Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kikay

Kikay (March 25, 2017)
Paalam, Kikay
By Leena Calso


Ang bilis ng iyong pagpanaw.
Akala ko magsasama pa tayo ng ilang linggo, ilan pang araw.
Handa naman akong pakainin ka, painumin ng gamot, linisan, damayan.
Kanina,'yun na pala ang huli kong pagsuklay at paghimas sa 'yo.
Ang tanging kunswelo ko, di ka na naghirap. Nagwakas na ang iyong paglalayag.
Tahimik na ang gabi. Wala na ang kahol na gumugulantang sa akin para takbuhin ka, alamin ang dahilan ng iyong pag-iingay. Tahimik na rin si Chico na dati ay sumasabay sa iyong pagtahol.
Tahimik din sina Kit at Princess, ang mga naulila mong anak. Bukas kaya ay hahanapin ka?
Marahil alam din nila. Wala na ang kanilang ina.
Nagwawakas ang buhay.
Ako ay umaasa, sa kabilang ibayo, balang araw tayo ay magkikita.
Paalam, Kikay.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Earthly denial

There is no frigging frigate like a book
I used to grouse about how messy human affairs are in this planet, and Leena would tell me to go to another, and I'd say, "If there's really that alternative." When I reached junior age -- you know, the age when oldies with extreme denial refuse to join fellow earthlings who own cards exempting them from paying (1) taxes on maintenance medications, (2) fees on movies, on certain days, (3) for deadly foods in mall eateries -- I learned to relax, the way only Type A (I think I'm triple A) goonies can: no more shouting so the cats in the room don't scurry to the clothes hamper, accepting mistakes without trying to melt the offender with imaginary Cyclops eye, calmly clicking to another channel when Duterte or a representathieve appear. I have mellowed, or I'm melting; either way, it's a way out of stress.

Lately, with movie channels swamped with Harry Potty, Divergent and Percy Whoosis series, there's no alternative truth to be found except in books. (Ok, there's video games, Duterte yakyaks, Trump behest truths, Kardashian reality, but I limit myself to books.) I'm almost done rereading Sagan's book, have seen the Hubble telescope pictures of galaxies billions of years outside our solar systems, pictures which would have astounded Aristotle (who calculated the Sun is 5,000 miles above the Earth, just a little bit off, by about 91,995,000 miles), Copernicus, Galileo, Hershel, Kepler, Newton, Halley, Einstein, Hubell, Hubble, Feynstein. Even Sagan, who died in 1996, would have been impressed by the Eagle Nebula, estimated about 13 billion light-years away -- meaning, it will take 13 billion years at the speed of light to reach that Nebula, which is about 7 light-years high. Which also means that photons (particles of light), to travel that mind-deranging distance, are indestructible. Also, what we have seen happened was 13 billion years ago; by this time, that nebula may have already given birth to unimaginable numbers of stars and planets and has dispersed to a totally different shape.


The frigging Eagle Nebula

One chapter of Sagan's book near the end deals with the inevitable question dealing with creation: What about God? For most scientists and some philosopher, God is not the outsized, Caucasian male with long, white beard micromanaging in his throne somewhere up there the fall of every sparrow's feather. Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein, Sagan points out, "considered God to be essentially the sum total of physical laws which describe the universe." John Lennon was more cynical, "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." They were the tactful ones, compared with Mark Twain's attack on religion in a book he asked to be published years after his death, or the blistering commentaries of Ingersoll, Schoppenhauer, Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Mencken, Ayn Rand, and of course Marx, Engels, and Mao, to name a very few. Anyway, religion should serve as a succor, a brief surcease, from the insanity brought about by humans dealing with other humans. There were knights in ancient crusades who slaughtered people who did not believe in Christ, mainly Muslims. Now it is the Islamic fundamentalists grouping up to destroy Western civilization in the name of Allah. The monstrosity of 9/11 scorched my mind, but now, when I see how the Americans elected an insane gremlin as president, I imagine a sequel to White House Down, wherein the terrorists win for a change. (I'm aware that before Trump, we in this Banana Republic showed the way by electing our own madman. This time a green card offers no asylum.) Headache beckons, so back to space...

Scientists have discovered that the universe is expanding, at a very fast rate, and away from the viewer, all receding from Earth, it seems. I'm very much tempted to offer my Pogiistic wisdom -- If I were a chicken, a pig, a cow, a fish, seeing the proliferation of all those McDonald's, Jollibees, Burger Kings, KFCs and other centers for carnivores, I certainly would escape to the next planet, even if its red color from a distance reminds me of the incessant slaughters here. But Mars up close is coffee-colored rocks, hills, ravines, valleys, mountains and volcanoes -- a Starbucks planet. However, this will be invaded by the technologically adept carnivores soon. Already, plans are being hatched to bring to reality what was in the realm of the science fiction of the 1950s. The technology to take Flash Gordon (or Digong Duterte, if you wish) to the Red Planet is available now; however, the information for the human pioneer to survive the atmosphere of Mars is not. Simplifying a lot, a space buggy from here, at a velocity of 36,000 mph, should take about six months to reach Mars. (If you take the EDSA detour, add at least 10 years to your ETA.)

So there you are, the pebbles of Mars at your feet, the mountains like mounds of Cappuccino awaiting a barista, except there's no other species around, not a mulcting traffic cop, no ugly congressman or similar thieves, no bird singing, not even a worm for fishbait or fertilizer to nonexistent flowers. What to do? Return, of course, and appreciate the human noise and sweat, the pretensions high or low, motives malign or benign; mix right in, carry in your belly shredded meat (legs by which chickens used to strut with, goose liver, scorched skin of pig whose agonized face you ignore, belly of mother tuna whose kids died of starvation), wear skins of cute and fattened and slaughtered minks or ermines to keep you warm, entrust your hard-earned money to politicians you loathe. Or just shut up and read -- There is no frigging frigate like a book.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Like kita c",)


Na-unfriend ka dahil di mo gusto si DU30? DE5? Leni?

Nakikita ba nila yung mga "Likes" mo para sa kanila? May bigat ba yung pagsang-ayon mo o hindi sa ejk, death penalty, sovereignty? FYI: Hindi sila nagbibilang ng Thumbs-up o 😡 kung may oras man silang mag-FB.

Mas matimbang yung likes ko sa post mong puro prayers, dahil kahit hindi ako nagsisimba ay ayos ka pa rin sa akin (at ako naman ay parang krus na pasan ng Friends file mo). Hindi kita ipagpapalit sa sampong Duterte o Pacquiao o Lacson. Pero baka kay Leni (napansin din ni Digong ang legs niya ha)... *Jokes!*

Einiwei, kung happy ka kay Trump, kahit na kay Kim Jong Un, okay na rin ako. Ang natatandaan ko lang, nung nasa ilalim ako ng gulong ng buhay ay nandoon ka at umalalay sa akin. Isang "Like" lang ang bilang ko, pero higit pa sa libo-libong likes na ibinibigay mo sa kanila.


Say sorry, Leni

Leni: Victim of incompetence

With deep dismay, I have to agree that the vice president's speech to the UN contains an inaccuracy that betrays more than shoddy performance by her speechwriter and researchers in her staff. True, more than 7,200 men, women and children have been killed in Duterte's war on drugs, but not all are EJKs, although more than half of those killed are Deaths Under Investigations. It would have been more correct to say that MAYBE more were killed by vigilantes than by police, AFP men, and NBI agents combined.

A more important point here is that her international proclamation, hitting the president (no matter how Hitleric) and the police (even if saturated with rogues and murderers), should not have carried such an error that it undermined Leni's credibility. That she delivered that damned message shows that she was careless with her facts, or she allowed incompetent staffers to handle important affairs under her watch: Either way, she has shown a portentous tendency towards the apathy and bureaucratic system that led the disgusted voters to spit at the imbecile Noynoy Aquino and his plundering LP partymates. A big portion of Duterte's 16 million votes is a protest against the way Aquino and his thieving cohorts had mishandled their tasks. And, now, Leni is showing signs of LP jaundice.

I'm asking -- still trying to hang on in my belief in Leni's capability -- if she did not question the figure of EJKs while rehearsing her speech. "Is not this wrong?" she could have asked. "Surely not all of the deaths are by vigilantes, drug dealers, and hired killer-cops? Wala bang legitimate operations?" But her speech, aired worldwide, indicates that she did not. Not one in her staff pointed out the error. Or exerted some efforts to check the veracity of PNP's alleged palit-ulo system. 

After that, the descent to suspicion follows: She is not really aware of what's happening to this country? She doesn't know. She doesn't care! And we descend deeper: Maybe she did not do so well at the Housing post to which Duterte had appointed her? And the beginning of a halo above Duterte's head conceals his horns: The president would not sacrifice the housing of thousands of poor citizens just to play politics against Leni, would he? Maybe he just used Leni's criticism of him as a pretext to remove her from his Cabinet. A graceful exit for her, and he sustains more ego-bruises.

But that's my bottomline on Leni (and hallucination on Duterte's gentle nature). I will not -- yet -- believe that Leni Robredo is not a decent woman, one who will act against Duterte mainly to replace him as president. I will not put Bongbong beyond such act, but Leny should be above such manipulations; if not, I'll seek succor in the fetal position while hell comes crashing through. 

Leni's mistake is not an impeachable offense, even if lackey Alvarez of Congress and puppet Pimentel of the Senate are amenable to poo in their own legislative turfs. Duterte has proved that a madman intent on his course can drag along supposedly honorable critters in his wake of destruction. A suicidal Hitler taking along as many as he can.

The vice president must own up to her mistake, and must resolve to be accurate in her pronouncements in the future -- and must not be like the president she criticizes. She has earned Senator's Lacson's pique; more seriously, she has lost his respect, and of those who wish her well.

She must apologize for misleading the United Nations and millions of people worldwide about the figures of death and their causes -- to retain the respect that she could, to obviate the suspicion to her possible motive, to show Filipinos that there's decency somewhere in this country.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Our kite

Photo credit to online owner
The Philippines is like a kite snagged on a tree, unable to soar beyond its third-world sky, because of a few ambitious and virulent politicians. The anti Leni fake news on Facebook (and I'm guessing there's more on Twitter and Viber) have started proliferating; one of the culprits is "Thinking Minds" -- obviously a Marcos spawn which is pushing the lie that the vice president's late husband had a mistress and a child or more outside their marriage. A more malicious (but moronic) group has gone to the extent of claiming that Jesse Robredo had no less than 12 mistresses. If that's true I'm beginning to admire the man's prowess and ability to juggle his time to accommodate the lovely tootsies. But more likely the extra dozen is a dumb overkill of an overzealous Marcos-Duterte loyalist.

The appearance of the trolls' claims, however, should disturb the citizens: the program is groundwork for Leni's ouster. That means some of the SC justices -- enough of them to put a Marcos back in the executive branch -- have already safely hidden their huge bribes in bank accounts abroad and are ready to make public their decision, after a zarzuela hearing to make it credible for the misguided citizens.
I thought that last year, when Duterte was spiking rumors about his bad health, the SC would take Leni down, but some big events -- like the murder of Mayor Espinosa in prison and the Matobato Senate hearing-- made it dangerous for short-tempered Pinoys to accept one more national anomaly. (The politicians still remember that Dancing Queen Tessie Aquino Oreta's taunting the crowd over the unopened envelope quickly led to EDSA 2 and the ouster of President Estrada in 2001. Oreta, Tito Sotto, Miriam Defensor and other Estrada supporters were not reelected in the next election.)

In the last election campaign my admiration for Duterte was at its peak, because he showed that Poe is comparatively weak (Roxas and Binay are corrupt in different ways, although Roxas does not realize that simple fact), Defensor was a front and vote-getter for Bongbong, who, with his family, had really hoped and financed Duterte to win. Down to earth, blabbing honesty out to reporters (about throwing drug lords or notorious criminals out of a helicopter, about his aim to decimate the drug dealers, etc.), Duterte made me think, "This is the man who will and can do the reforms." I applauded when he warned the telcos to speed up our wifis and bring down the cost to the levels of our Asian neighbors or he would bring in foreign players. I also cheered when he noted that electricity in this country is the most expensive in the region, and expected him to throw MVPangilinan behind bars. He would solve the traffic problem, although the solution needs time, the smuggling at Customs should stop blah bleh blah.

But Duterte, it turned out, could also keep his mouth shut on crucial matters -- at least until he won the presidency convincingly. Then he revealed that the Marcoses had been rooting for him all along, that Imee Marcos even contributed to his campaign fund. Also, he loved the Marcoses so much that the country came second: he did not give Leni a Cabinet post because, Duterte said on live TV, he did not want to hurt the feelings of Bongbong. After some pressure (and, certainly, permission from Bongbong and family) he appointed Leni to take charge of housing the indigents; she did well, but she spoke out against the Dictator Marcos' sudden burial and was rudely kicked out. The Supreme Court, or the enriched members, had decided to grant the Marcoses' and Dutertes' wish. Duterte has been hinting he will not finish his term. I think he's just waiting for the ascension of Bongbong so he can step down, due to ill health -- mentally, I guess.

Media people realized that the SC decision to allow Marcos' burial was anomalous because the SC decision was already known two days before the justices sat down en banc and "voted." We were not surprised that on the morning of the decision Imee, down from Ilocos Norte, was at Padre Faura with paid supporters carrying placards and banners of support. The supporters said they had gathered spontaneously when they heard the news. I assume that many of them were capable, almost instantly, of making well-designed banners and placards with neat slogans neatly lettered as if by professionals.

The same members of the SC who always voted according to the sway of their bank accounts are expected to decide to oust Leni. Or they have already decided, and are waiting for the right time to meet en banc (should be "in bank", really), dragging along to opposing members to make the sideshow credible. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first to jump with joy that there's hope for this ill-starred nation of servants with diplomas. This Supreme Court, with a bit of variation, is the court that changed its decision, after ten years of having been carried out, that Hubert Webb and his cohorts, all serving time for homicide then, did not really rape and kill Lauro Vizconde's wife Estrellita (13 stab wounds), 18-year-old daughter Carmela (13 stab wounds), and six-year-old Jennifer (19 stab wounds). News leaked out that the reversal occurred after Estelito Mendoza wrote a letter to some SC justices. Estelito, still alive, served as Ferdinand Marcos' Solicitor General during Martial Law. It is said that Estelito remains potent due to his enduring contacts with judges in the Appeals Courts and the SC. Did he fix the Marcos burial? Is he fixing Leni's ouster?

I have been thinking, Why are the Duterte supporters such rabid fanatics, even after the malignant revelations about him? I can understand the paid online trolls, even the bribe-loving judges, but I'm confused by regular citizens that are deliberately averting their sights on the killings of young boys and girls in Duterte's war on drugs. Religious Filipinos disavowing the sixth commandment for an insane president, who calmly declared that the innocents were collateral damages? Life is so bad for some that they are hoping for a reshuffle of the bad cards fate had allotted them, and the rest can go to hell. That's the miseducated Filipino, heavy with the crab mentality that drags the country down when it moves up towards progress. It's fitting that the antonym of progress in this country is congress.

I have planned to be quiet about politics this year, but events prod me. In this Year of the Hen, I will keep in mind what I have learned about the victims of violent crimes when I was astill a newsman: the young chicks placed on top of the casket of a murder victim are expected to peck at the grains of rice there, each peck supposed to pinch the perpetrators' conscience, if any at all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Noli 2017


Found this book while searching for another; dropped the search and started to read this Filipino version by Virgilio Almario. Now I know why I found it so easy in high school: we had skipped many tedious chapters, mostly about religious and philosophical digressions, and pedantic quotes going back to Roman orators and classical writers. Now, although my interest remains strong, I just wish I don't find it too hard going through narrations of tepid protagonists and wilting young ladies manipulated by murderous priests and ugly harridans. After a chapter or two I have to put the book down for a while, to stop my head whirling through 130 years of events. Rizal finished writing this novel at 11:30 p.m. of 1886 February 21. I put down a modern, translated copy for a while, and Silver uses it as a pillow. My rest is extended.

Tentatively titled "Sampagas," 2000 copies came off the press on March 29, giving this country the most famous Latin phrase ever: Noli Me Tangere. He gave the first bound copy to his friend, Maximo Viola, who defrayed the P300 needed to publish Rizal's first novel. A sequel would follow a few years later, after his family, along with other tenant-farmers, was evicted from Calamba. He did not get the chance to finish a third book he had started because he was executed 10 years, six months, seven hours and 34 minutes after the Noli was born.

Noli Me Tangere was derived from John 20:17, wherein Christ, just resurrected, told Mary Magdalene, who was searching for him and found his tomb empty, "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father..." Almario's version, like most modern translations, resurrected the "missing chapter" in Rizal's original, Spanish edition. Lacking fund in 1886, Rizal decided to omit what would have been Chapter 25, which introduced Salome, the woman the fugitive Elias loved. Salome lived alone in a hut in a remote corner of the forest, always pining and hoping that her man would return to her safely. It was not be, just as Juan Crisostomo would lose Maria Clara, just as Rizal lost Leonor, just as the Filipinos would lose their revolutions and, up to now, would be searching for leaders in high office who would not betray them. Until then we search for the touchstone of salvation.



What Rizal saw


Friday, February 24, 2017

Ding 2012-2017

Ding (August 2012-22 February 2017)

In 2012 there still stood across the end of our short street a jackfruit tree, under which garbage were heaped for collectors to pick up. That's also where newborn kittens were thrown, their cries for hunger and warmth unheeded by commuters waiting for rides to work. One August morning, just after habagat Gener, the non-typhoon which was almost as destructive as Ondoy, Leena heard such piercing cries emanating from one wet skin-and-bones creature in the trash pile, awaiting the garbage crew or sometime crawling out, to be crushed by the wheels of sporting jeepney drivers. Calling home, Leena asked Neneng to get the kitten and see what can be done. That was how Ding joined our family of many pets -- four dogs, a big aquarium full of fishes, one bird in a cage, and several Ragdolls, friendly Maine Coon Cordell, three Belgians, Persian MauMau, British Shorthair Ruby and kitten Silver, and uncountable rescue cats, strays and occasional visitors to our dirty kitchen, where food is always available for all.

Neneng wrapped the thin, wet and hungry kitten in a cloth to stop her shivering. The strong rain must have prevented the garbage crew from coming and throwing the cat into oblivion. We did not want to think how many days and nights the kitten was soaked, wailing in the night, and if he had siblings whose strength and cries were slowly muffled and finally silenced, their arrival unrecorded. Neneng took one of the small feeding bottles in the kitchen, filled it with lukewarm water and milk, and cradled the kitten while it eagerly sucked the lifegiving nourishment. We wondered, briefly, if the mother cat survived the strong monsoon rains; we let the thought pass: we can only do so much.

The naming ritual followed. Neneng usually took the convenient way of naming the rescued kittens by the months they joined the family, so we have April (female), May or Mimi, JunJun, July, Steve (for September). But that August the big event was the big monsoon rain that hit Luzon, so the new kid became Gener; but Melay remarked that Gener was sort of baduy, so the name was adjusted to Ding. By the manner the ginger-and-white kitten emptied the bottle, Ding apparently was at the point of starvation, shown by the the ribs sticking out of his frail body. Becoming a surrogate mother to a kitten is arduous: it entails bringing the baby bottle to the kitten every two hours, including getting up several times at night, until the day the little one can eat solid food. After a few weeks Ding's flesh rounded out; at night he nestled on Neneng's neck for warmth and blissful sleep. 

Kittens, or any other creatures for that matter, are good-natured and trusting at birth; their environment later would determine if they remain so. A cat, or a boy child, growing up in the street, fighting others for scraps of food, would become tough, sneaky, fleet, defensive and mistrustful. Theft becomes a mode of survival; so does the ability to dodge rocks aimed at them, to escape from boys, armed with pipes or slingshots, hunting them for fun. Cats have earned the undeserved reputation of being scratchers, but streetkids have the same disposition -- always ready for flight and, if necessary, for a fight with whatever weapon is at hand: an improvised knife (instead of claws), teeth, and agility to hit and run. Cats who grew up with people who invariably treated tham gently, gave them treats, delighted them with strokes and tickled their chins have learned to trust people, expecting the same treatments from visitors. And, as children do, they play a lot, unconcerned with breed, color of skin, gender or family background. Grownup humans have a lot to learn from children and other creatures we share this Earth with. Play consists of running, skipping, jumping, hiding, wrestling, light bites, playful exchange of punches -- all over the house. Since we started having cats, all vases, bottles and anything they can topple and break have become just memories. Our unfulfilled wish is that none in our menagerie becomes a memory.


Ding and Jango playing tag 2012

As the days and years passed, Ding learned to roam with the other foundlings and strays throughout the neighborhood, coming home to eat for a while then jumping on the fence and did whatever cats do all afternoon. When the sun went down Neneng would go to the dirty kitchen and call the cats home -- Ding! JunJun! Pogi! Bai! Steve! Lord! Bas! (named after Leena's editor colleague). And the tin roofs all around would rumble with running feet headed for home. By the time the moon glowed big and silver, the cats settled in their appointed niche and slumbered while we humans read or watched TV. Early next morning Ding would softly stroll on the edge of the wall separating our house and the neighbor's and off he would go, scouring our neighborhood which cats know more than human residents do. 

Three weeks ago, Ding did not respond to Neneng's call, a deviation from routine, which puzzled her. Neneng searched for him next day, calling his name. Ding appeared, slipping under our neighbor's gate. He seemed all right -- no sign of injury, no limp, body sleek and clean. Neneng offered him food; she became slightly worried when Ding scarcely touched the kibbles and barely lapped the water in the bowl. The following day, when Ding stopped partaking food nor water, Neneng reported the problem to Leena. After having gone through many cases involving cats, Leena easily recognized trouble and immediately brought Ding to Animal House in Cubao. After examining Ding, the doctor confined him to bed, where an IV tube was inserted in Ding's vein so liquid food would sustain him. A catheter enabled Ding to expel the urine which his damaged kidney could no longer do. After four days the doctor gently told Leena that it would be better if she took Ding home; meaning, the doctor cannot operate on Ding because the cat, in his weakened state, would not survive the procedure. Ease Ding through his remaining days. And Ding returned home. Neneng and Manilyn together, thrice a day for three weeks more or less, forced him to take his hydrite and antibiotic with his food. It is relected on each of our pet's gentle and trusting nature the affection, patience, and care with which Neneng, Marilyn, Leena, and me (in my limited capacity) were able to extend to all. We all adjusted.

Leena and Ding
We were supposed to celebrate Manilyn's birthday on February 22; however, it's Neneng recollection of that day that remains vivid. "Parang hinintay lang ako ni Ding nung umaga," Neneng said. "Paglapit ko tumayo siya at nag-meow nang mahina at naupo siya. Tapos tumayo uli, pero maya-maya ay natumba na, at habol-hinga siya hanggang wala na." Neneng cried when she recalled the loss of her pet, her ward, her child. Ding was buried under the mango tree, where he keeps company with Rex, the Chow Chow patriarch, and so many kittens mourned and loved. 

Here then is the record of Ding's short life, cushioned by food and play and some comfort, filled with Neneng's love and devotion. The earth abides. So do we.

Ding at food bowl: all grown up


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Small things


It's an x-shaped kibble, one of hundreds in a small bag of cat food, except that this particular one was seen being carried away by a cockroach from the food bowl. Hefting the comparatively heavy loot, the insect was quite agile, its six legs deftly scurrying on its escape route on the floor, while the mouth maintained its captivity of the prize.

I'm guessing that the thieving cockroach, in spite of its designation, is a female, violating its nocturnal nature to search for food for the little cockies that have recently emerged from their eggshells. And she has stumbled upon a small mountain of delectable treats heaped on a stainless bowl. Then she snatched one x, skittered down, and ran its erratic course.

Big Boy, a Ragdoll-Shorthair mixed breed, stopped licking his feet when his ears picked up pitter-pattter of small feet, his eyes followed the imaginary dotted line which was quickly lengthening away from his food bowl. He pounced, but the fur kept his paw from reaching the maverick mom, whose path had suddenly become wobbly and tottering. Still, at the risk of life and limb, she struggled to keep her loot. Only after several near-misses did she ditch the kibble and wedged herself into a crack in the closet.

One may ask, how do you determine the gender of a cockroach? And, does it not seem incongruous to give a female such a name as cockroach? After all, have not the Post Office mended its sexist attitude and, beginning in 2005 and as seen this year of our Lord 2017, revised the Year of the Cock to focus on the delicate Rooster instead. In this enlightened time, it does not matter if the rooster is tough meat or gay as a hen: a fowl with any other name, well, he has a nom de plume. And, for that matter, how do you think a male ladybug would feel if it understood human words? A male species of Dalagang Bukid should be afforded an extenuating excuse if once in a while it ran amuck under the sea bed.

As to the question of gender determination, Sherlock Holmes had observed that any species unencumbered by offspring to feed, will gallivant for days, eating where it finds itself hungry, and leaving leftovers behind. And that cockcroach mom, the one who got away from the cat, was not eating the food she had hijacked: she had intended to bring it to the her little ones. But Big Boy intervened, and a family went hungry for the day, like hundreds of thousands of human family.

That despairing cockroach mom is, as a US dollar will remark, "E pluribus unum" -- Out of many, one. I used to take umbrage at the fact that George Washington should be assigned to the lowest denomination of the currency of a nation that was once great but is now occupied by babbling idiots led by one Donald Trump. Same thing with Rizal, who used to reside in the one peso banknote, until that paper money was done away with, in favor of a coin which kept getting tinny and tiny with every passing generation. Then I learned that common sense is counter-intuitive: What seems bad is really good, if people can only hurdle over their -- what's that alternative term for human nature? -- moronic notions. One dollar or one peso is the lowest denomination, therefore it is the denomination most people can afford, therefore it is the most familiar currency at hand. Go lower or higher and the people behind those currencies get harder to know. One centavo, when it existed in the 1970s (or was it 1980s?), was Tandang Sora, made of material that made it float on water. Then was it Lapu-Lapu on the tiny square coin? Name the three people in the P1,000 bill, and even if you get the names right you most probably doesn't know why they are there. And even if you do, so what? This is about kibbles and roaches (and Big Boy); Quijano de Manila's "Small Beers"; Hawking's Big Bang, which requires you to understand microscopic units so that you may understand the existence of huge nebulae billions of light-years high, and as far; and e.e. cummings' poem about someone with small hands, which nobody, not even the rain, can have. I just hope Cummings meant that that someone was a woman. I dropped all of Shakespeare's sonnets after I read somewhere that they were all written with another man in his mind. Somehow my small mind cannot accommodate the huge talent behind those universal verses anymore. Henceforth I confine myself to x-rated kibbles.

Big Boy, the cockroach-chaser

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Remembering father



Bought this at a Book Sale branch for the stupefying price of P35, cheaper than a pack of Poland hopia. Here I learned that the Japanese invasion of China was much earlier than I thought, which explains my father's immigration to the Philippines, and my subsequent appearance in this world. If not for the beastly Japanese colonizers and murderers, I and my siblings would not be here at all?

David Kwan's description of events in a vicious time, in a country controlled by the corrupt General Chiang Kai Shek, might explain why those who had fled preferred the rebel Mao Tse Tung. In 1975, Mao's chubby visage in large posters proliferated in Chinese book stores in Binondo, shortly after Marcos initiated diplomatic ties with the Red republic. I was then studying in Chiang Kai Shek High School, and learning from Barbara Tuchman's "Stilwell and the American Experience in China" how the general and his profligate wife pocketed millions of American dollars, sent for the purpose of defeating the communist rebels and maintaining Chiang's unwieldy but amenable regime. Much later, Marcos and Imelda would outstrip the Chiang couple in stealing American dollars. It was truly an educational time: There were treasures everywhere!

Maybe the old people who could have appreciated Kwan's narrative are already gone, and the new generation doesn't have the capacity to relate to a time blown to dust, leaving such a book to me, a leaf wobbling in the wind. One thing not to be forgotten was my father's gentle disposition with animals: We always had a lot of dogs and, in hindsight, they were part of the family setting. What my brother, sisters and I never saw was the cow which had been my father's companion, helper and friend way back in a peasant's farm in China. Maybe there was barely anything good to recall in my father's youth, so there was no story of his days in China; but one distinct fact was impressed upon me early on -- my father never ate beef.

Is this about me and my father? Perhaps. Because David Kwan's book is mainly about him and his father, in a backdrop harsh but distant now. And for P35, it can be about any boy remembering his father.


In happier times in Angeles City, father with one of the dogs, and fresh paint






Monday, January 23, 2017

Jojo

Jojo, September 2016
Saan ka man ngayon, harinawa'y naghahabi ka pa rin ng mga nakakaaliw na mga kuwento tungkol sa iyong girlfriend forever, tungkol sa kagitingan mo bilang hari ng tahanan (Alas siyempre ang gff) -- malikhaing kusinero, dalubhasa sa paghiwalay ng puti sa may kulay na lalabhan, masigasig sa pagpalit ng diaper nang sanggol: kaibigang tunay ng rice cooker at washing machine (o kalan man at batya) at magiliw na lolo sa apong kasalo sa mga laruan.

Sa Gibson na gawa ng Lumanog o mas abang pinsan na gitara, di man plakado ang mga chords mo sa Beatles hanep naman ang hataw mo sa lyrics. Hamak na mas bata tayo nung mula sa kulo ng utak ay napipiga ang anu-anong kathang-isip na naging laman ng People's Tonight. Di ba masaya tayo kahit hindi bottomless ang ating suweldo? Itinatabig ng pagkalulong sa paglikha ng hugot-lines at kuwentong kenkoy ang katotohanang lagi tayong sawi sa pera. Paglipas ng dalawampung taon makita kang naghahabi sa FB ng ilang vignette tungkol kay Nette, si girlfriend forever, kumander ng iyong puso. Panday ka pa rin ng mga nakakatuwa at kakatwang salaysay. Higit sa lahat, ipinakita mong masaya at marangal ang buhay hangga't alam mong kalikutin ang mga alphabets at maghasik ng katatawanan, palitan ang lyrics ng isang awit para maisingit mo ang initials ng pangalan ng lovey-dovey mo, at ipaalam sa amin ni pareng Abner na naiintindihan mo ang pagsubok na ginagapang ng mga naglalakas-loob magsulat.

Nauna ka lang sa amin, at magkita tayong muli. Harinawa.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Marcus!


2017 bewilders me. After searching YouTube in vain last month to watch About a Boy, here it is now in HBO, undistorted and unsegmented, the story of the boy after whom this photogenic tyke, my grandson, is named -- Marcus. The movie was first released in 2002, and what chance is there of HBO choosing to run it after more than 14 years, just as I take a break from my task this afternoon? Sometimes it's no use getting deeper into circumstances beyond my ken: So I just sit back and partake of what this crazy and wonderful existence bestows in blessing. Thank you.

Silver: Loveable Sleepyhead


Sometimes I do not plan to write anything at all, or I want to write but I don't have anything interesting at hand, so I read instead. Then I have to answer a phone call and I put the book face down so as not to lose my place. After the conversation I go back and I find Silver asleep, my book her cozy pillow. This time my iPad is not under the book, so I take this picture, and write this down. The only sound in the room is the click of the keyboard for each letter and punctuation I tap as I record this quiet moment, and the soft hum of the electric fan.

I have figured out that I can read any other time and I'd rather have Silver near me, asleep on my book, or perched on my stomach. We have known each other since she was a wee, undersized kitten, born prematurely, smaller than my hand. She's a mixed breed, but I'll lean on her love, loyalty and gratefulness than trust the majority of my own species. That's one of the hard truths I got from reading books. True love and peace of mind, I get from cats like Silver.


Wee Silver