Of writers,national pride, and the environment

 

Sorry if I’ll write one more on this but I really can’t get enough of the Chip Tsao issue or at least relate some things to it. So out of curiosity yesterday I asked my wife to get me a copy of the Philippine Star on her way home from work. My main purpose? Just to check if someone wrote an article about this most talked about shenanigan. Well, someone did and I was all smiles as wifey handed over the thick Sunday issue.

F Sionil Jose

F Sionil Jose

The writer was no less than the national artist for literature himself, F. Sionil Jose. And not only that, his article, “Why are we a ‘nation of servants’? appeared to be a well-revised composition (no pun intended) of my two recent post about the Chip Tsao issue. And here are some excerpts from that article:

“Such insults hurt profoundly but the pain fades quickly and soon after all that enraged outburst, we settle down to the same complacency, we continue sending more of our women abroad to be raped by Arabs, demeaned by Malaysians and Chinese, heckled by the Brits. What has our sense of outrage brought us?”

Chip Tsao

Chip Tsao

“Do not kill the messenger (referring to Chip Tsao) who comes to us to tell the horrid truth about us. Ingest his message, then [sic] turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region.”

***

F. Sionil Jose’s words rang like ever resonant tuning forks in my ears. “…then turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region…” He wasn’t after all just talking about how most of us reacted to this recent release of racial slur but it was as if he’s hitting two birds with one stone. He’s whipping most of us with what has happened to our environment.

It’s a pity, but while most of us are trying to defend our national pride by loosely attacking someone from outside, we failed to recognize the fact that within us, Christians, and some self-declared devout are people who blatantly made our surroundings like one big trash can. How many times have we seen plastic cups come flying out of rickety tricycles, and heck, even from brand new cars? This just goes to show that neither social status nor educational attainment doesn’t guarantee ones concern of the environment. Our love and respect for Mother Nature needs a conscious effort that we all need to do. And we need to start doing it now.

In my opinion, wearing a shirt with the three stars and the sun, or wailing as if on cue once we feel discriminated, isn’t one way of showing our nationalism. It is by recognizing and acting accordingly to the problems that we face right in front of us, that we earn the respect of other people – especially foreigners. Let’s not just get contented with being labeled as being hospitable, resilient (if this still counts), skilled workforce and religious. Let’s do more than these and let’s show the world that we aren’t a nation of servants, nor we are living in a nation of trash.

***

If you can still see us, then well do better next year.

Wifey, son and I on a candle lit alfresco dinner. If you can still see us, then we'll do better next year.

Looking at the bright side, it’s good to know that at least there are a million Filipinos who heed the call to participate in the Earth Hour celebration – and if it was by choice or not, I actually don’t care. For me, just to learn that most of us have “voted” for Earth even just for an hour is enough. Hopefully, we raise this level of awareness and be a part of the majority (is it?) who starts to recognize that something must be done about the environment.

***

Other tidbits from yesterday’s Philippine Star Sunday edition:

  • Finally, I read something sensible in Joey De Leon’s column. Hope he keeps it that way.
  • Until now, I still can’t stop feeling the hypocrisy over some charity drives. Bulgari is selling rings intended to help some children. 20% of the P19,000 they say will go to Save the Children campaign. You can do more than that, Bulgari. And why can’t those buyers just give the whole amount instead in the first place?
  • This I find alarming: Explosives chemicals were found in US baby formulas. 15 brands are in question for having perchlorate, an oxidizer in solid fuels used in explosives, fireworks, and rockets. Isn’t this the reason why our baby boy seems to act like the infamous coyote who has taken acme stuffs? Hmmm.
  • Demi Moore saved one man from committing suicide through her Twitter network. Great Job mrskutcher, crisn73 is now one of your followers.

 

 

 

Photo credits:

F. Sionil – Wikipedia.org

Chip Tsao – gmanews.tv

Carbonnyc

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

What’s online…what else is not?

The long list of Facebook invitations in my personal email’s inbox finally made me to open my Facebook account which has remained static for a year and three months already. Friendster didn’t succeed but really this time Facebook had me join the millions of those who got hooked to social networking. Thanks to the big void at work, I have no choice but to face it – online.

Since then I’ve been more active online and has been in culture shock once more. It’s funny but the last time I used that term to describe an experience was when I transitioned job coming from a subcontractor semiconductor company to a multinational company – and to mention it’s one of the top back then. But hey, that’s another story. Let’s talk more about it after a month or so.

I’m so amused with this recent experience as I now have at least another medium to keep in touch with schoolmates, long lost friends, colleagues and the majority of our company’s badminton players. I’ve become a fan of Facebook’s wall which is like Friendster’s shoutout but is way better in aesthetics, speed and interaction – you now have a hint how I hate Friendster. And what I find fascinating about it is the number of online applications available to keep one occupied during the 8-hour shift. Go figure. Since I (re)started a couple of weeks ago, I have received weird request to answer weird quizzes, I’ve received virtual snacks and would you believe, I’ve even mugged someone online. Thankfully, it’s all just for fun (though I’m quite sure elders will find it anything but funny). And that isn’t the whole gamut of what is possibly online, yet.

This Sunday, I was once again tempted to buy a newspaper not because I was already awake very early in the morning and was lured to reading online Ting-ting Cojuangco’s Beauty and the Breast article. Good thing it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be or I’ll be truly guilty reading it on a Sunday morning. It’s just because I’ve become so addicted to holding one while just passing time at home. Besides, what’s twenty pesos if I can read side by side with my wife at the sofa and with our little boy trying to split the newspaper into half because he’d like to play at the same time? Newspaper, Php20. Reading with wife and kid, priceless.

Oddly, I also have this obsession of reading just the ads that could even make my day even if I know for a fact that I can’t even buy any of it…especially right now. I love looking at the new car models and the marketing offers that comes along with it. I also enjoy looking at hardware ads which usually contains power tools sale. Athletic shoes attract me as well. And almost anything, other than the news, there is on the page, I give it time to stare at. But today, my curiosity led me to something strange, chilling and hilarious at the same time – I was staring at the obituary page. Don’t freak out yet, I’m not cheering because of someone else’s death. I just saw one ad that says “Online Burol”.

Care to sign up?

Care to sign up?

Although the funeral service’s ad has their URL posted in their banner, I don’t have any plan to google that yet. As much as I’d like to get answers on how this is done, I’m still letting some funny thoughts on my mind linger like how can some kin from abroad benefit from an online burial service? Does he click a dropdown menu and select an option such as bury my grandmother. And does a confirmation window pops out saying, “Do you really want to bury your grandmother? Please click Yes or No”. Or does it have an option to bury a videoke-singing neighbor? Hahaha. Sorry can’t help it? Just kidding.

The internet has indeed evolved. It has done so much that everyone has jumped onboard to exploit its potentials whether we like it or not. And with my recent discovery of this funeral service being offered, whether my assumptions of how it is done is true or not, I now won’t be surprise if there will be more eerie services that we will soon learn does indeed exist. Therefore, the question that we should ask now is, “what else isn’t online?”

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Of Death and Reunion

 

I’ve got some weird concoction of things running inside my gray matter since the start of the year. And since last week everything seems to have happened in topsy-turvy manner or as what I sometimes describe things in the production floor as chopsuey – just a mixture of different things. There was anxiety, there was hope…then there’s despair.

And today the emotional intensity has gone up and one thing that somehow made me think less or control it rather than it controlling me was the anticipation that things are about to happen. It’s not matter of IF but it’s just a matter of WHEN. It’s like running out of brakes and just bracing for impact while each second is just a countdown of the imminent worst case scenario.

Last week I was mulling over the topic of death once again while killing time (pun intended). I was asking myself if when was the first time that I get to realized how a death of a loved one must be like. And then I remembered, it was way back in my elementary days.

It was one lazy summer (1984) afternoon with the golden sun flickering while each of its rays is trying to pass the swaying ipil-ipil leaves in our front yard. I was about to enjoy my mandatory siesta when coming from our then small wooden gate was familiar voice calling. “Mahampang na kami siguro (it must be playtime already),” I was thinking. But as I peep out of the window and then came rushing out of the door, a non-playful but rather sullen look greeted me. It was my classmate and friend Jonathan. “Cris, patay na si mama (mom has died),” he immediately said. I still remember feeling confused and not knowing what to make out of it. I can’t remember though if what were the exact discussions that followed, but I remember us just sitting in the yard and with me just listening while he tell stories about his mom. At a very young age I have witnessed earlier burials of my own relatives but I have never been closed to understanding until that memorable afternoon that with death comes an inevitable grief. It’s how one handles it that makes the difference.

Then just two days ago, I received an email with an urgent subject: Emergency Appeal! I read the message and it’s from someone in Africa. That time my immediate instinct to shrug it off as a scam did not kick in as I saw then that it’s from a know contact. What I did instead was to forward it to my college’s yahoogroups to confirm if everyone else got the same appeal to contribute $2,500 for an unpaid hotel fee due to a lost handbag that contains the wallet, blah, blah, blah. Just as expected, my inbox was soon flooded with replies. But one replied out of topic. Instead, he sent a different subject: Familiar Name. True indeed, his name just sounds familiar as well. It was Jonathan.

We’ve had some lengthy email exchanges already and I find it weird that everything has been so mixed up but yet still appears to be in harmony as every dot gets connected in the end. And what I find weirder was the fact that I’ve been holding to a clipping from this Sunday’s newspaper with a story from Francis Kong’s “Tragedy into blessing” article. Now is the right time to share the story.

Year’s ago in Scotland, the Clark family had a dream. The Clarks had worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had gotten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States. The entire family was filled with anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days before their departure, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks’ front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for 14 days. The family’s dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with disappointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave.

The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.

Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland – the mighty Titanic had sunk. The Clark family was to have been on that ship. When Mr. Clark heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turning what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing.

That story was made even more meaningful when bad news struck yesterday. God must indeed have plans for us…and now, I’d like to believe it more. Few weeks or months from now, I’ll be missing things in the production floor. No more chopsuey. No more turning back.

Heres a pic of us grade 4 in 84.

Here's a pic of us grade 4 in '84.

 

 

 Mood: 5/10 Honks!

News On Paper

Whats with the economy?

What's with the economy?

Just like almost everyone this year, I too had my own resolutions related to cost cutting. I came up with most of these even months before the year 2008 ended while some are still in the works as I listen and read thru New Year suggestions that are up to this day is just all around every media – from print, TV, radio and even in homilies during the Sunday masses.

Among the many unwritten resolutions I have is to stop buying newspapers especially during the weekends. I’m thinking that if I do this then I’ll be sparing Php 40 a week and if multiplied by 52 times a year, that will give me around Php 2000 savings by the end of the year. Not bad huh? This amount will make 20 relatives happy by the next Christmas time. Now before you start thinking how a terrible gift giver I am, I’m breaking that resolution anyway.

It really seems like I can’t get away with buying these dailies even with the option to read the news online. There’s still something about holding and reading a newspaper while in front of the breakfast table or sofa alongside with a perfect breakfast. In this aspect, it appears that total paperless isn’t going to come true, whether I like it or not.

What I like about having the “real” newspaper is that I can go thru any page or section anytime I want to without being under the mercy of my computer’s speed or worse, of my DSL provider. I also don’t have to deal with the jerky mouse and monitor glare. There are just some things in this world that new technology can’t beat. Besides, has anyone ever heard of someone getting carpal tunnel syndrome for reading a “real” newspaper? Now isn’t that one good reason to spend 20 pesos?

The only problem though with buying a newspaper is that lately, its contents or articles (at least for Philippine Star) have degraded for my taste. It’s either that there’s really no good news to fill the majority of the pages or there’s really no other news to be printed – either way, we’re damned. Thankfully, I find today’s issue redeeming for the reason that I enjoyed reading most of the articles – at least for sections other than the headlines.

Expressions peeve

Scott R. Garceau in his regular section, The X-Pat Files, had my heart thumping with anticipation as I read thru his article – Expressions that gotta go this 2009. In here, he listed several words or expressions that he finds irritating and when he mentioned, “…it doesn’t take more than a few hours of trawling the blogs to spot ’em…”, it had me thinking if I’d find the same words in my blog. OMG! Just kidding.

One that got my attention was “This 2009 (or Last 2008).” I can’t remember where exactly I’ve read about this but the use of “This” or “Last” followed by a date might be indeed wrong. The appropriate word to use then would be “On” like, “On 2009” or “On Dec 31, 2008”. Unfortunately, more people even professional writers still used “This” or “Last” that got me confused. Now, it’s another person (and an American) saying it’s wrong. So, for me it’s goodbye This and Last.

Other words he mentioned that I totally agree to be scrapped and buried for good are shortcuts such as OMG and WTF. Showbiz words such as starrer, comebacking, guesting and while I’m at it, I suggest to stop calling our local and old singers Diva – if there are words that trigger my migraine, this is one of them.

Very Guilty

Another remarkable article today is from Nelson T. Dy’s “Guilty As Charged.”  This one discussed how criticisms in the workplace should be taken especially if coming from your boss. How can I not relate to it when just a month ago I had several discussions with my manager? Good thing that what Mr. Dy mentioned in his column are what I’ve done so far.

The following are his suggestions on how to make the best of these criticisms:

Abandon your pride. Instead of becoming defensive, one must be humble enough and think why was he criticized in the first place.

Adopt a learning attitude. Most people’s tendency especially when new to a working group or a company is try to exude so much confidence as if they knew everything. Often times, this is good as they say that first impressions last. However, on the contrary, I learned that sometimes this is just not the case. Sometimes, it is good to tell upfront the help that you need (from your peers, manager or support group) instead of nodding and making people believe that you know everything. Believe me, it’s based from my own experience.

Assume the best motives from your critic. Working in a company where every employee is trained to give constructive confrontation, I’ve come to accept feedbacks whatever they may be – well, most of the time. It’s one trait that I’m proud of. But it could have been actually better if these feedbacks were done on time and that’s another story.

Not only that Mr. Dy had me relate his advices to my work, but he had me think twice about my driving. And how was that possible? It’s because his example in assuming the best motives from critics is about driving. He said, “…imagine if you are driving your car in the expressway. Another driver suddenly cuts into your lane. You slam on the brakes and blare your horn. You fume and curse the other driver for being such a reckless idiot. But suppose you discover that he is rushing a loved one to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. I bet your attitude will change.” This one caught me off guard. I’m now reflecting if how I can make some resolutions on the way I drive.

Another good one from Jim

One of the author’s that I regularly read for his usually well composed and thought provoking articles (and blogs) is Jim Paredes. And today he made another one. His article, “In love with books” actually wouldn’t have made more sense to me had he not mention about his children’s fondness with books and how they got into it from the very beginning.

He wrote about his children being eager readers since they were just kids. Jim said, “Very early on, even before they were one year old, I made sure that I read books to them at bedtime, or when they were in the proper mood to be quiet and still to just look at the pages and listen to words or even verses of poetry.” Likewise, he quoted literary artist, Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

Wow, both are well said. I’m so glad after reading all this and I now feel that what I’m trying to do every night for our baby boy is after all the path that he will sooner or later thank me for.

Becoming a fan

In my blog, I rarely (or haven’t?) discussed about having some crush or being a fan of a local celebrity. But on the Starweek mag’s cover today is Karylle whom I have to admit has become one of the stars that captured my attention. It must have something to do with my regular viewing of TV patrol which of course includes showbiz news that I got to see her featured often. I was never a fan at first as I find her appeal something from the retro era (no pun intended). But it looks like that it may be the smile and face that will be regularly seen this year. So when the article mentioned that this singer/actress may indeed be one hot chick to look out for in 2009, I think I have to agree.

 

 

 

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (it’s cold outside but the presence of my wife and kid makes it warm inside)

Calvin and Hobbes

Lately, the news I read from the Sunday edition of The Philippine Star have been so full of negative items that I’d wonder why I’m still addicted to buying it regularly. It may have something to do with my recent obsession to write (i.e., blogs) more that I made it already a habit to read, read, and read no matter how unpleasant the news is. And for me, Sunday is just the perfect time to do just that.

More often than not, when I feel like I’m getting frustrated or depressed by what I’m reading I immediately scan the newspaper section with just one goal in mind – search for the comics section. And every time I see it I’d lazily spend time reading every strip and shut my mind away from the senseless current events. I would even sometimes think that the comics section has more depth in it rather than what they put in the headlines. Ti abi.

Among the comics I’d always read is Calvin and Hobbes. Reading it always fascinates me and it always put a smile on my face whenever I read Calvin’s role playing games or daydreams. I actually don’t know how I got to relate myself to it but most of the times I think that his imagination, frustrations and alibis appear to be the toddler equivalent of mine. I also like how he interacts with Hobbes who in his own world appears as a living individual but in fact is only a tiger stuffed toy. (Isn’t that schizophrenia, by the way?)

Oct 26 Philstar C&H strip.

Oct 26 Philstar C&H strip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wasnt drawn towards the title, but I think its a bit symbolic.

I wasn't drawn towards the title, but I think it's a bit symbolic.

My fascination with this creation by Bill Waterson somehow stuck into my mind like some sublime Rock ‘n Roll message that allegedly dictates an act to its listeners. Proof of this came apparent when I passed by a book fair stall in our company. I was passing time and aimlessly looking at the books when I noticed a familiar cover just almost out of my periphery – it was a Calvin and Hobbes book. It’s a bit old but I got interested in it anyway. And just after a couple of minutes browsing its pages, I was like a credit-card-happy-wife; I bought the book (There’s Treasure Everywhere) on impulse and went away smiling as if I just made a killing from an auction.

And so tonight, it looks like CSI: NY may have to step aside. And maybe I’d try reading the book with Hobbes.

***

Well, since I’m now talking about the Philippine Star’s recent irritating content (I’m wondering though if they do anything about it but report), this Sunday’s edition has actually a lot of interesting stuff that I can’t help but re-read it on Monday and re-read it again today. Here are some of those worth sharing – both good and bad. Of course let’s start with the good news.

***

A Story from Francis J. Kong’s article, Feeling of Fear:

During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia he was accidentally separated from his men. A group of Russina Cossacks spotted him and began chasing him. Napoleon ran for his life and slipped into a little furrier’s shop on as side alley. Gasping for breath, he saw the furrier and asked the man where he can hide. The furrier pointed him to a pile of furs in one corner. Napoleon immediately crawled into it and the man covered him with more furs.

No sooner had he finished when the Russian Cossacks burst in the door, shouting “Where is he? We saw him come in.” They tore his shop apart, poked the pile with their swords but didn’t find him. Soon, they gave up and left.

Later Napoleon crept out from under the furs, unharmed, just as Napoleon’s personal guards came in the door. The furrier turned to Napoleon and said timidly, “Excuse me for asking this question of such a great man, but what was it like to be under those furs, knowing that the next moment surely be your last?”

Napoleon drew himself up to his full height appearing insulted and angry. “Guards, take this imprudent man out, blindfold him and execute him. I, myself, will personally give the command to fire!” he ordered.

The guards grabbed the poor furrier, dragged him outside, stood him up against a wall and blindfolded him. The furrier could see nothing, but he could hear the movements of the guards as they slowly shuffled into a line and prepared their rifles, and he could hear the soft ruffling sound of his clothing in the cold wind. He could feel the wind tugging gently at his clothes and chilling his cheeks, and the uncontrollable trembling in his legs. Then he heard Napoleon clear his throat and call out slowly, “Ready…aim…” In that moment, he entertained a feeling that he couldn’t describe welled up in him as tears poured down his cheeks.

After a long period of silence, the furrier heard footsteps approaching him and the blindfold was stripped from his eyes. Still partially blinded by the sudden sunlight, he saw Napoleon’s eyes looking deeply and intently into his own. Then Napoleon said softly, “Now you know.”

***

And here are some interesting tidbits:

*A bust of our national hero – Jose Rizal in case you forgot – is on a shrine somewhere in Juneau, Alaska. It was built in honor of the contributions of Filipinos in that community who in 1904 assisted in the installation of the first telegraph cable linking Juneau and Seattle. (From: What I saw in Sarah Palin’s neighborhood by Julie Cabatit-Alegre)

*Richard Gomez is now writing an article (this must be the first as far as I’m concerned) about photography. (From: What makes me click by Richard Gomez)

Yes, they do make grammar mistakes.

Yes, they do make grammar mistakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankly speaking, he’s got good shots but sadly, this article had a bit of grammatical error. And          knowing Lucy Torres as one prolific writer, she must have blurted out some curse in embarrassment after reading that. I’m quite sure though this is just an editorial fault.

*From Movie sets of evil, its author Scott R. Garceu, made a good article on instances (or coincidences) when actors and actresses of horror movies got into actual terrifying, if not deadly, incidents in their lives after shooting the film. Some that captured my attention are the cases of Bruce Lee, Jr. and Heath Ledger who both died even before their respective movies were finished. I guess it must have something to do with bad make ups? Hmmm.

Lastly, here is some of the bad news (pun intended):

*It’s been a number of weeks already that I’m trying hard to appreciate the articles of Joey de Leon. I know that he’s an artist – song writer, singer, painter, etc – like Jim Paredes. I’m therefore been expecting to read something worthwhile in his Me, Starzan column. I hate to say this, but it seems like I’m starting to see another Juliana Palermo – who sadly, wasn’t able to match her perfect curves with her writing style. I think it’s about time the editorial staff of Star convene and purge more sense from Mr. Joey de Leon. His recent article “Starzan Punta Ilog, Hugas Itlog!” isn’t just appropriate for Philstar’s niche.

*Whoever wrote “Baby can you drive my car?” – which unfortunately made it to Starweek’s front page – must have been cramming to get one good article that however good or catchy the title is, it failed to expound on the topic. And besides, I find the cover photo confusing versus the title. It shows two motorcycle riders with a background of a more motorcycles. I’m starting to suspect there’s trouble brewing among the editorial staff.