Saturday, May 21, 2016

not apocalyptic enough


Bryan Singer returns with “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and to say the least, it is good. I watched it on premier night, and now I could finally sum up the experience with this: I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Zack Snyder’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Yeah, give me the boos. The thing is, after the superb “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” this latest installment of mutant mayhem has unfortunately not sustained the momentum. We are in the 80’s, and we have Apocalypse as the main antagonist, and yet they do not feel weighty, insane and engaging enough. Hello! That’s Apocalypse we are talking about, one of the craziest foes in the Marvelverse! And yet his character falls flat and boring in this film. He even looks small next to Olivia Munn’s Psylocke (who was a perfect but another under-used choice, honestly). Oscar Isaac was a waste of talent. And on the opposite side of waste is the overexposure of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. It is hard to dim the limelight for an A-list actress like J-Law, especially in a big blockbuster ensemble movie, but her presence and protest rally-like speeches in the story seems forced. She makes me wish for the darker, unpredictable Mystique of Rebecca Romijn instead. What truly stand out in this film are the younger mutants. The normally bland Cyclops is played by Tye Sheridan with so much attitude. Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame is surprisingly fit for Jean Grey. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler provide the humor in the right places (but let’s just forget the latter’s hair please). And we finally see Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp, who showcases her powers that closely resemble their portrayal in the comics and animated series. After assessing the previous X-Men films up to the recent one, I realize what makes this “X-Men: Apocalypse” not apocalyptic enough. Its plot is almost the same as those that come before it. Here’s an egocentric baddie, here’s a united team. Familiar, right? It’s because we have seen it all before. P.S. I also expected a lot of fireworks from Lana Condor’s Jubilee, but, oh well.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Sunday, May 08, 2016

on mother's day


In times like this, when the seas are rough and the waves keep rocking your boat, you need to keep calm and trust on your anchor. And for several years, this woman remains to be my reliable anchor. Happy Mother's Day, Ma! No words can define my love for you, not just on this day but always. All the time.

*

Today is Mother's Day. I know, it is another capitalist concept embraced by many. But it is good to remind ourselves that we celebrate the strength, love, and wisdom shared to us by our mothers. Outside our homes, the closest we could get to another mother is our teachers, from pre-school to tertiary education. I am lucky enough that I have a mother who is also a public high school teacher. Whether these teachers are men or women, they are still our mothers in the sense that they nurture us with the knowledge we need to face the realities of the world. But as I face the strange reality of this country today, some questions come into mind: How much knowledge and wisdom did our teacher-mothers actually instill in their children today and in the past? Have they taught these children the history that shapes the present? Have they taught these children to be critical and not be swayed by lies and fabricated stories? Have they shared the reality as it is? For all the teachers in this lifetime who have prepared me to this day, especially on this day before the elections, I am so much thankful. Your guidance, truthfulness, and courage to teach the truth and reality are an inspiration. To the rest of the teachers out there, persist, be honest, and teach well. Don't fail the future generation. It is the bravest job in the world.



along the trail of change (or delusion)


Make sure that change will definitely arrive ha, at hindi lang puro coming? Or else someone's going to Duterte you. Good luck, Philippines!
Link: Change Better Be Coming

*

Very fightening, indeed.

“It is frighteningly stark how so many Filipinos misunderstand what the role of the media is. We've been flooded with demands to comment on this, comment on that, what do you think about what so-and-so said, etc., as if the primary role of a newsroom is to judge something. Agencies have editorial pieces, sure. But for readers to outright demand a reaction from us on whatever issue is up their ass at the moment is so indicative of how they see media as simply a tool to justify their own biases. I know this may sound really trite and redundant at this point, but I just had to say it. So many Filipinos have no respect for knowledge. They just want to shout at something, to laugh at something, to set something before them and judge it blamelessly to their heart's content. It is so selfish. It is so, so childish. We lack education, sure. But even before that, what needs to be addressed is the infinite, gaping hole that is our conscience.” – Marguerite Alcazaren De Leon

*

Such powerful message for all the people out there, especially for the young ones who believe that Martial Law is the golden age of this country. Do not hold on to that lie. I've met kids and college students who insist that the Marcos years are the best years the Philippines ever had. Do not hold on to that misconception. Instead, those years were filled with torture, rape, murder, all forms of violations. Never forget the horrors of the past. Never bring those horrors to the present. It is never too late to change your mind.
Link: Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang


*

“Basta _______ pa rin kami! Solid! All the way!”

Getting a response like that no matter how much facts and figures are presented only confirms my assumption that the majority of this country have a lot of growing up to do. The word "basta" simply negates reason and logic. It is the word that captures the very character of a classic stubborn man who refuses to learn and to be learned. In cases like this, there is no point in having a constructive and healthy discussion. Because when the word “basta” comes into play, you must know that the formulation of ideas has ceased to exist and the obvious is easily ignored. Basta.

*

Now let me tell you about Cognitive Dissonance, which is what many Filipinos here and abroad are experiencing. Read this explanation by Frantz Fanon:

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

In other words, you believe the lies instead of the truth.

*

If you are responsible enough as living, breathing human being, know the trail of death Duterte leaves behind. A trail that continues to make a mark in our lives today and in the future. Stop this blindness. I still believe there’s power in knowledge.
Link: Tough Justice: On the Trail of Philippine Death Squads

*

Irresponsibility has consequences, has real human costs.

“My girlfriend was on the way to see me. She struck up a conversation with her taxi driver about the coming elections. After expressing an opinion on a certain candidate, she was told ‘Sana marape ka para malaman mo kung gaano ka kailangan si Duterte.’ When we met up, I had to hold her and assure her everything was OK while she cried. To anyone still entertaining voting for him, realize his mouth has real human cost.” – Rami Hourani

*

One thing I know for sure, at least I've never used as a source something from a Mocha Girl or Senyora Santibañez. Yuck.

*

Plagiarism is a crime diba? If you remember, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto presented a speech, with most of its parts copied from many speeches from different writers without permission. So will he put himself in this prison island? Abangan.
Link: Sotto wants prison island for drug offenders

*

Oh well. Mahirap ng maniwala sa isang taong lantaran at hambog sa kanyang pagkasinungaling. He said he won’t run for president. He ran. He said he doesn’t have those BPI accounts. He did have such accounts. This man’s got no integrity, which is ironic, because he claims to be for the poor. He is actually fooling the poor.
Link: Duterte assures he won’t declare Martial Law

*

Be a good sport, not a sore loser.

“The assumption seems to be that Duterte's defeat can only be possible if other candidates cheat. We presume him to be invincible, due to survey results that consistently put him in the lead.
But election surveys--as helpful as they are--never claim to be predictive. They can help us make educated guesses, but no further. Recall that in the 2010 Vice Presidential race, Mar Roxas was long and far ahead of his opponents. In the run-up to the elections (as of 19 April 2010), 39% of SWS respondents were in favor of him. At far second was Jejomar Binay, who lagged by 14 sorry points at 25%. Sure and certain victory was foreseen for Roxas. 
Then Binay stunned us all by winning. In the end, he cornered nearly 42% of the votes, with Roxas second at close to 40%. 
Let's zoom back to the present. In the last few weeks, numerous accounts of electoral fraud--specifically overseas--have surfaced. The story usually goes like this: "I voted for Duterte-Cayetano here in Siberia, but when the receipt came out, it showed that I voted for Mar-Leni. P@#%@ niyo LP, grabe pandaraya niyo!"
Many of these stories have already been discredited, and the COMELEC has vowed to file charges against those who make false claims on polling fraud. Altogether, however, it looks like the electorate--particularly the pro-Duterte bloc--are being conditioned to believe that if Duterte loses, it's because Mar cheated him of the Presidency.
This is of course a preemptive move, but it's also a move that eagerly courts civil unrest. Because while many Duterte supporters are possessed of reason, a vast majority of them have shown extreme savagery towards those who criticize or oppose their beloved candidate. Should Duterte lose, it's not difficult to imagine their displeasure to manifest in discourse--or worse, action--of the same viciousness.
This isn't a doomsday pronouncement. It's only a possibility we must be mindful of. After all, the electoral exercise is, among many things, a frank acknowledgment of the breadth of possibility. This is why we troop to the polling booths in hopes that our candidate will pull through, never mind what the surveys say. In exercising our right to vote, we honor the fact of possibility offered to us by our democracy.
Anything can happen on May 9. Virtually anything can. Duterte might indeed win. Grace Poe might win as earlier surveys indicated and make her family and supporters proud. Roxas might win by the skin of his teeth and bring a sigh of relief to his supporters. Binay might blindside us again, the way he did in 2010. Miriam might redeem herself this time around and pull a surprise win on us. For crying out loud, Seneres might roll back the tombstone and say, Yo, I'm back, and I win.
If you are witness or victim to electoral fraud, by god, please report it. But we must keep in mind too that none of our candidates are owed victory, regardless of our passions, regardless of our faith in their fitness for the Presidency.
Update: A friend alerted me to the results of the SWS survey closest to the May 10 election in 2010. There, Binay and Roxas sat even at 37%. Again, however: anything can happen.” – Peachy Paderna

*

So, where's your Bible now?

“Pansin ko lang kapag kabaklaan ang usapan, ambibilis mag-quote ng Bible, pero pag patayan ang usapan, nakalimutan bigla ang 10 Commandments?” – Shakira Sison

*

That political video which featured kids was hard to watch. Using children? Seriously? But I think it was harder for the supporters of the candidate who was at the center of the video's attention. Because, whether anyone liked it or not, there was a sharp truth in the video that pierced and struck them hard. It cannot be denied; it hits home. The truth hurts. Reality bites. And this is the painful reality we could possibly be facing in the next six years. So think and think hard. For everyone’s sake.

*

The hypocrisy of the Filipino people is becoming sharper and clearer as the Election Day approaches. It’s funny to witness people insanely reacting towards an ad that featured children and saying it’s a dirty move. Talaga lang ha. So what about murder? Bigotry? Rape? Misogyny? The complete lack of respect to due process? Aren’t those things dirtier? Think. * Plunderer (noun). Someone who steals things from a place, such as a city or town especially by force. Well, birds of the same feather flock together. No wonder Digong wants to release her when he wins.

*

Many of us Filipinos aren’t feeling it at the moment, but the Philippine Peso's worth continues to drop. A bad, bad sign for our economy. The reason? Duterte’s lead in the elections race with his vague economic plans and threats to kill criminals without due process. These were enough to give possible foreign investors second thoughts and the cold feet. Aside from these, he openly joked about his penis and promised to pardon himself for mass murder charges in a conference of top business leaders. Whuuut. Now, can you see the unsettling future we're putting ourselves in with a Duterte win? Think.

*

If change is indeed coming, sige nga, I dare you to post online all the “wilwig” or pay money that you’ve received from all the running local and national candidates this election season. Let’s see if we've all changed for the better.

*

Walang masama kung magbago ka man ng desisyon. Ang masama ay yung mananatili kang bulag sa katotohanan, at pinaninindigan mo pa rin ang kasinungalingan at kagaguhan.

*

I am really starting to believe that the Philippines is but a little corner in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Macondo. The naive and stubborn majority, the gnawing heat, the sudden days of rain, the outworldly politics. The parallelism between fiction and our reality is close to perfection. If only I can close all of this shut like a book.

*

I’ll borrow this message from a friend whose name I won’t disclose because this person has been subject to bullying and harassment by rabid, unsound supporters of Duterte. The guy didn't win the elections yet, but his loyalists are now so self-entitled to inflict pain and threats to other people. So is this your idea of good citizenry and governance? Wake up and grow up, people. Think.

“Duterte is a lazy choice. No one man can solve the problem. Discipline comes from ourselves. It takes everyone to build a nation. Killing should not be an option. Let’s build a nation founded on respect and dignity. Let’s make democracy work.”

*

Most Filipinos love to play the Christian card. In this country, religion has always been the go-to remedy for all situations. It is no secret that the majority of Filipinos just love to brandish their being Christian on any issue. This was very apparent when same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. last year, and when boxer Manny Pacquaio likened the union of LGBT couples to something worse than animals. Many Filipinos condemned the legality of that marriage and many Filipinos defended Pacquiao. All because they are “good Christians.” With a capital C. May paquote-quote pa sila ng Bible verses. It is against the Holy Scripture, they said. It is very wrong! Fast forward to the election period, and these Filipinos are introduced to a man like Rodrigo Duterte. All of a sudden, things changed. Suddenly, it is okay to be a womanizer and a sexist. Suddenly, it is okay to bully. It is okay to influence and encourage people to be cyberbullies. It is okay to break laws. It is okay to be a bad influence. It is okay to be a bigot. It is okay to insult the LGBT community. It is okay to make jokes about rape. It is okay to curse. It is okay to exaggerate stories and make lies. It is okay to have no integrity and consistency. It is okay to be a mass murderer. It is okay to kill. Despite their insistence of being "Christians" and “good catholics,” suddenly, many Filipinos refuse to see these flaws. Suddenly, many Filipinos disregard the sins I thought they are so against to because, you know, they are supposed to be “good Christians.” So what happened this time? Does this only affirm that most Filipinos are irrationally desperate and selective of their beliefs from the very start? Who is biased now? I am no saint, good heavens! I’ve been to church only once this month. It’s just that when I see hypocrisy in full view, with so much pride in high-definition, the irony makes me really, really sick. If only there’s a word much worse and uglier than hypocrite…

*

Today in How To Get Away With Murder. Move over, Viola Davis.
Link: Duterte vows to pardon himself for murder

*

It’s hard to make sense out of this kind of evil to lead the vice presidentiables. I pray the citizens of this nation wake up and stop this impending horror. A vote for Marcos is an insult to the people who work hard for years to break the chains of tyranny. Please, stop him.
Link: Marcos still leads vice presidential race – Pulse Asia

*

If there’s one thing Duterte is good at, it’s that he says what the masa (desperately) wants to hear. “I will do this. I cannot allow that. I will kill them.” But, more than ever, the most important question to ask to yourself is this: Are his means and methods to do them practical, right, and ultimately, efficient (which is different from effective)? Think.

*

On the question, how to ensure good health and living for a community in far-flung areas? City and barangay health centers should have capable and pro-active workers (hindi puro naka-upo at chika lang sa clinic), a routinely updated and replenished stock of medicines, an effective information drive, and zero payment for the under-privileged. I agree with Santiago, Poe, and Roxas.

*

In a debate, Duterte didn’t ask Miriam Defensor-Santiago any questions. Of course he won’t. That’s expected. He’s afraid to get an answer and a rebuttal from the much sharper, much logical Santiago.

*

Binay, when asked by Roxas in a debate about the charges filed against him, seems to say, “Since I will and cannot answer you honestly, let’s discuss something else, okay?” Talk about segue!

*

Important question:

“It’s incredible how pro-Duterte supporters defend their idol to the death, even when he says the vilest, more horrible things. Context daw, research more daw, words vs. actions daw. And yet when it’s about another candidate, all these things are thrown out the window. What to do when the blind choose to remain blind?” – Michelle Tan

*

This is what arrogance sounds like. For a man who keeps honking his “political will” like some sort of agimat, he sure is driving away our current and possible foreign investors. You know what happens if that happens? If we cut off our international ties? Economic decline, mga ma'am ug mga ser. Let’s get poorer. Let’s remove the possibility of jobs for our unemployed men and women. Let’s have these unemployed men and women resort to the extremes like, you know, drug-dealing? And I thought Duterte supporters hate drug so much. Sigh.
Link: Duterte tells US, Australia: Sever our ties if I become president

*

Here’s a true story recounted to me by a friend. This is no joke. Yesterday afternoon, in a boarding house along Gallares Street in Tagbilaran City, a woman was found dead with her body all tied up, stabbed, and covered with her bed's foam. She was, as it turned out, also raped. A crowd was growing outside the house, and beside my friend was a group of young ladies trying to hear more of the incident. Suddenly, two men on a motorcycle stopped in front of them. They just stared at the ladies, and one of the guys said (in the vernacular), “Hoy mga inday. Magingat kayo ha. Nakashorts pa naman kayo at magaganda pa. Baka kayo ang masusunod na ma-rape. Mas-ok sana kung ako nalang mauna.”

It angers me to hear news like this on television. But hearing it happening in my own home province, the anger in me boils on a whole new level. Boholanos, is this how we have become as a people? Where is our decency? Where is our sense of respect? Where is our empathy and common sense? And I thought Tagbilaran is a city of friendship.

This incident only heightens my call for people to reconsider voting for Rodrigo Duterte as president this coming May. Duterte is not fit for president. You see, this is the trouble of having an influential man like Duterte who keeps on spitting out inappropriate words that seem harmless to himself only to take them back when lectured about them. Yes, yes, he says he is sorry (or is he?). Yes, yes, actions speak louder than words. I hear you. But words are as powerful and persuasive as actions.

And if we continue to allow ourselves to have a leader who keeps saying things and taking them back, again and again, because (he reasons) he is always taken out of context, what are we going to believe? What context should we believe? Is it a context that rape is funny? Is this a context that gives those two Boholanos an excuse to jokingly rape a group of women? The elections have not yet begun, but we are now witnessing the consequences of Duterte's actions. Be very scared, people. Be scared not of the president you highly idolize but be scared for your family, your friends, your loved ones. These group of ladies could be anyone close to you. Let’s not get to the point in our lives when we regret the decisions we have made. Don’t make this country sicker than it already is.



The Philippines has finally reached a point wherein most of its people believe and depend on memes, one-liners, and hearsays instead of facts, news, and books. No wonder it is really difficult to pull ourselves out of this political black hole. ‪

*

The funniest but most troubling argument by many Duterte supporters regarding their idol joking about a raped and murdered Australian woman is that Duterte is taken out of context. No, guys. That’s not a valid excuse. You should not joke about rape, especially a raped AND murdered person. Rape is rape. These very acts dehumanize a person. You just cannot take rape into a different context, as if you're saying chocolate can taste like bagoong. No, it can’t. I’ve met kids, teenagers, and even adults today who still joke about rape, and every instance worries me so much. Because every time rape is taken lightly as a joke, the crime becomes trivial, the offense becomes less serious. Instances like Duterte’s “joke” contribute to this country’s ugly rape culture. And recently, although Duterte’s daughter says she is once raped but is not offended by her father's words, she is a different story. Of course she will side her father. But remember, there are millions of rape victims out there, somewhere, still silent and painfully living with the trauma. If you think rape is funny and if rape is your fantasy, please visit the nearest hospital. Consult your psychiatrist. I will pray for you.

*

Let’s turn the table and ask this question:

“Someone on Facebook raised a really good question: for the sake of argument, what if the tables were turned and an Australian Prime Minister said, ‘Oh that Filipina who was gang raped by prisoners in an Aussie prison? She was beautiful. I should've been first.’ Now, how pissed do you think would we be?” – Joel Pablo Salud

*

Change is coming? O baka naman rape is coming? Rape of values, rape of dignity, rape of intellect, rape of a nation, rape of humanity. As what we all know by now, even if one can easily dismiss Duterte’s recent rape joke (because he kills low-level criminals but praises the likes of Marcos and GMA), nobody can deny that his uncontrollable behavior is really going against his platform’s emphasis on “discipline” and “political will.” Ironic diba? Ugali nga niya di makontrol at madisiplina, bansa pa kaya?

*

Think.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

28

There’s still so much to learn and unlearn, to understand the misunderstanding and the misunderstood. It seems one cannot afford now the thrill of the perilous, of getting caught, or of getting caught and still getting away with it. Or can. It’s a matter of compromise and choice. Always, you choose the moment you want to celebrate and remember. I’ve made my choice, and this is to distance myself from everything that has distanced away from me. There is no need to force anyone from bridging the gap. Just acknowledge the gap, learn that a chasm between you, me, and everyone else may exist. Also, you cannot walk the same bridge that you have forgotten or have chosen to neglect. It never works that way. From what I’ve learned, this is how it is supposed to feel like when you reach a certain age: to be always almost there.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

too manny to mention


Several days have already passed since we’ve first heard Manny Pacquaio’s now infamous opinion on same-sex marriage which is, by extension, an opinion on homosexuality. It’s easy to read that between the lines. The furor over his remarks is a little downplayed now on social media and local television. But the fire is still burning.

“Mas masahol pa sa hayop.” Worse than animals. This is what Manny Pacquaio said when asked about his stance on gays and same-sex marriage. Clearly, the man does not know anything about the animal kingdom. Look at the penguins, Manny. Check out the seahorses, too, Manny.

Pacquaio’s views on same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ community in general is not just an opinion. It is pure hate masked in religiosity, a faith blinded by scripture that is taken too literally. I mean, who in the right mind would think that anyone who does not match his principles is someone of lesser value? I have to say that Pacquaio just ruined the true meaning of Christianity.

There is a name for that. It’s bigot. Look it up in the dictionary. Also, check hypocrite.

As congressman who is consistently absent in the House of Representatives, has passed no bill or law, has worked so pretentiously on his image to become a Filipino hero, or basically has done nothing to improve our political conditions, now let us ask ourselves: What’s worse, a gay man’s union with another man or a man as stubborn, useless, and irresponsible as Pacquiao?

Of course, his supporters are quick to defend. They are even up in arms when Nike cuts its ties with Pacquaio, as if these guys can never accept the reality that everything one does has its corresponding consequence. Even if you are a has-been boxing champ. It’s actually as simple as Newton’s Third Law of Motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you cannot take full responsibility of your actions, then it is high time that you grow up.

But, no, Manny’s defenders will never grow up. “It was just an opinion!” they would cry. “Everybody has the right to say their opinion!” Now, I’ll get this straight to the point. I am awfully tired of this excuse that I’d rather quote a statement from Filipino artist Gerry Alanguilan: “Hey, everyone’s got a stupid opinion. I’ve got one. You’ve got one. Politicians can have one. The problem with politicians is that their stupid opinions can become policy. And that I have a problem with.”

Big problem, indeed. And on his Instagram account, Pacquaio continues to post bible verses that suggest gay people should be put to death. Hay naku, Manny. For everyone’s sake, let’s get ourselves educated again with this book that every religious person and hypocrite alike loves to brandish in our faces.

The bible has enumerated some laws, and these laws are only supremely viable in the era these are written. One of these laws is a verse in the book of Leviticus that mentions a man sleeping with another man (that’s sex, to put it bluntly) being a grave sin. Yes, it is in the holy book. But this is the part wherein most people fail to understand and remember: historical context.

Human population before is not as overwhelming as we have right now. Overpopulation is clearly not their problem. That is why to ensure a family’s bloodline or a community’s heritage through the years, it is highly important for all to conceive and raise kids as much as they can. And since man cannot biologically conceive a child with another man, therefore, hitting the sack and banging the night away with the same sex is pointless.

Still with me? Now that’s the thing with historical context that most of our rabid religious friends will never acknowledge. Because if we do not apply the historical context of the bible, implementing every written law in it, then all of us are doomed and bound to hell. Because, you should know, the divine scripture also states that we must never eat anything with scales and fins that come from the sea, we should never wear gold, we cannot have tattoos or piercings, we cannot braid our hair, women should never speak in church, and many, many more.

And yet, once this historical context is pointed out, the bigots are quicker to change the topic. That is why in the wake of this sports icon’s blunder, it is troubling and painful to learn that more and more people are still peeking out of their caves to dismiss the concerns and welfare of the LGBTQ community because there are other “important” matters to think of. There are some family members and “friends” who proudly proclaim they can love the sinner but hate the sin. Dear, that is the most pointless and heartless way of showing your concern. Here, take this necklace with a bling that says “Former Friend of Fred.”

Worse are some people who resort to shaming and insults. There’s this person who is accusing me of being overly sensitive and over reacting about human rights, and suggesting that we better talk about China’s missiles instead. This is so difficult to fathom. Because when it comes to human rights, shouldn’t anyone’s universal and default reaction be sensitive? It’s human rights we’re talking here, not some paper clip! Without human rights, your mother can be raped, your little brother can work as a slave in a factory, your father can be kidnapped for sex trade, or your first-degree cousin can be put to death anytime by anyone. Of course, my sensitivity on matters such as my dignity and rights should be on hyper-drive. If there’s just a Baygon for hypocrites and empty-heads, I’d buy it in bulk. As in boxes. Isang spray ka lang. Pak!

You see, I’ve been insulted many times before and today. Some are bearable while some are just too violent to share even to your closest friends. “Hambog, weird, lami birahan” just to name a few. These have happened in the workplace, in school, even in places where such labeling unlikely strikes. What’s scary is that some people could lash out without understanding my side of things. If I respond to their words, they reveal their claws and lash out even more. It’s frustrating, it’s tiring. And if it’s my turn to respond with a measured act that counters the seriousness of their offense, they cry out and instantly take the role of a “victim.” I am too old for this vicious cycle of bullying, and I think I can handle anything that comes my way. But sometimes, it’s just too much. If one crosses the line, all I can do is just to remind anyone that, “Hey, that’s not right.” It always pains me to remind people of this.

Pacquaio’s remarks did create a divide in my life. And with all honesty, it is traumatic. Although it is hard, with the number of heartbreak increasing whenever I discover someone I know and respect has bigoted views about the LGBT community, I am still thankful that all of this happened. It is truly in the darkest, most painful episode in life that you will know who your real friends and comrades are. Through this ordeal, suddenly, I have been united with my truest allies. I am so jubilant to learn I have some people who’d always have my back.

Now here’s the thing: Each day is a struggle for anyone who is living on this earth, regardless of gender or orientation, age or class. That is why if we simply accept the core values of all forms of spirituality in all kinds of religion, we will learn (soon, hopefully) that respect, compassion, and love are all we ever need to make things a little bit better. Love, above everything else.

And as a reminder, let us learn from our mistakes, and start growing up from there.


[ illustration by Rob Cham ].

Saturday, February 13, 2016

family comes first


Joy and not duty. Contentment and not perfection. I believe these are the few core ideals that constitute the many variations of love, especially when it comes to family. That is why on pre-Valentines night, I met my mother, some of my siblings, and pamangkins. We spend each other’s company over good food and funny stories. Finding love this February is as simple as going back to your roots. There’s no hurting this time.

don't mess with him


Some films, although anchored on a very thin plot, manage to reward their viewers with their rich sense of mythology, depth of characterization, and novelty. A perfect example is Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Imagine there was a time we were so engrossed on watching a little man trying to put a ring inside a volcano for almost 10 hours. “Deadpool,” the latest Marvel film directed by Tim Miller, also has a tissue-thin plot. Unfortunately, it was not able to duplicate what Jackson did with those three long movies. But, oh, it was so much fun. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is bursting with humor, most of them really dirty you need to keep it away from little kids. This film also makes you forget Reynolds has two superhero movies before this. And although the jokes are mostly hehe instead of haha, this film has its charms. Case in point: our foul-mouthed superhero has a habit of breaking the fourth wall. For everyone’s understanding, that means he gets to talk to the theater audience, slows down an action scene to think out loud, or cues the music to his liking. But this narrative device was not manipulated to its full potential. Aside from a totally boring nemesis called Ajax, my biggest issue with this film is how it re-tooled Colossus. His characterization in the previous X-Men films is far from the robotic and seemingly dull Colossus we have in this latest version. And instead of a hulking mass of metal, he looks rubbery, thus, he looks CGI cheap. The director’s devotion to the source material is pitch-perfect. He gets the comics’ spirit. But this reverence has also translated the end product into something like a three-panel comic strip instead of a full-length movie. I felt betrayed. After all, I paid for a movie, right?

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Thursday, January 14, 2016

always



What is happening to the world? First, it was David Bowie. And now, Alan. Many people would think it is strange, and perhaps downright silly and melodramatic, to be moved and shattered by someone’s death, by a loss of someone you are not personally acquainted with. Alan Rickman, among the many brilliant and indelible roles he had played on screen and on stage, will always be Professor Snape to me. Rickman’s characterization captured Snape’s soul in the Harry Potter books, it was a soul that reflects many ordinary people’s: pained, complex, human. I may not know this person well, but through him I know myself well. Farewell, Professor. I raise my wand for you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

may the force be with you


There is something inherently manipulative about J. J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (although not explicitly mentioned in its title, it is Episode 7 of the franchise). It smothers you with nostalgia on all fronts, and almost every scene works like an ex-lover trying to worm its way back into your life. I’ve seen it twice in 2D and 3D, and it works. It works really well. (The movie, not the ex-lover). It made me remember my elementary years, around Grade 4, wherein I saved up money just to get this boxed set of the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes 4 to 6) at downtown Plaza Marcela’s music and video store. P599 was huge for my budget back then, especially for a ten-year-old, but I managed with all the prize winnings I got from poster-making competitions, my daily baon, and the coins that I could find in every corner of the house. After class one afternoon, I went back to the store and bought that big black box. Yes, all the effort was worth it. And this is the same special feeling I got after watching the latest installment. Abrams’ reverence to the past and levity are ingredients missing and desperately needed in the trilogy of prequels, which comes as a surprise because George Lucas, the mastermind of the Star Wars universe, is at the helm of those films (Episodes 1 to 3). Even the actors chosen for the new characters look classic, particularly Daisy Ridley’s Rey (such a magnificent face!). It’s as if they belong to the same film that is first released in 1977. There is no dull exposition of politics here, just the good old tale of The Force and both ends of its spectrum. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is effective enough as a baddie in this space opera, too, and even if he has yet to match the iconic stature of Darth Vader in the original trilogy, his character make it up with menacing tantrums. You really shouldn’t be on his bad side. A lot happens in this movie, and to avoid spoiling anyone I believe I’d just have to leave some important questions here: 1) Is it just me or is some of the notes in John Williams’ fantastic musical score sound a bit like his work in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”? 2) Am I the only one who thinks BB-8 is like an adorable, needy cat? 3) What can Oscar Isaac not do?

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The A-Z Guide to the Bohol Climate Walk 2015


There are days when one needs to break away from routine—rush hour, school, job, our petty primetime news. And for three days and three nights, I wrenched myself out of anything familiar and magnified my support for a call that is close to my heart: Preserving the beauty of my province and its people.

Last November 27 to 30, I took part in the Bohol Climate Walk 2015, a journey on foot from the city of Tagbilaran to the municipality of Anda and an activity that is in sync with many other walks from around the world. Part of the challenge was to answer the questions, What is climate change and how is this walk relevant in addressing it? My answers would probably reach the same distance as the miles we have covered, so I have here the A-Z guide to our advocacy and this special event in Bohol.

*

A – Anda. We, the Climate Walkers, chose the municipality of Anda because its distance from Tagbilaran closely covers the symbolic mark we want to achieve, which was close to a hundred kilometers. It doesn’t hurt that its beach, with long stretches of powdery white sand, was perfect for our feet that endured a seemingly endless hike.


One of the few breaks during our first walk at night in Albur, 12 km from Tagbilaran.
B – Bohol. It is just one of the many island provinces around the world that is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. If conditions would worsen, such as sea levels rising due to the melting of the icecaps, it will end up sinking along with Maldives or the Marshall Islands.


Day 2 begins in Loay, 18 km from Tagbilaran.
C – Climate change. The walk was done to raise awareness on climate change and its immediate preventive measures. This include, among others, eradicating bio-fuel and coal as energy sources in Bohol. After all, there is no such thing as “clean coal.”

Rest stop in Lila, 28 km from Tagbilaran.

D – Distance. Whether the distance we covered is an Olympian feat or not, that we made it through kilometers of concrete, asphalt, and rough roads is a sign that our conviction to our advocacy is as strong as our bodies. “Mind over matter” truly shined.


Last minute reminders in Dimiao.
E – Education. It all begins here and now, no matter the age of its audience. In fact, climate change awareness should not be confined only in classrooms, laboratories, conference rooms, and plenary halls. It should be ingrained in our daily lives.


Everyone's pumped up for the hike to Garcia Hernandez.
F – Future generations. Our efforts to mitigate climate change are all for the next batch of thinkers and doers. Without a habitable world to live in, we are putting our children and their children at risk.


On our way to Valencia, 42 km from Tagbilaran.
G – Greenhouse gas. The thicker it gets in our atmosphere, the more heat is trapped in our planet. This leads to erratic weather conditions and stronger typhoons. Even the ordinary act of burning our garbage is a source of greenhouse gases.

H – Hashtag. Today would be perfect chance to make good use of your social media. Check out these hashtags on Facebook to learn more about our advocacy: #boholclimatewalkers #boholclimatewalk2015 #cleanenergybohol #climatemarch #climatejustice and #climaterevolution

I – Idea. Everything starts with this. That is why the recently concluded Climate Change Conference in Paris, attended by most of the world’s leaders, was a landmark event where ideas to solve the consequences of an abused environment were shared. I is also for Invest. Although clean and alternative sources of energy are undeniably expensive at face value, the benefits we could reap from them outweighs every peso spent. Instead of banking our tax money (and our lives) on limited energy sources like coal and oil, it is high time that we invest in the sustainable solar and wind power.

J – Justice. Climate justice is an extension of basic human rights. This is a call for all powerful first-world countries to reduce their carbon emissions since countries that are defenseless and less fortunate, like the Philippines, are those that face the consequences of their neglectful acts.


Day 3 begins in Garcia Hernandez, 53 kilometers from Tagbilaran.

K – Knowledge. You know what they say about it, right? Knowledge is power. With the right arsenal or learning, we can combat the destructive effects of climate change. (See “Education”).


L – Love. There is no force purer and stronger than this. Everything that we do, we do for the love of all things good, our brothers and sisters, our nation, and our Earth.


Cool down in Jagna, 63 km from Tagbilaran.

M – Music. During our breaks in the hike, we listened not just to Christmas songs, but also to the sounds of birds chirping, tree leaves rustling, and the crashing of sea waves against cliffs that lifted our spirits. These are the unique melodies of life that are indeed hard to replace once our environment is wrecked. Let’s keep Mother Nature singing.


Living on the edge.

N – Nature. This is where all of mankind’s resources come from. Therefore, if it is laid to waste, I guess we need to start looking for new ways of living.

O – Organizations. The event was a success because of other organizations like the Bohol Outdoor Adventure Team and Bohol Goodwill Volunteers, Inc., and the private citizens who made the climate walk smooth and bearable.


At the public park in Duero, 73 km from Tagbilaran.
P – Preparedness. If you want to take a 99-kilometer walk (or any distance, for that matter), plan ahead and condition your mind, body, and spirit weeks before the big day. Make a complete list of the things you need and limit it to the necessities to keep your load light.


Q – Quality of life. This should be more than just about eating three meals in a day or having a comfortable bed to sleep at night. As responsible citizens, we should think and act on climate change today, not only for ourselves but also for the rest of humankind.

R – Reality. Climate change is not some future event that we must prevent. Unfortunately, it is already happening, and we must do our best to prevent it from worsening. There are deniers out there, so be careful what you read and hear.

S – Sustainability and solid waste management. The former speaks of a capacity to be productive for a long time. This term fits Bohol’s need for better energy sources because coal and fossil fuel do not last. The latter, on the other hand, refers to safe, efficient, and cost-wise disposal and recycling of our wastes. This has been circulated to the public again and again, yet most of us fail to implement this.

T – Tagbilaran City. This is where the walk began. At Plaza Rizal on November 27 at around 2PM, people from various walks of life converged to take the first step of the Bohol Climate Walk and to rally for a more livable Bohol.


All set for the last push in Guindulman, 83 km from Tagbilaran. 
U – Understatement. After the Bohol Climate Walk, every complaint about the pains of going to somewhere like the market or bank has become something of an exaggeration. Because if we have survived almost a hundred of kilometers of walking from point A to point B, then going to the nearest café should not be a problem. U is also for unity. Solving a problem such as climate change is not a job for a singular person. In fact, it requires all units of society to work together.


The Climate Walkers found a pile of garbage along a major street in Valencia.
V – Valencia. During our walk, it broke our hearts to see a huge pile of non-biodegradable garbage on the street a few meters away from the municipal hall and across the Mayor Pablo Lim Memorial Astrodome. It was also near a church. So what happened to cleanliness is next to godliness?


W – Walking city. Tagbilaran City has the potential to become like Venice or Barcelona, where one can walk around the streets to revel in its rich history and rustic beauty. Upon learning about the walk, my mentor, the poet Marjorie Evasco said, “This is a good example of what one can do every day for the environment and health. Walk at least 30 minutes to an hour. Walking should become again our favorite mode of transportation.”


Still standing tall in Anda after a long, long walk. 99 km covered.
X – Extinct, almost. For the first time, Bohol’s enduring icon, the tarsier, is now in the world’s most endangered list. The numbers of this gentle primate have dwindled due to habitat destruction. Losing this species, like many others that have gone extinct, would irrevocably shift the natural balance of nature.


With April, a participant and friend since college who is from Negros Island Region.
Y – Youth. The Philippines is a country with a massive youth demographic. Their strength in numbers, once tapped into a cause like Climate Justice, provides endless possibilities.


Packed and ready to return to Tagbilaran.
Z – Zero to hundred kilometers. We may have made our marks, having participated in the longest climate walk in the Philippines, but our climate actions do not end in Anda. We will keep on walking the talk.


The Bohol Climate Walkers of 2015 with Coco Loco's Robin Gurney.


Monday, December 07, 2015

for our country, for our planet


After enduring the Climate Walk last week, a 99-kilometer journey on foot (more on to that in another post), I’ve received news that made all the effort even sweeter. My poem “Poetry as a Lesson in Botany” will be published in the landmark book, Sustaining the Archipelago: An Anthology of Philippine Ecopoetry, to be edited by Rina Garcia Chua. My piece will be in the company of many others from here and abroad, and the anthology's foreword will be written by Dr. Greg Garrard of the University of British Columbia, author of books such as The Ecocriticism Reader and The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Thank you, universe! There are those who question and criticize what I do and what I love to do in relation to my choices, passion, and advocacy, but here’s the thing: This is not only for me. Although a piece of literature is but a clump of words, it is the message that I hope would transcend all forms of constraint, either from the page or from a narrow mind. Carry on, guys!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

this is not the end


Sam Mendes returns at the helm of the 24th edition of the James Bond franchise “Spectre” after his work with “Skyfall” in 2012. But this new outing struggles to reach the splendid and masterful level of the latter film. A character in the movie tells James Bond he is a “kite dancing in the hurricane.” He is certainly referring to our hero treading dangerous grounds, but he could also be describing the film’s aimless plot. “Spectre” seems muddled by its effort of tying the loose ends of the past three Bond films. But, oh, there’s the great Christoph Waltz. He is perhaps one the few glimmers of prestige that the movie holds, until he is rendered into such poor characterization in the end. The hint, or should I say the twist (the white fluffy cat!), that Waltz’s Franz Oberhauser is somehow connected to a famous and notorious villain in the Bond universe is a wasted opportunity. He just ended up like that? For someone named Bond, nothing seems to stick around permanently to this guy for so many years. But fortunately, in this latest installment, there could finally be someone. And aside from the tinge of humor sprinkled all over the film (bringing to mind this year’s “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”), that’s a welcome change. Note: Also, that opening credit was gorgeous to look at; it reminded me of sushi.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

give thanks

It is common knowledge that a person has to be thankful every single day, as if each is a gift you now or will deserve. I usually don’t feel that kind of day. Maybe I’m just not the type of person. But today is one of those rare episodes in life that I can genuinely say I am thankful for how one moment to another assembled into a glorious, fascinating whole. It is not only a day that reminds you there’s a lot to be done, but it is also a day that tells you there’s a lot you can actually do. Such as, among many other things: to be more honest, to be kinder, to try harder. To my friends, to my family, to nature, and to whatever divine being that works the gears of the entire cosmos, my heart is filled with gratitude. Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

the haze

News of increasing risks of breathing problems and respiratory diseases in the Philippines caused by the haze from forest fires in Indonesia are finally getting into public consciousness. It is frightening it needs to be discussed more often. This pressing concern alone makes me think that it is now best that Filipinos need to regulate (or just stop merchandising and buying) firecrackers this Christmas season and the coming New Year’s Eve. There are just too much toxic elements in the air that people breathe these days. Besides, it’s 2015. We need to stop believing firecrackers drive the bad spirits away from our homes. What we need is to simply elect the right people for our government or ignore the late-night texts and calls from our jerk-ish exes. (Hello, do not ever dare follow Adele’s latest song!) This way, evil will definitely have a hard time getting into our lives.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

remember: never again


A few days ago marked the anniversary of one of the darkest chapters in Philippine history. On September 21, 1972, the Philippines was under Martial Law with Ferdinand Marcos’ Proclamation No. 1081. This further strengthened his authority as a dictator that eerily resembled Adolf Hitler’s rule. I was not born yet to witness and experience the horrors of these times, but this is no excuse to deny the truth that Marcos has never been the man many of his blind supporters think of. There are people out there who still believe that Ferdinand Marcos and his men were the best administration the Philippines ever had, as evidenced by the “prosperity” the nation had experienced during those years.

Yes, theaters and malls sprouted like mushrooms, celebrities and big-wig politicians from all over the world graced the country, but these were not signs of genuine prosperity. This was a false sense of development because underneath it all is a painful, dirty consequence that could outlive all of us in the present and the future. In order to achieve the kind of superficial beauty and short-sighted luxury for the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos borrowed US$10 billion (plus interest that continues to grow each year) from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, a debt or “utang” that we are all still paying to this very day. And you are asking why the Philippines has a tough time rising to its great potential?

The elections are fast approaching in the Philippines, and historical brainwashing has grown increasingly strong among the youths. Many millennials these days just shrug off what has happened on September 21, 1972 to party, to be apathetic, or worse, to be lured into believing false anecdotes of the past. Some kids would even proudly say on social media that Ferdinand Marcos was the best thing to ever happen in the Philippines. It is too painful to learn that a mind that young has already been tainted with lies.

Lastly, if you still believe in the revisionist tales you’ve been hearing lately, be ashamed, be very ashamed that you’d crumble to the floor and weep for the hundreds of lives who have not lived to tell their tragic stories. Always remember, these were the lives cut short by Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies to keep them in power for their own personal gain. We cannot let this happen again for we should never be fools to commit the same mistake twice. Love your nation. This is one way of truly loving yourself.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

our history is a lie


Jerrold Tarog’s “Heneral Luna” comes out of nowhere from a deluge of films about exes and mistresses. Going against the grain could be its asset or worse, if most filmgoers’ taste would still not change, it could be its failure. But I remain positive on this one. The story of “Heneral Luna” is culled directly from both history and imagination which translates to a work like nothing else that is shown on Philippine Cinema today. Rarely does a movie remind me of a rage that is solely dedicated to the ills of a guilt-ridden country like the Philippines. Fear of the radical, submission to blind faith, commitment over consequences—these are just a fraction of the many historical issues that rings true in the present. At times the film is burdened by its ambition and attempts at grandeur, its storytelling could’ve been tighter, but like its title character played with admirable dedication by John Arcilla, the movie trudges on to a solid, gut-wrenching third act that leaves you silenced until the end credits roll. It is bold, sometimes surprisingly funny, even risky, and is not ashamed of wearing its patriotic heart on its sleeve. Tarog’s visual mastery is on full display here, and that short flashback montage with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata grabs me by the cuffs and tells me this movie is something really, really special. For anyone planning to visit the cinemas these days, I urge you to watch this one. It’s an eye-opener. It’s for your own good.

[ photo borrowed from this site ]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

the self as a performance to an audience, in five parts


Act I.
You are your home,
You are what you are at home,
You are what you are in your bedroom,
You are what you eat,
You are what you cook,
You are who you cook for,
You are what you took in the fridge,
You are the painting you hang in the living room,
You are the movies you watch,
You are the books you read,
You are the messages you delete after reading,
You are the magazines you browse,
You are the porn you browse,
You are the music you dance to,
You are the music you don’t listen to,
You are who you are when you don’t listen,
You are not the bangles you wear,
You are not the suits you fit,
You are not the heels you strut,
You are not Prada,
You are not Tom Ford,
You are not the thread count of your towel,
You are not the blanket that wraps your lover,
You are the sleep in your eyes at nine,
You are the glass of water by your bedside table,
You are the bottle of wine for the guests,
You are the fireplace during winter,
You are the windbreaker after spring,
You are the tight naked torso by summer,
You are what you need.

Act II.
You are your job,
You are the slides you make last night,
You are the overtime you take last night,
You are the residency you dream of in Sydney,
You are the blueprint of a two-storey house,
You are the bruise on your upper right arm,
You are the sprain in your left ankle,
You are the scars below your knees,
You are the birth control you take,
You are the idea of a girl with blond curly hair,
You are the result of a medical examination,
You are the HIV tests you regularly take,
You are the tricks you accomplish,
You are the lies that succeed,
You are the cost-cuts of higher management,
You are the opportunity you didn’t take,
You are the fortune you seek,
You are the fortune you don’t have,
You are the presidents you vote,
You are the vote,
You are the car you drive to work,
You are the calls you didn’t answer at work,
You are not what you are at work,
You are not the miles you run,
You are not the weights you lift at the gym,
You are not the strength of your grip,
You are not the curve of your ass,
You are not the girth of your cock,
You are not the heft of your breasts,
You are not what people say.

Act III.
You are your greeting in the morning,
You are your call at 2AM,
You are what happens after 8PM,
You are not the name you use on Grindr,
You are not the profile on Tindr,
You are your second and third Facebook accounts,
You are the drink you offer to a stranger at 10,
You are a stranger,
You are the stranger you take to your home,
You are the way you purse your lips,
You are the way you kiss,
You are the kiss you refuse to give,
You are what you do not do in bed,
You are the laughter you share,
You are your discussions over beer,
You are the friends you keep,
You are the friends you think you have,
You are the friends you choose,
You are the friends you use,
You are the beads of sweat at the bath house,
You are the grunt in the maze of hallways,
You are the gaze in the lobby,
You are the thrust of your hips in the dark,
You are the one-night stand,
You are what you stand for,
You are the hangover the following day,
You are the secrets you keep,
You are the family you go back to,
You are the people you miss,
You are the person you forgive.

Act IV.
You are the smile you flash to anyone,
You are the smile that twitches on one end,
You are the straight A’s in your report card,
You are the pat on the back from a colleague,
You are the certification you receive after the seminar,
You are the recommendation you write for a friend,
You are the promotion you get,
You are the bonus you receive,
You are the zeroes in your bank account
You are the game for golf late in the evening,
You are the plot of land somewhere in Mindoro,
You are the birthday party you celebrate ahead of time,
You are the superhero in red and blue tights for Halloween,
You are the heroes you look up to,
You are the gods you worship,
You are the saints you believe,
You are the myths you remember,
You are what you pray for,
You are your confessions,
You are not what you confess at 29,
You are the complaints you can’t keep to yourself,
You are the men you respect,
You are the vacation you think you deserve,
You are the sunset at the beach that warms your beer,
You are the tan-line of your swim trunks,
You are the SPF50 of your sun block,
You are the haircut you see in a fashion blog,
You are the moisturizer that costs as much as your sneakers,
You are the mascara and the lip gloss,
You are a mask.

Act V.
You are what you do,
You are what you think,
You are not who you think you are,
You are your desire,
You are your regret,
You are your guilt,
You are the voice in your head,
You are the pictures in your dreams,
You are a stroke of genius,
You are each stroke of paint you make,
You are the fiction you write,
You are the metaphor in your verse,
You are the low pitch in your voice,
You are the notes in a book you have not finished and returned,
You are what are not read between the lines,
You are the heart that is always on the line,
You are the welcome party in the airport,
You are the change of heart,
You are the change of profession in a quarter life crisis,
You are the jigsaw puzzle you complete after three months,
You are what you see in the sidewalks of EDSA,
You are what you deny to see,
You are the mistake you repeat twice,
You are taking back what you have said,
You are left alone,
You eat alone,
You sleep alone,
You are what you are alone,
You are alone,
You are better than that.