Monday, September 27, 2004

Occasional Epiphany

To readers of that 48 Rules of Power book making the rounds these days, I have only this to say:

The free and unbridled exercise of power is ultimately self-defeating. In time one realizes that the whole point of accumulating power-- whether through martial systems or other paths-- is the ability to put it aside. In the end, it is the exercise of love that is important. No, not the sappy production of sentiment; but actual exclusive attention, regardless of the inconvenience, to the physical-, psycho-social-, and moral needs of the ones you care about.

Why else would an all-powerful God set so many ridiculous limits on himself?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Wake

Her full name is Germana Araneta Sebastian. She's Dex Lira's grandma on his Mom's side. She's dead.

Her corpus is lying in La Funeraria Paz, along G. Araneta Avenue in Quezon City. It's one jeepride away (going towards E. Rodriguez) from the intersection of G. Araneta- and Quezon Avenues.

The Funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, 28 September. Interment will be at the Heritage Park, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, immediately following the Funeral Mass in La Funeraria Paz?s North Wing Chapel.

Dex will-- because he's comitted to rushing a project for Gawad Kalinga through all of Sunday-- be at the Funeraria for most of Monday, and Tuesday morning. Yes, he'll most likely be around for the burial.

Catholics, other People of the Book and members of other strains of Christianity who believe in the efficacy of prayers for the dead are warmly enjoined to pray for the deceased. Christians of the Protestant/Evangelical persuasions, as well as members of the Ecclesia of Christ, are as warmly enjoined to pray for the living.

Please be assured that your simple presence and your prayers afford us much needed comfort and solace. We will not forget you in our hearts and in our own prayers.

Thank you.

Granny's Dead

I think she died in the night. My sister pulled me out of the room a few minutes ago to tell me that Granny may not be breathing. I tried to move her arm but it was stiff. While Mom tried to rouse my doctor brother, I put a saucer to granny's nose: no moisture. I couldn't be sure, though, as her breathing had been weak lately, and there were tubes providing her with oxygen and


My brother's awake now. I think he's looked Granny over. She's gone.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Night of the Living Dex

No rest for the wicked: Happy Martial Law-niversary

I promise, no pontifications. I've already dosed my readers with well-meaning exhortations to Never Forget What Happened 32 Years Ago in articles predating this one.

I spent the 32nd anniversary of the national bludgeoning of human rights waiting for a corpulent cop at Manila's Police Station 7. Mom had "pimped" me to the station commander as "the best graphic artist/computer systems expert/copy writing editor you can get on a budget," "the perfect guy to fix the holes in your communiques to Command." Which meant she had eagerly put her friendship with the station CO on the line just so she could get me decent employment.

Road to hell

I'm poor enough to appreciate her help, but then I can't forget the last time she did this for me. I wound up in Camp Crame. I was being paid well enough at the time (tax free) but the longer I stayed, the less meaningful my job became. It didn't help that there was always, looming over me like an oppressive shadow, the threat of screwing up Mom's friendship with Police General X. In Crame, I learned my first lessons in Complex Human Relationships in an Office Setting. While I found my short stay to be instructive, I have no plans of repeating the experience. (1)

Mumm Ra, The Ever Living
They say you're getting old when you begin to enjoy the company of children, or such chores as feeding chickens, more than you do making money. I see my Dad feeding chickens and I can feel his smile from where I'm lying down-- in the living area, a good ten paces from our backyard-- and I know this piece of urbanite folk wisdom is true. I must've been born old, as I've always found the baggage that comes with the relentless hunt for moolah problematic, and unhealthy doses of the preoccupation itself, atavistic.(2)


(1)I did dip my toes into it, in part to not make my mom look like a windbag. I guess I shouldn't have bothered, as I have only probably made another mess of things. Painful feeling, when expectations are not actualized for any reason, valid or otherwise.

(2)And yet the meanest monk will welcome money, especially when it comes out of someone else's pocket.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Granny is Dying

Her cervical cancer, previously in remission, has come back with a vengeance. As usual, the timing stinks.

"Dear Disease, The next time you decide to flare up, please show my family the courtesy of appearing during times of plenty; not when everyone on these islands is existing hand-to-mouth. Thank you. Love, Dex."

I'd feel like flaying key people in government for flushing the country down the toilet if I didn't have a hand in it myself: everyone who walked into a Starbucks or who carelessly left the tap open, did, even if to a miniscule degree.

The point is moot, of course. There is little else I can do but stay by Granny every chance I get until she passes or death is staved off for another short, if indefinite, period. Which means I must weather Mother's constant admonitions to "fix your life," "help yourself" and "find a stable job." I almost find the sights and smells of Granny's makeshift sickroom a visual and olfactory feast in comparison.

I never liked sickrooms. I never liked being in them, seeing them nor smelling them-- especially smelling them. There is something unsettling, if morbidly honest, about being around a person who is literally being eaten away by disease. I love a good campy horror movie as much as anyone, but real sickrooms hit too close to home.

This is how it ends, young man. You grow old, your organs begin to fail or maybe the cancer begins to develop. Or maybe you trip over something and you break yourself on the staircase or get hit by a crazed biker. It's always something like that.

I know, you're afraid. That's what you get for laughing in my face all the time. You think your preoccupation with cataloguing all the names of my instruments was going to save you or your Granny from me? I'm Death. I've got all the pathology degrees. Look: even after your Granny goes, "Necrosis" will still be your favorite word; It'll be right up there with "sepsis" and "gangrene." And "necrotising arachnidism." When I take you, you'll still be laughing in my face so you can show your audience a brave front. You can take a little comfort in that.

But for your sake, I'd rather you take comfort (and maybe some responsibility) in this-- I'm a mirror and a reminder. Every time I take somebody, you will look at me, and see yourself. All life is precious-- but what have you done with yours to prove it?

I'll be back soon enough. Expect a pop quiz.