Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I Survived

It's another rainy day here in Manila, one of many countless rainy days that characterize the All Saints/All Souls Days here in the Philippines. Apt that the world should weep while the souls of the dearly departed rest.

Restless could be the best way to describe how I feel. I wouldn't trade the Philippines for any other land - this is my own home soil - yet staying here makes me wish that I were far away.

It's been more than a month since I returned - I was planning to make a diary of sorts of my (mis)adventures in Manila since my return, but even that lost some of its appeal after some time. In the wake of misinformed posts on social networking media, getting into one's inner psyche for the appreciation of all isn't too healthy. If I wanted to do that, maybe I should launch my own reality show.

That being said, it still feels strange to be waking up each day in my own bed, whizzing into my own bowl, and easing into my own sofa watching cable from the TV I bought six years ago on my second electronics purchase in Saudi Arabia (the first being a handphone). Strange, but still very welcome, is the virtual omnipresence of moisture in the air, if not through the rain, through the humidity.

I MISSED MANILA. Not because there are people here who are very important to me, I literally miss the feel of being here. Of being home.

But now that I am here, isn't it ironic that I want to leave, again?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gayunpaman, Salamat

Makatagpo man ng kabiguan
Panindigan ang pagkakamali
At gayunpaman,
Salamat, Panginoon
sa dumating na pagkakataon
sa dakila Ninyong biyaya ng buhay
Ng pamilya at kaibigan
Ng saya at kalusugan
Ng mahimbing na tulog
At paggising sa bawa't bagong umaga.

Hindi magwawakas ang buhay
Patuloy pa rin ang ikot ng mundo
Magsanga man ang daang tinatahak -
Manahimik lamang at maging banayad
Sapagka't naghihintay lamang ang kapalaran
Upang ating hulmahin
At bigyan ng kabuluhan.

Seven months after I had let my heart go free of this place my body is finally physically leaving Saudi Arabia. Saturday evening, barring any hitches, I would board the plane and fly back to Manila.

I have struggled to harden my heart like stone but it is impossible.

Just as it has become the fount of my sorrows, this land and the people I have met in it are forever the source of my joy and my complete personhood.

I harbor no bitterness for the mistakes I have made and while others may deplore the consequences of my actions, I thank them for their concern. Life presents odds and ends to the stories that we write for ourselves. Today's episode may end badly, but faith and hope teach us there is always tomorrow.

After all, through all the difficulties and challenges of life, we are still here. I am still standing. And as long as I am here, I might as well get on with the rest of my life.

Sure, it can get scary. But that's the fun in it. If everything were handed to us on a plate, we'd stop appreciating the beauty and complexity of life.

The Good Book says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" The lesson for me is - I don't have to understand. All I have to do is close my eyes, make a wish, and believe.

Balot man ng pighati at kaba ang puso ko ngayon, gayumpaman, salamat. Nagpapasalamat ako sa bawat sandali ng paghahanapbuhay ko rito. Salamat nagkatagpo tayo at naging bahagi ako ng buhay ninyo.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Darkness There is Hope

We have familiar experience of the order, the constancy, the perpetual renovation of the material world which surrounds us. Frail and transitory as is every part of it, restless and migratory as are its elements, still it abides. It is bound together by a law of permanence, and though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life again. Dissolution does but give birth to fresh modes of organization, and one death is the parent of a thousand lives.

Each hour, as it comes, is but a testimony how fleeting, yet how secure; how certain, is the great whole. It is like an image on the waters, which is ever the same, though the waters ever flow. The sun sinks to rise again; the day is swallowed up in the gloom of night, to be born out of it, as fresh as if it had never been quenched.

Spring passes into summer, and through summer and autumn into winter, only the more surely, by its own ultimate return, to triumph over that grave towards which it resolutely hastened from its first hour.

We mourn the blossoms of May because they are to wither; but we know that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of that solemn circle which never stops--- which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation, never to despair.
- John Henry Cardinal Newman

I have always found this short piece very inspiring, though strangely enough, I first read of it in William Peter Blatty's "The Exorcist."

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More Than Just A Sweet Dream

Have no decent video of this song. Excellent vocal work by Dianne Reeves and instrument track by David Benoit is so smooth in rising in counterpoint to her voice. One of the staples of my chill-out music during the late '80s, it became more important after we started using it as retreat music.

One thing for certain, my buddy Des used it for a mix-tape of songs he gave to his then-girlfriend (awww, so sweet!). Well, what happened afterward... let's just say it was a learning experience for both of them.

This is dedicated to my little nephew Jeremiah Angelo, who is turning three years old on August 2. One can only truly be home when surrounded by the people whom one loves and loves one best. Only in the land of the loving am I home.

It is natural that as he grows, he will have to deal with the evils of this world, and shadow will one day be cast over his life.

May that day be far from coming. We can only guard against it, as his elders, and trust that our example and the Lord's grace will be enough to guide him on his way.

Ah, worries. What a song and a memory bring. Yes, distress is but natural, to one who is not nourished by the air and water of his native land. I will sleep, and tomorrow, all my hopes will be more than just a sweet dream.

May these words take wing and go straight to heaven, for this supplicant desires nothing more right now than divine inspiration.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." - Psalm 143:8

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It Isn't Just Enough to Mouth the Words

As I'm writing this piece today I am gently reminded by similar scenes at the close of each episode of "Doogie Howser, M.D." featuring Neil Patrick Harris. I am certain I don't have his IQ, but I would like to think that as an individual who has gone through life the normal (though at times, non-conformist) way, I'll have more mature sensibilities than him.

Or so I would like to believe.

Anyway, I have observed since the advent of more interactive social networking sites my capability to churn out blog entries has been clipped significantly. Gone are the links and other stuff I normally take note of. They're on Facebook. Gone are the smart-ish quotes (they've been posted as shout-outs.). Music videos? Jokes?

That irks me and disturbs me to some degree.

Yes, it's fun to have an audience out there, an audience which is helpless in chossing what stuff you are shoveling. In this case, we could be lucky if you one is some sort of internet maven who can look for unusual but interesting links. I have one such friend, though at times the posts are great and funny, they keep on coming in one after the other, as if the person cannot live without posting something. I'm not derisive, but in the minds of other people whose interests do not intersect, that could be sickening.

(Which reminds me, I'm so glad I've become my own censor since Facebook has become such a G-rated site, it could almost be called G-A-Y. No offense, everyone wants to be happy, right?)

There is that, so sometimes wishing for something gets you an unwanted surfeit of it.

How social networking has risen in the past few years has, for some reason, trivialized the whole process of communication. Our public selves have seemingly grown larger, but then again, our capacity to invent identities online also makes the process hollow.

Words are cheapened with all of this free communication.

It isn't just enough to mouth the words now, you have to think back whether you really mean them.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So Now I am the Boss, eh?

... And I didn't even vote.

Earlier today, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, or "Noynoy" (now, comes the dreaded, somewhat catchy and absurd, "P-Noy," signifying his moniker for his administration) was sworn in as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

This new administration is conscious of its symbols. In an obvious break with the symbols of the recent regime, it has done away with the trappings of power and aspired for a simple, street-smart austerity. Or so how the PR handlers of P-Noy make it out to be.

While I watched this morning - the live satellite feed timing into right nicely between my morning shower and breakfast - I could not help but be moved. Yes, I am totally aware that our next President spent his entire life as a virtual mediocrity, always overshadowed by the legacy of his parents, and not even having the courtesy of going against the grain. In this his younger sister Kris seems to have inherited all the bravura of their late father.

But this mediocrity, strangely enough, is so indicative of my own generation of Filipinos, whose most significant inroads to the worldwide consciousness have been drama queens and starlets, boxing champs and sex scandals. When he took to the dais, and with his plaintive tone addressed the nation and the world, it was as if he took the form and shape of WHO WE WERE - a generation lost, weary of self-doubt, wanting both the answers and the relief and not having to know them or what they cost.

It was the voice of a generation wanting to be validated, wanting to hope against the very real and tangible taste of disappointment.

It was the voice which propelled the dream of EDSA.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Post-Traumatic Therapy

Decompresing almost the whole day after that disappointing loss in the NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics had it in their hands, but they took their collective feet off the pedal. I hate the fact that the Lakers won (and in such an ugly fashion), but the part of me that respects good basketball when it's played says the Black Mamba and his crew, especially El Matador Pau Gasol, deserve their props. I still hate them though.

Saw Korean vampire film Thirst in the afternoon and I'm squeamish as anyone can get (which is why I did not choose to take up the medical profession), and there were enough scenes for me to whimper (picture that, and that is even scarier than the movie). The movie lost steam with a subplot in the middle, but for the squeam scenes alone, the movie was cool! Bonus points for the leading female star for looking like Jennifer Lee of the Viva Hot Babes.

It's the evening and I'm already programming myself for the grind tomorrow. No need to be hopelessly obscure. Today on the whole, is disjointed, and there's no reason to fix it. I don't have pretend to know what it is, since I haven't got a clue.

Segue the Boys from Liverpool with this rip-roaring track. Great piano riff from John, Paul's bass is pounding, and George's guitar solo screams at me from the speakers.

Now if I can only bite someone head's off, if only figuratively, to complete my catharsis.


Monday, June 14, 2010


Chilling to the sounds of: The Beatles
Literally chilled by: Zamil Classic Premier (beats the 40C heat anytime)
Chillaxing event to look forward to: Game 6 stomping by the Celtics on the Lakers (Wednesday early morning Riyadh time). Keeping my fingers crossed anyway.
Cool thing but I'm not proud of it: Stealing wi-fi access from my next-door neighbor.

Switched desings to keep it fresh. However, keeping it real in terms of the green theme - I like the Celtics, but I like other green things too - like, uh... (pause)... my high school? The Green Lantern? The Green Arrow? Regan O'Neill's snot?

Methinks Blogger is trying its best to keep relevant in the face of other social networking media. Still, too much useless information comes out that doesn't really make any sense in the end. Sticking to blogging, thank you.

That will be the day when I switch to Twitter. Heck, one day I may eat these words. Keep posted then.

Making Ability Count

Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability - John Wooden

Almost lost in the hubbub of the NBA Finals and the opening of the 2010 World Cup was the passing of a legend: UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. I didn't know a whole lot of his life story and achievements until later in my teens, but I do remember him a lot because basketball, much more than excessive alchohol, raucous singing, or womanizing, was the family religion, at least among us men.

Before I was born, it was the main way my father and his brothers, my uncles, displayed their machismo and bravado. I heard once that one of the older brothers, my Tiyong Salvador "Badong" de Guzman, was a highly-rated player and was invited to the national team. During those days, basketball was just reaching the apex of its popularity and there was hardly any money in it. I suspect though, that my Tiyong Badong was making the most of his time as a Customs employee and the cost of paying for the expenses without a backer was hardly appealing (since this was post World War II and the college leagues were just growing, and no hint of commercial leagues yet.)

Anyhow, basketball filled our conversations. My oldest brother had the unique experience of playing basketball camp in his teens when our father was still working for the Goodyear company. My brother had a beautiful release on his jump shot - he was schooled by our father and an American employee at Goodyear encouraged him to develop it further - only when I was watching footage of Pistol Pete Maravich did I notice the similarities.

But this is not a case of "my grandfather had a bigger, better whatever."

In any case, even though basketball was a test of character, all of us kids were directed to hit the books - any fool can dribble a basketball, but not anyone can cure cancer. Or so it went. We went out and played, but we had to study.

We had a backdoor basketball court (roughly halfcourt) where I learned the game and watched others play. My other uncles, my mother's brothers, were far more often at our house and so were their kids, my cousins.

Basketball - and sport itself - are not analogies of life. Sports are life. They offer an insight as to how you approach life. You could guess at somebody's character as to how he conducted himself on the court - never mind his skill (as talent and coordination is unevenly distributed) - but how he relates with his teammates and his opponents.

We love sport because through our sports heroes we can live those values we hold dear vicariously through them. Courage under difficult circumstances, achieving harmony in reaching a goal, practicing continuously to perfect one's skills, playing by the rules and knowing when to bend them, oh-so-carefully-but-cleverly in your team's favor. How we perceive our players and the ones we relate to is also an indication of how well we understand the game, and in turn, how winning on the court, while not the end-all and be-all of our life, could come pretty close in achieving one's personal high-definition personality picture.

The spirit of this post following the first Boston Celtics championship in twenty-odd years still reflects my estimation for people and the game.

You respect talent but don't subordinate your goals or your personhood to it; you take the talent that you have and compete to the fullest of your ability; you dish out the punishment that you can take, and acknowledge that pain is part of the process of winning (or even losing for that matter); you shouldn't stop yourself from trying to win them all but when the losses come, accept that you can't get them all; and when the struggle is done and whether you win or lose, you shake hands with the guys on the other side.

And, one succinct lesson that should always echo for all of us (especially me) - don't settle, don't ever settle. A win is not a win if it was handed out to you. In the end, the prizes lose their luster when they come too easily. Find a challenge and keep to it, never flog yourself for wanting too much but rather for not appreciating the degree of difficulty in time. "A man's got to know his limitations," so says Dirty Harry Callahan. But don't let those limitations, on the other hand, define your lack of desire to do the best that you can.

John Wooden really had it figured out back then.

Just a small postscript since I avoided commenting on the present political situation in the Philippines ---

I may not like Noynoy Aquino, or even profess to have the least amount of admiration for him, but he won the presidency fair and square. He is not his parents and he can't lay claim to their achievements. Which is all the better for him - he has the opportunity to chart his own destiny, free from the "what-could-have-beens" of his father and the "better-times-than-what-we-remembered" of his mother. He may not have the abiliity or sincerity of either, but he does have a chance to make the most of his time.

And this is his time, not theirs. And if we are to make it worth his while, we should make it our time too.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


In tribute to John Nash, and to illustrate the plight of the worst kind of nerdom.

Sometimes it sucks to be me.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Every positive value has its price in negative terms... the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.
-- Pablo Picasso

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's Probably Me

It's almost too easy to deflect the semi-embarrassment that many people expect from me when they ask my age and then ask if I'm married.

No, I'm not married, I would say. There are a hundred different reasons (perhaps you can even say a thousand, if you like) why it is so, and if you choose to believe them, I can start a list. Of course the catch is if you would believe.

Some people just can't get away from expectations. What else is our purpose in life, they would say. Men who hold out being single as long as you have must be gay, are you sure you aren't?

And then comes the right question, to put it into perspective: Do you really want to get married? As if this were a rhetorical question that asks: Do you really want to be happy?

It could be called semi-tragic, but when I answer all these questions most people walk away with two conclusions:

1) That fellow is downright strange.
2) Hmmm. Too picky. He will die alone.
3) It won't be long before he admits he's gay.

Ehem, I seem to be jumping the gun here. If people would bother to listen, before they conclude anything about me, my state of being is simply explained.

(And before I start, since I'm writing parenthetically, there was a time that one of my uncles, in a drunken stupor, debated me on this subject. It was a good thing I wasn't drunk at the time. I could almost quote him word for word. But then, that would be unfair. Abusing drunks that way would be like stealing milk from a baby.)

I am myself, first and foremost, defined only by my BEING.

I am not just someone's son, brother, friend, enemy, employee, co-worker, fellow citizen. Hard as I may try to be someone's husband or life partner, right now I am not.

I am not because several series of choices brought me to this time of my life where I don't have a relationship. Some would say wrong timing. I, on the other hand, would admit that many a time, I had fallen into foolhardiness. Came on too strong too soon for one girl. Came on too weak, too little, or too late for another. Not altogether impossible to change direction, but not an easy task either.

I wish that there would be someone in my life right now, but my wishing won't make it so, and in the meantime, it would be rather stupid of me to wallow in self-pity over my state. I'm like the best friend in the movie who's loveable but for all the wrong reasons. Like Janis Ian, I learned the truth when I was seventeen.

And finally, it would be oh so very convenient to say that I'm gay. Makes life simpler, a lot easier to fall back and become a stereotype. Naturally that isn't fair to me nor is it wise to stereotype homosexuals. They too, have deeper reasons for who they are beyond the understood convention.

So no, I'm not gay. Not even close. Not even that I love showtunes, dig the theater, or appreciate art. Gay people don't have a monopoly on the things I like.

Which goes back full circle - certainly it would be great to be in a relationship, to have additional purpose. But since I am myself, my own being, I am not and will not be validated by a specific relationship.

Wouldn't it be great to have my life defined by one?

I don't know. In the past two years, even here, I've had my chances. But no, still no ring. If it's not other people, it's probably me.

And that's the heart of it - I am not ready. Yes, I have a character defect. No different from others who get married and cash in on all the cliches - including infidelity, marital violence, or abusing one's children. No different from others who embrace misery for the sake of filling the social obligations of a marriage. They picked their poison, and so did I.

For now, I'd rather take the sin of omission.

Being married is not a bad thing - but it is not a good thing to get into because of social pressure. It will happen in due course. I won't be in this state of mind forever, or maybe someone will come along and help me take the next step.

Until then, I am single. I survive.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Epic Fail

John Mason (Sean Connery): Are you sure you're ready for this?
Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) : I'll do my best.
John Mason: Your "best"! Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and f*ck the prom queen.
- "The Rock"

Thanks to Doug Benc/Getty Images.

I found some semblance of good news when I got up this morning. My beloved Celts won another nail-biter on the road against the Orlando Magic.

I'm sure the casual observer won't care and the rabid fan has probably had indigestion over this piece of news, so I won't rehash the details. Go find sports bloggers.

Just my little take-away from this --- in sports as in life, we have a surfeit of front-runners. And, as with most front-runners, when push comes to shove, instead of focusing, they fold. Instead of rising to the occasion, they crack under pressure.

I don't want to hate on the Orlando Magic, but no one assembles a team of "nice guys" and expects to win the ultimate prize. Cuteness and public relations win you fans, but they don't win you championships. For years, many people hated on the Spurs because they played a style of ball that hardly pleased the crowd. But no one could deny their championship record and performance.

Losers only whine about lost opportunities. Winners revel in making their own luck.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Know You've Watched Too Much Political News When...

Falling Down
(Music and Lyrics: Noel Gallagher)

A summer sun that blows my mind
Is falling down on all that I’ve ever known
Time will kiss the world goodbye
We're falling down on all that I’ve ever known
Is all that I’ve ever known
A dying scream makes no sound
Calling out to all that I’ve ever known
Here am I lost and found, calling out to all

We live a dying dream
If you know what I mean
And all that I’ve ever known
It's all that I’ve ever known

Catch the wheel that breaks the butterfly
I cry the rain that fills the ocean wide
I tried to talk with god to no avail
I call him up in and out of nowhere
Said if you won't save me please don't waste my time

All that I’ve ever known is all that I’ve ever known

Catch the wheel that breaks the butterfly
I cry the rain that fills the ocean wide
I tried to talk with God to no avail
I call Him up in and out of nowhere
Said if You won't save me please don't waste my time

A summer sun it blows my mind
It's fallin' down on all that I’ve ever known
Time to kiss the world goodbye
Falling down on all that I’ve ever known
Is all that I’ve ever known

Wish I could be more elaborate about my state of the mind; well – this is the closest approximation. I could go on and on about everything else – but sometimes silence has the loudest voice, and all I can let out is a primal scream.

There, there. That’s the end of that nightmare. Time to wake up.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Beginning, Again

The beautiful thing about life is that while you are not ended, nothing happens to you. Maybe that's not such a beautiful thing, after all. The opposite of progress is not destruction - it's entropy.

What I actually meant to say is that - while one lives, there is always hope that things, however bad, dark, or depressing, won't be so forever. All these burdens, they shall pass.

Still, rocky times make for interesting times - or at the very least, a lot of fodder for some overdue bellyaching (in my case, it can never be overdue, with the size of my belly, LOL!). In the past few weeks I had decided to travel and leave KSA, reconsidered and took another job, planned for vacation but never got around to taking it, and then started my job in response to what at best was, being ignored by one's former colleagues.

Yeah, I've got it bad. I should be depressed, maybe shoot myself, even. NOT!

The beautiful thing about life is that when something ends, another begins. In the eye of whatever storm one may pass through, one can still pull out a chance to start something.

Is it all that fun to do everything all over again? I hope, this time, I have learned the things I needed to learn and do something different. Life-altering, even.

Well, maybe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


"And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning."
--- Isaac Asimov

In the silence of my heart
I listen to You Lord.
In the emptiness of my mind
I submit to Your will.

There is no subtlety in which I can hide
There is no reticence into which I can sink.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Clipped Wings

Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keeps the law, happy is he. - Proverbs 29:18

One realizes that there are just a few paths left when anger takes over. I prayed to God for a resolution to my quandary with my passport, and all signs point out that instead of taking an ill-timed and hurried vacation, I'd rather go back to work.

Mind you, this was not an easy decision and I still feel I need the time off to go back home. But as I have learned the past few months, patience is a virtue I must still embrace. I have to get back to where I started, when the limitations to this place were all mental and my estrangement from the Philippines is merely a mental construct.

I must keep that vision in focus, lest again I fall prey to my weakness and fade away. I forgot that lesson last year, and paid for it dearly.

Of course I could still do it. The problem is, life goes by so quickly back at home they may have more need of me than I of them. I guess, they too, have their own thinking to do.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

All Set for Overdrive

Nobody gonna take my head
I got speed inside my brain
Nobody gonna steal my head
Now that I'm on the road again
Oooh I'm in heaven again
I've got everything
Like a moving ground an open road
and everything

I love it and I need it
I seed it
Eight cylinders all mine
Alright hold on tight
I'm a highway star
--- Deep Purple, "Highway Star"

Yeah! Slot in the tape/CD/USB/iPod to the car stereo system and rev up the engine. My secret desire today is to drive a semi into the office of our government relations people and mow them down in one swift run-over. And if it isn't enough, back up a little and catch up on the stragglers.

I can't help it. I'm yearning to put my spirits on overdrive, and they're cramping my style. Seriously, they really are, but to give them the benefit, things aren't much in their control. On the other hand, most of them are doing so little to change the way they work.

Still, one learning I can pick up from here is that we often demand too much from others as opposed to giving ourselves a break when we fail. If we put the pedal to the metal, then we must do it for ourselves too.

Of course, the sneaky-dark feeling keeps on creeping up once and again. It's the fourth day of passport watch, and if I have to take the fifth I might seriously go "Jeremy" on these fellows. Yes, grasshoppers, run around and beg for your lives!

Scrunch, crunch.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Coming Home

And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! - 2 Samuel 18:33

I wish I were writing of happier times now as I am making plans for coming home.

I haven’t been in the Philippines for twenty months – longer than usual for me, but not so much as for others who have made a life here in Saudi Arabia.

There was so much drama going on in my life the past two weeks – from the fateful decision to turn my back on my company, to the amazing opportunity made available by one of my former bosses, up to the time I accepted the job offer. That would have ended it, except that I couldn’t travel back to the Philippines because of formalities in processing my documents.

It’s been a week since that day that my life had been stopped and started – a few more dramas like not having funds available from the bank, the tension of waiting --- and waiting. I had packed Saturday evening since my flight was scheduled at 1:10 Monday morning. I could hardly sleep – anticipating, with half ruefulness, that the drama was about to end.

But another moment for drama came --- I received a text from our mutual friend Charlie that Kuya Josue was being revived at the hospital. The gravity of the news hadn’t sunk in yet --- he was being revived as he had already flatlined.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Well, this post must come in one way or another.

To our Lord in Heaven, I would like to say thank you for another day in this life. Another cycle has been completed, another year has been hurdled. Of course, it's just any ordinary day.

The world isn't any more special because I was born this day so many years ago. It was another day just like the others that we let pass through our lives.

Because we do. Sometimes, events awaken us and bother us to try and take stock of our existence. For some, it is observing the tides of history as they swirl back and forth and around the important figures in the life of our nation. For others, it is through the fortunes being made, about to be made, and soon to be lost in the world of commerce.

For others it is human achievement in the field of cooperation, in competition, and sometimes with both.

For most it is tragedy, whether direct and personal, or experiences lived vicariously in the lives of others.

My life, in perspective, is no more than the sum of experiences that come to bear on this moment, this reality. It can only be special because others make it so.

My mind tells me, intellectually, that some part of existence has made sense, that I should be glad that I am living the life that I am living now, that I am much more fortunate. I must have wasted more opportunities that life has made available for me than what has been available to others. And yet I am still here.

I am not dead. I am not ended. This life is not without purpose because today, and the past few months, have been personal lows. And yet, yes, I have to fight back my own tears welling up in me, of shame that I have not made the most of what I have been given, and of immense gratitiude that I have been given so much.

I celebrate the living that I have gone through and that others make me feel special and purposeful, even though at times it doesn't feel that way.

There were universes of regret that I went through when former President Aquino passed away. I smile at the people who belittle her contributions to the world stage; at the same time I squirm every time someone utters her name like a benediction.

This generation, my generation, must never forget what the first Edsa made possible --- that we are capable of coming together, inspiring one another, forgetting our self-serving agenda. That was the seed Cory Aquino planted. She tried her best to keep it going during her administration, but in the end, good intentions, and the desire to uproot or destroy the vestiges of dictatorship, are never enough.

The dream was there, but we woke up to something else. And for most, it was that the dream was betrayed, with epic fails at the Presidential Commission for Good Government, the flawed Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, numerous rightist coups, and the worst - that the mechanisms for oppression remained, only that new people were in the saddle.

For me, it was that the dream was fragile, and that like most people who had just broken out of jail, the prisoners savored freedom too much but did not want to take responsibility, or did not have the tools to do so.

I cried for Cory because I cried for that part of our nation's spirit that has been betrayed so many times, that, like a battered child, it knows no more than to batter back. But all that child needs is acceptance, and inspiration to believe. When we lifted the veil of mourning, that was the spirit waiting for another chance.

I hope this time Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas do something different. My cynicism derides my hope, but I can keep dreaming. So far, the "realists" have embraced the two-faced nature of Manny Villar, or the stolid business-as-usual stance of Gilbert Teodoro. Hmmm, yes, there are some attractions, but there isn't enough deodorant to go around to mask the stench of of decay and corruption.

All around the world, people have forgotten that it was we who made the banner of "people power" soar high. That many of the icons who rose during that period - Lech Walesa, Albert Fujimori, Vaclav Havel, Mikhail Gorbachev - have fallen short should remind us ideals do have a price, and to transform people it is not ideology, but integrity, that ensures success.

Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight" says it so well- "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

We have witnessed how things went topsy-turvy when the so-called moral guardians found themselves eating crow when their Anointed One, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, just didn't turn out any more kosher than Erap - in fact, she was much more manipulative and Machiavellian than anyone expected. It was masterful and deliberate, the symmetry of her destruction has some appeal.


When will we ever learn that the flow of history is against us, and without our own personal contribution, that tide will never be stanched.

I saw a Facebook post from one of my friends showing a YouTube video of "Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo" by Yano which was filmed 15, 16 years back.

The generation that was ranting for change is the generation that is coming into leadership now. And that's us.

So what have we done so far?

Are we just mere witnesses? What happened to the optimism of "Yes We Can!" or the supposed sea change that was about to come? What now? Have we gotten too lazy, too jaded, to ever see that the light lit in the windy darkness, must now, more than ever, be protected against the forces of that darkness?

Where is the moral outrage now?

Just to put this world into its natural perspective.

And I still think my personal problems outweigh the world's.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It Isn't As Bad As You Think It Is

An Arabic proverb goes like this: "When what you want doesn't happen, learn to want what does."

I just finished the last post when I realized I should have ended it with this turn of phrase. Things won't turn around quickly, but at least you won't be as miserable while you're digging yourself out of that frickin' hole.

Breaking The Faith

Stopping updates to a blog is like rending a valued relationship to shreds --- it takes forever to get the tattered pieces back together, but you have to.

Because it feels good that I can be myself in this space, but don't have to be overindulgent.

You got me, Constant Reader (whoever you may be). I broke the faith, destroyed the covenant that binds the writer to his audience. I stopped writing. I lost my voice.

In much the same way I broke the tiny threads that bound this blog together, I pretty much fried 2009 - no great scientific discovery there - and let so many of the gains that I made during my stay here in Saudi Arabia ALMOST slip away.

Strangely enough, I find that most of what I did was necessary. Not correct, mind you, not correct at all, but we're not in the business of being prissy and perfect.

Long ago I already threw away a life of predictability and happiness for a life of meaning. Anyone can fault me, can reproach me for making that choice, and can smile in smug self-satisfaction over this and that material success or recognition they have accomplished.

People, you can do it. I know you want to. Say, "I told you so."

However, to quote one of my favorite existentialists, Mr. William Martin Joel, "You may be right, I may be crazy - But it just might be a lunatic your're looking for."

Face it, you need me. I may be all down and all that, but my karma is good, baby! I'm plugged into the purpose of my universe, and, to continue Mr. Joel's famous quote, "Turn out the light, don't try to save me..."

If it turns out bourgeois mediocrity is where most of us are headed, well, pardon me if I'm not rushing to be in line. I may be slow to the goal, but I'll appreciate all the more for savoring the sweets of the other side.

But enough of that. I almost closed down this blog - I even came up with a post, "Coming Home." Yes sir, I almost did that, but it just wasn't meant to be.

This land has a claim on me for a little while longer.

So, until then, I'll be seeing you around.