Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bad News Blues

Never mind the fact that I’m currently a news writer, I think I’ve reached an age where I hold a certain responsibility to be up to date on current events.

When I can and when my schedule permits, I still enjoy watching “AC360” and “Larry King Live” on CNN, but I must admit that I haven’t picked up the Inquirer in a couple of weeks.

As much as I hate being ignorant, I can’t help but feel like I’m empowering the depressing news printed on broadsheets—front pages splashed with hypocrisy, scandal, and pessimism. It’s like you get sucked into the whirlwind of problems prevalent in society. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating.

An unpopular president saying the nation is “improving.” We’ve all heard that one before. A former member of a first family exchanging words with a first gentleman he’s trying to take down. Please—I might as well watch primetime soap operas.

One of the sites in my Favorites list is that of the New York Times. Shiite versus Sunnis. What’s new? McCain and a Clinton. We’ve been down that road before. Even a “rock star” political figure like Obama bores me more than entices me to watch “real” democracy at work.

Many believe that news perpetuates negativity and that there should be more media focus on the good in the world. I’ll have to disagree, for I think journalist should be, in a way, the “unofficial opposition” of what’s out there, forever questioning validity and righteousness.

In the end, I can’t agree that “hiding” the bad behind the good would help society. It becomes too easy to cross the line between perpetuating optimism and flat-out denial. That being said, the news is rarely something that elicits excitement, more often becoming reason to feel even more down.

We should all be up to date with what’s going on so that we can help right the wrongs we witness and live through. But while I’m still not in the mood, I’ll just skip to the sports pages.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Simon's Playground

We walk out of the walls of Intramuros to look at it. It’s essentially a white tower on a red brick base. On the tower, gold and baby blue ornaments can be seen.

Dark lettering spell out SIMON DE ANDA. We try not to look down but we already see what we don’t want to. We walk with our breaths held, avoiding the inhaling of what smells like shit.


Around the red brick is what used to be a pond. Now the water is gone, replaced by scraps of paper, old shorts, and large jagged pieces of a black ceramic-like substance. The surrounding courtyard sees more of the black stuff, scattered all around dry grass and thirsty soil.


Two young boys, in ragged clothing, skin burnt to a brownish oil walk by with jellylike legs, one of them holding a plastic, the other an amber bottle of thick guck as they stagger by the supposed monument.

Photos taken, Monday 22 January, when Gin, Cindy, and I visited the place.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dedicated to Nonfic '07

As Fine Arts Fest 2007 comes to a close, it is time to pay tribute to certain individuals—fellow nonfictionists who’ve sort of played kuya and ate for this junior over the past few months.

There’s the reluctant celebrity who writes about real life through the lens of Frank Miller, another who continues to playfully tease me for reasons we both forgot, while another reminds me how much I suck at Filipino.

There’s the one who decided my face needed to be at their exhibit, another who reminds us all that it should be Ateneo we cheer for, and another whose work experience thus far will take me decades to emulate.

Can’t forget the one who named a pig Barnaby while believing in my thesis-reading ability, another whom I have gotten to know well and whose knack for expressing emotion leaves me mesmerized, and lastly the first I met among all of them, a fellow disciple of Queena who too has managed to fool judges in certain writing competitions.

To say that they took me along with them on their ride would be too much but I’m happy to represent a mini-stop they’ve swooped by on their way to the places they will find success and happiness in.

To the nonfictionists of ’07: CONGRATULATIONS!

You guys will be a tough act to follow for us in nonfic ’08.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

If You Can't Beat Them...

A friend of mine from class told me the other day about how she remembers tagging along with family members when she was much younger in her native Davao while they would pay off poor citizens to vote for them in the elections. I found out that she was part of a political family. I threatened to end our friendship. I didn’t.

She told me it was only when she was in high school that she realized what her family was doing. She despises it now. I can’t help but wonder how many in similar situations actually grow up to have the decency to despise the acts of their own families.

My granduncle ran for mayor at least three times. He’s a good guy with good conviction. Theoretically a good mayor. He never won an election. He’s proud to say he never cheated. I can’t help but wonder how much he could’ve done had he given in to the rules of the demented game. Thank God he has the decency to not wonder such things.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Paranoia, I Hope / Sometimes

I’m scared. Of what you think of me. Of slipping down. I’m not used to feeling this way. There’s something about the way you said, “Ikaw talaga.” And the look you gave me after that. The disappointment. It was searing. Yet it could’ve been just imagined. I’m hallucinating. I hope I am. God, let it simply be paranoia. There was a point—amidst all the good, all the jokes, all the shallowness—when I began to care about what you thought of me. It was when I started to open up. And eventually you did too. It was an investment. An investment I don’t want to go under. Few people have this effect on me. At least not to this extent.

Sometimes the stars align just right. Sometimes the sun rises and sets at the exact moments you want it to. Sometimes I have weekends like these when family doesn’t seem like a hopeless notion. Yesterday it was time with Dad, today it was Dad, Mom, and Tita Chi-Chi. Yesterday it was a seminar, noodles, and negotiating with condo tenants. Today it was pasta, a haircut, book shopping, and more negotiating with condo tenants. Tomorrow we all wake up to the problems we went to bed with on Friday. But at least we had these 48 hours. I missed mass today. I’ll have to thank God in the privacy of my own room.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bitter, Drunk Nothings

The so many things I need to do. So many fucking deadlines fast-approaching.

So many fucking mishaps already: the oral exams I fucked up, the fucking up by our drama class causing one teacher to take a “break.”

There’s the regular issue, and a special one, plus all the requirements for a wanted “promotion.”

There’s the deadline for the short story I haven’t touched in days. There’s a talk I need to organize about shit I don’t care about.

A "boss" lost the venue for her play. I don’t know where my own play is going.

There’s a gig I’ll probably miss on Saturday; I lost my senses losing a social life.

My body’s breaking down, telling me to slow down. I’ve been sick and not getting better, I can’t afford to lose my stride, nor can I afford the medicine to keep me going.

But still I had three bottles—the guard could smell it in my breath; disallowed me from taking the LRT.

There’s a rich black celebrity, getting all the pub, cred, and criticism for preaching about education, building a $40M school that’s “too nice” for just less than 200 poor African students; I’m too spent to even have an opinion on it.

All that matters to me right now is that two deadlines have been moved back. I can finally breathe for second, but it’s back to work a second after that.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Thus Far

The first three days back from vacation have seen nothing but a bombardment of work. Midterms are this week; I’ve done little in the form of studying. In fact, I only looked at the thesis statements for my philosophy orals yesterday for the first time. We were given the statements before the Christmas break.

I still have more pages of script to write before tomorrow’s drama class. And there are 100 pages of dialogue I have to read for that class as well. I have to make my own art installation and write about it before Tuesday. And somewhere in the mess of it all, I’m supposed to get moving on the second general assembly of my fine arts batch.

I haven’t arrived home before 9PM yet this year, KATIPUNAN being the primary culprit. Wednesday was the regular editorial board meeting, Thursday was the first junior editorial board meeting (which ended past 9PM thus my missing the last LRT ride), and yesterday was a press I didn’t even know was scheduled.

Friday was my one chance to go home early this week. I left school promptly at 4:30PM, intentionally avoiding invites to gimmicks or calls for meetings. It was just past 5PM by the time I was on the ramp of the MRT. But as fate would have it, one of the trains had all of its passengers empty out to the Cubao station for reasons that elude me, causing a back log which I was a part of. It was past 6PM by the time I arrived in Makati—dead smack in the middle of rush hour. It was past 7PM by the time I managed to get a ride to our village, nearing 7:45PM by the time I reached the house.

I bought a planner this week—part of my resolution to be more organized (writing schedules and reminders on bits of scrap paper that will eventually be lost is pretty pathetic in the first place). The dates under the first month of ‘07 don’t look too kind. It’ll be a while until I’ll be going home while there are still semblances of sunset.

While a friend and I were catching up through text (seems like my social life is limited to this medium these days), I said to her that I was happy to get back into the full swing of things after a break spent in less-than-ideal conditions: at home with family, including some from the province. I told my friend, “Bring on the work!” Sometimes I say the stupidest things.

It's my parents' 24th wedding anniversary today. They both forgot. No comment.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Marriage Act of 2007

The NBA implemented a rule at the end of last season that disallows high school players from jumping straight to the pros. One year in college is now the required minimum.

In Major League Baseball, players may opt to turn pro straight after high school but if they decide to go to college, they are required to commit to at least three years at the collegiate level before leaving school to turn pro. I believe there’s a similar rule in the NFL.

Some Catholic orders have a system of renewing vows annually until a certain number of years are accumulated before allowing its brothers to move up in religious rank to become priests. Most companies give new hires a probationary period where they can see if a long term employment commitment can be made and would be worth it.

Professional sports, religious orders, and companies don’t take commitment and one’s readiness to handle commitment lightly. Perhaps there’s something to be learned here with regards to marriage.

Thus, I introduce the Marriage Act of 2007* (M.A. 07). Here are the proposed provisions:

1. A newly-married couple must renew their marriage license annually for the first three years. If the license is not renewed, the marriage is annulled, which is to proclaim that the marriage never existed.

2. After the third year, another renewal extends the validity of the marriage through the seventh year. Legal separation is prohibited during the four-year validity of the third renewal.

3. If the couple wishes to renew their license after seven years, a yearly renewal is again required through the tenth year of marriage overall. If the couple wishes to separate anytime between the eighth and tenth year, they reserve the right to acknowledge the existence of the failed marriage through divorce or deny it ever existing through annulment.

4. If the couple is still strong after a decade, they may renew their marriage license one last time. Only then is the license a lifelong contract which may not be terminated unless in extraordinary circumstances which are left to the investigation and discretion of the proper authorities.

5. The presence of children does not affect the provisions of this proposed law.

6. Provisions will apply to homosexual couples if ever amendments are made to legalize same-sex marriages.

M.A. 07 was conceptualized in an attempt to protect the institution of marriage and to ensure marriages are maintained through true commitment rather than obligation, thus increasing the quality of the relationship as well as creating an honest, less-deceitful environment for children to grow up in.

M.A. 07 also protects the rights and the intentions of the individuals in the marriage, safeguarding their own being as opposed to fusing them with another institutionally.

Legislative pressure is seen as a means to proactively promote communication and conflict resolution between couples to avoid leaving the sanctity of marriage in the hands of passive faith and romantic preconceptions.

*M.A. 07 comes from the mind of the one who wrote these provisions. He is neither a government official nor a lawyer. But the author of M.A. 07 strongly believes that the law makes sense—not that his opinion matters.