Monthly Archives: May, 2014

the collenemy

In the office, this is where you work, contribute your talents and abilities to help the organization carry out its objectives and goals, and in exchange of your services, you get paid with a salary.  A salary that you will then use to fulfill your own goals for your family and for yourself.  You’d even help other people realize their dreams when given the chance.  A very nice symbiotic relationship between an employee and the organization.  And in your years of working, you’ve learned that conflict is normal.  There will be misunderstandings, arguments but these are only temporary.  Everyone moves on.  You’ve come to accept that conflict is good to clear out issues, and is a part of life, should be a part of life.

But how do you deal with a collenemy?  For the benefit of the uninitiated, it means colleague + enemy = collenemy.

Who are they, you asked?

Oh, they’re the mean, evil people in the office.  Mean, evil people who would rather sit around, tinker with their gadgets doing nothing while chatting loudly with others to distract you while you do your work.  They’re the ones who would attack your self-esteem whenever they have the chance.   The bullies.  The deceitful scheming beasts in human forms.  Even though they may appear “kind” and “friendly” to you at times,  at times also in an indirect manner they will let you feel how much they hate you.  Their hostility, if you let them win, will deflate your self-esteem. They have a habit of ridiculing you, mocking you, and even enjoy seeing you humiliated.  They’ll spread gossips about you, spreading something about you which is the twisted version of the truth.  They’ll even connive with other people to do the dirty deed.  They’ll do everything they can to make your life miserable in the office.  They will scare you wishing viciously that you will run away and be gone forever.

Life in the office is scary, isn’t it?  Nah!

Because if you look closer at these bullies, these beasts in the corporate jungle, these solid clique, these bad people collectively known as “the collenemy,” you know what, if you just look closer, they are just a bunch of cowards! Miserable!  And their miseries are so great and overflowing they couldn’t bear to see you happy so they want to pull you down to their level, to their dark abyss of loneliness and deep pain and suffering.  They want you to be just like them.  Miserable.  Take note, miserable!

There really is nothing to be scared of because these big bad wolves you’re scared of are actually the most scared people in the world.  They have something about them they want to hide.  And to shield themselves from being exposed, from whatever harm, they display their strength to degrade another person.  When in fact, they are the weakest.  And have ugly souls.  And it’s so easy to get rid of them.  How?  That’s for you to figure out.

Look at the truly happy people in the office.  The truly happy people don’t destroy other people.  Even though they have their own sadness and disappointments, they’d rather choose to be kind.  The real kind.  And they are respectful.  They choose to make others happy, cheering you up.  These are the truly happy people.

I will leave you with words from Victor Hugo.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”

 

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the violence of our mass transport system

Our country is sick for a long time now which is validated by this expose of whistleblower Benhur Luy against his relative, Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of  the P10-billion pork barrel scam involving government executives spending their money on bogus charitable NGOs for huge kickbacks.

Ever since I’ve learned that we got that huge amount of money, take note P10-billion, only to be pocketed by our crooked politicians which could have been spent in improving the facilities and equipment of our public hospitals and schools, when I heard a senator saying something like “… because of our limited funds, we cannot afford blah… blah… blah,”  I now feel that it is the greatest lie ever told to us Filipino citizens.

Because you know what the truth is:  we are actually a first world country pretending to be a third world country because our money–Yes that’s us! The taxpayers!–only go straight to the pockets of those greedy, power-hungry, wolf in sheep’s clothing politicians!

Oh God, have mercy on us!

If that’s not enough, our MRT trains were built supposedly for the convenience of the Filipino people.  I hope our leaders remember that they do not own the MRT acting like they’re rich and we are the beggars asking for penny, remember it’s our money that was spent to build that mode of transportation to combat horrible traffic.  Because an MRT that is supposed to bring us speedily and relaxed to our desired destination is actually a test of sanity!  What is happening is a violation of our basic human rights.  In a tell-all article by Herbert Docena entitled “The violence of our mass transport system,” published on 26 April 2014, it will explain the basis of my anger.

Please read on.

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The violence of our mass transport system
By Herbert Docena
Philippine Daily Inquirer

In 1789, as hundreds of thousands starved in France because of a bread shortage, Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI’s consort, supposedly said: They have no bread? Let them eat cake.

Early this month, as hundreds of thousands of Filipino commuters went through the daily ordeal of queuing for up to an hour to ride the packed MRT trains because they have no cars and because buses are more expensive and slower, President Aquino’s spokesperson said something like: They can’t ride the trains? Let them “discover other options,” like the bus or something.

That the President’s alter ego could say that explains why our public transport system is so—pardon my French—f-cked up.

Like Marie Antoinette, the chauffeured classes who run and operate our trains and our country are more out of touch and more out of it than ever. Indeed, perhaps nothing more visibly illustrates this than those incredibly long lines snaking out from MRT stations: a direct consequence of our elites’ reluctance to invest in additional trains that can serve millions, while railroading projects that allow a few thousand of them to fly from their gated enclaves in Alabang or Nasugbu to their gated enclaves in Makati.

One can tell how a country’s rulers treat the common folk just by looking at the trains. Their lack of compassion shows in the details: in those ridiculously narrow passages under the Guadalupe and Kamuning stations that force hundreds of people to walk sideways just inches away from rampaging buses; in the escalators and elevators that rarely work, endangering the pregnant and shutting out the handicapped and the elderly; in that inexplicable kilometer-long gap between the Roosevelt LRT station and the North Edsa MRT station that forces passengers to trudge down several flights of stairs, jump into another jeep, go through two shopping malls, then climb several flights of stairs again, only to be packed into the trains like chickens headed to the abattoir.

Perhaps nothing more clearly exemplifies the combination of cold indifference and crass opportunism with which our elites treat us than the way they designed the connection between the Cubao MRT and LRT stations: Instead of being built as close to each other as possible, these are built so as to force passengers to march for another kilometer through a shopping mall, thus enabling its owners to jack up their tenants’ rent.

Aren’t these a form of cruel and unusual punishment, a form of avoidable suffering? Don’t these constitute mass violence—now such a routine that we don’t even think of it as violence?

Some say these are just “engineering” or “management” issues that can’t be blamed on our chauffeured classes. But decisions involving public transport—from how much to spend for trains vis-à-vis skyways to how wide walkways should be—require the approval of our officials and their private partners, as well as the tacit acceptance of all the other elites who can potentially object.

And so far, there is no indication that our elites—normally split on other issues—are bitterly divided over the overfunding of projects that disproportionately favor them. Nor do they—or the parties, nongovernment organizations and intellectuals they patronize—seem particularly troubled by the massive underfunding of public services.

Besides, if they can’t be bothered to review the blueprints to ensure that our elderly won’t be trampled on the platforms or that our kids won’t be run over by buses on the ground-level passages, then what does that say about how our elites treat us?

“Engineering” or “management” questions are always political questions: They are struggles about who gains and who suffers. And it is in such mundane things as the architecture of public infrastructure, in the landscape of our cities, that the outcomes of these battles are reflected and cemented.

Today, that struggle remains dominated by our chauffeured classes, and it is ultimately this contingent balance of social forces—not their innate lack of compassion or their lack of good ideas—that explains why our public transport system is so violent.

For if our elites don’t care about our people, it is not because they are incapable of caring. It is because they have gotten away with caring about other things: not the meeting of our people’s needs, but the inflation of their land values, stocks, or tongpats. But if they have so far gotten away, it is only because so far no countervailing group has forced them to change their priorities.

After all, if the train lines of Paris, San Francisco and other cities are more humane, it is only because the commuting classes of those cities fought for them—through civil disobedience, campaigns, strikes, protests, direct actions—against the bitter opposition of their own chauffeured classes.

One can tell how scared a country’s rulers are of its people just by looking at the trains they build for them. And our rulers won’t be cowed to care unless all that rage pent up inside every MRT commuter is channeled toward a social movement that can defend us from our elites’ violence and advance concrete alternatives for a different kind of public transport system, a different kind of city, a different kind of development.

For now, much of the rage that can fuel such a movement remains dispersed. But, as shown by people’s prompt reactions to the government’s Marie-Antoinette-like provocation, that may be changing. They “discovered other options”: Batmobiles, Star Trek transporters, magic carpets—or flying “on the wings of love…”

Perhaps that’s also how the French started in the 1780s: by trading jokes. But, as we know from what happened to Marie Antoinette and the aristocracy, the French didn’t stop at joking.

Herbert Docena is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

flatline

Kuya Roger, a colleague of mine, died five days ago due to poor health.  Not making any help is the excessive heat we are experiencing for several days now which I guessed aggravated Kuya Roger’s condition. In the hospital, the doctor tried to recuperate him but his sickness turned from bad to worse, he was grasping for air to stay alive, until his heart stopped beating.  The flat line from the heart monitor validated this.  Fortunately, his wife was there beside him during his passing.  I wasn’t able to attend his wake so I’m writing about him.  I’m writing about him because he was so nice to me.  And for him to leave so soon has shaken me and caused me grief.  I’m like this when somebody dies especially when that person has been kind to me.

And his death, or anyone’s death, would often lead me to think about the day that I would die also.  We’re all gonna die.   What we do not know is when, where, and how we will gonna die and thinking about this is frightening.  The unknown almost, always scares us, yes, all of us, no matter the status or intelligence.  And if Friedrich Nietzsche were alive right now he probably would get annoyed by me for talking about my future death for he hates topics such as this.  To him, it’s a waste of time.

He do have a point there but as a mortal, I just can’t help thinking about it because I’ve been hearing and witnessing it happen to other people.  Like my grandparents.  Like my auntie Uring.  Like my cousin Ernani.  Like my friend Alex.  Like my mother.  They’re all gone now. And looking at my remaining loved ones who continues to grow old and would die soon forces me to appreciate their physical presence.

Deaths of other people, like the recent passing of Kuya Roger, remind me always that my time on this earth is very limited.  And it would force me to reevaluate my life and ask questions like “Am I doing the right thing?” “Am I a good person?”

11:30PM

Listening to Joe Satriani’s “Love Thing.”  This music always puts me in a wonderful place.  No lyrics, just the pure sound of his electric guitar with a melancholic melody that is so cathartic.  Oh, how I love the screeching and the sliding of his guitar, the hacking of the strings, the cutting riffs that could slice up my heart.

ancient wisdom

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a lesson from the rice stalks

One day, I was walking with an old farmer-guide during one of my village mission trips in Abra.  As we passed by the ricefields, I pointed at the tall rice stalks that swayed in the wind.  I told the farmer how bountiful the harvest would be that year.  The farmer, without even looking at the rice stalks, taught me a lesson I could never forget.

“Father,” he said, “those rice stalks that stand tall and straight are empty and have nothing.  It is those which are bent and lowly that are heavy with grain…”

–Taken from the book “Moments… (Reflections, Experiences, Stories, Thoughts)” by Fr. Jerry M. Orbos, SVD

ricky lee’s trip to quiapo

First saw this when my older brother was still living with us in UP Campus. I remember it got an autograph from the author himself, Mr. Ricky Lee, whom I knew already as an institution in the movie industry, establishing himself as a multi-awarded Filipino writer. But to Ricky Lee getting awards is just a bonus. I never got to borrow that copy from my brother, though, who then moved out of the country to work.

First published in 1998, I bought my own copy of this scriptwriting manual by Ricky Lee entitled “Trip to Quiapo” on 30 April 2010. I know the date because whenever I buy a new book I would put my name on one of the first three pages and for sentimental reasons, under my name is the date when I purchased it.

I really love to write. I don’t consider myself a brilliant or a spectacular writer but still, I do enjoy writing not scripts, though, but essays. Just the same I enjoyed reading the pointers, tips, insights, and anecdotes shared by Ricky and by other scriptwriters who were interviewed for this book.

Thanks Ricky Lee for your selflessness to share a LOT of your secrets to success or techniques in writing which is not easy to do. It is common that people would just keep those techniques to themselves, thinking that by sharing these techniques somebody will steal their “greatness.” To Ricky, this is not the stuff that he is worried about. Competition is inevitable. To Ricky, the great injustice would be not sharing his gift with new aspiring writers, whether young or old, who remind him of who he was when he was just starting.

Sa lahat ng panahong ito, hindi nagbago ang isa kong paniniwala—na bahagi ng pagsusulat ko ang pakikisalamuha sa ibang gusto ring magsulat. Dahil kagaya nila, naranasan ko kung paano maghirap at kung paano matulog na punung-puno ng pangarap… Para sa kanila, ang librong ito ay isang kamay na aking iniaabot.” –Ricky Lee

I need to tell you that what really struck a chord are those stories of rejection and humiliation that Ricky Lee had to face as a newbie writer and still has to face now that he’s a well-known and multi-awarded scriptwriter. It is common that people would just keep those humiliating and embarrassing stories to themselves, thinking that by sharing those shameful experiences somebody would look down on them or unfairly judge them. And it was nice learning about his bad and painful experiences for us, his students, to be aware of.

This book is for everyone—yes, not just the writer—especially when you are searching for inspiration to keep going in whatever craft that you are doing. Here are some of Ricky Lee’s words of wisdom, taken from Section 11.

On rejections. “Kung minsan nawawalan ka ng ganang sumulat dahil gawa ka nang gawa ng scripts, hindi naman natutuloy. O kung matuloy man, babaguhin lang nila, hindi rin naman magiging iyo. Ba’t mo pa ibibigay ang buong kaluluwa mo?

“Kaya para tayong mga lovers. Ayaw na nating magmahal nang todo dahil masasaktan lang tayo. Kaya tingi-tingi na lang tayo kung magsulat at magmahal. Humahakbang pa lang tayo paabante ay naghahanap na tayo ng hakbang paatras.

“Pero di mo naiisip, ang importante’y magmahal nang todo. Paano ka magsusulat kung wala kang passion? Huwag mong sobrang protektahan at itago ang puso mo’t baka manigas.

“Ang isipin mo, lahat ng sinulat mo, matuloy man o hindi ay walang nasasayang. Input ‘yun sa pag-unlad mo.”

On writer’s block. “May mental block nga ba? Paminsan-minsa’y dumarating tayo sa puntong pinagtataksilan tayo ng lahat ng ating mga nalalaman at matagal na tayong nakaharap sa computer ay wala pa ring lumalabas.

“Nasasaid ba ang utak? Ang sensibilidad? Palagay ko’y hindi. Para ‘yang second wind sa jogging. Tumakbo ka lang nang tumakbo hanggang sa umabot ka sa second wind. Lalabas uli.

“O kaya naman, tingnan mo ang mundo sa pamamagitan ng mga mata ng ibang tao. Para ma-relax ka sa katitingin sa mundo mula sa sarili mong makikitid na mga mata.

“O kaya naman, iblangko mo ang utak mo. Tanggalan mo ng lahat ng laman. Mag-meditate ka.

“Magsulat ka sa iba’t ibang lugar. Sa bars, sa train, sa park, sa library, sa ilalim ng puno. Somehow nakakatulong ito para mag-focus ka.

“Magsulat ka nang magsulat nang hindi iniisip kung maganda o hindi ang lalabas. Basta ang isipin mo na lang ay ang feel ng mga daliri mo at ng mga salita.

“Ang punto, makawala ka sa pagkakakulong sa desire na gawing perfect ang bawat isulat mo. Tigilan mo na ‘yan. Diyos lang ang perfect. At ni hindi pa nga perfect ang ginawa niya, ikaw.”

On dealing with self-doubt. “Isa ka na ring character, gaya ng mga sinulat mo. Me dala-dala ka ring emotional baggage at kailangan mo rin ng healing. Ayaw mo na yata.

“Ni ayaw mong tingnan ang mga nasulat mo. Ikaw ba ang gumawa n’on, napakapangit! Dinaya ka lang ng punyetang mga workshops! Aling manual ba ‘yung nagsabing makakatapos ka ng script in ten easy lessons? Ba’t hanggang ngayon hindi ka pa rin marunong?

“E sino ba ang marunong? Maraming taon matapos akong manalo ng awards sa pelikula ay tumatanggap pa rin ako ng mas maraming negative reviews kaysa positive. Tinatanong ko pa rin ang sarili ko kung marunong nga ba ako? Mahusay nga ba ako?

“Gusto kong mabuhay bago ako mamatay, minsan ay sinabi ng isang kaibigan. Sa diagnosis ng doktor ay may cancer sya. Paglabas nya ng clinic sa halip na ma-depress, suddenly ang tingin nya sa lahat ng bagay ay napakalinaw at napakaganda. Ang mga linya at guhit, ang mga kulay, parang nakikita nya bilang bata sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon. Nakatingin sya sa lahat in awe.

“Later ay nalaman nyang hindi pala totoo ang diagnosis ng doktor pero natutunan na nya ang leksyon, at ipinasa sa akin—tingnan mo with awe ang lahat ng bagay.

“Sa palagay ko’y doon ako marunong, doon ako mahusay. To be in awe. Sa maraming taon ko ng pagsusulat ng scripts ano man ang subject matter o materyal, commissioned assignments o galing sa akin, tinitingnan ko ito with awe.”

so it’s you

so it's youSaw this last night.  Sayang.  If only the makers of this movie added more depth and challenge into the story, this could have been unforgettable and more inspiring.  But if the producer’s objective is just to earn money quickly by doing movies with the same theme over and over, again and again but with different actors this time, well, they are successful in that area.  But they fail in the genre of romantic comedy that is supposed to not only make viewers feel more inspired after watching the film but make them feel important based on the creativity and hardwork that were put into the making of the movie.  RomCom (romantic comedy)  doesn’t have to be so shallow, exaggerated, and obnoxious to be funny because that’s how I saw the movie.  But I liked the pairing of Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez here.  I also liked that moment when Tom finally admits to Carla that he loves her just when Carla has gotten back with her ex who at the beginning of the story broke her heart and left her on their wedding day.  Oh, and the kissing scenes between Carla and Tom, I liked that, too.  And your guess is right, it was a happy ending.  For Carla soon realizes–after all those games of pretending that they are a couple to make her ex jealous–that she, too, has fallen in love with Tom.

my top 2 favorite books

Both got tragic endings tearing my heart apart but the stories that George Orwell and Victor Hugo told me were the light in my darkest moment.  They’re irreplaceable in my top two spots of favorite books.  Just sharing excerpts.

“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo (Translated by Charles E. Wilbour, Abridged/Edited by Paul Benichou)

Jean Valjean had never loved anything. For twenty-five years he had been alone in the world. He had never been a father, lover, husband, or friend. At the galleys, he was cross, sullen, abstinent, ignorant, and intractable. The heart of the old convict was full of freshness. His sister and her children had left in his memory only a vaque and distant impression, which had finally almost entirely vanished. He had made every exertion to find them again, and not succeeding, had forgotten them. Human nature is thus constituted. The other tender emotions of his youth, if any such he had, were lost in an abyss.

When he saw Cosette, when he had taken her, carried her away and rescued her, he felt his heart moved. All that he had of feeling and affection was aroused and vehemently attracted toward this child. He would approach the bed where she slept, and would tremble there with delight; he felt inward yearnings, like a mother, and knew not what they were, for it is something very incomprehensible and very sweet, this grand and strange emotion of a heart in its first love.

“1984” by George Orwell

1984If there was hope it must lie in the proles, because only there, in those swarming disregard masses, eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in large numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflection of the voice; at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength, would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they choose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it… Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

 

once more, with feeling

Today’s a holiday for all workers–it’s Labor day!–and I’m having a blast watching those Twilight Zone episodes (1985-1989) courtesy of YouTube.

It’s been amazing how after more than 20 years I’d be able to catch again those Twilight Zone episodes of the ’80s and understand the stories better now (although there were still some episodes that remain mysterious to me) and see other episodes that I have already forgotten about.  I’ve also come to understand my learning and appreciation level as a kid back in those days where I’ve come to realize that as a kid it was the actions and feelings shown but not too much of the dialogues (which I don’t understand fully yet) that helped me to understand what the story was about.  That helped in capturing it in my imagination.  As a kid, I consider “The Hellgramite Method” and “The After Hours” episodes as my favorites.  And watching them again is really wonderful!