Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Embassy Guerilla

IT’S BEEN a tiring but productive day.

Went to Manila Bay, the US Embassy, and Intramuros to get a bulk of the shots for the documentary my group is doing for Ambeth Ocampo’s history class.

It was at the US Embassy that I had run-in with security. The plan was for me to get some shots of the long line outside the embassy where people await to attend to their visa or green card applications. Apparently that’s not allowed.

I was approached by security. I quickly flashed my press pass. Unfortunately, press—local or foreign—is prohibited from taking camera shots of the compound without permission from embassy officials.

I got back into the car, made a U-turn, pointed my camera out the car window and still got my shots (or the best shots I could get) while slowly driving by the embassy. Guerilla filmmaking is a wonderful thing.


Tomorrow will be a homecoming of sorts. I’ve been invited to speak to the junior batch of my former high school about college life. To corrupt minds or not to corrupt minds? That is the question.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Week in review

Monday 21 August 2006

TODAY was a holiday because of the death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino. As much as it would have been nice to rest and reflect upon the greatness of a hero, thinking about politics and the pathetic state of our nation didn’t seem like fun nor relaxing exercises.

I spent much of the day with Mom, Chi-Chi, Kathy, and Pope (pinsan ko, hindi si Benedict). We went to the mall for a Japanese lunch in Jipan, Glorietta 4.

Two new prized processions came out of today: Up Dharma Down’s “Fragmented” record and a new sweater jacket that was extremely overpriced.

Tuesday 22 August 2006

I LOST my iPod today. When I look back at the events that transpired between the dismissal of my creative nonfiction class and the time I noticed that the front pocket of my backpack was open, I become more and more convinced that some clever asshole opened my bag while I was walking along Aurora to the LRT station and took the iPod without me noticing a thing.

I panicked at the LRT station. I became light-headed because of shock and disbelief.

Everyone was very nonchalant when I got home, as if such things were as regular as “good mornings” while commuting. They’re probably right.

Wednesday 23 August 2006

I WAS invited to the Philippine Free Press Literary Awards tonight. I didn’t go. Sarge Lacuesta is the Literary Editor of the Free Press. The introduction to one of his books says that Lacuesta doesn’t attend awardings unless he’s a winner or a finalist. I’ll take a cue from Lacuesta on this one. But truthfully, I’m just too lazy to go and feeling out of place isn’t worth the hassle.

Thursday 24 August 2006

THIS afternoon, I put my filmmaking hat back on as I began directing our group presentation for Ambeth Ocampo’s history class. I always go into such projects with ambition and enthusiasm with a natural small cloud of doubt. But given the misfortunes I experienced with Apak sa Damo (production team ko dati) in the past, that cloud of doubt feels a little bit heavier.

The first day of shooting went well. The actors—my groupmates—were responsive. We knocked out a couple of scenes swiftly. Oh no! It’s like I’m expecting something to go wrong.

Friday 25 August 2006

CONGRESS killed the latest impeachment bid last night/early this morning. A caravan containing the boxes of evidence went from the Batasan Complex to Palma Hall in the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The boxes, accompanied by various oppositionist groups, arrived in Diliman around 11AM.

I, along with other Katipunan writers, was asked to cover the situation in Diliman. Patti Rodriguez (kapwang Atenista; psych major pero dating English lit) wanted to tag along. We took a jeepney from Katipunan to Diliman after our theology class.

Palma Hall was as what I imagined the scene to be on a Friday afternoon. Groups of students were just hanging out, sitting on the floor and chatting, reading, and some even sleeping. There was no sign of a rally. It was 1PM.

We found out that everything ended an hour earlier. I hope the other writers were already on the scene when everything was going on. The only thing I could do was take pictures of the GMA Network News van as well as the leftover bandaritas from the rally scattered on the ground.

Two female UP students we talked to reminded me of how different the student culture of Diliman is compared to our culture in the Ateneo. They suggested that we should have more forums about the national situation. Patti gave the usual excuse of having to contend with the institutionalized structures of our university. They suggested that we do the forums informally within the student body. I responded in frustrated resignation that no one really shows up for those things.

Those two female UP students were very nice and extremely accommodating. Through our brief exchange, I felt so inadequate. Not only was I late in covering an important event, but I was also in the infamous “Republic of Diliman”—my dream school—while being a part of a student body so disgusted with the system that intellectual, socially-relevant discourse is absent from our formal agenda.

Fuck the system for making us feel this way! Fuck us all for allowing the system to push us aside! Putangina!


A very happy belated birthday (August 25) to "my girl" Gin! You hate admitting when you're touched or moved by something so let's just say that I hope you liked the poem I wrote for you. See you later. The cheesecake's in the car. Mom's asking if you prefer blueberry or peaches as the topping, by the way.


Hymn of Siren performed George Michael's "Endless Whisper" last night at 6underground, Makati. Rockers singing power ballads? Too bad I wasn't there. Sorry Marcee. Sorry Cindy. Bawi next time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Capturing the elusive

EVER NOTICE how explanations sometimes get you thinking harder, perhaps deeper than you really should?

This painting by Picasso was a piece we took up in an introductory class to fine arts and aesthetics. Father Rene Javellana, our professor, asked us what we thought Picasso was trying to do.

Was he drunk while he was painting? Did he have problems with his vision? Was the subject that disfigured in real life? Was Picasso just messed up?

I didn’t have an answer. My response to the painting was that it looked “cool.” There was something “new” and “modern” about it that excited me. The ambiguity, the jaggedness in which the face was painted, and the fact that it was far different from the sensibilities of the Mona Lisa attracted me to the painting.

I thought the Mona Lisa was a boring, gloomy picture of a plain-looking woman. Picasso seemed to be mocking such boring portraits. Of course, I didn’t know the art critic’s explanation for everything. Uninformed as I was at the time, I just thought Picasso was being eccentric—“artsy,” if you will.

The explanation behind Picasso’s painting, according to Father Javellana, was that he was trying to capture the three-dimensional quality of the subject. A traditional portrait is two-dimensional, therefore depicting the subject from only one angle, one perspective. People aren’t two-dimensional. It’s just not real to view us that way.

Picasso tried to capture the subject from multiple dimensions. But of course he was trying to do so on a flat surface—the canvas. And he was disregarding the aspect of time, essentially trying to suspend it to capture and an elusive entirety. Thus, the “awkward” result which greatly differs from the two-dimensional images we are so used to.

That explanation opened up a flood of thoughts for me. Can you capture the many dimensions of a human in a medium that is technically limiting in its ability to capture reality? Picasso’s piece tried to do that. Still, he only attempted to depict the dimensions and perspectives of the physical aspect of the subject. Of course, humans have another dimension, which is the inner-self. Can that be captured, as well? Can we in one frame (whether on canvas, in writing, or even in our minds) have one image of a person that encompasses his entire being?

A host of questions about art, self-reflection, and representation—inevitably delving into philosophy—came from one painting and its theoretical explanation.

All this got me thinking about myself. The definition of who I am; will there ever be one? Can you capture the entirety of your being in words or in picture? Probably not. We are constantly changing. And while we access ourselves, we are always missing out on another aspect.

Did Picasso really intend for his painting to spark such thoughts? Or is he one of those masters in art and culture who used his revered status to mess with our minds?

Ever notice how explanations sometimes get you thinking harder, perhaps deeper than you really should?

Why does this stuff bother me? Well, I don’t lose sleep over it. It’s just fascinating how handicapped we are in viewing ourselves. Understanding ourselves is beyond our own knowledge.

And however hard we try to define ourselves, any semblance of a snapshot will be like Picasso’s work—a distorted, unfamiliar picture, whose accuracy and relevance has already disappeared the second it was formed. But at least it’ll look cool.


Finally got Up dharma Down's "Fragmented" record. Best musical purchase I've made this year. Hands down. No questions asked. MV recommends!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

News & Current Affairs

Recounting Numbers
The truth behind the 10 poorest provinces
in the Philippines

By Martin Villanueva

MEET Cat, Leonel and Mayzonee—three university students in Metro Manila, with family roots in the nation’s poorest provinces.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on June 14 that Zamboanga del Norte is the poorest province in the Philippines, according to the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB). Slightly less than two out of three families in the province (64.6%) are living in poverty, a 20% increase since the last NSCB survey in 2000.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo calls Mindanao a “super region,” with huge potential for agricultural business and other investments. Still, Zamboanga del Norte is one of seven provinces in Mindanao that are among the 10 poorest. The others are Maguindanao, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte. Completing the list of 10 are Mountain Province, Masbate and Biliran.

The 10 "least poor" provinces, according to the NSCB, are all in Luzon. Chief of the NSCB group, Redencion Ignacio, credited the "spill over" wealth from Metro Manila as the Luzon provinces' advantage over those in the southern islands who struggle with instability due to insurgencies by “Moro and communist guerillas.”

In the Inquirer article, Jesus Dureza, peace adviser for the Arroyo Administration, spoke of the importance of a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the economic development in Mindanao.

Cat, a freshman at the University of the Philippines-Diliman from Sulu, questioned the ability to maintain the life of a “typical family” amidst the backdrop of uncertainty. “It’s hard to be ‘typical’ when you don’t know where else to go, where to get food and safe drinking water, and a safe place to stay,” she said. She also argued that the release of lists and statistics “sometimes helps add fuel to misconstrued notions about Muslims.” Cat believes “the war” has halted progress in Muslim Mindanao.

Arroyo expressed her optimism with regard to the conflicts in Mindanao in the July 24 State of the Nation Address (SONA). She said, “things are coming together for Mindanao.”

Sulu is one of seven from the list of poorest provinces in the 2000 NSCB study that disappeared from the 2003 list. Arroyo commended the province and its local government for achieving “double-digit declines in poverty.”

However, Cat said that, “If there have been changes, I’m sure not everyone will be able to feel it.”


Get the August 2006 issue of KATIPUNAN to read the rest of this article.

Issue also includes a report on extrajudicial killings and abductions, exclusive interviews with Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and Lt. Gen. Pedro Cabuay, a look into the Rapu-Rapu mining controversy, and a feature on National Artists Virgilio Almario and Salvador Bernal.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cab driver musings

REAL editorials are made on the street.

I enter. “Makati po.”

“Where in Makati?”

“SM po.” We drive off.

At the village guard station, the cab driver returns the guest gate pass in exchange for his license.

“Look at this guard. Doesn’t even stand up.”

Both men stretch as far as they can to hand over the guest pass and license, respectively. The driver chuckles; shakes his head in either disapproval or resignation or both.

There’s traffic near the Shell Station along Tenement.

“Look at the gas prices. Notice how they never go down anymore. Grabe. The stench from the trash is coming into the cab.”

A garbage truck is slowly ambling along the side of the market, near the Styrofoam coolers where today’s freshest catch from Laguna are carried in from jeepneys.

“The roads in your area are terrible.”

He carefully controls the wheel, trying to maneuver through the unavoidable pot holes.

“Every year they just add another layer of the stuff. Then the rain comes and there goes the effort. Look how thick that stuff is.”

The road is inches above its original level, which makes the shanties along the side of it look like they’re sinking.

“I drove a Korean passenger to Green Hills recently. Spoke Tagalog well. Took him to his girlfriend’s place. His wife’s not around. Hasn’t seen her in five years.

“What do you do for a living, I asked him. Secret daw. He said he knows Jinggoy. I told him that I thought Jinggoy had cleaned up his act (Di ba mabait na siya?). No, said the Korean. He’s still into messed up things (kalokohan).

It’s the Korean with the “secret” line of work that told the driver all of this. “Baka nga (maybe),” agrees the driver when I assume that the Korean’s work is illegal.

“Expressway o Pasong Tamo Extension?”


The cab barely makes it over what’s left of the railroad. The MMDA look on. Construction trucks park where what squatters once called home.

“This is why the OFWs in Lebanon don’t want to go home. The mess (ang gulo). They’d rather hide out in the middle of the war. Nothing’s going on here at home. No work.” He chuckles.

“Look at the US supporting Israel. Grabe. The allegiance of those two. If it were any other country, the US would’ve stopped everything by now. Grabe.” He chuckles again.

“What if all the Muslims in the world united? Dilikado (dangerous). Every country has Muslims. And they’re not afraid to die. Nako! Dilikado yan, di ba? It would turn into mayhem.

“We can turn left here, di ba?” We are along EDSA corner Pasay Road. We turn left.

“No loading daw dito for taxis. But you can get off, di ba?”

“Yup.” I hand over P100.

“Salamat po.”

“Salamat din po.”

I get off, put my wallet into the back left pocket of my denims. I sling my backpack in front of me, open it up for the guards at SM’s entrance to inspect.

Real editorials are made on the street.


Eight years ago, I met a cab driver who was wealthy and drove the cab on Sundays as a hobby. A couple of years ago, a few years removed from Erap and with FPJ's presidential candidacy grabbing the headlines, I met a cab driver who questioned why drop-outs could run for office while college graduates like himself had to make ends meet driving a cab. A couple of months ago, I met a cab driver who was convinced that our country was not meant to be free and would've been better off under colonial rule.

Above is a story about my encounter with a cab driver a couple of days ago. All the driver's musings were translated to English but kept as close to its original context. Nothing was made up. The driver really said all those things.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


THE WORLD cannot allow the bloodshed in the Middle East to continue. Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and wounded, almost 1 million made homeless, and a catastrophic larger conflict is possible. We call on US President Bush, UK Prime Minister Blair and the UN Security Council to support UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for an immediate ceasefire and an international force to stabilize the situation.

A true rebel does not only negate something; he affirms something else.

Denounce war. Demand peace.

Click here to learn more about the Ceasefire Campaign and to sign a petition for peace.



A PIECE I wrote entitled “He’d Rather Be Relevant” was adjudged third prize in the Essay category of the 56th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

I received the notice a few days ago, along with an invitation to the Awards Night on Friday, September 1 at the Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati.

I feel a numbed happiness. It’s still kind of hard to believe. I’m a Palanca Award winning writer. Damn. That's pretty cool.



BELATED happy 20th birthday to my good friend Japs Medina!

Would also like to commend Japs and the rest of the Sanggunian of the Ateneo on their Reg2Vote: Voter’s Registration in a Nutshell campaign.

I’ve never been one to commend student councils—batch parties and free ID laces during registration never appeared as relevant work to me. But this new campaign—however small—is something worth mentioning.

Again, congratulations to Japs and the Sanggu for taking a stake in something beyond the comfortable confines of our beautiful Loyola Heights campus.


A time of silence


HE HAD BEEN UP ALL NIGHT. Sleeping became a chore long ago. He had particularly gone to bed extra early this time. 7:30 to be exact, an hour or so earlier than normal. But come around 11PM, he was wide awake.

He spent the next few hours just lying in bed, in the dark of the basement den-turned-makeshift bedroom. He stared at the silver container of pomade that sat on the table at the foot of his bed. It was really the only clear thing that could be seen. The silver reflected the light from the lamppost outside, which peered through the full-length windows that aligned the walls behind his bed.

Bored of the gleam of the silver tin can, circa 1AM, he decided that he might as well get dressed already. He turned on the fluorescent lights to reveal the two tattered duffel bags that he had packed days before. One was filled with his clothes, the other with his shoes, some canned goods from the States, and a Sto. Niño from Quiapo. On the desk that sat to the left of the bed, his attire for the day was already sprawled out. There was an ash-colored polo given to him by his eldest niece. The jacket was given to him by the husband of another niece (not that a jacket was needed in the heat of March). The loafers were pre-owned by his nephew with whom he had been staying with over the past year. And finally, his slacks, chocolate in color, decades worn-in, were his own—a tailor made investment from back in the seventies.

Straight from bed, he washed his face, brushed his teeth, applied the aforementioned pomade, and then proceeded to style his hair in the standard slick-back look he’s had way before the salt and pepper that now crowned him. A bath was unnecessary; he had taken one before getting to bed the night before. Knowing the earliness in which he was leaving, he took no chances.

After getting dressed and packing the last bits of stuff he needed to pack—the clothes he slept in, the pomade, the toothbrush and the like—he checked the clock: 1:34. He still had a good three hours to go. So he waited. He made himself comfortable in the living room couch, which was only alighted by the stars and another lamppost that peered in from outside. He sat there on the couch, not bothering to move a single muscle. He just sat there, and stared. He stared, waited, stared, and waited some more. He checked the clock again: 1:39.

Check out my Fiction Press site for the rest of this story.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Palakihanmay paligsahan ng palakihan ng puki sa Astrodome, tatlo ang sumali dito, isang Haponesa, isang Amerikana at isang Pilipina.

Ang unang nagpasiklab ay ang Haponesa, pinatayo ang mga tao at kinuha lahat ang upuan at ipinasok sa kanyang puki, pumalakpak lahat ang mga tao.

At sumunod naman ang Americana, lahat ng tao sa astrodome ay ipinasok sa kanyang puki at inilabas ang mga ito, napasigaw at pumalakpak ang mga tao sa laki ng puki ng Amerikana.

At ang huli ay Pilipina, lumabas ito sa Astrodome at ang sabi ng mga tao ay talo na ang Pilipina, ngunit pagkalipas ng isang minuto, ang Astrodome ay biglang dumilim, nagtaka ang mga tao, hindi nila namalayan na nasa loob na pala ng puki niya ang Astrodome.

WHY IS THE COLOR GREEN related to images that are vulgar? “Green jokes.” Where did this term come from?

In a world where green is equated to grass and things of nature, why do we insist on the color’s association to humor and sex?

Now allow your inner “green mind” to come out for a second. What part of sex is green? (Your green condom doesn't count.) There really is no connection.

Are people turned off by the color? I don’t think so. Green equates to the grass outside, the plants, the leaves on the trees.

In fact, we covet the color green. When leaves turn brown, we say the leaves are dead. We want green to prevail. Green means life.

Chefs shock asparagus in ice water after cooking them in boiling water to retain and even magnify its greenness. After graduating from our own childish food habits, green vegetables is what we will eventually tell our kids to want. Green is good for you.

Greenpeace represents the fight for the moral obligation to save the earth. My dad spent his entire academic life standing behind the proud green banner of La Salle. I have at least three green shirts and two green bags in my closet.

So in this world, historically, sociologically, psychologically, and morally, green is good. And yet we still have the enigma of the “green joke.”

Wouldn’t “red joke” be more appropriate? Red equates to the devil, blood, to stop, to be avoided. It’s an abrasive color. Since a vulgar joke is offensive in a way, wouldn’t red be more fitting?

Or how about a color like pink? Some people like green jokes, others don’t. Wouldn’t a color like pink, which has distinctly polarized groups of people, be more fitting?

I’ve never heard anyone say that they hated green—I mean genuinely hated green, not as a joke against a rival school. In the case of pink, you either hate it or you love it. No middle ground.

So here’s my plea, my proposal, my one contribution to the world of colloquial language: let’s drop the term “green joke.” Green never did anything to us but make our bodies healthier, our grasses greener, and our world more beautiful.

I just finished reading Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth. It's a "green" book; Jewish guy masturbating and having sex with all sorts of women fills up a majority of the pages. I'm still trying to figure out the depth behind the "green" satire. Or maybe I'm thinking too hard.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The stain in us all

Certain journalistic duties will bring me to Rockwell tomorrow, which means I'll be resisting temptation as I take the inevitable side trip to Fully Booked. For those with better budgets for book purchases, I offer this recommendation.

MV recommends:
The Human Stain
By Philip Roth
Winner of the Pen/Faulkner Award

THE HUMAN STAIN completes Philip Roth’s trilogy of novels featuring his alter ego writer Nathan Zuckerman. I have yet to read the first two books (American Pastoral and I Married a Communist), but each book stands alone; not having read the other books doesn’t take away anything from The Human Stain. This has easily become one of my favorite books.

Coleman Silk, the protagonist, is a former dean and classics professor who is forced to resign because of being accused of using a racial slur in class. His dismissal continues the whirlwind of a life he has had.

Zuckerman meets Silk, who is his neighbor, a couple of years after Silk was forced to resign. Silk had lost his wife and he’s convinced that it’s the university that “killed” her for she could not live with such an accusation being pointed at her husband. The loss of a job and the loss of a wife send Silk into despair.

He starts an affair with an illiterate college janitor, Faunia Farley, which revitalizes the old professor’s life. When Delphine Roux, the young, bitter new dean of the university (who owes much of her success to Silk) finds out about the affair, she condemns him for taking advantage of the younger janitor.

The whole story becomes deeply ironic. We learn of Silk’s past. We learn that he is a light-skinned African-American who has managed to survive discrimination by pretending to be a white Jew for most of his adult life. Eventually, he loses his job for allegedly being a discriminate against African-Americans and yet he is an African-American.

Silk’s been fighting against racism his whole life and yet he denies his own race. He has chosen to live his life as a white man; therefore, he himself manifests racism. This is the complex “stain” that has haunted him his entire life. In trying to be a fair, just, and noble man, he has been living a lie.

And this is not the only “stained” character Roth gives us. All the principle characters have pasts that haunt them, things they’ve denied, and things that they’ve allowed to consume them.

Faunia comes from a childhood of molestation and an abusive marriage. Les Farley, the abusive ex-husband, is a deranged Vietnam vet who stalks Faunia and Silk. Roux is an over-achieving immigrant from Europe who is confused about her feelings towards a professor she is condemning.

They are all stained.

The characters are so deeply discussed, so diligently investigated, that we don’t question their motives as individuals, rather the messed up milieu they’ve lived in.

It’s a milieu we all live in. It’s reality. It’s this world.

It’s the stain in us all.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I am who I am

“Was the secret merely the tincture barely tinting the coloration of the man’s total being or was the totality of his being nothing but a tincture in the shoreless sea of a lifelong secret? Did he relax his vigilance, or was it like being a fugitive forever?”

(from The Human Stain by Philip Roth)

“MAY kuwento ako sayo…

“I’m gay.”

It came out of the blue. We were sitting in the smokers’ pocket garden. I think we were talking about what our next classes were when she said this to me.

I remember her mentioning to me a few weeks before after one of our classes that she was meeting up with her “girlfriend,” so the fact that she was a lesbian wasn’t so surprising.

Perhaps it was how she said it that surprised me—as if she had to get that fact out of the way, as if it was potentially a ground for misunderstanding.

People make a big deal about these sorts of proclamations or announcements—“coming out” as they have coined it. Look how many headlines Lance Bass, formerly of N’SYNC, got when he announced he was gay. (Tanong ko lang: hindi ba obvious noong dati pa?)

It’s interesting what people have to do to get discomfort (brought about by who they are) out of the way. It’s telling, perhaps, of the inner dialogue they have, which is started by perception brought unto them by society.

That girl, my friend, relating to me something we have in common—an attraction to women—was expressing her inner dialogue, her coming to terms with herself. She’s very confident and self-aware. The significance of her sexual preference to her is probably magnified because of society’s views on homosexuality.

Calling the inner dialogue “insecurity” would overly simplify an issue that goes beyond personal persecution. Its complexity involves family, values, politics, religion—basically all major institutions in society.

But why?

She is who she is. That should be it.

I have a gay uncle whose mother (kapatid ng lola ko) is still in denial about his sexuality. Whether gay or not, whether lawyer or farmer, whether fat or skinny, whether fair-skinned or dark, he is still her son. Those other things shouldn’t matter.

Lola naman… anak mo yan!

African-Americans don’t need to announce their race because it can obviously be seen. But notice how their success often comes with a qualifying statement about their race (ex. the first African-American to do this and that). In such a world, you can’t blame the many who go about life subconsciously with a chip on their shoulder.

Coleman Silk, the protagonist of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, spent his entire adult life denying his being African-American. He claimed that he was a Jew in order to get ahead in life in a time and in a country where racial discrimination was (and still is) a big deal.

Silk thought that he was outsmarting society, but society was truly playing tricks on him by making him deny who he was. He thought he was helping himself. He was actually losing himself.

Inner dialogues lead to existential questions and statements that are only made difficult because of society’s norms and judgmental ways.

We all have those statements in us, the results of our inner dialogues, the synthesizing of our coming to terms with who we are. Many don’t have the courage to actually say them. But why does the world have to present the possibility of fear in the first place?

The world went through a stage of being paranoid about Muslims after 9/11 (probably more so in the west, though its prevalence here in the Philippines can’t be denied).

I’m a Catholic. As my parents both worked, I was raised by our Muslim maids in the predominantly Islamic country of Indonesia. I’ve never had any problems with any of the Muslims I’ve grown up around. I owe them a lot. My family and I have shared in their Islamic festivities as they’ve shared in our Christian celebrations.

We’re all people. And regardless of what categories we belong to, people are generally good.

Hi. I’m Martin.

Who I am is who I am.

That’s it. That should be it.

Life in this world is not that simply. Unfortunately.

To the girl who thinks that this is only about her: this is not about you at all, rather about us all as humans, as inspired by a casual conversation I had with you that I think shows the intricacies of being who we are individually amidst a world that often tries to deny us.