Monday, December 31, 2007

Two days in Paradise

Petronas Tower

Wife and I had a taste of heaven for two days! We went to a much needed respite from
our jobs as parents and bread winners for a brood of four and party we did! This could not have been possible without the help of Bayi, a known and well-loved visitor of Filipino bloggers, and his charming wife, Sok Kin who gave us a two day packed tour of Malaysia through sites and delicious food.

We started the day with a delicious breakfast in China Town where we had porridge with a choice of different goodies like fish with herbs that you dip on a bowl of scalding rice soup to cook, Malaysian lechon with its delectable crispy skin, pig innards (chicharong bulaklak) which are as crunchy, and a soft noodle cooked in a sweet, hot sauce on the side.

Next was a short tour of Kuala Lumpur on our way to the Petronas Tower, compliments of SK who was then at Penang and will join us up for dinner the following day.

Next stop was a taste of Indian culture through cuisine for lunch where one eats with his hands on a banana leaf. We were joined later by Sok Kin and were off on the road again. Next stop was the Batu Caves, a well-known sacred place thirteen kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. Thereafter, we headed off for an overnight stay at the Colmar Tropicale, a French theme resort up on the hills at Bentong, Pahang of Bukit Tinggi. Again, we were taken by Bayi and wife to the town for a sumptuous dinner of seafood and vegetables.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day 2 - Malaysia in pictures

Malaysian culture is similar and yet very much different from our own. For one thing, I can sense my own heritage based on familiar words which we share as a people. Apart from their get ups, the Malay brown skin is the same skin we have. And yet there is something unique about Malayan culture that is distinctly its own. The cuisine which is borne out by the various ethnicities present in its land viz., Malayan, Chinese and Indian, maintain their own culture amid the presence of the others and yet they seem to blend into one from my point of view. The influences of one culture over the other may not be evident at first glance but looking at it from a distance, one can sense the amalgamation of the different cultures and how they have transformed into one.

If there is anything that impressed me more in this trip, it would have to be the warmth, generosity and the selfless giving of one friend to another. A friendship that blossomed between two strangers from different lands, brought together by their love of the written word, the sharing of thoughts as they come and the passion by which they view life as a whole. Through this trip, my wife and I have had the experience of knowing that in this world of distrust, apathy and chaos, we would come to know that there are people with golden hearts ready to accept us for who we are. Hopefully, we can return the favor one of these days. And so, with our deepest gratitude, we thank Bayi and Sok Kin for the love they have shared with us for two glorious days.

If you liked what you see and wish to see more, click this

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wearing different masks

There have been students of mine who would tell me that they have just read my blog. I view this as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Ut is an advantage because I believe I can explain myself better in written form, as a matter of fact, much better than when I am, say, spelling out the lesson for the day. While I do not discount the possibility that the deficiency may result from my own shortcoming to explain the lesson well, there are other factors which affect the effectivity of the presentation of the lesson. It is not just a question of efficiency for just like in a two-way communication, a lesson is presented to a recipient who may be receptive or not. The greatest factor of a lesson being not received well is partly due to the lack of interest in the receiver. This is where motivation sets in. When a teacher do not get the attention of his students and all their attention is elsewhere, the lesson is lost forever.

On the other hand, my students reading my blog is disadvantageous in the sense that it limits the parameters of what I can blog. It somehow makes me vulnerable for I usually post my thoughts, rants, and whatever strong emotions I have at the time. This is the reason why I have to restrain myself from posting anyuthing that would be detrimental to my own well-being or any matter that would refer to my place of work.

Having said that and out of the way, let me share with you an amusing story I had yesterday. There is this student who always tell me that she has just visited my blog everytime we get to talk. What was extraordinary about yesterday was her succeeding question. "Sir, how come you seem to be very nice in your blog?" I smiled and asked, "Why? Am I not nice in person?" She seem to have calculated me first, then said something like, "You're so strict and frightening everytime we are inside the classroom." Then she added, "Last year, I was very afraid of you but not anymore." Isn't that amusing?

At the risk of exposing a "trade secret" I would respond by saying that what students do not understand is that teaching is like acting in a play. It is a role I have to play, and play it well. Imagine yourself before 40 or so students at a single time, with raging hormones, learning secondary to socializing and having fun, etc. Now,you do this at least four times a day. HOw do you think should one behave? Actually, we all play different roles everytime. I am a father, a teacher, artist, VP of a teacher's union, VP of the homeowners' association, driver,etc. In all these roles, there is a different me. But in all of them, there is one unting factor. I can be a friend. I am a friend to my children, for example. But at the same time, I cannot be a friend all the time. I have to draw the line when it comes to discipline. The same thing with my role as a teacher. I can be a friend outside of the classroom but when inside, I should call the shots. Not the other way around. Reason with me, try to persuade me, but never forget that I run the show. :-)

Monday, December 10, 2007


In his article that appeared today in the Daily Inquirer, one of my favorite writers, Conrado de Quiros, talks about his experience in an airport while on a nine-hour layover in Bangkok en route to the Philippines. He talks about his observation that Filipinos have not grown accustomed to reading to while away the time. Instead, they go shopping, "window or otherwise". Not a good sign for our sagging economy considering that these shoppers are purchasing products not produced in our country.

I have had the same impression everywhere I go. While I enjoy reading, amid puffs from my cigarette, while waiting, say for a friend, I also observed that most Filipinos would go to malls and shop rather than be caught with a good book in hand, mesmerized by the information, awed by the beauty of language and how this is used, that can be had while reading. I do not know how many students are reading a book not because it is required but because he/she enjoys reading per se.

I have often told my children how beneficial reading can be. To my disappointment, I don't think it is sinking in. Except for my eldest, the other three would not even touch a book that is not required reading in school. They'd rather go to the internet and do something else. My only wish is that they have not yet realized how fun reading a book can be.

Reading takes us to a wide gamut of adventures; prepares us to face the unknown; gives us first hand information that cannot be had from any other source; teaches us how to analyze, think and express ourselves in a clear, cohesive and organized manner;shows us how others think and respond to certain stimuli, among other things. If only I can motivate my children any further...

Interestingly, to the very few who do read, what kind of books are being read by Filipinos? Fellow blogger and online friend Gilbert reproduced an article written by Queena Lee Chua which discussed, among other things, some facts about reading and the Filipino. We find what kinds of books are being read, how much time is being spent on reading, etc...

With the internet coming of age, I wonder what effect this will do to reading. How will the future generation read? Will the computer strengthen reading or have we seen its further decline? What is the effect of having an information readily available at a simple click on the mouse, where such can be given in a short, comprehensible manner? Will this eliminate the thirst for more knowledge making the reader lose some information that can be vital?

But then, what am I worried about? As Conrado de Quiros has observed, we are not a country of readers anyway. What is there to lose?

I say, a lot!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A look at the blue sky

I also got hold of a statement issued by the Ateneo which was sent to me by Perry. Here it goes:

A Renewed Call to Political Reflection, Formation and Action for Genuine Democracy

A Statement on the Manila Peninsula incident

Many questions remain unanswered about the cause and significance of the events that transpired at the Manila Peninsula Hotel on November 29. But they are a stark reminder that we are very much in the middle of a serious political crisis that remains unresolved. What happened on that day show how fragile our hard-won democratic rights and institutions are: from the armed takeover of the hotel by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and their supporters, to the government's heavy-handed response and arrest of media personnel and unilateral imposition of a curfew. There are continuing and grave threats to our basic political freedoms and the constitutional order both from those who seek a forcible removal of the present government by provoking a military "withdrawal of support" and foisting a "transitional revolutionary government," and those who in the name of defending the "rule of law," violate it themselves in their equally militarist response and wanton disregard of civil liberties.

But if we believe in a non-violent and democratic resolution to the crisis, we cannot simply "move on" or stand idly by in a situation that can easily polarize. Instead, we are called to deeper political reflection, formation and action for genuine democracy. We do not support the actions of Trillanes , Lim,, despite their being couched in the language of idealism and reformism. We do not condone this latest display of arrogant and self-righteous military adventurism, even if it were a spontaneous act of self-sacrifice to call for the ouster of the present government. We reject it most especially if it were a calculated move to exploit legitimate grievances within the armed forces to provoke a rupture in the institution and a seizure of political power by a faction or factions within the military. We believe inviting a military solution to the present crisis will only increase the potential for violence, repression and authoritarianism. It will not
also necessarily resolve the question of legitimacy and corruption that besets the Arroyo government.

We understand and share the frustration and anger of those who have denounced the moral bankruptcy of the Arroyo government. We had hoped that the sound rejection of a self-serving charter change in 2006 and the surge of citizen vigilance and volunteerism leading to largely credible elections this year would provide the degree of stability and political space that could pave the way for political and institutional reforms toward the 2010 presidential elections. Instead there are more signs of large-scale corruption, abuse of power, unprincipled transactional politics, lack of accountability and a culture of impunity, as seen in the unsolved extra-judicial killings, ZTE-NBN deal and bribery issue, Malacanang cash giveaways, Estrada pardon, and hints at renewed self-serving cha-cha.

We challenge the government and political leaders to respond to the crying need for justice, accountability, competence and integrity, including thorough-going reform in the armed forces, the Comelec and other government agencies which many sectors have sounded for sometime but have remained unheeded.

When Pugadlawin (Puwersa para sa Ganap na Demokrasya, Labang Wagas para sa Inang Bayan) was organized amidst the threat of both a military coup and martial law in February 2006, we said that in the face of looming political polarization, what was needed is a new force to reclaim and rebuild the political center. The challenge is to work for genuine democracy: to defend the hard-won victories over authoritarianism, and to deepen democracy beyond its often formal and elitist character towards greater popular participation and social justice.

We reiterate this call today:

1) to oppose initiatives that cater to narrow interests, curtail participation and endanger democracy ( e.g., coup attempts, government repression, self-serving cha-cha);

2) to build consensus around democratic processes and institutions as the way to resolve the political crisis and promote reform ( e.g., elections);

3) to forge a sociopolitical agenda that would galvanize citizen involvement, linking social and political transformation, local and national development. Our aim is to build democratic institutions and foster hope in political action.

We believe that the response to the crisis of hopelessness and disempowerment, especially among the youth, is to provide a framework for long-term change, a program of political formation and concrete options for political engagement. In 2005, amidst crisis and division, the CBCP called on the people, "to come and pray together, reason, decide and act together always to the end that the will of God prevail in the political."

We renew this call for communal reflection, formation and action in the context of the continuing political impasse and threats to democracy. We encourage our various communities to organize venues for reflection, analysis and discussion, whether in classrooms, school activities, and places of residence, work and worship, toward forming a well-discerned and informed response to the situation.

As citizens based in a Catholic educational institution, we have a particular responsibility to work for reflection, formation and action for ethical leadership, justice and democratization. As Pope Benedict XVI has said in Deus Caritas Est, while "the Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible…at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument … to reawaken the spiritual energy, without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper" (n. 28). Moreover, he points to the mission of the lay faithful to "take part in public life…to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility" (n. 29).

We all need to be personally accountable for the immense and seemingly insurmountable problems plaguing our country, especially the huge problems of poverty, corruption and violence. Solving our national crisis demands that we transcend our frustrations, disillusionment and cynicism, and summon our inner strengths as a people to become politically engaged. We are putting our hope and trust in the deep reserve of human dignity, goodness, energy and wisdom in our society that will allow us, with God's grace, to re-imagine and rebuild our national community.

Puwersa para sa Ganap na Demokrasya, Labang Wagas para sa Inang Bayan


Feast of St. Francis Xavier, 3 December 2007

Pugadlawin is a political advocacy group of youth and professionals based in but not limited to the Ateneo de Manila University. It is one of the prime movers of One Voice, Lente and VforCE. It is engaged in a program of political education and involvement anchored on a vision of political democracy and social justice.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Start the change we want to see

I got hold of a manifesto issued by the De La Salle brothers proclaming once again the values they espoused in 2005in an earlier document, those of truth, justice,honesty and integrity. In this present manifesto, we find them appealing once again to practically all sectors of society to do their own share to help the country stand up on its toes and for a much better tomorrow. Part of the statement issued is addressed to educators like myself, urging us to "teach the young that what is happening today is wrong. (Let us) teach them that a life without moral virtue or principle is no life at all, but a subhuman existence unworthy of their dignity as children of God."

I took the liberty of reproduce the same here hoping the appeal would reach more people as I adhere to the principles it upholds.


La Salle Green Hills Retreat House

National Heroes Day

30 November 2007

To all Filipinos of goodwill,
Profoundly disturbed by recent events, we the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines, have decided as a body to exercise our vocation as teachers and
guides by raising our voices in protest at the moral degeneration that has
infiltrated almost every aspect of public life since we called for a restoration of
faith in democracy in 2005.

In July of that year, we and our colleagues issued a public statement in response to the crisis brought on by the Garcillano tapes and the ensuing controversies surrounding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, we spoke out as educators, charged with the moral guidance of the young and concerned with upholding the values of honesty, integrity and truthfulness in public life and civil society. In that statement, we affirmed the principle that moral ascendancy is a critical ingredient to effective governance, and warned that a leadership without moral authority cannot realistically command the respect of a nation. Today, two years later, we are alarmed and ashamed that the situation has increasingly worsened. The signs of moral disintegration abound:

• the escalating number of acts of violence against journalists, leftists and members of the legal opposition, which according to a report of the UN Human Rights Council representative have been perpetrated by someelements in the military;

• unresolved anomalies in government, including the aborted ZTE-NBN deal and the fertilizer scam, which involve billions of pesos in public funds;

• the large amounts of cash distributed in brown bags to some lawmakers at MalacaƱang just as impeachment moves were being initiated and firmed up in Congress and the facile efforts to hide the truth about their origins and purpose;

• concerted efforts among some lawmakers and government officials to block attempts at establishing truth and securing accountability;

• the corruption of the electoral system as manifested in various anomalies related to the last national elections.

The net effect of these, together with past anomalies, has been to further undermine confidence in practically every institution of government. Widespread despair with these existing institutions can only spawn violence and increasing military adventurism. We need only think of the fiasco at the Manila Peninsula on 29 November 2007 to see that this is so.

What is even more lamentable is the degree to which many Filipinos have become desensitized to the stench of corruption because of the unending stream of government-related scams, cover-ups and scandals. The unwillingness of the public to engage in peaceful public exercises of moral outrage and to support calls for government accountability bespeak a weary cynicism and loss of hope in all possibility of meaningful change that is especially alarming for us as educators.
This retreat from civic responsibility bodes ill for the future. This is perhaps our
generation’s greatest crime: to rob our people, especially our youth, of the conviction that noble ideals are worth every sacrifice and that moral principles must prevail in public life.

For these reasons, even if it amounts to no more than a voice crying out in the wilderness, we, the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines, feel the need to proclaim once again the same values we espoused in 2005: truth, justice, honesty and integrity. Without these, no government can be trusted, and where there is no trust, governance degenerates into bribery and intimidation. We join in the call of courageous religious leaders and of proven men and women of conscience who seek a moral revolution. But if such a call is to become more than mere lip-service, we must translate it into effective action on behalf of the values we espouse, keeping in mind the legal framework of the Constitution. We call on men and women of goodwill to act now to make real the change they want to see.

To all parents, teachers, pastors, religious and all those charged with the moral formation of youth: God has given us the extraordinary privilege of mentoring the young and laying the foundations of our country’s future. Let us not betray God’s trust. Let us teach the young that what is happening today is wrong. Let us teach them that a life without moral virtue or principle is no life at all, but a subhuman existence unworthy of their dignity as children of God. Let us teach them that we are all answerable to God for what we have made, not just of our lives, but also of our nation. Let us teach them, as one man showed us years ago, that the Filipino is worth dying for. To all Filipino workers here and abroad, farmers and fisherfolk, men and women in business, entrepreneurs and professionals: your efforts and earnings sustain the economic and political life of our country. In solidarity with one another, demand more from this government. Come together to hold this country’s leadership accountable for their stewardship of the taxes you pay. Demand that every centavo be properly allocated and accounted for. Demand transparency and fairness in all business transactions. Consider the long-term goals and voice your displeasure at lost opportunities and the abuses that squander our nation’s wealth to the detriment of all, especially the poor.

To all artists, poets, writers and media practitioners: you are the vanguards of culture. You bear the great responsibility of ennobling the soul and creating a culture supportiveculture supportive of truth, justice and respect for human dignity. Focus on this task. Create visions and words that inspire and move our people to live up to what is best in them.

To all our men and women in uniform: our hearts go out to you for the ready sacrifices you have made again and again in the service of our nation. We acknowledge with gratitude the selflessness many of you have shown again and again. Remember that you are called to be defenders of the Constitution and protectors of human rights. Please do not fail in this charge. Let it be clear, however, that we do not condone military adventurism for it is inconsistent with the basic democratic values we hold dear.

To all civil servants, legislators and government workers: we believe that you also dream of a better nation for our children. We beg you to resist the culture of corruption. Help us build a future full of hope for our children.

To all our alumni and alumnae: we encourage you to take cognizance of the education you have received from La Salle all these years. As dark clouds hover in the horizon, we challenge you to and make a difference. Take heart from your fellow alumnus, Jose W. Diokno, and his vision of “a free nation, where men and women and children from all regions and with all kinds of talents may find truth and play and sing and laugh and dance and love without fear…”

We end this statement by sharing with you, our fellow Filipinos, this prayer of hope as we, the De La Salle Brothers look to 2011, the 100th year of the Lasallian ministry of education in the Philippines:

Lord, let me be the change I want to see
To do with strength and wisdom
All that needs to be done
And become the hope that I can be.
Set me free from my fears and hesitations.
Grant me courage and humility.
Fill me with spirit to face the challenge
And start the change I want to see.
Today, I start the change I want to see.
Even if I’m not the light, I can be the spark.
In faith, service and communion
Let us start the change we want to see,
The change that begins in me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

He did it again!

I was at the faculty room to have lunch when I first heard the news that there's a coup a brewing. I did not mind it at first as I do not just believe in rumors. However,just a few minutes and my wife texted me to confirm that there's a coup going on at the Manila Penn.

It turns out that Sen. Trillanes IV, together with Gen. Danny Lim and the Magdalo soldiers staged the coup anew while a hearing for the Oakwood mutiny was taking place. As of this time, the mutineers have surrendered after a brief assault of teargas explosions took place.

I find it odd that Trillanes and company would stage a coup during the time their case is being heard. I see this in comparison to an accused who, after knowing the certainty of his fate, takes a gun and puts several civilians as hostages. All this under the guise of patriotism, calling for the ouster of the president of the republic.

While the pronouncements of the soldiers are seemingly laudable and sound, I cannot condone this fiasco. To me, a soldier's job is to protect the land against foreign aggressors and enemies of the state. As a demorcratic country, governance of the state should always rest on civilians who rule with their brains and not with guns. It is true that in their pronouncements, they vehemently deny having the interest to run the government per se and promises to give the reins of government to another civilian, who is righteous, capable and so forth (is there such an animal right now?) and yet, I cannot just bite it hook, line and sinker. History has been replete with similar situatios where a military coup succeeded, leaving their respective countries at the hands of its generals who unabashedly became dictators and despots. Such is power. It corrupts even the good-hearted, much moreso, someone who totes a gun.

Trillanes is an elected senator. As such, he could have made a lot of difference on the podium where he could argue his point. Given the right time, if he plays his cards right, he could even be president considering his popularity. Unfortunately, he is still young, juvenile in his way of thinking, too idealistic and recklessly impatient. As a result, he only made the already tarnished name of the country even worse, spent a lot of taxpayer's money, caused anxietry among the citizens and certainly plunge our peso deeper. Such a party pooper, isn't he?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Con Brio

The family just got back from the Philamlife Auditorium where my son, Mickey, played violin in the DLSU chamber ensemble's concert entitled "Con Brio" under the baton of Maestro German M. de Ramos, Jr. The orchestra played a solid array of tunes from classical to the more contemporary pieces. This is the second year my son has been playing for the group and we have seen all the major concerts they have had so far and I can say they are getting better and better.

The concert started with a prayer sang beautifully by Ms. Reynabel Becquero and accopanied on the piano by Ms. Chenie Chua. This was followed by the Pambansang Awit and the DLSU Alma Mater.

A guitar performance by Ms. Milette Zamora followed immediately where she played Gaspar Sanz' "Suite EspaƱola". Thereafter, the conductor led the orchestra in playing their repertoire as follows:

"Zarathustra" by R. Strauss
"Barber of Seville Overture" by A. Rossini
"Suites - Trepak, Mirlitons, Valse de Fleurs" by P. Tchaikovsky
"Nimrod" by Edward Elgar
"Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika" by Ryan Cayabyab as arranged by German de Ramos, Jr.

After a 10-minute intermission, the group played a medley of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Phantom of the Opera" arranged by Calvin Cluster; G. Bizet's "Toreador" and John Williams Symphonic Marches as transcribed by German de Ramos, Jr.

The audience was so pleased that they requested for more to which the players gladly acceded to and played a Christmas medley.

It must've been prophetic of me but even before we got married, I already told my wife that I am going to have a son who will play the violin. I did not know where that came from but I said that with sureness albeit the fact that my favorite instrument is the cello and I play the guitar (so I guess I never influenced him). When my first born turned out to be a girl, I thought I was a little off the mark. But then, my first born did not get a liking for the violin. She played the piano for a time but did not push it through and stopped right after her first recital.

When Mickey was in Grade three, he told me he wanted to learn to play the instrument. While it did not come as a surprise as we never discussed anything to that effect (I am not one to dictate on my children) and so I gave him the go signal. A few months and he was asking me to buy him his own violin as he was just borrowing the violin provided by the school. I did not accede immediately thinking it would be a lot of money wasted if he suddenly lost interest with the novelty of playing a musical instrument. But then the interest persisted prompting me to buy him a 1/4 size violin. He complained that it was too small and did not sound good. So, when we heard news that my niece was coming home from the States, we thought she could buy one for Mickey and she did!

How I wish you were there with us and shared a night of wonderful music. I'm only too glad that his best friends from high school went out of their way to watch. And so did his "ninang" Marissa and her family who have been part of the family eversince that they have seen him grow.

And so tonight, there he was, in complete regalia in his tuxedo, seated in front, unconsciously fulfilling his father's dream of becoming a musician. The saying that the son is the perfection of the father must be true.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Censorship vs Ownership?

Once again, I am late in posting about an issue. I have tons and tons of things to do and I had no time to blog. But I think I have to say my piece about this one.

I am talking about the alterations done on a mural of the Neo-Angono Artists which was commissioned, ironically, by no less than the National Press Club to commemorate press freedom in the country. The alterations were made prior to the unveiling of the mural by President Arroyo. Like as if the president was a child who should see no evil, hear no evil. That she should not be made aware of the things surrounding her. Like an alibata tattoo would spell a lot of negativity on her that it would ruin her day and not run the country well.

Naturally, the artists cried foul over the "defilement" of their "obra maestra" saying that it was censorship at the very least. The NPC countered that the contract they have with the artists was clear - that the painting should not depict any political ideology and that the artists did not adhere to what was in the contract. It argued further that it commissioned the painting, hence it is within its right to do whatever it pleases. The issue has spawned a controversy on who is right.

As an artist, I have always condemned censorship. Every Juan dela Cruz, who is of legal age, should be free to express himself/herself, as it is his/her right to view and listen to what there is and judge for himself/herself what is appropriate or not. But that is me as an artist, therefore, a biased opinion. I have to look at it from a more objective point-of-view.

Is the NPC right in its claim that because it paid for the mural, they have the power to alter it? In his article entitled Picasso and Diego Rivera and the art of war, Ruben Pangalangan says:

The National Press Club (NPC) apparently thinks that just because it paid for the mural, it has the power to alter it as it wishes. The NPC must realize that ownership of the thing does not mean ownership of the copyright... The ownership of the NPC is limited to the physical thing, which it may sell like any other property -- but only the artists, as copyright owners, have the right to transform their art work. The owner may only keep the work “as is.” Transforming it is an exclusive “economic right” of the artist.

I agree completely! A work of art is not a piece of toy which someone has bought at a department store to which the owner can do anything he/she pleases. Together with the work of art is the philosophy/ideology of its creator and the time, perspiration and blood consumed in the process of its creation. For these, the art work should be respected. After all, if an artwork is not to the liking of someone, said someone can just ignore it.

In the case where someone commissions an artwork, it should be understood that the agreement carries with it the implied trust placed by the buyer on the creator, not only with the latter's aesthetic philosophy/style but the entire package as well when there is no explicit agreement to the contrary. An artist afterall is a social and, as Picasso put it, "a political animal"

Picasso said: “What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet…? Far from it: … he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world …. How could it be possible … with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”

The NPC claims that the artists agreed with their instructions that the work should not contain any political ideology. Granting that this is true, the artists counter that during the time they were making the mural, none of the NPC people came to check on its progress. Now that would have spelled a lot of difference, wouldn't it? Again, if the artists' claim is true, then NPC has been remiss of their responsibility. By failing to guard its "investment", it can be implied that they trusted the judgment of the artists and will abide by whatever the outcome of the work they have commissioned will be. Besides, is showing current events and history a political ideology?

Are the artists correct in protesting the vandalism committed on their work? I believe that they are.

...the artist has “moral rights” to maintain the integrity of his work and oppose “any distortion, mutilation or other modification of … his work … prejudicial to his honor or reputation.” Indeed, moral rights may not be waived entirely, especially if the effect is “to use the name of the author with respect to a work he did not create.” The NPC may be liable for damages, criminal penalties and fines for the infringement of their intellectual property rights.

My greatest displeasure with the NPC stand is that I perceive it to be ignorant of what a work of art is. That an artwork is actually bigger than its dimensions. Given the right time and exposure, a work of art will begin to embody a culture, a nation's collective aesthetic ideal, a repository of a culture's philosophy and way of life, and in this case, its history. Taken in this perspective, a work of art may, for the time being, be owned by a cerain individual or group, but in due time will be owned by the people.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Inspiration comes from anywhere!

As an artist, I have been asked the question, "Where do you get your inspiration?" As if there is a formula for such a thing. That all one has to do is to look in that direction and the muse will guide you right on.

You know what? I, too, did not have a single clue where I get mine. I jsut go about doing my own business and suddenly, someone, a thing, or an event would spark my curiosity, and I will start building a painting or a poem, or even a story - although I have not really explored writing a story that much. Well, I've finished one short story, though. Mostly, it would be a painting with colors interwoven in my head, or a poem starting with a phrase or just a bunch of words. b From there, I would stop thinking about any other thing but this or that work, my head spinning and trying to organize and making a complete whole out of these thoughts. This is the reason why when I put my thoughts on paper, or a canvass, whatever the case may be, it would really be fast. This is also the reason why my wife thinks I am lazy, not doing anything in the house for some time. hahaha

My interactions with my mother, who was then suffering from alzheimer's and probably everything that comes with old age, gave me many poems. One time, it was just a light pat on my head while she looked at me and words came flying and voila, a poem.

To answer the question where I get my inspiration, it is all around me. Take this poem, for example. On October 21, I took my family to the cemetery as it was my FIL's birthday. On our way, we were shocked to see a woman, dirty as she was, in just her panties and loose bra. She had her back to us but she stood there in a pose as if her picture was being taken. It was a very fleeting moment as I was driving a car. And yet, it sparked an idea in me and this is how it went:

Child of God

I looked at her and wondered
maybe she was someone's cute little darling once.
She must have been for who did not adore a child's
roving eyes wondering at everything she saw,
all happening for the very first time,
rosy cheeks like they had been chilled inside a fridge,
short black hair swaying to the wind with every move,
fragile body fragrant with talc and oil after a steamy bath

Who knew?

Maybe she was unwanted even then.
She might have been a mistake, an accident
to forgetful teens who had nothing better to do one night-
succumbed to carnal desires which was over
in five seconds or less. It must be quick for the homeless.
Nothing was private. They have to share everything to the world,
even the most secret of all human undertakings.

Who could explain what happened?

She wore nothing that day. Just her soiled, torn red panties,
browned bra as old as time with one strap dangling on her arm.
Her face, expressionless, numbed of all the pain,
oblivious to the world that continues to spin no matter what,
her unkempt hair hardened by smog and dirt- even lice
would not dare live there. They would not survive anyway
for she could not offer any nutrients.
She had not eaten for a very long time.

She convulsed, dropped on the road shaking wildly.
Her eyes rolled upwards, one last thrust and it was all over.
The world spun and every man continued to work
on a dream, every woman weaving her own private tale.
She was nothing to them. She could have been a dead bug
or a rat and they just didn't care.
Her carcass would soon be fodder to worms and gnats.

Maybe, just maybe, she was loved once for surely
she was someone's cute little child.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To err is human, to forgive divine

The adage to err is human, to forgive divine is only true for errors committed unwittingly or without malice. Blame it on man's frailty for man is, after all, prone to commit errors in judgment. Noone is perfect! as they say. However, what if the error is done deliberately and continuously that it becomes a habit? A habit so bad that it subjected a lot of people as prey to its whimsical disregard for human welfare? Something that is so bad it brought hundreds of people live in abject poverty? Shall we forgive him?

Such is the issue on Erap's having been pardoned by the president of the country. Erap has been found guilty of plunder and was just awaiting execution of his verdict when PGMA granted him pardon, something he earlier stated he would have not accepted for it will mean a few concessions for him, viz., acknowledging that Arroyo is a legitimate president and that it would imply that he is guilty as charged. He took another route when he realized he would soon be sent to jail. Talk about "estoppel" huh, siu?

If I remember correctly, there was at least a proposal in congress to make the crime of plunder be treated as a heinous crime resulting to a death penalty. I do not know if that ever became a law but it just shows how erious the crime is. Someone in congress thinks that the deed is so dastardly that a culprit should be meted
out the death penalty. Why not? We only have to look at our countrymen living in abject poverty to realize that plunder is so immoral that while there are families who barely eat, much less have other essentials in life, there are those who live in extreme luxury out of the nation's treasury, something we all shared to build.

Plunder was proposed to be a heinous crime to become a deterrent for prospective and serving public officials to engage in. Erap's conviction and possible jail term would have set a precedent for all time and should have made these officials realize that the administration meant business. Arroyo did set a precedent. She
re-enforced that in this country, public officials could get away with murder.

OF course, this is all premised under the idea that Erap is guilty. That he had been given a fair trial and that with the battery of lawyers he had, his rights as an accused had been duly protected. If he was wrongly convicted, then that is another story.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This one's up for grabs

Yin and Yang
oil on canvas
24" X 18"

This one is not a commissioned work and will be part of my collection. Anybody who may be interested of owning this can contact me at my email addy, This one sells for $300.00 excluding shipping and handling.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I think we brought it on ourselves

I think I have kept silent for too long. I have passed on several issues that occupied a lot of bloggers recently. I have no intentions of just jumping into the bandwagon. The reason is simple - if I feel I cannot make a good contribution on the subject. I'd rather not talk about it. Recently, a certain segment of the premier showing of this season's Desperate Housewives created quite a stir with Filipinos when Teri Hatcher's character wanted to check a doctor's credentials to make sure that it wasn't just "from some med school in the Philippines". A lot
of Filipinos took offense as they claim that it questions the credibility of medical schools in the country. Even government officials had joined the fray and demanded for an apology from the producers of the show which, to date, has already been given.

After the first onslaught of attacks, the air is still filled with steaming fury, I rise up from the smoke and would like to give my two cents worth.

While the remark was intended to be a joke or a witty remark from the character, it turned out to most Filipinos as a criticism in the end, hence, I am treating it as such. When being criticized, which is quite often too, the first thing I do is to do some honest soul-searching and after I have licked the wounds of my battered ego. I ask myself if there is truth to the criticism. If there is even a hint of truth to the criticism, I try to mend my ways.

To be offended at a certain remark or gesture is the easiest way to confront a similar situation. But now that we have made our point, why don't we do some introspection? I wonder what the writers of the show were thinking when the country suddenly crossed their minds. Why not another third world country, I ask. Why do they think that would have a comic jab to the situation? What was their basis, if anything at all? Surely, the name of the country did not just pop in at random.

Flashback a few years back to a scandal that happened in the medical world. The Fatima Medical School rocked Manila when allegations of cheating in the exams resulted in the questioning of the licenses awarded to its students. Much recently, the nurses had fallen prey to people who were out for a quick buck out of their vulnerability. What about the diploma mill schools and the Recto give-aways? News of these events had come from our shores. Let's go a lot further in time when during the 80's, young boys who went to the US for the little league turned out to be not boys at all! And of course, the very rampant cheating during elections just strenthen one thing - that we are living in aa country full of cheaters. Now, can we claim that the potshot remark is without basis?

While there is reason for us to be angry that we are being pictured in a bad light, I think the more important question we shoul ask is how do we correct this image? How do we erase a tarnished image strengthened throughout the years? It is hard but even a mighty boulder lying passively along the shore yields to the contstant beating of the waves.

Am I angry at this episode of the Desperate Housewives? Hell yes! But for another reason. I am angry because my elders way down to my peers have erred in shaping this nation. I am angry because some individuals have made this country vulnerable to attacks by some foreign show. I am angry that we lay prone and open to criticisms made defenseless for such may border on the truth and it stings to the core of my being. I am angry because while I live on a day to day existence these shenanigans are scot free continuously wreaking havoc on our very being.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The price of technology

There are many speculations on the recent scandal that rocked Manila lately about the President's husband and Comelec chair, among others, allegedly bullying the son of the Speaker of the house, who admitted that he was a former drug dependent, asking him to back off on a government deal of a broadband network. As of last Saturday, the project has been cancelled. Together with this is the questioned Cyber Educatiun Project which has been canned for the moment. I will not make any speculations on who is telling the truth, who is making a lot of money on these deals, etc. What is clear to me is that this country will never go forward in terms of technology. Not if all attempts to move this country forward will be accompanied with a cloud of doubt as to the sincerity of its perpetrators to help the country and its citizens most of which is living below the poverty line. Too bad that it seems like our leaders are more concerned about their pockets as if they are competing with one another on who can have the biggest loot of the national treasury.

I am all for the investigation being conducted on these two deals provided that the truth shall come out and that the perpetrators are held responsible and put in bars. This will make greedy politicians and government officials think again before they risk going into another shady deal. But if these investigations will be just for show that will be put to rest and die and natural death by yet another issue, I say why bother? It will be just a waste of time and money.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Two fires!!

Last night, on our way home from school, I was surprised to find fire engine trucks blocking the way on my turn at the corner. I immediatedly asked a fireman where the fire was and to my horror, he said it was in our subdivision. My hair really rose up when he added it was near the basketball court. If that was the case, then my house might have been gutted down, too!

Nowhere to go, I parked the car by the sidewalk and ran towards home. To my relief, the fireman was wrong. The fire was by the gate and it was all over. The firemen were already rolling down the hoses, the streets were flooded and I can smell the air of damp burnt wood and ash. I proceeded to our house to see how my 84 year old mother-in-law and the maid were doing. The maid was ironing the clothes while the old matriarch was watching tv. Good! I was about to text my wife to tell her of the incident but decided not to for it might just cause her some anxiety.

This reminds me, just a few days ago, another kind of fire was blazing in the news room. Erap's conviction of plunder was all over the airwaves. I heard Jinggoy crying foul, as to be expected, saying that the Sandiganbayan was a kangaroo court anyway and that it was "created" to convict his father. This led me to thinking, if he and the Erap camp had been thinking this all along, why did they even participate in the proceedings? I recall Ninoy Aquino during the time of Marcos being incarcerated and brought before a court martial to be heard for acts of treason, crying he did not recognize the court and will not participate in any of its proceedings. I think that was what Erap should have done. By participating with the proceedings, he implied that he was willing to abide by whatever decision the court shall come up with. That is the risk of putting your plight before a court of law, I guess. Now that the court has given its decision, I think it is too late in the day to say that it was a kangaroo court after all.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Eat my house, I die two chickens!

That is my brother-in-law's favorite birthday joke! In carabao-english fashion (does that term still make sense to the young?) he would elicit at least a smile from his his friends who would happen to hear it for the first-time. Of course, what this is is an invitation for a meal in his house as his birthday treat for his friends. Well, I did not ask friends to eat my house nor have I died two chickens.

I promised myself that although I am turning half a century, I will not make a big deal out of it and just enjoy it peacefully with my family. And that I did! We went to a cozy restaurant on my birthday, and had a very quiet dinner. What I did not know was that it would be a very memorable one for me, too. What happened was, we had ordered food, let the children decide what they wanted to eat, and enjoy the meal. When I asked for the bill, my eldest said,"It's on me! This will be my birthday gift to you." I could not believe that my eldest, who is now working, would be so generous as to pay for dinner. You see, she has just graduated from college, hence, is only a year old in her job. Not much pay yet but she took it on herself to help pay the bills, viz., the electric bill. I was quite touched. Even her siblings were surprised. "Wow! You're really paying for it."

Not really that quiet

Earlier, in school that day, the usual greetings from co-workers and friends came alright. But since payday was a few days away, I wasn't able to at least give the perfunctory pancit for the faculty. There seems to have been some sort of understanding that a birthday celebrant at least provide a little pancit for everyone in the faculty lounge. I had been having my share of free food so it is just natural that I give one, too. I plan to do that as soon as the paycheck arrives :-).

Anyway, after the First Friday mass, my closest friends whispered to me, "Go to the conference room! We're going to feed you." And feed me they did! This is my group who have breakfast together as each one of us bring food for the occasion. Well, that day, they all brought something without my knowledge. One of them even had a sugar-free cake for me which I was supposed to devour all by myself for feeling guilty that they have always prevented me from eating sweets! (They're such a darling, aren't they?)

Who said there would be no bang?

I think fifty years is a milestone worth remembering. Our closest family friends made sure I realize that. Well, the family had been going out with these guys for almost an eternity now that we already treat one another as extended family. Our children practically go to the same school! What is even more significant is that most of us are September born! As each of our birthday comes, the celebrant takes everyone to a certain place of choice to celebrate. Not this time as I am a little strapped for cash. Two of my children are in college and being in a trimester, it is enrolment time right now. It's a little stiff albeit the fact that we do enjoy discounts.

Anyway, my wife told me that the guys plan to have a joint celebration a day after my birthday. We all went on an overnight stay at Tagaytay to party! I treated myself by doing everything my doctor forbids me to. I supped, wined and partied all night. Who wouldn't have? These guys are a happy bunch and I am not spoiling the day, especially for me.

Once again, I am ending this post with, "I am so blessed!"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In September, I will be Five and O

Come September
when leaves start to fall,
die, wither, and be buried
by the winter snow
I shall be five and O.

I still have yet to earn
an obelisk to mark my grave;
a cusp of three gold stars
to catch rays of the morning sun
or the gentle breeze that echoes
firing of twenty one guns.

No crown rests on my head,
just streaks of silver
on my thin mane;
bulging eyes from sleepless nights,
traces of fat on my sagging skin.

Neither my words nor my brushes
have produced any lightning.
My pen is becoming stale
but the sun only rests
at night and sure to rise
in the morning,

Come September
when I shall be five and O
leaves may fall to die and wither
and be buried by winter snow
but my swan is not singing yet.

Fall is only at the northern hemisphere
not here in the tropics where I shall be
when I turn to be
five and O

Monday, August 27, 2007


There is a saying that goes something like this: "You cannot go back to the same river for neither you nor the river will be the same." This is what I learned yesterday. I was on my way to my mother's house to visit my siblings and my grandson (son of my niece) who was celebrating his birthday yesterday.

The house was home to me from 1971 till I moved out in 1985 when I got married. Since then, I have come to visit my sick mom and everytime, I discover something new. Several, no, make that many, houses have been built and the places I used to frequent with friends are now gone. I have spent many years of learning in that place. Some were good but some were bad lessons I would rather forget. I have many experiences shared with friends who, like those frequented places, are now gone. Either they have moved out like me to some unknown land, or unfortunately, have passed away.

Yesterday, I was driving when I saw a familiar face sitting by a store. I stopped and called out his name. He did recognize me. What puzzled me was his manner of speaking. It was garbled. He said he has retired. Hmm, he is only a few years my senior and I still have a good ten years from retirement. He could not have retired because he has reached that age that he has to. It just dawned on me that he must have fallen ill. Probably a stroke or something. And to think it feels just like yesterday when we would drink, play mahh jongg till the wee hours of the morning, play basketball, watch concerts, etc. He was once one of the village toughies who drove his own vehicle, wore fancy clothes, and much to my envy, was popular with the girls.

Then it dawned on me. Most of the guys who we felt were toughies and who, we youngsters looked up to, are either retired now or are dead. It feels like time has caught up with them. Time does have a way of equalizing things. While I hate to sound judgmental, the only reason I can think of to make sense of all these is that they have seen their heyday at a very early age and as a result, did not see it relevant to study hard and take care of themselves. They have not learned that nothing in this life is permanent. That nothing is immune to change and that if we did not worry about the future, the future will not be good to us. There is a very good ad on cable that says something like, "be good to the geek for someday, he will be your employer."

I don't want to sound preachy but I would like to address my younger readers. You may be laughing at someone now for he looks like a nerd, or that he dresses up lousy, or that he/she may seem to be a square for he/she does not go out with you to join parties till the break of dawn. But if you do not watch it, he/she may be a lot better off than you are in the future. Don't wait for things to happen. Let things happen for you. Take it from me. I learned about this the hard way and probably too late.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

His Favorite Mounds

The recent typhoons that sent students home in floody waters and made them stay home from Wednesday to Friday is not all that bad - at least to me. Well, for one thing, staying in bed for more hours than usual is most welcome. And being able to watch tv at anytime I wanted - perfect! But even then, I knew I had to be productive. So, what could I do better than pick up my brush and my oils and paint. I have been meaning to this painting for a long time although time wouldn't allow me. So I did! I finished this last Saturday and all it needs now is my signature. I will have to wait for the paint to dry. This is entitled "His Favorite Mounds". Hope you like it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thoughtful Blogger Award

Isn't it ironic that officials of the DepEd just don't seem to learn their lesson from past mistakes. Yes, the government agency who takes care of everything that pertains to education, ergo, learning! Just exactly a week ago, I was ranting about the DepEd's late decision to call-off classes because they keep on relying on our weather bureau's forecast about typhoons. Well, they're at it again. This time even worse as the suspension came at around 9:30 when all the students have already started classes. Naturally, the sudden suspension wreaked havoc as everybody dashed home only to be met by flooded streets in Manila and Makati. As a result, a huge traffic jam ensued which extended from Alabang all the way to Zobel-Roxas. That is my only reference for that is the route I take. Listening to the radio, I learned that this is so in other areas, too. Needless to say that I was a victim myself.

But I shall not rant any further. A blogger, whose ideas and opinions I have learned to respect, has awarded me this:

You may be wondering what this is about. Well, it is given to:

For those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for all of those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping others bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.

Well, I don't believe I had been much help with other blogger's design as I am not that equipped when it comes to computers but I do try to answer every comment that comes my way. And yes, I do try to make my visitors feel at home and consider how the commenter would feel before I post a response. Not for anything else but that is probably due to my Filipino nature. I consider my blog as my home in cyberspace and so I treat my commenters as guests in my real world. So far, except for one or two really nasty comments I received that prompted me to activate the "comment moderation", I have been getting really friendly people in my blog. Thanks to them, a good discussion sometimes follow which enriches my knowledge of the world and reality in general.

I think I am obliged to pass the award on. The problem is I don't bloghop as much as I used to. At any rate, there are bloggers who do respond to their commenters. These are:

Ipanema not because I am just reciprocating for having given passing me the award but because she truly deserves it.
The Ca T
Amateur Misanthrope

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

No classes!

We were already on our way to school when the Undersecretary of the DepEd went on air to announce that she is suspending classes due to inclement weather. Well, it was about time! We had to traverse floody streets, no thanks to the "competent" engineers of the city and other officials of the government who had months and months of dry spell to check out sewerages and canals to get ready for the rainy season that happens every year!

Anyway, while listening to the radio, the announcer was interviewing the mayor of Quezon City, to the point of urging him to declare no classes as most of the streets are now flooded. To his dismay, the mayor won't budge from his stance, in spite of the fact that most mayors have already suspended schools in their municipalities, using his simple logic that there is no typhoon yet and that this is just rain which happens every year anyway. When the announcer hung up, he was lambasting the mayor saying "Wala kayong maaasahan kay mayor!" (You won't expect anything from the mayor!)

I feel the mayor's logic is flawed. Yes, this is just rain and the typhoon is several miles away but the downpour is heavy since yesterday causing the streets to be flooded which may later on prove hazardous to commuters. How many times have hundreds of commuters been stranded on the streets simply due to flooded areas and because classes were suspended late? The good mayor would not even suspend classes for elementary school children? Maybe the fact that most of his constituents have to ride public vehicles, walk a long way, traverse a flooded area where manholes might have remained open did not figure in his equation. How come? Well, maybe he has his chauffered-driven car being escorted by two motorcycle cops so that he doesn't have to be bothered by a congested traffic for starters.

What is one day of school compared to the safety of school children? Why gamble? This also got me to thinking what causes the DepEd to announce a suspension late? Why leave this to the discretion of the school authorities? What do they fear by making an early announcement? That they would look like fools if the weather improves later? Why couldn't they make "safety first" a policy before anything else?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Any bright ideas, anyone?

To my relief, Friday was declared a holiday by PGMA for whatever reason I do not need to know. It would have been a perfect day had the administration in my school did not ask the teachers to report for work just the same. Oh well, what can I do, right? Otherwise, I could have started on a new painting project I have been meaning to do, bloghop, write, and more importantly, I could have done a medical procedure where I collect my urine for 24 hours for a microalbumin test and sent it to the lab Saturday... but no, I have to go to school.

The good thing is I got to read something from Bertrand Russell a man who was very popular in the 70's. Our HS philosophy teacher, my friend, Mr. Cicero Cortel, (why do I find the name too apt?) shared to me Mr. Russell's Philosophy for Laymen which appears in Unpopular Essays.

In this article, Russell claims that civilized man has always been confronted by two main problems. These are: acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants and how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. The first problem is relatively easy as we have learned to deal with it through the acquisition of skill. Science and Technology, more or less, have given us temporary solutions to our problems. We have learned to train, what Russell calls "narrow specialists".

However, things are not what they seem to be:
It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing. When men first learnt to cultivate the soil, they used their knowledge to establish a cruel cult of human sacrifice. The men who first tamed the horse employed him to pillage and enslave peaceable populations. When, in the infancy of the industrial revolution, men discovered how to make cotton goods by machinery, the results were horrible: Jefferson's movement for the emancipation of slaves in America, which had been on the point of success, was killed dead; child labor in England was developed to a point of appalling cruelty; and ruthless imperialism in Africa was stimulated in the hope that black men could be induced to clothe themselves in cotton goods.

Russell's article reminded me of a very nice novel by Daniel Quinn entitled
Ishmael which was given to me by my friend, Arlene's son, Stephe Tate, while we were browsing the books at National Bookstore when he came here for a visit. The novel is about a man who is educated in the ways of the world, an unorthodox view, I might add, by a gorilla, who communicates with him through mental telepathy. Here we see how the world is divided into "takers" (civilized men) and "leavers" (primitive men). I would suggest if you haven't read this novel to read it. It's quite nice.

Going back to Russell, I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, we, as a race, might have taken a wrong turn somewhere and is now employing a wrong system both politically and economically. We have seen the collapse of Marxism and the Berlin wall. We continue to experiemce the pitfalls of capitalism. We have seen how too much money has turned teen agers like NIcole Ritchie and friend Paris HIlton has turned into wrecks. Well, at least, they are in a society which somehow do not condone their unruly behavior. They will have to serve time in the slammer if only for a short period of time. How many powerful men and women have escaped the hands of the law in a country that is run by corrupt men and women?

We have seen how much basketball stars, playing and doing their thing earn millions of pesos while the unfortunate has to scour the depths of rich man's trash just to find food to put in their mouths. If only we have learned to level the playing field. Maybe it is high time for a new world order. We can probably re-invent the wheel, what i think is the device that brouhgt about the industrial revolution,which in turn, true to its fashion, set the "wheels" in motion for capitalism to take over, and start anew. What it is and how escapes me now and I fear will continue to escape me till my death. But somehow, I feel there is a need for a change in paradigm as our attempts for a peaceful, happy world remains elusive until now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

He ni zai yi qi

Yesterday morning, I was just bombing around, sitting in front of the tv and constantly changing channels since I woke up at 3 am, I got to see the beginning of what seemed to be an interesting Chinese film. Interesting turns out to be an understatement. To my surprise, I got to finish the entire film without falling asleep.

It is about a peasant father who took his son, who he believes is a genius for having won a lot of violin competitions since the age of five, to Beijing, the heart of China. What follows is a complicated web of plots within the plot. I found the ending heartwarming as the boy gives up his international competition stint to look for his father at the train station, together with the people that really mattered to his life, his friend Lily, his violin teacher and, his dad whose sacrifices were truly altruistic just so he can make something of himself. Teary-eyed, he gave his best performance at the train station as his competition, a young girl protege, took over his stint at the theater.

Ah, I don't think I've given the movie justice with my ineptitude to give a review. But I caught it at Star Movies and the title is Together. Now, there are two Chinese movies that I really like. This one and Not One Less, the story of a young substitute teacher who went through all the pain and the trouble looking for a stray student who braved the city.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is there a God?

When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror. I don't mean the
fix-yourself-comb-your-hair look but a real eye-probing-look-that-would-last-a-minute kind. I have done that as a young boy and, maybe I'm weird, but it seems that I begin to feel myself detach from within and see myself as somebody else. It's a little scary, actually. However, it is during these times of neurosis, if that is what it is, that I begin to ponder who and what I am, why am I here, and what will I going to be in the future. These questions always lead me to the ultimate question, "Is there a God?"

An objective, rational answer to the question of God's existence has always eluded man. Many have offered an explanation but always, their answer fall short to the skeptics. This is because as man, we are limited to our senses and our logic.
As a result to our inadequacy to find the "true" answer to God's identity lead us to confusion thus ending in a struggle on who is right. Lately, the cotroversy of teaching intelligent design versus Darwin's theory of evolution has resurfaced in the States. There are people who would not accept that life on earth happened because of a Divine intervention. Ironically, even believers of God's existence do not see eye to eye. History is replete with stories of religions waging war on another with a different belief. The struggle between the Christians and the protestants during come to mind. Believers of Islam are continuously trying to find their place in a world dominated by Christian thought. Somewhere in your barangay, debates in barber shops or whereever people congregate sometimes become heated to the point of fisticuffs, if cooler heads could not prevail.

In my times of profound thinking, which happens very seldomly I might add, I have learned to view religion as something very personal. That what is important to me is what I think and what I believe in. Never mind what others think. I shall respect their thoughts as long as they respect mine. I have come to this conclusion a long time ago only to find out that this is not original. I now refer you to a Danish philosopher,Soren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard is an existentialist who believed that finding the "Truth" is not important but that finding what is true to the individual's life is more substantial. Hence, "what is true for me" should be the question asked. In Jostein Gaardner's Sophie's World, the main character, Alberto Knox, teaching the fourteen year old Sophie about Kierkegaard's philosophy said:

...we must therefore distinguish between the philosophical question of whether God exists and the individual's relationship to the same question, a situation in which each and every person is utterly alone. Fundamental questions such as these can only be approached through faith. Things we can know through reason, or knowledge, are totally important

Hey, what do you know? I have been thinking along the lines of a famous philosopher!

Now, let me see if I got this right. This so called leap of faith"leap of faith", according to Kierkegaard is to happen only if somewhere in your mind, there is "doubt" in the existence of God. He says that this is different from saying categorically that you are seeing and touching a table. There is no "leap of faith" that a table is present for it cannot be denied that there is one. This also reminded me of the apostle Doubting Thomas. He could not believe that Jesus has resurrected from the dead unless he has seen and touched Jesus. There is no leap of faith there. This led Jesus to say, "you believe because you see, lucky are those who do not see, and yet they believe."

Since I am already at it, I would like to say that I also believe in Kant's "practical postulates". It is essential for morality to presuppose that man has an immortal soul, that God exists and that man has free will

I should believe this for otherwise, I cannot find meaning to my existence.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The little girl is now a lady!

There shall be two posts for today. I have been busy with a lot of things not related to work since last Saturday, the highlight of which is my youngest daughter's 18th birthday.

When my eldest had hers, she opted to have a party for her friends. It is not that we can afford such luxury but once in a while, we want our children get something big out of life. And so, since a debut is a one time thing, we gave her what she wanted and contacted a hotel for her birthday bash. And since I have former students who play professionally in a band, I also got their services to provide reggae music during the occasion. Well, it turned out cool and we all enjoyed the night away.

Now comes my youngest daughter. She does not want a party like her Ate's. She wants a trip to any part of the world. Guess what. She's in luck! We do have some spare cash. So, we decided she and her "Ate" can go sometime in December,probably. Now, that would have gotten that settled. However,
my wife figured it would be too lonely if she did not even gave her friends a treat on her birthday. So, we gave her (with her Ate in-charge of the preparations) some dough for a quiet celebration.

One thing I love about my children is that they are very close. Sure they have some "tampuhan" once in a while but that rarely happens, especially with the two sisters who are very very close.

Come MOnday, Ate Kraiganne got very busy, in spite of her busy schedule at work, preparing for the birthday bash. She was in cahoots with one of my daughter's friends, who in turn, passed on the word that they will be celebrating Kim's birthday. You should've seen how her Ate slept late in the night, preparing a
personalized invitaion. Soon, her Kuya MIckey joined in and helped with the design.

Saturday night, my wife gave Kraiganne the dough, let the four siblings go on their own to a place in Greenbelt where they were to meet with her friends. Since these guys studied in the same school, everybody practicall knew everyone. After the simple dinner and the friends had all bade goodbye,

Kraiganne thought they still had some cash and took them to a bar where they danced the night away. Me and my wife were at home all this time to give the sibling some bonding on their own. They came home in a cab at around 1 am as we instructed. Not bad!

The following day, her real birth date, the wife and I handed her our gift. Then, we invited a few relatives into the house for a little lunch and merienda. Then, we all went to Serendra last night for a simple family dinner. Now, who can complain after that, eh? Life is good!

At any rate, I would like to greet my lovely daughter a happy 18th birthday.

Of cars and mechanics

Last Saturday, I decided to have my problem with my car's wheel alignment fixed. This had been a problem which had been going for years as having it fixed would be expensive for I knew there's something wrong with the steering system.

So, since I did not have any schedule for lab tests that day (thank God - a respite from lab test!) I geared up very early in the morning and went to the mechanic. After the initial check-up, it turns out there are a lot that needed fixing. BAll joints, tie-rod ends, bearings, etc. etc... And all because I wanted to have my front wheels aligned! (Is there any kind soul out there who is willing to donate a
brand new van to this poor being?) The piece that took the toll was the steering shaft! I was told that a brand new one would cost me Php44 K big ones! Now, where will I get that much cash, right? So, I told them to look for a surplus and they did which cost about Php13K. Still stiff but what can I do?

So, finally, after a long wait for the piece, the final tally, as shown in y receipt, is as follows:

Steering bushing

Ball Joint

Tie rod end

Rack end

Petrogrease MP 3 (0.5 kilo)

Oil seal

Gear oil SAE 90 (18L)

Steering rack assembly

Replace steering

Replace ball joint

Replace tie rod end

Replace rack end

Replace oil seal

and finally, what I really wanted:

Wheel alignment (Toe In/Toe out)

Camber adjustment

Isn't life ironic?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I could not consider myself a movie buff. Sure, I watch the movies but that would probably be one in three months at best. I would have to be swayed by friends to see a film before I go to a movie theater. I'd rather watch a play or a concert but since these shows do not come cheap, I hardly ever go, too. And yet, during the previous summers after last, my friend, Rolly Valmonte, one time Vice Principal in our school, during the height of his career, and I, would frequent the movie theaters practically every afternoon, after lunch. We do not have to report for work during summers, you see, but we do come to do some chores nevertheless. So, that gave us a lot of time to enjoy the summer and at the same time, work on a few odds and ends. And so we have ample time going to the movies. What is even odder was that we did not care whether the movie was good or not. Why? We only wanted to escape the summer heat. So, you'd see us snoring away at the middle of the show.

Too bad, my friend has already retired and I was all alone last summer. I would not dare go to the movie theater alone. What if a thug sits beside me and gets my wallet? So, those summer fiascos are over for good.

Anyway, talking about movies. Because I seldom see one, I only have about a nandful that I can say I really like. And yet, some of these films I either got to see on DVD and/or on cable tv. Now, if there's anything that can best describe myself, it would be that I am a couch potato! But I digress. What is odd about me is that no matter how I like a film, I grow tired of the lull moments and just wait for my favorite parts. Hence, you can just imagine how many tv remote controls I have broken because of abuse changing the channels to and fro. I already mentioned I have ADD in one post, didn't I? :-)

I just chanced upon one of these movies at the HBO yesterday. I'm talking about Hearts and Souls starring Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard and Kyra Sedgwick. It is about four people who suddenly died when the bus they were riding tumbled, which was simultaneous with the birth of Downey's character. The four became imaginary friends of the child who is the only person who can only see them. After several years, the four decided to sever their relationship with the child as people are beginning to doubt the boy's sanity. They stayed with him, alright albeit him not being able to see them anymore. Thirty years later, the four guys were picked up by no less than the driver that caused their untimely death. It was by this time that they realized their purpose for staying on earth that long was to do their unfinished business with the help of the boy, their conduit to the material world.

Now, since I know all these and have seen it more than once already, I change channels everytime (I have chanced upon it several times already) and time it to the part that I really like. I am talking about the cameo role played by blues guitarist BB King! One of the dead people's, (I don't have his name, sorry. I told you I'm not a movie buff) unfinished business is to sing onstage. The matter was resolved in a BB King concert where he took over Downey's body and sang, what else, "The Star Spangled Banner". At the middle of the song, BB King heard him singing and decided to jam. The first shriek of the guitar just blows my mind... everytime, without fail! I don't know why but that scene always gives me goose pimples. I can feel angst, pleasure and whatever the blues is all about in that one note! Well, I may not be a movie buff but I am always a sucker for the blues!

The end!