Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fanatics



Today, 2016 August 18, President Duterte's 50th day in power, a documentary of his "achievements" airs beyond PTV4. The document starts with his inauguration speech, in which he said, "we have become our worst enemies," and followed that with a statement that he serves no special interest but that of every citizen.

Today, it has become very clear to all, through Duterte's own efforts, that he is the most powerful Marcos loyalist to be elected, to replace the anti-Marcos but inept and moronic Aquino. A few days hence, ex-dictator and plunderer Ferdinand Marcos will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because, according to Duterte, Marcos "was a soldier. Period." And, Marcos was a president. Period.

Those two "periods" -- or full stops -- are indicators of what kind of man the new president is; after all, he has repeatedly declared that what he said he will do, he will do. What he did not say, yet is so open to all but to Marcos and Duterte fanatics, is that he will not tolerate opposition to his will, that those who dare to curb his plan will be treated as personal enemies who will be subject to his impulsive and almost immediate retaliation.

Marcos is a soldier. Period. The full stop is there to forestall any argument, that Marcos, during the war, was involved in the black market with the approval of the Japanese administration; that he was hunted by the guerrillas, who had executed his father, Mariano Marcos, for treason, and wanted the same fate for the young Marcos; that after the war he tried to scam the US government by claiming reimbursement for non-existent cattle and equipment he allegedly supplied guerrillas during the war. He also claimed he was in battles where official records proved he was miles away. He faked papers and 32 medals to bolster his delusion as a hero, rather than the cheap crook that he was.

He was a president. Period. Marcos had sworn to obey the constitution and defend the interest of the country, yet he tyranized and looted the country, made his own laws to fit the interests of his thieving wife, relatives (including his mother), and cronies in and out of government. But in Duterte's viewpoint, treason does not undo or besmirch Major Marcos' military record. The high crimes of tyranny, plunder, and murder do not dislodge Marcos, the benefactor of Duterte Sr. and this Duterte, from the pantheon of nonmurdering presidents and true soldiers who had lived and died loyally. Duterte's period is heavy indeed.

A fanatic is not necessarily stupid -- although millions of Marcos and Duterte fanatics are -- but deliberately blind to all facts, reasons, and arguments; the specific purpose, of doing honor to Marcos, supersedes morality. In other matters Duterte can inspire by his unorthodox methods and declarations. But can a president be deliberately deaf to the cries of Martial Law victims and still believe that his conscience still has a voice? -- when that voice is telling him that he has become his own worst enemy, that he is serving not all but only the Marcoses in this matter. Period.

But in real life, morality does not win against injustice, theft, murder, corruption of the soul. Countless criminals, gambling lords, drug lords, kidnappers and carjackers, smugglers, money launderers have lived and died in comfort, at the expense of the peasants, of course. Our movies and TV shows are not so dishonest now: they no longer say Crime does not pay. Who pays for masterminding the murder of Ninoy Aquino? On August 21, twenty days before Duterte lends presidential weight to Marcos' burial, we commemorate Ninoy's 33rd death anniversary. At least Ninoy lies beside his wife Cory at the Manila Cemetery, not at the soon-to-be-desecrated Libingan.

Why oh why is it the people who must always pay for the personnel debts of our politicians? Maybe the politicians know they will always be sheltered and even pushed on by the fanatics, mighty always and mighty ever. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Albus


This is Albus, a very loving Ragdoll who, like any kitten, loves companionship and play. He is born on Jan. 7 with two siblings. When people took his siblings to their homes to lead better lives, he had at least two younger persian kittens and one stray left to play with. Then one by one his playmates moved to good homes, too, leaving Albus alone. When I see him looking forlorn like this, it breaks my heart. Of course I don't feel so good whenever a kitten moves to other homes, but I have come to term with this fact of life: Leaving is not so bad if the destination is a happier life. Every father learns this at his daughter's wedding day -- that no love is lost and life moves forward.

When I see Albus alone, silent, with no playmates no tumble with, my human problems, no matter how deep, diminish and are replaced with just one wish -- that this lonesome kitten gets a better shot at life's bounties. If there is kismet, I hope someone out there with the capability to make a kitten smile and purr with delight meets Albus. Full of trust, Albus purrs when we hold and stroke him. Certainly I will be sad when Albus leaves this home, but I will be consoled that he will not be alone anymore. I'll be all right if in his memory I'm replaced by a loving companion.

I quote Christina Rossetti about leavetaking, whether it involves human sweethearts or kittens that I love:
"Better by far that you forget and smile,
Than that you remember and be sad."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Duterte's blind side

This must be taught in schools
Very very few people know that my birthday is celebrated every week, and that I believe heavily on gift receiving, even without twisting of arms or shameless reminding.

Popular Bookstore ran out of stock of the Raissa Robles book (1st photo), so I'm looking for it as a weekly birthday present (wink! wink!) to me, which does not mean I'm forking out the cash, after asking wifey to buy the two books shown in Photos 2 and 3. What are reminders for?


So I have two books about Martial Law at hand and I currently lack the Robles book. Meanwhile I'm reading Primitivo Mijares' "The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos", which is being offered free in eBook form online, to refresh the memory of old people like my friends -- who had experienced the censorship, terrors and murders of the New Society -- and to teach millennials, like me, and this generation's dumb voters who voted for all Marcoses last May. Why not read the new books you bought, you may ask, and the answer... umm, it fell to earth I know not where.

During the election I rooted for Duterte and cursed Binay and Roxas for trying to impose their incompetence on this unfortunate country, which allowed the birth of Mariano Marcos (shot by guerrillas as a spy of the Japanese invaders), who begat Ferdinand, who with Imelda and cronies plundered our resources. Then they were ousted in 1986 with their begotten gremlins Bongbong, Imee, and Irene. After Duterte won, I began pulling roots, after he declared his fealty for the Marcoses. Part of his priority now is to pay his debt of gratitude to the Marcos clan, whom he said took care of his father and him even while the Marcoses looted the coffers, closed tne media, tortured and killed thousands of activists, and borrowed so much from foreign institutions that we, in this year 2016, are still paying for what the Marcoses, Romualdezes, Benedictos, Tantocos, et al. had hoarded, splurged, and hidden. 

Now I'm preparing for the dire results of Duterte's inconsistensy and contradictions. He has, even before the beginning of his term, started purging the system of its entrenched drug lords and crime kingpins. How he hates drugs. Me too, except my maintenance tablets. He says "Stop it!" to crime. Yey! He will bury Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Huh?! Ok, he's not a hero, Duterte concedes, but he was a soldier. Now I want to know Duterte's birthday, so I can give him Mijares' book. That book reveals that Marcos was hunted by guerrillas, who wanted to execute him as a collaborator. Not a soldier at all, the book said, but as a buy-and-sell man during the Japanese Occupation. Possibly a traitor. Ferdinand and Imelda spawned Ferdinand Junior -- or Bongbong, who will certainly try to wrest the vice presidency from the duly elected Leni Robredo. 

Duterte has already instituted a lot of changes. For the first time in Philippine politics, the vice president will be given no tangible post as part of the administration -- because Bongbong's feeling will be hurt. Another first is that the president-elect and the VP-elect will hold their inaugurations separately, because Duterte wants it that way. Maybe he cannot have both Bongbong ang Leni together in the inauguration ball?

Duterte feels he has a debt of obligation to the biggest family of crooks ever, but why oh why, like that fool Noynoy to Purisima, must the country pay for Duterte's debt? We are still paying for the Marcoses' debt! A consolation is that the dumbos who voted for Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong have joined the old timers in paying debts incurred long before they were born. This early we are reaping the fruits of our elected leader's contradictions. When there are two opposing sides, one side will falter in the long run, and Duterte, who purportedly hates criminals who destroy our society, is on the side of the biggest looters of resources and of the killers of thousands of dissenters. What strange bedfellows you have, Mr. President. May fate be kinder to this unfortunate land.

 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Boss Joe

Joe Burgos, mas mainam pa sa mga panggulo ng Pilipinas
Boss, pinili namin ang putanginang Duterte dahil di ko alam na mas mahal niya ang mga Marcos kaysa sa mga tapat na mamamahayag na tulad mo, na sa panahong mapanganib ang isiwalat ang totoong kalagayan ng bansa, sa ilalim ng kamay na bakal, ay sinimulan mo na ang pagbaklas sa tanikalang sumisikil sa kalayaan at disenteng pagka-Pilipino. Ngayon ay nananaig ang paglait sa mga kapatid sa trabaho dahil pikon si Duterte at ginagawang ehemplo ang corrupt nating mga kasamahan para lagyan ng uling ang mga tapat, masigasig, at naghahayag lang ng kabulastugan nitong probinsiyanong lumaki na ang ulo hindi pa man nakaupo sa puwesto.

Pero relax ka lang diyan, Boss, dahil kung ang kaibigang Marcos ni Duterte, na berdugo rin, ay hindi inurungan ng mga tapat na journalists noon, ito pa kayang nagbabadyang bagong diktador. Killer nga pero tiyani bandang huli yan.


Parang di alam ni Duterte na maraming anyo ang corruption: hindi pera-pera lang, na inihahagis niya laban sa media; meron ding corruption ng moralidad -- kawalan nang galang sa magandang asal (buksan mo ang balita sa TV at maririnig ng mga bata sa bahay na nagmumura ang putanginang magiging panggulo ng bayan), kabastusan sa mga babae, pagmura sa pinatay na corrupt journalist (dahil kritiko niya sa Davao) at pinabayaan na lang yung pumatay kahit kilala niya. Hindi lang droga at pangungurakot ang salot sa bayan. Ang pag-unlad nang nga mamamayan sa disenteng lipunan ay ankla ng tunay na pag-ahon, hindi pagbaba sa imburnal ng buwang na Duterte.
Ang ganda ng mga sinasabing gagawin ni Duterte. Talagang hahanga ka pag naniwala kang malakas ang malasakit niya sa mga maralita, sa mga inaagrabyado, sa mga niyuyurak ng pamahalaan. Pero gising na ang ilan sa amin -- parang nakabasa kami ng We Forum sa panahong hanga pa ang karamihan sa pagbabagong pangako nitong Duterte, parang nung hanga pa ang mga magulang sa disiplinang idudulot daw ng Martial Law.


Ang We Forum ang naglatag ng daan para sa pamamahayag na tapat at kontra sa diktaturya, kaya nung pinatay si Ninoy, nag-usbungan ang mga ibang pahayagan -- Mr & Ms Special Edition na sa unang pahina ay lumantad ang litrato ng duguang mukha ni Ninoy. Pumalag din ang Malaya, kapatid ng We Forum; lumakas ang loob ng WHO at Business Day. Sa paglilitis ng 25 sundalong inakusahang pumatay kay Ninoy, inilunsad ng founder ng Mr & Ms Special Edition, Eugenia Apostol (at Editor Letty Magsanoc), ang weekly tabloid na Philippine Inquirer para ituon ang pansin ng mga tao sa pangyayari sa korte. Sa 1986 ang tabloid ay naging Philippine Daily Inquirer, na hanggang ngayon ay kinaasaran ng mga presidenteng gumagawa ng kabulastugan at nahahayag sa pahayagan at balita sa TV channels. Ang mga asar na presidente: Marcos na ipinasara halos lahat ng mga diyaryo at TV stations, puwera sa tatlong crony papers (Daily Express, Philippine Journal ni Kokoy Romualdez, at Manila Bulletin ni Emilio Lim); Cory Aquino, na tulad ng sinto-sintong anak na si Noynoy, ay pikon sa sa masamang balita kahit totoo; Gloria Arroyo; at ngayon, na tila susunod sa yabag ng matalik na kaibigang Marcos, Duterte, berdugo ng mga drug lords (okay lang) at berdugo ng pamamahayag na hindi sipsip sa kanya ngunit totoo.


Hanggang ngayon ay nawawala pa ang anak mong si Jonas, Boss. Dinampot siya ng militar ni Gloria at hanggang ngayon ay kasama sa libo-libong desaperidos ng Martial Law ni Marcos, na pinayagan ni Duterteng ilipat at bangkay sa Libingan ng Bayani. Ang marching order ni Duterte sa mga tauhan niya, tutukan ang kriminalidad at corruption. Gandang pakinggan, pero hindi tugma sa gawa. Gagawin niyang bayani ang isa sa pinakamalaking mamamatay-tao at mandarambong sa kasaysayan ng napakaabang bayan na ito.


Ang daming mabulaklak na pambobola ang iniitsa ni Duterte sa tulog na namang madla, kaya di napapansin, o ipinagtatanggol pa, ang lason ang kanyang mga gawain. At, tulad ng dati, binubugbog ang tagahatid ng masamang balita.


Pero kaya natin ito, Boss. Ano ba naman ang sangganong Duterte sa agos ng kasaysayan at katotohanan? Bullet day, Duterte -- Balang araw...

Panggulong Dodirty

Painting by Fernando Amorsolo
Ang ganda ko, ano? Kinuha akong modelo ng pintor na si Fernando Amorsolo. Una mong mapapansin ay yung dala kong mga manggang hilaw; susunod ay mapansin mo yung dimples sa maamo kong mukha. Pero putangina naman, sino ba yung naka-checkered na matandang ang lakas sumipol pagdaan ko? Ang buwang, hindi sa mangga nakadikit ang tingin. Gilit lang yung maliliit na mata, pero hanep kung hubaran ka sa tingin.

Mabait naman daw, sabi ng isang ale, kung di nakasumpong ang pagkamanyakis at pagkaberdugo. "Bilib it or nut," sabi ng ale, "yan ang susunod na panggulo ng Pilipinas. Dininig ang iyong panalangin, iha, na mawala na sa eksena ang autistic na si Abnoy!"

Mamumura ko ang mga pari at obispo sa diskarteng ito -- aalisin nga ang sinto-sinto, papalitan naman nang mas malala ang topak. Nung panggulo si Gloria inip na inip ako at gusto ko siyang mawalis sa upuan, by coup or by tiris, dahil siguradong wala nang mas grabe sa unanong ito. Kaya tuwang-tuwa ako nang parang sisiw na sumipot si Penoy. Nang nabistong kulang ang palito sa ulo ang buwakanangina, sabi ko, ang lupit ng tadhana sa Pilipins my Pilipins. Pero imposibleng may malala pa sa panot na ito. At -- tsaran! -- nasilip yung sipolpol na Dodirty raw ang pangalan. Change is coming daw! Pero naman naman! Anong klaseng sukli itong dumarating: Di pa nakaupo ang laki na nang ulo, arogante, bastos, bully sa hindi kayang lumaban. Siya ang tanging nilalang na dahil sa kanya nanaisin mong manalo ang mga drug lords para maasar lang siya. Mistulang banal mismo si Satanas kung ihambing sa matulis na ngusong manyakis na yun. Sasabihin ko sanang may problema ang mama kaya laging nakangising aso. Pero ano naman ang kasalanan ng aso para insultuhin ito?

Anyway, laging galit sa mundo itong mama kaya di mapakali, kamot nang kamot; ba't di kasi maligo para at least may masabing malinis sa kanyang nilalang kahit hindi ang utak. Laging hinihimas yung isang pisngi. Minsan parang sinasalo niya at baka malaglag at di na siya makasipol. Malaglag na nga sana!

Lahat ng tao may malalim na lihim, pero sa kilos, ugali, at OCD nito, huwag sanang mapinsalang lubos ang bansa sa halimaw na ito. Sige, pabahain niya ng dugo ng mga drug lords ang ating lupa; sige, magsabog siya ng binhi nang pagkasuklam sa mga ayaw sumund sa kanya, pag-awayin niya ang mga Pilipino, pero putangina lang ang walang ganti. Kahit major-major na buwang itong uupo, marunong namang magbasa. Minsan, nung may pag-asa pang palitan ang turnilyo ng kukote nito 60 years ago, nabasa niya ang isang aklat -- na laging ring binabasa ng minura niyang si Pope Franciis, mga pari, obispo, kasama na ang buong relihiyon na marahil di niya kinagisnan sa tahanan -- ang isang babala: Kung anong itinanim, siyang aanihin.

Harinawa. Putangina naman kung walang sukli.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Pictorial History of National Stamp Collecting Month

1995 mini sheet introducing NSCM month
In 1995, President Ramos, also a well-known philatelist, signed Proclamation 494, declaring November every year hence as National Stamp Collecting Month. This mini sheet shows the President and the four stamps of the first NSCM set issued in November 1995.

1995 NSCM Local Paintings complete set

I don't really know why there was no NSCM set printed in 1996. However, the Post Office made up for their lack, in 1997.
1997 NSCM Local Paintings complete set.
1997 Philatelic and Philatelic Division Paintings complete set.
This set, I guess, was supposed to be for 1996.

The Stamp and Philatelic Division also had issued a beautiful set of local paintings in 1972
1998 NSCM Vintage Movies complete set
1999 Local Sculptures complete set
2000 NSCM Local Nude Paintings complete set
2000 NSCM Local Nude Paintings complete FDC set
2001 NSCM Local Paintings complete set
2002 NSCM Great Achievers in Arts complete set

2003 NSCM Comics complete set

2003 NSCM Comics complete FDC set
2004 NSCM Comics complete set
2004 NSCM Comics complete FDC set
2005 NSCM Printmaking complete set
2006 NSCM Abstract Paintings complete set
2006 NSCM Abstract Paintings complete FDC set
2007 NSCM Juan Luna Paintings complete set
 
2008 NSCM Carlo Caparas Comics complete set

 
2008 NSCM Carlo Caparas Comics complete FDC set

2009 NSCM Children's Games complete set
2009 NSCM Children's Games complete FDC set
2010 NSCM National Artists complete set
2010 NSCM National Artists complete FDC set
2010 NSCM National Artists FPJ sheetlet & S/S
2010 NSCM National Artists FPJ FDC complete set
2011 NSCM Hernando Ocampo Paintings complete set
2011 NSCM Hernando Ocampo Paintings complete FDC set
2012 Young Artist of the Philippines mini sheet
I don't know if this is really NSCM. No FDC of this was made. This was printed because the Postmaster General, former Bulacan Governor Josie de la Cruz, collects painting, and the artist is reportedly a crony of hers. The postgen, whose bureaucratic mess has still to be cleared up, was appointed by morally corrupt President Noynoy Aquino.

2013 NSCM Dolphy mini sheet

2013 NSCM Dolphy FDC

 
2014 NSCM First Stamps of the Philippines 160th anniversary complete set

2014 NSCM First Stamps of the Philippines 160th anniversary FDC
2015 NSCM Philately sticker stamps mini sheet
2015 NSCM Philately sticker stamps FDC


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Iterum

 

Nagpasyal si Michelle Buldit sa pinagtatrabuhuan ng kanyang pinsan na si Sogo. Hinagisan siya ng kaway-pagbati ng among si Pogi, na halatang malalim ang concentration.

"Aba at bakit nakadikit na naman ang malalaking mata ng boss mo sa HBO? Anong meron?" tanong ni Buldit kay Sogo.

"Aysus, parang di ka na sanay diyan, basta lumabas ang mga favorite movies niyan, hihinto sa trabaho at parang gustong ma-memorize ang bawat pixel ng pelikula. How to Train Your Dragon ngayon. Pangatlong araw na ulit na ito ha. 

"Hardcore talaga, no? Buti na lang mas konti ang pixels sa TV. Ilang beses na niyang napanood si Toothless?"

"Hmmm, 850 times more or less. Bumili ng Blu-Ray DVD sa Munoz yan nung bagong labas ang Dragon at -- nakupo! -- paulit-ulit-ulit-ulit-ulit. Huminto lang yan nung namaga na yung mga mata."

"Weird nerd talaga yang boss mo. Parang nung na-addict siya sa 1965 version ng Dr. Zhivago. Parang ihi na lang ang intermission niya."

"Hayyy, na in-love kay Lara. Inihahatid ko yung almusal, tanghalian, at hapunan noon. Yung snack niya kinain na ng pusa hindi pa napansin. Bumili siya ng book ni Pasternak para ma-memorize yung mga Lara poems ni Zhivago. Nasa kuwarto pa yung iprinint-out at pina-frame na poster ni Lara."

"Natandaan ko pa nang parang Ondoy ang galit nang malaman niyang di Oscar Best Picture pala ang Zhivago-- "

"Humupa lang yan nang sabihing The Sound of Music ang nakatalo sa Zhivago. Favorite din niya yung mga kanta sa Sound of Music, kahit liku-liko ang boses niyan -- You are sixteen going on seventeen... Haisst!. Saka boobsie rin si Julie Andrews, sabi niya."

"Julie Christie naman yung Lara. Siya yung may pouty lips na ginaya ata ni Angelina Jolie. Akala ko nga forever Lara fanboy na ang kumag na yan. Ba't parang natapilok ang love niya kay Lara?"

"Nabasag ang helmet nung makita niya si Julie Christie sa Troy, as nanay ni Brad Pitt. Mala-sitsaron na yung dating mala-sutlang kutis. Saka lumapad ang balakang, parang volleyball court. At puting bihon na yung slick blonde hair ni Julie."

"Grabeng manlait si Pogi, no?"

"Ganyan lang talaga yan, exact daw yung description niya, di exaggs. Tulad ng nickname niya sa iyong Buldit, haha!"

"Tawa ka pa riyan. Ba't kasi ang dami-daming mapansin ito pa ang nakita."  

"Di ka raw boobsie eh. Magpa-deworm ka raw, para lumaki-laki ang spare parts mo."

"Spare parts! Ano ako, Sarao? Walang beep-beep kung makasagasa yang boss mo huh!"

"Hus, parang di ka pa nasanay diyan. Speaking of boobsie, naasar yan sa MTRCB nang nawala sa eksena ng Godfather yung naghubad si Apollonia sa wedding night niya kay Michael. Kaya-- "

"Bumili ng DVD sa suki niyang Muslim sa Munoz, yung libro sa Book Sale. Nahibang din siya sa film na yun. Let's see, 1972 lumabas yun at naging Best Picture. Huminto lang ang boss mo sa Godfather nang sumunod yung Part II. DVD na naman. Best Picture uli."

"Pero hate niya yung Godfather III. Parang tama naman, dahil walang nakuha kahit isang award ito. Yung Godfather I and II sumungkit ng combined 19 Oscars. Pinanood pa niyan ang mga You Tube interview kay direk Coppola, Mario Puzo at Marlon Brando tungkol sa storylines at mga in-the-making factoids."

"Kaya gusto rin niya yung pumping scene sa Schindler's List? 

Itutuloy... 

 

 

 



 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cosmic 60


The lack of light, in the darkness of false dawn, sometimes brings stressful thoughts. Once, maybe in the break of a dream, I lay still in bed, while my mind prodded at the fact that I had occupied space in this particularly minuscule point of the planet, in a spiral galaxy in an unfathomable universe. Not only space, but also lots of time. "Don't attend reunions," my mind said, "you will look old to your classmates."

I imagined my classmates, all rich and healthy and young, wondering why I showed up at all, all wrinkled, hair gone, a girl assisting my walk so I don't fall down. Jolted by the thought, I became fully awake and I realized that time had not stopped for them, either. A few of them are even older than I am, most younger by a year or two, and the rest as old if not as decrepit as I. I count four dead in our batch, one recently killed in a traffic mishap.

Twenty years ago, when I turned 40, death has ceased to be a stranger to me. In my newspaper years (1994-2004) one of our young reporters died when he dropped a bag containing a loaded gun, which discharged one soft-nosed bullet into his belly. A desk colleague, a renowned and feared columnist, was shot by an Ipit-Gang member in the back of the head, the bullet exiting from his eye. This horrid image, his body slumped at the back of an abandoned taxi in Barangay Sauyo, was on TV for a few days. Camera crews from different stations appeared in our office, disturbing our work from time to time. I was even interviewed on radio about the killing. A TV production on the life of Danny Hernandez, played by Joel de la Torre, was rushed through prime time within a week. I saw many discrepancies in the film's details and I shrugged. By that time I got used to the constant inaccuracies of newspapers and TV programs. Everything is fiction, including details of our lives and deaths. The only truth about death is you will not be seen above ground anymore. Your enemies will no longer wish you misfortune. Your friends will take a little longer to forget you. (Where are those who declared their forever love for Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston? They have shifted to Glen Frey and other old stars who novaed out.) And time no longer counts, as far as the dead are concerned. Whether they rolled in money or just got along,  it did not matter too. It did not matter even in life, but we are too stupid now to think it does. The deathbed has a clarifying effect, if the dying is not hopelessly clueless, like, "Who's taking care of the store when you are all gathered here?"

While I still can compute, I'll prepare my facts for an imaginary reunion with former classmates who are in the vicinity of the six-decade mark. At your 60th birthday you have spent 365.25 x 60 = 21,195 days here. The number of your days, if converted to pesos, is equivalent to a cheap version of an iPhone. Not lack of money or surfeit of wealth will define your short stay on Earth. What then? I'm not intelligent, so I'll borrow from a movie, "The Bucket List," for an evaluation of life. According to a segment of that film, two questions are asked of deceased Egyptians that will determine whether they enter heaven or not. First question, "Have you found joy in your life?" Sort of a bonus question wherein a yes or no does not detract from your chances of admission to the ancient Egyptian heaven. However, the second question seems to bring a waft of very hot air: "Has your life brought joy to others?" I believe there are more souls outside heaven than inside. I can see myself installing a 10-hp air conditioner in a small room in Hades, where I play poker with pedophilic archbishops, many politicians, and all televangelists, while sexy starlets sit on my lap as I add a wee bit to the temperature with my cigarette smoke. A consistent life above and below, how says the jury?

In its five billion years of existence, add or take a week or two, the Earth, 500 million years ago, became so verdant and peaceful. Then, just 100,000 years ago, a fraction of a blink of the cosmic eye, the plague of modern humans arrived: so destructive, so inconsiderate, so lustful and greedy. And I belong to the species, devouring chopped pieces of chickens, pigs, cows, even rare tigers and lions whose lives are worth more than villages of brutal humanoids. For 60 years I have coasted along with our particular herd, trying not to spend my life in exchange for money, but for something tangible, something that will leave a mark here that says, "I was here (and pogi for life)." Making marks requires loads of talent: to write an excellent book, to sculpt a masterpiece, to paint a vision, to construct a breathtaking edifice, all to bring joy to others. Then others will remember you, if that matters at all. By what you contribute to others will you leave your mark, and become one of the immortals. And most of the immortals, whose names have outlived false gods of many nations, did not even reach 60. Just look at the roll of dead poets and writers, singers and composers, movie stars and Emmy awardees, painters, sportsmen and even chefs.

***

I am trying to unclog my life. I'm surprised that I have 1,418 Facebook friends, of which about only 20 are really part of my life -- relatives, friends more-or-less, and housemates. I love the four dogs in the garage, about 10 cats inside the house, but they don't have Facebook accounts; besides, we are counting humans, not whom I hold dear. I have made five real friends in my life (two have gone before me); it could been more, but time has a way of making people drift apart until they become strangers again. I deleted those friends-turned-strangers from my list, and I still have 1,418 left. I'm more comfortable with collectors, artists, comics and stamp dealers, chess players, bookworms, because we are separated by the anonymity that characterize cyberspace. They have not been classmates remembered or forgotten, colleagues whom you learned had harbored well-kept ill-feelings, girlfriends and lovers whose relationships with me became sour, awkward, tossed to the garbage pail of memories which make us cringe. I should feel lighter (I have deleted Viber accounts too); however, I feel the burden of age.

It is the body that acknowledges the effect of age -- teeth leave their companions, the pee in the bladder takes the long and winding road; the butter, fats and cholesterols we have accumulated through the years harden the arteries to the heart, still faithfully pumping lifeblood despite our abuses. The mind has no clock: think 17, and it retrieves my first kiss and believes the event happened only yesterday. If you deny your parents and friends have passed away, then they are alive, even appearing in unrequisitioned dreams. My mind believes it can make my right hand strum the guitar, bypassing the fact of disability. My brain is a pulpy bulb of low wattage, blinking some useless information I have culled from forgotten sources.

 Colleagues who withheld their anger at me remind me of William Shatner, who played 60's Star Trek Captain Kirk, and was said to be self-centered. He recalled calling a former TV colleague, to keep in touch, and was shocked to hear him say, "But we hated you." 

And how I remember Christopher Reeve, who played the role of Superman, the strongest superhero in the universe, being interviewed on TV by Larry King. This was about 10 years after he fell from a horse he was riding, severing the very fine thread in his spinal cord that controls almost all bodily functions, including breathing. There he was, full of memories when he had mighty powers, when he could carry Lois Lane and fly up to the clouds with her, now showing Larry King the result of massive and costly therapy -- he could now slightly, barely perceptibly, move his forefinger! Behind his wheelchair, hidden from the camera, was the machine that enabled his lungs to breathe for him, and watching him are millions who saw his finger twitch. I though I had it bad, I said to my mind, but look ex-Superman has to be fed by someone else, had to be bathed, had to be cleaned, had to be lifted to bed, and sometimes wake from dreams he was his normal self, to be jolted by the horrible reality of his enervated life, or what's left of it. I did not feel too good about this planet at all. When Reeve died a year later, I felt relieved for the guy. Rest in peace gained for me a deeper meaning. To die is to rest -- last line of Rizal's last poem. How true.