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DERADICALIZATION IN PRISON

radicals

Radicals, by definition and persuasion, are those who advocate for a thorough or complete social or political reform through extreme measures.  They are oftentimes referred to as revolutionaries, progressives or reformists.  They are never known to subscribe to norms or any acceptable social behaviour that preserves the status quo.  In other words, they are for immediate, sudden change of the social order even if in the process the recourse may be outside of law or even if the means is considered criminal.  The State has nothing to do with these people since they operate outside of the legal system.  At best, when apprehended or caught espousing their mission, they are eventually brought to the bar of justice and therefrom impose the rule of law.

What happen next is that they are sent to the calaboose to serve time along with the so called common felons.  In prison, unlike in the free community where they came from, they are subsequently mixed.  At first glance, their impulse is to regroup and regain their foothold but the numerical strength of those at the other end provides a reckoning set back.  They either would perish brandishing their cause or survive just by swimming along with the tide.

And so, acceptance and resignation become their nature in understanding their new environment.  Everything around them spells institutional order.   They are given designation regardless of offense.  They assimilate and receive the usual and traditional reception given to any ordinary prisoner.  At times, they are even recruited to be members of gangs, groups that represent the requirements for institutional survival.

After a year, they no longer believe in their cause, at least for the time being.  They are preoccupied with the daily grind in the prison community.  They are more concerned with domestic woes, food, shelter and basic needs including laundry and personal care.  In a way, environment has a way of taming the wild.  Imprisonment to an offender creates this condition, in much the same way, a cage does to endangered specie.

The radical is deradicalized even without institutional or organized intervention.

The question of a radical radicalizing his environment is pure myth.  Unless of course  the basic principle on which an ideological concept will simply be embraced in the pragmatic sense.  Unless of course  the world view expressed to the vulnerable community is done along spiritual means.

Religion is the most effective and the most fervent of all influence.  A prisoner languishing in prison has no other way to reach out and grab sanity unless he surrenders himself to a supernatural concept.  If he does not believe in a Supreme Being, he has no alternative but invent one.  To preserve his sanity and sense of realism he must personally cling to this self-preserving approach.  Note that there is nothing social or sociological in this self sustaining adherence.  The radical has so much to confront, most of which were his  personal demons before he could project himself as an effective medium.

This explains the fact that most of those branded as radicals and penalized to serve time as such would rather get into the groove of religion.  First, to maintain his grasp on reality and secondly, and this is a long shot, to influence those around him.  There is too much selfishness in a homogenous grouping before anything gregarious is to take place.

Radicalism in prison is never an issue and it will never even take shape at all.  Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous prisoners in history, was deradicalized while serving time.  Before him, we have Napoleon Bonaparte, Ninoy Aquino, Nilo Tayag, even Jose Rizal.  If at all, radicalism would serve a person in prison, it was only to enhance their world view on honesty, respect for humanity and patience.  These are qualities that make a person matured and enough consideration for him to further evolve into a better person learned in the art of understanding.  And that is exactly the opposite of what radicalization means.

 

ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN MINDANAO

climate change

The increase in the volume of rain fall in Mindanao, as felt in most towns of Eastern Mindanao indicates the following climatic situations:

  1.  There are less vegetation to absorb and retain water hence as a natural course, water evaporates.
  2. Roots of hardwood trees which have a capacity to hold on water almost 200 liters per tree, when felled would let go of its retention capability and exposes the water to the elements.  As a natural course, it joins other exposed water for evaporation.
  3. The number of lumber derived from logging (both illegal and legal), cutting down hardwood trees wantonly or otherwise, contribute to deforestation and therefore exposes the soil to the elements and further squeezes whatever water it retains.  When hundred trees are felled, hundreds of thousand liters of waters are released, well, again for evaporation.
  4. Once water is accumulated to form as cloud becomes heavy, it pours and returns back the hundred of thousand liters of water down on the ground.  If the soil is loose, landslide becomes the order of the day.  On low lying areas, instant flood is noted.

flooded areas

  1. Considering the fact that lands are slowly transformed into subdivision and related housing communities, usually done without plan, would disturb the natural flow of water.  When a housing village is filled up, it closes the natural formation of land where water flows, resulting in blockage.  Flashfloods immediately appears.

baha 2

  1. Weather watchers are even baffled.  At a time when they have declared that the El Nino phenom is about to commence, the reverse happen.  Drought is expected but La Nina came as a matter of course.
  2. Even wind velocity would change its course as a consequence of cloud formation.  It reroutes air flow and when it is blocked by a phalanx of clouds filled with evaporated water, it literally constricts the air flow and a low pressure area noted.  When it transgresses the formation, the compounded air becomes a storm.
  3. In other words, climate change is not a natural occurrence.  It is a consequence when nature is reformed by man, who is also a part of nature.  Although he is a part of nature, he always reinvents it for his purpose.
  4. Hence, climate change as indicated in an equatorial island like Mindanao.

CONFESSION OF A SMOKER

I do not feel any qualm of conscience or harbor any guilt feelings at all in admitting that I have been a smoker through and through.  In the same manner that I would not expect anyone who would comb their hair every morning, brush their teeth after every meal or takes a bath daily as something offensive.  No sir.  It is part of routine unhealthy or unsightly it may be for others.

Smokers whatever their station in life is there for all of us to understand.  I constantly seek it also for objectivity sake.  I know and I have to.  I am a smoker since my teen and I have never contracted any enemy for being such.  Well, there are those who are allergic to smoke that is why I move away from people, from a crowd unless of course they flock to me while I am smoking.

I tried a lot of brands but settled on the cheapest.  I would literally be burning money so why not burn the inexpensive ones.  Habits at times are pricey but it could also be procured in the least costly way.

Any smoker will tell us that they learned it by association.  Others through exposure and the rest, from the sheer expression of fulfilling their craft.  There are those who munch on junk food while watching television, fixing their nostrils while reading, pulling ancillary growths, playing with their ding-a-ling while day dreaming, twitching their hair while having a phone conversation, dry-cleaning their skin while listening on the radio, biting nails while writing and a lot more.  Smokers at least have a better way of projecting themselves alone by themselves or in public.

I am not lobbying for any brand of cigarette.  As a matter of fact they can close shop anytime for all I care.  I do not need them anyway.  I can fix my own stick at any given time as long as there are withered leaves around and it is no brainer.  For me what is important is the smoke. (I prefer papaya leaves because its fume is smooth and not as strong, like leaves of hardwood trees.  But I am constantly exploring.  I am sensitive to take down memories through smell.  Hence, the scent of pines reminds me of Baguio City in my youth.  With that in my nasal cavity, I feel I am young again. ) I am not particular about the taste although it helps but it is at the bottom of my concern.  I am at ease using the pipe also and it is my preferred medium actually but at times it is too messy and troublesome.

If some people see me with a pipe, their impression is that I am pedantic and a snob.  It does not matter to me anyhow though but it troubles me a lot to see friends pout once in a while.   But if there is nothing to light up, the pipe and any dried leaves will do.  I am not an inhaler anyway, I am just a puffer.   Puffers however eventually occupy the lower shelf in the pyramid of a taster’s chain.  Their taste buds may have been affected by the smoke.  Anyway, they are never intrigued nor attracted with any good or tasty food.  They may try it occasionally but they would never crave for it.  Puffers have retained their body mass and their shirts and pants during their college years could still fit even in their midlife.   Call it what you may, I am still a smoker by any standard and I am at peace with that consideration.  My blood pressure is that of a juvenile and mind you, I am a warrior but I look like I have never gone to any war.

There is art in smoke.  There is also inspiration.  It appears like a spirit, ghost like and it reminds anyone of mortality.  If the smoker is confined in a small room, it serves also as a mosquito repellant. Although it poses as a challenge to one’s lungs, it is already the smoker’s personal concern.   A non smoker can die of an accident while crossing the street also.  While there are reports indicating early deaths as a consequence of the smoking habit, I also know a lot of people who are centenarians and sworn smokers of the worst kind too.

This is not an apology from a burner.  This is an admission, a confession, if you may, from someone who is in love with fumes.

THE DAY MAXY DIED

It has always been a sad day when a loved one passes away.  But when a pet, say your favorite dog crosses over, it is a tragedy.

My sister and I had Peggy, a light brown native dog (askal as they say or a local mongrel), when we were young.  Peggy was our universe next to our parents.  She never made any complaint at all.   She was one of us already. She may bark once in a while but that was meant only to remind us that she was a dog.  But she is more than canine to us.  She was a picture of loyalty, of devotion, of patience.  She could also be a rabid follower, a protective company, a fanatical friend.  She died a few years later and we, my sister and I, were never the same again.  We became aloof, sensitive and vulnerable.  We suffered a great loss that even our perceptions were terribly affected.  We never allowed having pets anymore since that time on.  We had grown to accept reality.  It was a turning point.  Our peggy made us mature overnight.  Her death made my sister a scholar.  And our pet had transformed me into an artist.  We exuded in our respective field the same qualities we learned from her.

Years later, when I had my own family and kids, I would also introduce them in the same breath and cycle of emotional roller coaster by adopting a number of pets.  I would even go further by having different pets in as many a specie I could find.  We had a boa constrictor, a turtle, a goat, white mice, termite eating marsupial, bats, big ants, parrots, guinea pig, pangolin, arachnids, love birds, name it, we must have it.  Our yard was once a veritable zoo and each specie we christened with names less than having them baptized.  That was one orientation I initiated for my kids.  They never became Kuya Kim or the popular Crocodile Dundee but I knew that my kids had a great time observing, caring and maintaining our pets.  They had great fun and yes, education on what life was all about.

More years later, my kids would have their own preferences.  They had cats of varying shades and color.  They would even spring a surprise by picking up a lost kitten, black ones most especially near the garbage dump and would adopt it.  It was not for once but several times.  For a time, our house would be transformed into a veritable haven for the feline kind.  Then a puppy would be brought in.  As soon as the pretty canine becomes actively game as a member of the family, it would be lost.  My kids had as many pet dogs later—shaggy furs, slim types, craggy ones.

And then, a dark colored puppy with crying and begging eyes was given them. It was for a time the center of my kid’s attention.  The puppy was hugged, spoiled and coddled like a pillow and it responded with mirth, fidelity and some kind of piety for its masters.

The puppy in no time would grow up into a big hulking dog, fierce looking projecting a mean  beast as it growls.  It has grown almost 20 times its original size.  It is menacing from a distance, it is intimidating up close.  Its jaws were designed for the jugular and its paws are always mounted for assault.  Not even a SWAT team would be capable of engaging the monster in a mortal combat!

We suspected all along that the dark colored pet had a foreign bloodline.  It could have been a cross breed for a pointer, Labrador retriever, pomerarian and pit bull.  It can easily terrorize anyone trying to annoy it.  For a good number of years, it would be one pet which the kids would grow up with.  It can determine its master’s presence a mile away except that it often overdoes its playfulness by accidentally biting hands that feed it.  The injury would immediately be forgiven though.  Dogs, especially pets, were never there to hurt their masters.  There were even countless stories on the sworn loyalty of pet dogs.  There was even a monument erected in Japan in  their honor.  The phrase “canine loyalty” was lifted directly from their instinctive attribute.

There were even studies conducted to determine the cognitive abilities of dogs.  Accordingly, they share the same intelligence and emotional qualities as that of man.  Science even had daring revelation that they could also determine with precision not only how dogs can memorize but also how they would describe their masters.  When that time comes, it would be impractical to allow our pet dogs hang around inside our rooms anymore!

Going back to dear dark colored pet dog of my kids, it was a sweet occasion to have it always by their side.  It barked a lot and for them it was music.  Just as when things turn out not in accordance with my kid’s expectation, their pet would usually be there to lend its maximum presence.  Hence, they rightly christened their pet as Maximus, a Roman name, bland yet brave, parsimonious yet compulsive, behave and alert.

Maxy was in charge of the house when everyone is out.  It was the sentinel, the guard, the sentry.  When everyone was in, it is the entertainer, the performer, an artiste.  Maxy was almost a part of the family, a member of the clan, patient, enduring and uncomplaining.  He had that quality which everyone loves.

Maxy was full of life, robust and active.  Even at times when its ration was more on the fasting side rather than the feasting kind.

At the peak of his strength however he would die.  His leash strangled his neck.  Maxy lived well and was loved well.  It left a vacant spot in the hearts of my family.  My kids were never the same from that day on—they would all see life in the context of fate and faith.  Fate as in having a timeline for everyone and faith, as in appreciating another life hereafter.

 

DURING MY SISTER’S WAKE

 

Tradition has defined a conservative period of seven days to be devoted to the wake of a dearly departed.  In the case of my sister, it was just like the customary kind.  A chapel was reserved for the purpose.   Kin and close family watch over the altar where the vessel lay in wait.  Flowers bearing names of donors adorn the landscape including Mass cards, a few personal mementoes scattered not without order atop the casket glass, dimmed lights all over and an air of churchly ambiance pervades the atmosphere.  Silence at times due to fatigue and seriousness of occasion dictates the mournful bearing of everyone.

 

In the morning, the chairs fronting the coffer were almost empty except for the occasional sight of those slumped in one corner trying to recoup the previous nights’ sleeplessness.  One is even forbidden to dust or clean the area from debris or left overs because of superstition.  As old folkloric manners yield, no one from among the kin members should even take a bath during the period.

 

Water dispenser was always plugged for the instant coffee.  It was one brew which the visitor is always offered.

 

As soon as the day approached  early evening, flocks of people begin to flow.  The neighbors were usually the first to arrive.  Followed by relatives and later, by office or gang mates of children.  The facial expressions varied also.  For the neighbors, it was more on the sadness side.  Their ranks had thinned as a consequence.  If the departed is an accomplished one like my sister, the sadness doubled.

 

The air of seriousness was aggravated with the arrival of friends and peers.  They were the most affected.  They were even more valued more than family members because the departed had spent most of the active time interacting with them.  They had everything in common, from the simple struggle of organizational life to a complex attempt in resolving challenges.  The loss was sudden and immediately felt.  The same can be said as soon as relatives appear.

 

Relatives were the most vocal.  They can easily relate with the departed since youth up to the time of demise.  Their notes are almost complete.  They knew intimately not only the person but the entire family tree—their predisposition, their manifest destiny and preoccupation.  They oftentimes stood as if they are directly affected by the loss.  For those queuing in to view, the relatives even were the ones at the forefront of accommodation.  They even volunteered to serve the mandatory coffee or cold juice for the newcomer.

 

All of them comprised the first line of concern.

 

The succeeding batches of visitors would come from the ranks of secondary friends—those related to the family of the departed.  They have heard of the passing away of a loved one, one who is valued by their friend.  Their facial behavior was one of inquiry and appreciation.  They were there to cushion their friend from the painful loss and offer sympathy.  They provided the stability of emotion, the confidence of company, the compassion of camaraderie and the strength of alliance.

 

The regular spiritual rite in the evening signaled the unity of those in attendance reminding them of the great beyond and their prayerful offering.  It proclaims faith and the promise of eternal life.  Thereafter, the priestly celebrant allowed the family members to sprinkle holy water onto the vessel along with pronounced religious entreaties on peace and meeting the Creator.

The wake was a daily grind until the final date for internment was announced.

 

All of those who spent time, offered prayers and expressed understanding have created a deeper bond not only for those who were bereaved but also for themselves with their implied submission as a member of a greater family.

 

 

 

SECRETS IN GENERATING ENERGY

 

Nature is astounding.  It is the source of everything any living thing needs.  As a matter of fact, all matters including mankind belongs to nature, no exemption.  Nature therefore sustains every living thing and in a perceptive manner, every non-living thing everywhere.  Nature however is not existing in isolation.  It is composite.  And it begins somewhere.

*****

That somewhere is light.  Remember the Biblical expression “Let there be light!”?  That’s it.  Nature begins with the sunlight and it continues from there.  Those exposed to the sun are healthier than those who are not.  Such explains the fact that in ancient times, most tribes worship the sun.  It triggers growth, it promotes clarity, it provides stability.  That part of our planet exposed to a liberal dose of sunlight is the most vegetative, most active and have a generous filling of minerals and precious materials.

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Let us therefore admit that the Sun is the most important element of nature.  Let us even assume that sunlight is also the most potent source of energy.  Science has even discovered that sunlight regulates everything and promotes balance in any living thing.  Sunlight in other words is where energy is expressed and applied.

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Let us have a simple experiment, a viable, easy and an uncomplicated one.  In the tropics like the Philippines, sunlight begins at 6:30 in the morning.  At seven o’clock AM it is an idyllic ray, a perfect lighting any professional photographer would admit.  At this time, sunlight is never harsh on the skin; it is even an ideal one.  Vitamin D is liberally sprayed.  And here is the experiment.  Stand where the sun is shining but do not look directly at the light.  Close your eyes.  Make a deep breath through your nostrils; hold on for three seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.  Do not open your eyes yet.  Slowly turn your head to the right, while your eyes, despite the fact that it is closed, rotate focusing on the sunlight.  After three seconds, turn back to the usual position and slowly turn to the other side.  Do not open your eyes.  Continue with the breathing exercises, then slowly turn your head from one angle to another, until you feel the warmth of the sun.  Then bow your head.  Slowly open your eyes.  Look around you and you will be amazed at your surroundings.  You will definitely appreciate the colors, the green leaves, the bluish shades, the cracking yellow, the pinkish red, every where the colors are unmistakably fresh.  You have charged your body and energized your entire being.  Your day started correctly.

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