Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Voices From The Planetside

"The moon keeps getting smaller every time I see it."

"Beats me, I no longer look at the moon," Aenepada said before returning to the tome he was reading.


"What's the use of looking when the sky is already flooded with lights?"

"You mean the floating cities?" Mamud sighed. "I sometimes envy those sky dwellers. The great mother said they used to live among us, but now..."

"Now what?"

"I doubt if they still know we exist." 

"I wonder how it feels like living there?" Aenepada stoked the fire pit before returning beside his companion. The wind blows, and came with it, the arctic chill which the ground dwellers have grown to live with.

"This cold spell used to take breaks, but now it goes on, like forever..."

"What do you mean?" It's Mamud's turn to put wood on to the fire pit.

"Winter comes and goes and the land returns to its verdant state. I remember growing vegetables under the sun."

"I don't believe you."

Mamud was too young to remember. He grew up seeing the lake frozen, and their fiber glass hut covered in thick blanket of snow. Sometimes, the hazy sun would appear, for very brief moments before it too disappears behind the wisps. The sun chasers, as Mamud's generation is called knew only of the moon and its faint glow. 

But most of them, including Aenepada have grown weary of the silvery orb. Instead, they fix their eyes to the passing floating cities and wish to become their inhabitants too.

But no one has ever become one. 

The young men, in their time of communion waited until the moon disappears on the horizon. The older one may have spent the night sleeping under the blanket of city lights, while his dreamy companion, curled beside him desired the stars. What they didn't know is that across the barren world, ground dwellers like them are dying out. Whispers tell of entire tribes suddenly disappearing, but village chieftains and town leaders dismiss this as lore.

After all, no longer do they speak to one another.

Meanwhile, beyond the floating cities and far out of the planet's orbit, the runaway moon begins to crumble. Entire landmasses sink beneath the surface. It cracks open, revealing an ancient machine only the eldest of the ground dwellers knew from their legends.

The massive artifact lays there motionless. Against the backdrop of stars and now without the moon to illuminate the heavens, Mamud and those on the planetside who still bother to look could catch it drifting aimlessly in space.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"The Philippine Government has just passed a bill that effectively ends the Freedom of Expression in the Philippines," the message read.

"But some parts of the bill basically says it can imprison anyone who commits libel either by written messages, comments, blogs or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter or any other comment spaces of other social media in the Internet."

To make a stand has yet to cross my mind. Not that I won't be affected by the Cybercrime Bill, but I still have to read the law before I can judge its potency. Moving behind the curtains has effectively covered my tracks. My words, with their ability to destroy, also, have yet to be used for such purpose.

The ground I walk is built on anonymity. I may have revealed myself to some. But to the digital cosmos, I have remained largely incognito. For this reason, I fear not the bill. If I wish to mangle someone's name, I could always do it without leaving a hint of my doing.

I know little about libel, and from the words I heard, news organizations were successful in promoting their interests while protecting their men. In college, I remember little about the subject since Journalists seldom get imprisoned for the letters they put on print.   

And then this hacking incident came.

Let it be a warning that this government website takeover is just the beginning. The online community has yet to realize how the bill can bring misery to individuals. When word flies that a careless denizen really got jailed for the words he left online, expect a backlash never before seen in this country's history.

The people won't give up their freedom without putting up a fight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

For The Future

Previously: Literary Bedrock 

The trend is to lay claim to the overhead cabinets, before they too fall victim to the hoarders looking for space to dump their keepsakes. These wooden storage boxes, while already being used as repository of useless things, don't make the most of the available space. Given proper attention, the old stuff they hold can be thrown away, allowing the essentials littering the ground and at the mercy of the elements to be kept instead. 

For this urgency, I volunteered to occupy the overhead cabinet opposite my room. It has never been used since it was put there, and the handful of bags and other small items it holds could be passed on to new owners who might have better use for them.

My idea was to squeeze in the comforters my mother bought when chill weather used to pay a visit. It's been ages since they were taken out of their dust-coated plastic bags, and their old spot not only blocks the passage along the narrow corridor, their ugly presence tell that we don't have a place to keep them. 

Using a borrowed ladder, the ledges of the overhead box were wiped clean. The material excesses, including the motorcycle helmet which I never used when I had a bike - were carted away. After turning the cabinet into an empty shell, I shoved the comforters in, but only my sister's sheet could fit. I still have to find a place for my comforter, or I might sneak the over-sized blanket out of the house and give it to someone who needs it.

But as I descend the steps of the ladder, I chanced upon a stack of carton boxes that are also blocking the path. And then I remembered the man-sized book case that used to occupy half the space of the corridor before it was towed away to the master's bedroom. The encyclopedias and information tomes were hastily put inside the carton boxes before they were abandoned.

Meanwhile, I craned my head up to where the overhead cabinet was and thought of a better use for the space.

The fate of those books and my plans to share the knowledge before their hard-bound sources become obsolete has always been a thorny issue between me and the matriarch. 

My mom insists that we should keep them "for the children." But I would counter that my nephews would be using tablets once they step foot in grade school. Mother would brush off my vision, while I secretly grumbled in protest. But between sowing discord and embracing world peace, I never dared touch those tomes out of fear that I might fall into temptation

And give away those books without her permission.

But as I take out the volumes of Collier's Encyclopedia, and the non-fiction sagas out of the carton boxes, I cannot help but recognize the matriarch's line of thinking. Those books not only nourished me, they were part of my growing up years along with Nintendo, Voltron and Bioman.

Those precious gems of knowledge may have lost their charm in today's world. Nevertheless they have played a role I can never deny. Letting the less fortunate gain from these books is the most prudent move. But what about our own children - our bundles of joy, whose minds are now beginning to search for answers about their world? And what about the memory? Would I drop my sentimental leanings knowing there's a path to remembrance?

The stuff I tried to fit in were suddenly seen flying out of the storage cabinet. When the ledges were cleared, the atlases, almanacs and children's fairy tales were carefully arranged so that they could fit together and leave a gentle afterthought that they were put there on purpose.

I may not know what the future holds, but following my mom's ardent faith that books are timeless pieces, I may have unknowingly passed on the wisdom I have gathered, like fireflies, to lead the way for those who will one day follow our footsteps.

"For the future," I said, before closing the sliding door. In my head, I could almost hear the squeaky voices of my slightly older nephews asking to be read a book. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kind and Generous

I can be very nice to people.

Despite my tendency to be aloof, I can be very accommodating to those who see beyond the impression. I can bend rules if reasons justify. And I can be very patient, when it comes to loved ones, to colleagues, or to fellow travelers who got heavy burdens to carry on their back.

I try to be considerate and non-confrontational. I won't raise issues and shake establishments just to keep the peace. And I won't demand things I cannot do myself. Selflessness begins when one realizes his limitations.

But this generosity of spirit appears to be working against me. People tend to abuse it knowing you won't howl. Disarmed, protestations usually fall on deaf ears. Unforgotten. I always pay attention to what has happened in the past. I run my hand and feel my scars so that others won't have to suffer the atrocities I've been through.

I guess the world doesn't work that way. Whoever said that when you give a hand, your arms would be pulled apart must have been through such epiphany. 

I've been wondering if the world has enough of my good side. The peaceful, good-vibes, and stress-free me? Should I finally make adjustments on how I see the universe so that those who have basked under my graces know and feel that I am actually a troublesome ass to reckon with?

Friday, September 21, 2012


children's children of our time
will look at the sky
and wonder how we used to fly
fine machines such as the space shuttle.

in their hearts they will feel a sense of loss;
a time, those of us who were alive today hardly remembers,
which they will put into words
for the digital universe to mourn.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good Vibes

I went to Katipunan to shake off these pallid thoughts. I succeeded, for a moment, because the memory of the monasterio fills me with unmistakable joy. Then off I went to the bank, to let the two week's worth of salary sink into my savings account. And then at last. For the very reason I left the house this afternoon, I went to Trinoma to buy a present for my godson. He will join the flock this Saturday morning, and with my afternoon work schedule tomorrow, I got no time to do my shopping since work ends at 10 in the evening. 

As my rest days take a bow, I've realized that: I spent one free day quarantined (and stuck in bed because of a malady.) Another, if you would consider the weekend forced work-absence a privilege. My work-out activity still has to resume after a week of not going to the gym. And with my social life in a tail-spin, my cash resources still dwindling, and with the obvious lack of accomplishments these past few days.

It's no surprise that I ask, why is happiness becoming a struggle?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Good News

Once, I got a book.

It was a token from a classmate in Diliman. A Filipino-Chinese, who spends most of her time running the family business. It was a parting gift given during our last day of class. And I didn't give it much thought until I got home.

I unwrapped the present to learn that it was a religious book. Not the inspirational or self-help literature but a Manga. A graphic novel that was inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Manga Messiah, as the title says, is an illustrated novel lifted from the passages of the New Testament. Done in Japanese style of drawing, the book covers the life of Yeshua from his birth to his resurrection. Its fresh approach to the stories in the Bible makes it very appealing to people of all ages, especially the ones who grew up watching Anime.

The book lingered in my bookcase for more than a year. Sometimes, I would take it out so I could lift a few pages, and then I would return it again to hibernate until kingdom come. Not until my faith was challenged did I appreciate its true value. Ganoon pala. When you're looking for anchorage and you can't find it on earth, it is when you start looking up to the heavens for an ounce of solace.

It happened once. Yung mag-seek ka ng assurance that everything will be alright, even if you have to live with the guilt because of the choices you made. It happened once. Yung mag pray ka over and over because it is more dreadful to wait with an idle mind. It happened once, when you're too helpless to walk out of the room and that voice in your heart tells you to get that book. Not because it has the answers, but to let you know that you are not alone.

And I felt comforted.

I was able to resolve my troubles without anyone knowing what I have been through. With my faith hitting an all time high, the rosary and the pocket Bible became traveling companions inside my bag. I was able to put my life in order, and secede from the person who was tearing me apart. I was able to finish reading the Manga. But in all the years I searched the Christian bookstores for copy,

My expedition always fails.

Until someone at the Manila International Book Fair this week handed me a fresh copy.

No longer am I sure to give my extra copy. At P250, the Manga isn't something you can simply give away. I don't even know who among my cousins and godchildren read graphic novels these days. But just to pass on the good news these illustrated pages have shared with me,

Come Christmas, the book shall shed light to its new keeper.

Friday, September 14, 2012


china doll

It was a gift from an aunt long before my little sister was pulled out of my mother's womb. 

Encased in a transparent jar, the ceramic doll remained untouched. Only recently, when the soon-to-be mother began moving stuff out of her room and into the narrow corridor did the china doll got dismissed. Its jar coated in dust, trash spilled within the bowels of the container itself.

I found the jar and the porcelain baby while cleaning the end table facing the stairs. There, the memento lay half-buried under piles of trash and forgotten keepsakes. The delicately crafted doll leaned on one side, pressed against the glass vase by a discarded Eveready battery. Rolls of yellow and green ribbons add to the garbage. The ribbons were put there as souvenirs marking an occasion, perhaps, to be collected and reused at a later time.

I took out the china doll from its container, making sure the figurine doesn't fall, or hit a hard surface. One of its legs was already severed. The industrial glue has failed to reconnect the broken parts.

The glass jar was taken away for cleaning, while a wall-mounted metal sconce, with its candle holder missing found new use after it too lay unclaimed on the table. There, on a wall separating my room from the outside world, it found its home. A metal hook was already in place. All that was missing is a wall-mounted conversation piece, which the glass encased ceramic doll now fulfills.

Monday, September 10, 2012


News is when a man bites a dog and not the other way around.

For this reason, we were taught in Journalism how to discern news over what is mere press release. With this mindset, we begin to learn why good news seldom make it to the headlines, unless the society has become too corrupt that immorality has become the norm or a sense of optimism whiffs in the air.

We were also taught how to make salsal a story when news is scarce or information is unavailable. While frowned upon and strictly unspoken, such technique had helped us cope with the dry days when I used to run a tabloid newspaper.

Salsal is when an ordinary crime-related story is peppered with details when none exists. It aims to generate a response whether it be repulsion, fear, anger or even amusement. When done regularly - even when other newspapers carry a single headline, the salsal news becomes tasteless. People start to complain and the tabloid suffers a loss of readership.

I was reminded of the word and how we smirked when Isabel De Leon segued to the topic. I may not recall her examples, but whenever I encounter cheeky passages from news articles such as these:

"The women demanded he also have sex with them, and the old man resisted at first. But then gave in to his wives' desires.

Uroko stopped breathing when the fifth woman was riding on top of him. “Suddenly, my husband stopped breathing, and they all ran out, still laughing," the youngest wife told reporters, "but when they saw that I could not resuscitate him, they all ran into the forest."

I cannot help but think of the perfect banner. 

TNB has already blogged about the news, but if given a spin - Pinoy style, I would wholeheartedly recommend this front-page headline.

Pumupulandit pa ang katas: Mister, dedo matapos kangkangin ng limang asawa.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Kugard fell silent for a minute or two, and to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the stars. He nudged my arm and pointed at the sky with his finger. "Say, will you look at The Follower. Look at its color. Like red maple leaves on a chilly autumn sunset!" From the way he spoke I felt some dissonance; some thought he couldn't put into words. I was astonished. I confessed that I did not know which star he was pointing at—or perhaps I was in denial, I pretended not to notice that the stars were of different colors. 

Because I have already killed the astronomer in me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why Its Hard To Blog These Days?

1. Writing has become a drag. Why spend two to four hours conceiving an idea and putting it into words, when you can simply share your life on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook? 

2. Twitter. It's dynamic, densely populated and it only takes 140 characters to send a thought or update across. And there's always a receptive audience who is ready to click the re-tweet and favorite buttons, or respond to the tweets you sent.

3. Economy of words. Yours truly, has become more verbose. And it's no fun having cerebral tussle when the heart of your blog entry no longer touches your readers.  

4. Martha Stewart Effect. These days, I tend to write more about the house plants outside my window, or finding ways on how to prepare for natural calamities, than sinking my head into the pits of a destitute life. I know someone who goes into a sex frenzy when he's high on E, and in all honesty, his life stirs more drama and struggle than mine. Sadly, he no longer blogs.

5. Language. Mahirap kumonek sa mga readers kapag ang drama mo sa blog ay magpaka-elitista sa wikang sinusulat - kahit ang wish mong i-share na karanasan ay ang pagtambay sa jologs na Uni-Top Department Store sa may Nagtahan.

6. Style over essence. When a writer spends more time doing revisions, (grammar check, identifying appropriate words to capture the experience, fleshing out the details, re-reading entire paragraphs, so they may sound musically to the ears) there's a big chance the entry won't get published. Instead, it would linger in the drafts folder. Unloved and forgotten.

7. A lazy reader is a lazy blogger. I don't blog hop as I used to when Bloggers rule social media. I even refrain from responding to comments, saving my energy instead when it's my turn to check the blogs of those who left words on my comment box. With an attitude like this, how can you expect one to write as religiously as he did in the past?

8. Distraction. Need I say more? Sims 3 Supernatural awaits when I get home.

9. Catharsis. A good entry takes readers on a journey. Stories do not merely tell, they must evoke emotions, or at least a sense of attachment. That's what we've been told in the graduate school, and for many years, it was the anchor of my journal. But I am getting tired of doing joyrides, or if I do, there's a lingering feeling that it's not the journey I had in my head. For this reason, I am dissuaded from writing and instead, become a reader like many bloggers before me.

10. Many people I know have already left the blogsphere. Their dust-covered worlds are like artifacts dating back from the time of their soul-searching days.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Doomsday Prepper | Act 1

It took just a single temblor to awaken the instinct: self-preservation in a catastrophic event befalling a city caught flat-footed. The seismic head bang slammed the hips of the archipelago. It did little damage. Taking with it a careless soul and dozens of flimsy houses in its ripples' deadly wake. 

The metropolis up north escaped unscathed. It's towering homes and offices didn't sway, its denizens slept as past-midnight aftershocks continue to put fear in the hearts of men, women and children of Tacloban. An earthquake of that magnitude, grinding instead the tectonic plates of the Valley Fault in Rizal is beyond imagination.

Little now do we remember of that great samba of July 1990.

As the city and its leaders insist on some form of readiness - assembling heavy equipment to be used to dig under collapsed buildings under road intersection flyovers - one must remember that disaster preparedness starts at home. It was a lesson learned after Habagat sunk a third of the metropolis. While essentials are full at that time, and helpers were willing to wade across knee-deep flood waters to source supplies, none would be available had buildings and bridges fell down.

Not even medicines.

roll of paper tape
gauge pads
mediplast plastic strips
betadine ointment
isoprophyl alcohol
hydrogen peroxide
surgical gloves
efficascent oil 

the emergency kit should be positioned close to accessible locations.

supplies must be used only for emergencies. never for convenience

Duality pervades over the emergency kit's very existence; as a first aid provision, and soon-to-be repository of over-the-counter medicines, and as reassurance that a means of survival is there when none is present elsewhere. A disused medicine cabinet used to sit across the staircase. Hidden behind iconic images of saints and virgins, the cabinet's contents were barely useful. It was moved to its new location this afternoon - halfway between the two floors of the house - to make sure its life-saving properties are readily available.

It sits there, untouched, with a red cross on its surface. It speaks of its cornerstone position. As it waits, the freshly-supplied medicine cabinet fervently hopes it would never be opened for reasons no one wishes to happen.

It sits there, like a guardian. Reminding me every time I go into my room at night, that much work still needs to be done for my loved ones' very survival.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Better Than Being Epal

Naisip ko lang, hindi kaya mas magandang political strategy for a government official ang mag-set up ng social media account sa Twitter at Facebook na they themselves manage, sa halip na magkabit ng tarpaulins attaching their name when local government projects are accomplished and yearly events take place? 

While not everyone has a Social Media account, the trickle down effect seems more evident as more and more people spend their free time in front of the computer. With all these cyber bullying incidents and breaking news making it to Bandila and the Inquirer, free publicity is not far away when a public figure is also active on the Internet. It's a long shot, but with genuine dedication to update one's timeline, having personal touch, rather than sounding like a paid poster, and a sincere desire to engage netizens, I think, a tech-savvy official is far more likeable than being an Epal.

You just got my vote, Mayor!

After all, Democracy is when leaders speak, listen and remain beholden to the people.

It has always been the tradition.