April 2008

Several warnings, from word-of-mouth to text and email, about the dangers of consuming processed food in general and instant noodles in particular seems to be ineffective to me. My appetite just has some kind of an addiction to such types of food. And add to that my lifestyle which sometimes require me to eat in a 12-minute eat-and-run fashion.

And because I saw at Hi-Top that the more affordable Yakiudon (only at P17.50) could be an alternative to my favorite Yakisoba, I bought a cup each flavor and tried it for the next three mid-shift hunger at the office.

I must say that except for the Garlic Chicken variant, which tastes like garlic rice if not for the obvious noodle texture, Yakiudon is really a good buy. Though nothing can beat Yakisoba’s Spicy Chicken, Yakiudon’s Beef BBQ (the sweet one) and Chili Crab (the seafood variant) flavors are good enough to be considered as alternative especially that most of us are slowly learning the value of economy in these trying times.

I hope that the next time I visit the supermarket to buy several cups of my new favorite instant noodles, it would still be affordable as the price of rice tends to pull all food prices up.

For the past few days, I got the chance to visit Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila for a couple of reasons. As an employment requirement, I have to get my Transcript of Records from the University Registrar. And I also volunteered as a facilitator for a Student Summit co-organized by our resident members from the Bukluran Student Alliance.

Regarding my academic documents that our HR Department requires me to submit, I was, at first, bad trip for having to go through the hassle of not enjoying a rest day. Just the mere idea of commuting from Quezon City to downtown Manila is discouraging enough especially these hot days of summer.

But when I landed in the place that housed my scholarly, activist and fraternity activities for a few years, I never thought that it’ll nurse some sentimentalism and inject enjoyment in this tiring world.

The offices that I need to visit gave me the chance to reminisce some scenes especially of arguments with the PLM powers-that-be, learn of some new people in some old positions (a few are even contemporaries during my PLM days) and get long lost friends’ contacts (as two employees as moms of former orgmates— which I have to admit somehow hastened the usually tedious process of getting a clearance… hehe).

One of the best scenes, albeit trivial, was the part when I saw English Professor Adil (not to be confused with Opposition Spokesperson and PLM President Adel Tamano ;p) at the Celso Carunungan Library. The story of a friend that submitted I Will Survive lyrics in prose style to Prof. Adil as an essay assignment almost made Conan D’ Librarian (yes, that mood-swinging librarian is still there) mad at me. What’s worse is that my friend’s “essay” got an uno!? Dumb Adil. The same dumb Adil, I must say, as she still looks clueless on what she should do. She is actually standing in front of a table looking around the library the whole time that such a wacky scene is flashing in my mind.

The second part of my “homecoming” is more political than the first; a student summit entitled Youth Challenge. But as we’re enjoying the intermission by folk singer Noel Cabangon, another scene flashed cerebrally that if I remember it right, it seems that it was decade since a nationally-relevant activity was held at the Justo Albert Auditorium. I think it is due to Manila Mayor Lito Atienza’s Pro-Gloria politics and his cohort former PLM President Tayabas’ conservatism.

I can still remember that then Anakbayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes was one of the speakers then together with Senator Raul Roco. Imagine that Nato is now the spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan! That reveals my age. Hehe. The same activity actually persuaded me to go find another activist group other than LFS (Anakbayan failed to establish a chapter in PLM until this day) because Reyes can’t answer simple questions straightly then, way far from his eloquence in his present TV interviews.

Back to the summit, the chance of being one of the facilitators also led me to the conclusion that there is still no radicalization among the students. Yes (to my and a lot of people’s dismay), that is even after the NBN-Lozada-bubukol po ito-probinsyanong intsik-soap opera.

Some of the students are still sharp and intelligent though, I must say. I can’t even dare assert that they are passive as attending a political summit while their friends may be enjoying Boracay or Puerto Galera is being active in itself, or actively curious at least.

Well, at least, it is better than the time of ebb. Student leaders and social movements, in PLM and in other schools, should capture the youth’s imagination for them to be aroused into progressive action for social change.

If they can’t do it, they might as well go back to school and assess what made them act when they’re much younger or mere students before.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn in Jericho and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  (Luke 10:25-37)

Vatican’s admonition of Gawad Kalinga’s focus on social action rather than evangelization reeks of religious selfishness. Now, they even want Meloto and company to issue an apology for the good acts they’re doing.

And so Vatican was so spiritual and Gawad Kalinga is not. Then, so be it. I’d rather be relevant than religious. I’d rather be the Samaritan (someone hated by the Jews during Jesus’ time) than the Levite (said to be a chosen tribe of the Jewish god) or the priest.

Though I maintain my opinion that GK’s developmentalism is way far from my liberationist ideals, I still believe that GK’s way is better than mere philanthropy of most sections of the Catholic Church. Way better than giving fish, of course, is teaching people how to fish and way way better than treating people as a mere fish to catch (evangelization was compared to fishing when Jesus was talking to Peter during their first encounter).

I do hope that Meloto and the GK people will stand up for what they’re doing and won’t submit to the irrational and callous religious imposition being imposed by the pontifical hierarchy.

Allow me to share an old song from The Jerks. This song of the 80’s is so prophetic that it seems to have been written just now (especially the ones highlighted):

Children begging in the street at night
Knockin on cars til the morning light
People standing for a kilo of rice
Welcome to the dark ages, the era of lies

Dream of progress, of visions gone mad
Mendiola’s still drenched with innocent blood
Demolition men rumbles thru, smokey mountain homes
Darkness indeed, justice dressed in gloom

But I’ll go not gently into the light
RAGE, against the dying of the light
Sing a song of this terrible sight
Rage until the lightning stikes
Go not gently,go not gently,go not gently
And rage with me

And the names and faces of the tyrant change
But poverty, pain & murder remains
And the voices of truth are locked up in chains
Darkness remains, freedom in flames

Though Gloria Arroyo has every reason to invent stories to divert attention from her scandals, it seems that the rice shortage is not one of them. No other than Kevin Cleaver of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development claimed that there is actually a global crisis on food production.

Further research informed me that as early as August of last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned that the United States’ penchant for biofuel production will cause food shortage. Almost no one, even after the International Food Policy Research Institute issued the same warning, believed Chavez. Some even went to the point of maliciously accusing Chavez of just protecting Venezuela’s petroleum industry.

Too bad that Condoleeza Rice and the United States propaganda machinery managed to sugarcoat this economic maneuver with environmentalist blabber (or should I call it greenwashing?). Now, food riots are happening from Bolivia to Egypt, from Cameroon to Uzbekistan.

Haiti, one of the four countries (together with Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and El Salvador) that were lured to the American “environmentalist” candy during last year’s Organization of American States General Assembly, just suffered four casualties a week ago when food rioters clashed with their police.

Recently, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown awakened from his sleep as he alarmed G8 Chair and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on the effect of biofuel demand to food production. Too late the hero.

The next time the United States government advocates anything, let us not forget to listen to the other side.

I stumbled upon a website entitled Hacking the Sony Ericsson W810i. The site looks promising as it claims to help everyone not just in “hacking” but also in pimping (modifying and customizing) that particular model of the Sony Ericsson product line.

I will have to check the site everytime though if it’ll effect any brand change on my fingers affected by the Nokia-is-the-most-user-friendly kitikitext culture. We’ll see.

Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol’s hints on the granting of pardon to the nine Magdalo soldiers who pleaded guilty to government charges seems to be part of the psy-war operations of the Arroyo administration.

Somehow, Apostol’s admission that the guilty plea could be the positive factor for the soldiers, led by Army Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrocampo, to be granted a presidential pardon and at the same time, denying that there was already an agreement is consistent with Gloria’s virtual policy of mixed signals and political safety.

The admission part sends the signal to the soldiers that remain at the side of Trillanes, Faeldon and Layug that choosing the side of Gambala and Maestrocampo would be better for their future. While the denial part exonerates the Gloria government from any hideous deals that political analysts may infer to be happening.

But even before the pardon issue, the Gambala-Maestrocampo grouplet’s guilty plea obviously is meant to pin down the Trillanes-Faeldon-Layug group. Entering such an admission of guilt is also saying that all others who participated in whatever they have admitted is guilty as well.

As far as I know though, in order to prove guilt on coup de etat charges, conspiracy must be established and if conspiracy is proven, why are the sentences of the nine “guilty conspirators” different from each other?

One thing is for sure though, the Gloria government is conspiring with everyone it can conspire with to persecute anyone who refuses to conspire with their ways.

Teresa Alegado, President of Confederation of Grains Retailers Association, said, “When it’s the businessmen doing the hoarding, when the price they wanted is reached, they can unload their stocks and make it available to consumers again. But when it’s the consumers doing the hoarding, there is no way that they would return the stocks,”

Aling Ines, sidewalk vendor, reacts, “Ay, tanga! Siyempre, ang simpleng tao, sinasaing at kinakain ang bigas. Ang mga malalaking negosyante, hino-hoard at pinagtutubuan ang bigas. Paano namin ibabalik sa palengke ang kinain na naming kanin, aber?


I went to Hi-top Quezon Avenue last Sunday afternoon and shockingly, the same rice variant that I bought for 58 pesos per 2-kilo bag (that supermarket does not sell 1-kilo packs) last Thursday is already 66 pesos! Whoa.

That is an increase of 1 peso per kilogram per day! Is this nature’s way of telling me that I should cut down on my rice intake? Well, sorry nature, but my stomach is truly Southeast Asian.

And because of that, I fried some hungarian sausages and brought it, with the bahaw of last night’s dinner, today at the office. Mmm, forced Eurasian cuisine.

There shouldn’t be any masculine excitement regarding the launching of the Philippine Edition of Playboy Magazine. The editors themselves assured that there will be no frontal nudity and that they’ll only display “tasteful nudity.”

Wow. Are they saying that their American/German/etc counterparts use “tasteless nudity”? They claimed that our country being a Catholic nation is preventing them to be as explicit and provocative as the First World Playboy.

So how about the Baptists of the United States? And the Catholics of Italy where Playboy was introduced way back 1972? Actually, the most recent controversial shutdown of Playboy was in Indonesia, an Islamic nation.

And even after the said moderation done by the Philippine Edition, a lot of priests and bishops still issued self-righteous statements. There’s no way that the CBCP will be silent even for just a slight display of cleavage.

I don’t think that the real reason of Playboy in trying-hard to be just a plain “mature lifestyle magazine” is because of cultural conservatism. They’ve admitted, albeit implicitly, that they don’t intend to divide the already competitive market of FHM-Maxim readers.

Wise as they are, the owner of Playboy-Philippines is, at first, trying to check actual viability (of course, i’m assuming that they’ve already done some feasibility study on this). I do think that they’re trying to widen their base first and from there attack the FHM-Maxim market from behind.

Pinoy testosterone need to suspend a bit. After about a few issues, i think Playboy will unleash their weapon of choice: soft porn cloaked in style through intelligent articles.

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