Monthly Archives: August, 2013

“Acts of God”

Last week I took a long hiatus from work because for four straight days the strong rains just wouldn’t stop.  It wasn’t a typhoon but just a hanging habagat (southwest monsoon) that brought those torrential rainfall which only made more worse by the pull of typhoon Maring that hovered in the northern part of Luzon.  So strong it was that it would get tired from pouring then would quiet down for a few minutes, then go back again to pour out its anguish some more—causing floods in many communities, particularly the low land areas.

I consider us still lucky, my family and I, that only a clear floodwater entered our house which seeped out of our tiled floors.  For four years since we moved to Rizal from Quezon City, this has been our problem each time there is a heavy rainfall for days.  And I remember the first time I experienced it, seeing water inside our home during typhoon Ondoy in 2009, and because it was my first time, I was such in a panic, miserable!  I was cursing, feeling like the mayor, the governor, even the soil or its topography should be the ones to blame for that inconvenience we have experienced.  There was no electricity even, no water!  I was in dire straits!  I thought Rodriguez, Rizal was a God-forsaken place!

Then when I learned that at the same time the 40-year-old house of musician Zach Lucero in Merville, Parañaque got flooded also, destroying furnitures and precious stuff inside, Zach swore that in his entire life this was the first time that their place got flooded because of typhoon. And when I learned at the same time that certain places in Metro Manila where floods were never a problem got flooded under typhoon Ondoy, where at the same time people from all walks of life (yes, even our celebrities here) got stranded on top of their roofs, or in their cars, for twelve hours not having anything to eat or anywhere to sleep, it made me realize how pathetic my problem was. 

Fast forward to present, to cope with the penetration of water inside our house (which fortunately, as always, didn’t reach our ankle, just the soles of our feet), we just mop and mop round the clock, taking turns, to prevent the water from turning into its worse state. Again, like years before and every rainy season, many had it worse, with floodwater rising beyond seven feet and more that forced many families to evacuate and leave their homes but of course, typical to Filipinos, there were also many others who stuck around, not wanting to leave their homes for fear that bad people might steal their belongings and ransack their homes.  (Believe it or not, even during a very deep crisis like this—and I’m speaking both literally and figuratively—evil human beings/opportunists exist to take advantage of the plight of his poor fellow men.)

Actor Alden Richards, whose house in Laguna got flooded for the first time in his life, believed that it was just one of those “Acts of God” that we should accept and learn from.  And because he doesn’t want to experience it again, he and his family would just be renting a house in another village that was undisturbed by floods.  I agree with him that we should learn from this bad experience but I don’t believe that typhoons are “Acts of God.”  Typhoons happen because of man’s irresponsibility and greed—cutting down trees and not replacing them with new ones, illegal logging, pollution (hurting our earth’s ozone layer), improper waste disposal (one of the causes of floods), constructing buildings and malls that obstructed or covered the waterways or drainage that would have helped in preventing or lessening the floods—and what is happening is just a cause and effect. We are just receiving what we are giving out.  How we treat Mother Nature will also be the same thing that Mother Nature will treat us.

And each time a typhoon occurs, it never fails that it would be the same old story:  parents crying in anguish over their child’s dead body because of drowning, a dilapidated house destroyed by the strong currents of dirty floodwaters, poor families in evacuation centers, destruction! Havoc! Killed people would be replayed over and over again.

Typhoons are not Acts of God.  It’s man-made.

 

 

the future is not written in stone

Unexpected things happen in The Voice of the Philippines, a singing competition in search for the next superstar!   The reality show actually originated from Netherlands called The Voice of Holland and ABS-CBN was able to grab hold of its franchise.  And the mechanics of the competition are very interesting, and exciting!

“The 4 coaches don’t judge the artists by their characteristics such as looks, personalities, stage presence or even dance moves — only of what they can give with their vocal ability.

“It’s with this concept that diversifies and differentiated The Voice from other known reality talent searches which airs in any known television station such as The X Factor franchise, the Got Talent franchise or even the veteran Idol franchise. The lucky auditionees who have advanced would be split into four teams, which are coached/mentored by the 4 multi-talented coaches who in turn would collaborate with them and choose songs for their artists to perform. There is a minimum of 16 years old of age preference yet beyond that limit there’s no specific age range and anyone can audition; The coaches will turn their backs from the stage to facilitate an unbiased perception of the talent. If by any chance one of the coach likes what they hear, they would do a button-press which would allow their chair to turn around and face the performer for the first time, signifying that they would like to mentor them. If it happens that more than one does so, then the artist selects a coach. However, if no coach turns around then the artist is sent home.

“There are four known different stages: Producers’ auditions, Blind auditions, the Battles, and the Live shows.”  (wikipedia.com)

My number one reason why I am watching The Voice of the Philippines is because Sarah Geronimo is there, as one of the coaches/judges in the competition.  Or to put it more accurately, the youngest coach/judge in the competition.  Dubbed as The voice that captured our hearts, she is sitting in line with other top caliber performers:  Bamboo Mañalac (dubbed as The voice that rocked our world), Lea Salonga (dubbed as The voice that conquered the world), and Apl.de.Ap (dubbed as The voice that ruled the worldwide music chart).  The show is hosted by Toni Gonzaga, with Robi Domingo and Alex Gonzaga as V-reporters.

I didn’t get to see the Producer’s auditions because I read in Wikipedia that it really is the intention of the Producers not to show it on TV.  However, the first televised stage is the Blind Auditions which I consider to be the most exciting stage.

Like what was said earlier, in Blind Auditions, the coaches/judges don’t see the faces of every contender vying for their attention.  They will just rely on the voice of that mystery singer, the only data they can have as basis if they want that person in their team or not.  So here in the competition the saying “Life is fair” is so true.

For I’ve seen gorgeous, mestizo male singers being turned down because their voice didn’t hit any spot in the coaches’ hearts.  I’ve also seen a teenaged singer with a lightweight, ordinary voice getting into the next round because she sang the perfect song suitable to her voice and consequently endearing her to coach Sarah.  I also won’t forget this small but terrible lady who has this high-powered voice singing a Filipino folk song that made Apl.de.Ap teary-eyed after turning his chair for her.  There was also an obese woman who turned all the chairs of the coaches and in a kind twist of fate were the ones now vying for her attention, for her to choose from to be her coach.  And of course, a homosexual winning over the macho men and making Sarah and Lea fall in love with his voice while singing “It’s a Man’s World.” Professionals and amateurs competed to get a slot in The Voice of the Philippines.

But to me, the most unforgettable contestant that went on stage was Aia de Leon.  I know her.  I was an avid supporter of OPM or Original Pilipino Music and I bought their albums.  Because Aia de Leon was the lead vocalist of a popular rock band, Imago.  Unfortunately, no coach turned his/her chair for her.  She sang Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” in a slow, jazzy arrangement.  So when the coaches turned to face her after her performance, Lea Salonga was so shocked.  Lea confessed that she was a fan of Aia’s voice the first time she saw her and her band performed.  She described Aia as one of the most talented vocalists she has ever heard.  When asked why she joined the competition, Aia said she just wanted to experience how it feels to move out of her comfort zone.  Because for 15 years she was with her band, which was the most comfortable thing for her.  And the mere experience that she was standing alone on stage terrified her but she was happy she did it.  She just wanted to push her limits.  Then backstage, when asked by Toni what she had learned after going through that experience, Aia said, “It’s important that you keep challenging yourself.  Never ever think that you can do all.  Because once I say that to myself that I can do all things, that I have done all, then I will stop learning.”

Thank you Aia for gracing the show.  I will remember that, moving out of my comfort zone and pushing my limits.  She didn’t say this outright but I feel she also said that the possibilities are endless.  That we should always be humble to be better in what we do.  Thanks Aia.

The next level is The Battles.  Here the stage was designed like a boxing ring and two or three singers who were part of one team would compete with each other. (I thought initially that the members of one team would compete with the members of another team, I was wrong!) The coaches would pick the song that they would sing for The Battles.  And here, the turn of events was so full of surprises!

For example, Coach Bamboo paired a father and son duo with a young male singer.  So it was two against one.  The young male singer was so nervous being paired with the father and son and it became visible during their rehearsal. He felt inadequate, intimidated.  Despite Coach Bamboo’s encouragement and good advice, he felt he wouldn’t win it.  So on stage, the young male singer was just singing with quiet confidence, enjoying the moment that he had left.  The father and son, meanwhile, were energetic, in perfect harmony.  They were there to win it!  But it was the lone male singer who surprisingly got in with whom Coach Bamboo described as the “dark horse” in the competition.

With Team Lea, she picked this small but terrible lady singer to compete with two gentlemen.  So three people were to compete with each other.  The song that Coach Lea picked for them was Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”  Since the lady has impressed me during the Blind Audition I was vying for her to win.  And here was my comparative analysis about the other contenders:  the first guy got a very nice voice fit for singing competitions.  He deserved to be there.  Didn’t know he can dance until he was on stage singing Marvin Gaye’s song.  The second guy, meanwhile, got a pleasant voice but I wonder if that’s all he got, because he has this very simple singing ability.  I predicted that the second guy would be sent home and it was just a fight between the first guy and the small but terrible lady singer who got these powerful, flexible voices.

When asked by host Toni who was her pick, Coach Lea chose the second guy, the one with a simple singing ability.  Based on Coach Lea’s remarks, it seemed she would have picked the first guy but because her training is musical theatre, she thought that his singing was all about himself, he overlooked the essence of the song material, the lyrics or what the song is about (which is a protest song).  With regards to the small but terrible lady singer, Coach Lea thought she went overboard with her singing.  “You don’t unwrap a piece of candy with a sledge hammer,” she said.  So I guess left with no choice, Coach Lea chose the second guy who just sang very simply but rendered the song with respect and sensitivity.

Jeez, it must be hard competing with other people who are more talented than you are.  And it must be harder to be subjected to humiliation and embarrassment if you lose, for people will judge you for it (everyone wants to be with a winner).  But it must be the hardest competing with oneself, battling with your own insecurities and inadequacies, while trying your best to do good out there, win or lose.  Indeed, the ultimate rival is yourself, not the other contestant next to you.

The moral lesson here:  Just because one contestant is least talented than the rest doesn’t mean he/she will not gonna make it.  Just because another contestant is blessed with this superior singing ability doesn’t mean he/she will win.  There are no guarantees in this life.  Things are not always what they seem.  And more importantly, we must remember to never lose hope—as exemplified by the “weak” contestants who will move to the next round—because the future is not written in stone.

healing is from the inside

“Honesty rarely strengthens friendship,” is this true?

If the angry reaction of my friend whenever I tell her that her sickness is just a “pretense,” or an acting,  then I would have to say that this is true.

You see, my friend/colleague, is a 63-year old lady who has suffered a stroke three years ago.  And since that first attack, it became recurring but most of the time, the attack would come in a form of arterial hypertension or high blood.  She has been walking with difficulty ever since.   But through personal therapy and exercise, her health condition would tremendously improve.  But after a day or so, she would go back to her miserable state.  As a result, she would take days off from work or take an undertime.  Since I’ve known her (which is about a year already), she has gone to the hospital thrice already.  People who know her longer than I am told me she has gone to the hospital more than ten times.

As her friend, I believe that she is quite well, healthy, although not as healthy as before.  But I believe she is fine. Because many times have I observed her eating with a big appetite, eating even those food that are prohibited like lumpia since it is oily, and drinking Coke, and not feeling anything.  When I’m not looking and doing something else like texting, for example, I noticed from my peripheral vision an image of a person walking briskly to his/her desk.  When I looked up, it was her.  And this happened so many times.  However, there were also times, especially when she’s with me, or when people is watching, when she walks like a really old, frail lady.  And I don’t get that.  Because the times when she seemed capable and okay are many than the times she seemed weak.

Before, to not offend her, I would joke that she’s just pretending to walk slowly or with difficulty.  And I have basis for bringing this up to her.   I observed that there are more days that I could see her walking normally and could even hop with ease from one stepping stone to another while we were walking this pathway to the canteen. Despite her stroke years ago, she still has that capacity to walk in kilometers under the heat of the sun without any companion, and could climb up and down the high footbridge.  Take note, alone.  When she is selling her peanut butter, she could even climb the stairs leading to the third floor without the help of an elevator.

I would ask her about her condition.  She would say that that’s just the way she is, because she has had a stroke.  Sometimes her knees would hurt.   And she would insist that she is not pretending.

As her friend, I am seeing something else.  She is actually okay if she wants to.  I believe she is strong.  The problem is, she doesn’t want to let go of her “sickness” for some reason that only her truly knows.  Although I have my own theories.

The other day, she didn’t report for work.  She informed a fellow senior colleague that she was held up, that a bad guy hurt her and stole her money.  She was wounded and again in the hospital. My initial reaction wasn’t compassion but anger.  Until now.  That’s why I’m writing this.  To get this out of my system.

My friendship with this old lady doesn’t just remain within the four walls of our office.  We would sometimes have a dinner in our favorite restaurant or eating place.  Being senior, she would also give me advice about matters of the heart.  She would tell me things that she doesn’t like about me or like about me (although I believe that’s only selective), and I would tell her things that I don’t like about her or like about her (also selective, so as not to hurt her so much because I think she’s not comfortable hearing criticisms, especially from someone younger than her, although at times I would share my feelings with her in reckless abandon).  During those times that we would leave a mall or a restaurant and await for a jeep or a bus to bring us home (she takes the bus, I take the jeep), I would offer to accompany her while she’s waiting for her bus.  So as not to be a burden, she would refuse my offer quite sternly and that would force me to leave her.  I would always be the first to grab a ride going home.

I don’t understand her condition.  My father is way older than her, he is 72 years old and has never suffered a stroke or hypertension despite his five children with different personalities and hangups.  I have another colleague, a 58-year old lady who survived breast cancer seven years ago.  She never had a disease after that, except from fatigue due to overwork, or stress.  A former colleague who is my age became paralyzed from waist down but that didn’t stop him from overcoming his personal odds.  Because right now, he is the vice president of a banking institution.  So I really do not understand her sickness, the high blood, the recurring trips to the hospital.  I know people have different coping mechanisms or speed in recovering but what I don’t understand is that she is that “Praise the Lord!” type of person, a born-again Christian, so prayerful, a religious one.

I remember this chapter I read in this book by M. Scott Peck entitled “People of the Lie.”  The chapter is about possession and exorcism.  It says, “Human free will is basic.  It takes precedence over healing.  Even God cannot heal a person who does not want to be healed.  At the moment of expulsion both these patients voluntarily took the crucifix, held it in their chests and prayed for deliverance.  Both chose that moment to cast their lots with God.  Ultimately it is the patient herself or himself who is the exorcist.”

I believe she is the only person who can heal herself, not the doctor, not the medicine, but herself.

So when I learned that she was held up and now in the hospital, I wasn’t surprised.  We weren’t surprised.  But I was heartless.  I was angry.  I hated her for not being careful.  I would tell my colleagues that maybe she was again doing that pitiful gestures of an old, sick lady when I believe she is not!  Up to now, I didn’t have the heart to text her to show my concern.  I just take comfort with the fact that she is alive and could still inform the office about what happened to her.

a blessing in disguise

I was checking my email, reading and deleting the entries/emails simultaneously to lessen the load in my inbox when I stumbled upon this, an inspiring email from 2006 when I was still working in a university.  It was sent by a colleague named Princess.  Just thought of sharing.

_____________________

CLOSED DOORS

We need to learn to praise the Lord as much for a closed door as we do an open door. The reason God closes doors is because He has not prepared anything over there for us. If he didn’t close the wrong door, we would never find the right door.

God directs our path through the closing and opening of doors. Once a door closes, it forces you to change your course. Another door closes, it forces you to change your course again. Then, finally, you find the open door and you walk right into your blessing.

The Lord directs our paths through the opening and closing of doors, but instead of praising him for the closed door (which keeps us out of trouble); we get upset because we “judge by the appearances.”

You have an ever-present help in the time of trouble that is always standing guard. Because He walks ahead of you, He can spot trouble down the road and set up a roadblock or detour accordingly. But through our lack of wisdom, we try to tear down the roadblocks or push aside the detour sign. Then the minute we get into trouble, we start crying, “Lord, how could You have done this to me?”

We have got to realize that the closed door can be a blessing. Didn’t He say that no good thing would He withhold from them that love Him?

If you get terminated from your job, praise God for the new opportunities that will manifest themselves: it might be another job, it might be school.

If that man or woman won’t return your call, it might not be them, it might be the Lord setting up a roadblock (just let it go).

One time, a person had a bank they had been in business with for many years tell them “No!” to a $10,000 loan. The Lord put in their spirit to call another bank. That bank gave them $40,000 at a lower interest rate than the first bank was offering.

We can sometimes trap ourselves in doubt and discouragement through judging by appearances. Be grateful for the many times our Father has closed doors to us just to open them in the most unexpected places.

The Lord won’t always say in spoken words: “Go to the left, now to the right” …sometimes He will just close the doors that are wrong for you.

God Bless You Always!

— Author Unknown

funny fairy tale

Guys, no offense intended.  =D

__________________

The World’s Shortest Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy, “Will you marry me?”

The guy said “No.”

And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, drank
martinis, always had a clean house, never had to cook, stayed skinny,
and was never farted on.

The End.

something good always happens

Today marks the anniversary of this blog in WordPress.  So I would like to grab this opportunity to say thank you to those special kind of people who took the time to click “Follow” and have been reading, following my blog ever since.  Thanks for the interest and appreciation even if we haven’t really met.

Thank you to WordPress for your free online blogging service for it gave me a place where I could write in peace and rechannel my sadness, misery into something creative.  I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I don’t even know how to draw a perfect circle but whenever I write, I become light as a feather.  After I write, something good always happens.  One of them is the liberating feeling that I was able to let go what was inside of me, be it good or bad.

the tarnished eye

I guessed it right. I guessed who the killer was. I didn’t get the clue through his words, through his lies. It was through his small gestures. I felt it the moment I noticed those little gestures that may seem trivial to others but to me, the moment I saw those tiny little movement of his, it was as if some pointed object struck me inside. But being human, I wasn’t certain. So when Sheriff DeWitt finally discovered the sole person behind the gruesome killing of a family of six, I almost jumped for joy. That my instinct – though it didn’t make sense at first since there were suspects more likely to commit the murder – was right about this particular guy. It was already one o’clock in the morning when I finished this book, I couldn’t sleep right away. When I decided to rest on my bed, I started to cry, remembering the time when every member of the Norbois family was still alive.

************
She is silent for a moment. Then: “Hugh, why did Frisch do this?”the tarnished eye

“I wish I knew.”

“It sure makes him look guilty, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I don’t believe it. Somehow it feels too pat.”

“What does Kevin think?”

“Kevin thinks case closed. Keep it simple, stupid.”

“Does it remind you of the Leyden case?” she asks. “Remember? That family that was killed up in Bay View?”

“Yeah, I remember. Guy who fought with all of his neighbors and treated his employees like dirt. Everyone thought the family was killed because of him.”

“Yes,” she says. “Only it turned out his wife was having an affair with the choir director at church. And she was about to confess it to the minister. So the choir director shot them all.”

“And your point is…?” Hugh asks.

“Support for your theory,” Karen says. “The most obvious suspect isn’t always the killer. And the most obvious victim isn’t always the source of the crime.”

“I think that was last week’s theory.”

“You have good instincts, Hugh. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it’s probably not right.”

“Karey,” he says, “the truth is, I’m burning out here. Not just on this case.”

Her voice is suddenly very businesslike. “You always say that. On every case.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No. It’s just the way you are until you come up with the right answer.” She takes a breath. “However. I also think you have a lot on your mind these days.”

“You do, huh?”

“Yes. And I don’t think it has anything to do with burning out on the job.”

He laughs. “Now there’s a meal. Don’t give me too much to chew on.”

“I love you,” she says.

“Love you, too.”

“Hugh? Don’t overlook the beautiful people. That choir director was a very beautiful man. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t a killer. Now get some sleep.”

— excerpts from “The Tarnished Eye” written by Judith Guest

************
Reading this book instantly reminded me of the Vizconde Massacre. However, with the case of the Norbois family, all of them died. Yes, including the father. Even the three teenage boys who you’d think could fight off the criminal. Nobody came out alive. With a series of gunshots that automatically killed the family, except for the 10-year old girl who was raped and got whacked on the head which caused her death (the mother also got raped), nobody could come out alive.

I didn’t see the act of murder. The author decided not to show this. Instead, what I only saw was a family found dead right in their own home. It was actually worse to imagine what really transpired in that house than seeing the act of murder itself. But why? What happened? What kind of sin have they committed to deserve such a tragedy? Was there an intended victim?

While the author was showing me the scene of the murder where Sheriff Hugh DeWitt is in-charge of solving the crime, the author would alternately bring me back to those days when every member of the Norbois family was alive and well. Each of them dealing, coping with whatever simple pleasures, problems, and issues they may have as individuals and as a family.

The father and the mother are Edward and Paige Norbois. They have four children: Derek (19), Stephen (17), David (13), and Nicole (10). They live in a huge house in Blessed, Michigan.

They are a very private people, they don’t mingle a lot with their neighbors. They’ve held a party once inside their home but it was exclusively for the friends and classmates of their children. Actually, Edward had a hidden agenda for this. He just wanted to see what kind of people his sons hangout with, check if they are up to something, or if they carry bad intentions. Behind his stoic and rigid demeanor, he does have strong concern for his children even if he’s not that very close to them, except for the youngest Nicole who knows her way around him, so affectionate, so warm. Unlike his sons who all have issues with him.

The couple have been invited to parties but Edward dislike it. He attended once but that was it. Because first and foremost, he dislike this next door neighbor that Paige became friends with. Second, keeping a close relationship with neighbors can be complicated, they can invade your privacy so he would rather keep a friendly distance, greeting people if he sees them and that’s good enough.

Paige, on the other hand, is the more sociable (a quality that Nicole is also blessed with). When the mother and daughter walks down the street, they would stop and have a small talk with one of their neighbors who just happened to be sitting on her porch. Paige likes attending parties organized by her neighbor friend. Unlike her husband, she’s very friendly, open, and always ready to mingle if given the chance. She also cherishes her solitude, especially when she doesn’t have to deal with her husband. They’ve been married for 20 years but up to this time, there are things about him that she cannot fully understand.

Edward likes to see himself as the chief of the house, the one who tells every member of his family what to do and what not to do for as long as they are all living in one house. I wouldn’t say he is dominant because even if he’s like that and his wife or his son didn’t do what he just said, especially when he makes a comment about her or his friend, he just leave you alone. He doesn’t hit you or slap your face if you say a bad word, no he’s not like that, but being the man of the house and a good provider, he still prefer showing his children his authority since he is the type of person who likes to be in control, who likes to leave things in good order. He owns Challenge Press, the bread and butter of the family which provides them all the luxury they can afford and a huge house that Edward feels satisfied about.

Paige, on the other hand, is always aiming to be the good wife, the good mother. She is the gel that keeps the family together. If there is conflict inside the house, she is the one who appeases one of her troubled sons. She tries to show them that she is there for them, that she is there to listen to them although sometimes her sons feel she falls short in this. That sometimes they feel she’s just acting it out.

The eldest son, Derek, is an artist. He loves to draw, do his sketches whenever his spirit moves him. He is quiet, so kind, only sees the good in other people that some friends or acquaintances can easily take advantage of him and this is what his younger brother, Stephen, hates about him. “How can a guy this smart be so dumb about people?” he sometimes ask himself. By nature, Stephen is a rebel, he speaks his mind, he doesn’t always do what his dad or mom told him to do. He hangs out with the same weird-looking kids. He feels he knows what he wants to do with his life. He doesn’t like bonding with his brothers and sister. He’s more comfortable to be around with friends. David, on the other hand, likes to keep a journal since he was 10 years old (among the kids, he is the one that I liked most). Nobody knows but in that journal, he predicted the day his grandma will die. All those fears, gut feel, memories, he writes them down in that journal. Today, he is holding a death card. Three times in a row, he always get a death card. He wonders about what it means. He feels like telling it to his dad, his mom, or even to his brother Derek, but he’s holding back. He is getting second thoughts. His dad will just freak out and see him like an oddball. His mom will listen for sure but he may never know what her mom truly feels inside. So Derek is also out of the picture. All of them wouldn’t believe him, anyway. Nobody takes him seriously, anyway. So David decides to keep things to himself.

On the night that they were packing and preparing for a vacation the would happen the next day, the murder happened. (As a reader, I truly felt their loss. After getting to know each of them intimately, knowing about their hangups, their dreams, their fears, then all of a sudden knowing that they all died in a home where they were supposed to be safe, I truly felt their loss. Once upon a time I was seeing them going about with their own lives, dealing with the pressures of being part of a family and at the same time living their own individual lives, they seem to be people who do not mind other people’s business, they meant no harm, but like a thief in the night, some bad guy wanted all of them dead. They are gone. What kind of monster had done this to them?!)

Sheriff DeWitt interviewed all the people that the family got acquainted with: 1) Roger Frisch, the business partner of Edward, 2) Anne, the secretary of Edward for 20 years, 3) Friends of Derek and Stephen, 4) Elaine, the next-door neighbor of Paige. At first, Sheriff DeWitt had difficulty talking to neighbors regarding what happened to the family because most of them told him they barely know the family. An old woman had a nice brief encounter with Paige and her daughter but just the same, she told him the family just lived quietly and peacefully in their neighborhood so it was unimaginable for her that somebody or some group of bad people did this to them.

As days and weeks go by, Sheriff DeWitt was able to open a can of worms of long-kept shocking secrets. So one thing led to another, he got to meet more and more people that could possibly be the suspect. Sheriff DeWitt, needless to say, did not leave any stone unturned. Although Roger Frisch was the easy target for being the prime suspect after he learned that Roger sneaked out some money from the company fund and committed an act of dishonesty by forging Edward’s signature, forging the financial reports which caused a terrible fight between him and Edward Norbois, DeWitt thinks it could be Paige’s lover. But he wasn’t sure about it so he continued to search for clues, evidences, stories from other people, and visiting the house more than once where the massacre occurred. Sheriff DeWitt would take time to take a look at the belongings of the deceased, especially those belonging to the teenage sons, especially the room of Derek which easily attracted him to enter because of the drawing and sketches found in his room. For Sheriff DeWitt, everyone could be a suspect. So this gave him too much of a burden to carry.

While trying to solve the crime, Sheriff DeWitt was also dealing with his personal issues like the death of his infant son, like his relationship with his wife, and the lost time with her daughter. His work was keeping him away for a long time from his family. But he knew if he didn’t do it well, if he didn’t seek justice for the Norbois family, he wouldn’t forgive himself just the same. So he constantly search for clues, evidences, looking for the missing link.

Fortunately, Sheriff DeWitt got a supportive wife in Karen. His wife knew him fully well than he knew himself. Karen was actually the unlikely person who helped him solve the crime, the woman who was just a housewife. Needless to say, it was also an unlikely person who committed the crime. Some person that you could have just taken for granted, some person that you could have just considered a witness. He used to be a roommate of Derek. He’s very neat, he wears nice clothes, speaks well about Derek like how genius he was, and very much comfortable in answering the questions. However, like what Sheriff DeWitt got from this former landlady of Derek, the air of arrogance could not be deny about this guy. He didn’t eye him as the suspect, though. In fact, the guy got along with him just fine, with the ability to change the topic about Derek’s last contact with anyone to talk about his dream of being a cop one day. Since he seems to know a lot about Derek, including his romantic relationships and sex life, Sheriff DeWitt brought him along with him to the house of the Norbois family, with a hope that this friend of Derek could help him figure things out. (This is where I saw the signs that he could be the killer.)

Sheriff DeWitt kept in mind what his wife reminded him a few nights ago. So he kept the things that the guy had held in his hands when he got to talk with him in his car. Like the can of coke, the cigarette butt, anything. Needless to say, he was smart enough to do that.

I bought this book four days ago for only P39. It is worth more than the money I paid for. “The Tarnished Eye” is based on an actual unsolved crime that occurred in Michigan in the late 1960s. This is the second book I read written by Judith Guest. The first one was “Ordinary People” which also has a film version that won Best Picture in the Oscars.

When it comes to tackling family relationships, Judith Guest does it very well. Grabe, she made me cry after reading this. When you get to know her characters, the family that she likes you to understand, to try to relate to, you easily understand them, relate to them. I think everyone can relate when the topic is about family. However, to write it in a way that would still haunt you even after you’ve finished reading the book, that would move you to still remember each of the character like you’ve met them personally, remembering them so alive and well before the tragedy, that even when each of them died a brutal death, they gave life more meaning to those who are still living, to try to make sense of what they are living for or what they are fighting for. That even when things seem so hopeless, there is hope. The Norbois family got their redemption because the living, like Sheriff DeWitt and people who volunteered to share their stories, feel their loss, the injustice that shouldn’t have happened to them. And because they didn’t want it to happen to their own families, they were, especially Sheriff DeWitt, angry enough, determined enough to look for the killer. And they succeeded, giving justice to the Norbois family whose souls could finally rest in peace.

19 September 2011

made for love

Another old article of mine.  A book review on The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene.

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According to psychologist Theodor Reik, we learn to love only through rejection. Art_of_Seduction_Cover.jpegAs infants, we are showered with love by our mother – we know nothing else. But when we get a little older, we begin to sense that her love is not unconditional. If we do not behave, if we do not please her, she can withdraw it. The idea that she will withdraw her affection fills us with anxiety, and, at first, with anger – we will show her, we will throw a tantrum. But that never works, and we slowly realize that the only way to keep her from rejecting us again is to imitate her – to be as loving, kind, and affectionate as she is. This will bind her to us in the deepest way. The pattern is ingrained in us for the rest of our lives: by experiencing a rejection or a coldness, we learn to court and pursue, to love.

— The Art of Seduction (Robert Greene and Joost Elffers)

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Reading this book reminded me of these questions I had when I was much younger because of watching Jullie Yap-Daza on TV. Questions like: why do some married men have mistresses? What the hell are they looking for when they already have beautiful and accomplished wives? Why does this “other woman” let herself be involved with a man who is already committed? These women seem intelligent, conservative, and independent they can get a man they can call their own but why do they get attracted to married men? I can imagine admiring a married man or woman from afar because of their good looks or their accomplishments. But to really cross the line and commit an act that an intelligent person knows is wrong, there must be a problem. This book provided me the answer.

“A woman is often deeply oppressed by the role she is expected to play. She is supposed to be the tender, civilizing force in society, and to want commitment and lifelong loyalty. But often her marriages and relationships give her not romance and devotion but routine and endlessly distracted mate… Do not imagine that women are the tender creatures that some people would like them to be. Like men, they are deeply attracted to the forbidden, the dangerous, even the slightly evil.”

Further in the book, it said: “Society and culture are based on limits – this kind of behavior is acceptable, that is not. The limits are fluid and change with time, but there are always limits. The alternative is anarchy, the lawlessness of nature, which we dread. But we are strange animals: the moment any kind of limit is imposed, physically or psychologically, we are instantly curious. A part of us wants to go beyond that limit, to explore what is forbidden. The moment people feel that something is prohibited, a part of them will want it. That is what makes a married man or woman such a delicious target – the more someone is prohibited, the greater the desire.”

That sounds scary. Temptations, indeed, are not outside of us. They’re right inside us. It is just unfortunate that when a man or a woman commits infidelity, it is the woman who gets the most heavy punishment. If a man has been accused of concubinage, a proof must be shown first before the court believes in the accusation. But if a woman has been accused of adultery, even without proof, society has already judged the woman, condemning her of persecution. If a woman met somebody else and files for permanent separation from her husband because she can no longer bear staying in an abusive marriage, the church and our law will do all it can to keep the marriage intact. And this is by putting the couple to a long process (takes years) of recalling what their life has been since they got married. In this way, maybe it can bring back the possibility of rekindling the romance they lost. I often heard it. It’s called annulment. No wonder some couples would rather live-in together. They dread signing a piece of paper that would only cost them a huge amount of money and time should their union does not work out. Sometimes, not being married is the key why some relationships last for a lifetime. This is the kind of society we live in. Especially in this predominantly Catholic country where infidelity by married men is allowed by the church. I don’t normally say this but IT SUCKS!

Moving on…

This book is entitled ‘The Art of Seduction” and what is nice about this is that it did not only show me the ways or the art to be an effective seducer (including its danger), it also showed me historical examples to better understand what is written. That what I’m reading did not just appear out of thin air, or because they are the beliefs of this bestselling author. It amazes me how somebody like Robert Greene could painstakingly collect and analyze the male and female seducers in our history and put what he had studied in writing for us, readers, to learn from in the form of a book. A book that contains shocking but interesting and yet at the same time enlightening declarations and conclusions about the art of seduction. I can’t help but compare this to a Bible. Like the Bible, this book contains stories of violence, love, lust, confusion, betrayal, and heartbreak. But at the end of the day, there are valuable lessons that we can apply to our daily life.

“Thousands of years ago, power was mostly gained through physical violence and maintained with brute strength. There was little need for subtlety – a king or emperor had to be merciless. Only a select few had power, but no one suffered under this scheme of things more than women. They had no way to compete, no weapon at their disposal that could make a man do what they wanted – politically, socially, or even in the home.

“Of course men had one weakness: their insatiable desire for sex. A woman could always toy with this desire, but once she gave in to sex the man was back in control; and if she withheld sex, he could simply look elsewhere – or exert force. What good was power that was so temporary and frail? Yet women had no choice but to submit to this condition. There were some, though, whose hunger for power was too great, and who, over the years, through much cleverness and creativity, invented a way of turning the dynamic around, creating a more lasting and effective form of power.

“These women – among them Bathsheba, from the Old Testament; Helen of Troy; the Chinese siren Hsi Shi; and the greatest of them all, Cleopatra – invented seduction.

“In the face of violence and brutality, these women made seduction a sophisticated art, the ultimate form of power and persuasion. They learned to work on the mind first, stimulating fantasies, keeping a man wanting more, creating patterns of hope and despair – the essence of seduction. Their power was not physical but psychological, not forceful but indirect and cunning.

“Men did not much concern themselves with such a frivolous art as seduction. Then, in the seventeenth century came a great change: men grew interested in seduction as a way to overcome a young woman’s resistance to sex.”

Because of the author’s tremendous effort to come up with this book, as a reader, I found myself being seduced by his output, by everything he had shared, no questions asked. I experienced no doubts. My experience was a mix of pleasure and pain. Pleasure because of some interesting stuff I learned that validated some of my theories and observations and knowing things that I did not know before, such as learning about the type of seductive character I am and also, what type of victim I am when it comes to seduction. Pain because this book is so thick it really was a test of patience, I couldn’t wait to get to the ending.

Because of this book, I got a glimpse of the love life of my favorite writer Friedrich Nietzsche. He had never been married but he sure did fall in love and suffered a heartbreak because of this girl named Lou Andreas-Salome. He even wrote a book in memory of her. It is entitled “Thus Spake Zarathustra.’ I also learned about the “Only You” strategy that a wealthy Aly Khan employed to seduce Rita Hayworth, a Hollywood actress, married but separated, and during her time considered by many as the most beautiful woman in the world. Nope, it wasn’t money that made her fall in love with Aly. Also, I learned about Josephine’s strategy to make Napoleon Bonaparte fall into her spell. And how Victor Hugo’s relationship with his mother affected his relationship with other women, resulting to scandalous affairs. Funny, but there were moments when I would feel kilig hearing about those “seduction” stories. Some did it naturally, because it was already part of their nature so it was effortless. While some had to exert effort, be more creative, and to plan it out all the way to the end.

“Seducers have a warrior’s outlook on life. They see each person as a kind of walled castle to which they are laying siege. Seduction is a process of penetration: initially penetrating the target’s mind, their first point of defense. Once seducers have penetrated the mind, making the target fantasize about them, it is easy to lower resistance and create physical surrender.

“The main obstacle to becoming a seducer is this foolish prejudice we have of seeing love and romance as some kind of sacred, magical realm where things just fall into place, if they are meant to. This might seem romantic and quaint, but it is really just a cover for our laziness. What will seduce a person is the effort we expend on their behalf, showing how much we care, how much they worth. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster, and reveals that we do not take love and romance very seriously. Falling in love is a matter not of magic but of psychology. Once you understand your target’s psychology, and strategize to suit it, you will be better able to cast a “magical” spell. A seducer sees love not as sacred but as warfare, where all is fair.”

BUT HEED THE AUTHOR’S WARNING: “The more obviously you pursue a person, the more likely you are to chase them away. Too much attention can be interesting for a while, but it soon grows cloying and finally becomes claustrophobic and frightening. It signals weakness and neediness, an unseductive combination. How often we make this mistake, thinking our persistent presence will reassure.”

Furthermore, the author said: “We think that by being persistent, by overwhelming our targets with romantic attention, we are convincing them of our affection. Instead we are convincing them of our impatience and insecurity. Aggressive attention is not flattering because it is not personalized. It is unbridled libido at work; the target sees through it.”

Of course, this book is not just about how to get the boy or the girl, the man or the woman to fall in love with you, and at the same time understanding why other people can’t love you back. There are psychological explanations. This book is not just about erotic desires and sex and increasing your scores with your target. This book is also about helping a reader understand some latent qualities that he or she tries hard to suppress because of culture and tradition, because of the norm that everyone is required to follow. In one way or another, what you hide has to be released. By releasing them can we truly know who we are, what we can do, what we are capable of, or how far can we go to rechannel it. This book will also give the reader awareness about what the other person is doing or might be up to. The chapter about the Anti-Seducer, I like that. We all have anti-seducer qualities that can turn off our targets and convince them to avoid us. However, there are moments when this natural anti-seducer qualities that we have can be useful especially if we want to extinguish unwanted suitors. Sometimes we can adopt a particular annoying trait that is not our own just for the sake of anti-seduction. If this unwanted suitor wants someone who is quiet, then turn into a nagger, something like that. Also, I like the fact that seduction can also be applied in our work, in negotiations, in achieving success.

“Today we have reached the ultimate point in the evolution of seduction. Now more than ever, force or brutality of any kind is discouraged. All areas of social life require the ability to persuade people in a way that does not offend or impose itself. If we are to change people’s opinions – and affecting opinion is basic to seduction – we must act in subtle, subliminal ways. Today no political campaign can work without seduction. Since the era of John F. Kennedy, political figures are required to have a degree of charisma, a fascinating presence to keep their audience’s attention, which is half the battle. The film world and media create a galaxy of seductive stars and images. We are saturated in the seductive. But even if much has changed in degree and scope, the essence of seduction is constant: never be forceful or direct, instead, use pleasure as bait, playing on people’s emotions, stirring desire and confusion, inducing psychological surrender. In seduction as it is practiced today, the methods of Cleopatra still hold.”

I wish married people would get to read this book, especially if they want to protect their marriage from falling apart. Yes, prayer does help in preserving marriage. But praying is useless without action.

“Seduction must never stop. Otherwise boredom will creep in. And the best way to keep the process going is often to inject intermittent drama. This can be painful – opening old wounds, stirring up jealousy, withdrawing a little. (Do not confuse this behavior with nagging or carping criticism – this pain is strategic, designed to break up rigid patterns.) On the other hand it can also be pleasant: think about proving yourself all over again, paying attention to nice little details, creating new temptations. In fact you should mix the two aspects, for too much pain or pleasure will not prove seductive. You are not repeating the first seduction, for the target has already surrendered. You are simply supplying little jolts, little wake-up calls that show two things: you have not stopped trying, and they cannot take you for granted. The little jolt will stir up the old poison, stoke the embers, bring you temporarily back to the beginning, when your involvement had a most pleasant freshness and tension.

“Remember: comfort and security are the death of seduction. A shared journey with a little bit of hardship will do more to create a deep bond than will expensive gifts and luxuries. The young are right to not care about comfort in matters of love, and when you return to that sentiment, a youthful spark will reignite.”

By the way, if I have to pick one favorite passage from the book, it would be this:

“Words are important in seduction, and have a great deal of power to confuse, distract, and boost the vanity of the target. But what is most seductive in the long run is what you do not say, what you communicate indirectly. Words come easily, and people distrust them. Anyone can say the right words; and once they are said, nothing is binding, and they may even be forgotten altogether. The gesture, the thoughtful gift, the little details seem much more real and substantial. They are also much more charming than lofty words about love, precisely because they speak for themselves and let the seduced read into them more than is there. Never tell someone what you are feeling; let them guess it in your looks and gestures. That is the more convincing language.”

Joost Elffers is the publisher of this book.

9 April 2012