Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Star Wars Horoscope

I haven't done this in a while. So here goes:

Star Wars Horoscope for Libra

You are on a lifelong pursuit of justice and determined to succeed.
You convey the art of persuasion through force.
You always display your supreme intelligence.
You have a great talent in obtaining balance between yourself and your surroundings.

Star wars character you are most like: Obi Wan Kenobi

The Hits Keep Coming . . .

Jakarta floods blamed on climate change - CNN.com

Sifting through the Middle East headlines is like an exercise pulling your teeth with dental floss. You got that right. For all of the positives of economic development in the region, everyone's getting the collective shaft in Iraq --- and though I don't really like the U.S., I feel for the poor average-Joe soldiers getting shot at and killed while their puppet masters make off with the cash (shades of Oliver Stone - I know, I know, but that man may have a point). Meantime, Iraqis are killing their fellows with a vengeance. What a mess.

On the "local" front, the big issue is a Filipina getting the death penalty in Kuwait. Really a sad story - Filipinos are not just peons you can rub your boogers at, so I guess that employer had it coming. But still - you tell me why our government still keeps on allowing these issues to continue. Filipinos, domestic duties, and abusive employers are a bad mix. Throw in desperation and homesickness and you have it --- you produce these kinds of cases. And now the Philippine government sends the VP over to perform heroics. It's unfair to Ka Noli to give him this task and expect great results, and nobody put a gun to Marilou Ranario's head to take that job.

And oh, don't get me started on the new round of peace talks on Palestine. One sh*t pile of deception after another, and no side comes clean. What a train wreck.

On to the main feature --- the troubles in Indonesia as a result of climate change are a sure sign that worse things are also in store for the Philippines. For an archipelagic nation such as the Philippines, the signs are already there - killer flash floods, the smog in Manila, the receded coastline of Manila. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Climate Change report some few days back. Al Gore wasn't kidding. The tragedy in Bangladesh with typhoon Sidr is not incidental. We need to make changes now.

Some fast facts:

• We are fast losing snow, and Arctic summer sea ice has been reduced.
• By the start of the next century, average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1C and 6.4C, compared to those of the '80s.
• Sea levels will rise by at least 18 cm.
• Expect more forces of nature acting against us -- heat waves, rainstorms, tropical cyclones and surges in sea level --- more frequently and to a greater degree
• The first and the most to lose will be the poor nations, as always, particulary small island-states, and developing economies where people live in river deltas.
• Expect more famine in Africa as water and rainfall would be ever more scarce. Half a billion people will be affected by 2020. Crop yields will be cut in half.
• Thirsty? By the middle of this century, lots of water due to flooding in the coastal areas of Central, South, East and Southeast Asia, but fresh water for drinking will be less available due to depleted water tables and aquifers.
• We are losing more forest cover than those industrial foresters are claiming to replenish.

Them hits just keep on coming. It's never too late to start conservation efforts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Landing the Big Fish

Craigslist Meets WallStreet

Courtesy of this post from Jessica Zafra.

I can't say I'm not surprised. If the premise that women go with the money were true, maybe I should bamboozle (or con) my boss to give me a shagadelic-level pay raise. That is, of course, if I'm aiming for a trophy wife. Under the circumstances, no, I think I'll pass.

I don't believe Pinays are really out for money, but if you mention the notion of "security" collective ears are perking up.

There's this joke going around our friends since most of us in our relative peer group are married. Only my colleague in our department and another from our Finance Department are eligible bachelors (we do have other bachelors, but I believe they're "bachelorettes," to use a kinder term), so we often banter about why we aren't married. Here in Saudi Arabia, money is of course an issue but less so since the working women here are relatively independent, even more so financially, than their counterparts back in the Philippines. Security is a bigger consideration than money. Which leads to the joke....

A veteran OFW from Saudi Arabia talks the issue on security: "Huwag mong sabihing gusto ng babae ng security para magpakasal. Ang security, umiinom ng tuba. Ako, driver, may pambili ako ng beer!"

(Translated: "Don't say women like security for marriage. Security (guards) drink coconut wine (easily available, just like moonshine). I'm a driver and I can afford beer!"

Which leads back to our conundrum - if I'm doing so well (relatively) compared to many of my peers, how is it I am getting nowhere? Hmmm... maybe I'm in the wrong circles. Or, maybe I'm not putting myself in the right market. Or (and a big "hmmmm" to follow) I'm not that inherently desirable to women in the first place!

(Small voice: Yes, Chief. Do start angling for that pay raise. The dollar value is really shrinking, anyhow...)

I'm not really that vain as to my physical person to start with (maybe that's why I get little attention as well), but I do have that little vanity that I can manage to attract someone because of me, not of any personal success or money that comes along.

But, in any case, dollar-sense or otherwise, the facts of the matter are clear -- it's not the money that gets them, but that you're willing to spend it (hahahaha!). Still, if I need it, I will take surrogate affection for the meantime -- which leads to an even older exchange with some of the buddies back home ---

"If you're on a one-time date, whom would you rather have --- a girl who could possibly be girlfriend material, or a porn star?" My buddy Robert pipes up - "I'll pick the porn star. I don't have to spend much on the date and I will have a guaranteed good time!"

A woman never forgets the men she could have had; a man, the women he couldn't. ---
Anonymous

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Uninvited



Look closely at the kid in the picture. He is my youngest nephew, my middle sister's eldest child. They named him Jeremiah Angelo, partly after me. I don't know why, really. I am tickled pink of course. :-)

New life is all around us. It's a beautiful thing.

The biggest downer to all of this is how Death creeps up on those of my generation. Another of the people in our high school batch passed away, due to a massive heart attack. I have to admit - I'm scared. Not of the fact of dying in itself, but that my death would leave a gaping hole in the lives of those who depend on me. Death is that one guest that always comes uninvited but one you can't turn away at all. Unless, of course, you put in the security system that is called "sound living."

Living that kind of well-balanced life can sometimes be brutal especially if one has picked up so many bad habits along the way. Building a wholesome discipline is an arduous task, made all the more difficult by the necessity of losing the bad habits along the way.

So there, I am not in the best of shape these days. I try, but the trying can be trying (ugh! ugly pun, buddy). I don't need a wake-up call --- I'm in that situation where I've stuffed three pillows on top of the darned alarm siren!

I still believe the passing of time can be a good thing, but the memories are starting to become more vivid. That's a bad sign. It's time to make a new set of memorable experiences. That uninvited guest will eventually pay a visit, but I'd rather put myself in that situation where his coming isn't all that bad, though I'd never lay out the welcome mat, naturally.

"The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he is a baby." - Natalie Wood

Monday, November 12, 2007

Missing Out on Trivia

Myleene Klass - The Official Website - myleeneklass.co.uk

It's official - I'm out of the pop loop.

Man, how could I miss referencing on this girl? Well, yeah, she's mostly in the Anglo market rather than the American, but still, she's a Filipina! At least half from her mother's side. A poll from a British media outlet named her the Best Celebrity Body for 2007 - for the guys it was Daniel Craig.

On another note, Miss Canada won the Miss Earth contest in Manila.

That's about it for pop references.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Literary lion Norman Mailer dies - CNN.com

Two of my favorite quotes from the man:

"Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment."

"Tough guys don't dance. You had better believe it."

One of the last authors whose personal legend exceeded their own fame. I hated going through his books, but at least I could claim I was cultured by reading them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Denied! And Then Some

Boy hires hitman to kill parents after grounding denies PlayStation, TV - Engadget

Some guys are just plain dumb. Yep, video games can do that to you.

I wouldn't recommend it, but try going through a 20-volume encyclopedia when you're grounded. That's what I did if my parents were angry at me or we weren't allowed to go out. It took me some six-odd years in between (of course, by the second year I was fully hooked, even though our Encyclopedia International was about 15-odd years old by the time I started reading it) to finish the darned thing. That's a lot of downtime. A lot.

And oh yeah, that process of indoctrination is irreversible. If you would consider me sane, that is.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fed Up

Posturing - INQUIRER.net

Let the commentaries begin.

Money rules, losers drool.

I'm posting just as I have wrapped up another directing job, this time for the concert of friends who are part of the all-male a capella choir Saringhimig. I was happy with the result considering all the challenges we faced prior to the show. The dynamic in the choir is not altogether healthy and I foresee them making changes after the concert. On an objective level, they do need to address the talent quotient among their members plus they have to figure out how to handle the other aspects of the performance business than the actual singing itself.

I posted about these guys during the 2006 TFC Pop Star competitions and they have undergone a lot of flux since then. Well, at least, two of the winners of the Saudi nationals, Kim M and Jasmine A, made it as guests. While I may not agree personally with how their parents and mentors are managing their careers (as if I had the right, but still...) , I'm sure these young ladies will have a bright future. They have the talent to do it, certainly.

Anyhow, one wonders what relation does our link for the day have with this concert --- the scale of the events happening in the Philippines is incredibly disturbing, to say the least, notwithstanding the tragedy befalling the Saguisags, which is a situation I'd hardly wish for anyone. Maybe we need some human interest stories such as this to take our minds away from the rest of the political landscape. Otherwise, we will just turn numb.

It's money. Money and influence and all the influence- and leverage-peddling that goes on in our government and society --- they gnaw at the tatters of our moral fabric. We have a generation of young people who know no better, who have forgotten the cruelties of Martial Law and the struggle to regain our democracy --- they who only know Erap and how many betrayals have taken place since he was elected.

We have people wishing for the show of the iron fist to put back the country back on track. How foolish, how naive would it be for us to expect that the "savior" will slink back into obscurity once they have tasted power and all its trappings and perks. We asked for Erap to leave and we got Gloria, who proved to be little better.

Yes, do cheer up that our country's fundamentals have been healthier since she assumed power. Forget the involuntary disappearances, the "Hello Garci" incident, the Macapagal Boulevard scam, the fertilizer scam, the ZTE broadband scam, the endless allegations of jueteng, the shameful handling of the Subic rape case, among many other things. Forget that the continuum of President Arroyo's administration spans cases from the absurd to the downright galling. The economy is doing great, hurrah!

Meantime, family incomes are shrinking as prices rise. Having hope is a great exercise, at least to tell ourselves it would turn out all right.

The chain of events up to now is only leaven for more cynicism. Avoiding the news now is more of a given than a choice. I've had it - I'm officially fed up with the state of affairs in the Philippines. Making me care would be a stretch --= from now on, I'll try my best to talk about positive stuff.

This is where all current events begin to intersect --- obviously there is garden-variety corruption you can encounter in your own backyard. MalacaƱang sounds impressive, but guess what? Sneak-thieving is even more frustrating when it's not even supposed to happen. Then again, anyone with a modicum of power is likely to abuse it.

The concert was held at the Filipino community school in Al Khobar - a favored site because of its accessibility, sufficient size, adequate stage, affordability, and most of all, the positive vibe of conducting the activity without drawing too much attention from the local authorities. The organizers got a call from the school on Wednesday morning saying that they needed a permit from the government to conduct the concert.

My advice was for them to get one posthaste, so that there would be no static from the school. It was standard practice that the organizer of the event would secure the permit (the SH boys did not read the fine print, so sorry, and boy, were they sorry!), though this never came up as problem for us in SPA-TDG since our activities involved the school's students. After some messages were passed back-and-forth, I surmised everything would be okay by that afternoon.

Surprise! The school board met during the afternoon and then issued a directive that the show didn't have a permit, and therefore should not proceed. News of a raid at the Indian school was still fresh as there seems to be some initiative from the locals to kick expat butt and maintain law and order. Or so how these things normally go; after the raids either the passion ebbs or grease money flows, and it's back to business as usual.

I was elsewhere that evening to prepare the lights for the show and received word that there was a problem. So off I went to talk with the school authorities

What I feared was that they would throw SH out but at least they were reasonable enough to allow the preparations to proceed without any interference from the school provided a permit would be secured by 4:00pm the following day, thus begging for some legerdemain since government offices close on Wednesday evening. One of the choir members said that their company had a strong connection with the government, so we worked on the assurance that we would secure a permit. It was really rolling the dice at that point.

I almost lost my head listening to the Chairman of the School Board and the Principal defend their position that the school would have no liability arising from the cancellation of the show. It was a defense buttressed by denials, hand-wringing, and overall disavowal of any responsibility for the fiasco that was looming in front of them.

1.) The reservation was secured in September and though SH did not read the fine print, the school, having ownership of the premises and thus final responsibility, did not even follow-up on the permit which, as far as I'm concerned, should have been quid pro quo if they were really conscious of the regulations. SH, of course, should take full responsibility for the lack of the permit, but they redeemed themselves by doing what it took to get the show going.

2.) The school called the week before asking about the permit but did not press the issue. I don't know what's going on in the heads of these school authorities. You're taking the organizer's money, for crying out loud! Where's the "ownership" of the situation? As I was not in the loop when this conversation happened, I wasn't able to advise the group of what to expect.

3.) The school authorities were well-aware of the events surrounding the raid and took steps only when it was too late, i.e. on the last day. Even given that situation, they took the entire afternoon to discuss whether to grant approval, which is pretty much putting the cart before the horse.

4.) There is no fixed procedure from the school on how to secure the permit that will assist users should they want to get one. If there is one, they haven't educated their front-liners how to answer questions.

5.) What made it galling was that when I asked for their inputs on the matter, we were met with "that's your problem, not ours."

6.) The school had a Foundation Day event on the following day, Friday, with --- you guessed it --- musical performances and dance performances on the schedule. They couldn't have missed the schedule for the concert --- and could have taken safeguards earlier, if they were really concerned about local regulations.

Work on the venue proceeded as scheduled --- and it was only the guarantee of one of the show's sponsors that we were able to proceed.

Some things which disturbed me before and after the event:

1.) The school had scheduled a big chunk of activities for its Foundation Day without regard for the reservation schedule. There were practices, practices, practices in the venue until the kids were asked to leave and brought home by school buses.

2.) A parallel activity with one of the community organizations was scheduled at the same time as the concert - and one of the participants actually went to the school, even asking if the program had started.

3.) The primary equipment for the school's sound system was removed just right before we started preparations, and we found out later that the system was brought to this community organization's event.

4.) After his big show of concern over the permit of the show, the Chairman was rather dismissive when the "cavalry" arrived, conveniently passing on to the Principal the responsibility of resolving any untoward incident that could occur.

5.) The Chairman happens to be one of the prominent members of this other community organization.

It's easy to put two and two together, though for now I would give the Chairman, his cohorts, and the school authorities the benefit of the doubt over their actions. Still, this has not been my first experience with the arbitrariness of the school authorities as regards their venue. Nor has it been my first encounter, both first-hand and through trusted sources, of the Chairman's underhanded practices and his arrogance.

The Chairman is dependent on the votes of his fellow parents to stay in office. Recently, there have been signals from their Board that they want to forestall new elections and that the Chairmanship be rotated among the incumbents.

The school is a lucrative business --- understandably, to operate it the costs are passed onto the students and their families. The cost of educating a student at the school is similar to the cost of sending a student to a top private school in the Philippines. The control of financial transactions --- both for educational and non-educational purposes --- rests with the Board. That is a large cash flow managed through the hands of few individuals --- and there is no power to audit their actions except through election, though by that time damage would have been done.

Raise your hand if this reminds you of something.

Case closed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Looking for a Laugh Trip


Plasma 2, originally uploaded by Off beat Mum.

We all need a laugh and I guess you’re just the one. - Rod Stewart, Silicone Grown

It seems things get interesting for bloggers when they start to whine. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap! When does it end?

I stubbed my toe last week. It hurt like hell and it's all bruised. Yap, yap, yap.

I dropped my cellphone and now the sound's all screwed up. Yap, yap, yap.

I got up late, missed my ride, and my boss chewed me a new asshole when I got to work. Yap, yap, yap.

The President of the Philippines pardoned her predecessor for corruption charges that could not be proven conclusively, while her political fate still hangs in the balance. Yap, yap, yap.

The peso's value has risen but our earning power has fallen. Yap, yap, yap.

No one really knows if the proverbial shit hit the fan in the mall explosion or if anyone is still shoveling shit in our faces to avoid blame. Yap, yap, yap.

If it were possible, I'd like to stick my finger into a wall outlet to find out if I can get a buzz, much like this interesting photo I just found. Man, I need a laugh trip. Movies won't do it --- I recently watched "Blades of Glory" and the movie was so ghey, though there were only a few scenes where I laughed out loud. I did find Rob Zombie's take on the "Halloween" franchise a tad hilarious.

Anyhow, I've watched too many slasher movies ---the type where most of the pretty girls get chopped up and the somewhat virginal plain Jane survives --- in the past few days (Vengeance is mine, b*tch! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! --- but that's maniacal, not jovial. ).

I surmise even getting myself soused up won't do the trick. As far as I know, waking up with a hangover is a poor excuse after laughing it up in your own snot and puke.

And no, getting laid is not the answer, but it does me give stupid ideas. Then again, no.

Maybe I'll post this ad in our intra-Company classifieds:

WANTED: A laugh trip that would leave person in stitches. Substance abuse and pornography optional but not necessary. No moving devices required. Misanthropes need not apply.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Riskies

How Scared Should We Be? - Health - New York Times Blog
(registration required)

Just a short rejoinder though --- how do they count people jumping in front of cars?

In Force on Friday

Save the day - INQUIRER.net

Well, back on track. The situation back home is not good for a number of expatriates over here - martial law in Pakistan as the situation has greatly deteriorated. In the Philippines? The circus is in town, but no one really knows who the ringmaster really is. It's so easy to be dismissive of the events and the politicians, but then again, everywhere, Filipinos always find ways to shoot ourselves in the foot when opinions clash.

One thing that bodes ill for the current administration is the lack of protest over the pardon of convicted former President Estrada. The pardon itself shows political savvy, but this short-term move shores up nothing for the future.

What a mess.

I don't know what I will be able to do on Friday. But I will don my passable black t-shirt to show that I am one with others in the nation who care about the way the administration and many other politicans have mortgaged the future of our collective soul.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

For Lack of Better Words, This! ...

Willing Exile: And the Word Is ... Love

I wish this could be easier, but I am way past adolescence to agonize over it. So here goes (sigh).

I’m way deep into what I’d like to say intense infatuation. Yeah, I won’t kid myself about it. I’m in love.

Who is she? That’s not important. At least to you, Constant Reader, would it really matter if she’s just the girl who bandaged my knee at the hospital the other week or the woman whom I’ve helped with her remittance back home at Western Union? What she does is less important than who she is.

Who is she? No, she isn’t the girl in the billboard commercial, or the girl swaying her hips at some reality show. She isn’t a voyeuristic fantasy, though it may feel that way after these months of enforced solitude.

I’m in love with this girl, this woman, not because she has some ethereal beauty that would take one’s breath away. Well, maybe to other people, but to me, she does. She has the fluid grace that fills my soul my heart just wants to stop and be forever overwhelmed. But even then, that’s not the reason why I feel for her the way I do.

I’ve always longed for connection, where there is a true meeting of minds that eclipses the idea of physical intimacy. It’s been long in coming here in Saudi Arabia, mainly because I have been reluctant to allow myself the opportunity, no, the beauty of finding someone. Is she the one? Maybe.

It really seems unfair to you, Constant Reader, not to let you in on the details of this. But that is where suggestion and perception will do their part --- I will pretend I am making a suggestion to this effect, and you will pretend that you have perceived my actual meaning. In that way we can lie to one another that I have actually achieved my goal and you truly understand what I intend to say.

Anyhow, I’m stalling since I have not reached into the true heart of the matter.

WHO…

(Do you really have to know?)

IS…

(Well, if I’m actually going to admit…)

SHE?

If you know your Kevin Costner movies, her first name is the same as the true name of Mary McDonnell’s character in “Dances with Wolves.” Okay, that’s a dead giveaway, unless you don’t know your Google. If you want another giveaway, try the name of Arnie Cunningham’s best friend. It’s a name that was very popular in the 1960’s, or so I’m told. It’s one of my favorite names as well, as far as the girls I have had relationships go --- once during high school and another during that short time I taught in Pampanga.

But anyhow, I let her onto the secret and she turned me down. I asked her permission to proceed, and she shot me down.

I’m sure she has her own reasons, valid in her own mind, and since I asked her stand on it, I’ll have to let it be and respect her decision.

Sure, I was devastated. I still am. I was one of those idiots who said being good friends is enough. Hell, no! Nobody says that thing with any certainty unless he isn’t really invested in having a relationship. Oh yeah, I lied, or better yet, I wasn’t really thinking straight at that time. Being in love turns my brain to mush.

But hey, a few months ago I almost broke my leg and it still hurts like hell. I’m still alive. (Side note: when she and I danced, I budged my knee a little --- TWICE --- and the pain was excruciating. Yeah, I’m not kidding about that kind of pain). I was about to play Lennon-McCartney’s “I’m A Loser” but then again, it wasn’t ALL that bad. It’s not as if I put my heart through a wringer pining for her affections.

(Small voice: By the way, don’t believe any word of good humor here. I’m a sore loser.)

It’s funny --- in a different way --- that we get along so well even when we agreed to disagree. I don’t know what about having a relationship with me makes it “uncomfortable” for her… maybe she has some secret thing that I am completely unaware of, or that she has some unbreakable commitment. I honestly don’t know, and at this point, I don’t want to ask because I don’t want to know the answer.

I hope it’s not the last of these things, and until she tells me differently, I am waiting for her to change her mind. Scratch that, I’m praying for her to change her mind (and if she happens to read this, well, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

Sure, in this place and time I’ll manage to find someone else. It’s not impossible, but it sure feels like it. And I’m not about to lie about my heart. It stays broken until a true love comes to fix it.

BAKIT BA GANYAN? (Male Version)
(Marvic Sotto)

Bakit ba ganyan?
Ang ibig ko'y lagi kang pagmasdan
Umula't umaraw ay hindi pagsasawaan
Ang iyong kagandahan.
Damdamin ko'y ibang-iba

Kapag kapiling ka, sinta.

Ewan ko, kung bakit ba ganyan
Damdamin ay di maintindihan . . .
Kailangan ang pag-ibig mo
Dahil sa ako'y nagmamahal sa 'yo
Magmula nang kita'y makilala.

Bakit ba ganyan
Kung minsan ay nauutal sa kaba
Kapag ika'y kausap na?
Ngunit lumalakas ang loob

Kung ikaw ay nakatawa.

Ewan ko kung bakit ba ganyan
Damdamin ay di maintindihan . . .
Kailangan ang pag-ibig mo
Dahil sa ako'y nagmamahal sa 'yo
Magmula nang kita ay makilala (oh)

Ewan ko kung bakit ba ganyan
Damdamin ay di maintindihan . . .
Kailangan ang pag-ibig mo
Dahil sa ako'y nagmamahal sa 'yo
Magmula nang kita ay makilala.


Postscript: This song brings back memories of 1979 and the year Dina Bonnevie first broke out into the Philippine entertainment scene. Sure, she's a mother twice over and all that, but nothing changes that first flush of awareness that females are an altogether interesting subject. Naturally, I can't use her version --- the duet version with Vic Sotto is the definitive one, though in the late '80s Melissa Gibbs, during her peak hottie days, released a version that is widely available on the 'Net. It's not my song for HER, not until there is some sort of affirmation, but the song does leave a positive touch to an otherwise dreary post, don't you think?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Acts in Prose

This should have been datelined much earlier, but I have had only so much time to post an entry just recently.

The pic I posted is the promo shot I did for our production "Haplos ng Panahon" under Entablado Filipino for which I directed the "Sandaling Tagpo" segment and did the lighting. It was not a box-office success --- we struggled with venue issues and by the time we secured one, it was too late to sell too many tickets.

"Haplos ng Panahon" was staged at Al Waha South in Dhahran, within the Saudi Aramco main camp. The production did score well with the audience who were normally used to the melodrama we served up in previous productions. I believed that our audience would respond that way --- but still, there were tense moments all the way.

We did two plays back-to-back for "Haplos ng Panahon" - "Sandaling Tagpo" by Jose Victor Torres and "Sa Huling Gabi ng Palabas" by Rolando dela Cruz. Both were third-place winners for One-Act Play in Filipino at the Palanca Awards. My SPA-TDG colleague and friend Gerry L was the one who pushed for "Sandaling Tagpo": he was so enamored with the script that he translated it into English. He sold me on the idea of the play so many months ago but I had to turn down the English version - it read well, but since the first version was in Taglish already doing the play in straight English, would, I felt, rob the dialogue of some of its nuances.

The play is about a university professor of "retirable" age who comes face-to-face with one of his most gifted students after more than a decade of being apart. He has recently been asked to retire in order to avoid the scandal of a sexual harassment suit. But there's the rub: he hasn't exactly been innocent, even before, and his replacement has more than just a few stories of her own ...I liked the play mostly because it was multi-layered - the lines had so many possible interpretations my own personal take on it would have spelled one direction or the other --- it did help that Gerry was a true student of acting and that he was really into the play, and that the lead actress was a newcomer and thus was tabula rasa --- a clean slate that we could work magic on.

This production is special to me because of the many dramas that came before it was even produced --- the first a small misunderstanding which led to a major flare-up between me and one of my colleagues in SPA-TDG, the second an even deeper problem which threatened the integrity of our organization, of which I wasn't even aware until the so-called aggrieved came forward with their complaints. This whole chain of events was painful to me that it made me doubt whether I have the proper leadership skills to lead our organization.

Eventually, the truth came to light and it was all sorted out --- I still can't get over how gossip could run people and organizations. With our group that is so small this could happen, how badly can things go on a macro level?

I haven't been myself since that issue --- actually it's been sort of a struggle to regain the momentum I lost since before I left for my vacation in June. I haven't posted as I had wanted --- I started a few things about the Erap conviction and subsequent pardon, the Glorietta bombings, and so many other things on the world scene.

Maybe I'm burned out. Maybe I need to stop and reassess where I want my life to go. I'm more than thankful so many people stood by me and gave me the support I needed --- while I wouldn't want to thank my adversaries, I feel they owe some props as well. They certainly made these last few weeks another life-defining milestone.

Or maybe I have looked more inward, somewhat unhealthily, instead of focusing on things at hand and what I could do. The whole premise of "Sandaling Tagpo" was that love is not a fleeting thing, that it defines people, however flawed they may be. Oftentimes we do grow up and find that the people whom we put on pedestals are fallen idols, but time and forgiveness reveal to us that the lens that we examine the world is the one shaped by those people we have grown with --- the very people who scarred us, and at the same time, molded us into what we are today.

Life imitates art imitates life -- we define our acts, and our acts define us. Where one ends and the other begins --- that's a story for another day.