The Bantam Banterer

Of quips, blows and mellows, those that endure time
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There’s a moment before you can move forward where you just stand in dazed silence, wondering how it would have gone differently. Your mind races with what ifs and should haves. Your eyes dart from one point to the next; but you’re not really looking. You want to step forward but something stops you. It says “Wait! Wait! There’s something you have to learn here. There’s something you have to feel first. We have to let it go here otherwise it will destroy us again.” So you stay quiet for a while. Then slowly you build the strength to move forward—a little bit more sure this time, because you know a little more about failing.

—Alexe Thomas Taguinod

With graduation day just a few crunches ahead of us, my friends and I are far more excited for what’s coming after the day we kiss our dear alma mater goodbye. We’ll be welcomed to the world of professionals and post-graduate studies.

Should I start studying law after a long summer vacation or should I work in my chosen field, I know I have nothing to worry about. For four years my friends and I were trained to be champions of our own skills. Some say work is far too different than studying. Yes, I agree. There are no room for errors in the workplace that’s why they don’t give homework because most professionals assume that you know what you are doing after four years of training. I say, why commit a lot of mistakes if you are committed to only one thing—your job. No matter how many things are attached to your job description, they are still related. Unlike in school where you juggle your time to make room for the requirements of more or less courses which are irrelevant and demand different techniques and styles.

With great gratitude to my university and to my professors, I daresay that we are practice-ready. I thank my professors for the endless readings, the non-stop writing, the critical recitations, the overnight announcements, the grilling reports, the rush, the real world feel. Back then I don’t know the necessity of doing things that don’t even made sense. I dreaded those days when I do stuff that I don’t love. But here I am, thankful for the endurance those things gave me. Some might say that the game has just begun. I know that, my friends know that too. We’ve been eagerly waiting for the game to start. And we are far more than ready.

Just last week I celebrated my 20th birthday. I know I don’t look like a 20-year-old individual but in the last few weeks I feel like one.

For most of my life I’ve been very lazy when it comes to the things that I had to do but just lacks the heart to do it. I’ve dreaded everything that needs to be done in a school/house/organizational activity which I don’t like. I submitted substandard homework and crammed for almost every test even in college entrance tests and law school entrance tests. I was just blessed that God gave me a photographic memory which propelled me still end every school year with a medal or a trophy despite the sloth and procrastinator that I am.

But these last few weeks were different; it felt like I really deserve all the compliment I got because for the longest time I haven’t done anything substandard nor have I crammed for a quiz or test. Not only that, the amazing part is that I seemed to have balanced everything. I wake up at 6am and have breakfast while I watch a show or a movie. Then I clean up our condo, wash the dishes and get ready for school. Before going to class I would go to the library to reread any assigned reading or to read the newspaper since my major requires us to do so (every single day). Come lunch time I will have lunch with my friends and my boyfriend. We will chat for a while and then we’ll go to class. After class we would still hangout; we will eat somewhere or do our thesis or our group project. Then I would go home with my boyfriend as he’s on his way to work. At the condo I would have dinner with my family and do my homework or work on our thesis. When I’m done I would either play a game on my iPad or read a book. My wasted time on social media were put to proper use. My Facebook and Twitter timelines are cleared of nonsense and I now do away with ranting about how hard school is. It will always be hard and I might as well get used to it until it becomes normal.

And so is life, life will always be hard and I have to endure it until it becomes easy.

PAALALA: Maaaring hindi ninyo magustuhan ang aking saloobin ngunit isa lamang itong paraan upang ipaalam sa inyo kung bakit tila hindi ako masyadong fan ng Filipino mainstream media at pop culture. Isinulat ko rin ang pamagat ng post na ito sa Ingles para maintindihan ng nakararami ang paksa ko. Ngayon pa lamang humihingi na ako ng tawad sa mga poong makapangyarihan dito sa sambayanang social media lalong lalo na sa mga nagaalab ang nationalismo. Nationalistic rin naman ako, at kagaya niyo mahal ko ang aking bayan magkaiba lamang tayo ng paraan sa pagpapakita nito. So please, hindi pa naman ako kasing-lansa ng isda, magkaiba lamang tayo ng realidad. 

Kukwentuhan ko lang naman kayo kung bakit hindi ako fan ng Pinoy mainstream media at pop culture ngayon. Inaamin ko na mas madalas akong manood ng foreign TV shows, foreign movies at magbasa ng foreign books at makinig ng foreign music. Pero lahat ng iyan ay produkto ng aking mga karanasan sa aking kakaibang kapaligiran. 

Simple lang naman ang kwento kung bakit ganyan ang pananaw ko, LUMAKI AKO NG NANONOOD NG FOREIGN MOVIES, SHOWS, NAKIKINIG NG FOREIGN MUSIC AT NAGBABASA NG FOREIGN BOOKS. Kung bakit ganoon, hindi ko rin alam. Basta ganoon. Maaaring akalain ninyo na ispoken in dollar ako pero hindi. Hindi din ako nagyayaman-yamanan. Ganoon lang talaga. Maaga kasi nagkaanak ang mga magulang ko, kaya habang lumalaki ako patuloy ang pag-eenjoy nila sa buhay yuppies (young professionals) nila. Lumaki ako ng nanonood ng cable channels sa TV dahil iyon din ang pinapanood ng mga magulang ko. Natuto akong magsalita at magsulat sa ingles kakapanood ko ng TV at kakabasa ng Harry Potter series. Nakakalasap lamang ako ng Filipino channel tuwing sasapit ang gabi at manonood na kami ng balita. Okay sa akin ang set-up na ito hanggang nasimulan akong pagtripan ng mga kaklase ko. Bakit daw ang tanga ko at hindi ko alam ang mga bagong TV shows at commercials? (Hanggang ngayon di ko pa din alam kasi minsan na lamang ako makanood ng TV.) Aba! Hindi ko naman kasalanan na nanay at tatay ko lagi ang may hawak ng remote sa amin. Isa pa, wala rin akong oras noon na manood ng manood ng TV dahil halos limang beses sa isang linggo ang routine ko ay school, swimming practice at bahay. Habang patay na patay ang mga kaklase ko sa mga Pinoy matinee idol noong araw, nagpapakalunod naman ako sa fandom ko kina George Clooney (aking favorite Batman actor) Pierce Brosnan (aking favorite James Bond actor) at John Cena (aking favorite wrestler). Tuwing Sabado at Linggo, TV marathon na kami ng mga kapatid ko. HBO, Starmovies, Cinemax, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Jack TV, at WWE babies kami. Ikinalulungkot kong sabihin na hindi ako nakasubaybay ng kahit anong Pinoy telenovela mula noon hanggang ngayon. 

Sinubukan ko din naman sumabay sa “uso” para sa mga kaklase ko, nanood rin ako ng Meteor Garden, kaso hindi iyon Pinoy eh. Taiwanese. -.- Nakinig din naman ako ng OPM, pero simula noong lumagananap na sa mga party o sa mga pa-contest ang mga kantang Spaghetti pababa, Itak-tak mo, Otso-otso at lalo na iyong Pito-pito, bumalik na ko sa pagkanta sa shower ng mga kanta ng mga paborito kong banda—U2, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blink 182 etc. Inuulit ko hindi ko kasalanan ito, lumaki na akong iyan ang tumutugtog sa mga radyo sa bahay at sasakyan namin. Nagustuhan ko naman kaya parang naiirita ang tenga ko pagnakakarinig ng ibang tunog na paulit-ulit ang lyrics.

Hindi siguro kami meant to be ng Pinoy pop-culture pati ng mainstream media. Or siguro, “the timing was just not right.” Trahedya ang una naming tagpo, nasaktan ako kasi umaasa ako.

Kakanood ko ng fantasy movies at kakabasa ko ng fantasy novels, natuwa ako noong niyaya ako ng lola ko na manood ng unang Enteng Kabisote. Sabi ng tita ko parang Harry Potter din daw iyon—fantasy. Excited akong pumasok sa sine, pero dismayado ako paglabas. Hindi dahil sa special effects na halata eh, alam ko naman na wala pang advance technology ang Pilipinas para doon. Hindi din dahil sa hindi ito foreign, pero dahil mismo sa kwento. Ang sama.

Mula noon di ko na binalak na manood ng Pinoy movies sa mainstream. Minsan tuwing nagrerelax ang nanay ko at magsasalang siya ng DVD na Pinoy. Nakakanood pa rin ako. Hindi natural ang pagsasalita, puro patawa o di kaya puro pakikiapid na lang. Hindi ko alam kung bakit ang baba ng tingin ng mga producer, director, scriptwriter ng mga pelikulang ito sa kagandahang asal at pagiisip naming mga Pilipino. Oo, gusto namin ng natatawa kami o naiiyak pero hindi naman lagi. Gusto din naming mainspire at ganahang mabuhay. Penge naman po ng matinong kwento. Wag naman paulit ulit na pakikiaapid, paghihiwalay, pagkikipaglaban, o pagpapatawa na lang.

Sa kinababa ng tingin ko sa mainstream Pinoy media, ganoon naman kataas ang tingin ko sa Pinoy Indie films. May liwanag ng pag-asa. May kwento. Nakakatawa at nakakaiyak pa din. Nakakainspire, nakakagana. Magandang dayalogo, magaganda ang kuha at higit sa lahat malapit na malapit pa rin sa reyalidad ng bansa.

Nationalistic pa rin ako, kritikal nga lang sa mga bagay na sa tingin ko hindi sumisimbolo sa pagiging Pilipino. Natatawa ako sa jokes ni Vice Ganda, paminsan-minsan kinikilig din kay John Lloyd at inaamin kong gwapo nga si Daniel Padilla. Sana magamit ang mga talentong ito sa magandang paraan.

Mahal ko ang bayan ko, isa siguro ang post na ito sa paraan ng pagpapakita nito. Iyong ibang paraan, sa future na siguro pag magaling na akong magbigay ng makabuluhang kwentong pampelikulang Pilipino.

I’ll go straight to the point. (This sentence kinda contradicts itself, and this comment too.) After watching the movie It’s Kind of A Funny Story (which I realized is a movie based on a famous novel that my good friend recently read), I thought about my grueling ride with life these past few months. It’s not so much compared with what others had to deal with but it’s quite similar to Craig’s (the protagonist) or maybe a little bit more but just to be clear I didn’t try to kill myself or even think about suicide.

The movie made me think about the time I was in the brink of death when I woke up faced with a burglar by my bedside and all I could think of doing is to scream. To think that if it weren’t for the hot feeling that resulted from the brownout I would not wake up and put some clothes on, the burglar could have seen me sleeping on my underwear, helpless as a dying rat. I could have been raped or killed. But thank God I’m still here. However, something happened that ticked the burglar incident from the top of my not-so-good memories list. I learned that I was lied to and some people back stabbed me in social media. It’s quite enough for me to realize that some of the things I believed in are lies but it’s just too much to see people feel good about themselves while they hurt you with their words in social media. They feel so gratified with the fake power they had with 140 characters while you feel threatened and humiliated every day. But what’s more appalling is that they do those stuff while their faces don’t even look like they are entitled to do so. It’s like having a beast tell a human he/she is ugly and feel good about the locution. I rode the roller coaster ride of pain, anger and laughter in dealing with the nonsense of those social media hypocrites while stressing out on a lot of school projects and law school entrance test preparation. Like Craig, I stressed out and feel depressed about stuff in the long run. I think about my future a lot and the thought makes me excited but the way to get there makes me anxious about failing. What if I fail to pass the exam of my dream law school? Where would I go? I’m fine with deferring law school for a year and to work at the same time review for the entrance exams again. By that time I will know better and I can focus more since I only have work and review up in my sleeves. But how will the people around me handle that situation? Will my dad force to enter a law school that’s not my top choice? I will probably feel ashamed of myself because I’m not able to live up to other people’s expectations. That’s a depressing thought but no matter how hard I try to divert my thinking to the bright side, I always drown myself with the thought of failing. I went through all that after being diagnosed with ADHD.

As I relate to Craig’s journey of enjoying life’s everyday pleasures and finding that one thing he’s good at, I remembered the most recent face to face and heart to heart talk I had with my boyfriend. If Craig has his psychiatrist I have my boyfriend. We talked about our lives and I told him how messed up I think I am. With ADHD affecting almost everything I do, it’s hard not to think that you’re weird and messed up. Good thing he’s there. I told him that despite my adventures of self-discovery and talent searching I can’t seem to find that one thing I am good at which I also enjoy. I had my fair share of hobbies, I draw when I was a kid. I danced during my high school days. As a communication student I write a lot and I enjoy it and at some point I thought that that’s it! It’s writing. But no, as I still encounter math problems and as I still feel fascinated with science, culture, history and other facts or even fiction. My core competency is not writing—it’s critical thinking, arguing and explaining all combined in a skill called “lawyering” (if there is such a word). Writing is a tool for this overlooked talent. Now, just like Craig, I am more determined to pursue what my heart and mind enjoys.

I truly want to be a lawyer, a hot-shot one. And I just feel like I am meant for this no matter how hard they say the road to it is. It’s the thrill of thinking and the endless reading, writing and solving that attracts me to law school. It’s never the pride, the success or the money. It’s the elation one feels when he/she won a case or when he/she correctly answered a mind-boggling question about the application of the law and it’s the hard and trying times still of being humiliated when you lose a case or getting a 5.0 on your index card which makes the whole experience similar to the cycle of life itself.

But before all that, I solemnly swear to enjoy every thing, easy or difficult, that life throws at me. It’s only then that I will learn how to survive law school, legal practice and life.

These days I have been very schismatic about my feelings. I’m so used to the art of apathy toward my own emotions but as I put them aside and appear as if I don’t feel them at all, I find myself lost in my own maze. I can’t think straight because clearly I am over thinking and this practice makes me gullible to feel all the pain from the past simultaneously. It kills me, really, to think of how much I’ve been through this past few years. Reminiscing the stabs I received (mostly from the people I care the most) made me think twice if I still want them in my life and if I deserve all that. 

I didn’t grew up normally like most kids did. Not all kids knew at age 11 that someone cheated on his/her partner. Not all kids witnessed her dad cry over the phone to beg for her mom and brothers to come back home. Not all people had relationships where she’s always cheated on, lied to or replaced. Not all people experience all that and cry alone in the dead of night making sure that nobody hears a sob. I had to find an escape and I did (thanks to God, my friends, books, TV shows and movies for making me sane.) But I never fully escaped—not from my own cage.

I refuse to feel pain and I push people I’m doubtful of because of my pride—that one thing that strengthens me and kills me at the same time. With pride I built a cage for myself where all the painful memories still slash me open. Everyday I whine inside how I cannot tell my parents about my own feelings, how I can’t go home to hug them and shout the news that I got the highest exam grade in my class because they won’t listen and I’ll never be rewarded with appraisal. (Call me an attention whore if you want to, but you don’t know what its like to do your best and be praised by most people except by your own family) I can’t even remember the last time I told my parents I love them. Every night I fight the urge to doubt my boyfriend; I hold my panic horse tight at every minute or hour when he doesn’t call or text me. (But I’ve been very successful at not being the clingy girlfriend type.) And when he doesn’t, I find myself stalking the possible girls (most of them I don’t know how the hell he liked in the first place) he could be having an affair with and I find myself connecting dots once again as I am filled with anger, pain, disappointment and regret. I really hate being lied to and I really really want to find out if his ex-girlfriend really had an affair, did they really broke up before he met me, was he really the victim or did he just use that situation to be close to me. Because based on the paper trail my hypotheses were right and I cannot do anything about it because it’s in the past and we ought to be happy now that he is with me. I keep on doubting, I keep on hurting myself and I keep on locking myself up in my messy cage. (Why the f*ck do I always solve things and why the f*ck do I drag my lawyer dreams to my own relationships?) As much as I want to believe my boyfriend’s heart-warming words of assurance, I refuse to do so because his past Facebook interactions with his ex were a lot similar to the things he tells me. (And besides he only started publicly interacting with me on Facebook when I slightly made a tantrum about him ignoring my posts to his wall—Yes I know it’s only Facebook but still…”eh bakit kay ano dati nagagawa niya haha” plus the fact that part of his hidden posts is our relationship status-BURN! but it’s now publicly displayed.) See what I mean? I just can’t seem to let go of these things because I simply cannot accept the fact that at one point I appeared like a dumb ass and a cruel person to some people.

I don’t know how long it would take me to let it all go but I am trying. Sometimes I laugh at myself upon thinking that I feel miserable with these nonsense while other people suffer at war or from hunger and poverty. But it’s my own fair share at being human. It’s not about being perfect and it will never be about achieving one’s goals. Being human entails a lot more than that, for living is liberty from one’s insecurities and pain while having the ability to face and accept them. Life is a democratic state where you shall push, pull, hold on, let go and work with God.

Since childhood I know that my family is not really rich. We are probably a part of the upper class now (Thanks to my parents’ hard work, smart ways, pragmatic mind and my father’s long-term ambitious goals.) having more than enough to support our needs and luxury with high regard to what really matters. I don’t have an idea of how much my father and mother earn a year and how much they have in their bank accounts, but I do know that we have a car, two condo units and a house. Although only my father has an Iphone (secondhand, yes I know he’s kuripot) we all have good quality touchscreen phones not to mention a flat-screen LED TV and a Playstation 3. Raised by a father who values the culture of excellence and quality, when it comes to material stuff he conditioned us to buy the best authentic stuff. Whenever we go shopping we always keep in mind our shopping formula Price/(Quality+Utility).

Having mentioned those things, I ask you to please excuse my manners for I do not mean to brag any of those. However, considering that my parents are below 40 years old and are both working in the Philippines (as many noble parents fly abroad and endure being far from their families just to give them a taste of the good life, given the economic situation in this country) I’d say they deserve a tap on their shoulders for a job well done despite their “fiasco” of  having a family during their late teenage years.

But this post is not really about how much we have nor my parents’ hard journey to success. This post is centered on defining what being rich truly means.

The material things I mentioned are not necessarily the measurement of our wealth. I still believe that we are not rich and my parents also instills in us that we aren’t so we have to value every penny we have. We may not be rich but I can tell who the REAL rich are.

Just this afternoon my family and I went shopping. Inside the mall, I saw different types of people ranging from the lower middle class to the upper upper class. My first stop is a famous garment store and as expected it’s filled with girls who are all fashionably dressed but at the extent of my observation they differ in a multitude of things—height, weight, skin color, hair length, hair color, eye color, tone of voice, and manner of speaking. I’m lying if I say that I didn’t expect most of these girls to speak  Taglish in a flirty tone of voice (more commonly known as conyo—because YES it sounds like conyo, even if the female genitalia can’t speak I guess they use that word because they can’t formulate a word for the sounds females make during intercourse which closely resembles the tone I am describing.) and low and behold I wasn’t surprised at all. Indeed, most of the girls were conyo and I am so tempted to make a sarcastic act of conyo-speaking when I asked a sales lady for a small-sized jumper, but I didn’t because it was offensive and I might not be able to pull it off. I was almost convinced that these people who speak in such manner are rich, given their way of dressing up, their manner of speaking and the number of garments they bought but to my surprise I caught one seemingly rich girl looking at another girl’s clothes on hand. Her eyes are stabbing and her eyebrows are raised to Everest’s peak. Then she shouted at her “yaya” and commanded the latter to carry her stuff and wait in line as she hurriedly strut her way to get the top she wanted. She came back with exactly the same garment as the one held by the girl she was staring at and then she smirked.

Entertained by the telenovela I saw inside that store, I walked joyfully to have some coffee in a famous coffee shop that seems to be the insignia of social status nowadays.

Despite the country’s third world status, people always have the reason to buy coffee at this place especially with its free planner promo. Again, conyos crowd the place. They may have their pockets full but they are totally rude. I haven’t heard a single thank you from any conyo-body there and I guess the frown and the rolling eyes are fad facial expressions for these people. Does these make them wealthier? Is it a dictum for the rich to look angry and irascible? Well if it is, I’m not informed because the rich I know smile a lot and say thank you a lot. One great example is the down-to-earth-dressed man who was in front of me in the line. The barista asked him what his order was and he said “one bottled water,” the barista said “Sir, just present this to the counter.” The man seemed confused and asked “what card will I present?” The barista said that he present the paper she gave him to the counter. The man said “Oh, thanks!” Then he winked at me and said “Nag-spoken in dollar kasi siya kaya medyo na-nose bleed ako di ko naintindihan.” That made me smile. With that I thought to myself, this guy speaks like that but if he isn’t rich why would he buy a bottle of water at this expensive store? Low and behold, he is rich indeed, he was wearing Burberry clothes and sported a top-sider. He has an Iphone with a Chanel case and he talked over the phone about a farm in Isabela province. The only English sentence I heard from his mouth was “I’ll call you back.” My last encounter with this genuinely rich man was when he held the door for me when I went out of the store.

Having said all that, I can daresay that my friends belong to the upper class and they have old school manners still. A friend of mine hails from Bulacan and her family is well-off. They have everything they want, a nice home, a condo unit, a car and lots of gadgets. Her parents managed to pay for her and her siblings’ quality education. Her ate is now a registered nurse and she and her youngest sibling are still in college. Imagine how much that costs. Another friend of mine who’s from Batangas is of the same state. They have everything they want, a house, a car, lots of gadgets and a Montero car to come. She and her sister are in college and her brother will be college-bound by next school year. Another friend from La Loma is also well-off. Four siblings—two are already graduates and she and her younger brother are still in college. Her family survived a lot of tragic events, her father survived stroke and its costly treatment and they lost a lot of money due to the indebtedness of the insurance company they invested in but still they got their feet firmly on the ground. What’s common to them is, despite their apparent lux they value what they have, they spend wisely, save money and they don’t treat people like crap as if they are of higher ground.

I’m proud of my friends as much as I am proud of my own family. We may be able to buy things, but we were taught to hold our horses on spending, to invest on the things that matter and to treat all people like equals. Some people call us “kuripot,” I believe at times we are but we have our reasons. If we don’t need it, we don’t buy it. Remember the formula Price/(Quality+Utility). Truth be told, I only had an expensive phone when I turned 18. It was a gift from my mother and her friends. When it was stolen, my mom bought me a new one. I have a humble allowance of 1k a week, a fair amount for a college student who isn’t living in a dorm. Still, I don’t buy what I don’t need and I don’t buy things just to appear rich. Because I’m not. Well, not yet. My parents still finance my needs and I can’t be too rude to splurge their money on unimportant things. Their willingness to be responsible for me and to finance my post-graduate studies are so much to be thankful for. I can never repay them even if I become a 6-digit earning lawyer.

It’s the holiday season and I’m guessing everybody has his/her own merry making plans like parties, pot sessions and not to mention the  18+ range (and the feeling 18+ kids) drinking bonanza.

For us Filipinos who are merry little folks (like dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings), drinking beer and all kinds of alcohol is the climax of every occasion. There are the men with large bellies field of a year’s worth of beer in every gathering and there are the women with loud mouths or those with subtle laughter who, like their male counterparts, enjoy the sweet-salty-sour-bitter taste of alcohol and its physical and emotional effects—the heat, the spin and the knockout (nobody likes the hangover though).

As society and its culture get “dumber and proud of it,” almost all young people engage in merry making activities even if they can’t afford it yet and even if they aren’t legal yet to experience their kind of YOLO (you only live once) moment. And as dumb and irresponsible they are, they indulge wildly of these earthly pleasures without cleaning up its messes. They smoke and get knocked up, they get dumb drunk and vomit all over the place (which isn’t even their own) and they pass out without regard on how much damage it would cause their friends and then they get mad when people post their drunk photos on Facebook.

To avoid these kinds of mess and to not drag my future self and her reputation to the silly things I did when I was a teenager, I created my own party edicts  (for all kinds of parties that require your head to spin.)

1. Thou shall not go to a party where you hardly know anybody.

2. Thou shall only drink or smoke with people you really know well.

3. Thou shall not take drinks from strangers.

4. Thou shall not get dumb drunk and pass out in a public place.

5. Thou shall not get dumb drunk and pass out in a friend’s place even if it’s an overnight party. Respect the place and your hosts. If you feel sleepy already don’t hesitate to ask politely where you can lay.

6.Thou shall say no to a drink if you think you’re about to get drunk/pass out/vomit.

7. Thou shall say no to drugs. (If the drug is legal then it’s your call. But remember to take it only in private areas and only with people you trust.)

8. Thou shall make sure you can go home by yourself after a party.

9. Thou shall ditch people who succumb to the call of the flesh and ask you to get laid with them.

10. Thou shall not take photos of drunk friends and post them online. The same must be done to you.

When you decide to sate in alcohol or pot, stay safe and be subtle. Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Physically and socially horrifying things happen in hospitals.

I don’t frequently go there for our family has been gifted with healthy bodies and long lives. But when circumstances force me to go, I will go with slight reluctance because it pains me to see people suffer and to see holes in the human body where instruments are inserted gives me goosebumps. (One good reason why despite my previous inclination to science—Physics and Astronomy per se, NOT BIOLOGY and CHEMISTRY, I did not bother to take a science course as a career for I will be Medicine-bound if then.)

Yesterday was my father’s birthday and to celebrate for a change we decided to go to PCMC (Philippine Children’s Medical Center) and gave food to some patients. As we enter the hospital we were given face masks to protect the patients from possible bacteria or viruses that we might carry from the outside. We went to the cancer facility first and there we saw 12 kids diagnosed with leukemia. My mom cried upon seeing a one-year-old child having a hard time breathing. It was really satisfying to see their grateful faces as we give them food. Their smiles and their families’ faces are signs of hope.

After the cancer facility, we went to an ICU where we only delivered food because we aren’t allowed inside. After the first ICU we went to another and that place filled us with sorrow. Unlike the first ICU, the second has a window where we can see the patients inside. We delivered the food as each of the guardians of the patients approach us. By the window I can see a baby who’s barely a year old. He has a lot of instruments attached to his body and his breathing doesn’t seem normal, not to exaggerate but I think his lungs contract for at least 1.5 secs.

We went on parading the PCMC grounds with the food we carry and the appalling part now comes. People (adults mostly) took advantage of our charity work; some use their kids to get free food. A father carrying his teenage daughter chased us and told us that his daughter is about to be admitted to the hospital. (Take note—about to be admitted.) Judging by the looks of it, the daughter does not seem ill unlike all the others that we’ve seen. As we continue walking some people scream “May bata din kami nasa ICU.” (you be the judge) On our final stop, we gave the last pieces of food to the children checked up by doctors and as the final straw of appalling human nature, a man approached us and asked for two pieces of food for no reason at all. We didn’t bother asking if he has a kid with him.

I left the hospital with mixed feelings but pity prevailed. The things I’ve seen are results of not only government corruption but also of the sick selfish and ill-mannered culture we Filipinos cultivate either in slum areas or newly built “mansions.”

I resort to a few words. These are my fire. Chances are my guns and I have two. Because I believe in the power of my fires; I believe they are strong enough. If they aren’t I won’t buy a third gun anymore; I’ll find a new shooting buddy and hit new targets.

What is the probability of finding a book you long sought for to a guy who turned out to be your boyfriend now, and then you both watch the movie rendition of that book? One in a million I guess.

When I was 14 my family and I went to Davao. During the 1 hour airplane ride I read this book called Ender’s Game and it really thrilled me. Unfortunately I was only able to read a few pages because we were about to land so I put it back. Since then my quest to buy a copy of that book began.

I searched everywhere, NBS, Fullybooked, Booksale and even in Filbars. But my mission failed. For a time then, due to seemingly diminishing chances and due to my overwhelming fandom to Harry Potter, I abandoned the Ender’s Game ship.

Almost four years after high school, the ansible of Orson Scott Card once again communicated with me. It started with a Facebook post. My boyfriend posted “11.01.13 Ender’s Game O.O.” At first I wasn’t able to recognize what it is, I thought he lost to a game and the numbers were scores. But when he told me that Ender’s Game is a sci-fi novel set to be onscreen on the 1st of November, my formic senses are up! It was the same Ender’s Game I read before and I yearn to finish it before I watch the movie. Thank God, my guy is a reader and he has a short copy of Card’s first Ender’s Game. Though it was just 50 pages, it was still the same sense-thrilling story.

A few months after, we were both sitting in awe in a movie theater filled with people watching the movie we long yearn for.

Ender’s Game exceeded my expectations. Asa Butterfield’s exceptional acting made me closer to Ender even more. Hoping for the next movies to be just as good as the first. The way I see it, Potter seems to be in a rough place in my mind right now. Wiggin, you’re the man. :)

I honestly don’t get the popular trend. In our culture in the UST Journ society, I’ve never heard of any journ major who’s having orgys with his/her friends or sleeping with his/her professors. Neither have I heard of anybody who stole public funds. Drinking alcohol seems normal, but I haven’t heard of any drinking session where a kissing spree was held. And I really can’t imagine kissing a few friends just for entertainment and then acting like it never happened. Well, in cases of smoking pot and eating space cakes I might have heard a few but that’s just that. No embarrassing, lustful and stupid acts were done. Moreover, I haven’t heard of any girl who thinks of herself cool while she continues to flirt with a guy whom she knows is in a relationship with another girl. Neither have I heard of girl who degraded herself and unconsciously agreed to be a guy’s fallback. I’ve definitely seen some cocky guys in the journ program but not to the point that they made advances to almost every girl they can, especially if they have a girlfriend. I believe journ majors practice decency in courtship. A boy won’t court a friend’s ex and a girl won’t accomodate a friend’s ex-boyfriend or even someone who dated a friend before. We aren’t holy and immaculate, that’s why I phrased every sentence as a personal experience. I don’t gossip often, maybe I haven’t heard of some mishaps but one thing’s for sure, when a journ major commits something immoral, he/she is never proud of being a mistress, a philanderer, a liar or a fuck buddy. He/she will never take pride on the number of sexmates or suitors or girlfriends he or she had had. And he/she will never degrade his/her self value by engaging in orgys or sleeping with a professor.

Let’s not compare courses because they have different grounds. Rationally, let’s compare something that’s common to us. Since we’re all humans, a comparison of ethics would be a great idea. :)

The saddest thing in this life is hurting someone you cannot live without. Watching their world fall apart because of you, watching their wonder get gutted, watching them cope and breathe with it and all you can say is sorry and all that you feel is guilt and all you can do is wish it to be undone.

Malambot ang palupot ng kamay niya sa akin. 

"Sorry na," sabi niya.

Sa gitna ng aking tulala, nakaramdam ako ng mainit na hangin na papalapit sa kaliwang parte ng ulo ko. Parang may kuryenteng kumikiliti sa kaliwa ko. Kaunting sandali pa, naramdaman ko na ang mala-rosas sa lambot niyang mga labi na bumaon sa aking noo. Naging kasing lambot din nito ang puso ko. 

Pero hindi, hindi ako papatalo. Hindi pwedeng ganoon lang iyon. Hindi pwedeng tutulad ako sa ka-cornihan niya. 

Tumalikod ako paharap sa tren. Tinawanan ko sa isip ko iyong mga taong parang sardinas sa loob. Pero mali, dapat hindi ko ginawa iyon. T*ng*n*, madalas naming gawin iyon ng magkasama eh. Ano pa ba?

Hinga ng malalim, ilabas ang naipon na malamig na hangin. Ibulsa ang kamay, hawakan ang bag. Hawakan ng mabuti. Isiksik ng mabuti ang kamay sa bulsa. Lunok ng laway sabay hinga ulit. Kagatin ang dila at huwag huminga sandali. Ipunin lahat ng particles ng katawan at patigasin ito habang hindi humihinga. Exhale. 

"Sorry talaga ha," sabay hawak na naman sa kamay ko. 

Ay puto. Iwas ng tingin, hinga ng malalim. Tingin sa taas. Tingin sa kaliwa. Oops, wag sa kanan. Nguyain ang hangin sa bibig. Idiin ng mabuti ang paa sa sahig. Inhale, exhale. 

"Sorry talaga sa lahat ng nagawa ko."

Shit. Talikod na. Tingin sa baba. Ipitin ang kili kili. Konti na lang, konting konti na lang. 

"Love," sabay akap at bigay ng panyo. 

Wala na.

Doon sa gilid ng tren,  kasabay ng magulo na daloy ng paglakad ng mga tao, natalo ako sa labanan ng galit, lungkot, at pagibig. 

So amid my daily skimming of news articles and random reads that suits my liking for the moment and amid my cramming sessions for the preliminary examinations of the first semester in my last year in college, I went to visit the old page of our publication and to my surprise, I found just what I need. 

Confession series, 4.0 The Last Ride by Ms. Kristine Elizabeth Dihiansan of AB Journalism batch 2012. http://thejournalese1213.weebly.com/confession-40-the-last-ride.html

In the process of reading, I found myself smiling, laughing and crying toward the end. The essay did send chills into my spine, as I relate to the earlier paragraphs while the latter ones horrify me. 

Needless to say, I can easily point out the who’s-who by the clear descriptions she makes, it is as if I can see clearly what she’s been through. 

For my batch mates, I know you’ll have the same experience as mine when I read the article. For others whom we occasionally ditch because of our educational requirements and the lame excuse (yes we know it) that we have “COVER”, and for those who throw insignificant judgments and certain doubtful looks at us, this is what we are really going through. 

Let me put them in lay-man’s terms.

 ”Arab spring, Osama Bin Laden’s death, Japan’s massive earthquake, Russian elections, and Royal matrimony – these were the realities of the world. We were unaffected (except for those who have relatives in afflicted countries) because we have our own reality to deal with, less intricate to comprehend than worldly problems but deadlier than deadlines.”

Apparently, this talks about our professors’ expectations that our heads be filled with knowledge of the world, no matter how vast it is. From time immemorial up to Justin Bieber, we must know them.

"Thesis."

Every senior in any university knows what that word implies. No need to elaborate. 

"Professors said that we should read, read and, read. A number of them made us write, write and, write articles. But to no avail. A professor laments that all we knew were Facebook, Twitter and everything else in between. We barely read (academic handouts) and studied hard enough, that’s because there’s nothing to be studied about."

The statement above is best summarized in this phrase—THURSDAYS WITH LITO ZULUETA. (google him) This renaissance man knows everything under the sun and is the embodiment of the Faculty of Arts and Letters. Ask him anything, from Church matters to Kpop, he knows it. More often than not, he would usually say that we havean “indulgence with idiocy”  and that we fiddle in our social networking sites, instead of reading and writing and revising. 

"We were too engrossed with catching deadlines, perhaps not so much, as our free-spirited manner made us post statuses in Facebook and Twitter about our progress in writing that six to eight-page critique paper in Literary Criticism, 1,000 word article in business journalism, and editing thesis drafts on the eve before the submission! Cramming is our best friend. Neophytes and other journalists should know this because we should, or should I say, we must learn to deal and live with it unlike other people."

A clear justification of what Sir Lito always says. 

"Three sections in our batch would not forget that day during our Broadcast Journalism written exam, as each one painstakingly answered essays and wrote broadcast scripts for three hours straight that almost made us want to rip our hands apart. Everyone exiting the room was wringing their hands.  The other section who had a different professor suffered a different fate as their grades were withheld during the semestral break since they were given broadcast reporting project to work on during the said period, on top of other requirements.  A small price to pay for our inevitable flaws in the truest sense of the writing word, don’t you think?"


I haven’t experience this one yet, but I am about to. Well, you get the picture. 

"And speaking of flaws, who would ever forget that a number of groups rushed back and forth from printing shops back to Sir Eros on the eve of submitting tabloids because of the tabloid sheets’ printing mishaps?"


I had my fair share of labor in this Tabloid journalism subject, and trust me the writing part would be fun because some are figments of our silly imagination and some are indeed serious articles. The editing is quite difficult, because sad to say (I encourage you to admit it also) most college students aren’t trained to write in Filipino. The layout part, is far too different from the simple and minimalist layout of broadsheets, believe me it’s a pain in the nape! Literally. Well, hopefully we won’t experience any printing mishap. 

"On that final day of our thesis submission, few groups were still doing final consultation with their thesis advisers, while majority were still editing their manuscripts. Deadline was set at 8 p.m. The last group who rushed to Thomas Aquinas Research Complex (TARC) that night submitted their manuscript at almost 10 p.m. “Better late than never,” that was the mantra in that prosperous night.
Accompanied with the research god himself, exiting the TARC building together with the rest of the groups who barely made it made us feel like we won that million-peso jackpot prize. Overflowing euphoric emotions was similar to that of a gushing fountain, even if thesis defense was still slated in a few weeks.”

The two paragraphs are vivid enough so an explanation is not really necessary. However, an AB journ jargon was used. The coined phrase research god”refers to Mr. Jeremaiah Opiniano. I prefer that you google his name to get a glimpse of the quality of research he seeks to imbibe in us. 

So there folks, I believe these few words aren’t really enough for us to encapsulate the entire JOURNey. We will continue until March 27, 2014. Probably by then, we can have a little chitchat about our experiences. 

Keep well.