Monday, November 7, 2011


My first memory of encountering comics started when I was very young, not more than 5 or 6 years old. Being a fan of cartoons, it was no surprise that I would be drawn to the bright pastel colors of the Sunday comics, which was something I looked forward to every week. And so it was that I became a fan of Garfield and Peanuts, and eventually, Calvin and Hobbes. I just loved how all of these series made everyday situations funny and memorable. Thanks to the writers who’ve created these classics, my imagination and vocabulary have been splendid, but alas, my early attempts at creating my own comics have ended with disastrous (and oftentimes laughable) results.

It looks something like this, but way worse.

Then elementary school came, and with it, the anime craze. No geeky male kid was immune to its charms. Bright colors? Check. Cool (although sometimes recycled) plots? Check. Interesting characters? Hell yes! Sexy female characters in revealing clothes? CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK! (There was only dial-up internet back then, but that’s another blog post) Needless to say, I was hooked. I still recall with a fond sense of nostalgia all the great series I watched that made my boyhood either dull or awesome, depending on how geek-o-phobic you are. Samurai X, Gatekeepers, Dual, Gundam series, Evangelion, Yu-yu Hakusho, and Pokemon, all of these were the constant things on my mind, and little else.

It's that crowded in my mind too, except that there's puppies.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ever wondered why we like to wonder about wonderful stuff?

 Let's be honest for a while. No matter how much we claim to live life in the moment, without regrets, we have all spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what could have been. I am of course talking about the what ifs. And in my case, never has there been a period in my life quite like the past few days and months that have made me ponder on these matters quite as frequently.

 I'll start at the underlying causes. The proverbial spark to these questions first emerged from a failed job interview. (Don't worry, I've moved on and won't bitch out about it here.) The interviewer left me with a thought provoking statement that sent a flurry of activity running wildly across my brain. What if she was right? What if I'm only being a writer because I'm pretty much a failed visual artist? What's so wrong with sticking to my strengths? These are only a handful of the questions I've been asking myself ever since.


Friday, October 7, 2011

A War Without Deaths -- yup, Competitive Sports!

 Man has always carried a violent nature inside of him.Whether you are a muscled freak prone to 'roid rage, or a pacifist who can't kill a fly,  make no mistake about it -- there's a primal beast stored inside your DNA. And it wants blood. Or at least the thrill of defeating someone worthy. Now, you can't just go about slapping people in the face, looking for a fight. That kind of behavior gets people in jail. Usually.

But of course, there are exceptions.
  Humans, being the pioneering species that it is, had the brilliant idea of creating competition. Also, killing people for shits and giggles in front of a live audience kind of went out of fashion after the Roman Empire collapsed. So now, we get our fix of loud, animalistic, roaring frenzy from professional sports. And grown massively this movement has.

 The Olympics have been one of humanity's most obscenely expensive displays of athletic superiority for decades, and for good reasons. Nothing brings out the animal in us like the tribal allegiances we display when our teams are competing. But since we've always sucked at the Olympics, we settle with what we can get. And we have it pretty good. Nothing like a deadly, but beautiful sport like boxing to get everyone's heartbeat racing and our throats sore.  Oh, and yeah, just having the greatest fighter alive today as our countryman is pretty swell.

Even though the awful singing and political play is getting exasperating.

   If you've ever seen Manny fight, (wait, of course you have, duh.) you will be familiar with the indescribable rush of blood it sends throughout your body. There's is nothing quite like seeing an eternally smiling man beating up his opponents face into a bloody pulp. And the ecstasy of seeing an opponent down and out? Absolutely incredible.You are left inspired, wanting to just go out and smack somebody around.

 But for what? Unlike you, he is being paid to fight. Its almost disgusting how much the guy makes, if only it weren't so well-deserved. And unlike him, you are probably a wuss who'd fold under a grazing jab. So like most sane people wishing to feel the rush of victory, you'd probably settle for a less brutally punishing sport.

 Enter our national sport. No you idiot, it's not sepak takraw like our textbooks say. It is basketball. One of the American's greatest legacies we have kept alive. Filipinos are addicted to it, also because the NBA has done a great job marketing it as a wonderful game filled with grace, skills and drama. For the most part, that is.
When you can change the NBA's rules just from the number of technical fouls you've committed, you are definitely a legend.

  Locally, the fanatical mobs are virtually only a few steps away from England's infamous soccer hooligans. Forget professional basketball; in this country, college hoops is the major attraction. Nothing inspires fanatical devotions quite like academic institutions, especially for the "privileged" ones. How many local PBA games fetch up to Php30,000 per ticket for court-side seats? You'd be lucky selling out Araneta's upper A section for season games in the pro league. On the collegiate level, you'd be lucky to score GA tix for an Ateneo-La Salle, or Final Four game. And when you're really lucky, the teams would even drop the ball and go at each others throats. Now that's entertainment!

 Personally, I've always enjoyed competition involving myself. Be it basketball, debates or video games, I really hate losing. And like the psychotically passionate Michael Jordan himself, I love a close, hard-fought, play-til-you-bleed-or-drop game. It ups the stakes. Never mind if there is no money involved. I hate gambling anyway. I love it for the rush, stress, fatigue, everything. There is nothing quite like winning a hard-fought match, when you're down on the scoreboard, and clawing your way back. Snatching a win from behind is one of life's greatest legal pleasures. Losing such a game though, is honestly quite devastating. So just imagine how the Miami Heat must feel.

Oh wait, it wasn't even close. My bad. Suck it Lebron! Hahaha!
Aside from being a great fitness regimen, sports also apparently boost willingness to succeed, as well as coordination, balance, intelligence, and the common side-effect of having the ability to behave like a douche-bag. Yes, no great athlete is without pride. No, Manny Pacquiao, despite not saying it, is definitely not as humble as he seems. Greatness demands a high sense of confidence in one's self, not to mention their abilities. So let them brag, as long as it's in good taste and not comically exaggerated like Money Mayweather.

Cause at the end of the day, these kings of their sport are the modern age Lords of war. And we are all just fans or haters.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's a material world, despite what your pastor tells you

 Everything is for sale. You should know it by now. You may not realize it, but you have, on one occasion or more, have sold yourself in one way or another. It doesn't matter if you wanted to or not, or if you got more than you bargained for or less. As our society gets more and more advanced there is no more room for puny words like honor, sacrifice and ambition anymore (unless they put it in movies or video games). We are now both buyers and sellers, depending on what is being sold and what the demand calls for on a given day. 

 Money has certainly been a major factor in determining power and worth on modern humankind. It is virtually impossible living without it today, which is quite ironic given the fact that money is something we only created to give a semblance of order in the chaos known as human society. While we may not be clubbing each others heads and flinging crap at each other anymore, (at least us who aren't on MTV's Jackass) we are still every bit the cunning and devious species we were a few thousand years ago. The only difference being we are now better dressed, better groomed, better fed but ultimately not always so better-off.

 Once upon a time, being the top dog meant being the most brutal member of the tribe, one who inspires fear and respect with a swing of a club (or sword). Now it means being so important, no one can land a punch on you if their life depended on it. Way back then, the thrill of the hunt was in narrowly surviving a wild beast's attack and taking the (now-dead) thing home for dinner. These days, the thrill comes from getting a discount on suspiciously cheap meat that could be beef like the label says, or something that could have been your neighbor's pet. Point being: forget being a badass like Manny Pacquiao or Anderson Silva, be a rich, influential dude and get the money to buy things both those guys would envy--and fear. 

He may not look it, but this man can kill you in 42 different ways, all while wearing that stupid top.

 Or so most of us dream. The sad fact is, not everyone will be rich. Sadder fact: Not every rich man earned their keep. Saddest fact: Not all of them are happy, let alone content, with what they have. I personally dream of being just rich enough to buy everything to make my room a geek heaven. And a GT-R in the garage would be sweet as well. Most people my age still cling to the Scarface motto; "the world is mine." As if such a thing was possible. Or even worth it. All the world? Mine? No thank you. People forget the responsibility of being a king, not realizing that the king would sometimes envy the simplicity of the squire's life. But if being content was a human trait, then we would still be living in the jungles now, wouldn't we?

It's just not in our character as a species to stop at good enough. It is why we have subjugated the Earth, and ultimately be the steps unto our own undoing. Stopping while we're ahead is just a fool's motto, uttered only by those too weak to seize their desires, terrified by their own potential for greatness--or evil. It's simply never just enough. Be it our food, clothes, cars, gadgets, money, entertainment, etc., we will always find a way to want more. We have become reduced to a species just looking for it's next temporary high. And we are all hopelessly addicted.

Consumption is an everyday activity, and has been written in our DNA. Everyone's interested in what we're buying and selling, and the trend today seems to be fame and dignity. Fame being bought at the cost of dignity, that is. Ah, but then again how much does dignity cost today anyway? You'll find premium ice cream more expensive than shame nowadays. The proof is everywhere. If you do not realize it, you are probably chasing it, confusing it for the culmination of a dream. But before you consider me preachy, let me admit that fame would have its great perks. Who does not like attention? Idolatry? Worship, even? Count me in! 

Except for this shit. I still have some semblance of dignity not to enter here.

 As I have always maintained in this blog, NONE OF US ARE SAFE! I am here to point out our own bullshit, but ultimately not to condemn, or judge it, but to laugh at it. Acknowledge it. Because in the end, nothing I'll say or do should change your view of the world.  And that's the beauty of it all.

I wish everyone the best in their own quest for success, be it real or imagined, substantial or shallow, entertaining or not, life-changing or suicide-inducing! So be careful what you wish and work for. You know the rest.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Films well worth the time they'll take from your life. (or at least mine)

 I am somewhat of a movie buff, having rediscovered my love for great cinema in part through today's big budget Hollywood blockbusters, and the other factor being HBO. While 5-6 years ago I was not so discriminating in the movies I watched, the internet has proven monumental in changing that mindset. Whereas before I had only three requirements needed to be met for what I consider good movies (I am now terribly ashamed to share what those 3 were), now I thankfully have a greater understanding in the intricacies of this unequaled art form.

 Here now, in no particular order or rank, is a list of my favorite films by far, each followed with a short review/insight that do no justice whatsoever to the enjoyment I've had in watching them. And no, almost none of the films I liked when I was 15 made it here.

INCEPTION- Definitely the best film of 2010 (for me, at least). A remarkable feat in originality, editing and direction. You will never think of sleep in the same way again. Unforgettable performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Cillian Murphy. Quite possibly director Christopher Nolan's magnus opus.

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS- This by far is Quentin Tarantino at his best, finally delivering the missing element that I felt was lacking in his other brilliant films.  What that is, I cannot say nor explain. I can simply sum it up like this; it feels complete and solidly put together, something I cannot say with absolute confidence about Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (although both are superb as well.) Oh and yes, Christoph Waltz delivers a cinematic performance that in all probability would never be equaled nor  re-created. Hans Landa ranks high up there in cinema's long line of unforgettable antagonists.

AVATAR- Though much criticized for it's heavy borrowing of themes and premises, I feel that Avatar still has enough depth to be appreciated beyond its stunning and near-overwhelming beauty. Think of it this way; an overbearing storyline would have detracted much from the magnificent visual experience it delivers. And in that experience, words fall short to describe it. I pity those who have not been able to watch it in theaters, and applaud those who did--in 3D; proving that said format is more than just a gimmick to charge higher ticket prices. In a nut-shell, Avatar showed how 3D SHOULD be done, and did so in a bar-setting way that it is likely to be topped only by it's much-awaited sequel.

THE DEPARTED-  I confess not being much of a fan of Martin Scorsese's early works. However, it is important to remember that he started waaaay early, and that his films were reflections of society during those times. One film that I can easily say I have thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish is this 2006 masterpiece. Brilliant performances from its lead stars give unparalleled intensity in its story's nail-biting, and ultimately shocking unfolding. A must-watch for anyone who loves police/crime dramas laced with varying degrees of moral gray areas and dilemmas.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE- Stanley Kubrick, while not one of my favorite directors, is undeniably talented. His 1971 film features a bleak look at a futuristic, totalitarian Britain. Its protagonist, (or technically anti-hero) the sociopath Alex, is just about every generation's worst fears about youth realized. The amazing themes implied on human freedom, it's nature, and government "protection" make this film great fodder for sociology conversations, (whether they be professional or not; drunk or sober).

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM- As far as anti-drug PSA's put on film are concerned, no other film I can recall cautions its viewers quite like this one. Darren Aronofsky's manic directorial style, coupled with the (infamously) haunting soundtrack provides a morbid, yet not totally unrealistic view about human addictions-- and it's nasty consequences. Topped off with insanely believable performances from its lead cast, this is a film you will not soon forget--nor watch again too soon.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND- While it starts off slowly and mundanely, the masterful flow and direction soon all make sense in its intense and unforgettable climax. The inter-twining of the character's lives, along with the revelations made along the way, are believable and engaging, despite the technology described being not. This is one of those films that provides a weird, unexplainable, but not unpleasant feeling after the credits roll. This is how love stories should be made, not the sappy, trying-too-hard crap we usually get today.    

MEMENTO- Christopher Nolan's 2000 film shows glimmers of the director's budding brilliance, managing to achieve what most films do not-- and that is telling a story backwards while being engaging and making sense. While not perfectly paced, nor logical in its premise (spoiler alert: how does one with anterograde amnesia remember that he HAS anterograde amnesia?) it is nonetheless attention worthy and thought-provoking. The big reveals and unpredictable chain of events make this a story unlike any other.

CITIZEN KANE- Ah yes, the grand daddy. The kingpin. The gold standard. No greatest movie list is complete without this film popping up, and any self-respecting movie buff knows why. For starters, this movie was made nearly 70 years ago. The amazing thing is, it still holds up well to today's lofty, albeit dumbed-down standards. The story-telling is that good. The dialogue is majestic poetry on screen. The performances, while a tad different from what we're used to (it was a different time) is nothing to be scoffed at. Truly, a classic work is timeless, and this film has proved it time and time again to each succeeding generation of film lovers.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK- While some have gone so far as to call David Fincher's 2010 drama film as the "Citizen Kane" of our generation, I would say that it is not totally undeserved. This film is a triumph in traditional film-making, despite it's new-age, modern setting. I say so because to make a movie this good with nothing but great writing, spot-on delivery, tweaked realism and uncluttered, focused direction work provides hope for the next generation of filmmakers; it's that a good movie need not have explosions, fake-looking CGI and cringe-worthy performances to entertain. Jesse Eisenberg surprises with an iconic performance I never imagined he was capable off. Think of it as Michael Cera on awkwardness-inducing steroids with a good dash of Bill Gates thrown it. His character is that unique.  

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION- An often under-remembered film in a year of great cinema (it competed against two other memorable films; namely Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction) it is, in my opinion the best of the three. While Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction have since become iconic films frequently referred to in pop culture, Shawshank Redemption's tale of keeping hope alive in a hopelessly dire situation is one best remembered in times of personal conflicts, and thus, holds a special place in the hearts of anyone who has watched it. While it is criticized for indeliberately romanticising prison culture, it still has its dark, completely plausible moments, all of which make its final redemptive closure all the more spectacular and unforgettably inspiring. A stunning victory for inspirational films, it deserves just as much attention as the others it has competed with in the 94' Oscars.

Well, this is it for now. I have too many great movies to list in one post, so expect to see more of my favorite films in succeeding entries. I sincerely hope you get to watch all of films mentioned above, as I assure you, time spent watching them is time utterly well-spent.

Bye for now.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The World Runs Best With A Generous Serving of Conflict (Part 1)

 Life seems to be an endless series of conflicting  interests. To a certain degree it is. At least, it has always seemed so, if you fully believe the news and movies. But unlike the news, where fact is merely provided without any (usually) inclination to bias, and the movies, where you simply watch the protagonist choose his path and get on with it, our lives are not so simple. We are after all, the protagonists to our own stories, and we get to direct and produce as well. But rarely do we get to re-shoot. And the cutting room floor is a near-infinite medley of clips that hold both highly interesting and downright mundane moments. Oh, and no, we cannot re-cast anyone else in the lead. So yeah, good luck getting *insert hot celebrity crush's name here* to be your partner. It just doesn't work that way.

 As almost any human being can attest to, one of the most common yet perplexing instances in our lives is our conflict with ourselves. Be it minor, or major (or major, major if you still believe it's cool to use that term. ) conflicts, plenty of us feel trapped by the ensuing consequences of our choices. "Should I have taken that opportunity?" "Did I say that out wrong?" "Should I have ordered the chicken instead?!" These and countless other choices have made modern living increasingly complicated, which is ironic, because it was supposed to be simpler.

 We have so many choices on our plate these days, that the act of choosing turns into conflict. Take for example our college education system. At 17, (or younger) we are somehow supposed to know which path would best suit us, despite the astronomical lack of real world knowledge and experience that most people in that age have. It seems almost laughable back then, because everyone knew that there were only 2 careers for the all-singing, all-dancing crap called the middle-income Filipino youth. Its was either study your ass off to eventually wipe someone else's ass off as a foreign-currency-earning nurse, or just go into any course for 2 years, brush up on your English (bonus points for an American twang!) and boom! Earn a bucket-load of cash at your friendly neighborhood call center. (Frappes sold separately.)

 And then, there were the "naive." Us who didn't want either of the two. Us, who for one reason or another believed sincerely, with all our hearts, that we were better than that. Us that said, "we need not go abroad, nor speak like someone who has migrated does." And life, being the ever-smug bastard that it is, could not resist shattering our hymens of idealist living with it's long, hard shaft of truth and economics. Before you protest that I'm being way too bleak and unrealistic, let me remind you that I am talking about "us" as a whole. Ergo, I mean the laid-back, un-special, unmotivated but not untalented and certainly not unintelligent individuals. Us, who have more pride than money. More knowledge than honeys. Culture-buff but scrawny. And the list goes on. But so too, must life.

Which is why every passing day that I spend doing nothing adds more to the inner conflict within me. I have been rudely awakened to the reality I turned a blind eye on, and it seems determined to slap me silly until I fully acknowledge the facts and situations I'm dealing with. A re-assessment is in order; a re-changing of opinion, a re-establishment of priorities. Enter more conflicts. Do I, a) say screw all this, chuck away my pride, bite the bullet and ride the gravy train towards the gleaming light at the end of all night-shifts, b) hold fast and keep waiting for an opportunity that I'm beginning to think was only one I made up, c) do what my neighbor does, with all of his rackets, to provide a band-aid solution to my fiscal shortcomings or d) continue stewing in my own filth at home, blogging to vent and pass time.

 I know I am not alone. Even those lucky enough to be working where they want to are subtlety manifesting signs of quarter-life crisis, if there's such a thing. It's a small consolation. After all, it's better to be paid as a tired, happy horse than a broke, bitter, bum..

 Tired of my blabbing yet? Yes, I know there are way too many important issues to deal with that I should be taking about. But then again, there's WAY too many people talking about those things too, so yeah, I'll keep to my own troubles, eh? All the better to lessen the conflicts I deal with directly. To give space for a free mind. So I could write a better, more focused essay next time. So this is it for now, because it's unreasonably early for a bum to be awake at this time.

P.S. Part 2 will come out soon, but probably won't be my next post. I feel this topic deserves more breadth, hence the cutting into two parts, to give it the proper insight it deserves. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Well this sucks.

 I don't usually mope about. I either have no time for it, or just simply don't care enough to do so. But life does like throwing all kinds of flavors in our way, just to make everyday taste and feel different from the last. And of all those flavors, I had the misfortune of having bitterness thrown in this week. More specifically,  3 days ago.

  Last Tuesday, my morning started all fine and dandy. But like most bad days, this was simply the calm before the storm, the initial tastes before that spicy after-note, and the big bite unto a fresh, delicious apple--before realizing there was a worm in it. I had a great night's sleep, prepared my own breakfast just the way I like it, and had everything I would be needing for my job interview prepared for later that day. Oh how wrong I was. How very, very wrong.

  So I arrive in the vicinity of the company 30 minutes early. Which was fine, I like doing that anyway. Never mind the hassle getting there, which included the 10 minute walk towards my jeep stop, the long lines at the MRT, the sardine-like packing of people inside it, and oh, the 40 bucks in which it cost for the trike to get me there. None of those would dampen my mood, and I would later realize that I would rather have done all those things 10 times in a single day rather than repeat the (it remains to be seen) traumatic events that would transpire just a few minutes during my interview.

 Since I came early, I walked around a bit to find a suitable place to change. One does not, after all, arrive to a job interview looking like a candidate for mall security (unless of course you ARE actually doing so). So I find a nice little spot. It was a small public playground of sorts. The important thing was, there were benches, so I sat down, lit a cigarette and puffed away, just to relax myself and let the sweat pour before putting on more presentable attire. After doing so, I walked confidently towards my destination. How little clue did I have that this was gonna be one of THOSE days. And by THOSE, I mean the days when you spend the rest of said day thinking about what the hell just happened and why couldn't I have prevented it. Why?

 So there I was, Mr. Potential Professional, wearing an expression of combat known world-wide as the swagger of someone who knows what he's doing.. until I realized I couldn't find the exact place I needed to go to. Following my mental memory of what I searched on Google maps, I tried the door of one company that was obviously not where I needed to be. But hey, I'm a bit lost, and everyone needs a little help. The guy who attended to me answered that the company I was looking for was right across the street. He said so in a tone that suggested this kind of thing happens everyday. A quick look to where he was pointing explained why. I'm not getting into the specifics, but let me just say that it was virtually impossible to realize that this was where I was scheduled to appear.

 Once inside, I went through the usual motions that anyone else does when finding a job. I gave my name, filled out the application form, and waited to be called. The guy who came before me was as relaxed as I was. He was called, came out a few minutes later, and wasted no time getting out. Not in the way that robbers fleeing their crime scene do, but in the way most busy people with other things on their plate do. Or so I think, since I didn't really pay attention to him. A few more minutes passed, and finally I am led to my interview. It would soon turn out to be slaughter.

It started innocently enough, with the basic blah, blah, blah. But like all major screw-ups, one thing leads to another. Usually in higher and higher degrees of dysfunction. The panel who were conducting my interview started to ask questions I was not expecting. And so, my answers were becoming increasingly incoherent. I was reduced to a bumbling buffoon, pulling dumber and dumber things to say out of thin air. You could liken it to a little rat trapped in a pit with three hungry vipers all looking for a weak spot. It was thesis defense all over again, except this time, it was for a great opportunity, and not just some intangible numerical equivalent on my transcript that is somehow supposed to represent my competence. God, I hate that feeling. But what sucks even more is realizing I had the answers they were looking for, but my scumbag of a brain couldn't process them fast enough to save me from my dire predicament. Nor could said scumbag fight off the creeping tensions of self-doubt and anxiety.

 As the whole ordeal (thankfully) came to a close, I was at a loss for words. It was beginning to sink in that I have just committed one of the biggest screw-ups in my life, no exaggeration. I was fully listening to the lady explaining the situation to me, but my mind was not completely there. I may be young, but I am not naive. I know a condescending tone when I hear one, even when it's masked by a pleasant facial expression and a passionate, just-sharing-my-thoughts-with-you speaking manner. I hesitated in deciding whether or not to say something in my defense, but I took too long, and three days later I'm still wondering if it indeed would have made any difference at all.

 You might be scratching your head, thinking, so what's the big deal? Everyone messes up. 'Bout time you did. Yes, I am aware of that. But the reason I can't simply let this go is this; a) I did not like the way that whole thing transpired, b) I did not like their assumptions about me, and c) I never, EVER (until that day, at least) screw up a damn interview. I pride myself on that last one. So yes, the wound is on my pride as someone who believes himself near impervious to the perils of such a trivial activity. BAAAAM! Back to earth and then some. I've just popped my cherry on being the stupid guy in the interview. Hence this rambling post. Sorry.

  Writing this has been therapeutic, though. It has at least taken off some on the tension that bothered my sleep 2 nights prior. "I write to empty my head, and fill my heart" according to Paolo Coelho. I did this for the opposite. I wanted to empty my heart of that disappointing embarrassment, and in doing so, be one step closer to proving that no, I am not just someone dodging the bullet reserved for people who graduated with the same degree, I do this because I want to. I need to. I have to. It's my passion. My calling. My eventual career path.


So until that chance comes, I'll continue to self-medicate by writing on this blog. Ciao!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Filipino is worth dying for?! Hahaha!

 Writing about what our heroes would have thought about our society today has proven to be a popular, polarizing, and ultimately, pointless debacle. No one can say for sure what they would have done or said in this ever-changing modern world. But like mythical sports/comics match-ups, they are a lot of fun to discuss. It's a lot like watching a dog chase it's tail; there is no point in it, you laugh at how dumb that dog is, and then realize that you just wasted your time watching a dog chase it's tail. In short, you just do it without really thinking why.

 So what am I really trying to say here? What can I say that hasn't already been said or talked about like 500 times already in just the last 25 years? Nothing, really, but that won't really stop me now, would it? And that, dear reader is my point. Huh?! If you haven't figured it out already, I can sum it up like this: We always like talking about the what, the who, the when, the where and the how. Less seldom do we talk about the WHY.

 So since the topic has been revealed in an utterly pretentious manner, allow me to ruin any of your illusions of me supplying self-indulgent, self-serving and self-pleasuring solutions. I have absolutely no idea how our society came to be this ugly, albeit morbidly entertaining circus of idiosyncrasies. All I do know is that I live it, I breathe it, and, as masochistic as it sounds, I probably can't live any other way. It just seems to be the way we are all wired. They say that there is no place like home. And it has proven true, no matter how impossibly ridiculous and (pardon the term,) WTF this country of ours gets.

Since I have no better answers than most, all I will do is post questions that ask WHY. That should probably at least spark some point of interest in our heads, that is, unless of course you are too busy watching Jersey Shore or My Super Sweet 16, for which I can't blame you, but judge you nonetheless, and curse the Western culture that cultivated such monstrosities upon mankind; of which unfortunately you've fallen prey to.

And so, without further ado, here are the questions I would like to ask. (I said I'll be posting only questions, but I can't help answering some of them myself.)

Why is the Filipino still worth dying for? --Dunno.. 'cause Ninoy said so. (who is he anyway?)

What would Rizal be doing today? Why? --Blogging is such a safe answer, so I'll presume he'd be a hipster. With a legitimate cause. Because that's how he rolls.

Why are most of the top schools run by religious orders?

Why do we aspire so hard to be Americans? --They've already "freed" us decades ago.

Why, in heaven's name, do people get killed over singing "My Way?"

Why is it so easy for us to mock our Asian neighbors that do so well compared to us?

Why is Fort Bonifacio, a playground for society's upper echelon, named after a proletariat hero?

Why are we so resistant to globally progressive social movements/reforms and yet so quick in changing sides in politics?

Why do we still believe in superstitions? --even the so-called elite members of society are not immune to this

Why is it so important to say/boast that you're Filipino when you are abroad?

Why do we laugh at the Visayan accent, when more of our countrymen speak with it than we with our carefully rolled r's and v's?

Why do we laugh at our countrymen that can't speak fluent English, but think it's cute when foreigners speak broken Filipino? --I am guilty on this charge. "Oh how cute Solenn Heusaff and Diana Menezes sound, trying (and failing miserably) to speak in Filipino. I'm in looooooove."

Why can't we stop the most talented of our countrymen from leaving our nation? 

on the other end,

Why can't we give our laborers better working conditions and compensation?

Why do us NCR people have this false sense of superiority over our "Promdi" brothers and sisters?

Why do we consider Manny Pacquiao a hero, a savior and a deity? --Probably from the primal satisfaction we get in seeing him beat pro boxers like bums who slept with his wife, ate his dog, and later stole his iPad.

Why have so many of our teenage girls fallen to dark side of Asian music, K-Pop?

on a related note,

Why are they so rabid in their adoration and recruitment of others into the cult of Korea-mania?

and speaking of rabid adoration,

Why are fans of our local actors so freaking crazy? --Kim Chiu fans send death threats to Gerald Anderson's mom because of their breakup. Marian Rivera proudly threatening unpleasant consequences to whoever tries to steal Dingdong from her, courtesy of her equally crazy fans. The list goes on and on..

Why are we so quick to blame others for failures, and so quick to hog credit for accomplishments?

Why are we more afraid of policemen than the neighborhood tambays?

Why are the most blatantly corrupt officials also almost always the most publicly religious and "charitable?"

Why are we so utterly dependent on what is "in" in the western world?

Why are we so racist against other nationalities, and yet so sensitive when we are criticized by other nations?

Why can't we take a joke against us? -- even though we're pretty good at making them

Why are we not very good at detecting sarcasm, black humor, and satire?

Why do the local TV networks love recycling, remaking, updating old shows?

Why do most of our local musicians have expiration dates that are shorter than can of sardines?

Why do we have so little will in improving public education and transport?

Why is it so hard for us to follow instructions/laws? 

Why are pawnshops so damn popular in here anyway? --I have yet to hear another country which can claim to have a pawnshop chain that can afford an endorser AND TVC's .

Why don't we ever learn to prepare adequately for natural disasters? --or at least as prepared as we can for these unpredictable manifestations of Mother Nature's cold, cold fury.

Why do we insist in making sportsmen into celebrities? --Have you seen Chris Tiu host Ripley's believe it or not? If not, you've probably at least seen "Ninong Manny" throw away cash like his mother's life depends on it, on a Christmas party masquerading as a game show--complete with dancers and "co-hosts" thrown in, for good measure.

Why do we insist on voting for celebrities into public office? --Oh yeah, Erap almost got re-elected, which leads me to ask,

Why is it so hard for the poor to grasp that Erap is a plunderer?

and finally,

Why aren't we doing more stuff to change all these things? --Haven't you heard? Rizal failed. Ninoy failed. Maybe Manny Pacquiao can do it! (Unless he loses to Floyd Mayweather, at which point we're all screwed.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh just random things I observe/realize every now and then!

 Since I write longer than I intend to on 95% of everything, I decided to just make this short and ramble-free by making a list of random things I have observed and realized as a 22 year old not-so-fresh-anymore graduate living in the Philippines.

-The "OH YES! NO MORE SCHOOL" satisfaction does not last very long. It in turn gets eventually replaced by the:

-"I SO MISS SCHOOL RIGHT NOW" --because friends and allowances are not as accessible anymore

-"Geez, getting a job was a lot harder than I thought it would be" --and you thought getting in your desired school was tough.

-"I am definitely going to finish this project as soon as possible, just 5 more minutes online.." --yet another one of our generation's many flaws

-"Mom, it's just a video game" -- Dad grew up watching mob films and he doesn't throw people in the river, does he? Doesn't he?

-"Oh look yet another Filipino got an award (interchangeable with got a viral vid/met Hollywood A-lister) for something overseas" --why are we so desperate for international attention/approval?

-"This guy is a heathen! Crucify him, lest he infect more misguided souls!" --seriously?! Crappy art is a crime punishable by death now?

-"English is the language of the learned?! So Filipino is only for the masses? Sapakin ko kaya tong konyo na to?!" --Lahat na lang ba ng hindi natin kaparehas ng pananaw uupakan nalang natin?!

-Why do we feel it is necessary to put a "haha" to soften an otherwise harsh (jokingly, of course) comment when texting or replying online?

-We really need to stop getting offended by criticisms about our society, whether they come from foreigners or locals. --we should instead ask ourselves, what reasons did he/she have for saying that?

-I still don't understand why our actors are REQUIRED to sing and dance on Sunday afternoon variety shows. --despite being ill-advised to do so.

-When will we stop patronizing mediocrity in our entertainment industry? --Is it a matter of audience demand, or producers' unwillingness to deviate from the proven, albeit, overdone-to-death formula?

-There is something awfully addictive about instant pancit canton-- I suspect it's the massive amount of MSG.

-Your parents will never truly understand our generation-- which is ok, since we will never fully understand the next one anyway.

-Yes, even your best friends are talking about you behind your back-- GET OVER IT. You do the same anyway.

-You will be surprised at how much more you'll find out about a person when you talk to their enemies-- it then becomes a matter of plausibility and trusting how well you know them as their friend.

-Being adventurous with food has its perks. --but the downsides can be pretty ugly.

-When in doubt, Google it. --unless the answer is obviously not gonna be on the web, in which case you are screwed. Which is why...

-Use your head before it rots! People survived fine without the internet, you know. --I do believe the internet has made us collectively dumber. On the upside..

-Even the most un-funny people can make you rip out in laughter with a web-link." --Ah there is hope for us geeks after all! Since I believe that..

-"The geeks shall inherit the Earth!" --Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. Your argument is invalid. The world has changed thanks to them because..

-"NONE OF US ARE SAFE!" --from death, taxes, and the technological revolution. Who knows what they'll come up with next. And how it will affect us all. And by them I mean..

-The Internet Generation makes me scared for the future of mankind. If they are anything at all like their web activity, then God help us all!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

On dreams that linger in my waking thoughts

 When I was growing up, I always wondered why it's common to hear people say, "follow your dreams." It was weird for me, because if you really think about it, around 90% of our dreams make absolutely no sense at all.

Everyone knows that dream logic is both unpredictable and terrifying, especially to people with a vivid imagination like me. I concluded that there is a major problem with the term "dreams" as used by all these Disney flicks and inspirational books. It should be called aspirations, people! Or at least daydreams.

Everyone knows that regular, sleeping time dreams are almost always either forgettable or so-unforgettable-that-you-can't-shake-it-off-even-after-your-3rd-cup-of-coffee-for-that-day. What sucks for me is, the latter is the kind of dream I tend to have in spurts. And if there's anything I dislike in this world aside from Rebecca Black and Glee, it's having a perfectly good night's sleep ruined by a disturbing, straight-out-of-a-hippie-horror-novelist's-bad-acid-trip dream.

  I remember starting to have these dreams sometime around summer of last year. They started innocently enough, just the stuff you might see in Inception, with architecture, time and space collapsing upon itself like models on a coke buffet yacht party.

But then, each night (or day, depending on what time I slept) that followed featured the truly bizarre inner workings of a mind that seems to relish in providing me with a dense assortment of ultimately unfunny jokes. Thankfully, none of them contained the usual stuff that allegedly thrive on sociopath minds.

But damn, they are weird. How weird exactly? Weird enough to warrant a screenplay from Wes Craven, except less scary and generally gore-free (but still!). I can't remember all of them, but just to give you a sample: Imagine walking down your neighborhood on a gloomy downcast afternoon. Normal enough, eh? Okay then. Add talking statues in front of the houses and living rubber duckies walking by your side.

Still not too weird? Oh, then turn around and find that an army of them is behind you, and they all have something to say.  And they all sound like people you know, but can't remember who. "Well that's weird, man, but seriously not that creepy at all." You're in luck. That's just one of the tamest examples I remember.

  One dream that still gives me the chills up to this day, (even now as I type this) is one where the setting is nowhere exotic, and the lines of space and geography that are always absurdly wrong in dreams are, in this one particular instance, accurate to the smallest detail; at least as far as I could tell. 

And to anyone who actually takes the time to reflect on their mundane, but ultimately insignificant dreams, you should know by now why this is scary. To those who are not, let me enlighten ye. If you had a dream like this, you couldn't tell it was a dream. But wait, you might say, in almost all dreams, you don't know it's a dream till you wake up.

And that brings me to the truly disturbing part. YOU STILL COULDN'T TELL AFTER YOU WAKE UP. It registers as something that happened in the waking hours, at least until after you convince yourself that it didn't because it doesn't register in your mind like a memory or an experience does. 

 But back to the story now, what exactly happened? Well, there I was lying in bed, in my room as I always do before I sleep. I feel the touch of sleep entering my body, signalling that it's time for rest. I close my eyes, and let nature take it's course.

And just as I'm about to sleep, that very same feelings of relaxation suddenly go horribly wrong. That gentle caress disguised as the comfort of sleep? Well it turns out that it was the arms of an assailant, and it's got a death-grip on my neck. I open my eyes and find no one there. But I feel the crushing grip hell-bent on choking me out. I try to punch at it, but I hit nothing but air.

As I'm passing out, I suddenly snap awake. I should be relieved, but then again it is not at all comforting to wake up in exactly the same room I was just getting killed in. Try to absorb that for a second. Not pleasant at all, eh? 

 Determined to rid myself of these nightmares (or at least find an explanation better than, someone's trying to voodoo me!), I consulted every modern human's best friend in solitary information gathering: Wikipedia. A quick and thoroughly lazy search leads me to an embarrassingly simple term: nightmare.

I guess I thought there would be a more "Dr. House worthy" medical term somewhere, but then again it's Wikipedia, and as I stated above, it was an effort done with the least amount of energy expended possible. I found out with the most sheepish face (that is known to a man who obviously should have known better but didn't) possible, that these nightmares were most possibly caused by "anxiety" and "stress". But of course.

The timing corresponds perfectly with the nightmare streaks I've been having. Last summer was before my final year in college. How can one not be anxious? The next streak was during the crucial moments of my thesis.

I was so stressed that it seemed unnatural to not have nightmares. And these past few weeks? Well, I have been a bum for 5 months now. I have batchmates who are already quitting work, while I've yet to get a response from the companies I applied for. Oh, and apparently my habit of a snack before bedtime is not at all satisfied with just sabotaging my workout results, but must, on occasion play a sick joke on my mind when I'm at my most defenseless. What a scumbag!

 Oh well. Guess that means I need to lessen the pressure I put on myself. Which is why I'm gonna cut this post short now and read something that is guaran-damn-teed to calm me down. 

Happy dreaming everyone!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

About this Blog

 For anyone who's wondering about the weird title, I got it from one of my favorite columnists, Seanbaby. Just pure comedic genius. He does a photoplasty of old comics that are hilarious to say the least, and among my favorites of his works is his most "evil" creation, Popsicle Pete. He has a catchphrase at the end of each comic where he goes, "NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE!" I have since integrated that catchy expression in my everyday dealings with my friends, and sad to say, it has not caught on. 

  Late one night, while doing my usual "pondering-about-life-and-all-the-lemons-and-lemonades-we-make-out-of-it",  I had this moment of clarity. I realized how much the information age has become indispensable to our lives, and wondered how things will play out with the younger generations. You know, the kids today who are unable to go through a day without logging on their laptops and iPods. Who have no patience at all. Who cannot, for the lives of their families, differentiate "too" from "to." And most irritatingly, (for me, at least) spell "loser" as "looser", as if there is such a word like that at all! 

   They say you know you're getting older when you start complaining about everything the youth does. You know, like your parents did when you were a teen. But that's what scares me a little. I'm only at the ripe old age of... 22. And here I am, just having graduated, face-palming my forehead at the sight of plankers and kids who wear those ugly, large Supra shoes. I, who wants to scream like a lunatic off my meds at the sight of unbelievably stupid youtube comments, but can't because a: it just looks stupid, b: it's almost genius with how they arrive at such conclusions, and c: I'm too busy laughing my butt off at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

  But therein lies the reason for this blog's somewhat vague title. Young and old, rich and poor, educated or not, NONE OF US ARE SAFE. From what exactly, you might ask? Well for starters, the basics: Death and taxes. After that comes our internet habits spilling off into our real lives. Procrastination, trolling, and a lot more. Consider yourself lucky if you were born before the 90's. Most of the people I know from that generation have been hopelessly ingrained into the internet apocalypse. At the risk of being called a paranoid cynic, let me just say that I for one, do not consider this whole "everyone's getting dumber, look out world" situation to be such a big deal. After all, most of our modern blessings have yielded unexpected, and unwanted results.  We just deal with it, like in all matters of life, be they important or not. 

  But wait, what am I doing online, in a blog, bitching about the internet when I'm on it a lot? What a hypocrite I am! The answer, sadly is simple:

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