Friday, December 26, 2008

Curse and Christmas

Today, I just found out that my grandma had once delivered a curse that, to this day, has yet to be lifted. And she's been dead some thirty or so years now. Ain't it cool or what?

This year's holiday season had been fairly interesting, so far. It was, simply put, a roller coaster of sorts alternating between high spots and low, meandering and looping ever and anon, inducing nausea to the mind and spirit in the same way physical roller coasters cause the body to throw up.

Winter has always been a rather terrible season for me. Well, never mind the jolly fat old pedophile in Coca-cola red calling out for ho's. Never mind too the fact that everyone is too mind-numbingly cheerful and fucking smiling (that is smiling like silly, not breeding like silly), even for a goddamned recession. It's the fact that it's too cold and my back certainly minds the cold a lot. I suppose, though, that I should be thankful it doesn't snow here.

In truth, it seems my entire body actually minds the cold, and several sleepless nights certainly did not help any. In any case, earlier this month, I came down with a 5-day flu that left a prolonged spell of coughing. The medicines I was prescribed did not seem to help with a cure but they did help a lot with just trying to take a proper breath. Also, the sun had taken to hiding behind clouds so, for a sorcerer whose only healing spell requires direct sunlight, you can probably see the problem. The first week was bad enough but the second week was pure mental torture as a co-worker began vocally minding my barking. I have lost count to how many times I have been asked if I'm taking medication for it.

Now, I am experiencing an encore. Oh, I have been getting enough sleep, oh blessed sleep, these days, thankfully enough. Only, last night, what some other people would call Christmas, I have been, well, enjoying myself. There was singing and, by midnight, I swear, I have had enough of songs by Abba, Village People and Spice Girls, both singing and listening to. My highest scoring song (96/100) was an Arnold Schwarzenegger bass and a Karen Walker falsetto of Barbie Girl by Aqua. Ah, no. I wasn't drunk yet. I wanna, really, really wanna zig-a-zig, ah!

There was food, which, I guess, is the one of the few nice things about winter celebrations. I had grilled squid (Mmmmn, tentacles), Sicilian chicken salad with a honey-lemon-mustard dressing (my sister's witchcraft) and uber-cheesy Spaghetti Carbonara (again, my hag of a sister) Feasting, however, usually means that we'll be eating the same dishes remixed, recooked and, worse, reheated for the week after. Not that I mind too much, though. I didn't allow myself to eat much after all so I doubt I will tire of the food so easily.

I didn't eat much because I had a party to host, which has meanings beyond feeding your guests. On the 24th, I had hastily made four party games for tweeners and adults. Inspired by a Facebook application, where you had to guess the famous movie from stick figure sketches, I had made a couple of my own. Below are a few of my crude crayon sketches, that is, the sketches, not the crayons, were crude. (A/N: My scanner acted up. I'll be posting the others as soon as I lazily can)

For those who are imagination-impaired or have been living under a rock the whole time, each picture is linked to a Wikipedia article about the movie.


The Wizard of Oz

The Matrix


Raiders of the Lost Ark

Fiddler on the Roof

Bituing Walang Ningning

For that last one, people remembered the quote but not the title ^_^

In any case, the holiday reunion with the families of both my mom and dad certainly had introduced a distinct undercurrent in the air. I smell subtle social maneuvering in some conversations and the absence of one family certainly reeked of trouble. Lately, I have found myself observing people at gatherings a bit more than usual and Daes Dae'mar lessons by way of Robert Jordan's novels certainly did not help lessen the keenness with which I mingle at parties.

There, too, was the nostalgic atmosphere that is almost inevitable when at least two grown-up acquaintances, who have not seen each other for so long, gather for a celebration or a wake. Aside from the usual comments on height, girth and age, the house and the food, and on having a partner (I have always Aes Sedaied by saying that I have no girlfriend yet, which is the plain and simple truth) and suitors (Also Aes Sedaied that, since stalkers are categorically different from suitors and a lover is no longer a suitor either, I have no suitors at the moment), there were a lot of other comments about the past.

I was startled to discover that my earliest memory, a birthday celebration when I was two, was actually my first birthday. Granted, I did not remember much except that I and my grandma were seated and she was feeding me something from a plate (I think it was pancit) but I was only one year old back then! Wow, am I cool or what?

Long after the guests have gone, my mom had taken to regaling us with stories both past and present. She had a half-sister on her father's side, whom she invited for the party. She also had a half-brother on her mother's side, which, as far as I know, my mom and my uncles are still looking for. And buried in those stories was the horrid tale of my grandmother. Her life as an uneducated woman was not easy as she had been duped by several relatives. After a terrible blow to her honor both as a mother and as a woman, she had, in tears, declared the downfall of her niece. There was also an added part, something about her niece crawling on her belly like a snake.

Well, for the remaining years of my grandmother's life, the niece in question had never asked for forgiveness, possibly because of an oversight, she did not deem it necessary or she simply was not aware of the offense. My grandmother eventually died and the curse was never lifted. That niece was now an old woman living in lamentable condition. My aunt is in good health, mind, and not so impoverished, I mean, I'm pretty sure her family eats three square meals a day, but despite the fact that she and all her children are working, their living conditions never improved much.

In comparison, I have an uncle whose wife had, literally, taken a blow to the liver (surgical accident) and whose two children are still in school. I doubt they earn significantly more than my cursed aunt's family yet they have, to my knowledge, a vehicle of their own (my memory fails me now, I'm not sure if it's a jeep, a van or whatever, definitely not a car, though), suitable shelter, at least three square meals a day (God, their daughter was skinny last I saw her, now she's... putting on weight. Visibly. Don't ask about their son) and can afford to go places every now and then, if not more often.

I had once read that the most powerful curses were those thrown by a person on one's deathbed, by those with no other recourse to justice, by those who hold positions of power and by women, in that order. If that is the case, I suppose there's not much hope that my grandma's curse was a genetic talent. I have some of her blood in me but it could very well mean nothing until I was beaten and trampled upon.

In any case, it was what made my mom swear never to be an ignorant Filipina. She would not be as uneducated as her mother, nor does she plan to be solely dependent, financially, on a husband. She eventually grew into a strong woman and, eventually, one of the few people whom I hold a deep respect.

Ack, so cheesy, ne? Yet, I suppose there really is not much choice between the ability to belt out curses as a weakling or to hammer down the obstacles as a strong person, is there?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gluttony of the Sick

I was sick. No, not like Michael Jackson, more like a patient needing a doctor. No, not a "special" doctor, a real one. I was ill. Down with flu and nightmarish fever. That was two weeks ago. However, I had lost much of my healthy appetite back then as I was reduced from shoveling food into my mouth with relish into merely troweling something, anything, into me.

There was once a story, a very cheesy one, to be sure, but indulge me. There was a story about a man, a cook, actually, who dreamed of being a highly-paid chef in a five-star hotel but ended up cooking for patients in a hospital. You know the sort, sick, whiny people who bleed at the merest touch of a scalpel or panic at the few pints of blood when they puke. In any case, these were, in his view, people who could hardly appreciate his works. Those who have ever been sick, including Michael Jackson, would know that almost any disease kills appetites. It also kills people but more on that maybe later.

Alas, our good cook had to be human and fall ill himself. In a sterile white bed, illuminated by heavenly light and accompanied by a chorus of soprano angels that have yet to reach puberty, he had come to the realization that he had been a very bad person and needed to be... disciplined. Tsk, tsk, tsk. *whipcrack* In the end, after he recovered, the dishes that came out of the hospital's kitchens were appetizing, scrumptious and still largely unappreciated by their dying recipients. I suppose they skipped the part where he cursed heaven for his hospital bill and rushed straight to the part where he turned a new leaf. Last I heard, he's turned to Scientology.

In any case, I got well after enduring five days of sweltering winter heat and five sleepless nights of nightmarish visions punctuated by the unnaturally rapid thumping of my heart manifesting in my temples. I suppose those bright and colorful little pebbles the doctor had me swallow regularly helped in recovering my health, though, I'm afraid the same could not be said for my appetite.

Oh yes, I still eat one and a half servings at lunch, though I can say with a clear conscience that I am not consciously tasting what I eat anyway. Much of my recent gluttony is actually driven by hunger, not by... well, gluttony. You get the picture, I hope.

Oh, how I have searched high and low for the ambrosia that would restore my appetite. There was this soft and mildly sweet frosted carrot cupcake topped with colorful sprinkles, pork asado in sweet and fragrant anise sauce and grilled blue marlin stewed in a butter spiked with lemon, served with a thick, brown sour-and-spicy sauce I had at this party just last weekend, washed down with several glasses of chilled sparkling white non-alcoholic grape juice, not to mention the servings of dark, almost-opaque ordinary Coca-cola screaming with mediocrity, bubbling with much-unneeded and unappreciated fizz, topped with a newly dented tansan and served with a plastic drinking straw but, sad to say, none of those worked to rouse my slumbering passion for food. It's like a part of me had died and I'm trying vainly to revive the dead.

Thus, it was in desperation and foolishness that I had run to the nearest Rai Rai Ken branch two nights ago. Surely, you can't go wrong with ramen, right? I ordered Chicken Ramen and Kani (crab) Salad, along with calamansi juice. Over the years, I have found that soda does not go well with sisig or bicol express, white wine does not complement baby back ribs and coffee laced with cinnamon and brandy does not sit too well with light cakes. I have also learned that a good glass of ice-cold calamansi juice goes well with nearly everything, except, perhaps, sour dishes like paksiw and sinigang.

Indeed, I was not mistaken as the cold sweet-sour nectar slid down my slimy, pleghm-coated throat. The ramen was great, as usual, though the broth did not seem as flavorful as I last remembered it. The noodles, too, were limp and did not squiggle as much as when I slurped them before. The leeks, heaven be praised for their existence, did not lend quite the kick I was expecting. I suppose the inconvenient cough I acquired lately from thin air had not been of much help in bringing my appetite back to life.

The salad, though, was as excellent as I expected it. The greens were fresh, cool and crisp, the mangoes were as sweet as though it were high summer and the crab meat, oh the crab meat! It was juicy and tasty and clean! Not that I was expecting them to be sewer-caught, but, with seafood, there are some dishes that still taste too much of the ocean's brine and smell too much of a harbor's fish baskets. I don't know how Rai Rai Ken prepares the salad but it was simply... delicious. It did take a toll on my wallet too so I walked out the store poorer than when I came in, a whole lot less hungry, smiling, no, beaming wider than the scowl I wore earlier that day and still no better off with my appetite.

Last night, I had planned to get myself a decent haircut but the salon was closed as its employees were elsewhere celebrating some nonsense foolishness like Easter or Jubilee. Right in the middle of winter, I know! Pft, the idiots! I am a believer that things, somehow, happen for a reason, and that there must be a very good reason the salon was closed on the very night I had more than five hundred bucks in my wallet. Who am i to question a higher power that compels me to crave for pasta? Where noodles have failed, perhaps pasta might prevail, right?

With the nearest TOSH (ye olde abode of spaghetti) closed for renovations and the nearest Spaghetti Factory (ye olde maker of spaghetti) spirited away to hell knows where, I was left with a choice that was no choice at all. I could pit my five hundred bucks against Italiannis (ye old spaghetti of Italy) and lose miserably, grab myself a pesto linguine, spaghetti pomodoro, asian linguine or tuna fetucinne from World Chicken (ye olde fowl of ye earth) and eat what I just ate, oh, just last week or get a too-large serving of Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta at Yellow Cab (ye olde charlock carriage) and eat what I just ate, oh, just two weeks ago.

Searching for alternatives, a dim memory surfaced in my mind of a cold Monday bus ride in Edsa, of a billboard screaming with the color orange, of a cute wavy-haired Asian lady wistfully gazing at the ceiling and of a fork held against a smiling mouth. Ah, Pancake House. I vaguely remember the voice of my friend telling me six years ago, "Yes, they do serve things other than pancakes," in a tone that admonished the mortified surprise that must have shown on my face back then.

Most importantly, I do recall that beneath that ceiling, beneath that beautiful woman and beneath that silly fork, there was a dish that held orange-sauced pasta lightly drizzled with finely grated parmesan cheese. Beyond that, my poor memory fails me but most important to me was the fact that there is pasta to be had somewhere new.

So, last night, for the first time in my life, I entered a Pancake House branch. It was orange, as expected, with a rather warm, inviting and cozy atmosphere, though not as homely, cozy or tacky as TOSH and not as frightfully minimalist-capitalist like Spaghetti Factory. There was soup to be had, though I declined their soup for the day. I am not in the mood for Knorr Cream of Asparagus, though, I must say, they are being rather blatantly honest with their menus; I appreciate that I don't have to wonder what their soups taste like. I did, however, order a bowl of Almondigas, which, it turns out, was nothing more than Pancit Molo, only remove all the greens, replace the siomai and wanton wrappers with pork meatballs, vermicelli with thin rice noodles (misua) and peppercorns with chopped spring onions. It was a rather refreshing appetizer, though, which, like a whetstone, sharpened my hunger into an edged anticipation.

For the main course, I ordered something called Gambera: spaghetti and tomatoes drowning in an orange oil topped with shelled shrimps and grated Parmesan cheese. A test taste of the sauce yielded no memorable flavors. Gambera, I must say, looked a lot more appetizing than it actually tasted. The shrimps tasted... well, unclean is too strong a word so, to put it creatively, it tasted and felt like chewing on a grilled prawn, one that had been caught in a mosquito-infested marsh. I am afraid to do much injustice but, really, the shrimps tasted like they were freshly netted from salty mud. I found myself wondering whether that lady in the Edsa billboard was pitifully out of her mind to be smiling like that or if she had ordered a different pasta dish, one that looked similar but tasted, as evidenced by her dreamy gaze, blissful.

After the last strands of spaghetti settled into my stomach, I frowned at the considerable pool of orange oil left on my plate. It certainly did not smell or taste like olive oil or sesame, my two favorite edible oils. I shudder at memories of cooking oil recycled beyond salvation in some of our university's kitchens and was not too pleased to note that those were of a similar orange hue.

To wash down the slick, tainted feel of orange oil and green phlegm in my throat, I sipped at my calamansi juice. Really now, would you expect me to order anything else in a new place? Well, guess what, at Pancake House, they serve calamansi juice better than at Rai Rai Ken! I received a tall glass of calamansi juice mixed with ice cubes, a small pot of some sweet liquid (Thank God, Satanas Luciferi Excelsi, it was not honey) and a short glass of iced water. Elsewhere, a man dying of thirst would collapse before a servant brings a small cup of semi-chilled water. This small consideration for the customer, the privilege to suit one's drink to one's taste and the convenience of not having to demand for water, certainly earns Pancake House an approving nod from me.

Now, as I write this post while the hours are small, reminiscing the cool, sweet calamansi juice I had with dinner, I cannot yet say whether I have found my cure. To be sure, an itch in my throat forces me to cough ever and anon, yet, more important to me is whether I shall relish what I eat tomorrow or merely drop chunks of bolus down my esophagus.

By the way, yes, I did leave the servants a tip, apart from the what they explicitly charged me for their service.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Apples and Oranges

Today, I have finally figured out that love is better than sex.

I suppose that is a much healthier beginning than something as senseless as, "Oh, how long has it been since I have last written?" or, Fates forbid, "Hello, minna-san!" I do, however, stress the truth behind that statement; I have, indeed, pondered long and hard on it, days spent in deep thought, if you will pardon the pun and innuendo. Allow this humble gentleman, then, to share with you my thoughts on the matter.

Evil as I may be, I do have a heart and, in brief moments, its foolishness breaches across the cage I have built around it. In those moments, a fist-shaped organic bloody lump leaps to my throat and seizes the words that should have come forth and forces out utterances that should not have escaped. At the same time, though, I am but a human with innate needs that must be fulfilled at the risk of an inner fire consuming myself. There do be times that I think with my head and, I suppose, I need not mention which one I'm talking about.

These two have been locked in war for a long time, each turning my body against the other that, last week, my brain has had enough and decided that an end to strife and confusion must be reached or otherwise suffer the peril war brings down on everyone's heads. The one above the shoulders.

When a week is spent in headaches and another week in back pains, the brain tends to forgo ethics and stick to cold hard logic. Thus, I present to you two assumptions: love is good and sex is good. They are, of course, as different as apples and oranges so any proverbial shopper with good sense will, of course, examine the merits of each given the circumstances.

The argument goes that sex is rather cheap. In reality, though, sex comes at a very high price but love, on the other hand, has no price. The moment a figure is laid on it, it ceases to be love. It is, therefore, priceless and, quite understandably, rare. Sex, thus, is quite relatively easy to obtain, given the right price, there is enough sex in the world and enough desperate people quite willing to fulfill the role. Love, on the other had, is quite difficult to obtain, or even recognize in the first place.

If one chooses to capitalize on love first, sex will almost always come naturally afterwards. It will be one of those gestures that alone, mean nothing but, in the context of a relationship, serve to strengthen the bond thereafter, very much like hugs and kisses and holding hands. On the other hand, if one opts to enjoy one's youth and go on a f*c<!nG rampage, pardon the pun, then the chance of stumbling upon love is diminishes with every new encounter.

Consider homosexual men who engage in casual sex, trippers, if you will. There are those who absolutely cannot go on a date that does not include physical appraisal. From groping in dark cinemas to groping in restroom stalls to groping in motel rooms, there are certain minimum requirements that must be met, namely arm size, developed, if not defined, chest and abs, equipment size, facial appearance, alignment (any graded value between top and bottom), voice and financial potential. It is quite a rigorous testing each puts the other through and, should a flaw be discerned, the relationship has ended long before it could have begun.

This way, the heart is saved from the disaster of falling head over heels into a relationship that was doomed to fail anyway. However, these encounters serve to fuel an unnatural haste to hook up, a burning addiction to sex or an irrational wrath that leads one to get jaded. (No, I won't be one of those bores who'd lecture you on STD's, you should know that info by now) The heart either closes itself a little more with every encounter or opens wide like a, in local parlance,
carinderia open to all who wishes to eat. Given those two initial conditions, any relationship made with that person is much more likely to fade into coldness or erupt into explosive differences.

Also note that, it takes years to establish any decent romantic relationship. On the other hand, for gifted individuals, it could take very well only under five minutes of flirting before the first sexual contact is made. Analogously, a sensible yuppie planning to move out of the house normally gives greater priority to a house, an apartment or a room as compared to, say, a microwave over, an airconditioning unit or a hot tub. If you don't get it you are either a student, a bum or incredibly stupid (it means unbelievably dumb, silly)

It is, therefore, with conviction that I proudly say I have figured out that sex is of lesser importance than love. However, allow me to recommend having at least one sexual encounter before "true" love, just the same. No, I'm not encouraging this for petty reasons like machismo or know-how. It's just that I do not like people making uninformed decisions. Put another way, I'd recommend that the proverbial shopper eat both oranges and apples first, before entering a more lasting agreement with his/her local grocer. Allow me to quote the rather overused cheesiness that is, "Experience is the best teacher."

I sincerely believe that one who had experienced both can make a better decision for himself/herself. I would be honored if you take my word for it but, for your own sake, go forth into the world out there and get some!

A/N: To my boyfriend, I am still here. Yes, I've been flirted with and have flirted in return. I have been tempted and my prudence had been through a gruesome trial. I want you to know what I have chosen. Koko ni iru yo.

Angel, why this cruel to a poor man?
Why do, these flames of hell, you fan?
O, Fortune, who deserves this torture?
How long will you shield the elusive rapture?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The New AIDS

Fools who, in their ignorance, bask
and, in their prejudice, never ask
for truth as painted by their prey,
hark! Your deathbed calls today!

In a rather unfortunate set of circumstances, I have woken up late most of the past week. Late enough to cause me self-inflicted grief at work but also late enough for me to catch the morning paper, which is reportedly delivered to our house around nine in the morning. Those moments were rather surreal as I relaxedly read the papers, sipped my morning coffee and enjoyed the sunshine while, in the office, the clock ticks down every second of my tardiness.

One of the articles I've read had a headline, "School links new strain of staph to gays, the clarifies." As a member of the homosexual population and rather concerned with my physiological well-being, I read the article.

A team of researchers led by doctors from the University of California at San Francisco announced that gay men were several times more likely than other people to acquire a new strain of staphylococus, a potentially lethal bacteria known as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) USA300. The study, published in online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was quickly picked up by unscrupulous journalists, including a New York tabloid, which dubbed it as the new HIV. The following is a screen capture from Canada's CTV site:

Other anti-gay groups, like the Conservative Women for America, have seized this tidbit of misinformation and issues a release citing the "sexual deviancy" of gay men as leading to AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea. As we all know, heterosexuality guarantees immunity to STD and anything that does not involve a penis and a vagina, like masturbation, for example, is "sexually deviant". Indeed, if you're gay, even if you're still a virgin, you're doomed to a life of AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea. In the afterlife, you still won't get any respite and... well, you get the picture. Doomed, I say!

Fortunately though, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which helped finance the study, issued an apology and a vital clarification: the bacteria spreads through any kind of skin-to-skin contact, sexual or nonsexual, regardless of sexuality.

Like any skin-contact transmitted disease, the MRSA USA300 can be transmitted during the intimate moments of intercourse, unless you and your partner(s) happened to be dressed for the occasion. There were no reports yet of the bacteria being transmitted by leather whips, handcuffs, chains or ropes but I guess it pays to be careful anyway. Thankfully, though, washing up with soap and water after close physical contact easily prevents the disease in most cases.

I'd like to repeat, for the sake of my hard-headed brethren out there (pardon the pun), condoms do not prevent the transmission of MRSA USA300; it is not your universal shield. It is, however, no valid excuse to do away with safer sexual practices. Anyway, what I'd like to say is that after every happy moment, remember to soap up. It's interestingly slippery, if you catch my drift *wink, wink*

Oh, what the heck. Just be sure to take a bath at least once a day.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

System Downgrade

It is revolting!
It is revolting indeed!
It is revolting!

Be forewarned; I am feeling rather talkative today. (Pay no mind to my poor attempt at writing haikus)

Just this morning, I woke up, at five in the morning, six in the morning, eight in the morning and ten in the morning. In any case, suffice to say that I caught today's paper, which is usually delivered around nine, so I'm told. The headline is rather big, bold-faced, strong and emphasized, as headlines are wont to be. The Government is hitting back.

New York based Freedom House has downgraded the Philippine's state of democracy from "partly free" due to a spate of political killings specifically targeting leftist political activists. Quite predictably but not as reasonably, the Government reacts, not like an educated writer serenely imbibing and digesting constructive criticism but rather a thoughtless child who single-mindedly insists to her playmates that she did not cheat at hopscotch.

"We don't know who fund foreign groups such as Freedom House, nor were we told about their research procedures," saith the Press Secretary, which is quite true. However, though we know not how such groups work, we do know they're wrong. "Let us be undaunted by outside forces that rely on propaganda rather than systematic and thorough research and consultations to underpin their statements." Yes sir, we don't know how you did it but we know you did it wrong.

What is the proper procedure then? The Press Secretary said Freedom House should have, at least, sought the government's side to "verify" information they have on the Philippines. This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as Command Control or, to put it more graphically, re-touching, if not completely modifying, the data. After all, we really cannot have a proper research unless we swallow the "information" to be provided by the government, right? Really, what part of "independent research" do people not understand?

Oh, never mind that we can expect the government to deny being behind the disappearances or killings of journalists and activists in our beloved nation. Never mind that there are more missing people on the "dark" side than there are on the Jedi forces; they have probably been missing due to any number of reasons from mass tribble attacks to Klingon terrorists. Hell, they could even be having tea in France, for all we care! Really, those people aren't dead, at least not until their corpses float on the Pasig River. Had they asked, really, they would realize we have a free press protected by the military, freedom of non-subversive speech and constitutional processes that uphold human rights for members of the middle-class or higher.

News travels fast and I'd like to quote, the alchemist, Sir Isaac Newton's third law: For every reaction, there is an equivalent and opposite reaction. To put it as I see applicable right now, though, would be: For every opening, there is an equivalently painful opposition. Indeed, in the very same paper, I have read an advertisement denouncing the second Edsa revolution.

It's a rather clever whole-page ad, which invites the reader to learn what the world press wrote about the second Edsa revolution and weep for Philippine democracy. With a collection of quotes dexterously culled from different publications, we can see the illustrious names of Time, New York and Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Herald Tribune; a delightful read, really.

Yes, we know that the downgrade of the democracy status was due to a spate of political killings or disappearances but we all know that it is only Filipino for us to dig up old grievances, right? Why bother learning from past mistakes when you can just dirty your opponent with the muddy snowballs of his/her failings? We all know that progress can only be achieved by grappling at each other’s throats not quite unlike crabs in a basket pulling each other down.

Of course, any sane minded reader would know that such paid advertisement only remotely relevant is most definitely not propaganda. We know perfectly well that the 2001 Edsa II revolution is responsible for the 2008 downgrade of our democracy status. As our beloved Senate Minority Leader said, "Our democracy during the '50s is as tall as Ramon Magsaysay. Now, it's disheartening that the country has (been) dwarfed (in the fight against) corruption and in the implementation of law." Yes, we are aware, everything has dwindled and height really matters in presiding over a nation.

On a side note, which I am positive is irrelevant, the Philippine Airlines also received a downgrade from the US Federal Aviation Authority, effectively limiting the number of US flights it can make.

Anyway, back to the point, when the government is faltering like this, we really should take the chance to pull the rug from under their feet, y'know? Perhaps by the way of another people power, which a writer for Time has been quoted as claiming to be "an acceptable term for a troubling phenomenon... mob rule."

If you still do not sense sarcasm dripping at the edges of this page, please look to the part where your browser has its scrollbars. You will see a viscous yellow-green fluid... No, that's not sarcasm; it's mucus.

You know what I think? I think that we are over-populated and can afford to lose some people. An admin dies and people quietly pay homage to the dead. A member of the opposition dies and you'll have all the legions of hell on top of you screaming bloody murder. What's it got to do with anything? Oh, I dunno, say I was an unscrupulous member of the opposition who gets my kicks out of ripping out the spleen of other people. Do I ask for an admin's spleen? Hell no, I'd go for the opposition dudes, y'know, the helplessly pathetic uninformed ones. See, that solves the problem of overpopulation and racks up the score for the dark side. Two birds with one stone, y'know?

I think there are too many of us here, but that's not the problem. What I find troubling is the fact that we are sharing these shattered islands with idiots who, at the first pang of hunger, begins its war cry like a helplessly stupid infant. We have a lot of people who attribute the lack of paper in their wallet to moths, cockroaches, alligators or crocodiles, anything but themselves. Y'know, I see people go to church for their daily bread, spiritually speaking. How about the physical bread? No, they don't go to bakers, silly; they flock into the streets!

We are a democracy, rest assured. We can freely elect any porn star that happens to look just right with promises of alleviating, if not completely solving poverty. Bah, we cannot trust those elites! Rich people only care for themselves, but we're gonna vote for an equally rich guy simply because we love his moves on film. Dang, baby, if he can knock out those baddies, he can surely put food in our bellies, clothes on our skin and roofs over our heads. (My money's on Chuck Norris, if it comes to that)

Personally, I think killing is not so bad an idea in a country as perpetually discontent as ours. We can never find the contentment called heaven so death would only be the coup de grace, right? Okay, there was a redundancy in there somewhere... but I guess I'll also lie on my back and wait for the Government to proofread my posts for me. It's so much easier that way.

Oh yeah, one more thing, know what the motto of that particular newspaper is? "Ze truth shall prevail, yarr!"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Meddling with Peddling

Let no poverty steal away a child's education.
Let no shame taint an innocent's reputation.
Let no cloud rain on a roofless head.
Let no quiet stand in their voice's stead.

Whenever I go to work, I always take the route that costs me the least time. In doing do, I ride a jeepney to an FX terminal, where I catch an FX to take me to the train station, where I await a train to take me to another train station, where I disembark and sprint my way across four roads and two dirt parking lots. This costs me a considerable amount of calories and double the fare when, in fact, I could ride only one bus from home and be there in, say two or three hours.

Going back home, though, is another matter. Since I am not chasing anything, except probably for sleep, I usually ride the bus home. For one, it costs almost half the fare and, since it takes at least two hours, I can also sleep for around an hour and a half. Yes, I know, it's a talent.

On there bus rides, before dozing off, I hear several people peddling their wares. "O, mani, mani kayo d'yan, mainit, bagong-luto, mani kayo d'ayn," says the peanut vendor. "Ah, kasoy, kasoy, kasoy kayo d'yan," offers the cashew vendor. "O, Maxx, Mentos, V-Fresh, Doublemint, o, C2 kayo d'yan, malamig, C2, mineral, o" from the candy vendor who also peddles iced tea and cold mineral water. Why he's selling those in an airconditioned bus, at night, escapes me. "O, 'yung mga wala pang ticket d'yan, o." Ah, that would be the conductor.

Seriously, these people don't bother me for, I understand, we all are only doing our jobs. A person has to do what it takes to survive. However, there is a certain breed of peddlers that I cannot stand. They can strike you anywhere, in a bus, in a jeepney, hell, they even hawk their wares in restaurants while you are eating! Talk about a seriously messed up sense of timing! Or ethics, might I add.

Their sales pitch is either ultrasound or infrasound for you won't hear anything from them. What they do, instead, is offer you a card, or a piece of paper. The more unscrupulous ones, not finding a hand ready to receive their cards, would place it wherever handy: on your table, on your bag, on your knee, on the arm of your chair or on your lap. The more audacious ones would wake up a sleeping passenger to "offer" their cards. The cards read:

"Good day sir/ma'am. I am Jane Doe from the province of Batangas/Cavite/Palawan/Batanes/Tawi-tawi/. I'd like to knock on your generous hearts to buy my pastillas, macapuno, ube, polvoron, puto-seko, caviar, foie gras, ."

Good! At least, there is no doubt of what they're selling in those large plastic bags they're lugging with them. Some of them, though, add a more heart-rending detail regarding the beneficiary of their sales:

"I am studying in college and I'm paying for my tuition with the sales of my goods."

Those are the better cards. The other cards don't even give you a shit of a clue. However, I am sure, all cards will, regardless of author, have a quote or two for vague purposes:

"It is better to sell than to steal," or "It is better to work hard than to beg," or "It is better to than to ."

That is, for me, the most irritating part. If it is, indeed, better to sell than to steal or beg, then what, in heaven's name, are they giving these cards for? Why on earth can't they just peddle like everyone else? "O, pastillas, macapuno, kayo d'yan, pastillas, macapuno!" I once asked a girl (poor lady, to have met me on a bad day) "Why don't you just announce what you're selling, instead of giving people these cards?"

"E sir, nakakahiya po e," (Sir, it's embarassing) she replied softly.

"P*+@ng !n@," (You don't wanna know what I'm saying here ^_^) I blurted out, exasperatedly rolling my eyes, crumpling her card and throwing it at her feet. The poor girl hastily collected her cards and disembarked from the bus.

God, the gall of such people. Here they are, silently peddling as though wishing to keep their sales a secret, yet thick-faced enough to claim in their cards, "Ha! We're better than those beggars!" and, reading between the lines, "I don't like doing what those 'filthy'/'pathetic'/'embarassing' peddlers do but I have to, for my studies/son/daughter/children." If that is not hypocrisy, then I don't know shit.

Also, what educated person will place cards on other people's body parts? What kind of idiot disturbs your meal so you could read her heart-wrenching tale of poverty? Who would be audacious enough to wake up a person so he/she could knock on their "generous" hearts? Believe me, a person rudely awakened is anything but generous... well, lemme rephrase that. A person rudely awakened can only offer you generous amounts of anger and hatred.

Really, I am inclined to believe that those hollering peddlers are a lot better persons than these bashful girls shoving their cards or pieces of paper to everyone's faces. Those chanting vendors know what they're doing and they really do take pride in not doing anything criminal. Unlike some people, they don't yell out excuses like, "It's better to sell than to beg! Mani, mani, mainit, mani kayo d'yan. It's better to work hard than to steal!" (Well, even if they do, at least, they have the pride and self-esteem to match what they're saying)

One of these days, I'm gonna return one of those cards with the words, "It is better to holler your wares than to shove your cards in people's faces."