Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Greetings

To all my friends, readers and lurkers...

From BlogusVox Family

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On Marriage

Foreword: Just in case my wife reads this; all anecdotes I told were work of fiction. Any similarity to people’s lives, both living and dead, was unintentional and purely coincidental. – BlogusVox

The Shrew
I love my wife and that’s my first mistake. But it’s not too late for you would-be-husbands out there. If you’re in love with your woman from head to toe – DON’T tell her you’ll love her till the end of infinity. The moment she knows, she’ll take advantage of you and exploit that weakness!

When we were younger, my wife’s “national pastime” was to irritate me to the max that I sometimes contemplate the idea of sending her back to her family. The only thing holding me back was the image of my departed father-in-law which keeps flashing in my mind. When my parents and I went to their residence to ask for my wife’s hand, her father wore this enigmatic half-grateful, half-relieved face. Later do I understood that his telling me in a subtly way – you asked for it, you got it. NO RETURN, NO EXCHANGE!

Wonder Woman
I believed my wife got “superpowers”. When I did something not to her liking, she simply looks at me and an invisible beam comes out of her eyes. It engulfed me, leaving me frozen - stone cold. The weird thing is it affects me but my daughter is immune to it. This leads me to suspect, maybe Bea got superpowers too. It’s not easy living among “X-men”.

I Don’t Have ESP
My wife got this nasty habit of leaving her sentences hanging on air. She’ll say something like: “Kunin mo nga yan…” (not looking but pointing her finger in space) or “Dalhin mo nga ang ano sa kwan…” But what really gets my goat is when she opens a conversation and in mid-sentence expects me to continue, like:

Wife: Totoo ba yung nangyari?
Me   : Nang ano?
Wife : Dun sa kumpare mo nung nakaraang linggo.
Me   : Anong nangyari kay Pare?
Wife: Ano ka ba! Kumpare mo yan, ikaw dapat ang nakaka-alam!

I’m a trained engineer. I deal with details and specifics. I’m not clairvoyant! I DON’T READ MINDS! Tell me what you want in a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate and I’ll comply!

When the conversation comes to this point, she’ll just look at me innocently and smiles knowingly, as if expecting this kind of reaction from someone “crazy”. And it’s true. That kind of “look” really drives me nuts! 

Read Between the Lines
When you received a text message or email from your wife that goes something like:

“Hon, if you’re not busy and you got time, please pass by the supermarket and buy the following…”

Remember, how ever polite and solicitous this maybe, it is NOT A REQUEST. It’s an ORDER! Discard whatever you previously planned and set this as your TOP PRIORITY. Prepare a valid reason if you miss one item from her list if you don’t want to be ZAP by her “laser-eye”.  

When shopping for something and she says: “Hon, anong gusto mo? Ito?”

She’s not asking your opinion. She already decided what to buy and all she wants is you concur. But be careful; don’t give your “nod” all the time. Find a way to distance yourself if things get “critical”. Let her decide alone because the moment something goes wrong with the merchandise - its YOUR FAULT, because YOU CHOOSE IT!

Marriage is teamwork. In order for it to work, both of you should have a “say” on any decision you both make. That means, when she “suggests” you “agree”.

Now that you know the difference between the sexes and you got your “pointers”, go out there and make her happy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Conversation with Bea (Part 2)

The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop. – Mark Twain

Observant and sometimes a critique, she’ll ask me things that may seems odd to her. Last Ramadan, during Eid, we were sitting on a bench inside a mall while waiting for her mother who was busy looking for “sales”. A South Asian family passed by dressed in all their “fineries” and Bea whispered to me, pointing with her lips at a girl about her age.

Bea: Daddy, why is she dressed like that?
Me : Maybe she’s a princess and she’s going to a dance.
Bea: No. She’s a fairy without wings. Hinde pa Halloween, di ba, Daddy?

Without trying, she can embarrass you in public. An Arab lady passed by and Bea exclaimed:

Bea: Look Daddy oh, she draw “pencils” on her hand.
Me : That’s a henna hand decoration, anak.
Bea: She better wash hand. It’s DIRTY!

You should read between the lines when talking to Bea. A couple of weeks ago I caught her picking her nose while we’re watching TV.

Me : What are you doing?
Bea: Nothing.
Me : Are you eating “kulangot”?
Bea: (Indignantly) NO… I’m making a ball!

Once we’re looking for our friend’s flat and all I got was a sketched map for direction. We’re going in circle and we were again on a fork road we passed by earlier when Bea happened to read a street sign:

Bea: Daddy look! Maather Street! Turn left!
Me : Ay, oo nga. Sorry, anak, I didn’t see the sign kasi.
Bea: Buti na lang I’m here, kung hindi, we’re lost again.

I can’t figure out if it’s a jest or sympathy because with her lopped-sided smile she added: “Don’t worry Daddy. When I’m big, I’ll buy you glasses.”

Her mother always makes it a point Bea prays before she goes to sleep. Mommy taught her how to pray but she doesn’t like it. It’s lengthy because it includes “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” which she hates to memorize. So she makes her own “version” which varies from time to time. It goes something like this:

In the name of the Father and the Mother and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Papa God,
Please help my Daddy to be strong all the time.
Please help my Daddy in his driving so he won’t always say “gago”.
Please help me in my studies and in my test in the morning and in the afternoon so Mommy is always happy.
Please help Mommy clean the kitchen and wash our clothes and also help Mommy in her cooking.
Thank you.
Goodnight Papa God, goodnight Mama Mary and to my Dear Guardian Angel.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shato, Shatong, Pitiw or Gutalaguti

As everybody knows by now the Crown Prince of this kingdom passed away. To honor the prince and pay their respect, MBC group didn’t show any of its usual programs on air except documentaries of His Excellency’s biography along with the history and culture of the Middle East.

But what caught my interest was a segment featuring traditional games played by Middle Eastern children. I started “googling” and I found this article from a fellow blogger. A snippet of it explained: 

“Gutalaguti [gut-ta-la-gut-ti]
This involves two teams of children, two sticks made from dried palm leaves and a small stone. One stick needs to be about 1 ½ to 2 feet and the other needs to be about 6 inches long.

The smaller stick is put on the ground, with one end resting on the stone – one end touches the floor and the other end is in the air. The idea is to hit the small stick with the big stick and curl it into the air. As the stick flies up you then hit it again to see how far you can hit it.

The person who has hit the stick has to run around an area marked out like a baseball or cricket pitch. Whilst this is happening the other team has to catch the stick.

Whilst the person is running they must repeat the name of the game, “gut-ta-la-gut-ti, gut-ta-la-gut-ti, gut-ta-la-gut-ti”. It is impossible to score a run if you don’t repeat the name of the game whilst running.”

Does it sound familiar? It is similar to our traditional children’s game which we call “Shato” in Luzon, “Shatong” in Cebu or “Pitiw” in my hometown. It’s amazing to think that children, continent apart, played an old yet very similar game!

image was taken from immortal undead.

The question that comes to mind was – who did the importing? Tongue in cheek; it’s a possibility an OFW might have introduced it to their "sponsor’s" children (I know of some Saudi families who loves to eat “adobo” and “sinigang”). But a likely explanation might be that it came along, together with the Arabic words like “hukom” and “salamat”, when Arabs were once sea-faring traders and spreading the words of Islam on our shores.

Neither the less, who ever adapted, is not important. This was one of my favorite games when I was young. Not only was it a good exercise to both limbs and lungs, it also hones your counting skill.

But sadly, like any tradition, it died as time and technology changes. It’s no longer played by children, both here and in the Philippines.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In Memoriam: Dennis Ritchie (1941 – 2011)

Unlike Steve Jobs, his was not a household name except among Computer scientists, C programmers and maybe UNIX users. But his influence is at par or perhaps surpasses that of Steve Jobs.

Dennis Ritchie touches each one of us one way or another. Every time you turn on your desktop, laptop or tablet, you benefited in his genius. Every time you use an application in your IPhone or Android, he helps make your life a little bit easier.

Thank you and farewell, Sir. Rest In Peace.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Monday, October 03, 2011

Culturally Challenge Pinoys

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. – Marcus Garvey

Why is it, to some foreign observers, we are a people with an identity crises? I think they are not far from the truth. We deemed inferior any locally made goods even when it is at par or superior than the same product abroad. We’re awed when some Filipinos speaks English with an American twang but amused when someone interchange “F” and “P” or “V” and “B”. We readily “accept” strangers who are fair-skinned and mestizo-looking in contrast to how we treat the same person if his dark-skinned. We dress and act like liberal westerners yet we do the sign of the cross or utter “Susmaryosep” on anything we see or feel is in conflict with our catholic upbringing (as if these symbolic gesture and incantation shields us from what we perceived as sin). If you think the last statement is false or exaggerated, try to imagine a woman in “spaghetti tops” and mini-skirt kneeling in deep supplication. Now, go to your local church and see if she’s there.

I’m no social psychologist or historian but, I believed, colonization is one factor. It also depends on the colonizer. The “business oriented” Dutch who once ruled Indonesia or the “pedigree obsessed” British in India are only interested in their colony’s resources. They leave the “natives” alone to practice what they want. They don’t mingle with them, thus the local inhabitant’s culture is intact. We, on the other hand, are unfortunate of being colonized by countries that not only want our resources but wants to mess-up our psyche as well.

Our first “master”, who happens to produce the likes of Torquemada, destroyed our heritage by burning artifacts that linked us to our past and brainwashed us into accepting their belief. The second was even worst. It implemented “scourge earth” warfare against what they call “fierce savages”, wiping entire towns and killing anything that move. And after the dust settled, they made us believed they're our “Big Brother”, going out of there way to help their “little brown brother”. Giving us the semblance they are better than the Spaniards but making sure we are subservient to their wants. They saturate us with their “ways” and material things with the intention of developing the perception - there is no difference between them and us. They made “coconuts” out of us (brown outside, white inside).

Have you heard the phrase “White man’s burden”? It’s the title of a movie about America's white man’s treatment of blacks. It drives home the message by putting the former's shoe on the latter’s foot. But its origin is Kipling’s poem criticizing America’s policy towards the Philippines. This poem, together with Samuel Clemens warning regarding consequences, did not deter America’s imperialistic ambition, even if it means destroying the identity of a people. Perhaps, they think, it is a small price to pay for the greater good of US of A.

I don’t know if losing one’s identity is good or bad. If the Spaniards weren’t so zealous, my parents may have named me “Ahmed” or “Sulaiman”. Being immersed in a muddled cultural soup made us xenocentric but enabled us to also assimilate easily in foreign environment with minimal culture-shock or none at all. It also created “conyos” the likes of Malou Fernandez and James Soriano.

I hate to say it but it’s true. Culture-wise... we're mongrels.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ang Wikang Filipino: Tugon Sa Sinulat ni J. Soriano

“Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda” – Tinatalakay ang totoong may-akda.

Mahigit dalawang linggo na ang nakakaraan ng sinulat ni James Soriano ang sanaysay na bumulabog, pinagmulan ng batikos at kuro-kuro sa blogosperyo. Bagamat kulang sa taktika at may kahambugan, ang kanyang obserbasyon ay may katotohanan. Ngunit batid na ng nakakarami ito bago pa man binu-o ang sanaysay. Ang hindi katanggap-tanggap, para sa akin, ay ang pahapyaw na konklusyon na ang Filipino at hindi wika ng madudunong.

Ang wikang tinutukoy ni Soriano ay hindi Filipino. Ito ay mga idyomang galing sa salitang-kalye, lenguaheng-bakla, binastardong Inglis at iba pang salitang lingid sa akin ang katuturan. Sinanib sa wikang Tagalog na ginagamit sa Kamaynilaan at karatig-lugar nito. Maaaring maituturing na dyalekto ng wikang Tagalog. Mababaw at hindi lubos kung gagawing batayan sa pag husgang ang Filipino ay wika ng walang pinag-aralan.

Totoong karamihan sa wikang Filipino ay galing sa salitang Tagalog. Ngunit kung susuriing mabuti, taglay din nito ang mga katagang hango sa wikang Ilokano, Bicol, Hiligaynon, Cebuano at iba pang pangunahing wika ng Pilipinas. Nakakapag-angkop ang isa sa mga katangian nito. Kapag ang kataga o terminolohiyang banyaga ay walang katumbas sa ating salita, kinukupkop at ginagawang Filipino sa pamamagitan ng pag-iba ng pag baybay katulad ng “police” (pulis), “taxi” (taksi) o “ballpen” (bolpen). Hindi lamang tayo ang may wikang “nang-aangkin” ng banyagang salita. Ang pinapangalandakan ni Soriano na wikang Inglis ay tigib nito. Halimbawa ay “etcetera” na pinulot sa Latin, “sofa” na galing sa Pranses na hinugot naman sa “suffa” ng wikang Arabik at “thermodynamics” na hinango sa wikang Grego. Sapagkat mabilis ang komunikasyon at pag bago ng teknolohiya sa kasalukuyang panahon, walang pangunahing wika na maituturing na dalisay.

Dahil sa madaling makibagay ang wikang Filipino, kung taimtimin, kayang ihayag nito ang ano mang dokumento, pangtala man o pang-ulat, sa mundo ng kalakal, edukasyon at alin mang sektor na nagbibigay-buhay sa ating lipunan. Ang nakakalungkot, wikang Inglis pa rin ang nangingibabaw at mas pinapahalagahan. Sa pag puna, merong dalawang kadahilanan akong nakikita; ang Inglis ay madaling isulat at maunawaan.

Halimbawa, ang pangungusap na:

“Ang sinaysay na ito ay nakaka-tamad at nakaka-antok basahin.”
Pag isinalin sa wikang Inglis ay:

“This essay is a boring read.”
Dito makikita kung alin sa dalawang wika ang madaling isulat.

Hindi sa may kakulangan ang wikang Filipino kaya ito’y hindi bantog. Bagkos, ang pagkukulang ay nasa Pilipinong manunulat at mambabasa, propesyonal man o mag-aaral. Dahil karamihan sa atin, lalo na sa hilagang Luzon, Kabisayaan at Timog-Pilipinas, ang inang-wika ay hindi Filipino.

“Aklanon” at “Hiligaynon” ang kinagisnan kong mga wika. Kaya sa pag-aaral ng Filipino, ang karamihan sa mga kataga’y bago sa pandinig. Mahirap isa-ulo lalo pa’t nakakalito ang mga termino ng balarila na karamihan ay nagsisimula sa pantig na “pang” (pangngalan, panghalip, pangdiwa atbp). Ang kulang sa interes at hindi pag pansin sa wikang ito ay nadama ng ako’y tumuntong ng kolehiyo at nag-aral sa Maynila. Biro at kutya ang kadalasang napapala dahil sa maling bigkas, hindi wastong balarila at kakaibang punto. Ngunit ito’y hindi naging balakid, bagkos ginawang pamukaw-sigla. Naging masigasig, pinag-aralan ang puno’t dulo at pinamukha sa umaangking “ito ang kanilang salita” ng mag kaalaman kung sino ang mas bihasa.

Hindi man tayo sanay sumulat o bumasa sa ating naturingang Pambansang Wika, hindi nangangahulugang tayo’y hindi Pilipino o makabayan. Ang mga walang-hiya ay yaong nanglalait at yumuyurak sa mga bagay na pinapahalagahan ng bayang kumopkop sa kanila.

Ang Filipino ay hindi salita ng walang pinag-aralan. Ang katotohanan ay ang kabaliktaran. Ang laitin ng  pahapyaw ang isang wika na walang kongkretong basihan ay tanda ng kakulangan sa kaalaman nito. Si Soriano ay mangmang sa wikang Filipino.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our “Distorted” History

The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice – Mark Twain

Last week my daughter took her 2nd Grading exam prior to their ten days Ramadan vacation. She did very well. But as usual the ever “unsatisfied” mother lamented she made one mistake in her Social Studies subject on the question -

Who is our National Hero?
a: Jose Rizal
b: Andres Bonifacio
c: Emilio Aguinaldo

Bea wrote down “b”. Perhaps na malik-mata lang, because when I asked her the same question she answered “Jose Rizal”. But then again, is it really Rizal? Ask any soldier in the Philippine Armed Forces and they’ll tell you Andres Bonifacio is their National Hero. In fact, we are the only country in Southeast Asia who championed a pacifist/conformist as our number 1 “idol”.

Rizal didn’t want a revolution. He does not want an independent Philippines. On the contrary, he prefers the role of a loyal vassal. What he want was a “voice” in the halls of power; an “Indio” representative in the Spanish court. In other words, his okay that we remain a subject of Spain as long as we have an envoy wailing our grievances in front of the king.

We didn’t choose Rizal as our National Hero. He was picked by our American colonial masters because he served their purpose. They favor a “docile” personality for Filipinos to look up to rather than a bolo-wielding “war-freak” the like of Bonifacio. To make him looked more appealing to the populace, so called “Filipino historians” buttered his character to create an aura of an “extra-ordinary” person.

Elementary history books told us his father was a farmer, a profession which connotes a humble beginning. But even then, one can’t afford to send his son to any exclusive schools in Manila and Europe if one was just an ordinary farmer. One can’t afford to support his son’s “bohemian” lifestyle in the Old World if one was just a mere land tiller. Even the prefix “Dr” is false. Oh yes, his more than capable to operate on his mother’s receding eyesight. But he didn’t finish his medical study nor took a medical licensure examination. Thus, technically, his not allowed to use the title "Doctor". Words like “poor”, “intellectual”, “patriot”, for me, aptly described more a man named Apolinario Mabini; a man who through sheer hard work, over-came poverty, educated and became a noted “illustrado” of his time.

Just recently, questions pop-upped on the authorship of the poem “Sa Aking Mga Kababata”. History detectives like Ambet Ocampo asked, “Where’s the original document of the said poem”? The oldest “copy” in archive was dated during the American colonial era. I simply ask, how on earth a man who felt more at home talking “Si, Senor” and wrote his master pieces in Spanish also wrote “Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda”.

I’m not instigating “Rizal-bashing” here neither do I judge the man by his “lingua franca”. I admire him for his personal achievements and I believed his love for his motherland was unquestionable. What I’m trying to emphasize is history should be transparent and not twisted or supplanted for the benefit of some power-that-be or because the truth is too ugly to accept. We should tell it as it is and let future generations be the judge of the action of their forefathers.

By the way, who do you think killed Magellan? There is no known document supporting the claim Lapu-lapu did it. What they have was written eye-witness account of two Spaniards. If we are to believe Pigafetta, then Ferdie was a victim of “mob-lynching”. Kuyog ang ikinamatay nya!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Human Rights Logos

I was at Isla de Nebz's place when I noticed this post. I kind of thinking; why not join. Nothing will be lost except some wasted effort on my part and perhaps a depleted ego if my work isn’t nominated. So I did some research and came up with these three logos.

The first one represents the genders and the diverse races. The “scale” stands for equality and/or justice and the blue circle symbolizes our world.

I modified the second logo to include children and the four colors (red, yellow, black and white) indicates the four major races. Both logos were titled: “Equality in a Diverse World”.

The third logo is quite simple. I combined the first letter of “Human” and “Rights” and put in the middle an abstract representation of “man” and “scale”.

As I browsed some of the other entries, I was surprised to find out I wasn’t the only one who had an idea of combining “man” and “scale” in their logos. Isn’t that amazing. Given a set of rules, humans will think matching ideas and create almost identical symbols.

If you have time, please visit this site. I know its quite tough browsing all the logos considering there are more than 8,000 entries as of now. But if you happen to like my logos, please don’t forget to push the “heart” icon at the upper right hand corner of the drawing. But before you do that, you have to “log-in” or “sign-up” first (FB or Tweeter accounts are accepted) or your “vote” won’t be registered.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On the Spotlight…

Meet Ms. Sardonyx of Hulascoop atbp; a wife and mother who looks at life in a positive way in spite being an NPA (No-Permanent-Address). That’s because she’s been transferring from one country to another, depending where her hubby is assigned. But she’s no ordinary “army wife”. She's a Mapua engineering graduate who sacrificed her profession to take care of her husband and be a doting mother to her two lovely children.

I have no other specimen of Ms. Sardz except from what I found in a PEBA site. It’s quite difficult to draw a frontal face when your model’s picture is taken from an above-the-head angle. I hope I did justice to this one.

Ms. Sardz, if you have time, please email me your address so I can send you the original copy of your caricature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And The Winner Is…

Thank you to all who participated even though some of you broke the code but didn’t finish the problem. I know you’d like to remain anonymous and I respect that.

To those who are wondering, here’s the deciphered code:

And the answer is “Emilio Aguinaldo”. Congratulation to Ms. Sardonyx of Hulascoop atbp for her correct entry.

For a snippet of history and clue, you may find this interesting. Of course a more “colorful” narrative of what happened that faithful day could be found in Ambet Ocampo’s book - “Luna’s Mustache”. Acampo’s research was also the reason why I don’t consider Aguinaldo a “hero”. To me his just another political opportunist with a “gangstah” mentality. His thinking and methods are comparable to those warlords from Maguindanao.

I’ll post Ms. Sardz caricature in a couple of days. Again, thank you all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anniversary Treat

How time fly fast and another year was added to my blog. As I’ve promised before, I’ll do another “pa-contest” and who ever wins will get a picture of them selves in cartoon form. All you have to do is solve this puzzle:

Just like before, I’ll pick two winners. The first commenter to solve it will take the first slot. I’ll gather the rest of correct answers and raffle it using my random program. Who ever wins will take the second slot.

You have one week to find out the answer. Goodluck!

By the way, previous winners may submit their answers but will not be included in the contest. Pag bigyan naman natin yung hindi pa nanalo, hane. Thanks!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gaya-gaya Puto Maya: The K-12 Dilemma

Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire. – Christian Nestell Bovee  

My daughter is now in grade 1 and her school curriculum is based on the Philippines’ standard of education. But unlike public schools in Metro Manila, she absorbs 7 hours of quality education and her subjects are more advanced compared to most schools in the Philippines.

Obviously, DECs noticed the state of our education that they want to implement what they called K-12 program - our government plan of extending students primary and secondary schooling from 10 to 12 years. Like most of their “noble” vision, it’s out of touch with reality, too much talk but lacks planning and logistic.

Their main argument was that most countries are applying 12 years minimum education. Thus we should also do same to be competitive and on equal footing with the rest of the world. I’m a product of public school. But back then, our education was at par with the more expensive private schools. I don’t want to sound “elitist” but here in the Middle East, besides demonstrating “superior” know-how, our professionals can handle their own against other expats who have K-12 education. It is not how long you stayed in school but how much knowledge one absorbed and learned while schooling.

I admit the current public education in our country sucks. Most of their products are ill-prepared and possess half-baked knowledge. But extending the years of learning is not the answer. You may implement K-12, K-13 or K to the nth year but you’ll still get the same result as long as students spend 4 hours or less in the classroom per day and taught by uninspired or ill-equipped teachers. It’s not only taxing for the students, it’s an additional burden for the parents as well.

It’s not bad to emulate systems of progressive countries. But one also has to consider if what one is trying to imitate is applicable to ones need. Hinde yung gaya lang ng gaya kahit hinde kaya. It reminds me tuloy way back in the late ‘70s when we have a national power shortage. Macoy’s think-tank implemented a “Daylight-Saving-Time” to save energy by advancing the time by one hour. Kaya madilim pa, marami ng tao sa kalsada. This idea is applicable in the western hemisphere because on certain season, the sun is still up even when it’s already 8 o’clock in the evening. They could save electricity by availing on the lights powered by the sun. But the Philippines is situated on the tropics. The sun rises at 6 o’clock in the morning and sets at 6’oclock in the evening. Constant yan all year round kaya wala kang na-save kung hinde konting muta because you have to wake-up very early to go to school or work.

Ganyan ka "smart" ang mga so called think-tank sa gobyerno!


By the way guys, I’m going to set another “pa-contest” on my next post. Para yan sa blog-anniversary of The Sandbox, even if its already past its due date.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Is Better Than None

Been busy I didn’t realize I’ve neglected to blog for sometime. Besides my work, which mostly geeks appreciate, here’s a summary of my other “activities”:

Car Accident
I met an accident three weeks ago while bringing my daughter to school. I was driving slowly along a narrow street when an American car struck me at the driver side. I have to get out from the passenger door since mine was crushed and jammed. The thing is, the other car was also going slow but suddenly accelerated when it was just a few feet from me. I think the driver panicked and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes. The poor guy was new in the kingdom. He can’t speak English or Arabic, doesn’t have a driver’s license and the car was not insured. Saudi police are unforgiving, especially to foreigners, when they catch you driving around without proper papers. You’ll go to prison and for how long, depends on how responsible your “sponsor” is. It might only be for a day but some spend months in detention because their “kafil” refuses to pay traffic fines.

Lucky for me, our company lent me a car while mine was being repaired in the insurance’s workshop. For that I thank my kumpadres J and F for facilitating the vehicle. When I got my car back, it looks as if nothing happened. They restore the crushed door and fixed other dents which were not part of the accident. They even repaired the automatic door lock which wasn’t working for sometime. How ever, I hear a sound, like a vibrating spring, every time I close the door. But over-all…I’m satisfied.

Bea’s "Graduation"
Last week was also hectic for us. A lot of preparation; running here and there and buying things for the school’s annual commencement exercise. It was also a lot of “first” for me. It was my first to wear a coat and tie because the invitation card specified “formal and decent attire”. I know what “formal attire” is but I have no idea what they meant by “formal and decent attire”. Perhaps a man is considered decent if in formal attire. A paradox if applied to some of our politicians. It was also my first encounter of the word “valediction”. The emcee keeps on repeating it as if to emphasize it’s the standard or proper word to use for this occasion. During my time, our “top nerd” gives his valedictory address. Their honorees however gave their “valediction”. A lot of THANK YOUs but I didn’t hear a single word of “goodbye”, “adieu”, “so long”  or “farewell”.

The venue was well decorated, organized and very formal. Parents have reserved seats and the chairs have fancy covering with parent’s name written at the back. Ours are situated right smack in the middle of the row. We have to say a lot of “excuse me” and “sorry” before we could reach our designated seats. It wasn’t comfortable. Because it’s a combined ceremony of preps, elementary and high school graduates, a lot of parents were expected to attend. They cramp all the chairs together, without extra space for elbow and leg room, to accommodate everybody. It’s like sitting in PAL’s economy class during a peak season flight.

If you’re in this kind of situation where you can’t move without saying “excuse me” or “sorry”, you are a “captive audience” of any speaker at the podium. You are in their mercy and you can’t do anything but endure their speeches. Their guest speaker, a big shot from DECS, gave her speech lasting 30 minutes (yes! I clocked it) and that didn’t include the introduction which was 10 minutes more. Not only that, I have to suffer three other “valedictions”. These people haven't heard of the phrase "short and terse"; a basic when taking Public Speaking 101.

But all complains faded when it was my daughter’s turn to walk on stage. Parents are required to accompany prep graduates. So to meet our daughter halfway, my wife and I again have to say “excuse me” and “sorry”, not only once but thrice. First; when she received her diploma, another, when she got her medal for “academic distinction” and a third time when she accepted her two “certificate of recognition”. It was all worth it and the other parents doesn’t seem to mind our constant “excuses” and “apologies”.

That wraps up everything this month. At least I manage a single post and didn’t get a grade of zero.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where Have You Been My Brown-Eyed Son?

FB, I think, is a software application most of us appreciate it was invented. It enables us to communicate with our love ones and rekindle connection to our long forgotten friends and acquaintances in wherever corner of the world they maybe. It also gave me a glimpsed and first hand idea of their present state of affair.

Because of our coming high school event, our batch is gearing up its preparation for next year’s reunion. We used FB to find former classmates and as an organizational tool to update and inform each and everyone involved of our proposed agenda and plans. Those who have funds to spare voluntarily gave to finance our projects. Of course it is not imposed but still “expected” from those working or residing abroad to gave a much larger donation.

As I inspect our financial status, I noticed more “supports” are given by our Middle East based and sea-faring alumni than from our counterparts living in the western hemisphere. It strikes me as ironic that people back home look upon OFWs and sea-men to be a less desirable endeavor compared to a “blue passport” or a “green card” holder, and yet, this tally speaks otherwise.

A high school teacher once told me – “O, kumusta? Si (a classmate) na sa Amerika na!” With emphasis on “na”, as if going to “Tate” is the ultimate paradigm of success. Perhaps this holds true some 30 or so years back, but with the current trend and financial slump in which US has yet to recover, I think other wise. This assumption was further strengthened when one of my US based classmates mentioned – “we’re lucky, we still have jobs”. It is sad to think that they have to prepare and save a year ahead just to be able to attend our homecoming event. They felt envious when they found out going back home for vacation is routine, done on a yearly basis and free airline fare for us and our families.

These crisis US is now facing changed even the most amiable guy I know, a buddy since our formative years and haven’t seen for a long time. I found out he has an FB account, sent a message and jokingly said the climate in the US haven’t done much to his “color”. The reply I received isn’t what I expected. He was upset and began an outburst of insults including “ignorant” and “out of touch with reality”. You must be in a lot of pressure and stress to be so sensitive and react like that on something as trivial as a joke between friends.

Perhaps he is right. I haven’t changed much. But still I’d rather be “ignorant” than to “learn” that to get ahead, you either use people or step on someone’s toes. I’d rather be “carefree” than to look at the glass half-empty. I’d rather be foolish but happy than to come home from work morose and humorless.

I don’t look at “life” that way.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Being Different and Practical

I don't pretend to be captain weird. I just do what I do. – Johnny Depp

Do you think I’m weird or perhaps eccentric? Some do. From people I don’t know, like the PEBA judge who quoted “I like his quirky way of writing” to my German boss who insisted that I address him on a first name basis. I decline, telling him “Sir” is shorter and easier to pronounce. I don’t see weird in that.

I got away with things I said and do because at first glance it seems, to some, it’s out of the norm but then realized there’s a grain of logic or practicality in it. The head of the IT department once told some staff to give me leeway. He said it’s understandable if I act like that because I’m a programmer. I don’t know how programmers act. All I’m doing is being me. I speak out if I disagree. I point out if something is wrong. I say “No” when everyone says “Yes” or silent when things are not right.

If you care for your job, you’ll go the extra mile to see to it that everything is straightened out. Your boss’ assessment is based on what ever feed back he gets from his staff. You should “protect” him that he wont commit any bad decision because his also answerable to someone higher up. It has nothing to do with “loyalty”. Any SNAFU he makes will reflect on the whole department and that includes YOU. There’s nothing wrong or “different” in that.

Even my wife said “Iba ka sa mga asawa nang mga kakilala ko”. She once hinted “Alam mo, ang mister ni ganito, binilhan sya ng Fendi bag nung birthday nya” to which I replied “Eh di sabihin mo kay ganito na papabili ka rin ng Fendi bag sa mister nya”. What is she complaining about? I bought her a brand new 10 kilo capacity washing machine on her birthday. It’s just a coincidence that our old one was on its final breath.

It’s not that I’m a cheapskate. Why should I buy a LED flat screen when my 24” TV still works fine? Why should I buy a 4 wheel drive instead of a sedan when all I do is just drive inside the city? Pare-pareho lang namang “installment” ang pag bili ng sasakyang yan. I find it pretentious for someone to flaunt their Louis Vuitton handbag or show-off their latest 4G cell phone and then makikita mong nakiki ukay-ukay sa sales sa mall or else nakiki-susyo on dividing the price of a “buy one take one” offer sa Debenhams. Practical? Yes! But do we really have to “display” those expensive materials to elicit awe or envy and to subtly point out that we are way above the social strata? Kung talagang mayaman ako, hindi na ako mag tatrabaho dito sa Middle East.

But I’m all out when it comes to my stomach. Except for those restaurants who serve more eating utensils than food on the table, I think, we ate in almost all the fancy ones here in the city. It’s a weakness my daughter and I share and I don’t scrimp when it comes to that.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

On Religion and Faith

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. - Desiderata

Last night I saw BBC’s Intelligence Squared debate between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and famous author Christopher Hitchens discussing the topic – “Is religion a force for good in the world?”

Blair was defending religion standing on his personal belief in God while Hitchen, an atheist, tried to debunk that conviction with logic sprinkled with dry humor. At the onset, “cons” was favored, ahead by 30% against the “pros”, in which 20% of the listeners are “undecided”. After deliberation, “cons” lead increased. Technically “cons” won but, in my opinion, “pros” didn’t lose either because its points didn’t diminish. Its standing also improved garnering almost half the “undecided” opinion*.

I personally sided with Hitchen but not totally because I still believed in a Supreme Entity. May He be the ultimate judge, jury and executioner, a specie far more superior than our own or a force that governs the physical universe is another topic to be discussed.

The thing is I refuse to abide with “organized” religion. I don’t need somebody, who wears a white robe or an immaculately dressed man with manicured nails, to tell me how to go about my business in this world. Blame my dear mother. She exposed me to the bible at an early age hoping, someday, her second son will don the frock and serve the Lord. Instead the opposite happened. I found inconsistencies and began to question the “goodness” of God especially in the Old Testament. She calls me “erehes” (Spanish for heretic) every time she runs out of answer.

For me, faith is a personal belief. I have my own concept of who is God and what to expect from Him. It is an amalgamation of different “ism” I found logical, practical or construed to contain “goodness” in it. I don’t blame Him for any misfortune I meet, for any catastrophic upheaval caused by nature or man-made destruction. But I can’t help but thanks Him for all the good things that come my way. I tried to emulate Jesus’ teaching about goodness to fellow men and Confucian philosophy on how to separate man from beast. But I don’t believed in the Trinity nor totally agree with the “thick face - black heart” principle. I believe in the benefit of Yoga and the effect of Karma but I won’t buy polytheism. I believe in “yin-yang”, “causes and effect”, the balance of nature, compassion, moderation and humility but I wont pray for guidance to my long dead grandparents nor expect to be born again.

If it is my “God-given” birthright to think, then it is up to me to decide the difference between right and wrong or good and bad. What is important is I am at peace with my God. He doesn’t threaten me with eternal damnation in case I disagree with Him. He doesn’t destroy and create my world every thousand or so years. He doesn’t have “favoritism” among his creation and He is neither vain nor insecure to require me to pledge my allegiance several times a day.

Don’t confuse opinion with belief. It takes proof to build an opinion but believing is all it takes in your belief. You may compare it with a scene from the movie, Finding Nemo: The whale told Dory to “let go” because “it is time”. Marlin, afraid, reluctantly asked “How do you know he won’t eat us?” To which Dory replied “I don’t” – that my friends is what I call FAITH.

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*If you’re interested on watching the episode of Intelligence Squared, you may refer to these dates. Or you can watch the highlights on YouTube. Tag in “Intelligence Square”, “Tony Blair” and “Christopher Hitchen” on your search.