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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.





Bibliography

Monday, May 31, 2004

entry arrow8:51 PM | After the Wedding

The dank smell of an apartment gone to grimy neglect assaulted me when I turned the key to let myself in after a weekend of being away. It was the first indication I was indeed home, back to my own reality. Here we go again, I tell myself. Back from a blissful, although very brief, Cebu break. The wedding was wonderful, and Beth was a lovely bride. More wonderful though was my time spent alone in the middle of a very big city. I was nothing else but a dot in the surge of humanity and taxi cabs, and it felt good to be anonymous for once. It felt like freedom.



More about my Cebu trip later. I still have an apartment to clean, you know, and laundry to wash, and reality to haul in, in the guise of breaking schedule in my appointment book for the next few days...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:51 PM | After the Wedding

The dank smell of an apartment gone to grimy neglect assaulted me when I turned the key to let myself in after a weekend of being away. It was the first indication I was indeed home, back to my own reality. Here we go again, I tell myself. Back from a blissful, although very brief, Cebu break. The wedding was wonderful, and Beth was a lovely bride. More wonderful though was my time spent alone in the middle of a very big city. I was nothing else but a dot in the surge of humanity and taxi cabs, and it felt good to be anonymous for once. It felt like freedom.



More about my Cebu trip later. I still have an apartment to clean, you know, and laundry to wash, and reality to haul in, in the guise of breaking schedule in my appointment book for the next few days...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:51 PM | After the Wedding

The dank smell of an apartment gone to grimy neglect assaulted me when I turned the key to let myself in after a weekend of being away. It was the first indication I was indeed home, back to my own reality. Here we go again, I tell myself. Back from a blissful, although very brief, Cebu break. The wedding was wonderful, and Beth was a lovely bride. More wonderful though was my time spent alone in the middle of a very big city. I was nothing else but a dot in the surge of humanity and taxi cabs, and it felt good to be anonymous for once. It felt like freedom.



More about my Cebu trip later. I still have an apartment to clean, you know, and laundry to wash, and reality to haul in, in the guise of breaking schedule in my appointment book for the next few days...


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Wednesday, May 26, 2004

entry arrow2:54 PM | How Not to Live

After three days of living just right and enjoying the whole concept of a "reformed lifestyle," I stumbled just a bit -- but out of choice naman, because there was no other way to deal with the whole thing. The drill: I went to bed late (partly because it was the debut of the new season of Six Feet Under), woke up very late, and didn't take any meal (which turned out to be a double-serving of fried burger patty drenched in mushroom sauce -- very healthy) until way past 2 p.m. -- and all because I had to finish checking the final papers and exams, and calculating the grades of my Philippine Literature and Advanced Composition classes this summer. I'm nearly done with the whole thing, and my exhausted body is glad at the prospect. Really glad.



Sometimes I wonder how I manage to breathe with the type of schedule I have. It is a killer. It is not a good way to live. Which is why, next month, I'm keeping things simple. Hear that, life? Simple.



(Ian is busy keeping his fingers crossed.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:54 PM | How Not to Live

After three days of living just right and enjoying the whole concept of a "reformed lifestyle," I stumbled just a bit -- but out of choice naman, because there was no other way to deal with the whole thing. The drill: I went to bed late (partly because it was the debut of the new season of Six Feet Under), woke up very late, and didn't take any meal (which turned out to be a double-serving of fried burger patty drenched in mushroom sauce -- very healthy) until way past 2 p.m. -- and all because I had to finish checking the final papers and exams, and calculating the grades of my Philippine Literature and Advanced Composition classes this summer. I'm nearly done with the whole thing, and my exhausted body is glad at the prospect. Really glad.



Sometimes I wonder how I manage to breathe with the type of schedule I have. It is a killer. It is not a good way to live. Which is why, next month, I'm keeping things simple. Hear that, life? Simple.



(Ian is busy keeping his fingers crossed.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:54 PM | How Not to Live

After three days of living just right and enjoying the whole concept of a "reformed lifestyle," I stumbled just a bit -- but out of choice naman, because there was no other way to deal with the whole thing. The drill: I went to bed late (partly because it was the debut of the new season of Six Feet Under), woke up very late, and didn't take any meal (which turned out to be a double-serving of fried burger patty drenched in mushroom sauce -- very healthy) until way past 2 p.m. -- and all because I had to finish checking the final papers and exams, and calculating the grades of my Philippine Literature and Advanced Composition classes this summer. I'm nearly done with the whole thing, and my exhausted body is glad at the prospect. Really glad.



Sometimes I wonder how I manage to breathe with the type of schedule I have. It is a killer. It is not a good way to live. Which is why, next month, I'm keeping things simple. Hear that, life? Simple.



(Ian is busy keeping his fingers crossed.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Tuesday, May 25, 2004

entry arrow9:24 AM | Pictures From the 2004 Workshop

I've uploaded some photos from the recently concluded Dumaguete Writers Workshop. I took them in the last week of the workshop, after the Bohol leg, so I missed out on some fellows (Faye Ilogon and Romel Oribe, who attended the first week only, and Monica Macansantos, who -- during my free time -- was always with her father in Montemar).



I'm not so sure anymore if I'll still have the energy to be with next year's fellows. Four years of being the local tour guide, I think, is enough. Oh well.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:24 AM | Pictures From the 2004 Workshop

I've uploaded some photos from the recently concluded Dumaguete Writers Workshop. I took them in the last week of the workshop, after the Bohol leg, so I missed out on some fellows (Faye Ilogon and Romel Oribe, who attended the first week only, and Monica Macansantos, who -- during my free time -- was always with her father in Montemar).



I'm not so sure anymore if I'll still have the energy to be with next year's fellows. Four years of being the local tour guide, I think, is enough. Oh well.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:24 AM | Pictures From the 2004 Workshop

I've uploaded some photos from the recently concluded Dumaguete Writers Workshop. I took them in the last week of the workshop, after the Bohol leg, so I missed out on some fellows (Faye Ilogon and Romel Oribe, who attended the first week only, and Monica Macansantos, who -- during my free time -- was always with her father in Montemar).



I'm not so sure anymore if I'll still have the energy to be with next year's fellows. Four years of being the local tour guide, I think, is enough. Oh well.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:22 AM | Say No.

You learn to say "no" to live a life. You learn to have other people make their own mistakes to create something for themselves, without them always having to come running up to you for help and do their "thing" for them. You learn to love, and despise. You learn to love most of all. You learn to stand back, and you learn how to surrender. You learn to read into why people do the things they do. You learn to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning and eat five small meals a day. You learn, again, not to eat from 6:30 onwards, not even a grape, or a piyaya. You learn to appreciate the hunger pangs, and channel energy elsewhere. You learn to forgive yourself. You learn to tackle the clutter of your life by not thinking too much about schedules and such, but by doing things a little at a time -- the David Approach to Goliath, kumbaga. You learn to question why you do the things you do, say the things you say, act the way you act. You learn to look at yourself in the third person, and become amused by the human being that you are, full of courage, cowardice, small strengths, and frailty -- a hopeful creature capable of much drama. Most of all, you learn to say "no."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:22 AM | Say No.

You learn to say "no" to live a life. You learn to have other people make their own mistakes to create something for themselves, without them always having to come running up to you for help and do their "thing" for them. You learn to love, and despise. You learn to love most of all. You learn to stand back, and you learn how to surrender. You learn to read into why people do the things they do. You learn to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning and eat five small meals a day. You learn, again, not to eat from 6:30 onwards, not even a grape, or a piyaya. You learn to appreciate the hunger pangs, and channel energy elsewhere. You learn to forgive yourself. You learn to tackle the clutter of your life by not thinking too much about schedules and such, but by doing things a little at a time -- the David Approach to Goliath, kumbaga. You learn to question why you do the things you do, say the things you say, act the way you act. You learn to look at yourself in the third person, and become amused by the human being that you are, full of courage, cowardice, small strengths, and frailty -- a hopeful creature capable of much drama. Most of all, you learn to say "no."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:22 AM | Say No.

You learn to say "no" to live a life. You learn to have other people make their own mistakes to create something for themselves, without them always having to come running up to you for help and do their "thing" for them. You learn to love, and despise. You learn to love most of all. You learn to stand back, and you learn how to surrender. You learn to read into why people do the things they do. You learn to wake up at 6 o'clock in the morning and eat five small meals a day. You learn, again, not to eat from 6:30 onwards, not even a grape, or a piyaya. You learn to appreciate the hunger pangs, and channel energy elsewhere. You learn to forgive yourself. You learn to tackle the clutter of your life by not thinking too much about schedules and such, but by doing things a little at a time -- the David Approach to Goliath, kumbaga. You learn to question why you do the things you do, say the things you say, act the way you act. You learn to look at yourself in the third person, and become amused by the human being that you are, full of courage, cowardice, small strengths, and frailty -- a hopeful creature capable of much drama. Most of all, you learn to say "no."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Sunday, May 23, 2004

entry arrow9:20 PM | Glimpses

She, in her old age, now counts her "I love you's" out like a miser's spare change, and you wonder somehow how love can be like that, always under a scowl, afraid to bloom to trembling truth.



He was the one who kept heads spinning in his ambiguities. Even after he has explained himself, there it still was -- mystery wrapped up as a beautiful boy. Of course you fell for his quiet smiles, the way the light turns soft brown in his eyes, and the way his words roll out, when he speaks, with such sweet, precise enunciation. Maybe you even love the way his hair, kept trim (and always under a cap), shies up, close to forehead, to a curl. You keep your ground, though, with practice. You know this can't lead anywhere.



She tells you she has never seen heaven like this, in intoxication, and away from home. She is beautiful and sixteen. "You are an angel," you tell her. When she smiles, you find yourself longing for a sister.



He is inconstant, but is always bliss and pure joy. His body is home. Of course you hate him for your falling deep into his eyes, and knowing that while you pretend you are strong, you can easily get lost without the comfort of his becoming familiar, like life.



She stumps you with intimate moments. She knows, doesn't she? is your eternal question, a refrain that soon gets lost in both your bubbles of laughter and sad joys. You hold her hand, and silently you wish her well, and then you wish her love as well.



He has become a stranger, a spiteful man without context for his sudden black moods. You wonder how that can be, how a beautiful summer can suddenly turn upside-down for somebody you once knew as friend and ally. You realize, seeing the blankness in his cigarette eyes, that nobody really knows anybody.



You write somewhere, in a piece of blue paper: "Every man is an island. There are waters of separation between us, our lapping waves the only means with which we touch each other -- inconstant, and frequently breeding sadness. We are all connected by our disconnections."



Paradox is a kind of life.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:20 PM | Glimpses

She, in her old age, now counts her "I love you's" out like a miser's spare change, and you wonder somehow how love can be like that, always under a scowl, afraid to bloom to trembling truth.



He was the one who kept heads spinning in his ambiguities. Even after he has explained himself, there it still was -- mystery wrapped up as a beautiful boy. Of course you fell for his quiet smiles, the way the light turns soft brown in his eyes, and the way his words roll out, when he speaks, with such sweet, precise enunciation. Maybe you even love the way his hair, kept trim (and always under a cap), shies up, close to forehead, to a curl. You keep your ground, though, with practice. You know this can't lead anywhere.



She tells you she has never seen heaven like this, in intoxication, and away from home. She is beautiful and sixteen. "You are an angel," you tell her. When she smiles, you find yourself longing for a sister.



He is inconstant, but is always bliss and pure joy. His body is home. Of course you hate him for your falling deep into his eyes, and knowing that while you pretend you are strong, you can easily get lost without the comfort of his becoming familiar, like life.



She stumps you with intimate moments. She knows, doesn't she? is your eternal question, a refrain that soon gets lost in both your bubbles of laughter and sad joys. You hold her hand, and silently you wish her well, and then you wish her love as well.



He has become a stranger, a spiteful man without context for his sudden black moods. You wonder how that can be, how a beautiful summer can suddenly turn upside-down for somebody you once knew as friend and ally. You realize, seeing the blankness in his cigarette eyes, that nobody really knows anybody.



You write somewhere, in a piece of blue paper: "Every man is an island. There are waters of separation between us, our lapping waves the only means with which we touch each other -- inconstant, and frequently breeding sadness. We are all connected by our disconnections."



Paradox is a kind of life.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:20 PM | Glimpses

She, in her old age, now counts her "I love you's" out like a miser's spare change, and you wonder somehow how love can be like that, always under a scowl, afraid to bloom to trembling truth.



He was the one who kept heads spinning in his ambiguities. Even after he has explained himself, there it still was -- mystery wrapped up as a beautiful boy. Of course you fell for his quiet smiles, the way the light turns soft brown in his eyes, and the way his words roll out, when he speaks, with such sweet, precise enunciation. Maybe you even love the way his hair, kept trim (and always under a cap), shies up, close to forehead, to a curl. You keep your ground, though, with practice. You know this can't lead anywhere.



She tells you she has never seen heaven like this, in intoxication, and away from home. She is beautiful and sixteen. "You are an angel," you tell her. When she smiles, you find yourself longing for a sister.



He is inconstant, but is always bliss and pure joy. His body is home. Of course you hate him for your falling deep into his eyes, and knowing that while you pretend you are strong, you can easily get lost without the comfort of his becoming familiar, like life.



She stumps you with intimate moments. She knows, doesn't she? is your eternal question, a refrain that soon gets lost in both your bubbles of laughter and sad joys. You hold her hand, and silently you wish her well, and then you wish her love as well.



He has become a stranger, a spiteful man without context for his sudden black moods. You wonder how that can be, how a beautiful summer can suddenly turn upside-down for somebody you once knew as friend and ally. You realize, seeing the blankness in his cigarette eyes, that nobody really knows anybody.



You write somewhere, in a piece of blue paper: "Every man is an island. There are waters of separation between us, our lapping waves the only means with which we touch each other -- inconstant, and frequently breeding sadness. We are all connected by our disconnections."



Paradox is a kind of life.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:12 PM | Eh?

I'm still here. Life resumes Monday, the way it usually does -- always the hard awakening after a weekend of whirlwind bliss and gentle debauchery. Who knew May could be so full, so empty, so sad, so glorious... all at the same time, contradiction being summer's true name, and so life-changing in small ways, the way how tarot cards, for example, tell you how to breathe in and exhale? Thanks, Sundialgirl, for the fortunes. I feel my bones itching to move. Like you said over beer and little heartbreaks, we all choose our own fate. I am choosing mine.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:12 PM | Eh?

I'm still here. Life resumes Monday, the way it usually does -- always the hard awakening after a weekend of whirlwind bliss and gentle debauchery. Who knew May could be so full, so empty, so sad, so glorious... all at the same time, contradiction being summer's true name, and so life-changing in small ways, the way how tarot cards, for example, tell you how to breathe in and exhale? Thanks, Sundialgirl, for the fortunes. I feel my bones itching to move. Like you said over beer and little heartbreaks, we all choose our own fate. I am choosing mine.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow8:12 PM | Eh?

I'm still here. Life resumes Monday, the way it usually does -- always the hard awakening after a weekend of whirlwind bliss and gentle debauchery. Who knew May could be so full, so empty, so sad, so glorious... all at the same time, contradiction being summer's true name, and so life-changing in small ways, the way how tarot cards, for example, tell you how to breathe in and exhale? Thanks, Sundialgirl, for the fortunes. I feel my bones itching to move. Like you said over beer and little heartbreaks, we all choose our own fate. I am choosing mine.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Thursday, May 20, 2004

entry arrow7:49 PM | You're in My Friendster List?

Sometimes, I browse over my Friendster list, and I chance upon faces and names that get me asking: "Who the heck are you?" A guy named Ricardo, for instance. Why is he my "friend"? I look at his photos, and I have no recollection of him, at all -- nothing, nada. Just an uncomfortable blank. And he's not even cute, so I guess I could not have invited him. You know, just like you would those beautiful, anonymous faces you invite to make a kind of pretty wallpaper for your Friendster list. Mark, for instance, does not even know 80% of his Friendsters -- most of them strangers begging to be noticed with their pretty faces or perfectly toned physique, and nothing else. He's not even bothered with it. Which is the paradox of Friendster, really. Sometimes, it's not about connecting with friends at all, although that happens. It's also about maintaining cliques, and looking good and getting noticed. In a sense, it has become a kind of sport -- for me, for Mark, and for many others who have made this thing an addiction of sorts: there is an unconscious race to get to the 500 maximum Friendsters finish-line. Why? No one knows why. Which, of course, makes me wonder about the trivialities of the many things we do, which we call "living." Sometimes, I think too much.



But really, I'm just tired, and I need more than a week's rest. Sure, summer school's almost over, but even the prospect of this provides little consolation. I know there are mountains of work waiting to pounce on me even before the regular schoolyear opens June 17. I need sleep. I need a facial. I need boredom. I need a week's break roasting under the sun in Siquijor. I need tons of ice cream sundae. I need space. I need silence. Arrrggh.



{Here, Ian pauses dramatically.}



If you can't tell by now, I'm antsy from the fact that I'm basically offline these days. (What kind of unholy existence is that?) I haven't updated any of my websites, and my email inboxes groan from the sheer volume of unread mail.



See, everytime I click on my dial-up account at home, the computer prompts me with the message: "There is no dial-tone." Of course, I pick up the damn phone, and voila, there is a dial-tone. I've complained to my phone company, who promises to look into the matter "within 72 hours." It's been more than 72 hours. I'm still getting the same message. Tomorrow, I'm visiting my computer shop. Maybe what's malfunctioning is my internal modem.



Then again, my phone's been acting up since the last storm brushed past Dumaguete last week. I get static when people call me. Like a hundred bees competing with the voice of the caller. It makes me dizzy.



All of these is really a roundabout way of telling all of you why I've been so silent for the past days. Yes, sir... no Internet connection at home. Plus I'm tired most of the time, too. And my days are too short.



I've been feeling dead for the past month, it's not even funny anymore.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:49 PM | You're in My Friendster List?

Sometimes, I browse over my Friendster list, and I chance upon faces and names that get me asking: "Who the heck are you?" A guy named Ricardo, for instance. Why is he my "friend"? I look at his photos, and I have no recollection of him, at all -- nothing, nada. Just an uncomfortable blank. And he's not even cute, so I guess I could not have invited him. You know, just like you would those beautiful, anonymous faces you invite to make a kind of pretty wallpaper for your Friendster list. Mark, for instance, does not even know 80% of his Friendsters -- most of them strangers begging to be noticed with their pretty faces or perfectly toned physique, and nothing else. He's not even bothered with it. Which is the paradox of Friendster, really. Sometimes, it's not about connecting with friends at all, although that happens. It's also about maintaining cliques, and looking good and getting noticed. In a sense, it has become a kind of sport -- for me, for Mark, and for many others who have made this thing an addiction of sorts: there is an unconscious race to get to the 500 maximum Friendsters finish-line. Why? No one knows why. Which, of course, makes me wonder about the trivialities of the many things we do, which we call "living." Sometimes, I think too much.



But really, I'm just tired, and I need more than a week's rest. Sure, summer school's almost over, but even the prospect of this provides little consolation. I know there are mountains of work waiting to pounce on me even before the regular schoolyear opens June 17. I need sleep. I need a facial. I need boredom. I need a week's break roasting under the sun in Siquijor. I need tons of ice cream sundae. I need space. I need silence. Arrrggh.



{Here, Ian pauses dramatically.}



If you can't tell by now, I'm antsy from the fact that I'm basically offline these days. (What kind of unholy existence is that?) I haven't updated any of my websites, and my email inboxes groan from the sheer volume of unread mail.



See, everytime I click on my dial-up account at home, the computer prompts me with the message: "There is no dial-tone." Of course, I pick up the damn phone, and voila, there is a dial-tone. I've complained to my phone company, who promises to look into the matter "within 72 hours." It's been more than 72 hours. I'm still getting the same message. Tomorrow, I'm visiting my computer shop. Maybe what's malfunctioning is my internal modem.



Then again, my phone's been acting up since the last storm brushed past Dumaguete last week. I get static when people call me. Like a hundred bees competing with the voice of the caller. It makes me dizzy.



All of these is really a roundabout way of telling all of you why I've been so silent for the past days. Yes, sir... no Internet connection at home. Plus I'm tired most of the time, too. And my days are too short.



I've been feeling dead for the past month, it's not even funny anymore.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:49 PM | You're in My Friendster List?

Sometimes, I browse over my Friendster list, and I chance upon faces and names that get me asking: "Who the heck are you?" A guy named Ricardo, for instance. Why is he my "friend"? I look at his photos, and I have no recollection of him, at all -- nothing, nada. Just an uncomfortable blank. And he's not even cute, so I guess I could not have invited him. You know, just like you would those beautiful, anonymous faces you invite to make a kind of pretty wallpaper for your Friendster list. Mark, for instance, does not even know 80% of his Friendsters -- most of them strangers begging to be noticed with their pretty faces or perfectly toned physique, and nothing else. He's not even bothered with it. Which is the paradox of Friendster, really. Sometimes, it's not about connecting with friends at all, although that happens. It's also about maintaining cliques, and looking good and getting noticed. In a sense, it has become a kind of sport -- for me, for Mark, and for many others who have made this thing an addiction of sorts: there is an unconscious race to get to the 500 maximum Friendsters finish-line. Why? No one knows why. Which, of course, makes me wonder about the trivialities of the many things we do, which we call "living." Sometimes, I think too much.



But really, I'm just tired, and I need more than a week's rest. Sure, summer school's almost over, but even the prospect of this provides little consolation. I know there are mountains of work waiting to pounce on me even before the regular schoolyear opens June 17. I need sleep. I need a facial. I need boredom. I need a week's break roasting under the sun in Siquijor. I need tons of ice cream sundae. I need space. I need silence. Arrrggh.



{Here, Ian pauses dramatically.}



If you can't tell by now, I'm antsy from the fact that I'm basically offline these days. (What kind of unholy existence is that?) I haven't updated any of my websites, and my email inboxes groan from the sheer volume of unread mail.



See, everytime I click on my dial-up account at home, the computer prompts me with the message: "There is no dial-tone." Of course, I pick up the damn phone, and voila, there is a dial-tone. I've complained to my phone company, who promises to look into the matter "within 72 hours." It's been more than 72 hours. I'm still getting the same message. Tomorrow, I'm visiting my computer shop. Maybe what's malfunctioning is my internal modem.



Then again, my phone's been acting up since the last storm brushed past Dumaguete last week. I get static when people call me. Like a hundred bees competing with the voice of the caller. It makes me dizzy.



All of these is really a roundabout way of telling all of you why I've been so silent for the past days. Yes, sir... no Internet connection at home. Plus I'm tired most of the time, too. And my days are too short.



I've been feeling dead for the past month, it's not even funny anymore.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, May 17, 2004

Ryan is still here? Jeez! In that case, I'm deleting the commenting system in this blog. (I can't delete his individual comments because I forgot the password for this particular account.) I am expurgating Secret Dancer from evil spirits! Good news: he can't comment in my new blog, even though he claims to have found it. I am not trembling from shock or dismay. I'm quite blase about it actually. I've discovered there's a thing in Haloscan called the Delete button. Or Ban. Tee-hee.



I love technology.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Tuesday, May 11, 2004

entry arrow2:30 AM | Notes From the May Madness

Friday, May 7, 9:30 a.m. I drank my brewed coffee -- French vanilla-flavored -- fast to make way for another day in this summer. May has been both lovely and dark. I wrote in my notebook: "In the summer, the days run into each other."





Monday, May 10, 11:59 p.m. There was a body between the pavement and the asphalt street in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman when I passed by, riding my pedicab to purchase my dinner of sandwich and peanut butter in Sted's, in the early evening. Seeing it felt like a stopover to a day of boredom.



The night was beginning to drizzle, and I was tired. The day had been a burden of utter nothingness, with only the quick visit to the nearest precinct the only consolation; and for the fulfillment of my electoral civic duty -- my first in so many years -- I had ink all over my hands. But nothing a good rubbing of ethyl alcohol could not get rid off. After that, the descent to non-expectations, body slowly falling prey to snoozing, the quickly gathering coldness of the day like a blanket to a tired soul.



That was how I was when I first saw the body, noticing it only with half an interest as I mentally dismissed the quickly gathering crowd surrounding the figure on his side, frame still straddling a Honda motorcycle. There was also the male companion doing a Pieta. I thought -- dismissing the blood -- that it was another one of those. You know, the ubiquitous motorcycle accidents that characterize the hidden madness of an outwardly staid city.



Soon I got my bread.



Later, Mark would text: "Hey, are you home? Tried calling you, but you weren't answering the phone. Am getting worried. The news on TV just broke. Somebody on a motorcycle just got shot in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman."



I quickly called to reassure him that I was all right, that I was, at present, having my fill of Coke Light in a can, and peanut butter sandwich, and Madonna singing pop tunes. Ray of Light. Mark's dog just died, too. "Bonsai," he had named the little furry thing, like an Edith Tiempo poem... To scale all love down/ To a cupped hand's size... Earlier in the day, just as lunch was breaking to break, his mother found the dog on the porch, limp to the touch. There were no warnings, just the suddenness of a little animal dropping dead on a May day. The funeral, in the backyard of their house, was quick. "Remember your dream two nights ago," I told Mark over the phone, "of your tooth getting loose?" I imagined him nodding in his sadness. I continued: "Bonsai. We never thought of Bonsai."



Death is too quick, and always stealthy. Which is not new to anyone. Now I found myself dead to it, too: dogs dying, people getting shot on the road in broad daylight, a country sliding into the graveyard of circus politics. Deaths, deaths everywhere. It was a saturation. I felt myself go numb.



Before turning in for the night, I catch another news bulletin on my TV. FPJ now leads GMA by a few thousand votes. Roco is last. (Doubly dying, too: from voter apathy, and a cancer that will not go away.) I quickly turn the television off, like the condemned hearing a hangman's news.



It was starting to grow cold, and the small rain of the evening had petered out to a drizzle again. I thought: the heat of the summer had just succumbed. It was tempting to see the metaphorical: refreshing rain after a dry spell? Or a warning for the great deluge?



No one is sure of anything, and the future has yet to be counted and canvassed in the trickle of fortunes birthing and dying in the next few days.



My last thought as Monday gave way to Tuesday was this: I liked rain more than summer heat, but that was not what occupied me right now. I could not celebrate the easy breathing of my body welcoming cool vapors from the sudden breezes. I could only think of that body in the early evening. And then it was Tuesday again.





Tuesday, May 4, 9:00 p.m. We knew we were participating in paradox. Or in oxymoron. Celebrating the birthday of one already dead. Recently dead, to be exact -- our writer-friends in Manila just buried National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin over the last weekend, to widespread woe and disbelief. The Bard was old, yes, but I had always thought-the way we think of our gods-that he was indestructible. Immortal, even. The morning he died, the poet Marjorie Evasco quickly texted me the news: "Nick Joaquin died in his sleep early this morning." I quickly messaged Krip Yuson to confirm. Yes, it was true. By afternoon, the whole of literary Philippines felt the passing of an era.



Sir Nick died a few days short of his 87th birthday. May was becoming too full of deaths. (Less than a week later, National Artist for Music Jose Maceda, too, would leave us.) I have never met Sir Nick, but I knew of his genius quite well. I was a college sophomore when I first felt the stirrings of literary longings after reading his short story "May Day Eve," that fascinating experiment with perspectives and twists in time. He was someone to emulate for any budding writer. One of my early efforts at fiction -- an embarrassing piece of juvenalia titled "The Halved Oedipus" -- tried to approximate his genius, and failed miserably. Later, I would learn there could only be one Nick Joaquin and that I should only too glad to thrive under his shadows. Without having met him, he proved to be one of my enduring teachers, which is a testament to his greatness. The week he died was also the week Nick Joaquin edited and published my short story "Cruising" for Philippine Graphic. My literary career begins and blooms with him.



And now we were in South Seas Resort, together with poets Sawi Aquino, Jimmy Abad, and Krip Yuson, film director Butch Perez, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Myrza Sison, and the rest of this year's batch of fellows in the Dumaguete Writers Workshop. We were drunk with San Miguel Beer in Sir Nick's honor, laughing and dishing it out and calling the whole thing a poetry reading, emceed by the beautiful and charming Ginny Mata.



Cebu's young poet James Iain Leish read Sir Nick's "Six P.M." which is my favorite of all his poetic oeuvre. The others that night also did something -- all blurred, of course, in our vodka and beer talk -- and I remembered myself stumbling through a reading of "Let Death Be Proud" in a beery haze. It wasn't inebriation, exactly. Just tipsy fun. The poet Niccolo Rocamora Vitug delivered a powerful reading of Bitoy's last soliloquy in Sir Nick's seminal play Portrait of the Artist as Filipino -- the famous seduction scene of which was also freely translated and acted into Cebuano by National Commission for Culture and the Arts's Glenn Maboloc (as Paula) and Mr. Leish (as Tony).



Krip Yuson wrote of this scene in Philippine Star: "And so it was that at nine that night we welcome the fellows at the pleasant poolside garden at South Seas Resort, to engage in merry Joaquinesquerie: San Miguel beer, Absolut vodka and Jack Daniel's bourbon, over oysters and kinilaw with gata and crushed chicharon.



"Celina [Cristobal] sang the songs, with Sawi droning in when his version of Alzheimer's allowed entry to certain lyrics. Jimmy recited 'Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop' by William Butler Yeats. Climaxing the informal program was a rendition of the Tony-Paula seduction scene in Portrait... -- with Glenn and James extemporaneously translating most of the dialogue into Bisaya. It was brilliant and uproarious, and [Nick Joaquin] would have loved it and boomed along with laughter."



The night was long. It was also a lesson in celebrating death, and birthdays, with cheer -- especially if the life to commemorate was full of genius and love.



That night, we were also waiting for the promised lunar eclipse to happen. It took a while. We were still waiting by 2:30 in the morning, already too lunatic with alcohol and big talk to keep our date with the eclipse seriously. Then the night clouds came and blocked our sight of the moon. One does not argue with heaven. So we went home in merry stupor, disappointed, but also happy. We could only imagine how the sight would have been like, to see shadows killing the moon for part of the night, and then as suddenly giving way to its brightness again.



If we had seen it, we would have seen -- again in metaphor -- what life was like.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:30 AM | Notes From the May Madness

Friday, May 7, 9:30 a.m. I drank my brewed coffee -- French vanilla-flavored -- fast to make way for another day in this summer. May has been both lovely and dark. I wrote in my notebook: "In the summer, the days run into each other."





Monday, May 10, 11:59 p.m. There was a body between the pavement and the asphalt street in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman when I passed by, riding my pedicab to purchase my dinner of sandwich and peanut butter in Sted's, in the early evening. Seeing it felt like a stopover to a day of boredom.



The night was beginning to drizzle, and I was tired. The day had been a burden of utter nothingness, with only the quick visit to the nearest precinct the only consolation; and for the fulfillment of my electoral civic duty -- my first in so many years -- I had ink all over my hands. But nothing a good rubbing of ethyl alcohol could not get rid off. After that, the descent to non-expectations, body slowly falling prey to snoozing, the quickly gathering coldness of the day like a blanket to a tired soul.



That was how I was when I first saw the body, noticing it only with half an interest as I mentally dismissed the quickly gathering crowd surrounding the figure on his side, frame still straddling a Honda motorcycle. There was also the male companion doing a Pieta. I thought -- dismissing the blood -- that it was another one of those. You know, the ubiquitous motorcycle accidents that characterize the hidden madness of an outwardly staid city.



Soon I got my bread.



Later, Mark would text: "Hey, are you home? Tried calling you, but you weren't answering the phone. Am getting worried. The news on TV just broke. Somebody on a motorcycle just got shot in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman."



I quickly called to reassure him that I was all right, that I was, at present, having my fill of Coke Light in a can, and peanut butter sandwich, and Madonna singing pop tunes. Ray of Light. Mark's dog just died, too. "Bonsai," he had named the little furry thing, like an Edith Tiempo poem... To scale all love down/ To a cupped hand's size... Earlier in the day, just as lunch was breaking to break, his mother found the dog on the porch, limp to the touch. There were no warnings, just the suddenness of a little animal dropping dead on a May day. The funeral, in the backyard of their house, was quick. "Remember your dream two nights ago," I told Mark over the phone, "of your tooth getting loose?" I imagined him nodding in his sadness. I continued: "Bonsai. We never thought of Bonsai."



Death is too quick, and always stealthy. Which is not new to anyone. Now I found myself dead to it, too: dogs dying, people getting shot on the road in broad daylight, a country sliding into the graveyard of circus politics. Deaths, deaths everywhere. It was a saturation. I felt myself go numb.



Before turning in for the night, I catch another news bulletin on my TV. FPJ now leads GMA by a few thousand votes. Roco is last. (Doubly dying, too: from voter apathy, and a cancer that will not go away.) I quickly turn the television off, like the condemned hearing a hangman's news.



It was starting to grow cold, and the small rain of the evening had petered out to a drizzle again. I thought: the heat of the summer had just succumbed. It was tempting to see the metaphorical: refreshing rain after a dry spell? Or a warning for the great deluge?



No one is sure of anything, and the future has yet to be counted and canvassed in the trickle of fortunes birthing and dying in the next few days.



My last thought as Monday gave way to Tuesday was this: I liked rain more than summer heat, but that was not what occupied me right now. I could not celebrate the easy breathing of my body welcoming cool vapors from the sudden breezes. I could only think of that body in the early evening. And then it was Tuesday again.





Tuesday, May 4, 9:00 p.m. We knew we were participating in paradox. Or in oxymoron. Celebrating the birthday of one already dead. Recently dead, to be exact -- our writer-friends in Manila just buried National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin over the last weekend, to widespread woe and disbelief. The Bard was old, yes, but I had always thought-the way we think of our gods-that he was indestructible. Immortal, even. The morning he died, the poet Marjorie Evasco quickly texted me the news: "Nick Joaquin died in his sleep early this morning." I quickly messaged Krip Yuson to confirm. Yes, it was true. By afternoon, the whole of literary Philippines felt the passing of an era.



Sir Nick died a few days short of his 87th birthday. May was becoming too full of deaths. (Less than a week later, National Artist for Music Jose Maceda, too, would leave us.) I have never met Sir Nick, but I knew of his genius quite well. I was a college sophomore when I first felt the stirrings of literary longings after reading his short story "May Day Eve," that fascinating experiment with perspectives and twists in time. He was someone to emulate for any budding writer. One of my early efforts at fiction -- an embarrassing piece of juvenalia titled "The Halved Oedipus" -- tried to approximate his genius, and failed miserably. Later, I would learn there could only be one Nick Joaquin and that I should only too glad to thrive under his shadows. Without having met him, he proved to be one of my enduring teachers, which is a testament to his greatness. The week he died was also the week Nick Joaquin edited and published my short story "Cruising" for Philippine Graphic. My literary career begins and blooms with him.



And now we were in South Seas Resort, together with poets Sawi Aquino, Jimmy Abad, and Krip Yuson, film director Butch Perez, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Myrza Sison, and the rest of this year's batch of fellows in the Dumaguete Writers Workshop. We were drunk with San Miguel Beer in Sir Nick's honor, laughing and dishing it out and calling the whole thing a poetry reading, emceed by the beautiful and charming Ginny Mata.



Cebu's young poet James Iain Leish read Sir Nick's "Six P.M." which is my favorite of all his poetic oeuvre. The others that night also did something -- all blurred, of course, in our vodka and beer talk -- and I remembered myself stumbling through a reading of "Let Death Be Proud" in a beery haze. It wasn't inebriation, exactly. Just tipsy fun. The poet Niccolo Rocamora Vitug delivered a powerful reading of Bitoy's last soliloquy in Sir Nick's seminal play Portrait of the Artist as Filipino -- the famous seduction scene of which was also freely translated and acted into Cebuano by National Commission for Culture and the Arts's Glenn Maboloc (as Paula) and Mr. Leish (as Tony).



Krip Yuson wrote of this scene in Philippine Star: "And so it was that at nine that night we welcome the fellows at the pleasant poolside garden at South Seas Resort, to engage in merry Joaquinesquerie: San Miguel beer, Absolut vodka and Jack Daniel's bourbon, over oysters and kinilaw with gata and crushed chicharon.



"Celina [Cristobal] sang the songs, with Sawi droning in when his version of Alzheimer's allowed entry to certain lyrics. Jimmy recited 'Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop' by William Butler Yeats. Climaxing the informal program was a rendition of the Tony-Paula seduction scene in Portrait... -- with Glenn and James extemporaneously translating most of the dialogue into Bisaya. It was brilliant and uproarious, and [Nick Joaquin] would have loved it and boomed along with laughter."



The night was long. It was also a lesson in celebrating death, and birthdays, with cheer -- especially if the life to commemorate was full of genius and love.



That night, we were also waiting for the promised lunar eclipse to happen. It took a while. We were still waiting by 2:30 in the morning, already too lunatic with alcohol and big talk to keep our date with the eclipse seriously. Then the night clouds came and blocked our sight of the moon. One does not argue with heaven. So we went home in merry stupor, disappointed, but also happy. We could only imagine how the sight would have been like, to see shadows killing the moon for part of the night, and then as suddenly giving way to its brightness again.



If we had seen it, we would have seen -- again in metaphor -- what life was like.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow2:30 AM | Notes From the May Madness

Friday, May 7, 9:30 a.m. I drank my brewed coffee -- French vanilla-flavored -- fast to make way for another day in this summer. May has been both lovely and dark. I wrote in my notebook: "In the summer, the days run into each other."





Monday, May 10, 11:59 p.m. There was a body between the pavement and the asphalt street in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman when I passed by, riding my pedicab to purchase my dinner of sandwich and peanut butter in Sted's, in the early evening. Seeing it felt like a stopover to a day of boredom.



The night was beginning to drizzle, and I was tired. The day had been a burden of utter nothingness, with only the quick visit to the nearest precinct the only consolation; and for the fulfillment of my electoral civic duty -- my first in so many years -- I had ink all over my hands. But nothing a good rubbing of ethyl alcohol could not get rid off. After that, the descent to non-expectations, body slowly falling prey to snoozing, the quickly gathering coldness of the day like a blanket to a tired soul.



That was how I was when I first saw the body, noticing it only with half an interest as I mentally dismissed the quickly gathering crowd surrounding the figure on his side, frame still straddling a Honda motorcycle. There was also the male companion doing a Pieta. I thought -- dismissing the blood -- that it was another one of those. You know, the ubiquitous motorcycle accidents that characterize the hidden madness of an outwardly staid city.



Soon I got my bread.



Later, Mark would text: "Hey, are you home? Tried calling you, but you weren't answering the phone. Am getting worried. The news on TV just broke. Somebody on a motorcycle just got shot in the corner of Scooby's and Silliman."



I quickly called to reassure him that I was all right, that I was, at present, having my fill of Coke Light in a can, and peanut butter sandwich, and Madonna singing pop tunes. Ray of Light. Mark's dog just died, too. "Bonsai," he had named the little furry thing, like an Edith Tiempo poem... To scale all love down/ To a cupped hand's size... Earlier in the day, just as lunch was breaking to break, his mother found the dog on the porch, limp to the touch. There were no warnings, just the suddenness of a little animal dropping dead on a May day. The funeral, in the backyard of their house, was quick. "Remember your dream two nights ago," I told Mark over the phone, "of your tooth getting loose?" I imagined him nodding in his sadness. I continued: "Bonsai. We never thought of Bonsai."



Death is too quick, and always stealthy. Which is not new to anyone. Now I found myself dead to it, too: dogs dying, people getting shot on the road in broad daylight, a country sliding into the graveyard of circus politics. Deaths, deaths everywhere. It was a saturation. I felt myself go numb.



Before turning in for the night, I catch another news bulletin on my TV. FPJ now leads GMA by a few thousand votes. Roco is last. (Doubly dying, too: from voter apathy, and a cancer that will not go away.) I quickly turn the television off, like the condemned hearing a hangman's news.



It was starting to grow cold, and the small rain of the evening had petered out to a drizzle again. I thought: the heat of the summer had just succumbed. It was tempting to see the metaphorical: refreshing rain after a dry spell? Or a warning for the great deluge?



No one is sure of anything, and the future has yet to be counted and canvassed in the trickle of fortunes birthing and dying in the next few days.



My last thought as Monday gave way to Tuesday was this: I liked rain more than summer heat, but that was not what occupied me right now. I could not celebrate the easy breathing of my body welcoming cool vapors from the sudden breezes. I could only think of that body in the early evening. And then it was Tuesday again.





Tuesday, May 4, 9:00 p.m. We knew we were participating in paradox. Or in oxymoron. Celebrating the birthday of one already dead. Recently dead, to be exact -- our writer-friends in Manila just buried National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin over the last weekend, to widespread woe and disbelief. The Bard was old, yes, but I had always thought-the way we think of our gods-that he was indestructible. Immortal, even. The morning he died, the poet Marjorie Evasco quickly texted me the news: "Nick Joaquin died in his sleep early this morning." I quickly messaged Krip Yuson to confirm. Yes, it was true. By afternoon, the whole of literary Philippines felt the passing of an era.



Sir Nick died a few days short of his 87th birthday. May was becoming too full of deaths. (Less than a week later, National Artist for Music Jose Maceda, too, would leave us.) I have never met Sir Nick, but I knew of his genius quite well. I was a college sophomore when I first felt the stirrings of literary longings after reading his short story "May Day Eve," that fascinating experiment with perspectives and twists in time. He was someone to emulate for any budding writer. One of my early efforts at fiction -- an embarrassing piece of juvenalia titled "The Halved Oedipus" -- tried to approximate his genius, and failed miserably. Later, I would learn there could only be one Nick Joaquin and that I should only too glad to thrive under his shadows. Without having met him, he proved to be one of my enduring teachers, which is a testament to his greatness. The week he died was also the week Nick Joaquin edited and published my short story "Cruising" for Philippine Graphic. My literary career begins and blooms with him.



And now we were in South Seas Resort, together with poets Sawi Aquino, Jimmy Abad, and Krip Yuson, film director Butch Perez, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Myrza Sison, and the rest of this year's batch of fellows in the Dumaguete Writers Workshop. We were drunk with San Miguel Beer in Sir Nick's honor, laughing and dishing it out and calling the whole thing a poetry reading, emceed by the beautiful and charming Ginny Mata.



Cebu's young poet James Iain Leish read Sir Nick's "Six P.M." which is my favorite of all his poetic oeuvre. The others that night also did something -- all blurred, of course, in our vodka and beer talk -- and I remembered myself stumbling through a reading of "Let Death Be Proud" in a beery haze. It wasn't inebriation, exactly. Just tipsy fun. The poet Niccolo Rocamora Vitug delivered a powerful reading of Bitoy's last soliloquy in Sir Nick's seminal play Portrait of the Artist as Filipino -- the famous seduction scene of which was also freely translated and acted into Cebuano by National Commission for Culture and the Arts's Glenn Maboloc (as Paula) and Mr. Leish (as Tony).



Krip Yuson wrote of this scene in Philippine Star: "And so it was that at nine that night we welcome the fellows at the pleasant poolside garden at South Seas Resort, to engage in merry Joaquinesquerie: San Miguel beer, Absolut vodka and Jack Daniel's bourbon, over oysters and kinilaw with gata and crushed chicharon.



"Celina [Cristobal] sang the songs, with Sawi droning in when his version of Alzheimer's allowed entry to certain lyrics. Jimmy recited 'Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop' by William Butler Yeats. Climaxing the informal program was a rendition of the Tony-Paula seduction scene in Portrait... -- with Glenn and James extemporaneously translating most of the dialogue into Bisaya. It was brilliant and uproarious, and [Nick Joaquin] would have loved it and boomed along with laughter."



The night was long. It was also a lesson in celebrating death, and birthdays, with cheer -- especially if the life to commemorate was full of genius and love.



That night, we were also waiting for the promised lunar eclipse to happen. It took a while. We were still waiting by 2:30 in the morning, already too lunatic with alcohol and big talk to keep our date with the eclipse seriously. Then the night clouds came and blocked our sight of the moon. One does not argue with heaven. So we went home in merry stupor, disappointed, but also happy. We could only imagine how the sight would have been like, to see shadows killing the moon for part of the night, and then as suddenly giving way to its brightness again.



If we had seen it, we would have seen -- again in metaphor -- what life was like.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, May 10, 2004

entry arrow1:01 AM | Starting Fresh



AHHH, YES!



A new blog. A breath of fresh air. Someplace new in my blogging world where old stalkers can't tread in. I had to leave the old one behind, no matter how much I enjoyed the whole experience of being the secret tango dancer. I dreaded logging in to update it, and eventually seeing the stalker's comments taking over the whole tone of the thing. It felt like a violation, an assault. This is my fourth attempt at an online life so far, and I hope the last. I will miss the graphic overload of The Secret Tango Dancer, but then again several people have recently told me it took forever for the old blog to load, even with DSL. I figured it must have been all those images and links. But how come nobody complained in the eight months of the old blog's existence? Anyway. I guess this new blog -- devoid of ostentatious displays of bibliophilia and cinemania -- will be faster to load, and easier to navigate. Pray Ryan doesn't discover this new site and ruin everything again. And just to make sure of that, I've refrained from putting my real name anywhere in the template. Google can't touch me.




[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:01 AM | Starting Fresh



AHHH, YES!



A new blog. A breath of fresh air. Someplace new in my blogging world where old stalkers can't tread in. I had to leave the old one behind, no matter how much I enjoyed the whole experience of being the secret tango dancer. I dreaded logging in to update it, and eventually seeing the stalker's comments taking over the whole tone of the thing. It felt like a violation, an assault. This is my fourth attempt at an online life so far, and I hope the last. I will miss the graphic overload of The Secret Tango Dancer, but then again several people have recently told me it took forever for the old blog to load, even with DSL. I figured it must have been all those images and links. But how come nobody complained in the eight months of the old blog's existence? Anyway. I guess this new blog -- devoid of ostentatious displays of bibliophilia and cinemania -- will be faster to load, and easier to navigate. Pray Ryan doesn't discover this new site and ruin everything again. And just to make sure of that, I've refrained from putting my real name anywhere in the template. Google can't touch me.




[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:01 AM | Starting Fresh



AHHH, YES!



A new blog. A breath of fresh air. Someplace new in my blogging world where old stalkers can't tread in. I had to leave the old one behind, no matter how much I enjoyed the whole experience of being the secret tango dancer. I dreaded logging in to update it, and eventually seeing the stalker's comments taking over the whole tone of the thing. It felt like a violation, an assault. This is my fourth attempt at an online life so far, and I hope the last. I will miss the graphic overload of The Secret Tango Dancer, but then again several people have recently told me it took forever for the old blog to load, even with DSL. I figured it must have been all those images and links. But how come nobody complained in the eight months of the old blog's existence? Anyway. I guess this new blog -- devoid of ostentatious displays of bibliophilia and cinemania -- will be faster to load, and easier to navigate. Pray Ryan doesn't discover this new site and ruin everything again. And just to make sure of that, I've refrained from putting my real name anywhere in the template. Google can't touch me.




[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Saturday, May 08, 2004

entry arrow5:24 PM | Voting For X

Friday night, I am eating late dinner in Qyosko when Myrish Cadapan-Antonio enters, husband in tow. She doesn't look tired, and although the election is but a turn of the corner away, she walks with a bounce -- so much a picture of young blood we need injected into the drowsiness we call local politics. I have tired opinions of the rest of the zombies gunning for local positions -- save for Don Ramas-Uypitching and a couple of others who strike me as sincere and capable -- but Myrish I am voting for. She inspires faith in a time when Dumaguete slowly grinds to a kind of obscure death.



Smell the city. There is a seeping sense of rot and disarray. It has no dream, or vision. And what's worse: it has no real reverence to its past. It is also a ghost town waiting to happen.



We need new blood. And I needed ube shake, and mushroom ajillo to go with my longsilog. The waiters in Qyosko are slow. I am thinking, "I must tell Aw-aw about this." That was the thing I last thought of before I realized... Monday is Judgment Day.



Two things I know about Philippine democracy: we always deserve whom we vote for, and the democracy we practice is an anachronism of sorts -- but then again, there is one kind of democracy and then there are other kinds of democracy. All democracies are not equal. And while the concept is still arguably the best of anything else that is concerned with governance, it may not always be good for any one country. This last one is a sentiment of a couple of student of mine in Silliman University, who submitted a research paper where their thesis was: "Democracy, as it is practiced in the Philippines, breeds more corruption and crime."



It was also 50 pages thick. Complete with indices of graphical data.



Which leads us to ask a question that: How low have we gone down to that even our young contemplate dictatorship to rid us all of the evil that pervade even the air that we breathe?



In a recent New York Times review of a book critical of American-style democracy (on which ours is clearly patterned on, minus the concept of the Electoral College), a novelist called the American model a "totalitarian democracy," and the term has a certain ring of truth to it.



Ours is not as totalitarian. Just a little bit more circusy, which is also a perfect slap to the Greek ideal, in which -- people have forgotten this -- only the educated could vote. But in a country where the want for education is a gaping, festering wound, the likelihood of getting down to the wisest choice in a democratic election is a one-in-an-80-million chance. Imagine all that uneducated vote rising forth to become the fearful manifestation of "vox populi, vox Dei." F. Sionil Jose, in a recent column for Philippine Graphic, had this to say: "But the knowledge of the peasant is not backed by a more profound understanding of the larger circumstances beyond his immediate relationships with his mother, his village, and the land itself… The kind of information that should be part of his knowledge is often denied him. And in today's world, that kind of knowledge is not properly shaped by media and its dream world. The folk therefore is easily misled into accepting fiction as reality, popularity as leadership." In other words, we reap what we sow. And what we have sown is a negligence of more-than-serviceable education of the Filipino people. We have, instead, become a country "manufacturing" only nurses for work abroad -- no longer thinkers, planners, inventors, etc. In Silliman University last academic year, for example, there was an upsurge of enrollees for Nursing. And zero for Chemistry. Weigh the numbers. They are telling of a kind of despair. And this is just the middle class. How much more for the lower classes? Can we even imagine the depths of their despair? Can we blame them then for voting for clowns and movie stars and basketball players and second-rate TV news anchors? Can we blame them for reducing the whole debate into an argument that defies even logic: "Eh, binoto natin si Marcos na matalino, anong nangyari? Wala. Mabuti bomoto na lang tayo ng high school dropout."



Like I said, clownish logic. But blameless nevertheless. You cannot argue with a hungry stomach.



But I won't talk about the nuances of Philippine democracy or electoral system, because I do not want to bend to the common tendencies -- just right about these days -- to prognosticate the election results and analyze the voting mood of the archipelago. I will leave more seasoned men and women to do just that. What I'm going to talk about, for the sake of being irreverent, is what to exactly wear when I march into that public school in Lo-oc come Monday morning and stake a choice in my country's future.



I am not going to wear black, because that would be too obvious: the cast of a funeral wake, the way Monday could be given the ineptness of COMELEC thus far. There is an urging to wear something gray, because it is so much more neutral that way. A kind of a hoping color, too. Neither white, nor black. Undecided. Besides, this would be my first election in about ten years. When the madness of an Erap presidency came to fore sometime in 1998, I was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai to be exact, drinking wine in the middle of the night, in the muddle of the city's all-night street bazaar, explaining to a couple of American filmmakers/tourists the various shades of embarrassment for a country gone downhill with the election of a nincompoop. "I heard he's a drunken clown," the good man asked, "no offense meant to you." I replied: "No offense taken, besides you're right."



He said: "But he could be the next Ronald Reagan, you know."



I said, "I admire your optimism, but deep in my bones I know we are headed for shit." So we wined away my troubling thoughts. Later that year, I went back home to old country -- and the first time I got off the plane and stepped into the tropical heat, my skin suddenly burst into inexplicable rashes. It was a telling moment. Erap was President. The very air was poison, even to my skin.



And I was right. Years of shit indeed followed, capped by a mockery of an impeachment trial, and finally a second people's revolt that may have been shades of the first one, but lacked the latter's flood of dignity and utter spirituality. I was a local newspaper editor then before Edsa Dos erupted, and my job was to wade through news after news of continuous woe that became the very picture of the country. It was enough to break anyone's heart, the way one saw a country with a spirit amputated, the way one could go about and touch the palpable misery hanging in the air.



When the crowds swelled one more time to oust an inept leader, it was enough to make me cry. I remember that was a Sunday. I made the most wonderful issue for that newspaper in my time there as its editor, and when I stepped into the daylight after a night of toiling to get the paper to bed, there was a nippiness to the air that spoke volumes about renewed chances, about renewed dreams. It felt good: it had, after all, been a miserable year, I remember, and I was quickly losing faith in the Filipino. But how quickly, too, to regain it back.



And how quickly to lose it again.



Ricco is wearing brown, and is voting for FPJ, simply because he believes in his "mythology." He says, "That's what we need now, a mythological figure like FPJ to unite us." I know my mythology, too, and I think: if that is the ultimate arbiter for something as important as the Presidency, then I'm voting for Frodo.



Moe is wearing blue, and texts me not to forget to vote for GMA. His arguments are lucid and passionate. And he ends with this: "I cannot accept a president who is a high-school dropout. It negates the entirety of what I believe in a good and proper life." I like GMA, and although she stands exactly toe-to-toe with Frodo, I cannot vote for her. I thought I would, in the beginning, but something eats at me every time I consider her name and her immediate legacy: her quick kowtowing to powers-that-be (damn Bush, and damn Cardinal Sin...), and her inconsistencies... I happen to like my leaders who believe in their words and the firmness of their promises. Plus, I went to Iligan one time and saw this portrait of her in their house wearing a sexy, green taffeta gown, and sprawled Imeldific on some surface or other. I thought: "Napaka-ST naman," and that has stuck to me ever since. I still confuse her for Maui Taylor.



Villanueva confuses me, too. But my mother -- devout Christian that she is -- will wear a shade of magenta for him. I tell her, "You are confusing Sunday School for governance." And she says, "God is what we need." And I tell her, "And Brother Eddie is God?" And she says, "Maniwala ka, babangon tayo."



Lacson scares me. Nobody I know will wear anything for him.



So now I'm voting for Roco, by principle, and because he makes the perfect sense and the perfect foil to all these gadabouts pretending to be saviors of our word. I am voting for him regardless of anyone's argument for a "wasted" vote, something I do not understand. And regardless of rumors of his dying, too. Truth be told, the talk of Roco's impeding "death" was the final clincher: a dying man, conscious of mortality, cannot be swayed by corruption, and can only devote the last of his years to becoming the very fulfillment of a life.



We need life-and-death stakes like this to truly believe in elections that will finally matter. Not just breezy promises of everything under the sun set to Sex Bomb music. And finally my wardrobe: a red Hawaiian shirt. Just because. Plus the one I have looks good on me. Anything that will look good, to face the future -- good or bad -- that looms ever so close.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:24 PM | Voting For X

Friday night, I am eating late dinner in Qyosko when Myrish Cadapan-Antonio enters, husband in tow. She doesn't look tired, and although the election is but a turn of the corner away, she walks with a bounce -- so much a picture of young blood we need injected into the drowsiness we call local politics. I have tired opinions of the rest of the zombies gunning for local positions -- save for Don Ramas-Uypitching and a couple of others who strike me as sincere and capable -- but Myrish I am voting for. She inspires faith in a time when Dumaguete slowly grinds to a kind of obscure death.



Smell the city. There is a seeping sense of rot and disarray. It has no dream, or vision. And what's worse: it has no real reverence to its past. It is also a ghost town waiting to happen.



We need new blood. And I needed ube shake, and mushroom ajillo to go with my longsilog. The waiters in Qyosko are slow. I am thinking, "I must tell Aw-aw about this." That was the thing I last thought of before I realized... Monday is Judgment Day.



Two things I know about Philippine democracy: we always deserve whom we vote for, and the democracy we practice is an anachronism of sorts -- but then again, there is one kind of democracy and then there are other kinds of democracy. All democracies are not equal. And while the concept is still arguably the best of anything else that is concerned with governance, it may not always be good for any one country. This last one is a sentiment of a couple of student of mine in Silliman University, who submitted a research paper where their thesis was: "Democracy, as it is practiced in the Philippines, breeds more corruption and crime."



It was also 50 pages thick. Complete with indices of graphical data.



Which leads us to ask a question that: How low have we gone down to that even our young contemplate dictatorship to rid us all of the evil that pervade even the air that we breathe?



In a recent New York Times review of a book critical of American-style democracy (on which ours is clearly patterned on, minus the concept of the Electoral College), a novelist called the American model a "totalitarian democracy," and the term has a certain ring of truth to it.



Ours is not as totalitarian. Just a little bit more circusy, which is also a perfect slap to the Greek ideal, in which -- people have forgotten this -- only the educated could vote. But in a country where the want for education is a gaping, festering wound, the likelihood of getting down to the wisest choice in a democratic election is a one-in-an-80-million chance. Imagine all that uneducated vote rising forth to become the fearful manifestation of "vox populi, vox Dei." F. Sionil Jose, in a recent column for Philippine Graphic, had this to say: "But the knowledge of the peasant is not backed by a more profound understanding of the larger circumstances beyond his immediate relationships with his mother, his village, and the land itself… The kind of information that should be part of his knowledge is often denied him. And in today's world, that kind of knowledge is not properly shaped by media and its dream world. The folk therefore is easily misled into accepting fiction as reality, popularity as leadership." In other words, we reap what we sow. And what we have sown is a negligence of more-than-serviceable education of the Filipino people. We have, instead, become a country "manufacturing" only nurses for work abroad -- no longer thinkers, planners, inventors, etc. In Silliman University last academic year, for example, there was an upsurge of enrollees for Nursing. And zero for Chemistry. Weigh the numbers. They are telling of a kind of despair. And this is just the middle class. How much more for the lower classes? Can we even imagine the depths of their despair? Can we blame them then for voting for clowns and movie stars and basketball players and second-rate TV news anchors? Can we blame them for reducing the whole debate into an argument that defies even logic: "Eh, binoto natin si Marcos na matalino, anong nangyari? Wala. Mabuti bomoto na lang tayo ng high school dropout."



Like I said, clownish logic. But blameless nevertheless. You cannot argue with a hungry stomach.



But I won't talk about the nuances of Philippine democracy or electoral system, because I do not want to bend to the common tendencies -- just right about these days -- to prognosticate the election results and analyze the voting mood of the archipelago. I will leave more seasoned men and women to do just that. What I'm going to talk about, for the sake of being irreverent, is what to exactly wear when I march into that public school in Lo-oc come Monday morning and stake a choice in my country's future.



I am not going to wear black, because that would be too obvious: the cast of a funeral wake, the way Monday could be given the ineptness of COMELEC thus far. There is an urging to wear something gray, because it is so much more neutral that way. A kind of a hoping color, too. Neither white, nor black. Undecided. Besides, this would be my first election in about ten years. When the madness of an Erap presidency came to fore sometime in 1998, I was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai to be exact, drinking wine in the middle of the night, in the muddle of the city's all-night street bazaar, explaining to a couple of American filmmakers/tourists the various shades of embarrassment for a country gone downhill with the election of a nincompoop. "I heard he's a drunken clown," the good man asked, "no offense meant to you." I replied: "No offense taken, besides you're right."



He said: "But he could be the next Ronald Reagan, you know."



I said, "I admire your optimism, but deep in my bones I know we are headed for shit." So we wined away my troubling thoughts. Later that year, I went back home to old country -- and the first time I got off the plane and stepped into the tropical heat, my skin suddenly burst into inexplicable rashes. It was a telling moment. Erap was President. The very air was poison, even to my skin.



And I was right. Years of shit indeed followed, capped by a mockery of an impeachment trial, and finally a second people's revolt that may have been shades of the first one, but lacked the latter's flood of dignity and utter spirituality. I was a local newspaper editor then before Edsa Dos erupted, and my job was to wade through news after news of continuous woe that became the very picture of the country. It was enough to break anyone's heart, the way one saw a country with a spirit amputated, the way one could go about and touch the palpable misery hanging in the air.



When the crowds swelled one more time to oust an inept leader, it was enough to make me cry. I remember that was a Sunday. I made the most wonderful issue for that newspaper in my time there as its editor, and when I stepped into the daylight after a night of toiling to get the paper to bed, there was a nippiness to the air that spoke volumes about renewed chances, about renewed dreams. It felt good: it had, after all, been a miserable year, I remember, and I was quickly losing faith in the Filipino. But how quickly, too, to regain it back.



And how quickly to lose it again.



Ricco is wearing brown, and is voting for FPJ, simply because he believes in his "mythology." He says, "That's what we need now, a mythological figure like FPJ to unite us." I know my mythology, too, and I think: if that is the ultimate arbiter for something as important as the Presidency, then I'm voting for Frodo.



Moe is wearing blue, and texts me not to forget to vote for GMA. His arguments are lucid and passionate. And he ends with this: "I cannot accept a president who is a high-school dropout. It negates the entirety of what I believe in a good and proper life." I like GMA, and although she stands exactly toe-to-toe with Frodo, I cannot vote for her. I thought I would, in the beginning, but something eats at me every time I consider her name and her immediate legacy: her quick kowtowing to powers-that-be (damn Bush, and damn Cardinal Sin...), and her inconsistencies... I happen to like my leaders who believe in their words and the firmness of their promises. Plus, I went to Iligan one time and saw this portrait of her in their house wearing a sexy, green taffeta gown, and sprawled Imeldific on some surface or other. I thought: "Napaka-ST naman," and that has stuck to me ever since. I still confuse her for Maui Taylor.



Villanueva confuses me, too. But my mother -- devout Christian that she is -- will wear a shade of magenta for him. I tell her, "You are confusing Sunday School for governance." And she says, "God is what we need." And I tell her, "And Brother Eddie is God?" And she says, "Maniwala ka, babangon tayo."



Lacson scares me. Nobody I know will wear anything for him.



So now I'm voting for Roco, by principle, and because he makes the perfect sense and the perfect foil to all these gadabouts pretending to be saviors of our word. I am voting for him regardless of anyone's argument for a "wasted" vote, something I do not understand. And regardless of rumors of his dying, too. Truth be told, the talk of Roco's impeding "death" was the final clincher: a dying man, conscious of mortality, cannot be swayed by corruption, and can only devote the last of his years to becoming the very fulfillment of a life.



We need life-and-death stakes like this to truly believe in elections that will finally matter. Not just breezy promises of everything under the sun set to Sex Bomb music. And finally my wardrobe: a red Hawaiian shirt. Just because. Plus the one I have looks good on me. Anything that will look good, to face the future -- good or bad -- that looms ever so close.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:24 PM | Voting For X

Friday night, I am eating late dinner in Qyosko when Myrish Cadapan-Antonio enters, husband in tow. She doesn't look tired, and although the election is but a turn of the corner away, she walks with a bounce -- so much a picture of young blood we need injected into the drowsiness we call local politics. I have tired opinions of the rest of the zombies gunning for local positions -- save for Don Ramas-Uypitching and a couple of others who strike me as sincere and capable -- but Myrish I am voting for. She inspires faith in a time when Dumaguete slowly grinds to a kind of obscure death.



Smell the city. There is a seeping sense of rot and disarray. It has no dream, or vision. And what's worse: it has no real reverence to its past. It is also a ghost town waiting to happen.



We need new blood. And I needed ube shake, and mushroom ajillo to go with my longsilog. The waiters in Qyosko are slow. I am thinking, "I must tell Aw-aw about this." That was the thing I last thought of before I realized... Monday is Judgment Day.



Two things I know about Philippine democracy: we always deserve whom we vote for, and the democracy we practice is an anachronism of sorts -- but then again, there is one kind of democracy and then there are other kinds of democracy. All democracies are not equal. And while the concept is still arguably the best of anything else that is concerned with governance, it may not always be good for any one country. This last one is a sentiment of a couple of student of mine in Silliman University, who submitted a research paper where their thesis was: "Democracy, as it is practiced in the Philippines, breeds more corruption and crime."



It was also 50 pages thick. Complete with indices of graphical data.



Which leads us to ask a question that: How low have we gone down to that even our young contemplate dictatorship to rid us all of the evil that pervade even the air that we breathe?



In a recent New York Times review of a book critical of American-style democracy (on which ours is clearly patterned on, minus the concept of the Electoral College), a novelist called the American model a "totalitarian democracy," and the term has a certain ring of truth to it.



Ours is not as totalitarian. Just a little bit more circusy, which is also a perfect slap to the Greek ideal, in which -- people have forgotten this -- only the educated could vote. But in a country where the want for education is a gaping, festering wound, the likelihood of getting down to the wisest choice in a democratic election is a one-in-an-80-million chance. Imagine all that uneducated vote rising forth to become the fearful manifestation of "vox populi, vox Dei." F. Sionil Jose, in a recent column for Philippine Graphic, had this to say: "But the knowledge of the peasant is not backed by a more profound understanding of the larger circumstances beyond his immediate relationships with his mother, his village, and the land itself… The kind of information that should be part of his knowledge is often denied him. And in today's world, that kind of knowledge is not properly shaped by media and its dream world. The folk therefore is easily misled into accepting fiction as reality, popularity as leadership." In other words, we reap what we sow. And what we have sown is a negligence of more-than-serviceable education of the Filipino people. We have, instead, become a country "manufacturing" only nurses for work abroad -- no longer thinkers, planners, inventors, etc. In Silliman University last academic year, for example, there was an upsurge of enrollees for Nursing. And zero for Chemistry. Weigh the numbers. They are telling of a kind of despair. And this is just the middle class. How much more for the lower classes? Can we even imagine the depths of their despair? Can we blame them then for voting for clowns and movie stars and basketball players and second-rate TV news anchors? Can we blame them for reducing the whole debate into an argument that defies even logic: "Eh, binoto natin si Marcos na matalino, anong nangyari? Wala. Mabuti bomoto na lang tayo ng high school dropout."



Like I said, clownish logic. But blameless nevertheless. You cannot argue with a hungry stomach.



But I won't talk about the nuances of Philippine democracy or electoral system, because I do not want to bend to the common tendencies -- just right about these days -- to prognosticate the election results and analyze the voting mood of the archipelago. I will leave more seasoned men and women to do just that. What I'm going to talk about, for the sake of being irreverent, is what to exactly wear when I march into that public school in Lo-oc come Monday morning and stake a choice in my country's future.



I am not going to wear black, because that would be too obvious: the cast of a funeral wake, the way Monday could be given the ineptness of COMELEC thus far. There is an urging to wear something gray, because it is so much more neutral that way. A kind of a hoping color, too. Neither white, nor black. Undecided. Besides, this would be my first election in about ten years. When the madness of an Erap presidency came to fore sometime in 1998, I was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai to be exact, drinking wine in the middle of the night, in the muddle of the city's all-night street bazaar, explaining to a couple of American filmmakers/tourists the various shades of embarrassment for a country gone downhill with the election of a nincompoop. "I heard he's a drunken clown," the good man asked, "no offense meant to you." I replied: "No offense taken, besides you're right."



He said: "But he could be the next Ronald Reagan, you know."



I said, "I admire your optimism, but deep in my bones I know we are headed for shit." So we wined away my troubling thoughts. Later that year, I went back home to old country -- and the first time I got off the plane and stepped into the tropical heat, my skin suddenly burst into inexplicable rashes. It was a telling moment. Erap was President. The very air was poison, even to my skin.



And I was right. Years of shit indeed followed, capped by a mockery of an impeachment trial, and finally a second people's revolt that may have been shades of the first one, but lacked the latter's flood of dignity and utter spirituality. I was a local newspaper editor then before Edsa Dos erupted, and my job was to wade through news after news of continuous woe that became the very picture of the country. It was enough to break anyone's heart, the way one saw a country with a spirit amputated, the way one could go about and touch the palpable misery hanging in the air.



When the crowds swelled one more time to oust an inept leader, it was enough to make me cry. I remember that was a Sunday. I made the most wonderful issue for that newspaper in my time there as its editor, and when I stepped into the daylight after a night of toiling to get the paper to bed, there was a nippiness to the air that spoke volumes about renewed chances, about renewed dreams. It felt good: it had, after all, been a miserable year, I remember, and I was quickly losing faith in the Filipino. But how quickly, too, to regain it back.



And how quickly to lose it again.



Ricco is wearing brown, and is voting for FPJ, simply because he believes in his "mythology." He says, "That's what we need now, a mythological figure like FPJ to unite us." I know my mythology, too, and I think: if that is the ultimate arbiter for something as important as the Presidency, then I'm voting for Frodo.



Moe is wearing blue, and texts me not to forget to vote for GMA. His arguments are lucid and passionate. And he ends with this: "I cannot accept a president who is a high-school dropout. It negates the entirety of what I believe in a good and proper life." I like GMA, and although she stands exactly toe-to-toe with Frodo, I cannot vote for her. I thought I would, in the beginning, but something eats at me every time I consider her name and her immediate legacy: her quick kowtowing to powers-that-be (damn Bush, and damn Cardinal Sin...), and her inconsistencies... I happen to like my leaders who believe in their words and the firmness of their promises. Plus, I went to Iligan one time and saw this portrait of her in their house wearing a sexy, green taffeta gown, and sprawled Imeldific on some surface or other. I thought: "Napaka-ST naman," and that has stuck to me ever since. I still confuse her for Maui Taylor.



Villanueva confuses me, too. But my mother -- devout Christian that she is -- will wear a shade of magenta for him. I tell her, "You are confusing Sunday School for governance." And she says, "God is what we need." And I tell her, "And Brother Eddie is God?" And she says, "Maniwala ka, babangon tayo."



Lacson scares me. Nobody I know will wear anything for him.



So now I'm voting for Roco, by principle, and because he makes the perfect sense and the perfect foil to all these gadabouts pretending to be saviors of our word. I am voting for him regardless of anyone's argument for a "wasted" vote, something I do not understand. And regardless of rumors of his dying, too. Truth be told, the talk of Roco's impeding "death" was the final clincher: a dying man, conscious of mortality, cannot be swayed by corruption, and can only devote the last of his years to becoming the very fulfillment of a life.



We need life-and-death stakes like this to truly believe in elections that will finally matter. Not just breezy promises of everything under the sun set to Sex Bomb music. And finally my wardrobe: a red Hawaiian shirt. Just because. Plus the one I have looks good on me. Anything that will look good, to face the future -- good or bad -- that looms ever so close.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





What do you do to get rid of blog-stalkers? Get a restraining order. Which, of course, is terribly impossible in the free-for-all called the Philippines. I am starting to think, rightly, that this person derives strange pleasure from harassing us -- that whatever we say back to him through the comments inflates his weird ego, and gives him that perverted chance to be in a kind of spotlight -- which is something denied him in real life, I guess. So now I'm going to give me, Ryan, and all the rest of you a chance to heave a sigh of relief. I'm outta here. I'm setting camp somewhere else where no Ryans exist. Like Dinah, I don't need this stress of a pompous ass. I'll email the rest of you where you can find me.



But the dancer has to take his last bow.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Sunday, May 02, 2004





Why Sunday afternoons are good.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





To understand the man that confounds us, one must first find out where he comes from. No, he is not from Mars. This is from the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Youngblood column, 16 November 2001 issue:



The Aglipayan Irony

By Ryan Josef Calauor



The Philippine Independent Church or the Aglipayan Church, to which I belong, used to baffle me with its many ironies. Unquestionably rich in terms of history and unfailingly visible in the realm of social activism, the Aglipayan Church has nonetheless become one of the poorest religious groups in our country. Any non-Aglipayan only has to look at the deplorable state of many PIC structures all over the country and, of course, in some cases their diminishing congregations, and he would conclude that the PIC, the most tangible remnant of the 1898 Revolution, alas, has hit rock-bottom.



A hundred years ago, this condition would have been utterly unthinkable.



The cream of the turn-of-the-century Philippine society, led by President Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Isabelo de los Reyes and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, risked wealth and life to establish this "purely Filipino" church (which meant basically that no Spanish friars would be allowed to mount the pulpit). It was the Dream Church of Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government, a sanctuary where Filipino priests could officiate in various Philippine languages (and marry), where the Philippine flag would be displayed near the altar and the national anthem will be sung at the end of the Mass.



Unfortunately, as with all patriotic visions in this country, the Dream Church eventually was relegated to the backseat. Today, this position is manifested in the poor economic and political standing of the PIC in national affairs.



In our country, political power or influence remains the standard by which prestige is measured. And by this standard, the Aglipayan Church has lost much of its luster. It has close to zero representation in the judiciary, the legislature and the executive branch of the present government.



The reason is simple: There has never been an Aglipayan vote. Since the political clout of religious denominations ultimately depends on the ability of its leaders to deliver a solid vote, their leaders move heaven and earth to make this solid vote a reality during elections.



But for as long as I can remember, the PIC leadership has never pursued such a partisan campaign, notwithstanding the Aglipayan leaning toward liberation theology. This lack of political opportunism on the part of Aglipayan leaders seems to have diminished the influence of the church. As a result it has suffered a number of setbacks and disappointments that must have made our 1898 heroes turn in their graves.



In 1996, for instance, President Ramos asked Congress to change the name of Taft Avenue to Aglipay Avenue in honor of the PIC founder. The proposal died stillborn in Congress. This was followed by another recommendation making Aug. 3, the Aglipayan Foundation Day, a national working holiday.



That, too, was killed unceremoniously. But the most stinging rebuff came when the National Centennial Commission excluded the PIC from the Grand Centennial Parade of 100 historical floats at the Quirino Grandstand on June 12, 1998. The NCC deemed Aguinaldo’s Dream Church unfit and unworthy to be part of the national celebration. Its members desecrated the living symbol of that era in our history when patriotism was young, daring, pure and fiery.



The lack of political prominence of the Aglipayan has decimated its national constituency. I have always believed that churches should project themselves to people. Politics is one way of doing this. For many people who are awed by power and privilege, the more politically connected they perceive their church to be, the stronger their loyalty to their church.



The exact opposite happens when members realize that their church has fallen out of favor with the powers-that-be. They hastily abandon their church and jump to a presumably more heavenly denomination.



Such mentality is obviously pathetic. Such people apparently base their decision on the question: How could God be kind to this church which can’t even get a congressman to donate a ceiling fan, much less rename a city avenue after its founder? Spirituality brings many great things.



Spirituality brings many grand things. Something is wrong when we fail to honor a spiritual leader.



The past two decades have seen the exodus of thousands of PIC members who went on to join more political, better-organized and better-funded church groups. This way of getting new members is forbidden by the by-laws of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. But some clever NCCP members, who have apparently benefited from the Aglipayan diaspora, have repeatedly turned a blind eye to this rule because, after all, they have been the winners -- and the PIC the loser -- in this inter-sect numbers game.



(I myself have been visiting other denominations for the past three years, in an effort to gain insight into their idea of worship and, thus, deepen my knowledge of the diversity of the Christian faith. My visits, however, have always been academic, non-political and temporary.)



To pious friends who derive much pleasure from hopping from one church to another, I say: There are no perfect churches, no sinless priests and no divine ministers. There can only be perfect faith, and it can be found in every church. Perfect faith is not achieved by switching churches; it can only be experienced by staying put, focusing, humbling oneself and reaching out to God in the most honest, earnest and personal terms.



In the history of the PIC, no obispo maximo (the supreme leader of the PIC) has ever issued a strict policy of adherence that would effectively address the problem of volatility in the PIC membership. Some fanatics have proposed a policy that would enforce allegiance and sanction anyone who would try to give up his PIC membership, or something close to it. In my younger years, I myself had seriously thought about this as the solution for the lack of loyalty in the PIC’s ranks.



But then such a policy would contravene the human right to free religion. Besides, only a cultist would really adopt such a stringent measure, and the PIC is not a cult.



In retrospect, I have come to realize that the absence of an iron hand in the PIC is not a sign of weakness but of tolerance. Jesus Christ as leader was incredibly tolerant. Thus, this element of tolerance in the Aglipayan mission is not a liability but its apotheosis. Its democratic essence is its greatest strength.



Whenever I think of my dear Aglipayan Church, I cannot help but think of Philippine society as a whole. There are many parallels between them. More than a century after the 1898 Revolution, the Philippines has remained a Third World democracy with a largely Third World infrastructure. Many of its citizens are going abroad in search of a "better life." A century after its founding, the PIC is experiencing exactly the same things.



I do not know if St. Peter asks people to describe the church they were born to. But if by chance he would ask me when I am at heaven’s gate, I will tell him mine was cool and I missed it. My church was cool because it resembled so much the society where I lived: it was a bastion of freedom, it taught me to love and see God in the poorest among the people and in the simplest of things; and it was never the favorite bailiwick of traditional politicians.



Ryan Josef Calauor, 25, grew up in the Aglipayan convent in Sibalom, Antique, and is a physical therapist by profession


I think that answers a lot. Doesn't it?


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





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