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