Saturday, November 22, 2008

Waxing Sergio

This is for the inspiration that Sergio Mendes gave to me when I hardly appreciated music. I am thankful my brother got hooked to Sergio just about the time I was starting to like music. To think I could have been influenced by Hagibis!

A perennial favorite, and always sums up my best thoughts when I'm in love with someone.

(Alan & Marilyn Bergman / Nelson Motta / Dorival Tostes Caymmi)
(Sergio Mendes & Brasilia '66)

Like a lover the morning sun
Slowly rises and kisses you awake
Your smile is soft and drowsy
As you let it play upon your face
Oh how I dream -
I might be like the morning sun to you
I might be like the morning sun to you

Like a lover the river wind
Sighs and ripples its fingers through your hair
Upon your cheek it lingers
Never having known a sweeter place
Oh how I dream -
I might be like the river wind to you
I might be like the river wind to you

How I envy a cup that knows your lips
Let it be me, my love
And a table that feels your fingertips
Let it be me, let me be your love
Bring an end to these endless days and nights
Without you

Like a lover the velvet moon
Shares your pillow and watches while you sleep
Its light arrives on tiptoe
Gently taking you in its embrace
Oh how I dream -
I might be like the velvet moon to you
I might be like the velvet moon to you

How I dream I might be like the morning sun
How I dream I might be like the river wind the river wind
How I dream how I dream I dream
I might be with you

Oh how I dream -
I might be like the river wind to you
I might be like the river wind to you

How I envy a cup that knows your lips
And a table that feels your fingertips
Let it be me, let me be your love
Bring an end to these endless days and nights
Without you

Like a lover the velvet moon
Shares your pillow and watches while you sleep
Its light arrives on tiptoe
Gently taking you in its embrace
Oh how I dream -
I might be like the velvet moon to you
I might be like the velvet moon to you

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breathing Hope

This post is dedicated to all the folks that loomed large in my life and for reasons of distance and time, or perhaps the onset of death, have somehow been "forgotten" or submerged underneath all the muck and scree that litter my mind nowadays.

I haven't forgotten you at all, it's just, well, it's just I'd like things to be great when we see each other again. I believe we will, someday.

The biggest solace I get from having to live without most of my family and friends near me is that somewhere out there, the Divine is breathing hope into the world, sometimes like the sunrise in the picture (taken at Khobar Corniche, courtesy of one of my friends), or that I can poke some fun at myself occasionally for taking some things too seriously.

One lesson I learned from one of my friends from way back is that you can have all the drama in your life if you want, but then at times you have to switch it off to stay sane. The song doesn't exactly share that message, but I remember Bobby P and those days of youth when we had little more to think about but sing about our life's dramas and wish for more inspiration and challenges. Those are the days I would like to share, one day, with young people of my own.

For the days in Palawan at Holy Cross College, with Anna, Gina, Rommel, Janice, and Bobby P ... those few days of teaching (and learning from) our retreatants were my breath of hope that kept me going for a long, long time, the fumes of which have left a lingering fragrance which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

(Regine Velasquez)

Noong iwanan mo 'ko
Hinihintay kong marinig mo lang ang
Tinig ko
Sa bawat tawag ng pangalan mong
Binihag ng bigat sa puso ko
Ngayon, ika'y naririto
At ang sabi mo'y, 'ika'y akin mula ngayon
Iwanan na sa limot ang noon,
O giliw ko, narito ako!'

Biglang ligaya ang naramdaman ng pusong
Kay tagal nang naghintay sa iyo
Ngunit ang dulot niyang sakit ay di malimot
Ipagpawalang-hanggan mo man
Bulong ng puso ko ay, 'hindi na, ayoko na'

Puso'y mas malakas sa isip ko
Tibok nito'y di patatalo

O kay ligaya ko sana ngayon nandirito't
Aking-akin na'ng pag-ibig mo
Ngunit darating ang panahong di ko malimot
Ipagliban mo na lang sa iba'ng pag-ibig mo
Pagka't ayoko na, ayoko na!

Ngunit ang dulot niyang sakit ay di malimot
Ipagpawalang hanggan mo man
Sigaw ng puso ko ay, 'Hindi na, ayoko na...'

My little prayer to get me through tough patches:

Father in Heaven, I know everything that has happened to me is because of what I've done and freely chosen. You have given me signs - the people and events in my life to show me what I must do. I can't ask you anything more than what you have given, but all I ask, for this time, is a breath of hope that will get me through this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And Now You Have It...

Binay declares candidacy

It's hunting season again, fellas! Trot out the hare!

I hope we had learned something from the conduct of the US election, not because of the by-words and slogans used by the candidates, particularly Barack Obama, but by the way America encourages discipline among those with ambition. Secure enough grassroots support, slug it out in primaries before launching a national candidacy.

Some people may doubt the electoral college, but I believe it works wonders for voting.

The multiparty system doesn't work, it never has, and it foments division rather than creating genuine party-line differences. For the same reasons that the parliamentary system didn't work in the country, we should abandon this feature in our basic laws.

However, this should get interesting over the next few months as we will find out who is "oppositionist" or not as the forces will begin to re-align and coalesce for the 2010 elections. There are rumblings there won't be any elections (surely an opportunity on which some personalities close to the President would gladly latch), and so far, we haven't seen a candidate who has a value-proposition other than changing the occupant of the Palace. Hmmm... I will stay tuned.

Friday, November 07, 2008


We just finished our first HR monthly meeting under our new manager last Wednesday (so we finally had our first shot as a group).

In the meeting, I realized that I had a really solid year. If only... well, if only I took care of myself better and laid off depressing thoughts... think Bill Clinton's presidency without Monica Lewinsky. Pristine ... a few bumps here and there, but not bad altogether, even though he did start his presidency with so many scandals hounding his public image...

Hmmm, come to think of it, the only thing I would like to share with Bill Clinton would be, "Successful with the ladies." Tsk tsk, torpe ka kasi, boy!

So the cycle of recriminations has to stop and I'd better give myself a break.

Life works - stop throwing wrenches into the gears just to make it exciting, buddy!

I stared down into the read-out of our home weighing scale and it read 260 pounds. Holy crap, holy marshmallow man, Batman! We've gotta do something!

It's a soggy day today, the kind of day where you would like to lie in your bed and laze forever... only to find out next day is not meant for the lazy.

Shoot, I'm hungry, I gotta eat (rubs stomach). Shawarma run, shawarma run!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

No Title to Peddle

This image is an homage to the late Michael Crichton, who passed away on Tuesday. I was a follower more of the movie adaptations of his books than the books themselves - having seen "The Andromeda Strain" (1971), "The Terminal Man" (1974), "Rising Sun" (1993) "Jurassic Park" (1993) "Disclosure" (1994) "Congo" (1995) "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997) "Sphere" (1998), "The 13th Warrior" (1999), and "Timeline" (2003). I only read the Jurassic Park novels and "Eaters of the Dead" (the sourcebook for "The 13th Warrior"). Crichton is a master at making scientific conjecture very plausible to the reader, especially the ones who have illusions of understanding the science in the novels.

This image is also a reminder that much has to be done to end the dinosaur politics of old. The win of Barack Obama, I hope, will be the start of the mass extinction of the old kind of politics. On an aside, I kind of snickered when Madam Gloria tried to congratulate candidate Obama and he didn't give her the time of day - obviously, he gave more time to people he considered more important. She probably would have done better sending him a sweet SMS. Aren't we Filipinos champion texters of the world?

I do hope that President-elect Obama lives up to the hope (not the hype) that buoyed his electoral campaign, from the time he took on the Hillary Clinton juggernaut to roundly beating McCain.

For all the media coverage, this win appears like the ultimate anticlimax. It seems all the fears of a McCain uprising and Republican comeback were mere wisps of smoke. This was supposed to be a titanic struggle - a real nailbiter. It ended up like watching the Celtics wax the Lakers in that ho-hum six-game series last June. The anticipation built up nicely, but the elections were hardly competitive.

Still, throughout all the cheers of the crowd, and the attempts at introjection of the unscrupulous and the wily to give handshakes and pats on the back, only the true faithful understand how far the winner had to travel just to get to the battleground. Rooting for ignored or forgotten causes and hard-luck teams does have unexpected and over-the-top rewards - the unbelievable rush of euphoria being the first.

Here in the Middle East, the Arabs (at least the ones I meet) are roundly congratulating everyone on the Obama win. Nationalities from other countries are pretty much saying the same thing — the end of the Republican reign means a fresh start. Life, at least for one day, has suddenly become rosier, and the prospect of a better world isn’t all that hopeless.

It's funny how most Filipinos fail to see the need for an overhaul --- ours is one of the few countries that actually wanted John McCain to win.

I would candidly say that my support for Obama was guarded even though his message and the image he presented were very powerful - as is my hopes are guarded over what his administration can do to turn things around.

It doesn't change however the slight tinge of delight his win brought, as if my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity has been somewhat validated. Just speaking for myself, of course, but looking at the jubilation all over the world, if in this way Barack Obama has already affected billions worldwide, just by being there, it's encouraging to see that there is hope for us human beings after all.

We can, if we so choose, live as if everything we believed mattered, and so everything we do in support of that belief matters.

(As my post title goes, there is nothing to peddle today, so I have no catchphrase in my title today as well.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The HR Department. Two members not shown - the guy holding the camera, and one of our Recruitment guys who is now in the Philippines supporting a recruitment trip.

I am not talking about my relative size (as you can see the pudgy fellow in stripes and glasses standing to the left), but the way HR has impacted our company in the last few years.

Hope we can see more heavyweights in action in the future...

And by the way, loving the fact that Barack Obama will now take office as the 44th president of the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sea Change

Hamilton is youngest F1 Champion

Iverson to Detroit for Billups, McDyess

Within today, the American electorate will elevate one man to the Presidency -- whether it will be war hero, former test pilot, and self-proclaimed maverick Sen. John McCain of Arizona, or former community organizer and neophyte Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

I believe a sea change will happen after this election, whomsoever wins. It's not a matter of politics, it's a matter of necessity.

There are issues greater than the American economy (significant as it is, but not at all world-ending); chief of them is achieving a new equilibrium in the world order. If America is to remain the chief arbiter of world events, it better get its house in order.

Meantime, there is a sea change in the world of sports - Lewis Hamilton is the youngest champion in Formula 1 history and the first one with African roots. I've always been a Ferrari fan, but they screwed up their own title chances this year. So Lewis won this year fair and square (he should have won last year, too, but last year he was the one who choked on his lead).

In the Association, Pistons president Joe Dumars shipped 20004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups along with starting power forward Antonio McDyess and reserve center Cheikh Samb to Denver for Allen Iverson, thus ending the era of the superstar-less team. So sad. I wish they would have succeeded again, but in the NBA, star value counts far more than it does for the other pro leagues in other sports.

While I'm rooting for Obama to win, as he is better-posed to do so than McCain, I'm more thrilled to see how both teams make adjustments. Detroit is prepared to take a step back now, so that its future will be secure, while Denver is struggling for a direction which only a true point guard can establish.

Here's to some sleepless nights waiting for the games...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Weeping Blossoms

Funeral Blues - W. H. Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

This was already popular before John Hannah recites it in "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Just a dark day.

I'm not about to apply the mood-buster. I will revel in this dark mood to support those who have lost most dear to them. Like flowers, grief is something we can freely partake; a state that we never run out of.

In time, it should blossom and we will find a source of joy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


There is a poignant line in the first ring of stories in "The Gunslinger" (first of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King) where Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, is forced to make a choice - whether to pursue the Man in Black, or to leave behind his young ward, Jake Chalmers, a boy transplanted from our reality to his world.

Jake says, "Go then, there are other worlds than these."
... and from there he plunges to his death.

El Día de los Muertos - the Mexican expression for the Day of the Dead - is a national holiday of celebration, of mirth, in Mexico. It has, somehow, crossed the Pacific with the galleons to the Philippines, where the animistic rites and Chinese traditions also have a high reverence for those who are past. One of the most common customs is the making of elaborate altars to welcome departed spirits home. Families go to cemeteries to fix up the graves of the departed, and oftentimes vigils are held.

Filipinos have an obsession for the dead, sometimes more so than for life. In death, slates are wiped clean, and fond memories, once embittered by too much pain or too little affection, come to surface once again. A person, once fallen and clasped by the Hand of Death, undergoes beatification and becomes a saint.

It isn't really like that with me, only...

Sometimes I dream of the what-could-have-beens, lives hidden within the possibilities that were left hanging when the dearly departed pass away. Or at other times, I think about the never-weres, but still more powerful are the potentialities of the what-should-have-beens --- the events of my life that should have been the correct course were it not for crucial missteps, careless mistakes, losing struggles to venality or convention, and most of all, glaring omissions.

Of course, there are truths which are but shouldn't be, because we could do better. Or that we should do better. I can't say much for the rest, but I know this world could be a brighter place if I smiled more, or if I gave much more of myself.

There are worlds, and there are worlds of possibility. For some, the possibilities have been too palpable, too reachable, only to be stymied in the end.

It would have been great had my father lived longer, if he had not driven himself to drink in the last few years of his life. But that, too, has its own worlds of possibility - if my brother hadn't suffered a mental meltdown that would eventually become the cross our family would bear - it's frustrating to think what kind of present we would have had. My brother had always been the good son, the helpful one, the supportive one. Just thinking of what he could have been - a successful architect, for one - is so painful it could make my heart stop.

I wonder how things would have turned out had I gone on to be a lawyer on the one hand or La Salle Brother on the other...

I stopped this post just right here. I received an e-mail advice that Marcial Soriano, co-founder of SHARE and one of my mentors and "big brothers" during my high school and university days, was murdered this morning by one of his domestics. Details are sketchy.

A part of me is saying I should mourn more --- but the shock, like the shock from losing a limb, is still paramount. There is the foreknowledge that our lives could end any time, but there is also the hoping (or the denial) that it wouldn't happen to me or to anyone I knew personally. This loss is devastating --- the only way I'm protecting myself is to think of this in abstract terms.

Of course I'm just fooling myself.

Last night I lit a candle for the souls of the departed in my life and prayed for them. There is the faith that these dearly departed have gone on to a better place, and that's just it, all I can go on is that faith.

There are more worlds than these, but this world in itself, with all its beauties (and mirrored in ugliness as well), can be so fleeting if one doesn't take the life one has in hand, and, in Thoreau's terms, suck the marrow out of it. Sometimes the road is hard, and wishing is so much easier. But we do walk this road, and death is waiting at one end. I believe something else awaits on the other side, but all I can do right now is live this life as best as I can, as much as I can.

It could end a lot sooner than I would like to believe.

Who'd Win in 'Pinas?

This is a cross-post, originally posted in Jessica Zafra's blog, in response to her question, "Who would receive the Filipino vote, Obama or McCain?"

My response, with a few additions ---

Obama will win the election in the Philippines. Obama is masa, McCain is snotty, rich, and most of all, old. Even if someone would say, “Ayoko sa negro” more would say, “Ayoko sa amoy-lupa!”

Obama is populist, a publicity-hogger, and he is far more entertaining on-screen than McCain. His minuses would be: he would lose the endorsement of the bishops, the businessmen (who love the O&O industry)., and probably a segment of the Fil-foreigns. Pinoys look more on the messenger than the message - look, we’ve lapped up Ronald Reagan and as a nation, could “forgive” Bill Clinton. Obama has macho value.

Obama also has more cash! Did you hear how much he spent on that infomercial that almost locked in all the major networks to broadcast his message? A guy who is willing to throw away that much money on his media campaign could probably, ehem, share the wealth a little to his poorer brown brothers.

I disagree with those who say the Pinoys would vote McCain because he is white. The American-based Pinoys, yes. The common Pinoys, who are looking for someone who poses more of a sympathetic figure, would go for Obama. I’ll mention one other thing here that will swing the race for Obama — going by the political yardstick, he would also win over the INC vote.

Obama wins the sportsmen, the tambays, the noontime-show crowd, the telenovela crowd, you name it. The guy can entertain.

On the other hand, he loses points among the semi-educated who pretend that they can see through his overspending, hyper-gimmicked, celebrity-filled campaign. And what it means to the kind of government he will have - more taxes, more welfare, etc. McCain is the smart vote daw. Yeah, they said that about Salonga too, and look what happened to him.

Joe Biden is a liability to Obama - he’s a traditional politician, he appears to be snobbish, run-of-the mill, someone who comes from a small state, and in most perceptions, a specialist who could only talk politics but can’t do much else. Those guys never win big-time elections (and Biden’s record in the primaries shows exactly that). Hillary would have been the slam-dunk choice (if we are talking Filipinos, of course.) Naturally, Obama wouldn’t pick Hillary - otherwise, he might end up just like JFK (knock on wood!).

Other thoughts … If we can split the ticket, Palin would win hands down. All she has to do is carry a tune, show some legs and cleavage, and sound somewhat intelligent and controversial at the same time. Look, we are still swallowing the dollop Miriam Santiago doles out. Palin is a reminder of the young GMA --- supporting a trapo, carrying some political capital, has some popular appeal... maybe she and GMA can be really, really, close. Scary.

I would say Palin would even have better chances to win the election than Obama, if they went head-to-head in the Philippines. Golly, that would be a natural disaster.