Monthly Archives: March 2017
In the early 1950s, government distributed house and lots to qualified State workers and it ushered in a new community not only for budding professionals struggling in a post war situation but for a promising middle class sector as well. Formerly known as a low cost housing called Homesite, the place became a developing communal for scholarly youths and their counterparts in the delinquency department. From their ranks would rise the geniuses in the Academe and the worst offenders in the annals of the criminal justice system.
I still could vividly recall then that there was still a paper bill for 5 centavos!
That seeing a peso then was almost having a glimpse of privilege already!
That softdrinks meant Cosmos and A & W Rootbeer.
Games we played border on the physical and a bit mental. We loved to be athletes no matter how slight and delicate our physique.
We only have a few choices of icons then . Most of us idolized our parents and those kids in the neighborhoods who have excelled in their respective crafts. We all wanted to win in anything competitive. We loved winners but also we ardently sympathized the losers.
We were back then suckers for music. We loved music coming from abroad because of the accompanying instruments. But of course we also loved to sing and imitate great singers. Dancing was also second nature if one sings.
We were great fans of local talents, the Elvis Presley of the Philippines, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Marlon Brando, etc.
Our food and preferences were so limited but it gave us the nutrition we need to face reality. We loved everything Chinese too—taho, litson, champoy, pansit, kiamoy, mami. Nothing however can beat the usual fare on our table, the kangkong, saluyot, diningding, pinakbet, kare, luglog, tinapa, tapa, tahong, tulya, adobo and the best seller, the classic tuyo and kamatis over sinangag with pulang itlog.
For every province, there is also the specialty of the house. In Quezon, there is the legendary Lukban longanisa. In Samar, the delicious Puting Keso. In Pampangga, the tapang baka; in Palawan, tapang baboy damo and lamayo; in Bicol, Bicol Express and Laing; in Ilocos, bagnet; in Laguna, Espasol and Buko Pie; in Bulacan, adobo and pancit malabon; etc.
Oh what a great period then, something which I could not express and impress on my children for them to appreciate it too. They have been born at the time when technology is already rearing its head. When not only “state of the art” but “cutting edge” technology has defined the meaning of life for them. Suddenly philosophy and religion became common place. Suddenly, discipline and morals were terms that became alien to the practical mind.
Food and games have multiplied a hundred fold and a variety of choices would make a person instantly and on the verge of being almost confused for life!
The depth of one’s capability has been rendered shallow by the very foundation of nano technology. A chip no bigger than a thumb could accommodate terrabytes of data or something like a room full of books from ground to ceiling. There are a lot of apps which can duplicate the skill or gift of a talented person.
Man’s role has virtually been reduced to emotions. Technology has taken over his objective function. Man at his best can do only two things which technology has as yet to attain. Man can still laugh and cry.
Humanity has evolved into an ordinary bystander of science, an object which in the near future, can be replaced if not made immortal.
I remember during my childhood days when we try to outsmart our peers with nasty jokes. And what tops them all is about shit. Shit is a word considered vulgar and profane in Modern English. As a noun it refers to fecal matter, and as a verb it means to defecate.
The joke goes like this: a kid asks another if he has seen the shit or dung of goats, the shit of dogs, that of a cats, that of a lizards, that of a carabaos, that of a cows, Chances are, the other kid would reply in the affirmative. Then the questioner would ask his prey if he knows the distance of the moon to the earth, if he knows Mabini’s ten Decalogue’s, or if he is familiar with Apostle’s Creed. Chances are the other kid would frown and surrender, to which the tormenting kid would poke to the other kid that the fellow only knows shit and nothing more!
But if we are to be truthful about it, shit happens and it is even very valuable. Vegetables are fertilized best with shit. Crabs, native swine, native fowls are tasty when cooked because they subsist mainly on shit. Fruit trees bear produce when its soil is enhanced with shit. All nutrients are encapsulated in shit and everything that man consumes, everything that makes man healthy comes from matters which are sustained by shit!
That must be what nature preferred. It cannot be short circuited. If man eats shit directly then he is finished. He will not grow better leaves like tubers nor be as nimble as crustaceans. He gets salmonella and eventually weakens with dysentery. Shit must undergo a certain degree of initiation from other living things before it is to be introduced into the anatomy of man.
In Taiwan, I was surprised to see friends who posted on social media pictures of them eating heartily in an uncanny restaurant featuring everything about toilet, from its chair to the food it offers. The bestseller accordingly is a brown colored ice cream twisted as if newly pooped. It is a culinary tactic that features shit as the main course. Customers must be at the site as soon as the establishment opens in the morning for a good seat. By noon, the eatery is always full!
Truly shit matters.
I spend a lot of time in front of my computer, checking (commenting and responding to) Facebook accounts and entries, reading the latest news, downloading Youtube’s interesting highlights, watching NBA basketball, downloading retro music and then later, when weather permits, going to the open field, on my lawn for some stretching as in playing half-court basketball and then brisk walking as a form of relaxation.
Once I am through checking on the status of my loved ones in the first hour of the morning, everything is almost done. A dreary day is transformed into a stimulating period.
Actually, my day is largely defined by if not thoroughly dependent on technology. I owe my sanity to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Google’s Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin. Their technical discoveries gave me a new found confidence towards scholarship. Without them I would still be an idiot today.
When I indulge myself to make an opinion, I simply click for Microsoft Word and write down a blog and send it to cyberspace. At times, my blog would be lifted and forwarded for publication as a column in a newspaper. Most of the time however, it becomes a reference when googled. Those daily blogs eventually evolve into a component in a book. I have published two books containing my essays. Once I have made my point, I simply fade and swoop down on my library for something to read.
I must read so that I can write. That has always been the case for my literary inclination. If I cannot read for a long time, then for a longer period I cannot write. And once, I cannot write anything, my mood simply goes haywire. I become restless and would act like that specie that newly evolved from the primates.
Reading makes me human. Well, reading a badly written script makes me inhuman also. It comes with a challenge though. I have an eyesight problem. Simply getting old disturbs a person’s capacity to read. I can no longer sustain a long period of reading. The eyes always are strained after a few pages. Before, I could read even in shaded areas and a book is for a couple days consumption. Now, I have to spend a full month to complete a book! That means, I have to take stock a lot of patience before I could write. And another consequence of reading is my predilection of reading through and through. I simply could not resist reading another manuscript after another!
To rest my eyes, I move to another corner in my study where my sketch table is leaning. There I could sketch, make caricatures out of anyone I would fancy—a classmate, a peer, an important character. Illustration using caricatures is one hobby I am really awed and fascinated to focus. I simply have the interest, almost a passion whenever I draw.
To rest my eyes further, I have to get my sculpture tools, my terra cota supply, my circular table and attempt at working on a portrait. I have done a lot of portrait sculptures before and it is one hobby which I wish I had the tenacity of concentration. I have tried not only to sculpt portrait bust of important personalities but exotic animals as well. You can just imagine the trash and excess materials that are scattered everywhere. My art workshop is trash bin galore but lo and behold, everything that is created there is an art piece worthy of praising.
Once rested, I move over back to my study table and on my lap to coddle the portable electric organ for some piano lessons. That is right, music makes a boring routine quite melodious and upbeat. I check the internet for some tutorials on a musical score. If I could get a little mastery on handling of the keys and I could follow the tune properly then I am fully rested.
Back to reading once again, then to writing, then to arts and later to music. That is how my day is done, one of those ordinary days when I am not travelling, when I am not invited in a forum, when I am not obliged by friends for a cup of coffee in some establishments.
Unlike before when I have to wrestle with time, beat the clock so to speak, break my back, confront intrigues, kowtow with all living things and reckon nature. Now, it is a different ball game and everything revolves around me. Suddenly, I am at the center of my solar system. I am the Sun, whilst before I was merely an asteroid.
The assets I have accumulated from years of wise savings/investing and living a vice-less recreation made me comfortable and self sufficient. As a matter of fact, my pension alone is enough to carry me through up to the next Ice Age!
And precisely because I left so many interesting activities in the past—- playing basketball, indefinite period for arts, music and literature, now I am having some kind of revenge to fulfill. I must have to read all the classics I skipped before, write tomes of thoughts and ideas, publish it if necessary, create pieces of artworks, conduct and compose music and eventually face the stars with a glowing smile.
I have started to move and initiate a step closer to the daunting years of old age. I am virtually marching excitedly towards it.
Indeed, so many enjoyable things to do, so little a time!
Death of a friend diminishes a person and definitely, even his perception of happiness.
Just this year alone, I have a handful of friends who crossed over. Some of them felled by assassin’s bullets, but most of them were claimed by ailments. I could feel what my father felt when he celebrated his 86th birthday when none of his friends showed up for the shower. All of them were goners (most of them even before reaching 70) and I could see the blank face and the gloomy eye of the celebrant.
Losing a friend is always tragic in terms of emotional fulfillment. It is like having a memory failure. Friends maintain a bulk of nostalgia, something that cushions a person from trauma, something that complements delight. When they depart, a portion of one’s self-actualization vanishes too.
I should have written something about the man while he was still alive. He loves to read and something that would pertain to him would be a grand treat. I could just imagine that he would be tickled pink when I would disclose something that would border on our adventures. But I overlooked it. I thought that cautious as he was, he would never be afflicted nor would meet any accident that would reduce his lifespan. I was wrong and was very sorry.
Tony has been my close-in staff whenever I am in Manila during my provincial assignments. This would date back since 1994. Our association would last up until 2013, a good 19 years. And my recollection of the man is his fixation if not overzealous concern for his health and personal safety. He was after all my driver-confidant for almost 2 decades and I depend a lot from him in terms of transportation and guide. He must always be glowingly healthy.
He never had any vice except occasional smoking. His thoughts almost saintly partially a reflection of brotherly influence since his elder sibling is a priest. He is witty and reads a lot. He can easily pick up an idea or can differentiate anything silly. And the sound of his laughter can be heard half a kilometer away. He rejoices in anything that promotes intelligence. He knew he was that smart.
He was virtually a part of my family. And one who would never admit that he was old. As a matter of fact, I never saw him pluck out a Senior Citizen ID when buying something. He wanted to project that he was still youthful, agile and even athletic. He never had no inkling of death and believed that he was good up to 100.
He would accompany me whenever I would mourn a member of my family and even accost me in attending the wake of friends. He was there beside me during those trying times. He was my comfort zone whenever I am stressed in my work in the prison service. He was my canned hilarity in all my jokes. And he would prepare for the punchlines by medicating so that he won’t suffer high blood due to sudden laughter.
That was how we were. We traveled a lot. We scouted for the best chow in town. We excitedly took selfies in great spots. We shared a lot of stories. And he would always prod me to tell more jokes.
When I retired, I never had a chance of visiting him. I stayed down south and our communication was through facebook only. And for quite a time, he would manifest his presence through comments in my blogs. I knew he was there and he would in return post pictures of his travels in Singapore where the family of his daughter resides. He would gamely send pictures of his trips to the Visayas, where he came from. Until I noticed that he would seldom post and that he might have migrated to Canada where his son’s family had transferred. Well, good for him.
Then came the post from his timeline that he is gone. I felt that a significant part of me disappeared. I felt that the 12 hour daylight became 10 and that the remaining parts were mostly gloomy and disconsolate. That was what it was when losing a friend like Tony felt like. A part of me dies too.
On the other hand, his memory is constantly celebrated by his family and friends—those whom he served wholeheartedly.
Dedicated to my peers in Project 2, Quezon city.
If you love books and research, you must probably have encountered the name, F. Landa Jocano (author of bestselling non fiction Slum as a Way of Life). Or, if you an old timer and an avid sports fan, especially basketball, you should know Freddie Hubalde. Or, you are some one receiving intelligent notes on current events through opinion writer and Philippine Star columnist, Art Borjal
There was also former Senator Francisco Tatad and former Postal Chief Roilo Golez who once were residents including movie heart throb Jay Ilagan.
Again, if you are a chess aficionado, the name Ruben Rodriguez, Chess International Master and the one who taught the young GM Eugene Torre to achieve global chess recognition, a perennial face to watch. Or, perhaps rocker Mike Hanopol with his melodious song in the 70’s, “Laki sa layaw, Jeproks” would hit the airwaves. If you know all of them then, you…
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