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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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Thursday, August 31, 2006

entry arrow7:16 AM | The Face of a Cheat

Yay. Here's a face to illustrate human frailty.



Your whole life you've worked hard to give yourself a good name. And because you mistakenly thought you're God, you work some evil magic -- and now you're suddenly branded a leaker. Anesia B. Dionisio (photo above) and Virginia D. Madeja. Cheaters.

Of course I'm angry.

It's not just their tragedy, these two women who almost overnight destroyed the prestige of a profession. It's ours as well. I wonder why we Filipinos can never get it right. Given something to glory in, we find some ways to sully it, to debase it. (Think of EDSA, for example.) We were once a professional nursing stalwart, much respected by the rest of the world. We just had to destroy that as well. Death wish ba ni? We're a joke to the world. The international backlash is growing as well.

[Details here.]

But you know what gets my goat? Here's CHED Commissioner Nona Ricaforte on the whole issue: "The students and the parents should not be penalized for the leakage. If a retake is ordered, you can just imagine the cost and the effort of the students. This will also cost the government a huge sum. I sympathize with the students because some of them have already schedules of going abroad." [Original item here.]

What the fuck?

But maybe this is a good thing. There are just too many students going into nursing, the imbalance has to stop some time. There was one year in Silliman University where there were hundreds of Nursing freshmen ... but zero enrolled in Chemistry. If that's not troubling, I don't know what is.

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entry arrow6:57 AM | What We Are

I really should be writing. I woke up very early today to write. Instead, I've become distracted by...



It's a networking website, like Friendster or MySpace, for Silliman University students and alumni -- and I just stumbled into the Chismis section, and I'm having a grand time browsing over the arguments, gossip, complaints, etc. by many of my campus friends and students. My students especially. Didn't know many of them can be this vocal. There's one who's posting a blind sex item about someone who jilted him. There's another who's gung-ho about a possible Mr. Silliman. There's one that goes: "Underwear... necessary or not?" It's a fascinating underbelly of the Silliman community, in turns funny, tragic, and dramatic. Ahlavet!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

entry arrow11:09 AM | The Fatal Sin

I don't get it when some people I know consider Kinsey the very incarnation of evil, lamenting the "death of sexual innocence" that preceeded the sex researcher's landmark inquiry into sexual habits of human beings.

Death of innocence?

Here's one reminder of what was considered correct in the years before Kinsey...



That, and hairy palms.

[via scanner]

(The movie's good, too.)

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Monday, August 28, 2006

entry arrow11:29 PM | The End of the Prolonged Madness

The five-year plan for Silliman University. Done. The Birgit Linder lecture. Done. The Leoncio Deriada lecture. Done. The Cultural Affairs Committee August shows. Done. The Miss Silliman Pageant. Done. The Outstanding Sillimanian Awards. Done. The Ben S. Malayang Presidential Investiture. Done. The whole Founders Day brouhaha. Done. Tomorrow's a Silliman University holiday. And I plan to take a leisurely easing back to the old life I haven't had since the beginning of the semester. Here's farewell to all those meetings, and plannings, and endless debates and revisions and struggles to reach common bottomlines. Here's farewell to sleepless nights and tired feet. Here's to sadness, that even if we heave a sigh for the letting go of all those busy things, somehow we will miss the urgency and the adrenaline and the creative rush that come with them.

Hello, normal life. I'm back.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

entry arrow9:11 AM | Risky Business



I'm thinking: exactly.

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entry arrow8:53 AM | Reorder the Solar System!

Pluto is no longer classified a planet.



From the New York Times: "After years of wrangling and a week of bitter debate, astronomers voted on a sweeping reclassification of the solar system. In what many of them described as a triumph of science over sentiment, Pluto was demoted to the status of a 'dwarf planet.'"

Ouch for Pluto.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

entry arrow10:41 PM | Go Eat Your Mouse

I don't know what strange hairball this cat has swallowed, but ... "I believe that it is not bigotry. The old man belonging to an old school is just expressing his opinion"?

It's like saying the Ku Klux Klan are not racist. They are just a product of their own time and society, and just can't help themselves when they see black skin and ask for blood.

Bigots are bigots. Of course, some can't help themselves because they belong to an older generation steeped in unspoken prejudice -- but that doesn't excuse them from still being bigots.



Cats, of all creatures, should know better.

And it doesn't help that today's Inquirer editorial, taking note of the deluge of wrath Isagani Cruz's column had sparked, is less than stellar. It's a fart of an opinion, and does not really give us anything.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

entry arrow9:32 PM | What the Writers Blog About

To get away from the busy madness, I only need to turn on the computer and bloghop. Here's what a few writers (many of them friends) are thinking and writing about...

John Bengan finds a lonely world in tennis.

Wilfredo Pascual has an interesting historical anecdote about a Manila cannibal in the Spanish colonial period, and the extent of where the soul resides in the human body.

Vince Groyon looks like Brad Pitt.

Nikki Alfar has a story in Our Own Voices.

Veronica Montes gets an insight about children making neighborhood music.

Ned Parfan complains about his older brother, and dreams of kicked heads.

Tara FT. Sering knows Kiko D.

Zarah Gagatiga ponders on her name.

Dean Alfar explains why he couldn't write anything last Monday.

Janet Villa ruminates over basketball rabid bitches.

Vin Simbulan has a vignette about blood-soaked carpets.

Jean Claire Dy ponders on art and the controversies of biotechnology.

Isolde Amante remembers Ninoy.

Darwin Chiong cleans and dines.

Jessica Zafra looks at her books on her bedside table.

Maryanne Moll would rather write on paper.

Ginny Mata dreams of inmates in the rain.

Joel Toledo youtubes the band.

Myke Obenieta is ecstatic over the return of Bona.

Ino Habana thinks Isagani Cruz is an old fart.

Larry Ypil thinks oysters on Sundays.

Wendell Capili is proud of dancer Patrick Alcedo.

Gabriela Lee wonders how to manage food in Singapore.

Frank Cimatu googles the G-spot and wonders what the L in Samuel L. Jackson stands for.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

entry arrow6:47 PM | Heat and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards

What's with this heat in the middle of August? After the non-stop rain of a few weeks ago, the sun has come out with a vengeance, ripping through my skin into dehydrated soul. I dream of rivers and the cool of distant mountains.

By the way, congratulations to the finalists of the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards! I can't say who they are because I promised not to divulge the information, but they know sino sila. And some of them do drop by this blog once in a while.

The awards ceremonies will be on 23 August 2006, Wednesday, at 7 pm, Ballroom I and II, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Makati Avenue, Makati City.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

entry arrow12:10 AM | Oh

So this is what 31 feels like.

Coolness.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

entry arrow4:21 PM | The Last Day

I remember smiling today. Last night, which I drowned in beer (how original), was a headache with all its slowly dawning disappointments, recriminations, and startling revelations -- and being a writer, imagination of what could have happened was so much worse that what actually did: I demanded the telling of the details which I knew would seduce me into a kind of calmness. A calmness that knows. I talk in riddles, of course. But how else to vent about the personal in a public forum?

And that this is my last day of 30 is something that nags me. Last week, Mark found my first gray hair. I shrieked. I imagine there are horrible lines crinkling every inch of my face right now.

In my head, I am still gloriously 28. And will forever remain to be.

I remember smiling today, despite the insufferable humidity, the rough air clinging to my skin like an unwanted lover. At least this is completely extraordinary from my annual bouts with the birthday blues.

Like Zarah, I am contemplating getting a tatoo.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

entry arrow5:57 PM | What Comes to Mind

At this very moment, I have ceased to believe in the so-called innate goodness of people. Deep inside, we're all rotten as hell. Redemption is futile -- and tomorrow is never another day. We have learned to love even those who know how to bleed us well. In my quiet moments, I realize that the only way to live is to dance to the music that cuts us. And learning to live with the wounds, or learning to ignore it, is what people call happiness.

I'm so sorry for the pessimism. It's not a very good start to a birthday week.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

entry arrow4:43 PM | Remember the Song? "What the World Needs Now..."

I'd like to call this Cruz guy fascist, even Hitlerian. But as Dean says in his blog, "The world is too small for hate." So I won't.

UPDATE:

Manuel L. Quezon III has written a beautiful rebuttal in his Philippine Daily Inquirer column, aptly titled "The Grand Inquisitor," which -- if you know your world literature -- is a famous chapter from Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov. The story is about a Grand Inquisitor -- a holy position for a priest in-charge of ferreting out non-Christians in the dark days of the Spanish Inquisition -- who knowingly tortures the Christ for heresy.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

entry arrow5:50 PM | Sanity

Wahoo! My home computer is online again! After more than a month of sheer cyber-paralysis, I have Internet at home again! I had no idea how seriously that paralysis affected my work. Sorry for those whom I could not email back and such. Now, my life goes back to normal, to sanity.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

entry arrow12:18 PM | The Pastor's Donkey

emailed in by irma pal

The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again. The local paper read: PASTOR'S ASS OUT FRONT.

The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race. The next day, the local paper headline read: BISHOP SCRATCHES PASTOR'S ASS.

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day: NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN.

The bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read: NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.

This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild. The next day the headlines read: NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.

The bishop was buried the next day.

The moral of the story is ... being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery ... and even shorten your life. So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else's ass and you'll be a lot happier and live longer.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

entry arrow1:06 PM | Why I Like My Weekends

These are days when I wake up an automaton, to the ringing of the alarm clock more insistent than the crowing of distant cocks my neighbors keep in their backyard. Always, when I wake up, there is barely any sun out yet, but I tell myself to push on, to drag my feet to the shower if possible, all because my days have taken on this menacing length with schedules filled to the brim that they more than approximate the very picture of exhaustion.

Except that, in my case particularly, exhaustion -- and the mad juggling act of activities and appointments that go with the territory -- is the very definition of living for me. Workaholism? Maybe. (Sometimes I suspect that I am, in fact, the laziest of men -- which is the sum of my eternal fear of failure.) Maybe I just like the buzz of having gone through the day having accomplished many things, sometimes to my amazement that my body can take some well-aimed abuse and survive for yet another day.

Some of my friends do not like that, at all. Margie Udarbe, for example, tells me to slow down, and to get a physical -- just to monitor things. "I don't have the time," I tell her sheepishly, knowing that she's right, but also that I have an unhealthy fear of hospitals and doctors. Ma'am Jong de la Cruz, from her desk at the Alumni Affairs Office, texts me to remind me to take my daily StressTabs. "I already did," I usually reply back.

But I like work. Work, for me, is a way of putting meaning into life -- even if sometimes my zealousness for doing things as fast as I can to maximize what young life I have left in my bones gets me into trouble. Or a reprimand. Which often takes away so much of my spirit that I go into depression for days on end, only to come to the same conclusion all the time: that work matters still, eventually.

With that kind of madness embedded in my bones, I do take my ideas for relaxation a little too seriously. Because work may be work, but when time comes that I should surrender to the call for relaxation, I become the fervent disciple to the act of letting go, to the promise of pampering till the soreness of the daily grind becomes but a mere footnote to a life put on a temporary hold.

Weekdays may be hell, but I take no excuse for letting go of my weekend breaks, for example. Saturdays and Sundays are always spent in bed, where I will sleep until noon. Then I will have leisurely late lunch, then watch a movie on DVD or curl up to a book, and then by late afternoon have coffee in Don Atilano or CocoAmigos. Sometimes, I go on an outing with friends -- to distant towns or cities: Valencia, with its cool mountain air and river waters, is always a favorite. Dauin, too, with its beaches, and Bais with its promise of a road trip. My old barkada used to pile into Bebot's car to go to Tanjay, just so we could eat authentic Thai cuisine.

But nothing beats the glory of a great massage after fifteen minutes in the sauna.

In Dumaguete, we know for sure that the concept of city stress has definitely arrived, given the incessant traffic and rerouting we have come to endure in our daily lives. And a growing crime index that is slowly making us hostages to an unfamiliar Dumaguete atmosphere.

There's also another indication to the skyrocketing stress levels in the city: the proliferation of spas and massage clinics that open till the wee hours of night, serving a growing clientele wanting a quick easing away from lives spent working hard to the bones. Suddenly, we are definitely a city -- if cities are to be defined by high stress.

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entry arrow9:12 AM | Down Under's Filipina Magazine

My best friend has a new magazine in Australia. Check it out.



(She just saw Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz in Sydney, and I hate her.)

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

entry arrow1:05 PM | Why English Teachers Die Young

Emailed in by Margie Udarbe...

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's winners.....

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

entry arrow10:01 PM | What a Typical Day for Me is Like

Don't even think about comparing how busy we all are.

My day began today at 4:30 a.m., because it had to. There was so much work ahead of me that to dilly-dally could mean messing up the delicate schedule I had set up for the day. Plus there was an academic schedule to stick to that began at 9 a.m., and ended at 6 p.m. (On Mondays, it becomes even more surreal, because it ends at 9 p.m.) After brewing myself a cup of coffee, I turned on some classical music and proceeded to attack what needed to be accomplished before the first cock crowed out the rising sun. I scanned some photos, and encoded several letters I needed for a report. I did some notes for my five lectures for the day, checked some papers, then I did layout for several cultural programs and lecture-fora I was in charge of. Then I texted my chairperson at 5 a.m., informing her that I needed an invitation letter from her to secure the President's attendance to an activity we are planning for next week. An hour later, she texted back, "You are awake at 5 a.m.?" Of course. After that I compiled some reports for two important meetings I had to attend to this day. That these two were luncheon meetings scheduled at the same time did not faze me one bit. "I don't believe in the impossible," I told myself -- but that did not mean I had the supernatural capability of halving myself and going to two places at the same time. The plan, really, was simple: for the first meeting which I decided I would not attend, I resorted to typing up an extensive report -- filled with everything I was supposed to accomplish for this particular committee by this period -- and made plans to drop by this meeting 10 minutes before schedule, just so I could talk to the chairperson, and hand in my reports. That way, he would not feel bad about my absence, and yet still get the satisfaction that I was able to do the work I was supposed to accomplish. That was the plan. Then, at 9 a.m., I went to school for my first class. Two hours later, I rushed to the nearest Internet cafe (my connection at home is infuriatingly absent, and I just could not wait for the phone company to come in and do the necessary repairs). I downloaded some necessary files and pictures, rushed back home to finish some layout and more reports, went to the first meeting and chatted up with the chairperson as planned, and rushed out again for the other meeting with several campus writers I had tasked to coordinate with me for a publicity campaign that involved writing for several local and national papers. All these within the span of thirty minutes. After that luncheon meeting -- a good one, and best of all because we ate great chicken barbecue -- I rushed to my 1 p.m. class, and later rushed to the Office of the University President to update his secretary about the developments for the Investiture Program of our new head honcho, then rushed to the printing press to get new price quotations over several programs I had ordered, information I needed for a meeting this Friday, then rushed to the Alumni Office to request for new copies of the CVs of the Outstanding Sillimanian Awardees this year which I needed to distribute to my pool of writers by tomorrow, then rushed outside the campus to pay my electric bills, then went back to school for my 3 p.m. class, then rushed to the nearby convenience store to get my fix of Lipovitan, then consulted with my chairperson with regards logistics for the upcoming lecture I was in-charge of, then went back to the office to contact several people to cement their participation in the various programs I will directing in the next few weeks, then went back to my 6 p.m. class, then went home to shower, then went to Lee Super Plaza to buy a gift for someone's birthday party tomorrow (I bought a doll, since she's a four-year old kid), then went to get my laundry at Wishy Washy, then...

That I'm writing all these now with a smile on my face is a surprise, even for me. I'm still here. Don't worry. I'm fine. There's another busy tomorrow to prepare for, and really, it's okay.

So if I don't email you back as much as I wish I can, don't get mad. I'll get back to you very soon.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

entry arrow1:41 AM | It's That Time of Year Again?

It's the first day of August. For those of us who know what writing season this is, here's cheers to that hopeful wait, and good luck.

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