Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rizal Day Rape

“In view of all these factors, I have decided not to run for president during the elections of 2004. If I were to run, it would require a major political effort on my part. But since I am among the principal figures in the divisive national events of the last two or three years, my political efforts can only result in never ending divisiveness. On the other hand, relieved of the burden of politics, I can devote the last year and a half of my administration to the following: First, strengthening the economy, to create more jobs, and to encourage business activity that is unhampered by corruption and red tape in government. Second, healing the deep divisions within our society. Third, working for clean and honest elections in 2004.”

--- Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, 30 December 2002.

Anybody want a refund?


Just a mere three years after the Indian Ocean tsunami its presence have been mostly wiped away from the world consciousness ---so many other things have taken precedence, this fad and that, what baby would Jamie-Lynn Spears have, the network wars, the continuing morass in Iraq, the presidential derby in the United States, and most of all, the collapse of the US dollar against the world's currencies. But the lives that have been affected are changed forever, and no headline would change that.

There is one headline, though, that gives pause --- the death of former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto in a wanton act of violence. This closes a loop on one of the watershed events of world history --- the rise of "People Power" and the eventual dismantling of Communism. Many of the heroes of that era - Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Havel, Mario Vargas Llosa, Corazon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, Lech Walesa, the Tiananmen Square martyrs --- where are they now? Memory and circumstance have dulled their sheen.

This, I pray, would be a martyr's death that will galvanize the elements in Pakistan toward unity. Let's not talk of worst-case scenarios --- if things can get any worse in Pakistan, the long-term stability of both South and Southwestern Asia will be compromised.

Closer to daily events, salary increase time has come a lot earlier this year --- thanks to our series of studies we are upgrading our salary scale (yay! more money), which naturally, has ignited some premature celebratory speculations --- the grapevine is seething more than ever.

It's still so easy to get caught up with these things - love, life, loss, our lives may be changed by things outside our control ...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hmph. Yes, Hmph.

I'm just not happy with the look on this blog. Wish I could customize it further but this @##$%#$%#$ webwasher Internet police we have in the Company is stopping me (serves you right, Chief, you should be working!).

Still waiting for inspiration for that rockin'-sockin' super blog entry designed to floor everybody. In the meantime, am posting an adaptation of Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough." With all due apologies of course. I didn't have the heart to mangle the final main verse, I just changed the POV.

Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow)

God, I feel like hell tonight
Tears of rage I cannot fight
I’d be the last to help you understand
Are you strong enough to be my man?

Nothing’s true and nothing’s right
So let me be alone tonight
Cause you can’t change the way I am
Are you strong enough to be my man?

Lie to me
I promise I’ll believe
Lie to me
But please don’t leave

I have a face I cannot show
I make the rules up as I go
It’s try and love me if you can
Are you strong enough to be my man?

When I’ve shown you that I just don’t care
When I’m throwing punches in the air
When I’m broken down and I can’t stand
Would you be man enough to be my man?

Lie to me
I promise I’ll believe
Lie to me
But please don’t leave

Speaking from man's point of view, my version:

Look at all the stars tonight
Why must we even start to fight?
To love you means I’ll understand
I must be strong enough to be your man.

Who cares who was wrong or right
I’ll still be with you here tonight
You make the difference to all I am
I’ll be strong enough to be your man.

Lie with me
I love you, please believe
Lie with me
Oh please don’t leave.

Times will come when I won’t show
Or you’ll want to stay but I have to go
We’ll try to make the best we can
I am strong enough to be your man.

When you’ve shown me that you just don’t care
When you’re throwing punches in the air
When you’re broken down and just can’t stand
I’d be man enough to be your man.

Lie with me
I love you, please believe
Lie with me
Oh please don’t leave.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Edifice Building

This is a re-hash of an old post which I never completed. Still merits a little saying.

(Gary Granada)

Sa ngalan ng huwad na kaunlaran
Ang bayan ko'y sa utang nadiin
At ito na ang kabayaran
Ang kanunu-nunuang lupain

Ang mga eksperto'y nagsasaya
At nagpupuri at sumasamba
Sa wangis ng diyus-diyosan nila
Ang dambuhalang dam

Damdam damdam damda dadam
Damdam damdam damda dadam
Damdam damdam damda dadam
Ang dambuhalang dam

Ang mga tribu'y nagtatatangis
Nananaghoy at nababaliw
Habang ang mga turistang mababangis
Nalilibang at naaaliw

Sa mga pulubing nagsasayaw
Mga katutubo ng Apayao
Na napaalis kahit umayaw
Alang-alang sa dam

Damdam damdam...

Titigan ninyo ang gahiganteng bato
Nagsasalarawan ng lipunang ito
Tulad ng mga gumawa rin nito
Walang pakiramdam

Modern man needs his edifices in order to churn out the idea that progress --- the concept of
development --- continues and that change, as a constant that change is good.

The Ramos administration was founded on the paradigm that infrastructure was the key to development - that better edifices define the spirit of modernism in the Filipino --- in a sense, the pundits in his team were right --- bigger government spending spurred growth, and though businesses suffered in the interim, long-term growth was assured.

Of course, in the Philippine context, any public works improvement worth its salt must be budgeted thrice the amount in order to be called a worthy infrastructure project. A joke goes like this:

The city government was building a new garden and among the attractions was a wrought-iron gate. The contractor didn't have the skills to do it himself, so he opens a bidding and the top three participants were left - an American, a Mexican, and a Filipino.

The American submits his bid - $800 - $600 for materials, $200 for labor. The Mexican follows with $700 - $600 for materials, and $100 for labor.

The Filipino's bid was $2,700. The contractor asks: "How come this is so high?" The Filipino answers: "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and $700 for the Mexican to do the job."

Guess who won the contract?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blowing Invisible Kisses

Malamig. Mahirap magsentimental sa panahon ng Pasko, baka atakehin ka sa puso.

Still, this song reminds me of lazy days of drawn-out summers back home when the novelty of vacationing from school has worn off and that reality that you are stuck with nothing to do sets in...

This reminds me of languid afternoons curled up in bed with a book as the storms raged in the heavens and school has been cancelled (or I wish they would, eventually)...

When love finally came to full flower as I reached my twenties it reminds me of stealing the last few kisses even as I part from her, fearing that there would be no tomorrow for us to be together, and then despairing when she decided that indeed, there would be no tomorrow, at least for us together...

Mostly it's about those quiet times, those times in between those regular crises, flare-ups, the wailing about paying the bills and someone's lost keys --- when you are with someone you love and the air between becomes richer, as if pregnant and alive with the invisible kisses you are blowing one another. And that you take comfort in such silence, knowing you need not speak, for in your silence lies the greatest passion of all.

Astrud Gilberto is such a genius. Someone, quick, pin her another medal.

"Parting with people is a sadness; a place is only a place." --- Frank Herbert, Dune

A CERTAIN SADNESS(Astrud Gilberto)

Look out the window when that rain storms
I let the wind blow up a brain storm
. . .and now I'm wondering
Whether weather like this gets you too

It may go on like this for hours
Too late in fall for April showers
So what we got here
Got a thought or two
I need to share with you

Here goes:

Darling tell me now
Have I done wrong somehow
That you won't look at me

Need it pointed out
Can't keep my wits about
When you won't look at me

Is there something I oughta know
You're finding hard to say?
Well there's just a trace
Hiding on your face
And I learned it that way

Just another soul
That really knows my soul
And you won't look at me

Does that take the prize?
How much I love those eyes
and they won't look at me

Now the rain has gone
But something lingers on
There's certain sadness here
Now that the sky is clear

And it's so so clear
yes, it's all so clear
To me now

And I can't help but feel
That certain sadness's here
To stay.

Stuck at First Gear

So I'm revved up, excited on getting started on all of the perfomance appraisal sheets for one of the companies in our group. The catch is --- the system is DOWN. It has been for the past few days. The bright boys in IT went for a maintenance run and scheduled it during the Christmas break of our provider in Europe. Pure genuis. So now I'm stuck filing other papers, or worse, I might actually start on meaningful work. Crap!

I decided to wear my leathers this morning because I wanted to look formal for the first time in weeks --- I've stopped using my Docs because they are absolutely killing my feet. It's still a toss-up if I want to exchange arthritis in the feet for a more malignant, yet less painful ailment --- but I guess the Man Upstairs won't help me out on this one. Anyway, I'm stuck waiting in front of our apartment building for fifteen minutes because my carpool was late. It was cold, and I couldn't sit on the steps because our maintenance man decided to take a vacation too. And oh, I may have forgotten, our elevator is broken too.

Okay, yeah, it's a bad start for the day. Thank God it's Christmas, I could be bugshit about anything but the Lord celebrates his birthday today. Ummm, yup, that sure more than evens out everything in the greater scheme of things.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The World is Still Flat

"Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”
--- Robert Heinlein, science fiction writer

“You should never try and teach a pig to read for two reasons. First, it's impossible; and secondly, it annoys the hell out of the pig!”
--- Will Rogers, humorist

I must have been blessed to awaken feelings in people that makes them want to argue with me. Or else, I'm choosing to hang around with people who, for some reason, rub on me the wrong way or vice-versa.

Just yesterday, I had a long discussion with one of my buddies on relaxing the vow of celibacy so that Catholic priests can marry and raise families. While I certainly agreed with his contention that it should be allowed (which I'm sure would spark some debate from those who care enough to read this blog and chime in an opinion), we never could agree as to the why it should be allowed. Like anyone who has some exposure to the Socratic method, I wanted to pin him down on how and why he thought his original statement was valid. For some reason, I found the way he flung about his statement as misinformed and irresponsible. Anyone can express an opinion, but for me to agree to it, I have to find out why.

(Sue me --- I was hung over, semi-depressed, and perhaps in need of a hug.)

After we broke off (both of us had to go back to work), it just occurred to me that we have been debating a lot lately. I don't know if it's me, or the things we talk about, or the way we go about our lives in general. Personally, I'd try to avoid expressing an opinion that is not backed up by something solid --- in matters of politics, of the heart, or of science, evidence does help --- but since I'm a bit offbeat myself, being a contrarian is something that is almost impossible to avoid.

Another time I got into an e-mail dispute with someone I hardly knew over my opinion over their choir's performance and repertoire. Looking back, I believe I was at fault over how I expressed myself, but then again, it wouldn't have gone that way if the other person wasn't as stubborn as I was. Eventually I had to concede and granted him whatever moral victory he could get, not because I agreed with his viewpoint but because at some point, trifles such as our discussion could be, and should be, avoided.

Still, another .... but wait, I think what I would add would reach the same conclusion --- it doesn't pay to argue when a) the issue to be decided affects no one in the end; b) it is outside my area of expertise; c) it is only a matter of conjecture.

But I just love arguing. I can't stop. So these quotes are for me --- no, people whom I argue with aren't pigs (though some of them seem that way, sometimes), but arguing the (somewhat useless) point solves nothing.

So if anyone wants to pick at something with me, let me forestall you ---yup, I agree with you the world is still flat.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kids, Don't Read This - Which Means You Will

This is for the buddies back home.

I'd rather not name my buddy who brainstormed with me (well, not really a brainstorm, it was like reaching deep thoughts while sitting on the crapper), but I can't take full responsibility for it, either. This was one of our favorite car songs, especially in those days when radio stations started to play the same old stuff and we were too poor (and cheap) to put in a cassette or CD of some other tunes.

It also gave us some form of solace that we were being creative and that someday our talent would get arrested (you bet we would, but for altogether different reasons, hehe ...)

We first wrecked "Pare Ko" by the Eraserheads (which was easy, just change "pinaasa" to "ginahasa" and there you go, plus some other combos), and then we moved on "Toyang" (which is by far the best, but one I'll share only in person), and then to this piece, which is funny, but not as much. We later tried "With A Smile" and "Ang Huling Al Bimbo" but by then we had started doing our own material, but the jokes were so in-house the songs just didn't have "mass appeal."

Naturally, this isn't the best side of all of us who chipped in with these songs --- but it does work if you're young, carefree, and it helps if you're drinking, though for the record we were not on ANYTHING when we did these songs. With all due apologies to the original composers.

To all those people who put in a vote of confidence in me, now's the time to think about possibly taking it back.

SONNY (sung to the Eraserheads' "Shirley")

Hayok na naman si Sonny
Sa dalagang masikip ang p*ki
Sila'y nag-f*ck sa may Antipolo kagabi

The next week, hot item na sila
Nagkakan**tan papunta sa CASAA
Kung maglampungan akala mo walang katabi

Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog
Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog

Parati na siyang tulong sa eskuwela
Gulo-gulo palagi ang buhok niya
Tumitirik ang mata kapag naglalakad sa kalye

Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog
Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog

Ngunit isang araw sa may SM sila'y nag-away
Nag-umbagan, nagtadyakan
Hanggang sila'y malupaypay sa away
Umiiyak silang umuwi dahil sila'y may AIDS!

After three days, tumawag ang duktor ni Sonny
Diagnosis pala niya'y mali!
Hala! Punta kay dalaga at sila'y nagkan**tan uli!

Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog
Ganyan kalibog, ganyan kalibog!

Hayok na naman si Sonny...

Cold Realization

Show me a good and gracious loser, and I'll show you a failure.
-- Knute Rockne

Eid Mubarak!

So here I am in the office, trying to recover some of my fried brain cells from having to work during what is supposed to be our vacation. Well, IT IS salary increment computation time, and like it or not, people would want to see some form of salary increase on their paychecks within the first quarter of 2008. Then we get this directive that we have to get it done before January payroll. If holiday had not happened, I bet they would have steamrolled us to get it done before December payroll. You have to love management's devotion, but some fool is going to have to bear the brunt of getting the job done; in which case, IT'S ME!

(Maniacal laughter in the background).

I'm not really complaining; after all, it is my job portfolio and this is what it means to hold my job title. It's just ... yeah, I hate to admit it, this part of the year really tugs at those homesick heartstrings, and it has struck me that this season marks the third year I haven't spent Christmas back home. I absolutely hate the whole commercialization of the holiday season, and for some I may seem to be the prototypical Scrooge, I did appreciate Christmas for what it was and is --- an opportunity to be with the people one really cares about.

I would like to bitch about how the system's down for preventive maintenance.
I would like to bitch about my aching body parts.
I would like to bitch about the timing of my work and events in the year.
Even if I shouldn't --- there isn't any predetermined unfairness here.

To be fair, I have friends, some of whom have children who help fill the void. But try as I may, capturing all these feelings and experiences, and bottling them into a drink, if I may, would not slake my thirst for the people and things I miss back home. It just isn't the same, and it will never be.

It's hard to be lonely -- and even in the midst of other people, it becomes all the more obvious that I'm alone. Put any silver lining on this, it just isn't possible --- so for this year, I'm asserting that this state of events is unacceptable.

Until next year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Coming of Homo Superior

Human evolution speeding up--study -

Maybe the editorial teams at Marvel or of shows like "Heroes" have gotten it correctly. Hope these changing genomes won't mean why certain people from certain regions have really bad B.O., smelly turds, or chronic halitosis. Yup, it's hard not to be racist when you're in a public toilet and get to see so many examples at work every single day. I do clap for mutations that work ot for bigger, fluffier breasts and better "packages," hahahahaha!

The downside to all of this is some misanthropic, racist pyscho will go on about how his or her race has a "manifest destiny" --- it's o.k. if they blog from the comfort of their own PCs, it's another thing if they start cults, wage wars or launch mass-murder drives. But wait, hasn't the Bush administration already done this?

Sunday, December 09, 2007


This track is testament to why The Rolling Stones were named "the greatest rock & roll band of all time." Though I will always be a Beatles homer, the Stones have earned their props. They were prolific, lived through several personnel changes (including the deaths of founders Brian Jones and Ian Stewart), and have kept themselves relevant with every changing generation, while continuing to inspire other acts to do as well as they did. The solo efforts of principals Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have hardly detracted from the overall identity of the band.

I'm catching on quite slowly with the Stones (yes, I am still a Beatles homer), but given time and opportunity I'll ramp up my playlist with their tunes.

I have come to like this tune by virtue of its being a central motif in some episodes of the first season of "House, MD" which I saw for the first time only during the past few days. I found Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House downright offensive but totally compelling, which was what he was supposed to do, I surmise. Well, he did earn awards from the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild for his portrayal of the idiosyncratic diagnostician, made all the more credible because he is a British actor pulling off a flawless American accent. And, the dude is a musician and novelist on the side. Cool.

Of course I have a crush on Dr. Allison Cameron, not so much because of Jennifer Morrison herself but how the character concept and actress meshed perfectly. Sue me, that's how her character is supposed to appeal to my particular demographic.

One notable film I saw during that span was Denis Dercourt's "La Tourneuse Des Pages" (The Page Turner) with Deborah Francois, all of 20 years old. She's a stunner, though the film itself is memorable for its direction and photography. It had a few technical goofs with the wardrobe, and the script could have used some more fleshing out of inner motives, but the result is still worth the price of the ticket, so to speak. However, I had to watch it in the original French without any subtitles! (What a downer.)

I was also able to sneak in seeing the latest installment of those trendy reptilian martial artists, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in "TMNT." Yeah, the movie blows, but who cares? Turtles rule!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Weather Report, and Bowls

It's almost the end of the year and I realized that I have posted less than half of my total posts in 2006. The quality of the writing rose and ebbed as well, but then again, I did mention sometime during the first half of the year that I found something else with which to express myself --- mainly gouge my eyes out doing work, then finding out it made no sense at all and now I'm on the verge of giving up.

Do I hate myself a little? Yes. But then, now I know I'm hating my job situation, I have to choose the right solution. Put up, or shut up and go man your station.

It's the Yule season again in the Philippines and even here homes have picked up some festive spin. Since winters are cooler here you don't need reminders that it's once again this time of year.

Speaking of which, one of the great stories of December was in 1994 (or for most other Decembers in my life, save for those of my earliest childhood), when most of our people in SHARE were in one way or another connected to the World Youth Day organization. If I were to play my experience in SHARE from start to finish, I think we had peaked right there and then as an organization that could have had national status. We didn't play it the right way then, and being the idealists that we were, many of us thought everyone else was the chump for not being who we were. Yeah, I could have used that memo reminding me otherwise.

The English call it "Boxing Day" - the day after Christmas. Some of our closest friends went out together to get ourselves prepared for the grind. Our group was mostly involved with General Services, which mainly dealt with housing and food services. We had become ingrained in the spirit of the event that we were actually staying over at headquarters in Intramuros. So going out that day was a treat - with about three weeks to go and preparations nowhere near finished. From where we stood, that is.

The core of the original "Bob-Boys" (in tribute to Bob Millanes, our section chair, and a pun on how much we were the pigs that we were) was there - Gerard, Feds, and me. (Robert found the work a little on the side of drudgery, so he dropped out in the work but kept our spirits up just the same.) Our buddy Des, who had just returned from vacation from the States and found no room in GS but joined the Marketing group instead, was also there.

The main players, who were peripheral to the WYD but were our main reason to go out (aside from the usual reason of getting drunk) were Jenny C, who was wrapping up her last few terms with DLSU and volunteered to be at HQ, and Rommel F., who was her steady at the time, who of course had to be there, since he did the driving.

Intramuros is grand in the evenings --- it has both the romance and Old-World charm that was colonial Manila, plus the inexplicable but palapable thrill of the possibility of having oneself witness or directly experience a random mugging. I'm sure you snobs who drool over Hong Kong, London or New York have this, but in different doses.

We didn't do the sights - the guys who were camped out at HQ were tired of Intramuros, but hey, we did want to drink, and the place to be, then as now, was Malate. We all met up and then proceeded to Tia Maria's in Adriatico (I don't know if it's still there ---I haven't been there in almost five years) and proceeded to wolf down the chow and wash it down with some liquor.

I know people have been known to go into heights of ecstasy over rare vintages or choice cuts of meat, but nothing beats the simple pleasure of eating too much food and drinking so much alcohol because you can afford it, and it feels good too, dammit! So it was for us right there and then. At that time, the place had no band, but the house music was pretty good and we were stacking it up there with the fajitas, nachos, and the beer, not to mention our own orders of food.

In his usual funny-scrappy-weasely-but-so-helplessly-hilarious-you-can't-help-but-laugh-or-else-have-an-embolism way, Des took over the conversation. He always had the japes for everyone, but that day, I was his whipping boy. The fact that I couldn't remember what he said meant that it was just one of those days. But I was in too good a mood (or too numb, I can't say which) so we went back-and-forth for most of the meal. He could act drunker than any efficient beer guzzler, but the Des was actually drinking iced tea.

Here comes the kicker - Jenny absolutely loved laughing at our jokes. For once I put up a comment (which until today I still can't remember, though everything else was clear) which cracked everybody up, though Des started the line. We sent ourselves up in stitches, though Jenny was probably shrieking compared to us. It was an effort to stop from breaking out in guffaws, and by the time we stopped Jenny was breathing heavily. Even the group at the other table, who were loud in the first place, looked askance at us -- though there was this guy that laid the Eye on Jenny. Rommel had a semi-stern look by that time (probably because of the guy, though the man on a good day would never run out of jokes) but seeing that Jenny was taking on the color of green carpet I couldn't have blamed him. She warned us too --- to stop.

We went on for a more seconds until Des delivered the super-finish of the blow, and out came the laughs again! But all of this was suddenly erased when Jenny suddenly choked, coughed, and hiccuped (and in that order, too) before she hurled almost everything she had that night! Lucky for us, Rommel was really razor-sharp and got the saucebowl for our fajitas to catch all of her vomit.

Lesson: always have a quick hand to catch your vomit.

The rub to all of this thing was while Jenny hurled in front of our faces, she actually brushed back her hair in a flirtatious-but-conservative-I'm-prim-and-proper manner that was even far funnier than her giving us flashbacks of The Exorcist.

Second lesson: you could still be pretty while disgorging the contents of your stomach.

When we had the stuff all cleared and the service crew helped us with everything (Jenny was pretty neat - everything landed in the bowl. I give that feat 100 points - mainly by giving me a reason to cite something gross and still be complimentary of the one who did it!), Des, still the usual kidder, asked the waiter for another bowl, just in case, well, if she went at it again.

If this were a cartoon world a huge mallet would have come out of Rommel's pocket and he would smashed all of Des' brains. But since he was a doctor, and knew how Des needed his brain, he just forbore on vengeance and just issued stern warnings, while at the same time sucking up to his girlfriend by being solicitous (I didn't find this cheap. It was actually endearing that a couple could still go all saccharine at the notion of vomit).

Well, yeah, she did hurl at least two times more on the way home, but nothing could have beaten what we had just experienced. The night ended semi-badly, but Jenny made the rounds of all our stories for three straight years. If she gives me an excuse nowadays, with all due respect, I'd still make her remember, hehe.

I need more of those days and less of what I'm having right now.

But as the good poet Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes - well you might find - you get what you need."

Willing Exile: Talking It Up A Little