Friday, January 25, 2008
If my old teacher could see this now she'd say I didn't improve much. Then again what she was teaching me was grammar and not calligraphy. But you should see her-- she makes it look so easy.
This is love, by the way, or the closest approximation I can come up with. The prime mover.
Watercolor on oslo paper. (Los Banos, Laguna 24 January 2008)
There will always come a time when students-- if they are diligent, if they learn from you at all-- will not need you to hold their hands and walk them through life's (or in her case English's) rough patches. When you encounter anyone as bright as her, as apt to pick up what you know... well, a part of you doesn't want it to end. Even if you know it must and that you have to let her go when she can learn nothing else from you.
What's nice is that long long after you've done with mentoring someone who resonates with you, he'll still fondly refer to you as "Teacher" or "Sir." Even if, by now, you're nothing of the kind to this person. Happily you can both progress as "friends" if the teacher-student bond is still strong long after it's become obsolete.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Noranian (noun) an avid fan of local singing and acting celebrity Nora Aunor, the Superstar .(adjective) something to do with an avid Nora fan.
Sharonian (noun) an avid fan of local singing and acting celebrity Sharon Cuneta, the Mega Star; (adjective) something to do with an avid Sharon fan.
Vilmanian (noun) an avid fan of local singing and acting celebrity and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos; the Star for All Seasons (adjective) something to do with an avid Vilma fan.
I assiduously avoid local television. Really. But this tidbit is so pervasive that it reached me, in spite of my determination to be a Grinch-y recluse.
The man has a new kid. He's coming home and to work on another project with one of the local television channels. After two failed marriages, a washed up acting career and an album that doesn't seem to have made a dent in the music scene, he deserves a break. He's likely spent his years in exile improving himself and striking out into other fields.
I wish him the best of luck. Really. I'm Sharonian enough to generate a reflex opprobrium when this guy's name is mentioned. But I've been very familiar with the multiple-level exile he's been on so the opprobrium doesn't stick so much or feel as strong.
Estranged concert royalty Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez are due to give each other some long overdue face-time. I remember being mildly upset when I first heard that they were breaking up years ago. They made such a wonderful-seeming couple. My heart beat (or broke) to their songs when I was in high sch-- I mean, Back In the Day.
Martin is cautiously optimistic. He advises fans not to expect anything out of the get-together, but to pray for a better life for himself and Pops respectively.
Wishing them luck too, whatever those two wind up deciding to do.
It looks like Disney and smells like an American production where all the characters revolve around a plucky, courageous Alladinesque character with a heart of gold (or at least an untainted moral code).
What emerges as unique about this production is the POV. For those who aren't in the know, Saladin is really Salah al-Dīn Yusuf ibn Ayyub, founder of the Ayubbin Dynasty, an Islamic leader renowned even among his crusader enemies for his honor and leadership. He took Jerusalem back from the infidel Christians (don't it make a chill run up and down your spine, just saying it, my nominally Christian reading majority?). Saladin will focus on the historical figure's pre-Sultanate Crusader Ass-Kicking later days. The young Saladin is like the young Aladdin: adventurous, somewhat impetuous, and still discovering how his destiny is supposed to unfold amidst the generic and really powerful enemies he and his friends pick up along the way.
My first problem with this all-CGI animation attempt (made in part by the good people at Al Jazeera, no less) isn't even mine. I'm afraid that purist elements may be criticize the show for following what looks like a patently Western, Star Trek formula. All American (okay, Iraqi) leader and his band of merry misfits. Cynical thief love interest, cynical Christian ex-crusader best bud, trusted (if flawed) sidekick. All of them get thrown into the Adventure of the Week where the characters' characters are tested. And at the end of the day Captain Kirk-- er, Saladin-- pulls everyone's butts out of the fire and everybody's happy. At least until the next episode or story arc.
People who aren't officially part of the West's hegemony get touchy about borrowings and cultural contamination coming from the Evil Godless Amoral West. And many times they are right to be cautious. Uncle Sam has had a history of screwing with his allies who aren't white like him. But I can think of no better way to press the case for the essential commonality among human beings, especially to the children who will be watching this show.
We're trying to fashion a world where the only Jihad or Crusade that anyone should be fighting is the inner one: the eternal battle between good and evil within the self. And I know a show like this can help do just that.
My other problem with this show is wholly mine (mea culpa). My own adult foreknowledge has basically rendered me incapable of enjoying the show for what it is-- a show. I may enjoy the sexual and dramatic tension between the young Saladin and his cynical thief on and off girlfriend, but I know those two are headed for breakup city because she appears nowhere in Saladin's later (real) history. And what about his ex Crusader (token) Christian best friend? Will they have a major falling out over faith? Because he doesn't appear in the histories either!
Want more information? Visit the site here: http://www.saladin.tv/
I have some relative freedom to diss the government every time I think it makes a monumentally stupid decision. This is only made possible mostly by two things:
1. a constitution that guarantees my right to speak freely
2. my relative political anonymity.
When my government says we should forget the very thing that put it into power--EDSA II-- then it can go hang.
To say she's betrayed her principles and our nation's dreams is already moot.
I'm not mad enough to tell everyone else to mount another relatively bloodless uprising, no. The lesson of EDSA is primarily that we should not allow things to get so bad that we have to mount another EDSA.
Bottom line: We can't afford to forget.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
My seatmate was, like myself, falling asleep but valiantly keeping her head from connecting with my shoulder. Had I not been too tired to speak, I would have told her to go ahead, take a load off. Let the rest of her body deal with her health issues.
I silently wished them happiness.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Events are swirling around me and their currents are tugging at me every which way. I smell change in the night wind. Again. There was a time when I welcomed these things with a wide-eyed eagerness: I'm a damn sight more cautious these days. I want so much to shed the distrust that clings to me like a second skin.
I could talk about this more, but that wouldn't help me produce anything.
Time to trust. Time to take hold of my own destiny.
Monday, January 14, 2008
When my friend Dex and I were still wet-behind-the-ears sophomores chucking dice between classes in Los Banos, there was a wave of reported supernatural activity and the usual hysteria these things tended to generate. Some people were trying to summon demons (I sh!t you not) at a local cemetery for (of all things) a Humanities class and two Christian groups put their differences aside and mobilized people to stop them. That kind of hysteria.
Things I will file under "weird crap" happened to me and most of my friends round that time. I've long since given up trying to explain that rationally. And every time I talk about this to someone I can't quite believe myself.
Two vignettes, a summation and then I'll shut up.
This all happened in late '92.
Something sat on my chest as I lay in troubled slumber on a borrowed bed-- a woman, darker than the darkness around her. I can only poorly describe how it felt-- an oppressive weight on my chest, an inability to move or breathe. A feeling that she-- if it was a she-- was insinuating herself into me, sort of trying me on for size. That I could see her through my closed eyelids was something I'd wonder about long after the fact.
I called on Jesus in my head because my jaw was locked shut. I was trying to will my lips and eyelids to part. God must have been smiling because my lips were finally loosed. I could move, I could breathe.
Classic Asian sleep disorder? Yes-- except that Dex had seen her too.
Dex and Gelo and I talked about the incident in the morning. Three of us had slept in the same room that night, each of us weighed down with troubles of a mundane sort. At around the same time I was "busy" with the "woman" Gelo had felt a creepy presence similar to the ones that plagued him when he was a child. He had cried out but could not rouse himself. Dex heard him, and had seen what looked like an apparition of a woman kneeling or sitting on my chest. He had thought it was a figment of his imagination and though he felt uneasy, he let himself drift off to sleep.
Turns out we knew this "woman," or at least two of us had had ...brushes with her kind before. But that's another credibility-stretching story I'll relate if and when someone gets me drunk enough.
I worked for the UPLB Perspective in my early college days. I was basically living in the Perspective office when I decided to pray hard for someone one night at two AM. At about six, maybe seven in the AM something happened to the office I was in. It either changed or I saw it on a level that most people don't. It was like looking at the office interior through glasses that had been wiped with petroleum jelly. I slogged through that tableau like someone swimming through molasses.
The Perspective office consisted of an "inner" and "outer" office. The outer office connected to the hallway, and was normally lit by fluorescence. Only this time, I observed candlelight as the door to the outer office slowly opened. The hand turning the knob was fish white and its fingers were gnarled like tree roots. I didn't quite get a good look at the thing that owned that hand. All I knew was that it looked like an emaciated friar, seemed to be robed in a dark dirty brown. It had a hood pulled forward so I couldn't see its face. I know what I saw. It noticed me looking and it slowly pulled the door back, turned the knob closed.
The vision lifted but a split-second later I launched myself at the door, turning the knob, pulling the door open and rushing through the outer office and into the hallway.I was met by regular fluorescence, normal sunlight streaming through windows and surprised sleepy maintenance personnel.
I don't know what I expected to achieve by catching my trans-dimensional visitor. I wonder what would have happened to me if I did manage to grab onto his habit, or leap into his reality as the door to this one closed shut behind me.
I don't know.
I'm not anxious to find out.
I can't tell these stories without goosebumps, without feeling uneasy. When I texted you that morning, called you up and babbled incoherently about three "someones" walking over my grave, I was talking about stuff like this. I felt/saw things watching me, trying me on for size, sharing my space. I couldn't pray. I was terrified. You were the first person I'd thought to call when I was trying to shake the feeling of it off. You didn't cause this but you helped me get past it.
This is why my thanks are so profuse.
I'll shut up now.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
While randomly surfing Multiply, I ran into this nugget. While it does take great pains to advance the 'male agenda' I don't agree with everything posted here. I do sympathize with the original writer's exasperation though. The red text commentary isn't mine, by the way, but from the guy from whom I lifted this invitation to be drawn and quartered.
"At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down
FINALLY, the guys' side of the story. (I must admit, it's pretty good.) We always hear "the rules" from the female side.
Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note that these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!
1. Men are NOT mind readers.
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it! <---------- TAMA TO TAMA TO!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a PROBLEM. See a doctor.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.
1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
1. FERDINAND MAGELLAN did NOT need directions and neither do we.
1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is. <---- TAMA TO TAMA TO!
1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that. <------ WOOHOO!
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. Really.
1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as CARS, SPORTS, COMPUTERS, GADGETS, or FORMULA 1 RACING. <------ cars cars cars cars!
1. You have enough clothes.
1. You have too many shoes.
1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape! <------- stick/twig is a shape
1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; bt did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping."
I'd like to include commentary here but the post is already going to be long and tedious. And because I want you to read this and because I don't have contraband to seed in this non-bad day post, I'll shut up and keep it short.
In fine both genders contribute to the general frustration each feels in dealing with the other. One can choose to think of it as a cruel joke or accept the simple fact that we're different and work forward from there.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Everyone's got cousins so it's not unexpected that everyone thinks his are the best. My cousin Ami (I've gushed about her to death in many of my posts) sent me some pictures of her immediate family. Here's the context-- eldest brother Andre (now a hotshot lawyer) pays the family a visit for Christmas. Everyone's overjoyed to see him again. Lord knows I am and I don't get to do that ever. ;)
One day we'll have that reunion. I'll bring ear plugs for the inevitable questions-- "What have you been doing with your life ?" and "When are you getting married?"
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Still, we try.
One of my favorite teaching methods is to share popular songs in English with my students. Really, if you want to learn English you have to do more than learn-ye-grammar-by-rote. If they feel that at ease with me, I sing the lyrics to them. Sometimes I get them to sing with me. A well chosen song lets the student practice pronunciation, deal with grammar and familiarizes them with usage.
True, this method has its limitations-- most songs are love songs after all. But love is a topic of great interest, something that crosses cultural and language barriers. I can almost imagine a student's face when it lights up at the discovery that there is an English idiom or meme found in a love song that corresponds with something from his native tongue.
The lyrics below belong to the most recent song I've shared with Jenny Kim, my favorite student (I'm so sorry James!). We've stayed in contact long after my classes with her ended. I want this kindred teacher (she teaches kids in Korea) to be as effective in the language as I am, or as any of her other teachers is. She has a mind (and a playful sense of humor) that can handle reading, writing, talking and singing in three languages.
Of course, since this is an El blog-- So it's not always completely about what's just been written, and its intended audience isn't always a faceless homogeneous mass of friends online. I know it's not fair to the rest of you, but allow a man to seed contraband where he will, won't you?
I can only give you love that lasts forever,
And a promise to be near each time you call.
And the only heart I own
For you and you alone
That's all, That's all
I can only give you country walks in springtime
And a hand to hold when leaves begin to fall;
And a love whose burning light
Will warm the winter's night
That's all, That's all.
There are those I am sure who have told you,
They would give you the world for a toy.
All I have are these arms to enfold you,
And a love time can never destroy.
If you're wondering what I'm asking in return, dear,
You'll be glad to know that my demands are small.
Say it's me that you'll adore,
For now and evermore
That's all, That's all.
If you're wondering what I'm asking in return, dear,
You'll be glad to know that my demands are small.
Say it's me that you'll adore,
For now and evermore
That's all, That's all.
Friday, January 04, 2008
I still have a roof over my head; I still have some friends; something good came out of all those hours seemingly wasted looking for God in sacred places.
Two people I'd like to thank, and this has been due them for some time now. Thank you Jude, friend of Jesus. And most of all thank you, Jesus.
It's usually after I get grateful and profuse that I get news that makes me want to take all that back and yell "I've been gypped!" But for whatever's it's worth later in the week, I truly am thankful.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Consider this an experiment. Mom checks my phone when she can get it away from me, she checks my deviantArt journal when I'm away from the PC and she checks my Multiply account when she gets a chance to look at it over my shoulder.
I know, she's a mom and she can't help it. :)
I'm giving her and my family carte blanche to look at this.
Whatever it is I want to hide --like my plans-- will simply not be posted online. The rest of you will just have to satisfy yourselves with my meandering musings and political prattling from before 2007. That'll be a lot of material for to cover. You can also check out my other site:
fringeliving (dot) blogspot (dot) com.
There, Welcome to my life. Feel free to walk in and rearrange the furniture.
As my little bodega and its allied sites are accessible to everybody, I'll be posting family pics and other stuff here so I won't have to go through the bother of emailing people. Really, I don't like looking at my inbox. I haven't, since Christmas, and I only looked at it because it was Christmas.
I will say that the rest of you should have been there for the salmon.
Lyra brought her new significant other and a friend. (Welcome to the extended family, boys. ) Meanwhile KM took time from his New Year's duties to show up and partake of the food and good company. Mom brought the pasta-- that we had to pick it up from Valle Verde (read= Richville) was noteworthy.
Oh, and I met a girl. She's rich, dark and a very healthy specimen. Her name's Elena. How did we meet? She was a guest entertaining guests at the dinner table at Lola's. I'm including a picture of her in my next entry.
I'm not promising anything, but this looks like the start of a beautiful friendship. :)
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
As you come from intelligent stock, I will tell you now that your childhood may be ...different. It has always been the fate of those blessed with a keen intellect to see past the hypocrisies that adults subscribe to. Trust me when I say there is a reason for it. You will understand when you are older. And mayhap you will understand your parents when they are forced to indulge in it. It is at these times that they will need your understanding the most.
The world is wide and there is so much of it to see, to experience. But not all of it is fun and gooey yumminess. You can scrape your knees, bump your head on something. Eat something disagreeable. Trust me: there may come a time when you can't tell heartburn from a heart attack, so be prepared. There might even be a time when the pain of heartbreak will show itself as a literal blow to the heart.
I know what it's like. Your mother too. So don't dismiss her too readily when she asks for you to share your burdens. Moms can get irritating, but she's been a friend to me and I know her. You can cut her some slack. Better yet, you can read her poetry. She makes great songs. Yes, better than the pap you'll be listening to when you hit your teens.
You will be a handsome man. Take care of your face, your teeth, your hands, your gut and your litel totoy. Take equal care of the hearts that are entrusted to you. Women are wondrous creatures, at once lovely and fragile and soft and strong. You'll want that strength and softness at your side when your own battles leave you weary of living. You'll ask yourself ten times a day just what you did to deserve the beatific vision holding your arm as you walk to the dance. But if you break a woman's heart you will make it harder for your unborn brother to score and you will disappoint me. Trust me on this. Women are not pretty when you are the cause of their suffering.
Study hard and study well but don't forget to have fun. There will come a time when you may be forced to choose between college and something you love to do. Think well before you make your choice.
God, by the way, is a matter between you and Him. So try not to be holier than thou. Many people wrestle with what they think God should be, with what their pastors and priests tell them God should be, and what God is trying to show them. Be mad at the sin, and try to cut the sinner a little slack. That sinner may be a friend, and you will reach an age when friends are at a premium.
Take from me only my facility for English and my eye for the ladies. The rest of my baggage remains with me. Carry them at the risk of being labelled a self-absorbed pompous ass.
Take your naps and your medicine. Eat veggies: they'll do you good in the long run. Drink milk. And take up some form of exercise and stick to it.
I see a grand future with you in it. Make it so.
Your Doting Uncle Dex