Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oxygen Break

A sound is meaningless if there is no one around to hear it.  In like way, no love can be called true unless it is shared.

(Sigh).  All my brain can come up with right now is one-liners.

In other news, "Spartacus: Vengeance" is filling up my hours.  Watched the first five episodes, and I figure they are milking the same themes from the two previous series.  Crixus is the lover denied (as Spartacus was), while Glaber is the ambitious Roman (replacing Batiatus).  Spartacus is no longer a human being; he is merely a force of nature.  His already paper-thin character has even been sliced more finely from cardboard to wrapping paper.  No inner conflicts there, just a quote machine on the nature of freedom.  

Wouldn't want to ruin it for the fans who haven't started on the series, but one thing is for sure - the violence is gratuitous, excessive even.  Designed for the lowest common denominator.

There goes my oxygen break.

Monday, February 27, 2012

No Reason Required

Just can't help it.  I've hit a rut and I need to get my brain plodding along.  Go back to what works.  Rekindle that wonder.  When all else fails, turn to Sesame Street.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Back in Spring

I remember some of my old posts regarding favorite songs.  If I were held at gunpoint this song wouldn't make the top five, not even the top ten, but for now I'm in a folksy mood and experiencing a mild form of homesickness.  So I'm jamming to some of the songs of my childhood, including songs by (and here it comes, egads!) Sharon Cuneta.  I can't find some good downloads for VST or Hagibis, so YouTube would have to do.

The most vivid memories of February in Manila were during high school, where it meant the school fair and the high school dance.  It was the social event of the entire year because apart from class interactions and the occasional soiree, this was only place where one can meet a large number of girls, unless one were a nerd and always competed in interschool events (which always has negative effects, sadly).  It meant a lot of New Wave and glam rock/gothic rock blasting from the speakers, even an occasional Billy Joel's "Sometimes A Fantasy" or selections from Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

As we didn't have cellphones then, coming out with someone's landline number on a piece of paper (or on your hand) was a major victory.

So this song is about the spring of young love.  Every note tinkles as if it were brand-new.  Right now, these notes sometimes resound a little more strongly, albeit as echoes of forgotten times.  You'd wish it were the first time, and that you have a whole lifetime for experiences to come by.  But when you look into the mirror, the lines on your face tell you that time has betrayed you and you must savor every last drop of pleasure that comes into your life, before they run out.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Another Week

Willing Exile: First Thursday

Going back to my post of more than four years ago - some rash sentimentality about falling in love and sleepless nights.   Somebody must have heard me and posted a decent copy of this song:

This song just inspires me to hug somebody.  A heart that is tried and tested several times may cease to believe in the miracle that is love.  On the other hand, maybe that kind of heart has just had its unhealthy share of romance novels and Hugh Grant movies.

Some are steadfast in longing for the right kind of love, only to realize that they have waited too long or have chosen the wrong kind of places to find their love.

Some have just thrown love into the winds like a will o' the wisp, and live life without expecting a true love to return.  So they either settle for someone with whom they can live, or they just put themselves in the path of the wind, like scarecrows.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And the Result is...

My Political Compass

Who would have thought that I am staying closer to my roots?  I thought I have turned Republican.  A little left of center it is.

To take the test, go to http://www.politicalcompass.org/.

You Need Green to be Mean

How much would it cost to build the Death Star?

Just nice to know, so that my little investment portfolio will have to shoot up just that much.  Wouldn't want to stop the project midway - no wonder it took the Empire almost eighteen years to build the first one.  I'd be dead before I start building this baby.  Investment, anyone?  A sure-fire way to dominate the galaxy, only X-wing fighters with Force-enabled pilots as risk.

It's so easy painting rich guys as the bad guys.  It really costs money to be the villain, especially if you're not an altered human, a mutant, or an alien.  Where would Lex Luthor get the wherewithal to battle Superman without cash?

Now imagine what power bill Dexter's parents are running with his secret lab in the basement...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


"A process cannot be understood by stopping it.  Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it." - Paul Atreides quoting the First Law of Mentat, "Dune"

Monday, February 20, 2012


Sometimes people can just have mind-numbing confidence.  One man had the guts to go up against a whole army. From David Eddings' "Queen of Sorcery":

"I will challenge them." Mandorallen announced calmly, "One or all. No true knight would refuse me without being called craven. Wilt thou be my second and deliver my challenge, my lord?"

"What if you lose?" Silk suggested.

"Lose?" Mandorallen seemed shocked. "I? Lose?"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Past Peeping

Almost 20 years to the day, I was fully introduced to the music of the Beatles.  In my early teens, I was particularly enamored of the classics and religious music - the classics being what they were, and I admired their themes and structure.  Religious music, well, because I was a volunteer facilitator and we listened to a lot of "retreat" music.  My sisters loved OPM, and our eldest brother loved R&B and jazz.  My other brother was a true child of the times, loving New Wave music.  I pretended to listen because I didn't want to hurt his feelings.  I was such a snob.

I watched a lot of movies in the theaters then because that was my only form of escape - going home meant living through the pressures our family was going through at the time, and being elsewhere meant that life was catching up on me.  The Robinsons Galleria theaters showed a lot of footage of "A Hard Day's Night" during those times.  I would suppose there was a lot of heavy promotion since it was almost close to the 30th anniversary of the Beatles' first hit in the UK ("Love Me Do," a Top 20 hit).

This particular bit, along with "I Should Have Known Better" were my favorite pieces (well, they did receive a lot of rotation).  The harmony is impeccable on this piece, and at this point I would surmise Lennon was reaching his creative apex as a Beatle (my guess is that he topped out in "Rubber Soul" as a member of the band, and thenceforth McCartney became their driving force).  When I listen to this song I always play in twice, singing with Lennon's part the first time and then with McCartney's part the second time.

The Beatles' surfacing in my musical palette also came with the rise of grunge and Pinoy alternative rock.  In a way the stripping down of the musical components of recorded music was the antidote to overproduced electronic tracks of the '80s.

This year the Beatles would celebrate their 50th anniversary as a hit band.  Looking forward to all the tributes and the concerts.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just Hangin'

I've already given up on "Glee" having any sense of plausibility or story content but I keep on watching because of the music performances.  The Valentine's Day episode wasn't particularly great, but Damian McGinty's "Home" by Michael Buble and Amber Riley's rendition of cheeseball classic "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston were particular standouts.

Stevie is still the one for the chill factor.  Buble did a version of this, which reminded me of the original.  The vocal crescendo is unbelievable.

As for other things, Valentine's Day is still the same but I have a project in mind which I hope does not miscarry.  If it does, well, there goes the usual.  I usually crash and burn, anyhow.  Ouch.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Worldwide Export

OFW remittances hit record $20B

Just firing up the stove for another gasbag of opinion.

As an expatriate Filipino, instead of giving me a bigger sense of pride, it is giving me a greater sense of disappointment.

I am not saying "nay" to overseas employment.  Like free trade in goods and services, there should be freedom in the movement of natural persons to seek employment.   Filipinos, by virtue of our natural resilience and eagerness to succeed (yes, our English is considerably better than those of other nationals.  But that advantage is fast disappearing, thanks to declining standards and poorer comprehension in today's graduates.  End of long parenthetical thought), are uniquely prepared to compete in the global environment.  A significant amount of the world's seafarers are Filipinos.  Many of the drillers and other technical workers in the Gulf oil industry are Filipinos.  Filipino engineers are unnamed heroes in the transformation of this region, as highways, seaports, airports, water and power installations, factories, and commercial buildings have been built with Filipino technical expertise in their design and construction.  One can see Arab names in the headlines, but the significant contributions have been made by Filipinos and other expatriates.

I cannot say "nay" to overseas Filipino employment because my being employed in Saudi Arabia is paying our family's bills, as overseas employment sustains the lives of millions of Filipinos.  Our country's Gross National Product is dependent on remittances, and if anything, expatriate contributions have kept the economy stable and that our country has sufficient reserves of foreign currency.

I cannot say "nay" because throughout the political and economic turmoils that have afflicted the country, the region, and worldwide, our country has not gone under.  Remittances are our economic anchor.

It's just that because of this economic anchor, government policy has not been sufficiently progressive in addressing the key issues ailing our economy.  What makes matters worse is that of creating an environment conducive for expatriates to return to the country for retirement, the result is just the opposite.

Baser Natures, Continued

Willing Exile: Baser Natures

Channeling: Barry Manilow

Now that piece is not well-written at all.  But to pick up something more from it, I'd like to start it out as an introduction to what I think I meant to say.

Though some of its assertions were dismissed as quackery, Desmond Morris' "The Naked Ape" does make the point that psychosocial evolution has not followed up more quickly on the effects of all the technological revolutions that have taken place.  Some of our most basic instincts still hark back to earlier times, and with the explosion of information you can have several otherwise intelligent people live walking contradictions in their value systems.

Take for example many people who are pro-choice on the reproductive health issue, and are pro-life on the death penalty issue.  Some may not like animal testing, but are supportive of stem-cell research.  On the other hand, you have people who are pro-life and are committed to the death penalty at the same time.  Some cannot stand eating meat, but would welcome genocide on others just because they are of a different faith.

Of course I will be accused of simplification and sophistry on this one, but it does beg to be argued - rather than coalescing into more discrete value systems, societies are now a mosaic of various ideas and special interests.  Some people may argue that moral relativism has taken the field and the influence of monolithic institutions like the Roman Catholic Church has waned considerably.  Even adherents of either side (or rather, multiple sides) may even argue the degree to which the decline/progress of society has gone.

It isn't a case of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes."  It isn't about black turning white, but rather the idea: is there a black?  Is there a white?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sorry Seems to Be...

When other people find it hard to forgive you for what you've done, sometimes it's important to ask if you've demonstrated true remorse and have begun the process of restitution.  Making the apology mean something means being prepared to do exactly the opposite of what you have done in the first place.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baser Natures

Our carpool had an interesting conversation just the other night regarding the onset of urban sprawl in Riyadh.  A lot has changed, they say, in the neighborhoods within the vicinity of the factory.  But even with this development, the construction will not be enough.  There always has to be something better.

For example, for all the advancements made for the King Khalid International Airport terminal, right now the building seems outdated.  Many expatriate workers often complain that Riyadh is the Kingdom's worst first port of entry (the others being Dammam and Jeddah).   It is not even a question of physical infrastructure, but rather the work ethic of the people running the show.

(Sidebar: I am positively running out of brain juice.  My sense of organization and my ability to stay on point are getting shot.  Okay, back to point.)

Our ability to control nature around us is also our blind spot in losing control.

This is the reason why I chose this song - it is our human nature to be enthralled, to seek adventure, to want to be covered by bright lights.

We are still governed by passions that cannot be defined by logic.

Now, as I start losing point on this topic, let me end this for now.  Coming soon.


Whoever wishes to keep a secret must hide the fact that he possesses one. - Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Falling Short

Sometimes an opportunity to be great comes only once - it just depends on the person whether to answer the call to be great.  The biggest obstacle to being great is just being good enough.

Letting Love Remain

It feels so wrong to celebrate anything in particular while someone in your immediate circle is grieving.

My colleague at the office who is also my flatmate is undergoing a personal crisis right now.  His mother passed away last night and so he must take an emergency leave.

I'm never been a fan of Valentine's Day.  I believe the whole holiday is an exercise replete with crass commercialism.  It's a convenient holiday for spending in between New Year's Day and the school holidays in March/April.

I believe love should be celebrated as often as possible.  One can never encapsulate the wonderful moments that give this life meaning, even though, realistically, those moments will make up 15% or less of my entire life.  But without those moments, life is assuredly less.

Love is not just a feeling you get.  True love means an entire appreciation of the other's personhood, and is a commitment between two partners.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Of Firsts and of Truth

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond - e.e. cummings

I was not really into the series "Beauty and the Beast" because, of course, it was the late '80s and I hadn't outgrown cartoons yet, and I wasn't a fan of romance on TV either.

By the time the show was cancelled I finally understood what it meant, what it means, to welcome the presence of love in one's life, and I also discovered the work of e.e. cummings.  I  bought a cassette tape of the the soundtrack, with my favorite track - (The First Time I Loved Forever) as the headliner.  Ron Perlman was great as Vincent, the "Beast" and I probably watched a few episodes of the show only because of Linda Hamilton (on whom I had a crush since "The Terminator").

There will never be a replacement of the first love, of that first exciting moment - as things should be, when experienced for the first time.

It will not, however, replace, the eternal flame of the true love that forever kindles once found.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


You can never be left unstained or unsullied by the things you value and love.  They will always leave their mark on you.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Celebrate the Underdog

NBA -- Jeremy Lin continues to provide hope to Knicks - ESPN

Life provides very difficult and oftentimes, very short odds.  So getting a guy with all the odds stacked against him, and then seeing him do very well, is inspiring.

I personally don't like the Knicks, but that is a franchise that is in need of a different kind of hero.  They chose Amare Stoudemire to be their man, only to trade for Carmelo Anthony and ruin their dynamic.  They get rid of Chauncey Billups, their emotional anchor, to save money, thinking that the glitz of the city will draw free agents.

Maybe the allure of New York will rope them in, but having a great city in which to play isn't enough.  Ask the New York Mets.  They spent a whole boatload of money, and their team still sucks.  Ask the Los Angeles Clippers.   More than a quarter-century in LA and they could only celebrate a few years of success.

I celebrate teams like the San Antonio Spurs for doing well as a small-market team.. They had luck of circumstances, clear management direction, and good coaching.  Even though I hate the way they made it to their city, I celebrate the Oklahoma City Thunder for building on their own talent and exercising patience with their young core.  Now they're rigged to win many championships.

I celebrate the underdog because it's the right attitude to be in - playing against the odds, playing with a sense of desperation, playing with something to prove - because playing with a comfort zone is the one of the easiest ways to run a Titanic into an icepack.

Now, if there could only be someone to spark the Celtics...

Thursday, February 09, 2012


The Need for Spiritual Fitness

As I write this post, I am celebrating passing another half-year without major incident.  As one gets older and gets to know one's moods and flows more intimately I know when I need some time to milk off my frustrations and put them into words.  It isn't fair, honestly, to the whole process and to the process of my writing (which I am refining further in the hopes of making the trade full-time), but for now this is what with which I have to work.

Not a fan of today's quoted author, but one key component of health is the spiritual side.  The whole concept of wellness is not only what we project on the outside, but what is also happening within.  I was born and raised in a Catholic home, though not very strict and characterized more by the free spirit that we had - we thanked God with the rites of our faith, but my parents did not insist that we close our minds.

All this did not prevent me from being a Catholic volunteer during my late teens and early twenties.  While I may not count much in the world with what I was making, that was certainly the most fulfilling time of my life. 

Since then, I won't say it's been downhill, but the happy times seem a lot spottier and harder to come by.  Disclaimer, though, those times have been considerably blurred by a lot of nostalgia.  As the happy times were more profound, so were the wounds to my psyche.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Regretting that Decision...

Prudentialife Plans halts selling, payments to clients

... to invest in another pension plan.  I didn't trust pre-need then, I still don't now.  The rules of the game when it came to financial institutions were all turned topsy-turvy by the crash of 2008.   Apparently whatever shocks that were weathered before still have remnants to make an effect.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if politics has something to do with this latest fiasco.

There goes my P500,000 premium (sob, as in sunnava...!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


"All roads lead to Trantor, and that is where all stars end." - Isaac Asimov, Second Foundation

One lesson from Stephen Covey is to begin with the end in mind.  From the start, mark point A as the beginning. and then mark point B as your terminus.  It should be that simple, from an intellectual point of view.  We define our journey, scope out the road getting there, and prepare ourselves accordingly.  The fun part, they say, is the journey, and not the destination.

There are lots of things to do on the journey - for while we must reach the other side, we must sustain ourselves throughout so that we keep ourselves hale and hearty on our travel.   There will be lots of things to see - wonders one has never seen, or sometimes the rare combination of having the usual mixed with the magical.

And of course, while we go through this journey, there are all sorts of distractions - whether from the vistas we see or the people we encounter.  Or sometimes we get waylaid at the stops we take - mostly by our own unreadiness or unwillingness to keep on moving.

So it is that some people make their way in life a lot more quickly and get to explore so many places - traveling the width and breadth of the human experience - while others stay where they, relatively close to where they started, hardly venturing beyond their comfort zones.

We all know where and how this journey will end someday, for all of us - in death.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Yes It's Valentine's again...

...Even though I'm in denial.  Customary sappy songs will be in order.  My choice for this month is this song from the movie version of "Camelot."  It's fantastic as a spoken piece.  Richard Harris' song-chant delivery is very memorable.

As for the song, these are wise words from King Arthur.  Yes, he was a cuckold, but he was King.  Well worth for all to understand that in love, sometimes, several wrongs don't make things right, but that was the whole meaning of the joy/suffering anyway.

One must be lucky indeed to follow that last train of thought.  I must be semi-plastered.  Stop with the cough medicine, kiddo.


I didn't mean to leave you alone.   But I did.

Blame torrents and other mindless joys.  Blame a harder working schedule.  Mostly, blame a cheap fellow who doesn't want to pay more for personal internet access.

Hard to regain momentum on this.  But I will try.