Archive for April, 2008

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Quotation

April 28, 2008

Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God.
Martin Luther

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A Dead Dog

April 28, 2008

“We gave them lots of vetsin* yesterday,” our neighbor continued, “but they still live.”
That neighbor, btw, is only about 8 years old. He was just calmly telling me about their attempted murder of their dogs. The sun was also typically shining brightly that afternoon. I was also, as usual, on my way home.
One of the vetsin-tolerant dogs was sitting on our lawn as I called him to come to me. He was a black-furred mongrel that had a characteristic gait reminiscent of a velociraptor. Hence, his nickname Dino/Dinosaur. He was also a literal bastard son of a bitch. His mother came from nowhere and seduced our dog. Both are now inseparable except for the times when she does whatever bitches love doing –going after other dogs.
From one of those dogs came the sperm that fertilized one egg cell. Several months later, one of many puppies popped out of the bitch. Our neighbors took him and his brother in to give their son some pets. They gave him the name Dash. I called him Dashel in honor of Dashel Jameson of Krondor**.
dashel
What could have been a happy ending ended in tragedy. What started as a happy childhood was snipped in late adolescence. Denied proper nutrition, Dash and his brother would visit our home and wait for our dog to finish his meals. Oftentimes, they resorted to licking the empty plate. Sometimes, I gave them some scraps.
Apparently, these were not enough. Dash and his accomplice, another one of the neighbor’s dogs would hunt chickens for more sustenance. Nobody really knows who owns the chickens. They freely strut around the neighborhood as if daring us to kill and eat them. Those chickens are lucky. People here could not catch them, and would rather buy dressed chickens from the supermarket rather than perform the tedious job of slaughtering and preparing them.
Our neighbors, however, noticed their dogs’ escapades. They concluded that the dogs were no longer safe as they have already tasted forbidden meat. Having tasted and enjoyed live meat, they were now in a path that would lead them to kill more in order to appease their new addiction. They decided those dogs must die.
Dash made his way to me, and I petted his short, spiky fur. He, however, smelled like dead, decaying flesh. I quickly told him to leave me as I went my way to wash my hands. One washing with cheap, laundry soap did not erase the smell. I washed again, but this time I used a proper hand sanitizing wash.
The next day, Dash died. Several men wielding crude clubs came to the neighborhood. They wore rag-like clothes but were otherwise healthy. They had a rope which they used to catch him. They then bludgeoned him to death then dragged him off, probably to eat him. Dog meat supposedly goes well with beer. Those men surely had the look of drunkards.

Thus ended the life of Dashel:

He ate forbidden meat
And for this he was beat.

*Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
** A character in the Krondor Saga by Raymond E. Feist.

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Insight

April 22, 2008

Never say “I’m just a normal person” during a major interview.

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Waiting for a Verdict

April 22, 2008

Curious about the proceedings of an actual court hearing, I stepped inside a room where a trial was taking place. I don’t think I would have been allowed inside had I not been somewhat connected to one of the lawyers. I had hitched a ride from the airport in Cagayan de Oro to Iligan in my high school classmate’s car. It turned out her father was a lawyer and that he was also scheduled to represent or was it to prosecute a defendant. I could no longer remember the details of that case except for the moment when the defendant gave his testimony.

The defendant sat relaxed as the court interrogated him.
He was well built bordering on obesity and the hint of a beer belly. He had dark brown skin that hinted of a life of toil under the sun. He wore a plain white shirt and jeans. There was nothing remarkable about him. He was at the center of attention simply because someone brought a complaint against him.
Then he spoke. I could not recall his words, but I remember he had a deep baritone voice. That voice had a certain quality that is sought after in documentaries. Yet it was not just the tone that brought my attention, it was the language. He was speaking in perfect, fluent Cebuano!
I speak Cebuano. I grew up in that language. I even spoke it to the point of impoliteness in Manila, where the dominant language is Tagalog. Yet I must admit that my Cebuano was like a maya* compared to the eagle** that was his Cebuano.
Western influence has transformed Cebuano, or at least the Cebuano that I grew up in. Spanish words have seamlessly integrated into it to the point that some of us get surprised that a certain word has Spanish origins. English has also done its share, and has even replaced the use of Spanish in some cases. An example would be in counting. Traditionally, we use Cebuano words for the number of things until the number 10. Beyond 10, we switch to Spanish i.e. onse, dose, trese, etc. Money talk, however, is traditionally done using Spanish***. Nowadays, it is now common to see members of the newer generations to count only in English be it for money or for the number of things.
Hearing the man talk in perfect Cebuano somehow opened my eyes to that language. I didn’t realize that Cebuano could actually become beautiful. My generation, or at least those who belong to the upper social classes, do not think much about the classical use of our language. We cannot write in it in the same degree we write in English. We cannot even understand it when we read it!
Truth be told, I haven’t even seen Cebuano literature aside from Cebuano Bibles. These, btw, are disposed of to “those who cannot understand English”. We don’t listen to sermons in Cebuano, because we wouldn’t be able to understand it! We prefer to listen to our ministers and priests in English. Yet we have not stopped ourselves from speaking it, but in relegating it to conversation we have somehow reduced it.
IMO, there is nothing colorful about contemporary Cebuano. Our words are direct. Our vocabulary is small. Our conversations lack idioms. When asked for synonyms of our common words, we give English words. When asked to explain topics, some of us even answer in straight English. What’s worse is that every other sentence that comes from our mouths have at least a word of English mixed with the Cebuano words. How we use our language is a far cry from how the man under trial used it.
Then an ironic thing happened at the trial. The stenographer interrupted the proceeding asking for a proper English translation of the man’s statement. The court agreed upon a grammatically incorrect, bad sounding, and simple translation. I wanted to tell them to keep the man’s statement, but I was only a spectator and had no right to interrupt a legal proceeding. Yet I couldn’t help but think that future generations would never know about the true words the man spoke. The records would show them a man who could not speak perfect English when in reality he was a man who spoke perfect Cebuano.
I did not stay long at the trial. I left with a nagging thought:

The Cebuano language is under trial. Its judge and jury are its speakers, and they will pronounce sentence upon its fate. Only time will tell whether they let it die a slow death, or let it rise again with new life.

*Formerly the national bird, the maya is a small bird with brown and black feathers.
**I am referring here to the Philippine Eagle. It took the title of “National Bird” from the maya on 1995. It stands at about 3.3 ft with a wingspan of about 6.7 ft.
***Many a Cebuano has gotten culture-shocked after asking for the price of something in Manila. Where they would get “diyes” or “singko” in their respective provinces, they would get a “sampu” or “lima” in Manila. They do expect that Tagalogs use the same words for money and the number of things.

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Change for Us

April 14, 2008

Philippine Peso Bills. Image taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_peso

“That would be P135,” the teller said as he checked my voucher.
I hurriedly took a P500 bill from my wallet and presented it to him.
“I’m sorry,” he continued, “we don’t have change.”

Now there’s nothing more frustrating than having money, but having no means to spend it. It’s as worse as having no money at all! It gets more frustrating if someone is under cheap-skate/saving mode. Usually, only the more high end shops and restaurants will have change. The cheaper establishments have no choice but to refuse their services. He is then forced to spend more as he moves to the more expensive establishments thus defeating his intent to save. Some services, however, such as jeepney rides can be had for free provided the passenger has no change, but has very thick skin.
I remember having change problems all the way to my elementary days. I sometimes get a bulk P50 bill for my allowance, but would not have any spare change for the P3 ride. Usually, the other jeepneys can afford to give me change. One type of jeepney, however, usually can’t give me exact change. Most of the time, the driver lets me off free. Sometimes, the other passengers bail me out. This, btw, in no way made me want to take advantage of them. In fact, the experience made me somewhat guilty. The other passengers in that route were usually poor people, market vendors who must earn their daily bread selling stuff. I had more money than some of them, but ironically they paid for me.
Obnoxious tellers, btw, are way different from jeepney drivers. Students of UP Diliman who happen to have unfortunately been inside the RCPI center in the SC would attest to this fact. I don’t know if those women have changed, but I remember during my time there how much of a pain they can be. Students and richer folks can get away lightly scathed, but it sill came to a point that I and some of my friends no longer bought tickets from them. The poor, however, are at their mercy. They are treated like trash by those power tripping hags. Those hags have very harsh tongues, which they continually lash at everyone they feel are lower than them, young, old, men, women, and children.
I remember the last time I bought a ticket from them. They couldn’t spare to give me about P5 change. They had the nerve to tell me to have it changed elsewhere because they wouldn’t accept it. I could never forget that moment. It felt as if the hopes, prayers, and dreams of the oppressed of RCPI converged on me. For one moment, I became a Champion, a Hero. I looked at the teller directly, and in clear tones told her, “Keep the change.”
The look I got from her was worth more than a hundred times the amount that she should have given me. She hurriedly gave me my ticket and its corresponding receipt.

“That’s o.k.,” I told the teller as he told me they didn’t have change. “I can wait.”
I then moved to the side of the window, took out my cellphone, selected a game, and pointed the screen slightly towards his angle. I was telling him loudly, but without words, that I was willing to wait a long time. I don’t want to have to look for change. I was in saving mode. I was not about to buy some useless gadget or expensive food to get some change. By playing the game, I just wanted him to feel the full awkwardness of the situation while he was seeing that I was enjoying myself with the game. Fortunately, the period didn’t last long. Some girls paid with the exact amount.
“Sir,” he said. “Let me have your money.”
Then I gave him the P500 bill. He pulled a drawer and revealed bills and coins of all denominations. He took out the exact change and gave it to me. I hurriedly said a, “thank you,” as I received it.
Then it hit me. The reason why there doesn’t seem to be any change around is that some people and establishments just hoard the much needed change that should have been released to the public; then they lie saying they don’t have change.

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Insight

April 10, 2008

Going through the motions
is as worse
as being motionless.

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Wanted: Delfin Justiniano “DJ” Montano

April 10, 2008

If you see him, please tell him Brian Gorrel wants his money back.
Brian, btw, is DJ’s ex. He is accusing DJ of stealing his $70,000. In fact, his blog is dedicated to that end.
That said blog has also garnered 2,000,000 views in just about a month of being put in operation, and it’s not because of his writing style. You would have to go the site for you to know what I mean. Writing about Delfin, IMO, is the main reason for his success. It’s a typical lover-gets-swindled-story that wouldn’t elicit more than a second of pity if it hadn’t had a more tangible flavor to it.
What’s different about his case is that some members of Philippine high society get to be included in the fray. They are portrayed as hedonistic, power hungry, apathetic lowlifes among whom are those who are not even rich (Delfin included in this category), but who all leach the benefits that all Filipinos should get. He even accuses some of them of murder and assassinations. Apparently, they are not amused. Brian is accusing them of instigating media, the Philippine legal process, and even Google to get him to shut up. Btw, he also claims that Google may close his site down because of this.
He, however, has made it clear that he will close his blog if Delfin pays him back. So you better check out his site soon. Either, Google pushes him down or Delfin gets a change of heart and finances and decide to pay him back, and his blog is closed down; and you wouldn’t have a first hand look at what the fuss is all about.