Monday, September 27, 2004

No More Fairy Tales

You are not my knight in shining armor. Not my savior, not my hope. Neither are you the tall, dark, handsome prince of my charmed, beautiful future. You could not hope to be one, if you'd so wanted. You have not the pedigree, not the airs, not the pomp and circumstance. You are not my dashing, debonair of a charmsman. Nor a suave Casanova versed in tricks of dinner talk and bedside manners. You are not the strong, silent, broken shell of a man, begging for my winsome healing strokes. A man of my girlish dreams you are not. A man of my teen-aged delusions you are not. A man of my imagination you are not.

What you are is my best friend in all times good, sad, bad, inane. What you hear in perfect understanding is my mind. What you are is my less than perfect lover in the sack. What you are is sanity and blessing and pain. What you do is make me upright when I am off-kilter. When the air congeals in my lungs, when the red doesn't flow smooth in my veins, when my heart pumps off-beat, then it is you I am missing. What you are is my complement. What you fit is the jagged edges of my puzzle. What you make is my life sweeter. And sour. And bitter. What you are is my love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ten Going on Thirty

Will you ever go back to teaching in that snotty school? My bestest friend stared back at me expectantly. No. The oodles of money they pay me to molly-coddle those rich bitches-to-be and those lazy in-need-of-sharpening little boys simply isn't worth it. Except for one. That ten-year-old I adored so.


I'd been warned, before he joined our class, of this little terrorist. He was disruptive in class. Manic. Short attention span. I'd expected a little monster, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sharp. Very sharp little kid. He knew what I was talking about the first time I explained French pronouns while the rest of the kids looked back at me with various levels of confusion. As expected, he got bored the second and third time I had to repeat myself. No wonder he's disruptive. He learns faster than the rest. How could the head mistress have missed this?

One Tuesday he hung back after I'd dismissed my Beginner's class. I was running late, but I thought he might want to talk.

"Hey Lance. That was a cool pic you drew. Do you really like tanks?"


"Strange though, are there always cigarette butts strewn around your living room?"

"That's the rec room. Yeah, my tito's."

"Your uncle lives with you?"

"Nah, he's my mom's boyfriend."

Dangerzone. It would probably be best if I steered clear of the Dad subject. Lance is playing with the colored chalk, leaving green and red marks on his white collar.

"Oh, I see. What about those magazines with the naked women on the cover?"

"Playboy? He leaves them out like that."


"Ok. Do you have any close friends here?"

"Here in school? No. They don't like me."

That's because they're snotty adolescent bitches and slow-learners who wouldn't get you.

"Why is that?"

"Because I'm fat."

"Nah, you're not fat. Just chubby. That's normal for a kid your age."

"Am too. They don't like me because I'm fat."

"Have you got any brothers or sisters?"

"Yeah. An older sister and brother."

"Do you hang out with them sometimes?"

"My sister's 26. She's married. And my brother's 23."

"Don't you hang out with your brother?"

"Nah. He's always out partying. He's like a vampire, asleep during the day and awake at night."

Ok. Absent mother. Absent father. Absent siblings and a pervert step-dad. Great.

"Oh. Well, have you got any friends in your neighborhood?"

"Sure. One. His name's Ryan. We play sometimes, but not often."

"So, what do you do most of the time?"

"I play computer games. I'm really good at them."

He'll develop great social skills for sure.

"Do you like our class?"


He finishes seat work at record speed. Then terrorizes his classmates. I can tell he likes my class. He shows up.

"Are you happy Lance?"

"What do you mean? Today?"

He stops playing with the chalk and looks up to stare at me, his smooth forehead wrinkled in query.

"Yeah. Today. Yesterday. Tomorrow."

"I dunno. I guess. Yeah, I'm happy."

"Ok. That's good."

He drops the chalk and dusts off his little hands. He makes a big show of standing up and dusting off his pants too.

"Mademoiselle? I've got to go."

"Alright. I'll see you on Thursday?"

"Yeah. Au revoir."

"Au revoir."

I'd wanted to talk more, but I'd sensed he was growing impatient with all the questions. Poor bright kid. The brave front he put up every day. Resident bad boy. Devil-may-care laughter. Arrogant swagger. Problem child. Problematic child. Heart-breaker of mine.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Sa Canada

Ipinagtatabuyan na'ko ng aking mga kamag-anak at kaibigan. Bakit ba sa tuwinang nababanggit ang hirap ng buhay sa bayang ito, at sa tuwinang naririnig ako ng ibang mala-litanyang isa-isahin ang kung anong mali dito sa atin, laging ito ang solusyong naririnig ko:

"Eh di mag-abroad ka na."

Noong isang araw tumawag ang isa kong Tita na ngayo'y naninirahan na sa Canada. Siya, at kalahati ng aking mga kamag-anakan. Kamu-kamusta, chismis ng kaunti.

"Kailang ka ba magbabakasyon dito? Hindi naman natuloy, nung Summer dapat 'di ba?"

"Ay Auntie, kasi po may pasok na. At saka mahal ang plane ticket! Halos linggo-linggo nagtataas ang dolyar."

"Bakit kasi 'di ka na lang dito na magtrabaho?"

"Ay, Auntie, sa tingin ko kasi mas kailangan ako dito."

"Sabagay, tatatlo na lang kayo d'yan. Hindi mo naman pwedeng iwan na lang si Mama mo."

Bagama't totoong tatlo na lang kami dahil sa pagpanaw ng aking ama at lola nitong nakaraang taon, hindi dito patukoy ang nasabi kong mas kailangan ako dito.

"Saka, sa ngayon po wala talaga akong planong mag-migrate. Sa kinabakusan malay natin." Para lang matigil na ang usapan. Kung ipaliwanag ko pa ang tunay kong pinapatungkulan, baka di rin n'ya maunawaan.

"Tama yan. Bata ka pa naman. Sige magpasarap ka muna d'yan."

Kumunot ang aking noo at nagpanting ang dalawa kong tainga. Tama ba ang narinig ko? Magpasarap muna sa Pilipinas? Nahihibang na ba ang kaisa-isahang kong tiyahin?

Huli s'yang pumarito nung namatay ang aking lola noong Abril. Siguro nama'y sapat nang makita n'ya ang hirap ng buhay dito. S'ya at ang iba ko pang mga kamag-anak ay 'di nagkulang sa pintas at reklamo;

"Ay, sa Canada, hindi pwede yang ganyan!"
"Ay, sa Canada alam mo kung saan napupunta ang taxes mo,"
"Ay, sa Canada makakain mo kahit ano'ng gusto mo."
"Ay, sa Canada, walang trapik!"
"Ay, sa Canada may disiplina ang mga tao."
"Ay, sa Canada, safe maglakad ng gabi."
"Ay, sa Canada, 'di kurakot ang mga politiko."

At pagkatapos mas masarap ang buhay dito?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Scene Eh, You Row Pa?

I've seen a grand total of three Cine Europa entries, "Black Meteor" from the Dutch, "Sweet Nightmare" from the Portuguese and "Distant Lights" from the Germans. The verdict? They all suck. This was supposed to showcase the best in European film right? Wrong.

The Cine Europa this year is a political statement. Nevermind the quality of the film, as long as they fit the general themes. Which themes you ask? Europe is a multi-cultural amalgam of nation-states, not exactly a coherent socio-political entity, but one working in harmonious cooperation. Europe is not xenophobic. Look, we welcome black soccer players! Europe does not condone racism. Europe is sympathetic to the immigrant's plight. Europe welcomes skilled, hardy foreigners. Europeans are more and more aware of being in a "union." Europeans are mobile within the EU. They even inter-marry! Europeans are investing in each other's countries. Especially in more economically depressed areas! Europe is being invaded by American culture, look at how crass and "baduy" we've become!

May this year marked European enlargement. 10 new states (central and eastern europe) are now official members of the EU. Europe is now 500 million strong. A huge market, obviously an economic powerhouse that seeks to rival the Yanks. What does this have to do with a film festival you say? Who said politics didn't use culture and culture politics? They are one and the same.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Diagnosis: Critical Condition (Or Why the Filipino Film Industry is in Deep Shit)

The Art Muses seem perverse in humor. Just as the local film industry breathes its last breath, foreign film festivals proliferate. How many have there been this year? Ok, let's enumarate shall we? (Those that I know of, of course.)

1. June. French Film Festival. Showy Frenchies like making big cultural splashes. And the film fest is the crowning glory of a month-long cultural celebration. They charged P50 pesos (I think) per film. Still cheaper than SM's P60.

2. July. Cinemanila. Hugely successful almost month-long festival which showcased some 20 foreign films, the epic-in-length Lav Diaz flick and the controversial "Imelda." My boyfriend and I shelled out P600 a piece for six films. Hard on the pocket but well-worth it.

3. July-August. Italian film fest. Screenings on Tuesday nights at the CCP dream theater. Its a small venue, but always packed.

4. July-August. Pink Film Fest. Haven't seen any of the entries. Shown not just here in Manila but in Cebu and Davao as well.

5. September. Cine Europa. Fourteen european films screening at the SM Megamall. Will also be shown in Cebu and Baguio Admission is free. I've seen "Black Meteor" and
"Distant Lights" so far. Germanic films that sucked big time. I will stick to Romance languages. Passion, intensity, similar Filipino temperament. Los Lunes al Sol and Les Choristes should be good.

While Manila residents are having a field day sampling film fares from all over, Filipino films attract flies instead of patrons. Even Bold Films aren't making as much money as before, and so SM Cinemas made the business move not to show them anymore. (No, not because they are bastions of morality and high standards all of a sudden.)

I think local producers should get a clue. People with extra money to spare for entertainment want to see films, not porno. Or the usual run-of-the-mill romances and comedies. What else explains the sudden demand for film fests? These are obviously hard times, and there is a widely held belief that "artsy-farsty" films don't make money. Precisely the point, with ordinary folk squeezing their budget as far as it would take them, they'll prioritize necessities. Not entertainment. And besides, they can always purchase that P30 VCD from the friendly neighborhood pirate.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Takda ng ibayong panahong
Pagtagpuin kamalayang uhaw
Sa pagkalinga't kagalingan
Sa kalayuan ay natanaw
Na makadaupang palad
Ang sa layo'y di masukat
Damdami'y naglalayag
At patuloy na dumadaloy.

Na akuin ang hindi ukol
Na libakin ang kapalaran
Mga balakid ay isantabi
At panandaliang kalimutan
Ang malao'y di gamay
Kinabukasa'y panaginip
Ngunit patuloy na naglalakbay
Naglalayag na pilit.


Sa kabutihan ng loob

Sa kabutihan ng loob
Dakilang nilulukob
Ang sakit ng iba'y pasanin.
Sa kung hanggang saa'y dadalhin,
Kahit na walang sinsakit, pipilitin.

Sa kabutihan ng loob
Dalisay ang tao,
Malaki man o maliit
Bobo't matalino,
Pantay-pantay ang pagtingin,
Kahit iba't iba ang saloobin.

Sa kabutihan ng loob
Tiwala'y walang patid
Palalagpasing pilit
Lahat ng pagkukulang.
Samantala'y dito nalalaman
Kung ano't sino ang mainam.

Sa kabutihan ng loob
Hinihinang ang lakas
Sa bawat sakit na pinalalagpas
Pag-unawa sa sarili't iba'y lumalawig.
Tibay ng didbib at pag-unawa'y nag-aanib
Pinsalang dulot ng tadhana'y pinapatid.
Sa kabutihan ng loob.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Confessions of a Bibliomaniac

I've acquired an addiction. One that I know wouldn't quit because I had once thought I would steal to keep on feeding it. I had dreamt of what fun it might be to be invisible so that I may acquire as much of my drug-of-choice as I needed. I'd dreamt of raiding bookstores. National Bookstore, Powerbooks, Fully-Booked, Even Books-for-Less and Booksale. I had thought of ways to execute this crime (what to wear, choice of get-away vehicle, shoes) in order that my theft might avoid detection, having CSI agents in mind. I am becoming a book addict.

No, now that I look back on it, this addiction has long been in the making. It started when I was 10 years-old. It was fashionable in my fourth-grade class to read. The choices weren't all that many; Sweet Valley Twins, High and University, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Sweet Dreams. These were the mainstream choices among other 10 year-olds in my all-girl school. Much as I might like to claim I preferred the young super-sleuths to blonde bombshells-in-the-making, I cannot. There was something uncomplicated and pleasant in the travails of pre-pubescents' angst about boys, peers and their parents. I like Sweet Dreams too. My first copy I had bought because the main character had my first name. Sweet Dreams shaped the way I looked at boys and my general knowledge of them, I must confess, rare species as they were in my All-Girl universe. If I had known then what I know now, I'd have stuck to sleuthing.

I'd collected dozens of these books, but like any book junkie, I thirsted for more. And so, I "diversified." I believe I was in fifth grade when I discovered Christopher Pike. Master of horror novels for the young, I was attracted to Pike's kind of morbid. Murder, ghosts, psychopaths and aliens were introduced to me by this juvenile version of Stephen King. Many a night I'd quivered in fear and hyperactive imagination. I loved Pike,but growing older tends to inhibit suspension of reality. And so, I moved on to "older" material.

I was 12 I think when I read my first historical romance novel. Yes, the kind with half-naked people on the cover. Ah, the joys of sex between two caricatures in an imagined historical setting in far-away lands. This was how I learned about the birds and the bees. I fed on relationships between stereotypes written for female consumption to ensure maximum romantic satisfaction in lieu of "real" relationships.

This was how I learned about love. I was hooked. And all through highschool I lived and breathed Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey and Amanda Quick. I was a princess, a dutchess, a lowly servant-girl who consorted with titled, aristocratic, dark-haired men who were stoic, virile and thoroughly "masculine." These men substituted for the minisucle number of boys I encountered in my real world. And so I believed men were honorable, principled beings with an almighty penis to satisfy my budding female urges. Alas, reality is a slap in the face when it comes to the men in my life. They are far from the noble, gentle knights of my girlish imaginations. Real life had finally caught up and I grew older, supposedly wiser, leaving my romances behind.

College introduced me to books that shaped and continue to shape my brain's synaptic activities. Landmark titles are Global Capitalism by Richard Peet, a Marxist. I picked his book randomly from the OPAC list of the UP main library because my Polsci 11 teacher asked us to pick among three choices on which to write an essay; War, Capitalism and the third I can't remember. Well, you know which one I picked. I suppose, more boys than girls chose the first one. I had no interest in the logistics of human evisceration. And so, completely by accident, I discovered I liked political economy, of the international sort. And of the "radical" kind. That book started it all. No professor, no indoctrinating activists. Just a single book.

My choices of books have since left the imaginary realm to dwell on "real" events and theoretical paradigms that explain and analyze them. I still occasionally purchase "in-between-ears and thighs candy" readily offered by the likes of Linda Howard and Patricia Gaffney. The writing is marginally better than my teen-aged choices, but still follows the romance formula. The fiction classics I've read can be counted on one hand. I am woefully ignorant of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or James Joyce or Brett Easton Ellis. Of pop authors I've heard Murakami and Palahniuk are gaining cult following. I've seen Fight Club, but that's about as close as I'm gonna get to entering Palahniuk's postmodern imaginary. I prefer to read postmodern socioligist/philosopher Jean Baudrillard instead.

And so throughout the years my bookshelves have continued to burgeon conversely with my eye grade. God help my poor irises, for they must be sacrificed on the altar of my addiction. I am ready to make such a sacrifice. What other explanation is there when one gets so giddily delighted by booksales and rare-book finds at bargain prices? What other explanation is there for the happiness and well-being that ensues after each quick book-gratification? I am a bibliomaniac. Does it have to do with the hubris of accumulating knowledge? Maybe. Does it have to do with "The more you know the more you don't know?" Maybe. Does it have to do with stocking up on a social capital that doesn't have anything to do with the numbers 36-24-34 or straight hair or a properly sweet demeanor? Maybe.
Speaking from the soul, head and gut.
De l’âme, de la tête et de la foi
Mula sa saloobin, sa isip at sa panalig

Je suppose, quand nous sommes chargés avec le complexe messianique, nous croyons que le monde n'aura pas aucune possibilité d'avertir la fin sans nous. C'est arrogant. L'orgueil se réverbère. Mais l'histoire montrait les hommes et les femmes effectuant des changements mondiaux en toute autonomie. Fin, je suis une de ces personnes-là. Toujours rêvant des moyens qui basculeraient les quatre colonnes fixes sur lesquels tout le monde reste. S'ils étaient capables d'avoir joués le rôle du messie, pourquoi pas moi?

I suppose, when one is inflicted with messianic complex, one tends to think the world could not possibly escape Armageddon without her. It is arrogant. It is self-important. I am guilty then. Of dreaming of ways to unhinge the world from whence it is pegged. History has shown men and women single-handedly change the face of the earth. Why shouldn't I be one of them?

Marahil sa panalig na lahat ng sangkatauhan ay karapat-dapat salbahin, ika’y nagtataka na ang daigdig ay nagpatuloy na uminog nang wala ka. Anong pagmamataas. Anong pagmamalaki. Ngunit hindi ba ang kasaysayan ay puno ng mga nilalang na sa isang lakas ay gumuhit nang kapalaran ng sandaigdian ? Ako’y nagnanais na gumuhit din. Hindi pa nagsasawang managinip nang gising na ang pakay na ito’y maisakatuparan. Kung ang tulad nila’y nagpunyagi, bakit hindi ako ?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Superducks and underducks
by Eduardo Galeano

EVERY day we spend $2.2bn on killing each other....

The five largest arms producers are the US, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France. They are also the countries with a veto in the United Nations Security Council. It insults common sense to make those who provide the world’s weapons the guarantors of world peace...

These five countries are in charge. They run the International Monetary Fund and all (except China) are among the eight countries that take most key decisions at the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, where the right of veto exists but is never used....

Ah, the depressing things you learn about the world huh? Want to read the rest? Click here