Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To Pambujan, Samar!

We were supposed to leave on the first hour after Christmas day. However, it was moved—earlier. I’m still not aware of the reason with the sudden change of plans. In any case, bullets in my itinerary that need internet connection have all been done before the 23rd.

Yester’night’, I started packing and I’m still not finished! I’m obviously procrastinating since I’m blogging right now. Haha! I was supposed to pack the laptop but the temptation to defer the activity later on was just too strong—or I’m just being lazy.

The good thing about our province is it’s not in the dinosaur era as others are and its not too civilized as well. I mean, what’s the point of going to the province if you still experience the aroma of city life—the pollution of sorts; air, noise and such. At Pambujan, which is on one of the two huge islands of Visayas – Samar, there’s cellphone connection and electricity but no internet. There’s also a water delivery system but I enjoy using the pump more, for right hand muscle exercise.

I’m a ‘bit’ excited. It’s just simply not the same enthusiasm that me and my cousins would have whenever the hint, or even a joke of going to the province is suddenly uttered by one of our parents.

What I’m worried about are the things I need to accomplish over the Christmas break—I vowed not to waste the vacation. But I think I can safely say that ME resting over the vacation is not exactly a waste of time.

Another thought occurred, I’m a graduating student and also one of my cousins. Let’s just say that I sort of believe in the curse of graduating students getting into, usually fatal, accidents. What’s with the negativity right but hey! I can’t help but think about it.

I’ll be taking careful steps of course.

Setting that notion aside, I intend, with the possibility of not doing it, to write blogs about my trip to Singapore and of course Vigan. And a few more blogs that I have put off.

It’ll be one week before I get to blog again. Or rather update my blog.
Now, back to packing! ^_^

Happy Christmas and Safe New Year!


First Days of Vacation

Here’s a funny story at home—since I’m typing this at Starbucks.

The FEU Advocate had an overnight party on the 20th at a private pool, “Relax”, at Pansol, Laguna. I got home at around 9:30 am. I slept from 10am of the 21st to 5am of the 22nd. My aunt, with a traceable worry and anxiety on her face, shook me awake at around 5:30 pm of the 21st.

“Huy, gising! May sakit ka ba? Nilalagnat ka? Buong araw ka nang tulog ‘ah. Ano ba ginawa mo dun? Bumangon ka na.”

All I remember doing was grunt and shrug her off. I was just too sleepy. I guess the whole semester’s exhaustion finally caught up with me.

The next day during breakfast, I was so hungry. My stomach seems to have a mind of its own as it craved for anything edible. My mom bought 20 pcs. of pan de sal. I started devouring one after the other, but of course I dip it in my coffee first. They weren’t finished with the Sopas, while my bowl was already empty. I didn’t notice that I ate all 20 pan de sals in one seating. But that wasn’t enough to saturate me, I stood up and asked if there was plain mayonnaise.

I started boiling egg, whipping mayo with a bit of ketchup and pepper, washed pechay, chopped tomatoes and fried barbarically skinned potatoes—egg salad. My folks couldn’t stop laughing.

Then my aunt suddenly bursts out,
“Akala naming na-Marky Cielo ka na kahapon eh. Ginigising ka nung tanghali para kumain.. wala. Ginigising ka nung alas tres para mag merienda.. wala pa rin. Tapos mga trenta minutes yata bago ka nagising kahapon eh tapos balik ka rin sa tulog. hindi ka na ginising tuloy nung gabi para kumain”

They laughed… I just ate.


Monday, December 22, 2008

More Processed Meat by Happyslip

Here’s another funny video from HAPPYSLIP. With my Mom, also a former OFW from Saudi, this is a very precise behavior of Filipinos abroad. And the questions that Minnie, Happyslip’s cousin, asks are actually the same questions that me and my cousins ask. This is soooooo funny especially the lyrics.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

Oh yeah! That’s right, I bought ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ earlier, another in-story book from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Compared to the first in-story publishes, this copy has a hardbound cover and is designed as a fairy tale book is.

Tales of Beedle the Bard contains the primary plot of the Deathly Hallows. This fairytale story made a direct impact in seventh and last installment of Harry Potter. Also, the book’s proceed will be forwarded as a donation similar to Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Magical Creatures.

The best thing about it is, every one else is busy with Twilight and Edward Cullen that they overlooked this on the shelves. Okay I admit that I’m not into Twilight, well everyone else is so I guess I’ll just try something else.

Another quality of a Harry Potter book, whether part of the installment or not, you haven’t even started reading it but there’s already a queue for the book.

So anyway, BABASAHIN ko muna siya ngayon. Hahahahaha! ^_^


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Duty Scenes

8am. Medical Ward.

During our duty, there was one patient whose IV line was removed. We received the patient with cotton taped by micropore against the skin at the site where the IV insertion was.
Upon assessment, my group mate asked when the IV was removed. The staff nurses still had the Kardex and the chart so we had to gather endorsement information directly from out patients. Our CI was with her.

Groupmate: Sir mga anong oras po tinanggal yung IV niyo?

Relative: Ay kanina pa ‘yang mga alas kwatro ng medaling araw.

CI: ay ganun po ba sir. Sige po tanggalin na nating ‘tong cottonball hah
(then she directed my classmate to get cottonballs with alcohol)

She remove the tape and the blood-tinged cotton ball and throws it away. Then she proceeded with cleaning the area by using a cottonball with alcohol. She was circling to clean the area.

The patient suddenly asks our CI while she was cleaning the area.

Patient: Ma’am para san po yan?
(He was pertaining to the cleaning of the skin area)

CI: Sir Pampa-gwapo po ‘to pang-dagdag pogi points

(My groupmate suppressed her laughs)

2:3Opm . Medication Area

We were way past our duty schedule. Most of us were done for the day, however, some of our group mates had q1 or every hour vital signs monitoring patient with numerous medications. The problem was that the patients bought the medications at around 1:30 pm so we had no choice but to extend. One of my group mate was the head nurse that day and she was with her staff nurse during the preparation of meds. Our CI was with them too. I was just there disposing a syringe.

Rose: Allan, bilisan mo hah magqquiz pa tayo (it was 30 mins. past the end of our shift)
Allan: (no reaction)
CI: UTANGNALOOB wag ka muna magpaquiz at alas dos na

(All of us laughed while our CI went on)

CI: dyosko anong petsa na magpapaquiz ka pa. umuwi na tayo hah

The next day, same area at around 12:30pm.

Rose, still the head nurse, has a huge pimple beside her nose.

CI: hija, kalian pa ‘yang pimple mo? Kahapon pa ba’yan?
Rose: (surprised that our CI took notice) ay hindi po. Ngayon lang po
CI: ahhh.. akala ko kasi Hospital Acquired Pimple eh.. Nosocomial haha

(I couldn’t stop laughing)

10:30am. Nurse’s Station.
CI: ang kalat niyo sa gamit niyo o. Linisin niyo nga yang table ang gulo-gulo ng mga gamit o
(Everyone clears the table)
Gems: O kaninong ballpen ‘to?
CI: ay! Akin yan!
Gems: Eh eto, kanino? (raises another ballpen)
CI: Ay akin din yan!


A Sigh of Relief

I need to get a hold of my life before it truly gets out of hand. My itinerary seem have gone far ahead of me. I’m trying to cope with almost everything now. I just realized it when one of our new writers asked a question to an editor who relayed her query to me.

Writer: Kung makakapag-extend pa ‘ho kayo gagawin niyo?
Editor: Ay! Tanong mo kay edge.. Edge! Kung makakapag-extend pa daw ba tayo mag-eextend ka?
Edge: Ay ewan ko sa inyo! Basta ako ayoko na! Tatapusin ko lang ‘to!
(both of them laughed)

Truth is, I couldn’t imagine myself without the Advocate. I can’t seem to grasp a concept of me not being in school and not being in the office. One thought that has haunted me since the end of the first semester is the thought of graduating and leaving the organization. I’m dreading the day that my term will expire and I graduate from FEU.

I’ve been warned of the feeling beforehand.

Ate Aubs: ay nako edge, after graduation mas maguguluhan ka pa on what direction your life should take

As for now, I sigh and just do what I can. I haven’t lost the zeal or interest in the org. It did falter when I almost submitted a resignation letter just last month.

I had a weak moment. I went through silent hell – an internal conflict. Let’s just say that I didn’t feel that other members of the org shared the same goal. My resignation letter; still saved in my desktop, addresses my failure as a leader – failure to motivate.

Of course, as most people who knew me too well, I did not submit the letter. I have to make the most out the remaining semester. Yet, I haven’t deleted the file. I don’t know. At the least I came to a point of “don’t think, just do,” which actually works for me.


Whenever I’m on my way home from school, usually around 9 pm after having dinner with other Advocate members, I play back the events of the day. I am now trying to express a feeling in a coded manner but I seem to be squabbling against the keyboard. Let’s just say that you cannot completely close an open door if someone keeps on opening it. But in any case, I was able to arrive at a resolution. Currently, that’s something that I’m holding on to right now.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rain and Laughter

Rain poured greatly today. I was happy not to see children playing under the rain – it would’ve made me envious. I was in school as the drizzling leveled up to a downpour. At the time, we were having our room-to-room campaign. Such moist in the air brings the scent of nostalgia if not shoved down my throat.
My sweetest memory of a rainy day was at our old and original provincial house. Original because it went under construction to become the modern edifice it is now. More room to move, comfortable and perhaps considerably a mini-villa along the street towards the seductive nearby sea. And yet it was empty and soulless, at least for me.
Since it is newly built, I have no souvenir memory to revisit in that house. While the scent of wet air will always bring me back to our old house in Samar, I could never arrange a visit to our new house.
I remember waking to a rainy morning in Pambujan. I don’t know how old I was. It wasn’t dark nor was it a day for a Kapre and Tikbalang nuptial – as kids put it when it rained while the sun is high. The air was wet but wallowed with every taste of provincial life. The window was wide open, no metal bars or grills or mosquito nets barring it from the outside. The sand seemed the surface of a Sunkist orange as rain pummeled from our half-metal, half-nipa roofing. I sat right beside the wide open window as my Lola brought breakfast.
No high-end could compete with that meal. It was fried rice with egg bits, daing with vinegar and hot cocoa. The rain seems to contribute to its appeal and would’ve rendered me drooling uncontrollably. One of the best childhood memories I have. I ate with my bare hands, of course after washing them. I poured a few cocoa on the rice dipped Daing in the Vinegar. In between chews, I entertained myself with the ducks and its ducklings circling outside. 
After finishing the meal, there were kids around the same age I was who started going out of their house and dancing under the rain. I watched intently as they rolled across the ground chasing each other around. My cousin saw this and finished her meal as well. We ended up pleading to play outside in the rain to our parents – they allowed us but we should stay in front of our house and not on the paved road.
I went out, spread my arms, looked up and opened my mouth. I let rain water down my throat. Then I laughed as me and my cousin fooled around. A simple joy which is truly worth doing again and again. This made me love the rain more, it cleanses me, it hugs me wholly without regret, caresses my skin as it moves down the ground – it also makes me laugh.
But earlier, I held my umbrella against it - shielding myself from its hugs and kisses. Not for me, but at the thought of others seeing a tall guy acting like a child. Maybe what I miss most is laughing under the rain as I let it pour – free from gaining a bruised ego collected from looks and facial expressions of others. To be mature was to do what I did, but to be yourself, to be me, is to dance, play and sing under all the droplets of glory showered by the generous clouds.
What I want is to laugh in the rain.


Sunday, November 9, 2008


I just learned how to reformat my computer. Surprisingly, it's easy. I always thought it was this complicated procedure that is exclusively under the prowess of computer geeks. As my cousin elaborates during the installation, “The only hard thing about it(reformatting) are the files that you need and don’t want to delete, that’s why you back-up,” he said in the mix of English and Filipino.

Before taking the laptop to my cousin’s house, which is just a few doors down, I already backed-up my files. Reformatting today was honestly due to consistent procrastination since the sem break. My laptop would always flash, “Virtual Memory Too Low,” making it close all programs that I’m using - how sweet right.
There were a number of irritating instances. One is when I was editing a particular photo, our Features Editor I think, for Adobe wars – a sort of collection of disfigured, cursed and messed pictures of FEU Advocate members and posted as screen saver in the office. It was almost finished when suddenly the program closed. Good thing I saved halfway through, so I just re-edited the photo.

Whenever I use massive running memory programs like Photoshop, movie editor, RPG and the likes, I consistently save. I know that these programs live with the predilection to HA……………………………… HANG or as RO gamers put it, LAG. What really makes my teeth grind as thoughts of punching the screen, hammering the keyboard and throwing the whole thing out the window occurs when even a low running memory program such as MSWord HANGS without my file being saved or, even by an Angel's kiss, rescued. And these things remain thoughts because I don’t have money to replace the laptop. Heck I didn’t even have money to buy it – it was just from a demo promo.

Anyway, any writer or blogger would hate it if their article or entry which is already in its half-length would instantly go poof. As if the situation isn’t at its worse, the file wasn’t even rescued. What’s worse, it’s a melodramatic piece – as always – and the mood was completely obliterated. Well, no use crying over spilled milk – except of course if that milk is used for Haagen Dazs ice cream then it’s out the window with this thing. Obviously it still is and will remain a thought, I couldn’t even afford Haagen Dazs.

Sorry for the detour, so I had it reformatted. When I was backing-up my files, I was scared lovely viruses, yes there are more than one, plus malwares would jump in wreak the same havoc as before. I really want to spare myself from World War II; the battle for Virtual Memory. Good thing McAfee suddenly updated with the ‘autorun’ virus. Then I was able to scan my external hard drive and now it’s clean!

So here's the life application piece. Yeah.

The files we keep in our computer are the same with the memories we treasure. Without them, it destroys who we are at the time. Imagine a person with amnesia, it’s almost the same. That’s why we back-up. But it could only be done with a computer not with our head. The memories we have are 'backed-up' by the people whom we shared it with but compared to a computer it’s not easily accepted as copy and paste. Though the mind of a person with amnesia is a clean slate, it can reject inputs if it chooses to.

Another perspective, the computer just deletes the old files. With us humans, it’s not as easy to forget –especially with strong emotions and feelings. Heck, even those with amnesia and comatose rise up to proclaim medical miracles after revisiting strong memories brought by familiar voices or situations. Perhaps my enthusiasm to have my computer reformatted despite being untimely is to take control of a part of my life that could easily remove old files.

If our actions and behaviors that we want to change are applications and programs – it would be easier to delete and let go. But it’s not. At the least I can reformat a more controllable part of me, since I’m losing grasp of other things.

Reformatting now is a reassurance that I can still control my life, well at least my computer.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Zooming Out

November 3 marks the beginning of my last semester, hopefully, in FEU. I wouldn’t say college since I would still be pursuing an AB course. Me being in front of a number of people; my classmates, batchmates, teammates, teachers and parents during my graduation day as I deliver the redundant speech of loyalty is as fresh as the morning’s milkfish – but not as smelly.
Kuya Ian visited the office, was sidetracked more like, on his birthday, October 31. He was partly surprised why we were there. He admitted that he has this inkling that we, me, Dwight and other advo people, were in school and at the office. He suddenly tells us to enjoy and treasure the last semester we have in the Advocate.
I suddenly zoomed out for a wider perspective of the trying landscape. It’s like seeing a timeline of what was, what is and what could be or rather what I wanted and dreaded it to be. I was reminded of how near April is and how far my first June in FEU was. I suddenly was nostalgic of how I felt during the then 8-hour Advocate examinations and what I endured and enjoyed to get to where I am.
A part of me wants to extend my term, just until May, to do the things I want to leave for the Advocate. Perhaps if the Administration and the incoming Editorial Board will give me one more semester in FEU – then I would, but it would be against the Advocate’s new and improved charter – so that’s quite impossible.
Yet, there’s also a part of me who longs for the warm sun rays at the end of this short tunnel. To not worry, not be stressed, not care and to just relax – which I could do if I really wanted to – but I know I won’t and so did the people who entrusted me with such responsibility. It wouldn’t be a struggle if my drive is shared by those I work with. Well I believe they do, and that belief is gradually faltering by the moment. If such occasion materializes then my personal drive will have to be enough for everyone – and I will see that it really does.
It also made me return to my usual blog mood – poignant. My editorship is drawing to a pause. Yes a pause, I dare not say a close but it looks like it would really turn out that way. In any case, I surely will make the most out of this semester.
So I pray. I first thank God. Then I apologize. Then I ask for three things; strength, wisdom and courage. Strength to face any person, place or situation. Wisdom to make the right choice, proper judgment call and a well-balanced decision. Courage to do what is right and what’s not easy, to take the risk, to do what I ought to do and enough courage to draw strength I don't have and apply the wisdom I’ve not been given.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

JK Rowling. My Inspiration

The fuse of my circuit, the matchstick of my flame, the diesel of my engine, the switch of my light and the ink of my pen.

This is Joanne Katherine Rowling's commencement address at Harvard University. Another boost for my meek and meager might with pen - ultimately one of the things I stand for and against.

read this to the end. You'll be inspired.

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivers her Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates.

The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I’ve experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world’s best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock.Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called ‘real life’, I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.

They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the wilfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people’s lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world’s only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I’ve used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives.

Thank you very much.


Sunday, October 12, 2008


I want to update my blog but I just couldn’t. Now I’m forcing myself to write an entry. 

A lot has happened for the past three weeks but the top three things that occupied my head were my studies, the FEU Advocate and frustrations that I couldn’t quite face, explain or dare say—at least out loud.

First, my academics were at its usual state—coping. Miraculously, though this really sounds boastful, my grades are still above average. In the conduct of our thesis, I felt isolated in my group. And I blame myself for it and I do not blame them for being indifferent since I rarely attended meetings—or not at all. In any case, it was resolved, by a high grade for the Thesis Defense. So all’s well that ends well.

For the publication, I’ve been ambitious since the start of my term as Managing Editor. So far, I’ve accomplished all that I’ve wanted except for a few glitches this semester. But if there’s one thing I truly regret, that’s the fact that I have to be the ‘kontrabida’ (antagonistic) just to get things done. But hey, I had the best orientation from the former executive board. I’m scared that I’m pushing too hard that they’d break, so if they chance up on this, I really am sorry for being atrocious when it comes to deadlines.

Now for my frustrations, suppressed emotions have been haunting me for the past months. I faced two choices; to allow the feeling or exert every inch of my body to push it away. I chose the latter. I have to. If I could only will them away, I’d do it.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yam's Goodbye To You

Here's Miriam "Yam" Morales's rendition of Michelle Branch's Goodbye To You. Yam has the voice and looks of a recording artist, probably even better than some who already are. Who knows, she might be the next (high-pitch voice) Pinoy Pop Superstar! (Shoopershtar!)

And here's the lyrics to Goodbye To You:

Of all the things I believe in
I just want to get it over with
tears from behind my eyes
but I do not cry
Counting the days that past me by

I've been searching deep down in my soul
Words that I'm hearing are starting to get old
Looks like I'm starting all over again
The last three years were just pretend and I say

Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I love
The one thing that I tried to hold on to

I still get lost in your eyes
And it seems like I can't live a day without you
Closing my eyes till you chase my thoughts away
To a place where I am blinded by the light but it's not right

Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to

Ohhh yeah
It hurts to want everything & nothing at the same time
I want whats yours and I want whats mine
I want you but I'm not giving in this time

Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to
The one thing that I tried to hold on to

Goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to

We the stars fall and I lie awake
Your my shooting star 



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tierra Muerte del Fuego

Out of sheer laughter, after a short trip to Photo Concept, Recto for the Manila Bulletin FEU page, the Editorial Board somehow came up with a crazy idea of our own Telenovela. (as if we don’t have enough things to laugh about)

Originally, the idea was a political satyr with a tinge of Filipino-stereotype series and a pinch of El Cuerpo del Deseo. The impregnated idea gave birth to the full concept of Tierra Muerte. In any case, this entry wasn’t supposed to be an entry but a mere attempt of the suggested satyr screenplay.

Mere recollection and retelling are my only tools to identifying the characters so I opted to jot them or rather type them down. And viola, here it is;

Don Miguel Romansa  Owner of the vast lands of the well-known yet hated Romansa family. In their main land sits the Hacienda with ‘Romansa La Compundia’ across its huge gate which is also Don Miguel’s head office. He is the younger brother of Don Bruno who was supposed to inherit everything from their deceased father, Don Mariano Biron Romansa, if it weren’t for his gambling addiction. Don Miguel is the husband of Dona Leonora Romansa.

Don Bruno Romansa - the supposed-to-be inheritor of the Romansa wealth. A known gambler and the founder and president of the gagamba-betting group. Husband of Dona Candida Romansa.

Dona Leonora Romansa  wife and cousin of Don Miguel. Her marriage was staged to keep the family wealth within their realm. She bore two sons; Ramon and Roman. She favors Ramon in all aspects, for no definite reason, though it seems she’s in love with her own son.

Dona Almeda Romansa – mother of Don Miguel who was against his son’s marriage favoring her son’s original true love, Iluminada Romansa.

Iluminada Romansa  Don Miguel’s true love who has left Vigan and resided in Manila where she bore their son without Don Miguel’s knowledge.

Dona Candida Romansa  wife of Don Bruno and mother of Amor Romansa whose love for riches is undeniable. She is said to have driven Don Bruno to commit suicide. She is envious of the riches that Don Miguel’s sons will inherit.

Ramon Romansa – the prime businessman of the family and elder brother of Roman. Known to be unpredictable and rarely speaks unless he has to. Lets things go but has one desire that he dare not give – Saturnina.

Roman Romansa – Keeps a secret gallery of his former lovers but has kept an eye out for Saturnina as well. Known to be the black sheep of the family but his speech prowess is nothing short of cono and rather dashing for every girl.

Ricardo “Karding” Romansa – son of Iluminada and first-born of Don Miguel. A well-known scholar in Manila despite their low income. Works as a call center agent and brings food to their table. A meek but slick street guy, Amor sees him as rather dashing despite his ruggedness.

Amor Romansa – cousin of Ramon and Roman whose personality is of the same frame as her mother. Has a strong ardent desire for Brando – the family driver. Ambitious and conceited, she will do almost anything to get what she wants.

Atty. Villaluz de Villa  daughter of the late Atty. Villamor de Villa, who is a loyal subject of Don Mariano Biron. Upon her father’s death, she assumed responsibility as the Romansa’s family lawyer. Career-driven and works underhandedly.

Dr. Araceli Arellano – son of Dra. Aragon Arellano, another loyal subject of Don Mariano Biron and point of envy of Dona Almeda, who left her position as the Romansa’s family doctor to travel the world. Before leaving the family, she placed her son in her position. Dr. Araceli was rumored to have killed his own father with death by ants.

Saturnina Solaris  breadwinner of the once rival family of the Romansa – the Solarises. After Don Mariano Biron bought their land and everything they own, they now work for the Romansa family as farmers. Her father, the late Don Jupiterio Solaris, was said to be a rapist and was murdered with three axes with the killer unidentified. Saturnina’s siblings are Plutito, Neptunia and Mercuria.

May R. Doma  the 21st Maid-in-Chief of the Romansa la Compundia. A graduate of Criminology but failed to get into the Philippine National Police due to her ‘kakikayan.’

Brando – family driver, despises, loathes, hates and disgusts Amor.

Juego Jugo - New Leader of the Union of Romansa Undivided Group of Likas na Yaman (UR-UGLY).

Pacita P. Phansin - a well-known herbolario from India with her own herb clinic and nasty concoction jars. She is a primary consultant of the UR-UGLY and allegedly the mother of Juego Jugo.

Now who’s who?
Clue: EB


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