time. To hell with Inday Badiday and her rotten showbiz talkshow. Success made PBA careless. And heartless. What must have been happening to PBA now is called payback time.

Because video killed not just the radio star.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great Company, Bad Employees

This is the letter of complaint I sent National Bookstore last Saturday, December 18.

Dear National Bookstore,

I regret to inform you that going to your store this morning wasn't exactly the experience one would expect from a business that has been running for more than 70 years, and has been tagged as the "biggest and strongest bookstore chain in the Philippines."

I was looking for some gift ideas early this morning around 11, when a part of one of your shelves collapsed as I took one of the hardbound notebooks stacked on it. The plastic support was either brittle or not properly installed and caused it to detach. I tried to push the plastic support to keep your merchandise from falling while looking around for a staff to help out. The notebooks then started falling first one at time then in heaps. Still no one was there to help. Fortunately, one of the customers, an elderly man, saw what was happening and quickly moved towards me to keep all your notebooks from tumbling down, uselessly it might have already been. There was no stopping gravity from pulling the notebooks down. And still no help from your employees came. Everything was now on the floor. The old man put the plastic support in place and we started to pick up one by one the notebooks and put them back to the shelf. Finally, one of your female clerks came, pathetically slow and without urgency. Para pa siyang galit at inakala siguro kung ano na ang ginawa namin sa mga paninda ninyo. The man left soon afterwards. Your clerk didn't say anything, didn't even ask what happened, or at least thank the old man. It was I who even had to explain what happened. You'd think she'd react at least, ask some question or apologize for the inconvenience. But no, not a whimper for a reaction. I was so exasperated all I could do was sigh "Hay, naku" to myself and shook my head. You would think I'd left her with all your merchandise on the floor. No, i stayed and helped her until all the notebooks were returned to the shelf. You'd think, she'd say something at least, like "thank you." But no, not a word. I could have accepted a sign language for thank you and I wouldn't mind, in case you hire deaf-mutes. Unbelievable woman!

Another thing, I saw one of the guards inside your store just a couple of shelves away. It wasn't possible that he didn't hear what happened. I'm sure he heard it, at least, if he didn't see it. Some customers already stopped on their tracks after the shelf had collapsed. Never mind that the first of your customers who saw me holding on to your merchandise just looked on and didn't help. But I do mind the people in your payroll who simply didn't care.

I don't regret not leaving your stuff as they collapsed. I don't regret trying to save your little shelf. I don't regret not leaving your staff as she picked and returned the fallen goods in place. I don't regret helping her either. It is because that isn't how I was raised. That isn't how my company trains us. We are always reminded at the office that inside or outside the workplace, we represent our company. And that's what we do all the time - protect our company's good name anywhere we go.

But there I was inside your store, and your people carried your name in the most undistinguished way; these employees wearing their IDs, wearing their uniforms in the workplace.

I'm sure it is not your way. You wouldn't have lasted this long if it were. But I still find no excuse for such behavior.

Also, I come to your store not only during the holidays or during back to school days. I come to your stores (Powerbooks included) at least twice a month to buy books - for myself and for our office library. I may be wrong, but I'm quite sure I am more loyal to you than most of your staff assigned at your Festival Mall branch around 11 AM today, December 18, 2010.

You may think also that I left your store not buying anything out of disappointment. No. I bought a planner and two notebook journals. I gave you business today despite the very poor service I was given.

If you think that what your staff did was right, don't bother yourself with this e-mail.

Until this time, Tuesday morning, December 21 - National Bookstore has not replied.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Met Noynoy. Finally.

It was my third time in Malacanang last Friday.

The invitation was faxed last Wednesday which I read a day later. Of course, I would go. It didn't matter that the invitation came barely two days before the event. It was an occasion to celebrate the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2010 at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang, 10 AM.

I was a witness to several things that day:

1) The signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Law;

2) Etta Rosales acting like a school principal reprimanding the President to listen. As an introduction, Etta said Noynoy had asked her to keep her speech short and sweet. And she go, "Well, Mr. President, you're my captive audience now. You have no choice but to listen." And indeed, we were all held captive to a looooonngggg narration of her first 100 Days as Commission on Human Rights Chair. To be fair to Noynoy, he was not the only one who stopped paying attention to Etta. Leila De Lima was in lala land. The diplomats were exchanging news and gossips with their seat-mates. I was figuring out how to zoom the Blackberry built-in camera. Etta Rosales was enjoying the floor too much, she didn't care if she was already committing genocide. That is if boring, disengaging speeches could kill.

(CHR Chair Etta Rosales after the long and winding speech)

(Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima)

3) Noynoy asking the government to withdraw the case filed against the members of Morong 43. It wasn't a big surprise. I remember just giving him the double-take when he said it.

4) The ineptitude of the Palace staff in handling the event. If Noynoy's government has really been cutting corners to cut costs, I must say they're cutting more flesh than fat. The staff assisting the diplomats were shabbily dressed. I had been to an Erap function and a Gloria event in Malacanang and the staff then looked and moved world-class. Back to Noynoy. There must have been close to a hundred diplomat-guests whose names they cut-out from a bond paper and assigned to a chair. They must have re-arranged the names on the chairs a dozen times before the diplomats arrived. When the diplomats did arrive, they were still arranging the names. They escorted the diplomats to a chair this way and that, moved them a seat or two, a row or two twice at least. Some got exasperated they took the vacant seats next to us. I shook my head and was close to asking my assistant to help these hapless Malacanang staff!

After the event, we were treated to empanada, brownies, sandwiches, orange and four-seasons juices on trays carried by Palace waiters. I took one empanada and a glass of four-seasons. It was past 12 noon. No, I am not going to do a Mai Mislang.

Speaking of Mai Mislang. Her boss, Ricky Carandang, was at the gathering. I saw him during Leila De Lima's press briefing after the event. Mr. Carandang was trying real hard to be inconspicuous. Being one of the Communication Group's heads, he looked out-of-place being outside where the action was. He was alone under the shadows of the darkened passage to the hall. He looked self-conscious standing alone. He looked lost. When Noynoy left, I expected him to catch the ball and play host. But he seemed clueless on this function. Epic fail.

Noynoy wasn't the first President I came to see at the Heroes Hall. He was the third. The first one was Erap, the second was Gloria. Just how many Filipinos get to be invited to Malacanang three times over a period of three presidents?

With Erap, it was through an invitation of a friend who was working for a commission under the Office of the President. I developed their website and I must add for free. When the commission's major report was presented to Erap, the stakeholders and the press, I was there. Whoever was in charge of Malacanang events during the time of Erap knew class. It was well-organized. The staff knew exactly where everyone should be. It was like a happy symphony where every note was in place. It looked effortless. And we know that when something seems effortless, a lot of work was carried through and miles and miles of brains moved to the last minute, to the minute detail of the affair. But all these had taken place before the first guest arrived and never after.

With Gloria, it was work-related. I had to be there because I was tasked to be there. The ambiance at the Heroes Hall was stiff and dictatorial. But the event was no doubt handled by professionals.

Noynoy is trying damn hard to be a good president. But he's surrounded himself with unskilled butterfingers.

Now, here's one sincere man leading us. There are just too many jesters and nincompoops in his court.

(Noynoy leaving the Heroes Hall)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If We All Know For Sure

If we all know for sure what will become of us after death, then there is no need for faith.

If we all know for sure what is the right religion and whose teaching is the truth, then there is no need for faith.

These wonderful seeds of wisdom came from a rabbi. How long have I been a Catholic and not heard these exact words? How many times have I attended Pentecostal services and not heard these words? How many times have I praised God with the Baptists and Protestants and not been offered this humble truth?

All these time I was looking for something unequivocal to believe in. All these time I was looking for meaning and purpose. And it hit me cold in the gut just when I least expected it.

There has to be something bigger than the biggest, higher than the highest. There must be something before zero and something beyond eternity.

When I die and find myself God's favorite whom God will give one gift - the gift that allows me to come back to life with a high definition video of an interview with Him in Heaven and unbelievable footages of Heaven and his saints - I will let pass the opportunity. Not out selfishness, but love. I will not come back to tell the world that God does exist for sure. For this shall diminish His glory and surely will do disservice to the faithful.

Faith is the greatest gift we can offer God for the opportunity of being born. Faith is the only way we can show our love to the one Almighty God who rears our heads when we sleep, takes away our pain when we rest, clears our path before we set forth, puts a rainbow when someone rains on our parade, provides food on our table, gives us appetite when we cannot eat, lulls us to sleep when we're done counting sheep, pats our shoulders when our boss forgets, takes the wheel when we overdrive, steps on the brake when we miss the hump, lights our path when we get lost.

No, I didn't just wake up one day and found myself a Jew. I woke up one day knowing what faith is. Faith is what we find before zero. Faith is what lies ahead after infinity. And everything in between is God's love. God's love is His presence without us seeing Him. Without God there is only absence of everything. And this absence is what makes the world unattractive and evil.

Hate is the absence of love.
War is the absence of peace.
Darkness is the absence of light.
Sadness is the absence of joy.
Sickness is the absence of health.
Death is the absence of life.
Ugliness is the absence of beauty.

Love is the presence of God.
Peace is the presence of God.
Light is the presence of God.
Joy is the presence of God.
Health is the presence of God.
Life is the presence of God.
Beauty is the presence of God.

I didn't wake up to find myself a new person. I woke up and discovered my Temple.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bonifacio Would Be CEO Today, not an "Endo"

Says the PDI picture headline caption: "If he were alive today, Andres Bonifacio would have been also a victim of low wages and contractualization, militants said in a protest rally yesterday at Manila's Liwasang Bonifacio."

As usual, the militants had to have a say.

Bonifacio was intelligent, smart, aggressive, loyal and had unquestionable people skills. He was the breadwinner of the family having been orphaned at an early age. One look at his biography in any high school textbook would tell you that he had the makings of a self-made man. If he were alive today, he would not be rallying on the streets. He would be helping build this nation by his industry, by his contributions to our society.

No, sir. He wouldn't allow himself to be a victim of circumstances. He would work before dawn to late afternoon and study in the evening. He would finish school at the top of his class. He would get a good job, not necessarily a high-paying job, at first, but a job that would give him more skills and experience. And he would be noticed for his hard work, patience, good leadership skills, and intelligence. He would be promoted and rise from the ranks.

No, sir. Bonifacio would excel and survive and succeed. He would never be an "endo." Bonifacio was so much better than that.

You just don't insult my hero!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My One Week November Treat

For the last three years now, I have been halting from the daily grind for a week in November.

In 2008, I went to Lucban and ate everything one could eat there. Thanks to my old friend Delfa who has always welcomed me like a sister. Her house is situated a couple of blocks away from the San Isidro de Labrador Church, one of the oldest churches in the country having been built in 1595! Talk about waking up to history in the morning! From her house, everything you need is at a walking distance: the original Buddy's Burger, hotel, countless restaurants and coffeeshops, pasalubong shops, Mercury Drug, thrift shops, gift shops, bars...Want it they have it. They don't have an airport.

What's wicked is that almost everything is cheap!

You walk to a cold breeze on well-kept, always clean streets. You talk with locals with weird Tagalog accents. Yung parang lagi silang galit, pero hindi naman. Sara!

Life there is simple without Starbucks. Life is innocent without Jollibee.

In 2009, my plans for Boracay in November had been signed and sealed early that summer. You want to still enjoy Boracay, don't go there in summer. As early as August, I bought discounted Cebu Pacific tickets for Manila to Aklan, Aklan to Manila. The Caticlan Airport was still under construnction then.

Two weeks before my Boracay trip, an e-mail sent to us mortals of my workplace. It told us to prepare our passports as we were all going to Singapore for a management meeting and recreation on November 18 to 22. My Boracay weekend trip was scheduled November 19 to 21! I called the Veep to excuse myself from the trip as I had prior engagements. I even told him my leave form had been signed a month ago. Half a day later, the President called me and told me to reconsider. Now, when the big boss tells you to reconsider, it means you don't have an option. As an afterthought, he called again and said he could have my Singapore trip scheduled a day early and I could also leave a day early. I asked him what I'd do in Singapore for a whole day alone? Yeah, that was stupid. He agreed silently I could sense.

To help him out of the situation, I suggested that I could join the group on the 18th but I would have to leave the Lion City the next day. Day 1 was the most important one in the itinerary anyway. He said I'd tire myself flying back and forth I would end up drained and not enjoy the beach.

The prospect was too cool to me. How many of those people I know could brag about changing airports domestic and international, from the corporate mecca of Asia to the white sand of the Philippines, from a conference room in Singapore to a beachfront sauna in Bora over a period of 18 hours? I am that vain! I went to Singapore for a day and a night and headed to Boracay to spend the rest of the week.

Did I enjoy it? I swear to God I'm not going to do it again!

My plane to Aklan was scheduled to leave at 2 PM (after re-scheduling the flight two hours later and paying penalties). From Changi my plane landed at NAIA at 11:30 AM. I waited for half an hour for a cab to take me to the domestic airport. And it begun to rain. And when it rains in Manila you know what it means - traffic nightmare! In the cab, I cursed myself for such wanton stupidity. Tired and hungry and angry, I had a plane to catch which could leave without me because I wasn't a Gokongwei.

There were heavy clouds atop Aklan Airport, the plane hovered above for fifteen minutes. When it touched down finally it was dark and raining.

My one-day trip to Singapore was spent in meetings. I spent the weekend at Boracay shopping. Totally out of whack.

This year I spent the whole week home trying not to do nothing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Pacquiao greatest of them all." Not.

In an uncharacteristically emotional article written by Ronnie Nathanielsz for Philippine Daily Inquirer, he said Pacquiao is the greatest of them all, including Ali.

I say not.

Nathanielsz said, "Ali, for all his greatness and his charismatic personality and glibness, had one trait that reflected poorly on him, especially in comparison to Pacquiao. That was his habit of insulting and mocking his opponents. He referred to Joe Frazier, a great champion himself, as a “Gorilla.”

I say, Pacquiao, for all his greatness and his charismatic personality, has traits that reflected poorly on him. One is allowing himself to be surrounded by dirty politicians. Just how many Filipinos the world over want to shoot the TV set when Chavit Singson climbs the ring each time Pacquiao wins a fight? Or that former "First Gentleman" who joined the bandwagon in the ring like a king? Or that former non-President who if had not been restrained would have claimed Pacquiao's victories as her doing? Or the countless congressmen and half a dozen senators who hugged a share of Pacquiao's limelight? What about that Hawaiian shirted father and son who sandwiched Pacquiao in parades showing off Pacman as theirs and so was the city that "adopted" him for a son?

Two, his gambling. Three, his womanizing. (Now, I just have to include those. Nathanielzs is running to Vatican to ask the Pope to canonize Pacman.)

Nathanielsz said, "Greatness must be judged not merely by overpowering performances in the ring but in the humility and decency with which a fighter conducts himself outside of it. Pacquiao is the supreme example of what a fighter and a gentleman should be."

Nathanielsz also listed down Pacquiao's saintly acts:

"Despite the fact that Oscar De La Hoya said his fight against Pacquiao was 'personal' and that he would knock him out, when Manny pulverized the 'Golden Boy' and rearranged his handsome face, he embraced him in the center of the ring and said for all the world to hear, 'You are still my idol.'

"When a bloodied David Diaz crashed to the canvas in a heap, Manny sought to give him a helping hand.

"When he separated Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton from his senses, he showed concern and sought to lift him up. And when Hatton was embroiled in a drug scandal, he advised him to pick up the pieces of his life and look up to God for solace and assistance.

"When he battered Antonio Margarito, Manny felt compassion for the Mexican. Margarito and his trainer Robert Garcia had promised to knock Pacquiao out and in the process ridicule trainer Freddie Roach because of his Parkinson’s disease.

"He requested referee Laurence Cole to stop the massacre and even asked Margarito whether he was alright before laying off him in the last two rounds."

I say, you start talking about character traits as the best gauge to being called the greatest, you ought to have dug deeper into the other sports heroes' characters. Particularly Ali.

It was from Ali that Mayweather got the "trash talk" strategy to wobble the knees of the opponents in pre-fights. Mayweather couldn't hack Ali's fight style to "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," he settled with the trash talk.

But with Ali's trash talks, were sentiments and beliefs that put all of America to shame when the American government arrested him and found him guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped him of his boxing title, and suspended his boxing license. All these because he refused to join a war he didn't believe in.

Ali might have said the famous line during the promotion of Thrilla in Manila: "It will be a killa... and a chilla... and a thrilla... when I get the gorilla in Manila," but he also said:

"I ain't got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger. ” (Haas, Jeffrey (2009). The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Lawrence Hill Books.)

“No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.” ("Muhammad Ali — The Measure of a Man." (Spring 1967)).

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" (Haas)

Now, Pacquiao could have been half as great as Ali in terms of character had he refused to kiss the hands of Gloria and her cohorts. Pacquiao can be half as great as Ali if he can show more strength in character not just in brawn.

Let us not gloss over Manny's humility. The man came from dirt poor beginnings, how can he not be humble and thankful?

And if we believe that Manny is truly the greatest, let's stick to athletics and tell the world exactly how he rose from grit to greatness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

WOW! Philippines

That says it all. Good recall. Short and sweet.

If it ain't broke...Have they not heard of this old, old saying?

Not everything that came out of GMA regime is bad. Neither those who have Marcos in them are evil.

"WOW! Philippines" is good. What Department of Tourism need only do is to make sure that everything that is Philippines is WOW! If not everything, at least, more things.

And must you change it, change the logo and make it yellow, if only to please your boss. But leave the slogan alone.

DOT Secretary Lim apologized for the error. For rushing things to the point of copying Poland's logo. For forgetting that we are selling the Philippines as a tourist destination to the non-speakers of Filipino. He admitted that the idea (Pilipinas Kay Ganda) didn't go through FGD (focused group discussion) which according to him should have been the "normal process."

Doesn't DOT have budget for R&D? Doesn't DOT have budget for third-party marketing think tanks? Or they haven't heard that these two actually exist?

And we ask again: Where does Noynoy get his people?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Balding Prince and The Fantasy World

OK. So he is human after all.

I wouldn't have noticed the hair had he not gone out announcing to the world he is getting married. The wedding that is bound to be the grandest of royal weddings in 30 years.

OK. I will cut him some slack. He is an RAF rescue pilot. He took up art history in college, and later on geography, too.

Art History. Wow! You were born without a bone of an artist so you decided to study art history. You probably want to have more than one night in a museum, and not just to be a guard in a museum. You probably want to dig deeper into the heart of Greece, travel in time, be blown away by humanity's genius. And you are one of the princes of Wales, the second heir to the thrown, next to your father. How could one be so lucky whose only problems are the paparazzi and his fast receding hairline?

Another slack here. You are marrying a commoner, a daughter whose parents' business is to organize children's parties. Like you, she's 28. You are not marrying a girl half your age as most famous, wealthy, powerful men are in the habit of doing.

The world is changing. Male marries male. Female marries another female. Rich people when they die leave wealth to their dogs. The best golfer in the world is black. The best boxer on the planet is Asian.

Indeed a great fantasy era to exist in!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Manny and Tony

"Losers quit when they're tired. Winners quit when they've won," says an anonymous quote.

Margarito didn't quit despite. Pacquiao quit punching on the 12th, and it is because he knew he'd already won long before that. And to quote Pacman, "Boxing is not about killing each other."

It was amazing that only minutes after a 12-round match, Pacman could still give an interview, some of his lines worthy enough to quote. His usual answer when asked about Mayweather, "It's my promoter's job to choose my next fight. I'm just here to train and get ready for it," always hits the mark. This time, with a little sting, "I don't need him. I'm satisfied with what I have." His standard answers to standard questions sound real and sincere. We've seen athletes who are divas. Manny is way, way beyond their league.

Tony, like the others who lost to Pacman, wouldn't be left behind. Eyes closed, hamburgered face, swollen lips, they answered questions if only to redeem a bit of themselves.

Win or lose, they earn millions in dollars. I can volunteer to get slaughtered in the ring at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas right now, but the world will think I'm 100% nuts. They wouldn't even stamp my visa for it. You betcha!

One has to deserve to be manslaughtered in pay-per-view.

That's how the world works, ladies and gentlemen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tolstoy's Concept of the Religious Art as Reflected on Steinbeck's "The Pearl"

A Post-graduate Paper on Literary Criticism

In 1898, Leo Tostoy wrote his major work on criticism, What Is Art?, as an attempt to define art in terms of his own Christian faith.

Tolstoy states that good art is a means of communication, of progress, and of the movement of humanity forward toward perfection (Smith and Parks, 677).

What Is Art? envisions a kind of art that is accessible and comprehensible to everyone, and that which unifies men into universal brotherhood. For this to materialize a work of art should evoke "infectiousness" to the reader. "The stronger the infection the better is the art." (675)

According to Tolstoy, there are three conditions to the degree of the infectiousness of art. These are the individuality of the feeling transmitted, the clarity of expression and the sincerity of the artist. By individuality, he means, the more personal the feeling art transmits, the more strongly the reader relates to it. By the clarity of expression, he means that in the work, the reader finds for the first time the exact meaning and expression for the feeling he has long known and felt. However, of the three conditions of infectiousness, the degree of sincerity in the artist is the most important. For when the receiver of the art feels that the artist himself is infected by his own work, and the artist creates art for himself and not only for others, the mental condition of the artist infects the reader. (677)

Tolstoy further states that the absence of any of these conditions excludes a work from the category of art and falls under what he calls a "counterfeit art."

But what is good art and what is bad art in terms of subject matter? The essence of Christian perception is the recognition by every man of his sonship to God and the feeling that will unite him with God and with others. If religious perception exists in the society, then art should aim at this and be appraised on the basis of this religious perception.

However, a great amount of counterfeit art was developed to entertain the upper class of the Renaissance period. The great misfortune of the time is that people did not embrace the supreme religious art but rather those which were against Christian principles.

Be that as it may, the Christian ideal has changed and reversed everything. As Tolstoy puts it, the ideal is no longer about the greatness of an individual, but his humility, purity, compassion and love. The hero is no longer the benefactor but the beggar; not the merciful but the one least deserving of mercy.

By this Christian ideal the writer aims to study John Steinbeck's 1947 novella The Pearl.

The Pearl is a retelling of a Mexican folk tale about a poor fisherman and his wife and child. When the fisherman Kino finds an extraordinary pearl, he hopes that it will bring comfort and health to his family. But soon he discovers that instead of a new house, new clothes and an education for his son, the great pearl brings greed, envy and ultimately death to his family.

The Pearl is in the category of what Tolstoy calls the religious art which transmits feelings flowing from a religious perception of man's position in the world in relation to God and his neighbor. It answers Tolstoy's Christian ideal of art which discusses not about the rich, but the poor; not about those who dwell in palaces, but those who dwell in brush houses and huts; not about those who rule, but those who acknowledge no authority but God's.

From a hand-me-down lesson given by Kino's father, each man and woman is like a soldier sent by God to guard some parts of the castle of the universe. Some are designated to watch over the barricades while others are appointed to some deep dark quarters by the walls. Regardless of the assignment, each one must be loyal to his post to shield the castle from the assaults of Hell. This somehow educates Kino on man's destiny as willed by God. To go against this bidding will lead him to his destruction. This is a warning of the things to come in Kino's life.

In The Pearl, most of the characters are the ones in the lower class of the society. They are those who dwell in brush houses and huts; the ones who have corncakes as the only breakfast known outside of feast days; the ones whose only known conversation every morning is the sigh of satisfaction. But more than representatives of the social poor, the characters in The Pearl are symbols that portray a social group and its ideals.

Kino is an honest and dignified pearl diver who works to support his family. He functions well in the traditional way of the village. Kino depends on nature for his existence. When the waters are rough, he cannot go on fishing. When the sun sets, his workday ends.

As Kino moves away from the mental and cultural tradition of his village, he becomes isolated. His marching toward the city to find a better deal for his pearl is a symbolic move toward a more complex civilization. He envisions in his hands the benefits of a civilization that will free him and his family from the servitude of poverty - power, money and an education for his son Coyotito. Consequently, Kino loses his innocence and brings about his downfall when he tempts fate by going beyond his social limitations.

Juana represents the integrity of a simple way of life. She is the loving and devoted wife, the unwavering force in Kino's life. She has great inner strength and determination. Such is shown when Coyotito is bitten by the scorpion. She acts immediately and sucks out the poison while muttering a Hail Mary and some ancient magic in her head. On the other hand, Kino hovers, is helpless, and is in the way.

Juana has a strong survival instinct where her family is concerned. When the doctor refused to treat Coyotito, Kino responded by punching the gate; Juana put a seaweed poultice on the child's shoulder. Juana moves along with the rhythm of nature, and is aware of her social boundaries. Unlike Kino, she does not believe in pursuing the seemingly unattainable.

Coyotito, the son, represents nature in its most undeveloped stage; the victim of powers greater than himself.

The Doctor is the symbol of evil in man's society. In his book of principles, money counts more than human life and professional pride. He embodies the arrogance of the powerful in society toward the powerless.

Tolstoy's idea of infectiousness through the individuality of the feeling transmitted is shown in the novella's theme on man's struggle for existence. Although Kino's way of life may differ from ours, it contains the same kinds of struggles that everyone faces at some time - the struggle for food and shelter, and the struggle to defend himself from the attacks of nature (the scorpion) and from other human beings who burn his hut, destroy his canoe, hunt him down, and kill his child.

Steinbeck's clarity of expression brings to life in its moving description the evil of man and the rage of man wronged. When Kino's old canoe is destroyed by his enemies, it was an evil beyond thinking for "the killing of a man was not so evil as the killing of a boat. For a boat does not have sons, and a boat cannot protect itself, and a wounded boat does not heal." Seeing this, Kino, now a wounded animal, runs to his house. It does not occur to him to take one of the canoes of his neighbors. "Never once did the thought enter his head, any more than he could have conceived breaking a boat." In Steinbeck's remarkable lines, sorrow is felt to the core and pain to its roots.

As Tolstoy says, the most important of the art's condition of infectiousness is the sincerity of the artist in his craft. The sincerity of Steinbeck in writing The Pearl can be reflected on his 1962 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: "Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed...The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry, for courage, compassion and love… a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature" (National Steinbeck Center, 2).

And if great works of art embody the understanding of the meaning of life, The Pearl moves closest to this understanding through Kino and his family as they realize that "there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things, and no in-between anywhere." In the end, they learn that poverty is not a lesson God would like to teach the poor. Poverty is that part of the castle in the universe God has assigned some men and women to guard, with dignity, from the assaults of iniquity, of greed, and of envy.

Saturday Pill

Written on January 25, 2006

Attending that saturday class is a pill. It heals me of chronic malady from weeklong stress caused by work and hohum disorder put together by a world that doesn't learn new things, doesn't aim to do new things, doesn't try new things, afraid of getting shot, run over, bumped by an unknown catastrophe yet to happen.

I learn new things from three people every Saturday. Of the three, two are my professors, one is a classmate who is a doctor who knows a tanker about human behavior.

I can categorize my classmates into three: the sponge group, the wood group and the gymsum boards. I would like to think I belong to the sponge group, taking in everything, spitting out the unwanted. The wood group refuses to accept new things, obstinate in their grandeur. The gypsum boards aren't totally hopeless as they let in a few of the discussions. Their only handicap is limited intelligence capacity. Some of them are teachers, quite a number are fresh from college, one or two others are corporate folks, here and there a writer (lifestyle, I think), one is a theater crew, and the rest are self-professed bums.

I have always been an unobtrusive student, keeping thoughts to myself, making comments in silence. But heck, why not this time? I find myself taking the floor every 10 minutes during my first class. Sometimes, i cover my ears so I won't hear a word a classmate says lest I hug the floor again.

I think knowing to weave nice words together is not enough. One needs to learn how the world works. We shouldn't tinker with ideas we know a zilch about. We shouldn't don't talk about sex when -- well, I guess, I shouldn't talk about sex. We shouldn't talk about the corporate world when we have never been employed even as a clerk in an SME in Makati or Ortigas or Pateros. If you are a writer writing about the pyramids, reading about the pyramids is not enough. You got to experience it. You got to be one with the pyramids. Emily Dickinson is dead, and with her in her grave is the monopoly in writing about the bees and birds.

Still, it sure is a pill listening to wannabes like me.

Thankfully Discontented

What if what I have isn't exactly what i need? Do i say, "Fine, I will make do with that"? That there are many people who have so much less and I should be ashamed of myself taking for granted what's before me?

But what I am thankful for at night is that I am not M______ and that I didn't succumb to the call of "love" and married the first guy who asked me. I am thankful that I am me now and that my problem is only about choices, that I don't have nightmares and constant fear of being attacked and kidnapped.

I am not quite afraid of making the wrong decisions. I have lived half of my life making those; the other half being the best years as rewards for the errors turned good life's lessons.

I am treading on fire atop a balance beam a thousand feet off the ground. I am here because I could't be found sitting content because it appears I have gotten what could be the best deal of a lifetime. I have been given so much, let me suffer with discontent. If only to be fair to those whose life has been an organized catalog of misfortunes.

Brooding too early in the day over a cup of yet another unsugared coffee.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Painfully Watching Shalani

I came home late last night. Had late dinner, therefore. Sister went to the kitchen to take a breather from watching Willing Willie which according to my officemate airs over TV5 from 6:30 PM to forever.

"Ako nahihirapan manood sa kanya!" She complained.

Then stop watching the show! I retorted.

I guess that's human nature to check what's new. Surely, my sister watched Shalani out of curiosity. This big entry into showbiz has been all over the spreads and the airwaves the past days. If that doesn't worm into your psyche, I don't know what can.

You've just freed yourself from a high-profile relationship. And sure as hell, the media hadn't been easy. Demons running amok inside your personal hell when lights go out and the external support system has all gone to sleep.

And now this.

Why Shalani?

Was it really that bad?

Please, quit the show and go to Italy and eat pasta. (Yes, I read the book.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Things That Suck In This Country

Based on my experiences and the news that came out the past few days.

No, not the wine. No, Filipino men are still the best looking males in the world.

Drivers. And there are A LOT of them. Both of public and private vehicles. But bus drivers are the worst, of course. This morning I thought would be the end of me as I got sandwiched by two huge JAC Liners racing along SLEX. SLEX as it is, is in a very bad state what with the topsy-turvy way the Skyway contractors work. Narrow roads, concrete barriers, construction vehicles, construction workers - all contributing to one big mess. The contractors work like a careless bride cooking for the groom for the first time. Hurricane in the kitchen; tsunami in the sink. Add the government contractors to the list of those who suck in this country.

Traffic police. I was robbed in broad daylight. I was apprehended along Libis because I took the line down a U-Turn Lane but didn't take it. I didn't intend to be in that lane. How would I know that somewhere along the long C5 Road, there would be a U-Turn slot I should avoid like a plague? I didn't bother anyone turning left by going straight. And tell me, how could I possibly change lanes when there were huge trailer trucks ready to make steel sheets of my Honda. I got robbed trying to avoid an accident. Great! They were asking for four Ninoy bills or they would confiscate my license which I would redeem for P2,500 and a seminar. They were pulling my leg, of course. You gotta be third-world kidding me! I heard "third-world" has been put to sleep. "Third-world" is now called "developing countries." But what the heck! Third world is third world! Why in Webster's name are names and terminologies being changed now? RP is no longer RP but PH or PHI. What's in a name?? Going back, what could a poor driver like me have done? I was threatened. There were about half a dozen of them and a policeman waiting on the side. Noynoy, you removed the wangwang, but not the varmints in uniform. And is that even allowed - a band of traffic enforcers and a policeman having a tea party along C5?

Jaywalkers along C5. Street vendors along C5. Worse are those with pushcarts.

Congressmen going to Texas to watch Manny's fight. With free airfare and accommodation, care of Manny. Manny, your money is your business. But between giving those elected officials free rides and giving street children (which you once were) a year's worth of food, education and shelter, I'd rather that you look back at your past and remember some of your thoughts about rich men burning away money while your stomach growled as you waited for the rain to let up so you could sleep on the pavement of a lamp-less street.

P-Noy's Miscommunications Group. Are Mr. Carandang and Ms. Mislang still glued to the post? What brand are they using?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ridiculously Sad

I always see them early in the morning at 7. Toddlers running, babies in their strollers, puppies on a leash - all of them basking in the early morning sun. At Eastwood Mall Open Park. Playing, running, giggling, crying, barking, wagging their tails. Dogs and babies in one happy world in the park.

No, they are not there on their own. Each baby, each toddler, each puppy, each dog has a yaya to push the stroller, to watch over the little kid running, playing by the lagoon, to hold the leash of the dog, to pick after the puppy.


We look down on mothers residing at the slum for bearing a dozen children they couldn't feed. But hey, what do we say about condo mothers, executive mommies and rich moms who bear a child or two and can't even push a stroller, join their kids at the park and have to pay someone to do one of the most basic maternal duties of all? Having children is a big personal responsibility. Motherhood should not be a right or an obligation, but a choice. By that I mean, you choose to be a mother, then give up five years of your career life and spend it with your child. You don't want to bear a child, then don'y marry a guy you can't convince not to have children.


You buy an expensive dog for show and hire a yaya to take care of it. If you're not an idiot, I don't know what to call you. Having dogs is like having children. It is a huge responsibility. You take care of it. You hands-on take care of it. If you don't have the time to do it and the sincere inclination for it, then don't get a dog!

So sad. So ridiculously sad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hotdog-Eating Christians and the Promise of Greatness

Over the weekend, I watched two WW II films - Back to Bataan (1945) , starring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn, and No Man Is An Island (1962) , starring Jeffrey Hunter and Barbara Perez. Two great Hollywood films that tell you the Philippines ought to be the most advanced economy in Asia today.

No Man Is An Island is a film on Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II. It was shot in the Philippines and used a host of Filipino actors and actresses including Barbara Perez and Chichay. Ms. Perez was outstanding in all aspects. Her beauty was world class, her acting defined Hollywood. However, there was a little booboo in one of the scenes that escaped editing. That scene where the American Navy Tweed celebrates Christmas with the Cruz family. Go check Youtube for No Man Is An Island Part 9 posted by user Alchemy618.

In Back to Bataan, Col. Madden (Wayne) told Maximo, a school boy, that the boy would help the Philippines be a great country after the war. You watch that film and you know that line isn't just a script but a promise. Albeit, still unfulfilled. In this movie, I learned that the Philippines had 17 million population. About 65 years and additional 73 million Filipinos later, we are still in our own war against poverty and corruption. From 17M to 90M Filipinos over the span of 65 years, what an achievement in human reproduction! Surely, the Catholic Church is happy to note.

In a classroom scene in Back to Bataan, the pupils were asked what Spain and the US contributed to the Philippines. The pupils said Spain gave us saints and Christianity. The Americans gave us hotdogs! Now, we've become a nation of 90 million, majority of us, hotdog-eating Christians.

I stay in this country, not feeling stuck in it. I'm staying because I'm waiting for that breakthrough. Of the promise of greatness. Over that seemingly far horizon is a ray of legendary hope that this country will be the greatest in Asia. And I will not be in Europe or the US or in any other part of the world when that happens.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Teachers

About three weeks ago we witnessed the feisty Prof. Monsod's teaching presentation to her students at the University of the Philippines via a Youtube video that circulates over the Internet.

In the last day of her class in economics, Prof. Monsod bade her students to live by UP's principle of Honor and Excellence. In her excitement to ignite the fire of patriotism of helping the country by being in the country, she ruffled a few feathers particularly the "bagong bayani" Overseas Fiipino Workers.

The other day, an article/letter written by Asuncion David Maramba to her former student-priests who wrote to PDI to "condemn the Celdran's Damaso protest act" came out of the same daily.

To my dear student-priests
By Asuncion David Maramba
Philippine Daily Inquirer

THERE WERE your names: Fathers Lincoln CarabaƱa, Sammy (misspelled Sanny) de Claro, Edgardo Coroza, Alexander Thomas, Antonio Navarrete Jr., signatories with eight other priests to a letter to the editor, “Priests condemn Celdran’s protest act.” (Inquirer, 10/5/10)

Your names brought back memories, for make no mistake, you are very dear to me, a “generation” of seminarians at San Carlos Seminary and the Rogationist Seminary with whom I spent the last dozen years of teaching, rudely terminated by the onset of double vision right in the classroom. Nobody noticed as I cautiously picked my way down the staircase at San Carlos.

Who can forget your dramatizations and improvisations for stage, costume and rendition, as when with flair you acted out the election of the new Pope from “Shoes of the Fisherman” as “cardinals” filing in to cast their votes? Or our singing of “Sounds of Silence” and “Eleanor Rigby” as final flourish to reading and interpretation? And it was one of you who introduced me to a naughty word, “manangoniacs” - so pre-Vatican II, you said.

Now, you are parish priests, rectors, superiors, deans, formators, spiritual or vocation directors, etc. (It matters little whether you become bishops or cardinals). Thank you, because my heart swells when I hear of you or bump into you and can never seem to have enough of talking.

Your letter made me wish we were in the classroom again. I would put its subject up for discussion. (Horrors, the manangoniacs might say, or, thank God, she’s no longer teaching!)

Remember “symbol”? We’re in class again, so here goes: First, a symbol is a thing, deed, person, etc., that is explicitly and literally in the selection. Second, like a clap of thunder it instantaneously bears a meaning. Third, it has one or many meanings (thus the phrase “levels of meaning”). Lately we have been served symbols related to RH. The incident you protested yields several: Celdran himself, Celdran dressed as Rizal, the Damaso placard, the protest action itself in the Manila Cathedral.

How we could explore the meaning/s of each! Outspoken Coroza would readily say what he thought; De Claro would pause before giving his measured opinion; Thomas might smile and demur. Or we could confuse each other by forcing meanings that are not there. And after collegial consensus, we could finally agree that this or that is closest to the truth of the situation. Or we could hear no evil and see no evil and dismiss the matter as just an amusing story.

But no one thinks it was just an amusing story. “Damaso” was instantly picked up like “wang-wang” (sirens) and meanings were attached to both its parts and to the whole. The Internet has been flooded with meanings mixed with flotsam through which you must navigate.

But what is the meaning of your choice? That’s important. At this point, your one-time teacher chooses to sit with you as a forever-student. Go figure.

Since we are at symbols, we might as well go the mile. I refer to the babies and fetuses: the survivor in the airplane toilet, the dead ones at the Cathedral and Quiapo Church, a dead newborn on Pioneer Street, a fetus in the Starmall toilet. Are they isolated cases or deliberate “plants” to “malign the Church” (Inquirer, 10/14/10) or sharply symbolic as “an eloquent statement of unwanted pregnancies,” now becoming a recurrent symbol?

I am tempted to ascend the teacher’s platform again and ask you to write a half-page reaction to the last question.

We can’t go on skirting the issue seething beneath these symbols. We all know what it is. Let’s go on study-group mode and toss some statements and references too:

High hopes for the dialogue between bishops and leaders are dim in the sense that neither will change their stand; but there are talking points to thresh out. (See the RH paper by the Loyola School of Theology and the John Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues.)

Let there be no more name-calling, labeling, intellectually dishonest accusations like “abortionist,” “pro-death,” “an abortion bill.”

Anyone who would comment on the RH bill should read one through. (Try the Consensus Bill for Population, Family Planning and Development. 8188501—Philippine Center for Population and Development.)

Science may still moot all our quarrels on when-life-begins. A friend just told me about Aquinas’ view on “ensoulment” which is certainly worth checking.

The bottom line is not “foreign funded” or “the saintly mother argument” but whether birth control is moral or not. This is the sticky part. Here’s food for thought: “The Church has never explicitly claimed to speak infallibly on a moral question” (“Christian Morality” chapter in Richard McBrien’s “Catholicism”). There are two models of morality: one looks only at the “act”; another also considers “circumstances and motives.” The first descends as a general principle/rule from the top; one size fits all. The second weighs in who-what-when etc. on specific applications of the principle whereby not all contraception, etc. is immoral. (See “A Morally Complex World” by James Bretzke, S.J.) And we haven’t even touched conscience.

Since we have gone back to school, let’s quote newly beatified Henry Cardinal Newman who proposes: “the culture of the intellect,” “…to remove the original dimness of the mind’s eye… to look out into the world right forward, steadily and truly; to give the mind clearness, accuracy, precision… to conceive justly what it thinks about, to abstract, compare, analyze, divide, define, and reason, correctly.”

Happy reading!

The first teacher has threatened that when she dies, she would haunt her students when they err. The second one has just proven she would. The latter didn't wait for death.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Last night I thought it was a joke until I read about it in PDI today.

My brother's friend who ran for Kagawad lost via toss coin. So I've been told last night. Macho, his nickname, tied votes with another candidate. To determine the winner, the poll officer tossed a coin. Macho chose heads. The coin showed tails. So there.

My brother pulled his hair out saying his friend would have won had he gone to the polls to vote. Thus, it has been concluded, every vote does count. Literally and figuratively. Never estimate the power of one.

Noynoy's uncle lost. My high school friend won, even getting the highest number of votes. He dropped by the house while I was out. My folks received the thanks.

Still figuring out why Blackberry is called a "smartphone."

The first text I received today was from the CEO. The second from the Ex-SO.

Life is a party! Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday Polls

I still have some ink on my fore finger. I thought doing the laundry last night would wash it away.

So I did vote.

Casting my vote for the Barangay Chairman and Members of Barangay Kagawad holds more meaning to me, I realized while reading through the list of candidates stapled on the chair's armrest. Last May, I voted for people I haven't even met, whom I've known only through tri-media; people who haven't watched or played in our summer basketball leagues; people who haven't bought at the same sari-sari stores I have been patronizing for years; people who haven't shared my disgust over bus lines BBL, JAM and Cher making terminals the small alleys before and after our bridge and causing sheeshcake traffic in the morning.

This time around, I was voting for people I know and have shared a laugh or two with. This time, I was voting for people whom I've seen in their best and in their worst. This time, I was voting for people who speak my language and experience what I do, hate what I hate.

When they mess up while in office, I can simply call them or drop by their house and speak my mind. I need not write PDI and bust my bile complaining.

For Barangay Chairman, I voted the father of my high school best friend. He is a retired colonel who has been a combat commander. My friend and I were already in college when I found out that they are Cojuangcos. My friend never told me. So I asked her if they have gone visiting Cory in Malacanang when she was still president. She said they were invited twice. I've been friends with a Cojuangco and I had no idea. One wouldn't suspect it, though. They live a simple life. Her father tending to their backyard, planting trees and what-nots. Her mother manning the sari-sari store while cooking the best kare-kare and caldereta in the whole barangay. She sending me those for lunch or dinner. She spending her afternoons over at our house talking about boys and men.

For Barangay Kagawad, I voted for my former High School mate. He would drop by our house at least twice a month for some favor I asked of him. His mother, the sweetest thing in the world. His father, the former homeowners' association president - a very controversial one. One time, I asked him what he would do if he wins after the support I've been giving him. He said, "Take advantage of anything and anyone. I have your back covered." He was joking. I hope.

The Barangay Elections ought to be one election everyone should be excited about; should be the one election everyone should support and go out for.

So sad, I can see very few bothered.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I attended a meeting with the top execs of one of the biggest BPOs in the country. After all has been said and questioned, the meeting tapered to political discussions. From the obscenely repulsive to the heart-wrenching.

One of the men shared that once he ordered about a hundred Jollibee meals to feed applicants during a training session. This after he saw two female trainees not moving from their seats, all pale, yet trying to concentrate on the lesson at hand. The two girls hadn't had lunch. They only had fare money which they borrowed from their neighbors.

A hungry child will never learn in school. That was what we were told in college. Before feeding the mind, first feed the child.

The man said they usually get applicants like that who fail miserably in the initial training. Too much domestic and financial worries in the head and only air in the stomach.

Here they said they saw the merits of Noynoy's Conditional Cash Transfers. CCTs aren't alms; they're a lifeline. One needs to live first before they are taught how to fish. CCTs are given to families who will ensure that they send their kids to school or if mothers would take themselves and their kids to health centers for proper health education and medical check-ups and assistance.

One of the ladies in the meeting even mentioned that in one province, if all of a family's school-going children earn 100% school attendance in a month, they are given a sack of rice. Is that alms? No. It is a reward for not messing up your life despite society's indifference.

Last year, GMA, through TESDA, gave thousands of scholarships to individuals of employable age but were either jobless or daring enough to improve their lot in life through education. The grants didn't end simply at training vouchers distribution. Scholars were also given allowance daily so they would attend school every day. Remove the controversies and corruption, that was one of the best programs GMA has ever done. I won't take that away from her. Now, about 50% of those who have been trained are employed. I know this because I've seen it. We've even employed some of those former TESDA scholars.

We can give "free" primary and secondary education as mandated by the constitution. But some people are so poor, "free" for them isn't exactly so. Students get 20% fare discounts, but there isn't a free ride. Students sometimes get free soup, but never free lunch. And where would they write their lessons? On banana leaves? What would they use as pen? Uling?

The 37 "lawmakers" and those others who oppose the Conditional Cash Transfers should try living with the poor and start accepting the truth that poverty isn't a choice. That being poor isn't equivalent to being lazy or irresponsible.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Made It Through Barry Manilow

Looking outside The Coffee Bean facing Eastwood Mall on this rainy, stormy morning, enjoying my vice of sugarfree, milk-filled coffee, I thank God for the lovely morning sans seeing nature's first green of gold.

On my way here, I hit a pothole which I didn't see because floodwaters found themselves once more along C5. It was a hard hit, I thought I would lose a tire. But the impact simply sounded more menacing than the consequence. I guess it was the tire hitting the water, then the hole. To my (shameless) credit, I was careful minding to slow down when I see and sense a puddle. Yes, I did run 110 KPH on a slippery-when-wet-road from Southwoods to Alabang, but that's different. And I snapped out of it when I realize I still want to live to see a hundredth birthday.

Last night wasn't exactly a party. I was in my Alabang office when at midday I received a text from my boss's EA telling me that her boss wanted me to join him in a meeting at 6 PM at Eastwood. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our Prez knew about Typhoon Juan/Megi. But he also knew that if we didn't go to that meeting we would lose one of this fiscal year's final biggest deals. I could complain to God Almighty but I knew I would still go - flood, typhoon, raging winds, pounding rain, earthquakes - all put together and then some.

The meeting ended half an hour after seven. It was when the rain started to fall big and hard. Please, don't read an undertone into it because that was simply how I saw it was: BIG and HARD. I left the car in Alabang as I don't trust my eyes at night, much more distrust when it rains and not just rain it was last night. I took a cab to take me to EDSA which surprisingly was as clean as a whistle. I got off at EDSA Crossing to take a bus Pacita-bound. The bus took all Creation Time to get to Magallanes interchange, not because there's a jam, but because there were not so many passengers getting on the bus. I guess people knew better than to stay late on the street on a day/night like that. That was what Ondoy had done to us urban and sub-urban dwellers of the capital and the Greater Manila Area.

The bus crawled its way to Ayala to get a busload. Just past Skyway, the bus started to smell of burnt clutch, chugging its slow descent to SLEX. More than the stinky smell of the clutch, the smell of trouble bothered the faint of hearts. Near 19th East, the bus gave up trying and stopped. The bus broke down in the middle of South Luzon Expressway on a rainy, stormy night. Cut to the chase, I arrived home a quarter after 10.

Everyone was still awake, waiting for me, even the nephews (2 and 4 year-olds). I told them about the bus. I was served dinner. Everyone else took second dinner. After supper, my 2-year-old nephew went up to my room and wouldn't stop the melodious wail of Ta-keel, Tita! Tita, Ta-keel! until I turn Youtube on for some Lightning Mcqueen videos. The other nephew came to have a party. It was almost midnight when we finished.

I made it through the rain and the storm and the bus that broke down unceremoniously along the highway. And I was neither pissed nor stressed. I've just learned to let go of the things I cannot control. To see the lighter side of the dark. To listen to the distant silence beyond all the noise.

Life is a Barry Manilow. You wouldn't admit to being a fan, but sure as hell you love his melody and sung a lot of his songs in secret. Barry Manilow sucks with his botox and all. But life, too, sucks. Yet it is a good life with all the troubles too harsh it makes you cry. Far too many sometimes, you cannot help but laugh.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh, Dear!

I bought the Dear John DVD lunch time of Friday. Missed it in the theaters. Sigh. So I had our technical guy set up the LCD projector and the subwoofer and attach them to my laptop at the office. The movie was to be projected on the wall opposite the carpeted floor with stacks and stacks of pillows. Someone sent over a tall latte decaf, a pet bottle of orange juice, a slice of banana cake and some chips. I love my officemates taking care of my me-time.

When everything was perfect, I took out a blanket from the cabinet. (Yes, I keep a blanket in my office. When it gets too cold, I wrap myself in it - corporate attire and all.) It was 6 PM. I turned off the lights and bliss!

Watching John (Channing Tatum), I swore I would never date a mortal. Why can't reality produce hot, good looking men who love a woman the way she wants it? Why does it only happen in the movies - a handsome, sexy, perfectly toned man writing love letters; the same man longing to receive love letters, staring at the moon thinking of the only woman he loves, giving up everything for love; a man not led into temptation. And just when you think all is over, you find him and the girl meeting in a cafe. Of course, with much thanks to the universe for conspiring to set the fate.

Yeah, Yeah. That's why it is called a "movie." It moves you, plucks you out of your world into a place you'll never be, but only for about a hundred minutes.

Never mind some of Channing's awkward acting moments. You look at him and there is no need to go beyond the surface. One look at him and you can forgive all flaws in every tragic hero.

And that kissing in the rain! Why don't real people get caught in the rain with someone they want to kiss? Kissing in the rain defies human logic. Human instinct demands that we run for cover to not get wet.

Soldiers in combat are not supposed to be so runway gorgeous. John has bullets in his body, and blood oozes from the wounds and he still manages to look as if he's just come from a meet at Hugo Boss. What is that?

An escape. That's what the movie has given me. Thank you very much!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sonnet and Learning How to Bike

I know it is hard to write a sonnet:
It is like learning how to ride a bike;
You can crack your skull despite the helmet,
Skin your knees and sprain your foot aside.
Your friend or father tells you to balance,
You know the word, the spelling and meaning,
But do it with the bike proves sans a chance,
You call the bike the world's stupidest thing!
And say what quatrain, couplet, iambic?
'Tis English, why three times of four plus two?
Is it wrong of me to ask some logic
About rhyme scheme EY BEE EY BEE BO BOO?
If Will Shakespeare made it look so easy,
Don't blame the bard, been dead for centuries.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fire On Wet Woods

Jumping like Jack, my 4-year-old nephew slipped and hit his mouth on the center table yesterday. That hurt, bloody hurt. After the blood had stopped gushing, his lips swelled the size twice his original. But he couldn't stop crying.

The crying didn't last for all eternity, though. As soon as the pain subsided, the crying turned to whimper and the whimper turned to silence.

Finally, the adults turned to the other boy, the 2-year-old saying: "Kuka, wawa, Kuka!" The younger boy hugged and kissed the injured. "Mamerman CD, Kuka? CD Kuka, Mamerman?"

Peter Parker came to life. For the nth time. And the jumping and howling resumed. Oh, KIDS!!!

I came home to see the still ugly swell on the lips of the 4-year-old who carried on like the fish pout wasn't there. He gobbled up Jollibee Ube Ice Craze with a vengeance.

After dinner, Nanay and I got to share that dishwashing moment talk. She was complaining about the boys' hyperactivity attacks. Oh how different we were as kids!

And I go, "'Nay, times have changed. We've moved to a house in a subdivision so divided squarely there isn't room to grow."

I reminded her of the old house located at the end of the earth where our playground was as far and wide as the eyes could see. That regardless of the season, we, kids, had paradise for playground. At pre-planting time there were trees we could climb and skin our knees and elbows with. There were mango trees that gave unrestricted radius of shade under which we could spread mats on to sleep in the sfternoon. At planting time, we had watersheds and patubig along rice fields to bathe and fish in. At harvest time, we had wide beds of haystack we could jump up and down, roll on and on, and build playhouses with.

There were endless things to do outside we were dead to the world when we came home. Those times, children slept through TV shows.

The boys have too much energy in them, there is not enough space to fling them to.

Today, in lieu of real space, kids are sent to virtual worlds, without leaving the house, butt stuck on the seat infront of a Mac. On weekends, they go to malls with artificial playground with artificial animals and artificial trees. The tiled playground won't skin their knees; the rubbered floors won't break the shells. But you pay too much for the simplest things that are supposed to be free. The children are kept captive when they are supposed to be outside, are covered when they are supposed to be outdoors.

Thus, the kids meet accidents at home. Too much fire on a too wet wood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KL's Pics

Two years ago, this baby was nowhere in sight. Not a warning, not a sign. No expectations, no grand dreams.

And he came and the world turned upside down. His parents named him Kristian Lloyd. I called him Chuva. I'm such a mean, mean Tita!

His haircut isn't a punishment as much as it is a joke. His mother tinkered with the scissors and gave him that look. Cute, despite. My nephew, regardless.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende Sounding Like Ignazio Silone

That's what I get reading Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True.

And bits of Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath, too.

Magic realism and stream of consciousness. You get that two together you have a fat book only people with sleeping problems can digest.

I'm on the 759th page of the total 894.

I remember my literature professor saying, "Be happy when you get out of college. You have all the time in the world to read without your teacher telling you what to read and asking you questions about it." I love that teacher. He has led me to the truth about literature: "It is a power to be possessed and not a body of objects to be studied."

I have in my possession a power to make insignificant nights without time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Filipinos Are So Much Better Than That

"P-Noy’s responsibility is first and last to his people. P-Noy’s concern is first and last his people. P-Noy’s priority is first and last his people." That is according to Conrado De Quiros in his PDI column yesterday which had me thinking while taking a bath this morning. Can you imagine that? Me having this much interest in Philippine politics? Hey, I'm the girl who dies for shoes!

De Quiros is among those plenty who are irked by P-Noy's move to give the Chinese government and its people the first crack at the IIRC report. He further wonders, "Truly you have to wonder what kind of people P-Noy has surrounded himself with." Exactly my sentiment.

But I digress from this one.

Everyone who criticized P-Noy about his decision to send to the Chinese government the IIRC report first had forgotten this: P-Noy is Filipino first before he is President.

What is a Filipino? What sets us apart from the rest of the world? Before laws and rights, we have traits and culture first. These two, the bases of our Constitution, the reasons for our madness.

Why do we save the best blankets and pillow cases and take them out because a guest happens to be in the area and asks if he can stay for the night? Why do we not touch the only fish on the table when we have visitors for dinner? Why do we open the blue-sealed canned goods that we proudly put on display in our "estante" and serve to Tatay's officemates one weekend they decide to show up?

When the children of my sister's friends come to visit, they get to play my nephews' newest and "bestest" toys while our nephews look on wondering perhaps, "Spiderman ko 'yun, ah. Bakit binigay ni Tita sa bata?" "Umba, beebee! Beebee, umba!"

When I was a kid, I asked my mother why my cousins get to sleep in our room and we at the living room. She answered: "Eh kase, mga bisita sila." My inquiry didn't end there. But the bottomline is visitors come first.

Those Chinese tourists were our visitors. We gave them hospitality not because they deserved it. They were given it because we are Filipinos. And as Filipinos, we have this crazy trait of hardcore fresh-linen-and-best-pillows hospitality. Whether you like it or not.

Filipino first and we have the blood of these Chinese tourists in our hands? Instead of the best reception, we gave them multiple murder. Instead of the best and choicest fish, we had them eat bullets.

Filipino first? That is so un-Filipino, if you ask me. Do you know what is being Filipino? It is bowing our heads when we pass when people are talking. It is the mother eating only what is left by her children in their plates. It is the mother taking only the smallest part of the fish. It is the first-born taking care of her siblings and sending them to school. It is the neighbor passing a bowl of calderata over to the fence of the other neighbor, "Mare, pasensya na. Nagluto ng konting caldereta. Eto, tikman nyo."

Filipino are never known to have the "Me first" mentality.

Don't, just don't confuse our people with others.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Anatomy of a Single Mom

At age 38, my friend gave birth to her first baby. A girl. Her boyfriend whom she met only in December is back in Italy. She gave birth with only her father and a house help by her side from 10 PM until 6 AM the next day. Her OB assured her of a normal delivery, but on the eleventh hour, her doctor called for a CS.

I came to see her and the baby at the hospital the same day. She was OK, with two cellphones in her hands, calling and texting home for instructions - stuff to be sent to the hospital, hospital bills to be paid, etc. And she lying in bed with inches of sewn vertical wound on her stomach. Hell, it was painful. I could see how she'd stop to draw some deep breaths to ease the pain. Some tube stuck on her somewhere so she could pee without leaving the bed. One would see the shade of her liquid wastes.

Damn it! And she was alone with this sleepy girl barely out of her teens acting as her aid. But what does a girl know?

She could have NOT gotten herself pregnant, but she wanted a baby, a child she could call her own. And for what? For this? This loneliness at the time when a woman should be celebrating her womanhood?

No, I would not give credit to the father of her child for calling and calling and calling while she was near-death giving birth. The least he could have done was fly back to this OFW-infested country and be by her side to hold her hand those long hours of birth pains and birth hells. OFW-infested. That is the only time when something is infested and the pest is not on or in the host.

There are no excuses for any man not to be with the woman he has impregnated the time the woman gives birth. Any male human who does that can never claim to be better than male non-human animals.

She said he would be back in December for their wedding and the child's baptism. Big deal. He could have gone home now and get married. Ano siya naghihintay ng Pasko?

Stupid, stupid male. Why is she even marrying him?

My guess, that is what friends are for. To be with their friends when they have no one else. And deliberately fade in the background when things pick up. And back again when things screw up.

I cannot tell her not to marry him. I'm not her mother. I'm just her friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kawawang Gobyerno

Too fast for HK lawmaker. The Incident Investigation and Review Committee report that is.

There really is nothing we can and will do that will satisfy them, is there?

"Why China first? Solons ask Palace."

The National Union of Jounalists of the Philippines (NUJP) "warns government about haling media to court over hostage crisis coverage."

There really is nothing this government can and will do that will merit a tiny bit of positive outlook, is there?

For My Lover

Tracy Chapman

Two weeks in a Virginia jail
For my lover, for my lover
Twenty thousand dollar bail
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

Everyday I'm psychoanalyzed
For my lover, for my lover
They dope me up and I tell them lies
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

I follow my heart
And leave my head to ponder
Deep in this love
No man can shake
I follow my heart
And leave my mind to wonder
Is this love worth
The sacrifices I make?

Two weeks in a Virginia jail
For my lover, for my lover
Twenty thousand dollar bail
For my lover, for my lover

Everyday I'm psychoanalyzed
For my lover, for my lover
They dope me up and I tell them lies
For my lover, for my lover

And everybody thinks
That I'm the fool
But they don't get
Any love from you

The things we won't do for love
I'd climb a mountain if I had to
Risk my life so I could have you
You, you, you...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Know This Much Is True

is the title of the novel I'm reading now.

What happens if someone literally follows the teaching of the Bible that says, "if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee"? What if someone really cuts off his right hand?

It would be so easy to call the guy "mental." Because that's probably what he is.

If you were the mother, would you have your child cut in two? Would a sane man suggest such a thing to prove a point? Would the Prince of Wales do that? What about Noynoy? What about Obama?

The Bible is a highly metaphorical book of stories and teachings, it should not be left among men and women of lesser mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual faculties. Seriously.

No one book in the history of mankind has been so open and vulnerable to misinterpretation than the Bible. I will not touch on the other books from which other religions have risen.

But God has given us this one legacy. Like any other piece of great literature, it is a power to be possessed, and not a body of objects to be studied.

Friday, September 17, 2010

English for the Boys

My nephews are learning English! Yey!

Our home is a "No English, Please" zone. We don't speak English because there are two impressionable boys in the house: one is two years old, the other is four.

I want them to master Filipino before they are corrupted by side street, Eat Bulaga English.

At first, the parent of the younger boy would throw English phrases to the wind like, "Don't eat that. Dirty." And I would follow up saying, "O, huwag mo daw kainin kase madumi." At times, the mother would say, "Baby, don't cry." And I'd go: "Tumahan ka, wala kang Jollibee."

Finally, the parents of the kids got the message. If the aunt, who has a degree in the English language and a master's degree in English literature, would not speak to the kids in English, why would we?

But unknown to us a troop of English teachers find themselves into the living room: HBO, Spiderman, Spongebob and Patrick, and Lightning McQueen.

Now, the kids say "shark," "no," "listen to me now!," and two pages worth of words more. The kids don't have yayas, only enslaved uncles and aunts. And the slaves won't badge to speak English.

One time, the older boy asked my brother what the conversation was about between two soldiers in the Combat series. My brother said: "Manood ka lang at makinig. Maiintindihan mo rin yan." Even translation isn't allowed. Get the message through context clues, that's our approach.

Language acquisition is really more effective than language learning. Say what? The first one allows the non-native speakers to immerse themselves in the language through day to day interaction with the native speakers of the second language. The latter teaches the non-native speakers the rules by translation and textbooks. Language acquisition is used for survival, meaning without any help anchored by one's native tongue. Here, the basis is mostly "utile." In language learning, it is academics.

When kids are made to learn things for purely academics gain, the result, which is knowledge, may not be so positive and long lasting compared with having the kids acquire the skills, which are purpose-driven.

The boys are learning English! Next step is for them to read Moby Dick.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More on Save More

My sister and our 2-year-old nephew (the one who ate the good chocolate bar) went to Save More yesterday to return the wormy one. We thought it best not to take the poor, hapless victim.

No one was manning the Customer Service Counter when we got there. It was close to 11 AM. It being a Sunday, they opened at 9 AM. Then a female with the INFORMATION sash came.

I told her about my complaint. I was only halfway through my speech when she cut me short and asked me to wait. She wasn't smiling. She wasn't accommodating. Oh, I forgot, she was only Ms. Information. I wanted to strangle her neck for being so rude! You just don't do that to someone who comes to you to complain. You don't do that to a customer. Period!

Then a more pleasant employee came.

She asked me to write on a complaint form: details of it and some suggestions, recommendations for Save More and my complete contact details.

She then gave me a tape "MR Deduction" worth P17.50 I could use to buy something else.

Then, I forgot about the insolent Ms. Information. I am that cheap and easy to please.

Because, I don't hold grudges (I just blog), I did another round of grocerying and ended up buying close to a thousand peso worth of goods so I could use the P17.50 tape. My sister who was with me got a kick out of it.

I bought a Sanyang TV holder which I intend to use as a bedside table worth P679. The sales clerk who assisted me was polite and there was nothing to complain about. The clerk told us to pay the goods at the counter and that he would deliver the item to the customer service counter where I could claim it upon payment.

When I did, Ms. Information was at the customer service counter. She better behave, I silently prayed. Ms. Information was still not smiling. Did she have a really bad night?

The item I bought hadn't been deposited to the counter to be claimed so she used the announcement mic to call the attention of the Sanyang clerk. A minute later and the guy with my TV holder came.

Then a one-sided cold war took place. Ms. Information dressed down the clerk about some procedures. In front of me and my sister. The reprimand was not about the item, as far as I could see. It was about Ms. Information not in that shift, etc. etc. The clerk said, "Mam, wala po kase yung in-charge sa Sanyang kaya ako yung nag-assist." Hello! Do we have to see this, this "culture of excellence"? We were stunned. But Ms. Information rattled on, unmindful of us serving as their audience. The clerk endured it all, even looking apologetic at us. I was close to defending the guy, but since I had no business with their business, I shut up.

Ms. Information is young, in her mid-20s perhaps, presentable. But her rough behavior puts witches to shame. Tsk!

Two days in a row. SM has shown me that indeed SM has got it all for me. Lousy service, damaged goods, uncaring employees - even to their own.

We arrived home and Mother gave me the doctor's bill from the clinic across the street - Php 250 including doctor's fee, CBC and stool tests. The doctor asked us to buy some meds, too. Overall, we spent less than P500. My nephew is OK now. Do I go back to Save More Alabang to reimburse and be subjected to another poor customer service? Tell you what, I'm not really a huge fan of masochism.

To this date and hour, September 13, 2010; 12:30 PM, I have yet to hear from them. No phone calls, no nothing. Just the P17.50 deduction they issued last Sunday.

Some years ago, I bought a Dunkin Donut with a staple wire in it. I called their customer service to complain. I bought the donut in Makati where I used to work. When I got home to Laguna from the office that evening, my mother told me two employees from Dunkin came and delivered a box of donuts and a letter. My brothers ate all the donuts, but I got to read the letter of apology from Dunkin's Vice President.

Now, SM with all its malls and mini-malls and banks and we've-got-it-all-for-you businesses, is just a kariton-pushing business entity compared to Dunkin. What a shame!

SM, Shape Up!

September 11. SM Save More sold to me a bar of chocolate reeking with worms, live, kick-ass worms.

I went to that SM-operated Save More Supermarket at Festival Mall in Alabang for some groceries. Because of my two nephews, I had to pick up some pasalubong, too. I decided to get two chocolate bars - 35 grams, brown packaging, rice crispies with Bon Bon in the label.

Fastforward to home. I handed the bars to my nephews - a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old.

I went up to my room to change when suddenly my brother, the father of the 4-year-old shouted at the stairs' landing. "Ate, yung tsokolate, may MGA uuod!"

Hurriedly, I went down. My brother handed me the chocolate bar. There in my hand, a bar of chocolate with squirmy, squiggly, wriggling worms, jumping, almost flying out of the bar. I haven't seen so many active worms coming from one source. My hair stood on end.

My 4-year-old nephew had just put that abominable thing in his mouth and ate and swallowed a bite of it! Whoever caused that to happen should go to hell!

I should have video-d it. But I decided against it. Why expose others to the experience of something so gross? All because a multi-billion-peso business is downright careless and inefficient?

I called Save More Customer Service to report the incident. The usual stuff. They're sorry for the inconvenience but I can return the item and they will replace it with the same or another with the same price: P17.50. I know I'm a Scrooge, but I know my money's and my family's worth. Fine!

That's it? I was poisoned by a quarter of a bowl of stir-fried noodles from this resto chain a few months ago and there was not a trace of worm in it. What more with this chocolate bar with an over-population of worms in and out of it?

That I observe my nephew within 24 hours and if something happens...What the hell is that suggestion?

I told the customer service rep that I was not willing to just observe. That I would have my nephew sent to the doctor for check-up before any cause for alarm shows up.

Then Save More has to pay for that check-up.

The rep talked to another at the background. It was OK to proceed with the check up. If results from the test show that the cause of my nephew's illness (granted he got sick after that incident) is the chocolate bar, they will have their "nurse" verify the results. Double WTF!

One thing was clear, they would only pay for the doctor's fee if my nephew could prove that he got sick because of the chocolate bar with worms he's eaten.

What I mean is, I will have to send him to the doctor when there isn't supposed to be any need to, but because he ate your wormy chocolate bar...

I was getting impatient getting my message across.

After a decade, they got the message and told me I can send the bills to them and they will reimburse! Hallelujah!

Unbelievable! SM is one of the most successful businesses in this part of the world and they have this kind of standard operating procedures when they mess up!

SM runs its business like a sari-sari store. With all due respect to the Aling Nene's, 2 Sisters' and Basta Sari-Sari stores out there.

Yes, I agree, all companies mess up at one time or another. All businesses have bad days sometimes. The company I work for isn't an exception. But SM is so up there, so rich up there, so successful up there, and yet. And yet they couldn't come up with decent replies to customer complaints. Food rots. Food gets stale over time. They should have perfected handling and storage, more than anything else. That's the pillar of their business. But even in an almost perfect environment, food does spoil. And SM needs only to prepare a sound how-to-deal-with-customer-complaints procedures and a good script of apology when shit happens. I guess, SM will not be bothered with that anymore. They have reached beyond-god status. So they think.

The next day, I returned to Save More only to be exposed to another unbelievable experience yet again.

That on the next blog.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nothing Gold Can Stay By Robert Frost

(Dondee, thanks for this. Another friend led me to The Outsiders where this poem is highlighted.)

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

The Outsiders

C. Thomas Howell ... Ponyboy Curtis
Matt Dillon ... Dallas Winston
Ralph Macchio ... Johnny Cade
Patrick Swayze ... Darrel Curtis
Rob Lowe ... Sodapop Curtis
Emilio Estevez ... Two-Bit Matthews
Tom Cruise ... Steve Randle
Leif Garrett ... Bob Sheldon
Diane Lane ... Cherry Valance

Johnny's Letter to Ponyboy:


I asked the nurse to give you this book so you could finish it. The doctor came in a while ago but I knew anyway. I keep getting tireder and tireder. Listen, I don't mind dying now. It's worth it. It's worth saving those kids. Their lives are worth more than mine, they have more to live for. Some of their parents came by to thank me and I know it was worth it. Tell Dally it's worth it. I'm just going to miss you, guys. I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he means you're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep it that way, it's a good way to be. I want you to tell Dally to look at one. He'll probably think you're crazy, but ask for me. I don't think he's ever really seen a sunset. And don't be so bugged over being a greaser. You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There's still lots of good in the world. Tell Dally. I don't think he knows.

Your buddy,


They don't make movies like this anymore. Our generation has been pampered. Today's youth, well...they have Bella and Edward and that wolf character. They also have the internet and facebook and i-pod and i-pad and cellphones and the list goes on and on.

But WE had gold.