Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Know Of At Least Three Painless Ways To Go ... [Yes, Read On]

... but why should I tell you?

Two of them are kind of tricky to accomplish. You will need easy access to medications.

The other way was taught to me by someone who attempted to go this way ... but failed.

This method is supposedly fool-proof. A small amount of this flavourless and odorless chemical mixed with your favorite drink is enough to make you dizzy on the spot. Some end up sleeping until they ultimately go. Others throw up but that is just about it. Exiting the world cannot be easier and more painless.

For that particular person who told me about this, however, it did not exactly work that way. Obviously so.

As soon as he drank his soda admixed with the killer agent, his mind started blurring. He still had time, however, to send some sms messages to friends. But no, he did not mention anything about his deed to anyone that time.

No one had an inkling then that he had just committed suicide.

Shortly after, he vomitted profusely. he still had the energy to go to the bathroom to puke. He then returned to his bed, feeling very sleepy.

He told me that he had dreams, but nothing scary, nothing nightmarish. I could not exactly remember what he told me.

The limbo-ish state seemed to have lasted forever until ...

... finally, he opened his eyes. He was famished.

He tarried for a while, wondering if he was for real.

He walked towards the door of his house and opened it. Hear his feet lay newspapers. He picked them up. The oldest issue was 3 days old.

He thought: I was asleep for 3 days?

Next thought: Am I really this much of a loser? I actually botched a suicide attempt!

Then another thought: What is the meaning of this?

Perhaps, it seems, this has become one of his purposes in life: to live to tell his tale.

And the whole point of this post is to stress this out: given even the most potent way to kill oneself, a few people simply survive.

Do you ever wonder why suicide attempts materialize for some people and fail for others?

Do you ever sometimes think that, when you are meant to live, while a purpose remains unfulfilled, no bullet can bring you down, and no poison can take your life away?

And when you are meant to go, no amount of hiding nor protection can shield you from the sickle?

Just some mind-boggling thoughts. Have a good day.

A Dark Moment In Recent History, Friendships, and Then Some

The bus of death (Photo from this site.)

Sigh. I have not updated this blog in weeks. Things are happening in rapid succession. The most talked-about (until now!) issue that has recently made an ugly dent on the face of the Philippine diplomatic affairs is the hostage taking in Manila that took place roughly 3 weeks ago.

Actually, there are many more positive events that took place soon after. The Phlippines’ candidate to the Miss Universe pageant, Ms. Venus Raj, bagged the 4th runner-up place. Our artists such as Charice Pempengco and Cecille Licad are doing us proud in endeavours such as the hit musical “Glee” and the silent film on Louis Armstrong titled “Louis”. I can go on and on, trying to obliterate the nightmare of this unfortunate incident that threatens to mar my country’s relationship with China.

Personally, I can only hope that things get better and that people from both side of the fragile fence keep from overreacting. Objectivity and sobriety are what we need right now. Plus, Hong Kong is almost like my second home. I lived in Hong Kong for many months and I have so many fond memories of this wonderful place and of the sincere friends that I had made. So it breaks my heart to see this happening. I love Hong Kong. And even after this crazy hostage-taking incident that cost the lives of 8 Hong Kong and Canadian (Chinese) residents, my good friends in Hong Kong remain level-headed and have assured me of a strong continuing friendship.

It was a most touching gesture from my Chinese friends. You have my respect, admiration, and amity.

So many things taking place too on the personal front. My life, at the moment, circles around a life-changing test that is coming up in less than a month. Please wish me luck.

In the meantime, this blog will continue to exist. Of course I will continue to write. There are just few things more relaxing than writing. Did I hear someone say “Spa!” or was that my doppelganger whispering in my ear?

Ok. Next post please. J

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aw, Un Tres Adorable Video

Yes. I like Chinese. And after my stay in Hong Kong, I like them even more.

Below: Song off Monty Python as sung by Eric Idle

L'amour n'est pas la poésie, l'amour n'est pas le crépitement silence des pieds dans une danse.
L'amour n'est pas le soleil, l'amour n'est pas la pluie.

L'amour est éternel. L'amour est L'Éternel.♥

Suicide As Anything But A Cowardly Act

Forgive me for the rather morbid theme. Suicide as a subject was strutting here and there in my head as I was doing my own shuttling from clinic to clinic one cloudy afternoon.

It is definitely because of the news that I read and watched for a few days in a row. The local news reported suicide: varying reasons, varying methods of killing oneself. So many cases of suicide in these hard stressful time: unlike most cases of mortality, suicide is not exactly identified with a particular age group or social status.

Suicide is treated almost like taboo in this predominantly Catholic country. I am quite sure that many view suicide as an easy way out. Maybe true. Or maybe not.

Perhaps suicide is, contrary to popular opinion, anything but cowardly after all. Let me state least for the sake of discussion.


If a person would like to end his life because the world treated him like shit, is it not more cowardly to physically run away than to look at death in the eye?

Many means of ending one's life are brutal and painful. Not everyone knows, much so have access to the very few ways of taking one's own life painlessly. Is it not a courageous thing to do, for a person to make himself go through gruesome methods of self-mutilation? (Let's not even get started with the pathophysiology of self-afflicted gunshot wounds, or concussions from a fall, or ingestion of poison, or hanging....) If the person thought, "I did not have much of a choice, I'd take anything, even a painful death", doesn't that make him quite brave?

And is it cowardice that drives a person to end his life because he no longer wants to be a burden to his loved ones? Is it not brave of him to take his life, knowing that his family and friend will eventually bear the burden of "... not doing enough to save him"?

Is it frailty of character to commit suicide because it is honestly perceived by that person as the right thing to do? Situations that endanger the lives of many may call for one to give his own life, out of necessity. Is that the way of the weak?

A friend once wrote: what if we realize that suicide is actually the way that was meant for us to get out of this world? Is it criminal, even blasphemous, when a person is so very convinced that God (or any Supreme Being) wants him to leave the physical world by killing oneself ... especially for a particular purpose?


It is almost always difficult to react when we hear of people committing suicide, even more so when we know these people on a personal level. The unenviable situation of being acquainted with the person who took his own life makes for a very traumatic experience, to say to the least. Sometimes, however, we need to try to understand the circumstances and the manner by which the person arrived at the decision to commit suicide. Doing so may prove to be beneficial later on, when we least expect it...

...especially so when we find ourselves, uncannily, in a situation where suicide appears to be an option.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If You Are Scared Of Ghosts...

...that is, if you are scared of the ghosts of your past thoughts, then I strongly advise you to never, ever open the pages of your diary, or your planner, or even read the small print at the margins of your notebook (probably scribbles of your thoughts while listening to a boring speaker).

However, if you think you can stand by everything you have written in the past, then ok, skim over your journals ... but I am telling you, I know of no one who was not amused, infuriated, saddened, and most especially, shamed by his own writings, as if he is being haunted by his own past.

I am not an exception.

As I was sorting some stuff recently I chanced upon my planners where I would on occasions write down my random thoughts. Most entries amused me and opened the floodgate through which memories flowed in profusely. Some did shame me, especially scribbles stating my opinions on certain people and issues (revelation of my lesser virtues such as ignorance, intolerance, and insecurity). Some entries made me sad ...

... and some entries struck me like deja vu, especially this one entry that I wrote last December 12, 1994.

At this point I stop to think as it seems everything confuses me.

I know that there is a destiny designed for me and it may not be what I once thought it was.

I long to find out what it really is.

Things do go full circle. I have just come face to face with one scary ghost.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Goodbye

I dare not mention the name of a dear friend who passed away a week ago.

She was so low-profile, one who did not want to draw attention to herself. So, no, I will not write her full name nor the circumstances surrounding her death. I will just write that she moved me with her willpower and her strength of character, and I will always remember her for that.

I also remember that she had one of the most beautiful voices that I have ever heard.

She taught our ragtag choir how to sing Handel's "Canticorum Jubilo" and Felipe De Leon's "Payapang Daigdig", both of which we performed during an inter-organization carolfest in the university many moons ago.

We won.

Since then, I have always associated her with both songs. Funny that it seems apt to play both songs once again, now that she has left the physical world.

Most especially, I will never forget that, even when I did not expect her to be around in my times of distress, she was simply, around

[Five people who are dear to me passed away within five years. I do not how I still manage to exist. Love and letting go seem like neighbours uncomfortable with each other's presence. Again, the delicate balance of joy and sorrow....]

Take care, wherever you are. You are thought of with extreme fondness and love forever.

Canticorum Jubilo

Payapang Daigdig


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Last Song Syndrome 15: Ian, The Mac That Is More Edible Than Big Mac

"Seven seas
Swimming them so well
Glad to see

My face among them

Kissing the tortoise shell"

Echo and the Bunnymen, "Seven Seas"

From the moment I heard Ian McCulloch's voice back when I was still young and wet behind the ears, I became his willing captive. Long after Ian has lain low and his voice ceased to be ubiquitous, I remain his willing captive.

Sure, I was and still is intrigued by many male - and pseudo-male - personalities, most of them being the quirky types. The character of Six Million Dollar Man circa 70s (note: the character, NOT the actor, Lee Majors) was my first object of fascination. The character (again) of The Invisible Man circa 70s. Steve Armstrong of Voltes V. Boy George of Culture Club. Annie Lennox circa Eurythmics. Through the years my taste was getting a little fastidious.. I got to know Ian Curtis, Bob Dylan, Arnold Morales, Al Dimalanta.I thought Joe Strummer was grand, in fact too grand for my feeble capacity for adoration to contain. Robert Smith was awesome but that was as far as I can say. The list goes on and on. Can I just say, even Beethoven was not spared?

However, I can truthfully say that it was Ian McCulloch who truly gripped me. It is something I can never fully understand. Nor could Je, who would often shake his head in resignation whenever I played an Echo and the Bunnymen song on the turntable.

It is definitely the voice, the crisp enunciation, the mysterious timbre. The cockiness that comes with the voice. After all, he is not called "Mac The Mouth" for nothing. It must be he entire package: the funny shaggy hair, the deliberate gestures, the full lips. Ian can pass off as a gorgeous flirtatious woman, a coquinette you may say. (If you have seen the video of "Seven Seas", you would know what I mean.) It must be the intriguing songs as well. Echo and the Bunnymen, McCulloch's band, were sublime. Then again, it must be the somewhat ambiguous yet apparently masculine sexuality that Ian exuded whenever he took over the microphone.

Call it infatuation on my part, I do not care. I have already gotten many male friends wondering: Why Ian McCulloch?! Why him, even after all these years? That, in spite of above justifications. He may now probably look grotesquely aged in person. Probably has a beer belly (like Robert Smith) which he hides well. Probably has enormous jowls on his face (again, like my other favorite Robert Smith) manipulated in Photoshop. If that is the case it does not matter. Only one justification will be enough for me: the sensual voice.

I just have to listen, and close my eyes, and will myself to play the role of a willing captive, again, and again, and again.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

On Jean Reno, L'immortel, L'Eternel, and (Hmm), Jose Garcia Villa

Two Sundays ago, I was waiting in line in a moviehouse at EDSA Shangrila. A couple of days before that I read about an ongoing French film festival and I thought about checking it out. Since the event advertises "Free Admission", I guessed that the moviehouse will fill up fast, so I showed up about 40 minutes prior to the 3 o'clock pm film screening.

"We can only accommodate 25 free admissions", the male receptionist announced, "please fall in line." It was such a wait for a movie that I was not sure if I will like or not. Patience, I said to myself, at least Jean Reno is in the film.

Ten minutes past 3. The smell of impatience was in the air. The receptionist then made a grave announcement.

"The theater is already full because many VIPs turned up unexpectedly. We can only admit 10 people."

I was 11th in the line. What infuriating luck.

While most of the disenfranchised left, I went to the receptionist and stated my case. It is not fair for me to wait in line for more than 30 minutes only to be told that I cannot be admitted. When the receptionist defended that we were late, I was gripped with a sudden impulse to snap at him ... good thing I bit my tongue before I could lash out.

In my greatest effort to be cool, I reasoned: "How could possibly say that we are late when we were here 40 minutes before the screening?"

A few more words from me and I got what I wanted.

Receptionist: "We can allow five more. Just five people." I was the first to get in.

(Damn, I thought. Had I learned about this earlier, I would have found a way to get myself a VIP ticket and not through all these hassle as if I am a beggar. But, never mind. I was finally inside the theater.)


Photo from this site.

The movie that was the root of my troubles was the Jean Reno starrer, 22 Bullets, aka L'immortel. This was released in early 2010 amidst mixed reviews. The story, in a nutshell, is about Charly Mattei (Jean Reno), an aging mafia guy in Marseille who was gunned down with 22 bullets but somehow managed to live and exact his revenge. People used to fantastic Hollywood slickly executed fight scenes and car chases may not find this film to their liking. (I sure liked the Audis in the film.)

I am not exactly planning to write a review. Suffice to say that I think the movie is just fine, with the characters well-played (and, it cannot be helped, I have a soft spot for Reno), and the violent scenes adequate, and I am a fan of French films, but honestly, this is not a movie worth waiting for 40 minutes.

For some reason, as I was watching the film, something kept on popping in my head: The concept of "eternel" and "l'Eternel".


Photo from this site.

It was probably because "l'immortel" rhymes with "l'Eternel". It was probably because of something else. The movie often alluded to the concept of right and wrong, of morality and accountability. Religious allusions were replete as well, and whether this was deliberate or not, they sure provided a good backdrop to the issues aforementioned.

Someone once told me that, in the French language, "eternel" is to be distinguished from "l'Eternel". The word "eternel" literally translates to "eternal". "L'Eternel" is referred to what in English is called "God", thus the capital letter "E". For some reasons I did not get to clear this one up in detail.

Maybe sometime, I will have that chance ... in another lifetime, perhaps?


The concept of eternity is one of the many things that I am fascinated with.

Apparently, so is Jose Garcia Villa, arguably one of the best Filipino poets to have ever lived. (Thanks to Lenn for the Jose Garcia Villa book that I received many weeks ago.)

As he, too, was gripped by ideations of God, Villa wrote poems that tackled God's immortality and humanity at the same time. There is one poem that I really like: it illustrates a very striking, almost blasphemous, but intensely brilliant, juxtaposition of God and Man amidst the backdrop of time.

Now I will tell you the Future
Of God. The future of God is

Man. God aspired before and
Failed. Jesus was too much

God. Since God is moving
Towards Man, and Man is moving

Towards God - they must meet
Sometime. O but God is always

A Failure! That Time is the
End of the world. When God

And Man do meet - they will
Be so bitter they will not speak.

I have reason to believe that Villa had a word with God, not just hello but a mouthful, many times in his life. Like Jean Reno's character Charly Mattei. Like many people I know ... myself included ....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day does not leave as much impact as Mother's Day for many people. I, however, know of male friends who are great fathers. Take a bow, y'all.^^ Your children (and, sige na nga, your wives na rin ;P) are very lucky.

To you my exalted father friends, Happy Father's Day.

(To JAB, yes you too, I know how much you love your kids, and I am sure they know that happy, wherever you are, I will keep an eye on your behalf....)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Blog Rounds v.2. Start Of School edition: What I Learned From Nursery School

Hello once again. This is what I was talking about in my previous post. Jaaraf, my colleague in The Blog Rounds, called for articles, the theme for which is early childhood learning. A few days ago I wrote a little about my nursery school as a prologue to my own submission.

i learned a great deal in nursery school, and of course I am saying this in retrospect. My time in nursery school is replete with memories that never fail to make me smile until now, in spite of my pragmatism that I acquired later in life.

One of the activities that I got involved with that time was a little play, an adaptation of the fairy tale, "Hansel and Gretel". I am not too sure how I got a role in the play (Maybe my mother rigged it? Hahaha!). I am quite uncertain how I memorized my lines (I swear I have a bad memory when the mood hits me, and I know that as a child I was really moody.) Most of all, I do not know how I survived performing in that play, for I was, and still am, petrified of the audience, and not too many of my acquaintances would want to believe this.

But I did pick up some lessons out of my brief foray in acting (duh). Again I say this in retrospect. This may probably read as a list of tips to a novice actor, but the "tips" do seem to apply also in real life.

1. When one speaks audibly, he has a good chance of getting a role in a play. (One will not stand a chance if he has the voice of an ant.)

2. One must not take it personally when he is not given the role that he wants. (It is the same thing in real life. There has to be a "bida" and "kontrabida". There can never be no "kontrabida", or two "bidas" in a single instance.)

3. To play the role of kids like Hansel and Gretel, one just have to act out his age.

4. To play the role of a nasty stepmother, one has got to have a nasty streak.

5. To play the role of a weakling father is the easiest: one only needs to know how to scratch his head.

6. To play the role of a wicked witch, one need not be a female: it only takes a shrill laughter to cinch it.

7. An actor will be remembered not so much by his role but by the manner by which he executed his character.

8. One must not forget to smile, take a bow, and say "Thank you" to the audience after the performance.

William Shakespeare put it all too poetically centuries ago. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." I may be a million times less creative, but I guess life's lessons are almost always universal.

Lastly, can you guess the character assigned to me in the play? *smile*

*****This is my submission to The Blog Rounds v.2 titled "All I needed To Know, I Learned In Kindergarten (or Nursery, or Pre-School) hosted by Jaaraf.*****

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Once Upon A Time, I Attended Pre-School

With classes nationwide starting a week from now, and with my colleague in The Blog Rounds Jaaraf calling for artcles, I thought of writing a prologue to my submission. My follow-up to my Ian McCulloch post and my other project may have to wait a bit more.

I attended nursery school at a time when the Apple Computer was nothing but a bunch of ideas in Steve Wozniak's fertile mind, the green revolution was a by-word, and the punk movement was taking the place of hippie culture in the musical landscape. In my country, the dictator was lording it over. But the world through my eyes seemed to be as young as I was. Understandably, I did not know any better.

My nursery school was not exactly, well, posh. It was something more like, a cottage industry, if I can put it that way. As far as I can remember, an old Filipino-Chinese married couple who loved kids set up a classroom in what was supposed to be a driveway to their house. Surrounding the makeshift classroom were large concrete divisions - ponds - where the couple grew various species of fish which they sell wholesale on the spot or probably somewhere in the heart of Manila.

My mother put me to nursery because she was quite alarmed. At four years of age, I was hardly saying a thing. In spite of my daily dose of Sesame Street at home and her own efforts to make me speak, there was no comprehensible word coming from my lips. The little nursery school was the nearest, and the friendliest place for me to at least learn how to talk before I attend kindergarten.

The class, during the Recognition Day

I certainly remember the classroom: the large blackboard (no such thing as whiteboard then), chalks, bulletin boards containing artworks from the more talented kids in the class, the wooden chairs. There were no walls, and the air was always cool and faintly smelled of fish. I remember the door, just beside the boards, that led to the Spanish-type house.

I remember that I would zealously exclaim "Ma'am, finished!" whenever I was done with a quiz or an activity. "Ma'am, finished!" were actually my first words, the second group of words that I would learn being "Hindi puwede (No can do.)"

I remember my teacher, Miss Josefina Mandapat, how she would ask all of us to put our hands on the armchair when she was about to start the day's lesson. I remember that she sang well, loved to make us do a lot of crafts, and that she never resorted to using a stick to hit any one of the students.

I remember that I would run to the fish ponds at the end of the class with a classmate or two, stand at the narrow concrete walls, and squat to watch these wonderful colorful creatures swim by. Grandpa, the school owner, and his caretakers would always call us to stay away lest we fall into the ponds. No kids ever fell into any of these ponds, as far as I can remember.

I remember some of my classmates - my second cousin Kat, Socorro, Glenn, Manggy, Noel, Glenn - and others whose names I have forgotten, but definitely no one among them was a bully. Who says there has to be a token bully in every class?

And yes, I remember my mother waiting by the sideline with the other mothers, either chatting with them, reading, or doing one of her beautiful doilies by crocheting.

Through my eyes then, it was a serene, innocent world (for I was not yet aware of the Vietnam war, the Munich massacre, and the First Quarter Storm). I felt very safe in my little cocoon. It was the best time to lay the groundwork for most of the lessons that I was to bring with me wherever I go for the rest of my life, when my mind was still not jaded, and untainted with the evils of the world.

The world has grown with me, and through my eyes, it is no longer as young as how I wanted to see it. The memories of my young and innocent world still endure, though. They have to. When all hope has gone, a person needs to have something to look back to, even when it feels that the only beautiful thing that is left in life are just memories.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It Is Easier To Talk About Ian McCulloch

I have been a little quiet of late. It is not that I ran out of things to say (quite impossible for a rather opinionated person like me), it's just that there is just too many things to say and there is too little time to say them all. *grin*

Making quickie posts is not exactly my cup of tea but I may have to make an exception for this one. I vow to go back to this post tonight and write a bit more.

Ian McCulloch. I just love this dude.

More laters.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paalam, Daddy Malcolm

[Mga paunang salita: Si Daddy Malcolm ay si Ernesto Basa Dimalanta, ama ng dalawa sa mga kaibigan ko sa eksena. Siya ay sumakabilang buhay noong Biyernes ng gabi sa edad na 83. Malaki ang papel na ginampanan ni Daddy Malcolm noong panahong sumisibol pa lamang ang Pinoy Punk, at malamang kilala siya ng halos lahat ng tagasubaybay ng eksenang Punk sa Pilipinas.]

Sinasabing ang kamatayan ay isang pagkakataon upang ipagdiwang ang buhay. Mas madaling sabihin ito kaysa unawain. Habang tumatanda ang tao ay dumarami ang nakikita niyang kamatayan. Kung magkaminsan ay nagiging bunsod ito upang kanyang isipin: Ganito nga ba kabilis at kapanandalian ang buhay sa mundo?

Numero (para sa alaala ni Daddy Malcolm)

Ang tao nga ba ay isa lamang numero?
Kahalintulad ng mga tala sa pisngi ng kalangitan.
May mga bituin na nabinyagan ng maririkit na pangalan,
mga bituing magaganda sa ating paningin...
Subalit mas marami pa sigurong mas magagandang tala
na kailanman ay hindi magiging abot-tanaw,
sa ating kamalayan, isa lamang silang

Ano ba ang kahulugan ng kamatayan ng isang nilalang
sa kabuuan ng sangkatauhan?
Napakaraming tao sa sandaigdigan para maunawaan ko silang lahat
at angkining bahagi ng buhay ko.
Ano nga ba ang bahagi mo sa buhay ko,
Manong magsasaka sa hilagang Tsina,
Mamang mananayaw sa Nuweba York,
Manang misyonaryo sa puso ng Aprika,
Aleng kumakain ng keso sa Kanlurang Pransiya....
Ano ang saysay ninyong lahat sa buhay ko?

Kung sasabihin ko, "Wala,
Hindi ko kayo nakikilala,
hindi ko alam ang buhay nyo, pati na ang
pangalan nyo",
Marahil nga, marahil nga,
Ang bawat isa sa atin ay isang numero.
May takdang panahon ng kapanganakan,
May takdang panahon ng kamatayan.


Ayokong maniwalang ang mga taong mahal ko ay
mga numero lamang.
Para sa akin,
higit pa sila sa mga naggagandahang bituin na
bininyagan ng mga siyentipiko.
Para sa mga taong mahal ko,
Aangkinin ko, pati ang pagkakilanlan ng mga taong
ay hindi ko makikilala,
huwag lamang silang tawaging
isang numero lamang.

(Hindi po ako manunula, pero naisip ko lang isulat ito. Inspirasyon ng tatlong tasang kape.)

[Katuwang na poste sa Trash Radio Manila.]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Post-Election Musings: We Are Part Of A Whole

The Filipino people have spoken. Today is 2nd day, Post-Elections. Vote counting for the top electoral positions is still ongoing but we are now nearing the homestretch. The following screen shots taken from The Philippine Daily Inquirer site show the latest results for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential race:

It seems like a Noynoy-Binay tandem is looming in the Philippine horizon though it is not over yet specifically for the vice-presidential race which is proving to be tight. Whatever the results of last Monday's elections will be, though, the next question will be, essentially and logically, "What happens next?"

Indirectly I may have gotten my answer to the above question. (No, I do not plan to discuss my political stance here in this post right this moment.)

I was browsing the shelves of one of my favorite bookstores hours ago and found myself standing in front of a shelf that houses a few Ranier Maria Rilke books. Scanning the pages of one of these books I chanced upon this very very familiar rhyme.

Ignorant Before the Heavens of My Life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,
I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness
of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.
As if I didn't exist. Do I have any
share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with
their pure effect? Does my blood's ebb and flow
change with their changes? Let me put aside
every desire, every relationship
except this one, so that my heart grows used to
its farthest spaces. Better that it live
fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than
as if protected, soothed by what is near .

[Rainer Maria Rilke]

*****Everything we do affects everything else, no matter how detached or remote from us ... for we are part of a whole. *****

Rilke - always, straight to the heart. Danke!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To My Mac

For teaching me the values of love, loyalty, and selflessness, among many many other things, thank you very much, Mac.

Happy Mother's Day :) This one is for you.

(I, your wayward daughter, can only do so much to please you ... in the same manner that you being in a far better place can only do so much for me now, but trust me, even after death, you continue to inspire me to give my best.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

THE BLOG ROUNDS V.2 Ed.1: Implementing The Universal Health Care System In The Philippines

For this edition of the newly-revived The Blog Rounds (yipes, this is a super-late submission, I know), we are to discuss if the Philippines is ready for a universal health care system.

This is a very tough theme to tackle. Health issues in the Philippines are never too easy to discuss, and the applicability of the universal health care system in our country is no exception. Some of you who have read my previous posts are familiar with my disillusion as far as health provision is concerned, my partiality to the ideals of community medicine, and my thoughts on issues such as the Morong 43. The topic of the universal health care system as being applicable in the local setting definitely challenged my understanding of the matter and my analytical capabilities.

Apparently left to our own devices. Community health workers in action, circa 1990s, Mindoro.

The issues for and against the universal health care system (a general definition can be read here) are discussed in a lot of venues. Health groups in various parts of the United States are pushing for the implementation of universal health care (links here and here), with the present US health care system addressing only selected population groups and failing to provide for the general population. There is likewise a collection of links that discuss the demerits of this system (click here).

The Philippines can definitely benefit from the universal health care system. The current health system (or the absence of it) does not provide for the majority of the population. (What does one expect from a 1:800 doctor to patient ratio anyway?) Many Filipinos may not be able to see a doctor in their lifetime (this is no exaggeration), and if they are lucky, they may be beneficiaries of medical missions that come by on an occasional basis. Only very few have access to hospitals with top-notch facilities since admission deposits in regular rooms of these hospitals run to 5 figures. Want to know the minimum wage of the average Filipino worker? Not even a fraction. Find out here.

However, financing the system will always been the biggest obstacle in considering the implementation of the universal health system, given the rampant bureaucracy and corruption in the government and the society. Some ideal solutions are as follows. The government, for one, can increase the budget percentage allotted to health care. Health expenditure accounts for a measly 2.9% of the gross domestic product. Maximizing the role of PhilHealth may help, as many Filipinos do not have PhilHealth. Additional taxation and borrowing are other less palatable-sounding options but are likewise worth considering. Of course, all are easier said than done ... but one has to start somewhere.

Among the presidential candidates, Noynoy Aquino and Gibo Teodoro are vocal about their desire to implement the universal health care system. (Read here and here.) I am not out to blatantly endorse anyone, but wouldn't it be nice to see, within our lifetime, someone who will step forward and provide concrete solutions to the unhealthy state of affairs of the Philippine health care system, whether that be the implementation of the universal health care system or not?
This is my submission to The Blog Rounds v.2 ed.1, hosted by Dr. Prudence. Yes I am late, so shoot me, hahahah!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Rejuvinated Blog Rounds (Yes!), And A Nice Poem

Some two or three years ago, a fellow named BoneDoc plucked me off my indifference to the virtual world by inviting me to The Blog Rounds. If you are wondering what the green banner at the side rail was all about the whole time, then your answer is finally here. The Blog Rounds is an aggregate of local (Filipino) doctors who took to the cyberspace to express their sentiments on a common topic, which is decided upon the week's host. The blog posts are then collated in a single article where the end-user (i.e., the reader) is treated to a melange of opinions coming from doctor bloggers of various backgrounds, exposures, and upbringing.

The Blog Rounds seemed to have gone into hibernation the past year, but it is now back, and hopefully this blog can participate as much as possible. I have had the pleasure of hosting TBR a couple of times, and it was fun, really, to be reading the posts (ditch the stereotype: many doctors are eloquent and introspective, and yes, creative - they're not all seriousness and science and boring stuff) and seeing the similarities and contrasts of opinions and such. TBR is yet another avenue for healthy forums, medical or not-too-medical.

If you are a Filipino doctor living in the Philippines or elsewhere you may want to participate in The Blog Rounds. It would be cool to have fresh faces! The mechanics for participating can be found in BoneDoc's site. Click HERE. Do drop a message that you are new and would like to be part of this lively group. Trust me, it is going to be fun. ^^


My classmate in medical school, Lenn, a person I have come to know as tough and yet sensitive underneath all the trappings of a toughie, showed me a door to an opportunity to explore the works of Angela Manalang Gloria. She was said to be Jose Garcia Villa's rival in poetry, and her works were radical during the colonial times (in other words, feminist). I will write more about her next time.

For now, a poem by her.

WORDS (1940)
by Angela Manalang Gloria

I never meant the words I said,
So trouble not your honest head
And never mean the words I write,
But come and kiss me now goodnight.

The words I said break with the thunder
Of billows surging into spray:
Unfathomed depths withold the wonder
Of all the words I never say.

(Mots. My gift. my curse.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You :)

A few hours ago, I implored my friends to give me poetry books.


Not only does this seem to be a sign of boredom, it appears to be the handiwork of someone whose skull is thick. (I think I heard someone say, "Ang kapal mo talaga!")

But you see, I do not mean to be makapal (*laughter*); it is more like, lambing (**more laughter**), and it is not too often that I (pardon the colloquial term) "make lambing".

It is just that I have this increasing urge to read more and more poetry lately, and much of the good stuff cannot be found in commercial bookstores here.

Take for instance, Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet who in 1996 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. I only came across a few of her works online, and the wit and irony that characterise her poems are both endearing and thought-provoking. I am, once again, hit by a compulsion to get hold of a physical collection of her poetry.

While I still try to figure out the best way to get a copy of this poetess' works, please allow me to share a favorite piece. Enjoy. :)

A "Thank You" Note
by Wislawa Szymborska
translated by Joanna Maria Trzeciak

There is much I owe
to those I do not love.

The relief in accepting
they are closer to another.

Joy that I am not
the wolf to their sheep.

My peace be with them
for with them I am free,
and this, love can neither give,
nor know how to take.

I don't wait for them
from window to door.
Almost as patient
as a sun dial,
I understand
what love does not understand.
I forgive
what love would never have forgiven.

Between rendezvous and letter
no eternity passes,
only a few days or weeks.

My trips with them always turn out well.
Concerts are heard.
Cathedrals are toured.
Landscapes are distinct.

And when seven rivers and mountains
come between us,
they are rivers and mountains
well known from any map.

It is thanks to them
that I live in three dimensions,
in a non-lyrical and non-rhetorical space,
with a shifting, thus real, horizon.

They don't even know
how much they carry in their empty hands.

"I don't owe them anything",
love would have said
on this open topic.


More about Wislawa Szymborska HERE. Photo also comes from the said site.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Unholy Thoughts and Deeds On A Good Friday (Re-Reading Brave New World And Such)

History has shown us, time and again, that some of the most prominent thinkers - Archimedes, Plato, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Galileo, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzche, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein to name a few - dared to go "against the flow". These people went contrary to popular opinion, at the expense of reputation, physical comfort, even life. As Marx would espouse, however, conflicts - dissenting opinions - are very much necessary for evolution.

To make the concept less profound and more appealing, thinking like the majority can be really really boring in several instances. To accept things as they are, being lazy to even ask a few questions is downright unacceptable, as far as I am concerned.


Today is a Good Friday, the day that the Christian World commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. I plan to finish re-reading Aldous Huxley's Brave New World today.

Brave New World happens to be a cult favorite. Many people I know (hm, myself included) swear by this book. When I was younger, I enjoyed reading Brave New World more than I did George Orwell's 1984.

It has been said that Aldous Huxley, himself a frustrated doctor, had made striking predictions of the future of the world. In the 1930s, his book was deemed by many critics as shallow and some kind of a joke. Many decades later, Huxley becomes one of the names to quote when a person wants to be "cool" (haha!).

What I really like about this book, however (aside from the highly plausible scientific and medical allusions), is the way conflicts were illustrated even in a so-called radical world. Bernard Marx, the out-of-place alphan, is a grave reminder of how it is to be a lone dissenting voice and what a person would do to want to be accepted.

The self amidst the sea of humanity and a need to go against the grain to EVOLVE: valid subjects for reflection on a Good Friday. (Selfish thoughts? Then sue me.)

(After all, isn't The Christ the grand proponent of going against the flow?)


A nice quote:

"I know quite well that one needs ridiculous, mad situations like that; one can't write really well about anything else. Why was that old fellow [Shakespeare] such a marvellous propaganda technician? Because he had so many insane, excruciating things to get excited about. You've got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can't think of the really good, penetrating X-rayish phrases... No, it won't do. We need some other kind of madness and violence. But what? What? Where can one find it?... I don't know." - Helmholtz to John The Savage, commenting on William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", Chapter 12, p. 185, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World

Have a well-spent Holy Week to all.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brave New World, The Book (and How It Made Me Shake With Delight); Also, Palm Sunday

It is somewhat surreal, the feeling I had when I saw him somewhere in the 2nd Floor of a corner shop at the UP Shopping Center, my favorite haunt for the past 15 years or so of my life. (Aaaaaaagh! I nearly revealed my age!)

He was just self-absorbed, trying to be discreet, in a dimly-lit area of an otherwise bright room. But I was too sharp for him. Maybe because, ever since I have seen him once many years before in my youth, I never got to see him again ... until that very moment.

I am just too glad that he was not too jumpy, even as I was nearly shivering with excitement.

We meet again, ALDOUS HUXLEY. It is time to re-read BRAVE NEW WORLD.

More insights about the book later. Meanwhile...


Yesterday's Linggo ng Palaspas (Palm Sunday) ushered in the start of the Holy Week in the Christian World. This makes today a "Holy Monday". I had a bit of fun taking photos of the salubong in a parish church nearby. You can read about it HERE.

Holy Week happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. It allows for a period of reflection (seriously though, one can choose to reflect any time of the year), the city suddenly becomes decongested, and that it takes place during summertime.

This year's Holy Week is particularly special for me. Je's 1st Death Anniversary takes place on an Easter Sunday...

...and for me, no commemoration can be more beautiful than this uncanny instance of serendipity, a juxtaposition of death and eternal life. Je must be really happy out there....

Special, very special, indeed. :) I am happy, and no amount of words can express this. Truly happy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Existence Of Dark Energy Proven?

Appropriate theme, yes?

I stifled a snicker when a friend (Xtin again! Grrrr...) provided a link to an article stating that a group of young scientists have proven Albert Einstein's previous proposal that dark matter and dark energy exist.

The team is headed by astrophysicist Reinabelle Reyes. Reinabelle is an alumna of the Ateneo De Manila University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in Physics. She did this study while completing her Ph.D. studies at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Reina, together with her team, also identified a hidden population of powerful black holes in the universe, putting her in newspapers in 2008, according to another article.

I frankly do not know to which I would say "WHOA!" first: Whoa because Reinabelle made these studies, or Whoa because the existence of dark energy is being studied and proven?

(Of course, nothing beats reading the actual study to reasonably say that the existence of dark energy has indeed been proven.)

But this certainly has implications in the living world, the so-called yin-and-yang, the balance of opposites. For we all know that the world that we live in is a loose microcosm of the world outside the one that we know. Everything is somehow linked to one another.

For instance, would it still be prudent to say that all creations are by nature, good?

Is the human being really inherently good?

More questions???

To ask questions about our immediate surroundings, sometimes it takes us to look way beyond ourselves and our environment.

Hmmm, can I go back to reading about Orlando Bloom instead?

My sources are this, this, and this. Photo from the Wiki site.


If you are a non-resident of Manila and are thinking about going there and about, you can take a look at my post about the Metro Star Rail System in my new blog, Manila and Beyond. Click on the link HERE!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Family Visit

It was a very hot Friday afternoon when we arrived at my father's and aunt's place somewhere in a province north of Metro Manila.

These are anticipated visits for me: this is the place where I used to spend my summers every year as a child.

Much has changed indeed, but I still feel that this is one of the many homes of my life, and this is one of my most remembered places of abode.

I certainly miss the warm afternoon sun permeating through the large windows.

And for some reason, it feels a lot better now, than before, to be here.

My aunt and sister: two beautiful and strong women, in so many ways.

(Like I always say, friends may come and go, and at the end of the day one always finds himself going back to his family....)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Blog: Manila And Beyond


After several months of deliberation I have finally decided to start a blog called Manila and Beyond.

You can read my introduction HERE.

The blogsite is a little bare as of yet, but I will add to it quickly in the next few weeks or so. But ideas have been pouring in, both from my own experiences as well as some of my friends who are excited to help me with this project.

I am giving credit to a good friend Hilboy of Bisikleta Productions for my banner. He is one of my preferred graphics artists whenever we have to produce posters and similar needs, specifically for gigs. Check out his Bisikleta Production blogsite here.

Again, I would love to have you guys join me. I think it is true that writing should be, more than anything else, an expression of oneself, a release, but it definitely gives the writer joy when he/she knows that some people are reading his/her works and are actually finding them enjoyable and helpful.

The road trip will not always be smooth, but it is the lessons that are picked up along the way that makes a worthy, memorable trip.

So, hop right in with me if you dare. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland

"Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. " - Alice Kingsley (probably my most favorite line in the movie)

Alice In Wonderland is currently being shown here in Manila. Just a few blocks away from my place is a quiet mall with a moviehouse showing Tim Burton's new film on 3D. Cool, I thought on a not-so-busy Wednesday afternoon (wait, that was yesterday, I lost my sense of time there, sounds familiar?), I am going to relax and see it. It is, after all, The Alice In Wonderland, directed by The Tim Burton.

I would not want to do a "review" in its strictest sense. While I certainly love watching movies, I do not profess to be as knowledgeable about it as compared to, for example, music. I do say, however, that I have a keen interest in Tim Burton's works which are dark and intriguing.

Fairy tales have always been said to be intended for grown-ups. I think Alice In Wonderland is not an exception to this. The film, released by Disney, was shot to capture the young audience. I can therefore understand why Burton cannot go all-out dark on this one. The mere fact that the film is released by Disney is enough reason for me to lower my expectations a bit. (Sorry to Disney fans, but Disney does sugarcoat most of their movies like the originally tragic "The Little Mermaid" and "Anastasia".)

The animations were nearly seamless: Alice growing up and shrinking down, the Cheshire Cat disappearing and appearing while flashing that all-familiar smile, Absolem the blue caterpillar smoking his huka. Seamless, but not as riveting. I was hoping that the fall in the rabbit hole would be exciting on 3D, objects flinging into my face and such (remember, I was watching the film on 3D), but no excitement there. Ditto with the combat match on the chessboard: it did not look too much like a battle as it seemed to me a lame face-off between the two queens.

Don't ask me also about the resolution at the film's end, I did not like it at all; it is all forced to make this one a feel-good movie. Don't ask me specifically about that one particular act that The Mad Hatter (played by Johnny Depp) did after the battle, it was pretty horrid, and I would rather that you see it for yourself. Simply put, yuck!

The film has some cool moments, though.

I have always love the Cheshire Cat character and I am glad that he appears cute and charming in this film.

I am always hesitant about liking Johnny Depp all-out (damn, blame it on 21 Jump Street), but I have always respected his offbeat choice of roles, the role of the Mad Hatter included.

The actress who played Alice is competent, exuding both innocence and feistiness.

And as always, the animations are superb, though I wish there was more darkness to them. But hey, this movie is not for a jaded adult like me.

Anyway, just watch the film: it is not that bad. It IS Alice in Wonderland, and it IS Tim Burton's movie anyway. I will suggest, however, to make your expectations a little, well, realistic, to enjoy the movie more.

Finally, forget about watching it on 3D - a waste of money. Totoo ito. I walked out of the moviehouse regretting that I saw the film on 3D. Is it just me?

"It is not impossible to like this film ... just a little difficult." - not Alice Kingsley (may have been said by a Lewis Carroll/Tim Burton fan, one or the other)

ALMOST ALICE: What do I think about it? Find out HERE.

Monday, March 8, 2010

To Heaven, And Back, To Hell, And Back...

With more than 50% of my lifetime spent (granting that I will die before the age of 60, the average life expectancy of the women of our family), I can say that I have by far traveled well enough. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

I have been to heaven ...

... to hell ...

... to heaven ...

... to hell ...

... to heaven ...

... to hell ...

... to heaven ...

... to hell ...

... to heaven ...

... to hell ...

... guess where I am right now ... ?

No clever words this time, just images, and more images...

[Photo of flatline from
this site, original photo of telephone booth from this site]