Monday, April 25, 2011


I forgot how words taste. I need some re-remembering done. :| 

unfamiliar places
are dark alleys that stretch towards the unknown
   never friendly, never bright
they smell of cat's waste after days of neglect
   sitting sick on the ground with hovering flies

if you're lucky you chance upon a guiding light
if not, you continue to walk 
   until you find the power switch on your own

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Girl meets girl

Stayed with my friend for most time yesterday and had a fantastic time talking about the very thing that eludes us both, love.

Cheers to love!

The strip was created by my talented friend, the same person I spent time with yesterday.

Her musings can be read here.

A Fairy Tale

I remember that day, days before Christmas circa 2005. He asked me to come out of the house, I was nervous. I was 15.

With clammy hands, I went to the bus stop. I noticed he was holding something wrapped in red as he, in his usual slippers and cargo shorts stood there, waiting. He was sweating. He was nervous, maybe. He was 15 too. 

Quickly he gave me the gift. With a curt 'thank you', I hurried off towards the house. I didn't know if he waited in the bus stop a long time. 

In my haste, I dropped the gift and it made a breaking sound. Something was shattered. I opened it, and saw a framed fairy looking down a river surrounded with glass shards, the ones I broke.He never knew I broke the framed picture.

The picture, even without the glass frame is still in our living room. It was the last picture he gave me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The "reprise" to Ideology is Gone

When ideology is all we have 

By Ma. Rosa Cer M. dela Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:05:00 11/24/2010

(This is in reply to my batch mate Felise Solano’s Youngblood column last Sept. 30, entitled “Ideology is gone”. Felise and I graduated last April, with a degree in BA Broadcast Communication from UP Diliman. I think I know the “Mare” to whom she addressed her letter.)


I just read Felise’s letter to you, and it made me sad.

Several months back we were talking about our batch and the career paths ahead of each of us. The two of us had our plans then, and they did not include going mainstream. For ours is a vocation, a devotion to the masses.

Apparently people see us differently. Even my own parents, who have come to accept my choice, keep asking, “Is this what you want to do with your life?” (I answer back with a resolute “Yes!”)

Felise is no different from my parents. Except perhaps that her conditions are a little extreme: she works in the heart of an ideological state apparatus.

I realize how easy it is to vilify the Left. We have heard all the horror stories, the horrendous and inhumane acts so-called communists have inflicted on the people, and even among themselves. We were all privy to that (or so we thought) when we entered UP. It isn’t as if the Left could dispute them. These are facts, written in history books and by anyone who cared to write about the “radical thought” which emerged in the 1970s, when many of the youth opted to go underground and take up arms. It is also true that “purges” occurred later, with comrade turning against comrade.

Yes, they happened, and if we were to study the history of the Left more closely, they were the first to admit these. Apparently, however, the errors of the Left have been used by opportunists and the military for black propaganda.

Looking back, I was of the same mind-set as Felise when I entered UP. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the activists. I ignored invitations of mass organizations, choosing to go home and study rather than join the noisy crowd of protesters. But before I knew it, I was one of them. Just like you, Mads.

Even though we belong to the same batch, we weren’t very close to each other. What bound us eventually were the causes we were fighting for. For me, such principles bind tighter than any other common interest.

Yes, we both became activists, you and I, but not because of anger, as Felise thought. Anger would have been too easy to forget. Rather, you can say that what we felt was rage—rage against a crumbling system and a self-serving government, rage against the inequality and injustice inherent in the present social structure. It is a rage fueled by compassion for our fellowmen who deserve better as well as our desire to make things right.

That kind of rage doesn’t go away when you sleep. It eats at you and gnaws at you, until you realize that you have to do something about it.

This is the same rage which drove many among the youth to take up arms, then and now. To say that mere anger and agitation drove the likes of Eman Lacaba to take up arms against the government is an insult. I think it takes a lot more than anger for a young man to leave the comforts of home and live a life of uncertainty and danger.

Many say we have been brainwashed. I wish we were, and I wish that everything we saw was a lie. As a student journalist, I was forced to face harsh realities, things that were shown differently in the media and some that never made it to the headlines. There were no “smokescreens.” Everything was very real, and I will never forget many of them.

I remember how my heart broke for the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, for the workers of Kowloon, for the nameless faces of the disappeared. How I cried when I saw the lines of people trying to buy NFA rice when the rice crisis broke in 2008.

Why are Filipinos poor? Why do millions of families survive on less than P50 a day? Why do prices and taxes go up, but wage remains suppressed? These questions plague me. And then I found an ideology which explained what others could not.

I think back to all those jokes about taking up arms. None of them sounds funny now. After having spent four years in UP, I know what activists mean when they say, “Serve the People.”

In my stint as a student journalist, I have gone to many places and interviewed different people. They all tell the same tales. The much vilified New People’s Army is a hero in the countryside, and the military is feared and hated by many.

I wonder if Felise has forgotten Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, two UP students who were abducted by military elements. I wonder if she realizes that she was guilty of red-tagging you, Mads, by mixing up the legal and the armed Left as if they were one and the same.

I wonder if she remembers the killings of innocent civilians by military men who later blamed communist rebels for those crimes. As a writer in the Philippine Collegian, I had a chance to interview internal refugees, those who fled their communities in the countryside because of “hamleting,” a strategy where government troops are deployed in an area supposedly to clear it of insurgents but actually terrorize civilians and force them to admit that they are rebels in order that they would become civilian agents of the government.

Isn’t it ironic that the army, an agency sworn to protect and defend the helpless, are in fact their oppressors? Isn’t it ironic that people fear those who are paid to be their protectors?

But maybe not. After all, the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have sworn loyalty to the ruling regime, and there has never been in the history of the Philippines a government of the people.

But I digress. If Felise truly understood us, she would have realized that being an activist is never easy. It is easier to let things be, to reason that things will change by themselves if you leave them alone. It is easier to pretend that we know nothing and just go malling and watch the movies to forget hard realities.

But we trudge on, knowing that despite the difficulties, a better future lies ahead not only for us and for our families, but for the rest of the masses.

The path we have chosen is difficult. So consider this letter as a reaffirmation of what binds us, Mads. In times of utter frustration, of demoralization, our principles remain. There is nothing wrong with going against the system. There is something wrong—in fact, everything is wrong—with the system, and that is why we go against it. For as long as injustices remain, so will our rage. And so will the rage of the people.

The military will try to silence us with their guns, but they cannot silence the suffering people. What did Tracy Chapman say in her song? “Poor people are gonna rise up and take what’s theirs.”

And so we will, Mads. So we will. Even if it takes a revolution.

Ma. Rosa Cer M. dela Cruz, 20, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

lifted from:

The article that started it all. 

Youngblood : Ideology is gone 
By Felise Vida P. Solano
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: September 29, 2010

DEAR MARE,I was listening to a lecture on the recruitment process of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bulacan State University when something hit me: I was about to lose you.

My bosses in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for the Reservist and Retiree Affairs, OG9, Philippine Army have been traveling, answering invitations from colleges and universities all over the country to talk about national security. Included in the lecture are briefings on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and the Recruitment Process of the CPP/NDF/NPA. Sometimes I am asked to go with them. Being a fresh graduate of University of the Philippines- Diliman, it’s amazing how I could be working with soldiers. On that day in Bulacan, I nearly broke down in front of them.
This advocacy of OG9 has been going on long before talk started about making the ROTC mandatory again. Since the National Service Training Program (NSTP) was implemented, ROTC graduates have dwindled in number. The need is not just for eradicating conflict, but more importantly for maintaining peace locally and nationally.

At Laguna State Polytechnic University, the number of ROTC cadets is astonishing. It made me realize that the ROTC could help crush the insurgency not only because it is a source of reservists but also because universities and colleges are the breeding grounds of rebels. The strong presence of ROTC repels the infiltration of rebels. This is what others have failed to see: to solve the problem, you cut the root.

According to Lola Agnes, a former armed NPA rebel, recruiters use Mao Zedong’s theory of the blank paper: write on the blank paper and it will always leave a mark, even if you erase it. The minds of the youth are usually open, trusting, naïve. The NPA exploits this by inciting anger among the students, manipulating negative situations that put them at a disadvantage. The goal is to agitate, anger the students. Why anger? Because anger makes people do incredible things, like running the length of Mendiola barefoot, attacking soldiers, and forsaking family and friends.

I understood what Lola Agnes was saying. Anger drove you to one of those lightning rallies in front of the Malacañang. You went home tired and bruised, but you said it was for the “taong bayan.”

According to Ka Tina, there are several reasons the NPA targets the young for recruitment. First, they can withstand the harsh conditions in the mountains. During armed encounters, they are more agile and less susceptible to arthritis that slows down the movement of their forces. Second, the new recruits are assigned to illegal operations so that it would be more difficult for them to go back to their old life. Third, the youth are the best messengers for armed social revolution.

I had the good fortune to join my bosses at the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan. While we were traveling at night, I noticed that there were more stars in the countryside than in the city. I remembered one of those nights when we would just talk until the conversation turned to the revolution you were so passionate about. I asked if you would really hold a gun, if you were ready to take a life to fight for what you believed in. You said that if you needed to, you would. I said I wished it would never happen.

The government is not perfect. I am not covering up for it. There’s nothing wrong about voicing your opinions, nothing wrong about activism at all. And yet it was Jose Maria Sison himself who said that although there were the forces of armed revolution, there were also the legal democratic fronts from which the CPP/NPA/NDF acquires its manpower. It starts with Araling Aktibista or ARAK and culminates when they receive their code names or Koda after swearing eternal rebellion.

This isn’t about condemning the front organizations. This is about staying in school and leaving the gun for your books. For years, I have listened to activists denounce the mistakes of the government. I didn’t become one of them, although I understood their sentiments, I saw the situation, and I felt the pain.

But now, I am listening to former rebels who have made it their mission to save as many students as they can from being recruited by the NPA. I wish I could save you from being like them, save you from feeling guilty, save you from paying debts counted in lives.

Lola Agnes was a gifted child. She was recruited at the age of 13, and spent 10 years in the mountains as “Ka Tina,” “Ka George” and “Ka Yolly,” the meanest armed Amazon to walk the mountains of Bicol. After her surrender, she went back to school and eventually became a teacher and a civilian employee of the Philippine Army.

Ka Angel is the eldest of three children, and a second year chemical engineering student in UP Diliman when she joined the NPA. She witnessed the murder of a pregnant fellow NPA. She surrendered to the Philippine Army and is now back in college.

Ka Marjorie is a Protestant pastor and father of eight children, who abandoned his pregnant wife to become a “true son to the nation.” He forgot that he had the responsibility of being a father first. He is now with the advocacy and fighting to keep his family above poverty.

They are lucky to be alive. I hope you will never find yourself in their shoes.

More than saving you, I want to save myself. In this situation, like all those families and friends of students who became rebels, I only want to make sure a loved one is safe. I don’t want to be one of those people who stopped living because a daughter, a sister, a friend disappeared. I don’t know what’s worse: not knowing where you were and what happened to you or just finding you dead in some lonely forest. I know better now, and if I didn’t tell you what I know, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

The revolution is fake, a façade, a smokescreen to hide where so-called “revolutionary taxes” are going, which is into the pockets of the “leaders” who are not different from the ones you so hate. At one time, the situation might have been different. But now, the ideology is no longer there. It is gone.

If we want change, we should start with ourselves and take care of our family and friends so that they, in turn, will cherish their loved ones. That would be a revolution—not through violence, but through peace.

I don’t expect you to believe me immediately. I know how difficult it is to talk to a person whose mind is closed. But I hope you will think about what I have written. It is my prayers that if I wake up one day and see you in the news, you will be the newscaster, and not the cold corpse somebody else is talking about.

Your Mare

Felise Vida P. Solano, 21, works in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for the Reservist and Retiree Affairs, Philippine Army.

lifted from:

Katy's fireworks

Kita man gud mura'g pabuto sa bag-ong tuig. Makalibat sa kanindot, makakatawa sab. Hamubo apan dagha'g kolor. Kung mahoman na pangitaon sa usahay.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stephen Bennett is my guitar hero.

I can't believe a few five-finger picking could make me weep. Blackbird no less.

Background check: Stephen Bennett arranged the music behind that poignant song centered around the struggle of the blacks to have their civil rights recognized. I'm no Beatles fan but I'm slowly falling in love with their music.

I fell in love with the lyrics first, the music after. The lyrics had the Haiku-feel because of how compact it is. The song only lasts for 2 minutes and yet it can say so much more than what a 5-minute song can. It may be soothing but the music behind it gives it so much more layer. The lyrics may be great but the accompanying tune gives it a more dramatic impact. How the lyrics tell of struggling and 'breaking free' is perfectly captured by the music's arrangement making the output a perfect mix of bliss with a tinge of distress. How it captures the emotions (may it be by the blacks' struggle for acknowledgment or some personal struggles) associated with the lyrics make it worth listening to over and over again.

The tempo's really fast, upbeat to a certain extent but it works wonders in my tear ducts. I don't know exactly what kind of style guitar players use when they use all five fingers to create music instead of strumming but for me it's more effective in tugging whatever strings are attached to the heart. By looking at the guitar player, it seems like it's pulling several guitar strings to create that oh so wonderful music; closing my eyes to feel the music, it seems like it's pulling the strings of my heart too, hence creating that internal musical experience that is not only experienced by the ears but by the heart as well.

Sad because nobody felt that Stephen Bennett was worth that picture on the right side of Wikipedia. C'mon people, the man certainly has created the most wonderful musical piece (or arrangement, whatever you call it) by staying faithful to the literary piece that is Blackbird's lyrics. To say that Blackbird's a nice song is an understatement. To treat S. Bennett like he's just one of those music men is an insult to the genius that he is.

Two kinds of people

The openly twisted 

The ones who have no qualms acknowledging and appreciating life in all its color, shape, and size. 


The secretly twisted 

The ones who create a fairy tale world and shun reality. 

Denial may work but it doesn't change the fact that it is a twisted decision still. Why pretend apples can make a lemonade?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Body art.

No I'm not talking about body painting where some girls get naked and wear only body paints as 'coverings'. I just realized that I want a tattoo. Years back I went to a talk with a friend because they said that there'll be free henna tattoo after. Curious and bored, I pestered my friend into coming with me for the talk. We were on the same floor where the event is happening, so why not, right?

Michael Andrada (one of the most loved profs in my university because of his intelligence, humor, and friendliness [he always says hi to his students and never finds it difficult to smile first to his former students! talk about awesome!]) gave a cultural perspective to the talk where he mentioned how important for it for the men in the northern part of the Philippines to have a tattoo as it is a status symbol. I cannot remember quite well but it goes like the more tattoo you have, the higher your status is. What's interesting is that it's a sort of a test for manhood too as the number of tattoos you have on your body is indicative of your level of pain threshold. Maybe that's why a lot of guys are addicted to tattoos. Tattoos, in my opinion, may stand for many things; boldness, hotness, courage, or rebellion. Whatever it is, it looks cool to me. Other than cool, it gives you something to remember to mark an important event in your life. Just look at how Angelina Jolie famously has so much tattoo on her body. The most interesting for me being the geographical coordinates where she got her adopted children from.

A friend of mine tattooed the name of his partner in his *believe me you don't want to imagine where*. I just hope that they don't break-up because his body may look like a memorial park with all his ex-partners on it if it becomes a way for him to show his affection. One guy from a jeepney (this story was told by C) had his girlfriend's name tattooed repeatedly all over his body. His legs, arms, and face had 'Kate' tattooed on it. Talk about looking like a living Louis Vuitton bag. :/

During our high school reunion, I saw two of my batchmates sporting tattoos. I secretly liked the one with a tattoo on his neck better. It's dreadful to imagine how the tattoo artist had to run over the needles through his neck but it looks really good on him.

Most recently, T decided to have a tattoo too, on her chest! It was a Chinese character which means love. The tattoo made her all the more attractive in a badass way. You know the tank top wearing hot girl with a black bomber jacket? That's T.

Another friend of mine, V has tribal designs and inscriptions on her arms and nape. I like how I feel when I look at her tattoos because it brings me back to the time when we had a different alphabet and makes me think of how awesome it might have been if we had our own writing system. We'll probably have difficulty learning English as was demonstrated by Thais, Cambodians but if my country's as rich or is richer than Japan is (or was?) then everyone will have to learn my writing system. How terrific is that? The world making an effort to understand my country's language rather than take my language for granted just because the country speaks and understands English. English has its perks, I know, but it feels great when someone from a different country makes an effort to learn to speak a couple of sentences in my language.

What am I getting at? Goldfish slap slap

I want a tattoo too!!!except that...
  • I'm scared of the pain. And the needle (the last time I had my blood drawn I got sick right after). 
  • I'm pretty sure my father will freak out.
  • To get a good (this means safe and hygienic in my dictionary) tattoo, money is needed. And right now, I'm a pauper. It would probably take my 3 months worth of weekly allowance before I can go to a decent (this means safe and hygienic in my dictionary) tattoo shop.
  • I heard about tattoos making it difficult for anyone who wishes to leave my country (especially for the States) to get a visa. I still haven't confirmed this but just to be safe. 
If in case I do get one (in the farthest possible future), I'd probably place it on my left hand in between my thumb and my point finger. In alibata, I would like to have the word 'tibay' (strength) or 'tapang' (courage), I'm still thinking over the gravity of the two words, to remind me whenever I write (which would hopefully be most of the time someday) of these two important things that would get me through life.