Thursday, September 30, 2004

Book littering...

Is going to be fun.

Before you report me to our lazy authorities about disturbing the peace and dirtying up our pristine country, allow me to present Bookcrossing.
*with many thanks to Aimee Rae for introducing me to this

What is Bookcrossing? It's easily explained by three Rs.

    • Read a good book. (you already know how to do that)
    • Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID(BookCrossing ID number), and label the book.
    • Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records journal entries for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it! (courtesy of Bookcrossing.com)

Reading a good book, check. Registering the book on the website, check. "Forgetting" your book in a coffee shop...wait a minute! Bookcrossing is actually encouraging people to "leave" their books in public places?

Yes. That's the whole premise. And in the United States alone, there are over 17,000 released books that are lying in train stations, bathroom cubicles, doctors' waiting rooms, and college parks. So when someone picks up a seemingly innocent book and spots the BCID scrawled on the inside front cover, s/he goes online, key in the BCID, and voila! s/he has just caught a book.

What's my goal? To spread my book collection all over this dusty metropolis! I like marking my books, so if you spot a book lying around the Makati-Greenbelt-Glorietta area with an SME scrawled on the inside cover page, that's mine. And if you want to find out when and where I've released my books, check back on the recently released page over at Bookcrossing. I'll leave some clues as well.

Of course, there will be some people who won't know what Bookcrossing is all about, so I'll make sure to leave a little note inside the books instructing them what to do. The chances that they'll go online may be nil, but what the hey!

Some authors I will be leaving lying around: Dick Francis, William Bernhardt (better than John Grisham), L.M. Montgomery, Victoria Holt, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Sylvia Plath, Bridget Jones, Rose Tremain, and a lot more.

Join in as well on the crusade to spread books around!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ordering Pizza in 2008.

This could likely be the scene in the US in four years, depending on who wins the elections.

ORDERING PIZZA IN 2008

Operator: Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have your national ID number (NIDM)?
Customer: Hi, I'd like to place an order.
Operator: I must have your NIDM first, sir.
Customer: My National ID Number, yeah, hold on, eh...it's 6102049998-45-54610.
Operator: Thank you Mr. Sheehan. I see you live at 1742 Meadowland Drive, and the phone number is 494-2366. Your office number over at Lincoln Insurance is 745-2302 and your cell number is 266-2566. Email address is sheehan@h... Which number are you calling from sir?
Customer: Huh? I'm at home. Where'd you get all this information?
Operator: We're wired into the HSS, sir.
Customer: The HSS...what is that?
Operator: We're wired into the Homeland Security System, sir. This will add only 15 seconds to your ordering time.
Customer: (sighs) Oh well, I'd like to order a couple of your All-Meat Special pizzas.
Operator: I don't think that's a good idea, sir.
Customer: Whaddya mean?
Operator: Sir, your medical records and commode sensors indicate that you've got very high blood pressure and extremely high cholesterol. Your National Health Care provider won't allow such an unhealthy choice.
Customer: What?!?! What do you recommend, then?
Operator: You might try our low-fat Soybean Pizza. I'm sure you'll like it.
Customer: What makes you think I'd like something like that?
Operator: Well, you checked out 'Gourmet Soybean Recipes' from your local library last week, sir. That's why I made the suggestion.
Customer: All right, all right. Give me two family-sized ones, then.
Operator: That should be plenty for you, your wife and your four kids, and your two dogs can finish the crusts, sir. Your total is $49.99.
Customer: Lemme give you my credit card number.
Operator: I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid you'll have to pay in cash. Your credit card balance is over its limit.
Customer: I'll run over to the ATM and get some cash before your driver gets here.
Operator: That won't work either, sir. Your checking account is overdrawn also.
Customer: Never mind! Just send the pizzas. I'll have the cash ready. How long will it take?
Operator: We're running a little behind, sir. It'll be about 45 minutes, sir. If you're in a hurry you might want to pick 'em up while you're out getting the cash, but then, carrying pizzas on a motorcycle can be a little awkward.
Customer: Wait! How do you know I ride a scooter?
Operator: It says here you're in arrears on your car payments, so your car got repo'ed (repossessed). But your Harley's paid for and you just filled the tank yesterday.
Customer: Well, I'll be a #%#^^&$%^$@#!
Operator: I'd advise watching your language, sir. You've already got a July 4, 2003 conviction for cussing out a cop and another one I see here in September for contempt at your hearing for cussing at a judge. Oh yes, I see here that you just got out from a 90-day stay in the State Correctional Facility. Is this your first pizza since your return to society?
Customer: (speechless)
Operator: Will there be anything else, sir?
Customer: Yes, I have a coupon for a free two liter bottle of Coke.
Operator: I'm sorry sir, but our ad's exclusionary clause prevents us from offering free soda to diabetics. The New Constitution prohibits this. Thank you for calling Pizza Hut!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Starting them young.

There's something to be said about the quality of education provided to kindergarten students nowadays.

Parents strive to set a good example for their kids so that when they grow up, they can have confidence in themselves to walk in good faith. They slave away at their jobs for twenty years, just so their child will be able to get a good education: grounded in morals, propriety, reasonable intelligence, and curiosity. They make sure to point out the right path in life, and rarely cease worrying whether their parenting and school education will be enough for their child.

Hence, you have parents scrambling to look for a school that offers education which is geared towards their beliefs in life. The advent of Christian schools in the Philippines is a testament to that. When a child start young, the lessons learned will have an impact in his/her life. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

So when I wandered into a pre-k classroom last Sunday and spotted a manila paper dotted with pictures, I thought it was the usual stuff that five-year olds do. It was an exercise on learning how to discern with the senses - what objects are rough, what objects are smooth, things like that.

It was one object on the Smooth part that really caught my eye.

There was a cutting of a Budweiser beer bottle pasted there.

In between gales of laughter, I had several blasphemous thoughts.

That kid knows the taste of beer more than I do!
Was it the mother or the father who helped the kid cut out the beer bottle?
How come it wasn't San Miguel Beer?
Kids...they don't know how to love their own.

Maybe it's not such a good idea to start them young after all.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Erosion of Natural.

"Breathe the free air, my friend."
- Gandalf to Theoden, The Two Towers Movie


I can't.

I can't breathe here. Every whiff I take is 90 percent smog, 8 percent malodorous sweat from other people, and two percent is 98 percent smog and malodorous sweat from other people.

I remember when my sixth grade homeroom teacher told our class about her friend, who was a pilot, and how he had flown over Antipolo and was apalled at the thick black smog he saw covering the sky. That was 10 years ago.

While walking around Sydney Harbor, my tita told me that most Australians think Sydney is dirty. Looking at the clean streets and inhaling the fresh sea air, I replied that a visit to Manila might change their minds in an instant.

Observe, also, the diaspora of Pinoys and their elderly ones as they look for places where they'll be able to live out the rest of their lives in relative peace of mind.

I figure that by the time I'm 30, I'd have ingested more smog than the average citified Yank.

------

I can't walk here.

Sidewalks are non-existent. Bike lanes are non-existent. I consider it one of the biggest ironies in the world that I can gaily walk inside the streets of Makati. The country's biggest business district.

But I still can't walk.

I can't enjoy the beauty of the day while being surrounded by overloaded, groaning buses and salacious drivers.

I can't enjoy the sights because they're all blocked by buildings and megatowers. Come to think of it, the sights are the buildings and megatowers.

I can't daydream.

Little by little, this country is choking the life out of me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

All in the name of fun and laughter.

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno is the best time of my night. My brother and I always make sure not to miss his opening monologue, where he dishes out real news with saucy one-liners and side comments that are just hilarious.

Our favorite segment of the show, however, is Headlines. I have a particular fondness for this, not because of its laugh value, but because I used to be a former college paper editor.

Our December 2002 issue ran a headline picture with two craftsmen making a traditional Christmas lantern, with the caption reading (as I remember it): The most wonderful time of the year. Workers use their skills to make the perfect Chirstmas lantern. Perfect indeed.

And since I've been laughing the whole day at work reading Headlines online, here's one that made me laugh a long time.


Gateway to an exciting marriage. Posted by Hello

What are the odds that these two would find love in one another?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Saling-Pusa.

When they're not teasing other children, kids sometimes have it more right than adults think possible.

As a little kid in the US, whenever I wanted to join my friends in games, they allowed me to watch first and learn the fundamentals. There wasn't a precise term for it. Then I came back home to the Philippines and learned about saling-pusa. And naturally, I had to be one, because I didn't know some of the native games (patintero, Chinese garter, Langit-Lupa, etc.) and their rules.

In his book My Friends in the Barrios, Dr. Juan Flavier applauds the humanity of the barrio children whenever they came out to play. He writes,

In the adult world, one of the most depressing realities is the practice of exclusivism. The rich stay among the rich, the professionals among the professionals, and the men among their so-called peers. Anyone disregarding this standard is disqualified.

Among the children, the unqualified - he who is too young, not strong enough, unfamiliar with the rules of the game, or who is a newcomer - is still accepted with all the rights of enjoyment, but exempted from the punishment demanded by the game. He is called saling-pusa (literally, cat-participant). Although unqualified, he joins the games; he participates completely, without being discriminated against. Occasionally, a little boy does not relish being saling-pusa. When that happens, he is called saling-hari (king participant), instead.

That is real humanity in action.


Maybe it's something we can think about these days.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Crazed.


"So you're not a scholar?" Jian asks at one point in one of their more lucid dialogues.

"I told you," the professor responds, "I'm just a clerk, a screw in the machine of the revolution…. Now this screw is worn out and has to be replaced, so write me off as a loss." - Ha Jin, The Crazed

The setting is in provincial China, some years after the Cultural Revolution and months away from the Tiananmen Square uprisings. Professor Yang, a noted scholar of Chinese and Western literature, has suffered a brain hemorrhage and is taken to a nearby hospital near the University where he lectures.

During that time, he dissembles, and spews out a seemingly unstoppable damn of old Cultural Revolution songs, long-hidden thoughts about his work as a scholar and his being a government puppet, his broken personal life, and outspoken zeal against communism in China, among others.

Jian, the graduate student who is assigned to watch over him (he is also the prospective son-in-law, being engaged to Professor Yang's daughter), is confused and worried about the ramblings. What if Professor Yang is reported about his unloyal remarks? Why is he urging him to forego his studies in literature and be something else? Why, after all this time, has he changed sides? Why has he suddenly gone 'crazy'?

The lure of a free life, unhampered by government interference and political vested interests, is what Professor Yang longed for. He may have painted the West (somewhat overly) as a haven of academic freedom, but the fundamentals were there. True scholarship could exist (and has existed) over there rather than in China, where personal favors and political strings are pulled in favor of the well-connected.

There underlies an important question. If you could choose between a life of comparative luxury and painless dealings with the government as against a poorly-paid, underappreciated academic, what is your final choice? And as a corollary to that, why can you only choose between two?

Ultimately, Jian decides on his own what to set out for, surrounded by events that spiral into the Tiananmen Square rebellions. But his choice may have pre-set consequences that even he may not be ready for.

For those who have an appreciation of personal and political freedom, I recommend this book for reading.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I have two hands, the LEFT and the RIGHT...

Last week, a 9/11 memorial at the University of Tennessee was defaced. 3,000 memorial flags that had been placed inside the amphitheater in honor of those who died in the 9/11 attacks were removed and replanted in the Humanities Plaza, where they were then used to spell out "THE WORLD SUFFERS". They also wrote with chalk various antiwar and anti-Bush slogans along the pavement and walls.

Nathan Fortner, a student at the University, was one of those who helped put the flags back in the ampitheater and washed away the slogans. He writes that "you just don't go deface a memorial to the innocent dead and then use it to forward your twisted political agenda, as it goes against all forms of common decency."

For the point in remembering those who died in the 9/11 attacks, I agree. It is tasteless, it is crude, and it is disrespectful especially to those who died trying to save lives at the World Trade Center. It wasn't meant to be offensive, nor was it meant to be a political statement. But in the highly-volatile world that seems to be America, nothing is ever spared.

But going beyond the American paradigm means taking a good hard look at the world. One UT student reacted to Nathan Fortner's post by saying,

the 3000+ victims of the 9/11 attacks were no more innocent than the 10,000+ iraqis who have been (sic) killed since U.S. invasion. This vandalism was no more disrespectful of the 9/11 victims than the exploitation that was the RNC. If I die as a results of a terrorist attack, I truly hope my death is not used to justify the murder of 10's of thousands of innocent humans.

There's a good point right there. America's ethnocentrism rang true in this statement. Of course, Fortner replied by saying that

This was a solemn memorial to those killed in 9/11. It has nothing to do with Iraq. If you can't see the tastelessness of taking down this memorial and turning it into an anti-war protest, then you need to lay off whatever you are smoking and get back into the real world.

The UT student had the last word, though.

i am glad to see *someone* admit that iraq has nothing to do with 9/11.


*Go here if you want to read the rest of their comments.

Friday, September 10, 2004

i promised...

that when i finished college, I would allow myself to go fly a kite.
I hadn't flown one in years.
The memories I've had of flying kites were of grappling with the kite string, decorating and making mini-kites, and waiting for a strong wind to blow in your direction.
First, you set your kite gently on the ground and roll out the string carefully so it won't get knotted. Then, you grip the string tightly, sweaty palms and all, and run against the direction of the wind, hair whipping all over your face. You also have the option of running backwards, but there's no fun in that.
Your kite will be aloft in the sky, rippling in the wind.
It's the best feeling in the world.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Does that mean they're gay?

I was watching Oprah last Tuesday night and the episode centered upon black men who find themselves sleeping with men while in a serious or stable heterosexual relationship. She was discussing the phenomenon of the "Down Low", and how there has been an alarming rise in the numbers of women, particularly black women, being affected by the HIV virus.

But although that can make for interesting writing later, first what I want to find out is whether these men are considered as gay.

What is the definition of "down low"? What exactly is it? According to the link above, it's this.

Men who discreetly have sex with other men while in sexual relationships with women are said to be on the "down low" (or "dl" for short). Often these men do not consider themselves gay or bisexual and their female partners are not aware that they have sex with other men, thus the term "down low" or "in hiding".

My current cause of confusion now is this: if men have sex with men, does that mean they're gay? I can well understand the meaning of being bi-sexual, but this is a whole new territory.

I've always thought that when a man is labeled as gay, he wholeheartedly embraces the gay lifestyle ala The Fab Five. I don't mean to say that gayness can only be comparable with The Fab Five, as there are probably gay men who live their lives simply and quietly. But where is the line drawn when a man in a heterosexual relationship has sex with another man?

The ancient Greeks have had their share of both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. And while there are many definitions of the word pederasty, I will play it safe and say that it involved an older Greek male and a younger male of the same aristocratic background, a relationship that had both physical and emotional elements. So unless you can't read between the lines, they engaged in sex as well. But did that make them gay?

Arguments are welcome.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Something fun, for a change.

Stolen from 3na.blogspot.com. Something to lighten up the day.

PORN STAR NAME (NAME OF FIRST PET + STREET YOU LIVE IN)

Pudges Apollo. Sounds like a child porn star.

MOVIE STAR NAME (NAME OF YOUR FAVORITE SNACK FOOD + GRANDFATHER'S FIRST NAME)

Revel Joaquin. Ahuhu.

FASHION DESIGNER NAME (FIRST WORD YOU SEE ON YOUR LEFT + FAVORITE RESTAURANT)

Photo Soup Kitchen. Anak ng...

EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS (Favorite Spice + Last Vacation Spot Visited)

Ginger (Spice Girl ito ha) Sydney. I sound...flirty. Ehehe.

SOCIALITE ALIAS (SILLIEST CHILDHOOD NICKNAME + TOWN WHERE YOU FIRST PARTIED)

Maese Manila. Hey, this sounds good!

"FLY GIRL" ALIAS (FIRST INITIAL + FIRST TWO OR THREE LETTERS OF YOUR LAST NAME

S. Esp. Hmm...

ICON ALIAS (SOMETHING SWEET WITHIN SIGHT + ANY LIQUID IN KITCHEN)

Durian Candy Water. Huh?

DETECTIVE ALIAS (FAVORITE BABY ANIMAL + WHERE YOU WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL)

Kitten Christian. Hahaha!

BARFLY ALIAS (LAST SNACK FOOD YOU ATE + YOUR FAVORITE BAR DRINK)

Spuds Cali. Ehem.

SOAP OPERA ALIAS (MIDDLE NAME + STREET WHERE YOU FIRST LIVED)

Maese Turtle Creek. ?!?

ROCK STAR ALIAS (FAVORITE CANDY/DESSERT + LAST NAME OF FAVORITE MUSICIAN)

Willy Wonka Benoit. What a name, what a name.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Trading Off.

A couple of nights ago, I heard a girl say on a late night radio program, "What's the big deal about America anyway?" I was a bit amused at the time, but filed away her comment for use later. This country has a long-standing love affair with all things American, and to hear someone publicly grouse about it on radio was fairly novel.

This afternoon, I watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine at Djong's place.

What is the big deal?

Some interesting things I found out:

1. In the UK, France, and Germany (countries with a much-noted history of violence) they have gun murder/violence statistics that number in the low hundreds (this was in 2001). In Canada the number doesn't even reach a hundred. At the same time, America had more than 11,000 cases of gun murder/violence.

2. In one Canadian suburb, people don't lock their doors.

3. Charleston Heston is a rabid gun advocate.

4. Kmart sold ammunition for handguns and rifles in their stores.

5. Marilyn Manson gave more concrete answers to the question of violence than either Dick Clark or Charleston Heston combined.

What I think is the fundamental difference between the low (and I do mean low) percentages of people killed by guns in countries such as France, Canada, Germany, and the UK is how their governments act. In other words, how their leaders lead their country.

For the last century, America has been involved in one war or another around the world. Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Korea, World War II. From the small and insignificant to the big and important, America's presence has been felt. Even when they were clearly not wanted in the first place. They bomb and destroy and in the same breath say that they have liberated these peoples of the world. The self-proclaimed “Policemen of the World” have proven very unpopular during the last twenty years. And through this, they become the target of hatred. A target which manifested itself on September 11, 2001.

The culture of fear in America has become steadily pervasive over the past years. People are starting to arm themselves in the name of protecting their family and their loved ones. They put the blame on society, on uncaring parents, on violence in movies and video games, on entertainment - everyone except themselves. They take their cue from US government, which refuses to own up to their mistakes and prefers to look at the world with rose-colored glasses.

So where is the tradeoff? The tradeoff here comes at the expense of the American people. When their governments wage war, it's not the government disgruntled natives attack. It's the ordinary citizens, their families, their lives, those who arm themselves in fear (and hatred) of not just outsiders/foreigners, but even their own countrymen.

And sometimes, in the case of the Columbine High School killings, the price is too painful to bear.

Friday, September 03, 2004

So sue me.

I have a problem with grammar.
Let me rephrase that.
I have a problem with bad grammar.
This is a problem that irks me no end. I have a problem with people who can't understand the fundamental difference between your and you're, people who confuse there with their, people who don't see the use of commas and periods, and ppl hu ryt n txt lngage evn whn writng der emails n frndster mssgs.

I hate it. I abhor it.

I hate people who talk in loud voices. Hey, what's the use of having a private conversation if you are sharing it with the whole world? It's very disconcerting, and very irritating.

There. All vented out, for the meantime.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Goodbye to you.

I used to look forward to six am during the weekdays. That's the time when Vito and Mylinda, 103.5 Klite's famous duo of The Morning Brew, would make their appearance, laughing, full of vigor, and ready to wake me up with their kooky humor and useless trivia.

I first started listening almost three years ago, when (forgive me for using aesthetics of the voice) I heard how good Vito and Mylinda sounded together. Their voices were a natural, and me being a sucker for natural voices, I listened. And got hooked.

I lived for the Daily Dish (closet gossip), Vito's double-entendre "What Am I?" game played with both Mylinda and Tori, Trapik.com reporter, Tuesday playlist themes (songs you'll never play on your wedding day, songs with long guitar intros, songs perfect for prom night) , Wednesday CD Archive, and of course, Friday CD Giveaway (which despite countless tries, I still hadn't won).

This Tuesday, Vito and Mylinda quietly signed off The Morning Brew. No fanfare, no lush ceremony.

All good things must come to an end, they say. But I wish this one didn't.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Jesus Rock.


From Newsweek Posted by Hello

After hearing about Christian gyms a while back, I should have seen this one coming.

This looks like an ordinary club, although in truth it isn't.
Welcome to the world of Christian Clubbing (?!?), where teenagers and young adults can groove their bodies and their minds in the name (and music) of God.

According to the April 19 article in Newsweek, several Christian clubbing places have been cropping up in US cities such as Dallas, Minneapolis, and Nashville. What's the deal? There's nothing different from secular clubs, except for the non-drinking, non-smoking, the mostly Christian acts, and the sharing of the gospel at the end.

And now, says a happy Christian camper, you don't have to be a dork to be a Christian. Rock acts such as P.O.D. have been known to cut across the scene from time to time.

Will this cultural phenomenon spread across the lands of Manila? We shall see in due time.

Bellyaching.


Zsa Zsa!

That's what I was doing last night, and it was all due to Carlo J. Vergara's Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. Apparently I was laughing so hard my dad poked his head into my room several times and couldn't understand the reason. Save for some slight melodrama in the end (of course it's a happy ending; Pinoy tayo eh), I loved it! He encapsulated the whole of the Filipino experience and our particular idiosyncrasies as a people. In other words, you'll be smiling and nodding the whole time.

In fact, it reminds me of another comic book story that the demi-gods of our former Art & Graphics staff in The LaSallian back in 2001, titled The Other Story, and it dealt with La Salle student stereotypes, with plenty of wit thrown around, and how they managed to save DLSU from an evil Blue Eagle masquerading as the then System President, Bro. Rolly. Hehe.

Buy it. You won't regret it. And for PHP 240, it's not even expensive. In this collected edition, you'll even get four glossy and full-color posters of the main characters. And there's always the added pride that you get when you buy Pinoy and get your money's worth, too.