Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bless my Soul for This

While cleaning my drive of clutters, I found out what I have written years ago about our class book at the training camp - A super foolish Acknowledgement. Haha! Though the whole span of training was agonizing, thinking of silly things was proven to be very effective in hurdling all the abuses inside the boot camp. One of these is the one that follows. It makes me think that while it is true that the body can be made into a soldier, the brain remains for the fool. So here it is:

This class book is not possible without the valuable support of the following persons and things that were never acknowledged before by other classes:

1. To Ts Pasquin and Socong for their dedication to finish this class book despite the odds. Had it not been for their commitment to work beyond the usual hours while the rest enjoy their remaining days before graduation, this might not have been pursued.
2.To Ts Rubio, Cabuslay and Jacobe for their valuable support of lending their laptops for the completion of this project. We couldn’t imagin finishing this project without your super speedy laptops that made things easier.
3.      To T Rasco for his expertise in computer matters. We would have gotten lost without your help in various computer technicalities.
4.      To Officer Leander N. Sumampong for his valuable help and constant reminders to finish this project ahead of time. However we fail to do it, we nonetheless made it to the deadline, Big Brother.
5.      To our beloved Director, Administrative Staff and ATD Staff – thank you for everything. You have never failed to inspire us to be competent in all the things we do.
6.      To T Manglapus for keeping the spirit alive. Your leadership is beyond compare. You rightfully deserve the Leadership Award. Kudos, Pres!
7.      To T Legario for his diligence in keeping a clean environment for us. You always know that a clean place makes the brain stimulates faster. Rest assured your name will never be omitted in this page and you will be dully remembered by anyone who curiously read this.  P.S. He also knows where all the floor scrubs are hidden.
8.      To Ts Paluga, Pańares, Seno, and Mapang for making this training far less boring. With your wicked jokes and indispensable punch lines, you make things easier for us despite so many trials. P.S. How could you possibly pass the neuro test?
9.      For T Salapang. You make printing possible for us. Great!
10.   To T Balictar for preparing our beds while we cram for the final deadline of this project. We hope it will go on even after this project is done.
11.    To all members of the JBRC Class 174-11 who contributed in various ways, thank you.
12.   To Nescafe 3 n 1, Kape Puro and Kopiko for keeping as awake most of the time; but not too much to the brink of transforming us into zombies.
13.   Choco Mucho – how can we forget you? You melt perfectly in the mouth.
14.   Rebisco of all flavors – you make rainbows in our stomachs.
15.   Mang Inasal for catering our gluttonous behavior during WEP.
16.   Our hands - lovely! We couldn’t have written anything without your mechanical appendages. We hope to change the world using these too.
17.   For our brains- Hmmm... Let’s say you keep the motor running, don't you?
18.   Mineral water for the drinking spree everyday and every night. Mentally it could make you high sometimes. Just sometimes.
19.   COOP-though we were nearly broke because of you, you nevertheless failed to lure us back even after usual meals.
20.  Randy David, Conrado de Quiros, Jessica Zafra, Bobit Avila – for your columns fellows. Ah, we couldn’t say better than thank you for filling our lost minds when we were totally blocked out from the outside world.
21.   To all we failed to mention here, God knows we are very grateful for all of you. And he also know "who does" not contribute anything.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Mighty Pen

In the course of years, when wood signaled for the dawn of civilization and later on replaced by stone to survive the age; when intelligence crept in with progress and iron was dug out of the sand, sheathed in a skin from a slain victim; when humans explored the lands and crossed earthly bridges to control nature, like deities in flesh, and to indulge in wars to proclaim tribal dominions; when smoke arose in the sky and rivers turned black from white and noise grew louder in tribes of black, white and brown; when history invented papers and ink and etched its record day by day; when machine revolted, chig-a-chag-a-chog aginst human labor slow in speed; when intelligence bloomed in age to fashion codes and letters for global order be done - such things, more than the blade, is mightier to deem as pen held of the rest to speak, “I am but mightier than sword and history knows why.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Reminder from Losing a Thing that Saves

It’s so unfortunate of me to lose my flash disk that contains all my important files. Most of my personal writings and important articles downloaded from the net, including the memorandum sent by the NHQ were all stored there. Then all of a sudden, it’s gone. I might have left it in the office and picked up by somebody, slid it on their bag and belasmax, gone! Or it might have slipped off from my pocket while I was riding my motorcycle going home. Not that I really abhor the feeling of materially losing it: God knows that I really don’t mind losing the material. It’s the content that matters most. Most things that you make wrought with personal significance can hardly be given up. Just like a gun for a soldier amidst bombardment, the content of my flash disk serves likewise.

You probably understand how it feels to lose a part of you, never to be retrieved again, save only a miracle man finds it and return it to me after decoding my address from the profile’s of millions from the net. I have no choice but to let go and start all over again.

Silly as a dog, but this reminds me of something. (If you believe that tragedy leads to a better end, then this is one credible testimony.)  After burying myself from the piles of paper works and reading materials, making position papers and statistical outputs from them, I couldn’t bother to pause and think, “Hey, you ought to be careful you might lose something.” And I really did after all. I lost my flash disk, and worst, I lost the moment of taking care of it. I lose the compositions, the paragraphs, the sentences, the words, and the letters – all of which constitute the importance of my flash disk.

But there is bigger thing than this. Something more significant: It’s Holy Week and I shouldn’t be losing a bit of my soul. That’s the bright side: yes, I lost my USB only to remind me that I may lose my soul if I don’t pause and reflect on the important details in my life. If a soul is a thing, then most of people must have dropped it on the subway. I’m glad that it isn’t. It is far important than anything. Its, the very essence of existence that defines how can we be so related to the Creator. The body may resemble that of the material side of the USB, yet the soul is the most important of all – and I wouldn’t want to lose it. Perhaps, you feel the same too.

Or possible, let the soul finds a home where it can be retrieved and float in eternity the way files are saved in Google Drive. Save the soul in a sure and safest storage – Let that be God. And lest that is quite difficult, always pause to remind the self: “Hey, I ought to be careful or I might lose the big thing.”

P.S. In case you find my flash disk (2008 Imation, color red, with flipping cover, with a 4- Gigabyte capacity and contains informative articles and compositions - one of which is Feet and Balls: History of Iloilo Football that I wrote with my wife in sheer research pleasure), please return it to me or PM me. Of course, that’s just me hoping. Haha. Bless your soul and have a significant Holy Week everyone.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Notes on Boredom

If there’s something that pushes to save myself from boredom it's the idea of a boredom itself in which I couldn’t bear to embrace at all. Some say it’s good; others do not. But one thing that really affects me is why boredom seems to be romantic to intellectual men. Nietzsche talks about it, moving half way through the realization of oneself and simply condemning it; Kierkegaard regales it as path towards existential emancipation; Lord Byron embraces it, Da Vinci kills it.  Which is which?

One thing I’m sure about: that boredom is innate and cannot be shaken off even when there is plenty of stuff to combat it. Write, read, sing or do whatever you want and boredom will still be a step behind you, knocking at your door humming, “just don’t ever stop, or I’ll come in." It’s an automaton that plays when someone stops doing something. How ironical isn’t it? You simply can’t deny it.

Perhaps by writing about it, I get to choke “him” a bit. Or, I’ll save myself by doing something even if it’s worth nothing.  And if it persists, pitty me!

Monday, October 1, 2012

CL means CoLored, at Least for Me

First week: the same old topic keeps circulating around. Second week: it’s getting started to hum like bees with placards. You probably know what it is all about, for there are just three hot topics that dominate the Philippine news today: UNA vs Admin, Bansangmoro (finally getting an electric starter for golden bullet, at last!) and the Cybercrime Law to which cyberpeople with their cyberprojects wish to halt, full stop. Of the three, nothing seems more controversial than the CL (pardon me for the initial because it seems the word “cyber” becomes an overrated term while “law” sounds so technical that only suits my wife to explain). Well I got nothing against it except that it stirs a lot of controversy of defining the world “libel” as an antecedent to the Revised Penal Code and the one as attached to the CL. When you’re seated in front of a TV and you prowl for the latest news and all you scoop about is the same topic that had been winded over and over again, you get bored - I mean literally bored-  because what goes around for a long time becomes normal just like the rest. CL+CL= "bordamn" (or dilation of the iris, without remedy)!


No, don’t get me wrong, I have read the provisions of the CL, at least to make me a little aware what’s this buzz all about. And based on what I have read, there is an apparent "off tangents" in the said law. One of those glaring subjects, of course, is the word “libel”. While libel may seem applicable to media, only because they are but for public consumption and has the resources to find out the real stories behind, and thus must stress facts over rumors. Print media are bounded by oath to facts in order not to impinge biases on the stories they unveil. If a story came out otherwise, whether it’ll be on paper or the internet,  now, that is literally LIBEL (although they can always evade the penalty by simply embracing the tactic of “public apology”). I am sorry, ika nga ni GMA.

On the other limb, within the scope of the CL, people who only want to voice out their views via their blogs or social media sites would be imperiled. For someone like me who is a disciple of sarcasm, I should perhaps pack my things and secure a court order of my remittance to the nearest jail and prepare a penalty of 600-2000 pesos lang naman. That will be a small amount for a legal penalty, yet that will surely stain your name. You will have it etched in your NBI clearance forever. 

But, no, the DOJ said they elucidated the law which exempts bloggers. A sigh of relief. But I could never feel remorse if this law is pursued. One thing for sure if they stringently impose this and if I were to be thrown inside a penal colony for lambasting whoever that is worth lambasting, I will surely get to face Conrado de Quiros, Cito Beltran, Mon Casiple and Winnie Monsod –all of them have written both in papers and in the “cloud” and have greatly fascinated this dull brain of mine.  (And what about William Esposo? Oh, he is and will be very safe.) The funny thing is, all jails will be crowded with facebookers and bloggers who just voiced out their sentiments. Imagine if there are 30 million FB users and half of them posted about something that is not pleasing to politicians, especially that the election zeitgeist is starting to creep up in our nerves, there surely wont be a jail large enough to accommodate these criminals. There wont be a correctional willing to commit these criminals for they surely know they will be whining day in and day out inside the cell, calling for justice – their dignity suddenly stamped down.

Of course that will never happen. That is beyond judicial cognition to impose such penalty bereft of reason to respect the so called “personal opinion.” And if they ever try, well see… they might experience another of their government site hacked by Philippine Anynonymous (such as a brilliant name to call themselves, yet I like to call them Bogus). It’s just amusing to think that what politician assumed to be a perfume for the upcoming election turned out to be, if my prediction is correct, a stale that will pull them down. I could not help but think if our president had really read it well before he inked it for good? Or did the paper turned yellow that he liked the color so much without minding to read the details of the law? Or did he sign it to show that his administration is working so hard to protect the people and therefore must be trusted? Or it was just another pogi-point to garner votes for the upcoming election for his senatorial slate? Does CL means “Colored”, politically? I don’t know. He alone knows. And he alone knows well if I should be sent to prison for writing this.

Better make a burrow to hide. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pamuk at the Back Post

Dearest Rosa,

I’m lucky to be assigned at the backdoor today. At least the barracks is near and it is easy for me to cry for assistance when need arises. In case you haven’t known yet, this is the best post I love inside the jail. It gives me  ample of time to think and plan for myself and my family. Being a father and a husband is tough, that is why you need to be very careful in everything you do and make sure you follow the golden rule: Be good, even in what you’re cooking.

Of course, the back door is the most tranquil post inside the jail. It offers a panorama of acres of rice field that is not just soothing for the eyes but also for the brain. Above the verdant plain is the blue sky which is ornamented by giant cotton clouds that sometimes block the sun to create a patch of shadow bellow. Finches seductively play with each other atop the acasia trees. Some of them would swing back in forth from branches to the little chink in the corner of the ceiling with little twigs between their beaks – probably trying to make a love nest, to warm them when rain comes. Everything here is simple, so peaceful. If only I have my camera with me, I can always come out with a great moment of it. 

Since our barracks is a just a walk near my post, I have the opportunity to browse my little book collection I brought with me since I was assigned here last February. On my shelf are Best American Essays 2006 and 1994, Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Koztova, Gunter Grass’ Peeling Onions, British football history creatively told by David Winner in his Those Feet, Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, Joseph Epstein’s Friendship, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, Soldier’s Heart by Elizabeth Samet, Love and Blood by Jamie Trekker to which I have devoured right away during the first day of my assignment last month, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, Orhan Pamuk’s Snow, Left Foot in the Grave by Garry Nelson, and few of legal notes I photocopied from Iloilo Provincial Library. Of all in the list, except four books that I have read, I pick Pamuk’s Snow. 

It’s been three years now since I last read a piece by this celebrated author and with deep conviction I can well attest his prolificacy. From his My Name is Red to Colors, Pamuk is one of the boldest authors I’ve read – and perhaps the best ever Turkish author there is. I already told you about this, didn’t I? In case you haven’t tried one of his books, I recommend you start with Snow then followed by My Name is Red. 

The story’s plot is simple: There’s an exiled poet who was in love with the a beautiful divorced woman who was also in love with another man yet willing to give up everything for a single chance of leaving the politically torn place known as Kars for Frankfurt. What makes the novel extraordinary is its social impact in a society where politics and religion blend – usually resulting to turmoil. What happens in between this simple plot is the grace of creativity flowing into the story. There is also interplay of emotions as well intellectual juices that make the story a page-turner. If I were to deductively summarize the impact of the book, I can give you three points:

  1. That Pamuk’s style is very relevant to the present time. The series of revolution happening in Gulf right now mirrors the story of Kars. How? The root cause of revolution in the east is triggered by undying enmity between the Islamists and the desire to embrace the western concept of democracy. Some Islamists condemn the idea of democracy, simply because there is a tinge of hypocrisy, an element of distrust in part of the West for Arab nations. Anything that is western to them, especially the intellectual culture of Europe is plainly a product of secularism, and worst, of atheism. The result: War. And people can be very naïve to die for it.
  2. There’s no way of stopping a culture. It’s dynamic. Turkey, being part of Europe, is de facto the only Muslim nation member of the European Union. And being the sole Muslim member, they obviously have different culture. One of this is the propagation of the head-scarf for women. While this may be of unique religious value, people of Europe (at least some of them), condemn this practice. Why? Simple: Who knows, a suicide bomber is hiding there. 
  3. The search for Happiness. In political turmoil, or amidst war and catastrophe, who doesn’t want peace and happiness? For me, the novel is trying to suggest that true happiness can be found where there is peace. Ka, the poet, always long for a place where he could write freely, or he could make love freely (with Ipek) without having to mess with other people’s lives. He thought of Frankfurt, only to find out it was just like Kars. For even when he could evade the past in Kars, its memory would haunt him. The true happiness is where your heart is and where your heart is, there will be peace. 
So there you go, Rosa. The book is really good. Five star! It’s perfect for my post. It’s give a great pleasure to read this kind of book especially when you are surrounded by armed men who either talk about women or perpetually complaining that the government is extremely laggard . You know me very well. I don’t linger in conversations like that. So in order to take no offense, I always go to corner and get lost in my own world. Nothing is more fulfilling for me today than to sit with Pamuk at the back post… till the last page. What more can ask I for?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Few Good Men

Dearest Rosa,

I am very blessed to have you. After all these years of ups and downs, you are still the steadfast one to remain with me. You are but a piece of paper waiting to be inked out with letters yet you have made extraordinary things for me. I couldn’t count them anymore; you have given me much. But where’s Mr. Justice? I have forsaken you for some time despite everything. I am sorry.

But perhaps you’ll understand my schedule now and will still listen to me attentively. I have a family now, a baby’s coming up – hope she’s as pretty as her mom- and a lot of fatherly obligations that I have to fulfill. You don’t know how hard it is to be a father who tries to adjust to a different perspective in life, do you? Transition period can be tedious and you need a solid arm to push through. Nonetheless, it is still rewarding.

OK. Now, Listen.

Yesterday, while I was alone in the front tower with my underclass (both armed with lethal weapons) looking over a group of prisoners doing their garden plots, I couldn’t help but think how it is to be a prisoner? Will I be an obedient one or will I be one of the common hardheaded men discarded by society? It’s one of the questions that I always ask myself. While there is sheer pleasure in knowing that I am luckier enough in life to have freedom bounded by law, I cannot evade the thought that these men might be happier than I am. Some of them had already accepted their lots and try to live them out. For an ambitious man like me, I deem this impossible. But I could not deny that only those who knew they were wrong are the ones bound to accept the tragedies in life, of how cruel fate could be and how delightful it might turn out if you they are able to deal with it. In this case I guess, they are saved by grace that leads to their fate of eternal happiness. Ah! Yes, they are better than I am.

Take the example of one of the closest I have in prison, Teddy (not his real name). He was alleged for homicide after defending his family from the insurgents who tried to rob their homes of food. Being a father of three, he couldn’t bear to watch his children starve so he had no choice but to fight back. Since he is in better position, he had a better chance of striking his enemy. He shot them one by one with his pistol hidden under their table. Three fell, two escaped. Those three pleaded for his mercy and even apologized till their last breath. The others who escaped were the ones responsible for committing him in prison.

Right now, Teddy serves his second year of sentence. He isn’t like the rest of his company because he takes pride in what he did although he accepts that this is his tragic fate. He is still hopeful though to be released someday. For the mean time, while waiting for the final verdict, he immerses himself in the Bible to clean his thoughts, all for his wife and children.

Something telling me Rosa that this man can be better than I am. In fact, he did the right thing in one angle. He loved his family and sacrificed much for them. However, some would ask, if he was a good man why risk his luck in prison? Why did he not just leave the bandits on their business? And if he was a good man, where is he now to support his family? These questions are morally relevant. But in an instance when one is confronted with the desire to protect his family from being bullied by bandits, would you think you can develop a sound judgment? When gun barrels are directly pointed to your wife and children, would you not react? Ah! foolish he may be, but he alone had the courage to take a stand to what he believed to be moral.

Man like him crosses my path each day – some of them smiling, often pouting. I cannot blame them for I do not know how they feel. What is my business with them anyway? After all they are prisoners and I am to be respected for my position as their guard. But what I always forget is these men are “humans” – just like us, they breathe, they die. Just like us, they remain to be respected and treated well. There are so many Teddys in our society and we can never tell, they might be Better than us.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back in Diary Writing

Long ago there was a self, and for some incomprehensive reasons boredom arose from it that shadowed the self with clueless questions. Beside the self laid an Aspen notebook of cheap quality and a Panda pen of ancient origin. Then the urge came to do something about it, to kill the boredom perhaps or to find answers to different questions that flutter around. Letters formed. From letters came words; from words, sentences; from sentences, paragraphs; from paragraphs, a diary; and from diary?

A fragment of an image of a self. That’s, when I started writing.

I used to see the world in colorful arrays. The bounty of nature weaved through my mind, the inanimate things that amused me, the emotions that composed me, the people to whom I was  involved with, the good and evil in perpetual battle- all these constitute my world and I scribbled them down in the cheap pages of my Aspen notebook. I wrote and wrote and saw myself. Horrible, horrible! 

I stopped. 

Long have I abandoned diary writing since I joined the “uniform service.” Because things get so tough, you have to forego some of the dearest things for the greater good of one’s self- especially when it comes to choosing your priorities in life; you can’t just stick around, lingering to your obsession while relegating aside some of the vital needs for living like job and marriage – at least for some time. 

But of course, you become nostalgic once in a while (especially when things that are meant to be addressed are already in place like marriage and financial matters). The feeling of reviving the old passion comes back to you as an apparition in moments of solitude or boredom. It’s like a lake covered with ice during the winter which gradually thaws at the advent of spring, unfolding before your very eyes its natural beauty. You’d realize that you ought to be pensive in giving up things. Some things are practically shallow that it takes no qualms to abandon them. But aha! diary writing is different. 

What’s with it? You may wonder. Well, for me, it is something special that I should keep no matter what - not because it gives me an edge for honing my writing skills but of the psychological consolation I find in every written word, reflecting what was in my mind. In short, it makes me feel good by knowing myself better each day (or loathing myself). For diary writing is basically a mirror that unveils the image of one’s very self, connoting a spiritual value to balance check our lives. 

It must be kept alive. I shall start in this page. 

I’m back.