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“Turn it right! Turn it right!” Kuya Pat bellowed. I promptly turned the steering wheel to the left, the stick on reverse. It was only when the car turned to the wrong direction did I learn that my “right” is wrong.
“What are you doing? I said ‘right’, not ‘left'” he shrilled as if I’ve just run through his foot.
“Sorry” I smiled sheepishly. “I was so focused on stepping the clutch, I didn’t realize I was steering to my left.”
“Do it again.” He ordered.
Beads of sweat fell like pearls on my eyes before I can wipe them away. I was using the office car and I couldn’t waste anymore of its gas on aircon.
The engine sounded like an irritable bear just woken up as I slowly let go of the clutch and stepped on the accelerator. The car lurched hard. The engine didn’t die and I stared down at the steering wheel, forgetting which is right and which is left.
This is just another day for my pre-driver’s license training. After nearly a month, the greatest achievement I ever had is not killing the engine on first gear.
Getting a driver’s license is one of the goals I have to achieve for this year. For some countries, getting your driver’s license is like a battle you need to prepare yourself for. But here in the Philippines, all you need is a money and some guy your friend’s friend knew of and there you have it.
Kuya Pat taught us how to move the car forward and backward, then we’re done, he declared: “You can get your driver’s license now.”
In some cases, you don’t need to actually drive through a test run. I know this guy who was given a hand-out of the answers for the written exam. It doesn’t make sense that you will take an exam you already know the answers for. You might as well abolish the whole thing and save a lot of trees.
I promised to myself that I should basically know how to handle the steering wheel at least before I took the “test”, despite how easy it is to pass it. I don’t know why everything in this country, including the permission to handle vehicle that can potentially kill/hurt someone, is run by money.
Cars these days are automatic, some would say. You really don’t need everything there is to know about driving to get a license. I beg to differ. You should at least develop quick reflexes, learn to control your emotions on the road and know the traffic rules to spare the rest of the people the inconvenience of ramming your car the next post or the sidewalk or even to their own cars.
I’m not saying that driving should be serious. Unless you’re a car junkie or a professional driver, there are hardly any rewards for driving almost everyday in your life (give us better roads or less traffic and everyone would be happier). Driving should be enjoyable and you can do it by not inconveniencing someone on the road.
The car stopped a few inches from the plantbox. Kuya Pat made a twirl with his finger – clockwise. This time, I didn’t think. I steered the wheel to the right and pushed enough gas for the car to slowly ease into position.
And this time, I was right.
Sometimes I question myself why I write. Do I write for fun? Or for the hell of it? Or that I just have to do it because I’m lofty enough to regard myself as such. Sometimes, I have selfish reasons. I want myself to be heard and the people to listen to me. Sometimes, I convince myself through empty words and platitudes. Writing, in itself, is ego-inflating.
When I write, I throw away the conscious part of me, the insecure, ugly side that’s clings into my skin like a thick aroma of weakness and falsehood. Sometimes, I never write at all, content with my thoughts and ideas left unheard, unspoken, betraying the craft with just a shake of a head and thinking that it’s not worth of a word.
Words come easily to me when I write. I prefer email than voicemail. I like texting more than calling. I can have a personal conversation face-to-face with a friend and think about more comforting words to say when I face a blank paper. I would have enjoyed the time when people write letters for each other, never mind the inconvenience of late response and distance. Words that travel a great distance are priceless.
Sometimes, I’m envious of those writers who knew what words to say to express themselves. Sometimes, I even think that I write just to prove that I can write as well as they are. Sometimes, I write to prove to myself that I can write as well as I think I do.
Sometimes, I write to release the stress and exhaustion after a long, hard day, un-poetic day. Sometimes, the thing that causes so much stress and exhaustion is writing itself.
I often question myself why I write, but I’m finally realizing it doesn’t matter at all. More than an art or a craft or a science or a hobby, writing is an unpardonable vice of my life; a constant part of my existence. To deny it is to deny living. Whenever I am plagued by the question of why I write, or the urge to write, I try to think of a scenario where I cannot write anymore.
And that is something I cannot imagine living without.
We’ve all come a long way from the dark regime of totalitarian and dictatorial sovereign (well, at least most of us. Hello North Korea), and now I guess it must be a global understanding that freedom is absolutely necessary for educating and nurturing an entire country and its people. As the world wars and countless revolutions have taught us, the price of chasing freedom is very high, and it would be a shame if it only manages to give light off a tiny spark that bends and quiets down at the slightest breeze.
Roughly 28 years ago, our parents and grandparents marched to the streets of EDSA, envisioning a better, brighter future for us the younger generation so we can have much more freedom to live, to strive for our dreams without social/political suppression, to speak freely our minds and adapt different ways of thinking and to be free from the corrupt, nepotistic rotting system. It all sounds well and good. Our intoxication for freedom continues to burn on, and we cherish it. We pride over it. We always bring up that Article 3, Section 4 as our defense when someone tells us to shut the hell up. It’s a free country, after all. (With great freedom comes great responsibility, though. Too much freedom will eventually lead someone to believe that a Machiavellian iron-fist rule is the right way to go. Anarchy has a tendency of breeding future dictators)
For that, I should be at least thankful with EDSA 1. No one’s going to shove you in a sack and gun you down at an abandoned lot just by saying ‘The Government sucks!’. It’s pretty ironic that this so-called freedom is now being endangered by the online libel clause recently legalized by the Supreme Court days before the 28th Anniversary of EDSA 1, but that’s another matter.
But as EDSA I taught me and the younger generations over the years, freedom is barely the answer to everything. It didn’t change our country’s social and political problems. We have one of the freest learning environment and education experience in Asia but more than half of the population are ill-educated. We continue to turn a blind eye to the faults around us, from our neighbors who can’t get enough of the karaoke on a Monday night to the leaders of this country who kept stealing our hard-earned taxes right in front of us. We have a rich history of freedom and democracy but we didn’t learn from it. Look at us now. With our outdated, ill-prepared Constitution. With our twisted sense of morality and fanaticism. With our stagnant educational system that rarely encourages critical thinking. With our overly sensationalized, news-hungry media. 28 years ago and even much later before that, the Filipino people have paid a precious gift for freedom, but somehow along the way, we lost sight of that vision why revolutions are conceived in the first place. (My only hope is that social media and the internet can change the trend in our political and social scene somehow)
You can’t have a revolution that would only last for a day, or a week, or a decade. The drive is continuous; the momentum may weaken but it still has to move on that collective goal all the people aspire for. Revolutions cause deep internal changes than just being a political/social upheaval. Revolutions die without a vision, just like what we had. That vision should last for future generations. When that vision fades, or dies, or when people gave up on it, then everything that has been sacrificed for that vision is in peril of changing nothing.
So to the people of Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela and other countries clamoring for a total change in their respective countries, let me tell you this: your battles are far from over. To the revolutionaries of today, the fight is just beginning. You would think the overthrowing is the difficult part but no, it’s what comes after that’s most crucial…the pivotal point. Anyone can light a fire but it takes something more to sustain it. Once the spark ignites, you must feed it, sustain it, and even when things quiet down, it must always be there, burning in calm intensity.
On the side note, a Canadian expresses his/her strong sentiments during a protest. Classic Canada 😀
Yes, we’re boring. Yes, we’re not interesting. Yes, we’re not the life of the party. But just because we don’t party hard enough, or dance enough or get wasted enough means we’re not really enjoying the party. In fact, we enjoy it a lot, during and especially, the after part. Here’s a little poem why:
You’d easily dismiss us
When the room is in full swing
In a scandalous bouquet
We’re there, but not there
Clutching our wineglasses (or red cups, it makes no difference)
unto our chests like a lover’s heart,
Eyes on the people,
not to our drinks
You’d see us standing in dark corners
Beside the clandestine kisses,
the clashing of tongues,
the catch in their breaths
Wondering why on earth
every wild kiss has to be this loud
Or you’d see us standing
in the middle of a dance floor
Amid the chaos of sweat
wheezing laughter, drunken howls
slurred moans, orgasm cries
Through the hazy smoke of
And we’re still human
Cruel enough to amuse ourselves
with your excusable sins
We don’t give life to the room,
nor we desire to catch your eyes
We are the invited guests
watching from outside,
We may feel belong or not; it doesn’t matter
We like to be in two places at the same time
We are ever-searching
The walls and shadows have our ears
Senses attuned to secrets that may leave your lips
To any untoward action
It’s because it is our hobby to wait long
With glasses raised to our lips
An open salute to someone
for ardently making the night more memorable
(At least for us)
For being atrociously dull,
you may chide us,
laugh at us,
But we’d only smile politely
Continue to watch
And in the morning after,
when your memory of the night
is no more
While ours stayed on
Your eyes avoid mine for a reason
Worry not, we’ve sworn
Our lips are sealed
parting only for the shadow of
a merest knowing smile,
Perhaps with a little bit of scorn,
For that night, that part of you,
we will take note,
We may have a use for it
For my kababayans in Visayas and Mindanao, my thoughts are with you. Keep safe!
Tacloban City, Leyte felt the wrath of Typhoon “Yolanda,” which made landfall in nearby Guiuan, Eastern Samar at 4:40 a.m. Friday.
Umagang Kay Ganda field reporter, Tom Araullo managed to exclusively videotape with his crew the flood waters which quickly rose in Tacloban, Leyte on Friday morning, as a result of “Yolanda’s” landfall in nearby Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
cr. ABS-CBN News/ GMA News