Saturday, December 30, 2006

A kid again

Another year has again gone by. And age is surely catching up with me. But before I turn this entry into one of those sentimental, waah!-I-am-getting-older posts, happy holidays to everyone! Don’t we just love this season? A season of giving and loving and eating. And in my case, a season of going back to the neighborhood I grew up in.

As soon as vacation stepped in, I rushed home to Leyte. Ah, my neighborhood is still basically the same one I left four years ago when I decided to study in Cebu for college. Not many people would find my neighborhood very appealing but for someone like me who grew up there, every street, every tree, and every living mark of my childhood is precious to me. They hold a thousand memories forever carved in my consciousness. It can’t be helped that when you walk through all those things in the present, you recall your past. Once, when I passed by the small canal near our house, I nearly laughed my head off when I remembered how I unsuccessfully tried to do an acrobatic trick – walk across it using a flat piece of wood. Thing is, I was competing for space with a huge basin of water because that wood was actually used to hold basins when people get water from the faucet beside it. I tried in vain to walk around it with my arms spread out as if I were a bird. One problem with me, however, is that I have poor balance. Whoosh! The wood tipped to one side, dropping me into the canal with the basin of water tumbling after and over me. Not really my idea of a good bath.

When I also look at the banana trees in our place, it brings to my mind the days when my adventurous spirit overwhelmed me while my neighbors and I were playing a sort of Indiana Jones game. I grabbed one dead banana branch still hanging from the trunk. I tugged once. I tugged twice. Hah! Perfect. It’s intact. Summoning all my strength and the powers of Tarzan, I swung myself from the branch. I might as well have shouted, “A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-h….o-w-w-w-w!” As the branch snapped, I fell on my butt, and slid downhill. Oh well, so much for role-playing games.

It’s a refreshing and fulfilling experience altogether to realize you were once foolish, naughty, and clumsy. And even more surprising, when you find out you still are today. Whoever said that there’s always a child within us is a genius. And sometimes, it’s good to revert to the child we once were because in childhood, there is simplicity and wonder in how we look at the things in life. There’s always that spark, that magic that keeps us awed at how beautiful and fun life can be.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone. This season, let the kids in us shine forth with happiness and love, just like the child who was born in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, and brought us peace and salvation here on earth.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Glare, the Blot, and the Wave

What is there behind the glare of the lights, the blot of the ink, and the wave of the sound?

Political scientists define democracy as the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. To us Filipinos, it means nothing greater than the shedding of the lifeblood by a few of our fellow countrymen in sheer defiance of passively sucking the miasma of tyranny and oppression that slowly poisoned the whole nation. Our country has a long, despotic history of colonial rule. Add to that 20 years of Martial Law and we now see a nation battered by the past and bereft of a “real” identity. But on the other side of the coin, history made a vigilant people out of us. EDSA 1 and 2 proved that we are no longer tolerant of erring leaders – that we no longer wanted to be subjected to any kind of force that would suppress our will. We thirsted for freedom more than anything else!

FREEDOM. It is one of the most basic tenets of democracy. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Media is, after all, the fourth estate that helped restore this democracy – from the underground newspapers run by propagandists during the Spanish colonial rule, to the radio power during EDSA 1 and to the multimedia revolt of EDSA 2.

Idealistically speaking, media exists as a supporting link in a check-and-balance system of a democracy. But being a private enterprise, media has its share of issues that are too hard to ignore.

Media as a business is one big issue because the question on objectivity and fairness is always raised against the social, political, and economic interests of the media owners. The clash of news versus entertainment is another battleground as news organizations are reminded to fulfill their social responsibility and public accountability. Media practitioners today face serious threats as the country climbs to the second spot of being the most dangerous place for journalists to work in. Since the Marcos era, the number of journalist killings has been rising. And out of this number, only a few were resolved.

This year’s celebration of press freedom week attempted to touch base with these issues through a film showing, panel discussions, and open fora on matters relevant to the industry. And so, as a mass communication student myself, I thus make an attempt to make some sense of all the inputs I have consolidated during the weeklong celebration.


As their contribution to the press freedom week celebration, Sun Star Cebu copy editor Publio Briones III produced and directed a documentary, Killing Journalists: The Cebu Experience written by none other than Sun Star Editor-in-Chief himself Atty. Pachico Seares and edited by Ruel Antipuesto. The title of the documentary speaks volumes of the topic: the spate of killings that has claimed numerous lives of journalists.

The film showing was followed by an open forum with a panel of reactors from different media organizations/institutions and with a curious audience of students, some journalists, and visitors from other sectors of the society.

The film pointed out that most of the killings are not job-related. Some journalists sidelined as police assets and public relations agents for politicians. Others practiced corruption. Although journalist killings can be considered as an attack to the media, the motive is not to stifle the media people but rather to correct or probably to strike back in vengeance for what the media people did that have no bearing at all in being a journalist. Which brings us to the issue of secondary employment.

It is a well-known fact that a journalist’s job doesn’t pay much, which is mainly the reason why some journalists resort to other income-generating side lines to augment their salary. Madam Mayette Tabada rightfully raised the issue on how the news organizations can assist their reporters in assuring them the security of their tenure so that they will no longer seek other jobs that could compromise their safety and values (conflict of interest).

“Why hire them (reporters with secondary employment)?” somebody pointed out. If secondary employment is the root of the killings, why should media institutions plunge deeper into dangerous grounds? I am only familiar with Sun Star Cebu’s policy on secondary employment – that reporters are required to divulge their side line jobs. But it doesn’t necessarily prevent reporters from taking other jobs.

Personally, I think we should accept as part of the reality that we cannot control other people’s decisions to take other jobs for extra income to sustain their daily needs.

“What about killings that are work-related?” Somewhere along this line of thinking, my thoughts branched out to the Mass Communication students. Since we are well-acquainted with both the skills and the ethics of working in the media, why are these still happening? In our ethics class, the best standard of ethics is a clear conscience. Lunsay nga konsensya, if Mr. Leo Lastimosa were to put it. But a closer look at the media right now would reveal that most of them are not Mass Communication graduates. I remember Ms. Portia Dacalos from the Office of the Student Affairs once asked me why is it that our course is female-dominated yet media remains to be male-dominated. (although the latter is starting to change through the years) Point is, where are Mass Communication graduates going? And why are they not in the media industry? It’s an interesting topic of study. Is it because of the relatively low financial compensation? Is it because of the dangers of the profession? Is it because of disillusionment? I can only speculate.

For those interested in pursuing a career in journalism however, I emphasize that ethics and conscience should be the guiding principles in reporting the news. Sun Star columnist Eddie Barrita said, “Don’t call him crazy even if he is.”

I would also like to note that the kind of media that we have right now is an “attack-and-attack” media, which I believe is not a healthy sign of the current state of the industry. When I interviewed radio personality Nanding Celeste for the CJJ2 handbook, he said: “Musaway gani ka, kanang dili sad ka salawayon. Unya pananlitan mu-criticize ka, kinahanglang naa kay suggestions… the principle is this, musulti lang gyud ka sa tinuod. I think media should go beyond criticizing the government or the ordinary people because theoretically, agenda-setting will mould people’s minds that officials are generally corrupt and there is no hope for our country to prosper so we might as well leave the country for good. I am not favoring the side of politicians. I myself am convinced that corruption exists. What I am trying to say is that we have yet to see a kind of media that would offer solutions (constructive criticism) and not just merely comment on what is happening around.

To end this reaction, I would like to share this quote from Nanding Celeste who has spent 47 years in the media industry. (Note: He said this in the context of “new trends” in radio broadcasting, like being able to say bad words like “buang” to a judge on air.)

“Himuang inspirasyon ang proper ethics sa journalism. Sunod gyud sa inyong nakat-unan, nga dili tungod kay nay bag-ong trend nga wa gitudlo diha kaninyo nga mulunot mo sa bag-ong trend.”

Goodnight and Good Luck

Directed by George Clooney, the movie “Good Night and Good Luck” candidly portrays the conflict of interests surrounding the broadcast media industry. At the outset, the battle between Edward Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy is the most obvious conflict. Exchanging heated words on air, the two caught the attention of all America. Further analysis however, would reveal that behind the broadcast media’s ubiquity and influence, issues exist such as news versus entertainment and business versus social responsibility.

The face of Filipino prime time television is ENTERTAINMENT. Which is why we now have Koreanovelas and fantaseryes invading our households every night. Apart from the statistics that indicate a greater number of the masa than ABC classes, I believe it is more of the culture that we have. Filipinos are very fatalistic – bahala na, to put it more concretely. Somehow, we are a passive people, brought about by the long periods of colonial rule. Television is our escape medium from all our troubles. Momentarily, we are swept by dramatic and comedic moments on television. But it doesn’t mean that media should necessarily give what the people want. If the media has a firm will to give the people more relevant programs, it actually can. However, most or all of time, at the mercy of the second issue highlighted in the movie.

Business vs. Social Responsibility. Here is a snippet from one of my past interviews with Super Balita Managing Editor Emmanuel Mongaya:

“We try to cater to BCD nga market bitaw. Sa BCD market, the usual tabloid stuff. Hold-up. Patay. Artista. What sells. Kung as far as social concerns, we try to put it inside. Ambot lang. Nasuwayan namo sa una, mga issues nga makaayo sa tawo [ibutang sa front page], di mamalit. Daghan kaayong magreklamo mga teachers, students. Ethics kuno, nganong pirmi patay. Pero people don’t buy it. Mamatay ang newspaper.”

The quote vividly illustrates the conflict of running a paper (or a media institution). Media is a private enterprise our country so although it is free from government control, its freedom can not go that far as it should brings profit to the media owners or please its advertisers. Again, it is one reality we can never change.

But news reporters can still control the way they report the news.

“Tell stories in an engaging, relevant manner. There has to be a clear connection to the readers.” Eileen G. Mangubat, Cebu Daily News’ publisher tipped the students during the open forum following the film showing.

So what is there behind the glare of the lights, the blot of the ink, and the wave of the sound? What is there that controls the fate of the people struggling in their snares? Is it really a what? Or would it make more sense if I say who? And if I do, who?...

Monday, October 30, 2006

my two-year love affair (part 2)

My only concern two years ago was just how to pass my subjects. I attended classes regularly, took exams, and let loose once in a while. Pretty much the traditional “four-walled” approach to learning. However, I enrolled myself in an educational institution that deliberately delimited our number of units to 18 every semester so we could explore the world outside the classroom. I barely understood what that meant. And then came Madam Mayette’s Journalism classes.

I love Journalism classes. Okay, I admit there is a blot of prejudice in that remark. Biases aside though, I especially love the subject for its unexpected twists and unforgettable lessons, not to mention that we had a mentor who willingly shared her wisdom and wits to our discussion. We were sent on field to gather necessary data, which only meant one thing: we had to talk – to people. Lots of them. I wasn’t exactly a misanthropic being back then but for someone who spent almost her entire childhood locked up in the solitary confines of her room, it took quite a generous amount of effort to break free from the so-called comfort zone. But it was a make or break situation. I had to do it.

Surprisingly, I found out that there’s a dormant part of me who is not that silent and aloof. Where on earth were you hiding all these years?! The discovery didn’t happen in a single snap of the fingers but the rewards far outweighed the costs that I was soon crawling out of my shell.

I enjoyed talking to people. There was so much to be learned. Fresh ideas. New perspectives. I was learning theories and practicing them on field at the same time. Now this is what I call learning the alternative way! Later, when we were required to publish articles on local newspapers, I had to interact with a more varied mix of personalities. But the greater challenge lay in writing their individual stories.

confessions of a budding writer
I started writing for Sun Star Weekend two years ago. It wasn’t initially part of my plan to contribute an article for the section. First of all, I had no interesting interviewee. But God’s hand shoved in an interviewee in my direction one fine morning while I was busy taking pictures of the magnificent view at Café Orchidia for my photography class. I looked at her. She looked at me. We both smiled at each other. She said hello and made her way towards me. She was Eufemia “Minnie” Solomon Crouse, a filmmaker and my very first interviewee for the section.

Looking back, I think my interview with her was experimental in a way that it determined my interest in writing personality profiles. She had lots of stories and lessons to share that we had to do two separate interviews. It was also my first lengthy interview experience that I was a bit clueless how to go about with the interview. Sure, I had ideas on what questions to ask but how to ask them and when are considerations an interviewer has to take into account. Interviewing is an art, you know. One should know how to listen, when to talk, (to interrupt a deliriously endless chatter or to inject an important question in momentum) and how to talk.

As if it isn’t difficult enough to interview a person, it’s harder to capture a person’s life in a single story. It’s a hurdle I had to overcome with every story I wrote. A lot of times, I had to face a blank screen for what seems like eternity. An idea pops ups and my fingers get busy clicking away the keys only to delete most or everything out in the end. Poof! (Woe to the delete button.) Sometimes, I have a clear plan on how to construct my story. In the middle of it all, I thwart it and segue to another path. Ahh, this is what my teachers have been saying about writing – it’s a recursive process. A complicated process that oftentimes got my brain insides all jumbled up and distorted that I had to distract myself to keep myself from banging my head on the computer screen. I would take a power nap, (the nap often evolves into deep sleep so yes, I wrote some stories in haste)watch television, eat, sing until my throat gets hoarse, or play computer games. Despite all these, I loved what I did. Why? Because I found precious gems in the insights of my interviewees. I met a lot of people who looked at things in a different light and who have inspired me to shape my own destiny.

quotable quotes
There’s a story behind every story. But of course, I would have to allot several posts to tell each and every story. So let me just leave you with snippets of my interviews for the sections Weekend Magazine, Community Force, and Live!.

Helen Niaga (Child Development Worker): “Dili jud mabayran sa sapi ang kalipay.”
(Can you imagine going to a community bringing toys and books for the children to prepare them for school? Can you imagine holding your classes under the trees? Yup, she does all those for an honorarium of a thousand pesos per month.)

Eufemia “Minnie” Solomon – Crouse (Filmmaker; Best Documentary 2002 Cinemanila International Film Festival, Prix Sylvie Auzas Award): “Filmmaking is like my appetizer, my hors d’oeuvre. It has changed my life. Because of it, I now have the opportunity to express myself. I didn’t realize I was beautiful. I was very challenging. I was real.”

Ronaldo Herry Armando Tan (Production Designer of Panaghoy sa Suba, President: Cebu Filmmakers’ Society): “Naa baya nang kakulba nga bag-o pa lang ang grupo pero dako kaayo ning tahas. Apan kon kining kalibutana mapuno og tao nga hadlukan, wa gyuy mahitabo sa atoa.”

Gretchen Malalad (Sea Games 2005 Gold Medalist in Karatedo): “When we train in the gym, sparring kunyari, yung mga kapatid ko talagang binabanatan ako! Once, pumutok talaga ‘yung labi ko. Umuwi ako tapos nagsumbong ako sa parents ko. Alam mo sagot ng parents ko? ‘Di ka kasi marunong umilag.’”

Bong Abela (Proprietor, Koncepts and More): “Every one has to understand their mission in life and out of that mission, identify what for them is significant and important. Is my action attuned to what I really want in life now? Even if you’re radical with your ideas or values, you have to remember that you have accountability.”

Jude Thaddeus Gitamondoc (Song Writer: Gary V’s Wait Forever, In Another Lifetime, Kailan Pa, Only A Friend, and Sana Bukas): “It’s a cliché but it is really something indescribable and unique. To hear something that you made up in the little nook and corner of your room. To actually have an effect on people. And yet to retain that level of anonymity. It’s the ultimate dream of every artist. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

Homer Cang (Music Producer and Arranger): “When I was a kid, when I play the piano, I would imagine myself playing all the other instruments. During recitals, my teacher would ask me to break from the piece and just play what I want. I remember when I was in grade two, the piano teacher announced to the audience I was doing my own arrangement.”

Chloe Canton (Pianist): “Music is one of the best things in life that are free. People who enjoy music enjoy life.”

Leonardo Chiu (Filmmaker, “Nagbreakfast Ka Na Ba?”): “I like dark movies. As a filmmaker, I go out and hurt people. I’ve seen that the realities around us are painful. They are not something to laugh at.”

Kristoffer Villarino (Filmmaker, “Binaliw”): “Ang ganahan nako nga future sa cinema, artistically, is something that will speak much about the Cebuanos – as ourselves, not pretending to be a revised character from an old Hollywood film.”

Adonis Durado (Filmmaker, “Pa-ak”): “There is a reason to revive Cebuano film. Ganahan ko muhimo og Cebuano films kay Cebuano ko. Kahibalo ko kung unsaon nako pag-handle. Dili lang necessary nga Cebuano ang language kon dili, ang point of view Cebuano sad.”

Mark de los Reyes (2004 Outstanding Industrial Coordinator): “I’m a risk-taker. I would never quit, whatever happens.”

Bryan Albert Lim (2005 Outstanding Cebuano Youth Leader): “Passion without discipline is useless. Intelligence without passion is a nerdy thing. And without gratitude, passion and intellect would just be a selfish thing.”

Cheryl Pages (Owner, Sastre): “For me, the business world is exciting… (as a kid) I would buy candies and sell them at a higher price to my relatives.”

Dearlie Gerodias (1st Southern Philippines “Dancesport sa Sugbo” Champion): ”Dance from the heart. In dancesport, tanan naa’y technique. One must have that something from the heart to spice up one’s moves.”

Jane Pacaide (Founder and President, Cebu Cancer Fight, Inc.): “Jesus has plans different from ours. We pray for healing until the very end. But if Jesus thinks that this person is ready, we release the person to Him because now, he’s in a better place.”

Justin Paul Aguilar (Founder, Volkswagen Club sa Sugbo): “Honestly, I feel happy because of all the generations nga mga sakyanan nga nangabot diri sa Pilipinas, it is the ba-o that has an impact to the public and to people of all ages.”

Marricar Endico (Bangga sa Kinaadman 2005 Champion): “Looking at me, you will really not think or believe that I belong to the Dean’s List. Who would find intelligent someone who keeps on cracking out jokes even the corniest ones, laughs out so loud in public and crosses the street when the traffic light’s still green?”

Gerry Graham Gonzales (Cellist, Participant to the 2005 International Cello Congress): “I am a musician. Every one can be one. You just need to have the heart to be one -- that you have to explore within you, and when you find it, share it to other people. Now you can call yourself an artist.”

Jibbie Rose Reyes (Cellist, Participant to the 2005 International Cello Congress): “Life with music is full of colors. Your life has a meaning. Mao gani, ni-ana akong mga classmates na if they see me, they see Jibbie. But when they see me play my cello, they see a different person.”

John Amor (President, Rogues Gallery Studios): “When you start admiring only popular art, you’re limiting yourself to popular art. Whereas if you have a hunger within yourself to find something better, you’ll be able to pave a whole new landscape.”

Paolo Dy (Filmmaker, “Miko”; 2004 MTV Asia’s “The Pitch” screenwriting competition winner): “Passion, passion, passion. And not just I-talk-about-films-a-lot passion or Filipino-films-suck passion. I mean the we’ve-been-shooting-for-five-days-straight-without-sleep-but-I-don’t-care-I’m-gonna-finish-this-freaking-film kind of passion. Filmmaking is hard, hard, hard work. You can’t afford to be lazy or ‘arte’. You have to be willing to drive to the convenience store across town at three in the morning to get batteries for the boom microphone. You have to be willing to pick up garbage, move heavy equipment around, get dirty, and exhaust yourself to near breakdown to get the work done. It’s this willingness to contribute to the success of the film that will convince other filmmakers to collaborate with you.”

Apolinario Lopez (CCCI Web Awards Winner – Best in Multimedia Presentation): “I would present a beautiful and well-developed Cebu with responsible people and that which is rich with historical places – truly a place where tourists would like to go.”

Francis Moreno (CCCI Web Awards Winner – Best in Animation): “Break the limit. Kung ibutang lang gyud nila sa ilang huna-huna nga kaya ni nila, kaya man gyud nila. Wala may makapugong nila kay sila may nagdiktar sa ilang limitation.”

Rodney Co (Owner, 3D Storm Studio): “Design improves our lives. I believe that everything in this world is designed – it has its purpose, either intentionally or accidentally. Architecturally speaking, the orientation of your house determines how you access and enter it. The way your room is oriented affects how you move in your house. The colors and lighting of your room affect your mood. The furniture you use may affect your posture. Good design shapes our lives for the better, makes us more productive, inspires us when driving our car, and makes us beautiful with the clothes and jewelries that we wear.”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

my two-year love affair (part 1)

I first fell in love when I was in third grade.

I thought it was sheer infatuation. A temporary madness bound for oblivion in my later years. But even up to this date, no matter how I tried to get him off my mind, the thought of him just keeps popping in my head. They all say that love stands the test of time so I think: then this must be love!

It wasn’t love at first sight, mind you. I got to know him through my teacher. I remember he wore a blue shirt the day we met. He really didn’t look like a dashing prince charming ready to save a damsel in distress. Imagine admitting to me at that first meeting that he was a fan of Juday! “Whoa, this guy is a bit questionable, huh?” I thought. But his eyes twinkled like the stars when he smiled. “On second thought, he’s nice. A new friend wouldn’t be that bad,” I told myself. I entertained him as if he was like the others. But even in my childhood innocence, I sensed that there was something special about him. While I had other friends and I would assume that he did, too, I would say he was the best among the rest.

He was sincere and understanding. He listened to me as if no one else ever would. He would wipe my eyes dry even before the first drop of tear could roll down my cheeks. He never judged me for being a tad foolish at times. In fact, he was my accomplice in everything else. We shared secrets and dreams. We sang the same songs. Ahh, young love it was indeed.

That love I nurtured until it bloomed into a lifelong passion. First love never dies indeed. Even now in my senior year in college, I keep going back to the “thick and thin” times we’ve been through – the times when I felt like giving him up, the times when I almost denied my feelings towards him, and the times when I had to hide him from my older brothers in fear that they would beat him up.

But looking back at all those only makes me fall helplessly in love with him again and again and again and again…

Yes, my friends, I am in love. Sooooo muuuucchhh in looooove!

So much that I took up Mass Communication to cherish the young bud of love. So much that I set up this blog to whisper sweet nothings to the world with him. So much that I decided that he will always have a piece of my heart even if I stay single for the rest of my life.

It didn’t occur to me that the “love of my life” would start from a journal-writing class. My first diary was a blue notebook with Juday posing on the front cover. I didn’t take diary-writing seriously back in third grade. I had lots of those dear-diary-Carlo-sat-beside-me-today and dear-diary-I-ate-spaghetti entries in my notebook. Nonsense, yes, but I wrote all that crap anyway than end up being scolded for not doing my homework. I don’t know what got into me but one day while strolling around the bookstore, I found myself picking up a real diary and dropping it into the basket. (while adding a “puppy dog look” on my face when my mom gave me a weird look) Since then, when I wasn’t playing, I would be writing about my experiences, mostly during summers and Christmas breaks – how I got lost in whatever-place this time, how I met my crushes or simply how my day went. I hid my diary carefully just in case my brothers or my neighbors would snoop around my room and pounce on it like a hungry prey. (Those days, I had an invisible sensor attached to my brain that would send an alert signal when a brother or a neighbor would try to invade my room. I would appear at the doorway with my hands on my hips, sporting a really huge scowl on my face, a raised eyebrow, and a stern voice that would say, “Out!” Sometimes, it doesn’t work and I either had to drag them or push them out.)

As I grew up, I wrote more than what the diary pages could accommodate. I bought a new diary, filled it with my heart and soul, and treasured it more than anything else in the world. What is more fulfilling is that every time I read what I wrote, I seemed to be traveling in the past. How I laughed at my silliness, cried over my frustrations, and yes, cringed over my wrong grammar. I wrote what I thought. I wrote what I felt. No pretensions. Just me. The real me.

I took up Mass Communication because of this passion to write. And even if I don’t really pursue any profession related to journalism, I just know that writing will be with me until the very end of time.

Note: This is the first of a two-part blog post celebrating the joys that writing almost all of my life gave me.

Preview to Part 2: What is it like to talk to people and write about their stories?

Monday, September 25, 2006

tribute to mom

Every morning, all groggy and grumpy from being snapped awake by the alarm clock into the reality that bedtime is over, I rub my eyes as I traipse the hallway that separates the sleeping quarters from the dining area. From there, I can hear a solo concert emerging in the master’s bathroom to the tune of the faucet’s flowing waters. As always, there is harmony. She may have been my first music teacher, singing to me while I was still in her womb. I reach the dining table that by then will be all set for us. My hot chocolate still steaming – and oftentimes concocted with egg white – which she thought I never noticed but which I actually knew all along. I guzzle my breakfast and head back quickly to my room. I meet her in the hallway all fresh and perked up. She breaks into a wide smile, pecks a kiss on my cheek, hugs me really tight despite the odor clash and greets me, “Good morning, my darling, my little sweet…” A litany of good morning greetings follows. Ah, my morning has just begun…

I’m talking about the woman I have always looked up to since birth. She is the bestest best friend in the whole wide world, an angel with her wings arching across distances and time, an educator with an everlasting patience and loving attitude, a faithful companion, a servant-leader, a wife, and a mother. My mother. Everyday, I whisper a million thanks to the Big Guy up there who gave me to her – she, who unselfishly allowed the doctors to open her belly for me to take my first breath of air and whom I always run to whenever my mischievous antics get me in trouble with my father and my brothers. Of course! I am an only daughter and her youngest child. Technically, I had the biggest potential to grow up a spoiled brat. I would instinctively hide behind my mom whenever my “horns” or just sheer playfulness hurt others. But being an objective mother, she would expose me to the pain of facing the consequences of my actions. I felt the whip of the belt lash around my legs and the weight of the books on top of my outstretched arms. When she sees my eyes puffy and my nose red from crying, I know it tugs her heart with pity but she is firm in her resolve to let the lessons sink in.

My mom is a simple woman. Her kindness and her simplicity are both great attractions that pull people to gravitate around her. Her positive energies are so strong that despite the 40-year gap, (Yup, you read that right. She gave birth to me when she was 41.) she looks and acts as though youth was always on her side. She played with me when I was a kid, read books, or put me to sleep with her own version of fairytales. I remember she would emphatically and animatedly narrate the stories of Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella while my dumbfounded self would just stare at her with all attention. Probably because it took a lot of effort to pull off one story, in the middle of one story, her eyelids would slowly droop while I couldn’t make out her warbled words. She would discreetly “head bang” to sleep. I wasn’t merciful as a kid and I would nudge her gently. She would wake up with a start and although she would sweetly complain, “Katulgon naman ko oi,” to which I would counter “Sige na Ma, pleeeaaassse?” oftentimes with a little hug and kiss, she would move on to finish the story. Now that I’m too old for fairytales, I do most of the storytelling. In high school, it was about crushes, experiences in school, and encounters with terror teachers. Today, I share to her my dreams for my future, my infatuations, and my views about life.

My mom is a very talented woman. She can cook really well. Just the thought of her biko, spaghetti, and pansit among all other dishes leaves me salivating and yearning to go home. She sings and dances well, too. She taught me to dance swing, boogie, tango, and cha-cha. And I am definitely looking forward to our Tell Him duet ala Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand.

My mom is a real beauty inside and out. She was a reyna in her younger years. Today, her crown incontestably remains with her. For us, she is the queen of all things bright and beautiful: of deep understanding, of sincere compassion, of true selflessness, and of unconditional love.

I wholeheartedly dedicate this post to my mom, who has been my strength, my inspiration, my confidante, and my best friend.

Ma, you once told me you and Papa are not “perfect parents.” I think there’s no such thing as “perfect parents.” Rather, I believe you did a perfect job of raising Manoy, Kuya, and me – perfect not in the sense that you never committed any mistake but perfect in the sense that despite all the mistakes, you were able to bring out the best persons in us. I couldn’t just imagine how hard it was to raise a stubborn and a temperamental child like me. (Hehehe. Must have been really hard.) But you were always patient, kind, and loving. There are so many things I love about you. I could go on forever. But more than anything else, I love you very much, Mama. For being YOU and for being my Mama. Happy Birthday!

P.S. Happy christening to my über-cute nephew Jakob Emmanuel “Yanis” L. Yap!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

the chopsuey chronicles

chips and chocolates
I am a chaotic eater. I eat food stuff by mere convenience. Last week, I made a record by thriving on Mr. Chips junk food and Demolino chocolates as my dinner for three nights in a row. I have just resumed duty for my internship at ABS-CBN Cebu weeks after coming home from South Korea and catching up with my classes. As of now, I could only spare the evenings so right after school, I would travel to Jagobiao, Mandaue. Man, I tell you, travel time alone eats up a big chunk of my time and my allowance. I’d be home really late that when I arrive in Lahug, all nearby carenderias would already be closed. And by then, I’d be too tired to travel elsewhere to eat. So I quickly settle for whatever’s available – junk food and chocolates – to my delight, of course, as you know how helplessly addicted I am to chocolates. My parents won’t forgive me if they find out but I have no intentions of pursuing this kind of habit, either. I can hear my bodily systems whining at me in frustration for the abusive treatment. No way, Sir. I don’t want to get sick again! Waaaaah!

close encounters with stardom and star-doom
Ever since I started television internship, I have had, uhm, close encounters with stardom. Not just once but many times. A wee bit more and I’ll be a star! Hahaha! But kidding aside, my face has been flashed a lot of times on TV Patrol Central Visayas because I’m an intern and a student. It’s either you catch me tagging along with a senior reporter, attending an ABS-CBN-hosted event, or being a participant of whatever ventures I’m currently into. For me, it’s nothing really. As long as I’m not caught doing something silly, I would be perfectly fine. But if there’s one thing I should have remembered, it’s that every little thing has a corresponding counterpart. In the language of physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If there’s such thing as stardom, then there’s what I call star-doom. (Vianney’s Vocabulary 101, Category: Coinages) What could be more shocking than this? When I resumed duty last week for the news department, I once visited the production office to wait for my classmates who were also on duty so we could go home together. I helped them cut out confetti or cut out papers for prompters. We chatted, watched My Girl in between, (which, by the way, I was not a fan of… my classmates and my mom could relate better when it comes to koreanovelas) and just enjoyed what we did. Suddenly, one of the staff came to us and told us, “Excuse me, himuon mo namong extra sa Milyonaryong Mini ha? Mangaplay kuno mo para Japan.” (Excuse me, we’ll get you as extras for Milyonaryong Mini okay? You’ll be applying to go to Japan.) I just laughed it off, thinking she was joking around. Only when she said, “Pangita mog sinina sa dressing room.” (Look for clothes in the dressing room.) when I realized she was dead serious. My eyes grew wide and my jaws dropped as I blurted out to myself, “Hah!?! Ang akoang dignidad!” (Hah!?! My dignity!) It wasn’t even part of my internship! I was a mere victim of circumstances. Waaaah! Poor Krishna, Noreen, and I – we were made to dress up like, you know, dancers applying for Japan. I assume you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about sexy, skimpy blouses. What a dare! I felt the cold sweat forming at strategic points. I can’t even wear sleeveless on normal days and there I go wearing that stuff and playing that role! All throughout the taping, I tried my best to take cover between Krishna and Noreen. (I hope I was successful enough.) We just sat down while the cameras rolled and taped the scene. Oh dear, I hope that when the final cut comes out, there will be no traces of our encounter with star-doom.

like father, like mother, like daughter
Some people tell me I look like my father. And an almost equal number tell me I look like my mother. But really, when I look at the mirror, I see none of their facial features. Rather, I see a healthy blend of both except for my forehead, which I non-disputably inherited from my father. (My high school classmates couldn’t agree more on this.) Actually, who I am, what I am and what I love today are pretty much inspired by both of them. So if you’re complaining that I write too much, blame my father. I think I would never be in this course had he not introduced the habit of reading to me. I remember the all the excitement and enthusiasm that sprung from my little heart when he handed me my very first book, Karen’s Toothache way back in third grade. Blame my mother, too. Had she not been patient teaching me the proper spelling and grammar (which she usually does as she is an English major), I wouldn’t be as meticulous as I am today. So when my father told me he also set up his own blog, I wasn’t surprised at all. Writing has also been part of his routine as an educator. And I’m very proud to say that he writes really well. You can check out his blog or you can click on the links at the left side. (As of now, my mother still needs to be convinced to display her writings online, as well as to be acquainted with the computer and all these internet stuff. It’s already 2006 yet my mom still writes her memos using a typewriter.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Of Eye Bags and Foot Spas

I just had one of the most hectic weekends I will most probably have in my senior year in college. I presented a class report, prepared for a major school activity, and attended a business summit. Sounds chicken. But put them together in consecutive days and what does Vianney get? Additional pounds, lack of sleep, and a heightened determination to implement world-extermination strategies. All the madness and the mayhem started with the preparations for my report in class.

My report was about the extent of the independence of the television documentaries, considering their ownership and the timeslot they occupy, which is always past the primetime. (as in the case of the two major competing stations) The topic was a bit hard to explain because one, I knew those two factors weren’t the only factors surrounding the situation. Two, there was a dearth of materials dealing on the issue. So it took me long to figure out how to make do with the little material I had. (which were taken from email interviews with Kuya Tops Brugada, Executive Producer for I-Witness, and a few media people including Kuya Don Gonzalez, a creative writer who just slammed his way to victory in a story writing competition. Thanks so much to these two heaven-sent angels who saved me from total doom.) I started preparing last Wednesday night. So there I was, typing my way to the completion of my report. But in the middle of it all, our PC shut down. I panicked. I had no back-up file saved in my flash disk yet! After a few minutes of praying over the computer, it functioned again. I ended up sleeping only for 30 minutes and had to rush to the 7AM class for the report. The whole day on Thursday went like a blur. I stole hours in between classes to go home and catch up on sleep. On that day, last-minute preparations were also being undertaken for Cookout 2006, the annual “acquaintance party” of UP Cebu. Meetings here. Stuffs to do there. Good thing I wasn’t in charge of any major committee. I had the luxury of napping in between meetings. At the end of the seemingly long day, I decided to drop by the salon to do the one thing I haven’t done in my “teen” years – get my nails done. I’m not too vain with nails and stuff but I was attending a business summit the next day. Under normal circumstances, I would have cleaned my nails myself using just a nail cutter and alcohol for cleansing, but I was so dead tired that I knew if I went home, I would only collapse on my bed and snore to sleep.

At the salon, my eyes caught the sign “Foot Spa with Pedicure.” It sounded like a good deal so I decided to try the service. Before the procedure, I casually talked the manicurista into being extra gentle as images of bloody nails and girlish shrieks flashed on my mind – recollections of my high school Home Economics class when my classmates experimented on each other’s nails. But the manicurista adeptly cleaned and polished my nails to a perfect finish. I enjoyed the small chitchat as I found out she was from Leyte and knew the people I knew. (Whoa. The world really is small.) I loved the ticklish feel of the foot scrub. I felt relaxed as I imagined that my soles were inches thinner. Wow, I so savored the moment.

I went home and as expected, I went straight to bed.

That would have been a perfect ending to an exhausting day but why else would I be yakking about eye bags if I didn’t have them? Somewhere in dreamland after the manicure and pedicure, my alarm clock popped me awake at 2AM on Friday to prepare for the summit. I had to iron my business casual clothes – yellow polo, black slacks, and black blazer. In between, I had to answer text messages regarding the Cookout preparations, as well as rantings from my friends who were already complaining how tired they were with the event. My Friday was overloaded with educational and interactive talks with Aboitiz leaders and food. Yup, one thing I notice when you’re holding your conventions or seminars at Waterfront Hotel (Lahug) is that the participants never go hungry. From the Sun Star Economic Forum 2005, to the 19th Philippine Advertising Congress up to the Aboitiz Future Leaders Business Summit, the food was absolutely overwhelming! (And the best thing about all those I have attended is that I never spent a single centavo on them. Hahaha.) At the end of the day, I had to rush back to school for the Cookout. I had a quick change of clothes and went on duty – FROM THE WHOLE EVENING UNTIL DAWN. I ended up being a mobile production assistant. I barely noticed how tired I was until around 3AM, when all the running and walking took a toll on my already aching feet. I did enjoy the Cookout though, especially when my friends from the Math block danced Britney Spears’ Toxic, wearing trash bags and neon green gloves. I kept on jumping up and down while my tears rolled over my cheeks in too much amusement. I did not really expect to see my Kapatid na Jasper, Mark, Joseph, Tepoy, and Val dance like that. Hey, if you see them around campus, you’d think these were a bunch of serious guys talking just about numbers and here they come dancing like crazy onstage with the weirdest and wackiest steppings that you wouldn’t even dare doing in a dance. And in front of a lot people, at that! Yoohoo! For me, that was just a masterpiece. I confronted my foster brother after their number and told him, “Kapatid! Napakamakabag-damdamin ng iyong ginawa at ako’y pinaiyak mo.” Anyway, after all the fun, the exhaustion set in and at 4AM, I could no longer keep my eyelids open and I was murmuring a lot (um, that’s what you call pre-sleep mumbles). When the program ended at nearly 5AM, I dashed for the exit, went home, and slept. At 7:30, I woke up startled as the second day of the summit was supposed to start around 8. That day, I forced down a lot of caffeine in my system to keep me awake in our brainstorming, deliberation, and defense of our case study. Phew!

The loooong weekend is finally over. The pounds are in and the baggies are taking shape. But the loooong, intermittent sleeps are still coming…

Post-Entry Comments:
Welcome to the world Jakob Emmanuel “Yanis” Labra-Yap! I haven’t met you yet but rumor has it that you’re the next singer in the clan, judging by your “singing” [actually, wailing] moments. Hehehe.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

happy birthday to me, myself, and me!

I am officially turning 20 today, August 9, 2006. That means I am stepping out of my “teen” years. And as reluctant as I am to let go of the carefree years, I stubbornly insist that I still am a teen. Tween-ty, that is – another one of my coinages, triggered by a sheer defiance to the pressing symptoms of growing a year older: (1) Being more emotional, (2) Being a bit silly at times, and (3) Being too busy with just about anything and everything.

I truly wonder whether I am just being paranoid when I pay too much attention to normal circumstances. But contemplation is just inevitable with the coming of another year, aside of course from the usual scrutiny of graying hairs or visible lines.

(1) Last weekend, I got sick, most probably from the swift weather change. Now that’s not really unusual. I’m not that sickly but I’m not in tiptop shape either. If I counted it right, I’ve gone to the doctor five times last year. Anyway, while I was sniffing and barely breathing (because my nose was clogged) around the rented room my older brother and I share, I lulled myself to sleep with good music literally plugged to my ears through my brother’s MP3 player. As my dreams closed in on me such that they were a mere tap away, a song played. For some strange reason, I chose to suspend myself in that half-conscious state with heightened senses, listening quite intently to the song. It was not the first time I heard the song. I heard it many times while I was preparing for an interview with its songwriter, producer, and arranger Homer Cang. Blame it on the situation, perhaps, but the song struck the most sensitive and emotional chord. Something in the melody of the song whispered deep sadness that shot right into my heart. Guess what happened next. I bolted straight up and for the next ten minutes, soaked my blanket with tears. I cried. A lot. It’s not even the lyrics. The song You’ve Fallen Out of Love speaks about the feeling when somebody falls out of love with you. Heck, I don’t even know the feeling! In my 20 years of existence, that’s the very first song that gripped the tears out of my eyes, not because the song was packaged in a situation where it’s supposed to be a tearjerker, like in a movie but because plainly speaking, the song strongly speaks of the raw emotion itself. It doesn’t need a context to make it more realistic or more convincing. I wish I could just block the song out when it plays but being a personal landmark case of discovering the extent of my sentimentality, I can’t. I won’t.

(2) Gray streaks of hair are genetically determined. In our family, they show up early in the adolescent stage. As early as high school, the streaks were already showing a lot of promise in my hair. People say they symbolize wisdom. (*Coughs*) But I think it could also be the other way around. At times, we forget the simplest things and tend to assume too much that we already know. Take this: I ran out of body lotion and a couple of other stuff so I took a brief trip to the supermarket. I love shopping for groceries! I bounced happily on the grocery aisles while humming along in an adult-like manner and grabbing items from the shelves, sometimes without even looking at the labels. One morning while preparing for a 7:00 class, I squeezed a generous amount from the alleged lotion bottle. I could practice the routine blindfolded and pass it with flying colors. (Duh, what’s so hard about it anyway?) So I don’t really pay much attention to it. I hastily put it on my arms and gasp! I nearly freaked out when I saw my arms covered in gooey white stuff. I finally read the bottle label: Body Wash. Sheesh. Not bad for a twenty-year-old, huh?

(3) I have been confiding to my kuya that I felt like I have lived in this world for more than 20 years though I’m still 20. “That’s because you’re always up to something,” he pointed out. Whether that’s something positive or negative, I am not so certain. All I know is that I find thrill and adventure in traveling, meeting lots of different people, trying out new things, and challenging my limitations, but at times, all at the expense of overlooking my inner growth as a person in terms of spiritual maturity. I must say I am still trying to master the art of balancing my life’s different aspects. And today must be the right time to restart and revamp the process.

Happy birthday to me!

I am planning no special what-to-do’s today. Earlier plans were thwarted by lack of finances and are indefinitely postponed. But to those who have been hinting at a blowout or something, I choose to keep my birthday simple – as of press time, the plan is a pizza dinner with my older brother Amiel. Haha… Sorry guys, family first…

Credits to the people closest to my heart:
My family – Papa, for being my life mentor, for bringing music closer to me, and for being a good father, above all. Mama, for being my best friend, my confidante, and my strength. My eldest brother Manoy Jake, for the free dinners (hahaha…just kidding!), for the guiding eye during my critical first year in college, for the overflowing ideas, and for always being there with love and care especially when I was sick (which, I most often was). My other brother Kuya Amiel, for all the concern despite our endless arguments, for the pieces of advice when it comes to heart matters, and for laughing at even my silliest jokes. My sister-in-law Ate Mae, and the better half of my Manoy Jake, for being the sister I never had, for all the inputs and inspiration, and for telling me I’m still young. (hehe…yehey!) My soon-to-be-born nephew Yanis, I can’t wait to see you! When we shopped for your clothes and stuff, I was already brimming with excitement. The world is waiting for you…

My relatives – To my Lola Oping, all my uncles, aunties, ( It would take one blog entry to name all…ehehehe…) and cousins – Holy Week in Barili will never be complete without preparations for the karo, FOOD, nonstop karaoke concert, and beach outings.

My Mass Communication blockmates, a.k.a. UP ComMEDIAns, I love the crazy moments, beer-bonding sessions (Ehem, I wish to be excused from this already. My tummy’s already bulging.), and night-outs. We can pull off Cookout 2006 guys! All for one and one for all…

My friends – April, for the coffee night-outs and the socio-political “intellectual” discourse. Jane, for being ever-supportive in all my endeavors. (Hope to see you in magazine covers soon! Hehehe… Miss you already Bes…) Athea, for all the inspiration and the never-ending sharings about love and God… For the rest, for just being there to talk to me when I’m happy, even when I’m fuming with rage, and through ups and downs – Marinel, Allen, Mark, Kapatid na Jasper, Joseph, Paolo, Elayne, Phrixel, Ate Narsheen, Yangyang, Maam Betchai and my inaanak Franco Luis, Ate Quimbee, Princess, Jackie, Mirzi, Chinky, Carmel, Christian, Chetoy, Mojo, Genry…

My Destiny and Special Someone, when are you finally coming? Hahaha…

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Memories of Gangwon

I left my footprints in the sand;
But they got washed away by the sea.
I left my footprints in my EATOF friends’ hearts;
They stay there forever.

I have developed a love-hate relationship with the Last Song Syndrome. I love it when it gains momentum and keeps me humming to a beat, touching a string of emotion to spice up an otherwise dull life experience. But how I hate it when at crucial and vulnerable points, I can’t help but expose the feeling, sensitive part of me.

I have lost track of how many songs I have “absorbed”. They are infinite – because for every turn my life makes, there will always be a soundtrack or two. Last weekend, after two incredible weeks of friendship and cultural interaction, it didn’t take me long to find one song and keep it playing on my mind.

Indulge my nostalgia. Indulge the one thing that, despite all the tears and goodbyes, keeps me looking forward to the future with a fervent hope that someday, somewhere, and sometime, our paths would cross again.

With the two weeks officially over, I still feel the same sense of longing for the laughter and the camaraderie, the girl talks and the boy talks, the serious moments and most of all, our never-ending foolishness and witticisms – the “Malaysian porn soup” talks (thanks to our resident porn star Nikk Adam), the “Thai-Tegu” jokes in Korean class (thanks to Nikk’s 5-minute girlfriend Pai), the chorus singing of the most popular Japanese song (Doraemon) in the world headed by Sho, the picture-perfect moments inspired by our in-house environmentalist cum fashion fanatic Kinuko, the fasten-your-seatbelt-and-you’ll-be-much-safer type of driving of our oppa (brother) Chang Kyu, the “Otoke!” (How!) musings of Boogie, the “Germany” bloopers of our official photographer Da-Ho, the “seriousness” (but he’s not serious, I swear!) of the official model Himmi (He’s probably had the most number of pictures on the cd!), the bonding with Alisa at the children’s playground on camping night, the surprise-birthday-party-with-icing-on-her-face for Nadya, the “I’ll kiss you” message of Tunga to our teacher Mr. Hosung Timothy Rhee, the I-will-eat-breakfast-today-because-it’s-Tuesday-or-Friday-and-breakfast-is-really-yummy-on-those-days deal with my roommate and co-UPian Princess, the dance moves of the youngest in the group Wulan, the shyness of Ki-Beak and his blooming relationship with beauty queen potential Izora (What’s up with you guys? Everybody noticed something. Haha.), the cool tandem of “tutors” (and sometimes room raiders, so they can talk until morning) Korean-Chinese Xue Hua and Korean-Japanese Yuri, the intonation-conscious pronunciation of Jah’s name (Ja-a-a-a-a-h!), the ice skater moves of Ji-Soo, the beautiful girl-leader Joo-Hyun, the Winter Sonata drama of Hai Lan, and the all-smiles nature and always-on-the-go attitude of Mi-Jin.

Two weeks might be too long but I felt it was too short to spend a great deal of quality time with such wonderful people. Throughout the trip to the airport, I was trying so hard to benumb myself of the growing nostalgia that I then felt. But at the airport, when everybody sent each other off with moist eyes and warm hugs, I gave in to a paroxysm of tears. All the more I sobbed when I waved goodbye to them while the boarding area gates closed. I couldn’t even look straight at their eyes for fear that I might just slump down on the floor. Even until the immigration check, I was still sniffing that the agent commented something in Korean that I didn’t understand. And when I told him, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Korean,” he motioned his hand to his eyes as if to ask if I had been crying and I just muffled, “I just said goodbye to some friends.” Then everything was like a blur – like a dream that was slowly coming to an end. Then I remembered the night before when Nikk told us, “Tomorrow, I will wake up from this dream…” How right he was. And at that moment, I was so inspired to answer, “If this was a dream, I would never want to wake up...”

Half the world is sleeping, half the world's awake.
Half can hear their hearts beat, half just hear them break.
I am but a traveler, in most every way.
Ask me what you know.

The East Asian Inter-Regional Tourism Forum 2006 delegates with Ms. Emily Lim, EATOF Project Coordinator and our gracious bus driver! Photo taken at Chuncheon Drama Gallery, Chuncheon City.

What a journey it has been and the end is not in sight.
But the stars are out tonight and they're bound to guide my way.

Outdoor Picnic at Mang-Sang Auto Camp Resort

When they're shining on my life, I can see a better day.
I won't let the darkness in, what a journey it has been.

With our “Big Brother” Chang Kyu in a campaign for world peace.

I have been to sorrow, I have been to bliss.
Where I'll be tomorrow, I can only guess.

At the Flower Garden Museum with Boogie, Sher Hwa, and Wulan. Uh-huh-huh. Rainy days won’t leave us screaming.

Through the darkest desert, through the deepest snow.
Forward always forward, I go.

Birthday in Korea? Why not! At Princess’ “surprise” birthday party.

When they're shining on my life,
I can see a better day.
I won't let the darkness in.
What a journey it has been.

The 2006 EATOF delegation

Today, I’m back to the rustle and bustle of my student life. I’m back in the Philippines, back to Cebu, back to where I am currently pursuing my studies. I’m home now.

And somehow, my tear ducts have gone dry.
I so want to ask myself why,
But now I can honestly say,
My heart is still on its way…

Sunday, July 02, 2006

cockroaches to slumber: the journey of a blog post

You should know that by the next few minutes, you are going to dissect my brain. Take care not to touch the nerves. They’re ultra-sensitive.

After wrestling with a million possible topics for a blog post, I am finally convinced that writers, in their most desperate times often resort to the most ridiculous ideas just for the heck of writing something.

Last night, annoyed at seeing another cockroach delightfully skittering at the bottom of the television rack, I scampered for the nearest pesticide and sprayed an amount too generous to the filthy being. And as it dashed for refuge, I went down on my knees, stuck my right cheek on the dusty ground, and squinted my left eye to follow its whereabouts. Lo and behold! It somehow squeezed itself among the piles of boxes. I groaned in frustration. It was not the first time that a cockroach escaped my sadistic intentions of either drowning it or squishing it to death. Anyway, as I was in the midst of another topic-hunting session, the proverbial light bulb lit up and I had one of those “aha” moments…

Cockroach. Spread the culture of hatred for this insect. Why cockroaches shouldn’t be trusted; how it has pestered me since childhood; encounters with cockroaches in the bathroom scaring me off every time I take a bath, in the bedroom running gleefully on my bed sheets and pillows (eeew!), and even in my sleep!…

As my thoughts ramble on, my Smart phone beeped. Conscious, but still wrapped up in thoughts of my prospect topic, I ignored it. My Globe phone beeped. And beeped. Beeped again. I gave in and rolled my eyes over the curse of unlimited texting promos. “Noreen?” I talked to myself as I opened the inbox. And as sure as the sun rises, it is her. Noreen, my classmate, has been flooding my inbox with forwarded messages for the past 12 hours. Even in my dreams, I can hear my phone beeping. And when I wake up, the phone screen would register: 7 messages received. I read each message and deleted the ones that I already received four or five times. After the disruption, I went back to my contemplation. But then, both phones beeped at the same time. Damn phones! I glared at my phones, fighting the urge to hurl them away from me and out the window. To cool my mind that was already brewing anti-unlimited texting propaganda, I took a trip to the mini-kitchen of our mini-house to douse my parching throat and to refresh my thoughts. But alas, my mind was taken by the arrogance of technology, bidding goodbye the nostalgic goose bumps of writing about cockroaches. At times, it takes an initial attack of strong emotions to trigger the brain to veer away from the current discourse, no matter how far you’ve gone through.

Unlimited texting promo. To make people think twice before flooding other people’s inboxes with crap. Why the promo encourages impersonal communication – imagine sending the same message to every one in your inbox?; How I used to be one of those “flooders” but got “converted” because when others did the same, I realized it’s not funny – it’s irksome; Strategies to combat the promo: not too effective though – switching the damn phones off…

As I looked around the room to gather more thoughts, my eyes chanced upon the clock that read 7:30. CSI! My mind raced with my hand as I flicked the remote control. Irritation slowly dissipated with every second of gore and investigation. Not that I love bloody and disgusting stuff. I just feel that I’m being analytical when I watch it, trying to figure out the killer behind evidences. I forgot the phones because the action-packed episode featured explosives and fire. As I gorged on the violent clashes, my eyelids slowly dropped to a half-mast until darkness and dreamland cradled me in their arms.

The next day, I woke with a start to find the clock greeting me a happy 6:15 morning. Yikes! Classes start in 45 minutes! I yanked the blankets away, stood up, and came face to face with yesterday’s paper bearing a scandalous article over a UP professor – our professor. I then remembered a friend who had been texting me that week that he wanted his teacher fired because he was practically teaching nothing. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I have the heart for teachers, because aside from the nobility of the profession, my parents who were my first teachers, are also teachers in a private school.

As I hurried on with school preparations, the light bulb blinked once. Twice. Thrice. Many times, signaling the end of the long session that took a cockroach, two phones, and a slumber before the loose bolts in my brain finally and decidedly reached a verdict.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

tribute to dad

Valentine’s Day 1998. I was excitedly tinkering with pink and red cards with hearts strewn all over, not to mention the screaming “Happy Valentine’s Day” printed by hands whose eyes must have bulged from lack of sleep the night before while fishing out words and sentiments from nowhere – when one card caught my eye. Sealed in a wild fusion of pink, red, and flesh, it momentarily stripped off the sender’s austere mien to reveal the loving side of him which I have come to know throughout the years.

Loving? It was something that never crossed my mind as a kid who was raised up in a pretty tight situation, where the father figure at home is the same head figure I see in the school corridors and classrooms every day as the school principal. A disciplinarian and a real professional, I was not spared from his critical eye at school, most probably contrary to what most people thought at that time – reprimanding me for violating school rules and yes, issuing me reminder slips (and an offense report as well). I never complained because I knew it was part of the discipline he tried to inculcate in the students, including me – I mean, most especially me, his daughter and his student. Unwittingly, I became more cautious and I brought that with me at home, maintaining a strictly professional relationship with him. My classmates and friends would often ask me how the school principal is like at home and I’d tell them, “Well, he usually comes home late at night, eats dinner, plops down on the carpet in front of the television, and I come bugging him with my one thousand and one questions about science, math, and history.”

At times, I would think it is a curse to be the “daughter of the principal” because I was a magnet of little controversies that went on like “…salig ra na siya kay anak sa principal...” and it hurt like hell because my father never taught me how to take advantage of situations where I’m supposed to have a “little edge” over the others. I labored for every little thing I have gone through. No special treatments. No favors. I did everything fair and square. Some people just didn’t get it and kept playing the same old tunes – in vain, though because my father kept my spirits strong, telling me to ignore them.

Yes, it must be a curse. I believe it the more I think of it now. Because I got the attitude, the vibe, and the enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. The discipline that he tried to instill in me is taking its toll on my being. Now I’m one determined woman, willing to take a lot of risks and wander far away from my comfort zone.

My father may be the strictest man alive on earth for most people (which I think he is not) but he always gave me and my siblings enough room to grow. Which father would laugh at you when at grade 3, you show him your test paper with a failing mark one point away from passing? Which father would strike up an exchange deal with a condition that you can go to a conference in Baguio as long as you go out of your shell? Which father would bring you a pasalubong of books every time he comes home from a board meeting? (consequently starting my love affair with reading) Which father, when your grades are declining, would tell you it’s okay because not everything in this world are graded? Which father, though no expert in the kitchen, would wake up extra early in the morning to “experiment” on sinigang with sausage and hotdog toppings when your mom is away on an official business trip? (In all fairness, the sinigang tasted good!)

There’s nothing really extraordinary about all those. But it’s not like he has to eat fire or walk in a tightrope to prove his worth. Watching me grow and guiding me to the right path is enough reason for me to say, “Pa, thank you. I love you very much even though I don’t say it that much.”

I hastily opened the envelope to find a message from my father. It read: “Stay sweet and loving. I love you.”

Life is just so good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

the mass communication puzzle

Classes officially start this week – after quite some drought of surprise quizzes, hours’ labor on projects and case studies, student-teacher-student backlashes, hypertension-inducing stress, and head-bashings with immature classmates.

This year will hopefully be the last in my journey as a mass communication student. Now in my senior year, I still am growing and learning about things that prepare me for a longer stint in the labor force. And up to know, I am fully convinced that I chose the right course. No amount of bribe can take away the feeling of satisfaction I get. Even if I often wake up stressed and too tired to even move a muscle, I still fall in love with this course all over and over and over again. Why? I guess, when something is your passion, you just do. Passion leaves little room for setbacks to make people give up. Instead, it moves people to explore and exhaust all the possibilities.

A question I always encounter whether inside or outside campus is: “Nindot ang Mass Comm?” , although on a more suspicious note, I think they're trying to goad me into saying that Mass Communication is a breeze-through, hassle-free course. But they never get that kind of response because truth to tell, Mass Communication is no easy course.

Glitzy and glamorous it seems, but ask any senior and they'll tell you that mass communication also spells deadly working hours, community – organizing, intense data- gathering, artistic quality, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So don't get too comfortable seeing that you have lesser Math units in your syllabus and instead prepare for the challenges that four years in this course can give – there's a lot to learn, to enjoy, to live, and to love about Mass Communication!

Mass Communication encompasses a broad spectrum of subjects from journalism, broadcast communication, development communication, down to film and advertising, that requires so much energy, talent, and versatility. You get an opportunity to interact with top editors of local newspapers and the chance to get published. You get to improve your stock of Cebuano and English vocabulary, and your diction. If you're a bit techie on the side, you learn the technical aspect of broadcasting, from satellites to microphones and consoles. If you're in for community service, you may find yourself immersing in communities and putting up publications. And if you have the eye for television production and scriptwriting, you're definitely an asset for your film class. The fatigue of constant planning in productions may pull your hairs apart (and in all directions) but you'll be rewarded with the realization how meticulous planning can contribute to your work of art. You will experience the helpless moments of trying to find the “right” words to complete your article while trying so hard not to look at the clock ticking minutes away from the deadline. And speaking of time pressure, your world tears apart when, during a radio production, you realize that you have underestimated your segments and you're running overtime.

Being a Mass Comm student also means FUN! You go to places and meet different people, nice and nasty alike. There's always something new and exciting about this course – even we are caught off guard by its perks and surprises. But then, it also calls us to be independent, gutsy, and skillful all the time.

“Nindot ang Mass Comm?”

No doubt about it.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I’m breaking my over-a-month-long’s-blog-silence. And first posts after being mum for quite a time are usually full of issues and updates. Information over load downloading…

DEMOCRACY SUMMER FEST: Civic Engagement Module
Last May 17-21, 2006, I was one of the 50 luckiest young people in this millennial generation to participate in a Civic Engagement Module sponsored by the US Embassy. It was a great experience, getting to know and interact with student leaders oozing with so much idealism and hope. I was inspired myself to continue and even do better to make a difference in this poverty-stricken country. Let the power of the youth reign! It all starts with us.

I got sick and my taste buds haven’t completely recovered. I force down at least two tablets per meal and I’m surprised why I’m still walking vertically from the ground. Earlier this evening, the grossest insect on the planet by the name of cockroach was flying around the room and had it pooped on my McDonald’s Chicken Meal, I would still have loved it to the very last bone (eeeyeeew!) without an ounce of suspicion that I just committed the gravest Vianney’s rights violation. Ugh! Anyway, I am getting better although my appetite has changed a bit and something is always gurgling in my stomach. Side effects? Maybe.

I was thrust into the colorful, hectic, and deadline-beating world of journalism through the theories and practical exposures of Mrs. Maria Theresa “Mayette” Q. Tabada, the event coverages from Ms. Pura L. Kintanar, and the beauty of meeting new and different people from Mr. Michael “Myke” U. Obenieta.

I am one lucky budding writer because these people gave me the chance to blot my name on the paper they work for as early as second year in college and they continuously and patiently give me the opportunity to develop myself in the field.

But this internship aimed to go beyond the special pages and features section and envisioned the young UPian Mass Communication student as someone versatile and well-equipped with skills for print, radio, and television. ‘Yan ang tatak UP!

Because my stint as a news writer for Tug-ani was brief (and high school campus journalism is way too different), I had generally forgotten that working in a newsroom involves a lot of constraints and experiences, as well. So now I recount my print internship days with both pain and pleasure -- pain because the experiences and memories were good and I hate the thought of bidding the newsroom and all the wonderful people and experiences in it goodbye, and pleasure because even if I had shed tears and sweat for this internship, I would never trade the lessons I learned from it for anything else in the world.

I would have to say that the highlight of this internship lay not on the number of articles I published during the entire period. The highlight lay not on the number of free meals I savored and definitely not on the perks of covering an event. Sure, published articles translate to points and points translate to grades, but there’s such a thing as the school of hard knocks, where one learns important bits of lessons like (s)he never will in the four corners of the classroom. As my father told me many years ago, not everything in this world can be graded. And indeed, I found those precious gems in the people directly or indirectly associated with the profession, down to the least likely news source to the writers up to the editors and the big news makers. These people have enriched me with wisdom that two months of exposure in the field can’t completely give. I felt like I have been in this job since forever! I felt what it is like to be a print journalist in two months, but the knowledge I gained from it can span as far as two decades…two centuries…

It’s true that there are two ways in which you learn: the first is through your own experience, and the second is through other people’s experiences. Hence, this internship was a healthy blend of both the former and the latter – with enough lessons that kept my spirits strong but planted both my feet firmly on the ground.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Justice under the klieg lights

Note: In all attempts to update this blog at least once a week, I am offering as a “sacrificial lamb” this piece on death penalty I entered into the Xpress Urself Literary competition by the Mamamayang Tutol sa Bitay (MTB), wherein the winners get to see their works published! The results are already out. And thankfully, this piece was among the selected essays which will be compiled in the anthology.

Not everyone is fond of the klieg lights. The klieg lights, it seems, don’t favor a lot of people, too, especially when these people are considered deviants in a society like ours, where norms are sacred and violators of which are considered immoral, unethical, and evil. When our system declares an individual guilty of deliberately defying these norms and sentences him to death, the offender is unwittingly thrust into the public spotlight, instantly becoming an icon of crime. And humans, as we are, we instantly carve their profiles in our consciousness, dangerously stereotyping them as the people who don’t deserve to enjoy the same privileges as the rest of the law-abiding citizens do.

Backtracking to Philippine history, nothing much is different. In fact, our earliest ancestors sought justice through what historians call “trial by ordeal”, where the accused are subjected to different trials to prove their innocence or guilt. For example, one method requires the accused offenders to be given lighted candles. The accused whose light runs out first is the guilty one. Another method orders the accused to dive into a river or lake with lances. The first one who surfaces is the guilty one. Strange but true. And the unconventional methods didn’t seem to bother our ancestors for their belief is rooted in the ideology that God sides with the innocent.

Justitia, the goddess of justice, stands as a tall and proud emblem of the justice system. On her left hand, she holds the scales signifying balance and fairness while on her right, she holds a sword, symbolizing the assurance that justice will always be the victor. To represent the impartiality of judgment, she wears a blindfold. This view of the justice system is so idealistic but under a dichotomous society of the rich and the powerful versus the poor and the oppressed, this is too good to be true.

It’s more than an illusion to think that justice stands by the good side of everything, for the stark reality is blatantly screaming at us that it stands by the side of whoever has the greater power over it. And when it does, it tramples upon the rights of the poor and the minorities in the society and makes them easy targets of injustice – precisely why death penalty should not be meted out as a punishment for any crime, not matter how grave it is. For the price of an innocent life is greater than the false satisfaction of retribution. What happened to their claim that everyone has the right to life? Has this basic right become a privilege, too, exclusive for the rich but elusive to the poor?

There is little reason to rejoice over the fact that our justice system is a far cry from our ancestors’ unconventional methods. Even with an improved method of trial, justice remains as blind, as deaf and as flawed as ever.

There are so many arguments against death penalty but let us get right into the core of it. Rather than clamor for the imposition of this inhuman punishment, why not lobby for the correction of the flawed justice system – the system that is slow, discriminatory, and corrupt?

They always say that we should teach these people a lesson. But Anon puts it best when he counters, "Does it make sense for the state to hire murderers to kill defenseless victims on death row, in order to prove that hiring murderers to kill defenseless victims is morally wrong?" No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Nor is the state safer when it punishes a person through killing for it hasn’t been proven that death penalty effectively curbs the crime rates.

For once, let us be what we are – humans, with a heart and with a soul that feeds compassion for others. Humans who will give the others a chance to live life free from the guilt of their sins. For once, let us be the children of God -- forgiving, loving, and unselfish.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Who wants to steal?

Spark up your summer by taking these simple theft tactics into mind. Just act cool and natural when you’re at the implementation stage; nervousness may cause your prospect victim to be anxious. Do these with caution. (The situation applies when you’re planning to perform theft in a jeepney.)

1. When you’re riding a jeepney, always sit near a lady with a shiny bag. Shiny bags can spell luxury so risk it. She might be a prospect victim.

2. For sound effects, you can try sniffing and picking your nose a lot. The people in the jeepney will be moved with pity, if not disgust, “Awww, he’s just a poor sick man.”

3. A child, around age 3 – 4 sitting on your lap is a plus factor for your disguise. People will think you’re harmless old grandpa taking his grandson on a Sunday mall tour.

4. Bring an umbrella, big enough to cover both you and whoever your accomplice is (if any). Of course, people will think it’s just your defense against the summer heat when in fact, you’ve been planning to use it to carry out your stealthy plan. Allow the layers to hang loosely. You can use it for cover.

5. Wait until your seatmate opens her bag to get some change for the fare. You’re in luck when it’s already past six o’clock in the evening; the jeepney looks dark and since from the beginning, you have successfully (I assume) warded off the people’s suspicion, you can do the theft hassle-free. You just need the right momentum.

6. Pretending that you’re busy with something else, look into her wallet as she gets her change. Aha! She didn’t close her bag right away. Yahoo! The red heavens must be shining down on you. You can hear the angels – minus the halo, plus the little horns – singing Meja’s, “It’s all about the money… all about the dum-dum-de-de-dum-dum…” Your hands are all that itchy to grab the wallet and whisk it away.

7. Right at that moment, slowly move the umbrella towards her until one-fourth of the umbrella is sticking right above her still-open bag. When she’s not looking, skillfully slip your hand under the umbrella and into her bag (Bravo! What a genius!) until your hand finds the wallet. Slowly lift the wallet towards your umbrella.

8. But then, an unexpected thing happens: Despite your acting skills, she notices your bothersome umbrella near her bag and catches you red-handed holding her wallet! Shocked and speechless, she just utters “Oops!” and pushes the wallet back to the bag while moving her legs in such a way that you lose grip of the wallet. She hurriedly checks her bag to see if her cell phone is still safely tucked in her bag. She zips the bag close and puts it at the other side away from you. You have just blown your perfect poor-grandfather cover.

9. You’re unsure of what to do next. She’s still quiet, thank God. She didn’t try to announce to whole jeepney-hood that you’re such a klutz. She talks to her girl-companion beside her. Uh-oh. But thank God again that some people on your other side stepped out of the jeepney at a stopover. You immediately move away from her and nearer the jeepney door. “Surely now, I am safe from being caught. People will no longer think bad of me. Phew.” You say this to yourself quietly.

10. There’s another stopover. She and her companion start to move towards the door and out of the jeepney, while furiously cursing something in English. (Something that sounds like cap.. No wait, clap… Let me think, klep… That’s it, klepto! Klepto-something!) You sadly imagine the money burn into ashes while saying, “Pera na sana naging bato pa.”

Moral of the story: The attempt would have been successful had the prospect victim not been a past victim of the same crime. Therefore, if you’re going to try the same maneuver, make sure – be very, very sure they’re first-time victims.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I write to heal

(Post-writing) prologue: I don’t know if I was writing this with all my brain insides intact. It’s past 2 in the morning and I came close to injecting my weird theories again. Phew! It was as if some alien crept into me…yikes! But one last look at this, I’m ninety percent sure I wanted it to be written this way. (Attribute the remaining ten percent to the sleepy molecules.)

10 years ago: “I write because I want to express my heart’s deepest emotions…”
2 years ago: “I love writing. It’s like creating a world of your own through your pen and paper, immersing yourself and your readers into another dimension and in a new perspective. I never underestimated the power and influence of words. The scope is probably endless. I am not known to be an outspoken person but when I truly and deeply believe in something, one thing is clear to me: I want to be heard.”

I could chant a thousand clichés on why I write: to shout to the whole world what I want to say, to put stinging memories into words, to curse, to share crazy ideas and weird self-formulated theories, and all those sorts of crap you can think of. Thing is, the reasons vary from time to time, from age to age, and from person to person.

As a kid, writing was my way of warding off my summer loneliness – that instead of just sleeping, eating, and living a pig’s life, I’d write about what happened during the day and how I had forgotten how lonely summer was at our home in Leyte. In my early teens, I wrote about my crushes, spine-tingling (“kilig”) moments, and infatuated frustrations. (See? I’m still human despite my witchy lifestyles and swinging moods.) When I took up Mass Communication in college, writing took on a different meaning for someone who is relatively quiet and secretive but was shoved into a notoriously protest-active college brimming with too many ideas and too many loud people – I wanted to be heard, and although writing is not as transparent as the sputtering, saliva-drying declarations of whatever-subject-this-time, I dedicate my writing only to people who care to hear some logical, if not sensible reasoning amidst all the mayhem.

Today, still a struggling college student, I still write to be heard. (And oh, rumor has it that blogging is the in-thing now because most people are tired of being drenched in saliva after hours of being exposed to some senseless talk. Awww… By senseless, I mean those discussions that aren’t really going anywhere because people have already made up their minds.) But through the years, I have come to consider writing as my personal therapy. All this time, I have been writing to heal myself of all the inequities this life could give – that by putting words to emotions, scenarios, and details, even to the minutest, I am making a sanity out of all the madness and sense out of all the rubbish. Yes, my friends. When I write, I strip off the beautiful skin of the ugly hand – in the same manner that I make black out of white. This world has a weird sense of humor. So many things we never could understand. So many surprises. So many pains. So many questions. Writing is thus my own attempt to see things beyond what is plainly visible, along with the goal of assuring myself that something better comes out of the worst and something worse could come out of the best. After all, there are always two sides of the coin. If life is at its best or the worst or anywhere between, there will always be what-if’s and but’s.

Ten years from now, I wonder what will be my driving force to write. Because aside from age, time, and the person, the reasons for writing can be largely dependent upon life’s circumstances, both past and present. And as of now, I’m more of the past.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why don’t I talk about LOVE?

One evening, in the midst of what was yet another overnight group project session, the small talk shifted gears from the scholarly, academic discussion to blogging. One classmate of mine commented that my blog posts were mostly about serious stuff (really now!). Then I found out the reason a little later:

“You don’t talk about your love life.”

Jeepers creepers!

Well, well, well, we need a little clarification here, don’t we? For the information of everybody, I don’t talk about love life, precisely because I don’t have one. What else is there to talk about but me, (yeah, call this a slight manifestation of narcissism) my experiences, and my thoughts. Things about love and details of my past flings and short-lived romances are things that are kept locked away in the deepest recesses of my memories – they’re personal and I intend to keep it that way for now until a meteor crashes into my head and causes aberrations in my brain functions – for one of the greatest puzzles in my life is (romantic) LOVE itself, what it is and what is the logic behind people falling madly and crazily in love. The bits of vocabulary I have about “love” are the faintest recollections of my childhood crush(es), high school flings, text mates, one-minute flirtations, and hopeless romantic moments. Period. If it goes more than that and I talk about it, congratulate me – I solved my own riddle.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Politics in a salon

Filipinos love to talk of three things: aside from basketball (and boxing, too, after the media hype of Pacquiao’s series of victories), there’s POLITICS and SHOW BUSINESS, a.k.a showbiz. (Little wonder then why frogs have long been jumping from politics to showbiz, showbiz to politics, basketball to politics…etcetera, etcetera… hoping to kiss princess luck on the way.)

Last week, I had the privilege of engaging in an “intellectual” discourse on politics. Who would have though that of all the nooks and crannies this earth could ever hold, politics would find its niche in the most unsuspecting place: ladies and gentlemen, (drum rolls) the salon – where beauty is all abuzz and where most smiling workers would gladly kick me out because I always refuse to give in to their heed to rebond my hair. So there I was, accompanying my mom who needed a haircut. While waiting, I sat between two older men and browsed over the day’s paper for my dose of news. The man on my right, most probably in his 60’s and with graying hairs, suddenly started asking questions: “Where do you live? How old are you? Are you still a student?” My curt answers only urged him to ask more. The man on my left told me, “Nag-abroad baya na siya Day.”

Er, was he implying… (Jeez, why do I get the feeling that I’m always linked to older, no wait, change that – ageing men when I’m in the salon?!?) I braced myself as my instincts told me that wasn’t going to be a smooth conversation at all. I gripped the edges of the newspaper, ready to swat it on my seatmates’ faces.

The dialogue took a different turn, however, when:

Man on my right: “Asa ka nagskwela Day?”

Me: “UP Cebu.”

Man on my left: “UP?”

Me: “Oo”

Man on my left: (suddenly inspired by his brain waves) “Ngano man mong mga taga-UP magsige man mo og rally? Gipa-eskwela na gani mo sa gobyerno, magsige pa mo og ing-ana.”

I stopped reading and sputtered forth a concoction of English and Cebuano response, hoping so hard that they’d stop pestering me in my solitude. I don’t participate in rallies unless I feel strongly about the issue but I felt that I have to defend other students at that point.

“Dili man sa wa mi utang kabubut-on pero we have to hold the government accountable. We have to be vigilant.”

The debate went on. We touched on the subject of the Presidential Proclamation 1017. I was so thankful that my mom had her haircut done at that point. (The OFW kept laughing at us.) It gave me an excuse to leave the place. But oh no, they weren’t as enthusiastic to just let the topic go. At that point, my mom cut in but it seemed as if she favored the side of the men. Blame it on generational gap?

Final words on the issue: It’s not that we are looking for trouble. Being funded by the government, by the people, we have a responsibility to look into and critique the actions of the government. It does not stem from mistrust nor cynicism. Rather, it comes from the spirit of true democracy in that by trying to be vigilant, we are protecting the very core of our freedom.

No matter what they say, I still am an Iskolar ng Bayan.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Purrfect Moments

A tribute to my multiplying breed of cats and to all the cats in the world!

Yesterday, I reached the front doorstep to find one of our friendly neighborhood cats sitting prettily on our doormat, refusing to budge until I blurted out, “Excuse me!”

Then I remembered that animals have feelings, too. I know a few people who hate cats for a number of reasons: they're a bunch of dirty, stupid, and asthma-inducing omens of bad luck. But they should know that cats are also very loving. They are not as domesticated as the dogs, though, which explains their feral and sometimes their rough nature. They're definitely insensitive to their masters in most instances as they espouse an it's-me-against-you outlook in life. And in my case, they poo on anywhere they wish to.

My very first orange adopted cat, which I found outside our house in Leyte, turned our humble dwelling into a site for the perpetuation of their species. To date, I have around 7 cats at home and counting. I always place a value to my firsts. I adored my cat and named it Clovis after Sleepwalker’s lead cat star Clovis. I even have a picture where I was hugging it so tight I feared I choked it a bit. Clovis was my companion during my times of grief. I cried in front of it and it just stared at me with consoling eyes. When it died, I gave it a proper burial place near our garden and I visit its grave from time to time when I feel like reminiscing our moments together.

Of course, cats as they are, they’ve had their share of mischief: stealing my dog’s food, snatching our dinner from the table, and just wiggling their butts when they feel like playing with yarns and insects outside the house.

Back to the cat on the doormat, it was still there when I went out to buy dinner. Feeling cat-friendly now with the feline and nostalgic of Clovis (which, by the way, is always mispronounced by my nanny; she spits out the word “Plubis”), I told it, “Stay there okay. I’ll get back soon.” And to my surprise, it did.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Good old friends

Destination: UP Diliman
Date: February 22 – 23, 2006
Entry # 2

Much can be said of my brief sojourn in Manila. The campus tour in Diliman. The induction ceremony. The people. The traffic. The pollution. But what made my trip a blast was the re-connection to my high school friend cum ally cum twin/alter ego Allen. Three years of enculturation in different worlds have changed us in terms of perspectives, ideals, and values. Despite that, it’s as if nothing has changed. We still have our literally wide foreheads. We still laugh about little things and we still talk about guys, guys, and oh yes, guys. LOL.

In general, I feel good when I’m with old friends because they remind me who I was and who I am still. They pull me back to my real self; not that I have been pretending all along, but that oftentimes, the cares of the world blur my vision and stray me to the real and not imagined passion burning within me. Old friends put that passion back in you because they can see through all your pretensions. They let you see whether you have grown up the way your heart wants you to grow up.

Hence, I wish to thank the following people for helping me grow up through the tough times. Though physically, you may not be here with me to walk with me through the treacherous path of life, just the sheer thought of having true friends like you in this world makes the journey worth enduring:

Athea Myles: Come hell or high waters… come failed internet connection or zero phone card balance, you will always be my spiritual inspiration. You help me strengthen my faith in that One being, who has never left me through all the ordeals.

Christine Jane: My best friend forever… Your cheerful and lively spirit lifts up my soul and helps me see that beyond the darkness, there is still light, beyond the distance, your faithful friendship remains.

Allen: A shining ally… Literally and figuratively, you have proven to be a shining example to me and have never left me even when my strength was stripped and my weaknesses unveiled.

To these women, your humble friend remains proud because she has you for friends – a truly remarkable thing, more precious than grades and all the jewels in this world.