January 24, 2007

Lethal Weapon

Manny Pacquiao needs 20 guns to protect himself and his family. That is what the COMELEC says by granting him an exemption to carry firearms during the election period—not just one or two but 20 firearms. (What do you expect from the very same agency that spawned Garci?)

He’s being threatened? And needs to protect himself by carrying 20 firearms?

Never mind that he is a professional boxer—defined as someone who gets paid handsomely to maul another human being. Never mind that, ranged against the ordinary person, Pacquiao is legitimately classified as a dangerous man simply by the way he has been trained to use his fists. Mind only that Pacquiao is now, more than at any other time, a lethal weapon.

If Pacquiao feels that he is being threatened, here’s what he should do: keep a low profile. Buy himself a retreat in some not so well-known place, like maybe Siberia or Anchorage, Alaska. Or perhaps, just get rid off his many hangers-on—the two floral-shirt wearing sycophants in Manila, being the most prominent.

He fears that his family might be kidnapped? Then he should stop buying luxury cars like they were going out of style. Inviting scrutiny by his lifestyle is the best way to invite kidnappers. The worst threat to his family's well-being is not potential kidnappers, it is Pacquiao's brazen --almost bacchanalian--lifestyle.

Everyone wants peace of mind and Pacquiao should be no exception. Then, perhaps he should contemplate a change in careers, maybe become a professional sudoku player.

Clowns

Driving home last night close to midnight, I was listening to the late night newscast over the radio; the news bit I caught was about the expulsion case before the House Ethics Committee (an oxymoron, if I ever heard one; apologies to my ethical friends in Congress, you know who you are) filed by Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, otherwise known as the First Gentleman, against Alan Peter Cayetano, Representative from Taguig-Pateros.

Two exchanges caught my attention.

The first involved both Mike Arroyo and Cayetano exchanging barbs about how their alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila (Arroyo and Cayetano both finished law at the Ateneo, something that I can be proud of--that they did not finish law in U.P.; unfortunately, Tinex Jaraula did, but that's another blog altogether), was ashamed of them. Arroyo brought it up first by belittling what Cayetano was asking and how he was asking them by saying that Ateneo was ashamed to be associated with him (Cayetano); never one to let a barb go by without a riposte, the Congressman retorted with a similar comment.

I’m from the Ateneo (not de Manila, Cagayan de Oro more popularly known as Xavier University, not the Xavier in Greenhills but the one in Mindanao) and may I add my Jesuit-trained two bits to this one: as an Atenean, may I confirm that I am absolutely ashamed to be associated with either of you. So, there.

The second exchange involved another Arroyo with Cayetano: Iggy, the hapless younger brother of Mike, who appears perpetually drunk, dazed, bewildered or something much more intoxicating or all four at the same time. Yes, Iggy—Jose Pidal himself.

When quizzed by Cayetano about relatives using aliases, Mike Arroyo promptly denied any such thing, never mind that right beside him was Iggy, who had publicly and several times under oath admitted that he had used the pseudonym (or alias, if you will), Jose Pidal, in connection with election-related spendings. So when asked by Cayetano, Iggy gave an answer out of the Imelda Marcos (vide “the black hole” in the cosmic plan of thing etc. etc.) and Melanie Marquez (remember "Don't judge my brother, he's not a book"?) school of witticisms —something to the effect that he is not yet the First Gentleman, maybe next year.

In the car, I had to figuratively and almost literally pull over as my jaw had dropped and was in danger of hitting the steering wheel and I was laughing so hard I could barely see; you could hear the “thunk” of collective jaws dropping in the hearing room, the muffled snickers even from Arroyo’s most rabid and asinine (and there are a lot of them; soundtrack to this: Patty Page’s “How much is that doggy in the window?”) sycophants. Such was the inanity of the answer.

Of course, Cayetano, being who he is, would not let Iggy off the hook that easily; quickly he inserted the question, “why, is Gloria Arroyo not going to be the President anymore next year?” Mercifully, I reached home before my jaw could drop any lower from any answer that Iggy would give. (NB. I’m not a fan of Cayetano—never have been, never will be. But with the way that Gloria, Mike, Iggy and Mikey, all surnamed Arroyo, have been going at him, hammer and tongs, and with Cayetano’s typical glibness and occasionally inspired witticisms against a totally inept and inarticulate trio of Arroyos, the possibility is that Cayetano might just end up in the Senate--inspite of Cayetano's efforts.)

I felt like I was listening and watching to a totally surreal and twisted episode of The Three Stooges (take your pick who Curly, Larry, Moe and Shemp are from the Congressman from Taguig, the First Gentleman, Jose Pidal and the 4th-rate "actor" who makes Manny Pacquiao look like Oscar-material), except that I wasn't and didn't feel like laughing.

Moral of this not-so-fictional fable: You put enough clowns in the room, you’ll definitely get one heck of a farce.

A.I.M.

Learned a new acronym last night, courtesy of Luis: A.I.M. No, it’s not Asian Institute of Management but rather “Ayaw Iwanan ang Mic”. For my non-Filipino readers out there (yes, all three of you), the reference is to a microphone hog at the karaoke/videoke joint.

(Context: last night, the brothers from Lingkod QC, my singles group, got together to send-off Vlad, who is getting married soon; it was at a videoke joint in Farmers’ Plaza, Cubao called “syncwell”—I have no idea what it means nor what it has to do with videoke, but that’s the name. A grand time was had by all—especially with DJ singing all them love songs; what’s up, Doc?)

January 23, 2007

MyScore

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

January 18, 2007

Ely-heads

For E-heads and Ely Buendia fans like me, a good read by a Sports writer who should be writing more often.

When fan mail finds a home

I posted about a Dennis Lambert song "Bags and Things" at the start of the year; to my surprise, someone commented on the post--a Jody Lambert--identifying herself (not too sure of the gender but based on the name, might be a "her") as Dennis Lambert's daughter. Wow, that threw me for a loop. My meditation/fan mail found a home.

Hey, Bono! You there?

January 16, 2007

January 05, 2007

"What do you seek?" (John 1:38)

Imagine the Lord asking that of us—of me—at the start of the year, even as He has already blessed us with so much the past year.

Yes, that is the God who reigns in my life—He who would bless me with so much, turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to my faithlessness, and even now, in His compassion, mercy and love, ask me still—“what do you seek?”

Not, “what do you need?” because He already provides for all that I need but, “what do you want?” “what do you desire?”

At the start of the year, the Lord reminded—commanded—me to “take nothing for (your) journey” (Mark 6:8, RSV) even as He asks me now, “what do you desire?”

Lord, I like your sense of humor and I like your style. Even as you assure me of all that I shall ever need at the start of my year, you already ask me for what I truly desire--the cherry on top of the sundae, as it were.

Simple pleasures

One of the few times I regret becoming a lawyer is when I realize that the legal profession has destroyed the way I write.

I’ve always loved a good read—anything from poetry, the essay, the short story; even non-fiction and news reportage; I devour columns that are well-written (local and foreign) and, now, blogs too. I’ve always enjoyed writing as well; I’ve dabbled in poetry (though nowhere as good as Marlon, who writes so well in Filipino it drives me absolutely crazy), the essay, even the occasional short (ok, actually one quite long) story; a few years back (way before this blog), I went online as part of a pool of online columnists of inq7.net reporting on the Estrada plunder trial.

Next to being a professional basketball player (which is not possible considering my height and my skills), I’ve always dreamed of being a writer—meaning writing what I want the way I want to (and getting paid for it would be a big bonus; Jessica Z lives a great life, she writes the way she wants to and gets paid for it).

But law has destroyed the way I write—with its demands as to form and as to argumentation--because it has also destroyed the way I think. There is very little room for imagination in legal writing because you are required to be precise and because oftentimes the reader—the judge or justice—has none. Imagination, creativity, whimsy are often alien to legal writing and you have to make room for it.

And so, I've pushed the envelop quite a few times. I once started a pleading submitted to the Supreme Court with a Calvin and Hobbes exchange; I’m not sure if they got it (I'm not even sure they knew who Calvin and Hobbes are). I’ve started pleadings with poetry; I’m not sure they got it either. I’ve even started pleadings with passages directly quoted from scripture; I’m not sure they got that.

Since law does not allow me the luxury of writing creatively the way I would want to all the time, I now derive vicarious satisfaction from the the printed word from other writers—and there are so many (Salman Rushdie, Raymond Carver, Isabel Allende, Garcia Marquez, Neruda, Ian McEwan, Butch Dalisay, Teddy Boy Locsin, Conrad De Quiros, Patricia Highsmith, MLQ3 among many others).

These are my simple pleasures—getting excited over words on a page.

Here are some words that I wish I had written from an author whose books I follow:

They entered the wood, where the light was a watery green and giant beeches dripped calmly onto the unfurled leaves of the abundant ferns. She was furious. She squeezed her brakes in her fury and had to push all the harder. She wanted it ended now, by the roadside, on the ground, in the dirt, under this tree, now and quickly. The pain would mean nothing, it would purify her, justify her. Then she would be on her bike, pedaling swiftly. The wind and rain would cool her face, freshen and heal her. She would not dismount for the uphill stretches. She would push on, leave far behind this weak man whose silence smelled and made her nauseous.

Yes, she had made her decision, it was already a fact. It was almost in the past. But just as at Christmas their intimacy had had to catch up with their letters, so now they still had to break into speech, raise the difficult subject, tortuously reason it through with lies and false emotion and pretensions to logic before they could attain the conclusion she had already accepted. They would have to go through all that before she could be free. Her impatience was so great she wanted to shout, she wanted to pick up her stupid bicycle and dash it against the road. Instead, she raised her hand to her face and bit her knuckle hard.” (Ian McEwan, The Child in Time.)

January 04, 2007

Mr. Smith goes back to the U.S.

With the finesse of a sledgehammer blow, Gloria Arroyo showed just how much she holds in contempt the rule of law; and just how stupid she thinks Filipinos are.

Spiriting away Mr. Smith in the dead of night on the last working day of the past year smacks of utter malice and deception; it also betrays the cowardice that is inherent in a government and a pretender who, never having been elected to the highest office in the land, continues to wield the prerogatives of the executive office under the shadow of constant fear of being thrown back to where she belongs—in the dustheap of disgraced dictators.

The rape victim in the Subic case said it best, Bastusan na. Indeed. It appears that is the only language Gloria understands.

January 02, 2007

Bags and Things

The title comes from an old song by Dennis Lambert (if his name doesn't ring a bell; think Of All the Things; if it still doesn't, then you are very young.) and it came unbidden--as with most things that are inspired.

I was listening to music in the car while doing errands before 2006 ended and while listening to this song for the umpteenth time, I was struck by just how appropriate the lyrics were to the coming of a new year. The song speaks of moving on, leaving familiar and comfortable things behind, leaving hurts and habits behind and allowing hope in, that it may bring us to Heaven--at least, that is what it says to me. And while it may have been written by Lambert for a specific person in his life, it may very well have been written for God.

Dennis Lambert is a very powerful lyricist (vide Of All the Things, which to me is the perfectly written love song--complete, compelling with no wasted words; but that's another post altogether) and it shows in this particular song, viz:

BAGS AND THINGS
(Dennis Lambert)

I gave away my old guitar
but I still hear the music playin'
I kept my rhymes upon the wall
and kept the only words worth sayin'
I don't need faces now
to hide behind,
to say I'm diggin' when they're
really messing up my mind
The puppet dances by himself
He went and cut the strings
He don't have no time for
bags and things

I threw away my favorite smile,
the one I had to keep from cryin'
for in the sunshine of your eyes
the make believe in me was dyin'
You gave me all I need:
Reality,
You opened up the door
and let some heaven in on me
And if I want to touch the sky
You've given me the wings
Ain't no going back to
bags and things


I post this at the start of the year for my friends and brothers and sisters in my singles community who are grappling with change right now--trying to move on, leaving hurts and habits behind, trying to find hope in uncomfortable and new environments, looking for that heaven they've been familiar with all their life in strange worlds. May you find comfort and solace and affirmation in, ironically, a love song written in the 70's by a man whom most of you have not heard of--may you not be weighed down by the "bags and things" of 2006.

I post this also for myself as I come to terms with yet another year where He asks me, in His infinite and unfathomable wisdom, to "take nothing for (the) journey." I thank Him for the wings He has given me to be able to journey with Him and pray for the grace to not desire any longer the "bags and things" that I have left behind.