Archive for May, 2008

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Un-Anonymous

May 31, 2008

After receiving my enrollment documents, I went inside a room to have them filled out.
A throng had already gathered around a table when I arrived. The room was loud with the sounds of new acquaintances making small talk and old friends having a small reunion. Almost everyone in the room was unknown to me, and I hoped that I was also unknown to them. I didn’t want to explain why I proceeded to enter the Medical field considering that I already graduated from an Engineering course. I made my way to an empty seat which was sitting coincidentally next to someone I already knew.
Oi G*, musta man? I said to him. Unsay buhaton diri?
Hey G*, wazzup? What do we do here?
I-fill-up nato ni**, he answered as he pointed to his documents.
We fill up these.
Then he started to introduce me to his friends.
Si C* ni, he continued as he pointed to them, si G*.
This is C*. This is G*.
I nodded in greeting as he introduced me to them.
Si J*, he said. Gikan ni siya sa UP. Engineering ni iyang course.
This is J*. He’s from UP. He took up Engineering there.
My whole world seemed to stop as my mind formed damage control measures. I knew my background would eventually be discovered by most of my future classmates, but I didn’t want it to be discovered that soon. First day of school hasn’t even come; we were still on our enrollment day.
I hurriedly put a finger on my lips and lightly whispered, Ayaw’g saba G*. Mahibal-an nila.
Don’t mention that, G*. They’d know…
Ai, nahibal-an na namo, someone sitting beside me said.
Oh. Now we know.
I turned to the speaker and saw a girl. I looked around the table and saw eyes staring at our general direction. Some were surreptitious, others were more blatant. Apparently, our conversation was not that private.
Lagi, I said with lowered eyes as I turned my head from side to side in the ritual form of disagreement.
Yeah.
I didn’t want that information publicized.
I didn’t want to answer several more inquiries about UP and Engineering and medicine. Yet I did, and I gained a few friends from it as I also asked them about their backgrounds.
Afterwards, I helped G* and C* find a place near the college. We were tired from the walk, and we decided to rest. Just then an older student, whom I knew, arrived.
Hi J*, she said. Nakitan nako imong blog.
Hi J. I saw your blog.
Oh, I answered. Gi unsa nimog discover?
Oh? How did you discover it?
Nag search lang ko, she said. Tapos nakoy nabasahan na murag ikaw man gyud. Tapos naay ga-comment with j*. Didto ko naka sure.
I found it by searching. Then I saw something that sounded like it belonged to you. Then someone commented with j*. That was when I became sure it was yours.
Yikes, I said.
C* then asked, Unsa imong blog?
What’s your blog?
I answered him only with a laugh. I wanted to keep whatever anonymity I still had.

**Filipinos don’t fill out forms. They fill up forms.

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A Cross in the Road Part 2

May 30, 2008

Last post, I wrote about the crosses that dot the roads of Northern Mindanao.
I saw one of these crosses a few days ago. This cross was relatively larger than the other ones I had seen before. Time-darkened blood encrusted around it. Rumor had it that the victim was a man in his 30s. He got sideswiped by a car, and fell off his motorcycle. A 10-wheeler truck then took away whatever life he still had then.
Last year, I also saw one of these crosses. It was relatively smaller than the average, and it marked the place where a man was killed for his motorcycle. By day, he was a security guard. By night, he studied Law. After classes to make ends meet, he took he gave passengers a ride on his motorcycle.
I have seen a few more crosses, but I didn’t know the background story of each of them. I am left only to surmise the details of the deaths they commemorate.
I have never seen anyone remove these crosses from the road. Some of them may stand for days, of which the responsibility of removing them was left to nature. The one I saw most recently still stood after two days. It was located in a street with heavy traffic, and apparently the authorities had misgivings on its removal. Nature, however, would not be as merciful. The next heavy rain may wipe all traces of it, and the street would be clear again.

**It is not uncommon to see a cross placed on the road several days after a victim had been injured on the road site. This leaves a clear message to everyone that the victim has died due to injuries taken on the site.

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A Cross in the Road Part 1

May 27, 2008

Drive around the streets of Northern Mindanao* and you may find wooden crosses supported by rocks.
These are not shrines to obscure Catholic saints nor are they remnants of the Stations of the Cross displayed during the Holy Week. These are in fact analogous to gravestones, except that there are no bodies under them. They only mark the places where someone was killed directly or indirectly**.
These crosses, however, do not just have a memorial function. They also have a spiritual function. They are said to prevent the appearance of a San Telmo, a ghostly fire that is said to form from blood. Filipino folklore and even some** eyewitnesses, if they could be believed, say the San Telmo looks like a floating fireball. Although San Telmo can be literally translated to English as St. Elmo’s Fire, its use in Filipino vocabulary bears no resemblance to that weather phenomenon. Instead, it bears more resemblance or it could be the same thing as the Will O’ the Wisp.
These crosses are rarely removed from the road. Some of them may stand on the site of violence for days, of which the responsibility of removing them was left to nature. Others, which are placed in sites of heavy traffic are routinely removed. The general rule for removing these crosses seem to be, “The longer it is there, the better everything will be.”
After all who would want to do a legitimate but almost sacrilegious act of dismantling a cross? Who would want to remove its memorial function for onlookers and spiritual function against the San Telmo?

*I am not sure if this kind of cross can be seen in other parts of the Philippines. I never saw one when I was in Luzon or even Cebu.
**One credible witness said he saw a San Telmo while their bus got stranded near a mountain. He and the other passengers saw a flame descend from the mountain in record time. The flame went to the road, and they saw that it was in the shape of three men, two of whom were carrying the apparently injured third man.

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Elder Advantage

May 26, 2008

Contrary to Tagalog popular belief, Cebuanos do offer respect for their elders.
Not saying po or opo does not mean that Cebuanos are rebellious. In fact, Cebuanos or at least those who grew up in more rural areas* are taught how to respect their elders. They greet any old person they meet on the street with “Good Morning” or a “Good Evening”. They even do this by touching a hand to the chest while bowing the head**. Furthermore, they are alike with the majority of the Filipino population in that they also touch their elders’ relatives hands to their foreheads when presenting themselves to these elders***.
Yet there is another glaring example of the benefits elder Cebuanos enjoy. They can also call any male younger than them dong, which is literally translated as “boy”, regardless of the age of the younger male. Thus, a 70-year-old man can call a 40-year-old man dong without any offense to the younger man. Also, an elder is not required to know the names of his or her grandchildren. The boys get to be called dong, and the girls day.
The word elder, however, does not only apply to the old. Someone who is at least 10 years older than another person can enjoy the benefits of being an elder to the younger person.
Thus, when I couldn’t open a bottle of Coke I told the serving boy:
Dong, paki-abre beh.
Boy, will you open this?
And he promptly did without taking any offense. Then I asked myself, “Why didn’t I think of this before? I could get used to this.”

*Myself not included. HAHAHAHA.
**Haven’t done this, EVER!
***I only do this with the mother’s side. Father’s side is more liberal. Btw, we don’t do this at home.

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Insight

May 24, 2008

Never ask a girl why she must make an unplanned trip to the convenience store…

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American Idol 7

May 21, 2008

It’s obvious. By tomorrow:

The Cookie Man gets the boot.
GASPY/GASPuleta* wins.
His victory speech goes like this, “GASP* I won. GASP* Gee. GASP* Golly. GASP* This is embarrassing. GASP*”

*This post was inspired by Vote for the Worst.

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Danny, No?!

May 18, 2008

Remember Danny Noriega, the uhhhm guy we all love to hate on American Idol Season7. Here’s his picture if you still don’t remember him. On second thought, just google it.
Btw, Danny isn’t coming for the finals. He wasn’t given a ticket by the show, and he was also told that the show was full. Here’s his rant.