Saturday, July 26, 2008

The House Blessing

He was panting and perspiring heavily unpacking the last of the boxes. They haven't had lunch at already past 2, and Jay was about to collapse from hunger and exhaustion, his arms numb from lifting Tiny's stuffs, a collapsible bed, a standfan, a small cabinet, her travelling bags, her books and clothes placed inside half a dozen boxes.

She handed him a towel and Jay stripped off his shirt to wipe himself. He slumped on the edge of the bed trying to concentrate on the task at hand, making a mental picture of how everything would have to be arranged to save space and make the most of the four-by-five meter room, which is going to be Tiny's home from this day and through the next remaining four months of the review.

"Delivery will arrive in minutes, then we can eat, I know youre strarving", Tiny mumbled almost incomprehensively, her hand covering her nostrils and mouth as she was reaching at some cobwebs on the ceiling with a broom while standing on a monobloc chair. He refused to turn at her direction but from his peripheral vision, Tiny's legs seemed to glow against the filtered light coming from the lampshade, they were smooth, slender and porcelain-white, complementing her full buttocks and slender waist, which would occasionally show accidentally under her hanging shirt as Tiny reaches for the ceiling with the broom. She too was drenched with sweat and Jay wondered what women do to smell so good and even better the more they perspire. Five years in a relationship, this is their first time to be together alone in a room.

"So who's going to use the shower first?" Jay struggled to break the awkward silence.

"I will. Take a rest and wait for delivery". Tiny refused to meet his eye and Jay wondered if she had been trying to read his mind. Women do that all the time. Before he could speak a word, she was already headed for the bathroom, towel slung across her shoulder. The bathroom door has no locks, which reminded him to report it later to the landlady. The door closed gently and then Jay could hear water running from the faucet, followed by successive almost vigorous splashing sounds, and he wondered if Tiny was drowning herself.

Jay remembered his conversation with Tiny's father last Christmas eve. His promise. They would have been married a long time ago but Tiny pleaded to take the bar first. He know how badly she wanted it, and Jay respected her decision and love her more for that. He wouldn't have the heart to stand between Tiny and her greatest dream. He can always wait.

She stepped out of the shower wrapped in the towel, and again, Jay turned away, refusing to even steal a glimpse for even a split second in the corner of his eyes. Inside the bathroom he instinctively reached for the lock that wasn't there, cursing to himself. He was again besieged by visions, and by the sweet scent that wouldn't go away, he started to splash water at himself, in quick desperate succession, and almost viciously; his turn to drown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breaking the Ice

Five days without a blog, I feel terrible.

When I started this blogging thing, the first challenge that presented itself to me was whether I have what it takes to consistently keep the energy level needed to sustain it. I wouldn't want my blog to start with a bang and end with a whimper. Before I made the decision to do this, I did some scouting myself. From random viewing of various sites, I found beautiful, well-organized and intelligent ones, which honestly pricked my self-confidence, but I tried not to get overwhelmed with my creeping insecurity, which almost always seems to be the case whenever I realized that the world is so full of people who are much better writers and immensely more intelligent than myself, actually, to say more intelligent would be putting it mildly. Some are simply freaking geniuses they make me feel like some hopeless moron, which I probably am.

Anyway, what upset me even more so was finding too many neglected and abandoned blogsites. They remind me of the lonely grave that no one cares to visit. The comparison is morbid and I do admit I am exaggerating a little bit but do you get what I mean? All I'm trying to say is that it's going to be really sad and tragic to begin a blog and then walk away from it forever and just let it go to waste like the grave that practically disappeared because someone let the bushes grow. I will never be able to forgive myself for letting that kind of thing happen, if in case it does. No, I won't allow it. My blogsite is never going to be the lonely grave that no one wants to visit.

So I will always keep in mind that if I would allow myself to lay off the computer, or hibernate from all writing activity whenever I feel like it, there is a chance I might get used to it and go on a slump for stretches lasting days or weeks, then months, and before I knew it, I would've given up trying to put something on my site altogether. The temptation to take a break is always there and it's up to us to choose whether to succumb to it or to fight the urge to give up. Given the choice, I would rather prefer to fight. The problem is that sometimes, the heart and the mind are simply not there to let us do the fighting, no matter how hard we try.

So what do you do when faced with such difficulies? Well sometimes, it is important to be able to know where to find the well of our inner strength and draw something from that well, to fill the need to spur us into meaningful action, that is often times the precursor of every accomplishment.

I tried doing that by relying on the fallback provided by personal experience. By visiting places that somewhere back in time made a huge impact to both my conscience and my consciousness, by bringing up the past, to search the particular person, the emotion, or the memory that left an indelible mark, I can at least give myself the fair chance to overcome moments of lack of motivation and desire. In my case, I often translate this into physical activity and take long walks along familiar places in my part of town, as this never fails to agitate that part of myself that knows the value and wouldn't let go of the past, where every moment is kept in reserve, and always available to be revived when the present just wouldn't provide any escape from this feeling of helplessness. A long walk at times can do wonders.

A friend once told me that the nerves of the feet are directly connected all the way up to the brain. Which is why, according to him you just have to keep walking to stimulate within the brain all the necessary creative impulses. I wouldn't go as far as say that this is true or that there is really a scientific explanation to support the idea. However, the long walks have done miracles to my life. They not only provided inspiration but probably saved me from making bad decisions, by cleansing my heart and my head of negative thoughts. I intend to continue walking as often as I can and as far as I can go. Afterall, we'll never know what miracles await us just around the corner.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This Dark Sad Day

Even the sun
Is not immune to loneliness
There are times
When daylight
Is but a faint shade of blue
And a curtain of sadness
Blurs the vision
Of my world

Then I must fight
To hold back the tears

Wherever I go
I am condemned
To spend the day
In a world turned empty
As dusk sets in
Than the sun permits

What makes this day
Paint gray
On the canvas of my life
What makes the wind
Restless and cruel
To the fallen leaves
What makes the earth
Cold and lifeless
As I drag my steps
What makes you say
Goodbye to me
When my heart is pleading
To hold you back

Tell me then
How can I live
Through this
Dark sad day

With my heart dying
A painful death

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who says 1=2? X-eyed Joe!

Not all things that seem ridiculous are meant to ridicule.

Starting this blog with that kind of a disclaimer put me on the defensive but there are things that just had to be said. The labor problem at my place of work is beginning to look enormously serious. It wasn't the first time the employees went on regulated strike but the present situation has a far different feel from the ones that we have witnessed in the past. Before, there were larger, and louder crowds at the picketline. There are also a lot of hecklings and smiling faces, the kind of crowd likely to show up at a friend's birthday bash who can't wait for the bottomless tequila. There is tension in the air but this is easily drowned out by the almost festive atmosphere.

It's a completely different scenario this time around.

The crowd is thinner, the participants glum-faced, and grim. The hecklers and the peanut gallery may have missed the invitation because they are nowhere in sight. What remain are the hardest of the hardcore unionists. The speeches have become more and more acerbic after every passing day, and yesterday, they held a candle light protest, an event that would appear like theatrical posturings or just plain ridiculous in normal times. But given the present state of affairs, is that already the prelude to a burning of the bridges between union and management? Are they playing with fire? Let's hope not.

Much as I respect management's decisions in dealing with the union, and place my absolute trust on the sincerity of their explanation for the denial of the employees demands, I felt there could have been a more sensible way to handle the situation.

For one, you don't put on a brave face and a firm no and then refuse to see eye to eye with the union. You also don't choose your own fan club as the exclusive forum for your self-serving speeches then jump into conclusion that the entire organization had already understood and willingly accepted the point that you were trying to make. And more importantly, you don't pretend to have selective memory-loss because you might lose not only the moral authority to lead, but also the little credibility that you may still have left. And finally, you don't choose your advisers from within your fan club because they will only tell you what you want to hear.

I don't have to pretend to be a lawyer to understand that when two parties come to the bargaining table, do some horse-trading, make offers and counter-offers, cut a deal and seal it with a handshake like honorable men should, the resulting agreement should assume the character of a sacred covenant which both parties must obey and respect and if necessary, to try to defend with their very lives and honor against vicious attacks to its integrity. But right now, management is seeing things differently insisting that we are wrong and they are so damn right. I hope it's just the eye problem thing again.

Hey Joe, how dare you deny that done deal?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Plastic Catastrophe

Who would have thought that going to the marketplace would somewhat awaken the environmentalist in me?

I 've been watching the fish vendor go about her usual chores, making small talk with a young housewife inspecting the fresh herrings, to close a sale without making her eagerness appear too obvious. As soon as a sale is made, she would pick up fish from a heap, put them on the weighing scale, then hurriedly start removing gills, scales and intestines before putting all the cleaned-up fish inside a plastic bag, after that she would tie the handles into a knot then put the whole thing into yet another plastic bag, before handing it over to the customer who would upon payment place the item in yet another bigger plastic bag along with the other items that she bought, each also already contained in separate plastic bags.

By my estimate, one trip to the market by an average customer would have him or her bringing home at least eight to ten plastic bags of various shapes and sizes. And since not all people have the awareness to recycle, the discarded plastic bags would most certainly turn up among the rubbish within minutes after use and by sheer volume creating a monstrosity the inventors of plastic bags could not have imagined for if they did, they would have let us stick to paper bags instead.

The plastic bags were the major contributor to floods during the rainy seasons, the thinning of the ozone lawyer from the indiscriminate burning of plastic and rubber because of polyeurethane released in the air, as well as the poisoning of our rivers and seas. Now, if only those fish vendors knew what they were doing.

Being non-biodegradable, the plastic bags will have a long time to wreak havoc on the environment. We are bound to be outlived by our own dangerous creation. Those plastic bags will be here to stay long after you and I are gone. And because these are light materials, it is amazing how far and wide they can spread to inflict damage. Plastic buried underneath the earth would create gaps in what should be the solid foundations of the ground soil, the effect of which is manifested by the unstable condition of the surface of the earth that it cannot efficiently retrain water but becomes more vulnerable to erosion instead, unable to provide a firm stronghold for the roots of plants and trees.

When carried away by flowing water, plastic bags can produce more serious destruction, the most apparent are the frequent floods, because of tons of plastic bags clogging the drainage. Plastic bags that found their way to the open sea prove even deadlier as they sometimes end up in the bellies of marine animals like dolphins and tortoises. They are mistaken for jellyfish which are part of the natural diet of tortoises and dolphins, but since the digestive tracts of these animals are no match to the plastic bags, the undigested plastic accumulate in the animal's bodies until eventually they die.

In one bizaare incident from the local zoo, one of their long-time residents, a male African giraffe died of asphyxiation and severe malnutrition because of the three kilos of plastic bags lodged on the giraffe's elongated throat. It was found out that plastic bags blown by the wind become entangled atop the branches of trees inside the giraffe's cage which the animal accidentally ate along with its grass, mash and honey diet.

What does this tell us? Well, that not everything that makes our lives easier will prove beneficial to us in the long run especially if we refuse to always look forward to what comes next after we satisfy our present need.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Showbiz Ako Ngayon!"

In the 70's through the 80's there was John and Marsha, until Dolphy the laughing lothario of primetime television became embroiled in scandalous affairs that prompted even the church to question his worth to stand symbolic of the father that we all look up to, and while his fall from grace was later bestowed the forgiveness of a people infected with short-term memory, the death of Nida Blanca prevented all hope of reconciliation for the Puruntong couple in the teevee screens. John did make a television comeback but life, and the ratings were never the same again without Marsha. The '80's saw the tandem of Martin and Pops inherit the mantle albeit in a somewhat different genre, and with a major twist that saw the romantic script being played out in real life, leading to marriage, but ending in annulment.

More than two decades later, the emerging King and Queen of Philippine television are an odd-couple. Kris and Boy will never be an item for the loveteam-hungry fans, and thank God for that because , as everyone knows, only his name makes Boy a boy and nothing else will. Unlike Martin and Pops, or John and Marsha Boy and Kris can never play man and wife. To begin with, Boy was never a man. But together they make for a powerful tandem that could hold the masses in the palm of their hand and influence the way the people think, the food they eat, and who they vote for during the elections.

The confession of Kris, of getting STD from Joey and the quarrel with James Yap over his allegedly having dangerous liaisons with an attendant at Vicky Belo's clinic became national events. Meantime, Boy Abunda in modulated voice would continue to trump up the latest showbiz gossip at The Buzz and people pay attention more intently than they ever would at Sunday's gospel.

We have to understand that showbusiness is not the right place to expect moral sobriety. But at the same time it is quite disappointing to realize how far we have regressed instead of moving forward in our understanding of what entertainment is all about. The glory days of John and Marsha represented what could be considered as a lost period in pop culture in which the televiewers still possessed the sensibilities to appreciate a brilliant interplay of good acting and a good script in the comic portrayal of wholesome family values that espouses the virtues of marriage and parenthood while reinforcing the greater importance of happiness over money.

When John and Marsha faded from the scene, and Martin and Pops took over, entertainment value slowly took precedence over substance but at least we have a tandem that can truly deliver the entertainment that we crave for. They cannot act or become the role model that John and Marsha used to be at one point but Martin and Pops sure as hell can sing.

In contrast, Kris and Boy have little to offer acting-wise or in entertainment value, and even less so in terms of substance. And they don't even fit the image of role models who can at least contribute something to the betterment of society, or the education of the masses. In many ways, they actually represent the opposite. Kris never seemed willing to outgrow the ebullient, if prepubescent tendencies that once upon a time were endearing but not anymore when being flaunted by a woman not far from approaching menopausal stage which is what she is today. As for Boy Abunda, it is a sheer marvel to behold that one with neither the looks nor the talent can find a niche in showbusiness and even get paid millions just like that. Exposing scandalous affairs should not count for talent, but that is all he does. In fact not a few people actually find his antics completely annoying rather than entertaining.

But then again, maybe his limitations are the very attributes that make Boy Abunda appealing to the masses, perhaps by just being himself he is personifying the ambitions of the average joe that even without the looks or the slightest capability to entertain, anyone can hit paydirt by just being at the right place at the right time. Meantime, Boy and Kris, already the multi-millionaires that they are will continue to make more money because we just can't help but to keep watching them.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Mouse That Mugged My Blog

Muggings. They are terrorism in the streets. One day you're all alone walking down the 'hood and somebody sneaks up behind your back and before you know it, you're dead. They make me paranoid. But guess what, I just got mugged right here in my house, right here in my room, right next to my computer, right here, right now and in broad daylight at that. Luckily, it was not the kind that would leave you broke or dead.

I was mugged by a mouse.

Since it's a Sunday today, I decided to begin the day with a blog. I usually do the blogging late at night after a full day's work, when there is peace and quiet and before I hit the sack. But sometimes, the urge to blog, or not to blog, hits you at crazy hours, and when it comes it's almost as irresistable as the call of nature. You just can't shake it off or procrastinate. So, rather than fight the inevitable, I decided what the heck it's a Sunday anyway, so let me blog.

But lo and behold!

My mouse won't work. I bent down to check the connections, the plugs, the cpu, the usb, the ufo, the ilo, the imf, even the milf and you can throw in those Marxist-Leninist cpp-npa-ndf and all that alphabet soup mumbo jumbo, but no problem there. I unplugged the mouse then plugged it again. Still no luck. So I walked away and had my breakfast wandering what timing could be worse. Funny how at some other days, my computer would be working perfectly fine but it's my mind that goes completely out of sync, those were days when I would just slip into a deep creative coma; some sort of complete paralysis of the brain. But this morning, it's my mouse that decided to take the day off on a Sunday.

A lot of questions were running through my head, eating at me while I ate. One of those 'what if' moments.

What if this day was pre-ordained for me to write the all-time greatest blog masterpiece in the history of the whole wide world? You know, the "I Have A Blog" equivalent of Martin Luther King's powerful speech that left the black-bashing establishment of the US of A shaking in its boots? What if what I was meant to write today, only today, and at no other day, would solve the oil crisis, stop the war in Afghanistan, or save the earth from bloody alien invasion?

Anyway, that profound moment ended with a quick trip to the computer shop where I bought a brand new mouse. And then, by the time I was back in my room and in front of the computer, I realized that my mental bank deposit had hit zero-balance once again.

With no creative juices left to squeeze out of me, I was completely useless and unproductive so if only to get something out of this, I just have to have a thing to say about that darn stupid mouse that mugged my blog.

Meantime, my "I Have a Blog" moment and Martin Luther King, will have to wait.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Looking for Lawrence

When I was five years old, my family transferred to another house with a room that was previously used by a man who may have been fond of reading. He left a cache of books on the shelf, maybe he felt that since he had already read them all anyway, there was no reason to bring them along and so he took only the objects he thought he really needed when he moved out, I guess he had too much to carry, so some of the load needed to be cast away. He may have decided the books should go. But I imagine if he really were a book-worm of some sort, the decision would have been a difficult one to make. Because if it were me, I would have a hard time parting with what I have, or at least those books that I really like, for deep sentimental reasons. Some of them I can read over and over a million times and still not get enough.

One particular book caught my attention, an old pocketbook with a potograph of what I thought then was a bloody hammer and a flower on the cover. At five, I couldn't read a single word and I was hoping there are at least some photographs I could tear-up and show-off to the other kids in the neighborhood. It was disappointing to find none. Somehow, I was so intrigued that I made a promise that when I grow up, I'm going to read this book and find out what secrets it held.

That pocketbook stayed untouched in the shelf for almost ten years gathering dust until one day, while searching for something, I had accidentally pulled it off the shelf and remembered a long-forgotten promise. I started reading a few pages and came to discover slowly and magically what could be the equivalent of first love - thanks to the late great Lawrence Sanders and his amazing cult-classic The First Deadly Sin. The suspense-thriller unravels the sick psychotic mind of random killer Daniel Blank, in masterful narration only an especially gifted author can weave. While I had read a few other books before this one by Sanders came along, it was really the one particular novel that led me to discover the joys of reading, and embrace the reading-habit for the rest of my life. After that, I started saving from my schooling allowance to buy the succeeding Sanders novels. Well, some of them were quite okay but in general they were simply disappointing. I guess The First Deadly Sin set the bar too high for the next Sanders novels that followed.

The First Deadly Sin became a best-seller and I imagine many fans of the book demanded a sequel, so quite predictably there came out a Second, a Third, and a Fourth Deadly Sin but none of them came even close to capturing the magic of the First. I understand that it was even made into a movie with a huge cast that included Frank Sinatra on the leading role of the private eye Edward X. Delaney, but again it was a disappointment, since the graying Sinatra was the last person I would expect to portray the brilliant, tough-as-nails detective. I do worship Sinatra, but only when he sings. The film adaptation also strayed from the book's finale but I can live with that since the technology of film-making at that time would not allow recreating the ending on top of Devil's cliff. Nothing Sanders ever did or failed to do after that could dent my respect for what he had accomplished with just one book.

I must have read The First Deadly Sin a second, a third, a fourth and a millionth time until the pages started to deteriorate to show its age. By then, it had paid me already a lot of favors, providing a cure to boredom and lots of inspiration to my youthful imagination - even to the point of improving my social life. By lending it to my friends, I felt that somehow having read the novel elevated our friendship to another level, creating a bond, a connection that would manifest itself in many conversations when we would almost inevitably drift towards Sanders. In fact, one of my friends must have gone crazy over the book that he never returned it to me. Unfortunately, I just cannot find a replacement copy today. I have been searching for some time in all bookstores and even at the dirt-cheap second hand bookshops at the U-belt with no luck. A few years ago, I also read that Lawrence Sanders had passed away. God bless this man. I still hope that someday, I am going to find even an old shopworn copy of the book that made me fulfill the promise of my childhood and rewarded me immensely with the joys of reading. Until then, I'll continue looking for Lawrence.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't Tell a Lawyer

There is a reason why people despise lawyers. Even the bible reserved a passage where the lawyers are mentioned alongside elements of society that are regarded in general, as the scourge of mankind. If he had his way, Shakespeare would rather have all the lawyers executed. But without prejudging them, lawyers are an indispensable social force, providing the important perspective of one learned in the workings of the law to address various problems in all areas of human activity from crime to religion.

Sometimes, society itself is guilty of begrudging the lawyers of the privilege position that they hold in the world order. Being on top of the food chain, they are likened to those in the predatory class that are feared and avoided. Their achievements are looked upon in different ways, and elicit contrasting reactions from an admiration that is shouted from the roofs, to suspicion that is spoken in whispers. The presumption of innocence is not willingly bestowed upon the lawyer by a society so often victimized by a skillful distortion of the law to blur the line between right and wrong. Not that lawyering in itself is inherently evil. It is in fact an honorable profession except that because of the power it wields, and the inherent weakness of men, it can permeate a tempting occasion to corrupt just like what they say of good intentions - that they ironically pave the way to hell.

In a perfect world, lawyers will not have any role to play in the collective well-being of mankind for basically lawyers and the law come to play only when a wrong is perpetrated, and not when things are going straight and smooth. That we seem to have an oversupply of lawyers, and even more impressive volumes of lawsuits paint a clear picture of a world that is not exactly doing well. One wonders, is it because there are too many lawsuits that we have to have too many lawyers, or is it because there are too many lawyers that we have to have too many lawsuits? Or rather, to put it bluntly, does that mean the more lawyers there are, the more troubles we have?

Now, go ahead, tell that to a lawyer!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How I won the lottery (but lost the ticket!)

How many times in our lives have we come to the cusp of golden opportunity only to blow it with some stupid unforgivable mistake? Don't feel bad because you're not alone. I confess I should be an authority on the topic, and one of these days, I just might write a book on how to lose sure-win situations.

Let me tell you an example. One time, right after college, during the height of the hunt for my very first job, I received a telegram (those were the days when advanced communication only existed in James Bond movies) from a printing company in desperate need of a fresh-graduate account executive.

The night before the interview, I couldn't get myself to sleep, as my brain, pumped up by pure adrenaline rush, kept playing a mental picture of what's to happen the following day. I just keep seeing myself breezing past the written examination and eventually passing the interview without a sweat. I was all fired up and raring to break a leg.

Well, I did score well in the written examination (it was indeed a breeze, just as I envisioned it would be the whole night) But just when my premonitions the night before were slowly unfolding into a self-fulfilling prophecy disaster struck without warning. We were sent out for lunch after the written exam, and instructed to return for the interview precisely at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I couldn't help rewarding myself with a heavy meal, afterall, I deserve it for a job well done, or rather, almost done. The problem was, the lack of sleep, combined with the unbelievable stress, and the big meal triggered bombastic rumblings in my stomach.

I wouldn't have to elaborate on the scenes that followed except to say that I might have broken the world record for the fasttest sprint to make it to the nearest rest room where I practically spent the next three hours going in and out of there while my entire digestive tract transformed into a burning armory, blowing up in resounding sporadic explosions. By the time, I was through with the bombardment, everyone has gone home. I had seen my golden opportunity flushed down the toilet bowl.

And what about that day when I fell asleep during a movie and woke up at already past closing time and everyone had gone home, including my date who dumped me after that? Hey, I'm reserving that for another blog.

I am sharing these secrets at great risk of embarrassment because this is how we are constantly reminded that we are only human, and the follies that we make allow us to survive life's cruel jokes with good natured-humor, even when the joke is on us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This Hyphen Thing

Of all the punctuation marks, the humble hyphen holds the most possibilities for multiple interpretation, or at least that's the way it appears to me. It is easy to grasp the finality of the period, or to comprehend the fascinating dilemma of the question mark, or to anticipate the shock and surprise of the exclamation point, the same holds true of the isolationist attitude of the comma and its distant cousins the colon and semi-colon.

The hyphen on the other hand, is a complicated ambiguity bordering on near-mystery, a symbolism replete with contradictions. It is quite possibly the shortest stroke in printed or written text, and yet hyphens exist to connect, not to conclude, and despite the shortness of its length and breadth that could easily be mistaken for a short-lived existence, hyphens do not bring closure or finality to an idea the way the period does, but keeps it hanging instead. Perpetuity is the hallmark of this punctuation mark. Think floating between words. That is exactly the state of being the hyphen finds itself in the realm of the written, a barely visible stroke suspended in space, never to touch ground level.

By way of an analogy, the hyphen represents a transition, the progression of idea from one word to the next. The first word will not be completed without the second, as each of them taken in isolation will never make as much sense as having the two of them together, conjoined like inseparable twins by the tie that binds in order to achieve fullness, and serve their function well.

And further still, to stretch the analogy into metaphor, the hyphen might as well be the embodiment of life itself, the life that we have in its smallness, in its sheer irrelevance against the infinite magnitude of time and space. But though it might be a hyphen among words, this life however is not ended by death or the total abdication of physical existence. Rather, it simply undergoes a gradual transformation into a higher form, a great spiritual state of being which ultimately is our destiny.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Crash Course on Carpooling

I am second week into a carpooling arrangement with a bunch of hardworking people, who became out of necessity, my accidental companions. Sharing a seat when going to work during rush hour is a lesson in tolerance, respect for personal privacy, and a little bit of pretending to be deaf, dumb and blind. Believe it or not, the two people I am squeezed in between during the daily early morning trips have remained complete strangers to me. I don't know yet their names, where they live, where they come from and where exactly they were going to. And because I cannot even bring myself to glance sideways at their profiles, I'm not quite sure I can pick them out in a police lineup.

Not that I am an obnoxious snob or I have completely lost all faculties for civilized interaction. In fact, I am quite anxious to break the ice and get into a conversation for whatever reason or purpose or even just for the sake of having one and I am sure they or at least some of them feel the same way too. I simply have no idea how to do it. For some reason, it seems best to simply shut up and make-believe that the person next to me does not exist.

It amazes me how they have been warm and friendly the first time I was spontaneously invited to join them in the carpool. I just passed by the van, an Asian Utility Vehicle, if we should get technical about it, while it was parked under a tree and the driver stepped down to ask where I was going, and then, the car window rolled down to reveal the smiling faces of the other passengers urging me to come aboard. Personally, I was delighted at the chance to ride in comfort instead of waiting for public transport to take me to work. But as soon as I stepped inside and closed the door behind me, that little cramped space where ten people, eleven including the driver, were patiently enduring a discomforting closeness, suddenly fell into a deep suspended animation.

I am aware that there is some kind of an unwritten rule that people should always keep their distance, no matter if physically doing so is impossible, but this is a situation where people take it to the extreme. We have been very subservient to the rules of courtesy to a remarkable degree. I noticed that if you really needed to speak, then do so in whispers, and without looking in the eye the person you need to be talking too. Never ever sneeze but if you can't help it, press the palm of your hand hard against your mouth, and let off as little air as possible. Stop breathing if you may, bite your lips, pinch your nose hard, or whatever solution that you think will work, just so you can sneeze sound-proof. Now if your problem is flatulence, then, you might as well wish you were dead.

Paying the fare is another tricky part. There is a small plastic tray between the driver's and the front passenger's seats just behind the gear. For some reason, the driver refused to touch the money or acknowledge your offer to hand it over, perhaps avoiding to break this sacred silence. So everyone makes it a point to prepare the exact fare before hand and at the right moment, one reaches for the plastic container to drop the money in there, again, without saying a single word or asking for help. And whenever you place your money, try to make a deliberate effort to show everybody every coin and every bill that you drop into the plastic tray lest you might be suspected of short-changing the driver if the day's collection falls short.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is worth the trouble; if car-pooling comforts like having an airconditioner to bring relief from the heat and not having to transfer vehicles are really worth the sacrifice of trying to demonstrate saintly behavior. Or maybe not. One of these days, I just might skip the car pool, start chasing good old jeepneys again and find out.

I hate to write a love poem

I struggle with themes and verses
rhymes in the minds
and so with the tenses

To say whatever it is I mean
or mean whichever it is I say
so for all that is said
were all that is meant
with my rhyme in time
my heart on my sleeve
and my poetry in motion

For what good is the hyperbole
when now we are parted by a higher wall
and a simile is not worth a smile
when all you could say is
it's tough to put a title on that one

Those hanging verses
keep a secret
that each i seek to keep in harmony
with only a touch of inspired insanity
to set the pen into action

The words you dedicate
are words we can't remember
you with your games
and I with my pains
my dreams, my shame,
they all were a distant world away
if only a poem like this
were music to play
on lyrical lies that once made us
make believe.

I hate love poems.

Welcoming Me!

This blog took a long time coming. The search for an appropriate title alone took quite an eternity. Actually only a day or two. But when you think of the eagerness that you have, the nagging excitement to sit down and finally do it, which is unfairly held back by the problem of when or how to begin with, the wait can be really excruciating. This morning while on the shower, the idea finally came to me like the unexpected rain, to complete my first step to the blog universe.

That every blogger wishes to be unique is a given. Your writing may not be a standout, and perhaps you are not even confident about your ability to sustain it, that's why you choose hiding behind the anonimity of blogs. One that hopefully will have the benefit of a strong name recall. This is why, it really feels good to have a good name to begin with. That alone is already quite an accomplishment when you finally get the title that you feel will most effectively articulate the message you want to say, or the catch-phrase that you want yourself to be associated with.

I see life at least in this world as a short tenure without an extension. A line no longer than the length of a hyphen, that we just have to spend every moment the best way we can.

I am eternally fascinated with life, fleeting as it is. I embrace it with a passion. I wish to be always doing the thing that gives me a sense of purpose and meaning, whether it is a revolutionary advocacy that could possibly change the world, or the completely mundane tasks associated with survival. And if I have the power to do it, I would love to preserve every moment, that familiar sound, the colors and flavors, the emotion, all that I am able to perceive every moment of my life whether consciously or unconsciously.

Because life has thought me that this is important. I have lost my father and I can never ever have him back. All that I have are memories of how he looked like, the sound of his voice, the smell of his sweat when I was a child curled up in his arms, the greasiness of his hair, the texture of his cheeks, the callousness of his palms.

My blog will hopefully provide a keepsake for the precious fleeting moments that were meant to be here and gone in an instant. I have never tried blogging before so I swear to make this my first and last try at becoming a blogger. Who knows, I might manage to summon the energy to keep this going for as long as my mind can regurgitate bits and pieces of experience in this long journey, while my heart beats with pure love for life.

If only since no one will, may I seize the moment to welcome myself!