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Friday, September 30, 2011

Not Always Right

When activists from labor groups and student organizations go out on the streets to voice out their grievances, believe you me, they are not always right.

They cry being marginalized, disenfranchised, trampled upon, deceived, fooled, and unjustly treated.

Two editorial pieces from the Philippine Daily Inquirer today have unmasked these groups for who and what they are.

The Workers

The cartoon editorial shows a Japanese investor cultivating a "land" with fresh investments, but the soil is hard, rocky, almost dead with "corruption," "red tape," "high power rates," and yes, "militant labor."

Labor groups ignore that our labor laws are sickeningly pro-labor. How many times has it been for the past recent years when the minimum wage was increased? This is done across the board regardless of the employees' performance or the lack of it. You go to a mall and what do you see? Salesmen and salesladies gossiping. You go to a community grocery store and what do you see? Cashier and bagger boys taking forever to punch in your goods and bag them for good. And nary a smile on their faces. When you're lucky, you get reprimanded by them for taking the wrong counter, "Express lane, ito! Dun kayo sa kabila."

Jeepney and bus drivers go on strike to demand for lower gas prices. Ask them to drive professionally, be polite, give change, be presentable, not smoke while driving, and you are asked to either take a cab or buy your own car. As if taxi drivers are any better.

The Students

"Squeeze" debunks the claim of state universities and colleges (SUCs) students that the government has cut down the education budget. "How these groups came up with such widely different estimates of the budget cuts suggests either carelessness...or a deliberate attempt to create an issue where there may be none," says the article.

The editorial also states that subsidies for SUCs in 2012 would reach a total of P26.1 billion or 10% more than the appropriation for the current year. Also, SUCs are expected to EARN P12.39 billion from tuition and miscellaneous fees from students, grants and donations, and land lease. Moreover, the Department of Budget and Management estimates that SUCs may have some P22 billion deposited with banks. All in all, SUCs will have P60 billion to spend in 2012. Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino said that to be able to deliver quality education and services, SUCs need P45.8 billion from the national government. Don't they teach Math in SUCs anymore?

Yesterday I was in UP Diliman to get something from the Faculty Center. It was the first time I have been there. As I entered the building, I saw students comfortably sitting on the floor of the corridors, never mind that visitors come and use that space for walking to get to their destination.

We turned to a dark hallway. Lining up were rooms with old doors, unscrewed hinges, with announcements as old as Jose Rizal (if he were alive today) stuck on them. The walls were crying out for some wash. The roof appeared to come down with the next wind blow. And a lot of "broken windows." A building doesn't need to be new to look good and fresh. People who spend their time in it need only care. Students, faculty, and management. You have time to go out on the streets to protest but back home your place is a mess. You go out and try to solve the problems of this nation, but you can't even fix your school. Don't you people smell the decay and the old stench?

The new UP President Alfredo Pascual said that his administration's efforts are geared towards research leadership, a demand for a national university. Why doesn't his administration walk around the campus, visit every nook and cranny, and fix everything that needs to be fixed? And don't make a sorry excuse that they can't be fixed because there isn't money. If you aim to be good in research, you have to be outstanding in resourcefulness first.

Mr. President, breathe life to the dying University of the Philippines then do your research leadership initiative later. Or do you need to do some research on what to do with the dying first?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kulo Exhibit Revisited

A friend who came with me to UP Diliman this afternoon took a copy of the September 2011 issue of U.P. Newsletter.

An article caught my attention: "UP groups denounce closure of Kulo exhibit."

1. Resignation from the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Karen Flores, a UP alumna, and the CCP Visual Arts Director at the time of Kulo exhibit resigned from her post "to uphold artists' rights...stand as a symbol of artistic expression." She also said that religion should "promote a higher self. It should not promote hatred. Instead it should promote tolerance."

Wow! So resigning from one's job is now an artistic expression? I wonder in what artistic manner she did it. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "tolerance" as "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one's own." But like tolerance to pain and other types of it, there is always a threshold on how far one can tolerate a deviation. Christianity promotes forgiveness up to seventy-seven times. There is no law that says what we cannot tolerate we forgive. We can forgive a cheating husband but should never ever tolerate him. Tolerance is pushing someone to sin more. Do I tolerate smokers around me?

Me: I'm sorry, but I'm allergic to smoke. May you, please, stop smoking?
Smoker: Oh, I'm sorry. (Extinguishes cigarette and throws it to the metal bin)
Me: Thank you. (With a smile)

Me: Your art exhibit offends me and my faith. May you, please, change it?
Artist: NO! It is my artistic expression and it is none of your business! You don't know anything about the art and the artist! I have artistic rights!
Me: And I have human rights. The most fundamental of all rights.

2. Marcos and Aquino as allies

National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera said, "In the surrender of the CCP (to the pressure of Marcos and Aquino), the rights of individual artists were also surrendered." Incredible! Imelda and P-noy in one sentence! Lumbera even added, "Sino ba si Imelda?" Don't they get it? Even the godless was offended!

3. OA

UPD Department of Arts Studies Chair Cecilia de la Paz said that "the government reaction was knee-jerk and out of hysteria." Madam, with toll going skyward, not just Skyway, and a liter of gas getting more expensive than a burger meal, that is the least this government can do for me. To be hysterical in my behalf.

4. In your dreams!

Former MTRCB Chair and UP College of Mass Communication Professor Nicanor Tiongson said that "art is not just pretty Amorsolo artworks to decorate our walls," and "an artist always dreams of a better world." What does a mother tell a hungry child crying out for food, and there isn't a morsel to spare? She carries the child to her breasts, sings a lullaby, promises that the child's father is on his way, and with plenty of food for him. She doesn't yell at the child, and paint grim pictures of Somalia and Ethiopia where birds of prey wait on the wings until famished children die, and feed on the dead bodies of children.

The mother believes in "easing one life the aching and cooling one pain and helping one fainting robin unto his nest again." Art is beautiful, so beautiful it makes one cry, so beautiful it takes one's breath away, so beautiful one can risk cliches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Juan Time" and PST

I find it awkward that Philippine Daily Inquirer's editorial focuses on respecting time and the "Filipino Time."

Today is the day after #PrayforthePhilippines made it to Twitterlandia's trending topic worldwide, the day after Pedring "shut down Metro, lashed Luzon." Even Paulo Coelho tweeted "I join the group, and I just prayed. #PrayforthePhilippines."

What happened to PDI? Suddenly, it has become more important to remind people to be on time than to be prepared for calamities. Or are we done with the obvious?

Be that as it may, the editorial has led me to check my time if it is in accordance to the Philippine Standard Time which is found in the PAGASA website ( I found the time in my computer a minute late, in my cellphone four minutes advanced. Now, I have all my time under PST. And so will all the clocks at the office and at home.

Going off on a tangent, it might seem, today's editorial has taught me something major enough to be bothered by it.

It has also come to my attention that the Department of Science and Technology is pushing for a new "Filipino Time" and it is called "Juan Time." "With Juan Time, Filipino time will come to mean 'on time,' and no longer late," as quoted from DOST Secretary Mario Montejo.

Being on time all the time is not something that may be taught in business training camps. Being punctual is part of an individual's make-up like respect, dignity, honesty and patience. And I'm betting 5 Sing Dollars that those who give a hoot about an editorial on respecting time after a day of Twitter-worthy calamity are the same people who have it in themselves since the day their folks showed and taught them punctuality and respect by example.

Why SD 5.00? It's all I've got in my wallet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It Will Rain

If you ever leave me, baby,
Leave some morphine at my door
'Cause it would take a whole lot of medication
To realize what we used to have,
We don't have it anymore.

There's no religion that could save me;
No matter how long my knees are on the floor.
So keep in mind all the sacrifices I'm makin,'
Will keep you by my side,
Will keep you from walkin' out the door.

'Cause there'll be no sunlight,
if I lose you, baby.
There'll be no clear skies,
if I lose you, baby.
Just like the clouds
my eyes will do the same, if you walk away
Everyday it will rain.

I'll never be your mother's favorite;
Your daddy can't even look me in the eye.
Oooh, if I was in their shoes, I'd be doing the same thing,
Sayin' there goes my little girl
walkin' with that troublesome guy.

But they're just afraid of something they can't understand.
Oooh, well, little darlin' watch me change their minds.
Yeah for you I'll try I'll try I'll try I'll try.
I'll pick up these broken pieces 'til I'm bleeding,
If that'll make you mine.

'Cause there'll be no sunlight,
if I lose you, baby.
There'll be no clear skies,
if I lose you, baby.
Just like the clouds
My eyes will do the same if you walk away
Everyday it will rain.

Don't just say, "Goodbye."
Don't just say, "Goodbye."
I'll pick up these broken pieces 'til I'm bleeding;
That'll make it right.

'Cause there'll be no sunlight,
if I lose you, baby.
There'll be no clear skies,
if I lose you, baby.
Just like the clouds
My eyes will do the same if you walk away
Everyday it will rain.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bruno Bench Billboards

How's that for alliteration?

I know Pinkhamper is turning shamelessly into a Bruno Mars fansite. It is what they used to call scarlet fever which everyone had to go through.

(Click on the pics for bigger views.)

After the Philippine Volcano billboard fiasco, Bench has decided to redeem itself with these. Now, we all know men can be billboard-worthy even with clothes on.

Bruno Mars: Made in the Philippines. Hmm. Really?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spilt Milk and Nephews

Two nights ago I had to change bedsheets and pillow cases twice within a 5-minute interval. My nephews (one, 5; the other 3) raided my bedroom again to check on Facebook which is actually Youtube, going gaga over The Annoying Orange. I wouldn't be bothered to correct them.

(A day later after this post, I explained to my 3-year-old nephew that it isn't Facebook, but Youtube that brings him his favorite videos. Now, Youtube has become part of his growing vocabulary.)

Both brought with them their milk. And when you have the kids, glass of milk and bed combo, the inevitable happens: spilled milk on the bed. The younger kid placed his glass on the bed and with his flailing hands knocked the glass down. Wet sheets, wet shorts, freaked-out aunt. "Hindi ko sinasadya!" was the 3-year-old's quick defense. Fine, let's just change the sheets and you go downstairs to Nanay and change your clothes. Both of you!

Both kids went downstairs. I changed the sheet and pillow cases. A couple of minutes later, the little tyrants returned with their fresh glass of milk. !!!???##$%$%$!!!

"Ate, di pa kami tapos uminom ng gatas, e." OK, but just be careful this time. The younger one, glass of milk in hand, took his place by the bed table where my sister checked the real Facebook. The older nephew found his place next to the younger one, moved a little too briskly and hit the younger one's back and the kid went off-balance and spilled the milk on my bed the second time.

Now, please, tell me, what does a normal person say to that?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sex Strike and Lysistrata

A barangay in Mindanao made the headlines recently for a reported "sex strike" imposed by wives to their husbands if the latter continue to engage in clan wars. The women complain they are tired of killings, and demand for a normal life.

Apparently, the men got scared of being "outside the kulambo" for fear of sexual starvation. The women got what they want and they live...

In an interview with an Imam (Someone who leads Islamic worship services.), Arnold Clavio of Unang Hirit asked if it is against Islamic traditions for a wife to deny her husband his "marital (sexual) rights." The Imam answered that a wife CANNOT and MUST NOT say no to a husband who asks for his bed rights. No ifs, no buts. What the husband wants, the husband gets. I was riding a bus when I saw that piece of interview, and I didn't care if I mouthed "WTF" a little too loud.

This piece has reminded me of that classic Greek comedy Lysistrata by Aristophanes. It is about a woman named Lysistrata who persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual favors from their husbands and lovers. This fete is meant to end the Peloponnesian War. In the end, both parties come to a peaceful agreement and the drama ends in songs and dances.

Sounds easy. But this may work only if men and lovers were gentlemen, and women were ladies.

Spell DOG.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Day You Went Away

I was looking back at you as you were walking away. You were walking back to E-- to take you home and out into the world. I could have run after you, but I didn't. It was a decision I made that matched your decision to walk away to find your place in the sun.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dumbest in the World

A CNN article calls the question asked to Ms. Angola by Lea Salonga the dumbest in the world: "If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?"

The article made two sterling points:

1) "After standing under the magnifying glass of millions, this 25-year-old, 5-foot-10 ½-inch knockout had to publicly contemplate if she was physically good enough."

2) "Maybe it's absurd to be dismayed that a question like this would be posed at a beauty pageant. In my worldview, the mere fact that pageants exist is absurd."

On the first point:

Beauty contests love "what if" questions. They love asking "almost perfect women" if they would want to be someone or something else or be anywhere else but where they are. You have in front of you the supposedly most beautiful women in the universe, not just on earth, and you would ask them dumb question like trading places with mere mortals? They are the envy of insecure, not-so-gifted, horizontally-challenged, pale as chalk, dark as night women the world over and you would ask them if there is anything else they would want to change/replace in themselves? If that isn't the height of insensitivity, if not stupidity, I don't know anything else which is worse.

On the second point:

Using women as objects should have been banned the day Virginia Woolf proclaimed that women to be empowered should have a room of their own. Beauty contests are taboos still happening in a world of petabyte technology. And since nothing is called taboo anymore because it will be politically incorrect to question other people's rights to stupidity, anything that falls under this label I call dumb. And I can list three other dumb things people do and enjoy doing and engaging in even at this day and age:

1. Play golf. You have a vast well-manicured lawn with nine or eighteen holes. The goal is to hit a tiny pock-marked ball by swinging a golf club from across a golf course with lagoons, sand dunes, and grass into these series of holes using the fewest number of strokes. If you are so darn excited to be putting your small balls into small holes, then play billiards. You don't waste precious land that may be put in better use.

2. Live in houses as big as ten football fields. Just how big a living space can one need? You have an Olympic-size swimming pool in your backyard and ten 100-SQM bathrooms around the "BIG" house. Just how dirty can one get to be needing such amenities? And you have a hundred luxury cars and fifty race cars in your garage... Fine. You have money, but is that an excuse?

3. Boxing. It is good if all boxers were like Mayweather who ducks opponents to avoid blood and counts on points to earn millions on pay-per-views. But boxing is a game we can accept if we are still living in caves and men still wear g-strings. (Guilty as charged I am for I love boxing.)

Oh, why am I so bitter tonight?

I've just checked the night sky out my window. There's nary a star nor a moon in sight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bench on Mars TVCs

Not few were the times I admitted to being a Bruno Mars fan. Can't help it. I'm owned. :P

Made in Mars.

Thanks, Bench and Youtube.

Pacquiao - Marquez Song and Dance Showdown. WHAT?!

Can you imagine Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier doing a song and dance showdown to promote Thrilla in Manila? I can't.

But Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao singing La Bamba together on stage? Pacquiao singing "Imagine" beside JMM and JMM singing a Spanish song next? Well, yes.

I'm loving JMM and the Mexican people for saying "Viva Filipinas!" Which reminds me, whatever happened to my old Mexican pal Carlos Zepeda from Tijuana?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9.10.11 My Taylor Swift Day

9.10.11. What a sad, sad day. Time for Taylor Swift, the girl who sings exactly what a girl wants to say.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Chalk Holiday" on Teachers' Month

In the news today, teachers threaten the government's Education Department of a "chalk holiday" if the yearly chalk allowance of P700 will not be increased to P2,000. A not so good way to start the National Teachers' Month.

On September 16, about 100,000 teachers nationwide will teach, but will not use the blackboard to do so. Some time ago, teachers threatened to walk out and not teach if government refused to increase teachers' salaries. Now, this current threat is kind of sweet. They will teach but will not write to teach.

I wonder if our teachers are aware that the greatest teachers never used any instructional material but themselves. The greatest teachers had no classroom to hold their class, no blackboards to demonstrate their thoughts. Thinking about it now, the best teachers I had hardly used the board - black or white.

Not to be sarcastic about it (really!), I hope teachers make good of this threat. It can be a blessing in disguise for they may just learn to be creative and teach with just them as the teaching tool and still reach effectively their objectives.

Going back to the budget issue, if the government relents to the request of chalk allowance increase, the government will need to allocate a P2B fund for pieces and boxes and trailers of chalk. Now, that's a whole dang plenty of tuberculosis-inducing chalk dust to contend with. Will Quezon Institute be ready for it?

Below is a poem for all teachers this National Teachers' Month:

By Bliss Cua Lim

At the end of the hour there is dust on my fingers,
White chalk dust that silkens yet terrifies,
Delineating tiny borders on my palm beneath my thumb,
Nets and creases on my twenty year-old skin.

I ask myself what I do it for, and I say
Not For Them, they come and go, and
I have given up on metamorphosing minds.
I say instead, I am the teacher that
The child I was would like to have learned from.

In our moist, clammy library, smelling of
Dog-dung and moldy paperbacks, I ransack
Worn carton boxes for old college papers but
That girl is not there; her image is a palimpsest
And memory has given her a cerebral glow;

Where her outline shimmers with intellectual passion I
Doubt this visage and in the end I fear
I have forgotten the child for whom
I have become what I am
And I begin to realize that if she-that-was-I
Sat in my classroom, she might not know me.

All this, as I run the eraser over my own writing
On the board, diffusing the chalk dust that
Can only be spread thinly or inhaled but never vanquished,
Running mental fingers over the faces I just addressed,
Wondering if there was someone/anyone there I missed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Poetic License

An artist's freedom of expression has been loosely invoked the past several weeks in these shores. That artists can produce and write anything as an expression of artistic ideas has been a source of heated debates over media and social networking sites.

We had Mideo Cruz who desecrated an image of Jesus as a social commentary on how religious icons are used to worship the divine. Then came James Soriano, a student from Ateneo De Manila, a school known for its high scholastic standards, who with boldness proclaimed in a newspaper article that Filipino, our national language, is but a language of the street that one uses to communicate with the domestics.

To become an artist, it seems one has to be insensitive. To become an artist, one has to have the thick skin to brave criticisms. As an artist, one has to lose humanity to gain entrance to it. As an artist, one has to present reality in its basest form. But then what happens to art when all considerations are given to the artists' freedom? What happens to the audience of art when the artist cares only for his personal gratification and damn-you-all expressions?

If we have been up in virtual arms against the "works" of Mideo Cruz and James Soriano for their "slips," what do we say then to the critics from the other shores who find the works presented below as offensive?

The above photo shows rape and sexual abuse to be fashionable if you wear the right kind of brand: Calvin Klein Jeans. This ad was banned.

The above photos of 10-year-old girls with provocative glances which appeared in Vogue Magazine raised an uproar recently. Too young to be objectified. The critics ask, where is this world going?

This photo appears today at Yahoo. Domestic violence is cool, it seems to say. Are we justified to shout FOUL!?

Do I need to make a comment on the photo above?

Friday, September 2, 2011

MTV: Mars Tribute Valerie

Monday morning, August 29, I was looking forward to watching the live telecast of MTV VMA, it being a holiday. The day before, I checked the schedule over MTV Asia website where it announced that Singapore, Philippines, and Malaysia live telecast will be at 9 AM.

Five minutes after 9, I was infront of the TV surfing the channels. Honestly, I don't know our cable TV channel assignments. I never cared. I'm not a TV person. I rounded the whole 2 to 100 channels thrice but there was no MTV. There was MYX, but no MTV.

Then came my brother into the house. He is the music video guy in the family. So I asked the dude. And I got this for a reply: (Rolling his eyes) "Ano ka ba, Ate, nung isang taon pa walang MTV sa Pilipinas!"

Okay, that's sweet. How come I didn't get the memo?

As a teenager, I grew up infront of MTV when music videos meant something to the song for which it was made. Then music videos became experimental. An experiment on the best way to make you blind with awful visual effects. An experiment to find out what would make you puke first, sex or violence? So I quit watching.

These days, I heard that MTV is more thrash than music. That viewers are begging for the people behind the music channel to bring back the "M" in MTV. For in the past years, MTV has become "More Thrash (than) Videos."

Going back to MTV VMA. I'm a shameless Bruno Mars Twitter follower. At home, ours "is a sky full of lighters" where my nephews sing to "The Lazy Song" "Oh my God, this is great!" 24/7. It is therefore imperative that through Bruno Mars' tweet I found out about the MTV Video Music Awards night. And the cutie would be performing. It would be a treat for my nephews to see Bruno live.

But then again, MTV Pilipinas is dead. So I Googled for some live VMA streaming. Useless. I went to Twitter and there was a gold mine of links. Success!

What did I see? Bruno Mars came on to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse, the British music sensation who died of "yet to be determined cause" at age 27 last July. The same girl who took the song "Rehab" to the top of the charts worldwide. The same girl who admitted to having cocaine addiction and alcohol abuse. The same girl who signed up for the Forever 27 Club whose members include Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison who all died at the peak of their career at age 27.

And ladies and gentlemen, Bruno Mars, 25, the one giving the tribute is the same guy who has pleaded guilty of cocaine possession in Las Vegas. Good work, MTV!

Bruno Mars is my celebrity crush and I love him to destruction. I pray to God each night that the stigma of this cocaine incident will go away and what remain only are his musicality, creativity, sensitivity, and humanity.

There, written like a fan mail.

Bruno Mars singing "Valerie," one of Amy Winehouse's songs, at iHeartRadio in Las Vegas. Couldn't find a decent YT of the MTV VMA performance.

Amy Winehouse singing "Rehab" at the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007.