May 2008


I know that the title sounds like a daydream but it is the place that I have to find after being promoted to a Quality Coordinator position.

Influenced by the famous fastfood TV advertisement, everyone that heard of the news has a single message, burger shouted (or sent through SMS) three times in a very jubilant manner. Now, death is threatened as this world’s equalizer.

Well, this new job has a lot of challenges. The Spidey movie quote echoes everytime I think of the many things to be done.

Now, back to my question, if you know any place where burgers are cheap, I’ll buy you a drink. Sorry, I definitely need to devour on capital Z’s.

Whenever someone talks about sexual relationships, it is somehow understood that it has all the three that I mentioned above.

Especially since most Filipinos were raised in the tradition of the conservative Catholic perspective on sex and relationships, our minds were somehow boxed into thinking that all relationships should be exclusive because it shall commence in marriage.

For years now, I have been a believer of free love. It is the belief that anyone can love (and most of the time, consequently perform sex with) anyone provided that; all parties are at the right age, it is done with consent and it is not incestuous.

Instead of thinking that all three “ingredients” are included, I present the view that those are actually three hierarchical stages of a sexual relationship. Though not necessarily literally, it is comparable to the three Hebrew words for love; Eros (where the word erotic came from), Phileo (the most common love) and Estorge (exclusive love). I won’t include the fourth word Agape (godly love) because of its religious uses.

Actually, looking at my concept closely, it is self-explanatory. All it takes is intellectual and moral honesty to really admit that it is what is truly happening in society. No wonder Friendster actually popularized the term “open relationship” and even trademarked the phrase “it’s complicated.”

Intimacy is simply about acting on your attraction. Everyone is attracted to a lot of people. All of us are infatuated, in a way of another, to other people. But unless we act on those attractions, nothing will happen. The first aim then is mutual intimacy. As a more common term, this is what we call as mutual understanding.

Commitment is the next level. It is actually formalizing that there is actually a relationship going on. It is recognizing the fact that both of you enjoys being with each other and commits that there is, in whatever way, some understanding of expectations and boundaries.

But having some form of commitment is not really being exclusive. Our hypocritical society only imposes that commitment is exclusive to being exclusive. But everyone has a friend who tries to justify having an affair with someone else while being in a commitment, right? Whatever their reason is, we must acknowledge the fact that exclusivity is something that is a notch higher.

I must admit though, in order to protect the usual preys from hustlers, given the Philippine context, all relationship should be considered exclusive unless there is an explicit understanding that it is not. I don’t want my views to be a weapon of the usual suspects for some breach of trust within their relationships. I refuse to use the term “infidelity” because of its moral undertones but that is another story.

In a lot of instances, the rush from plain commitment towards exclusivity is detrimental to the relationship itself. In tagalog, we call it as hinog-sa-pilit and  if it is not just rushed but forced, it will be a shotgun wedding that will produce another “unfaithful” husband/wife.

I must say though that it is still best to be in an exclusive relationship. It is the highest form of love towards another person. It is recognizing the fact that jealousy is not just an emotional thing but also mental torture.

But it is better to be honest and tell your partner that your attraction is not exclusive rather than fooling her/him that she/he is the only one you love.

Ms. Goodman,

You know who you are. Your proposal, I admit, is a bit tempting. Years ago, such a possibility actually lingered in our minds.

The possibility of living together is actually a dream we once aimed to realize until you found out something that changed your mind. I only knew it when I saw a photo from one of our common friends. You may ask him about it and he’ll tell the smile he saw on my face that day.

You know for sure that your seduction still works on me. Actually, that same day you came to my place to talk, we did something that will surely make your husband mad or, worse, a murderer.

But it actually came from you, I am a rational person. And I’m sorry if I almost rejected you. I know that some of my clarificatory questions may have doused water on your fire but somehow it is necessary. Especially that our world is going too emotionally mindless recently.

I considered your proposal, I already confessed that. But not after thinking that I should not make decisions during high moments of emotion; happy, sad or angry. May be, we’re too happy that moment. Good thing both of us just need some taps to be awakened. And you understood me.

Don’t worry. Unlike others, I don’t consider your predicament as a point of no return. I just want you to be more circumspect as we can never afford to be consumed by our own desires.

By the way, tomorrow’s a Tuesday. I’ll see you again.

William

The Philippine Senate led by its President Manny Villar and Minority Floor Leader Nene Pimentel recently filed a resolution seeking to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to change the form of government from unitary to federal.

I have always advocated charter change as the 1987 Constitution is not perfect. But for any constitutional reform not to be used to prolong this administration’s hold onto power, it should be made only after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation, ouster and/or, which is the worst scenario for me, after her term.

Aside from that, two of the most important phrases of the resolution is problematic; the terms “constituent assembly” and “federal government.”

It is somehow ironic that the resolution blabbers about decentralizing the powers as a pretext for federalism but the process itself is too centralized. For the process (and even the product) of any charter change effort to be relevant to the people, the people should be made part of it. In that case, I maintain that a constitutional convention is still the best method to effect constitutional reform. Best because it is better not just to constituent assembly but also when compared to the people’s initiative, which is a misnomer given the fact that its implementation in the present Philippine context requires a lot of traditional politicians’ intervention.

The most substantial problem of the Senate resolution is that it banners federalism. Federalism is not a panacea and not even a band-aid. For a system to truly work, we must take into consideration everything that will affect the system.

Federalism in the Philippines is being equated to decentralization, a term which is somehow nice to hear as it connotes that something is being too concentrated and it should be scattered. In Pimentel’s mind, one of the most staunch advocate of federalism in the country, this is about power and resources. This is where the phrase Imperialist Manila comes in.

We can’t argue about the fact that for long years already, our national government has been Metro Manila-centric due to its vast base of electoral votes. It is a political culture that tends to prevent the development of the provinces, federalists would say.

But “decentralizing” the power from the national government to the local governments could not be equated to an automatic development of the provinces. Given the situation of local politics in the Philippines, it is just like decentralizing the powers of the Arroyo’s, Marcoses, Cayetano’s and Estrada’s to the Ortega’s, Singson’s, Osmeña’s and more surnames of political clans.

Aside from this problem of political dynasties, most of the local governments in the Philippines is too populist in the negative way. I must agree that for some instances, populism could be positive as it could be tantamount to just doing what the masses want.

Because statistics is not a barometer for socio-political righteousness, populism has its negative side and it is having decisions that may be popular but is not right. It is like buying a hundred boxes of Biogesics because it is very much in demand in your locality than purchasing a medical equipment to cure or prevent a more dangerous disease. It is prioritizing building a basketball court in a barangay that has a voting population of 10, 000 than paving a concrete farm-to-market road where only 500 people could see.

This is the power and resources they want to decentralize. And this could go from bad to worse as we count years of federalism if charter change will push through.

Just like parliamentary compared to presidential, a federal system could really be better than a unitary one. But given the situation that we have here in the Philippines, we should think twice.

Iron Man is a fairly good movie. But more than a film, it is propaganda.

Even before accepting my two bored officemates’ invitation to watch the movie yesterday, I already expected it to be a part of the United States’ arsenal of lingering psy-ops Hollywood films.

The only difference is that, I expected the movie to be anti-communist just like the Marvel Comics version of the superhero. It turned out to be more of anti-Islamic obviously in the context of George W. Bush’s war-mongering adventures. The social commentary against war corporations is a mere sugarcoat. Lockheed is not wounded.

Still, as I said, the movie is nice in terms of entertainment. The script is snappy and Robert Downey’s rendition is even snappier. Tony Stark’s happy-go-lucky but intelligent character is tailor-fit for Downey. Even Stark’s signature unorthodox ways and pleasant surprises is well projected in the movie.

I am somewhat puzzled though why Pepper was reduced to a minor and Gwyneth Paltrow would agree to such a role. May be Pepper’s character would be build-up for the part 2 of the movie. Stark’s open-ended media confession that he is Iron Man suggests an obvious sequel. The film’s too much tinkering on the armor could also be blamed on this as the director might just be planting details for the sequels.

In the end, Iron Man is just another superhero movie franchise; meant for profit and power just like Stark Industries and Lockheed Corporation.

Isabel Martin, President of the Linguistic Society of the Philippines (LSP), opined that Filipinos seem to fear the English language. She cited the “nosebleed” jokes and extreme legislative measures that tend to make English the primary, or even the sole, medium of instruction as evidences that indeed, the Filipino people, in general, is afraid of the Western language.

I cannot disagree with this expert opinion. I think that Pinoys, actually, tend to fear the language because they think that it is something superior than the Filipino language. It is somehow a kind of slave mentality because of our nation’s history of colonialism. This belief has two directions; it suggests that English is something that we shouldn’t try because we’re not capable of mastering it while the other tendency directs us to study English in order to become superior.

Even worse is the other extreme of it which is false nationalism as indicated by some Filipinos’ assertion that speaking English is tantamount to betraying the country. I have to admit that I am amused every time I watch Jimmy Santos’s carabao English on TV but this kind of humor actually contributes to the problem. Erap, during his pre-presidential campaign binge actually capitalized on his supposed English-baluktot which seems not to be really true or was just bloated to support his masa image and his para sa mahirap slogan.

English should be treated just like any other language. It should be used when necessary and should not be forced when not.

Ateneo Professor Nanette Fernandez has an interesting piece about this topic. The founder of the Ateneo Center for English Language Teaching said that Philippine English has its distinct and acceptable characteristics like the use of certain phrases that purists might consider as incorrect like “cope up with”.

I must add that Philippine English has different definitions for certain words (like “traffic” and “salvage”) and even has words that only Filipinos seem to use (like “ballpen” or “ref”).

The concept of countries having their own ‘nativized’ versions of English should be propagated so as not to drive away Filipinos from learning it the easier way. Not unless you work in a call center or any other industry that requires immediate communicative understanding, learning American or British or Australian English should not be forced.

It is sad to note that when the Janina San Miguel-incident happened, a lot of people bashed the beauty queen regarding her wrong grammar and pronunciation instead of the apparent non-sense that she blabbered right there at the pageant where she supposedly won. More insulting is the fact that some of those who lambasted San Miguel in Youtube even has a grammar worse than Janina.

I do think that the aim to improve English, both as individuals or as a nation, will always be a good thing to do if it is founded upon the principle of greater understanding and social progress and not on the assertion and imposition of who is the greater and who is the lesser.

I have to explain to my team leader and teammates why I can’t attend the Batangas team get-away. And I told them the truth. I won’t miss this year’s Labor Day protests. As our teammate (and future team lead) Jeremy puts it, “Wala na pala tayong no choice.”

My shift ends at noon that day so I had to rush downstairs to call anyone from the march to updated where should I proceed. I immediately called Aaron of Sanlakas Youth after grabbing my phone out of my locker.

Pa-Mendiola na kami. Recto daw ‘ata ito.”, the Cebuano student leader, sounding not too sure, answered when I asked where they are already. His stay for 2 semesters at the San Beda College of Law before seems not enough to learn the confusing streets of Metro Manila’s urban jungle.

I, then, rode a cab thinking that heavy traffic is expected along the usual jeepney route. As always, I navigated the cab through Quezon City and Manila’s inner streets and I was already at Mendiola right when the frontline is about to cross the Recto-Legarda intersection.

The sun is hot enough to give other teams back at work the impression that I attended our team’s beach activity. The heat is really scorching that not a few protesters can’t fight the temptation of going to the sidewalks, where there are a lot more shade than in the streets, to rest.

The Mendiola program is short. I greeted several comrades, waved and danced with a flag and sang the Internationale with the rest of the working class on our birthday. Yes, I am officially a part of the labor sector.

After the program, we, nearly all of us in our 20’s (except for Rasti… hehe), ate at a nearby hole-in-the-wall carinderia along Gastambide. We rested there for a while and with our stomachs full, walked towards España as all of us are QC-bound.

Pia Montalban, the blogger-activist from the group PUNYAL that I met at the Student Summit weeks ago, went with me at home to drink a couple of Super Dry with some political pep talks as pulutan. She actually requested a talk back then regarding my take on several issues, mainly political and some organizational about the left.

She went home at about 8pm and I proceeded to a new hang-out along Kalayaan Avenue to dine and drink with a Aaron, Rasti, Jofti, Rhodz and Job. Sato, Iris and Jan of UP Diliman came along afterwards.

A few quaffs of a German beer, the name of which I can’t pronounce and the spelling I can’t remember, capped my first May 1 as a salaried slave. Happy birthday to me!