Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in a nutshell

It's the last day of December 2008. What a year it has been.

Bombing in India, Israel has gone to war with Hamas, the MOA-AD was left hanging, kidnappings in Sulu and Basilan, Obama won the presidential race, financial crisis in the world, oil price hike turning somersaults, etcetera (not necessarily in this order.)

Meanwhile, I started a new job with new colleagues, new work routine, new skills, new stresses, but lots of new satisfactions too. Continued gymming and blogging to exercise body and mind. Pursued filming, photoshopping, and driving. Invested in land and started renovating the house I'm going to move into soon. Was sad to have to let go of more old friends who left for abroad one after another to work or get married. But thank god for new friends to sing with, to dance with, to swim with, to bike with, and to have long sensible talks with. Best of all, I'm happy to have ma and pa who never stop asking are you happy? how was your day?

Have a fabulastic 2009 everyone! :D

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random thoughts for the week

During last week's sessions on mainstreaming cultural integrity and gender equality, I picked up a few interesting thoughts:

1. The government legal system of conflict resolution - i.e. filing a court case - does more harm than good in bringing back the "warring" parties into each other's good graces, so to speak. First off, it's not the accuser and accused who are facing each other - but their lawyers. Second, the point of the whole mitigation is not really to unite the warring parties, but to make sure that the one at fault pays for his/her wrongdoing. 

2. In debating clubs, students develop their argumentation skills. But does winning an argument resolve conflict? This practice of aiming to always come out the most convincing only helps in insisting on the validity of one's own arguments. And then what? The real test lies in being diplomatic, cooling tempers, agreeing to disagree but not getting so wound up about it.

3. Mindanao's not TRIPEOPLE (i.e. lumad, Muslims, and settlers). Rather, Mindanao's more like MULTIPEOPLE. Teduray, Bago-bo, Tausug, Yakan, and so on. There are those who don't want to be called Bangsamoro and not even Muslim. So what do we call them? A speaker suggested: call us by our tribename - Iranun if we are Iranun, Maguindanaon if we are Maguindanaon, (and so on).

4. Take note too that while the Mindanao tribes can be mighty different, there's often only a very thin line of differences between them. Take the Sama and the Badjaos for instance. They look the same, speak the same language, and not all of them follow Islam. So what's the difference? The Badjaos live on houses in the water while the Sama live inland. 

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Don't take me for granted

Love the imagery of this piece by Nino: 

Sometimes I feel you're taking me for granted
leaving me on your table
like a cup of cofee you brewed to perfection
And after I have satisfied you with a sip or two
you'd go back to your papers leaving me cold..

Now another sip you will have,
and with my coldnes you smirk and put me back
Leaving me with the sink to welcome my affection
Then you brew another me,
and because I love you, I am always at your disposal.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Driving Lessons

Every Sunday for three hours I've been going to SM for some driving lessons. Clutch, break, gas. Working clutch, full clutch. Soft break, full break. First gear, second gear, third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear, and reverse. Stopping in low gear, stopping in high gear. Parking the car on the left, on the right. Turning around. I'm learning it all! 

Problem is I get anxious and lose my cool when at intersections. And every time I drive downtown, I get honked at by other drivers even though it's mighty obvious from the sign on my car that I'm still a student driver. No patience. 

In spite of these irritations, I'm enjoying the driving lessons a looot and can't wait to go on road trips to Mati, Camiguin, Siargao, and all those other exotic places in Mindanao. For sure, when Bayani comes in February, there's going to be some serious debates over who gets to borrow papa's car this time. 

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Manny beat Oscar

When Krishna said she wanted Manny to experience losing, I agreed. But then again, Oscar probably has a bigger ego. So on second thought, I wanted Manny to win. Never imagined though that Oscar would go down that easily. (I didn't see the match because of driving lessons but friends and family informed me Manny was fast and Oscar simply couldn't keep up.) At 35, Oscar de la hoya, boxing's Golden Boy, is going to retire - or so I have been informed. But Pacman says he'll box two more times before turning in his gloves for good. 

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "The four-division champion and current WBC lightweight king is expected to earn close to $15 million for this fight, which includes a guaranteed purse -- reportedly $6 million -- and his share of the pay-per-view pie." 

Knowing Manny's penchant for gambling, I wonder whether he's going to be hitting the casinos tonight. I wonder how much he doesn't mind losing there? I wonder how many other women (other than his wife) is he going to flirt with these coming days?

Pardon me for spoiling everybody's ecstasy over Manny's victory but I'd just like to remind everyone to lets please keep him on the boxing ring pedestal. Manny's a boxing hero. (He's not in the league of the real Bayanis of this nation.) But I've got to give Manny credit for his guts - he tried acting, singing, even ran for congress but lost. (Thank God.) I just hope that now that Manny's officially the world's best boxer, he doesn't get it into his head to run for President! Simbako!

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Baby pictures

A hamburger to die for.

Who's got the most sexy body paint?

Please, please, please don't drop me!

I couldn't hold it, so what.

It's been more than one hour but I still haven't fixed it!

When I'm older next year, I'm gonna get my other arm done.

Puppies are not supposed to be eaten raw.

This one's gonna be a ballerina, a gymnast, or an acrobat for sure.

Little baby's still figuring out the difference between them.

At this age, anything tastes good.

See, I can bend back!

It's not nice to be young and cute and overpinched.

Hard, soft, tables, beds. For this sleepy baby, everything's the same.

Baby thinks: Oh God, my bladder's full. I hope he won't drop me for this!

Now just add the water, boil, and voila - delicious baby lobster!

This baby loves her catty pillow.

I'm still learning how to kiss with my mouth closed.

Thank God this brat won't become the next queen of England!

Pissing takes practice. See, no spills!

Baby kisses are the sweetest. Even dirty, smelly piggy is no exemption.

It's never too early to start.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

I got bribed - again!

As the program assistant of the organization I work for, one of my many tasks is helping out with the knowledge products - books, CDs, reports, and so on. I update inventories, proofread, write summaries, work with the layout artist - things like that. Recently I've been busy calling up printing presses and canvassing for prices. This is in preparation for the publication of the Selected Khutba, a compilation of Friday sermons in Islam. (Right now, the writers are still wrapping up the translations from English into Yakan, Tausug, Maguindanaon, and Sama.)

This Tuesday I got a call from Tesoros asking me, "Kamusta na ang inyong ipaprint? Nakadecide na ba mo?" I said not yet we'll probably discuss the quotations next week since I am going to be  joining a three-day facilitative leadership workshop in Marco Polo. The Tesoros guy then told me that the quotation he faxed me still has 10% off. Me: "Oh really? Can you then please then fax me a new quotation and indicate your final price?" He: "Parehas ra ang price pero atong i-hide lang ang 10%. Bale, imoha na na." 

Blatant corruption! 

I didn't know how what to say. I felt a wave of shame - for his daring to bribe me. (It was the same feeling I felt with the ticket guy on the bus.)

But stupid me, all I could retort was: "But that's not right! I'm sorry, pero dili ko corrupt." So lame of me. I should have given him a piece of my mind. 

I should have asked him: Do you hate Gloria? 

If he says NO, then i'd say: It's not surprising, you are just like her. 

If he says YES, then i'd say: Watch out, you are turning into her. 

The next time I get bribed, I'm going to start a debate and won't let go until I've put some shame in the briber's heart.

Food for thought: Tell me, what kind of society will we be if almost everybody thinks there's nothing wrong with accepting bribes like this? 

Answer: We'll be a society that deserves its bad roads, its error-filled textbooks, its incompetent government officials, its stupid teachers... You get the picture.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I got bribed

In the bus on my way to the parish near Bukidnon, the guy in charge of the tickets said i had to pay 100. So i did. The problem was that i had to tell him about 5 times to give me my ticket. Instead he gave me back 20 pesos. 

"What's this for?" I asked. 

"80 nalang," he said. 

Me: "Ah okay, where's my ticket?"   

He looked at me. I looked at him. 

"I need the ticket for reimbursement," I finally explained. 

From the wad of money he was holding, he took out a ticket that had already been stamped and gave that to me. "Thanks," I said but inside I was thinking, "Gabaan ka." 

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Pards, the cool unconventional priest

Spent two days in a parish near Bukidnon and had the most fulfilling filming adventure to date.

Filmed all the animals on the farm - pigs, chickens, geese, goats, and worms. (The worms are kept in a special cage and are fed with all sorts of debris. These are then digested and the excrement used as compost.) When I left kanina, another animal had been added - somebody had dropped off a pregnant cow as a present.

Also got footage of a dead rat that drowned in a tub of rainwater.                                                          

(Last night, the roof was crawling with them. But I slept like I never slept before. That's because for the first time in a long time, there was no electricity and no noisy neighbors for miles around. Just rats. Better that than five radios blaring at the same time.) 

This morning, Pards, the parish priest, Marites, the parish worker, I, and SM and Cutie, hiked for two hours to the parish's other farm-site. The trail we passed crossed seven springs/streams and was full of hoof prints of wildboar.                                                                        

In our trek back to the parish house, I almost stepped on what was a baby cobra hiding its head in the shrubbery.

I also saw two Philippine Eagles and several indigo-colored birds!

The animalscapade was a lot of fun; the plantscapade was as interesting. That's because Pards grows everything organic - passion fruit, carrots, strawberries, celery, rice, sorghum, etcetera. The plants feed on various kinds of foliar fertilizer-concoctions Pards makes from egg shells, banana bark, rice husks, molasses, ashes, and other gooey stuff stocked in barrels in the shed. These are rich in potassium, calcium, nitrogen, etcetera which make the plants grow big healthy and strong. 

To stick to the farm's organic concept, Pards collects the pigs' manure in a tank that's connected to another tank that turns the shit into biogas that's used to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The contraption cost some 100,000 pesos to build but that's small change for a lifetime of free gas. 

Another attraction of the farm is the reservoir where all the springs in the property are collected in a cement box that is connected to a pipe that leads to a pump that uses gravity to keep the water flowing. This contraption cost 11,000 pesos to build but again, that's small change for a lifetime of unlimited water. Pards is now experimenting with a contraption that will utilize the unlimited water to generate electricity. 

In between takes during chats about the Catholic church, I discovered that Pards is quite unconventional. Although he can easily ask his congregation to buy a car for the parish, he has not because he doesn't think a car is necessary. "If I have to transport fruits or vegetables or animals, I just rent a jeepney," Pards says. He points out that living like this suits him fine since he gets to help the owner of the jeepney and there's no need to spend on gasoline or pay for car repairs. Instead of a car, Pards is saving money to buy a weighing scale and more seedlings. 

Living frugally like this is also because Pards has to contend with having to get by with only 3,000 pesos worth of collections every month. That's a stark contrast to many other parishes whose parish priests have made marriages, baptisms, confirmations, and what not, their bread-and-butter so to speak. For these parish priests, collecting a whopping 40,000 pesos a month is normal. 

The catch is that for every mass, 1,000 pesos of the money collected during the "offering," goes to the priest as "honorarium." It's SOP Pards tells me. This is money for the officiating priest to keep and spend in any way he fancies. Perhaps you already know this but the Catholic church has a fixed price list for ALL the services it gives. Even a prayer request for a sick person, a dying person, as well as a prayer request to pass an exam - come with a price. 

Pards wants to change this and not let the survival of the parish depend on money collections. Instead he sells the animals and plants that are grown in the farm and uses that money to buy things for the parish like prayer books, candles, etcetera. Pards has told the community in the area that in his parish, money offerings are not an obligation. 

In other words, kung walay kwarta, puwede pud magoffer ug kamatis, papaya, bugas, and so forth. Kung dili kabayad ang mangunguma ug let's say, 100 pesos for getting her child baptized, walay kaso kung 20 pesos lang ang iyang ihatag. Pero kung wala jud siya'y ikabayad, okay lang gihapon. Kay unsa man intawon ang ikabayad sa pobre? That's typical Pards. His big dream is to help farmers go organic too - not just because it's less expensive but because it's a better, more healthy way of life for humans and the environment.

Mind you, Pards is also only the second priest I know who doesn't think there's anything wrong with women priests. (He even tells this during mass.) And get this: during pre-marriage counseling sessions, he gives the brides-to-be and the husbands-to-be advice on natural family planning and on artificial contraceptives. Pards reasons couples have the right to know both. 

As this blog entry has already become so long, I would just like to wrap up with: I am glad that there are still priests like Pards who walk the talk and are very vocal about things which other priests might just be thinking in private but never really saying out loud for everyone to hear. So refreshing. 

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Happy People Don’t Do - By RONI CARYN RABIN

Note: Chona, my former colleague at Ateneo de Manila Univ. posted this article below in her Facebook. I decided to click on the link and after reading, here I'm posting the article again. To remind myself not to watch TV when I should be doing other more urgent, important things like transcribing the videos i took several weeks ago. TV has made me such a procrastinator. I want to get out of this addiction and live life more purposefully. Devoid of showbiz chismis and all the unnecessary sitcoms which I watch for one hour then forget the next moment anyway. Pining for my pre-TV life. Read on and be inspired like me.

Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

That’s what unhappy people do.

Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.

While most large studies on happiness have focused on the demographic characteristics of happy people — factors like age and marital status — Dr. Robinson and his colleagues tried to identify what activities happy people engage in. The study relied primarily on the responses of 45,000 Americans collected over 35 years by the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, and on published “time diary” studies recording the daily activities of participants.

“We looked at 8 to 10 activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more — visiting others, going to church, all those things — were more happy,” Dr. Robinson said. “TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less.”

But the researchers could not tell whether unhappy people watch more television or whether being glued to the set is what makes people unhappy. “I don’t know that turning off the TV will make you more happy,” Dr. Robinson said.

Still, he said, the data show that people who spend the most time watching television are least happy in the long run.

Since the major predictor of how much time is spent watching television is whether someone works or not, Dr. Robinson added, it’s possible that rising unemployment will lead to more TV time.

(Published: November 19, 2008)

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Nothing can be too serious

This week was pretty intense. Spent 2 whole days just working on the photo exhibit which led me to experiment with elmers glue, mighty bond, double-sided scotch tape (with and without padding), clear liquid glue, masking tape, and even rugby. I used them all. Paper was another preoccupation. Used cartolina paper, illustration board, chip board, art paper and bond paper. Went to the hardware/bookstore 3x for supplies and to the printing shop 3x as well. The drivers were a big help, thank God.

Patience and precision this art work required. I couldn't help wishing for some of Bayani's expertise in knutsellen to magically find their way into my glue-burnt hands. Would have preferred to do the planning and let someone more aesthetically-minded do the executing. But all's good.

The photo exhibit had me calling program officers and managers first to urge them to send me pictures and then call them again for advice on what captions to put. Had to ask stuff like when was the picture taken, where, who are the people in the picture, etcetera. But palpak gihapon. When i arrived in the office yesterday, Mags and Gemma informed me the Mayor of Paglas noticed a discrepancy between one caption and the name of the person in the picture (him). Big mistake.

Had to send out invitations to the media, write a quickie press release, finalize the program for the collaboration signing to be witnessed by our CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) vips. On top of this, the nameplates and the backdrop had to be fixed. Good thing I was able to mobilize the more handy Gajer who solicited Leno's help, who in turn, got the girls to take a break from their finance papers and offer a hand. That's how Leno, Gajer, Margot, Rena, and Grace spent a good hour debating about how to position the native cloths around the letters to be posted on the wall in the conference room. Twas my first time to have my cubicle crowded by so many people while I sat listening to them and typing away, amused at all the effort put into finding the right twist to the native cloths which had to be held up with pins, safety pins, and double-sided scotch tape. Lotsa laughter and teasing and congratulating each other for a job well done. I just love working with Filipinos. For us, nothing can be too serious even during tense moments when there's so much to do in so little time.

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Visiting the origin of Islam in the Philippines

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