Wednesday, July 29, 2015

read my lips

Now that empty words like pabebe, ansabe, boom, and many of their kind are ingrained in our cultural mindset, can we please learn some important, proper, and perhaps even more useful words? Like comeuppance, innocuous, or obdurate? What makes this trend so ironic is that all this comes from imperial Manila people (or possibly from the most parts of Luzon), who are notorious for mocking the Visayan language and its unique articulation. I suggest this not out of snobbery but for simple erudition. Yeah, erudition. Google that. We can’t just have junk food all the time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

size does matter


The comedians are slowly taking over the superhero films. After Chris Pratt’s turn in last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Paul Rudd now leads Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man.” This makes me wonder which cast member of the beloved comedy show “Parks and Recreation” is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe next. I hope it’s Aziz Ansari. But that’s beside the point. The truth is “Ant-Man” is the antidote to the sick and sleepy “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” That movie was one long commercial break. I think “Ant-Man” is the best MCU movie since “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” And those cute little ants make me guilty of the times I crush them with a finger on the kitchen table. Although a portion of its final act goes the mystical route like Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” (2014), the rest of the action is zippy, the humor in the right dosage. That toy train sequence can be a satisfying skit all on its own. This could be a sign that comic book movies are exciting once again. Let’s just hope the upcoming DC movies maintain this energy.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Saturday, July 04, 2015

just read

Last Friday, an 18-year-old asked me how to be good at mentally processing a question and delivering the answer to the public with ease. I was caught off-guard all I said was, I guess it all starts with a habit of reading. Read as much as you can. Anything. Especially those that are out of your comfort zone. All these challenge you to think. The kid asked if Wattpad counts. “I guess, but I prefer books in actual paper,” I said smiling. The screen is a perfect distraction for more distractions.

I am no expert in public extemporaneous speaking but I think I have given the best advice. Reading, even though it has the reputation as the stuff of boredom in the digital age, is still the easiest means of sharpening and broadening the mind. In fact the skill one would acquire with reading greatly helps in any endeavor one takes. Why? It improves communication, the very basic ingredient of communal understanding.

Ironically, for a country that is liberated or “freed” from the tyranny of its colonizers with Jose Rizal’s works of literature, we are a nation that is populated by people who do not seem to value the art of reading. So logout of Facebook, close that Grindr app, let go of that selfie camera, and stop thinking of the next pub crawl for a couple of minutes. Take time to read. Make your national hero proud. Show his efforts were worth it.

And this brings me to the book haul I’ve had last Monday. Originally priced at hundreds of bucks each, I got books on fiction, poetry, and history that were less than a quarter of their cost. Achievement unlocked: Book Hunter Level no. 76!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

a new beginning


The first half of the year is over. How was it? Would you consider it half-empty or half-full? Personally I’d like to think it is the latter. The previous month alone was full of surprises. June has been an eye-opener, and it feels refreshing to get through it, especially its last five days.

Last June 26, following the Supreme Court’s decision, same-sex couples are finally allowed to marry in all of the United States of America. It was a landmark event in history that was felt across the globe. It did not apply in our home country, but it was one important step to humanity. People celebrated, hugged one another, and added rainbows on their profiles. I was one of them. And of course, others deplored.

That day revealed the truest color of many people who I thought were my friends. They are full of prejudice, full of hate. Now I know who my real friends are and who among my tribe I can turn to and have my back. For several years people have been cornering me and my community, condemning and pulling us down with snide remarks, self-centered religiosity, crab mentality, and the seemingly harmless words “Sayang ka.”

It’s as if we only existed for the sole purpose of their twisted entertainment: We can be funny like Vice Ganda but we cannot live protected by our laws and love like everyone else. They say they respect and love us, but their embrace is spiked with barbed wire.

Matters that deal with LGBTQ are sensitive, that is why detractors always couple their disgust with “It’s just my opinion” or “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.” Then there’s the often used statement “I have nothing against LGBTQ” which unsurprisingly is always followed or preceded by a self-righteous “But.”

These people often quote the Bible, too. It is sad knowing they could only define and limit their understanding of love from a book that is written thousands of years ago, and select from it quotes that only work on their favor and completely disregard those that don’t. Yes, in the Old Testament, the Holy Scripture says any man who sleeps with another man the way he sleeps with a woman is an abomination. But it also says a man should not wear clothing that is made of two materials and a man should not eat creatures of the sea that have scales. The list goes on from no tattoos, no wearing of gold, no braided hair to no wasted sperm. It looks like everyone’s going to hell then.

That is why the Bible is not some kind of buffet wherein one can just select the food he wants to eat. It must be taken as a whole, and this whole constitutes the values of compassion, love, and ultimately respect. After all, our love is not an attack on Christianity or on any religion this world has to offer. It has been very simple from the start: You may not agree with us, but you cannot deny us of our rights. Still, people are up in arms and refuse to understand our community, our plight, and our right to love.

Yet we stayed strong and persevered. There is no other way. Sadly though, some were not as strong, which led to the many young LGBTQ lives spiraling into depression and, worse, death.

That is why this fight is important to me. Our welfare is important to me. And by the grace of the heavens I finally know the reason why some people just keep pulling us down: They are a reminder that they are below us, a reminder that we are in our rightful places. My genuine friends, family, and I are taking this journey whether anyone’s with us or not.

Listen, this is the right thing to do. And like a tree on a hill, we stand tall and firm even in solitude.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

love wins



Can you hear that? Those are the scramblings, shufflings, and murmurings of so-called “Christians” from all over the world now devising a new counter-strategy. I smell panic in the air.

It is because last Friday, June 25, the Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. You can call that 50 States of Gay.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority’s decision, and it had never been said more clearly and eloquently. Please take time to read this; it would be the most illuminating few seconds of your life:


No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.

This brought tears to my eyes.

Yet, there are some gay people I know who publicly disapprove of the Supreme Court’s approval of the same-sex marriage ruling. Indeed, Filipinos are strange creatures. So I really have to say this: If you refuse to understand what the celebration is for, I think it is only right for you to crawl back to your cave.

One of their reasons is that it makes the idea of “family” meaningless. It made me pause for a second and had the laugh of my life. As what my friend said, life is too short for homophobes and those who keep intolerance a part of their principles. So the unfriending spree on Facebook continues.

Although many of the Catholics and Conservatives in the Philippines are still far from realizing how awfully wrong they are in their understanding of love, developments like this give hope to humanity. It is not for everyone but it is nothing short of momentous. It is an event, little or not, depending on who you ask, that tells us we are on the right direction.

Today marks the day of better things to come. Love wins.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

good news, good times

1.

It has been two years or so since I’ve last written or even completed a poem. Aside from the technicality the craft requires, the prospect of surrendering yourself again to your well of “feelings” can be tricky. And, perhaps, mentally and emotionally difficult.

Writing poetry is like being skinned alive, the rib cage opened, your heart exposed, as all the weight of things that surround you are resting upon your shoulders. Writing the first verse alone would subject you to that macabre transformation. That is why writing, as many have said, can be a painful, lonely job. But I tried to get up from the rut.

Recently I completed one here and another one there. And the struggle gave back a reward. Just a few weeks ago, I received this:


(click photo to enlarge)

According to the University of the Philippines-Diliman website, New Voices will be “a two-volume anthology of poetry and fiction by new Filipino authors writing in English. To be published by the UP Press and possibly in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education, these volumes will provide a platform for new writers to gain literary renown, as well as contemporize teaching materials for Philippine literature in English.

The New Voices anthologies seek to draw attention to a new generation of Philippine writers by filling a gap between the authors’ publication of individual poems or stories in periodicals, and the publication of their first book. New Voices will feature approximately 15 poets and 10 fiction writers.”

15 poets out of how many from all over? Possibly circulated in schools? The joy was electric. And then more news of acceptance letters from other people came flooding in. It became even more unbelievable. So far, from what I’ve gathered, I’d be in the company of Glenn Diaz, Tin Lao, Jason Chancoco, Mia Tijam, and Lystra Aranal. These names are giving me the chills. Aside from the flattery of being one of the country’s new voices in literature, I am just glad I have a voice.

2.

Last Tuesday, June 23, at around 7PM, saw the release of the results of the Nursing Licensure Exams for the May 2015 takers. The suspense was killing me, with every alphabetical update online an exercise in patience. Until it was revealed: My sister passed the board examinations.

I know very well the feeling of rejection and hardship, the seemingly endless missteps. That is why this is the singular news in many years that I have felt an overwhelming happiness not for myself but for another. All my sister’s hard work and sacrifices finally paid off. The purest form of fighting spirit is in her.

3.

The legendary Duran Duran is back after so many years. And they’ve brought along disco god Nile Rodgers and the impeccably talented, genre-defying Janelle Monáe. This music came at the most opportune time. It’s perfect, the stars have aligned. Everybody, everywhere! Step out into the future! It’s time to take the pressure off!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

claiming our independence and #RP612fic


On June 12, 1898, at this house in Cavite, General Emilio Aguinaldo unfurled to the public the country’s flag and proclaimed the Philippines’ independence. So yesterday, we were commemorating its 117th anniversary. This photo was taken two years ago, yet my understanding of independence is still the same: There is no real freedom if we remain blind to the mistakes of our leaders both past and present, remain stuck (yes, a double negative for emphasis) in the same outdated belief and decisions that bring us to nowhere, and keep a close mind to the shifting climate of society.

A change is in order. For instance, paying the bills on time, getting up and exercise, understanding what tolerance really means or claiming the independence we and our future generation deserve by electing the right people for our government. It’s just a thought.

And like in the previous years, to soften the blow of our nation’s drastic needs in a time of celebration, writers and word enthusiasts all over also commemorate the nation’s independence by contributing Twitter-length posts (a form of flash fiction) with the hashtag #RP612fic. This social media event was started by Filipino writer Paolo Chikiamco in 2009.

#RP612fic is all about melding literature and history, whether real or fantastical, with the possibilities that may happen or could have happened. Imagine a story wherein Ferdinand Marcos didn’t become president, a story wherein Magellan made friends with Lapu-Lapu, or Sisa never gone mad. In a capsule, it is all about creating alternate stories, a reworking of what is familiar.

Unfortunately, I found most of this year’s #RP612fic outputs so “jeje.” I remember the works made from the previous years were crafted with so much wit, thought, and imagination. They were written with the classic literature and authentic history in mind, one could compile them for a legitimate anthology worthy of its place in any library. This time though there was too much pop songs, Vice Ganda, and showbiz lingo. You get the picture.

Well, it’s a matter of personal taste. So I made #RP612fic entries that I myself would enjoy reading if I stumbled upon them. Here they are:
Dorothy woke up to a country ruled by a barong-wearing tyrannical and said to her dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” #RP612fic
Tourists were busy gossiping in a mausoleum somewhere in Ilocos Norte when one noticed the forehead of the body in display cracked open. Out flowed a variety of gems and jewelry. #RP612fic
The moment Jose Rizal was shot dead by a firing squad in Bagumbayan, no one knew it was also the exact same time little Aureliano Buendia was taken by his father to discover ice. #RP612fic
Finally, Juan Tamad was about to get up from his idle life when he discovered The Internet. #RP612fic
“Fight with me,” the general said. “You know nothing, Emilio,” Andres replied with a heavy heart as he rode the back of his dragon and flew into the distant horizon. #RP612fic

The last one, of course, was inspired by a storyline in the Game of Thrones novels by George R.R. Martin and Ian Rosales Casocot’s excellent take on the Andres Bonifacio-Emilio Aguinaldo saga in his short fiction “Alternate Histories: Really Short Stories for the Twitter Generation” published in Philippine Speculative Fiction 6 (edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias). Here is an excerpt:
“Tell me you love me,” Emilio said. “But I don’t love you,” said Andres. Emilio sighed. “Then you leave me no choice. You die.”

Remember, claim your independence, Filipinos! Have a great day!

Friday, June 12, 2015

the park's open again


The moment Chris Pratt first entered a scene in Colin Trevorrow’s “Jurassic World,” I couldn’t let go of the idea that he was acting as Andy Dwyer—his character in the exceptional comedy show “Parks and Recreation”—while taking on his alter ego Burt Maklin (although in a more mature way with less pounds of fat). That doesn’t mean it is awful. In fact, Pratt’s character Owen the Raptor Trainer brought a refreshing charisma to the 20-year old franchise. Heck, he made me love those velociraptors and thought of them as adorable prancing little kittens. It was a whole lot of fun. What drags this movie though from propelling to a great man-versus-nature extravaganza is its endless vomit of CGI. It seems like almost everything is computer-generated you can easily point out which is fake or not. Gone is the subtlety of realism, the art of tease, the slow burn big reveal. In short, the things that would elicit awe and make you itch for more, like what Steven Spielberg did for the first “Jurassic Park” movie in 1993. This fourth installment’s monster, the genetically modified Indominous Rex, could’ve been more terrifying and engaging with those notes in mind. Sadly, there were times as if Michael Bay took over the reins and made another “Transformers” film—except with dinosaurs. Instead of a good story, we are served with good digital wizardry. Also, am I the only one who noticed that the non-Americans were the first casualties in the film? Hmmm. Despite these observations, its message shines through all that mess: That everyone needs a “relationship based on respect,” whether one is dealing with a family member, a lover, or even an extinct creature. It is a poignant theme for a typical blockbuster movie. Because at the end of the day, when all hell breaks loose, you have nothing to hold on to but communication and respect to anyone (or anything) that could save your life. Knowing that human beings tend to play God in whatever scenario they are put into, respect is the instrument that balances all. And one more thing: Don’t watch it in 3D.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Thursday, May 28, 2015

is this what we really need?

The past few hours have been revelatory. Now I think 10% of the internet trolls, 28% of bigots, and 49% of hypocrites in the world are Filipinos or come from the Philippines.

Fine. The statistics are bogus, but in such a short span of time, one can easily approximate the current climate of a society based on an issue and how this society responds to it. This issue is that of Rodrigo Duterte possibly taking a major government position. I have posted on social media that this worries me since many people are clamoring for this to happen.

Why does this bother me? I believe that a man who can put an end (directly and indirectly) to another man’s life (criminal or not) because he thinks of himself as a higher being or a kind of god is a man who has no respect for human rights and equality.

This post has received a deluge of comments, mostly from people who deem the man and the maneuverings of the so-called Davao Death Squad are the next best solutions to the growing crime rates that plague our nation. They are up in arms about me being skeptic of him saving the Philippines.

I spoke about nobody should be taking one’s life without due process, but this only got a response that this suggestion, one said, was useless. Who can blame the person for sharing this sentiment? Corruption in our government is as visible as the glaring light of day.

One person came up with a lengthy response, saying that the killings are necessary and make up for a peaceful place such as Davao City. True, I have been to Davao a couple of times and it is a lovely place. As for peaceful I cannot entirely attest to this. People do not live a life of true peace if some live in fear, no matter how few or plenty they are

Another comment went something like this: “People are just simply tired thus killing these scum [sic] of society provides the easiest relieving respond [sic] to a safer community.”

People are just simply tired. Oh yes, with all the unsavory things happening in this country and all over the world, it is easy to get tired. New mothers get tired who have to wake up in the middle of most nights for their wailing firstborn children, but do they kill their babies? Street vendors suffer under the heat of the sun with little to no income each day, but do they kill the passersby who couldn’t even stop and buy from them a piece of candy? Heck, I even get tired on the idea alone of getting up for work as early as 5AM, but do I have to kill myself?

No.

For a nation whose major population proudly put their love of righteousness, justice, God, the saints, and whatever on their sleeves, it is funny and troubling to learn that death is their solution. This only strengthens my belief that our country and most of its people are neck-deep in hypocrisy.

A friend has shared to me that studies have actually shown death penalty is not even a deterrent to a crime. Meaning, it doesn’t stop the crime from happening again. It is true there are some people out there who do and can do acts that are way beyond our imagination that we may feel numb and suggest these guys do not have the right to live. But in the end, death does not reduce the crimes. “It’s like correcting a wrongdoing with another wrongdoing,” my friend said.

This is what many do not come to think of and even consider: Crime is an idea, sometimes a kind of force or compromise, not a person. Kill the person and yet the idea still lives on, thriving.

The point is we do not need an iron fist. What we need is an open hand and the sense of righteousness that do not resort to barbarism. We have come a long way, and we cannot go backward. This is already the 21st century after all.

Death or the many other forms of killing is a lowly, lazy and cowardly solution since it does not tackle head on the root and real issue of the problem. Because one has to ask, why do these people resort to crimes? Why do they do what they do?

This adamant support for taking the life of a criminal is like getting a test paper that you just throw away after seeing the tough questions. You didn’t solve any problem. You failed the exam.

On teenage gangs, which Davao’s police force say are responsible for the crimes committed in the city, Duterte can be quoted from an article by the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), saying, “I will not hesitate to kill them. I don’t care about minors.”

Now, let’s ask ourselves, is this the kind of leader we need? Is this the kind of leader for our next generation? Should we soon put ourselves in the wrong side of history?


*

PS: As for the trolls, bigots, and hypocrites in this country, here’s a word of advice. Do not try to make sense out of these people. You just cannot get it from irrational, stubborn, and culturally backward men. It’s like talking to a piece of rock. An ugly rock.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

everyone's mad


George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one long chase that tears through a variety of desolate lands (and sometimes bodies). It is like Terry Gilliam took a one-liter swig of Red Bull and decided to make an action movie. And it’s great. By comparison, it makes the entire Fast and Furious franchise a fluffy rabbit. Or a kindergarten, kiddie-meal fare. Despite being saturated in grease, grit, and everything steampunk, “Fury Road” is not all that. There’s a lot of subliminal stuff going on in here, and that is its beauty: You see what you want to see. In my case—and here’s a reason why the female demographic should not be taken aback by this high-octane spectacle—it’s an action movie that ultimately raises the woman to another level, or perhaps on a level that could finally get head to head with the male counterpart. Everyone has delivered excellent performances (even the guitar-man steals some scenes), but Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is as much brazen and daring as Tom Hardy’s Mad Max. In fact, it is the women in the film that drive the plot to its core and purpose. It speaks of a nurturing but tough as nails tribe that could be the remedy of a bleak future, not warlords and maniacal men. No wonder misogynists are attacking this movie; the girls running the world (cue Beyonce song). The stunts, the practical effects, the production design, the cinematography are top-notch. Heck, I’ve never seen fade-to-black transitions done so tastefully in a long while! As both writer and director, Miller definitely knows how to curate this world without giving in too much. Even with the characters’ sparse dialogues, a story is told by a stare, a furrowed eyebrow, a striking vista or even a grunt. Before seeing the film, I’ve been hearing complaints from people saying they do not understand the movie trailer. Guys, I think it’s high time to get back to the saying “Do not judge a book by its cover.” Believe me, you won’t regret it.

[ image lifted from this site ]

Sunday, May 03, 2015

the real and terrifying score behind the mayweather-pacquaio match


It is touted as the fight of the century, a match several years in the making. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquaio, both boxing legends in their own right, have finally gone head-to-head on May 3, 2015. The world stood still.

By now everyone knows the results and each has their share of debate and analysis to contribute to the general conversation. But there’s this one aspect in this historical event that many, if not the majority, seem to ignore. It is not about the alleged rigging by the judges and especially not the dancing and running skills of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It is that Mayweather on this day is apparently gay. He is a fag, talawan, bayut, bakla, bading, or simply and ultimately put, “Gayweather.” As for him being a wife-beater, that’s a different story.

For having defeated a crowd favorite by sheer calculation, physiological advantage, and maybe even luck, Mayweather has received the ire of millions. But what surprised me was that many people still brandish the word “gay” as a kind of insult in this time and age.

I shared this sentiment online, and those who used the slur countered that I was over-reading it. “No offense”, “It’s just an expression,” “It’s for fun”, and “Chill” were the responses I received. Some even personally messaged me, perhaps, to hide their lapses and lack of better judgment. But this is not something to be chill with.

Chill my balls.

It is easy to raise hell and fire back, like slitting some throats with a butter knife (kidding), but as how a friend has reminded me, the best way to approach these people is with education. We need to teach everyone to stop using “gay” as an insult, a joke or for fun. Most especially the latter.

Take note, this is the same kind of reasoning why some arsonists burn houses, why anarchists terrorize people, or why rapists do what they do. They do it for fun.

In fact, hate is perpetuated by being too casual on matters that are actually derogatory. The fact alone that it is used as an “expression” only underscores how far we are from becoming aware of this or how plenty of people are becoming mindlessly oppressive by thinking they are better than the others. This is a case that makes it truly terrifying to the gay community.

Educating people is hard, especially for the older generation when it comes to sensitivity, but it is not impossible. My generation, our generation, is a tribe that has the responsibility to learn from the previous generation’s mistakes. And whether you agree or disagree, one of their mistakes is the shaming and disgust towards the LGBTQ community (which goes back further into the prejudice against the black community and the exclusion of women’s rights).

If we drag the word “gay” as a convenient slur, we also drag a community that has experienced a long, painful history of injustice that resulted to more fights and unnecessary deaths. If we continue to act the way we act right now, what are we showing to the youth who are still coming into terms with their inner selves? What are we teaching to some kids who already feel bullying is just normal?

Yes, we are a nation that is shamed. We Filipinos (and supporters of Manny Pacquiao from around the globe) have a collective morale that is deeply wounded. The classic story of an underdog winning at the end of day just did not happen. And it is all right. There is no need for this hatred.

Bigotry is not how we should project our patriotism to the world. Discrimination is not the proper attitude towards defeat. Think again and think harder. There are still many fights to fight, and more are not found inside the boxing ring.


[ image borrowed from this site ]

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

happy birthday, mom.


I never knew then that this would be the last time I’d be seeing this elegant woman next to me in the photo above. That is Edith Lopez Tiempo. This was in 2011, during one of the many nightly events in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop, the oldest creative writing workshop in Asia she founded with her husband Edilberto Tiempo. She was 92 then but she always seemed so strong, full of life and humor. We had a small chat and I was amazed that she could still recall my name after so many years. That is her gift among many others, and the gift she has shared to us is this deep understanding of passion in literature and, basically, life which will always be remembered. There is a reason why we call her Mom; she is not only a National Artist, not only a teacher, but also a gentle nurturer of timeless wisdom. She offered criticism but never judgment, she provided insight and never insult. She is a life changer—especially to the person writing this blog entry. In a journal I had her autographed on back in 2008, she wrote, “Jordan. How proud I am to have a writer who is biblically approved.” Well, Mom, I am also biblically thankful. Happy birthday once again.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

horrible and not horrific


I’ve watched a couple of episodes of “American Horror Story,” a series created by the same team behind “Glee” namely Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, from different seasons and my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s a show that relies on shock and heavy-handedness. The twists and craziness the show is passing off as artistic flourishes only reveal the creators having incoherent minds and too much budget on their hands (and yet the show still looks cheap). I’d watch a Koreanovela over this stunt anytime. If you guys really want a good dose of horror, try watching “Black Mirror.”

[image lifted from this site]

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

one last ride


I wanted to love “Furious 7,” the seventh installment in the Fast & Furious franchise which was directed by James Wan, the same person behind the horror blockbusters “Insidious” [2010] and “The Conjuring” [2013], but the guy just couldn’t miss a chance to stick his camera on a butt, hip or cleavage for a couple of seconds as if he’s possessed by Michael Bay. Instead of moving the visual motif of this series forward to go along with the times, he goes back to the very first installment which is basically a sexist, testosterone-fueled film. Despite this observation, the franchise has transformed into a mixed breed of sorts from a simple automobile bonanza. This seventh iteration now feels like a spy, comedy, sci-fi slash martial arts B-movie, and it still works as popcorn fare wherein you really don’t have to think while watching it. Like staring at static and white noise on television. This still couldn’t top Justin Lin’s “Fast & Furious 5” in terms of story and plot development which propel everything to a logical and solid ending. “Furious 7” though is sadly full of self-aware one-liners and insane set pieces; it is easy to say Jason Statham is waste of character. It looks like his villainous Deckard Shaw is written as someone in the league of Hans Gruber in “Die Hard” or even Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” but he didn’t really translate well. Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody, on the other hand, is an interesting character. I am very sure he is to Dom’s crew what Q or M is to James Bond when the eighth installment happens. The filmmaker did something remarkable though (the only saving grace in the film) to Paul Walker’s character that many, if not all, didn’t expect at all, especially with the knowledge that the actor died in a freak accident prior to the filming’s wrap-up. I’ll have to end this here now. You’ll just have to watch it and endure the whole ride yourself. Spoiler bomb: In this movie Iggy Azalea appears in a blink-and-you-miss moment.

[image lifted from this site]

Monday, March 30, 2015

material boy

It took me a while to process how highly specific references in time could actually etch a memory even on the toughest Teflon of indifference. There really is no forgetting. But there is acceptance and maybe a pinch of stubbornness among many other things. Like forgiveness. To those who deserve it.

As someone who officially falls under the late 20’s category today, taking on the mantle of an adult now is more pressing than ever. And I guess I am getting good at it. Lately there is not much late night excursions, or drinking just to get a good buzz and hitting on anything that moves, or even hanging out until dawn like some seventeen-year-old teenager. They all seem too blah and pointless.

So now I could only wish that I’d make better choices and simply embrace those that are not, spend my time on endeavors that truly matter, be a better judge of character to myself and not to other people, and understand what is good for me first in the context of what is good for others and not the other way around. This is not selfishness. It is self-preservation.

I have more birthday wishes in mind, and they are just a repeat of what I have posted here before. There are resolutions, too, that I am still dealing with this year. In order to break such repetition, I might as well list down the material things I’ve always wanted (and needed). Givers, you know where to find me and know where to send that package. Thank you in advance.

I was writing this to the music of Amy Winehouse and, yeah, one can say nothing really changed. But there will be. Have a great day, everyone.

  • Monopoly Game of Thrones Edition
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Ray-Ban Round Flash Lenses in Red Mirror
  • Ray-Ban Clubmaster Gunmetal Aluminum
  • HP ActionCam Monopod
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
  • JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth Speaker
  • Bose QuietComfort 20i Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Smart Evernote Notebook by Moleskine
  • Kiehl’s Facial Fuel and Ultra Facial Moisturizer
  • Comme Des Garcons Play Green for Men
  • Estee Lauder Pleasures for Men
  • Base London Aldaniti High-Shine Tan, US9”
  • Dr. Martens 1560 Cherry Red, US9”
  • Dr. Martens 939 in Aztec Rugged Crazy Horse, US9”
  • Dr. Martens Austins Oxblood, US9”
  • Seagate External Hard Drive 1TB
  • Ikea Lamp and Bookshelf
  • Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 13”
  • “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • “A History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos” by Luis H. Francia
  • “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World” by Sophia Dembling
  • Multicolored Mason Jars
  • Basically a whole new wardrobe because almost everything I have now is one size smaller than me

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

54th silliman university national writers workshop fellows


The family tree continues to grow. Congratulations and welcome to the literary brood!

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The 54th edition of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop is slated to start on 11 May 2015 at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia, Negros Oriental. The workshop closes on May 29.

Twelve writers from all over the Philippines have been accepted as regular workshop fellows.

Fellows for Poetry

Aimee Paulette O. Cando (University of Santo Tomas)
Angela Gabriele R. Fabunan (University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Darylle Luzarita Rubino (University of the Philippines-Mindanao)
Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla (University of the Philippines-Mindanao)

Fellows for Fiction

Luis Manuel Diores (University of San Carlos)
Patricia Corazon F. Lim (Ateneo de Manila University)
Kristine Abelink Patenio (University of St. La Salle-Bacolod)
Rodolfo Eduardo T. Santiago (Ateneo de Manila University)

Fellows for Creative Nonfiction

Jona Branzuela Bering (Cebu Normal University)
Rowena Rose M. Lee (University of the Philippines-Mindanao)
Miguel Antonio Lizada (National University of Singapore)
Edmark Tejarcio Tan (University of Santo Tomas)


Khail Campos Santia of Malaybalay, Bukidnon (Silliman University) will join them as a special fellow for poetry. The names of other special fellows from around the Asia-Pacific region will be announced later.

Four alternates have also been chosen in case any of the regular fellows declines the invitation: Christian Jil R. Benitez of San Mateo, Rizal (Ateneo de Manila University) for poetry, Edmond Julian Y. Dela Cerna of Davao City (San Pedro College) and Matthew Jacob F. Ramos of Cebu City (Ateneo de Manila University) for fiction, and Fritzie D. Rodriguez of Balaga City, Bataan (University of the Philippines-Diliman) for creative nonfiction.

Three applicants have also been invited to sit as special workshop mentees, including Ana Joaquina Adriano of Dumaguete City (Enderun College), Silvin Federic Real Maceren of Cebu City (Silliman University), and Chuckie Perez Manio of Bacolod City (Silliman University).

The panel of writers/critics for this year will also be announced later.

The workshop, which traditionally lasts for three weeks, is the oldest creative writing workshop of its kind in Asia. It was founded in 1962 by S.E.A. Write Awardee Edilberto K. Tiempo and National Artist Edith L. Tiempo, and was recently given the Tanging Parangal in the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

For more information about forthcoming events during the workshop, please email Workshop Coordinator Ian Rosales Casocot at silliman.cwc@gmail.com or call the Department of English and Literature at (035) 422-6002 loc. 520. (Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center)

Friday, March 13, 2015

go get it, girl!



Kenneth Branagh’s take on “Cinderella” is a fine example of filmmaking restraint. Although the story’s plot is thin (it’s based on a fairytale, after all), everything works in favor to its formation. Nothing more, nothing less. The stepsisters are believably spoiled and provide ample humor to counter the titular character’s episodes of drama. Helena Bonham Carter’s fairy godmother is not done excessively (thank heavens). And the stepmother, ah, Cate Blanchett is spot-on. Her character brings to us this history of scorn and bitterness that, in reality, could sometimes grip our hearts. We have all been a wicked stepmother once in our lives, unable to let go of that shred of memory that could haunt us and make us unsheathe our claws in defense. Also, Lily James’ Cinderella presents a rare angle in 21st century feminism: she does not have bows and arrows, no powerful wings, no ice powers. There is no need to be extra rebellious. What she has is inner strength, a command of choice, and an awareness of that choice’s consequences. She knows what she wants.

It’s all good, really, and it is easy to say this “Cinderella” is a great leap of improvement over the past live-action versions of Disney’s animated classics. It does not have the narrative problem of “Alice in Wonderland” [2010] and the heavy-handedness that plagued “Maleficent” [2014]. Execs at Disney finally got it right. One could only wish that for future projects they would follow the movie’s guiding motif: Have courage and be kind—have courage to tackle a classic but kind enough to respect the source material. (Note: Disney must keep on hiring actors from the cast of “Downton Abbey.”)

[ image lifted from here ]

Friday, February 13, 2015

what is wrong with us?

Along the road, early morning three days ago, as I went about my usual route, I suddenly felt a massive pain in my arm. It turned out a car just sped right beside me and hit my side. I saw the driver jerk his head towards my direction. I thought he’d stop, but he just faced the road again and sped away into the distance. Things happened in a blur, I was not able to get the car’s plate number (it looked like an old-model, blue mini-compact crossover). It stunned me for a moment. I looked to my other side and felt lucky I didn’t fall into a five-foot high ditch.

The hit and run incident left some evidence though. Across me are pieces of the car’s shattered window visor. I didn’t know my arm was that tough, capable of breaking an industrially manufactured plastic, but this fact only showed how fast and reckless the man was driving. And he just left. Not a concern, not even an apology.

Now this begs the question: What have we become as humans and being humane? What happened to decency? What is wrong with admitting to a mistake you’ve done, telling the truth, and saying you’re sorry? It seems being rude is the new norm, as if to harm is as ordinary as taking a bath. I guess we have broken ourselves too much we‘ve now reached the point of being irreparably numb.

Today, out of a miracle I still have to comprehend, I am only nursing a large bruise the shape of my home province and a scratch that almost encircled my arm. Still, it saddens me not because it looks like someone’s trying to stop me from having my Valentine tomorrow. It’s just that humanity failed as early as 7AM.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

rise


I arrived in the theater with the lowest of expectations, but “Jupiter Ascending,” the latest film by the Wachowskis who also brought to us the groundbreaking “The Matrix Trilogy” many years back, turned over its head and was entertaining through and through. And to think that this is not a sequel of any franchise, not based on a comic book or a young adult novel makes it a bold piece of cinema. To make it clear for everyone: It is original. That alone makes every cent for a ticket worth it.

Despite the pastiche of references (a sample was an excellent scene that dives straight into Terry Gilliam territory), the pieces fit well together. For some who knows only a thing or two about pop culture bits from around the world will be scratching their heads though. And there was one big red herring that, I believe, disappointed a lot of critics and resulted to the film’s almost unanimous and overwhelming bad reviews. Don’t believe them. I think they’ve seen an entirely different movie. It was fun, and that’s what matters, right?

Friday, February 06, 2015

call for submissions to the new voices anthologies of poetry and fiction



Attention, new writers: The Department of English and Comparative Literature of the University of the Philippines in Diliman is calling for submissions to New Voices, a two-volume anthology of poetry and fiction by new Filipino authors writing in English. To be published by the UP Press and possibly in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education, these volumes will provide a platform for new writers to gain literary renown, as well as contemporize teaching materials for Philippine literature in English.

Current anthologies of Philippine poetry and fiction are edited and dominated by well-established writers who form the local literary canon. This practice makes breaking through the publishing and literary worlds difficult for newer authors, many of whom have only published individual poems or stories in magazines and journals. The New Voices anthologies seek to draw attention to a new generation of Philippine writers by filling a gap between the authors’ publication of individual poems or stories in periodicals, and the publication of their first book.

New Voices will feature approximately 15 poets and 10 fiction writers. The selection process will begin immediately after the deadline and end by May 2015. Authors of accepted manuscripts will be notified as soon as the selection process is completed.

The submission guidelines are as follows:

  1. The call is open to new writers of any age who are Filipino citizens holding permanent residence in the Philippines.
  2. A “new writer” is one who has yet to publish a book (sole authorship) in the specific genre for which he or she is submitting a manuscript. A book that comes out before the deadline of submissions for New Voices will disqualify its writer.
  3. Each qualified writer may submit only one manuscript file for each genre. For poetry, the submission file should consist of seven to 10 poems, or the equivalent of 10-15 pages in book form. For fiction, the set of submissions should consist of three to five stories, or a total of around 10,000 words, or the equivalent of 15-20 pages in book form.
  4. There is no prescribed style or theme for the submission contents, but they should represent the author’s skill and range, and as such may or may not have been previously published. If published, however, provide the bibliographical information.
  5. All poems should be pasted in the preferred order, single-spaced, into one document file; the same goes for short story submissions. The prescribed font types are Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial, or Calibri, standard font size 12. Please include a short profile or bionote of no more than 300 words on the last page of the document.
  6. Only online submissions will be considered. The document file to be attached should be in .doc, .docx or .rtf, and labeled with the author’s last name and the title of the first poem or story in the submission (e.g. Arcellana THE YELLOW SHAWL.doc). The filename should also be indicated in the e-mail’s subject line.
  7. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM, Philippine Standard Time, on April 1, 2015.
  8. The editors reserve the right to edit any and all materials accepted for publication.


For inquiries and submissions, contact the editors at newvoicespoetry2015@gmail.com or newvoicesfiction2015@gmail.com. Please specify ‘inquiry’ or ‘submission’ in the subject line.

info and image lifted from this site ]

call for submissions to ‘sustaining the archipelago’ (an anthology of philippine ecopoetry)



Contributions of poems about nature, species, disasters, environmental justice, and our interrelations with these are now welcome in an anthology of Philippine eco-poetry entitled “Sustaining the Archipelago.”

The importance of compiling our experiences with our ecosystem is evident in what we see around us: our country is one of the 17 megadiverse nations in the world and as such, we live in extreme biodiversity. We are even called, to quote from the 1997 publication entitled “Megadiversity,” one of the earth’s “biologically wealthiest nations.” Yet, those labels are in sharp contrast to our reality of being a “Third World” nation. Using the terminology “megadiversity” to describe any country is appealing, yet it also opens an onslaught of problems which even the Areas of Biodiversity Importance recognize: they say that the nations who are biologically richest are also the nations whose ecosystems are under severe threat. The 2014 Environmental Policy Index confirms this, since the Philippines only ranks 114 out of the 178 environmentally-healthy nations. For one such megadiverse nation, this is an alarming discrepant and an indicator of misaligned values, policies, beliefs, practices, and an overall issue with the utilization of natural resources. It is in the ruthless destruction and degradation of our archipelago that the ecological consciousness of society must be permeated by any means possible – especially through poetry.

What is Ecopoetry?
Ecopoetry has been defined as a poem which investigates both thematically and formally the relationship among language, nature, culture, and human perception of these. It is also widely accepted as a poem which offers a view of the world; an understanding of the nonhuman environment; joy and experimentation with and among nature; and most importantly, an acknowledgment of the responsibility affiliated with writing about the environment. Thus, an ecopoem must not only show the relationship among local language, nature, culture, and human perception, but also investigate the possibilities of offering a view of the environment, an interrelationship with and among species, and the writer’s burden of responsibility in transcribing the natural.

The Future of Ecopoetry in Sustaining the Archipelago 
This project of compiling ecopoems which speak of our ecological interrelationship is to hopefully prove that there is power in language – a power which can effectively show the picture of our lives to awaken our senses, connect us with ourselves and others, and lead us to think in radical ways.

There is a possibility that if we acknowledge the poetic beauty, its force, and capacity to reach out to all of us, we may be given the chance to recognize our responsibilities in maintaining the delicate balance of our ecosystem. In turn, it will allow us to lighten our footprints in our archipelago and in the world. And because poetry speaks personally, its message is delivered quickly, clearly, emotionally, effectively. This anthology may broaden the possibilities of coming up with sustainable solutions to the ongoing environmental crises - a clear and practical way for Filipino writers and their literariness to contribute to the fight against climate change.

Submission Guidelines
Please email your original and published or unpublished ecopoems to the editor, Rina Garcia Chua (rinagarciachua@gmail.com), with the subject heading: Sustaining the Archipelago Submission.

You may send multiple poems or a collection of poems, but it may not exceed more than 10 pages and must be in a Microsoft Word Document file (.doc or .docx). Ecopoems in Filipino and other languages are more than welcome and must be accompanied by an English translation. If your ecopoem has been published elsewhere, please include a bibliography entry of its previous publication at the end of the poem. If it has been simultaneously accepted in another publication, please notify the editor immediately.

Also, follow the filename of your document file/submission as such: lastnamefirstname_titleofcollection titleofpoem.docx (e.g. RotorAbercio_PoemsinTranquility.doc). You can email your essay as a file attachment and include a brief bio-note of 100 to 200 words, institutional affiliation, contact number/s, and email address.

The deadline for submission is on May 15, 2015.

There are a number of confirmed contributors, as well as a foreword from Dr. Greg Garrard, the author of the books Ecocriticism (The New Critical Idiom) and The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. There are also international and local publishers who have shown interest in the anthology. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the editor via the given email address. 

artwork by Marianne Amor Romina Abuan, poster by Jose Avelino Vergara, info and image lifted from this site ]

Sunday, February 01, 2015

heartbreakers

It is no secret our government always fails us like a serial heartbreaker. It doesn’t help that it is mostly run by people who are better off as jesters in the court. Laughable is an understatement.

There’s our Senator Vicente Sotto III who once again quotes the words of our recent celebrity visitor Pope Francis and takes them out of context in a whole new level, inserting his agenda on the opposition of the Reproductive Health Law.

There’s congressman Manny Pacquaio who, once questioned why he isn’t constructing or passing any law during his term—especially that his attendance in the House of Representatives can only be summed up to seven out of 70 sessions—responded that, “Huwag niyo na ako iboto. Mas gusto nga matalo nalang ako. (Just don’t vote for me anymore. Anyway I prefer to lose).”

There’s Joseph Ejercito Estrada who, after being deposed as the nation’s president by a People Power movement because of plunder, ironically returns to power in the form a mayoral seat in the city of Manila, grinning and waving to the deafening cheers of his fans.

And finally, to rub salt in a wound, there’s our current president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III who attends the inauguration of a car manufacturing plant instead of the necrological services of the remains of 44 elite policemen who died in a terrifying onslaught in Maguindanao last January, as if he has forgotten his role as the nation’s commander-in-chief.

These are but a few sampling of diseases that plagued the country. A man who is delusional, a man whose fame has gotten into his head, a man who continues to get away, and a man whose priorities have gone bonkers. Even with these facts, facts that are more visible and present than ever, it is sad to note that people continue to put them in power.

It has become a vicious cycle: People vote for these politicians, they say promises. When they perform badly, people groan. When people start to forget, these politicians eye the next elections. When they start to campaign, people listen. Then people vote for them, and then they say their promises again. And we’re back from the very start.

The poet Charles Bukowski once said, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” Laugh all you want, but it struck a chord. Perhaps the people do not understand the meaning of “plunder,” or what a contraceptive is, or maybe ignorance, and that primetime news have not done enough explaining on what these things are? Questions, questions.

It looks like the majority of the Philippines can be diagnosed having the Battered Wife Syndrome. And we do not deserve this. We cannot just be full of doubts, groan, and complain throughout the rest of our lives. This cycle could only be stopped if we face the reality and decide to ease our problems long-term and not only for the time being.

Because if we allow ourselves and this nation to be better, then we can really be men and women of intelligence with the right amount of doubt.

* * *

Guys, it’s February. It’s that month of the year that could rival December’s jam-packed restaurants and malls. And just like any old map, X marks the spot. Kaya mag-ingat.



[ image lifted from Facebook ]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

call for submission of manuscripts to the 54th silliman university national writers workshop

Ladies and gentlemen of the written word, it’s time to bring those works out for grinding. Only when needed, of course. And it would be worth your time, I can assure you. There will be grinding, yes, in more ways than one.



The Silliman University National Writers Workshop is now accepting applications for the 54th National Writers Workshop to be held 11—29 May 2015 at the Silliman University Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village.

This Writers Workshop is offering twelve fellowships to promising writers in the Philippines who want to have a chance to hone their craft and refine their style. Fellows will be provided housing, a modest stipend, and a subsidy to partially defray costs of their transportation.

To be considered, applicants should submit manuscripts in English on or before 9 February 2015. All manuscripts should comply with the instructions stated below. (Failure to do so will automatically eliminate their entries).

Applicants for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction fellowships should submit three to four (3-4) entries. Applicants for Poetry fellowships should submit a suite of seven to ten (7-10) poems. Applicants for Drama fellowships should submit at least one (1) One-Act Play.

Each fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama manuscript should not be more than 20 pages, double spaced. We encourage you to stay well below the 20 pages.

Manuscripts should be submitted in five (5) hard copies. They should be computerized in MS Word, double-spaced, on 8.5 x 11 inches bond paper, with approximately one-inch margin on all sides. Please indicate the category (FICTION, CREATIVE NONFICTION, POETRY, or ONE-ACT DRAMA) immediately under the title. The page number must be typed consecutively (e.g., 1 of 30, 2 of 30, and so on) at the center of the bottom margin of each page. The font should be Book Antiqua or Palatino, and the font size should be 12.

The applicant’s real name and address must appear only in the official application form and the certification of originality of works, and must not appear on the manuscripts.

Manuscripts should be accompanied by the official application form, a notarized certification of originality of works, and at least one letter of recommendation from a literature professor or an established writer. All requirements must be complete at the time of submission.

Send all applications or requests for information to Department of English and Literature, attention Prof. Ian Rosales Casocot, Workshop Coordinator, 1/F Katipunan Hall, Silliman University, 6200 Dumaguete City. For inquiries, email us at silliman.cwc@su.edu.ph or call 035-422-6002 loc. 350.

crying

Last January 14, the Philippines has once again experienced a shot of spiritual high in the form of Pope Francis’ visit just a few days after that frenzy in Quiapo, Manila.

Whether the very warm welcome is a sign of the people’s holiness reaching record-breaking status or simply a typical response of a celebrity-crazed nation (i.e. bringing back to office a plunderer and former action star, making a congressman out of a boxing sensation), the Pope’s short stay has made an impression.

What an impression, indeed. Ever since his inauguration, news all over the world proclaimed him as a great breath of fresh air, a very dynamic, progressive man of faith. Approachable, humble, and bearing a selfie-ready smile for Instagram, the latest Pope can easily bring one’s heart a-flutter.

But in what would be the most head-scratching statement I have heard in this time and age, the Pope said in one of his speeches during his stay in our country, “The Lord will never let you down. Let us move forward, always forward.”

Head-scratching because of this: How?

How can we ever move forward if the very institution the Pope resides in power—an institution millions of Catholics across the globe proudly hold high above anything else like a badge of honor—remains in a very un-progressive and staggeringly un-forwarding stand on the most pressing issues of the world: HIV and AIDS, unbiased opportunity for women to serve as priests, family planning and contraceptives, unsolved charges on pedophilia within the enclaves of their own churches, and anything that connects to the LGBT community like, you know, equality and human rights.

These are just a few of the realities he has been fence-sitting on if not avoiding altogether.

On June 2013, about an interviewer’s question regarding homosexuals going to church, he gave a statement that made international headlines, and probably the conception of him being the beacon of change: “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” Of course, people ate it up, threw confetti, or opened a bottle of champagne. But here’s the catch: he actually didn’t say anything about supporting gay rights or accepting the community.

He has mastered the art of ambivalence. As a man who reads Borges, Dostoyevsky, and other great literary writers, he knows what to say. He knows his words.

Also, the Pope is backed up by a target-oriented, well-oiled PR machine. You know PR, right? It is the same machine that creates plans and maneuverings on how to market chocolates to children, whey protein to gym-goers, or a toolbox to stay-at-home dads.

As for Pope Francis, his chief PR is Greg Burke, a 53-year-old former correspondent of Fox News, a channel known to be racist, sexist and anything that insults the intelligence. There is no denying that Burke’s job as the Senior Communications Adviser to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State (yup, that’s his official job title) is a success. He made a media darling out of a pope.

That is why it is beyond me that people still fall for labels “progressive” and “a new hope” and so strongly attach them to a man in robes when clearly nothing concrete has ever changed.

Lastly, this is what’s been bothering me. Upon the Pope’s arrival, the story of children crying at the sight of him stepping out of the plane has been repeated many times over on television, radio, and the internet, putting every possible spiritual spin on it. But is it wrong to consider that these children, perhaps just a few percent of them, fall into fits of tears because, even in the presence of such a powerful and authoritative figure, the Pope cannot actually do anything to eradicate the ills of the world like the scheming and corrupt government officials who kissed the ring on his finger or generally the oppressive society they currently belong? Just asking.

I shared a few thoughts to a friend, and he told me, “Just leave him alone. He’s not doing anything to you.” Exactly, my friend. He has not done anything. It makes me want to cry.

Friday, January 09, 2015

ethics #003

Earlier today, an estimated 5 million Filipinos flocked to Quiapo, Manila to join the largest procession in the Philippines to celebrate the 408th anniversary of the Black Nazarene. In the process of this “tradition,” a man died. Also, there was a lot of screaming, cursing, pushing, shoving, and trampling on fellow human beings to get to a cross. Nothing can be more ironic than this spectacle.

On this side it looked like a tradition that had overstayed its welcome. Believe it or not, some traditions better cease to exist than being practiced. In Indonesia, it is a tradition for a particular tribe’s women to cut a segment of their fingers when their relative dies. In the Faroe Islands, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, it is a tradition to slaughter hundreds of whales that could make an entire sea dark with blood.

Traditions can be subjective, especially if it has faith in its core. With our very own procession, as we witness the death, the injuries, and the wanton hurling of trash in the streets rise in numbers through the years, wouldn’t these go against the values of what is holy and divine? What happened to purity, discipline, and cleanliness?

Faith is a sensitive matter and a very tricky one, too.

There’s a father who insists on his wife and kids to go to church, but once inside he wouldn’t last 30 minutes through the service and leave. There’s a woman who preaches the teachings of the bible but remains bigoted and disapproving of what she deems not normal. There’s also a gay man who is partnered yet secretly frequents the cruising spots in town, pays for “service” with strangers, and by Sunday he would kneel down and pray, feeling all the promiscuity washed away with just the sign of the cross, saying he simply embraces who he is and all acts done are part of the process of accepting his true sexuality.

These are not made up. I know these people personally. It seems that faith can be bent at will, a switch that can be turned off when wanted. And it looks like some has an ambiguous idea of it—or have no idea at all. Featured in the news earlier, droves of people are in the middle of the procession like they’re ready for a rave party, expecting some sort of revelry.

Multi-awarded writer Nicolas Pichay shared to me on Facebook: “Our family are devotees of the Poong Nazareno. When I was younger, the procession was never anarchic. It had an internal order that valued solemnity and sacrifice. It is sad that the participants have forgotten this through the years.”

Truly, the essence of the procession has been relegated to the sidelines in favor of loud festivity, meticulous ceremonies, and head counts of attending celebrities. I am no saint, I have my errors. More so, I believe in the power of one’s faith. But at the end of the day, one has to ask: Does it have to be that way?