Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer,
With never a thought of sorrow;
The old goes out, but the glad young year
Comes merrily in tomorrow.

Time flies, doesn’t it? It seems like it was just yesterday that we greeted a new millennium.

I hope you had a great Christmas and are ready and raring for battle in 2009.

I say battle because we all know it is going to be another tough year, in some instances, we may need to battle to survive.

However, let us always be filled wih hope. So raise your glass and lets toast the New Year.

May all of us experience the kindness in life, while being surprise with many moments of great joy through 2009!


Monday, December 29, 2008

It all start with laughter.

Still on the topic about my boys – they aren’t good looking. They don’t have the penetrating eyes, porcelain white teeth, and sun-kissed skin. They don’t even have the expertise to color coordinate their belts with their shoes, and they don’t have rock-hard abs that could crush chestnuts. But, they got sense of humor!

No wonder they bag girls who aren’t just beautiful and smart, but their girlfriends also come from good families.

I have read somewhere that single girls believe that they are most likely to fall in love with someone who makes them laugh. In fact, it is sense of humor that women cited as the No. 1 romantically attractive trait.

Now I know that God is just.

Of course I am happy that they get the girls they want, and maybe the answer to this groin-kicking phenomenon lies in the knowledge that my kids learned to activate or trigger the increase of their gilrfriend’s serotonin levels, serotonin being the brain chemical that put women in a light mood.

But the challenge then for my kids after breaking in the initial bouts of laughter, is to sustain the comedy.

As I said previously, times have changed. The girls of today desire to find boys who could increase her lineage intelligence level instead of having kids who will spend his days running into walls while picking his nose. And one indication that a man was moving up in the evolutionary ladder was his sense of humor as this indicates creative ability, which is also perceived as a sign of intelligence. For example: Boys who would scratch their butts then eat with their hands were not humorous. But boys who made fun of boys who scratched their butts then ate with their hands were humorous.

If some moron had resorted to a trite pick up line like “ Nice shoes, wanna have sex?”, then my son would probably showcase his creativity with line like “ Nice shoes. Do you want to have smart kids?”

Oh damn, I don’t want to be a grandmother yet. Maybe I should lock them up till the vacation is over.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A boy's fear, no more?

I am still on vacation, but I was never been out of the house since the holiday started. Ok, I did go out once, but only to go to the office because a client was so insistent that she couldn’t wait till Monday to pick-up her product.

My sons though were having a blast going out with their girlfriends’ families. Oh yes, they are cozy with their girlfriends parent! My eldest son even had to sleep over at the girl’s house because her dad insist he stay for the night since it’s already late and he is concern that he may have difficulty finding a ride home.

Indeed, times have changed. Gone are the days when boys used to fear meeting their girlfriend’s parent or maybe my son just passed the dad’s scrutinizing eyes. Yaay!

Wait, did she show my son’s Friendster account to them which boast of glowing testimonials that my son painstakingly paid his friends for? Did my son also bribe her best friend to tell her parents what a decent guy he is?

Why do men fear meeting their girlfriend’s parent for the first time? Is this fear merely irrational? I have heard of some men whose testicle retracted to the pit of their stomach when they first meet their girlfriend’s parents.

You know, similar to circumcision, a requirement to Filipino courtship is the man’s responsibility to win not only the affection of his girlfriend, but also the affection of her parents, her brother who is twice his size and would like to eat him for protein, his other brother who had given him disturbing looks whenever he comes visiting, her sister and in-laws who are living in the States and will come home for Christmas, her grandma and grandpa, her surviving great grandfather on her mother side, her uncles and aunties, her 4th degree cousins, her mischievous god children who always ask him present, her 2nd cousin’s stepmom, her mom’s best friend who had been like a mother to her, her 5th cousin’s stepsister’s estranged and twice removed half brother, and, of course her dog.

Well the reason behind all this is that Filipina women value the relationship they have with their families and respect the opinions of their family members, their extended family and their domesticated animals regarding their boyfriends.

Me? Oh I am easy to win over. I won’t give any girl a hard time especially after she passed the first set of the lie-detector test.

Temperature check…yes, I still have the flu. Sorry!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So here's the deal...

Christmas is over.

The frenzy had finally died down. No more horrendous traffic and most of all, no kids coming to my door singing “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” every 3-minute intervals.

Those goody bags I have prepared to last till the 25th was two days short because I was not clever enough to put indelible marks to the fingers of those kids who had come to my door caroling. I am pretty certain some of them had gotten more than three goody bags a night.

So what gifts had I given to my loved ones? None. Well, circumstances did not allow me to spend for gifts. My kids just asked me for shopping money so they can buy presents for their friends. But did they even think of buying one for their mom? NO! Don’t get me wrong, I like giving gifts. And if money was not an issue, I would spend a fortune giving gifts to people I love.

Its amazing how being sick on Christmas day has its benefit especially if you have nothing to give to friends who calls asking you to come to their house or those who want to know if they can come to yours. My incessant coughing over the phone must have convinced them not to see me or they won’t be able to make their usual boundary of at least five houses on Christmas day.

What do I want for Christmas? Why does Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You” kept humming in my mind? Do I feel sentimental over something or someone? Your guess is as good as mine. (blushes)

If I wanted something material, I would probably wish for a new laptop to replace this very slow one, and maybe a nice ear ring to add to my humble fake jewelry collection.

If I wanted something short of a miracle, I would wish for a smaller belly, rounder buttocks and great skin. But since they are close to being miracles, I will leave them to God. Maybe in His divine grace, He will grant my wish someday—or in my next life?

What do I really want for Christmas?

Ok, since I did not get any of those I wished for, I’ll just instead settle for the third one – that people will understand me. That when I am quite, it doesn’t mean I am cranky, it means I am ok. When I blow my top, it means I am having my PMS and is fed up with the pain. When I complain that it hurts, please don’t misinterpret it as whining, I am just letting you know.

I want my last wish to come true. And I hope it’s not too much to ask.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just bad timing.

I have not been feeling well.

Why in God’s name do I have to be sick when Christmas Eve is just a day away?
I don’t know how I get the flu, but damn my whole body aches, my throat is sore, my eyes seem to want to jump from its socket, my nose already bleeds from too much blowing, and my voice croaks like a frog because of the cough.

Of course, I look like a mess as my hair had not been washed for three days, and my room is in disarray.

I don’t even know if I can muster the strength to cook my usual noche buena fare. If I cannot, then the boys had to do with ready-to-eat food from the restaurant.

Or maybe I will just ask them to cook the dish themselves! But that wouldn’t be fun as I may end up convalescing from too much anxiety.

Ok, I need to rest now and let the virus be done with its normal cycle. I hope I will be better tomorrow, or I will have to spend Christmas in bed.

Anyway I just want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and may we all look forward to the New Year with renewed hope.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

A wholesale date.

A very good friend asked me last week if it is possible to find a date in Manila with his age preference. My answer was a meek “yes, possibly.” which doesn’t seem encouraging. But what am I suppose to say to a subject that is equally alien to me?

So I did some research and found out that if one is willing to part with Php800 or an equivalent to $17 one can get 24 dates instead of just three ladies drink. Yeah,you read it right, twenty four.

I am talking about speed dating, where 24 men and women are in attendance. The rules of speed dating are fairly simple. Singles gather in a café or a similar venue, armed with nametags, a scorecards, maybe a well rehearsed answers to possible questions, pick up lines downloaded from the internet and a sparkling personality.

The couples will be paired off for their first date. They will be allowed to discuss anything except their fetishes and whether or not they have been intimate with domestic animals. Joke!

After three minutes of conversation, a bell is rung and the coordinator tells the participants to move to their next date. Yeah, this may seem like a fast-food dating, but unlike vasectomy, men can always rejoin speed dating events as many times as they want.

From what I’ve read, I understand that speed dating is safe dating because there are standards that must be upheld. Women for instance can demand that the men participating in the speed dating event are certifiably single, have no criminal records, and not a politician. Men on the other hand can demand that the women should have pulse. Ok, again I am just trying to be cute.

Secondly, speed dating is good for the health as men can bail out of dating chitchat in three minutes, which is a lifetime for men to converse before they collapse of heart attack. Oh we know that women can talk and talk and they don’t even have to make a point, while men try to talk but they don’t even know what to say.

It is also secure dating, as the three minute conversation is not wiretapped and will not be use as blackmail when one goes out on future dates.

After each date (3 minutes long), the participant mark on their scorecard whether they might be interested in meeting their date again. If a participant mark yes in his/her tally sheet after meeting a certain person and that person also mark yes on the said participant, then, it’s a match. And for those who get “matched,” the organizers provide each party with the other’s number. It is then up to the matched singles to contact or stalk each other.

However what truly bothers me about speed dating is the ability to generate that ‘spark” within three minutes, especially when there is no medication involved. Are they simply taking a strong whiff of the person in front of them?

Maybe I should tell my friend to hone his olfactory senses and sniff out his prospective mate instead...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

PMS - permissible manslaughter

My sons call me Kali whenever I get angry, and I admit that I do succumb to fit of divine feminine anger whenever I have my PMS.

But I would disagree entirely to a picture of me sporting a hideous countenance, like the Indian goddess in the picture. That’s extremely exaggerated! I don’t have a lolling tongue, or a pendulous breast, but I admit I seem like ready to devour the world when I am mad, hahaha.

So ok, for the woefully ignorant male population, premenstrual syndrome refers to a mood disorder which occurs during the second half of a woman’s cycle which eventually resolves itself with our period. I have also come to personally know PMS as “God’s wrath to man.”

Now, for those men who do not want to become a fashion accessory (glance at the picture), there are certain rules that apply when you are confronted by female anger.

The first rule is that, women have the divine right to get angry at you about anything because it is your entire fault. Our problem at work, our lack of sleep, our constipation, the slow internet connection, the wrong shade of lipstick, our PMS – all these can and will be traced back to you.

The second rule is that you don’t have the luxury of getting angry back at us (glances at the picture the second time, and think of a necklace of human skulls dangling in front of your face).

The third rule is that we can say the most scornful, scandalous, hurtful, and venomous things to you, but you must ignore what we said because apparently we don’t mean them.
Besides, whatever we say in a bout of anger is forgotten fifteen minutes later.

The fourth rule compliments the third, which mean if we send you scornful, scandalous, hurtful text messages, you’re suppose to delete them IMMEDIATELY. Unless you want your cell phone lodge up your large intestine, do not keep a record of these messages and show them to us next argument.

And the last rule, never ever try to get physical with us if you don’t want us to pull out an ACME hammer from thin air and get Bugs Bunny on your ass, literally. Of course you may have noticed that angry women in cartoons could summon a mallet from nowhere and mercilessly clobber a man who gets her ire.

The key thing is, you may respond to our anger but we don’t want you to be angry with us in return. Just don’t pay attention to what we say as to how we say it, and this may just save you from kissing face with an ACME hammer.

And yes, I am writing this while I am PMSing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A lethal dose of negativity.

I used to watch local news on television every night.
And in the morning while I prepare for work, the tv in my room is tuned in to BBC or CNN, thus, even when my eyes aren’t glued to the screen I can still hear the news from the bath room door.

For the past days though, I had opted to watch DVD and followed more prime-time series than I would like to admit.
Yeah, I know that it is not healthy to invest so much time and energy on things that, in the end, really have no weight or bearing on what happens in the real world. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to get away sometimes.

Of course, I still watch the news. That is important, in my opinion, since everyone needs to see the world for what it is and to get the right perspective. But this is becoming more and more a tiring exercise. Somehow, I find it disappointing to read the newspapers and watch the news programs, because I only encounter so much misplaced negativity.

Don’t get me wrong, as it is the media’s prerogative to publish or air these things, and they have a journalistic duty to tell the truth, however ugly or disheartening it might be. But I think, a lot of what is being reported nowadays is done in the spirit of pandering.

However, journalists don’t have total control over how their reports affect the landscape. Because ultimately, people will make their own conclusions, no matter how many sides of a story are presented. We are by nature selective and will take in and retain information as we pleased. Just like when I buy a newspaper, I don’t normally read it from cover to cover, instead, I read what I want, and skip the stuff I don’t want to read.

But I also believe, that not everything that happens in the world is bad. Good things happen, and good values are alive and well. So, can they maybe help increase awareness of the good?

Then possibly, I might be more inclined to stop playing online games, or discard following the mushy tv series, or better yet, put off that movie marathon for another day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Food galore, Filipino style.

I am a Filipino and I am cursed…

Ha ha. I just want to get your attention, you goof!

Well actually there is a bitter truth to it, as it takes so much more time and so much more money to be a Filipino. You see, when Americans host a party, they only serve one or two main dishes and a lot of crackers and cheese, but for Filipinos, we are somehow always expected to serve six, eight or more main dishes.

Perhaps, it is due to Filipinos penchant for fiestas where the poor are forced by culture and tradition to borrow money they don’t have just to feed and entertain their guests during the affair. Then they would spend the next year paying off their loans only to borrow money again for the next fiesta.

This Christmas season is no exception. Rich Filipino families and maybe some middle class families who can afford this extravagance will have lavish foods in their Noche Buena table. Unfortunately, even those who cannot will still, bend over backwards to try to put more food in their table, because tradition dictates it.

What then drives Filipino to carelessly spend so much on gastronomic festivities?

Is it the combination of climate, geography and history of occupation by foreign powers that has fostered in our culture a unique attitude to life?

Yes, we Filipinos have developed a love to partying along with that sense of fatalism that aspires for living big in the present. In fact, delayed gratification seemed to be a foreign concept to most of us. But instead, “Bahala na ang Diyos”, roughly translated “ the Lord will provide” is the mantra of the religious.

And unlike our Asian neighbors which have four seasons, like Japan, China and Korea, we Filipinos don’t have to struggle to gather food for storage during the spring, summer and fall to have enough food during the winter. Our complacency was brought about by the fact that the sun always shines in our country, thus, people do not need to save for a future contingency. In fact, farmers would lament of what's the point of saving for a rainy day when that rainy day typhoon will wipe out their home and everything they worked so hard to save for anyway.

Now, don’t ask me what dish will be on my table on Christmas Eve as it will stretch this blog to another page.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

When shoes get the headlines.

I had a good laugh when I watched the news early today.
Imagine my delight astonishment to see that a pair of shoe landed at the headline everywhere.
The picture shows President Bush ducking as a shoe barely missed him, when an irate journalist, threw it at him during a news conference in Iraq.

Oh well, maybe the guy just realized that shoes are bad and he wants to get rid of it.
And he just didn’t mean the stiletto heels, or cowboy boots, or tottering espadrilles, or any other foot-torture devices into which we wincingly jam our feet.
He means ALL shoes!
If you dont know yet, shoes hurt our feet. In fact our poor maligned, misunderstood feet are getting trounced in a war that dates back thousands of years ago – the battle of "Shoes versus Feet".
Actually, there was a study done between a modern human feet and a 2,000 year old feet skeleton and the researcher had concluded that prior to the invention of shoes, people then had healthier feet.
They say walking barefoot has its benefit.
It makes us walk better and protect our feet from too much pressure.

I am sure you would counter that if we walk or run with out pads in our feet, it will be murder on our heels.
But didn’t you know that wrapping your heels in padding so they don’t hurt is like stuffing a gag in someone’s mouth so they’ll stop screaming? Yes, we are basically telling our heels to shut up!

I know what you’re thinking: If shoes are so bad for me, what’s my alternative?

Simple. Walk barefoot.

Okay, now I know what you’re thinking: What’s my other alternative?

Oh , you can always throw your shoes at your president.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The long wait is over.

I am very ecstatic as my eldest son comes home today. He had been away from us since May and now he is here to spend the holiday season with us.
This will be our first Christmas, in this new house and new neighborhood.
Sure, people here are warm and friendly but like most other close knit neighborhood they tend to be nosey too, as if it's their right to know everything that goes inside each family unit.

But thats not what I want to talk about, rather, it's the seemingly endless wait i have to put up with at the airport today.
Maybe I should blame it on the frenzy of the holiday season when most people are travelling. Imagine, nearly 60% of the flights today were delayed! Or perhaps too, it's due to my excitement, hence I arrived at the airport an hour early.

I sat there at the waiting area, shivering because its very cold inside the new terminal.
Add to my agony is the clock flashing in front of me. Why do I need to see it, and feel like time stood still? Damn, it would have been easy to lose track of time when you’re not constantly face-to-face with a clock.
So to divert my attention I dig into my bag to get my celphone so I can just play games on it, only to discover that I left my reading glass, without which, I wont be able to see those tiny majong bricks in my celphone screen.
So I thought of engaging someone to a conversation. But how do I start it? I wish I had a candy in my purse that I can offer to the person sitting beside me. But then again, I came up empty. There isnt a piece of item I can use as an ice-breaker necessary to get some good conversation going.

But wait, do I really want that? What if by doing so, I opened a Pandora's box and will have to sit through half hour listening to the litany of how she meticulousy stitches the bright orange scarf she is wearing?

Ok, maybe I should count the ceiling vents, or check if there are spots in the newly painted walls. Do these walls has a story to tell?
Do they hold the secret to this very controversial airport terminal?
Well at least looking at the wall and not directly into other people's face seemed less rude.

Oh how I wished I had a pad and a pen to write on, to keep myself busy...
Finally, I heard this announcement - "Cebu Pacific flight number 466 from Bacolod had just arrived". Gosh, I never felt so much relief!

It took me a lot of strentgh to keep myself from clapping.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Muchas gracias.

Phew, what a year!
When it seems there isn't much to be thankful for, I realized that there are still a lot of things I can be grateful about. As usual, when each time a year closes its page, I couldn’t help but look back and reflect and surprisingly, it always made me stop complaining of what’s wrong with my life. Instead it made me count my blessing about what is right.

So, here are the things I am thankful for:

Time – I know that being old and broke has its drawbacks. But what the heck, I am alive and will be here much longer, hence, I know that I still have a chance in the next lotto draws.

Television – The best way to ignore my kids and pretend that we love each other is to sit in the glowing warmth of a television. If only they will wash the dishes first before they camp in my bedroom and spoil my crisp and newly ironed linen.

Memories – Good or bad, they are the accumulation of things totally off-base. Well sometimes they can be unreliable, but a lot of times full of wonder.

Economy – I am thankful that prices on gas and food are going down. I have not seen these prices on gas this low in about three years. If only I still have a car, then maybe this will be on top of my list.

Family – For parents who didn’t indulge me because basically money was tight and financial decision weren’t made on a whim. Yet, I don’t remember feeling deprived. But why the heck do my kids insist that not having a Play station 3 is not a way to live!

Internet – It’s odd to be thankful for a technology that was originally invented as a tool of warfare, but today the internet has evolved to be so much more. It’s also extremely important for a long distance relationship. Did I just saw a raised eyebrow?

Caffeine – I can’t seem to function without the lovely little addictive pick-me-up I get from a good cup of coffee a day. Nothing gets rid of my lethargy faster than a steaming hot cup of my 3in1 yet teeth-stainer of a swig.

Belly – Yes, I am referring to the belly I talked about in my previous blog. I am thankful for this impossible-to-get-rid-of fat around my stomach because they keep me from wearing low slung jeans that went out years ago with Britney Spears. Believe it or not, my oh-so-sweet belly is making me more stylish.

You - I'm also thankful that there are people who read this blog. Really, there are people who read this blog?. Anyway, without you guys reading my very silly posts, I'd be sitting in front of my pc with nothing to do but bite my fingers till they bleed.

Now, your turn. What are those things you are thankful for?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For better or for worst.

Gays are in the news again as they continue to protest against the ban on same-sex marriages in some cities in the US.

Oh well, homosexuality is as old as history - assuming, of course, you take the scholarly view that true history began with Herodotus, and not the conservative Christian view that history began with Adam and Eve.

But that’s actually where the problem lies!

The differences of opinion in this dispute is so deep that it is almost as if same-sex marriage is a secondary issue to these beliefs.

If you believe that God created the universe some six-thousand years ago, and laid down His absolute moral law in the pages of the Holy Bible, then you are probably pretty boring, and you regard marriage by definition as a sacred union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation.

If, on the other hand, you believe the universe is billions of years old and that human beings have an extremely intimate genetic relationship with chimpanzees, and that moral laws are constructed socially rather than supernaturally, then you probably smoked dope in college, and you don't care much what marriage is or who does it.

Either way, both doesn't give a pretty picture of you, hahaha.

Well picture this: The combatants in the same-sex marriage controversy are - in the left corner (in rainbow-striped boxers), gay and lesbian activists, and, in the right corner(mouthing a quick prayer), Christian right-wingers.
Now add to each side the supports they get from their respective end of the political spectrum.
Also toss in a few lawyers fascinated by the constitutional issues, and you have the makings of a tabloid fare.

Meanwhile the battle continues, and the future remain uncertain...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An ode to a song.

We Filipinos had the distinction although self-awarded, not surprisingly, of being a people who will, at the drop of a hat, or even for no reason at all, break into songs.
Music thus, for those who equate national identity with something innate, is in our blood.
But so does murder or homicide.

“And what?” you might add.

Ok, ok! Let me tell you about Filipinos penchant for our second national anthem - “My Way”.
You see, the Philippines has earned the distinction – this time confirmed in what is developing into a world authority on almost all matters, the Wikipedia, as being the country where “...it has been reported to cause numerous incidents of violence and homicides among drunkards in bars...”
A recent example of which is the news about the killing of an irate security guard who couldn’t stand the off-key singing of the song My Way, and the way the singer wouldn’t listen to him who wanted it HIS way.
I have even read about a group of film students from Denmark who were in the country to do a documentary of those who had fallen to the murderous charms or compulsions of this song.

I think little of you know that the song "My Way" starts as a French song’s melody, whose publishing rights were bought, altered, restructured and given English lyrics.
The person to do this was singer Paul Anka, who is a Canadian from Ottawa and has a street named after him there. He is among those Canadians who make it big outside Canada and so does Celine Dion, Michael Buble, and others – before Canadians would hear of them.
Paul Anka then gave the rewritten song to Frank Sinatra, who, as Paul Anka relates, was planning to quit show business at that time. Sinatra recorded it in 1969 on an album with the same title and, as they say, the rest is history.

Still, thinking about it, “My Way” is somewhat an appropriate Philippine anthem.
And why don't we give it some thought as we shuffle towards the exit door of 2008 and stumble into 2009?
Perhaps, just possibly, alternately laugh and cry as we do so.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chaos in a little nook.

I wondered why a writer’s desk, almost always comes with a messy surrounding as if chaos is inherent in their minds.
I can always see piles of old news papers and magazines, stacks of box files containing folders and maybe memos about the necessity to buy more folders and box files.
Not to mention books uselessly hidden behind other books.
Little of the desk surface is visible through piled notebooks and shuffled papers.
Then there’s that small statue of a Sumo wrestler, or else a life size statue of a small Sumo wrestler.
Not to be outdone is the vertically striped glazed earthen mug full of ball-point pens. I reached for one of those pens and finds that it does not work, as does the fifteen others.
Aha, I can even see VHS tapes. Damn, at this age of DVD’s this writer’s VHS tapes didn’t even moved out. There are several of them stacked on the floor.
Judging from what I am seeing from my vantage point, this writer only gets things under control by striving mightily against a force of nature that wants things to be disorganized rather than not.
But who cares when such desk could give one a Nobel Prize?
Wait, do this award come with a prize money delivered in the suitcase the next day? Does it bear a mark, “ Nobel Prize money: bank immediately or it will burst into flame.”?
Sitting in the center of the table is the computer, on whose keyboard the writer typed “damp” but actually wrote “dump”.
She is face to face with an item of technology that Ferdinand M. would not have known how to switch on. The writer barely know how to switch it on either, and she always wondered why does it ask her, "do you wish to report the error" when she don't now what the error is!
Oh maybe, through this miracle of a machine order can emerge from chaos after all.
Well, yes, it can, but only against heavy odds.
Because chaos is inherent even in the minds of those who writes, and even as she typed the last words of her sprict, scirpt, script.
Ahh... finally she reaches for the mug of coffee only to get a mouthful of ball point pens.

Does your desk look insanely the same, or very orderly? Do tell me because I would love to know.

When the sky smiles on us.

It was on a dark midnight ages and ages ago...
Three wise and learned men, the Magi, looked up to the skies, as did shepherds watching their flocks in the fields.
They saw a bright star and followed it which led them to Bethlehem where they pay homage to the Babe in the Manger as angels choir sang.
The Magi came with their regal gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and the shepherds with their humble flocks.

And then last Monday, we in the Philippines also looked up to the night sky to see a rare planetary conjunction with Venus and Jupiter shining so bright.
Add to the wonder is the waning crescent moon forming a smiling face in the sky.
It was a rare sight indeed.
But could this be a sign for our dark and difficult times - to look to the stars as a reminder that, with the Advent of Christmas, we should turn/return to prayer with hope and thanksgiving for God’s gift of Christmas?

Yeah, let us not allow the compulsive frenzy of the Yultide season to distracts us from the spiritual and essential aspects of life - love, hope and goodwill to mankind.

It’s odd how what first loomed to be an epic challenge as scaling a personal Everest ended up as trouble free as uprooting a rusty monument for our boxer Manny Pacquiao.
The stormy demolition of the great De La Hoya, a future Hall of Famer, winner of 10 world crowns in six weight classifications, was also totally unexpected.
Of course, we rejoice over Manny's win and took pity on Oscar as he was rushed to the nearby hospital.

Manny, mabuhay ka!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The future looks edgy.

There is a new security scare at India's airport. Maybe airports everywhere have been on heightened alert after that shooting spree in Mumbai.
But how secure are airports around the globe?
Is it possible today to hijack an aircraft using only five able-bodied passengers who are well trained in Kung Fu fighting?
Yes, highly probable, as there is no technology in place in airports to detect a threat like that.
Wait, not anymore...
I just stumble in the internet that a new Israeli-based technology company has developed detection systems that will pick up signs of emotional strain.
They say it's like a psychological red flag that can detect when a passenger has an intention to commit an act of terror.
(Gasping..., machines can read minds now!?)
They claim too that it is speedier and less intrusive than metal detectors. And that these systems may eventually restore some efficiency to the airplane boarding process.
How does it work?
Oh simple. They say that once these technologies are in place, a passenger may pass through a security screening without realizing it. For example, passengers could use an automated check-in system or gaze at a screen with departures information without realizing they've just been exposed.
Another option could be a "smart seat," or cushion full of hidden biometric sensors that could provide a more detailed read on someone sitting in an airport waiting area.
(Writing on post-it note: should learn how to hold gas, while sitting in an airport lounge).
While the technology sound like something from a James Bond flick the security people who invented it says that passengers will not find the techniques intrusive.

Guys, anything that pokes into our minds and more than sniff our gases is always perceived intrusive, duh!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shooter vs. bomber

No, the title doesn’t speak about terrorism nor war.
It was meant to describe a different battle and the site is the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Every Filipino boxing aficionado is waiting with bated breathe for the “Dream Match” between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.
When the Dream Match was first announced, the two combatants were separated by no less than 20 pounds.
It’s a bit odd, but the smaller Pacquiao, who signed up for the big fight and still a certified lightweight, has suddenly broken the 147-lb limit for his rich welterweight battle with De La Hoya.
Actually, there were taunts that Oscar would need a miracle in order to normally scale down to 147 from at least 160 lb.
How the Golden Boy trimmed splendidly, with no reported artificial agents, has stunned experts.
Anyway, gone is the dreaded size disparity, which had at first threatened to turn the Dream Match into an oddity.
At least, there’s the happy promise of the Pacquiao-De La Hoya now being decided through pure athletic prowess, not on bigness or the lack of it.
Of course, there are bigger questions waiting for urgent answers.
Will it be ruthless power over craft and composure, or will it be the other way around?
Will it be the sharpshooter, who prepared and trimmed down naturally, or the dangerous bomber whose new size and might were carved through strange means?
Some observer says, size won’t matter in this fight, but skill does.
A De La hoya fanatic will tell you that “ Oscar’s edge in talent and skill will beat Manny Pacquiao.”
But this promises to be very tough.
So what will be the ultimate factor?
What will determine the fight I think is who among the two will be the better fighter overall, not necessarily who’s bigger or faster.

Stand by for some unmasking at the end of the Dream Match on Saturday night.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Boundless filipinos.

I was traveling in the countryside yesterday and the expanse of space and the traditional way of living there caught my eyes. It reminds me of the Filipino concept of time and space which is infinite. It is neither numerical or measurable. When I asked direction, the person who answered me didn't express the distance by kilometers but with subjective words "malapit" (near) or " malayo (far).
I also noticed the traditional culture of Filipinos not to divide their land into private parcels but instead held a communal property where each villager could share in its agricultural or forest abundance.

Even the Filipino dwelling has no physical boundaries that separate one room from another.

The interior of the "bahay-kubo" (nipa hut) is truly multipurpose. It is a single space that transforms into a receiving room, sleeping room, kitchen, dining room or chapel, constantly adapting to allow whatever activity the room needs to accommodate at any particular moment during the day.

Meanwhile in the "bahay na bato" (stone house), spaces effortlessly flows from the living room, to the dining area and to the kitchen with arched entrances use to define one from the other. However in the multipurpose nature of Filipino homes, mats are laid out on the living room at night for the family and household to sleep in.

As a matter of fact, for Filipinos, space is not confined within one’s house. A party might temporarily take over the street, or a family business like a small store, or a repair shop. We would use the space for other activity that requires a larger area which isn't available in the house. Many instances we occupy the sidewalk, or a major part of the street especially during a wake or weddings.

Overlapping layers of space in the Filipino house respond to the cultural value. No Filipino want to live in isolation. It also responds to the tropical environment and we always allow air to circulate freely from one area to the next. We just love the open space and we also keep the natural environment surrounding the house in full view.

The spacelessness of a Filipino house is beguiling and seductive, like the sheer, filmy layers of the traditional baro’t saya or the barong tagalog where layers of gauze-like piña cover the Filipino body but allows air to circulate between the layers of almost transparent fabric.

And like the traditional Filipino house, the best is kept veiled from full view.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Utter savagery.

Last week, the world turned solemn and could not find the words to express their shock and revulsion at what had just happened.
Mumbai was under attack by mere “kids” or “boys,” no one possibly older than 25, who went about their business without thought or compunction.
Words fail to describe the horror of the event.
And even more the kinds of emotions it brings to us.
I am certain that anyone who saw the news that day, particularly those who have Indian friends or kin in India, would have been speechless at the savageness of it. Some things are simply alien to human conduct, and despite India’s often bloody history a monstrous thing like this happening to it in this day and age boggles the mind.
Particularly when India, like China, is well on its way to becoming an economic power.
Truly you have to wonder how people can be so lacking in human empathy that they can gun down men and women while they go about their daily lives, laughing, loving, wondering what meal they would prepare for their families when they get home. Many of those who died were in the platform of a station waiting for their trains to arrive.
Horror in the midst of normality, extraordinary mayhem amid ordinary life, the sudden visitation of death amid the fullness of life — all these have been known to happen.
But for human beings to do that, willfully, deliberately, and methodically, that is truly horrific. The lack of passion or emotion with which the killers killed, makes you stand in absolute disbelief in the face of it.
I am still loss for words to condemn it.
But more so at a loss for words to grasp it...


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