Tuesday, November 28, 2006


OUR philosophy professor, a Malaysian, asked who in our class was registered to vote. One guy raised his hand. We're a class of 40 college juniors and seniors; being underage is no longer a convenient excuse.

There's a lot to be excited about when you turn 18. You can finally legally drink and drive (of course not at the same time). You can get married (if that's your thing). You can enter a bar. You can go to jail. You're of age. You're an adult.

Is it just me or does voting eligibility cause the least excitement?

According to surveys, less than 20% of eligible Ateneans are registered to vote. In its attempt to address this issue, Ateneo's Sanggunian started the Reg2Vote campaign. Sanggu hopes to up the number of registered voters by providing free jeepney trips and guides to the city halls of where most Ateneans reside (Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, etc.).

I think this is an awesome idea that makes registering convenient for Ateneans. Furthermore, the fact that it takes on a group-activity-type feel could possibly result in more registrants simply through peer pressure, somehow making registering the “in” thing to do and making being registered "cool."

Though it would be nice for all registrants to authentically want to register due to the inner light of national pride and civic responsibility, starting the practice through the creation of a fad is still a start.

Our philo professor announced Sanggu's campaign to our class and passed out sign-up sheets for those interested. I looked around only to see the folder being passed quickly from student to student; hardly anyone opened the folder to sign up.

Kudos to the Sanggunian. Sorry if your efforts might not be paying off. Sadly, our problems run deep. How “uncool” of us.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

In Memoriam: Apak sa Damo

Picture taken from Gin's Multiply; aptly captioned "umapak sa damo."
ONCE upon a time, fresh off the success of a freshman class play, three young creative writing students started a production company with the intention of being the next big thing in campus filmmaking.
The group called themselves Apak sa Damo—a name with an openly profound explanation to cover up the real, rather shallow reason behind its conception.

Apak started production on their first film project entitled “Ate,” but certain conflicts seized shooting. Production was restarted months later, but things fell through again.

Apak finally got its act together to finish filming a documentary about the 20th anniversary of the People Power Revolution for an on-campus competition, but post-production disasters resulted in their missing the deadline—Valentine’s Day 2006—for submission of the competition.

That was the last straw. The group unofficially split up and vowed to never work together under the cursed Apak banner again.

She went on to student government, and after leaving creative writing for information design, eventually found work in design for a magazine.

He went on to make strides on his own as an aspiring writer, with a few published works, a couple of recognitions, and a new gig with an independent publication.

The other continues to write while taking on secondary work and studies in design and rekindling his longtime love for climbing and the outdoors.

Situations that have seen these three work together again have come and passed rather successfully; more opportunities of the like are inevitable.

Despite the short-lived nightmare that was Apak sa Damo, the three remain good, supportive friends and colleagues, which seems to make more sense to them than working as professional partners.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

In (Over)Due Time

LET it be known that by the time I turn 30 (21 po ako ngayon), I hope to be able to afford my first car (paid for using my own hard-earned cash; not a hand-me-down), which I hope to be a hybrid.

This entails many things.

This entails my being able to make a decent living without succumbing to the fields of nursing and outsourcing.

This entails hope out there for the romantics (katulad ko po) who would like to choose the struggling life of a writer.

This entails a local economy decent enough for working-class individuals to afford relatively pricy vehicles.

This entails a high enough demand for hybrids in a country that will hopefully be well enough to ship many of them in, which means the Filipino would have developed an authentic concern for the environment while heading towards the right direction economically.

And this entails environmentalism transcending, to a degree, bullshit like politics and greed (teka, same thing) which realistically (and sadly) won’t be completely eradicated from our culture in a mere nine years. (Nakakalungkot ang katotohanan.)

I’m aiming for the stars, hoping to land on the moon. Now it’s just a matter of will—my own, our country’s, our world’s. (Sugod mga kapwang Pinoy! Para sa bayan, para sa mundo.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

To Liana

I MISS this one girl. She’s still very much there. But still I miss her.

I miss the way she nods in class as if she understands, then pulls me aside for me to explain what the teacher just said.

I miss the poise she tries to exude. I miss the pranks we used to pull off to mess up that poise.

I miss how she would whine like a baby, but would never take things personally—the type of whining that simply fishes for affection. I miss giving her that hug to cheer her up after, and the cute smile she’d have as she welcomed the hug like a child.

I miss going to dreaded social obligations, the “I’ll go if you go” text messages we used to exchange. I miss waiting for her at the lobby of the venue, and leaving with her after.

I miss late nights in her dining room as trusty Kuya Arts called me a cab. I miss her complaining about her mother, and how her mother and I get along just fine.

I miss shielding her from others as she sheds tears she’d allow only me to see. I miss being on the other end of a call or a text message as we would try to work through things together, often just laughing things off.

I miss being needed by her when she’s given me much of what I once needed. I miss listening to her problems, in turn deterring me from my own.

I miss the reason Ateneo even became a choice. I miss the girl who helped me feel I was worth a damn.

She’s there. Rehearsing in Gonzaga Hall. Hanging out with her psych friends. She never left. Just a mere text away.

Days together have now been replaced by occasional lunches. It’s OK. I’m fine with that on most days. Some days I’m not.

Days without her are far from hellish. I have my own life now, she's always had hers. But in the depths of uncertainty, of the weirdness of reality that fucks with my emotions, I miss her.

(Truthfully, I miss her more than I would like to admit.)


Liana and I had an awesome shot at being classmates for the first time since high school this semester. Her filled-up class and my lame excuse for load revision prevented that. Life sucks.


Check out my new link to the online portfolio of the Mouse, the Bleeding Siren, Ms. Dictator Diva herself, my good friend with incomparable talent, Ms. Marcee Lacap.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Great Black Hope

MY knowledge of American Politics is as small as my patience for Philippine Politics, but here’s an early commentary on the US Presidential Elections in 2008.

Bush messed up too much in Iraq and as made apparent by the recent midterm elections, Americans want change. They’re going Democrat.

Sure, Democrats have spent more time criticizing the Republicans than actually offering solutions (sound familiar doesn’t it my fellow Filipinos?), but in the desert waste land of politics where there’s no water for the thirsty, people will drink sand.

I’m predicting a Democrat will win in 2008. Two names have been tossed around more than any other: Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Hillary’s got a lot going for her. She’s smart, strong, and has experience in the White House (sure, as First Lady but I figure she’d have just as much inside knowledge as any other candidate—even more, perhaps).


But I think the biggest thing Hillary has against her is the fact that she is not Bill Clinton. She’s the wife. The only one with the charm and grace to work his way around certain Clinton Oval Office “shortcomings” is Bill himself.


If I’m as hard-headed as many a Republican, I’d be suspicious of putting Bill back in the White House, even as a First Gentleman.

Unfortunately, partisan politics is the name of the game and the last person I would want to support from the other side is someone as successful as Clinton—that would give the other side too much credit and I’d be accused of political suicide within my own party.

Yup, politics sucks.

Moving on.

As much as I would’ve loved to see the first African American president come from the hood and the public school systems of Yonkers or Inglewood, reality sees that a private school educated, adopted immigrant as the more likely candidate. That’s Barack Obama.


Did you know that if you change the M in his last name and replace it with an S, Barack would have the same name as a terrorist the US hasn’t found yet after 9/11?


Americans seem to have looked past this shallow anecdote. Kudos to them. Maybe there’s hope yet (at least in the US; this remains to be seen on the local front).

His young. His idealistic. His reputation hasn’t been stained. And he’s cool—OK, maybe more in the good-boy Tiger Woods and Will Smith mold rather than the street-cred likeness of Allen Iverson and Mos Def, but in the game of politics perhaps only Bill Clinton is cooler.

I read an interesting article about Obama in The New Republic that suggested that one of the biggest things he has going is that he’s a smoker. An unapologetic one at that.


Whereas Al Gore and John Kerry seemed like they were robotically manufactured to be president, and while George W. Bush rambles on about how God saved him from alcoholism, Obama’s a smart cat with a loving family who just happens to smoke and doesn’t want to stop.


It’s sort of like the rat pack image. The lean athletic built. The suits. The smoking. The scotch (though I don’t know if Obama actually drinks). Obama’s real, Americans say.

Well, I’m not so sure being “real” for most Americans is imitating Sinatra or even Clooney but I sort of get what they mean.

But as a political pessimist at heart, I’d challenge by asking how do we know that this “realness” is not a front as well?

Pessimism aside, though, and with the elections still being a good two years away, I’m pulling for Obama. (But I’m secretly hoping Gore uses his current Inconvenient Truth celebrity to run again.)


Unfortunately, there’s reason to believe that the Great Black Hope won’t win. Bill Maher said on Larry King Live that perhaps the guy’s a little too young, a little too inexperienced.

But don’t we all want young cats in government who are still idealistic and are yet to be corrupted by the game?

Well, Maher reminded viewers that the last time Americans voted for a young, relatively inexperienced politician as president, his middle initial was W.


“Americans may be slow but they’re not dumb.”

Point taken, Maher. Point taken.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tree's Up

IN the middle of our living room, beside the dining area which has been completely taken over by Mom’s catering operations, stands an undecorated tree.

A couple of my blockmates have sent me messages about this year’s attempt at having a block Christmas party. I believe last year’s party was spent in the small studio apartment of Lester Echem where no more than eight of us had sisig pizza before heading home before the LRT closed.

This year, I remain indifferent to venue as long as there are bottles around. The first round’s on me only if Xander matches by taking the second round and Cindy and Marcee take care of pulutan.

It’s November. People are latching on to the Christmas spirit. We must be in the Philippines.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Latching onto Book, Film, the Road, and Obsession

I’VE been reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and I can’t seem to latch onto it. I was all set to like the book, which is my first venture into the intriguing Beat Generation (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, McClure, and the like). But instead of being hooked, I find myself drifting every time I try to settle down to read it.

I don’t find Dean to be anything close to the intriguingly rebellious character that I think we’re supposed to idolize. I don’t really get Sal’s deal, either—and to think, we’re looking at everything through his point of view. All the other characters keep slipping my mind.

Maybe I’m just not at a point in my life where I feel like vicariously living a life on the road. But if the book truly spoke to me, would that even matter? Wouldn’t the writing draw me in?

I’m sure I’m just distracted with other stuff going on. All the times my mind wander while reading, they wander to the same places, to the same people. It’s beyond Kerouac’s writing, which I want to come around to appreciate eventually.

I’m going to finish the book; I bought it so might as well. Then I’ll read it again in the future, when scrapping for money, driving cross-country, and finding another girl to hit on become the all-consuming elements of my life.

As for now, my working class allowance merits little complaining considering the many struggling in poverty, public transportation remains as my way around the city, and as for girls…well…OK, the book got one out of three.


THOUGH it was nice to see Martin Scorsese turn away from epic proportions (Gangs of New York, The Aviator) to latch back onto the raw street stuff of his earlier years with his latest, The Departed, the best film I watched this sem break was Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.

I heard a lot of good things about the film before watching it. Nolan’s great filmmaker (Memento, Batman Begins), but I’m not one for period films. Scarlett Johansson was the main draw for me.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked it. The look of the film was superb and everything, but it was undoubtedly a film driven by an intelligent script. As Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman were locked in a deathly intense rivalry, we latched onto the dark depths of an obsession with greatness.

The Prestige is a definite must-see this year.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pictures from Marcee's Birthday

SINCE I started writing for Katipunan, I’ve always carried two things with me in my bag: my press pass and my camera.

Editors have a tendency to text you out of nowhere to cover some event; I figured I might as well let the Boy Scout in me shine through by being prepared.

The weird thing is that having my camera always seems to slip my mind when I’m out with friends. And I’ve never been good at keeping pictures of my experiences, relying too heavily perhaps on memory and a discipline to write those memories down in my journal.

But last night at Marcee’s birthday at Mag:net, I actually remembered I had a camera with me. (Joy!) For the record, contrary to what Didang says, I’m not a camera whore. At least not yet.

Not a very attractive picture. But this is why Cindy’s my drinking partner. This is a reenactment of sorts of our usual “counseling” sessions during those afternoons when melodrama creeps into our usually even-tempered heads.

Mrs. Custodio actually looked pretty annoyed when she saw Cindy with a bottle before H.O.S. went on stage. Cindy says it was no big deal. “Maybe she looks masungit lang.”

I’m quite comfortable and like hanging out with girls. That’s a big understatement. Just look at the picture. (Ang ganda talaga ng smile ni Korinne.) Not too shabby company.

Korinne (hard to appreciate the smile from a side-view) and Cindy. I don’t remember taking this picture. It must’ve been Gin.

There’s something utterly attractive about a girl who can handle a bottle or two without losing it.

On the flipside, nothing turns me off more than girls gone wild because of an insistence on cocktails with weird names served in prissy glasses which they only believe they can handle.

Me and my date, Ginny.

Cindy (thru text msg.): “My mom asked me if ‘ginny and martin are together’ =p”

Cindy (thru text msg.): “i think you and gin look better together. Bagay talaga eh

Paano na toh, Gin? Tayo na? (Joke.)

Last night was the first time I watched Jars Cristobal perform. He’s a former blockmate. Talented artist. Sayang wala na siya sa ‘teneo.

(Tito Rody Lacap makes a small cameo in the picture.)

The picture I took of Hymn of Siren's performance didn't come out well. Too dark. Disappointing.

Me and the birthday girl, Marcee. Mukhang 12 at 10. For the record: 21 and 20.

Happy birthday, Marcee!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


THERE’S a sign between Windows 3 and 4. DON’T DEAL WITH FIXERS. Next to it taped onto Window 4 is a piece of paper with a fake P100 bill. Can’t read what the writing underneath says. Probably something to do with it being prohibited as well—“it” being the fake bill. The obvious never seems to be so anymore.

There are two men sitting behind me. They notice the sign. One asks the other why fixers are now prohibited. He complains that they’re taking away a means of livelihood for those people. Such is the perspective in which he’s living. There are many like him.

A lady behind Window 7 starts calling out names over the loudspeaker. One by one people dressed in everything from crisp T-shirts to torn sandos have their pictures taken by a small webcam. More than a few are tickled to be signing their names onto a black rubber thing. Their signatures magically appear on the screen in front of the lady behind the window. She tells them to get out of the way for the next person.

Every so often a name is repeated more than once. Still no one shows up at the window. The lady gets mad. She scolds everyone over the loudspeaker. Then six to seven show up in succession. The lady is happy again. She pauses to receive a banana from a manang. She peels it and starts to eat. She calls the next name. A man’s. He doesn’t show. While chewing and waving a yellow peel, the lady scolds everyone again.

A whiteboard is wheeled in front of the waiting area. An old man in polo barong walks out with a folder and a rag. He uses the rag to wipe the board clean. He writes his name, his occupation, and his phone number. Blue ink labels him a DRIVING TRAINOR (yes, trainer with an “o”). His first lesson: age requirements for getting a student permit, a non-professional license, and a professional. 16, 17, 18. Three men sitting along the front benches get up to move to the back. Some pay attention. Most are just annoyed.

It’s nearing 10AM. Was here since 7:30. Still waiting.


Happy Birthday Anne Calma (October 31)!

Thanks for inviting me last night. Sorry I wasn't in the best of moods. But I actually had fun. A slight hangover this morning is proof of that.