Sunday, December 21, 2008

WHITEOUT




Guilty as charged.

Yes, I have not updated my blog for a month and a day. I have been remiss with my bloghopping, too…

I guess I am just in hibernation mode (okay, lazy mood) ever since I saw the mole lazily crawling out of his hole while walking around Elizabeth Park in Trenton early in Autumn. I took a picture of his fat ass but I forgot to ask the gray mammal about his predictions for the season. But the way I see it and based on the events that occurred the past weeks, it will be a long nasty winter.

The gray mornings, gloomy afternoons and long nights probably further contributed to the situation too. The mood is just somber and sometimes when that evil idiot box possesses you as soon as your butt touches the couch after a long hard day, you can bet that it will be glued there for hours and hours until you fall asleep, snoring and snugly fitting into its bosom until the alarm clock wakes you up at six the next day. It has become a cycle for me that I decided to exorcise the demon and thus, I am back again for the nth time in the blogging world although I don’t know how far this tug o’ war will last.

Today is the first official day of winter and what a way to welcome the season, what with Mother Nature bombarding us early this morning with a foot of snow and temperature running in the teens plus the dreaded wind gusts hovering between 0 to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit and will remain that way into Christmas Day.

Of course, a White Christmas is not that bad for the casual Michiganders; a positive thing to cheer about if you look at it one way, a welcome respite for people hit hard by the present economic turmoil.

Michigan is a winter wonderland right now but not too many people are happy about it. I don’t mind the snow and the cold really except for some inconvenience in driving around the area where the salt trucks are very slow to react to the changing weather conditions; also what with some ill- tempered drivers who drive like maniacs even in blizzard conditions.

Anyway, a few of them ended up in the emergency rooms, while others found themselves flying into the ditches and a few went straight to the pearly gates. So much for their ill- conceived bravado in these unforgiving times, if you ask me.

Last night, I looked out of my window at 3:45 AM and smiled thinking that the weather forecasters have once again screwed up since they have proclaimed that a winter storm will hit the state between the times of 1 to 4 in the morning. So I went back to bed and woke up at 7, went out and was greeted by the vista of a whiteout landscape and the howling wind. So, what can I say, be careful of what you wish for, huh?!

Still, I took the car out of the garage and drove off to the other side of town; sleet, snow and ice notwithstanding.


Here are some clips that I took while on the road this morning…


This is along Allen Road in Allen Park on my way to the Southfield Freeway-



And this is on my way back from the Southfield Freeway, near Interstate 94-




At the Allen and Goddard Intersection a few blocks away from my flat-






Note: Top photo courtesy of the Detroit News

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heaven & Hell



First, in came the rain, then the wind. Then later, in came the snow and the chill. And then in came nothing but gnawing numbness…

Autumn is fast going by and soon winter, the notorious Michigan winter will soon be knocking at my door. And I, a transplanted mortal from another world will have to cope with it day-to-day, and on the hostile weather’s term, at that- which means having to contend with slippery drives in the snow, fishtailing and skidding on treacherous icy roads, and going 60 mph in blizzard conditions.

Mornings are a notch colder this year as compared to the previous years owing to the so- called “lake effect” phenomenon because of the mere fact that Michigan is not being called the Great Lakes State for nothing; but having 4 of the 5 (read: HOMES for Huron, Ontario+, Michigan, Erie and Superior) traversing its shores, you can only expect both its blessings and curses in uncanny fashion.

Speaking of fashion, although I do not walk on a hot tin roof, I do find myself tip-toeing on the cold snow-covered cemented walkway everyday, clad in my multi- colored winter, or I say wind-chill, proof outfit that will put any creations of that eccentric French designer Jean Paul Gaultier to shame. On better days, I would hurriedly walk, side-stepping the icy parts and treading gingerly towards the garage doorway, panting hard amid the thin air and breathing smoke in the process while at the same time admiring the snowflakes dancing in the air. On most days, I am looking more like a tired smoke belcher on the road than on a runway, looking more and more like the Michelin man than a handsome one, the part that one only gets to play in the realms of one’s dreams when REM finally sets in.

Simply put, the daily struggle is not a stuff made for pleasant dreams. It is actually bordering on the edge of nightmare. But man since time immemorial is made of much sterner stuff than most living things and this daily struggle of mine will soon be relegated to the tundra of my erratic memory as I continue to confront the challenges of daily life.

But Michigan’s natural beauty can ably compensate for its brutality. Yes, it may be so damn cold sometimes that you can even bet that the fires of hell will surely freeze in this place, but its beauty and sights are really magnificent, too, especially during the fall and winter seasons. So, I say that the great divide between heaven and hell, of beauty and madness is in reality just a very thin line albeit a coarse one.

Hell, by the way, is also a small town found in Michigan where many Michiganders would take the time to drive there during the tax season and have their income tax return postmarked in its little post office before sending them out to ol’ Uncle Sam to show their profound feelings for him. Of course, a trek to that place is not complete without buying the ubiquitous bumper stickers that you see in many cars in Motown that reads, “I’ve been to HELL and Back.”

That being to Hell and back can also adequately apply to me in whatever notions that you can formulate in your mind. Yes, I’ve been burned a lot, not because I like to play with fire but because I am just a fool, a really stubborn fool. I’ve been there and suffered enough, truth is, the fires did burn me yet it did not unfaze me, but it can become quite cold and lonely out there, and that’s the hardest part.

If in the future I will find myself taking the road less traveled again, even though I know that, that road will only lead me to hell. I will still gladly take them for I know that at the end of that dark and unpaved road lays the sacred fruit of heaven.


Note: I was tinkering with my site's layout a week ago, when I realized that I inadvertently deleted some of my posts. Darn. My apologies to the persons who commented on those posts that were unceremoniously sent to the dustbin of history. :(

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Obama Hotline

No, this picture doesn’t paint a thousand words but it shows US Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking on the phone while holding the receiver upside down which became the stuff of urban legend early in the year which of course as expected proven to be fake.


But this photo is genuine and this is a flier for a phone sex hotline. No, this post is not because I patronize those sex hotlines being advertised on late night TV but this is because of what the Democrats in Michigan re-defining the hotline concept in this year’s presidential campaign.

Here’s an excerpt of what the Associated Press reported the other day--

DETROIT -- A flier sent by Michigan Democrats featuring a photo of Barack Obama that urged voters to submit an absentee ballot application includes a telephone number connecting callers to a phone sex line...



Now, that's a real hotline to Barack, if you ask me.


Say again, Ooh- Bah- Maah?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crazy 8




Allan Caidic, once one of the most feared shooters in the Asian Games as well as in the Philippine Basketball Association’s history, is also my favorite local ball player next to the Skywalker Samboy Lim. Oh yes, the number 8 is the Triggerman’s number.

On a parallel note, like him I can also hit those shots from downtown. I’ve won some moolah in friendly bets and also hit some game- winning shots in pick- up games, too. But no, just to crush whatever notion in your mind, I am not NBA- material that is worth your while (although my 3- point shot is within its standard range). I am not a qualified Liga ng mga Barangay hotshot either.

I can’t outrun the youngsters anymore and would find myself huffing and puffing just minutes into the intense basketball skirmishes that characterize the Filipino brand of basketball in my neck of the woods. I am now actually more comfortable in trying to unseat Richard Gomez as the image model of that Philippine clothing company that he endorses and I’ve been warming up the seat for the longest time now in actual B-ball games in preparation for that eventuality.

But this entry is neither about basketball nor modeling, but it is more about a higher calling, of looking deeper into somebody’s life, in trying to find some answers to some questions.

This is about what the Ladyship of 12th Sanctuari has commanded me to do, which is to make a list of 8 random facts about myself; a task that is quite hard for this mere mortal. So, I need to face the odds lest I will be condemned to eternal damnation in the form of not letting me lay my hungry eyes again on her wonderful and delightful gastronomic creations.

Although I live in Motown, Slim Shady I am not and will probably get lost in the dozens of strip clubs along 8 Mile in dangerous Metro Detroit. The Eminems I know are not Marshall Mathers the rap star (and his posse) but a bit more on the sweet side, the multi- colored M&M’s that I usually ingest if I happen to skip breakfast.

Also, I don’t wield the power and influence of those people in the City of Man running around town with bodyguards and riding in super-sized vehicles fueled by the power symbol of that lucky number 8.

Anyway, to make the long and winding story short, let me just re-learn how to count again. So, let’s go and do the 8- list, pronto!

One for the money…
I will never get rich even if I die tryin’ since I was born with a hole in my pocket. I guess you could say that I am not a boxer but an Okinawan practitioner, more at home with an open palm than a clenched fist. The word spendthrift really suits me.

Two for the shoe…
I don’t have a blue suede pair like Elvis but I am a certified shoe- hog. I have a collection that is more than the average Juan but less than the notorious Filipina butterfly during her time in Malacanang. But I am not a sucker for the dear and expensive ones. I buy my Nikes and Jordans from various online and in- store sale from Finish Line. My shoe mantra is- if it’s more than 40 bucks, I will never wear one.

Three to get ready…

Ready or not here I come! Yes, I am an impulsive lot and sometimes I get into trouble because of being one. I can’t say that it was all that bad since the rollercoaster ride was actually better than I expected it to be although I can honestly say that the road less traveled is not for the faint- hearted.

Four- tune…

This is not a misspelling that you sometimes find in a fortune cookie. This is about how I can carry a tune. They say that anybody can whistle but I just really can’t and it’s the main reason why I never dared singing John Lennon’s Jealous Guy even if I’m drunk. And 4 stands for the musical instruments that I can manhandle even in my sleep.

Five for Fighting…

I grew up in a tough neighborhood and “sport” usually means a way of settling scores by way of the fists. I cannot count in my fingers the times that I have found myself in those situations but I guess it’s safe to say that I've had my fair share of blood and bruises while growing up. Some funny lessons that I learned along the way-- that some people fight with their eyes closed, the loudmouths were always the cowards, and to always have a back- up plan if things don’t go your way including the age- old discipline of Bitbit- tse. He-he. Funny, but I’ve also learned through experience that the people that I fought against with are the same ones who end up being your trusted friends and allies that will also fight for you and along side you until the very end.

Six- pack…

This is not about my abs although I wish to have one like Bruce Lee’s or the Pacman in my own sweet time. A six- pack is a six- pack and it’s a good way to drown your misery or be high in glory. Nah, I am not that much of a drinker anymore. What used to be a penchant for hard alcohol in my youth is now mellowed by the fine taste of wine. Nowadays, I’ll pick a pinot over a martini anytime. But beer is an old favorite of mine. I do drink a bottle once in a while and boy I miss those ice- cold SMB. Someday, I plan to go to Bavaria and experience Oktoberfest, first hand. I do have a lot of tales to tell during my time with a bottle to pass me by and hopefully I can share them with you when the spirit in the shot glass wakes up.

Lucky number Sleven…

7-11. My Japanese name has seven letters and I was born on the 11th day of the summer in the year of the dog which reflects why many girls think that I am so hot- NOT! --Having led a checkered one half of my life, I guess "too hot to handle" is probably the more apt description here. He-he.

Although I can give the Filipino comedian Bayani Agbayani a run for his money in the waist department, he will definitely kick my butt in the dance craze that he popularized since due to my bulging tummy, it will be a struggle for me to do the crazy Ocho- ocho.

I could go on and on, ramble some never- ending trivia and facts about my so- called life but the royal edict by the ruler of 12th Sanctuari limits the freedom of this jester to excrete more juices than he already had. Be that as it may, I think therefore that the eight random facts about myself that I spilled here is fairly enough in this case.

Now, let's do the Ocho- ocho...

Note: If you're wondering about the photo above, click here and be amazed and enlightened.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Still Crazy...



In my mind, I’m back in the place I love the most, a place where whenever I think of, brings a lot of memories. Of sweet memories that will forever be a part of me no matter where this vagabond life will take me.

Back in the day, I never even thought of being in this cold, cold place that’s been my home for the last 5 years, most of all, of packing my bags, of leaving the old country for good and of being thousands of miles away from “home”.

I guess I am/was just a simple man, more at home in the simple life. I am/was a man with simple dreams wherein deep inside abhor the bright lights of the great country. That’s why for the longest time, I tried to shy away from its pull. But like the nymph dangling her magic potion to her unsuspecting victim, I finally succumbed to her allure.

And if you ask me now that if I could turn back the hands of time and do it all over again, would I still do it the same way? Yeah, sure. I don’t know. Maybe. Who knows? Who cares?

I had my reasons back then and I still have my reasons now.



But in those days, I had this mind-set that you can always blame to youthful idealism; where you feel invincible, where the fire in your heart drives your every decision, where your own life is nothing compared to the common good, where everything you do is being romanticized in your mind…

…Until the sorry state of everything you hold dear stared back at you in contempt and disdain. And that’s the hardest thing to accept. Even now.



So, here I am in the wee hours of the morning, writing this little nonsense while stuck in the old couch in front of the old console TV, while under the influence of that sweet wine from Leelanau.

The place is so quiet and dark except for the light coming from this old laptop that obviously has seen better days. Alas, the weatherman proclaimed earlier that we might just get some frost early tomorrow. Nice. Too early, actually. Not good.

So you ask me now, what I have become?

I still long to be back in the old country someday: I still want to walk the lonely walk in the narrow trails of the barrios in the Bondoc Peninsula; I still long to be around the bonfires with the the peasants somewhere in the quiet nooks of the Cordilleras, Samar or Margosatubig.

I still love the simple life; the smell of fresh air and the orange sunrise, the sight of beautiful flowers and the sound of the birds chirping in the morning.

I still love the feel of a quiet moment, the serene mist that blankets the river, the feel of the cold grass on my bare feet, the distant stars, the silvery moonlight and the dancing fireflies in the evening…

And yes, I am still crazy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Marka Demonyo



“Hindi rin ako nayamot sa tren gaya sa bapor ngunit ako’y masiadong nag-iisa kaya halos lahat ng aking mga kasama, nagsisilapit at minsan-minsan akong hinahanap. Mayroon tuloy akong nakilalang isang Ingles na may gustong pumunta sa P.I. [Philippine Islands] at dalawang Amerikano na doon ang tungo. Ang isa ay sundalo at madalas akong kinakausap ng Kastila at Tagalog. Ang unang tanong sa akin ay ang Sampaloc at ‘Mucho bueno ba ang puki Espanol?’

“Mayroon namang isang matandang Americano na sa dining coach ay kinausap ako agad ng Kastila. Nang sinabi ko na ako’y Filipino ay agad tinanong ako ng opinion ko about our independencia. Sina [not legible] siya na kung ako’y gagawing Presidente ay dapat na ngang maging independiente tayo ngunit kung hindi ay huwag nang ibigay kahit kelan. Sapagkat kung hindi rin ako gagawing presidente o emperador ay hindi mawawala ang partido ng mangkukulam.

“Bago kami makaraan ng Salt Lake ay nakakita ako ng mina at conejo.

“Ang hindi ko gusto ay ang aking pagtulog. Magbuhat Chicago hindi na ako nakatikim ng lower berth. Maraming Amerikanang magaganda ngunit walang libre banat.

“Kahapon ng hapon pinasial ko ang city sa bus. Nakita ko ang Cliff House, Golden Gate, Presidio, etc.

“Kaninang umaga higit na tatlong oras ako sa Museo sa Golden Gate. Very poor ang Museo. Dito pinapakilala ng Amerikano ang kanilang ignorance in art taste. Sa sculpture room wala akong napili kundi dalawa o tatlo (ang isa’y itong postal). Halos lahat na ay amanerado tila mga yari ng isang fabrica de marmol o escultura para restaurant o pangadorno sa mga salon de club.

“Tumagal lamang ako ng konti sa room ng last War at sa Spanish-American War. Dito ko nakita ng ilang nauukol sa Revolucion Filipina, etc.etc.

“Pag-alis ko sa Museo ay nabasa akong mabuti at gutom na gutom ako at natae ako ng matigas.

“Kamusta na lang sa kaluluwa mo."


--Excerpts from the letter Fernando Amorsolo wrote to his buddy Guillermo Tolentino about his US trip in the 1900s. I nicked ‘em from Ambeth Ocampo’s Inquirer Column.

They say that you can get a glimpse of a person's soul by reading his writings. The letter in a way, gave us a piece of the esteemed painter’s mind. He-he.

The Philippines' first National Artist in painting known for his beautiful portraits and evocative rural landscapes also had a hand behind the famous and ubiquitous Ginebra San Miguel logo that portrays “St. Michael Vanquishing the Devil” although if you’re a member of the “tumbang- baso” gang, you can argue that it's always the other way around once the spirit of that stainless liquid find its way into your bloodstream.

Anyway, if I am in Manila, I will not miss this exhibit dubbed “His Art, Our Heart- The Amorsolo Retrospective” that showcases the master’s works in various museums that runs until next year.

Manila, Manila...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let's Talk About S-E-X




Sex a 'hassle,' says 105-year-old virgin

Agence France-Presse | 10/10/2008 7:05 PM

LONDON - A British woman who celebrated her 105th birthday this week said the secret to long life was celibacy, adding that she imagined sex was a "lot of hassle."

Clara Meadmore, who marked her birthday with a drop of wine at the Perran Bay nursing home in Cornwall, southwest England, also received a card from Queen Elizabeth II.

"People have asked me whether I am a homosexual and the answer is no," Meadmore said.

"I have just never been interested in sex.

"I imagine there is a lot of hassle involved and I have always been busy doing other things."

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1903, Meadmore lived in Canada and New Zealand as a child before returning to Britain in her 20s to work as a secretary and housekeeper.

She served with the army in Egypt during World War II, and subsequently lived in London and New Zealand before retiring 40 years ago in Cornwall.




Hmmm, let’s just forgive the Lady…

---For she obviously doesn't know what she's talking about. :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

BBC: Harry & Paul's 'Mating a Northerner with a Filipina Maid'


If you find the film clip below funny then there must be something wrong with your head.

In this day and age, this kind of show which pokes fun at other people, races or statures in life has no place in a civilized society especially if the main aim is to earn some cheap laughs or two.

I say, SHAME on the British Broadcasting Corporation (or shall we say, the British Bigotry Corporation?) for ever allowing this sketch to be shown on TV. It may be funny for some especially for the kind of people who patronizes this kind of comedy being served on their laps by Harry & Paul, but for every decent citizen of the world it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

If the people behind Harry and Paul think that they can get away with this particular brand of "British Humor" then they are mistaken for in reality the JOKE is really on them.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote in his book and I quote,
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.’


Monday, September 29, 2008

Quantum of Solace: Another Way To Die

The name's Bond, James Bond...





Here' the video of the new 007 Theme, featuring Jack White and Alicia Keys--








Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Broadway Marvel: Spider- Man




Yes, Peter Parker a.k.a. Spidey, if my mole (naks!) is to be believed, will scale and crawl the sacred walls of Broadway next year.

This bit of marvelous info is from Mr. David Maisel himself, the chairman of Marvel Studios who revealed the news in an interview while attending the Thomas Weisel Consumer Conference in New York.

Mr. Maisel, who once worked in the Great White Way by way of the 1999 Tony- award winning musical Fosse confirmed that the musical has been in the works for the past 3 ½ years.

He also revealed that U2’s Bono and the Edge were commissioned to do the music and Julie Taymor (The Lion King) was tapped to direct the said musical.

This early, it will be interesting to know the songs that U2 will come up for this musical. No, “Itsy- bitsy spider” is not one of them, if you ask me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Of Autumn, Escapism and Beauty


Although autumn officially begins tomorrow, I felt its welcome presence as early as a week or two ago when I went out for my early morning jog (okay, walk) around Heritage Park in nearby Taylor.

The leaves are beginning to change their hues, the mornings becoming mistier and the dews more pronounced on grasses. Yes, the chill is here, complete with that smoke in your breath and the endless flocks of birds stopping by on their journey to a place that is far, safe and warm.

Although Fall is very conducive for writing, I am not inclined to start anything. No, not yet. My pen is still in hibernation while my mind is elsewhere, somewhere…

I am just in escapist’s mood lately--

I have been watching a lot of movies whether it was from the DVDs that I borrowed from the local library or in the nearby Dollar Theater in Allen Park. Just yesterday morning, I went to watch Righteous Kill, the new De Niro/ Pacino movie for $4 at the MJR Digital Cinema. I availed myself of the Super Saver promo wherein you get to watch new movies for half the price provided you buy your tickets and watch the movie before 12 noon.

Also I downloaded an audio converter which I am now using to convert my CD collections into MP3s. I still have 28 days to go before the trial period ends. So, the little bit of free time that I have is being spent in seclusion, converting and uploading music to my Multiply and mind you, I have several accounts in this very user- friendly, social- networking site not to mention a lot of features that you just can’t find anywhere.

I made a Friendster account before and except for a once in a blue moon visit, I actually neglected the whole thing. Its very limited features are frustrating enough and not worth anybody’s while if you ask me. Well, probably that’s just me. As they usually say, “To each his own?” He-he.

And what will be escapism without books?

I’ve been reading a lot of pot boilers, too. The non- fiction has to take a back seat for the time being. I just don’t know but I am in no mood for that stuff lately. So, Patterson, Sanford, Silva, Griffin, Deighton and Le Carre are my circle of friends for now.

I even added my name to the library’s waiting list (#71) for the new Jason Bourne novel, The Bourne Sanction by Eric Lustbader. I’ve read some of his novels before and this I can say, the guy can write. I think this is the second book about the Bourne series by the late master Robert Ludlum that he did and I feel that he is up to the task. Still, I will not part with my $20 for the hard cover one. He- he.

But the mother of escapism for this couch potato is the idiot box-

Sports is a given but the TV programs are just quite hard to pass up. I used to love ER but I have grown tired of it to tell you the truth and I am glad that this will be their last season. I am now biased to CBS when it comes to programming though. The CSI series, Criminal Minds, Numbers will always be up there. But you can add my good friend, Adrian Monk of USA Network to the list too. I do watch Law and Order- Special Victims Unit and House from other networks although not on a regular basis.

Oh, don’t get me started on the net for it will be a never- ending…..get the picture? He-he.




Fall is beautiful not only for its colors but it also heralds the return of those TV series mentioned. So, on Tuesday, I am looking forward to get reacquainted and be reunited again with my little darling Ziva David, a Mossad agent on loan with NCIS. This petite actress from Chile is such an eye candy. Oh yes, she can kick ass, too!

Her name, by the way is Cote de Pablo.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

*61

You used to tell me when I would admonish you about your drinking
that just like Edgar Allan Poe with his Amontillado, you need your beer
to summon the creative spirit from deep within you.

Yes, you were quite an artist albeit a temperamental one
everyday you pursued the muses, challenged the gods
and wrestled with the demons that came your way.

Although in the end you succumbed to the frailties that made and unmade you. This I can say--

You put up a good fight, laughed your heart out and enjoyed the ride…


Tonight, I will drink a bottle of beer in your honor
but instead of an Ice-cold San Miguel, I’ll toast a Michelob for you.

So, I say Kampai to you Akihiko!


+++ My Japanese father AKI was born in autumn 2 years after the end of the Second World War and left in May, 18 summers ago to play chess and drink with his buddies in the great beyond.

He would have been 61 today.
#


I'll share with you this lovely piece of music by Stanley Myers. It is the theme from one of my Dad's favorite movies, "The Deer Hunter" performed here by the lovely Croatian virtuoso, Ana Vidovic--




This is the trailer of probably the last movie that we watched together, "Empire of the Sun" with John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Ben Stiller and a very young Christian Bale. It was directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Welsh Lullaby, "Sou Gan" is just so beautiful.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So beat it, just beat it


Monroe St.
Dearborn, MI



"My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places." -- A. A. Milne

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ninoy



I was 13 and had just came back from a day of playing ball with some friends in the neighborhood basketball court when I saw my Lolo and Lola huddled with serious looks on their faces around the old Sony, listening intently to the commentator’s pronouncements and unmindful of everything around them.

After the radio announcement, my Lolo could only muttered in his soft voice that, “Marcos is finished.”

The assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. or Ninoy on August 21, 1983 further stirred my interest in Philippine politics. I decided to know him better and managed to learn more about him-- from the stories and anecdotes passed on by people who were old enough to remember him to the old issues of the Philippine Free Press and other magazines in our possessions at that time.

My uncle who was in the United States would send us photocopies of the San Jose Mercury News and the New York Times as well as betamax tapes of news about the assassination from foreign networks that were not available in the Philippines due to the strict censorship in the country.

When the mosquito press came out, I devoured Malaya and Mr. & Ms. from cover to cover aside from the daily doses of the government- controlled publications like the Bulletin and Daily Express. I also learned in the process that the “Crying Lady” Rebecca Quijano who claimed to have witnessed Ninoy Aquino’s assassination by his soldier- escorts hailed from the neighboring town of Malinao and was my mother’s student at the Saint Agnes Academy in Legaspi City years earlier.

I was well- versed and schooled in politics early in life since I grew up in a political family what with my grandfather having been mayor of the town in the mid- 50’s and one of the leaders of Bicol Saro, the opposition group in the Bicol Region against the Marcos dictatorship. My grandfather was a soft- spoken man and a well- respected political leader because of his principles when politics is not as dirty and shameless as today.

So my taking interest in politics is like fish to water. I was at my grandfather’s side in meetings and other activities during those chaotic days when they were consolidating the opposition in the town and the province. I acted as his errand boy, avid listener and confidante.

I was a witness during the times when he and some well- meaning friends fought the lonely battles against the dictatorship. I was there when he endured the bitter taste of defeat and experienced the sweet taste of victory during that dark period in our nation’s history.


It was 25 long years now and yet I can recall vividly the event that unfurled that fateful day with ease. I can always picture the scene, a scene that although buried in the deep recesses of my mind can be summoned back in an instant. It was one of those scenes that probably will never be erased from one’s memory.

A lot of things have occured since Ninoy's death at the hands of his assassins and we have seen a bevy of characters parade and shamelessly strut their wares right under our noses and are largely responsible for the current state that the Philippines is in--

-rotten, corrupt, unstable and in shambles.

Nowadays, we can only shake our heads as we grapple to find the answer to the question on whether Ninoy is still relevant or not.

The Filipino is worth dying for?






Here's more from the Probe Team--







Benigno S. Aquino Jr, Cory Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Ninoy, Philippine History, Philippine Politics

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Lord of Five Rings



I am now officially a nocturnal animal. I’ve never been the early- to- bed type of guy though since I am usually up late at night. I mean really late when it comes to catching those precious winks. My normal bed time is actually between 1-2 early morns. But nowadays I am up until 8- 10 in the morning depending on what’s up on my menu. In another world, you can consider that as early, not late.

For the record I have not ventured outside my hideaway in the daytime and have never felt the sun shine on my skin. For the past two weeks, I was in another world. My sun became the moon and the moon became my sun. And I am positive that it will remain this way in the next several days or so.

I have evolved into a creature of darkness. I am a night owl. No, make that a vampire sans the blood thirst. In my case, my elixir is quite different from these abominable creatures. In my case, you can make that either an ice- cold lager or an equally ice- cold Coca- cola. And throw in some mixed nuts and chips for good measure.

I know I have changed and I am really positive of that. I have no one else to blame but me. I am now like this because of trying to make myself faster, higher and stronger right in the comforts of my couch. Yes, I am a couch potato cum athlete trying my darned best to combat my incurable addiction to the Olympics on TV.

And to emulate Napoleon, I now crown myself as the Lord of Five Rings.


Citius. Altius. Fortius.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spanish Eyes




The picture above of Spain’s national basketball team competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics doing their best “slit- eyed” gestures in a publicity photo for their sponsor is creating a ruckus in the sporting world. The said photo has been regularly running in Spanish newspapers since July and the nosy British newspaper aptly- named the Guardian got wind of it and broke it to the world press.

It’s no big deal though for many Spaniards as can be gleaned from Spanish guard Jose Calderon's statements who just shrugged it off and muttered, “We did it because we thought it was going to be something nice…It is too much of a big deal with you guys and everybody talking about it. “

I am not surprised though since the Spaniards are known for that and history can prove that and we don’t need to look back a hundred years to do just that---

Back in 2004, Thierry Henry, a black Frenchman and one of the best soccer players in the world was the subject of racist slur by Luis Aragones, Spain’s manager when he called one of his players and said something to motivate him against Henry.

"Tell that negro de mierda [black s***] that you are much better than him. Tell him from me. You have to believe in yourself; you're better than that negro de mierda."


Also in 2004, when the English soccer team visited the capital Madrid for some friendly game, the black members heard some whistles and monkey chants from the spectators whenever they got the ball.

And recently when Lewis Hamilton, McLaren’s black Formula One driver came to visit, some fans of his rival Fernando Alonso took it upon themselves to show how they feel about him by painting their faces black while at the same time wearing T-shirts that says “Hamilton’s Family.”

...And that folks answers the origin of the Filipinos penchant for name- calling and our preference to bleach our beautiful brown skin white?

I guess, more than 300+ years of Spanish rule made us like that.

Muy mal! :)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fiesta

Tomorrow is the start of the three- day Fiesta celebration in my hometown Tiwi in Albay in honor of the town’s Patron Saint, the martyred Saint Lawrence and the Miraculous Our Lady of Salvation, the Patroness of the Diocese of Legaspi. It’s a celebration witnessed and participated upon by various pilgrims from places all over the Bicol region and beyond.

Although I am not that religious anymore and a self- confessed non- practicing Catholic nowadays, I just cannot forget the customs and traditions that have been a part of my growing- up years.

Yes, I still remember my religion class quite well, also being a “Sacristan” when I was a kid helped me a lot in knowing things beyond the four Evangelists. In fact, I still can recite Padre Huestro and Dios Te Salve Maria in a heartbeat.

The Fiesta is usually highlighted by a colorful grand parade through the crowded streets of the town participated by various schools, organizations and local government units and culminating with the traditional exhibitions by the majorettes and drums corps in front of the municipal hall.

I used to participate in this so- called pomp and pageantry Tiwi- style and had my share of funny and amusing anecdotes to last me a lifetime. The funny thing is, I just learned yesterday that my composition is still being used by my high school alma mater in its drum and bugle corps exhibitions. That piece which I accidentally composed while tinkering with the lyre and drums during a lazy afternoon is more than 20 years old now. Ha-ha-ha.

Which brings me to Keisuke's email. He is, by the way, a former Japanese student from Tokyo (now a seasoned JOCV in South America having been posted to Peru and Bolivia for years now) who once stayed with us in Tiwi for a couple of months to immerse in the culture and way of life of the Filipinos and at the same time, study the methods of farming by the locals compared to the Japanese before his graduation back in Japan. But I will talk about him and all the Japanese students who have stayed with us dating back to my childhood in the 70s in a separate post.

Anyway, attached in the email is a short video of the now defunct Coron Festival as the parade of the various portrayals of colorful but historically incorrect characters (but what the heck, let them have their 6+ minutes of fame here) of the Tiwinhons of yore passed by. This was taken in front of our house in 2002, two years before I left town for the United States. Oh yes, my Mom and Madiay (Our selfless Yaya who's been with us since God- knows when) together with another Japanese student, Makiko made a brief cameo in the slide show. I should say, Kei has a sense of humor, too.

I am posting the video here for posterity and nothing else (except of course for the obvious self- indulgence on my part. Got to buy some laugh somehow, you know? ). So, pardon me.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hiroshima





Drifters in the night

Flowers under the moonshine

Longing for the Sun...





And here's my blog post written two years ago today--

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Monday, August 04, 2008

Go Home, Ivan

Back in 1989 when many of friends were reading Mao, Lenin and Marx, I got hold of a book whose narrative were based mostly on eyewitness accounts as well as the writer’s own experiences as a political prisoner inside the Soviet GULag. GULag by the way is an acronym for "Chief Administration for Corrective Labor Camps" which is the name of the Soviet Union’s concentration camp’s governing board.

The three- volume Arkhipelag GULag or The Gulag Archipelago is such a compelling read and quite an eye- opener especially at that time where all things Russian was either based on hear- say or propaganda. The book which was smuggled in parts out of the Iron Curtain and first published outside of the Soviet Union in 1973 was written by a Russian novelist and historian who was also the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970.

I have only read one other book by the said author which is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (although I have August 1914 in my book shelf) but these two thought- provoking masterpieces were enough to convince me of the man’s brilliance as well as admire his dogged determination to defy a God-less and oppressive system that tried but failed to break his spirit and stifle his faith.

Today, the man who exposed the Russian GULag and life under communism in his writings is dead at 89.




Alexander Solzhenitsyn
December 11, 1918- August 3, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Long Ago & Far Away








...who traipses in the outskirts of my hippocampus.




Note: Someone Else's Story from the musical Chess.

Sunday, June 15, 2008



I cannot paint you, my love.
Your calm eyes clashed with the storm in your heart.
Thoughts wrapped alone in the cold, followed the scene
I created; the essence is lost as memories came crashing into
the walls of brown earth and hot kisses going up in smoke.

The colors are smeared, the canvas remained blank and my eyes burnt.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lip Service



"Particularly important to note on this day is the continuing struggle of Filipino World War II veterans to receive the veterans benefits they rightfully deserve. During World War II, Filipino and American troops fought bravely together under some of the most trying conditions suffered by any forces during that conflict, forging a historic bond between our two nations and their people. Filipinos displayed great courage alongside American soldiers at Bataan and Corregidor, only to be denied their just benefits by our government. The Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 would honor the service of all U.S. veterans, including these Filipino World War II heroes. The Senate passed this bill last April. I urge my colleagues in Congress to take note of this day to honor the heroic service of Filipino World War II veterans by finally turning this important legislation into law."

Such was the very eloquently written statement released by the office of Democratic Presidential Candidate and US Senator Barack Obama yesterday during the commemoration and celebration of Philippine Independence. Nice words indeed especially coming from a very charismatic leader and future (?) president of the most powerful country in the world.

A lot of Filipinos especially Filipino- Americans hailed the Democratic Standard Bearer's pronouncement of showing his support to the cause of the aging Filipino War Veterans in their fight for full recognition from the US government and restitution of full veteran status and benefits that they were entitled to in the first place that were unceremoniously stripped off by the US government because of the Rescission Act of 1946, an act of blatant discrimination against the United States' “Brown Brothers” since this was never the case with the other veterans of the 66 Allied countries that fought alongside Uncle Sam’s Army against the evil Axis powers.

Barack Obama for all his posturing and eloquence on the podium advocating change is nothing but a seasoned and wily politician just like many of his colleagues in Washington D.C. He can play and act the part that he wants to and can get away with it or so he thinks.

But contrary to a lot of delirious Filipinos, I am not buying his sugar- coated statements that he dispenses to entice the Filipino Community in the US to support him in his historic quest for the Presidency of the United States.

The statement that he dished out during our nation’s day of independence is nothing but a hallow ploy to get the coveted Filipino- Americans' vote in his fight for the White House against Republican John McCain come November this year.

For the truth of the matter, although he put his name as one of the co- sponsors of the said bill in 2007 that Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii espoused, he was far from being sincere in pushing for the passage of the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 in the US Senate.

In fact, he was nowhere to be found when it finally passed the Senate by a vote of 96-1. He was also absent when the Senate debated on an amendment that will remove a provision providing a limited pension for Filipino WWII veterans residing in the Philippines. The said amendment was narrowly defeated on the floor by a 56- 41 margin.

So where was Barack Obama during that particular time?

He was just busy on the campaign trail somewhere for the one- sided Democratic nomination that he already wrapped - up months earlier by virtue of his insurmountable delegates lead over Senator Hillary Clinton and conveniently forgot his obligation to the Filipino veterans for the bill that he promised to support.

On the other hand, Senator Clinton without fanfare took time out from her hectic campaign and flew to the nation’s capital to cast her vote in favor of granting full veterans status and benefits to their Filipino brothers in arms, 60 long years after the end of the bitter war.

Now, who do you think is more sincere between the former protagonists, media mileage notwithstanding?

Hmmm…

But the issue between Barack and Hillary is water under the bridge now. But the issue regarding the status of these grizzled old warriors is still up in the air.

Note: Although the bill was passed in the Senate, the US House of Representative failed to act on it as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California removed it from the House’s agenda following a letter from a group of self- proclaimed Filipino patriots who were against the passage of the bill because it did not conform to their own version. It’s really a shame that the Filipino veterans' quest for recognition is once again torpedoed by another group of Filipino lobbyists on Capitol Hill with their own hidden agenda. Another case of Crab mentality at its worst, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, the 18,000 or so surviving Filipino WWII Veterans are being decimated by old age, diseases and illnesses day by day.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Free Journey REVELATION CD/DVD





This is to give Arnel Pineda and Journey Fans outside of North America the chance to own their new REVELATION CD/DVD ALBUM. So, US and Canada Residents are disqualified to join since you can easily buy the said album at a store near you.

I am a Filipino Journey Fan and I am putting my money where my mouth is. So, I am giving away 2 Revelation Albums every month starting June 30, 2008 until December 30, 2008 in support of Arnel Pineda’s unparalleled journey with Journey through lottery drawing every 15th and 30th of the month.

To qualify, you must be a certified blogger and your site should be current. You can add yourself to the new Arnel Pineda & Journey Fan Group in Multiply, REVELATION if you want to but it's not necessary to avail of the prize. For non- multiply users, you can post a shoutout about your intention to participate in the contest at the cbox located on the left side of this website. Or simply put 'em in the comment section below.

You can also submit your name or pseudoname and the URL of your website/ blog at journey.rocks@yahoo.com or journey(dot)rocks@yahoo.com or for questions about your eligibility. No strings attached, free shipping worldwide.


Winners will be posted on this website at half an hour after the contest ends. If you win, you can contact me at the same email address for your postal address.


The first drawing will be on June 30, 2008 8 pm EST.






GO FORTH AND SPREAD THE WORD…

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spring Break






The Blogger is on a self- imposed sabbatical from blogging to recharge his batteries. He'll be back on the second Monday of June 2008.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lea Addict




Anybody who’s been here before knows that I have a huge crush on Lea Salonga since way back and you can certainly label me as a certified fanatic of the singer- actress. Ha-ha.

Yes, folks all you have to do is search my archives here and you’ll know what I mean. And I do travel near and far just to watch her perform, too.

So, indulge me once again as I share with you this snippet of her performance at the taping of The Sharon Cuneta Show which ABS- CBN will air on Sunday, May 18, 2008.



Video: mjrodis


Update Alert!
--I've recently updated my other blogs/sites under the Perfect Circle category. You can visit them if you have time to spare. It's no big deal really but to quote my dear old Forrest, "It's like a box of chocolates...You never know what you gonna get!" :)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The MoMA Experience



Here's a blast from the past...




Summer in New York City and the heat was just unbearable. And yet we were out walking the streets and avenues, doing our own version of the Theater Tour in Broadway’s Theater District when we decided to take a breather near the historic Ziegfeld Theater at the intersection between 54th Street and 6th Avenue (a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas since 1945 but Mayor La Guardia’s ploy did not catch up with New Yorkers. Hence, 6th Avenue is still 6th Avenue until now).

It was one of those days that can easily classify as a Dog Day Afternoon (No, I am not about to do a stunt ala Al Pacino in that Sidney Lumet film although I am tempted to shout “Attica!” in the midst of this August heat) and a bottle of Gatorade chased by cold water from a Dasani bottle did not help that much to quench our thirst and ignore the heat.

We have been walking since 9 o’ clock in the morning from our not-so- comfy room at the Skyline Hotel, a three- star structure located at Hell’s Kitchen in West Manhattan.

To the uninitiated, Hell’s Kitchen is where the Sharks and the Jets once hold court as well as where Tony and Maria immortalized Somewhere in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (Ok, Arthur Laurents penned the book and Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics) and is now also known as Clinton (yes, you can bet your bottom dollar that it was because of Bill moving in the neighborhood) or simply Midtown West to New Yorkers.

Then while sitting in one of the empty benches, my eyes wandered around the area which by the way is a normal thing for this wide- eyed wanderer (sorry, Sir Elton, gotta borrow the lines somehow) and caught the billboards of the theater where The Great Raid movie was being advertised and saw a picture of Cesar Montano in one of those glass- enclosed casings.

Now, what is the chance that it will ever happen again in that hallowed place in Midtown Manhattan wherein a fellow Pinoy’s picture was prominently displayed in that prestigious and historic building where Broadway Musicals like Kismet, Showboat and of course, the Ziegfeld Follies just to name a few once called home? Nil, Nada, Zip, I guess.

So, we did what every normal tourist in the Big Apple was expected to do-- point and shoot, point and shoot until we decided that it was time to continue with our adventure under the hot afternoon sun.

Then in the corner of my eye I caught a very long and winding line of tourists and New Yorkers alike queuing towards the door of a building which turned out to be the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Our curiosities picked, we decided (again!) to follow our instinct as well, and we fell in line just like the rest and found out that the museum entrance fee of $20 was waived for the day courtesy of Target, the department store chain.

Now, we were actually planning to visit the museum the next day but only a fool will pass this kind of opportunity not only that it was free (and there’s no such thing as free without strings attached in America nowadays) but because it was the MoMA, people!

I’ve visited a lot of Museums in the past and this was the first time that I have seen such a place crawling with noisy and boisterous people far from the usual reserved crowd that I have encountered. There was chaos as hordes of eager- beavers flocked into one gallery after another while posing for pictures beside or in front of masterpieces for posterity under the watchful eyes of worried security people.

We bided our time and did the same thing when the crowd moved to another place to explore while we decided to do it on our own phase and leisurely scour the museum and enjoy the beautiful paintings. We soaked every thing and were lost in the moment as we were re- acquainted with the works by artists that we have only seen in books, posters and magazines before.

So, we marveled at the unique style of abstract expressionism by Jackson Pollock as we tried to decipher the complexity of his brain in his paintings especially the huge One: Number 31. 1950.

We were in awe at Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and its day time companion The Olive Trees and as if I could hear him saying just as his words came out flowing like in his letter to his brother Theo on how the painting was conceived, “This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.”



Now, I can’t fault the singer- songwriter Don McLean for paying homage to him in his song Vincent wherein the song and the songwriter were in turn credited for influencing the Roberta Flack’s song Killing Me Softly. Urban legend or not, it was still a good story.

Claude Monet’s Reflection of Clouds on the Water- Lily Pond was a testament to the French Impressionist’s keen sense and perception of nature’s unequal beauty. I also saw his Gladioli at the Detroit Institute of Arts years back and to say that I was quite impressed is an understatement. He was simply one of the best impressionists in my book.

The imaginative mind of the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali was highly evident in The Persistence of Memory (his most famous works) and Illumined Pleasures while Paul Gauguin depicted Tahitian life in the late 1800s to early 1900s in his paintings. He professed his love for the island and its people by living there until his death. It was ironic that he died of syphilis, but it just probably mirrors how the artist a proponent of “Synthetism” lived his live there.

Of course a visit at the MoMA was not complete without mentioning Señor Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso or maybe we should spare ourselves from the tongue- twister and let’s just call him Pablo Picasso for short.



Together with Georges Braque they pioneered Cubism in the 20th century and looking into one of his masterpieces that depict the five prostitutes in a brothel, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon gave us a glimpse of his genius and we can completely understand why he revolutionized the art world back in the day. Now, if only I can afford to visit the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid to see his other masterpiece, Guernica. I’ll gladly do it in a heartbeat.

Our eyes further feasted on the wide array of priceless artworks from gallery to gallery-- Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’ Keefe, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Constantin Brancusi…

And the list was endless and we were having a good time.

Oh by the way, did I mention that our visit also coincided with a major exhibition entitled the Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865- 1885? It gave us a deeper look on the parallel artistic relationships between the two impressionist giants.

I don’t know how long we were inside the museum but time passes without you noticing it especially when you were in some sort of a time warp; lost in the sea of the art world’s most beautiful creations.

But all good things must come to an end, in this case in the form of a cell phone vibrating inside my pocket. The call was from an old friend who’s been living in New York for the last ten years and who has never been to the MoMA even though she works in Manhattan and lives in Queens. She asked us to meet her at the Toys “R” Us Times Square to catch up on things and have a dinner at the nearby McDonalds before she retires for the night.

Darn. Ha-ha.




c.2005

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Little Manila on PBS






On May 9, 2008, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will be airing a documentary entitled-

Little Manila: Filipinos in California's Heartland


So, if you live in North America, check your local PBS TV Schedule for details.




Here's a brief synopsis of the documentary--

"Filled with chop suey houses, gambling dens, and dance halls, Little Manila was the area in Stockton notoriously called, Skid Row, but it was also the closest thing Filipinos had to a hometown.

In its heyday in the 30s, this lively area had the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines.

We tell the story of Jimmy Ente, Jr., a longtime Stockton resident recruited to work in the asparagus fields. Jimmy, and many other like him, faced backbreaking work, low wages, and at times extreme racism to fulfill their dreams.

Narrated by famed Filipino-American producer, Dean Devlin (Independence Day, The Patriot) this documentary tells the immigrant story as Filipinos experienced it."



Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Nose Knows

Six months ago, I came across an article that was published in a magazine written by a Caucasian whose name I cannot recall, wherein his observations while traveling across Asia merited a page in that sorry magazine (I will not mention the magazine, hence I will be giving them undeserved publicity) that most Asians disgustingly pick their noses in public!

Although I hope that Asians are not again being stereotyped by the said article or are being singled- out because of the size of their nostrils in this case but one can’t help but think otherwise. There are a lot of advantages in having two large holes in one's nares mind you, but it will merit another post for that lest we stray from the topic.

Surely Asians have bigger holes in their noses compared to Caucasians but it doesn’t equate that we are more prone to picking our noses especially in public because of that particular anatomic feature.

On the contrary, this finger digging exercise isn’t confined to only one race and although I do agree with some of that ignorant author's observations, I say that Asians does not have the monopoly of this unsavory practice as nose- picking or nose- digging is a universal phenomenon. And I want this misconception corrected. Ha-ha.

In my travels, I have seen with my own eyes this finger- dipping practice or shall we say exercise being done in the most unusual moments and unexpected places. And majority of the players are not Asians at all. In fact to put it more bluntly, Caucasians dominate my experiences of seeing this booger- rolling events.

Thus, I say that whether you’re white, black, yellow or brown, nose- digging is just one of the many things that we have in common. It’s just in our nature, you see. It's the great equalizer actually.

Anyway, I will not go further into some graphic and gross details just to prove my point but let me just share these pictures from your neighborhood paparazzi showing some of your favorite stars and celebrities doing the precious “dig.”









I REST MY CASE...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feeling Minnesota





It’s late April and still snow continues to fall in Minnesota not surprising for the state at this time of year where the weather forecast says the region will be blanketed in thick snow anytime soon.


We arrived in Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport late last night on our way to San Diego and what greeted us was the nipping wind blowing right into our faces, numbing us in the process. Our Northwest Airlines Flight 755 out of Detroit was delayed by the plane’s spoiler malfunctioning and had to endure a 4 hour flight delay, transferred to another aircraft and missed the connecting flight that will take us to California.

Northwest gave the passengers $100 service recovery vouchers to appease us for the delay and inconvenience. They also booked us in some hotels in downtown Minneapolis to spend the night and catch the first flight to San Diego the next day.

On our way to downtown Minneapolis, we caught a glimpse of a city that is quiet and fast asleep, which was expected though for it was already past 1 am when we finally boarded our shuttle from the airport. The city was deserted with only a few brave souls darting in and out of the sidewalks in the freezing cold as well as a few cars plying its wet narrow streets.



We settled in a quiet Country Inn miles away from the airport. We inquired at the desk if the bar and restaurant is still open since we were all starving but was told by the clerk that it was already done for the night. So, I gave the clerk my meal voucher and grab whatever food that my two trembling hands (probably due to hypoglycemia) can grab in the small convenience store in front of the registration area.

To make the long story short, I threw all my diet plans and regimen to the wind and ended up gorging on junk foods and sodas one after the other while surfing the net until the wee hours of the morning. I never thought that Maruchan cup noodles could taste so good and the ice- cold cola beverage rejuvenating!

Afterwards, I took a quick dip at the heated pool to relieve some of the stress from my tired and aching body. I went to bed 30 minutes later since I have to wake up for the 7:30 shuttle pick up and slept like a log for about an hour or two.

When we left for the airport, I couldn’t help but smile at the sleepy shuttle driver as he zigzagged his way at the slush- covered roads of the Twin Cities with one hand on the wheel and holding a cup of steaming McCafe Espresso on the other while evading the early morning traffic rush.



Thank God, we all got to the airport in one piece with plenty of time to spare and I cannot forget the sleepy head’s expression as his droopy little eyes went wide and flashed with delight when I handed him a crisp $20 tip for the rollercoaster ride--Priceless!

Ah, the pains and joys of traveling and what have you...

One can only sigh and take it on the chin and charged everything to experience.

Priceless!
04.26.2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Power of Dreams





ASIMO that versatile Honda robot that you often see in Honda Commercials will be in Detroit come May 13, 2008 to be the guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the opening act that features world- renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The 4- foot tall robot which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) which was first developed by the Japanese automaker in 2000 with the objective of helping humans particularly the elderly doing their daily chores in the future can speak both English and Japanese. In addition, this latest generation robot can now recognize faces, climb up and down stairs, keep up when walking with human companions and serve tea among its many skills and capabilities.

ASIMO will be at the podium for a one song performance, the special rendition of “The Impossible Dream” before relinquishing the baton to the DSO’s resident maestro Thomas Wilkins for the rest of the show. It will be ASIMO’s second high- profile appearance in the United States after the high- tech robot rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Valentine’s Day in 2007.



I hope I could still get some tickets for I really want to see this momentous event not to mention watch Yo-Yo Ma perform in the flesh. I missed his performance in Ann Arbor last year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will make it this time.

You see, I have always been a fan of classical music which my Mom exposed me at a very young age, never mind that I preferred Johann Strauss during those days together with Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Bach. Nowadays, I usually listen to Debussy, Liszt, Schubert, Wagner and especially Rachmaninoff when I want to relax.

That’s why when I went to New York City last year and saw that the violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will be having his students’ recital at Carnegie Hall, I grabbed the chance to watch him perform and I really enjoyed the show.



You can only admire his inborn talent and dedication to his craft as well as his courage in overcoming Polio, in fact he labored walking in crutches towards the center of the stage but once he starts playing the first notes from his violin, his music will take you anywhere.

When I was in the Philippines, I remember going to a lot of free events in Puerta Real, Goethe Institute and of course, the Sunday Concert at the Park in Luneta to watch and listen to the Manila Symphony Orchestra with Oscar Yatco, Coke Bolipata, John Lesaca and the like. That’s free entertainment for you in a city as chaotic as Manila.

Of course, I also have my regular complimentary tickets from a dear old friend of mine to the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ events where the likes of Raul Sunico, Andion Fernandez and Cecile Licad holds court in those days as well as some of Repertory Philippines’ shows when they still call the Insular Life Theater in Makati home.

The world- famous Detroit Symphony Orchestra never fails me when I want to have my fill of classical music both on radio and live concert. The DSO founded in 1914 is one of the pioneers in the United States when it comes to performance and innovations. In fact, they performed the world’s first radio broadcast of symphonic concert in 1922 as well as its recording of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was the first CD to win the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy (the French equivalent of the US Recording Academy).

I last saw them during the 4th of July concert dubbed “Salute to America” at the Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village where they had 13- year old Kendall Pennington as guest vocalist. They also performed Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture among others highlighted with the museum’s real live cannons firing in the background.

Here's the DSO with Kendall Pennington as guest vocalist-




Visit-
MitSusurrations for more of The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Kendall Pennington.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wicked


We Filipinos are unique in so many ways. Take for instance our sense of humor that always puzzles non- Pinoys. They shiver in complete horror whenever they hear or experience one of our patented not so politically- correct sense of humor.

Who can forget the late Secretary Raul Manglapus when he quipped, “relax and enjoy it” when asked about what the Filipinas working in the Middle East should do if they found themselves being raped by their Arab masters?

Most Filipinos are exposed to all kinds of sick jokes from the day he/ she was born until he/ she literally finds himself six feet under the ground. In fact, everything is fair game to us and our jokes can be considered as the wickedest of them all.

This is again highlighted by the recent controversy involving the conduct of medical workers at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center wherein a patient was operated upon by a team of government doctors and nurses because a body spray canister was lodged in his rectal vault courtesy of a guy he picked up the night before for casual sex that obviously didn’t turn out well for him.

The said incident happened in January 2008 but one of the persons involved recently uploaded the video on YouTube and thus revealed the circus- like scenario inside the OR and once again showed the world how wicked or sick Pinoy jokes can be--

In the video, after the doctor finally extracted the body spray canister from the patient’s rectum, he shouted “Baby, OUT! “ (pronounced in a thick Visayan accent) in obvious parody to a person giving birth amid the cheers and jeers by the OR spectators.

But the joke did not end there for the doctor uncapped the canister and started spraying around the OR amid howls of laughter. The man with the video camera, not to be outdone, in turn asked the one holding the canister to show him the brand of the body spray so he can also take a video of it.

Because of their behavior in the OR, the medical personnel involved are now facing charges that will merit the suspension or revocation of their license. In my opinion, I don’t really think that they’re actually laughing at the patient; I think it is more on the absurdity of the situation.

But I tell you, that unfortunate incident in the OR in Cebu is not the first nor will it be the last since it is inherent in our culture to crack jokes at the most awkward times. Still, they should have been more sensitive and exercised proper decorum in that situation more suited for their position.

Anyway, when I was in first year college, an accident occurred in our town in Albay wherein two cars driven by drunken persons went at it and race each other on the deserted National Highway in nighttime. I remember seeing the two cars speeding towards the direction of the nearby town of Malinao.

About 10 minutes or so later we saw the town’s Police Patrol Car speeding towards the same direction as my friends and I decided to follow them on our BMX bikes.

We arrived at the scene where a lot of uziseros are now trickling in. The place was very dark and we can only saw a glimpse of the two cars in the middle of the rice fields and miraculously the drivers and passengers survived unscathed.

Bur there was one casualty, an old man who was answering the call of nature behind the small concrete bridge, the same bridge where the two cars hit before they flew into the rice fields. You can only wonder how unlucky he was since that place was so deserted and they did not even see him since he was way down the banks when he was struck by one of the flying cars.

To this day, my memory of that tragic night is still very vivid but the thing that stuck to my mind is when one of the uziseros blurted out in the local dialect,

“Di#@%4, delikadohon na ang panahon ngonian, para ma-odo ka sa gilid kan sapa, maligis ka pa tapos magadan!!” which is loosely translated to “F#$&, times are really dangerous nowadays, imagine you’re only trying to poop in the nearby creek and the next thing you know you’re run over by a car and end up dead. “

You can only imagine the booming laughter that followed from both the policemen and uziseros alike. But to set the record straight, it was a spur of the moment joke and really not meant to disrespect a dead man.

Again, it just shows you the Filipinos knack of cracking jokes even at the most awkward moments and difficult times.

Here’s another story--

A high school classmate of mine died in an ambush by the New People’s Army. No, he is not a member of the military or the police. He was just an ordinary citizen who has relatives that live in a far- flung barrio where transportation is scarce.

One day, the police force in our town were task to arrest a murder suspect in that remote barrio and since my classmate work as a utility man in the municipal government, he got wind of the plan and decided to hitch a ride with the police in their van so he can visit his relatives whom he had not seen in a long, long time.

But when he got to the police station, he found out that he missed the police van just by a few seconds. Knowing the layout of the town, he immediately dashed in full throttle so he can catch the van in one of the town’s intersection. He finally did it near the jeepney terminal where a lot of people saw him accomplish the feat.

Unfortunately, the van was ambushed by the NPAs on their way back and he ended up as one of the fatalities. The story did not end there though, for he was now immortalized in the town’s lore (read: drinking sessions) as the person who chased the Grim Reaper or in the vernacular “Hinabol si Kamatayan!”


I have a lot of other unique Pinoy stories and jokes that are even more outrageous than the two stories that I have just told you. The point is, most often than not, a majority of these jokes are really not meant to disrespect a particular person or cast aspersion to anybody but just an expression of that unique Pinoy spirit rarely seen with other races.

Anyway, in an ideal world, jokes are supposed to be funny but not at the expense of others but in our culture it is not always the case. What I usually do if I find myself in the center of it is I just take it on the chin and roll with the punches and sneak a right hook in return.

How about you?



Read my take on
The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Scandal

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