Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Heroic Genes?

It’s not like I miss the usual thanksgiving mass, the reenactments, the numerous retrospectives shown on TV.

It’s not like I’m not turned off by the “dugong bayani” ads, and the campaigning behind their parents’ image, and the standard yellow banners.

But this People Power baby can’t help but wish the commemoration was more respectful and more subdued, if not bypassed altogether.

But then again there’s something painfully fitting about EDSA’s First Daughter on television 26 years later, airing the dirty laundry of her personal life for the nth time since we lost the first (and many say only) true hero who boasts their last name.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crisis Past, Crisis Present

(on the anniversary of forgotten glory)

The past is supposed to give us insights for us to maturely live our lives today in a society that has resulted from that very past. More often than not, understanding the kind of past that haunts us in the Philippines leaves us with the feeling of hopelessness, a disbelief in anything and everything in leadership, in government.

As KATIPUNAN’s guest columnist Manuel L. Quezon wrote of the ‘90s for our special issue, “collective self-loathing” is what has prevailed. And everything that once served as “inspiration” now end up “a tired, unsatisfying parody of all that came before.”

The ‘90s were a life-changing time for me, but I didn’t really know why it all happened until later. Now that I understand I find myself stuck with the dilemma of fighting pessimism while actually trying to apply this knowledge to my living today—in a present that needs to savor a bit of the past while spitting out the rest of it.

*These are excerpts from my column, (Memoir)izing, in KATIPUNAN’s special issue on the 1990s which is available now. Contact me or leave a message to order.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dumb vis-a-vis Clever

Conrado De Quiros wrote in his column last week that he’d pick a dumb showbiz personality over a clever trapo every time. Indeed, a Joe De Venecia and a Juan Ponce Enrile seem far scarier than a Jinggoy, a Bong Revilla, or even a power-punching Pacquiao for that matter.

Whereas rich but incompetent celebrities are extremely disillusioned into thinking they can actually make a difference for the masses (while perhaps earning some extra coin on the side), trapos are smart enough to see that history has warranted their belief that they can continue to screw the Filipino people over and have no other agenda but to do so.

Traditional politicians—in the most traditional, perhaps too romantic of views—aren’t supposed to be so feared, for doesn’t the traditional and most ideal image of a politician entail him being a true selfless leader and public servant?

What’s scarier than the fact that we Filipinos have never known true traditional politicians—not bastardized versions we collectively name after a rag we use to wipe countertops with—is that we seem to be forever playing the game of choosing the lesser-of-two-evils, which can too easily be rationalized to be dumb former action stars.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


I’ve never been a violent person. Profanity (or more so silence) I’ve always chosen over whatever my fists could ever muster.

I’ve never been punched—at least not to my recollection. But I’m not including punches thrown before the age of 10.

And I don’t think I really ever felt like actually throwing one myself. Anger is a familiar emotion but violence is an alien manifestation…

.........................until yesterday.

And to think I’ve never met this person. And to think I’ve tried so hard to convince myself that this asswipe was likeable.

I suppose I’ve been looking for any reason to hate this guy for the longest time. But never did I expect the impulse to want to punch the daylights out of the motherfucker.

You can never quantify someone’s effect on you until you realize that the person (or in this case, someone associated to the person) can make you want to do things beyond your normal character.

I realized this yesterday.

But still, impulse is one thing irritants called “maturity” and “self-control” can overcome.

In this particular case, distance was also an irritant.

So for now, I’m just going to be myself and merely leave it at a raised middle finger and heartfelt “FUCK YOU!”

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Of The Week That Was (And A Bunch Of Different People)

I was never particularly fond of her but now I’m beginning to think that she reciprocates the sentiment.

The tipping point was when things were said behind backs.

I’m trying to convince myself into overlooking my desire to be liked while standing behind the fact that I’ve held my end of the bargain.


I was baking a cake, but instead of soaking the bread part in milk, I soaked it in some sort of liquor which was incidentally stored in a milk carton and which made the cake spicy in the end.

I woke up.

Don’t know what to make of it all.


We weren’t shy about our accented English and the volume in which we spoke it.

Heads turned. Many strangers on the bus eavesdropped.

We didn’t care. At least she didn’t.

She’s cool in that way.


“What are you doing on Valentines? And I swear that wasn’t a line,” she said.


Following the “Breaking News” of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, CNN featured another update on Iraq.


It’s not hard to figure out why two others I know have fallen for her.


I went home with a headache but drank anyway.

It had been a year.

I brought it up for the first time. We both dismissed it quickly.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Humor Me, Hypocrisy

I like to say that hypocrisy is a funny thing. I find humor in things that truly make we want to kill somebody. I dismiss things with a simple smirk while I feel my head fuming and my jaw hurting from grinding my teeth together.

There’s been a lot of talk about global warming, as there should be. Many American politicians and Hollywood stars have made it the hip issue to shine the spotlight on. Al Gore became a movie star because of it. It became a star because of the attention brought by movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio.

Still, the United States is the only world superpower that has yet to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol, which assigns mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions to those countries who have signed on. Many will point fingers at big business Republicans in explaining why the US never signed on. They say a Republican administration would never agree to something that may “threaten” the industries that back its top guns.

I’m not a big fan of Bush, Cheney, and the rest of them, but if my dates are right, the Kyoto Protocol was introduced in 1997. Clinton—superstar of the supposed environment-loving Democrats—was president. And Gore, whose been fighting for attention for this issue before anyone even knew of it, was the vice president.

Still, they didn’t sign on. They couldn’t get it done. I’m not blaming them, but it epitomizes the strength of the hypocrisy that prevails in this world. I’m not mad. Don’t you see my smirk?

The Philippines is a nation built by hypocrisy. On ANC yesterday afternoon was live coverage of another hearing in congress about Mike Arroyo’s bank accounts in Europe. A hearing of this sort has become just as regular as the passing of a bill.

As “global warming” has become the hip words in the States, the Philippines has its own staple of hip words: “graft,” “corruption,” and “good governance.” These words get tossed around by leaders like they actually care. Instead, never really confronting these words head-on has only further engrained the ugliness of their manifestations into our subconscious.

Please direct your attention to the first two aforementioned words: “graft” and “corruption.” They still echo all around you, don’t they? Now please direct your attention to the last term: “good governance.” Turn to ANC sometime this afternoon; force yourself to watch a few minutes of the hearings, then go outside your village and look at the squatters living by the service road. Good governance?

Hypocrisy. Reality versus rhetoric. Funny, isn’t it?

(Takes out a Tylenol.)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Of The Most Relevant Film This Year

Just last weekend, editorial duties prompted me to write of the last decade: “the 1990s only further proved how interconnected the world had become—repercussions of news seemingly felt oceans away from its locality.”

Of course now in 2007, this point of global interconnectedness cannot be underscored enough. I hesitate to use the world “globalization” for it evokes a sense of harmony in the world. Reality tells us that our interconnectedness is one just as much based on conflict than in synchronicity. Few films have been as effective and as timely in expressing this as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel.

Babel is to the world situation what Paul Haggis’ Oscar-winning Crash was to the racial and ethnic situation in the United States. But as Crash was successful in encapsulating the tension between races, perhaps Babel is even more successful in that it manages to jump from the US, Mexico, Morocco, and Japan without ever betraying the heart of each person’s story.

Both films mastered the art of interwoven storylines. But while Crash was a gut check to one’s view on American society as a whole, Babel tugged on one’s concern for each in every character—the two kids in Morocco, the helpless American tending to his wife who was shot, the Mexican immigrant who is deported, the deaf Japanese teenager whose mother’s suicide still haunts her.

All these characters, unknowingly connected because of a perceived act of terrorism, are all fragments of today’s world, minus the political rhetoric.

Through its depicting the lives of diverse characters connected by an innocent act of violence, Babel becomes a fragmented synthesis of 2007, minus the wide lenses, minus the generalizations of media.

Few films this past year (Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth challenges this distinction) have been as relevant, have been as timely.
(Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho)
Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Written by Guillermo Arriaga
M.v. highly recommends!