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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Galing sa Hirap: Roles and Labels

Warning: incoherent thoughts up ahead, just random rantings of a toxic mind.

Freakingly what? Say that again?

“Parang di ka galing sa hirap,” (As if you didn’t came from being poor) my friend supplied his statement for the second time. My friend just “mouthed” “mahirap” to ensure that our conversation was out of earshot (from my dad).

It took me a couple of seconds before recovering. I remembered my friend saying that I’m “maarte” (picky with clothes, I’ve developed allergies with most soaps and have to settle with Dove, I’ve got wax on my hair, but other than those, I’m not maarte at all).

Its not my fault that I want to dress up presentably. You don’t have to look poor just because you are poor, or at least you came from poordom. Life is NOT a costume party (though Halloween is indeed nearing).

Its not my fault that I can sometimes be meticulously OC in hygiene, I’m from the medical field for pete’s sake, but I do have my momentary sloppy moments. Life ain’t exciting without variety. But hygiene is not entirely or should not be entirely equated to status in life and bank accounts.

Poor people, I beg you, please do smell like you’re wearing Dolce or Armani or whatever brand it is… even if you’re just wearing Johnson’s/ Green Cross baby cologne. Remember, cleanliness is next to godliness.

Pero teka (an exaggerated “wait”)? Me? Maarte? Are you blind? I fart in front of my friends (fully warned of course). I love eating fishballs in the side streets. I absentmindedly pick my nose in public often (dialing… hello… hello?). I’m the most jologs (unclassy) person I know! Seeesh! And I’m maarte?

I remember a first meet up with a blogger friend. We had to share a soup (a small serving at that), and he asked for a separate bowl, the works. I was thinking we could’ve shared one bowl to eliminate all the trouble of asking for additional utensils (And I brushed my teeth naman and I don’t have oral infections naman eh). Apparently he thought I was uber sosyal. Parang, dude, cowboy kaya ako. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got breeding, and I was thought Class A table manners. But in the absence of business meetings in a posh restaurant, and with a friend for dinner, I would just want to have a relaxed conversation, with my feet crossed (or even on an Indian sit pose), and an unaltered smile (or a snorting laugh). Basta. Ganun. And I enjoy eating at a tapsihan, btw.

“And teka, I’m not entirely mahirap!” I ran to my defense. Though there’s really nothing wrong with that, what’s important is what’s in you heart (naks!).

My dad was a businessman before, though business went down and he had to do odd jobs. I worked my way through highschool and college through scholarships, and succeeded and started with x times the minimum wage at 21 years old. I digress. I’m not mahirap pala. I’m a “sosyal na mahirap”. From rags to… oh well… better looking rags, I worked hard. So don’t tell me how I should act (mahirap). I don’t act mahirap, I act intelligently mahirap.

And what’s with all these labels by the way?

Economists and businessmen need those to identify target market. Political analysts need those to analyse social phenomenon.

But normal people do not need to stereotype a lot of people, categorize them and put them into a limited box.

Role playing? Oh, shut up!

Even in relationships, no one needs to be the “man of the house”. The Ilaw ng tahanan (figuratively the mother) and the haligi ng tahanan (figuratively the father) are so ten years ago.

Like not all husbands are created equal, most would be better cooks than the wives. Roles are becoming dynamic these years. Breadwinners are not all men anymore. “Yayas” are not limited to women with foreign accents.

Taxi drivers are not just smelly men. I had a woman driver once (who was in no way tomboy-ish).

And what is “panget” (ugly) ba? (Sorry medyo out of topic). What is ugly and what is beautiful. Who determines what? Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But who gives the right to say who is who? I’ve been told I’m “ugly” twice I think, and I’ve been classified as “cute” on some occasions with some asking for my number. So what am I? I guess I have to take my dad’s word nalang. I’m cute. Period. Ang umangal pasasabugin ko pagmumukha.

In anycase, back to the topic…

So who are you to tell that I act “mahirap”. Dude, how does a “mahirap” act anyways?

All “mahiraps” here, I challenge you all. Do not contain your actions, decisions and even your dreams just because society dictates you to do or be the way you are. Believe, dream, survive! (Ok, erase that last bit)

Basta. Un lang. eto nadudulot ng sangkaterbang katoxican. Hahaha!

I’m sooo drugged with caffeine. I know right? Bleh!

Note: No more "read more" on this one (hindi ko kasi alam kung pano alisin ung read more pag di na kelangn eh. hehe)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Juxtapose of Lolos

I’d describe Filipino culture as something that is very much driven by emotions, particularly that which concerns family. Issues concerning blood ties are never an easy thing to discuss. Propriety is always considered top priority. The concept of “keeping the family’s name” is always given much hype, where secrecy became a household name. And the notion of devotion and ardour to one’s own kin is often overrated, if not underrated (either to the extreme poles).

For now, I’ll strip off all propriety and secrecy, but would now be temporarily be an objective onlooker, just so for me to analyse things clearly, void of any bias against family and practicality. And I ask you all to give me some of your insights.

Let me first put two of my lolos (grandparents) side by side. Let you see their similarities and the differences in their own fates.

Both are my grandfathers… direct blood relation of my own folks.

Both would have wonderful offsprings… sprung from their own flesh and blood.

The conflict starts when both…

Were placed in a home… for the old of age


Remember that both came from different families, one from my mom, and the other my dad.

Each would have their own reason/s. And each reacted differently according to their own perception of things.

Lolo # 1:

He has three kids. And all of them are either out of the country or don’t have the ability to take care of him.

Visual inspection of him would tell a case of gouty arthritis. He couldn’t walk, unless aided by walker/ stand. His memory is still intact, though moments of dementia may be observed. Relatives are still recognized, but would take much time of recall. Speech is almost incoherent, but when listened to, still contains much sense. A bystander might suspect a history of stroke upon hearing, but I couldn’t really affirm.


“Itay! Kamusta napo ba kayo?” (Pa! how are you doing?) to which he usually
replies, “ok laang, pero minsan ako’y nakakalimutan, asaan ang aking biskwet?” (I’m fine, but sometimes forgotten, where is my biscuit?)


Close to town, is a facility for the old age to which he was taken. An analysis of raison d'être would present practicality. Two of his kids are abroad working. The third is incapable of such a responsibility. The spouse of one working abroad has her hands full with three kids and a job.

The facility poses an inviting solution. To eliminate element of institutional charity, payment is being made along with some/ minimal provision of supplies. Daily activities are set and programs and events are being held to delete monotony and boredom.

Food is served at the right time with attendants in tow. Sheets are changed every now and then. It is a reasonable deal. At least someone is watching over my grandfather.

And as expected some objections from other relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins etc.) were heard, but immediate blood ties would only permit them of an opinion, not an immediate action. You cannot have everyone take your side on decisions. Each would have their own valid reason, but not until an alternative solution is presented, the first decision would stand.

Thus he now still stays in the home for the aged.

Lolo # 2:

He is around the age of 95++. He has 11 living kids. Three are single (two are priests) and the rest would branch out their own family tree.

Previously, he was being taken care of the third single (unmarried) brood. With the aid of another one living in the same compound in Batangas, food and other services are offered. This is what I call, aid within vicinity. Other siblings would either be scattered somewhere in Manila, another in the US.

The third single unmarried brood is getting old himself. Pains of old age are being felt. And life is never enjoyed. The feeling of single-handedly being responsible for his father is strongly being felt, and motivation can hardly be found.

A family meeting of the big eleven took place (with an offspring-representative of the absent is optional). Wherein an option of a “home” was presented. No one was able to suggest an alternate option. No one even raised an objection. A number would assume agreement to the proposed solution.

Money was one of the matter at hand. None could commit an amount to sustain lolo’s stay in the main house, thus a hired help is out of the question.

The eldest took charge. The others sat silently. But as the “silence” deferred proper communication, each differed with expectations.

The eldest being an “action-man,” (and him needing to go back to the US soon) he wasted no time and arranged transfer to one of his chosen “home” in Laguna. His family having once owned an almost same facility in the US, he knows the trade and was able to set plans in action. As with lolo number one, to eliminate the concept of “charity” and instil utmost service, he presented a sum (unknown to most siblings) to be paid monthly and an agreement with the facilitator’s chairperson to give special treatment.

All was set. But with news spreading like wild fire in the forest, a portion of the second (2nd) generation children unexpectedly discussed the issue while in a party celebrating one of the two priest’s birthday. If money was the problem, an alternate solution would come from the 2nd generation with an idea of a bank account to be set up as a family fund. Monthly pledges were given according to capacity.

"Lo, bakit ka nandito?" (Gramps, why are you here?) a cousin
asked, "Eh mamamasyal lang kami ng barkada ko eh, iniwan ako rine." (My peers and I were going somehwere, but they left me here) "Ok lang po ba
kayo?" (Are you ok?) " Ok laang, masaya dine, me palaro, at kung ano ano
pa, kaso kakapirangot lang makain ko, gusto ko pa kumain eh!" (I'm ok, its so
fun here, there are games and a lot of stuffs, but i can only eat a small
amount, I want to eat more)


And like the eldest brood, actions were made by the 2nd Generation kids (SGK). The SGKs then pulled out Lolo form the home. The question of WHERE to place him was raised, which ended up going back to the old main house in batangas. The factor of WHO to take care of him ended with the same single (unmarried) brood. WHAT to do after was presented with a monthly contribution from the SGKs. With the 3 W’s all set, all went seemingly back to normal, or so I thought.

Everything (the placing to the home and the pull out thereafter) happened so fast that no one was able to set proper communications. Each party declared a breach of family code (not the legal one).

I guess the damage was not with the placing of Lolo in the home or the removal of him. I guess in the end, its with the ties being slowly severed (reserved for future post). Like a slowly rotting rope, each strand/ fiber being cut off, waiting for the rope to be wholely cut.

So tell me, placed in the same situations, what would your reactions be?

(sorry ang haba no?)
Note: busy po ng sobra, post lang muna kao ng mga dati kong diary write ups. Hehe.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dog updates - The Bono Chronicles

This was Bono before... a cute little pup.
Then he grew fro a measly 3kg pup to an 11.5 kg bigger pup (yeap, he is still a pup)
I wasn't able to get clearer pictures. Apparently, he's camera shy. he gets a bit agitated during "takes" and "shots". hehe. Primadonang artista.
Here are some "stolen" pictures of Bono during his visit to the vet.
Apparently, he was not the only one that got bigger, that would include my massive expenses for his care. (Dog food palan, pulubi ka na, dagdag pa ang complete dog shots).

And I think I need to have him trained like a real labrador (kinda like one of those hotel sniff dogs). Do you know of any place? And how much d'ya suppose it would cost?

Friday, October 3, 2008

La Boheme – the greatest love story ever sung

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
-- Corinthians 13:7-8

This verse resounded in my mind as I watched the rehearsals of La Boheme. I knew nothing of this opera and shrugged it as another one of those play. But after watching some acts and hearing from Floy mentioning it as one of the greatest love story ever sung, all I could do was nod.

The History:

La Boheme is considered one of the "three or four most popular operas in the repertory" (Groos and Parker, xi). The opera, with music by Giacomo Puccini and libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa is based on Murger's Scenes de la Vie de Boheme; it was Puccini's 4th opera and the second of his four most mature works: Turandot, La Boheme, Tosca and Madame Butterfly. It debuted in Turin, Italy on February 1, 1896 (Ashbrook, 115).

Its plot centers around a community of artists in Paris, particularly between the romantic relationship of poet Rodolfo and grisette Mimi. Like the parallel relationship of Rodolfo's roommate Marcello and the beautiful Musetta, Mimi and Rodolfo's love is not without conflict. At the end of the opera, however, they are united tragically as Mimi returns to the garret and dies there, surrounded by her friends. Musical devices emphazise the libretto, which consists of common language turned poetic. For example, when Rudolfo and Marcello burn Marcello's play for warmth, "the orchestra depicts the reviving fire with a brilliant texture of pizzicato strings and detached woodwind and brass chords" (Groos and Parker, 13).

(source)

The Rehearsals:

I was privy to a night of knitting for La Boheme ala Manila. It was just a rehearsal. But even with just Act 3 and 4, I wasn’t disappointed. Rather, I was like a child clamouring for more.

The rehearsals were non continuous as they needed to polish some orchestra – singer harmony and timing, but even with those, I was able to feel Puccini’s songs and possibly would’ve cried if not for the breaks. And it was in Italian for pete’s sake. My explanation? Love transcends language, time and place. La Boheme was a story of love. A story that makes every tune stand on its own even without the understanding of words.

I couldn’t comment much on technicalities as the rehearsals were still void of all those details. But even without microphones, each singer was able to be heard to most four corners of the theatre. They were not just actors. They were opera singers. Powerful voices. Powerful delivery. And I ask myself: How much more can they deliver on actual showing with all the microphones and light effects in place? I say a lot. I say a lot.


The Casts:

I didn’t know watching a rehearsal would be such a personal experience. I didn’t just see great singers belting out notes, what I saw were real people having fun. I saw how real and how un-diva like they were. With Gary goofing around each breaks and Jennifer and Ana flapping their arms flying back to their original position for a repeat act.

And it doesn’t help how Sir Floy Quintos built these actors in our hearts. It wasn’t just them being un-diva-ish nor their expected professionalism, its their passion for their art that caught my attention. They didn’t just sing for money (though that would really help much though), but for the exhilarated feeling of singing a wonderful opera. “Masabi ko lang na nakakanta ako sa CCP, ok na (With just the mere thought of me singing in CCP, is something already),” Floy quotes one singer.

*more of Floy Quinto’s thoughts on http://karlagutz.multiply.com/journal/item/124/LA_BOHEME_IN_MODERN_DAY_MANILA_WHY_NOT_by_Floy_Quintos
Rodolfo, a poet: Played by Gary Del Rosario, JUAN ALBERTO GAERLAN,
Mimi, a seamstress: Played by Jennifer Uy
Marcello, a painter: Played by LAWRENCE JATAYNA and
Musetta, a singer: Played by ANA FELEO and ELAINE LIM LEE
Schaunard, a musician: Played by JOHN OCAMPOS

*I might have missed some, so please pardon me and just seek the official list at Karla's site.

The Recommendation:

This will be my first opera. I expected boredom and a lot of yawning. But what I got was a happy heart and a couple of jumping feet (with excitement and inspiration).
A couple of tickets would be gateway to one memorable experience. Why a couple? GET A DATE. You’ll need a warm hand to hold hands with during the show, and cold lips to warm after the show.

Thank you Lorna

Thanks to the wonderful Lorna, I was able to watch Acts 3 and 4. And got a chance to talk with Floy Quintos (though he was addressing all of us, hehe).

Though I was a bit embarrassed with unexplainable shyness with her.

“Oh! I don’t have posters right now, sorry!” Lorna muttered as I said my thanks before leaving CCP.

Darn, I was remembered as the kid who asked for free posters for each play that I watched (First was Hamlet, then I think Avenue Q). Hehe.

Thanks again, Lorna!

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
-- Matthew 6:21

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