Friday, July 31, 2015

11. Proposal

Let's start with the radical. Ban all motor vehicles in Metro Manila. Let people walk to work. It's good for the heart. We all need to make 10,000 steps a day to keep ourselves healthy. Detoxify the air and bring down our carbon footprints. Revive the horse and carriage industry for the seniors who cannot walk that much.  It will make them happy as it will revive their memories of days way gone by. What are we going to do with all these cars? Use them outside Metro Manila. What about medical emergencies? Exempt them. Fire? Exempt them, of course. Business? Let them Skype. Students? Give them extra credits for PE. Supply trucks? Limit them and try drones. It's not simple, but really all we need is political will, and it is that simple. We get rid of traffic and take the Big Three out of business. As Ariel Ureta used to say, "Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, bisikleta ang kailangan." (To develop the country, we need the bikie.) :D

Thursday, July 30, 2015

10. Longhand

After a dismal showing in the midterms during my sophomore year in law school largely attributable to poor handwriting, I decided I was going to turn my life around. I studied calligraphy. Somebody lent me a book; and over the Christmas break of 1992, I practiced  writing the italic font. I learned that their was a way of holding a pen to ensure fluency and consistency. The grip should be not too loose nor too tight, but enough for somebody to grab the pen and take it from my hand. I studied the rhythm, slanted it a bit too the right, and made an effort for the little flourishes on the dots and crosses. I practiced and scribbled on any paper I could find. I searched for a calligraphy pen and found the flat-tipped Rotring Art Pen. The ink was pricey, especially so that my allowance was appropriated for photocopying case materials. But it paid off soon, and in one exam in public corporations, my professor gave me more than a hundred points. My classmates teased me about it as everyone had struggled with the subject. I kept my blue book for that exam as sort of trophy for my efforts. In reality, I never had to worry about flunking any exam due to poor handwriting --  bad analysis and shaky memory notwithstanding. It seemed, consciously or otherwise, teachers gave points for writing that was clear, fashionable, and Italian. Soon, I used the Art Pen one final time for the bar exams, which I passed in 1996. Then, after signing the attorney's roll,  I threw it away and started working on computer keyboards almost exclusively.   Today, the only thing I do with pen and paper is write checks. Sometimes there would be days that I didn't have to sign anything, because written communications are done by email or SMS. Once in a while, I find myself unable to sign at all. It's like my hand became senile and could not remember how to write -- a strange atrophy of the writing hand. On these occasions, I close my eyes and recall the days I had with the Art Pen and it all comes back to me -- the grip, the strokes slanting a bit to the right, and the short flourishes on the dots and crosses. Were it not for that day, the day I  decided I would learn calligraphy, I would be a clerk somewhere, still writing in longhand.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

9. Mantequilla


I was eight years old when I had my first encounter with mantequilla. It was in a corner of my grandfather's gas-fueled fridge -- this red can with a plastic cap. My grandfather said I could spread it over bread and I did. It lit up my face after the first bite and henceforth it did wonders to my breakfasts, humble or otherwise. When I got married and I had the chance to do groceries with my wife, I was amused to see this product again, the red can with plastic cup, still in the same  trade dress after all these years.  When most butters are sold as blocks or sticks, this one the deviant red can, presents itself as butter in a container. I dip a knife into it and scrape off a portion, spread it on hot bread. It melts and that familiar creamy, salty, light-textured, semi-solid, semi-liquid indulgence caresses my tongue. I wash it off with coffee and the memory of the mantequilla of my youth -- and probably my grandfather's too -- brings all those feelings back, a legacy that can be passed on to the next generation of butter fans. Never mind the hypertension.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

8. In the foxhole with you know who

The first thing I'd tell him is that I don't smoke. So, I don't expect him to smoke. Besides, it's going to give away our position if it billows from the hole. He better not have a nicotine itch during the ordeal.  Then, I'd tell him to stop playing with the Playstation Portable, because it makes him unmindful of what's going on. If somebody attacks from his side and he's nose is buried in that console, we're toast. If he starts drooling, then I'd tell him the former President is out to get us. He's going to fume and it might stop the drool; although, if I push it too much he might go bonkers.  So there, given the foregoing circumstances in the foxhole, I can trust him to watch my back, unless, of course, he has a new Saturday date and he takes out his IPhone to show me her picture, and I lose him in all his excitement.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

7. Note on PNoy's 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA)

No. I don't expect to hear PNoy blaming his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, again for some dysfunctional institution in this country. The blame game is so low brow. It's the stuff of whiners and incompetents. In my office, the employee who has nothing but blame for  his co-workers is always the first to go. The employee has no solutions, just problems. Who needs him? If you are the President and you have the entire resources of the state to back you up, the limit to what you can do is only the limit of your imagination. Now, if you have limited imagination, the blame game is your default mode. If a thing is messed up and you say it's your predecessor who did it, it get's knocked off your to do list. At least, you lead people to believe that it's off your list. Yet, in the time continuum, the present is always the result of the past. If you are president now, then regardless of who created the problem, it is your problem now. There is no escape from your responsibility. It's been a ho-hum five years. The reference to the former President Arroyo for some problem we have now is going to sound contrived. So, I don't expect PNoy to blame her again for something in this year's SONA. Then again, he always managed to frustrate me every year. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

6. Why not Grace Poe?

How many times did this country elect a minor league senator to the presidency? Correction -- how many more times? Grace is the stuff of legend, the daughter of the fallen film hero, Fernando Poe, Jr.  poised to reclaim what her father lost to electoral fraud in 2004. Her press kit says she stirred the Senate to pass the Freedom of Information Bill. Yet, the effort isn't enough for the bill to become a law, because everyone else is dragging it to make sure it doesn't apply to the current administration.  That only shows the limits of her clout. Yet, for whatever good  she has done in her five-year stint in government,  the crucial question is: can she scale it? Will she be able to replicate it a thousandfold for the big league politics that is the presidency? She has no big league team, never mind a political machinery.  Chiz Escudero, once her father's boy wizard of politics, is her only big league teammate, so far. That's not yet a team; and it's late in the game. Rumors are circulating that she's flying around the country using Danding Cojuangco's helicopters. So, is he -- a Marcos crony -- her big league teammate or coach? It makes you think there's a catch somewhere. Further, the legal questions that are being raised on her residency and citizenship make it uncertain if she can hurdle a Supreme Court challenge to her candidacy. Some people spend a lifetime trying to scale up the good things they do for the world with no success. Some people are luckier than others. Maybe Grace is lucky? Maybe the legend will live on and the daughter can finish the late father's work of national redemption? Everyday, it's all becoming clear that a vote for her is like a Hail Mary shot. Yet, if we have only one shot to make things right and to elect the person who's got her heart in the right place, why not trust, put our names on the line, and take the shot? Bahala na Poe. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5. Why not Miriam Defensor Santiago?

Who can remember how many times Miriam ran for the Presidency? In one of those times, she announced her candidacy wearing a Star Wars hat with light saber in hand while invoking the Force. No, I'm not exaggerating. It was this kind of bizarre approaches to political entertainment, which she employs every now and then, that lent credibility to Ramos dirty tricks department's thesis that she was a lunatic. Yet, she's the only intellectual in politics these days. Fits of rage, however, and the occasional blunders -- like voting not to open the second envelope in the Erap Impeachment and the promise to jump from a plane if Erap was arrested (he did) after which she quipped "I lied" followed by an imagined maniacal laughter -- make her suspect. Miriam is amiable. She should stay in the Senate forever. But president? Let's ask Jun, her husband, the most dedicated Miriam minion in the land.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

4. Why not Jejomar Binay?

Robin Hood didn't get rich. He was a bandit not a plunderer. He didn't have wives and children. Binay isn't Robin Hood. Binay is the real deal. Binay's press people, left with no other way to spin a losing proposition -- that Binay was not a plunderer -- is now pulling on the myth of Robin Hood to win Binay votes. Binay built the cheapest building that 2.7 billion pesos of taxes could buy. Meanwhile, he gave his Makati voters free education, free healthcare, and free birthday cakes. Is that a bad deal if you don't really care who runs the government as long as your kids go to school for free, you don't worry about doctor's bills, and you get a birthday cake? Then, we all get a bonus because Ellen (the wife and once the Mayor), Jun-Jun (the son and Mayor), Nancy (the daughter and the senator) or Abby (the other daughter and the congresswoman), can replace him once his term is over. If that is not enough, they will throw in the Binay family dog and cat in the lineage. That is how dedicated they are. The Binay family has built the template for monopolizing local politics. Now, they're ready to bring the Binay franchise to the national level. We're all going to have free education for our kids, free healthcare  and free birthday cakes forever. Robin Hood is a myth. Binay is the real deal.

3. Why not Rodrigo Duterte?

There was a wedding in Davao City.  After the affair, the gun afficionados among them were brought to the range for target practice. The folks got all excited as they showed off their stuff, compared calibers and makes. Then, the targets were ushered in -- the dogs from the city pound.  These were the catch from Davao City's no stray dogs ordinance.  Dogs, left to fend for themselves, littering the queen city of the south, stinking, probably rabid-- they had no use, why not for gun training? So, the guests had their day shooting off the dogs one by one. You could hear the dogs yelping in pain as bullets pierced through their bodies. These were dogs not people.  But somehow you think the rumors of death squads roaming around Davao City to protect it from bad elements seem plausible. They shoot dogs if they're strayed or rabid. They shoot people if they're criminals. The lawyers keep it legal. If you want to live in a country where there are no stray dogs and criminals, Duterte is your man. The man has a vision. Iron will with an iron hand.  So why not Duterte?

2. Why not Mar Roxas?

He's beyond good and evil. He's the Nietzsche guy. The man with the will to power. If this were your high school elections, he's the man always hovering around the teacher, carrying the teacher's books, bringing him coffee, mopping the floor, and dusting off the blackboard. He annoys you for being there all the time. You know he wants to be president so bad that he agreed to run for vice president. You have the feeling that he always had the tough job. A plane crashed and he's there. A freak explosion, robbers breaking in a jewelry shop with hammers, a typhoon devastation, sometimes just bad traffic -- he was there. He'd do anything for your vote in 2016. He even got the goods on Binay and probably everyone else running against him. Man, he's ready and you know he wants it.  All these years that he's been working as an errand boy of the Republic are now due for payback.  So why not Mar? He's the Nietzsche guy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

1. One Paragraph A Day

Facebook did it. Twitter was a conspirator. They shrunk my brain. I used to write kilometric posts. Yet, for the past years, I've been confined to one-liners, two-liners at the most. My thoughts had to fit 140 characters, spaces and all. Then I had a dalliance with Sunday night  AM radio, which produced 200 podcasts. Bayan at Batas, we called it, a show in bloodied Taglish that had me chatting on a wide range of stuff from Tasadays to world history. My Kindle books have piled up from all that reading. Then, I decided enough is enough.  I'm taking a sabbatical from the broadcasts and the podcasts. I'm taking silence as a sport. I'm thinking, reflecting, calibrating the next move of this 21st century life. So today, I remember my late mentor, NVM Gonzalez, and his words about writing -- let them out into the wild, and they will find their own friends. A blog post from 2006 was discovered by a filmmaker and he said he's doing a film on it, with it (?) or inspired by it (?). Whatever it was that he said he was doing about it, it has lit up my passion for this blog again. Indeed, this blog continues to find friends long after I've left it.  Here, where my web writing adventures begun. Here, where I made enemies and friends. Here. I'm going back here. One paragraph a day. At least one paragraph a day.Yeah.

More from my wordpress blog, which I've sort of abandoned.