Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

What am I doing in the office in the middle of the night, when the old year ends and the world welcomes the new one.

Police officers, medical workers and journalists are here to make sure people are safe and informed when all else seems to break lose in the middle of all the merriment.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I got my first Moleskine (VAN GOGH MEMO—POCKETS: 6 cardboard and cloth pockets to hold tickets, documents, memories) from Inday last Christmas.

When I read the history of the notebook, I thought of giving myself a gift like the ones on the left.

The one on top is Pablo Picasso's Notebook No. 53 (June-September 1912, 9 x 13.5 cm kept in the Musée National Picasso of Paris), while the second one is the sketchbook of Vincent van Gogh (1888–1890) kept in the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam.


This trusty, pocket-size travel companion held sketches,
notes, stories and ideas before they were turned into
famous images or pages of beloved books.

Originally produced by small French bookbinders who
supplied the Parisian stationery shops frequented by the
international avant-garde, by the end of the twentieth
century the Moleskine notebook was no longer available.
In 1986, the last manufacturer of Moleskine, a family
operation in Tours, closed its shutters forever.

“Le vrai Moleskine n’est plus” were the lapidary words
of the owner of the stationery shop in Rue de l’Ancienne
Comédie where Chatwin stocked up on the notebooks.
The English writer had ordered a hundred of them before
leaving for Australia: he bought up all the Moleskine
that he could find, but they were not enough.

In 1998, a small Milanese publisher brought Moleskine
back again. As the self-effacing keeper of an extraordinary
tradition, Moleskine once again began to travel the globe.
To capture reality on the move, pin down details, impress
upon paper unique aspects of experience: Moleskine
is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores
discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be
tapped over time.

The legendary black notebook is once again being passed
from one pocket to the next; with its various different page
styles it accompanies the creative professions and the
imagination of our time. The adventure of Moleskine
continues, and its still-blank pages will tell the rest.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Christmas lanterns in our hearts

The time to recycle those dusty capiz lanterns is here. The time to remember the dead is over. It's that time of year again to celebrate life. For many, it's that time of year to forget the challenges that we encounter daily the rest of the year.

The first surprise of the season came on Halloween. My Sri Lankan roommate two decades ago arrived in the country for a visit. We last saw each other when his hair was still black and when I still weighed 110 lbs. It has been a long time indeed.

The two hours we shared anecdotes about our life were not enough. It was not even enough to finish the mud pie at the newly opened Bubba Gump restaurant at Trinoma. We still remember those days when the only place we could go to on weekends was SM North Edsa.

Rohan lived in a remote village in Sri Lanka, “where there was no chapel, no convent, no place to stay,” after his ordination to the priesthood in 1992. There were no regrets, however, he said.

I believe him. There was still that glow in his eyes, a look that one can only find in a child’s innocent stare or in a holy man’s gaze that penetrates one’s soul, a look that I might once had when I still went to mass daily and wore a sotana on Sundays.

Rohan brought me a shirt – a gift from his country. The best gift, however, was the slap on the back that I used to hate when we were still together almost 20 years ago. I still hate it when he does it. I still have to punch him, as I used to do, to get even.

One thing I realized was we didn’t even talk that much as we shared a dinner of shrimps. There seems to be no need for talk, for stories. It seems we’ve never really parted ways. It seems only yesterday when we last teased each other about the future. We didn’t know then what would happen to us. We still don’t know now what awaits us.

We went our separate ways many years ago as we did after a dinner of shrimps and after posing for pictures outside the restaurant and in front of a man-made spring inside the Trinoma several days ago. We will go and live our separate lives. We will pursue whatever dreams we have. One thing that’s certain though is that we will continue to be brothers. And it’s always Christmas when we meet.

There might be no need to recycle old capiz lanterns anymore to remember Christmas. The thought of a brother that never forgets, a loved one that remains true to oneself, even a dream that never fades, are lanterns that live in one’s heart, where Christmas is always celebrated every day of the year.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Headless white ladies in haunted dorms, elevators

“It is when pain is almost unendurable that I remember what my mother instilled in me: a belief not so much in ghosts but in the limitlessness of love. And then I know how love releases hope, how hope transforms the unknowable, the intangible into something you can grasp and hold close to your heart.” – Amy Tan

It seems to take forever for the elevator to go down. You glance around the mirrored walls and realize that you are not alone. You thought it was only your reflection. The tingling sensation, an icy breath on the back of your neck, travels down your spine as the headless woman in a long white gown grabs your throat. You have no time to scream.

It’s that time of year again when tales of headless white ladies in empty elevators and darkened corridors, of strange smells and of hallow voices, creep into our dreams in the dead of night. It’s the time of year when ghost stories capture our imagination, if not our lives. It’s the time of year when fact competes with fiction on the front pages of national dailies, in radio programs and television shows.

It’s the time of year when we defy the economic and social divide to enjoy the richness of our culture, our tradition and beliefs, many of which were handed to us by our dear departed great, great grandparents. It’s the time of year when we relive our childhood to enjoy a good old tale.

In the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, ghost stories are not just tales. Students, guards and residents all claim to have at least one creepy encounter with the “other kind.” People in this leading intellectual hive easily point to buildings and sites where beautiful white ladies fly and headless priests reveal themselves.

“It’s real. We even watch ghosts play the piano at the College of Music,” said a security guard who refused to be named. He claimed to have seen “apparitions” in other buildings and dormitories.

“I haven’t seen one. But I acknowledge their presence,” said a head of one dormitory for ladies. She said she heard “strange incidents” happening in the campus, but she refused to investigate its veracity.

University campuses have become a favorite source of reports of ghost sightings and apparitions. A lot of stories involve stressed-out students who ended their lives. In one university, a ghost of a student, who supposedly killed herself during the exam week, can be heard sobbing. She has been “spotted” peering from a dormitory window, pleading for help from passersby.

Seeking revenge

If some ghosts just want to have fun, the spirits who supposedly dwell at the old Film Center in Manila want justice from the Marcoses.

“They really want justice from the family of the Marcoses,” Jocelyn Buenafe, a teacher and real-life Filipino ghostbuster, told reporters a few years ago. Buenafe and some 40 members of a group that calls itself Questors held a seance in the deserted building to contact the spirits of workers who died there in an accident in 1981.

A still undetermined number of workers died when scaffolding came crashing down on November 17 that year while work was being done to complete the building in time for the Manila International Film Festival, a pet project of then first lady Imelda Marcos. Several bodies were not recovered. The bodies were simply entombed in cement and work on the building continued.

The Questors attempted to contact the dead to give the spirits some peace, for them to move on “to a higher level.” One of the group’s objectives is to teach the ghosts forgiveness. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have came back from the dead to say if they have finally forgiven the Marcoses.

Are ghosts for real?

People believe in physics or mathematics because proof exists, but in parapsychology, a field that studies things beyond the common experiences of people, evidence is less tangible, so people tend to refuse to believe. Those who believe are thought to have a very particular strong faith.

The experts in the field of parapsychology are scientists who have made a career out of studying abnormal things or strange occurrences, things that cannot be explained in the normal way.

One of these experts in the Philippines is Jaime Licauco. He believes that there already exists a consciousness around the globe of the “Spirit World.” He said: “In every turn of a millennium there is always a surge of spiritualization to prepare for the next generation and for the coming change.”

Licauco claimed that there are evidence to prove the existence of ghosts. There are even countries that have developed machines to detect ghosts, he said.

Ghosts vs apparitions

Javier Martin, an American author, wrote that ghosts and apparitions are not the same. He said apparitions have a much broader definition and application than ghosts.

Ghosts are strictly defined as “visual apparitions of a deceased human being and the term implies that this is the spirit of the person it represents,” while an apparition refers to anything that appears, especially something startling. “It is an aspect of the individual’s existence that survives bodily death.”

All apparitions don’t take the form of visual images. They can manifest themselves as animals and inanimate objects like voices, sounds, even smells. But the most common apparitions are ghosts, that is, human apparitions, Martin wrote.

The belief that identifies an apparition with the spirit of the creature it represents is directly traceable to the ancient and still prevalent doctrine of animism. Animism is the belief that “natural objects and phenomena possess souls or consciousness.”

Primitive man believed that when a man is asleep or in a trance, his soul is temporarily absent. A man’s death is explained by its total absence. The apparition of a deceased person would imply the continuance of the soul’s existence beyond the grave.

In his paper titled “Are Ghosts for Real?” Martin said the custom of closing the eyes of the dead is said to have arisen out of the fear that the ghost would find its way home again.

Among primitive races, the survivors do not mention the names of the departed. Any among them with the same name changes it for another because the name of the person appears to be related to the soul, wrote Martin.

Church view

“Spiritism” is the name properly given to the belief that living beings can and do communicate with the spirits of the departed, and to the various practices by which such communication is attempted.

The Catholic Encyclopedia warns that “spiritism” should be carefully distinguished from “spiritualism,” the philosophical doctrine which holds, in general, that there is a spiritual order of beings no less real than the material and, in particular, that the soul of man is a spiritual substance.

As “spiritism” in the ancient times has been closely allied with the practices of “animal magnetism” and hypnotism, these phenomena have been treated under the same general heading in the discussions of Catholic theologians and in the decisions of the ecclesiastical authority.

The Congregation of the Inquisition on June 25, 1840, decreed: “Where all error, sorcery, and invocation of the demon, implicit or explicit, is excluded, the mere use of physical means which are otherwise lawful, is not morally forbidden, provided it does not aim at unlawful or evil results.

"But the application of purely physical principles and means to things or effects that are really supernatural, in order to explain these on physical grounds, is nothing else than unlawful and heretical deception.”

This decision was reiterated on July 28, 1847, and a further decree was issued on July 30, 1856, which, after mentioning discourses about religion, evocation of departed spirits and “other superstitious practices” of spiritism, exhorts the bishops to put forth every effort for the suppression of these abuses “in order that the flock of the Lord may be protected against the enemy, the deposit of faith safeguarded, and the faithful preserved from moral corruption.”

Detecting ghosts

In modern times machines have supposedly been developed to detect or contact ghosts. People who are “gifted” with the “third eye” can see ghosts. The third eye is supposedly identified with a small gland in the center of the brain which is the seat of human intuition.

There are academic theories of what ghosts (if they indeed exist) are. Some people believe that ghosts are the residual energy left behind by an emotionally strong person or event. This theory holds that more energy/electrical impulses are expended during periods of high stress or excitement, and that the energy lingers for a long time.

Freud thought that ghosts are actually the visions of people who are afraid of death. In this sense, ghosts would not be real at all but rather a projection of our subconscious mind.

Some people maintain the theory that ghosts are telepathic images, that is, a sensitive person would pick up past vibrations from the area they were in and witness an event or person as it appeared many years ago.

They believe that the telepathic images theory would also explain instances when a person sees a loved one at or near the moment of his or her death because the loved one could be unconsciously projecting his or her thoughts to a receptive person.

Ghosts might also be the result of time slips, if time is nonlinear. An event that happened in the past might be seen briefly in our time because of a fluctuation in time or space.

Bestselling author Amy Tan, however, puts her belief in ghosts this way: “Like many people, I have had times in my life when I desperately wanted to see once again a friend or family member who had passed from life too soon and gone to that favorite spot in the sky. At those moments, I have had to trust that our existence doesn’t end with the last breath and heartbeat.

"What are ghosts if not the hope that love continues beyond our ordinary senses? What is the supernatural if not the irrefutable proof that suffering is not meaningless, that luck, both bad and good, occurs for a reason?”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Nobel season and more

It's the season of the Nobel prizes.

Doris Lessing was unexpected. I haven't even read a single book of hers.

Al Gore's win was timely. Other than Greenpeace and the hundreds of environment groups, nobody seems to articulate the need to save the world more than Gore.

If only the "mechanism design theory" of Leonid Hurwicz, Eric S. Maskin and Roger B. Myerson would save me from debts, then they deserve the Nobel prize in economics. Who knows?

Then there's Gerhard Ertl of Germany. How could one spend one's life studying chemical processes on solid surfaces. His research supposedly advanced the understanding of why the ozone layer is thinning.

Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg discovered a physical effect that led to sensitive tools for reading the information stored on hard disks. That sensitivity lets the electronics industry use smaller and smaller disks.

Thanks, Albert, Pete. I still dream of having a 10 gig flash drive.

Then there's Mario R. Capecchi, Oliver Smithies and Sir Martin J. Evans who won the 2007 Nobel in medicine for groundbreaking discoveries that led to a technique for manipulating mouse genes.

Does a mouse have a soul? Oh, well...

What led me to write this entry was Capecchi's story. Do you know that this year's Nobel winner for medicine started as a homeless Italian street kid who never took a bath from when he was four years old until he was nine?

Here's Mario's story from wikipedia:

Mario Capecchi was born in the Italian city of Verona in 1937 to Luciano Capecchi, an Italian airman who would be later reported as missing in action while manning an anti-aircraft gun in Libya, and Lucy Ramberg, an American-born daughter of Impressionist painter Lucy Dodd Ramberg and German archaeologist Walter Ramberg.

During World War II, his mother was sent to the Dachau concentration camp as punishment for pamphleteering and belonging to an anti-Fascist group. Prior to her arrest, she had already made contingency plans by selling her belongings and giving the proceeds to an agricultural family near Bolzano to provide housing for her son. However, after one year, the money had been completely depleted and the family was unable to care for him.

The four-and-a-half year old was left to fend for himself on the streets of northern Italy for the next four years, living in various orphanages and roving through towns with other groups of homeless children.

He almost died of malnutrition. His mother, meanwhile, had been freed from Dachau due to the arrival of the United States military and she began a year-long search for her son. She finally found him in a hospital bed in Reggio Emilia, ill with a fever and subsisting on a daily bowl of chicory coffee and bread crust. She took him to Rome, where he had his first bath in six years.

In 1946 his uncle, Edward Ramberg, an American physicist at RCA, sent his mother money to return to the United States. He and his mother moved to Pennsylvania to live at a Quaker commune called Bryn Gweled, which had been co-founded by his uncle. (Capecchi's other maternal uncle, Walter Ramberg, was also an American physicist who served as the tenth president of the Society for Experimental Stress Analysis. He graduated from George School, a Quaker boarding school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1956.

Mario Capecchi received his B.S. in chemistry and physics in 1961 from Antioch College in Ohio. He received his Ph.D. in biophysics in 1967 from Harvard University with a doctoral thesis under the tutelage of James D. Watson. Capecchi was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Harvard School of Medicine. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1971. In 1973 he joined the faculty at the University of Utah. Since 1988 Capecchi has also been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has taught for Duke University's Program in Genetics and Genomics.


Congratulations to Claire Sy-Delfin, winner of this year's Global Media Awards for 2007, Individual Reporting Category, for her story published on GMANews.TV titled "The forbidden games children play."

Claire will receive her award in Washington DC during the first week of December. Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth" won as best documentary in the same Awards last year. Congrats, day. I'm proud of you! Pasalamat ka kay gi-edit nako, ha,ha, ha, ha.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ang aking 'frat'

Sayang na buhay.

'Yan ang pumasok sa isipan ko habang pinanood ko ang kwento ni Howie Severino sa i-witness.

Tulad sa maraming tao na hindi sumali sa fraternity noong kabataan, naitanong ko kung bakit naisip nila, sa mura nilang edad, na pumasok sa fraternity.

May fraternity sa bayan ko noong bata pa ako. Saksi ako sa kanilang pagpapaluan sa tabing dagat sa dilim ng gabi tuwing meron silang initiation. Marami silang mga pagsubok na dapat lampasan upang mapasali sa samahan. Marami sa kanila ang mga maykaya sa buhay. Marami sa kanila ang may bisyo dahil may pambili sila ng pambisyo, tulad ng alak at marijuana.

Niyaya nila ako noon na sumali. Umayaw ako.

Naisip ko noon, sapat na ang sapok ng tatay ko sa akin tuwing 'di ko mapakain ang alaga naming baboy, o maipastol ang alagang kambing at baka. Sapat na ang palo sa puwet kapag di ako magising ng madaling araw upang mag-igib ng tubig, maghanap ng panggatong at kumuha ng kangkong sa parang.

Bakit ko pa papahirapan ang sarili sa 'di pagtulog ng maaga upang makipagpaluan lamang o makipag-inuman o makipag-hithitan sa dalampasigan. E lagi naman akong nasa tabing-dagat tuwing gabi upang "manahid" para may pang-ulam na "kuyom" at isda sa umaga.

Kaya 'di ako naging miembro ng frat.

Hindi naman pwedeng sabihing duwag kaming mga hindi frat member sa bayan namin dahil mga frat members ang pumupunta sa lugar namin upang humingi ng pabor o magpaalam na dumaan sa nag-iisang lansangan papasok at papalabas sa aming bayan. Baka kasi mapag-tripan namin sila at ulanin ng bala ng tirador o putik kapag di magpaalam na dumaan. Nalaman ko kinalaunan na mas naging notorious pa pala ang lugar namin na pugad ng mga "sira ulo" noong wala na ako.

Ang pamilya ko - mga kapatid (ang kapatid kong babae ang pinakasiga sa amin), mga pinsan at mga kapitbahay sa baryo - ang naging frat ko. Napatunayan namin ang samahan na walang iwanan mula bata pa kami hanggang ngayon na may edad na. Napatutunayan namin ito kapag may namamatay sa amin, kapag may kinakaharap kaming problema, kapag may selebrasyon, kapag kailangan naming magkaisa, kapag kailangan naming maglasing, magsaya o di kaya lumuha. Wala kaming atrasan, sa pagtakas man sa mga kalokohan o pagharap sa mga dapat paninindigan.

Nang mapunta ako sa Maynila, naging subsob ako sa pag-aaral at sa pagtingala at pagtunganga, kaya di ko na naisip na sumali pa sa frat. Ang mga kaklase ko at mga kasamahang kong mga probinsyano rin ang naging mga ka-brod.

Siempre may nangumbinse sa amin na sumali sa frat para magkatulungan daw sa pag-aaral o magkaroon ng kontak sa trabaho kung papalarin man. Subalit, ewan ko ba. Wala kaming pakialam noon. Ayaw naman namin ng mataas na grado. Ayaw din naming sumikat. Gusto lang namin noon may rali lagi para walang pasok o kaya tatakas kami papuntang Quiapo para manood ng mga babaeng hubo sa Gala at Center theaters.

Mahigit 30 kaming magbabarkada at magkakasama araw at gabi. Pinaka-hazing namin ang mga nakakaasar naming mga teacher na maraming iniutos na gawin. Sa awa ng Diyos, matapos ang apat na taon, wala pang sampu kaming nakatapos at umakyat sa bundok at namuhay sa gitna ng hirap sa bukid sa loob ng isang taon.

Yon ang pinaka-bonding namin. Magkasama kaming namumutol ng puno para sa aming kubo, nagtatanim sa palayan, nag-aaral, nagdadasal, nagtuturo sa mga bata, matatanda, magsasaka, mangngisda at pinagtatawanan pa namin ang kasamang magsasabi na galing siya sa Kilometer 20 at kailangan niyang magpahinga ng maaga dahil may lakad pa siya kinabukasan sa Kilometro 30. As in, lakad yan ha, hindi uso ang sasakyan sa gubat.

Pito ang nag-survive matapos ang isang taon at nagpatuloy sa pag-aaral ng apat pang taon upang maging misyonero. Sa kalauna'y may isang natira. Tuwang-tuwang kaming lahat at panay "congratulations" ang aming ipinaabot sa tanging "nagwagi" sa amin at naging "successful," ika nga. Lalo kaming natuwa nang malaman namin na nasa isang liblib na baryo na siya ng Colombia, tumutulong sa mga "hampas-lupang" 'di naman namin kilala.

Swerteng buhay. Mabuti na lang 'di kami nagpaluan noong aming kabataan.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

'La lang

Ang daming nakakalito sa bayan ko.

Na-convict ng plunder ang dating pangulong si Estrada. Kumbaga, napatunayan na nagnakaw siya. Pero sa lahat na magnanakaw, siya lang ang hindi sinungaling. Not guilty kasi siya sa kasong perjury.

Magulo, no?

May explanation ang mga abogado, pero ang hirap ipaintindi sa mga tao.

Ngayon naman, may imbestigasyon sa Senado tungkol sa sinasabing maanomalyang National Broadband deal. Sabit daw ang ilang matataas na opisyal ng gobyerno sa kontrata (wala daw kontrata o) sa kompanyang ZTE.

Ay, ang daming kailangang intindihin. Ano ba yang broadband? Ano ba ang kanilang mga kanta? Hehehe. Ano naman, aber, ang ibig sabihin ng ZTE.

Hirap ng walang magawa dahil hilo sa kakainom ng kape at kakayosi. Parang dinuduyan ang utak mo ng love songs ni Jose Mari Chan habang pinagtatawanan ng isang kaibigan.

'Di mo malaman kung baduy ka talaga o napag-tripan lang ng kaibigan. Nakakalito. Buhay nga naman.

Sa kabilang banda, salamat sa kape at yosi, kusang nahihilo ka na lang at di na makapag-isip kung ano ang dapat iisipin. Kaya heto, para may magawa, magsusulat ng blog entry habang umaalingawngaw ang boses ni Senadora Madrigal na pilit igisa ang DOTC secretary na si Leandro Mendoza.

Wow, OK sa tripping.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ang aming kabataan

Got this in my e-mail. I'm posting it here with comments dahil hindi applicable sa bayan namin ang ilan sa mga entries.

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1950's, 60's and 70's !

First, some of us survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. (sioktong ang inumin)

Hindi umiinom nanay ko (paminsan-minsan lang kung may matamis na tuba sa umaga pagkababa ng manananggot sa sanggutan sa likod ng kubo namin). Hindi rin siya nagyoyosi.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, fish from a can (brand :ligo ) , and didn't get tested for diabetes.

'Di ako nakakita ng blue cheese sa bayan namin, o kahit anumang cheese noong bata pa ako. Ang aspirin ay ipinapainum sa amin kapag may lagnat kami. Di pa uso yata noon ang dengue. Tama, may Ligo sardines na noon pero nakakain lang kami kapag may special occassion, pangsahog sa Udong na noodles.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints, pati na yung laruang kabayu-kabayuhan.

Wala kaming crib at kabayu-kabayuan e.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, no kneepads, sometimes wala ngang preno yung bisikleta.

Wala nga kaming medicine e. Meron kaming altar, nandon lahat kasama na ang orchid na ang tawag ay pangadlaw na nakababad sa tubig - gamot sa lahat na sakit.

Yup, may bike kami, walang brake.

As children, we would ride in car with no seat belts or air bags – hanggang ngayon naman, di ba ? (jeep )

Walang kotse sa bayan namin noong bata pa ako.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat. (maykaya kayo pare !)

Nakikisakay kami sa truck (wala ring pick-up sa bayan ko).

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle (minsan straight from the faucet)

Wala kaming garden hose, pero umiinom kami ng tubig mula sa balon o kaya sa water pump, walang faucet sa bayan ko noon.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. Or contacted hepatitis.

Tama, lagi akong nakikiinom kasi wala akong pambili ng softdrink.

We ate rice with tinunaw na purico (dahil ubos na ang star margarine) , nutribuns na galing kay macoy and drank sopdrinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight kasi nga .....

Yong kanin sinasabawan namin ng kape na gawa sa singangag na mais at binubudburan namin ng asin o kaya asukal. Ang purico pang-prito lang. May nutribun na noon at napakabango nito, inspirasyon namin noon na pumasok.


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. Sarap mag patintero, tumbang preso , habulan taguan….

Hindi talaga kami umuuwi hanggang di masigawan ng nanay. Uuwi lang kami kung sobrang dilim na dahil nakakatakot tumawid sa niyugan at sa pilapilan.

No one was able to reach us all day (di uso ang celfon , walang beepers). And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our trolleys or slides out of scraps and then ride down the street, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

Wala kaming trolley. Tumatalon-talon lang kami sa umpok ng mga dayami at doon na rin kami nagi-slide. Marami-rami pa rin akong remembrance sa mga sugat na nakuha ko sa kasasakay ng bike na walang brake.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms....... ...WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents . The only rubbing we get is from our friends with the words…..masakit ba ? pero pag galit yung kalaro mo,,,,ang sasabihin sa iyo…..beh buti nga !

We play in the dirt , wash our hands a little and ate with our barehands…we were not afraid of getting worms in our stomachs.

We have to live with homemade guns – gawa sa kahoy, tinali ng rubberband , sumpit , tirador at kung ano ano pa na puedeng makasakit…..pero walang nagrereklamo.

May baril-barilan din kami na gawa sa "palwa" sa saging.

made up games with sticks (syatong) and cans (tumbang preso) and although we were told it would happen, wala naman tayong binulag o napatay….paminsan minsan may nabubukulan.

We r ode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Sigaw o sipol lang kami. Minsan pag trip talaga, binabato namin ang bahay, hahaha.

Mini basketball teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Walang sumasama ang loob.

Basebal ang uso sa amin noong panahon ko.

Ang magulang ay nandoon lang para tignan kung ayos lang ang bata….hindi para makialam.

This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and managers ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

Monday, September 03, 2007

call for blood donation

Just got this text message:

Nino Coronel's daughter batu in icu. fresh type A+ blood needed asap for the platelets. Pls. contact Heart Center rm 336 and donate. the situation is critical. Nino is Miriam and Sheila coronel's brother.

Books and music

I only got three books from this year's National Book Fair last Saturday.

I bought the latest edition of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" from PowerBooks although I haven't finished reading the book's "Release 2.0."

Now I'm in Chapter 2 of "Release 3.0."

I also got a discounted copy of John Grisham's "The Innocent Man," which I haven't read although I know a friend of mine has a hardbound copy since last year.

Thanks to Father Toots of the Carmelites, I got my "review copy" of "Fired from Within," a book that tackles the "spirituality of the social movement." (I'm excited to immediately plunge myself into reading it.)

I missed a lot of things (and people) in this year's fair. As expected, the big book shops and publishing houses dominated the five-day event. There were few giveaways. Time and NewsWeek were not even distributing free copies this year. (At least when I was there on Saturday.)

A lecture on the writings of Virgilio Almario was still "standing room only." I had to stay outside the door of the lecture room to listen to snippets of wisdom from the speakers. Rio Alma of course was there later in the afternoon to speak before the students who were brought (by the busloads) by their teachers.

There were no more familiar faces unlike before. I saw a party-list representative, a political opposition spokesman, one or two young writers, and hundreds of children and students, some wearing their school uniform, ushered by their teachers.

I missed the freebies, the small publishing houses offering cheap, sometimes second-hand books, friends and colleagues who used to congregate at the fair during its weekend run.

On Sunday, I dropped by my favorite mall on the corner of EDSA and North Avenue in Quezon City. I chanced upon Jose Marie Chan who was on a rare mall tour for his latest album (the first in six years) "Love Letters and Other Souvenirs."

I had to buy the CD for a seat to listen to the songwriter/singer of "Christmas in Our Hearts," a song that became my favorite since I first heard it the first time several years ago. The CD of the song is one of the best Christmas gifts of all time I got. (Baduy na kung baduy, a dear friend gave it to me last Christmas.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

'News Media Coverage of the 2007 National Elections'

At last I got my copy of CMFR's latest study, "News Media Coverage of the 2007 National Elections."

Thanks, guys. I know, I know, this is my second copy. I gave the first copy to my boss. I hope you will be sending other media executives their own copies.

You would be happy to know that there's a temporary stoppage (at least five minutes) of work every time we in the newsroom receive a copy of CMFR publications, especially the PJR Reports.

There is always a moment of silence, then ohhhs and ahhhhs, when editors and deskpersons scan the Reports. Your "star and kalabasa" ratings section always gets the desk's attention and, I believe, is the most read part of the publication.

I hope your latest study will get the same attention from journalists, especially from media top guys.

I scanned the book and was impressed by the diligence you had in making the study. (The annexes are more reader-friendly compared to the annexes of the 2004 report, which were mostly statistics.)

Of course, there were some minor data that your researchers might have overlooked, but I'm sure the study will inspire journalists and media executives in planning and implementing future coverage.

Tama na muna ang pambobola, babasahin ko pa ang buong libro.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

'no pain, no gain'

I woke up sore all over. My feet were aching, My legs too. I did not want to leave the comfort of my bed. But, to hell, let me experience more.

I did it again early in the morning. I did three rounds in just an hour. (No, I'm not talking about sex here.)

I ran, I walked, while Buklod was playing on my second-hand Nano ipod. (I know, I know, it has only 2Gigs, pero mababaw lang kaligayahan ko. Aside from classical music and alternative songs, wala naman akong alam na ibang awitin.)

I'm planning to make five rounds tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

At last I did it

Yup, I did it. I know my dear friend would be happy to know that I did it.

I woke up at 7 a.m. drove to the academic oval for a jog and a dose of fresh air. I lasted more than an hour, after which I had a cone of durian ice cream.

The last time I jogged around the campus was with a friend who ran a few meters and declared that she had enough. She then started a leisurely stroll before deciding that she was already tired and had enough exercise.

Great baby!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

war, bomb explosions, what's next?

A bomb has just exploded in Zamboanga City's Plaza Pershing while an assault against Abu Sayyaf bandits in nearby Basilan island is ongoing.

What's next?

The bishop of Basilan has already signified his support for the military operation.

The military has been rearing to go to war to avenge the death of their comrades.

Some journalists are covering the conflict from afar.

What's the picture on the ground. What are the stories of the soldiers in the front line? What's happening inside the huts and homes of Muslim and Christian farmers caught in the middle of the firefight?

These are stories that need to be written.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pagkatapos ng bagyo

Dumaan din ang bagyo. Sana naanod na lahat na kitikiti at lamok na may dengue.

Dumaan na nga ang bagyo, pero mas malakas naman na bagyo ang kinakaharap ng mga tao sa Basilan.

Hindi tubig ang bumabaha doon. Dugo. Hindi ulan ang pumapatak doon. Bomba at tingga.

Kailan kaya matatapos ang gera sa Basilan? Kailan kaya mananahimik ang kagubatan doon?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fun with Neil Gaiman

After enjoying Neil Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors" and "Neverwhere" several months ago, I've started just this afternoon "American Gods."

I have only read the first chapter and aside from getting excited, I'm laughing my head off. The story about a man being swallowed by a woman's vagina was "too Filipino" a joke.

"This is what he sees:

"He is inside her to the chest, and as he stares at this in disbelief and wonder she rests both hands upon his shoulders and puts gentle pressure on his body.

"He slips further inside her."

"... He feels the lips of her vulva tight around his upper chest and back, constricting and enveloping him...."

"...Her labia pull slickly across his face, and his eyes slip into darkness."

I miss a dear friend who used to laugh with me when we come across books we love. Wherever you are, I will share Neil Gaiman with you someday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

it's over

to all those who prayed for my daughter's recovery, thank you very much.

she is already out of the hospital after her blood pressure normalized and her platelets count stabilized at 180 early today.

thank you very much to all who wished her well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


thanks to ms i and to all the friends who prayed for ms s' immediate recovery. i'm touched by all your prayers. thanks too to my muslim friends in marawi, iligan, basilan and sulu who offered their prayers.

my dear daughter is still in the hospital trying to make her platelets count rise to normal. her blood pressure has already started to go back to normal with the help of the supplementation of intravenous fluids.

she started to have fever tuesday last week. by wednesday and thursday her temperature reached 45 degrees. i looked for rashes on her body. there was none. i looked for blood in her urine and stool. there was none. she said she just feel sleepy but had no headache. she had no appetite but she did vomit even once. i thought it was just an ordinary fever.

the fever was gone on saturday. we even went around the university of the philippines on sunday for a walk. on sunday afternoon she complained that her feet were itching. in the evening the rashes came out. it was good that i brought her immediately to the hospital. her blood pressure and platelets count were already very low.

everybody's prone to dengue. alfie, a kci member, stayed in the hospital for two weeks before he recovered from the virus. a three-year old daughter of a friend died of the virus. joega's daughter was hospitalized for a week.

there's no medicine or vaccine against the virus. what the doctors do is just monitor the blood pressure, get blood samples twice a day to check the platelets count, feed the patient with intravenous fluid if one is not eating, and that's it. there's nothing that can be done but wait.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

mobile blogging

this is a test blog from a nokia 5700 done from the er of st luke's hospital while waiting for ms s cbc

When things seem fine, something has to come up. This i learned from being a journalist.

So when i was all set to fly to the visayas, my dear s has to be rushed to the hospital.

I've been trying to post this entry for the fifth time to prove that even in the midst of unpredictable moments one can do and learn something new.

Let's see if this will work, baby.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thanks Matthew, Stacy

Two of the most accessible people at the US Embassy here in Manila will finish their tour of duty in the Philippines this month.

Matthew Lussenhop, First Secretary and Embassy spokesman, and Stacy MacTaggert, who has been described also as Embassy spokesman in some news reports (Sorry Stacy, you forgot to give me your card so I don’t know your official designation), are going back to Washington for, well, more job.

Mat and Stacy have been very accessible to the media during their short stint in the country. I remembered greeting Matthew a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year even as I have to quiz him late in the night about the whereabouts of the US Marine who was accused of raping a Filipino woman in Subic.

I remembered teasing Mat during a welcome dinner for him three years ago if he was that tough to face the Philippine media. He just smiled and said he's ready to learn.

A friend, who was with me at the dinner, told Mat that every US Embassy information officer will leave the Philippines with an unforgettable experience - like the departure of the US Bases in 1991, the plot to kill the Pope and the US President during the Apec summit in 1997, the kidnapping of American nationals, the war against the Abu Sayyaf, etc.

Mat said he hopes there would be no such incidents during his tour of duty. Unfortunately for him there was the Subic Rape case issue.

It’s a tough job for Mat and Stacy especially when working with critical media practitioners in the country who are not that easy to please and who rejoice in digging every juicy detail especially when a story involves Americans.

Nice job, guys. Thanks for being such good sports! Good luck in your next assignment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

'Learning from Harry'

Good will always triumph over evil, ika nga.

Isa lamang 'yan sa mga mensahe ng nobela ni J.K. Rowling tungkol sa buhay ng isang batang ang pangalan ay Harry Potter.

Katatapos ko lang basahin ang ika-pito at huling aklat ng tinaguriang Harry Potter series. Sampung taon ko ring sinubaybayan ang kwento ng batang may angking kapangyarihan ng mahika.

Subalit, higit sa mga pagsubok na kinaharap ni Harry Potter at sa mga natuklasan niyang sikreto sa buhay habang nasa Hogwarts, nakagiliwan ko ring pag-aralan ang buhay ng iba't-ibang mga tauhan sa aklat.

Pilit kong inintindi at inabangan ang paglalahad ng buhay ni Tom Marvolo Riddle na sa kalauna'y naging si Lord Voldemort. Bakit siya naging masama? Sabi nga ng isang akda: "It is difficult to know how much 'nature' rather than 'nurture' contributed to Riddle's personality."

Isipin nyo nga naman, pinatay ni Tom Riddle ang kanyang ama na si Tom Riddle Sr. at ang kanyang lolo't lola na si Thomas at Mary Riddle. Bakit niya nagawa ito?

Ambisyon at kasakiman sa kapangyarihan ang nagtulak kay Tom, mga katangiang makikita natin sa maraming tao sa ating lipunan kung hindi man sa pamahalaan.

Gusto ni Tom Riddle na maging guro ng "Defense Against the Dark Arts" sa Hogwarts, pero hindi siya nagtagumpay. Gusto niyang maging "immortal" at maghari sa sanlibutan subalit nahadlangan ang ambisyon niya ng isang batang ang hangad lamang ay hanapin ang sarili at gawin ang tama.

Isa rin sa mga tauhang may natatanging misyon sa buhay si Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Ano ang mga sikretong dala niya hanggang sa hukay? Anong klaseng tao ang gumagamit ng kapwa matupad lamang ang gusto niyang makamit o mangyari.

Sino naman si Severus Snape? Isa ba talaga siyang masamang tao o biktima lamang ng pag-ibig? Napakaganda ng "love story" ni Snape na pati si Harry Potter ay namangha. Meron pa kayang mga Severus Snape sa ating paligid na handang mag-alay ng lahat sa ngalan ng pag-ibig?

Maraming aral na makukuha sa pagsusubaybay sa buhay ni Harry Potter. Alam kong liban sa akin, at kay Pat na nagpahiram sa akin ng "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," marami pa ang "nabaliw" sa kakaabang kung ano ang mangyayari kay Harry at kay Voldemort.

Sa mga 'di nakabasa ng libro, sana napanood n'yo ang pelikula.

Sana liban sa "adventure," may matutunan din tayo sa kwento. Baka kasi ma-take over na tayo ng mga kampon ni Lord Voldemort at pamumunuan na tayo ng "Death Eaters" kung hindi tayo maging mapagmatyag.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Busy days

I'm busy these days. I'm busy reading the latest Harry Potter book. I'm busy attending meetings and sharing ideas and experiences to people who want to listen.

How I wish I will have more time just hanging out with friends, or watching a movie late in the evening, or sharing a few rounds of beer with colleagues.

A friend of mine once said it was my choice, that I could have more time if I want to. Sometimes I wish she was right. Sometimes I wish that I could close my eyes and ears to what's going on around me. I wish that I am not in the business of receiving and sharing information.

How I wish that wealth is shared equitably in this world, that people can just spend time reading Harry Potter books late in the evening without worrying that one has to wake up early in the morning to rush to the office.

I imagined what if I did not leave my hometown, what if I did not dream of getting an education here in Manila. What if I stayed home and continued what I did best when I was young – chopping wood in the mountains, fetching water, planting rice, taking care of farm animals and climbing coconut trees for copra.

Life would have been different. I would have not known Harry Potter and his magical world. I would have not known how difficult it is to drive a car in Metro Manila. I would have not trusted people who later in life would have turn out to be the opposite of what they pretend to be.

Would life be simpler? Maybe not. Maybe I would have ended drinking tuba in the morning and in the afternoon, attending bayles and going home to my little hut in the wee hours of the morning under the waning light of the full moon.

There are no ifs and buts in life. Maybe the friend of mine was right. Life is what we make of it. So, my apologies for not updating my blog these days. I have to finish reading the latest Harry Potter book to have more time to scan the growing pile of New Yorker, Time and Newsweek on my desk.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Iwasto ang mali

Tagal ko na palang 'di nakapag-post dito. Next time, please also try my GMANews.TV blog for updates.

Siguro narinig n'yo na ang balita tungkol sa mga librong mali ang laman (lalo na ang Ingles) pero ipinamahagi pa rin ng Department of Education sa mga estudyante sa elementarya.

Heto ang ilan sa mga nakakatawang pagkakamali. Sige nga, subukan nyo ngang itama:

* Stop playing in your computer now.
* Be in the peak of health.
* The typhoon is moving in a northeasternly direction.
* Around the pool is an orientally-designed porch.
* I have seen some orchids in our neighbor’s botanical gardens.
* Some plants are self-planters. They plant their own seeds.
* I’m capable of being the best me I can.
* The city’s voice is soft like solitudes.
* I dipped my tired feet into a basin of water to soothe the ache and fret.
* Do animals move only when the wind blows? What animals don’t move when there is no wind but move when the wind blows?
* Take me to the water breaks.
* Rizal made himself famous as a writer.
* Stars seem to twinkle because they are very far away. There are dwarf stars. They are like people.
* We celebrate in February People Power. In April, we recall the Death March, Bataan’s fall. May is a month of cold showers. July is a month to remember our American friends forever. We remember a birthday in August, Quezon’s so well-loved and famous.
* You should always address the envelop and leave it open.
* The children felt the bridge under them falling.
* He found his friend clowning himself around.
* Sometimes the elephant becomes angry with Kim for fooling the animal around.
* God wants me for a sunbeam to shine for Him each day.
* Kiosk: a somewhat similar structure open at one or more sides used as a bandstand.
* He seemed to be waiting for someone, not a blood relation, much less a bad blood.
* In bullfighting, the bulls are not the ones which fight with each other. It is very dangerous to face a bull that has been played with.
* “Here’s for you!” the guard said while hitting Basilio.
* The bamboo whirled till it spun like a top then stood tall and graceful as a queen but the hardwood tree hit the wind with its bark.
* Our hopes and dreams are like fleeting birds at night. People are not made to float like a bird.
* Galileo invented a magnifying telescope to study the moon.
* We grow our hogs in our own farms so you’re sure to get meat that is grown.
* As the campers trek through the trail at the rainboat they’ll stop now and then. They had huffs and puffs.
* The farmer is hopeful that someday he will reap with joy.
* The high flagpole could be seen easily. During windy days, the flag flies so high it doesn’t drop. The national anthem sounds so high that we cannot reach the pitch.
* The daily policeman reports to his post in the morning. He stands straight watching the vehicles go by. Those who stop late for the red light are apprehended.
* The chicken was dressed. They stripped off her feathers, served her quite bare and everyone poked at her breast.
* Open door on back of camera, place film and close camera door.
* Choke: stop breath by blocking the windpipe. The baby was choke from eating biscuits.
* The bat licks itself like a cat; after washing up, it flies away.
* Not all mountains are made by wrinkles in the ground.
* God’s footsteps bulged the mountains up. God like morning bending over her baby kneeled down in the dust.
* Because you made a fool of me, you’ll get the greatest wrath. I’m afraid of the wrath of the stem.
* The lakes widdled down in the hollows of the ground.
* The hen walked coquetly.
* When he smells something foul, it makes him squirmish.
* The potato pursued a disapproving lip.
* Look at the sky at night. You see the moon and the stars. Then you see lightning flashes and you hear thunder before the downpour of rain. Why is the sky? And why is the sky?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ilang saglit sa CDO, hapunan sa Manolo Fortich

Ang sarap ng steak sa Manolo Fortich sa Bukidnon. Ang kapal ng karne pero ang lambot. Siguro dahil pinya lang ang kinakain ng mga baka doon.

Ang ganda pa rin sa Mindanao, kahit na meron nang SM sa Cagayan de Oro. Malamig pa rin ang hangin, malayo pa rin ang naaabot ng mga mata habang bumibiyahe sa highway.

Masaya sa CDO lalo na gabi ng Biyernes at Sabado. Meron silang night market. Nakabili pa nga ako ng short pants at baseball cap sa ukay-ukay. May live band din at kainan at inuman. Sa isang piano bar naman ako nagpalipas ng oras.

Nakakalungkot lang na mukhang dumarami ang mga batang prosti at bugaw sa lansangan, lalo na malapit sa mga hotel at inn. Mukhang malaking problema itong dapat harapin ng local government at ng mga pulis.

Hindi nagdadala ng condom ang mga prosti sa CDO. Minsan daw kasi bigla na lang nagtsi-check ang mga pulis at hinuhuli ang mga batang babaeng may tinatagong condom.

Mukhang walang matandang prosti sa CDO. Panay mga bata. Sabi nga, 'di sila makapandaya na estudyante lang sila, karamihan kasi ay mukhang mga "pupil" lang.

Marami na ring dumadayong turista sa CDO. Sumisikat na ang river rafting at entry point na rin ang siyudad papuntang Camiguin, Iligan, Bukidnon at mga malalapit na mga bayan.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ang swerte ni Bedol

Natapos din ang paghahanap kay Lintang Bedol, ang elections supervisor sa Maguindanao na ipina-aresto ng Comelec dahil sa hindi pagpapakita sa canvassing ng resulta ng eleksyon.

Nakita si Bedol sa Davao nitong nakalipas na linggo. Hindi naman daw siya sumuko, hindi naman daw nahuli.

Baka nga naman nakasalubong lang niya ang mga pulis na naghanap sa kanya at sumama na lang siyang kusa dahil gusto niyang mamasyal sa Maynila.

"Not guilty" ang sagot ni Bedol sa bintang na "indirect contempt" dahil sa hindi niya pagpapakita sa canvassing noong Mayo. Pansamantala siyang pinakawalan ng Comelec nitong Martes. Magastos naman kasi kung patuloy na maninirahan si Bedol sa hotel sa Maynila. P2,200 hanggang P2,700 ang bayad sa isang kwarto bawat gabi doon.

Comelec ang magbabayad sa kwarto ni Bedol. Sila kasi ang nagpahuli sa kanya. Sabi naman ng PNP, kung 'di kaya ng Comelec bayaran ang hotel, sila na lang daw ang sasagot sa gastos. PNP kasi ang humuli kay Bedol.

Swerte ni Bedol. Nakalibre siya ng tulog sa hotel at ng pamasahe sa eroplano mula Davao papuntang Maynila. Marami pa siyang badigard.

Naalala ko tuloy ang isang manunulat na hinuli dahil sa demandang libel. Kinuha siya sa kanyang opisina sa Ortigas, isinakay sa taxi papuntang Pasig kung saan ang istasyon ng pulis, nang bumaba na sa sasakyan, siya ang pinagbayad ng pulis ng pamasahe.

Pasensya na raw, sabi ng pulis, wala silang pera. Malas lang ng reporter. Siya na nga ang hinuli, siya pa ang pinagbayad ng pamasahe. Kung alam lang niya na siya ang magbabayad, sana nag-jeep na lang sila o kaya'y nag-traysikel.

Swerte talaga ni Bedol.

Pero, teka, papaano kaya siya uuwi sa kanila? May dala kayang pamasahe ang mama? O baka naman may bahay siya dito sa Maynila.

Friday, June 29, 2007

'Prison Break'

It's a story of childhood monsters coming back, haunting the present, an endless attempt to escape from oneself, from reality, failure to accept and reconcile with the past, an attempt at redemption, a story of love and betrayal.

I've spent several sleepless nights watching the "Prison Break" series. It was introduced to me by a dear friend months ago who lent me an incomplete DVD of the first season. I fell for it, its twists and turns, the action and the suspense, the thrill of the chase, the running, the escaping, including all the unbelievable scenes that can only happen in a movie.

After so many months, after the friend who introduced the series went missing (maybe to confront monsters or to get lost into oblivion), I finally saw the complete second season. I'm looking forward to watch the unfolding of the story.

What will happen at the Sona? What awaits Scofield? What 's in store for T-Bag (one the most interesting characters in the series, a criminal that everybody wants to hate, a victim of his past, an abused child, a monster that society - his family, neighbors, the system - helped create).

(By the way, what happens to the beloved friend who lent me the first season? I pray that my friend will survive the Sona, kill all the monsters, and come back with a wide smile and, maybe, bring me a complete copy of the next season. I will be waiting, with a warm embrace, even if it takes a while. The next season will still start this Fall. Hello...)

An incomplete bio of T-Bag follows from the series' official site:

CRIME: Six counts of Kidnapping, Rape and First Degree Murder, second degree murder, and aggravated assault, escape from a Federal Incarceration Facility
SENTENCE: Incarceration for the rest of his natural life
TIME LEFT ON SENTENCE: The rest of his natural life
ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE IN: Inmate is not eligible for parole

Theodore Bagwell is one of the most dangerous predators at Fox River Penitentiary. Not surprisingly, he has barely known a life outside of confinement. After multiple citations for vandalism and cruelty to animals, a ten year old Bagwell was caught attempting to burn down the home of his fourth grade teacher and was sent to juvenile hall. It was there that Bagwell was first introduced to a white supremacist gang, known as the Alliance for Purity.

As Bagwell grew up, his crimes grew more serious, including assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. For these crimes, Bagwell was sentenced to Alabama’s Donaldson maximum-security prison where he immediately assumed a leadership position in the Alliance for Purity.

Upon Bagwell’s release four years ago, he immediately returned to a life of crime, and embarked on a rape and murder spree across Alabama that included several teenage victims and landed him on America’s Most Wanted, the popular television series. Once captured, Bagwell’s attorney petitioned for Bagwell to be incarcerated out of state, for fear of re-establishing power in the Alliance for Purity. When Bagwell landed in Fox River ten months ago, its chapter of the Alliance was non-existent. Thanks to the charismatic “T-Bag,” it is now one of the most powerful gangs in the prison.

Once escaped from Fox River, it didn’t take long for T-Bag to start up old habits again. His first victim was Dr. Marvin Gudat, a veterinarian who had a small clinic in Illinois. T-Bag murdered Gudat after forcing him to provide impromptu medical care. His next victim was Jerry Curtin and his daughter Danielle. Curtin, a good Samaritan who gave T-Bag a ride from Nebraska to Utah, was brutally beaten in his hotel room after making sexual advances on his daughter.

From there T-Bag made it to Toole, Utah where he stole an archived map from the county clerk’s office and reunited with Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows to enter Jeanette Owens’ home in search of the D.B. Cooper money. He then made off with all of the cash.

Former C.O.’s Brad Bellick and Roy Geary apprehended T-Bag and tortured him in order to find the Westmoreland money. T-Bag was able to track down Geary and retrieve the cash. He then murdered Geary and framed Bellick.

T-Bag was last seen behind bars in Panama after Season 2.

Monday, June 25, 2007

NUJP: A greater issue is whether this government is truly committed to democracy and freedom

If anything, the brazen murder on Monday of Radyo ng Bayan reporter and operations supervisor Vicente Sumalpong in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and the wounding of his colleague, Vema Antham, highlights once more the government's failure to act decisively to staunch the rampant bloodshed that has cast doubts on its ability and commitment to defend democracy and freedom.

Sumalpong was the fourth journalist murdered this year, the 53rd since this administration came to power in 2001 and the 90th since the supposed restoration of democracy in 1986. He is also the second member of the government-run network to be killed this year.

It is ironic that this latest assault on press freedom comes only 10 days after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked media to "help" her build her legacy in the last three years of her term, going so far as to suggest how the press should spin reportage, commentary and even editorial slant to fit the image she wishes to be remembered by.

Doubly ironic because the deaths of our colleagues since 2001 have, indeed, helped Arroyo build a legacy - that of having the highest media death toll under any presidency, including the 14-year Marcos dictatorship, and more than the combined total of her three predecessors.

Again, we stress that we are not implying that the killings of journalists are part of any official policy.

But we also again reiterate our assertion that government inaction in stopping the killings and bringing those responsible - gunmen and masterminds both - to account makes it no less culpable than if it had actually pulled the trigger. For this inaction has bred the culture of impunity that has encouraged those who wish to silence press freedom in this country to carry out their attacks with increasing brazenness.

The issue here is not just the safety and lives of journalists. A greater issue is whether this government is truly committed to democracy and freedom.

Unless we see concrete action against journalists' killers and unless we hear an unequivocal order from the president to stop the deliberate targeting of the press, which we have long demanded from her, that commitment will ever be in doubt.

Joe Torres, NUJP chairman

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Si Rizal, noon at ngayon

"Birthday" ni Rizal, kaya naisip kong magsulat tungkol sa bayaning limot na yata ng marami.

Natutuwa ako kay Rizal dahil siya lang ang "sikat" na taong kilala ko at binasa't pinag-aralan ang mga sinulat kahit na noong bata pa ako.

Sa aming bayan, doon sa Dapitan, kung saan ang lahat na daan ay nakapangalan sa mga tauhan ng mga nobela ni Rizal o mga sinulat niya (Mi Ultimo Adios Street ang daan papuntang sementeryo, Mi Retiro Street ang daan papasok sa sementeryo, at Maria Clara Street naman ang daan kung saan nanirahan ang maraming matandang dalaga), ang mamang taga-Laguna ay naging idolo naming mga batang naging tao noong panahon ng martial law.

Ipinanganak at tinuli ako sa Rizal Memorial Hospital, nag-aral sa Rizal Memorial Institute, nakaranas ng unang halik sa loob ng simbahan sa tabi ng marker na nagsasabing doon si Rizal tumatayo kapag nagsisimba sa araw ng Linggo, nakaunang yakap sa iniirog sa loob ng replica ng clinic ni Rizal sa Rizal Shrine, at nakaunang halik sa labi ng sinta sa "foot trails" ng Rizal Park.

Matindi ang tama ni Rizal sa buhay naming mga taga-Dapitan. At kahit na nagtitinda lang ako noon ng kangkong at nag-sasakristan sa simbahan, pinangarap kong sa University of Santo Tomas mag-aral para masundan ang yapak ng bayani. Pinagtawanan lang ako noon ng tatay ko.

Nakapag-aral nga ako sa unibersidad sa Espanya, Manila, sa tulong ng mga misyonerong Claretiano. Nang makuha ko ang "second prize" ng annual literary contest sa UST, tuwang-tuwa ako. "Second prize" din lang si Rizal noong sumali siya. Nadaya raw kasi. Baka nga ako gano'n din.

Nang tanungin ako ng mga pari kung saan ko gustong mag-aral ng Teyolohiya matapos ang aking kursong Pilosopiya, sabi ko sa Ateneo. "Bakit?" tanong ng mga pari. "Kasi nag-aral si Rizal doon."

Noong bagong salta pa lang akong Maynila, Fort Santiago at Luneta agad ang gustong kong puntahan. Doon nakulong at pinatay si idol e. 'Di ko rin pinalampas ang pagkakataon noon na madalaw ang bahay ni Rizal sa Laguna. Gusto ko pa nga sanang hanapin ang tsinelas na itinapon niya sa ilog nang minsang lumuwas sila ng Kuya Paciano niya sa Maynila.

At kahit na namulat na ang aking isipan sa buhay ng ibang mga bayani tulad nila Bonifacio, Del Pilar, Mabini, at iba pa, bumabalik pa rin ang mga aral na nakuha ko sa mga sinulat ni Rizal. Habang maraming aktibista ang nagsasabing si Bonifacio ang dapat maging idolo ng mga nakikibaka, si Rizal pa rin ang kumikiliti sa isipan ko.

Naging bahagi si Rizal ng aking paglaki. Siguro kong tinuli ako sa Bonifacio Memorial Hospital o kaya'y kasing laki ng bolo ni Bonifacio ang ipinang-tuli sa akin, baka si Boni ang aking maging idolo. Kahit nga 'pag nagsindi ako ng lampara sa gitna ng gabi para dumumi (third year high school na kasi ako nang magka-kuryente sa bayan namin), si Rizal pa rin ang nakikita ko - sa posporo.

Noong nasa ibang bansa naman ako nakipagsapalaran, naiisip ko pa rin si Rizal. Sa Chicago nalaman ko na nag-stop over pala ang mama noong panahon niya, sa Vienna naman hinanap ko sa archives ng isang unibersidad ang isang textbook sa medisina kung saan nandoon ang pangalan ni Rizal na nagkaroon pala ng ka-penpal sa Austria noon.

At kahit na nasa Middle East ako at nakipaglaban sa lumbay, naisip ko pa rin si Rizal. Siguro, tulad ng maraming OFW, naisip din ng ating bayani ang kanyang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay na naiwan sa Maynila at Binan.

Sa Europa, kung saan naranasan ko ang lamig at napasyalan ang magagandang hardin, naalaala ko ang mga tulang ginawa ni Rizal. At kapag nakakakita ako ng mala-manika at matatangkad na mga dalaga sa ibang bansa, naitatanong ko sa sarili paano kaya nang-tsiks ang ating bida, e punggok naman siya.

Isa sa mga paborito kung tula na memoryado ko ang English version mula noong bata pa ako ay ang "Awit Ng Manlalakbay." Kung babasahin nyo ng mabuti, mapapansin nyo na kahit lumipas na ang mahigit isang-daang taon, ganon pa rin ang kalagayan ng mga Pinoy na nangingibang-bansa, ganon pa rin tulad sa panahon ni Rizal.

Kagaya ng dahong nalanta, nalagas,
Sinisiklut-siklot ng hanging marahas;
Abang manlalakbay ay wala nang liyag,
Layuin, kalulwa't bayang matatawag.

Hinahabul-habol yaong kapalarang
Mailap at hindi masunggab-sunggaban;
Magandang pag-asa'y kung nanlalabo man,
Siya'y patuloy ring patungo kung saan!

Sa udyok ng hindi nakikitang lakas,
Silanga't Kanlura'y kanyang nililipad,
Mga minamahal ay napapangarap,
Gayon din ang araw ng pamamanatag.

Sa pusod ng isang disyertong mapanglaw,
Siya'y maaaring doon na mamatay,
Limot ng daigdig at sariling bayan,
Kamtan nawa niya ang kapayapaan!

Dami ng sa kanya ay nangaiinggit,
Ibong naglalakbay sa buong daigdig,
Hindi nila tanto ang laki ng hapis
Na sa kanyang puso ay lumiligalig.

Kung sa mga tanging minahal sa buhay
Siya'y magbalik pa pagdating ng araw,
Makikita niya'y mga guho lamang
At puntod ng kanyang mga kaibigan.

Abang manlalakbay! Huwag nang magbalik,
Sa sariling baya'y wala kang katalik;
Bayaang ang puso ng iba'y umawit,
Lumaboy kang muli sa buong daigdig.

Abang manlalakbay! Bakit babalik pa?
Ang luhang iniukol sa iyo'y tuyo na;
Abang manlalakbay! Limutin ang dusa,
Sa hapis ng tao, mundo'y nagtatawa.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Si Richard

Tila may lambong na madilim na ulap ang mukha ni Richard nang una kong makita sa loob ng eroplano sa Frankfurt airport. Tila wala siyang pakiaalam sa kanyang paligid, nakalagay sa tenga ang earphone ng kanyang ipod, malayo ang kanyang paningin, ni hindi ako kinibo nang tabihan ko siya.

“Pauwi ka?” basag ko sa katahimikan habang umupo ako sa kanyang tabi. Huli na nang naisip ko na malaking katangahan ang tanong ko. Siyempre, wala sana siya sa loob ng eroplano kung hindi siya pauwi sa Pilipinas.

Subalit tumango si Richard bago ibaling ang paningin sa labas ng bintana ng eroplano. Nanahimik na rin ako. Malamig ang hangin at gusto ko ring matulog. Subalit makalipas ang ilang minuto, tinanggal ni Richard ang earphone, at nakipag-usap sa akin.

“Ilang taon kang di umuwi, sir?” tanong niya.

“Ilang linggo lang akong nawala. May pinuntahan lang na miting,” sabi ko sa kanya.

“Noong November din lang ako huling nasa atin. May emergency lang kaya ako uuwi,” sabi ni Richard, sabay lagay muli ng earphone sa tenga.

Umusad na ang eroplano at nagsimulang sumahimpapawid.

“Ayokong sumakay nang eroplano. Nakakatakot,” sabi ng aking katabi.

“Richard. Richard pala ang pangalan ko,” sabay abot ng kamay. Malamig ang kanyang palad, kasing lamig ng mga palad ko.

“Kinakabahan ka rin?” tanong niya.

Tumango ako. Takot din akong sumakay ng eroplano, amin ko sa kanya. “Nai-imagine ko kasi kung ano ang feeling kung bumagsak ang eroplano.”

“Nakakatakot talaga,” sabi niya. “Siguro, biglaan lang at wala na tayong mararamdaman.”

“Sana nga, para 'di masakit,” sabi ko.

“May pamilya ka?” muling pagbasag ko sa katahimikan habang hinihintay ang flight attendant na namimigay ng tinapay.

“Meron. Kaya ako uuwi,” sagot niya.

Nanatili akong tahimik. Nanahimik na rin si Richard. Nang lumingon ako, nakita kong humihikbi siya.

“Nanganak ang misis ko noong May 21,” kwento niya.

“Congrats,” sabi ko.

'Di siya kumibo.

“Kaya ako uuwi. Ayoko na sana e. Wala naman akong magawa at ayaw ng kumpanya ko. Pero naiisip ko ang asawa ko. Iyak siya ng iyak. Matagal na rin naming planong mag-kaanak. Pang-apat na-attempt na namin ito. Ngayon lang nakabuo. Kaya nga ako nag-abroad, para sa bata. Para sa kinabukasan niya,” sabi ni Richard, sabay punas ng luha na dahan-dahang nangilid sa kanyang mga mata.

Ayaw sana siyang pauwiin ng kanyang kumpanya, pero nang makita raw na umiiyak siya sa telepono, ang kanyang mga kasamahan na ang nakiusap na pababain na siya sa barko. Sa Russia sana siya bababa, sa St. Petersburg, pero delikado raw doon, kaya sa Helsinki na lang siya hinatid. Sumakay siya ng eroplano papuntang Frankfurt at doon kami nagkita.

Tatlumpung-isang taong gulang lang si Richard, dalawamput-pitong taon naman ang kanyang asawa. Halos limang taon na silang mag-asawa at maraming beses na silang nangarap na magkaroon ng anak.

“Tatlong beses na siyang nakunan,” sabi ni Richard.

Hotel and Restaurant Management ang natapos ni Richard, nalimutan ko naman kung ano ang kurso ng kanyang asawa, pero meron siyang trabaho hanggang umalis si Richard at nagdesisyon sila na huminto na lang muna sa trabaho si misis dahil maselan ang kanyang pagbubuntis.

Marami nang napasukang trabaho si Richard. Nakapunta na nga siya sa Singapore para mamasukan sa isang hotel. Pero nang magbuntis ang asawa, kailangan nila ng mas malaking pera. Kailangang paghandaan ang panganganak.

Sa tulong ng isang tiyuhin, nakasakay si Richard noong Nobyembre sa isang cruise ship na bumibiyahe sa Caribbean.

“Marami akong napasyalan na lugar, kahit na apat na oras lang siguro sa bawat pagdaong ng barko. Para nga kaming mga baliw, takbo ng takbo, pa-picture ng pa-picture para masabing napuntahan namin ang isang sikat na siyudad,” kwento niya sa akin.

Mahirap ang trabaho, sabi niya. 'Di raw maiwasan na minsan merong diskriminasyon. May panahon naman na halos lumubog daw ang barko dahil sa lakas ng alon. Akala niya mamamatay na raw siya.

Subalit dahil sa pagsisikap, na-promote si Richard at naging attendant sa upper deck. Nakakaitim nga lang daw dahil laging naiinitan at dumidikit ang tubig-dagat sa balat.

Para maaliw ang sarili at malimutan ang hirap sa trabaho, ang malalakas na alon na minsan ay humahampas sa barko, at ang pag-iisa, laging iniisip ni Richard na nasa tabi ang asawa at ang 'di pa isinilang na anak.

Kapag nakababa sa daungan, tumatakbo siya sa pinakamalapit na public phone para tumawag sa Pilipinas. Mahal daw kasi ang cell phone at kailangan niyang magtipid.

“Lagi kong ini-imagine na sa pag-uwi ko sa Disyembre, sasalubungin ako ni misis at karga ang anak namin. Ano kaya ang amoy ng ulo niya? Sino kaya ang kahawig? Kasing pogi ko kaya, sir?” sabi niya, sabay ngiti.

Hindi maipinta ang kanyang kaligayahan nang habang nasa laot ay nakatanggap siya ng tawag noong Mayo 21 na nanganak na nga ang asawa. Malaki ang gastos pero tiniis ni Richard. Naitago naman daw niya lahat ng kanyang kinita. Para raw ayaw lumubog ng araw ng gabing 'yon.

Premature ang bata nang lumabas. Maselan ang kalagayan ng asawa at ng sanggol. Halos isang-daang libong piso ang kanilang nagasta sa panganganak. Naka-incubator pa ang bata ng halos dalawang linggo.

Makalipas ang ilang araw, isang linggo mahigit, naideklara na maayos na ang lahat. Inilabas sa incubator ang bata at pinainom ng gatas ng nars.

At nangyari ang trahedya. Nasobrahan daw sa pagpainom ng gatas ang bata, ayon sa natanggap na ulat ni Richard. Meron namang nagsabi na may sakit daw sa baga ang bata. Hindi malaman ng batang ama ang mararamdaman.

“Naisip kong nababaliw na yata ako. Paano nangyari ‘yon? Ni hindi ko man lang siya nakita,” naiipit sa dibdib ni Richard ang mga salita. Nadurog ang kanyang mga pangarap, dumilim ang langit, sabi niya. Hindi niya malaman ang gagawin.

“Anong gagawin ko, sir?”

Mahigit limang oras kaming nagpalitan ng mga karanasan ni Richard. Sinabayan ko ang pagbaha ng kanyang luha. Iba man ang dahilan ng sakit ng aking dibdib, pilit kong dinama ang kanyang naramdaman. May luha pang nangilid sa kanyang mga mata nang huli kong silipin ang kanyan mukha.

Ginising ako ni Richard nang nasa China na kami para mag-refuel ang eroplano. Sabay na lang daw ako sa kanya dahil sasalubungin siya ng kanyang asawa at pamilya sa pagdating sa Maynila.

Sige, sabi ko. Gusto kong makilala ang kanyang mga mahal sa buhay, sabi ko sa kanya.

Nang nasa airport na kami, umatras ako. Hindi na mapalagay si Richard at naduwag na rin akong maging saksi sa mga luha at pigil na paghiyaw ng kanyang mga mahal sa buhay.

Ni hindi kami nagkapalitan ng mga contact number. Sabi niya taga-Valenzuela sila pero nasa Tondo nakaburol ang sanggol.

Huli kong nakita si Richard na yakap ang isang babaeng umiiyak. Haplos-haplos ng kaibigan ko ang likod ng kanyang asawa, habang lumuluha sa paligid ang sa tingin ko ay mga kamag-anak na hawak-hawak ang laylayan ng jacket ni Richard at ang bitbit niyang bag.

Naglakad ako palabas sa airport, sa gitna ng madilim na gabi. Maulap ang langit at tila nagbabadya ang malakas na ulan.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Parke ng mga rebultong hubad

Lunes nang magsimula ang Global Inter-Media Dialogue dito sa Soria Moria. Buong araw nasa miting lang ako kung saan naatasan akong moderator sa isang parallel meeting.

Mahirap mag-facilitate ng isang international meeting na halos lahat gustong magsalita, nagdedebate at iba-iba pa ang lenggwahe.

Nakayanan naman at natuwa naman ang mga hindi kumulang 50 na kasapi sa aking parallel session, karamihan mga executives o may-ari ng iba’t-ibang media organizations sa buong mundo.

Hay buhay. Kain, meeting, kain, lang ang ginawa ko. Mabuti na lang napakaganda ng lugar at napaka-presko ng hangin.

Sa gabi, bumaba ako sa siyudad. Naglakad muli ako papunta sa train station at nagpunta sa parke ng mga hubad na rebulto.

Alas-nuwebe na ng gabi ako umalis sa hotel, at sa pagkakamangha ko sa aking mga nakita, nakalimutan ko ang oras, kaya hayon, wala ng tren o bus or anumang masakyan liban sa taxi. Halos US$20 din ang naibayad ko sa taxi dahil ala-una na ng madaling araw ako umalis sa parke. Hindi kasi lumulubog ang araw kaya akala ko hapon pa rin. Hehehe.

Sulit naman ang pag-ikot ko. Heto ang ilan sa mga larawan ng mga rebultong hubad.

Soria Moria

OSLO – Malamig dito pero hindi lumulubog ang araw dahil summer. Mahirap mamasyal dahil napakalayo ng aking tinitirhan, nasa tuktok ng bundok.

Soria Moria ang pangalan ng hotel kung saan dito daw napagkasunduan ang mga polisiya ng pagtatag ng pamahalaan ng Norway. Dito rin daw nag-usap noon sila Arafat at iba pang world leaders para sa kapayapaan sa Palestina.

The Soria Moria Hotel Oslo is located on the summit of Holmenkollen in beautiful woodland. The hotel has modern guest rooms with up-to-date furniture and decor, which cleverly mixes contemporary European style with typical Scandinavian touches. In many ways the most remarkable aspect of the rooms is the stunning view over the surrounding woodland.

Ito ang view mula sa aking kwarto, kung saan nanaginip ako ng prinsesa.

Isang alamat ang Soria Moria.

A poor couple had a son named Halvor who was good for nothing but to sit about groping in the ashes. One day, a skipper asked him if he would like to go to sea. He went, and a storm blew them far off course.

When Halvor got off the ship, he walked and found a castle. When he reached it, a princess warned him that a troll with three heads lived there and would eat him. Halvor refused to leave.

The princess fed him and asked him to try to wield a sword. He could not, and she advised him to drink from a flask; afterwards, he could wield it.

He killed the troll on its return. The princess told him of her two other sisters, also held captive by trolls, and Halvor rescued them as well, though one troll had six heads and the other nine.

They offered that any of them would marry him, and he chose the youngest princess, but he missed his parents and wanted to tell them what had happened.

The princesses gave him a ring to wish himself there and back but warned him not to name them.

His parents took a long time to recognize this grand lord as their son, but they were very pleased with him. The young women were abashed before him, because they used to mock him. He wished the princesses were there to show them how abashed they should be. They appeared.

The youngest princess persuaded Halvor to lie down and sleep, put a ring on his finger, took the wishing ring and wished them back to Soria Moria Castle.

He set out to find them, bought a horse, and found a cottage with an old couple where the woman had a nose long enough to stir the fire with. He asked if they knew the way to Soria Moria Castle, and they did not, nor did the Moon when the old woman asked it, but the old woman traded him a pair of boots that took twenty miles a step for his horse, and asked him to wait for the West Wind. It knew where Soria Moria Castle was, and that there was to be a wedding there.

Halvor set out with the West Wind to reach it.

There, Halvor put the ring the princess had given him into a cup and had it brought to the princess. She recognized it and married Halvor instead of the new bridegroom. (Wikipedia)

Ganda no? Sabi nga, lahat tayo naghahanap ng Soria Moria (happiness) pero kailangan muna nating patayin ang mga troll para marating ang ating ninanais at mapangasawa ang prinsesa. Hintay ka lang mahal na prinsesa, iinom lang ako mula sa magic flask at lagot ang mga troll na yan, masaker ito! Hehehe

Seeing Moscow

In Oslo

Thursday, June 07, 2007

In Oslo

11:50 p.m. June 3 (Sunday)
Soria Moria Hotel
Voksenkollveien, Oslo

I arrived in Oslo yesterday (Saturday) via Munich, Germany, at 5:30 in the afternoon local time. From Moscow I got off the plane in Munich, pass through the EU immigration check and transferred to a smaller plane to Oslo. Travel time to Munich from Moscow took almost three hours, from Munich to Oslo was over two hours. I was surprised that there was no immigration check anymore in Oslo. So that's what being part of the EU all about.

I had to change US$100 to the local currency (kroner) at an automated machine outside the airport terminal. The exchange rate was $1 to 5 kroner. I then look for a map and asked for direction from the information kiosk. I was worried, I don't know a thing about Oslo and there was nobody to meet me because it was a weekend. I asked where the taxi stand is. The man at the counter asked me where I was going. When I mentioned the name of the hotel, Slottsparken Thon Hotel, the man said it's in the center of the city and it's about 50 kilometers away from the airport. I asked if I could take a taxi, he said it's up to me because it's very expensive. He suggested that I would take the bus, adding that the last stop of the bus is just across my hotel.

I followed his advise and enjoyed the one-hour bus ride to the hotel. The bus driver pointed the hotel to me when I got down and I checked in. It was a traditional European hotel, with no soap, no toothbrush, etc, nothing at all in the toilet. Nada! Nothing. I picked up my camera, left my things and decided to discover the city. In front of my hotel was a park. I went through the park, under the trees and was surprised to come out before a huge building, with a statue of a man on horseback in the courtyard and a flag flying over the top of the building. I later found out from a map I obtained from the hotel reception that I was in front of the Royal Palace, the king's palace.

In front of the palace was an avenue that extends out into the city. Along the street were beautiful structures. I started walking, it was already past 9 p.m. but the sun was still up like the three o'clock sun back in Manila. I passed by the Oslo University, the National Theater, the parliament building, the national cathedral, which unfortunately closed for renovation until 2009, then I reached the central station. In the streets were people, young people, old people, drinking, eating, enjoying the sun. I later learned that it was the real first day of summer in Oslo because it rained the whole time in the past days. The weather was also pleasant at 18 degrees centigrade.

There was a music festival so free concerts were in almost all street corners. I also learned later that the whole thing was sponsored by the city government. I had dinner past 10 p.m. at Burger King then started walking back to my hotel while enjoying the street performances on the street - poetry reading, violen, opera, bands, the whole lot. I also enjoyed watching at the girls with their shorts and tank tops as they walk the streets or lie on the grass beside the street and at the park. It was getting cold when I reached the hotel, the temperature was most likely below 15 degrees. I just crawled under my comforter and I went to sleep. It was past 12 in the morning and there was still light.

I woke up early in the morning at eight o'clock, had a very European breakfast at the restaurant downstairs and walked to the park. I saw some Filipino women, maybe on their way to church. I just stroll around the Royal Palace and went back to my hotel to meet the Elisabeth of the Norwegian Foreign ministry who would bring me to the Soria Moria. We met at the lobby at 11:30 and drove me up to this place, Voksenkollveien, up on the hill, overlooking the city. It took us about half an hour to reach the place, supposedly a district where the rich and the very rich of Oslo live.

After checking in and resting, Elisabeth said she would be going back to the city to finish some preparations at the ministry. I asked to hitch a ride to the city. So I ended up walking around the other part of the city, the harbor. I went around the old fortress of Oslo. I decided not to go in although there was a festival for children because I saw that people were paying to enter the gates. I just strolled around and started looking for the famous garden of naked sculptures in various sexual positions. I failed to find it after Elisabeth made a call to inform me if I wanted to go back to the hotel already. We reached the hotel at 4 p.m. and had a meeting with one of the founders of Al Jazeera and participants from Afghanistan.

The head of the International PEN's section on the protection of writers arrived to fetch the Afghans, leaving me and the 70-year-old Christian Arab Al Jazeera executive. He asked if I have been to the city. I said yes and asked him if he wanted me to go with him there and be his guide. We walked through the woods for almost ten minutes to a train station and went to the city. We each had a glass of beer and I toured him around city. We went back past 9 p.m. and had a very tiring walk up the hill to the hotel. We decided to have dinner at the restaurant. It was a formal dinner. Imagine how hard I tried, and I believe I passed with flying colors, to hold my fork on my left hand and the knife on the right the whole time, European style.

Well, that's my day, it's 12:30 in the morning of Monday and I have to wake up early for tomorrow's meeting where I will be chairing one of the sessions. God, I'm just so tired.

Goodbye Moscow

2: 13 a.m. June 2 (Saturday)

I had my last night in Moscow.

The day was uneventful yesterday (Friday). The Congress approved a lot of resolutions. There was a lot to just remember. If you're interested you can visit the IFJ Web site ( later. I'm sure the proceedings will be posted.

There was the election of the executive council. Unfortunately, nobody from Asia came out. In the afternoon, the reserve advisers were elected and from the region Iran and Sri Lanka were elected. Taiwan and the Philippines were elected as reserve advisers at large.

There was a closing reception where cultural dances and sogs from different countries were presented. After the reception, the Indonesian consul fetched Heru for a tour of the city. They invited me to join and I willingly went with them.

The story of my last night in Moscow will be in my future blog. I have to pack my things to prepare my trip to Norway via Munich later today. It's another journey into the unknown.


12:35 p.m. June 2 (Saturday)
SVO Airport, Moscow

I tried to wake up early to catch the Lithuanians and go with them to the aiport, but my friends left early. A taxi from the hotel would cost US$72 (1,800 something rubles) as expensive as having a bottle of Miller beer, a hot bath, a complimentary backrub, a blow job and an hour of sex, all i none in a clandestine house in downtown Moscow.

I saw a delegate from Nepal checking out at the reception counter. I asked him if he has a ride to the airport. He said a rich Nepali businessman in Moscow is picking him up in 15 minutes and if I want he can offer me a ride. I immediately accepted. It was actually what I wanted.

It took less than an hour to the airport. I had my last look at Moscow, wondering if I would be able to come back to this country. The weather is already cold now. On Wednesday it was 31 degrees, too hot for them, but today its already below 20.

I lined up for check-in and discovered that I overshoot my allotted 20 kg of luggage. I exceeded 10 kg and had to pay 3,500 rubles or 100 euro just for the 5 kg. There goes my savings.

I already suspected that I would overshoot the allotted weight because of the books and reading materials I carried from the IFJ Congress. But sometimes people have just to learn from experience. I learned it the hard way, or the expensive way.

I had a bottle of Coke and a cheese sandwich for lunch inside the airport and it cost me $9. I bought a pack of cigarette for 30 rubles.

It would be boarding time soon and I'm on my way to Munich where I will take a plane to Oslo. I still have to look for a hotel this weekend because my hosts from the Norwegian Foreign ministry and the other guests are flying to Bergen for the weekend. I'm supposed to go with them and had already my airline e-ticket, unfortunately my flight will be arriving in Oslo an hour after the scheduled flight to Bergen.

Anyways, I've survived Moscow. I will survive Oslo. As I've said, one has to learn from the experiences and decisions we do in life, may it be bad or good. What is important is not to forget to right the wrong and continue with the journey as the same person as before, knowing fully well that there will be many more challenges that we will encounter along the way.

Friday, June 01, 2007

To the Old Arbat

9:45 p.m. May 31 (Thursday)

It's the end of another day. I just came back from a walk to the Old Arbat district where there's a street market. An Indian delegate discovered it. She said it's the place where one can buy souvenirs to bring home. I asked the hotel reception for a map and where to find it. It's supposed to be 10 minutes to 15 minutes by taxi from the hotel. I said maybe I could walk to the place. She warned me to be careful in crossing the streets, especially the highway. I was supposed to just walk along the Moscow River, upstream to downtown.

I invited my friend Heru from Indonesia if he was interested in an adventure. He said he was game. So we started our leisurely walk past 7 p.m. and found the place after crossing a highway, an underground pass and coming out in front of a very tall building with a hammer and sickle on top. It's a beautiful building but I don't what it's called. We went around it and found the place. It took us about 45 minutes.

The Old Arbat, whatever it means, is a street market, a pedestrian market, the Indian delegate said.

We found those dolls that people in the Philippines wanted me to buy. I bought 20 of the smallest one. It cost 60 rubbles each. That's more than $2 dollars each with the exchange rate at the hotel at $1 to 25 rubbles. (So guys, it's expensive, kaya huwag kayong manglait.) I also bought five shirts for 200 rubbles each ($4). Heru and I took photos and had dinner at a MacDonalds branch. It's the only place we could afford. I spent 120 rubbles for a double cheeseburger, a large Coke and a small french fries.

We went back our way via the riverbank and arrive at the hotel after an hour of leisurely walk. We agreed that it was worth all the sweat and the pain on our legs. Heru, however, failed to buy a watch that turns counter-clockwise. When I reviewed the photos I took I discovered that there was one being sold at one of the stalls. I then just soaked myself in the bathtub for a hot bath while smoking and reading the Moscow Times. I'll be leaving Russia for Norway on Saturday, so tomorrow will be my last day here. It was not a bad week after all. I arrived on Sunday, got drunk on Monday evening, watch dancing girls at a Russian village on Tuesday, had a lonesome adventure at the Kremlin on Wednesday, a long walk to a street market on Thursday, and hopefully visit a Russian nightclub on Friday just for the heck of it.

At the Congress today, we spent the whole morning on discussion about the elections, amendments to the rules of the elections, approval of resolutions, voting on the proposals, amendments and the works. The nominees for officers, executive committee and reserve advisers were give two minutes each to speak. Like politicians, the journalist-candidates took turn speaking about their achievements and making promises on the things that they would do if elected. I spoke for less than a minute.

I removed my coat, revealing my black t-shirt with the "Stop Killing Journalists" emblazoned on it, ran to the podium, with delegates from Asia tailing me with their cameras, introduced my name, and said: "I'm from the Philippines, supposedly where there is press freedom and where media is the freest in Southeast Asia, unless of course if Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia would object." It made some people in the audience chuckle and smile. "I just want to thank the IFJ for its support in our struggle for press freedom in the Philippines and all over Southeast Asia. I hope you will continue supporting us." My colleagues from the region applauded and the others followed. I hope I did it. I don't want to fail the people from the region who wanted us in Southeast Asia represented in the world body.

The elections for the officer were held in the afternoon. Elections of members of the executive committee and the reserve advisers will be done tomorrow. The Philippines have four votes, meaning I can vote four times. I can give a candidate four votes or give 64 candidates for the Execom one vote each. Of course I will vote wisely - for our candidates in the region and for candidates from the countries that really worked hard to help the Philippines and the IFJ.

So good luck to all of us tomorrow and may the fight for press freedom by the IFJ will continue.