Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happiness Is ... (Part 3)

See: the first list / the second list

  • Reveling in gratuitous video-game violence (yeah, baby! Burn off all that aggression!)
  • The first bite of food / first slurp of beverage of something you've been craving for ages (crispy pata! San Miguel Beer!)
  • Picking your nose to your satisfaction and then rolling the boogers to a massive ball (would anyone admit to this? Hypocrites! hahahahaha!)
  • A long joyride on the very first day of vacation
  • Watching the scenery as the plane lands on the tarmac on the flight back home
  • Proving someone else wrong after he/she patronizes you contemptuously
  • Getting a treat from a known tightwad/cheapskate
  • Sleeping the true sleep of the just.
  • Mowing down your hair after an unbelievably bad hair day.
  • The cleanest of sheets and the most comfortable of beds in your hotel room.
  • Witnessing unforgettable moments in sports (Thumbs up: Pacquiao after whipping Morales, Federer after the recent Aussie Open. Thumbs down: Kobe Bryant)
  • Surviving that hellacious amusement park ride.
  • Being validated by the one person you value the most.

Happy anniversary, Mommy and Papa -- for 35 years you lived, loved, and learned together. In 12 years since you left this earth, Papa, it has never been the same. It would have been your 48th year together today. God willing, I hope to do just as half as well -have to find someone first, though.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Now We're Cooking...

Saudi Jeans

I don't know who this young Saudi is --- but I'm sure he is just one of the many who represent the true future of Saudi Arabia. This country belongs to people like him.

I just hope this country's leaders don't hold back the change that their own people is asking from them. There is enough room for growth without taking away the values that are central to Islamic society.

It will be a brave new world when enlightened change comes to this country.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I just liked the sound of this word for today's post. A little housekeeping notes:

-> My friend Nikki is actively promoting this blog. It tickles me pink for her to do that, not because she's my friend, but because she thinks there is something worth sharing in this blog. Friends and relatives are often the harshest critics, just as the Guy Upstairs once said, "No one is a prophet in his own country."
->I'm trying to put in a few more features in my blog OTHER THAN PICTURES, as I've had trouble maintaining memberships in the various picture-hosting sites. The zealots at the KACST-ISU (the Internet authority here in KSA) have some definite ideas about such sites. I'm in no mood to raise a ruckus, I just feel sad I can't put any photographic records of my own on this site. There are alternatives - I just have to learn them.
-> I'll try to stick to the discipline of at least one entry per week, but one never knows. Things may get hairy and blogging may be the best or worst way to deal with them (internally), as matters dictate.
-> I'm grateful I didn't get to post this HUGE RANT about my departing colleague (technical problems with Blogger's servers). For reasons, both good and bad, he has been an integral part in helping me attain my goals here in KSA, so I bid him farewell and all the best in whatever job he's going to take.

(Did you catch the euphemism there? Instead of, "Good riddance, I'm glad you're leaving!" one can say, "In your own way, you have helped me become a better person." NOT! But even so, gratitude is a whole lot better than bitterness.)

I experienced a barrage of emotions this weekend (our weekend, again, to newbies here, is Thursday/Friday).

The first one was of RELIEF that my colleague has arrived back from vacation. Now, this man is a pillar of stability in our department. He is one person we will not be able to do without, and I hope he knows it (so he can better use it to his advantage). Single ladies, should a girl decide to pass up on me for someone else, I'd most gladly see her choose this man. Not for anything else, but I think he has his "relationship toolbox" all together in better shape than I do with mine. And well, some would say he's more presentable, but then again, I stopped looking in the mirror for some months now. Find him in Friendster.

The second one was .... let me think it through while I type here .... an inexplicable longing. I sometimes kid myself that I will get through the loneliness/alienation here as I have posted earlier, and in some ways I get by. Watching the Pacquiao fight, in its completeness (I did it only on Wednesday night), was like an emotional sucker punch. When he won and the flags were waving high, my eyes welled up and all the conflicting emotions generated by that flag came to surface. In a sudden burst of nostalgia, all the things I loved about home also manifested.

Put it this way - it's like coming off painkillers. I sooooo wanted to be home. I had to physically clamp myself down in order to hold down my sobbing. (Another part of my brain --- the Observer --- was processing this and was saying to me, "Yada yada, yak it up, you pathetic weasel!" Yeah, the "L" word would probably snap me back into reality.)

The third one came up while I watched an episode of "Everwood" featuring Treat Williams and Gregory Smith, that kid from "Small Soldiers" (the guy who got a kissing scene with Kirsten Dunst before she became legal, lucky schmuck). I was waiting for my afternoon appointment to come along and I was just too lazy to lift my phat behind to do my laundry. Great episode, but the show's premise was just too limited. Not enough options to percolate for great stories.

Some things that came back to me during the episode.

One, some people (including me) find it easier to drive away the people they love because of the fear of loving them too much. Being in love, and loving someone, means admitting your vulnerability. And that other person's love will form part of the solution ... and the "alloy" will make both of you stronger. I don't have all the exact words right now, and I'm rushing this entry before the thoughts diminish and disappear.

But back to driving people away - I confess to having done just that. From the petty ones like being condescending to beautiful women (as if beauty sucks out their IQ - it's the case of "rejecting them first before they reject you." It's dumb. Yup, you women can shoot me now), to the major ones like letting friends and family down. I'm not wondering why I don't have a relationship right now, I'm just glad I still have the opportunity to do something about it. Of course, I'm not taking any wrongdoing others may have done, but regardless of whatever they have done, I have no excuse for my own behavior.

Two, there's always room to start over. Always. It's the bravery the Birdie character describes in "You've Got Mail." It's the bravery of trying something new, even without a safety net to catch you. I'm sure all the self-help gurus have something to say about this. For the past two years, I've been starting over. It's been sometime coming since last quarter 2000/first quarter 2001, when I thought I hit rock-bottom. I've gotten even lower since then, but I believe I've climbed out and making steady progress.

The fourth one saw my students from our Voice Clinic perform at their demonstration Friday afternoon to determine their readiness to appear in concert. I had 10 kids ready for this, one backed out long ago and three failed to show up at the last minute. Still, the six who performed more than made up for the afternoon.

I hated, correction, hate, letting them go. But it's time: their rightful instructor has arrived and he must take over the reins. My pride kept on saying, "We can do this, let me work out the string." But there are limits to my skills and in some ways, I could have done better. So I accept this in all humility and go on do what I do better - inspire kids how to express themselves better through writing.

I'm also glad I asked one of my students to sing a very positive song, "Land of the Loving" by Dianne Reeves. The lesson here is that where there is enough love to spread around, one will belong. I have been blessed to have been found by the children and parents of SPA-TDG at such an early stage in my sojourn here in KSA. Thanking them is getting to be corny, but hey, it will remain true forever.

I'd surely hate it when my heart will be broken when these kids complete their training. I have high hopes that they will do a better job making sense of the world we're living in. As it is, I am fortunate to be playing a small part in the greater story of their lives. Don't look now, but my heart is breaking now...

ALL THINGS MUST PASS (George Harrison)
Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It's not always been this gray

All things must pass
All things must pass away

Sunset doesn't last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this my love is up and must be leaving
It's not always been this gray

All things must pass
All things must pass away

All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So I must be on my way
Face another day

And darkness only stays in night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always gonna be this gray

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shooting Blanks

I just had to say this --- I have too much work to do for me to blog now, but I have to make this statement all the same.

I noticed throughout my blog-hopping that a lot of people who blog have such rich interior lives, it's a shame that some of them don't know what to make of them with what they do in their real ones.

Or, put it this way...

Does Guy A have to talk about daytime drinking when obviously daytime drinking is the kind of drinking that wastes your life? (on the other hand, the f*cking world is so G*ddamned f*cked up let's live it up while we can! PAAAA--ARRRR-RTYYYY!)

When will Girl B get so over herself and her self-flagellation through her blog? Didn't you get the memo - SEX is SEX, what's love got to do with it? If you want to f*ck your brains out, so be it! But don't look for sympathy because there's some twisted part of yourself that's feeling guilty, part of that bigger self-hate that is driving you to destroy yourself. No one pointed a gun at your head to do the things that you did.

And so on, and so forth.

My beef with all of this is, why do things have to get tawdry? When did we start losing all sense of self-restraint? Is it because real life has become a vast tabula rasa of irrelevance that we have to glorify our venality for fear of shooting blanks? That no one will remember you and what you have done? Here's my take on this: people die forgotten everyday! If you want to leave something of value, do something that will the improve the state of the human race.

Live more. Love more. And f*ck all that shit that says sentimentality ain't going to make a difference. It's not your life they're living, it's you. Just don't go overboard with it and become an oversize Barbie or worse, a trying-hard Martha Stewart (and most of us people know how THAT thing went down).

I've done my share of stupid things in this life and went boo-hoo that things didn't go my way. Still do sometimes, every single day. Has my life been such that I have to go on and spill all my dark secrets to everyone, as if to say, "my scars are bigger than yours"? Damn, had I wanted that, I would have gone out and written an autobiography to sell.

So, I'm going to concentrate shooting live ammo, making hits in my real life, the life that will of course be captured in some way on this blog. I'm a bit stalled at the moment, have to make a few repairs and adjustments.

I don't mean to knock all those bloggers I just wrote about --- they make for fascinating reading, anyhow --- but if that's the pattern of their lives there must be some serious changes to be made. And THEY have to do it, not me. Shoot, I have enough problems of my own.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How Does That Work Again?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
--- Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Monday, January 23, 2006

Making Sense

Gary Granada's Home Page - This needs to be updated!

My link today is from one of the most prolific Filipino composers of the last 25 years, Gary Granada. He has some popular songs on the pipeline, but the more familiar ones to the public would probably be "Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra," "I Love You Sabado" from Jollibee and "Sama-Sama Nating Abutin" by Lea Salonga.

My personal favorites from Gary's discography would be some of his '80's and early '90's work (which I will quote presently and perhaps in future posts, if I were to make more time for this), but what resonates with me recently is his 1999 Metropop winner "Mabuti Pa Sila." Fits my present mood, but in a different way, like poking fun at a beached whale (in other news, did you hear about that stranded whale at the River Thames? It died, so sad...).

Mabuti pa ang mga surot, laging mayrong masisiksikan
Mabuti pa ang bubble gum, laging mayrong didikitan
Mabuti pa ang salamin, laging mayrong tumitingin
Di tulad kong laging walang pumapansin

Mabuti pa ang mga lapis, sinusulatan ang papel
At mas mapalad ang kamatis, maya't maya napipisil
Napakaswerte ng bayong, hawak ng aleng maganda
Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa

Ano ba'ng wala ako na mayron sila
Di man lang makaisa habang iba'y dala-dalwa
Pigilan n'yo akong magpatiwakal
Mabuti pa ang galunggong nasasabihan ng 'mahal'

Kahit ang suka ay may toyo at ang asin may paminta
Mabuti pa ang lumang dyaryo at yakap-yakap ang isda
Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila
Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa

Mabuti pa ang simpleng tissue at laging nahahalikan
Mabuti pa ang mga bisyo, umaasang babalikan
Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila
Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa


Pigilan n'yo akong magpatiwakal
Bakit si Gabby Concepcion lagi na lang kinakasal

Mabuti pa ang mga isnatser, palaging may naghahabol
Ang aking luma na computer, mayron pa ring compatible
Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila
Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa

Anyhow, before I launch into work today, I'm just wondering if I'm still making sense. Stress, maybe? Have to take care of myself a little better. Where there is doubt, there is always that fear that one's life is not relevant. Gary's "Madaling Araw" is a theme of that search for relevance. In the wee small hours of the morning (no, it's not the Carol King song), sometimes these thoughts take shape and give our heart a tug.

Stop, stop, and let the world come to you instead of you rushing toward it....

Madaling-araw na, isip mo'y malalim-lalim
Kalagitnaan na ng liwanag at dilim
Bakit kailangan pang ika'y pumasok sa silid
Gayung yaong pinto'y matagal ng nakapinid
Sa iyong dibdib

Di mo makapa ang iyong nararamdaman
Hindi lungkot, hindi saya
Hindi bagot, hindi naman din balisa
Isipin mo na lang na lahat ng nilalang
Nahihimlay, nahihimbing
At nananaginip ng nag-iisa

Walang nagsusulat dahil walang nagbabasa
Walang bumabagsak dahil walang pumapasa
Sa bawat bagong iyong natutuklasan
Ika'y natututong kayrami-rami pa palang
Di mo alam

Di mo makapa ang iyong nararamdaman
Hindi lungkot, hindi saya
Hindi bagot, hindi naman din balisa
Isipin mo na lang na lahat ng nilalang
Nahihimlay, nahihimbing
At nananaginip ng nag-iisa

Sa babaw ng mundo, kung ibig mong magtampisaw
Maraming kasundo at kasabay sa iyong galaw
Ngunit ang wika, nagbabago'ng kahulugan
Sa dalas ng bigkas, unti-unting nawawalang

My humble translation, for the benefit of those who don't understand (or refuse to understand) Filipino, and it is loose rather than literal:

Dawn has come, your thoughts are rather profound
It is halfway between the light and the darkness
Why must you go inside the room
When the door to your heart has long
Been shut.

You can hardly grasp what you feel
Not sadness, not joy
Not boredom, not worry
Just remember that all of creation
Has laid down and is fast asleep
And dreaming all alone.

No one would write for no one would read
No one would fail because no one would succeed
For every new thing that you discover
You soon learn that there is so much
You don't know.

You can hardly grasp what you feel
Not sadness, not joy
Not boredom, not worry
Just remember that all of creation
Has laid down and is fast asleep
And dreaming all alone.

If you want to revel on the face of this earth
There are so many others who would match your every move
But words, whose meaning is ever-changing
For surfeit of speaking, slowly ebb and cease
Making sense.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Great Day for Pinoy Pride

Pacquiao knocks out Morales to win showdown - Boxing - Yahoo! Sports

Boo-yah! I'm not a lover of the pugilistic science, but hey, I'd jam to this thing.

Sorry, kabayan, I didn't put any money on you. Who would want to bet against you and then collect on that bet, anyway?

Great day to be a Filipino and forget all the darned things happening in our country, and savor the sweetness of victory.

Manny P, you and your fellow athletes have done more to keep our flags up for the past few months. We OFWs will continue to be your beasts of burden, as we always were. Just keep those flags flying high!


It's Manny Pacquiao's big day. Let's go Manny, though my scientific side would put money on Erik Morales - but you're kabayan and deserve all the love...

I had a great picker-upper from Candice's blog, particularly her quote about "Only a man who is happy can create happiness in others." Words to live by.

I can't bring myself to work. According to John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) in his other works, my procrastination is the result of a lack of hope - hope that I will succeed. Let's hope (pun intended) that such is not the case...

Thoughts of the desert that everyday recedes as humanity begins to fill the Saudi lands --- such is the fate we consign ourselves to when we give in to fear. Fear that there will no better tomorrow for our land. Fear that we will left and ground to dust in the "wasteland" of the Philippines.

I only fear that I just haven't done enough.

In this swirl of thoughts, I hope to pick the wisdom I would need dearly for the rest of the week, and I would like to quote the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear (Frank Herbert's Dune):

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sulit Ba Ang Umamin...

Ewan ko lang!

There is always a chance to lose something, but plain experience tells me that there's nothing to be gained from being circumspect.

Just want to make sure of myself, first. As for my nerve, confidence is high; I repeat, confidence is high! Let the feeling grow a little. As to the rest, again, ewan ko na lang!

Huwag lang tayo masulutan . . . (not again, not ever!).

‘Di malaman kung ano ang gagawin
Sa damdamin na di ko maamin
Sa sarili, kung bakit ka pa ba nandiyan?

Sabi-sabi ng mga kaibigan ko
Huwag mong pilitin ang hindi para sa iyo
Ngunit bakit hindi kita malimutan … sa ‘yo ba'y o.k. lang?

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, laging nagwawala
Tumitindi, umiinit, sumasakit ang dibdib
Kaya ako’y gumawa ng awiting ito na alay sa iyo
At sana’y pakinggan mo.

Huwag ka sanang magugulat sa akin
‘Di ako sanay sa ganitong suliranin
Huwag kang matakot, hindi ako manloloko…kung o.k. lang sa iyo.

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, laging nagwawala
Tumitindi, umiinit, sumasakit ang dibdib
Kaya ako’y gumawa ng awiting ito na alay sa iyo
At sana’y pakinggan mo.

Ngayon alam mo na sana’y ‘di ka mainis
At pasensya na kung ako ay makulit
Pero kung gusto mo, ako na lang ang lalayo…kung o.k. lang sa iyo.

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, laging nagwawala
Tumitindi, umiinit, sumasakit ang dibdib
Kaya ako’y gumawa ng awiting ito na alay sa iyo
At sana’y pakinggan mo.

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, laging nagwawala
Tumitindi, umiinit, sumasakit ang dibdib
Kaya ako’y gumawa ng awiting ito na alay sa iyo
At sana’y pakinggan mo.

Kung o.k. lang sa iyo . . .

My own take:

‘Di malaman kung ano'ng nadarama
Puso'y hindi sanay tiisin ang kaba
'Pagkat kay tagal hindi na ko umaasa.

Sabi-sabi ng mga kaibigan ko
Pagkakataon darating din sa iyo
Ngunit bakit ako pa ri'y nag-iisa … sadyang ganyan lang ba?

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, sila'y nawawala
Naglaho at nalimutan, 'kala'y di masasaktan
Kaya sana nama'y maunawaan ng kapwa nilalang
Ang aking dinadamdam.

Huwag mo sana ako ay paikutin
Sawa na ako sa ganyang klaseng gawain
Huwag kang matakot, hindi ako manloloko…pagtiwalaan mo ako.

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, sila'y nawawala
Naglaho at nalimutan, 'kala'y di masasaktan
Kaya sana nama'y maunawaan ng kapwa nilalang
Ang aking dinadamdam.

Ngayon natataong aamin sana ako
At pasensya na 'pagka't ako'y nalilito
Pero kung mayroon nang nagmamay-ari sa iyong puso… limutin mo ako.

Habang tumatagal, lumalala, sila'y nawawala
Naglaho at nalimutan, 'kala'y di masasaktan
Kaya sana nama'y maunawaan ng kapwa nilalang
Ang aking dinadamdam.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Some Beautiful Yesterdays

"And I can't go back to yesterday..."
---Boyz II Men, in their cover of "Yesterday"

A full year has passed since the passing of Miggy Baluyut. I was deep into my holiday to properly remember him on the 10th, but I did some thinking over the past few days about the beauty of his life.

The Miggy I best remember was that summer of '95 when we spent what could have been a lifetime volunteering for Namfrel. For many of them who were still in school, it was a great break for them. I had work at the time, so participating in Namfrel meant the night shift.

We sang "Yesterday" for TV reporter Vicky Morales during one of those breaks in the morning when nothing was happening. We were all young and carefree, and most of us who were smoking at the time took in the air and breathed the magic of life. Especially Miggy.

I always believed Miggy was one of those immortals because he loved living life. His emotions were always on the outside. He hardly held anything back. That kind of living was infectious. Until recently I had lived my life in compartments and kept some part of myself in reserve. My reticence, I surmise, stemmed from my upbringing where on the one hand one could have a surplus of frustration (care of my mother) or swim the depths of mystery and a tightly-coiled anger (care of my father). Miggy was one of those people you would say would only regret his life because he didn't think things through.

(Edit - January 17: I don't want people to think that life with my parents was bad. On the contrary, life with my family was all good, particularly because of our tests and trials. Of course, there are some things one would notice about one's parents when looking at others. I accept the way things came out, though of course, like most work of human hands, they could have been better.)

He could never regret a life that was filled with the grand passion of being alive. That he was, in a way, cut down before he had reached the age of 30 is still a mystery to me.

I don't believe the justification that his life had completed its purpose. A life like his, which was teeming with possibility, could never be static and thus conveniently pigeonholed. Therefore, there was always something he had wanted to do but never got around to doing. Neither do I believe that he lived in excess, and as such burned the light of his life too soon.

It was just a life called back by God, because it would serve to instruct those who remain.

It's a lesson on living TODAY, not for yesterday. The Lord will take care of tomorrow, because tomorrow will come soon enough.

See you around, parekoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wondering About Poverty

I just couldn't let this following link go:


Dear Yahoo!:
How many people in the world live in extreme poverty?

London, England

Dear Kelly:
According to
NetAid, over a billion people, or roughly one in six, live in extreme poverty.

Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than US$1 a day.

The World Bank goes on to define moderate poverty as basic subsistence living, on $1 to $2 a day. All told, nearly half the world's population lives in poverty -- that's 2.8 billion people living on less than two dollars a day.

Some other facts to keep in mind:

  • Each year over 8 million people die because they are simply too poor to stay alive.
  • More than 800 million people go hungry every day.
  • The gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world's three richest people.
  • Thirty-thousand children die every day due to hunger and treatable illnesses.
  • 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, as a result of malnutrition. You can find detailed poverty assessments of specific geographical regions on the World Bank's PovertyNet. And if you're interested in learning how the World Bank comes up with its poverty statistics, take a look at PovcalNet.
  • The goal of the Millennium Campaign is to reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015. And the aim of the One Campaign is to direct an additional 1 percent of the United States budget towards eradicating global poverty.

* * * * *

It's been sometime since I've researched these facts (almost six years ago) and they remain the same. I know I have to work, but it's just a shame that the sense of poverty and deprivation is not caused by the actual lack of resources but how resources are distributed. I mean, how do you qualify government policy to dump excess milk or wheat into the ocean in order to stabilize prices when there are so many people going hungry?

On the Philippine front, how your explain people going poor when we can afford more than 200 million text messages a day, or roughly P500 million daily?

How can you justify poverty when so many people waste money needlessly, i.e. spending money for things that they don't really need to survive?

How can you condone poverty when there is so much wasted consumption?

We don't need equity, we just need equitability.

Quizzy, quizzy...

This is my first set of quizzes for the year....

How You Are In Love

You take a while to fall in love with someone. Trust takes time.

You give completely and unconditionally in relationships.

You tend to get very attached when you're with someone. You want to see your love all the time.

You love your partner unconditionally and don't try to make them change.

You are fickle and tend to fall out of love easily. You bounce from romance to romance.

Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life. You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.

You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.

You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

Crazy Love

Wisdom, in one sense, is the opposite of love. Love survives in us precisely because it isn't wise.
---Gregory David Roberts, "Shantaram"

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Return from Holiday

It's not exactly the end of my holiday yet but I chose to go to work today. I'm no longer interested staying at home, have to do something constructive. ;) Must be a sign of getting old.

I'm pleased to announce that three young people whom I have close contact with won prizes at a regional competition built around the life and works of Jose Rizal. Kudos to their parents and mentors, and of course, the kids themselves did most of the work. I am just glad to have been a supporting character in the show.

I guess my last posts seem to be maudlin in nature but that is not necessarily the barometer of my mood, should there be any such thing. I'm rather a predictable bore when I get fixated on a particular subject and I rather run the subject to death just to show the depth and breadth of my knowledge/experience. I am not asking for a medal, anyhow. My friend says that I shouldn't wax sentimental about it. Anyhow, I must have beaten this subject to a pulpy mess, so it should be another three months before I write about it again.

In other news, my boss was the subject of a hate e-mail campaign, the nature of which I will not dignify with a description, but I'm glad his response shows that he is still in good spirits. He has earned more of my respect over the past two weeks. I'm glad he's my boss, regardless of the present circumstances.

Reminds me of this exchange in Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," where two of the principals interact. Ellsworth Toohey, demagogue and newspaper columnist spearheads a character assassination on Howard Roark, architect and hero of the novel. In one telling moment where Toohey seems to have marshalled public opinion against Roark, he asks, "So what do you think of me now?"

Roark answers, simply: "But I don't think of you." Kick-ass statement. Toohey lined up to be his enemy, but Roark simply ignored him.

Of course, I'll be right behind my boss if he decides to open a can of whoop-ass. There are days when your enemy has enough bees working for him to rout your lion. Best to stamp him out while it is early.

I visited Bahrain over the holiday and while it has been my third visit, I am familiar enough with the small country to see what it has to offer.

Bahrain was a protectorate of Britain until 1971, and has been in the American orbit since the late 80's. It was the first Gulf country to be dependent on oil revenue, but since it has depleted its reserves, it has also been the first to diversify its economy. A significant portion of its trade and investment has been with Saudi Arabia, but in practice Bahrain has been a more open society. The opening of the King Fahd Causeway in 1986, linking Bahrain to the Arabian mainland, has pointed this out even more so.

In Bahrain, one can procure pork and alchohol (still controlled, but you can buy as you want and need) and consume them openly. Musical entertainment is also something you hardly see on our side.

So I wouldn't have to elaborate that Bahrain can be enjoyable. It can get monotonous with repetition but right now it still works for me. However, it doesn't help that I don't have my own transportation and must rely on the kindness of others for me to enjoy. The relative openness of Bahraini society brings into perspective the foundations on which the Saudi culture is built. I am not fond of the Western ways myself, but I am sure that Saudi ways must change in order for them to learn what to preserve.

The only things I got which were on sale at the Seef Mall were books. (So predictable! Not even shoes or jeans!) The Filipina counter girl was attempting to flirt with me (it isn't her fault, I can be quite charming at times, if I wanted to), but I just didn't bite. I would have wanted to get with the female lead singer of the Exodus band (another Filipina), but there wasn't enough time. I felt some kind of connection with her or maybe she was just intrigued. I sure was. I don't know much, but I do know if the music sounds right. Their band rocks, by the way. It's not the best I have seen (I have seen others, individually or as a group, with far more talent), but they are GOOD. Worth the price of the trip, at the very least.

Alas, we had people to bring home who had just arrived from the Philippines and it was getting quite late. The travails of not having your own land transportation --- there will be other opportunities, of course.

To close the chapter on my previous posts, I have two disparate experiences - watching "The Girl Next Door" featuring Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert, and reading "The War of the Flowers" by Tad Williams.

The first is a total rip-off of "Risky Business" with elements of John Hughes' work. Redeeming qualities: Elisha Cuthbert and Sung Hi Lee, though the latter has really gotten OLD. Should be right considering she's supposed to be a porn star. Elisha was WHOA!... when did this happen? Actually, I knew she had something going when I first watched her in "Love Actually" since I missed the first season of "24." (I only finished the first two seasons through the re-runs while in Saudi Arabia). Emile Hirsch was believable (he was only eighteen when they started shooting, while Elisha was 21) - man, I can actually see images of my high school self in him. Should have known a girl like Elisha Cuthbert at that age... though my two brothers might have made the move to meet her before I did - they always did believe they were pretty boys.

The second is a stand-alone fantasy along the lines of "Thomas Covenant," "Apprentice Adept" and similar works of fantasy where our known universe interacts with a magical one. Wait, "Flight of Dragons" remains my favorite. The lead character is a loveable loser, but one who has been tempered by loss and pain. The author has interesting theories on the nature of magic and the development of the human psyche (as emerging from the magic world), but of course he already walks familiar roads trod on by other writers. His characterizations are strong enough, but there is one device in his book that would be great to learn - how to write a "hole" in a story. There is the expected environmental/sociological critique of our current world (what's new?) and an amazing parody of the events of 9/11, though the author claims his idea pre-dated the events.

What do these two things tell me?

Well, however we do want to go about it, love is not about fantasy but neither should we allow it NOT to be fantastical. (Scratches head --- duh? did that actually make sense?). Or, love is not about romance novels all the time, but one should never settle in relationships for pragmatic reasons. There should always be magic, or for many, the magic is all about creating those moments even along well-traveled highways. "Boredom" in relationships is not about the passage of time, but the passage of priorities. Priority should be given to taking care of what's been there.

I could have manufactured a better ending, but this is where my holiday musings end.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Nature of Contentment

“Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.”
---The Count of Monte Cristo, in the novel of the same title by Alexandre Dumas

Looking for the Right One

My middle sister is getting married, God willing, by this June. Plans are afoot already and I can only wish the couple every bit of happiness they can find.

It's my sister's blessing to finally settle down with the right person, and it took her a trip outside the country to do it. Not that I'm complaining, Dubai and Dammam are two totally different worlds in terms of the dating culture and openness.

My mind and my words always echo my belief that I will find the right one for me provided I become the right kind of person for anyone. In other words, I don't have to look so hard when women will come out and see that I'm the kind of person they are looking for. I'm trying here, and I'll just hold up my arms in protest if people don't believe it.

I'm trying here. It's a tough ride, but it will get better. If only there's a sign out there that tells me the journey is approaching some kind of destination.

@listening to : Looking for the Right One, by Art Garfunkel, off his debut solo album. Written by Stephen Bishop, and Art provides the kind of styling and vocal quality Stephen is also known for, though I'll give the nod to Art as a vocalist. Stephen is a better songwriter than singer.

I've been so unlucky
I'm no good at playing games
I remember their faces
Forget their names.
Thought I'd found the right one
But she hasn't found me
So I bundle up my emotions and start...

Looking for the Right One.
But will the Right One ever come along?
Oh, I'm looking for the Right One
When will the Right One come along?

They say there's no use runnin'
After something you'll never get
But my heart says
"Don't say no."
Somewhere in this lonesome city
Is the woman for me
But would I wait another lifetime just to keep on...

Looking for the Right One.
But will the Right One ever come along?
Oh, I'm looking for the Right One
When will the Right One come along?

They say love always comes and goes
Well, that I already know.
Yes, I really know.

Looking for the Right One.
But will the Right One ever come along?
Looking for the Right One
When will the Right One come along?

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Don't say it will end up better for me next time
Don't say there's someone else out there
Waiting just for me.
I've had it with this game
I'm tired of pretending
If I'm not someone else's dream
Then what else can I be?

If I can just disappear

Would you believe that there's someone for somebody?
They say just be yourself and see
Someone will notice you.
No matter how I try
No matter how I love true
I spent my life dreaming lies
There aren't "I LOVE YOU's"

If I can just disappear
Trying not to be me

I dare to believe
I dare to take flight
But somehow
What still hurts
Is that loneliness deep inside

If I can just disappear
My heart's always been free...

(I'm trying to see if I can still write some melodrama. Hmm...just enough, but juvenile! Let me see if this can go with a melody. This is still third-rate writing for me, but maybe it will go somewhere.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Pretense for Success

I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.
---Cary Grant

Basketball "Evil" and the New Year

My New Year thing today came up in my reading:


I was more into the NBA news and of course, my childhood favorite, the Harlem Globetrotters. Watching the cartoon versions of Curly, Goose, and Meadowlark (my brother and I called him Medo-loc, because we couldn't understand their accents) was a rare treat in those days PRE-CABLE. That seemed a happier time, too, for a host of other reasons.

Wow! Evil Globetrotters! That would be a huge idea. We already have Bizarro the Anti-Superman, Sinestro the Anti-Green Lantern, among a few, even Venom the extra-powered Spiderman. Evil Globetrotters would be great - but put in some "evil" Pinoy basketeers: Rudy Distrito and Onchie de la Cruz subbing at point, Ricky Relosa and Rico Villanueva playing small forward (this is the States after all, and yes I think Rico is a dirty player), Larry Villanil at shooting guard, EJ Feihl at power forward/center, and don't forget, Sonny Jaworski as Coach.

I'm lost with some of the other positions, maybe Ato Agustin and Jimwell Torion (guards really do make dirtier players, hehe), Yoyoy Villamin at swingman (and a really legit power plus skill player) and for some street smarts Ramon Fernandez in the early to mid '80's, playing the skill positions instead of forward. Chito Loyzaga comes to mind as a Charles Barkley-type (undersized power forward), and I'll probably insert Marlou Aquino as another post player. Sadly, I can't think of any other legit power forwards who will be classified as "evil" or at the very least, "magulang" (as in street-savvy). Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, and Jerry CodiƱera are too clean-cut, and Nelson Asaytono is just plain stupid. Among the newbies, Danny Ildefonso and Danny Seigle are too soft, Andy Seigle is often overwhelmed, and I can't name most of the others. Sonny Alvarado maybe, or Eric Menk. Maybe I'll settle for Nick Pennisi, Asi Taulava, and Davonn Harp. I never did like Yeng Guiao's teams, for some reason.

As for the rest of my New Year:

The Muslims observe the New Year just as a passing of the year. They respect this Western tradition but their New Year is normally the month of Muharram, following the annual tradition of Hajj. Since the Muslim calendar is lunar (354 days), Hajj moves up earlier in the year every year. This year, our holiday begins on the 9th and ends on the 14th. I have no plans of hanging around here and will probably go to Bahrain where I can eat pork and party!

As I am a bachelor (in status as well as in fact), the Christmas season here is pretty much a Do-It-Yourself-or-Else-You-Get-Nothing affair. Most fellows hook up with their friends or family and find a safe place to retreat to and have a few drinks. It's really wise to stock up on "our friend" (literally, "sadiki") so that you can have stuff to gulp down during the holidays. Some guys who work at Aramco or any of its subcontractors normally have an easier time especially if they have female friends within the Dhahran community --- people are free to party within the Aramco compound so long as there is no misplaced noise or an excess of drunkenness.

Or if you don't drink, there are some prayer gatherings as well among the families. Or just quiet dinners where people exchange presents. In the closed compounds, they also have Christmas parties among the expats. Companies with more zealous organizers can get to celebrate Christmas inside the employee camps, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Last year, we had enough juice to organize a Christmas party, but with half the HR Department on holiday, I wasn't about to start something I couldn't finish.

The best combo is to hook up with a family or families and then you can eat and celebrate until the morning. Our last party (Thursday the 29th) started at 9:00pm, revved up at midnight and then we all bunked down at 4:00am. I got up at eight (I had to leave because I was teaching a class on Friday), but the others got up at noon and still had great leftovers to eat.

It's a shame there were no single ladies, though. There are still happenings of that sort but I tend to shy away from them because of the general seediness of such events. One practice is to raffle off one girl for a sure lay to the winner so long as she takes home one month's salary (for some, about SR900 or P13,000). Naturally the ticket sales rack up. If I wanted that kind of meat factory I would have stayed in the Philippines. In some cases, there are also some homosexual things going on (it would be fun watching lesbian action, but aw shucks, we just have the boys!) and that's not my thing. Besides, the authorities are pumped up to catch people in the act and over the past month, I heard of two raids in our area. There must have been more. One raid was just across our apartment building, and on Christmas Eve, no less.

New Year's Eve was quiet. We finished our Toastmasters' meeting at 8:00pm and after the clean-up and getting a ride, we made it back to downtown Khobar a few minutes before nine. I joined one of the families I knew for a small dinner and we prayed the Rosary of all things. Still, I am thankful because I have hardly used my own Rosary here (showing it would invite all kinds of trouble).

The same New Year sentiments still hold for this year, so I'm going to live this year as best as I can, because I am working on borrowed time.

Happy New Year everyone!