Saturday, October 15, 2016

In Her State of Delirium (Second Part)

"Punasan mo lang ng punasan ang extremeties niya," my sister tells me. "Isama mo ang braso, pati na ang kili-kili." 

"Huwag ka lang mag concentrate sa noo." 

You can sense in her voice the grave concern as she gives the order to me. While she is a pro when it comes to taking care of sick toddlers, being away from home and from our mother who is at the moment burning up with a 40-degree fever makes it difficult for her. My lack of experience nursing people back to health doesn't help, and so is the absence of knowledge as to what my mother's cause of infection is.  

The maid returns with a basin full of cold water. Rinsing off the towel before pressing it against my mother's arm made her whimper. It has been almost an hour after she took a paracetamol and barely her condition improved. With her eyes shut tight, and her lips mumbling incoherent words, I asked the maid to get her blood pressure once again while pressing the emergency number on my mobile to ask our family doctor for the next step. 

"Hindi ba yan Dehydrated?" My Favorite Aunt inquired. The matriarch's blood pressure is below 100.

Her temperature dips slightly to 39.

"Pinainom ko po ulit ng tubig. Uminom naman siya ng kaunti" In truth, I was merely waiting for her to make the decision: to rush my mom to the emergency room so that doctors and nurses can actually attend to her needs. Aside from the reminder to have my mom drink her antibiotics, (which the Favorite Aunt prescribed without identifying the cause of the infection) and constant interrogation about the meds she was taking to keep her blood pressure in check, no decision to call Lifeline Rescue for ambulance transportation came.

In many ways, I was relieved.

I returned to applying cold compresses on my mother's sweltering skin until her sleeveless night dress was soaking from her sweat.


Throughout the entire ordeal, the feeling of hopelessness and resignation never really sunk in. I was surrounded by people who hardly rested while the matriarch did her best to recuperate. There was the maid who took her temperature and blood pressure and wrote down the figures on a notebook so we can compare notes. She was also the one who changed my mom's dress, (while I lifted her while she was sleeping) replaced the bag of ice cubes which she puts on her head, watched her during the day while I go to bed, and made sure she ate the food on her plate despite the lack of appetite.

Kuya O did much of the legwork - buying her medicines, bringing the urine sample to a laboratory not far from home, procuring everything that was needed because I could not leave home. Even the Weatherman, who for some reasons decided to stay over that Saturday, lent me the strength to carry on. He prayed over my mom when she was delirious before retreating to my room to resume building his town on Cities Skylines.

I have no complaints.

The Favorite Aunt dropped by every day to make sure she sees her sister. The clarity she provided, the blanket assurance that an emergency trip was not needed, and the mere fact she is there made the difference. We are indeed lucky to have a doctor in the family.  I would not speak of my place in the two sleepless nights she had her bouts of chills, fever, and stomach pain. But suffice to say, it scared me a little when she would tell me at 3 in the morning that she had no memory after the cold spells set in.


We still have no idea what caused her infection.

Sunday came and I was prepared for the worst. But instead of the recurring chills, a check of her temperature give away a slight fever. With the heaviness of her tummy eased by a pill, the matriarch slept without any discomfort that night.

The antibiotics might have already taken effect.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In Her State of Delirium (First Part)

It all began with the sudden chills. 

There was no time to call my name, and only the maid, who happened to pass by her room and found her in a fetal position at the edge of the bed offered the much-needed blanket. As a precaution, I phoned the Favorite Aunt to report the developing situation. She is the family doctor. The Favorite Aunt assured me there was little to worry. It was already sundown and geriatrics like my mother experience the chills especially during this time of the year.

And so I thought.

Thirty minutes after the phone call, while I was with the Weatherman looking for a printing shop in Recto, my sister told me that my mother's temperature surged to almost 40. Another SMS message: she purged all she had eaten the entire day. I instructed the sibling to have someone check our matriarch's blood pressure before heading home without saying a word. 

When I got into her room, my mother was delirious.

Unable to speak a complete sentence or even recognize her surroundings, I was ready to dial 911 so I could rush her to the nearest hospital. Her blood pressure did shoot way above the average, but it was not as alarming as the last time it hit 200.  She complained of headaches and would have preferred to be left alone to sleep. But with the favorite aunt grilling me about the medicines she was supposed to take and with me unable to provide a concrete response, the mumbling of my lips hint of ignorance. If not for my sister who told me to calm down, I would have made rushed decisions out of fear and panic.  

Eventually, the fever had dissipated after hours of applying cold compresses to her head.  She was back in shape, without any memory of the events that night. So casual things had become that I even allowed my sister to go with her in-laws. Her family was supposed to spend the weekend in Tagaytay.  The next day, we assumed the worst was over and that the chills and the high fever were caused by indigestion. She was seen eating a cup of Taho before her guts expelled them in one nasty purge. 

It was the evening of the next day when my mother had once again complained of the chills. It was almost 10 pm on a Saturday night, and without my sister to tell me what to do, my mother's fever leap past 40. 

By then, we all knew it was an infection.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016


It was a feast by all accounts.

The Pancit Malabon and the home-made spaghetti laid side by side across the large wooden table. Sticks of grilled pork flanked the two pasta dishes. A plate of roasted chicken was being passed around. Not even its bones did escape the hungry mouths of the youthful revelers. A batch of fried spring rolls was set aside on the food strainer, its coat of vegetable oil still dripping on the warm pot.  There were a lot more where it came from. The macaroni salad in the fridge remained untouched, and so were the cakes, brought by friends who arrived expectedly, even in the absence of invitations. Finally, the Lechon was delivered, paid for by the celebrant's other half who was also celebrating his birthday on that auspicious weekend. I don't recall it getting to the table with its crispy skin still intact.

Later that evening, when the family members have all left, those who stayed behind took turns singing at the karaoke. I remember Kuya Roque, the eldest of the celebrant's students crooned to classic tunes from Frank Sinatra to Procol Harum. It is as if, he had memorized all the celebrant's favorite songs and performed it with much feel. Meanwhile, cases of beer kept the live chatter late into the night, spilling into the driveway, where some of the guests had already begun swooning on their monobloc chairs. Unable to handle the alcohol that had already numbed the senses, some of the female guests were told to stay overnight. It wasn't safe to travel home. I wonder if they still remember that event from years back when they felt so euphoric, they woke up the next morning having a taste of what a wasted adult felt like.

I do, even when I was a mere spectator.

Because in the years after that feast, no longer would the celebrant throw a celebration as grand as the vignette I have written, and instead, simply waited for people to remember (and hopefully show up with food that we can all share). The students who were intoxicated now have their own lives. Rarely do they keep in touch. Kuya Roque, the crooner, has passed away after he didn't wake up one morning, and only the celebrant's friends from her old neighborhood (aside from relatives) never fail to show up, to have a modest birthday party to welcome another year.

But that will change.

She had a difficult time sleeping that night when the idea had finally sunk in. She was even worried that she might have a heart attack after failing to contain all that excitement. For after 15 years, she will have a feast, and she has the liberty to gather all the people who mattered without having to worry about the food or the venue because someone will throw her a party. It will be her 70th birthday, and no matter what the cost, all I yearn for is for her to have an unforgettable evening.

With the downpayment for the food, the cake, and the venue already paid, I still have 40 days to convince special guests to show up, make a video presentation of my mother's colorful life with the help of the Weatherman, convince myself to hire a host, and pray, for the third nephew to stay a little longer inside my sister's womb.

May the universe grant this favor.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Luna Mencias Street, Sunrise

Originally written on Facebook.

And so, I had to whisk away my laptop to the office for the nth time since last month because of my issue-ridden broadband connection kept me from doing work at home. There is a positive spin to this sudden uprooting. Not only do I enjoy high-speed internet, the solitude afforded by being cocooned in a real workplace allows me to get things done before the deadline.  

When my shift was finally over, the sun was already on the horizon. It was a different scene, not like when I had to pack my things and slip away at daybreak. I chose to stay a little late, this time, to catch up with colleagues who have been with the company longer than I can remember. Trivial stories were swapped: people who have been kicked out because of habitual absences, people who have rejoined because of their proven reliability when the situation needs their presence; little stuff that makes our days less ordinary. In that brief space afforded by my stay, one striking streetscape caught my attention - that of the vegetarian restaurant across the building that has been part of my growing-up years as a daytime resident of this neighborhood.

Nostalgia retains snippets of memory. Of taking early lunches - solo and cheery - knowing the calories I'll add will be burned at a nearby gym later that afternoon; morning sprints to the time clock as my tardiness counted against my performance; afternoon sashays - away from the workstation I secretly despise for I have to return the next day and perform productive feats for the company. 

And of the time I dated my mom because she wanted to try vegetarian.

These are random memories drawn from the cache in my head to remind myself that no matter how many projects I will be asked to lead, and how, despite my restive youth, managed to outlast all the people who swear to stay with the company, there will always be a part of me that will look back at this bend and in a reverent whisper, whose voice only the mind could hear, say:

"Change is just a construct. The essence remains the same."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Rarely do I stay over at my Favorite Aunt's place these days, and when I do, they would likely find me in the driveway, writing snippets for the raketship. 

But there was a time, not so long ago, that I did stay for the night and when sleep seemed hard to find, I would read books - tomes containing raw information - until daybreak - or until my eyelids demand a shut-eye. If I wasn't reading the almanac about the events of World War 2, I would on-and-on turn the pages of Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People for illumination. This 10-volume body of knowledge covers everything about the Philippines. From its geography and wildlife to its precolonial past and beyond. Published by the Reader's Digest, having possession of these books is a must for a true disciple of history.

What I like about these books is the way facts are presented. Straight to the point and well-researched, but with a narrative carefully arranged by some of the best storytellers of our time. The encyclopedia portrays heroes with flaws (Manuel L. Quezon having dictatorial leanings) or a society that deviates from the collective memory (women in pre-colonial times are expected not just to manage the family affairs, but also run the business if necessary). It also tells seldom-mentioned events in our history (The brief British occupation of Manila, which is largely uneventful save for the English masters paying on time and in full for services rendered to them). The books also have short essays written by the likes of Ambeth Ocampo and Bienvenido Lumbrera. Scholars, who have to tell something about our history from their own studies. Sometimes, these essays tell of a personal experience, so harrowing that it encapsulates an entire period in Philippine history. Take for example the autobiography of Lourdes Montinola, the sole survivor of her family during the Liberation of Manila in 1945.

"Father ordered an early supper, but the Japanese soldiers came too soon. Only a gunshot, a dog's howling, and the trampling of boots announced their arrival. We were all in the vestibule, including Mother, who had witnessed the shooting from her balcony, and run downstairs to warn us. Father gathered us around him - an uncle, an aunt, their son Edgar, my mother, my sister, my brothers; five other members of the household. Father had time to say only 'be brave' before ten Japanese soldiers came barging in, bayonets gleaming, sneers on their faces. Mother protested weakly, 'We're only civilians.'"

The Americans, she wrote, had liberated the north side of Manila on February 3 of that year. Georgia Peach, the tank that crashed into their iron gate and ran over it came only on February 14. She was the only one to welcome the victors. 

What an anecdote to close an entire volume about the Japanese Occupation.

Stories like these kept me glued to the collection, that there were times I was tempted to borrow a few books from my Favorite Aunt so I can continue dwelling on the pages in the comforts of my own room. For some reasons, the idea failed to push through, and no matter how I tried looking for a set during the yearly Manila International Book Fair, I always went home empty handed. That was until this June. When a classmate from the university announced on Facebook that he was able to acquire a set for 2,000 pesos. He was gracious enough to provide the details: That Fully Booked, the bookstore, offered the set at a discounted rate. Knowing that I have always wanted to have my own, an approval from my mother (emphasizing that one day, the nephews will benefit from these books) ended with me getting a set at one of the last branches that still accept reservations. 

The books were specifically written to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the First Philippine Republic. In the 15 years after the first copies of Kasaysayan were published, much has changed and events in the years after Martial Law need to be written and put into new chapters that will make up our nation's story.

Meanwhile, the wait didn't take long. Two weeks after the payment, and the books that I reserved were already available at the bookstore for pickup. I may have never been able to read a volume from cover to cover in the nights I stayed at my Favorite Aunt's place. But now that I have my own, I will be able to digest its contents and learn more about my people's story at a leisurely pace.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Matter Of Time

Previously on Same Love


This is what I felt in the wake of my posthaste admission of "swinging both ways" on a local online forum. The short-lived elation was quickly doused by growing fears that an acquaintance or worse - a homophobic college buddy might find a way to connect the dots and trace my identity despite using a pseudonym to announce my belated crossover. I remember the immediate need for subterfuge. For I was a guy who was at long last in a loving relationship with a girl. Though the masquerade had brought me some time (I had already confessed to a gay phone pal a year before that I might actually be open to same-sex attraction), and might have dispelled "rumors" already circulating because of my "gentle" personality, (they often point out my bromances, when such concept has yet to exist)

I always knew that something was odd.

That I always get off when I lock my thoughts with the actor on a straight porn instead of gratifying myself while watching the woman being banged.

The events of 2002 resurface as a reminder of how far I've come, and how the world had changed after the Queer As Folk/Will & Grace revolution happening at the same time. In our day, a gay person is forced to act effeminate. People knew them as comic relief who would wear women's clothes and accessories and not men who happen to super-like other men. Our queer time was spent in the closet and in the chatrooms, where the day to day struggle for acceptance is being shared with the kindred.

I remember meeting strangers from online websites to tell my journey. Nothing more. And in some of those sundry and profound conversations about our lives, never did the idea of same-sex marriage ever crossed our minds.

Even when some European nations began making moves for such unions to be recognized and protected by the state.

The logic then was simple. Why push for something progressive when we can't fully embrace the person we choose to be? How can gay unions even be possible when the public at large thinks people like us are immoral, a source of shame in the family, and a bane to society?

Such were the issues of the day.

Little did we know that the seeds dispersed when GMA TV audaciously produced the TV news program "Out," and the great "Pink Peso" became a buzzword for marketing firms that everything we had worked for will eventually produce results. Here and abroad, the movement liberated thousands of men who were living secret and double lives. Going out and admitting your sexuality to the world suddenly became the trend. With the Western media in the front lines, lending their air time for LBGT causes, universal self-recognition was at hand. You will see gay people today - some of them contemporaries of our time announcing on social media their engagement to their significant other.

While much work needs to be done, including laws that will expand safety nets for men who carry HIV, and the complete eradication of hate crimes and speeches against gay people, I am fairly confident that the generation after us will no longer have to live in denial. That now and forevermore, being gay is not just a phase.

And that gay couples having children of their own is as ordinary as single mothers raising kids.

Friday, July 15, 2016

An Act of Restoration

For I'm beginning to get tired hiding behind my own shadow.

And I'm getting weary thinking about if I would last a decade with the abuses I'm giving to my deteriorating body.

Lastly, I'm beginning to get tired ogling at some other buff bodies when I can develop my own.

I guess, it's time to claim my own place.

After all, whatever happens, It's my body and my health that mattered.

Act of Liberation, February 13, 2006
Fullmetal Dreams


By now, my average weight is pegged at 190 lbs. That is an excess of 35: an equivalent of half the total load that I used to lift for my Benchpresses when I was still in top shape. I would have lamented how the girth of my midsection has expanded, or how I get tired even without lifting an arm if it's not because of my own doing. Since December, I ceased going to Eclipse. My busy schedule won't allow me to travel from my place to the gym in Mabini or Shaw. I tried to compensate by enrolling at a nearby workout place and to be the Weatherman's coach, (he decided to enroll at the gym too to get himself bulkier) but I would usually go and burn the carbs when the significant other decides to join. With an unchecked food intake, an inconsistency of a slob, a metabolic rate that gets slower with age, and a complacency afforded by being domesticated, I have lost the edge. Like blogging, I engage myself in some physical activity from time to time just to remind myself that I am still into body building.

But it isn't working anymore.

I would have let things fall further into the curb and wait for a disaster to claim this corpulent frame. But with more and more of my clothes getting tighter by the week, and with the growing fear of some ancient maladies like diabetes and heart disease finally catching up, I decided to take matters into my own hands by squeezing a fitness activity to restore what was mine just last year.

I am perfectly aware that it will be a long shot, but if my most recent blood pressure check-up were any indication, I think the body has already tossed some beginner's luck for encouragement.

"Just 30 minutes of workout three times a week will do fine." My mother's doctor said. 

I used to spend 2 hours at the gym lifting heavy iron plates.

"Talaga doc?" I was brimming with excitement. There's hope after all.

"Oo naman, no need to punish your body." 

While I have already claimed my place and I am no longer attracted to men with muscular bodies, I think I owe myself a favor by just being healthy. There is no need to post my progress for other's validation.

A mere commitment will do.

With this in mind, I have resolved to put on my tattered running shoes and at least during the downtimes between my two jobs, hit the gym or jog at the Malacanang grounds if I were to preserve myself for at least another decade.

One way or another, I'll make a comeback. I have already lived the lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Love Offering

Previously on: A McDonald's Date

"Tumawag pala si Tita Heart mo noong isang araw." My mother said in passing while me and Kuya O, her trusted assistant were carrying her monoblock armchair down the stairs. 

We were going to the hospital for her checkup.

"Contestant daw sa art contest sa school nila si Vito." Vito is my aunt's grandson. He is the effeminate kid they'd expect to turn into a unicorn when he finally comes of age.

The news was met with the usual shrug. Why should I bother paying attention to their trivial affairs when the brief anecdote leads elsewhere? Not since February this year when I last saw the grandchildren after me and Tita Heart sent them to school. It wasn't a rosy encounter. I recall telling my mom how bratty they were, especially the elder.

"Pabili ng pabili ng kung ano-ano yung panganay eh nasa ospital na nga yung tatay nila." I was fuming when I arrived home.

"Tapos ang ingay pa at ayaw makinig sa lola."

The news of my cousin's bunso joining an art contest is nothing but a subtle attempt to remind my mother of the duties she took upon herself after my dad passed away over a decade ago. Every month, a portion of our earnings go to my aunt's family as my disabled cousin cannot find a job. His preening wife, meanwhile, would rather hang out with friends than do some back-breaking work. I do not know if things have changed after he had a stroke early this year. Last she hinted she'd leave my cousin if things don't get any better. While I was generous with my financial support then, domestic duties at home can no longer afford me to offer cash assistance.

They have to make it on their own.

I don't know if my mother was hinting if I could shoulder a portion of the money she's planning to send to my dad's younger sister. But sensing the apparent message, I flatly rejected her suggestion by saying that I don't work 7 days a week only to part my money with people who refuses to improve their lot.

I don't like leeches.

Besides, I still recall having to pay the courier after Tita Heart cornered me the last time, and asked if I could send my uncle's international driver's license to France. I learned a few weeks later that the document was already expired and I wasted a fortune for an enterprise that I thought would finally lessen our burden.

I was terribly disappointed. She and her husband never told me what happened.

"Noong isang taon ko pa sinasabi na maghanap sila ng pagkakakitaan dahil kaya ko pa silang pondohan." I was terribly annoyed.

"Huwag nila akong asahan ngayon."

My mom could only lament how Tita Heart lost me because of a single mistake. Truth is, the list of errors were adding up. I was already seeing the veneer of deception conveniently wedged into a recycled narrative. We used to be very close - so close that I overlooked the details that would make me question how they run things at home. Besides, the last time we spoke, she tearfully told me that I was the son she never had. I now doubt if everything she said was authentic or merely a lip service so she could win my sympathy. It doesn't matter now. I am numb. Meanwhile, my mom appears to be wallowing in guilt. When asked as to when she can send the grocery bag to Tita Heart, she would only say she'd have to raise some funds first.

"Hindi nun kailangan ang grocery." I shook my head in frustration. Mom tried to explain to me the real situation.

"Pera ang inaasahan noon." 

While we are no longer on speaking terms, I've never really cut my ties with my relatives on my father's side of the family. The matriarch makes it a point to tell me of their never-ending destitution (they seem to lap at their misfortune) given my financial capacity to render aid if the situation demands for it. While the obvious screams right in my face, the feeble attempts to ignore them puts me in the quandary. This isn't how I was raised by my parents. I am pretty sure the Favorite Aunt (who belongs to the mother's side of the family) would show a little more compassion than I ever will if I were to follow my nature.

Hence, in spite of the condescending private comments, and the dismissive attitude whenever Tita Heart suddenly makes her presence felt through once-in-a-month phone calls and SMS messages, I'd still find myself getting a bag of Bear Brand milk powder or cans of sardines whenever my mom would ask me to do the rounds at Puregold. A few days before the start of classes last month, I was at the Merriam-Webster bookstore in Avenida to buy some educational supplies I sent to my niece and nephew. And shortly after telling everyone within earshot (while looking at my father's portrait leaning precariously above the altar) that the only thing that can reverse my refusal to own the responsibility is for my dad to visit me in my sleep, it appears the visit is no longer necessary.

The conscience has already prevailed.

I once vowed to set aside some money for charity should I get retained at the Raketship when talk of lay-off was the order of the day. Keeping my word, I tucked a 500-peso bill inside the "Love Offering" envelope used by my Favorite Aunt when she sends over my uncle's (her brother) monthly stipend. 

It has found a renewed purpose and Tita Heart, after receiving relief, can resume her life living a tragedy she can always end.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Much Diminished

I used to write everyday on these pages.


The hanging herb garden outside my window used to be a source of pride and a reason to journey around the metropolis for Basil and Lavender saplings. I would then attempt to grow them despite the rampage of city birds.


I used to walk from home to my gym in Mabini, often, at dusk, when the sun was about to set. I used to have a time for contemplation as I gaze into the open sea: The days afforded me a moment to forge those unfulfilled dreams and cast away the regrets accumulated in years.


I used to brag to inferior men that I worked out three times a week.

But now, everything seems like a distant memory. Even putting into words the life I choose to lead is a struggle, a pain that keeps catching up whenever I am being reminded of the person I used to be.

Times have changed and in so many ways, so am I.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

To Die For Digong

You need to understand. Mayor is our heart and soul. He protected us. He is not a dictator and he listens to us. That's why we are emotional. He is like our father, he will do anything to make his children safe from any harm, he provides what we want and he understand what we need.

Please excuse us if we are too affected and emotional.

Again you will never understand cause you are not from Davao and you haven't been there.


Let me tell you a story of a boy who grew up in a city in the south. This city has known peace since the time he blossomed into manhood. He feels safe when he walks down the streets even at past midnight. Local businesses are booming despite the conflicts in the restive regions of the island, and social institutions, like hospitals and schools actually serve the needs of the public. Even the jails for women are clean and well-maintained. There is a stand-by response team for fires and other emergencies. While issues of poverty or petty crimes still persist, there is a pervading sense of order. Mayor makes sure everyone follows the law. He doesn't steal. He lives a frugal life. He drives a taxi from time to time to hear personally what the people need. Impressive feat, in a country where most politicians feel entitled as they go on with the business of governing.

This boy, by stroke of luck, had to relocate. In the imperial capital where everything is a mess. Road gridlock makes commuting a daily pain. Trains break down all the time. His phone gets snatched, his wallet, stolen. Hospitals and schools operate beyond capacity. Corruption is rampant, the elite feels they own everything. The government protects its interest, unlike in the south where he feels the city serves its citizens. He had thoughts of giving up, to return to his homeland if not for the good pay. Then one day, the Mayor decides to run for President. The boy knew him well, like how he knew his own father: Imperfect, but effective. Reasonable, but applies discipline when needed. Protective to the point of using measures, outsiders will frown upon. 

Overnight, he dons his colors to campaign for the man. This is our Mayor, and change is coming.

Unfortunately, I am not the boy and in my eyes, I will never see what the Mayor has done for his city. Perhaps, his accomplishments are possible given its small population. Maybe, they knew him, like an old patriarch who they must follow like obedient children. I do not know. And often I do not care. Except that from time to time, I remind myself to spare his city when portraying the Mayor as the candidate who shouldn't be the next president.

He doesn't represent me. That, I posted on my Twitter account.

And for a number of reasons.

For one, he kills drug peddlers. This is all over the news. Even the Human Rights Watch has confirmed this. What if his death squad mistakes an innocent teen from a drug pusher? Who will account for the life that had been lost? Then he curses and treats women like sex objects. One that should be seen as conquests, and not partners in progress. He also doesn't mind engaging diplomats in verbal spats. Remember what he said to the Australian and the United States ambassadors after the rape joke? The Mayor doesn't even have the social niceties when describing countries and their local problems. I won't be surprised of the diplomatic snubs should he becomes the next leader. Whispers also tell of his allegiance with the Communists, his alliance with Beijing, and his plans of giving up the islands in the West Philippine Sea in exchange for a railway system in Mindanao. There is so much to tell that would make me a hater, but nothing compares to the brutality of his supporters - some personal acquaintances - who have marked me as the enemy because I speak against the Mayor.

Only a few nights ago, a friend of a friend suggested that I should consult a doctor implying that I was mad. He had the gall to block me, then speak my name when I can't read it on his Twitter feed. Fortunately, word had reached me through a concerned friend. Screen-capping his comment, I posted the update on my Twitter account for his barkada to find out. There was also another friend, of a friend, who told me through a sub tweet that I was an animal who had no achievements. This was after I told his bet that he's "yawa" for duping his supporters. When confronted about his remarks, he didn't reply to my direct message, letting his friends instead to speak on his behalf.  

Rabid dogs without balls.

If there is one thing I've learned this election, it is that politics is personal. What you say against a person who speak out against your chosen will stay after the ballots have been counted. No doubt, I will remember what they said, not because of the Mayor and his forgettable antics. But because of how I was treated by boys whose choice of candidate I never judged. So much for helping me appreciate who their Mayor is.

Fortunately, there are people who are patient enough to reach out - not to win my vote - but to see their mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, in a better light. They are the ones who shaped this entry, and by extension, my personal assessment of their candidate. It helps too, that my favorite Aunt is for the Mayor. It is because of her that I was able to distinguish the trolls from genuine supporters. She may hate the candidate I am supporting, but it doesn't change my fondness for her.

So is my willingness to recognize her leader.

If surveys are indication of who the next leader is, Digong will be the next President of the Republic. It will upset the rest, while vindicating those who stood with him, including the fictional boy in this entry who yearns nothing but a better Philippines. Being the outsider who is suspicious of those I don't know, and for the trolls who have hurt so many instead of trying to create bridges of understanding, the Mayor will not get my vote. But deep down, my sincere wish is to one day send a message to the men who overlooked my hatred and tell them I was wrong and they are right.

That beneath the facade, their Mayor has nothing but love for this nation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Saving Grace

I might have thought this was an exaggeration if I had not caught that report by Aladdin Bacolodan in the news. Bacolodan had gone to the place where FPJ spent his last moments on earth, the studio where he gasped his last while hosting a party. In a corner of the studio was a huge pile of goods that FPJ had been collecting, which reportedly cost him a pretty penny and which he meant to distribute to the typhoon victims. None of the goods carried a label, least of all FPJ's name, on them. The cartons were unmarked completely. Based on his interviews with people close to FPJ, Bacolodan reported that FPJ was like that: he refused to advertise himself when he gave.

Conrado de Quiros

The ties that bind are strong.

Once, in the brashness of my youth, I did invoke her father's name when I thought of a headline that perfectly fits the breaking news. It was on the day he announced his presidential bid. Elated to know that there is someone who stood against the oppressive incumbent, I asked for my dad's approval (the publisher) when I put in bold and capital letters "The King For President" on the front page of our newspaper. I knew I would break a cardinal rule in Journalism, and even sought the wisdom of a teacher in my university for assurance. With hesitation, I was able to secure his blessing, and from the day we openly supported him through a thinly-veiled banner story, we were the only tabloid to be welcomed with open arms by FPJ in his campaign sorties. 

He lost that election and died while repacking relief goods for the disaster-stricken a few years later. But it didn't stop his adopted daughter in following his footsteps when she ran for senator nearly a decade after his passing. With her father's defeat in the hands of a cheating president still fresh in the nation's collective memory, the daughter gained the highest number of votes in the last election.

The father was at long last, vindicated.

The daughter did quite well as a legislator. She was calm and collected and lead a number of Senate hearings that improved her standing among political observers. There was no doubt the future is bright for the King's daughter, and this was reflected in the surveys a year before the coming election. 

The president even stepped up to broker a power deal that would groom her to become the next leader of the country - in 2022. 

The problem, however, is the unchecked ambition. It blinds people. It makes you believe that your anointment (from certain groups with vested interests or ambivalent gods who have nothing to do with the daily lives of men, whichever comes first in your head) is self-evident that you tend to overlook your limitations that make you undeserving of a promotion. In her case, this promotion is to lead a nation of over 100 million people. A task that may require a lifetime of experience, or a vision that springs from the depths of one's soul.

Personally, I don't find either.

And in spite of her lacking accomplishments, or of years of residence required to become a legitimate President, or of a strong party that will support her candidacy, Grace Poe, decided to repeat what her father did believing that time is ripe to claim what has been theirs all along. It would have been a fitting narrative in a political drama that is the Philippine elections, except that her personal storyline - believable or not - may never have a happy ending once the business of running the government drags her family name down the drain. 

I have heard of her campaign platform - mostly improvements in the programs that are already being applied by the government. Except for the passing of the freedom of information bill, a creation of a separate cabinet for Information and Communications Technology, and acquisition of more trains for a metropolis with serious infrastructure problems, all I heard were motherhood statements: Populist blabber that is good to hear, but lacking substance on paper. So far, I have yet to digest some attainable ideas on job creation, protection of overseas Filipino workers' rights, or even steps to defend our islands in the West Philippine Sea. She has yet to say something on climate change, the promotion of the agricultural sector, or even how to improve the quality of education in the country.

Silly as it may sound but his father was even worse. Not a single chance he graced the media for an interview. He turned down the national debates, and instead appeared on makeshift stages to charm the folks who knew him as the Panday. And even in the absence of experience or ideas on how to govern a nation, He would still have my vote if I had the privilege to cast it in 2004.

Because I knew he would bring decency and honor back in the government.

Given this revelation, and the occasional rage on social media every time I read Grace fumbling in the face of newsmakers, I still keep a soft spot when I look at the lady and recall her good father. Ms. Poe may not have my vote this time, but I can live under her leadership, certain that she would never step over my rights, or hear opponents disappearing into the dead of the night.


Saturday, April 16, 2016



Sneak Peak

When Dymion, the second laptop began showing signs that its operating system needed a reformat, my first thought was the raketship and the difficulty of giving up a day's work so someone can reinstall a boot copy of Windows 7 to make it run again. I didn't give it much thought, as my boss, who read what I wrote on my Facebook wall offered to pay half the price, should I decide to replace my old machine with a new one.

Tempting as it may sound, but I lingered with the decision knowing that I do not have the money to arrange for a hasty purchase. The dog  at home had an ear surgery last month while the responsibility of paying the water bill has also been turned over to me. Unplanned acquisitions, such as getting a new shiny laptop will only break my monthly budget.

But I knew that time was running out, and anytime soon, my trusted AI companion will just stop working. The certain breakdown was just too real as the laptop took a longer time to reboot. The applications I have installed also freeze from time to time when this was never a problem in the past. Little by little, I came to terms that the machine demands a replacement as it has been 5 years since the last time I had a new computer. When I was younger, I would have asked my dad for a desktop upgrade long before I made my decision, but since the money now comes from my own pocket, spending for things I may have to pay for years must be thought out well.

"For investment," I assured myself.

So I set foot at Gilmore on a Sunday afternoon to search for a new laptop. It has to be more advanced than Dymion's Pentium i5 to give this enterprise a justification. It also has to run at once, without the need for OS installation as I have no more time to ask someone to do the work for me. Finally, it has to be compatible with the games both the Weatherman and I play. With Stellaris, the much-anticipated 4X space strategy game coming out next month, having a new machine to run the complex game will worth the purchase.

If there was anything that held me back, it was the thought that maybe, a simple OS reformat would put everything back into place. Meaning, I could play my simulation and strategy games while doing my work on the same computer. There won't be a need for bloodletting, knowing it will come from my savings. I also wanted the Weatherman to be there because tradition follows that I have always been with a special someone when I make this kind of purchase. Unfortunately, he was sent to Australia for a ten-day working visit and I feel that replacing Dymion can no longer wait for his return.

I was right because the next day, the laptop that I have been using for half a decade won't launch the operating system despite my repeated reboot.

Securing my boss' approval, I returned to Gilmore to finally decide which laptop to buy. Crowdsourcing on Twitter for suggestions revealed that the most favored among the brands was Lenovo, not Samsung like the last I bought. The suggestion from my online friends and the personal specifications I set for the new laptop served as my guide as I moved from one store to the next.

Going solo, and without anyone to seek a second opinion, I was forced confront with my indecisive self: How much will be my price ceiling? What other specs do I need to check before making a decision? And would I pay using my credit card like what I did in the past? At one point, I was ready to raise the ceiling by moving to buy an i7. For the games of course. But looking at how I played my PC games, and the demands of two jobs that have been sustaining my middle-class lifestyle, I came to realize that I have outgrown my gamer self:

That the time when I can play my games from sunrise to daybreak is long gone.

Having this epiphany, I proceeded to acquire a mid-range laptop, an i5 from a more recent product line. I then bought an additional RAM chipset to make it work faster. With a Windows 10 already preinstalled, I paid the unit in cash and went on to work that same night using the new laptop I named Ishi-bashi.

* A day after getting a new laptop, I did ask a colleague to reformat Dymion so I can use 2 laptops when required. The findings were grim. When Windows 7 was installed on its hard drive, the machine performed more dismally than ever. It appears to be a case of a hardware problem. 

* My boss decided to pay the laptop in full. I am basically getting it for free.

* It was the first time I bought a unit in cash. At a hindsight, it may have used up my savings but I won't have to pay the interest. I also got the laptop at a much lower price.

* Ishi-bashi was the title of a poem I wrote about my experience with crystal meth in college. This is a story deserving another entry. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

That Thing Called Resilience

Previously on: Unbent

It took me a full hour to absorb the carnage. 

The plants under my care lay buried beneath their overturned plastic containers. The earth that held their roots were scattered all over the vinyl floor. The plastic tray that I used as the flower pots' elevated platform (with flimsy pillars to support it) had fallen over, bringing everything to the ground, including the makeshift pond underneath it. The islets of kiyapos (water cabbages) were all gone; even the small cuttings have shrunk, its fleshy branches pulped and could no longer be replanted. 

The sheer devastation could have reduced me to tears, especially after being able to make the plants thrive with very little sunlight. Had the vile creatures dropped the cylinder aquarium or clawed the turtle out of its shell, I would certainly cease bringing life unto the balcony and let the remaining plants die. 

The rats responsible for this mess have tested my patience long enough.

But instead of moping, I used the downtime at the side job to pick up the pots. I returned the soil and replanted the herbs with my bare hands. The pillars supporting the plastic tray have been reinforced, making sure it won't topple over even when the rats return and trash that corner all over again. Finally, a metal trap has been set, so that whatever critter finds itself caged would pay dearly for the destruction it did.

There is no other way but to rebuild.

*I can no longer count the years since the time I went back to pursue my hobby. Lots of plants have died, and only very few survived from the first cuttings. Over time, I've resigned to the fact that most of the herbs I would try to grow will die after a few years. Some plants would not even last a month. 

Maybe I don't have a green thumb like I thought. 

But growing herbs is not all about picking the leaves and using them to spice our food. I don't even know how to trim these plants. What I get from this pursuit is therapy; the thought that you can make some plants thrive when others won't is already a source of pride, it encourages you to acquire more herbs, with the hope that they would grow. But still, no matter what effort you give, some plants will not make it, and after seeing so many of them decay, get thrown away, and being replaced by new sprouts, you will learn that setbacks like a rat rampage can always happen. 

It is how you put back the pieces again, and letting the plants grow once more is what makes gardening a hobby worth pursuing.   

Friday, March 25, 2016

Worlds Of Discovery

Previously on Found

It is one of my most pricey acquisition to date: A black cotton T-shirt, I thought of buying on Teespring.

But it was no ordinary piece of clothing. The advertisement said - and this I saw on the NASA Twitter account - that a purchase of the shirt will help fund the research and education initiatives of the SETI - or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The SETI Institute is a research organization founded some 50 years ago, and whose aim is to understand and explain the origins and nature of life in the universe. It hopes, that by listening to radio signals from the stars, it can tell the world that advanced alien life exists on distant planets. When you watch movies that are about alien invasion (and how humans repel these attacks in different ways our storytellers could imagine) the scientists involved in the detection of approaching spaceships belong to this organization. For Hollywood filmmakers and the public-at-large, this is what the Institute was created for.

It has been half a century since the SETI was created, and by now, we should be hearing from these intelligent aliens given the proximity of the nearest stars. So what could have happened? I do not know for sure. Maybe the intergalactic muting was deliberate - like what I do when I dislike the posts of someone I follow on Twitter but could not remove that person from my list. Regardless of its aims, the search for intelligence must go on and I for one believe that we are not alone in the universe. 

And so I bought the shirt, which cost over a thousand pesos when the actual price is converted to local currency. It doesn't include the shipping expense whose charge amount to half of what the apparel cost. Feeling the pinch, I had second thoughts of carrying on with my purchase. The upper garments I used to buy fetch half the price I have to shell just to wear this "Worlds of Discovery" shirt. I can even search for a local T-shirt design maker and have one customized for myself. Then I would wear it in public, with only the nerds understanding what the shirt is all about.

But then, what about the scientific research and the promise to educate the kids about the wonders of Radio Astronomy?

I will have to bleed for it.

Two full months after the official printing commenced in the United States, a month after the actual package journeyed across the world (whose pause in Frankfurt made me envious) and after paying a hefty 500 PHP for the customs tax when the item lingered in the Lawton post office for weeks, the shirt finally reached me. Like the SETI, whose funding is always objected by politicians and scientists alike, this piece of clothing may have cost me a lot of money. 

But knowing it will be for the collective knowledge of the human race, I can live with the price and wear the shirt, beaming with pride.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Patronage Politics Of Jojo

At sumulat na rin ako kay Col. Jose Sta Romana, ang deputy chief ng Office of Detainer’s Affairs para hingin ang release ni Sammy. Sinagot niya ako na hindi maire-release si Sammy dahil naisampana ang kaso niya, PD 33 sa lalawigan ng Pasig kay Fiscal Rodolfo Mateo.

Sinabi ko ito kay Atty. Rene Sarmiento. Siya kasi ang sumusubaybay sa kaso ni Sammy at Agot. Pagkalipas ng ilang araw, sinabi niya na inilipat niya ang kaso ko kay Atty. Jojo Binay. Kilala daw kasi nito si Fiscal Mateo at classmate pa sa sabungan. Mula noon, kay Atty. Binay na ako nagpapa-follow up.

Inaamin ko na sa mga panahong iyon, may mga oras na napapagod din ako. May araw na ayaw kong kumilos. Pero ang asawa ni Agot, si Rose ang kumukulit sa akin. Kinukulit din kasi siya ng asawa niya. Kaya’t walang panahon na mapagod, na tumigil sa paglalakad ng release papers.

Pinayuhan ako ni Atty. Jojo Binay na pasulatin si Sammy at Agot kay Fiscal Mateo at umapela sila sa kanilang release for humanitarian reasons. Sumulat ang dalawa at sa impluwensya na rin siguro ni Atty. Binay, pumayag si Fiscal Mateo. Sumulat siya sa Office of Detainees Affairs na wala siyang tutol sa release nung dalawa upang magkaroon sila ng pagkakataon na maayos ang mga papeles nila sa kanilang kaso.

Sworn Statement,
Martial Law Recollections

Nothing but good words - I think - would come out of my dad's mouth if he were to talk about Jojo Binay and the ties that bound them. I would not even be surprised if he and the publishing empire that he had built would carry the mayor's name if he were still alive today. After all, my dad owes his freedom to this man, who used to be a little-known public servant before Cory Aquino installed him as the custodian of Makati. For politicians and constituents alike, he is still the same person who would use his connections and resources to grant favors to those who would approach him.

But first, let me assure you, dear readers, that I do not share my father's affinity with the old man. Not even in my subconscious do I believe in the sincerity of his words. The least I could offer is recognition, of how he has become part of the family lore. I would no longer go into details, but it is possible that he was the reason for my being. Beyond this begrudging utang-na-loob is my attempt at understanding; of why despite the corruption charges hurled against him, and his wily attempts to evade the accusations, Jojo Binay appeals to millions of voters who choose to ignore the truth and would still want for him to become the next President of this country.

The answer lies within our barest notion of Democracy.

I have always said that we never got past the idea of Feudalism. Sa probinsya man o sa lungsod, we are expecting politicians to provide for our basic needs. We think we are entitled to it. We let them become lords and princes in exchange for little conveniences that in time would appear like we owe it to them. And the former mayor of Makati is just a fine example of a leader spawned by this perverted social pact. His platform of governance, including the 5Ps and the reduction of taxes, assure that this system will be expanded beyond the peripheries of  his city. The grateful masses, in return, would perpetuate his dynasty. This is what happened when his daughter was elected a Senator despite her lack of experience in the government.

Jojo Binay would tell everyone that his city offers free healthcare for its residents. He also offers free education for its students. I do not know what else is free in Makati aside from the bland cakes, and school bags (with the Binay trademark adorning its surface) but my aunt, who is a surgeon, had sworn in our family talks that the city runs the public hospitals with the best medical facilities. How can you beat that? This augmented reality, obscured by the fact that it was Makati's small indigent population and a robust business and commercial district that afford them such privilege. This narrative passed on from word-of-mouth is what's making the elder Binay a favorite among the natives.

But can we blame them for believing this pipe dream?

Much as I would like to think that Jojo embraces a social system similar to socialism, the truth is that he practices a leadership style that allows for the politics of patronage to flourish. And when the people - from the village elders to the landed princelings hold their allegiance to that one family responsible for their well-being, the excesses of power, including the audacity to generate personal income through shady deals get overlooked and forgotten. It is only when determined rivals, aided by intrusive journalists unearth these secrets do the truth come out. This is the real Binay story. And given that he has been ignored for so long, he goes to great lengths (including the infamous no-shows at the Senate hearings) denying the accusations despite the damning evidence.

Meanwhile, the masa doesn't care. Forever swayed by politicians who "eat among them" and "dole out cash and goods when it's time to campaign," they see our political system as a sham; That no matter who you put in Malacanan, nothing will ever change. Hence, the solid 23% of the voting population remains and will carry him to the finish line.

I will never vote for him in any elections, but as long as the Padrino system goes on, Jojo Binay, and the likes of him will always have loyal followers, no matter where they peddle their lies.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Noble and Ever Loyal City

Previously: Sueños de Manila

Credit: Manila Nostalgia 

I was born and raised in Manila. This is home. I can look the other way and forget that its streets reek of human excrements, and in some unlit corners, await the riding-in-tandems who will take your purse and phone away. I have no problem accepting that our roads disappear when thunderstorms inundate the city, and no matter how the homeless turn the sidewalks into their open-air-bedrooms at night, or the trash piles when the garbage trucks forget to collect them in the morning, I still see a hidden gem that will forever make this place unique.



Forebears say this used to be the Pearl of the Orient. This is the city where seven mother churches crammed within the old walls of Intramuros; the place where expats came to conduct business in Spanish and broken English in Escolta; the port where tradesmen from China sold goods and services to the masses in Binondo and San Nicolas. When one needs to be seen, there is the Avenida, lined with fancy theaters showing silent films, or the waterfront promenade at Bagumbayan with its tropical breeze blowing from the sea. Never without a doubt that the sunsets then are as breathtaking as they are today. And at times when I yearn to romanticize the old days; when the calesas and tranvias still ply the routes now taken over by jeepneys and pedicabs; when the ordinary folks still speak in archaic Tagalog; and when it was still possible to hear mass in Latin at the Manila Cathedral, you can't help but feel a great loss for everything that could have made us prouder urbanites was gone forever when bombs start dropping and obliterated our city.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Miriam's Last Stand

Santiago’s antics during the Erap trial would already have shown how the provocation tends to lie completely with her. It’s a good reminder that her pretensions to brilliance, which is where she gets off thinking she has a right to lecture others on the finer points of law or ethics, are just that: pretensions. It’s neither borne by her legal nor political life. Getting a grade of 76 in the bar exams is not a masterful legal achievement, and I don’t know why the lawyers she waylays in the impeachment court do not demur by saying, “I’m sorry, Madame, but having gotten 77 in the bar exams, I do not see myself as needing your hectoring to pass this test.” And goading the unshod, or rubber-sandaled, masa to sugod-sugod Malacañang, and defying the authorities to arrest her afterward, gun on the table, only to turn to the other side faster than you can say “Brenda,” is not a sign of ethical behavior, let alone a sane one.

Conrado de Quiros, Contempt

When Miriam Defensor-Santiago had floated her Presidential aspiration last year, I knew it was motivated by some unfinished business. After all, among the candidates running for this national election, she was - if whispers are to be believed - robbed of the Presidency the first time she ran for office. In 1992, she lost to FVR by some 1 million votes. With rampant cheating prevailing during the last days of the canvassing, (including the Dagdag-bawas scheme done by some fixers in the Comelec) it is possible that she could have won that election.

Three years later, she entered politics again and ran for senate. Miriam was able to secure a seat in the upper chamber of congress. From being a graft-buster with a cabinet-level position during the first Aquino presidency, she became an elected official. A generation of voters would then know her as a Senator, and she is, without a doubt, will stay associated with being a lawmaker no matter the person sitting in Malacanang.

However, the trouble with Miriam is that her loyalty could be swayed by the wrong people. What is worse is that she would use the technicalities of the law to her advantage. This behavior was evident during the Erap impeachment trial when she sided with the president who had a hand (and probably more) on the Jose Velarde scandal. I remember how she fiercely defended Estrada, even voting against the opening of the second envelope that will further implicate the president. This has enraged the people as the evidence on that envelope contained information that will no longer be available for scrutiny. Within days, a revolution would take place in Edsa and Erap had no choice but to vacate Malacanang and hand over the Presidency to GMA. 

Miriam was undaunted.

Four months later, I remember seeing a grainy video recording of her, exhorting the protesters at Edsa 3 to storm the Palace and remove Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from power. It didn't succeed, and with her losing the Senate seat during the election of 2001, Miriam retreated from the public eye. She would only resurface three years later when she got elected to the Senate once more.


The Miriam narrative, as I would like to call it, is like a tale of a protagonist who had lost, and won admiration, only to lose it again for her habit of leaning towards the characters belonging to the perverted side of history. Her association with Erap, with Gloria, and now with Bongbong Marcos leaves you without a reasonable doubt that she can trade principles for political survival. But like any other person, she too has a soft side, and when she exposes this to the public, the nation responds with compassion. When her son committed suicide, after being humiliated by professors while being interviewed at the UP College of Law, public sympathy was with her. This sympathy would eventually lead to the partial restoration of her image. In 2004, and again, in 2010, she would be elected as a Senator of the republic. Even I, who has a historic distrust with the senator, would overlook the truth and put her name on my ballot.

Pero hanggang dun na lang.

Miriam will go down in history as one of the colorful characters to grace the Senate. I will always cherish her feistiness, her pedestrian language when interrogating witnesses during Senate inquiries, her social media savviness, her legal acumen, the laws she had authored and passed in congress, and many other things both good and bad. But her decision to run together with the dictator's son and her refusal to reveal her medical condition after declaring "victory" against cancer leave a bad taste when one contemplates whether to support her Presidential bid or not. There is simply too much at stake, and given her performance in the last Presidential debate, the fire in her belly is no longer there. It feels like she merely wants to run in search of validation. 

I have much respect for her supporters - both online and offline - for holding still. But by judging the outcome of the surveys, as well as how her campaign is going, I am seeing that this is Miriam's last stand.

There is nothing for her beyond this election.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Unfair Treatment

Taong 2004 nang magsimula akong mag-blog. Ito'y isang past time na nabuo dahil sa pakikiuso sa isang ka-tropa na minsang ipinagmalaki sa Yahoo Group ang kanyang Blogger page. Namangha ako sa kanyang blog. Ipanakita niya ang kanyang katalinuhan at husay sa pagsusulat. Bilang graduate ng Journalism ay hindi ako nagpatalo. Di ko man siya kasinggaling ay nakakita ako ng outlet, ng kalayaan ipahayag ang saloobin. Kaya gumawa ako ng sariling online journal at doon ibinuhos ang aking mga kuwentong pakikipagsapalaran sa buhay. Taon ang lumipas. Nauso ang iba't ibang mga blogs. Nagkaroon ito ng niche market - pagkain, paglalakbay, at pulitika. Pati erotika ay hindi pinalampas. Hindi man ako nakilala gaya ng iba, ngunit naging faithful ako sa craft. Pinaghusayan ko ito. Iniwasang makasira ng mga taong subject ng aking mga kuwento. At dahil doon ay ginantimpalaan akong makapagsulat ng maraming bagay na hinugot sa aking personal na karanasan. Nagkaroon rin ako ng respeto sa mga kasamahang bloggers, sapagkat kung hindi dahil sa aming collective effort, ang impormasyon na ngayo'y malayang kumakalat sa social media ay hindi mababasa ng mga readers noong panahong wala pang Facebook. Nito na lamang mga nakaraang taon, nang isa-isang nawala ang mga batikang manunulat ng mga kuwento ay nagsimula akong manamlay. Sanay na akong walang readers, at nang makita ko ang convenience ng paglalahad ng saloobin sa Twitter (kasama na ang swift gratification na nakukuha mo sa pag "like" ng iyong followers,) tuluyan na akong tinamad magsulat ng mahahabang entries. 

Nang lumaon ay huminto na rin ako sa pagblo-blog.

I would like to think that we are shaped by our time, and most of the bloggers I know who migrated on Twitter and Facebook are discerning and critical of the information they get from social media. We have this profound respect for the craft that we won't turn a blind eye while some paid hack uses this platform to spread lies and promote ignorance online. Gaya na lang ng screenshot na kalakip nitong entry ko. To write sweeping generalizations and get rewarded for it by hundreds of comments is a slap to the hard work bloggers did to publish credible posts.

Unfair din kay Mar Roxas.

And so I decided to go back to blogging, and in my own way set things straight now that the election is just around the corner. I will be fair to all candidates - even to Jojo Binay, who I despise the most. I won't mind if my entries won't reach its intended audience. After all, the entries are for my own pleasure. One thing is for sure, I will write well-thought entries. I will write what is right and just to my subjects. And I will write so as to finish what the "blogger" I mentioned didn't complete (he posted 4 trashy entries and he was gone).

These will not be paid posts. After all, this is my art.

Note: I was misled by the title and betrayed by the person who shared the entry above on his Twitter feed. Feeling cheated, I blocked that person and decided to leave social media for a week. It was simply too much for me. Born out of frustration, my creativity has been awakened. I may not be as prolific as I was before, but I'd keep my word and do what the blogger didn't finish. To readers who will find these entries, I'd promise to keep you informed the best I could. 

You will be the wise Pinoy voter.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Edsa Story

The battle for memory is as much about the future as it is about the past.

Milan Kundera

It was at this spot I once stood, leaned my chest against the metal railing to witness the sea of humanity converging below. The Left were on the other side of the intersection, unfurling their large banner demanding the ouster of a corrupt leader. The civic society groups were at the center, cheering, and raising their hands with the Laban sign for every good news coming from the radio stations. In just a matter of hours, the speaker on the makeshift stage would announce the withdrawal of support of the military. They too would show up in that corner, lending their voices calling for a leadership change. 

Just days before, I remember sneaking out of the house at sunrise after hearing some groups converging at the foot of the Blessed Mother. The group they said came all the way from Ateneo, who after seeing the good Senators weeping, and a clown dancing went to Edsa to call for the President to step down. The admin lawmakers had gone too far. The impeachment court had just lost its authority. When they voted against the opening of the second envelope containing evidence that would further press the President, it was time to do another Edsa.

And boy did we succeed.

What we didn't know is that every political force demanding the government to step down would replicate what we did and assemble at Edsa to block all traffic. They would set up camp, and like the ebb and flow of tides would swell later during the evenings. In less than three months after Ms. Gloria took office and Mr. Erap carted away to face his plunder charges, the masses would mount another Edsa. They would be crushed completely when they tried to storm the Palace gates.

We were horrified to learn the truth, that the People Power of the past that was called to restore democracy would be twisted and mangled to serve the interest of the few. It is, for this reason, no other Edsa protest was ever mounted after the third. Gloria knew this too, and for nine years - an equivalent of a single generation - she would bury the memory - in print and in spirit. The revolution that inspired so many nations to turn to Democracy would slowly fade from our national consciousness leaving this hollow notion that the Marcos years weren't bad at all.

As a result, we have kids today who knew nothing of that revolution. Of how People Power guaranteed our freedom to express our aspirations; of how that mass movement restored our right to enact change (through elections and street protest) when our leaders fail; of how, in our coming together, made us a nation of freedom-loving souls. Though I may often find it depressing how some people in authority would try to change what is already history, of how they would try to picture the years after the revolution as nothing but a series of failed promises, I still have faith in the legend. 

For once our rights are suppressed (in social and traditional media); and once we see opposition leaders being dragged in the streets, bloodied and screaming while protesting against an oppressive government, we will once again come together - with beaming pride and overflowing spirit - in that corner that brought us to where we are today.