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Sunday, June 27, 2010


There must be an outbreak or something where I live that everyone has to buy meds at Mercury Drug today. There were far too many people at the store, a little push could have caused a stampede. When suddenly on top of the raucous mob, a female voice spiralled and we all looked.

She raised an item above her head and asked: "What's the difference between Trebreh Ettenom* and Trebreh Aleuriug*?" From behind, a male voice answered confidently, yet politely: "Ma'am, they are quite similar except Trebreh Ettenom has more Elayor* than Trebreh Aleuriug by x%." "How much does Trebreh Aleuriug cost?" The woman asked. "It costs P120, I think. Just a bit lower than Trebreh Ettenom," the man answered. And the conversation went on for a while. But I had fun listening to the exchange while waiting for my drugs, er, cold capsules. The man that had been very professional in answering all the curtomer's query was one of the two security guards watching over the store. I'm not sure if the guards are allowed to do that, but boy! what a refreshing scene to watch!

I don't know with others, but at that time and in my book, that security personnel had more class than some of the top corporate executives I've known.

As I have always believed, there is dignity and elegance in every decent job performed by a decent man loving his job and caring for it. There is just no amount of money that can top that. No company cars, no stock options, no travel incentives. Absolutely none.

*Not real meds. I couldn't remember the name of the items they were talking about. Too complicated sounding for my very limited memory.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why I'm Still a Catholic

From Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

The Second Tale

As I have heeretofore heard (Gracious Ladies) there lived a wealthy Marchant in Paris, being a Mercer, or seller of Silkes, named Jehannot de Chevigny, a man of faithfull, honest, and upright dealing; who held great affection and friendship with a very rich Jew, named Abraham, that was a Merchant also, and a man of very direct conversation. Jehannot well noting the honesty and loyall dealing of this Jew, began to have a Religious kinde of compassion in his soule, much pittying that a man so good in behaviour, so wise and discreete in all his actions, should be in danger of perdition thorow want of Faith. In which regard, lovingly he began to intreate him, that he would leave the errors of his Jewish beleefe, and follow the truth of Christianity, which he evidently saw (as being good and holy) daily to prosper and enlarge it selfe, whereas on the contrary, his profession decreased, and grew to nothing.

The Jew made answer, that he beleeved nothing to be so good and holy, as the Jewish Religion, and having beene borne therein, therein also he purposed to live and dye, no matter whatsoever being able to remove him from that resolution. For all this stiffe deniall, Jehannot would not so give him over; but pursued him still day by day, reitterating continually his former speeches to him: delivering infinite excellent and pregnant reasons, that Merchants themselves were not ignorant, how farre the Christian faith excelled the Jewish falshoods. And albeit the Jew was a very learned man in his owne Law, yet notwithstanding the intire amity he bare to Jehannot, or (perhaps) his words fortified by the blessed Spirit, were so prevailant with him, that the Jew felt a pleasing apprehension in them, though as yet his obstinacie stoode farre off from Conversion. But as he thus continued strong in opinion, so Jehannot lefte not hourely to labour him: insomuch, that the Jew being conquered by such earnest and continuall importunity, one day spake to Jehannot, saying.

My worthy friend Jehannot, thou art extremely desirous, that I should convert to Christianitie, and I am well contented to doe it; onely upon this condition: That first I wil journey to Rome, to see him whom thou sayest, is Gods general Vicar here on earth, and to consider on the course of his life and manners, and likewise of his Colledge of Cardinals. If he and they doe appeare such men to mee, as thy speeches affirme them to be, and thereby I may comprehend that thy Faith and Religion is better then mine, as with no meane paines thou endevourest to perswade mee, I will become a Christian as thou art: but if I finde it otherwise, I will continue as I am, a Jew.

Jehannot hearing these words, became exceeding sorrowfull, and sayd within himselfe; I have lost all the paines which I did thinke to be well employed, as hoping to have this man converted heere. For, if he go to the Court of Rome, and behold there the wickednes of the Priests lives, farewell all hope in me, of ever seeing him to become a Christian. But rather, were he already a Christian, without all question he would turne a Jew. And so going neerer to Abraham, he said. Alas my loving friend, why shouldst thou undertake such a tedious travel, and so great a charge, as thy journey from hence to Rome will cost thee? Consider, that to a rich man (as thou art) travaile by land or Sea is full of infinite dangers. Doest thou not thinke, that here are Religious men enow, who wil gladly bestow Baptisme upon thee? To mee therefore it plainely appeareth, that such a voyage is to no purpose. If thou standest upon any doubt or scruple, concerning the faith whereto I wish thee; where canst thou desire conference with greater Doctours, or men more learned in all respects, then this famous Cittie doth affoord thee, to resolve thee in any questionable case? Thou must thinke, that the Prelates are such there, as heere thou seest them to be, and yet they must needes be in much better condition at Rome, because they are neere to the principall Pastor. And therefore, if thou wilt credit my counsell, reserve this journey to some time more convenient, when the Jubilee of generall Pardon happeneth, and then (perchance) I will beare thee company, and go along with thee as in vowed Pilgrimage.

Whereto the Jew replyed: I beleeve Jehannot that all which thou hast said, may be so. But, to make short with thee, I am fully determined (if thou wouldst have me a Christian, as thou instantly urgest me to bee) to goe thither, for otherwise, I will continue as I am. Jehannot perceyving his setled purpose, said: Goe then in Gods name. But perswaded himselfe, that hee would never become a Christian, after he had once seene the Court of Rome: neverthelesse, he counted his labour not altogither lost, in regard he bestowed it to a good end, and honest intentions are to be commended.

The Jew mounted on horse-backe, and made no lingering in his journey to Rome; where being arrived, he was very honourably entertained by other Jewes dwelling in Rome. And during the time of his abiding there (without revealing to any one the reason of his comming thither) very heedfully he observed the maner of the Popes life, of the Cardinals, Prelates, and all the Courtiers. And being a man very discreet and judicious, hee apparantly perceived, both by his owne eye, and further information of friends; that from the highest to the lowest (without any restraint, remorse of conscience, shame, or feare of punishment) all sinned in abhominable luxurie, and not naturally onely, but in foule Sodomie, so that the credite of Strumpets and Boyes was not small, and yet might be too easily obtayned. Moreover, drunkards, belly-Gods, and servants of the paunch, more then of any thing else (even like brutish beasts after their luxury) were every where to be met withall. And upon further observation, hee saw all men so covetous and greedie of Coyne, that every thing was bought and solde for ready money, not onely the blood of men, but (in plaine termes) the faith of Christians, yea, and matters of divinest qualities, how, or to whomsoever appertaining, were it for Sacrifices or Benefices, whereof was made no mean merchandize, and more Brokers were there to be found (then in Paris attending upon all Trades) of manifest Symonie, under the nice name of Negotiation, and for gluttony, not sustentation: even as if God had not knowne the signification of vocables, nor the intentions of wicked hearts, but would suffer himselfe to bee deceived by the outward names of things, as wretched men commonly use to doe.

These things, and many more (fitter for silence, then for publication) were so deepely displeasing to the Jew, being a most sober and modest man; that he had soone seene enough, resolving on his returne to Paris, which very speedily he performed. And when Jehannot heard of his arrivall, crediting much rather other newes from him, then ever to see him a converted Christian; he went to welcome him, and kindly they feasted one another. After some few dayes of resting, Jehannot demanded of him; what he thought of our holy Father the Pope and his Cardinals, and generally of all the other Courtiers? Whereto the Jew readily answered; It is strange Jehannot, that God should give them so much as he doth. For I will truely tell thee, that if I had beene able to consider all those things, which there I have both heard and seene: I could then have resolved my selfe, never to have found in any Priest, either sanctity, devotion, good worke, example of honest life, or any good thing else beside. But if a man desire to see luxury, avarice, gluttony, and such wicked things, yea, worse, if worse may be, and held in generall estimation of all men; let him but goe to Rome, which I thinke rather to be the forge of damnable actions, then any way leaning to grace or goodnesse. And, for ought I could perceive, me thinkes your chiefe Pastour, and (consequently) all the rest of his dependants, doe strive so much as they may (with all their engine arte and endevour) to bring to nothing, or else to banish quite out of the world, Christian Religion, whereof they should be the support and foundation.

But because I perceive, that their wicked intent will never come to passe, but contrariwise, that your faith enlargeth it selfe, shining every day much more cleare and splendant: I gather thereby evidently, that the blessed Spirit is the true ground and defence thereof, as being more true and holy then any other. In which respect, whereas I stood stiffe and obstinate against the good admonitions, and never minded to become a Christian: now I freely open my heart unto thee, that nothing in the world can or shall hinder me, but I will be a Christian, as thou art. Let us therefore presently goe to the Church, and there (according to the true custome of your holy faiths) helpe me to be baptized.

Jehannot, who expected a farre contrary conclusion then this, hearing him speake it with such constancy; was the very gladdest man in the world, and went with him to the Church of Nostre Dame in Paris, where he requested the Priests there abiding, to bestow baptisme on Abraham, which they joyfully did, hearing him so earnestly to desire it. Jehannot was his Godfather, and named him John, and afterward, by learned Divines he was more fully instructed in the grounds of our faith; wherein he grew of great understanding, and led a very vertuous life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Poetic Justice

Jesse and Bunso are dead.

Jesse was a gunman in the Ampatuan Massacre and would-be star witness against the main culprits; Bunso, a robbery and homicide suspect. Now, both are dead.

Jesse was gunned down in Maguindanao by an unidentified gunman whose motives "were still unclear" to the police. He died June 14 and the blotter said it was just another case of killing, like a case of neighbors fighting over a branch of a tree trespassing to another fence. That's how killing in Maguindanao has become, petty and mundane.

Bunso got himself identified via a closed circuit television (CCTV). He was one of the riding-in-tandem suspects in the robbery and killing of a marine engineer on June 17. He was arrested last Tuesday. I even saw him on the evening news denying the allegations. Two days later he underwent inquest proceedings. On his way back to the police station and he, handcuffed and escorted by three armed policemen, allegedly tried to grab the gun of one of them. Yes, he in handcuffs. For that, he received three gun shots in the head. And died.

Are these two cases a matter of poetic justice? Later, when I'm stripped of my humanity, I will decide.

But what I'm sure of is that both Jesse and Bunso were once children. They had mothers. They fell in love. They once dreamed of somethihng big. They once prayed. They were once told not to steal candies or to be quiet for someone was asleep.

No, none of the two killings is poetically just. And I don't need to lose my humanity to know that.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The First Sex

No, it isn't the loss of innocense. It is the men. The Second Sex being us, women. "The Second Sex" as a term for women was introduced in a book of the same title by Simone de Beauvoir, a leading French feminist, who was also the lover of Jean Paul Sartre, the great existentialist. Sigh. Their conversations must have been oh so much better than sex.

No, de Beauvoir and Sartre were never married to each other. Sartre, though, was legally bound to another. But Simone thinks of marriage as "The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving. It is even more deceptive to dream of gaining through the child a plenitude, a warmth, a value, which one is unable to create for oneself; the child brings joy only to the woman who is capable of disinterestedly desiring the happiness of another, to one who without being wrapped up in self seeks to transcend her own existence.”

And that "one is not born a woman, one becomes one," de Beauvoir said. So what was I after my mother had successfully delivered me into this world? A bag of bones, a pound of flesh and a bottle of blood collectively known as an un-gendered "baby"? Come on, Simone! What the hell are you talking about? Do you mean "woman" is a title that one earns like CEO or General or Bitch or Jerk? Can't it be inherited like that of a King or Queen or Prince or Princess? Or by virtue of our make, our differences more than similarities, can't we, by default, call ourselves either a man or a woman? Or do we call all people with vagina "girls" until they earn a doctorate degree in womanhood? I hate feminism. Come on, Simone, why don't I introduce you to Shakespeare. What's in a name?

Now, let's talk about the first sex.

The Sanctuary of Padre Pio

It is a place tucked away from the long C5 Road in Libis, a block before one turns right to Eastwood City.

It is one of those places you discover in the midst of corporate chaos and gutter politics. An oasis, if one risks the cliche.

There are no plastic flowers in the main chapel, neither in the smaller ones joined like fingers in one hand. Red roses only, please.

A tiny room allows one to write down prayers. It is where I found myself last Tuesday. 'Twas the first time I put in written words what I would usually speak through my mind. A darkened room, it allows one the power to use one's skill of the hand to write blindly in the dark. And I wrote, blinded by darkness, and lo! through unstoppable torrent of tears. The miracle was in the act. The miracle that atheists and agnostics miss.

Even if there indeed is no God and all was pure concoction of the manipulators of wealth and of human minds, I still count myself sanctified for the seed of faith in something not concretely seen. The faith that allows grace to flow - beauty, kindness, mercy and benevolence all at once.

In a world where every other person tries to save the world from unprecedented "inconvenient truths", from the programmed promiscuity of the youth, from utter lack of propriety and respectability among adults, from the shameless stockpiling of wealth, one is indeed blessed in finding little packages of truth like streaks of sunbeam seeping through thick clouds of a brewing storm.

There simply cannot be no God.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Second Sex

My colleague has no compunction telling the world that his wife has just been officially named as the President of the Bank she works for. And what bank!

How many men could be as open-minded?

This generation has seen the surge of women doing better than men in the workplace. And we thank the likes of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath and Simone de Beauvoir for having put forward the cause of women so the second sex could be heard.

We do not compete with the other gender. We just thank heavens that competition is no longer about physical strength.

I've read the Book of Genesis a month ago and finally I have forgiven the men of old for not knowing any better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Day that Separates the Men from the Boys

It is Father's Day.

An essay in college earned me a perfect score. The essay was about my father.

I know I still have that essay tucked away somewhere for the little mice to discover. But what I remember having written is that I may always talk about my mother but I always write about my father.

Talking about someone is spontaneous, but writing about someone takes more from you.

I never told him he is the best Dad in the world because hard as I rake memories back I can't recall anything spectacular he's done, apart from paving the way for my being born. Perhaps?

My father isn't the best Dad in the world because he isn't perfect. He's got loopholes the way side streets have potholes, manholes and assholes.

His imperfection is classic. A patent for all fathers. He used to womanize, to drink and to go home the next day reeking of alcohol. He used to fight with my mother, albeit in hushed voices. No, he never physically abused her, I'd give him that. No, he never fathered a child other than those he manufactured with my Mom, and we never doubted it.

Father was also a fan of corporal punishments when we were kids. Rubber slippers, buckled belt, dos por dos, and anything than can be had at the time he needed it.

Nevertheless, father isn't so bad. He cooks well and loves to grow plants in the backyard. When I was but five years old he would take me to movies, just us on a date. We would also go shopping with the family every other weekend.

Father never voiced out his regrets about having a daughter for a firstborn. I made sure to make him proud every which way possible. And he never complained.

At 64, he is in the pink of health. Save for seasonal complaints of aching joints, he is as strong as he was in his 30s. He can still climb trees and cut them. He can bend his back the whole morning tending to his little garden. This morning he sharpened knives and axes and saws and cut wood for outdoor cooking. He also fixes the roof when it leaks and hammers and repairs what needs repairing.

Father is no longer the fascistic Dad he once was. My nephews call him Tati and he at their beck and call. And he works his way to being the Best Lolo in the World.

On the 24th of the month, Father turns 65.

Going 65, he is starting to be the perfect Dad in the world.

Happy Father's Day, Tatay!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On Steinbeck, Mandino and Other College Dropouts

"John Steinbeck had once said when a friend of his, upon reading a just completed chapter of The Grapes of Wrath, told John that his punctuation was terrible and his spelling was worse. Steinbeck smiled and nodded and said he didn't worry very much about either of those skills. He knew his publisher had a roomful of college kids who got paid (1936) forty dollars a week to correct spelling and punctuation but he doubted if any of them could have written Of Mice and Men." - Og Mandino

Steinbeck didn't finish a college degree, neither did Mandino. And a battalion successful others.

I wonder why all the fuss about building classrooms when we can learn more outside of them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Noynoy, Have You Ever Been In Love?

This supersedes the last Dear Noynoy letter I wrote you.

I admit the first letter spoke of fear and of doubt on my decision of voting for you. That if you screw up, I may not be able to believe in this democratic exercise again.

I guess many of those who supported you are as apprehensive. But it is true what Kiko Pangilinan said yesterday that GMA leaving Malacanang is having half of the problem solved.

I read a very good article recently about love of country. That advanced economies in the eastern world have this as foundation of all things in their respective country. I guess that's what you get being in a continent intoxicated with religion (India, to have been the first to be described as such). The Philippines is also intoxicated with religion, but unfortunately here, love of God doesn't extend to love of countrymen.

Noynoy, have you ever been in love? As in so in love you can walk on air or water? Celine Dione hits the bullesye singing: "Some place that you aint leaving. Somewhere you're gonna stay. When you finally found the meaning. Have you ever felt this way?" That is the kind of love this country needs.

Have half of that kind of love for this country and we will all run to you for marriage.

No, we cannot pay our debts with love. No, love alone cannot keep our people fed. No, we cannot move the economy with high stocks on love. No, love alone cannot educate the youth right.

But love makes us compassionate. Love moves us to do good, not just right. No, I do not expect you to do the right things every time. I only expect you to do what is good for the majority all the time.

And lastly, you don't screw the one you love. You...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Buhay Baryo Versus Buhay Condo

magandang umaga! ginising ako ng huni ng mga kuliglig na sinabayan ng pagtahol ng aso ng kapitbahay. pero ngayon mas umiibabaw ang huni ng mga ibon. at paminsan-minsan, binabasag ang local color experience ng pagharurot ng motorsiklo. ines!

mabuti na lang umulan ng mga nakalipas na araw. lahat ng puno sa likod bahay ay kulay matingkad na berde na naman! pati ang bundok na tanaw ko berde rin. ito ang dahilan kung bakit hindi ko maipagpalit ang buhay baryo sa buhay condo. hindi ko siguro kasasanayan na gumising na ang nakikita ay pader, tuktok ng building, kalsada at pinilit na lush green environment ng condo developer.

pero mas maganda ang umaga noong bata pa kami. sa umaga, bukod sa huni ng ibon, higanteng puno ng mangga, mga pula at dilaw na gumamela, nagigising kami sa bango at halimuyak ng sampaguita! 'yong tipong galing pa sa puno ng namumukadkad pa lang na sampaguita. kapag panahon naman ng anihan, ibang klase din, amoy dayami at pinipig ang paligid. san ka pa?

kamakailan lang pumunta si al gore at nagpaliwanag sa isang convention on the environment tungkol sa sinasabi niyang inconvenient truth. mula sa kinauupuan ko hindi ko maramdaman ang kanyang doomsday scenario. pero naniniwala ako na bawat isa sa atin may pakialam sa nangyayari sa kalikasan. basta ang nanay ko, hindi nakakalimutang magwalis at magdilig sa bakuran. ang tatay ko naman walang tigil sa kakukutingting sa mga puno at halaman.

natatawa lang ako sa ibang senior citizen sa paligid na imbes mag-ayos at mag-imis ng bakuran, hayun, nagdya-jogging sa may southwoods. sabagay may mga kasambahay naman silang tagalinis ng bahay. walang pakialamanan!

pero sandali lang, wala na nga pala silang likod bahay dahil nagpa-extend sila ng bahay kaya wala ng natirang lupang pagtatamnan. ang mga tao talaga, iba't iba ang priorities.

basta kami, kahit maliit ang bahay, marami naman kaming puno sa paligid. at eto pa, pwede kang magkabit ng duyan sa hapon sa likod bahay. doon ako natutulog o nagbabasa 'pag weekend. panalo! promding-promdi!

may bunga na naman ang langka at saging. sana lang, mabuhay na uli ang malunggay. lagi na lang kaming nanghihingi ng dahon kay aling tinay!

linggo pala ngayon. saan kaya ako magsisimba?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Live More, Live With Less

Having eaten pink salmon two days in a row, I realized pink salmon is best eaten raw.

Yesterday lunch, we had shake sashimi (that melts in one's mouth better than M&M's) at Teriyaki Boy. This morning for breakfast, I had smoked salmon sandwich I picked up from The Bellevue. And I wonder why people bother with greasy horrors!

(Of course, when you talk about breakfast, McDonald's brewed is my bestfriend.)

Back in the days when I was still working in Makati (there at C.Palanca), breakfast and lunch meant a trip down the building to the "original" Jollijeep parked at the backstreets. There all pretenses of the corporate world were stripped down. And boy was it good!

Comparing the days when I was receiving a minimum wage and now, my eating habits haven't really changed much. What changed only is where I eat. Does inflation bother me? No, I rise above it.

People always complain about not having enough, not fully realizing that the key to prosperity is one's conscious effort to limit their desires. The truly rich people are not those who can buy everything they want. The truly rich people are those who can live happily with a lot, lot less.

Some of my friends go around with LV bags, Nine West shoes, Lacoste shirts, and i-pads. Surely they can afford them and will always want the best of those. We don't blame them for having the money to spend. It is their business. I get irked only when they complain about the huge Meralco bills and their kids' tuition fees.

I can live without the tags and the brands. But when it comes to food, I don't ask about the price.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Playing God Again

May God forgive me.

I have just signed the papers approving an employee's termination. When he gets home to his mother that's the news she will see on his face. He will either be quiet or the opposite. He will procrastinate or blurt out after his mother's greeting: "Kumain ka na ba, anak?"

And what did I do? I simply read a page and a half report, sans attachments, and I served him and his family this bleak immediate future. Of course, I brooded over it a few seconds, but what the heck, he defied The Rules. There is no room for emotions.

How does it feel firing people? I'm no Ryan Bingham (Up In The Air) who can make employees on the hot seat feel you're giving them the opportunity of a lifetime in letting them go. You feel like a complete fool, an asshole, a motherfuckingsonofabitch.

Then tomorrow comes and you forget about the person, now you see him as a person, whose life you've screwed because you are oh-so-perfect, a textbook example of a living saint.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


When I'm down in the gutter, I am lucky to have serious moments of awakening in the past. The joy of resurrection. Countless were the times when I was at the end of the rope, at the end of the road, facing an empty wall, at the point of breaking, at rock bottom.

For the last two weeks, I had nothing but troubles (which I fondly call opportunities to lessen the impact). One unresolved crisis after another. Drawbacks and setbacks piling on top of each other. Sleep has become an elusive friend; appetite an unfaithful lover.

As usual, when everything has been exhausted, when every friend who matters has been consulted, when all the courage to face the boss has been summoned and there is no one else to go to and nothing else humanly possible can be done, you bend your knees and pray finally. Swallowing your executive pride, you ask God for help. You let go and yes, you let God.

A few hours later, you find yourself an audience to a movie of things falling into place. Suddenly every thing takes form and makes sense.

And you become free. And yes, happy. And thankful.

This is life lived. This is life with a little help from above.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Decision Making as an Art

decision making is an art. suffice it to say there is absolutely nothing scientific to it. decision making starts with it being an expression of oneself. there is nothing right or wrong in one's decision at the time it is made. however, the moment it is out and resulting consequences reveal themselves, we judge. then we hear - wrong move; bad choice; foolhardy; could have been better; i-told-you-so.

good or bad results, we find in our midst new insights and additional learnings and experiences.

we fear decisions that can either make or break us. the devil or the deep blue sea.

this morning a decision rests on my shoulders. on my shoulders rest some 20 or so individuals' future.

i don't feel the burden. i know what i'm doing. i've done it before. will gladly do it again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Pairs of Black Shoes

charles and keith, aerosoles and vnc. classic pumps, t-strap peep-toe wedges, strappy gladiator high-heeled sandals. all three black. the first bought a month ago. the last two, a week ago - tuesday and wednesday, respectively.

i should be guilty. but is jinkee pacquiao guilty? don't hate me if i have the money to burn for fancy shoes. i don't smoke. i don't drink. i don't travel. much.

it is true what they say about the best things in life being free. and for everything else, there's money. no, i don't use plastics.

why all black? they come in three gorgeous unique styles. why not? i buy clothes of similar design in various colors (four colors my max). some people won't understand, that i can understand.

it's a girl thing as they say. and yes, it is crazy. and we are allowed to be crazy once in a while. like right now.