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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Curse Of Being

A lot of us claim to hate this country, but when something bad is said about anything related to being a Filipino and the Philippines, we rise up in arms. We proclaimed Claire Danes persona non grata for saying that Manila "just f--king smelled of cockroaches."

A dictionary which was reported to have defined a Filipina as a "domestic worker from the Philippines or a person who performs non-essential auxiliary tasks" caused uproar and made huge headlines and patriotically angry editorials.

Teri Hatcher talking against Philippine medical schools in a TV series became the most hated among the Desperate Housewives by Filipinos all over the world. The racist remark was eventually removed from the episode.

James Soriano, that Atenean kid who said Filipino is the language of the street, is now the recepient of online flaks.

And the list of similar situations goes on and on.

On the country, when something good is said, is done to, by, for the Filipinos and the Philippines, we go all agog in taking the credit, basking in the limelight, always saying proud to be Pinoy.

When out of the ring, Manny Pacquiao is bashed: his fashion style, his lifestyle, his gambling, his provincial grammatical-error-laden English, his wife, even his mother, particularly his mother. But when inside the ring, Manny is our king. When he wins, we have the world in our hands; we wear huge smiles on our faces as if we have just been named the world's superpower.

When a Filipino reaches international stardom, we claim the credit as a people. Think of Charice, Arnel Pineda, Maria Aragon, and Jasmin Trias. When an international superstar or celebrity happens to have at least 1/8 Filipino blood, we attribute his/her greatness to his/her Filipino lineage. We are always happy to note that these people are half-Filipinos: Vanessa Hudgens, Bruno Mars, Nicole Schswhateverherlongsurnameis of the defunct Pussycat Dolls, of BEP, and Kirk Hammet of Metallica. We are ecstatic that the Head Chef in the White House is a Filipina. We were proud that the governess of Prince William invited to the Royal Wedding is a Filipina. Etcetera. Etcetera.

I don't know if other nations are like us. Is Thailand always tapping its back for having Tiger Woods as half-Thai? Is Indonesia still smug that it has educated the young Barack Obama? What about Kenya?

Honestly, I don't have the answers. What I know only is that as a people, we are quick to defend our nation, but slow to move it forward. We are quick to smell half-bloods, but slow to embrace brown-skinned.

It is a curse and we have yet to find the witch who cast it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rap Songs I Love

I can't believe the day will come when I'm going to like rap.

Thanks to Bruno Mars for bringing back the love I lost.

Dear Mr. James Soriano,

Unlike your mother, my mother didn't provide for me a home conducive to learning English. My mother used to buy me "komiks" that carried local legendary stories like "Ang Alamat ng Mayon," "Ang Alamat ng Kasoy," among others. My first book is the ABAKADA. You know, the one that has a boy with his body parts labeled in Filipino? Oh, well, I'm sure you're not familiar with that. You grew up in an English Only home zone.

My mother used to be a huge fan of radio dramas aired daily over DZRH. I grew up listening to these dramas with her.

At age 4, I, with my family, moved to Laguna from Manila where I was born. In Laguna, I became friends with kids with weird Tagalog accents and unique local color expressions. These things didn't bother me because I had a perfect life as a child. My friends and I climbed huge mango trees that actually bore mangoes that ripened to perfection. And climb up the tree we would as far as no old folks could see and we would eat mangoes while we sat on branches. We also had a field day climbing camachile trees and ate the fruits, tree to mouth. It was great playing "Jane."

During palay planting season, we would join the farmers in the muddy fields. The kinder ones even allowed us to do some planting. We would even catch "palakang bukid" for lunch.

During harvest season, we would sit and watch the farmers separate the palay from the stalks and smell the heavenly sent of nature. The first gold we've seen, and the largest in the world was the mountain of palay during the season.

And the haystacks! These were left to us to make anything out of. We jumped and rolled and kicked and laughed until our lungs burst.

We rode rickety carts pulled by carabaos, not buffalos which you might have read about in your English books. There were cows for the milking and goats for the same. We watched men hunt and kill snakes coiled around bamboo trees. Twice we saw a crocodile butchered and cooked and eaten. I remember being given a bite of caldereta crocodile. I don't remember having accepted and eaten it, though.

Joy was our lingua franca. It was not written in books that some could only read about. We had experiences in vivid colors, tangible and real.

What about yours?

Oh, what to do with people like you, Malu Fernandez and Mideo Cruz?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Undo. Unfriend. Unfollow.

Technology makes it look so easy to uncommit mistakes and unmake decisions.

Instead of divorcing a spouse, can we just un-marry? Instead of dropping out of school, can one just un-list or un-enroll? Instead of growing fat and losing weight, can we just un-fat, un-eat and un-sleep?

Instead of quitting, can we just un-smoke, un-drink, un-gamble?

Instead of cursing ourselves for that thoughtless one-night-stand, can we just un-sex?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Parisukat Na Yelo

5-year-old Nephew: Chan-chan, hindi na malamig ang ice tea.
3-year-old Nephew: (Touches glass) Tingin. Tingin.
5-year-old Nephew: Kumuha ka ng parisukat na yelo.
Me:(Overhears the exchanges): Ano'ng parisukat na yelo? (After a heartbeat) Ahh! Ice cube.
3-year-old Nephew: Sobrang dami, Tita. Kailangan konti lang. (This after I put all the cubes in the pitcher.)

Where do these kids get their vocabulary?

I don't remember using the word "parisukat" in daily conversation. And at age 5? Is that what they teach in school now? "Parisukat na yelo" instead of ice cubes?

Although, my 3-year-old nephew is not attending school yet, his vocabulary in Filipino will put to shame a lot of old folks. He says "paalam" instead of "goodbye;" "kailangan ko iyan," instead of "gusto ko 'yan."

Most Filipino parents and aunts and uncles are proud if the kids in the house speak English. They have them flaunt it in the mall, in the park, in PUVs, in terminals, wherever.

In our case, we're awed that the kids have a penchant for using the native tongue.

But they can have a really, really sharp tongue. One day from work, I asked my mother for a glass of water, please. And the older nephew butt in, "Tita, Jollibee ba 'to? Bakit humihingi ka ng tubig kay Nanay, pwede naman ikaw ang kumuha?"

OUCH! I swear I could have killed the insolent little devil.

Sore Eyes

Sore eyes, sore eyes make the world looks like all sand dunes,
my hair, my hair can't fall o'er the infected eye lids.
It's so itchy-ful
I can't even see my way.

Yeah, I know, I know when I call in sick they'll say it's all excuses
And it's so, it's so bad to think I have this and they don't
But every time I scratch my left eye, I say,

When I see my face there are all the things I wish would change
'Cause this disease is infuriating, just the way it is!!!

I have sore eyes, ladies and gentlemen. Sore eyes on rainy days!

What bloody thing I've done to deserve this?



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hollywood Stars Get More Gigs Here Than Locals

This year we've seen a long line of Hollywood stars and international celebrities visiting the Pearl of the Orient. Today, Paris is in Manila. BEP's is in Pampanga.

A good sign for us because, one, we are no longer viewed as a place where one can die any minute, and two, it seems that our economy is turning rosy. There's got to be something to be had here for international stars to come. Now, that last one is pretty sad.

We pay dollars to Hollywood concert artists while the local ones go overseas to earn theirs. There's a news bit that revealed one local artist producing his own concerts because local producers prefer to stage international singers. Put Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, 30 seconds to Mars, Maroon 5 and Korn all into the equation. Is colonial mentality still at work here? Nah, I don't think so. That piece is old school, old news.

My take on this is this. Because of cutting edge technology, the world has become a global village where everyone knows who's who, what's new and who's big in every field. Over Twitter we're exposed to first hand concert reviews of people who actually came to the concert and not from writers who were either paid to promote the artist or rain the parade. We can Youtube a concert in London that ended three hours before posting. With cable TV, we can watch Today Show in the afternoon of the same day it was aired in New York. With technology, we get to try the merchandise before purchase. We know if we are getting our money's worth. We can compare and contrast and make a choice.

Our local artists need to shape up or be content to entertaining OFWs who in their homesickness crave for some local color, where the only thing that matters is that you can sing those old familiar tunes from the land of Juan.

( is here to do some public service, though. But BEP has been here several times to strut their wares.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Politeismo" and Counterfeit Art

Mideo Cruz's sudden ascent to popularity (or notoriety) platform is...I can't even finish this sentence. Although, this ruckus has been going on for days too many I'm ashamed to say it is only now that I dared Google the "art" for myself. I've read news about it with ample description of the bold and the daring. I could only trust my mind to paint the picture for me. "I closed my eyes and all the world dropped dead," as Plath once wrote, but I didn't make the vision up inside my head. I feel sad for Mideo.

It is like he's been trying to speak to the world too long, but the world just wouldn't listen. His presence had to be acknowledged so he sat on an A-Bomb in the middle of the square. People stopped and paid attention, way too much attention.

In an interview with Reuters, he said his work “is about the worship of relics and how idolatry evolves through history and modern culture.” The medium that he produced for that message may be right but his message is wrong. No one worships relics but pagans. Thus, using Catholic symbols is inappropriate. Mr. Cruz needs to reach enlightenment before he can call a spiritual experience names. He needs to attain Nirvana before he can assign symbols to another's personal grace. Spirituality is an individual experience. It is not a concept drawn from several characteristics of specific samples.

This leads me to Leo Tolstoy's concept of "What is art."*

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. 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 receiver (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 one another. 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 had been developed to entertain the upper class of the Renaissance period due to the unbelief of religion by this group. The great misfortune of the time was that people did not embrace the supreme religious art but rather that which was 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 Mary Magdalene in the days of her beauty, but in the day of her repentance.

The negativity in Mideo Cruz's "Politeismo" does not evoke infectiousness but rather hatred and divisiveness. His message is not even personal, but rather a commentary of what he finds repulsive in the world. His symbolic concept brings sadness, not joy; mourning, and not the celebration of life which art always ought to do.

This is not to say that art only shows what is beautiful. What art, what real art does is show irony. Like a lily on a hill in the midst of war. An innocent child dancing while you cry. A single firefly in the night. There is always beauty in irony. However, this kind of irony may only be achieved through a medium by an artist who has seen the longest tunnel of darkness and pushed and groped to reach the light.

Show me an artist with a pure heart and you have also shown me a great art.

*Taken from my graduate school essay.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Inglourious Basterds," an El Fili Rip-off?

(Yes, I still have Rizal hangover.)

I chanced upon Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film "Inglourious Basterds" midday of Sunday. I realized then it really pays to surf channels on a lazy day.

This is a war film about Hitler and Germany and the Jews. I'd like to ask myself if no one would, why would you watch a film like that on a Sunday that is supposed to be a chick flic day for working slaves --> redundant! -- like you? Christoph Waltz, with his acting in the opening scene, forced me to sit down, pay attention and watch. The guy had such fierce, bloodcurdling abilities, the likes that save The Oscars some face. The Academy awarded him Best Supporting Actor for it. He reminds me of John Malcovich whom I've just discovered has yet to win an Academy. What?? In Inglourious, Waltz showed "suave brutality" (to borrow a quote from Gone With The Wind, describing Rhett Butler) in most of his scenes. One is torn between loving and hating him; and pitying the protagonist and cheering the antagonist on. Which reminds me too that Brad Pitt in the film looked like a trying hard Clark Gable. Can't stop myself; I have to say that.

The film has the indelible stamp of Tarantino on it. Like listening to a song unmistakably Jackson's, this film shouts Quentin. Titled chapters, tags, snapshots and "freeze" moments.

Wikipedia says Tarantino considers this his best written film to date and spent about a decade developing/writing it. But he lost to a Filipino film maker Brilliante Mendoza for Best Director in Cannes. After watching the film, I discovered why he lost. And this without me seeing Mendoza's "Kinatay" yet. But make no mistake about it, I enjoyed it despite the length. Overall it's grade "A." Still, I have to make a "better than thou" critique of it with your indulgence, of course.

There were cliche moments. Two scenes stood out quite stupid I couldn't believe Tarantino did it. I'm not sure if it were a device that the director used to "make the audience laugh at things that aren't supposed to be funny," which Tarantino describes most of his films to be.

One. The cinema owner after shooting the German soldier whom she despised for being German and for pestering her (He was in love with her. How nice.), approached the fallen soldier who made some coughing noise. She touched him tentatively. In turn, the bloodied Nazi produced a gun from somewhere his person and shot her repeatedly till Kingdom Come. And die they both did. Perhaps in that critical moment of confusion and pity, the cinema owner lost some common sense. Let's blame it on love again.

Two. The German actress who was also a spy working with the Inglourious Basterds left a shoe in a bar after an encounter with the German soldiers. She absorbed a gun shot on her right leg. But the shoe that was left behind was that of the right foot. Col Landa (Waltz), who came to investigate the scene of the encounter found the shoe and an autographed napkin with her name on it. Those two items pointed at her as traitor and spy. It was deus ex machina in favor of the villain. And I'm never a fan of this device. Anyway, the actress-spy was trapped and caught and killed by Landa when she attended the movie premier that was part of the Nazi leadership assassination plot. But hey, I love that gothic Cinderella moment when Landa fit the shoe on the spy's uninjured, cast-free foot.

And this storyline is not quite original. Gather all the high ranking officials and all the Who's Who in an oppressive regime in one place and set it on fire while everyone enjoys art and hypocrisy. Rizal has already written about that in El Filibusterismo in 1891. The only difference is that Rizal changed his mind and sent a young lovesick man running into the house to throw the lamp with the bomb into the river. Tarantino preferred the macabre and burned the house down.

But who am I to judge? I've never directed a film, either for Mother Lily or Hollywood. I'm a nobody in this industry. I'm just a simple movie patron with an opinion.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


That was the trending topic on Twitter a few days ago.

What was highlighted in the riot was the looting spree. It reminds me of Jose Saramago's novel "Blindness." The only difference is, this is real and those who did the act had eyes to see.

Perhaps, we can all close our eyes and #PrayForLondon.

A not-so-convenient store.

Flat Screen TV?


More clothes?


Wines and cigarettes??


More signatures?


(Thank you to the various sources on the Net for the larger than life pics.)

City of London Is Falling Down

The past several days we've heard and seen how the heart of England has been smashed, burned and looted. And the world asks why? We have been given several reasons, but none so equivocally. The Atlantic Wire summarized it down to six:

1. Opportunistic Criminality
2. Ruling Conservative Party's austerity measures--a mixture of spending cuts and tax hikes
3. Simmering Problems Among Black Youth
4. Simmering Problems Among All Youth
5. Hard Economic Times
6. Wealth Disparities

Granted that all of the above are true, are they enough to burn down a city and lose humanity? To be devoid of reason like irrational animals? With apologies to these animals.

Grudgingly, I want to embrace Gabriela, Anak Bayan, Bayan Muna, Partido ng Manggagawa and other leftist groups for their tamer approach to going on strike. To bring up EDSA 1 will be a stretch.

Some blame multi-culturism in Europe, leaving racist remarks like leave Europe to the whites; the colored ones go back to their third-world origin. Well, why not? But who's gonna clean the oven, who's gonna clean the toilet? Still, if the Western World is so bad, why does half the world long for it and be in it? Why can't the world just sit still where they are and be happy while at it?

Because the grass is always greener in Europe and there's a-plenty at the land of milk and honey and the great dream always comes true in the land of the free. Never mind if Malaysia is truly Asia or the Philippines has more than the usual.

Thus, we have these:

(Above pictures aren't mine, of course. Thank you to the various sources on the Net.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bound to Brokenheart

Someone asked me where I was going. I said I'm...

I was warned not to reach for the sky, just watch the beauty and enjoy. But like a moth to a lamp, I allowed myself to be burned.

Yes, I have asked the Universe for the sky, not the world. In asking for the sky I also asked to be allowed to fly, to have wings for a dream.

Today, I still see my feet firmly rooted to the ground as gravity pulls me down each time I try to lift me up.

Gravity and the universe put things in order by limiting one to a box, to a world made for stereotypes and destinies drawn since birth.

Seriously, can one fly and not ask for too much?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Migz, Merci, Angie

I was in a cab from Eastwood going to Megamall when this man on the radio, a politician by the sound of him, started rattling off his achievements and how much they cost and who benefitted. After a minute or so, I recognized him as Migz Zubiri. That he helped build this school, those classrooms, that hospital, those roads; sent hundreds of college students to school, helped countless of sick people get well, and that no one who came to his office left unaided. Wow! Why hadn't I come to his office? He was never absent in congress. He authored hundreds of bills which quite a number were passed into laws.

I started looking for earplugs. What a privilege "I'm the greatest" speech! Then...

He was sincere. He was dedicated. But he was husband first before he was a senator; a father first before a legislator. And because people, majority of them Filipinos, are so fond of "romanticizing the past," he could not do his job as wholeheartedly as before. Anymore.

The past few weeks, people have come out one by one, group by group, giving their own confessions about the fraud in the 2007 elections; revelations that point to him as one of the beneficiaries of the wholesale electoral cheating in Mindanao when the incumbent registered 12 against the opposition's 0, reminiscent of the 2004 scandal when Gloria helloed Garci.

His family: his wife and children suffer every day the news drags his name each time they talk about cheating in the 2007 elections. They have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So he resigns. He simply cannot go on with the indignity of it all and pretend it is not happening, half hoping GMA would come to the rescue and release a gag memo. The only problem is we now have a new president and his name isn't Gloria.

So he resigns.

Before him, Merceditas Gutierrez resigned. Before her, a former general put a bullet through his heart.

And CHED would still not budge and sign up for that glorious Twitter account.

I dropped by the mega mall to check if National Bookstore's 70% cut price was real. Bogus. I went home with a book cut down by measly 20%.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Still Don't Get RH


After reading, I'm exasperated by the fact that a lot of the sections in this bill are redundant with existing laws. May I speak only about those I sincerely and categorically know about.

SEC. 15. Employers' Responsibilities. - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall ensure that employers respect the reproductive rights of workers and their right to gender equality.

Employers shall also uphold the right of all workers to know work conditions which may affect their health, particularly those related to their reproductive health. Employers shall furnish in writing the following information to all employees and applicants:

(a) The medical and health benefits which workers are entitled to, including maternity and paternity leave benefits; and

(b) The reproductive health hazards associated with work, including hazards that may affect their reproductive functions especially for pregnant women.

If Section 15 does not exist yet, I will sue my company for an amount equivalent to my salary times the number of months I have been with them. But I can't because these things are already in effect. Mama Mia!

SEC. 17. Duties and Responsibilities…

(e) Corporate citizens shall exercise prudence in advertising its products or services through all forms of media, especially on matters relating to sexuality, further taking into consideration its influence on children and the youth.

Do we need a new law for this? Seriously? Well, if we're dealing with Mr. Willie Revillame, maybe. But heck, do we need the RH Law to finally put Revillame out of business?

SEC. 21. Appropriations. - The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for reproductive health and natural and artificial family planning under the DOH and POPCOM and other concerned agencies shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act. Such additional sums necessary to provide for the upgrading of facilities necessary to meet BEMONC and CEMONC standards; the training and deployment of skilled health providers; natural and artificial family planning commodity requirements as outlined in Sec. 10, and for other 20 reproductive health services, shall be included in the subsequent years' general appropriations. The Gender and Development (GAD) funds of LGUs and national agencies shall be a source of funding for the implementation of this Act.

Bingo! So there is an existing "annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for reproductive health and natural and artificial family planning under the DOH and POPCOM." Then what are we still debating on here?

GAD fund is mandated to be 5% of LGU's total appropriation. And GAD budget supports "personal services, for example, the salaries of workers directly engaged in GAD programs, project and activities; maintenance and other Operating Expenses for the cost of managing a women’s shelter, a women’s health project, training of women in non-traditional occupations, and training of field workers in GAD, among others; and capital outlay such as building of and providing equipment for women’s shelters and training centers for women."

This is all under Executive Order 273, which approved and adopted the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (PPGD) – 1995-2025.

Can we not just make do with an existing law, we need to create new ones? Can't we simply add flesh to it? Or give more meaning to it? Do we have too much time in our hands to debate? Too much budget surplus for coffee and bottled water and pancit canton and empanada in the Senate during sponsorship speeches?

And if pro-RH Bill folks are so hell-bent in protecting women and children, then instead of RH, let's focus on the Divorce Bill which makes more, so much more sense. But of course, that's going to be another war waged against the Catholic Church.

Movies: HP7PII and Facebook

I watched Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2 last Tuesday afternoon when the office sent employees home due to Juaning. Come on.

There were no long lines, no whiny fans, no all-knowing fanatics, no running children, no mess, no hazards. Just a theater and a ticket seller and a ticket checker.

And the movie. Was it within my expectations of the HP final installment? Some short points.

1. Harry is better looking in this movie than in the previous ones, after Azkaban. What can I say, I'm still a girl. But an older Harry, 19 years later, could have been better looking. Come on, better men age better, look better.

2. I disagree with some reviews that this installment had too many fight scenes. What do you expect, a stream of consciousness technique?

3. A kissing scene in the midst of war? What is this? The Vancouver riot after the Canucks lost to Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals?

4. Alan Rickman's Severus Snape was good but didn't give me goosebumps, just "Hmmm."

5. Harry's heir apparent was too timid. He was supposed to be a Weasley, too, wasn't he? And was supposed to have been raised without fear and violence by loving parents. So why? A changeling?

The winner of the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Social Network, does have some witty lines. I particularly like the scene between the Harvard president Larry Summers and the Winklevoss twins.

SUMMERS: That’s just their own stupidity, I should have been there. Darkness is the absence of light and stupidity in that instance was the absence of me.

SUMMERS: Everyone at Harvard is inventing something. Harvard undergraduates believe that inventing a job is better than finding a job so I’ll suggest again that the two of you come up with a new "new project."

And more outstanding exchanges, between and among characters. Why did I not watch this in the theater? Was this movie even premiered here? Oh well.

Despite all good points, I wouldn't be surprised if traditional feminists raise hell what with the way women are depicted in this movie. I wouldn't even go there.