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





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Sunday, August 29, 2004

entry arrow9:02 PM | On David Mitchell





From David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas:



Thursday, 7th November-



Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints. Through rotting kelp, sea cocoa-nuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a White man, his trowzers & Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shoveling & sifting the cindery sand with a teaspoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, 'tis not down on any map I ever saw.



Had the doctor misplaced anything on that dismal shore? Could I render assistance? Dr. Goose shook his head, knotted loose his 'kerchief & displayed its contents with clear pride. "Teeth, sir, are the enameled grails of the quest in hand. In days gone by this Arcadian strand was a cannibals' banqueting hall, yes, where the strong engorged themselves on the weak. The teeth, they spat out, as you or I would expel cherry stones. But these base molars, sir, shall be transmuted to gold & how? An artisan of Piccadilly who fashions denture sets for the nobility pays handsomely for human gnashers. Do you know the price a quarter pound will earn, sir?"



I confessed I did not.


Read more here.



Publisher Weekly writes: "At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume's most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician's effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell's ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the 'novel as puzzle' will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:02 PM | On David Mitchell





From David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas:



Thursday, 7th November-



Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints. Through rotting kelp, sea cocoa-nuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a White man, his trowzers & Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shoveling & sifting the cindery sand with a teaspoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, 'tis not down on any map I ever saw.



Had the doctor misplaced anything on that dismal shore? Could I render assistance? Dr. Goose shook his head, knotted loose his 'kerchief & displayed its contents with clear pride. "Teeth, sir, are the enameled grails of the quest in hand. In days gone by this Arcadian strand was a cannibals' banqueting hall, yes, where the strong engorged themselves on the weak. The teeth, they spat out, as you or I would expel cherry stones. But these base molars, sir, shall be transmuted to gold & how? An artisan of Piccadilly who fashions denture sets for the nobility pays handsomely for human gnashers. Do you know the price a quarter pound will earn, sir?"



I confessed I did not.


Read more here.



Publisher Weekly writes: "At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume's most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician's effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell's ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the 'novel as puzzle' will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow9:02 PM | On David Mitchell





From David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas:



Thursday, 7th November-



Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints. Through rotting kelp, sea cocoa-nuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a White man, his trowzers & Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shoveling & sifting the cindery sand with a teaspoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, 'tis not down on any map I ever saw.



Had the doctor misplaced anything on that dismal shore? Could I render assistance? Dr. Goose shook his head, knotted loose his 'kerchief & displayed its contents with clear pride. "Teeth, sir, are the enameled grails of the quest in hand. In days gone by this Arcadian strand was a cannibals' banqueting hall, yes, where the strong engorged themselves on the weak. The teeth, they spat out, as you or I would expel cherry stones. But these base molars, sir, shall be transmuted to gold & how? An artisan of Piccadilly who fashions denture sets for the nobility pays handsomely for human gnashers. Do you know the price a quarter pound will earn, sir?"



I confessed I did not.


Read more here.



Publisher Weekly writes: "At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume's most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician's effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell's ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the 'novel as puzzle' will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work."


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:27 PM | The Mistress of Confidence

I will say one thing about Prof. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez, choir mistress, Silliman University music professor, and eternal friend. Like fine wine, she gets better through the years, her flavor more succinct, her strengths more refined, her spirit undaunted, and which is generous enough to make anyone fly with her. The operative word in that last phrase is the word "with," because in her shining moments, she never really wants to outshine anyone. No ... the fact of the matter is, she makes you shine along with her -- and that makes all the difference.



I was a confused college sophomore when I first met Ma'am Sue, or the way I say it, with an "o," as in Mom Sue. And like anyone who first got to know her, I was scared of her, probably because I was a dimwit who was easily intimidated by the shadow of greatness. This is a common thing about her.



"People always think suplada ko," I remember her telling me. "Maldita ra baya."



And then we'd both burst out laughing.



"Cute pud," I'd retort back.



But granted, the first time I knew of her, I was scared.



But she became my musical director for two plays, first, a defunct version of West Side Story which never saw the light of day, and then later Godspell, which was a small play intimate enough to develop the camaraderie that would soon spell my deep friendship with Mom Sue.



In West Side Story, I played Diesel, one of the Jets, but although I fancied myself a man of extreme confidence, I considered my singing something not quite worthwhile. Which, of course, made rehearsing with the Susan Vista extra-intimidating. She was the embodiment of Silliman's musical tradition, after all. The offspring of the very musical Dimaya and Vista families and the pupil of the late Maestro Albert Faurot, she was also Dean of the university's School of Music at the time when it reasserted its prowess in music education a while back. She was also director of the SU Campus Choristers, which had toured the United States twice, and which had been granted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines the status of Cultural Ambassador of Goodwill. She played Rachmaninoff like genius. I was scared that when it came to practicing my songs with her, I'd croak. But I guess I passed muster, because when West Side Story was aborted, I was immediately cast in another musical, Godspell -- and suddenly found myself having a solo.



Which made me tremble with such fear.



But she gave me courage to sing. She made me breathe through the song. She made me capable. She gave me that needed belief in myself. Later on, as part of her world-renowned Campus Choristers, I developed a musicality in me that was her stamp. She made all of us in that choir develop the habit of listening to each other to produce beautiful music. She called this harmony "timpla," and we believed her. But, really, the final lesson we ultimately learned from her is that crucial belief in ourselves. It was the key, and she knew how to turn it to unlock our spirits. She would tell me, "When I direct a choir, I need to know how each one sings. I need to know why she sings this way, why he wouldn't smile, why she can only give this much. It's a hard job, but I need to know all of those things -- and then that's when I can motivate each one well. That's part of music."



That's the thing. After my initial impressions of Ma'am Sue as somebody intimidating, I soon sensed that, in fact, we were kindred spirits. We were so much alike, and sometimes we even thought alike. We would always have the same vision of things, and I saw many aspects of myself in her. I also soon found out that she had this child's sense of wonder that made it very easy for me, and for anyone else close to her, to connect with her. So many years later, I still have that close friendship with her, something I value with all my heart.



The thing about Ma'am Sue that I have learned through the years is embedded in the books she had recently launched in time for Silliman's 103rd Founders Day celebration. One is an exhaustive introduction to choral conducting. And another, a book which is closer to my heart, is Born to Make a Difference Vol. 1: If My Hands Could Sing, a workbook on music and self-esteem -- which is part inspirational, part children's story, part comic book, part pedagogical tool and esteem-builder for teachers, parents, "and even pastors," so said Silliman's Rev. Reuben Cedino.



In that introduction, she wrote: "This book/manual is written with the hope that it will inspire teachers to take a good look at themselves and discover, or rediscover, the meaning of doing what is probably the most noble thing in the world: teaching.



"There is also a hope that this book will serve as an eye-opener to a problem many have long since noticed, that the essence of true education has been lost in the muddle of making lesson plans and teaching students mere techniques. What must be said at the beginning is that there is more to teaching than just mouthing lessons to students, and getting feedback through examinations. When some piano students, for example, earn their degree in music, many of them do not make music -- they merely play a semblance of scale passages and practiced techniques, but never quite reaching to share art with the audience.



"Based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, the affective domain of the teaching process, which involves 'teaching from the heart,' has been placed in the back seat to give way mainly to the cognitive or 'intellectual,' and psychomotor or 'physical' domain of learning.



"Perhaps this is because many teachers have lost sight of their dreams, and thus have learned to be helpless. They have somehow become lost in a system they think they cannot change, or live in harmony with. Like rats in a maze, they search for something better -- but cannot find it, not knowing that a better life exists within themselves, and may be found again through the choices they make and the dreams they wish to pursue.



"I must say that the better life is found only through the ability to "die to oneself," and to change the attitudes that sometimes keep one from succeeding. When one loses sight of his dream, he becomes discontented in what he does. If he is a teacher, his students ultimately suffer -- this is because he is unhappy with himself in the very beginning. Sadness and bitterness are contagious.



"As with the great teachers of the past, like Jesus Christ (who transmitted spiritual lessons using down-to-earth stories for those who could not read or write), or Socrates (who used questioning as a form of helping his students find their own answers), I feel that it is the teacher's job to initiate understanding in their students. The circumstances in the world, their immediate community, and their classroom may not be ideal for learning but the good teacher can rise above any situation.



"The challenge of encouraging the young to discover what is within them and to go beyond what they think they cannot do is an enormous task. In many cases, some teachers would just like to concede and throw in the towel saying, 'I give up!' But as I have observed, there are also others who keep on fighting the good fight, and in the end, the results for them are beyond expectations.



"This book deals more with the attitude of transmitting knowledge, rather than on the specific knowledge itself. It is based on the premise that students learn better and faster with positive reinforcement and thus developing positive attitudes in learners, as well as in themselves."



We have here, in this book, her sense of generosity and outreach. She genuinely wants to share with all of us her passion for music, and her passion for life. Her books may be about music and educational pedagogy, but they are also about the human spirit -- and that's what makes her unique as a teacher. Because she knows that we are all students who start out intimidated and frightened and insecure. Like the consummate choir mistress that she is, she has learned to bring out the performer in each of us, to make us believe in what we are capable of doing, to give us that needed sense of security, and finally to make us the best musician -- or person -- that we could ever be.



That, I think, defines what teaching and being a teacher is all about.



So, thank you, Ma'am Sue, for your gift of sharing, with me and with all of us your students, your life. The blood and sweat of that generous life, I know, are embedded in these books. Thus, these books are only manifestations of that gift, and we willingly receive them and we thank you for them.



(The books are available in the College of Performing Arts, Silliman University.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:27 PM | The Mistress of Confidence

I will say one thing about Prof. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez, choir mistress, Silliman University music professor, and eternal friend. Like fine wine, she gets better through the years, her flavor more succinct, her strengths more refined, her spirit undaunted, and which is generous enough to make anyone fly with her. The operative word in that last phrase is the word "with," because in her shining moments, she never really wants to outshine anyone. No ... the fact of the matter is, she makes you shine along with her -- and that makes all the difference.



I was a confused college sophomore when I first met Ma'am Sue, or the way I say it, with an "o," as in Mom Sue. And like anyone who first got to know her, I was scared of her, probably because I was a dimwit who was easily intimidated by the shadow of greatness. This is a common thing about her.



"People always think suplada ko," I remember her telling me. "Maldita ra baya."



And then we'd both burst out laughing.



"Cute pud," I'd retort back.



But granted, the first time I knew of her, I was scared.



But she became my musical director for two plays, first, a defunct version of West Side Story which never saw the light of day, and then later Godspell, which was a small play intimate enough to develop the camaraderie that would soon spell my deep friendship with Mom Sue.



In West Side Story, I played Diesel, one of the Jets, but although I fancied myself a man of extreme confidence, I considered my singing something not quite worthwhile. Which, of course, made rehearsing with the Susan Vista extra-intimidating. She was the embodiment of Silliman's musical tradition, after all. The offspring of the very musical Dimaya and Vista families and the pupil of the late Maestro Albert Faurot, she was also Dean of the university's School of Music at the time when it reasserted its prowess in music education a while back. She was also director of the SU Campus Choristers, which had toured the United States twice, and which had been granted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines the status of Cultural Ambassador of Goodwill. She played Rachmaninoff like genius. I was scared that when it came to practicing my songs with her, I'd croak. But I guess I passed muster, because when West Side Story was aborted, I was immediately cast in another musical, Godspell -- and suddenly found myself having a solo.



Which made me tremble with such fear.



But she gave me courage to sing. She made me breathe through the song. She made me capable. She gave me that needed belief in myself. Later on, as part of her world-renowned Campus Choristers, I developed a musicality in me that was her stamp. She made all of us in that choir develop the habit of listening to each other to produce beautiful music. She called this harmony "timpla," and we believed her. But, really, the final lesson we ultimately learned from her is that crucial belief in ourselves. It was the key, and she knew how to turn it to unlock our spirits. She would tell me, "When I direct a choir, I need to know how each one sings. I need to know why she sings this way, why he wouldn't smile, why she can only give this much. It's a hard job, but I need to know all of those things -- and then that's when I can motivate each one well. That's part of music."



That's the thing. After my initial impressions of Ma'am Sue as somebody intimidating, I soon sensed that, in fact, we were kindred spirits. We were so much alike, and sometimes we even thought alike. We would always have the same vision of things, and I saw many aspects of myself in her. I also soon found out that she had this child's sense of wonder that made it very easy for me, and for anyone else close to her, to connect with her. So many years later, I still have that close friendship with her, something I value with all my heart.



The thing about Ma'am Sue that I have learned through the years is embedded in the books she had recently launched in time for Silliman's 103rd Founders Day celebration. One is an exhaustive introduction to choral conducting. And another, a book which is closer to my heart, is Born to Make a Difference Vol. 1: If My Hands Could Sing, a workbook on music and self-esteem -- which is part inspirational, part children's story, part comic book, part pedagogical tool and esteem-builder for teachers, parents, "and even pastors," so said Silliman's Rev. Reuben Cedino.



In that introduction, she wrote: "This book/manual is written with the hope that it will inspire teachers to take a good look at themselves and discover, or rediscover, the meaning of doing what is probably the most noble thing in the world: teaching.



"There is also a hope that this book will serve as an eye-opener to a problem many have long since noticed, that the essence of true education has been lost in the muddle of making lesson plans and teaching students mere techniques. What must be said at the beginning is that there is more to teaching than just mouthing lessons to students, and getting feedback through examinations. When some piano students, for example, earn their degree in music, many of them do not make music -- they merely play a semblance of scale passages and practiced techniques, but never quite reaching to share art with the audience.



"Based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, the affective domain of the teaching process, which involves 'teaching from the heart,' has been placed in the back seat to give way mainly to the cognitive or 'intellectual,' and psychomotor or 'physical' domain of learning.



"Perhaps this is because many teachers have lost sight of their dreams, and thus have learned to be helpless. They have somehow become lost in a system they think they cannot change, or live in harmony with. Like rats in a maze, they search for something better -- but cannot find it, not knowing that a better life exists within themselves, and may be found again through the choices they make and the dreams they wish to pursue.



"I must say that the better life is found only through the ability to "die to oneself," and to change the attitudes that sometimes keep one from succeeding. When one loses sight of his dream, he becomes discontented in what he does. If he is a teacher, his students ultimately suffer -- this is because he is unhappy with himself in the very beginning. Sadness and bitterness are contagious.



"As with the great teachers of the past, like Jesus Christ (who transmitted spiritual lessons using down-to-earth stories for those who could not read or write), or Socrates (who used questioning as a form of helping his students find their own answers), I feel that it is the teacher's job to initiate understanding in their students. The circumstances in the world, their immediate community, and their classroom may not be ideal for learning but the good teacher can rise above any situation.



"The challenge of encouraging the young to discover what is within them and to go beyond what they think they cannot do is an enormous task. In many cases, some teachers would just like to concede and throw in the towel saying, 'I give up!' But as I have observed, there are also others who keep on fighting the good fight, and in the end, the results for them are beyond expectations.



"This book deals more with the attitude of transmitting knowledge, rather than on the specific knowledge itself. It is based on the premise that students learn better and faster with positive reinforcement and thus developing positive attitudes in learners, as well as in themselves."



We have here, in this book, her sense of generosity and outreach. She genuinely wants to share with all of us her passion for music, and her passion for life. Her books may be about music and educational pedagogy, but they are also about the human spirit -- and that's what makes her unique as a teacher. Because she knows that we are all students who start out intimidated and frightened and insecure. Like the consummate choir mistress that she is, she has learned to bring out the performer in each of us, to make us believe in what we are capable of doing, to give us that needed sense of security, and finally to make us the best musician -- or person -- that we could ever be.



That, I think, defines what teaching and being a teacher is all about.



So, thank you, Ma'am Sue, for your gift of sharing, with me and with all of us your students, your life. The blood and sweat of that generous life, I know, are embedded in these books. Thus, these books are only manifestations of that gift, and we willingly receive them and we thank you for them.



(The books are available in the College of Performing Arts, Silliman University.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:27 PM | The Mistress of Confidence

I will say one thing about Prof. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez, choir mistress, Silliman University music professor, and eternal friend. Like fine wine, she gets better through the years, her flavor more succinct, her strengths more refined, her spirit undaunted, and which is generous enough to make anyone fly with her. The operative word in that last phrase is the word "with," because in her shining moments, she never really wants to outshine anyone. No ... the fact of the matter is, she makes you shine along with her -- and that makes all the difference.



I was a confused college sophomore when I first met Ma'am Sue, or the way I say it, with an "o," as in Mom Sue. And like anyone who first got to know her, I was scared of her, probably because I was a dimwit who was easily intimidated by the shadow of greatness. This is a common thing about her.



"People always think suplada ko," I remember her telling me. "Maldita ra baya."



And then we'd both burst out laughing.



"Cute pud," I'd retort back.



But granted, the first time I knew of her, I was scared.



But she became my musical director for two plays, first, a defunct version of West Side Story which never saw the light of day, and then later Godspell, which was a small play intimate enough to develop the camaraderie that would soon spell my deep friendship with Mom Sue.



In West Side Story, I played Diesel, one of the Jets, but although I fancied myself a man of extreme confidence, I considered my singing something not quite worthwhile. Which, of course, made rehearsing with the Susan Vista extra-intimidating. She was the embodiment of Silliman's musical tradition, after all. The offspring of the very musical Dimaya and Vista families and the pupil of the late Maestro Albert Faurot, she was also Dean of the university's School of Music at the time when it reasserted its prowess in music education a while back. She was also director of the SU Campus Choristers, which had toured the United States twice, and which had been granted by the Cultural Center of the Philippines the status of Cultural Ambassador of Goodwill. She played Rachmaninoff like genius. I was scared that when it came to practicing my songs with her, I'd croak. But I guess I passed muster, because when West Side Story was aborted, I was immediately cast in another musical, Godspell -- and suddenly found myself having a solo.



Which made me tremble with such fear.



But she gave me courage to sing. She made me breathe through the song. She made me capable. She gave me that needed belief in myself. Later on, as part of her world-renowned Campus Choristers, I developed a musicality in me that was her stamp. She made all of us in that choir develop the habit of listening to each other to produce beautiful music. She called this harmony "timpla," and we believed her. But, really, the final lesson we ultimately learned from her is that crucial belief in ourselves. It was the key, and she knew how to turn it to unlock our spirits. She would tell me, "When I direct a choir, I need to know how each one sings. I need to know why she sings this way, why he wouldn't smile, why she can only give this much. It's a hard job, but I need to know all of those things -- and then that's when I can motivate each one well. That's part of music."



That's the thing. After my initial impressions of Ma'am Sue as somebody intimidating, I soon sensed that, in fact, we were kindred spirits. We were so much alike, and sometimes we even thought alike. We would always have the same vision of things, and I saw many aspects of myself in her. I also soon found out that she had this child's sense of wonder that made it very easy for me, and for anyone else close to her, to connect with her. So many years later, I still have that close friendship with her, something I value with all my heart.



The thing about Ma'am Sue that I have learned through the years is embedded in the books she had recently launched in time for Silliman's 103rd Founders Day celebration. One is an exhaustive introduction to choral conducting. And another, a book which is closer to my heart, is Born to Make a Difference Vol. 1: If My Hands Could Sing, a workbook on music and self-esteem -- which is part inspirational, part children's story, part comic book, part pedagogical tool and esteem-builder for teachers, parents, "and even pastors," so said Silliman's Rev. Reuben Cedino.



In that introduction, she wrote: "This book/manual is written with the hope that it will inspire teachers to take a good look at themselves and discover, or rediscover, the meaning of doing what is probably the most noble thing in the world: teaching.



"There is also a hope that this book will serve as an eye-opener to a problem many have long since noticed, that the essence of true education has been lost in the muddle of making lesson plans and teaching students mere techniques. What must be said at the beginning is that there is more to teaching than just mouthing lessons to students, and getting feedback through examinations. When some piano students, for example, earn their degree in music, many of them do not make music -- they merely play a semblance of scale passages and practiced techniques, but never quite reaching to share art with the audience.



"Based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains, the affective domain of the teaching process, which involves 'teaching from the heart,' has been placed in the back seat to give way mainly to the cognitive or 'intellectual,' and psychomotor or 'physical' domain of learning.



"Perhaps this is because many teachers have lost sight of their dreams, and thus have learned to be helpless. They have somehow become lost in a system they think they cannot change, or live in harmony with. Like rats in a maze, they search for something better -- but cannot find it, not knowing that a better life exists within themselves, and may be found again through the choices they make and the dreams they wish to pursue.



"I must say that the better life is found only through the ability to "die to oneself," and to change the attitudes that sometimes keep one from succeeding. When one loses sight of his dream, he becomes discontented in what he does. If he is a teacher, his students ultimately suffer -- this is because he is unhappy with himself in the very beginning. Sadness and bitterness are contagious.



"As with the great teachers of the past, like Jesus Christ (who transmitted spiritual lessons using down-to-earth stories for those who could not read or write), or Socrates (who used questioning as a form of helping his students find their own answers), I feel that it is the teacher's job to initiate understanding in their students. The circumstances in the world, their immediate community, and their classroom may not be ideal for learning but the good teacher can rise above any situation.



"The challenge of encouraging the young to discover what is within them and to go beyond what they think they cannot do is an enormous task. In many cases, some teachers would just like to concede and throw in the towel saying, 'I give up!' But as I have observed, there are also others who keep on fighting the good fight, and in the end, the results for them are beyond expectations.



"This book deals more with the attitude of transmitting knowledge, rather than on the specific knowledge itself. It is based on the premise that students learn better and faster with positive reinforcement and thus developing positive attitudes in learners, as well as in themselves."



We have here, in this book, her sense of generosity and outreach. She genuinely wants to share with all of us her passion for music, and her passion for life. Her books may be about music and educational pedagogy, but they are also about the human spirit -- and that's what makes her unique as a teacher. Because she knows that we are all students who start out intimidated and frightened and insecure. Like the consummate choir mistress that she is, she has learned to bring out the performer in each of us, to make us believe in what we are capable of doing, to give us that needed sense of security, and finally to make us the best musician -- or person -- that we could ever be.



That, I think, defines what teaching and being a teacher is all about.



So, thank you, Ma'am Sue, for your gift of sharing, with me and with all of us your students, your life. The blood and sweat of that generous life, I know, are embedded in these books. Thus, these books are only manifestations of that gift, and we willingly receive them and we thank you for them.



(The books are available in the College of Performing Arts, Silliman University.)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Saturday, August 21, 2004

entry arrow1:47 PM | Down in the Dumps

I have forgotten what real sleep was like. This is my nth day of endless nights and grinding days, made bearable only by the string of brewed coffee I've drunk in an effort to catch up with all that I have to do. Or die trying. So far, I think, I'm on track, but barely. There's an awards show to direct, a journal to edit, two lecture-fora to set-up, a website to design, an anthology to assemble, an article or two to submit, papers to write, exams to study for, books to read before the deadliest deadlines, and a personal life to take care of. Mom Edith Tiempo admonishes me that I'm spreading myself too thin. Actually I'm not: these are just the normal number of responsibilities I've always had. August, when we celebrate Silliman's Founders Week, just becomes a natural pressure cooker for me and for everyone else. (That's why I can't wait for September.) It all makes me wish I can be Superman with a thirty-four hour day. The day after my birthday, I decided to treat myself out for a full body masagge that lasted more than an hour -- my oasis in the current desert I find myself in. What a month.



Will post soon when I get through all these.



Congratulations to Rosmon Tuazon, Naya Valdellon, Gelo Suarez, Glenn Mas, and Joel Toledo for winning the Palanca! I am sooooooo proud of you guys!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:47 PM | Down in the Dumps

I have forgotten what real sleep was like. This is my nth day of endless nights and grinding days, made bearable only by the string of brewed coffee I've drunk in an effort to catch up with all that I have to do. Or die trying. So far, I think, I'm on track, but barely. There's an awards show to direct, a journal to edit, two lecture-fora to set-up, a website to design, an anthology to assemble, an article or two to submit, papers to write, exams to study for, books to read before the deadliest deadlines, and a personal life to take care of. Mom Edith Tiempo admonishes me that I'm spreading myself too thin. Actually I'm not: these are just the normal number of responsibilities I've always had. August, when we celebrate Silliman's Founders Week, just becomes a natural pressure cooker for me and for everyone else. (That's why I can't wait for September.) It all makes me wish I can be Superman with a thirty-four hour day. The day after my birthday, I decided to treat myself out for a full body masagge that lasted more than an hour -- my oasis in the current desert I find myself in. What a month.



Will post soon when I get through all these.



Congratulations to Rosmon Tuazon, Naya Valdellon, Gelo Suarez, Glenn Mas, and Joel Toledo for winning the Palanca! I am sooooooo proud of you guys!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow1:47 PM | Down in the Dumps

I have forgotten what real sleep was like. This is my nth day of endless nights and grinding days, made bearable only by the string of brewed coffee I've drunk in an effort to catch up with all that I have to do. Or die trying. So far, I think, I'm on track, but barely. There's an awards show to direct, a journal to edit, two lecture-fora to set-up, a website to design, an anthology to assemble, an article or two to submit, papers to write, exams to study for, books to read before the deadliest deadlines, and a personal life to take care of. Mom Edith Tiempo admonishes me that I'm spreading myself too thin. Actually I'm not: these are just the normal number of responsibilities I've always had. August, when we celebrate Silliman's Founders Week, just becomes a natural pressure cooker for me and for everyone else. (That's why I can't wait for September.) It all makes me wish I can be Superman with a thirty-four hour day. The day after my birthday, I decided to treat myself out for a full body masagge that lasted more than an hour -- my oasis in the current desert I find myself in. What a month.



Will post soon when I get through all these.



Congratulations to Rosmon Tuazon, Naya Valdellon, Gelo Suarez, Glenn Mas, and Joel Toledo for winning the Palanca! I am sooooooo proud of you guys!


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Tuesday, August 17, 2004

entry arrow7:55 AM | Birthday Boy

Okay, here we go...



(Takes a deep breath and becomes a year older...)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:55 AM | Birthday Boy

Okay, here we go...



(Takes a deep breath and becomes a year older...)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow7:55 AM | Birthday Boy

Okay, here we go...



(Takes a deep breath and becomes a year older...)


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, August 16, 2004

entry arrow5:00 PM | This is It.

The feeling is that of waking up after a long, long sleep. You embrace the sudden familiarity of light, and then you know that you are home.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:00 PM | This is It.

The feeling is that of waking up after a long, long sleep. You embrace the sudden familiarity of light, and then you know that you are home.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow5:00 PM | This is It.

The feeling is that of waking up after a long, long sleep. You embrace the sudden familiarity of light, and then you know that you are home.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow4:41 PM | Signs of Dread After a Certain Age

I was watching reruns of Sex and the City the other week on HBO, and in one episode, the fabulous (and already iconic) New York girls -- Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte -- romped off to Atlantic City to have fun and gamble, and affirm the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. And then also to celebrate Charlotte's 35th birthday -- again. Over cosmopolitans, they discussed the subtleties and little trepidation of aging gracefully, or with defiance, in the era of Demi-Ashton and Botox. "I don't look 36! I don't act 36!" Charlotte demanded, "And besides, men are so much more interested in 35 year olds."



Which, in a sense, strikes many of us -- especially if you're burgis -- as a familiar horror.



Yesterday, I told Mark, "It's my birthday on Tuesday. Better make sure you remember that day is still my 28th birthday. Again."



He laughed, and I laughed, and we chalked it up as another joke about growing older in an increasingly strange world where becoming 20 has become the new mark of turning over-the-hill, so to speak. We used to talk of 35 as being the definite end to that much-prized category "youth" -- but this is increasingly hard to believe in a time when we already have a new demographic named: the tweens, that age between nine and thirteen where young people today suddenly blossom into the kind of sophistication and smarts we used to associate with turning 16.



I was still playing tayukok when I was 13.



Today's typical 13-year old -- reared on MTV and Cosmpolitan magazine -- is a vegetarian, wears make-up, and follows the exploits of Paris Hilton, as if The Simple Life is the bible.



But no matter how pooh-pooing I might be of the very idea of ageism, I still feel it in my bones: the dread of turning 30, of leaving the perfect cocoon of the 20s, that wonderful decade when your body and your mind are in perfect sync with the rest of you. These are the Happy Years.



When I was a decade-and-a-half younger, becoming 30 felt like going the way of the dinosaurs. I would look at my older brothers' friends, and I'd tell myself, "God, they're old" -- a sentiment, I realize now, that only the very young could offer with such innocent disdain.



Thirty meant becoming one of those middle-aged drones who have lost whatever vitality they once had that used to define them. There is, around them, that dreadful air of having "settled," be it professionally (stuck to a boring 9-to-5 just to feed the family), mentally (no time for reading or for watching a movie), socially (would rather watch Marina on TV than dress up and go out), and physically (the 36" waistline becomes the definition of having lived).



Becoming 29 is like knocking on the very door of that reality. It means one more year of reprieve, and then you become just like one of them.



My brothers, for one thing, have a tendency to balloon their girths to utter disproportion after the 20s. "It's a genetics thing," my mother -- who is also turning 73 on my birthday -- said. And she was right: Already, my body refuses to yield to what suppleness and energetic bounce it once knew. I easily get tired, and only Stresstabs contains enough magic to get me through any day. And now, buying new pairs of pants has become an ordeal in itself. Stripped bare under the harsh white light of Lee Super Plaza's fitting rooms, I have confronted the worst of my nightmares. Unsightly love handles from all those months of eating Dunkin' Donuts and fried chicken and lechon. I used to be a 28"; now I have to squeeze into a 33".



One could say, "What about gym?" But really who has time? At work, I am deluged with responsibilities that would make anyone's heads spin. If I find the time to even be able to read, that would be the very definition of "wonderful." And now, gym?



Then, listening to myself rant and reason out, I realize: Oh my God, I have settled. I have finally become them.



But why do we treat growing old as if it is a disease? The easiest reason anyone can give is to accuse an increasingly youth-centered culture. We prize youth. It has become currency to how we deal with the ideal. The beauty myth essentially spells out something springing of the youthful. The growing demand for Vicki Belo's services point to this. Words like Botox, liposuction, lipo-dissolve, breast augmentation, face-lift, and other nip-tucking procedures have become household words, no longer something foreign, or something to be wary about. To get under the knife and transform into a kind of swan (like how the reality show about plastic surgery, The Swan, affirms) has become routine, like going to the dentist.



In the process, we have demonized old age, and refer to it in terms of disease and diminished capacity. Wisdom through old age has ceased to be the goal and end-all of being human. Packaging with youthful trimmings is all what counts: look at Jessica Simpson and all her troglodyte lapses ("Who's Rigor Mortis?" she says in one of the episodes of MTV's Nick and Jessica: Newlyweds, "Did we invite him for dinner?") -- and we realize that anyone can be successful as long as you embody the youthful.



This is true even when we are offered new models of becoming old. Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, and Goldie Hawn have given us glimpses of what life can be when you just embrace it -- age be damned. In fact, the trend now is to distinguish between emotional age and chronological age.



So why isn't anybody happy yet about the age we have now?



I think the fear of becoming old basically springs from the fear of not having accomplished anything by a certain age. We want to die remembered, immortalized. We want to die having done something worthwhile for the world. Each passing year of not realizing the most basic of our dreams adds to that apprehension.



Some time ago, I promised myself, "When I turn 30, I'd be a millionaire." I'm 29, and I don't even have a car yet. Or a house. Or a name that will endure the forgetfulness of everybody else. And that scares me.



Numeric age becomes symbolic thus of time ticking by, taunting each one of us about our sheer incapacities. The fervent wish then is to delay what seems to be the inevitable, and fulfill our fondest hopes.



I still have a long way to go before I can call fulfillment my name.



So tomorrow, I still turn 28.



Never underestimate the power of denial.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow4:41 PM | Signs of Dread After a Certain Age

I was watching reruns of Sex and the City the other week on HBO, and in one episode, the fabulous (and already iconic) New York girls -- Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte -- romped off to Atlantic City to have fun and gamble, and affirm the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. And then also to celebrate Charlotte's 35th birthday -- again. Over cosmopolitans, they discussed the subtleties and little trepidation of aging gracefully, or with defiance, in the era of Demi-Ashton and Botox. "I don't look 36! I don't act 36!" Charlotte demanded, "And besides, men are so much more interested in 35 year olds."



Which, in a sense, strikes many of us -- especially if you're burgis -- as a familiar horror.



Yesterday, I told Mark, "It's my birthday on Tuesday. Better make sure you remember that day is still my 28th birthday. Again."



He laughed, and I laughed, and we chalked it up as another joke about growing older in an increasingly strange world where becoming 20 has become the new mark of turning over-the-hill, so to speak. We used to talk of 35 as being the definite end to that much-prized category "youth" -- but this is increasingly hard to believe in a time when we already have a new demographic named: the tweens, that age between nine and thirteen where young people today suddenly blossom into the kind of sophistication and smarts we used to associate with turning 16.



I was still playing tayukok when I was 13.



Today's typical 13-year old -- reared on MTV and Cosmpolitan magazine -- is a vegetarian, wears make-up, and follows the exploits of Paris Hilton, as if The Simple Life is the bible.



But no matter how pooh-pooing I might be of the very idea of ageism, I still feel it in my bones: the dread of turning 30, of leaving the perfect cocoon of the 20s, that wonderful decade when your body and your mind are in perfect sync with the rest of you. These are the Happy Years.



When I was a decade-and-a-half younger, becoming 30 felt like going the way of the dinosaurs. I would look at my older brothers' friends, and I'd tell myself, "God, they're old" -- a sentiment, I realize now, that only the very young could offer with such innocent disdain.



Thirty meant becoming one of those middle-aged drones who have lost whatever vitality they once had that used to define them. There is, around them, that dreadful air of having "settled," be it professionally (stuck to a boring 9-to-5 just to feed the family), mentally (no time for reading or for watching a movie), socially (would rather watch Marina on TV than dress up and go out), and physically (the 36" waistline becomes the definition of having lived).



Becoming 29 is like knocking on the very door of that reality. It means one more year of reprieve, and then you become just like one of them.



My brothers, for one thing, have a tendency to balloon their girths to utter disproportion after the 20s. "It's a genetics thing," my mother -- who is also turning 73 on my birthday -- said. And she was right: Already, my body refuses to yield to what suppleness and energetic bounce it once knew. I easily get tired, and only Stresstabs contains enough magic to get me through any day. And now, buying new pairs of pants has become an ordeal in itself. Stripped bare under the harsh white light of Lee Super Plaza's fitting rooms, I have confronted the worst of my nightmares. Unsightly love handles from all those months of eating Dunkin' Donuts and fried chicken and lechon. I used to be a 28"; now I have to squeeze into a 33".



One could say, "What about gym?" But really who has time? At work, I am deluged with responsibilities that would make anyone's heads spin. If I find the time to even be able to read, that would be the very definition of "wonderful." And now, gym?



Then, listening to myself rant and reason out, I realize: Oh my God, I have settled. I have finally become them.



But why do we treat growing old as if it is a disease? The easiest reason anyone can give is to accuse an increasingly youth-centered culture. We prize youth. It has become currency to how we deal with the ideal. The beauty myth essentially spells out something springing of the youthful. The growing demand for Vicki Belo's services point to this. Words like Botox, liposuction, lipo-dissolve, breast augmentation, face-lift, and other nip-tucking procedures have become household words, no longer something foreign, or something to be wary about. To get under the knife and transform into a kind of swan (like how the reality show about plastic surgery, The Swan, affirms) has become routine, like going to the dentist.



In the process, we have demonized old age, and refer to it in terms of disease and diminished capacity. Wisdom through old age has ceased to be the goal and end-all of being human. Packaging with youthful trimmings is all what counts: look at Jessica Simpson and all her troglodyte lapses ("Who's Rigor Mortis?" she says in one of the episodes of MTV's Nick and Jessica: Newlyweds, "Did we invite him for dinner?") -- and we realize that anyone can be successful as long as you embody the youthful.



This is true even when we are offered new models of becoming old. Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, and Goldie Hawn have given us glimpses of what life can be when you just embrace it -- age be damned. In fact, the trend now is to distinguish between emotional age and chronological age.



So why isn't anybody happy yet about the age we have now?



I think the fear of becoming old basically springs from the fear of not having accomplished anything by a certain age. We want to die remembered, immortalized. We want to die having done something worthwhile for the world. Each passing year of not realizing the most basic of our dreams adds to that apprehension.



Some time ago, I promised myself, "When I turn 30, I'd be a millionaire." I'm 29, and I don't even have a car yet. Or a house. Or a name that will endure the forgetfulness of everybody else. And that scares me.



Numeric age becomes symbolic thus of time ticking by, taunting each one of us about our sheer incapacities. The fervent wish then is to delay what seems to be the inevitable, and fulfill our fondest hopes.



I still have a long way to go before I can call fulfillment my name.



So tomorrow, I still turn 28.



Never underestimate the power of denial.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow4:41 PM | Signs of Dread After a Certain Age

I was watching reruns of Sex and the City the other week on HBO, and in one episode, the fabulous (and already iconic) New York girls -- Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte -- romped off to Atlantic City to have fun and gamble, and affirm the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. And then also to celebrate Charlotte's 35th birthday -- again. Over cosmopolitans, they discussed the subtleties and little trepidation of aging gracefully, or with defiance, in the era of Demi-Ashton and Botox. "I don't look 36! I don't act 36!" Charlotte demanded, "And besides, men are so much more interested in 35 year olds."



Which, in a sense, strikes many of us -- especially if you're burgis -- as a familiar horror.



Yesterday, I told Mark, "It's my birthday on Tuesday. Better make sure you remember that day is still my 28th birthday. Again."



He laughed, and I laughed, and we chalked it up as another joke about growing older in an increasingly strange world where becoming 20 has become the new mark of turning over-the-hill, so to speak. We used to talk of 35 as being the definite end to that much-prized category "youth" -- but this is increasingly hard to believe in a time when we already have a new demographic named: the tweens, that age between nine and thirteen where young people today suddenly blossom into the kind of sophistication and smarts we used to associate with turning 16.



I was still playing tayukok when I was 13.



Today's typical 13-year old -- reared on MTV and Cosmpolitan magazine -- is a vegetarian, wears make-up, and follows the exploits of Paris Hilton, as if The Simple Life is the bible.



But no matter how pooh-pooing I might be of the very idea of ageism, I still feel it in my bones: the dread of turning 30, of leaving the perfect cocoon of the 20s, that wonderful decade when your body and your mind are in perfect sync with the rest of you. These are the Happy Years.



When I was a decade-and-a-half younger, becoming 30 felt like going the way of the dinosaurs. I would look at my older brothers' friends, and I'd tell myself, "God, they're old" -- a sentiment, I realize now, that only the very young could offer with such innocent disdain.



Thirty meant becoming one of those middle-aged drones who have lost whatever vitality they once had that used to define them. There is, around them, that dreadful air of having "settled," be it professionally (stuck to a boring 9-to-5 just to feed the family), mentally (no time for reading or for watching a movie), socially (would rather watch Marina on TV than dress up and go out), and physically (the 36" waistline becomes the definition of having lived).



Becoming 29 is like knocking on the very door of that reality. It means one more year of reprieve, and then you become just like one of them.



My brothers, for one thing, have a tendency to balloon their girths to utter disproportion after the 20s. "It's a genetics thing," my mother -- who is also turning 73 on my birthday -- said. And she was right: Already, my body refuses to yield to what suppleness and energetic bounce it once knew. I easily get tired, and only Stresstabs contains enough magic to get me through any day. And now, buying new pairs of pants has become an ordeal in itself. Stripped bare under the harsh white light of Lee Super Plaza's fitting rooms, I have confronted the worst of my nightmares. Unsightly love handles from all those months of eating Dunkin' Donuts and fried chicken and lechon. I used to be a 28"; now I have to squeeze into a 33".



One could say, "What about gym?" But really who has time? At work, I am deluged with responsibilities that would make anyone's heads spin. If I find the time to even be able to read, that would be the very definition of "wonderful." And now, gym?



Then, listening to myself rant and reason out, I realize: Oh my God, I have settled. I have finally become them.



But why do we treat growing old as if it is a disease? The easiest reason anyone can give is to accuse an increasingly youth-centered culture. We prize youth. It has become currency to how we deal with the ideal. The beauty myth essentially spells out something springing of the youthful. The growing demand for Vicki Belo's services point to this. Words like Botox, liposuction, lipo-dissolve, breast augmentation, face-lift, and other nip-tucking procedures have become household words, no longer something foreign, or something to be wary about. To get under the knife and transform into a kind of swan (like how the reality show about plastic surgery, The Swan, affirms) has become routine, like going to the dentist.



In the process, we have demonized old age, and refer to it in terms of disease and diminished capacity. Wisdom through old age has ceased to be the goal and end-all of being human. Packaging with youthful trimmings is all what counts: look at Jessica Simpson and all her troglodyte lapses ("Who's Rigor Mortis?" she says in one of the episodes of MTV's Nick and Jessica: Newlyweds, "Did we invite him for dinner?") -- and we realize that anyone can be successful as long as you embody the youthful.



This is true even when we are offered new models of becoming old. Oprah Winfrey, Susan Sarandon, and Goldie Hawn have given us glimpses of what life can be when you just embrace it -- age be damned. In fact, the trend now is to distinguish between emotional age and chronological age.



So why isn't anybody happy yet about the age we have now?



I think the fear of becoming old basically springs from the fear of not having accomplished anything by a certain age. We want to die remembered, immortalized. We want to die having done something worthwhile for the world. Each passing year of not realizing the most basic of our dreams adds to that apprehension.



Some time ago, I promised myself, "When I turn 30, I'd be a millionaire." I'm 29, and I don't even have a car yet. Or a house. Or a name that will endure the forgetfulness of everybody else. And that scares me.



Numeric age becomes symbolic thus of time ticking by, taunting each one of us about our sheer incapacities. The fervent wish then is to delay what seems to be the inevitable, and fulfill our fondest hopes.



I still have a long way to go before I can call fulfillment my name.



So tomorrow, I still turn 28.



Never underestimate the power of denial.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Monday, August 09, 2004

entry arrow10:16 PM | The Languages of Our Every Day

I will begin this essay reflecting on a fervent misconception (on my part), springing mainly from a charge once made by the literary critic Fr. Miguel Bernad who, in his seminal essay "Philippine Literature: Perpetually Inchoate," surveyed the state of that national literature and proclaimed it as continually being in an "amateur" phase, never quite regaining maturity principally because of three reasons -- economic, linguistic, and cultural.



About the second factor, he wrote: "The linguistic difficulty is obvious. It is possible to, produce great literature only in a language that has been mastered. By "mastered" is meant more than mere grammatical or idiomatic mastery. It must be the type of mastery which assimilates the thought processes, the verbal nuances, and the characteristic rhythms, peculiar to an idiom. Every language has its peculiar genius: he is the master of the language who has caught that genius. Unfortunately the Philippines has not had a thorough chance to assimilate the genius of any particular language. Those whose education has been in English but whose parents were educated in Spanish will understand what this implies. In their case a wall of separation stands as a barrier between parents and children, between the younger generation and the one that preceded it. It is not that parents cannot understand English or the children Spanish, or that parents and children have no common medium of conversation. It is not a question of conversing; it is a question of thought processes. The thought patterns are different."



So I thought: I consider myself a Philippine writer who writes principally in English by choice -- not because I am not well versed in the language of my fathers (although, admittedly, anyone can make that accusation about me), but rather because my creativity springs from that particular linguistic well, foreign though it may be. (Only recently have I ventured into writing poetry in Binisaya, and while I have found this particular experience "liberating" and worthwhile, the instinct to write in the Queen's language is still what defines my oeuvre as a writer.)



So there it goes: the instinct to write is primarily colored by English. There has always been comfort in that. The words come easier...



But the Bernad charge made me uneasy: Does he mean that in my choosing to write in a foreign language, I am actually an eternal fraud? That no matter how I conceive of my situation as a writer, my thought processes can never really be in English?



I felt like a linguistic bastard.



This made me reflect on another once-upon-a-time, when I had wanted to have an arbaito, or a part-time job, in Japan, ostensibly to teach English to Japanese nationals who were ever-hungry to learn the language's nuances. And yet, scanning through the Help Wanted booklet regularly published by my Tokyo university's student affairs section, I was constantly met with this restriction "Wanted native speaker only." And "native speaker" invariably meant being blond, blue-eyed. American.



Which, needless to say, negated me.



Does not this language called English belong to me? I write in it and my education and upbringing has been characterized by my very immersion in it. And yet, by virtue of the geography of my birth and the color of my skin, I was not deemed a "holder" of that language, a "non-native."



This, coupled with Bernad's unsettling contention, made way to a self-willed construction of my language identity: if I must be a writer in English, then I should believe that my thought processes are in English.



"I dream in English," I began telling myself. "I think in English..."



And I believed that. Sometimes, when I wanted to prove this very point, I would pause and listen to how I think, and I'd get thrilled by the fact that I heard my mind whirr in English -- although I now know, reading from Stephen Pinker, that human thought actually does not possess language. We think in images and metaphors, not in any particular tongue.



Still, disregarding this piece of cognitive science, I believed in the concept of my Anglicized thoughts: the "evidence," after all, proved to me overwhelming. The spontaneous outbursts that come from me were always in English, and that satisfied me. Seeing a deformed woman on the street, for example, I'd say to myself: "What an ugly hag!" and never, "Hala, ka-maot gyud niya!" Taken by surprise by something or someone, I'd say, "What the--!" and never "Unsa ba!"



Last week, however, came this experiment: I wanted to listen to myself more, and objectively, and to take note of the language of my every day. The procedure was hard: I proved to be not too much of a keen observer, especially an observer of myself and my interactions. I kept forgetting to keep track of my linguistic use.



But I remember waking up one morning, nudged awake by the shrill of my alarm clock, and thinking... "Huh? What the...? What time is it?"



That's English.



And then, after turning off the alarm: "It's still a bit early. Makatulog pa ko."



That's English, and then Cebuano.



When I finally do wake up, I go about the morning preparing for what needs to be done for the late morning and afternoon, and the conscious conversation with myself seems to be in English. I either watch Oprah or the running programs of Discovery Channel or CNN while going about these morning rituals, and the language of my thoughts seems to parallel the language that comes out of my television. I react to the news or to the televised conversations in the language they come wrapped in, and that is English.



When I finally go out for lunch to the little corner karinderia in Tubod near my pad, my language switches to either Tagalog (the proprietor is a Bikolana) or Binisaya, but never in terms of a full-fledged conversation, only as indicators of function: "Kani ra" (indicating my choice for food), "Usa ra" (indicating my choice for number of cups for rice), and "Pila?" (asking for the total payment of my order). When I finally converse with people, I do so generally in English, with a bit of Binisaya thrown in for measure. I have no idea why but when people come up to me, they speak in English, so I reply to them in English, as well. Do I look a certain way that demanded this use of language? I have no idea.



At work, there seems to be a tendency for my colleagues -- all of them English teachers-to speak to each other in Binisaya. Paradoxical? Maybe, but I see it as a linguistic and psychological compensation: our classroom lives are engulfed, after all, in the straight use of English, non-stop, and so when we do gather together in the office away from our students, we speak in the local language "to balance" the language usage. I once asked a fellow teacher why this is the case. In reply, she joked: "Nahutdan man gud ta ug Iningles sa classroom." Which, I think, contains kernels of truth.



This is my conclusion: It is foolhardy to claim that our language life must be defined only by one exclusive tongue. Language is alive and ever-changing, never inert. Our linguistic mentality, I think, must also be the same -- so why do we need to impose on it, especially in the case of multilinguals like us, the rigidity of one tongue only? Our everyday lives speak in multiple tongues, shifting from code to code effortlessly, and we have learned to smoothly accommodate situations to particular languages we deem fit for it. I speak English to myself because that is the fountainhead of my self-expression. I speak Binisaya to the man on the street (or the karinderia) because that is the language we share from the cradle (but even that comes in a mixed bag: I would ask the karinderia owner "Pila?" and she would reply, "Twenty pesos"). I speak English in the classroom because I am an English teacher, and my University encourages this to be the medium of instruction. I speak both in English and Binisaya to my work colleagues because the office becomes the bridge in which our linguistic twains must meet. There is no singular language to live our daily lives.



Thus, a necessary revision: "I dream in Pinoy English."



What then can I now say about Bernad's contention knowing this? That he may have a point, but he is barking up the wrong tree. True, we cannot have real mastery over a foreign language, but I will read that as mastery over American English. I subscribe instead to Pinoy English, something that is still english, but peppered with the richness of my brown, multilingual identity -- I can say, for example, "Where man ka mo go?" -- and of this language, I am certainly very much a master.



And as for the Japanese who wanted only "native speakers"? They can have all the blue-eyed blondes they want: former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle is blond, blue-eyed, and American, but he once spelled "potato" as "potatoe."



Now, that's a native speaker.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:16 PM | The Languages of Our Every Day

I will begin this essay reflecting on a fervent misconception (on my part), springing mainly from a charge once made by the literary critic Fr. Miguel Bernad who, in his seminal essay "Philippine Literature: Perpetually Inchoate," surveyed the state of that national literature and proclaimed it as continually being in an "amateur" phase, never quite regaining maturity principally because of three reasons -- economic, linguistic, and cultural.



About the second factor, he wrote: "The linguistic difficulty is obvious. It is possible to, produce great literature only in a language that has been mastered. By "mastered" is meant more than mere grammatical or idiomatic mastery. It must be the type of mastery which assimilates the thought processes, the verbal nuances, and the characteristic rhythms, peculiar to an idiom. Every language has its peculiar genius: he is the master of the language who has caught that genius. Unfortunately the Philippines has not had a thorough chance to assimilate the genius of any particular language. Those whose education has been in English but whose parents were educated in Spanish will understand what this implies. In their case a wall of separation stands as a barrier between parents and children, between the younger generation and the one that preceded it. It is not that parents cannot understand English or the children Spanish, or that parents and children have no common medium of conversation. It is not a question of conversing; it is a question of thought processes. The thought patterns are different."



So I thought: I consider myself a Philippine writer who writes principally in English by choice -- not because I am not well versed in the language of my fathers (although, admittedly, anyone can make that accusation about me), but rather because my creativity springs from that particular linguistic well, foreign though it may be. (Only recently have I ventured into writing poetry in Binisaya, and while I have found this particular experience "liberating" and worthwhile, the instinct to write in the Queen's language is still what defines my oeuvre as a writer.)



So there it goes: the instinct to write is primarily colored by English. There has always been comfort in that. The words come easier...



But the Bernad charge made me uneasy: Does he mean that in my choosing to write in a foreign language, I am actually an eternal fraud? That no matter how I conceive of my situation as a writer, my thought processes can never really be in English?



I felt like a linguistic bastard.



This made me reflect on another once-upon-a-time, when I had wanted to have an arbaito, or a part-time job, in Japan, ostensibly to teach English to Japanese nationals who were ever-hungry to learn the language's nuances. And yet, scanning through the Help Wanted booklet regularly published by my Tokyo university's student affairs section, I was constantly met with this restriction "Wanted native speaker only." And "native speaker" invariably meant being blond, blue-eyed. American.



Which, needless to say, negated me.



Does not this language called English belong to me? I write in it and my education and upbringing has been characterized by my very immersion in it. And yet, by virtue of the geography of my birth and the color of my skin, I was not deemed a "holder" of that language, a "non-native."



This, coupled with Bernad's unsettling contention, made way to a self-willed construction of my language identity: if I must be a writer in English, then I should believe that my thought processes are in English.



"I dream in English," I began telling myself. "I think in English..."



And I believed that. Sometimes, when I wanted to prove this very point, I would pause and listen to how I think, and I'd get thrilled by the fact that I heard my mind whirr in English -- although I now know, reading from Stephen Pinker, that human thought actually does not possess language. We think in images and metaphors, not in any particular tongue.



Still, disregarding this piece of cognitive science, I believed in the concept of my Anglicized thoughts: the "evidence," after all, proved to me overwhelming. The spontaneous outbursts that come from me were always in English, and that satisfied me. Seeing a deformed woman on the street, for example, I'd say to myself: "What an ugly hag!" and never, "Hala, ka-maot gyud niya!" Taken by surprise by something or someone, I'd say, "What the--!" and never "Unsa ba!"



Last week, however, came this experiment: I wanted to listen to myself more, and objectively, and to take note of the language of my every day. The procedure was hard: I proved to be not too much of a keen observer, especially an observer of myself and my interactions. I kept forgetting to keep track of my linguistic use.



But I remember waking up one morning, nudged awake by the shrill of my alarm clock, and thinking... "Huh? What the...? What time is it?"



That's English.



And then, after turning off the alarm: "It's still a bit early. Makatulog pa ko."



That's English, and then Cebuano.



When I finally do wake up, I go about the morning preparing for what needs to be done for the late morning and afternoon, and the conscious conversation with myself seems to be in English. I either watch Oprah or the running programs of Discovery Channel or CNN while going about these morning rituals, and the language of my thoughts seems to parallel the language that comes out of my television. I react to the news or to the televised conversations in the language they come wrapped in, and that is English.



When I finally go out for lunch to the little corner karinderia in Tubod near my pad, my language switches to either Tagalog (the proprietor is a Bikolana) or Binisaya, but never in terms of a full-fledged conversation, only as indicators of function: "Kani ra" (indicating my choice for food), "Usa ra" (indicating my choice for number of cups for rice), and "Pila?" (asking for the total payment of my order). When I finally converse with people, I do so generally in English, with a bit of Binisaya thrown in for measure. I have no idea why but when people come up to me, they speak in English, so I reply to them in English, as well. Do I look a certain way that demanded this use of language? I have no idea.



At work, there seems to be a tendency for my colleagues -- all of them English teachers-to speak to each other in Binisaya. Paradoxical? Maybe, but I see it as a linguistic and psychological compensation: our classroom lives are engulfed, after all, in the straight use of English, non-stop, and so when we do gather together in the office away from our students, we speak in the local language "to balance" the language usage. I once asked a fellow teacher why this is the case. In reply, she joked: "Nahutdan man gud ta ug Iningles sa classroom." Which, I think, contains kernels of truth.



This is my conclusion: It is foolhardy to claim that our language life must be defined only by one exclusive tongue. Language is alive and ever-changing, never inert. Our linguistic mentality, I think, must also be the same -- so why do we need to impose on it, especially in the case of multilinguals like us, the rigidity of one tongue only? Our everyday lives speak in multiple tongues, shifting from code to code effortlessly, and we have learned to smoothly accommodate situations to particular languages we deem fit for it. I speak English to myself because that is the fountainhead of my self-expression. I speak Binisaya to the man on the street (or the karinderia) because that is the language we share from the cradle (but even that comes in a mixed bag: I would ask the karinderia owner "Pila?" and she would reply, "Twenty pesos"). I speak English in the classroom because I am an English teacher, and my University encourages this to be the medium of instruction. I speak both in English and Binisaya to my work colleagues because the office becomes the bridge in which our linguistic twains must meet. There is no singular language to live our daily lives.



Thus, a necessary revision: "I dream in Pinoy English."



What then can I now say about Bernad's contention knowing this? That he may have a point, but he is barking up the wrong tree. True, we cannot have real mastery over a foreign language, but I will read that as mastery over American English. I subscribe instead to Pinoy English, something that is still english, but peppered with the richness of my brown, multilingual identity -- I can say, for example, "Where man ka mo go?" -- and of this language, I am certainly very much a master.



And as for the Japanese who wanted only "native speakers"? They can have all the blue-eyed blondes they want: former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle is blond, blue-eyed, and American, but he once spelled "potato" as "potatoe."



Now, that's a native speaker.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





entry arrow10:16 PM | The Languages of Our Every Day

I will begin this essay reflecting on a fervent misconception (on my part), springing mainly from a charge once made by the literary critic Fr. Miguel Bernad who, in his seminal essay "Philippine Literature: Perpetually Inchoate," surveyed the state of that national literature and proclaimed it as continually being in an "amateur" phase, never quite regaining maturity principally because of three reasons -- economic, linguistic, and cultural.



About the second factor, he wrote: "The linguistic difficulty is obvious. It is possible to, produce great literature only in a language that has been mastered. By "mastered" is meant more than mere grammatical or idiomatic mastery. It must be the type of mastery which assimilates the thought processes, the verbal nuances, and the characteristic rhythms, peculiar to an idiom. Every language has its peculiar genius: he is the master of the language who has caught that genius. Unfortunately the Philippines has not had a thorough chance to assimilate the genius of any particular language. Those whose education has been in English but whose parents were educated in Spanish will understand what this implies. In their case a wall of separation stands as a barrier between parents and children, between the younger generation and the one that preceded it. It is not that parents cannot understand English or the children Spanish, or that parents and children have no common medium of conversation. It is not a question of conversing; it is a question of thought processes. The thought patterns are different."



So I thought: I consider myself a Philippine writer who writes principally in English by choice -- not because I am not well versed in the language of my fathers (although, admittedly, anyone can make that accusation about me), but rather because my creativity springs from that particular linguistic well, foreign though it may be. (Only recently have I ventured into writing poetry in Binisaya, and while I have found this particular experience "liberating" and worthwhile, the instinct to write in the Queen's language is still what defines my oeuvre as a writer.)



So there it goes: the instinct to write is primarily colored by English. There has always been comfort in that. The words come easier...



But the Bernad charge made me uneasy: Does he mean that in my choosing to write in a foreign language, I am actually an eternal fraud? That no matter how I conceive of my situation as a writer, my thought processes can never really be in English?



I felt like a linguistic bastard.



This made me reflect on another once-upon-a-time, when I had wanted to have an arbaito, or a part-time job, in Japan, ostensibly to teach English to Japanese nationals who were ever-hungry to learn the language's nuances. And yet, scanning through the Help Wanted booklet regularly published by my Tokyo university's student affairs section, I was constantly met with this restriction "Wanted native speaker only." And "native speaker" invariably meant being blond, blue-eyed. American.



Which, needless to say, negated me.



Does not this language called English belong to me? I write in it and my education and upbringing has been characterized by my very immersion in it. And yet, by virtue of the geography of my birth and the color of my skin, I was not deemed a "holder" of that language, a "non-native."



This, coupled with Bernad's unsettling contention, made way to a self-willed construction of my language identity: if I must be a writer in English, then I should believe that my thought processes are in English.



"I dream in English," I began telling myself. "I think in English..."



And I believed that. Sometimes, when I wanted to prove this very point, I would pause and listen to how I think, and I'd get thrilled by the fact that I heard my mind whirr in English -- although I now know, reading from Stephen Pinker, that human thought actually does not possess language. We think in images and metaphors, not in any particular tongue.



Still, disregarding this piece of cognitive science, I believed in the concept of my Anglicized thoughts: the "evidence," after all, proved to me overwhelming. The spontaneous outbursts that come from me were always in English, and that satisfied me. Seeing a deformed woman on the street, for example, I'd say to myself: "What an ugly hag!" and never, "Hala, ka-maot gyud niya!" Taken by surprise by something or someone, I'd say, "What the--!" and never "Unsa ba!"



Last week, however, came this experiment: I wanted to listen to myself more, and objectively, and to take note of the language of my every day. The procedure was hard: I proved to be not too much of a keen observer, especially an observer of myself and my interactions. I kept forgetting to keep track of my linguistic use.



But I remember waking up one morning, nudged awake by the shrill of my alarm clock, and thinking... "Huh? What the...? What time is it?"



That's English.



And then, after turning off the alarm: "It's still a bit early. Makatulog pa ko."



That's English, and then Cebuano.



When I finally do wake up, I go about the morning preparing for what needs to be done for the late morning and afternoon, and the conscious conversation with myself seems to be in English. I either watch Oprah or the running programs of Discovery Channel or CNN while going about these morning rituals, and the language of my thoughts seems to parallel the language that comes out of my television. I react to the news or to the televised conversations in the language they come wrapped in, and that is English.



When I finally go out for lunch to the little corner karinderia in Tubod near my pad, my language switches to either Tagalog (the proprietor is a Bikolana) or Binisaya, but never in terms of a full-fledged conversation, only as indicators of function: "Kani ra" (indicating my choice for food), "Usa ra" (indicating my choice for number of cups for rice), and "Pila?" (asking for the total payment of my order). When I finally converse with people, I do so generally in English, with a bit of Binisaya thrown in for measure. I have no idea why but when people come up to me, they speak in English, so I reply to them in English, as well. Do I look a certain way that demanded this use of language? I have no idea.



At work, there seems to be a tendency for my colleagues -- all of them English teachers-to speak to each other in Binisaya. Paradoxical? Maybe, but I see it as a linguistic and psychological compensation: our classroom lives are engulfed, after all, in the straight use of English, non-stop, and so when we do gather together in the office away from our students, we speak in the local language "to balance" the language usage. I once asked a fellow teacher why this is the case. In reply, she joked: "Nahutdan man gud ta ug Iningles sa classroom." Which, I think, contains kernels of truth.



This is my conclusion: It is foolhardy to claim that our language life must be defined only by one exclusive tongue. Language is alive and ever-changing, never inert. Our linguistic mentality, I think, must also be the same -- so why do we need to impose on it, especially in the case of multilinguals like us, the rigidity of one tongue only? Our everyday lives speak in multiple tongues, shifting from code to code effortlessly, and we have learned to smoothly accommodate situations to particular languages we deem fit for it. I speak English to myself because that is the fountainhead of my self-expression. I speak Binisaya to the man on the street (or the karinderia) because that is the language we share from the cradle (but even that comes in a mixed bag: I would ask the karinderia owner "Pila?" and she would reply, "Twenty pesos"). I speak English in the classroom because I am an English teacher, and my University encourages this to be the medium of instruction. I speak both in English and Binisaya to my work colleagues because the office becomes the bridge in which our linguistic twains must meet. There is no singular language to live our daily lives.



Thus, a necessary revision: "I dream in Pinoy English."



What then can I now say about Bernad's contention knowing this? That he may have a point, but he is barking up the wrong tree. True, we cannot have real mastery over a foreign language, but I will read that as mastery over American English. I subscribe instead to Pinoy English, something that is still english, but peppered with the richness of my brown, multilingual identity -- I can say, for example, "Where man ka mo go?" -- and of this language, I am certainly very much a master.



And as for the Japanese who wanted only "native speakers"? They can have all the blue-eyed blondes they want: former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle is blond, blue-eyed, and American, but he once spelled "potato" as "potatoe."



Now, that's a native speaker.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





Thursday, August 05, 2004

entry arrow3:18 PM | Chicken Joy

An estimated 1,800 chickens -- perhaps even more than that -- get the axe every single day in restaurants all over poultry-hungry Dumaguete. In this educated guess, no one's even including the chicken meat anyone can purchase from our public market stalls, or from the refrigerated confines of the city's supermarkets. One thousand eight hundred, and counting... pre-packaged, or organic, or straight from someone's local backyard. If you really think about it, that's an awful lot of chicken.



Because when anyone must come up with the essential Dumagueteno, chicken meat is way up there -- together with the observation of our local habit of walking too slow, like leisurely turtles, like promenading under a full moon -- in defining who we are.



The other day, meeting up with a friend from Manila who was here for a brief visit "to get away from the exasperating hustle and bustle of big city life," he asked me: "Now, where can we have a good lunch for today?" and then, with a certain emphasis bordering on over-saturation: "And I don't mean another dish of chicken."



I pretended not to know what he was implying, but I knew what he was talking about. We want to Lab-as instead, to sample their fare of bangus. But truth be told, this is a city in love with chicken meat. Every corner of Dumaguete has some small shrine disguised as eating places dedicated to the art of chicken-meat mastication. Admit it: no visits by far-flung friends can end without the mandatory trek to the biggest temple of them all: Jo's Chicken Inato. Its grilled chicken -- a choice of pecho or pa-a immersed overnight in some secret ingredients -- has become very much a part of Dumaguete tradition. Jo's delectable white meat, sweetish to the taste, and smelling always of some grilled heaven, is part of our blood. It is the first thing we miss of home, together with the Taster's Delight cheeseburger. I still have old high school classmates, now based all over the world, who's first query with regards home food always makes reference to both Jo's and Taster's Delight.



No one can tell why this is so. Pork or beef or fish are fine -- but chicken? Chicken defines our very taste buds. So much so that last summer, and even the other month, it was possible to go to any restaurant in the city and get told by an apologizing waiter that there would be no chicken dish available. "The city has run out of chicken," he would say.



That's what happened -- twice -- when Mark and I were in Chin Loong. "How can any city run out of chicken?" Mark asked, exasperated, because he was already dreaming of chicken dripping with the sweet and sour combination only Chin Loong could make. The waiter mumbled some more apology, and recommended the sweet and sour squid.



I remember now that it was also with some craziness when Panda -- that ice cream shop over at Harold's Mansion in Tubod -- announced its shortage of chicken. I panicked. Not a lot of people know this but Panda Haus serves more than ice cream. One of my favorites from its menu is steamed rice chicken, which is not exactly the regular dimsum variety we all know. The plus side of this dish, aside from the fact that it is addicting, is the fact that all of Panda's chicken are "organic chicken," which, I am told, makes the whole lot quite healthy to eat. And most days, living the bachelor's life always on the go, I subsist on this dish. I would call up 225-9644, place my order, and ten minutes later, I would munch the peppered combination of rice and chicken meat in the comforts of my own pad. So when the attendants told me one day that they had run out of organic chicken, I immediately texted Angeline Dy, one of the owners, to beg.



She laughed. "We don't grow organic chicken from trees and pluck them just like that!"



"Well, then," I said, "better hatch them fast."



I knew then what I think I have always known. You can deprive a DumagueteƱo of chocolate and cake and lechon and all other delicacies in the world. But just give me my chicken meat. It is the definitive meat. Isn't it any wonder that when people must describe some exotic meat dish -- say snake, or kangaroo -- they always say, "Tastes just like chicken"? It is, now I know, the universal paragon of the tastefully divine.



Every Sunday, after church in Bread of Life, we go to City Burger. We do not mind the strange angles of this restaurant along Real Street, an open-air space that resembles the ruins of a gutted house (it is, in fact, the ruins of a gutted building). We do not even mind the apparent misnaming of the place (who eats burger in City Burger?). We all come for one thing: its grilled chicken quite unlike its delicious cousin over at Jo's. How? The extra-sweetish taste of the sauce it drips with.



I always feel guilty after eating in City Burger, but it is a guilt I can live with. The same guilt that possesses me whenever I cross the street from my office in Silliman University to the stone's throw distance of Nena's Kamalig. People have made distinctions about the grilling of chicken. There is supposed to be the Dumaguete-style (Jo's and City Burger's), and there is the Bacolod-style. We first imported the latter a few years back with the coming of Nena's Kamalig, which serves liempo and chicken and a host of other grilled meat in a distinctive taste that is a combination of burnt liver and catsup. The mixture is surprisingly delicious -- but it is never complete without the final touch: that sauce on your table that looks like reddish moonshine. It is chicken oil drippings. "Egad, cholesterol. That's a heart attack waiting to happen!" a health-conscious friend once warned me.



"Honey," I said, "it's a risk anyone's willing to take."



I won't risk anything, though, for Ati-Atihan, whose chicken is quite passable -- but there's nothing's new about it. Not even the amakan interiors (and faucets built from banga), which seems to be the proscribed material design for any chicken place in Dumaguete and elsewhere. And Dumaguete Fried Chicken? Mark told me once they made the best chili chicken wings. I've been missing the spicy chicken wings from defunct Giacomino's. And so we went one evening to DFC, got horrid service, and were eventually given a miniscule serving of the dish incompatible with its steep price. Plus an order of soggy pizza. Of the chicken: an uninspired piece of fried meat dipped in chili sauce. We left our review of the food on their paper napkin, lettered with their catsup: "Wala'y lami."



I'd rather go chicken-hopping to the various lechon manok stalls all over the place, especially Manok ni San Pedro, and then Golden Roy's -- the original lechon manok place, its generous chicken still amazingly spicy to the smell and to the taste.



Eventually, though, we all still go to Jo's for our chicken. A few years ago, when my Dutch friend Martin Slot came into town, Jo's became the first in our list of places to go and explore local delicacies. This was before the restaurant became the swanky place it is now. (The old Jo's was a crowded affair of amakan darkened with soot and the grime of years.) When we finally had our orders, I told him that the only way to go about eating chicken inato is through bare hands straight to mouth. "No spoons and forks here. Kamayan is the way to go about it," I told him. And we did -- me and this flabbergasted foreigner who must have thought this society strange, people eating with bare hands. But it didn't really matter. Because, really, this was the only way to go about it: chicken touching skin, going straight to mouth. Such ritual has become the mark of our familiars. It is our bare, intimate homage to the food that defines us all.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich





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