Sunday, March 16, 2008

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If you ignore a problem, it'll go away.
You can keep running away from your problems forever.

Why people keep saying that these strategies don't work when they obviously do somehow-- else why would people keep implementing them? There must be some merit in keeping your problems at a polearm's length...

Jeezas H. Jones hijo de gorram patola. ima mada henji-shinai? Nan to iu no ka!?

When will you bleeding realize that I'm your problem?
I'm also your friend. Stop hiding behind your Greek Chorus and confront me.

I ...won't go away.

Friends ...aren't supposed to do that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

English and Filipino (or, Why We're Screwed)

...The Filipino's unwillingness to learn something perceived as "difficult" or "unpopular" is what's going to doom us.

The average Filipino laughs at his countrymen who speak English well. He says we're too uppity. We uppity folk learned our English because we had the opportunity and because we found that the language is a good one.

Well, the Filipino is now scrambling to learn English only because it'll potentially earn him big money.

But why we learn something is as important as how. I love English, and that's why I'm damned good at speaking, reading, writing and thinking in it. It's why my Korean students keep asking for my classes.

Trust me, the only time the average Filipino displays his English proficiency is when--

  1. he is watching Baywatch, Friends or porn; or
  2. she is chatting with her Australian/American/Japanese/Dutch online boyfriend while planning how to stab her husband in the back
The average Filipino cannot hide under Rizal's overcoat and accuse us uppity folk of being traitors to nationalism either. If the Filipino really loved his own language he'd actually enjoy reading the Noli, or Mga Ibong Mandaragit. Hell, I have. But he can't even muster enough willpower to do that-- ask any high school kid.

He can't even write proper sentences in Filipino: "Nag-enjoy kmi, sobra!" does not make sense. Kung sobra ang enjoyment mo, hindi ka talaga nag enjoy.

But dangle enough cash in front of him and he will be motivated to learn Filipino too.

Visiting Kenneth Yu's site is becoming a bad habit. His whole site is the epitome of "writing-meta." (He writes about writing.) Most every entry is an invitation to a refreshing exchange of views about stories and how and why we come up with them. The sort-of rant above is an excerpt from a reply --all of them threaten to balloon into full-blown blog entries-- to one of his posts. For the full context, look it up here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Towards Making A Better Novena

The things that hacked me off about these special prayers was not that they were formulaic. If you do something long enough, regularly enough, what you do takes upon itself the trappings of formula. But formula in and of itself is not bad.

A Christian Evangelical's thanksgiving prayer before meals, while looser and more contemporary than the local Catholic's almost-rote "Bless Us O Lord" spiel, is (shocker!) still formulaic.

Prayer Before Meals

  • Step One: Thank the Lord
  • Step Two: Ask Him to make the food nourishing for everyone enjoying the meal 
  • Step Three:(optional) Ask the Lord for to consider the people who ain't eating with you right now

What hack me off about the novena are--

  • the flowery medieval language: alienates the unwary Catholic; ticks off his Separated Brethren (that's the rest of Christendom to you)
  • the wild promises they make: the pronouncements that these things never failed alienate anyone who really bothers to think about the nature of the God-Man relationship;insults the intelligence of the supplicant
  • the contortions these prayer rituals ask you to go through: they tick off people like me who have very little time, energy and much less money.

Make 81 copies and call me in the morning

Looking at this from an ethnographer's and writer-mythmaker's standpoints, the contortions are necessary. Having to make 81 copies of the prayer pamphlet and leaving them in the adoration chapel shows God --and more importantly yourself-- that:

  • whatever you're praying for is important enough for you to inconvenience yourself
  • you are holding up your end of a bargain with a higher power
  • you are on a quest: our plight has been elevated from the mundane to something of grave cosmic importance

Here, though, is what really makes me mad: these contortions also have the function of exhausting you, (think of the medicine man who asks you to look for a two-headed snake or a four-leaf-clover as part of a ritual to cure your ailing son). If the prayer isn't answered the way you like, "God" has an excuse, which is:  you didn't really hold up your end of the bargain well enough. Your own exhaustion will make you susceptible to the suggestion that what you want "was simply never meant to be."

"Never meant to be..." no matter how true, one does not say this to the face of people who've been told this all their lives. We don't deserve to be given the age-old song and dance:

The prayer never fails;
God will not deny you;
You didn't get what you prayed for;
Something must be wrong with your faith, your will, your whatever. Something is wrong with you.

This near-useless palliative, this con-- and really, that's what it is-- may have worked for people living in the dark ages who prayed for immediate relief from the plague and never got it. We're not living in that era anymore. We've outgrown this form of prayer. Those of us who believe in God, in the power of prayer, deserve better than this.

Granted, not everyone is going to see things this way. Some people will stay stuck to their traditional prayer forms. That's fine. I'm enough of an artist to appreciate the Novena as an art form-- yes, the flowery language and ritualistic invocations. But I've spent too much time crying in sacred places and getting dirt and silence for my pains to fully rely on the old forms.

The New Novena must, in my opinion, treat supplicants like adults. It must take into account the kind of supplicant that makes the prayer. It must jettison the old formula and allow the supplicant to engage God differently, if not more so than before. A novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is still a direct plea to God after all, despite the flowery titles and forms of address that point to God.

And no, I'm not about to publicly declare that any modified prayer form I make will truly be superior to something stamped and sealed with the Vatican's Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

It's just that we need something better than this. I need something better than this. God has to step up.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


After a series of class and text messages, I'm taking my best friend and his wife to dinner Saturday after payday. I'm just waiting for some confirmation. I've got a few ideas for restos to take them to, but I'm keeping in mind that our venue can't be too far from where we all live, breathe and work.

Kind of a thank you that's been long overdue, among other things.

Continuing a Meme


If you were a famous celebrity and you were asked to endorse three products and/or services, what would they be?

With each product or service, state in one or two sentences the reason why the product and/or service has won you over.

End your post with the usual tagging (up to five is I think the standard), as well as a link back to the blog you got the meme from. (If you took the meme off Carl Vergara's site, for instance, add a link back to

Ed Kafka' Answers:

1. The Light Rail Transit System
Because as campy-catchy as it is, they really should replace the 20-year old jingle.

"You're on top, you're a-heaaaddd, sa Metro-Raaaaaaaaiiiiiilll. Maginhawa wlalang tra-fik, safe na safe, talo 'ng lahat sa biliiissss..."

2. Hershey's and other chocolate bars
Because after having to eat countless Hershey bars after the women in my life wouldn't touch them (ex #4 does not eat chocolates in their popular form; ex #3 kept rejecting them, especially if they came from me...) I now know why most women take comfort in their sweet diet-busting embrace.

Men of the world, if you want a palliative for your aching heart and ah, burning blood, that does not involve Penthouse and a wad of tissue paper, look no farther than chocolate!

3. A-kon and his Ilk.
Maybe if I endorse him, people will stop playing his godawful music and let me live in peace.

I'm tagging Tobie, Billy, Minette, Gerry, Diwa and Eline.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'd Like to Get a Print of This

And I think I will.

I took this shot with the cam I won from the Talecraft contest last November. The thing sucks taking pictures in low light conditions, and it has a built in motivation to thwart your attempts at making artsy shots.

Well, nothing a little Photoshop work can't fix. But even then there's only so much you can do...

Context. You're all gonna want context to explain the shot.

That's my grandkid at Art's art exhibit at the Assumption College (Yay!). She looks as if she belongs there. If you think so, you'd be right. My grandkid's an artist too.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm Okay, You're Okay

I saw a wideband email post, celebrating the uniqueness of the individual. I would have liked to answer it point by point, build up the thesis that "Yes, while that may be true, if you ask your HR officer or anyone else who holds power or money that you want but can't have: it still doesn't count." But I just don't have the energy.

What would be the point? There are so many better things to do.

I'm Okay, You're Okay. Whatever lets us all sleep better at night. I'm willing to leave it at that.

Again, the Question of Worth
Any way you slice it, any real analysis of what a person is worth is going to be "not much" if you cut out God (treat Him as a palliative) and egalitarianism (treat it as a palliative). Even if you put God and egalitarianism back into the equation, you're still reduced to this:

everyone is unique, special. therefore no one is.
one man is as good as
[and therefore replaceable with] any other

At least God is much kinder: He's willing to leave his saved and well-off flock to look for that one idiot missing sheep. Talk about motivation.

If God is a lie, then some lies are worth perpetuating.

God as the Ultimate Stalker

Don't believe me? Read on--

He's obsessed with us. He wants to be the mainstay of our lives.
He has definite ideas about what our roles should be in His grand scheme. He has power over all of us. He's everywhere, sees everything and constantly works in the background to bring us closer to Him even if we don't like it. Especially if we don't like it.

I rest my case.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Stand

I meant what I said: I could quit all of this-- walk away and not come back. But it's just not the same without your friendship. At least that. Six months of being away from you proved it. I can't force myself on you if you're so determined to be afraid of me. And as I said, in that sense, it's not my problem any more.

I do not have to sit still and take the platitudes and the palliatives being sent my way. The sources mean well, but they watch too much Oprah; read too much Cosmo. They didn't spend half a lifetime really watching people. I did.

I just wish you could look beyond the fear and remember.

My usual analysis of events like this doesn't paint a pretty picture of my hopes of some form of reconciliation. It tells me that you won't. But no matter how jaundiced (or likely, accurate) my view of humanity is, I can't help but keep to the view that someday you might.

I'm not the monster you think I am.

No matter how odious you may find this to be, I will always be your friend.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

notitlrcan;trly thuinknofonerightnpow

my brain's on fire. i'm slated to do work that i haven't properly finished because i can't get this body to do what needs doing. feeling shamed. i got a grandkid who juggles more classes than i ever didand all i can think about is

at least i'm drnkkkkkkkkk
drinking water

at least i've touched the work

looking forward to going
see a friend

maybe stay in the water

see you againmissyounot choerentwill porbly regrget edit later clickpubnlish