Am I the only one who has noticed that so many people's photos on Friendster are of themselves on the beach? (I'm talking to the Pinoys here.) Ah yes, we are truly a country of beach bums .... Well, dapat lang naman siguro; with a coastline twice the length of America's, perfect tropical weather, and some of the most beautiful shores in the world ....
We really live in such a beautiful country. Even the smog of Metro Manila cannot hide those breathtaking sunsets and moonrises that make all of us stop and stare in rapt stillness.
I just wish we had the resources and political will to implement serious environmental preservation programs. The older I get, the more I appreciate the majesty of this country's landscape; but the more, too, am I exasperated by our ecological neglect of it.
First, let me clarify: I do not want FPJ to win as president.
But I haven't been at all comfortable with many of the comments I've been hearing to the effect of: "The country is going to the dogs because the masses' voice in politics is growing stronger and stronger." Some of these comments have bordered on advocating measures to disqualify "the masses' vote" simply because they are the masses'.
To that, I've often wished to raise the question (not yet necessarily a retort): "Can we really have it both ways? Can we really say that we want the economically marginalized in society to become more empowered, yet at the same time, dictate or manipulate their political choices? Isn't that just another form of oppression of the upper class against the lower classes?"
In the Philippines, the last six years have come as a shock to many of the people in the upper classes, because they are suddenly realizing that theirs is not the only voice in the Philippine plurality. They are suddenly realizing, for the first time, that there are dissenting opinions and other heretofore marginalized worldviews, and that in some configurations of government, they, the rich and elite, are actually the minority and the opposition.
But as this realization grows, perhaps it is time for those who belong to the elite to take a step back and reflect on how they react to it?
As an aspiring scholar of political philosophy, I've been feeling my discomfort about all this since EDSA 2, in fact, but I've often been hesitant to voice it, because most people I know (most of whom are among the well-educated, upper-class sector of Philippine society) either disagree vehemently with me, or tend to misinterpret my stand. I haven't blogged much about it either (although I've expressed my opinions vocally in conversations among friends), because I haven't been able to find the right words to express and clarify my opinion....
... Until this morning, when Randy David handed his words on a platter, through his Sunday column. Here is how David begins his column:
"Considering that almost all the past presidents of this country have been chosen by, and have served, mainly the elites and the middle classes, a yearning by the poor to change the rules of the game would not be unreasonable or farfetched. Those of us who do not suffer from material deprivation should be thankful then that the many who live from meal to meal still opt for peaceful elections rather than revolution as the path to a just society.
"But sometimes this is not the way we see things. We prefer that the poor completely entrust the business of governing to us who are well-off and better educated. In our conceit, we think we have a larger stake in this country just because we pay more income tax, forgetting that everything that the poor consume is also taxed. So we sometimes hear exasperated talk proposing that we raise the minimum qualification for our national officials, and limit the right of suffrage to the educated. Such sentiments have an affinity with the demand to put an end to politics altogether. They are drawn from the same well that nurtures other more visible forms of tyranny."
David admits that Philippine politics has lately resembled a circus (though he doesn't say it in those words). But he ends with a statement which I think we ought to think about, whether or not we actually agree with it:
"It is sad. But this is still preferable to a tyranny run by the educated few who claim to know all the answers and reserve no role for the masses in public life."
Perhaps, this is the time when we need to ask ourselves: Are we finally willing to take the long, hard path to the empowerment of the marginalized? Or are we going to continue perpetuating our oligarchy?
Whether or not you agree with him, please read David's entire column here, if only to give yourself something to think about.
Also read Mark's heartfelt, sobering reaction to FPJ's declaration.
Update: Read Jobert's take on the same issue as well.
M and I were at Megamall yesterday. As we approached the food court in the basement, he asked, "Do you want to see the end of an era?" I looked at him, puzzled. He pointed to the ice skating rink. Or rather ... he pointed to what used to be the ice skating rink.
The ice skating rink of our childhood--the first such rink to open in the country (I think)--has closed down.
Denor is my favorite cameraman of all time. I had the honor of working with him in Mt. Data where he took the most beautiful, beautiful, beautiful shots of a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place.
A.S. and I were producers-in-training at the same time. Abi and I worked on my only two out-of-town shoots together, kaya bonding kami. I had already left the show when Robert started, pero bilib ako sa kanya.
We're not worthy, we're not worthy, we're not worthy!!!
My boss. Nessa taught me almost everything I know about production. From her I also learned a crucial lesson in management: sometimes, decisions need to be implemented now.
Isa pang "we're not worthy!" I wish I had worked with her, but she had left soon before I began at TPT.
There was a running joke that no one would get married while in Probe. AB was our steady-eddie graphics guy, the only person still sane when we were an hour away from airtime and running late. He left soon after I did ... and got married; he and his wife are expecting a son. :)
Several generations of The Probe Team. Can you see me?
All from (roughly) the same generation of TPT.
Getting ready to shoot the final shot of the last episode of TPT. Sixteen years of TPT staff members shouted, altogether, "At kami ang The Probe Team!!!!" Hope you caught it last Tuesday!
If TPT epitomizes broadcast journalism, Sheila Coronel symbolizes what print journalism should be. No, I don't know her personally, I just asked if I could have a photo taken with her. :P And yes, that's Love, and everything!
Incredibly talented writer. Sometimes a little scary as a superior. But loads and loads of fun as a colleague. I learned a lot from Twink.
IDOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's da man! After any of his segments aired, hero-worshipping cries of "Ang galing galing mo Howie!" would resound in the office, hollers of awe and admiration would echo in the editing rooms, and when he passed, people would get on their knees and kowtow (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get the picture).
A photo op we couldn't resist. :)
CLL: the heart and soul of The Probe Team. 'Nuff said.
Of physicians, financial aid, and Philippine presidentiables.
A doctor-friend of mine forwarded to me Rina Jimenez-David's last two Inquirer columns. The columns (click here and here) are about a medical student, then in her fifth year at UP-PGH, who was allegedly raped by a doctor senior to her, a resident assigned to the Orthopedic Surgery department, after a party of the "Friday Club," the department's weekly drinking spree. Jimenez-David implies that the resident's difficulty in getting charges filed against the resident is probably part of a larger cultural problem present in some departments of UP-PGH.
Other interesting trends from the survey: Roco got the most support from classes A, B, C, and D. FPJ and GMA got equal support from voters belonging to class E. The regional breakdown, on the other hand, had Roco leading in Metro Manila and Luzon. In the Visayas, GMA got the most support. FPJ got the most support in Mindanao.
The poll was conducted before FPJ announced his plans to run, so it will be interesting to see the surveys updated after this week's events.
This is a story with never-ending ramifications, so long as we continue to live in the nuclear age. For today, it has two lessons worth stating plainly. First, that to prevent the use of nuclear weapons of any type, by anybody, must remain the central goal of American policy at all times. Neither Kennedy, nor Johnson, nor McNamara in serving both presidents ever lost sight of this. Ask yourself whether you feel confident that the same care, on this transcendent issue, is being exercised today. For the second lesson, difficult though it may be to face, is that the largest danger that nuclear weapons will be used has come, so far in history, from ourselves.
Right before the movie aired it was screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Meyer recalls, "I had somebody I knew in the room who said, ‘If you thought they were going to snicker or pick it apart, you are mistaken. They sat there like they were turned to stone.'" . . .
Immediately after the broadcast, Ted Koppel hosted a live panel discussion to help viewers cope with what they'd witnessed. Dr. Carl Sagan, Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara, William F. Buckley and George Shultz were among those who participated.
Representing the Ronald Reagan administration, Secretary of State Shultz was in full-damage control mode, making comments such as, "The only reason we have for keeping nuclear weapons is to see to it that they are not used."
It was also during this gathering where Sagan first introduced the phrase "nuclear winter" into the lexicon (an event actually depicted in the film). And he presented the vivid analogy that the arms race between the U.S. and Soviet Union was akin to "two men standing waist deep in gasoline -- one with three matches, the other with five."
"The making of the film was to date the most worthwhile thing I ever got to do in my life," Meyer asserts. "Any movie that the President of the United States winds up saying changed his mind about the idea of a winnable nuclear war is not an insignificant achievement. The Reagan administration came in thinking about ‘acceptable numbers' of nuclear casualties. (Reagan's memoirs reveal) what he had to say about the effects of what ‘The Day After' had on his thinking.
"When he signed the Intermediate Range Weapons Agreement at Reykjavik (in 1986) with Gorbachev, I got a telegram from his administration that said, ‘Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did.'"
1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year. My Ricoeur paper. Christmas shopping. Organizing my cubicle (doubtful I can finish this by the end of the year though). This expanded syllabus I'm supposed to do for work. This other administrative project I'm doing for school.
2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again. Melissa, my best friend from grades 1 to 3. Can't think of anyone else right now; most of my friends are just a text, e-mail, or phone call away even if I might not have spoken with them in a long time.
3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do. Play the guitar well. Cook well. Drive. Walk on a balance beam. Swim well. Sing well. Oops, that's six.
4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit). Have my parents' house fixed. Pay for the real estate tax of the house for the next forty years. Put two million pesos in savings so I can live off the interest without having to work for a living. Open a school in the poorest town in the Philippines. Buy M the notebook he is hankering for.
5. List five things you do that help you relax. Lie down. Watch TV. Smoke (only when things are especially stressful). Get a massage. Take a walk.
The past few decades have introduced a new relationship convention--cohabitation--and along with it, new and strange problems. What do you do, for example, if your girlfriend breaks up with you, but, because you've shared the rent, she refuses to leave the one-bedroom apartment you've shared until the lease expires ... which isn't for another six months?
Today, another of my high school kabarkada's got married--making that the fourth of eight to walk down the aisle. Jo was just glowing with joy and happiness, and Jeff brought all of us to tears when he sang for Jo right before their first dance. Sigh!
Oh, and it must be said--beautiful pictures! (By Lito Sy--the same photographer who did my other kabarkada Jan's wedding.)
Ma'am Cheche Lazaro threw a farewell party/thanksgiving celebration for The Probe Team last night. All of the former staff of the team and of Probe Productions Inc., plus friends of the team, were invited. M and I went, and it was an overwhelming experience. Alternately sad, inspiring, and celebratory.
First, some background. I worked for 14 months at The Probe Team, first as a production assistant, then as a producer. I was a fresh college graduate when I started with the company, and Probe was my first full-time job.
Fourteen months may not seem like much--a blink of an eye compared to the length of time so many others spent at Probe--but those fourteen months are indelible in my memory. I joined Probe because I had a few dreams that I wanted to fulfill: to travel to faraway places, see things most people haven't seen, and meet people usually hidden from view; to work with people I really, really admired; to tell stories that, hopefully, would change people's way of viewing things, and maybe change a few lives.
I did fulfill all those dreams at Probe. But I came away with more, much more, than I had bargained for. Probe gifted me with lessons to last a lifetime.
What did I learn from the Probe Team?
Excellence. When I was there, the Probe Team waged a constant battle against mediocrity. Any story worth doing was worth doing well, and our mentors never let us forget that.
The miracle of mentorship. People usually think of a mentor as a parent-figure of sorts, providing constant guidance and learning to a younger person. But from two people--Nessa and Twink--I learned of a different kind of mentorship, and how amazing it can be: the miracle of giving people the confidence and the opportunity to be the best they can be.
The power of vision, ideals, and passion. The Probe Team was my first encounter with the power that a tiny group of people could have if it was driven by a common vision, soaring ideals, and shared passion. More than anything, those were what characterized Probe.
Integrity. In an industry driven by ratings and advertising, Probe kept its integrity. Until the very end.
It was also because of Probe that I discovered my life's calling: to present to people new ways of thinking about things. I hope I managed to do that at Probe. I hope I still manage to do that now.
At the party, several people were asked to give speeches about their experiences with The Probe Team. Two lines from the different speeches resonated within me when I heard them, because they were so true.
Luchi said it for all of us, I think, when she said: "You always bring a part of Probe with you, wherever you go." I would've wanted to add: whether you worked there for fourteen months or fourteen years, Probe becomes a part of you forever.
Nessa capped off her speech by saying: "I am so, so honored to have been a part of The Probe Team." So am I. I think we all are.
Go to The Probe Team Online for Cheche Lazaro's statement about the axing of the show. (The statement will open in another window.)
--> Do something larger than yourself this Christmas season. Donate your old books to a public school library, or volunteer your time as a tutor or story-teller for children, or sponsor a student's college education. In Manila, call the Ateneo de Manila-Pathways Office at 426-6001 local 4048 or the Synergeia Foundation at 898-2617 for inquiries. Read Harvey Keh's Manila Times column yesterday for details.
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins
The second lines are supposed to be indented, and the third indented even more ... but I don't know html! Sorry!
I've been working so hard all sembreak that I'm a little surprised that I have to be back in the classroom in twelve hours' time.
But no, I'm not complaining. What other job allows you to even have a "break" in the middle of the year--no matter how nominal. Besides, work is good lately. I'm actually excited about my papers, because they're on topics I really feel strongly about. In fact this is the first time in the past four years that I've wanted to allot more of my time doing research than doing classroom-related work. And that's a good thing. Maybe I do have a future on this career path.
When I was in college, the only thing remotely like a serious bookstore this side of Metro Manila was Pages bookstore. My blockmates and I would while away our long breaks there, lounging around and reading poetry aloud to each other (yes, we were a wee bit pretentious but ah, happy memories!). The only other alternative for finding good books would be to take the long commute to the university belt in Manila, where we could find Nietzsche tomes and Filipino literature classics (first printings, sometimes!) at under P100.00.
Sometime when we were still in college, National Bookstore opened Powerbooks, a serious bookstore which sold bestsellers ... and things began to look up a bit .... (I remember finding, to my joy, Douglas Coupland books there--books I'd never thought I'd see in the Philippines!). The only problem for my friends and me was that the philosophy section was (and still is!) very, very sparse (not to mention, poorly categorized!).
Then Amazon.com became a more and more plausible way to order books ... though you had to be lucky enough to have an international credit card to buy anything from Amazon.
In recent years, a few more independent stores have begun to appear: A Different Bookstore and then later, Page One (now Fully Booked).
And today ... joy, joy, joy ... M and I finally went to Aeon Books right across school. For under P300, I found a Grube commentary on Plato, an autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, and an old reprint of Paul Tillich's Dynamics of Faith. Joy joy joy!
Manila is finally, slowly, becoming a city of readers. Thank goodness. It's about time.
(Update: I forgot to talk about book-hunting in the Cubao branch of NBS, and in Goodwill Bookstore ... back when there weren't any other bookstores.)
Do I have anything to say about Philippine politics? Yes. But some of my thoughts still need fine-tuning; that, and I'm writing a paper about politics, so I'm hesitant to allow that "creative" tension to spill over to my blog. (In an essay about writing published in Heights when I was still in college, Butch Dalisay advised young fictionists not to "talk yourself out of a story"; doing so, he said, tended to dissipate the creative tension.)
(BTW, I wish I had written it earlier, but today was the last day for new voters to register ....)
Update: I agree with this reading of the significance of the Davide impeachment. _____
Meanwhile ... see Mike's blog for pictures of this weekend's regatta, held in honor of Tita Vangie.
It's the Todos Los Santos-Araw ng Patay weekend, and I did my duty and spent a few hours at the cemetery with my aunt today.
On a purely emotional level, the Araw ng Patay ritual frankly isn't my favorite thing; I always end up feeling bored after awhile, counting the minutes until it's time to go home. It doesn't help that every single Araw ng Patay I can remember has had bad weather--either bad rain, or, as with today, scorching sun.
Yet despite that, on a more profound level, I really, really appreciate that we have such a tradition in our country to remember family members who have passed away. Every year, going through the Araw ng Patay tradition--regardless of how boring it can get or how uncooperative the weather can be--reminds me that no matter how independently I may live my life the rest of the year, the fact of the matter is, I come from somewhere: for better or worse, I am part of a web of familial relations. I am here because of my kin who came before me.
The thing about your family is that for the most part (except for your spouse or adopted children) you don't choose them. You're born into the family you have with all its quirks and deep, dark secrets--the strange cousin, the loser uncle, the aunt from hell (note: I'm not referring to any of my relatives in particular; just the stereotype quirky relatives that so many people have). Yet we're supposed to love all members of our family: regardless of who they are.
And maybe, that really, is the message of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. If you're Catholic, at least, these two days are the days wherein we remember that we are part of a larger communion: the communion of sinners and hopefully someday the communion of saints. We are part of this much larger family: the entire family of God's children. And the thing is, we don't get to choose this family either. The corrupt government official? He's my brother too. That thief? She's my sister. That perverted priest? Oh gosh, much as I wish he weren't, he is also my brother.
And just as in our own extended families, the call, perhaps is to love all members of our larger family, no matter how difficult it may be, no matter who they are. It might be the toughest task in the world, but it is what we were called by Christ to do.
Our journey towards Christ is not a lonely nor a solitary one; we share it with one another and bear our burdens with another and with all of God's children, the larger family to which we all belong.
Back in college (i.e, back when we drank a lot more), Goodah! was the Katipunan place to eat after a night and early morning of drinking. (sob, wala nang Goodah! ...)
Whistlestop was the place to go if you had already gotten kicked out of the bar or beerhouse you were at but you wanted to continue drinking at 4 AM and you had enough money. (Of course, it was much easier to just start drinking at somebody's house then this wouldn't even be a problem.) Whistlestop was also the perfect place from which to have late dinners (Hainanese chicken!!) delivered (their quality of food, sadly, has gone down a bit since then).
When I started working at a place in the Kamias area with very, very erratic hours (TV production), Inka was where we would drop by for a relaxing night cap if we wouldn't be sleeping over at the office, Tapa King was where we went at 12:30 am after our show finished airing, and Burger Machine was the place to grab a quick bite at 3 AM after you had finished laying your sound bed and before going back to the office to continue with inserts. Of those three, I think only the Tapa King in that area is still around.