Monthly Archives: August 2013

#Revolution

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It had rained heavily the night before, so I was worried the event would be swamped with heavy downpour the next day.

But that day, the sky was quiet and gray, broken by occasional drizzle that only lasts for about two to three minutes. The clouds are pregnant with ripe rain, but the threat of a storm didn’t deter us, probably because we know we are brewing a storm of our own, probably a more powerful one.

It had been  weeks after the pork barrel scam erupts in the media, when a businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles was discovered to have been getting cozy with government officials as she diverts a P10 billion PDAF fund to her ‘ghost’ NGOs from prominent lawmakers. A following expose of the COA reveals that billions of pesos in PDAF are lost to imaginary NGOs, shady benefactors and at worst, ending up to the pockets of these politicians themselves.

Without getting any good, satisfying response from the government for the abolition of pork barrel, ordinary Filipinos, netizens and enraged taxpayers finally decided to settle the matter in their own hands. The date was set: August 26, National Heroes’ Day, as the Day of Protest for the abolition of the controversial PDAF.

What fascinates me in it when I first heard of the Million People March is that, every province in every corner of the Philippines, would be marching in that same day too, albeit in their respective areas but calling for the same thing: A change for the country. From Manila, to Cebu, to Davao, to Iloilo, Bacolod, Samar, etc and to other countries as well, when OFWs lead the protest themselves. It was a nation united by outrage, by disgust and by the desire to change the system prevailing over the country. At that instant, the 7000 islands of the Philippines are finally united and connected by an invisible bridge: social media.  And I have been a proud part of it. I came here as a correspondent for a national broadsheet and as a concerned citizen who will march and shout for my parents who have been working hard but getting burdened by tax. For my OFW relatives who have to live a lonely life abroad and leaving an incomplete, dysfunctional family behind. For thousands of unschool youth who are surrounded by locked doors of opportunity and ambition. For poor farmers and fishermen toiling hard but ending up with nothing. For rural villages who have to live without a daily supply of electricity everyday. For public hospitals which always witness the daily deaths of those who cannot afford high-quality facilities. For state universities who are unable to provide the needs of its students and have to resort to income-generating scheme just to make both ends meet. I am marching to commemorate the heroism of our ancestors, but also to call out a brighter future for the new generation of Filipinos who never have to hate and despise the country just like I did in the past before accepting it as a part of who I am.

The color code for the March was white. A friend told me it’s a symbolism. White symbolizes Tabula Rasa, a sociological concept explaining that our mind is a blank slate when we were born. It is devoid of ideas, ideologies, emotions, biases, prejudices and any thought that makes us who we are right now. White symbolizes cleaning off all the dirt and starting again with a clean slate; with total overhaul of the system and starting anew. Isn’t it about time this culture of corruption and mediocrity has to end?

There were chants and patriotic hymns, shouts and boos matching with ‘oink oink’ noise thumbing down the system. It was the first organized rally I ever attended, and the largest gathering so far started by the social media. Just like the student I interviewed during the march, I knew change won’t happen overnight. Continuity, according to him, is the key. Now that we have started the fire, let us sustain it, keep it alive and burning. This #MillionPeopleMarch is just the beginning, hopefully not the end.

With social media, we are given the power to influence and to inspire, one thing our parents and grandfathers didn’t have when they toppled a dictator almost three decades ago. What does it make us? Are we the generation doomed to inherit the system or the one who will change it? Are we capable of thinking beyond ourselves and overcome the stigma of being the ‘selfie‘ generation, or we would just leave the society as it is?

It will be a long journey ahead, and just like the muddy and slippy grounds of Quirino Grandstand that day, getting across to our destination wouldn’t be easy. The corrupt system stands before us like an impenetrable ancient wall, one that has stood all struggles and opposition in the past. It won’t crumble down in one snap. Just like the walls of Jericho, we need to circle the matter and never stop on making more ‘noise’.

And that horn? Social media.

Let’s stand by what we fought in Luneta that day. We want to abolish the system. We want a more transparent and more accountable government. We want those politicians who are guilty with their greediness to be locked up in the darkest, grimiest cell in Bilibid. We want FOI. We want a president who never falls short on his promise. We want a real change. We want a new Philippines NOW!

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Philippines triumphs over South Korea in FIBA-Asia Semis, 81-79!

Image courtesy of GMANews Tv

 

In a heart-racing, neck-to-neck game, Gilas Pilipinas stands victorious in the end over South Korea in the FIBA-Asia Semifinals, 81-79, grabbing hold of the precious slot to FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain 2014.

My family and I watched the game from our home and how I wished we got to see it live. I think this is one of those nights Filipinos became united for the love of the sport and those hardworking players who represent our country in one of the toughest international basketball competitions ever.

I used to think Filipino pride is a superficial concept; one that seems to be the source of baseless insinuations of how ‘great’ the Filipino race is just because some foreign celebrity with a pinch of Filipino blood amazes the world. I mean, I will always look up to on those Filipinos who would bring glory to our beleaguered country; consider them as a source of inspiration but never as something to flaunt on to other countries while remaining blinded of our own problems.

With the numerous bombings in war and disaster-stricken Mindanao, the mega-explosive Pork Barrel Scam, the slow trickle-down of inclusive growth, sluggish passage of important laws and bills, and national leaders bickering with each other than focusing on important matters, it is really difficult to be proud of your country.

But I may be a blubbering hypocrite because I can’t help but to be proud. To those Gilas Pilipinas players who went pass the giant Koreans with the single-minded intention of winning the game. To Jonathan Yabut for winning the Apprentice Asia last month. To the Filipino kids who bag gold on International Math Olympics. To other athletes who fought for and continuing to do so to bring gold to the country. Maybe Pinoy pride is really inherent to us Filipinos, and we stand blameless against it. In contrast with our so-called crab mentality, we also have this spirit in us to be happy for our fellow Filipinos and standing by them whatever happens, all because we know he/she is just as Filipino as us.

They must not only stand as source of pride but inspiration too. Let’s not stop at cheering, let’s continue with uplifting the legacy.

So, congratulations for Gilas again. It was a spine-tingling, goosebumps-inducing wonderful game. Not a bad game for South Koreans too. They definitely keep us at the edge of our seats. They also shoot mean free throws. The crowd could have distracted them better if they shouted “North Korea is Best Korea!” Just kidding! Nice game, Korea. Well-played :)

Dear Gilas, goodluck for the game versus Iran tonight. Win or lose, we’re still going to Spain no matter what. Better to leave with a bang though so seize the win! ;)

And to Spain we go. My Filipino pride will be with you as far as you can go, and maybe, beyond.

Here’s a song for you guys. Mabuhay! :)

PUSO by Spongecola (This should have been your theme!) XD

#LabanPilipinas! #PUSO

 

Singles’ Night-Out: If True Love has a GPS….

“How do you know if someone’s the right person for you?”

Alas, our happy conversation about reforms for the Philippine society has come to a bitter end, when my friend finally chose that small dead-air moment to interject her sentiments and unanswered questions about love and relationships, a field I try to avoid as possible unless we’re on a slumber party with our other girlfriends over small shots of Tequila.

But there’s only the two of us, sitting over an unappetizing sandwich and steaming coffee inside a small 7-11 convenience store, a ghost of two persons in the midst of rambunctious highschoolers laughing in the other table and a cozy couple who had their own world over to our left.

Thing is, you can ask me about chaos theory, about the wildest conspiracy theories, about current news and political affairs on Iceland or some God-forsaken country, about the life cycle of maggots and how can they make Greek cheeses very delicious but never ever ask me about relationships, especially romantic ones. I already made this clear to my friends but seriously, why do they always have to ask for love advice to the Great Single One?

Most opinions of Great Single Ones can veer away from cynical to blessedly innocent, depending on the past romantic relationships or the lack thereof. Like in my case, who grew up with books and fictitious, ideal tales of love and whatnot, my data about relationships is 100% inaccurate. Somehow, I can’t understand my own emotions too, and that is why I instantly avert away from any romantic moves of the opposite sex towards me. I just can’t simply imagine myself holding hands with someone or go out on Saturday nights, or spend the entire evening exchanging sappy texts. My experience in a serious committed relationship is as broad as that of a group of Eskimos conscripted to build another Great Pyramid.

Coming back to the point of this article, how would you know if that person is right for you without having to enter into a committed relationship? My friend is much as a dummy as me, probably even worse. For those people who are near to us while we talk, our conversation may had been painful to hear. Imagine two fishes talking about the sky. We’re as clueless as men in the kitchen (although not all men are but we’re in the majority)

Fortunately, I am a great observer (snooper) and an even better listener (shrink!) and I think I provided some realistic angles in our conversation my romantic-type friend needs to listen to. For me, love has no pattern. Love has no formula. It comes like a blast of lightning, spontaneous and unwelcome, but it may lie in the shadows of your mind all along, silently lurking over the premises of your heart and you just refused to acknowledge it over pride, foolishness or both.

I would have to say, I’m a little cynical about relationships and ‘happily ever afters’. One of my favorite authors, Ricky Lee, have said: Love has a quota. In every 5 people who love, only one person gets to have a happy ending. If you would look at the statistics today, actual figures would back up Ricky Lee’s statement.

But despite all its faults and heartbreaks, love is a gift, isn’t it? As much as it’s the cause of heartbreak, it is a choice for happiness. Love is probably the most overrated emotion in the world, but few people understand how it makes the monsters and saints out of us, and it isn’t the most perfect thing on earth. I admit my experience in love is very limited and myopic, but I’ve seen enough people being transformed by it, for better or worse, seeking and chasing that elusive happiness on finding (or staying with) for what they believe as the Right One.

My friend and I went on talking. She said something about ‘if you’re meant together, you’d end up together in the end no matter what’. It’s true I’ve held that belief for some time, but you have to face some harsh realities that destiny, or fate for that matter, isn’t going to fight for your love story. The Universe doesn’t care. You may argue that God has something in store for you, a good life partner, but in the end, it’s your choice that ultimately matters. We are all bound by our choices. We live and die by our choices, we also love through them.

In the end, I managed to pluck out from my friend the reason why we’re having this weird conversation right now. She confessed that a guy has been expressing interest over her, and she has no idea how to deal with that. As if I was the crocodile expert for that matter :/

“We’re young,” I remembered telling my friend. “Don’t get TOO worked up for that. If a guy finds you interesting and you find him interesting, take him to a date. Not date-date as a potential boyfriend but as a friend. No pressure there, no expectations. Just go out there and have fun”

But my friend is adamant. She is very clear about her feelings towards the poor guy, having like him only as a friend. To give him a chance, to rally up his expectations, would meant she’s lying about her feelings to him which would eventually lead to rejection. I pointed out how could she reject him when she’s not giving him a chance yet. She wants a love story that doesn’t require her heart being broken many times over before she found the One. Her mom married her first boyfriend that is her father and I guess it’s one of the reasons why she remained partly obsessed with the idea of having your first serious relationship as your last.

“A GPS for the One?” I jokingly asked

But my friend is serious. “If we have that, everyone wouldn’t bother having their hearts broken by the wrong people”

“But that’ll take the thrill out of falling in love,” I said, “It’s like having your own map of what’s going to happen in your life twenty years from now. It’s like reading movie spoilers off Wikipedia.”

“Then how would you tell if someone’s the right person for you?” she reiterates the question

“That’s the beauty of it,” I said, realization sets in. “You wouldn’t.”

The great opportunities require us to take a leap of faith. The road to happiness demands us to sacrifice. Unless you don’t want to live to the fullest, there is no easy way out of life. Taking risks for things that matter, it defines us on what we’re going to be and who are we going to end up with in the future.

After some time, our other friend called, saying she’s going to arrive here after ten minutes for the meet-up. We’ve been waiting for her for two hours now, and we managed to kill our time with all this existential blabber of human spirit and the universal suffering mankind has to endure for love.

“I still wouldn’t go out with him, though.” My friend warns, referring to the poor guy she’s going to reject

“He may be your future husband for all we know,” I joked again and she only rolled her eyes

“How about you?” she asked, “How’s your lovelife?”

“As boring and frustratingly uneventful as yours,” I said.

 

“I don’t get it,” she said, “If you like him, why don’t you ask him out for a friendly date? You’re the one who’s pushing me to date!”

“Difference is, I’m the girl and he’s the boy. I have no problem with girls asking boys to go out but with his personality, it would be too much of a shock,” I answered

And that started our long discussion on the reversal of gender in a relationship, or a potentially blooming one. On what would happen if the girl will do the pursuing and  the boys will certainly become the deer hunted over in this wild jungle we call the dating world, consolidated with the contextual analysis of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ”Call Me Maybe” and the mixed signals it brings to women of the world.

Not bad for the Single Ones’ Night-out, huh?

Letter to my 16-year-old self

September 2009

Dear Nica,

Hi! You might be wondering how did I know your name. It’s because my name is Nica too. You are me and I am you, well to put it aptly, I am you five years from now.

Don’t throw the paper! This is not a practical joke. Of course, receiving a letter from your future self may sound weird (I should’ve used email or hologram or something to convince you but apart from the birth of smartphones and tablets, there’s nothing much changed in the techie scene. ) I won’t get into details on how I sent you this letter, we both know we suck at science, let alone, quantum physics but the important things is, I get to deliver you this message.

First of all, I would be frank with you. Your life is an ugly mess five years from now. Nope, you won’t get into drugs or alcohol or any vice other than  dopamine addiction thanks to prolonged internet surfing. You’re just a complete mess in a sense that (1) You have no idea where you are going and (2) in relation to #1, you are heading to a crash-and-burn road rampage.

For my 5 years, you will learn that you are not exactly headed to the place you wanted to be. Always, fate and God has other plans. Always, you need to take a step backward to find the next path. One thing about life, it is made to disappoint. You can tally all the achievements and losses you accumulated. add it all up and you would end up with a negative sum. That’s the whole point. It’s made that way, but who says we can be disappointed with life forever?

Truth is, right now, you still have no idea of who you really are. You are too busy with your friends, with your studies and with your own idealistic dreams to evaluate yourself and think about your life choices. You are passionate, but you lack the ability to focus that passion into something more meaningful. You have big ideas but you easily fear what people might think of it before you can actually put these ideas into words or actions. You are conceited and prideful. You are all talk and no action. I know you well enough that you are tempted to throw away this paper right now because of your incapability to face your flaws and weaknesses, but believe me, your reluctance to face yourself will push you to a downward spiral of insecurity, self-pity and frustration. Believe me, because I’ve been there and I don’t want you to experience that in the future.

My message is this: Come in terms with your weakness and set your eyes on what you want. Nothing else. Focus, not genius or talent or skill or age, determines success. Don’t spend most of your time thinking about your place on the stars before you can even build your ship. Don’t focus on what you love in the present. Focus on what you really love. Focus on the present.

You have always made your parents and family proud with your ambition to be on top of everything, but it is with selfless determination that would make your country proud of you. And believe me, being the symbol of hope for this country is one of the things you will really aspire later on.

My regards to your (our) parents, to our brothers (I’m saying this with brothers with “s” — yes, your hunch is right, your mom’s pregnant) and our highschool friends who will still be our friends throughout college, even if you guys parted ways after graduation. You’ll get on a college you won’t expect yourself to be in and meet many different, wonderful people along the way. Treasure them. Things could have been way different for me if I had.

And oh, your writing still sucks, but treasure it the same. It’s part of you and you wouldn’t imagine how you will need it at 20, dependent and frustrated with all these young adult responsibility pressure getting into you.

You’re free to believe anything you want. Either way, just listen to the message of this letter. I would rather have you listen than believe.

Sincerely,

Your 21-year-old self

PS. Please just confess to HIM already. You might blow your only chance and end up thinking of countless ‘what-ifs’ for five years, or maybe more.

And you’re not going to have any motorcyle when you graduate from highschool, or even college for that matter. SAD TRUTH!

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