Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Nostalgia

Do yesteryears make you feel homesick even when you're home? I damn miss the kind of Christmas season we used to celebrate a decade and half ago...

When songs of sleigh bells began to fill the air, I was one of those excited kids who used to join a group of carolers in the neighborhood because I wanted to have more friends. Caroling that time wasn't about money. It was about friends making merriment with friends. After caroling brigades, I recall going home happily, sleeping right away, not even caring to count the coins I got from the night's fun.

Then, I remember my parents helping me out hang a stocking on our door days before the 25th. How a nice boy patiently waited for the big morning after the Christmas evening when that white dude called Santa Clause had secretly inserted goodies in the stocking. I have no regrets over the discovery later about such "foolishness" as others call it. For me, it is not the gifts inside the stocking that counts; its the spirit.

And who can still recall those indigenous cannons made of big bamboo and operated by the big boys of the time? We used to compete for the loudest explosion by group and laughed at the softest fart when it did not work. It is truly a way safer and merrier thing than the latest crackers today. I just wish somebody can bring back in town that sort of happy noise.

On this very 1st day of December, let a then nice boy and now nostalgic man bring good tidings to your hearts. Merry Christmas, everyone! Hohohoho!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uncle Bonie's Day

We surely know why it will be a national holiday tomorrow as we celebrate the 149th birth anniversary of the light that guided the revolution - Andres Bonifacio.

Among the hometown men in our history, my sympathy goes to the supreme katipunero. I think that he was too robbed of life, being born in a humble family and died in an unfair circumstance.

A difficult early life sparked Bonifacio the courage to face the tall odds of life. He was the eldest of six broods of a poor couple named Santiago Bonifacio and  Catalina de Castro.

When he turned fourteen years old, he was orphaned and had to take his younger siblings under his wings. To make both ends meet, he had to sacrifice his schooling.

Yet even if Bonifacio stopped going to school, he continued reading novels about ideals of freedom. He had read a great deal and had a library but was destroyed at the time his house burned down.

Bonifacio's cry: "Bring out your cedulas and tear them to pieces to symbolize our determination to take up arms!" signified the Filipino outbreak of uprising against the long colonial occupation.

One early morning midst the revolution, an another group of Filipino soldiers brought Bonifacio and his brother to the mountains. One of the soldiers opened the sealed letter from the Filipino general, which secretly ordered to kill the two men. Using bayonets and bolos, the soldiers dug a shallow grave, covered the two dead bodies with weeds, and hurriedly left to escape.

Anyone who knows our history will understand why Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday, November 30, rather than the date of his death, May 10. Unlike Rizal who was executed by the enemy, Bonifacio was executed by fellow countrymen.

Oh, poor Uncle Bonie! Tomorrow will be that day 149 years ago when you came into this vale of tears! They betrayed you but you proved that even a plebeian can make a big difference and give his motherland the gift of heroism!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I Got From UK

When it rains, it pours like forever. When it shines, it burns like hell. 

I have been looking for an extra time to scout for gears, mostly for rain defense and sun protection - a battle I grapple in my daily rut of traveling to school. And this afternoon in the UK or the infamous ukay ukay section was just the perfect one!

After digging among heaps of stuffs and throwing away those out of my taste, in the end, I was able to find the best "armors" for the "battle".

Foremost on the list is the hats. I bought two white bucket hats that are made of denim fabric. Actually, I looked for dark colored versions but to no luck. Yet the more important are their brims which are a good shades from the sun for the face, plus they have adjustable knot laces so that the body itself will not fly away on fast travel.

Another are jackets. Not really fashionable but I made sure that the two jackets I got have hoods as well. Jackets, especially made of taffeta like the ones I bought, have dual purpose. When it drizzles, one will not easily get wet because it is at least semi water proof. When it shines, one will not feel as if steamed because it is insulating.

Lastly, I fished for footwears. I wasted my topsider shoes lately by pitilessly using them on muds. I have a pair of rubber shoes but it is a bit tight and I feel uncomfy with its aesthetics. So today I grabbed for a rugged pair of black tennis shoes which surely made my brother green with envy at home later.

So, who else could be more ready for the pours and burns than me - with all the best protective stuffs I got from UK? He! He! He!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Drama Behind

I can’t forget that first semester of school year 2007-2008 during college. We've been dreading for it to come and finally we took up English 145 subject with a horrible descriptive title: Dramatics and Stagecraft. It was really one of the experiences that gave me a great deal of challenge, enjoyment and realization.

From a really no choice decision after the selection of casts, the drama master pointed to me who was left to myself alone in the audience seat like a hapless duckling. I remember how my whole world seemed shattered when he essayed a villain laugh, declaring that I will be the play director of our section! Oh, my! Me? Play director? What the hell life is kidding? That time I was so scared for my life! Ha! Ha! Ha! Yet somehow I made a consolation to myself that if I would not want to FAIL the subject, I have to ACCEPT my not-so-fortunate fate. And that was the beginning then.

Our section was given the play entitled “Flamelets” which was composed of four different skits. It talked about the lives of marias in specific based on history- from the Spanish tyrannies, down the American dreams and Japanese abuses, up the present period.

We rehearsed regularly almost everywhere- from the AS mini theater to H building rooftop, vacant ministry cottages, and even among nim trees beside the CSSH building. There was never an instance when the attendance was perfect, and because of that, I had to offer myself as a substitute to the roles of absent characters such as the cruel princess, the angry elder, the rape victim, the shameless prostitute.  By the middle of the semester, I almost memorized the lines of each skit that until now the jeers and cackles brought by the famous litanies still ring in my ear. Need proofs?

  • Your BORDEN on her shoulders? –Nathaniel Bangoc 
  • Father! Father! –Shiela Mae Ferolino 
  • Enough! Enough! –Regina Malon 
  • There goes another miserable woman…  Her sons were branded as thieves. But I know them. They did not steal. This is their homeland. You do not steal from your homeland, do you? -Liezl De Dios 
  • Couldn’t you be a little prudent as not to add to INJUREY? –Dorina Boyles 
  • They were so boisterous and I was so AFRED. – Aima Guipal 
  • Here! Finish all these or no food! –Aliyah Abdulkadir 
  • I’m tired of this inhuman treatment we get from our masters. I can bear the beatings. But to call me thief, that I will not allow! –Kathryn Mae Ramos 
  • My necklace! Lost! You enter my room! Steal my necklace! –Orgie Casanova 
  • But I swear he’s not! He’s not! Huhuhu. –Liezel Marie Almaden 
  • I surely know how to blow your job! –April Love Nino 
  • Malaki-laki rin yan. Baka mabilaukan ka! –Edma Vega 
  • Menchie, lamang tiyan din ito noh! –Cathy Mae Dabi 
  • This will be my last night. Just like a normal girl, I want to lead a normal life. –Junind Mae Camarillo

Sorry, Janice Bartolaba! You were so popular back then that I missed your line! What was that, Sisa? Ha! Ha! Ha!

After the months of stage rehearsals and productions, as many said that time, it was then the moment of truth. The final presentation was definitely the life changing part of the subject. Who could forget how everyone seemed to be in a hurry like demented freaks running to and fro? Peeping through the backstage, I know how each of us felt so scared and nervous, seeing the sea of expectant looks of the audience. But these all did cut no ice on our group and we did our level best instead. Just as we all hoped, each skit went on like blazes. By the end of the show, our group deserved rounds of applause and received taps on the back!

And speaking of accolades, it would be useless if I won't mention how it rained flat 1 grades in our section and how we all celebrated with a Spanish bread party. But precisely my cup ran over more than that reason. Personally, it was so great experience with a company like ours! I learned how to make life into a bowl of cherries if only we maintain a positive and persistent attitude. I also realized that facing our fate bravely is as important as going through until the end. So, what else more could a growing student like me ask for?

To my dearest blockmates, wherever corner of the world have heavens placed each of us now, I missed our college dramas - both real dramas and imagined dramas! Ha! Ha! Ha! Hope to see you soon, and make dramas again!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Thoughts

What a random day it has been. The events I juggled today were not really on my prior list of activities but everything just turned swimmingly after all.

After so much second thoughts last night, I ended up deciding to point my route to Marbel 4 Elementary School instead of reporting to my class today. Actually I was invited to sit as a judge for a district event since last week. Yet after some conflicts and resolutions, I have given up my excitement in going to the event. But there was a point: new type of experience.

The event that was tagged as Read-a-Thon is a contest that highlights the gift of literacy among children through different reading activities such as Story Interpreting, Team Reading, and Story Retelling. One of my tasks in specific was to formulate questions for the Team Reading event.

The noon was a drizzle after the closing program. I and my two close chums Weng Clarete and Brigitte Suanzon headed for downtown and parted ways thereafter.

After my bank transactions, I decided to stroll around the mall while waiting for the heavy rain to cease.  It was just hopeless to treat myself with a nice dress since I am anticipating a financial breakdown again come Saturday for my thesis.

I was about to go home when Ma'am Weng came my way after I called on phone. She later treated me for a warm batchoy at Mandarin Tea Garden. I have dined in the place twice but I had not tried to use chopsticks, so it was a bit struggle for the first time today. Yay!

What a day without definite route and purpose! But I like it that way after all! Life can sometimes turn out to be nicer than we think when we just allow it to happen its way.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Camping Blues

For the last week, my hands were full - literally and figuratively, and I am still suffering from overwork this moment. Ha! Ha! Ha! Actually, I attended the Scout Jamborette and Kawan Holiday held at the cool foot area of the majestic Mt. Matutum in Landan, Polomolok, South Cotabato from November 14 - 18. 

The camping was really a mixed experience of getting through life in the barest human living, not to mention that we were grounded in such a phone dead spot. If I am to describe the kind of life I had there in a nutshell, I would say it is "survival". But really what I intend to spin yarn is not about the activities that we had at the camp in specific but about the damn realization that there are some damn simple, and actually just damn ordinary, things that I missed to learn in this world of real living, and how good-for-nothing I am!

Good-for-Nothing 101. Give me a pen and a heap of papers and I will live in a corner in serenity for the rest of my life . Just not a hammer, not a shovel, not a hacksaw, not a bolo, not a nail.  Carpentry? Sadly, not mine.

Good-for-Nothing 102. Okay, we all know that we all eat forever, but one cannot expect me to do a great cooking show. I can't help but be green with envy to people who are blessed with talent in the kitchen.

Good-for-Nothing 103. And I admit that I really am a futile that even peeling and slicing vegetables seems an awkward thing for me to do. I do not damn well know if my being left handed has something to do with my poor fine motor skills on this.

I was not born with a silver platter, but these and among other common things are not just my fields, if they are fields. In fact, of all the tasks that life can offer, I hate them all. Ha! Ha! Ha! Maybe it is because I grew up a lazy homebody so I never bothered to learn them. Maybe if I will have more willingness in me, I will try - someday.

Help, anyone? Yawn.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teacher for Real

These injustices all started since I graduated from college and until now.

Yesterday I dropped by the MSU High School Library to check on some thesis format before I submitted my edited manuscript to my adviser for the routing process. As I approached the Dissertation Section, I put on the table the clipped pile of papers. The librarian aide noticed me.

Librarian: Is that thesis?
Me: Yes. But for routing process yet.
Librarian: What year are you in college?
Me: Huh? I'm studying in the Graduate School!

When I was just a fresh graduate from college, it was okay for me that people who do not know me personally often mistook me as a hapless student. I just let situation like this slip away. As a matter of fact, I consider it as a blessing in disguise because I actually benefit from it.

For instance, riding a jeep as a part of my daily rut during my first teaching career, the conductor would not think that I am a professional teacher even in my honorable uniform. When I give a twenty pesos bill, the conductor would take only the price of a student fare – a stratagem that I have enjoyed. I mean, who would not? In these days of overpricing fares, I don’t feel guilty and I consider myself one lucky dog.

But what I cannot take is when, four years forward, people still think that I am a student - even on my best teacher attire! This noble profession which I struggled to attain for years was simply denied from me by situations where justice is nowhere in the world.

One weekend of a hell last year, my parents visited me in the city. We went to some relatives whom I've never known for the many years of my existence in this cruel world. When I was introduced, the old lady said that she think I looked younger. Of course, my liver inflated for such a compliment. But not until she damn added that she would think that I’m only a high school student, not even a respectable teacher! Well, what else can I do? My other relatives were in an amused chorus of laughter! I felt my smile faded into a raw one.

Despite such and among other injustices of the unkind fate to me, I still convinced myself that I am a true blue teacher for myself no matter what they think. Hello, do they want to get slapped with my PRC identification card as an evidence to the court? Yet, ladies and gentlemen, I didn't know the worst was yet to come.

My former boardmate abroad asked me if I happened to hang around a burger station which her aunt owns. Curious to know, I set out one time to feed my darn hungry stomach to the burger station which my former boardmate described. I broke off from the crowd and asked this middle aged lady. She looked with a surprise to me. She cheerily confirmed and told me that she is my former boardmate’s aunt. And so we chatted. “In what grade are you?” she asked. “I mean, in what year are you in high school?” she rephrased. That time, I wanted to throw a curse in the wind, but I prevented myself from washing my linen in the public.

People always mistook me as a student - name whatever level. Sometimes it is a flattery to my back but oftentimes it is a blow to my ego. I do not know exactly why people do. Maybe because I do not care enough to look a professional teacher or maybe because my personality does not evoke an authority of a stereotypical teacher. Whatever, only I myself can know the damn truth.

Estudyante ka dong? Nope! I am a teacher for real!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stone Heart

Call me traitor, but local songs are not just my cup of tea. However, when this song entitled "Pusong Bato" hit the airlanes and the title itself trended on tweet land, I should have choked hard after eating my words and finding myself singing this song more often recently.

I first heard the song in a student intermission during school program, and how we ridicule the song among circle of teachers. It's really funny but I now like "Pusong Bato" because of its melodramatic lyrics, sensational music, and antiquated voice, which all perfectly make up this one of a kind piece.

Discerning the message of the song itself is putting one's self to the shoes of a broken hearted person. I am not into the emotional side of it, but I am more entertained at how exaggeration played the part of the composer's imaginative mind. "Di mo ba alam dahil sa'yo/ Ako'y di makakain/ Di rin makatulog/ Buhat nang iyong lokohin." I can't help but be amused.

Moreover, the music of the song is very tender and wistful. Listening to the strumming of the guitar or or whatever instrument was used at the introduction part of the song makes me sway. It's nicely arranged and timed, isn't it? If you agree so, welcome to the world of "badoys" like me. Laughs.

I must also describe the original voice which belted out the song like an antique piece. It is unique and beautiful, as if "honed by time" if you allow me to say it that way. The oldish voice in this song is definitely a new change for all these same pop voices that were hearing every day, and who knows, may also be one best way to revive our appreciation of old yet truly wonderful songs.

Tulad mo na may pusong bato - are you?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Wind

Playing like a real archaeologist and digging chest of old dusty papers, I uncovered, well, this piece of poem which I wrote five years back when I was still in college. At first I hesitated posting it here after reading because as you see, the month has been so firey. But, alas, the right time has come; the rain has dropped and a cool wind after! So, please excuse my drama - again. Yay!

You were there those solitary times
Hugged me in your most tender arms
Beyond the dimmest light of hope
You were there to help me cope...

And I know you are right here
When the lilies move, fir trees sway
Without a wistful call for love and care
You are here to give an answer...

Just as you merge across the bay
With the red-winged robin's longing echo
In the absence of profound consolation
You were there to lend affection...

Now, your touch feels different
Yet I just love it you are here
Come on, November Wind, dance with me
Your cool cadences before you flee....

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Three Friends

We are no perfect social beings and we all need friends who can claw our chests, accept our flaws, laugh at our mistakes, and say hey, look at that! 

I am happy I found such friends. We are all three best of friends ever since. Their names are id and superego, and as you may surmise now, I play the ego. Imagine id sitting on my one shoulder in red and firey with a blivet on his hand and superego on the other in white and ray with a halo on his head.  Well, I am basically the hapless victim in between.

During my elementary days, I remember one weekend I was left alone in our store and I saw open packs of cigarettes displayed in the stand. Then my dear friend id popped out in the midair and told me: "Try lighting a stick." As a child, I got excited to the idea of playing smoke. But suddenly superego came and warned me: "It is such a bad thing, child. You'll get sick with it." Yet I held out for the match box, picked a cigarette and ran to a corner where nobody could see me. 

At first, I was amused blowing smoke out of my mouth like a chimney. I looked at id who was grinning. He even encouraged me to try more. Then, just like what I usually see among adult smokers, I tried blowing smoke through my nose, only I coughed and got teary eyed. I saw superego shaking his head to and fro as if reminding me of not listening to him and now I got what I have been looking for. True indeed, and smoking isn't just my cup of tea.

I have never been the ideal student as well but my evilness level is not that bad. I never tried to cut class until at the final year of my high school when my classmates, for bonding times sake at our last days in school, persuaded me to join them escaping from school and go somewhere else to climb fruit trees in their farm. At first, superego won over id. I did not join my classmates.

But later I had been hearing exciting experiences about the adventure that my classmates had over escaping. Id instantly appeared and said: "See. You missed half of your high school life." Superego popped out and reminded: "You don't want to mess your last senior days with bad experiences, do you?" The next moment, I found myself running, hiding, laughing, climbing, eating, and bonding with my classmates. I really enjoyed it without regrets even when I think of it now.

On examination seasons, I and my two buddies take a lot of favorite moments to bond with each other too. So, say during my college days when taking up a very difficult final test that if I would rate the difficulty from 1 to 10 it would range to 11, and then there's a piece of paper secretly offered to me under the table, id would scream: "Go ahead, save yourself or else you will fail!" Superego would react: "You know you don't really want to, you've studied so far and you'd feel sooooo guilty if you take it." 

In situations like this, I must admit that sometimes I am guilty of of following id, being left with no option because no matter how superego convinced me that I know the subject so well, I just really didn't know. At other times, when superego had earlier made a good deal of convincing to me by dragging me down into burning the midnight candle, I feel elated taking the exam with a clean mind.

I am thankful for all the moments I chose to follow id in some and superego in the others. If not for all the intolerance that I have experienced with each of them and continue experiencing now, I think I would not learn my lessons in life well. Each of us is a battle field of our own ids and superegos. As humans, who said we don't need both of them? It is for us on how we take the experiences we get with the outcomes of every decision we make based on what each side of our mind advocates.

So have you, too, found your two other friends?