Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dearly Departed...

The holidays are here again. For us Filipinos, we feel the coming breeze of the holidays after the All Saints’ Day vacation. Too bad the government shortened our holiday, making November 2 a working day, thus, spoiling some of our colleagues’ much-awaited vacations to their home provinces.

The “Undas” vacation is really something we Filipinos look forward to. This is the time when we get to travel back in time, reminisce the memories of our dearly departed, and enjoy the company of our loving relatives in our hometowns.

I remember back in childhood, our mother-side family travels together to Dinalupihan, Bataan to visit our departed Lolo. My lolo passed away in 1975, thus my Lola, along with her children that includes my mom, visits his tomb every year from then on. Us third generation kids got to be tagged along with the tradition.

I would always look forward to this momentous occasion back then. This is because All Saints’ Day is the only time that I get to see all my cousins, aunts and uncles in full force, get to meet and greet all relatives and realize that we’re relatives, get to receive praises and commendations for my height, weight, or achievement in school, get to eat for more than 9 times since every house we visit has its own little fiesta, and of course, get to bond with the family.

We wake up at exactly 4 in the morning to prepare our baon for the trip. After preparation, we then proceed to my Lola’s house in Caloocan because that is the rendezvous point of our Convoy. At exactly 6 a.m., we head for Bataan. At around 8:30 a.m., we go to my lola’s sister’s house, Ate Pening (as my mother calls her), to eat suman, tamales, and other native Bataan kakanin for breakfast. Then, we head to my Lolo’s grave and stay there till dusk.

Though we may be constrained in an area full of dead people in niches, my cousins and I enjoy this one-day delight. This is primarily because this is the only time we get to legally play with fire. We are always assigned to monitor the candles on our relatives’ tombs. Thus, we design some sort of a contest wherein the kid who gets to make the biggest ball made of candle wax wins. That was really fun. Eventually, as we grow older, we got more artistic. We mold figures out of the candle wax. And our aunts and uncles think we’re real geniuses.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to do all these fun stuff with the family anymore. My favorite cousins, along with their parents, moved to the United States in 2000. My Lola, who is the most enthusiastic with our yearly reunion, suffered an aneurismic stroke and died on September 21, 2001. She was laid to rest beside my Lolo’s tomb in Dinalupihan. My other uncle, who is the family’s ultimate joker, also passed away on September 20, 2002. That old happy gathering has drastically changed in just 4 years time. But of course, we still get to visit the tombs of my Lolo, Lola and Uncle every year. But the feeling was never the same.

Times really do change fast in the blink of an eye. And there are things that we do not want to change, but due to the normal course of life, they slip away. And now, everytime the All Saints’ Day vacation comes, I badly miss them all… The activities, my cousins and our candle wax competition, my late Uncle’s funny antics, and most of all, my Lola.

This year, we have no plans of going to Bataan due to fiscal reason. Thus, I have decided to just sit around in our quaint little house and do the reminiscing there. We’ll still be lighting candles for our dearly departed, maybe in our backyard. I shall still be monitoring those candles. And thank God for my brother, I have a new opponent for the candle wax contest.

I just realized… Since there is nothing much to look forward to except for long hours of sleep, shortening of the “Undas” vacation isn’t that unfortunate after all… Well, for me at least.

Okey okey okey... Trivia trivia ulit...

Did you know: The first-ever Most Valuable Player of the Philippine Basketbal Association (PBA) was Crispa Redmanizer Bogs Adornado.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Playing God

I just watched (again!) the hilarious and controversial Tom Shadyac film "Bruce Almighty" which starred Jim Carrey. I have seen this movie more than 6 times now, and it still hasn't failed to brighten up my day. With Jim's hilarious antics and Morgan Freeman's witty lines, the movie is really a must-see for all those who want a taste of the lighter side of life.

For those who were not fortunate enough to watch the film, Bruce Almighty is all about a local news reporter named Bruce Nolan, who is trying so hard just to reach the peak of his career -- that is, being an anchorman for the local news. Thus, upon realizing that his efforts to reach the top were futile and that the person whom he least expects to be in the position turned out to be his nemesis in the business, Evan Baxter, Bruce developed a profound anger towards God. But with a certain kind of luck (or probably a test), he got to meet God face to face and was endowed with God's almighty powers. So Bruce Nolan turned Bruce Almighty, utilized his newly-vested powers by getting what he wanted: his ideal car, his ideal job, his ideal dog, his ideal life. But somewhere along the way, he realized that being God is not at all that simple: he needed to answer prayers, help the people, even manage the weather! Thus, in the end, after some bits and pieces of rants and raves from G himself, his girlfriend's abandonment due to his liplocking scene with co-anchor Susan Ortega, and a freak accident with a rushing truck while he was kneeling down on the highway, he realized that he doesn't want a lavish "Godly" lifestyle anymore. He realized that he just wanted a simple life to be with the people he loves the most. And more than that, he further appreciated the presence of a God.

If I was given the chance to play God, I would have done the same things like Bruce Nolan has done. I might have given myself the job I wanted, the car I loved the most, the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of. I might have gained all the material things in the world. Though, in the end I might not be that happy.

Well, the movie just emphasized that it is not that simple to be God. When God (Morgan Freeman) asked Bruce that after 2 days stint as God, was he able to help anyone, Bruce just shyly answered “I had to fix my life first.” Should I take over God’s place today, it will be extremely difficult for me to at least help 84 million people of my breed. What more the other nations? How can i possibly answer all of their needs with very minimal destruction?

Another thing, with the powers of God, you have the omnipotent capability to create new things. However, you can never ever mess up with one trait that makes human beings so unique from all the rest. Free will. As Bruce asked in his last few days being god, “how can somebody love You without messing up with free will?” And God just plainly answered “welcome to my world, son.” Even Bruce couldn't understand why can't God order his creations to love and respect Him. Though this power seems so great, it is somehow limited.

The movie is a very good wake up call for anyone who feels that their life is being played wrongly, for those who think their lives are a total drag, or those who blame God for ignoring their prayers. Sometimes, we see God as a mean kid sitting on an anthill, as a pilot who misses His coordinates, or as an almighty smiter (as Bruce would call Him). And most of the time, we want to be God. We want to obtain almighty powers in order to do what we want to do, and be what we want to be.

But when you think about it, or further, when you get to internalize this movie as I did after watching it 6 times, God just plays the game perfectly. He just creates things as planned, and never incidentally, with considerations to balance and equity in the universe.

I hate to be sounding like a preacher here, but I just want to reach out to all them God-haters. Think about it. Sometimes, we get angry when it rains because we will not be able to do what we want to do. But when you take a better look at it, our dear ol' farmers have prayed hard for rain in order for their crops to grow. And we will be able to get our daily food supply. That's how perfect God works. And for us, we get angry just because it rained.

I am also thankful that there are times that God doesn;t answer our prayers. If he did, someone might have been brought back to life by now, or YOU might already be dead. I am very much thankful that God doesn’t give His powers away to some Bruce Nolan.

To sum it all up, Bruce Almighty is a good movie... Booyah!!!


Trivia trivia… aha! Trivia trivia… Sang by the famous child-star-turned-reatard LA Lopez in the Sunday morning children’s program “Eh Kasi, Bata!”… I would just like to share some trivial facts at every end of my entry… enjoy!!! :D

Did you know: Rico Blanco was studying Management Economics in the Ateneo de Manila when he auditioned as keyboardist for the group Rivermaya.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Looking into the Future...

You are looking into the Future of Philippine Policy-making...

This photo was taken during our graduation in the Seminar on Technical Writing and Completed Staff Work held in September.

We are, we are, the youth of the nation... Underpaid, overworked, but still determined to help the country the best way we possibly can... Hail!!!


Special Thanks to Mr. Dante Villamayor for his expertise in the field of Photography...

Monday, October 18, 2004


It seems that everyone’s asking the reason behind my entrepreneurial activities which started around two weeks ago. Well, let this blog entry explain everything… Let me jot down point per point:

a. It seems that the measly salary of us government employees will not be augmented in the near future, in view of the President’s “surprising” declaration of a Fiscal crisis.

b. With the constant increase in oil and basic commodities, my purchasing power seems to be declining.

c. Some of you might not know this, but quite unfortunately, I am a breadwinner of the family and government salary is not enough to provide for my brother’s elementary education, electricity, phone and water bills, and many other expenses.

d. I believe in Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” He stressed that anyone can become financially independent. One great start, he says, is to venture into small businesses. He started out with a comic book library, I start out with doughnut and sauteed shrimp paste direct sales. Not very big difference, I believe.

e. I want to get extra income. However, I am quite skeptic about networking after all them scams and spurious transactions.

f. I want to buy a house beside the beach where I can spend quality time with my future family.

g. I want to purchase a yacht and sail across Manila Bay. This was a childhood dream of mine.

h. I want to enhance my sales and marketing skills so I can have a smooth career shift should I get pissed off the policy-making profession.

i. I want to test how many true friends I have by seeing who among them purchases my product.

j. I just want to augment my savings so that when the "actual crisis” comes, I’ll be prepared.

Am I vindicated? I sure hope so. Actually, I was thinking whether to venture into entrepreneurship or enter show business. Looks like my flabby abdomen and lanky structure has already given me the answers on what course to take…

Anyone interested in buying export-quality sautéed shrimp paste from me? You know what to do…

Thursday, October 14, 2004

An Officer and a Gentleman

It is disappointing to know that most, if not all, highly-respected officials of the Armed Forces are into corrupt practices. The case of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia was considered the biggest eye-opener of the century in terms of exposing the corruption in the military. Maj. Gen. Garcia was alleged to have amassed around P50 million from government coffers in his stint as comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He is currently serving his 6-month preventive suspension for misdeclaring his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), and currently undergoing court martial proceedings upon orders of the President. However, the case of Gen. Garcia is a relatively miniscule matter as compared to many other “underground transactions” our beloved freedom fighters.

The issue of corruption in the military has been considered as an “open secret” among military officers, thus, some people felt that the case of Gen. Garcia is just a sacrificial one to cover up the much bigger picture. As our literary artists say, this is only the tip of the iceberg. In my moments of solitude in my quaint little room, I just pondered on what could have triggered these supposedly noble men in uniform into entering onerous transactions and corrupt practices. I believe that it all started from training.

As a kid, I was always told to be a soldier. My dad always tells me that being a soldier is a very rewarding profession. I never thoroughly pondered on the phrase “rewarding profession” until later in high school. I just thought that the military profession is rewarding because of its good image as protectors of the sovereignty of the nation. But then I was informed that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), the premier training ground of Generals of the land, provides allowances to the families of its trainees. Then I thought, being a soldier is quite financially rewarding. Nevertheless, I refused to follow my father’s advice because in the first place, I was never really keen on waking up early just to shine my tarnished buckle and to marine press my uniform. I got a little problem with discipline. Never have I realized that these men in uniform had bigger disciplinary issues.

Almost every high-ranking official graduated from the PMA. The controversial Maj. Gen. Garcia was a 1971 PMAer. They had to pass through rigorous training for 4 years before they can graduate as junior officers. They shall then possess one of the greatest privileges a Filipino could ever have: to be a leader of the bastion of security and sovereignty. They had to make this sacrifice in order to become the most respectable officers of the land.

However, some of officers get too much of this in their heads. They probably think that appropriate compensation is necessary after years and years of training and sacrifice. They even have to be rewarded for being wounded in battle, and for killing and neutralizing insurgents. And for this, they would think that doing corrupt practices is one way of rewarding themselves of all the sacrifice.

One way to reform the Armed Forces is to instill in the minds of the future officers some essential values and proper conduct. This can be instilled in them through the 4-year training in the PMA. The PMA may add some courses in nationalism, respect for human rights, and effects of corruption. Soldiers must be informed of the negative ramifications of corruption not just to the military system, but to their families, and the Filipino lives as well.

We should start from the roots. Psychologists say that a child undergoes a certain formative phase, in which the child is most receptive and adaptive to what nature, or even parents instruct him. This formative phase in a military man’s life happens during the training period. During this period, it should teach him not just to be a noble and courageous officer, but more importantly to be a true nationalist and a gentleman. In this way, we can prevent more officers from undertaking graft and corruption. God bless our soldiers…

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Remembering Evelio Javier

After 18 long years of painful litigation and investigation, the murder of Antique Governor Evelio Javier is finally over. I was just saddened by the verdict that the alleged mastermind of Evelio Javier’s murder, Arturo Pacificador, has been acquitted of the charges against him. Well quite fortunately, Atty. Avelino Javellana, Pacificador’s private lawyer, and 6 others were convicted of the murder.

Being an Atenean, I was very well briefed, informed and oriented of the contributions Evelio Javier made not just to our alma mater, but to the whole nation. He is one person, aside from Benigno Aquino, who united the whole nation in toppling down the dictator and restoring freedom and democracy. It was also a fact that Evelio Javier spurred the Catholic Church into holding major protests that eventually lead to the EDSA revolution. This was how much Evelio Javier touched not just the lives of Antiqueños, but the Filipino people as a whole.

Evelio Javier is a real Atenean by heart. He is truly a man of courage, honor, excellence, and above all, a true man for others. A true freedom fighter, he is one of the major protesters against the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos. He was a close friend and ally of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Upon knowledge of Ninoy’s murder in 1983, he immediately returned home to continue the fight for freedom and democracy, and eventually ran for Governor in Antique. Based on fraudulent, biased counting of ballots, his opponent, Arturo Pacificador – a known true ally of Ferdinand Marco, reportedly won the elections. Evellio Javier tried to file election protests, but due to his political inclinations, he failed. This spurred various protests in Antique in support for whom they believe won the elections. On February 11, 1986, in one of his campaign sorties, Evelio Javier was brutally murdered. Evelio Javier’s demise was not put into waste. On February 26, 1986, democracy was restored in the whole nation, toppling down the Marcos dictatorship.

Eighteen years after, the case was finally brought to a close, however, acquitting the person everyone believed to be behind the killing. However, the case was partially won by the prosecution by convicting Pacificador’s number one cohort, Atty. Avelino Javellana, and several others. They are to serve 7 to 14 years in prison.

Further, authorities have yet to pursue the case against Rodolfo Pacificador, Arturo’s son, and Eduardo Boy Iran. Both are also allegedly linked to the killings. Rodolfo is currently in exile in Canada and Filipino authorities are working for his extradition, while Boy Iran is still at large.

This entry is dedicated to one true Filipino I really admired. Our nation was honored to have created someone as noble, passionate and courageous as Evelio Javier. Though his case might have already been solved through the conviction of several people, let his spirit remain within each one of us. Let his name be remembered in history, and his memory be alive every time someone will try to take our freedom away from us. Let each one of us become somewhat and Evelio Javier.

Though Arturo is cleared of the killings, I think justice has been partly served with the conviction of 7 men linked to the killings. Though the convicted mastermind is not that convincing, I think this case still proves that even in the littlest way, justice can be served. I just hope and pray that Arturo is, indeed, clear of the murders. If not, then maybe justice will be served to him in some other time.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Un-FIX me

Last Saturday was my first trip to the Vanity Fair. Unfortunately, judging from the flak I gathered hours and days after, it seemed that I was not successful. Apparently, my 200-buck hair-do is a total mess.

Yep, I finally made a trip to the hair fairy (if ever there is such a thing…). It was all I could manage to do in a wonderful Saturday morning. I wanted to try out a new hair style, so I decided to go to a salon instead of going to my trusted barber in Quezon Avenue. I tried out the services of FIX Salon in SM North Edsa, and gave the hairstylist the absolute powers to make the “very important” decisions to “FIX” my relatively “common-looking” hair. After some thirty minutes of washing, cutting, rinsing and “gelling,” I finally saw the new me. And I was amused, confused, and disoriented when I saw the new hair style. It felt like the person I was looking at in the mirror was someone else.

Imagine what a person can do in the name of vanity. All I wanted is a different look, or an advice from a fashionista hair stylist about what to do to my hair for me to look my best. Well, I may have not looked my best, but it surely drew everyone’s attention.

When I was going home, I felt really really strange. It felt like everyone was looking at me. It felt like everyone was staring at my hair and laughing their hearts out deep inside. And of course, everyone around me reacted. Neighbors, friends, relatives, even mere acquaintances! When I got home, my mother refused to give a comment, but instead she gave a discriminating stare, and asked a simple question: “Where is my son?” When I got home from a basketball game, it was the first time my father saw me after I had my unusual trim. And he reacted: “You kind of look like that famous La Salle player.” When I visited my girlfriend’s house, everyone was shocked to see my new look. The most explosive comment of them all was Bubbles’ candid little sister, Niña: “Nagpagupit ka? Jerv, hindi bagay sa ‘yo.”

The utter humiliation did not end that day. Just this morning, three shuttlemates were shocked to see me looking like a Japanese cartoon. When I got into the office, my officemate Tanya couldn’t hide her emotion and just shouted: “Jerv! Mukha kang anime!” And many other comments I’d rather keep to myself.

This is probably the biggest diversion I made to my hair and in all honesty, I was quite proud of myself afterwards. I have long been attempting to do this stunt, but it seemed that circumstances always fail me. Now that I have done it, I feel fulfilled and satisfied. At least I tried to go out of the ordinary.

I always wanted to try out new things. New hair, new clothes, new activities, new hobbies. This is probably just one of these attempts to try the extraordinary. No biggie, but I think now that I have done this, I can do some other more extraordinary stuff. Maybe next time, I’ll try to dress up differently, or have a bungee jumping trip with friends, or the like.

I think doing extraordinary things is a battle between the self, and environment. Things you want to do might draw the worst flak in your life, but as long as you feel good about it, I think there is really nothing wrong (Wait. This is only applicable to the legal things.) Hail to them risk takers!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Talk Nino?

This is only my second consecutive month to be writing/typing my entries to this blog after joining in May. As for me, I think I’m getting the hang of this site… Sometimes, it is fun to be expressing myself using short essays and stories.

Yesterday was my first ever stint in Philippine television. I was chosen (I don't know if chosen is the right word... Coerced, maybe?) to be one of four segment reporters for the government talk show "Talk Ko 'To," with hosts, Sec. Saludo and Sec. Dinky. “Talk Ko ‘To” aims to inform the public of government projects and programs that are beneficial to them. To put it shortly, it aims to tell the people, “Hey, who says the government is not doing anything?” My segment was about pending road and bridge projects in Metro Manila, and the government’s actions towards them.

At first I thought it was an easy task. I'll just do what I like doing: talk and talk and talk in front of camera, just like when I’m hosting PMS parties, or any other gatherings. But no, this is something different. This is national television. This is the big league. If I look stupid in this segment, I may never be able to redeem myself again. It's not that I'm making this a big thing; it's just that I never expected to be in this situation.

I was wearing my favorite blue long sleeves polo, given to me by my one and only, black pants, and of course, black shoes. In short, I wore the usual office attire. I never knew that we would require going through bagoong storage factories, riding in boats under the Vitas Bridge, and doing some other stunts. Nevertheless, the segment reporting went well.

I was struck by the lone person I interviewed that day. The person was a resident near the Vitas Bridge. The question was: “Ano po ang nakikita niyong epekto kung sakaling matapos ang proyektong ito?,” referring to the Vitas Bridge project. In the beginning of the interview, we just heard what we expected to hear. To quote: “Aba, malaking malaki po ang maitutulong ng proyektong ito na tulay hindi lamang po sa mga motorista, pati na rin po sa aming mga taga-rito. Marami pong maitutulong ito sa amin.”

It seemed that our director was not satisfied in the interview, she whispered to the interviewee: “Tulad ng?” And the old lady replied: “tulad po ng… Makakapagtayo nap o kami ng bahay sa ilalim ng tulay. Kasi po, sa kasalukuyan, dito (pointing to their house under the bridge) po kami nakatira sa lumang tulay. Kapag nabuo po yang tulay, mas marami po ang makakatira sa ilalim. Sana po pahintulutan kami ng mahal na Pangulo at ng gobyerno para makapagtayo ng bahay sa ilalim para po mas gaganda an gaming buhay.” Wow!!! I never knew that the bridge project not only entails transportation and infrastructure benefits, but social benefits as well. We shall not only provide easier flow of traffic, but also housing for the “informal settlers” of Metro Manila.

Segment hosting for “Talk Ko ‘To” is a relatively easy job. The more difficult part is amiably convincing the viewers of beneficial programs of the government. Given the cynical views of the Filipinos, small TV programs such as Talk Ko To, or any other attempts to please the people, seem to be futile. I just felt that the task of showing the public that the government is doing something is far more difficult that showing your best in front of camera.

At present, around 15% of the Philippine population is hungry, at least 30% is disgruntled by the present system of government, and almost 80% is poor based on international standards (am I right in giving these figures?). How will people included in these statistics view my segment? How can they be convinced that government is doing something if they have this kind of stature?

I just realized that it is also difficult for my part because I, myself, am part of the statistics. If the segment reporter himself does not fully believe the segment or the show, what more the televiewers of this weekly primetime show?

Well, I guess I just have to believe for now. Just for art’s sake…