Friday, October 31, 2003
Two more months and it will be 2004. How time flies! It was just yesterday when I was worried that the turning of 1999 to 2000 would bring airplanes crashing down from the skies. Now, two more years and it will be my 20th high school reunion. Kinda scary if you ask me.
I've been watching the movie "Bend it Like Beckham" and it is brilliant. To me, this is what can be achieved by the second generation children of immigrants. To tell the story of life in a new country. I have to see the debut to see how it compares to BILB. Some people I know did not like the Debut as much. They said it was typical Pin@y faire. But that is the point isn't it?
It's 8PM and I'm waiting for the SO. I brought home Chinese food.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
I heard about Joey Ayala through my SO. It turns out that she had driven him around when he was visiting Northern California in the mid-1990's. Sometime in 2001, Joey came over to the United States sponsored by Pusod an environmental group based in Berkeley, California.
The "Organik" CD is eye-opening . I personally believe that Joey is a genius. He has the ability to tell the story of Pin@ys wherever they might reside. Stories about love, life and the experiences of Pin@ys in America make up bulk of the songs in Organik. The first time I heard the CD was like seeing the world being born. For the first time, I understood genius when it came to music. I have always been a visual person. To see things in a new light or in a new way was something that I had already experienced many times. But to be stimulated aurally. That was something new. Then, to be stimulated by the words of music.
[Sidebar: In general, I don't pay as much attention to the background music of my life. If you look at Sunny Vergara's latest blog entries, you will see that he pays attention to the music in his life. I mean, Sunny gives rundown on 1983 as a great and not-so-great year in music with respect to the artists and their records.]
Granted, Organik is a mixture of old songs and new songs. However, I believe this record is in the realm of those rare records like the Beatle's "White Album." The song "Bathala" is personally one of my favorites. I suggested to the SO that they will play that song when I enter the church during the wedding ceremony. The SO over-ruled me on that. She wanted the song for the Communion part of the mass.
Joey, you will make it to the wedding in 2005, right?
Aha! I was successful in actually finding a noteworthy blog that is written in Tagalog. Alleluiah!
Apol the Great's blog. I had to wade through a nearly endless stream of teen-ager crap just to get to this blog. But guess what! It is all worth it. Now, if only that medical technologist from Saudi Arabia can start posting about his life and views in Saudi, I would be eternally happy.
I wanted my son to be named after Apolinario Mabini. Let's face it, I am not about to name my son after any of the apostles. The names are too common and that is just not a good thing. I want the kids to be able to distinguish themselves and to learn that they are individuals. Actually, I thought that another great name would be Bonifacio. But I have met people who's nickname was "Boni". Well, that just sent shivers up my spine.
What do you all think? Is that unique enough? Hmm, maybe too unique. Like those who are named Bayani. They usually end up running from their destinies. Maybe something less assuming. Where's that baby name book when you need it?
The SO and I have been speaking wedding sometime in 2005. I have been amazed at how quickly time has passed. It's been thoroughly enjoyable being with someone who is low-maintenance, beautiful, well-adjusted and intelligent. I believe in God because when I asked It for a partner, It did not disappoint me.
One of the things that is tradition in the Philippines is the harana. Two years ago. asked two members of Sining Kambayoka if they could help me perform a harana for the SO. I figured, it would be a quick hit and run harana. You know, visit her in her parent's home while there was a BBQ. Hit them with one song of "Buksan ang bintana….," and then, go in and eat.
But remember what I said about intelligent? Well, the SO is also very inquisitive and can connect dots like nobody's business. So, two weeks before the harana, I reserve the Saturday.
Me: Honey, are we going anywhere on the 19th?
SO: I don't think so. Why?
Me: Oh, I've just been so tired from all these busy weekends, that I figured we should have a BBQ and stay home. Hey, maybe, just maybe, we'll BBQ at your parent's home.
SO: That sounds like a great idea!
Well, on Friday the 18th, the SO says to me that her uncle's party is tomorrow. Her uncle and aunt are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Would I like to go? Err, in that two week's time, I have made arrangements with the two haranistas. We are on for the 19th. I have even been decoding a harana by Ruben Tagalog from a CD that I bought. I have been stooping over the CD player trying to decipher just what words were going to come after the "Buksan ang bintana."
Wait, maybe, just maybe, we can do the harana at the wedding celebration. Urm, that's not good though. I will be upstaging the 25th year celebrants. That's not good. I mean, I was ready to sing in front of immediate family. But this one would be singing in front of the immediate clan. That would set too high of an expectation.
I try to arm-twist the SO. DABOG! I mention that we had planned to stay at home. Why can't we stay at home. Well, it was the 25th. How lame can I go on this arm-twisting? I'm looking like an @ss from nowhere. I am weak. I can't lie. I just finally tell the SO that there is a HARANA for her on the same day.
Ahh, there goes that lightbulb in her head. "A harana! How romantic! I love this guy!!!" Profuse apologies come from her. I tell her that "Every time I have something happening for her, she always breaks the surprise."
The harana was great. I was thinking of just two songs, we eat the BBQ and it's over. The guys did the "Buksan ang Ilaw" song as the third song in a series that lasted about seven songs. We have it on tape somewhere. It was fun. It turns out that in the Southern Philippines, Mawi and Dick sang haranas for fun as their form of entertainment.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Sample lyrics from www.joeyala.com - critique welcome
adios patria adorada
region del sol querida
perla del mar de oriente
nuestro perdido eden
sa 'yo ‘tong aking buhay
puno ng kalungkutan
nguni’t kung maging mas brillante
mas fresca, mas florida
sa ‘yo pa rin iaalay
sa ‘yong kapakanan
sa parang ng digmaan
luchando con delirio
kay rami nang nag-alay
saan man ay di importante
sa cipres, laurel o lirio
bitayan o kabukiran
combate o cruel martirio
ito ay iisa lamang
sa bayang sinilangan
ang aking kamataya’y
sabay ng mga kulay ng langit
sa umagang papawi sa gabi
at kung saka-sakaling
aking dugo’y gamitin
sa tamang panahon
y dorela un reflejo
de su nasciente luz
mi patria idolatrada
dolor de mis dolores
paalam ko’y dinggin
ako ngayo’y patungo
mis padres mis amores
kung saan walang alipin
verdugos ni opresores
donde la fe no mata
kung saan naghahari ang diyos
adios padres y hermanos
bahagi ng aking puso
paalam mga kababata
sa ‘ting tahanang sawi
salamat at lilisanin
araw ng suliranin
adios dulce extranjera
mi amiga, aking ligaya
adios mga ginigiliw
ako ay hihimlay
farewell beloved fatherland
beloved of the sun
pearl of orient sea
our lost eden
my life is yours
drenched in sadness
but if it were brighter
more vibrant, more in bloom
still, it would be yours
for your enrichment
in delirious battlefields
so many have given their lives
no second thoughts
the setting is of no import
among cypress, laurels or lilies
gallows or meadows
in combat, in martyrdom
all these are the same
to the land of birth
is heralded by the colors
of the morning come to relieve the night
if by chance
more red be needed
use my blood
at the right time
and bless it with a reflection
of your native light
fatherland I adore
saddest of my sadnesses
hear my farewell
I am off
to where there are no slaves
executioners or oppressors
where faith does not kill
where only god is king
farewell all relations
shards of my spirit
so long dear playmates
in our shattered home
give thanks for I leave
this troubled day
farewell sweet stranger
my friend, my ecstasy
farewell my loved one
it is my time to rest
Which leads me to "Friends." In the first three or four years, I was a fan of this series. I enjoyed the desperation of Ross and rejoiced when he finally got together with Rachel. But, then, someone pointed out that there were no minorities in the series. Jeez, after that, I could not bring myself to really enjoy the show. Again, the show is set in New York. How the heck can you not have any minorities in there? But this does explain to me how whites can say that there is no racism. There's no racism because there are no minorities.
Instead, my entry has been discussed in this October 28 blog entry and another blog. The question in my mind is "Did they read the karinderia blog? Do they know sarcasm? Are these two colonized like Rio Alma and me? Are these two pulling my leg? Or, are they actually serious?"
They have problems because
"1.) sa tingin niya circus monkey si Rio. 2.) sa tingin niya 2 years ang kailangan para matutong mag-Tagalog." (1. In his view, Rio is a circus monkey. 2. In his view, it takes two years to learn Tagalog.)
Rio's refusal to read a passage of balagtasan in a LECTURE does not make sense because he is lecturing on BALAGTASAN. How can you discuss something and not give an example? How can you discuss rhyme and meter and then not give an actual analysis of the rhyme scheme or the meter or refuse to read an example of the balagtasan? Was reading a passage of balagtasan a requisite on a lecture on balagtasan? YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! I don't expect Filipinos to perform in lectures like circus monkeys. I do expect them to lecture well and to represent Filipinos. You should have seen the confused faces of the students when Rio did not read an example of balagtasan. It was EMBARASSING. Just because someone is a national artist does not excuse one from lecturing in a haphazard way.
As for learning Tagalog, I was making a sarcastic comment. However, I have known people who learned Tagalog in one year while they were in the Philippines doing research.
What really bothers me is that I stated that Almario was colonized and the angas blog did not have a problem with that. Either Filipinos are very smart or they don't know what colonized means.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Eileen Tabios is the publisher for Meritage Press and Eileen graced us with a reading of her "20 minute" poem. The title escapes me at the moment, but I bring up the poem because once again, Eileen managed to teach me something.
The poem is inspired/derived from various poems that Eileen wrote. The repeating theme is about "you falling into my skin." The amazing part of the reading is that the poem was essentially a representation of making love. Now, how Eileen accomplished to describe/show/discuss lovemaking without making it seem like porn (from a Republican Moral Majority point of view) is amazing. The poem will be coming out in her next book which will be published by a Finnish publishing company.
My preference often surprises people. I break the stereotype of the typical male - hyped up on testosterone, engine grease, and making grunting noises of agitation, consternation and joy at the sight of an open car hood. I reserve my grunts for other more visually stimulating topics.
However, I love to ride shotgun, to raise my hand against the wind rushing past, and to be driven. There is a feeling of freedom in not having to worry about other cars that might hit the car. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I do not like driving cars, it's just that I don't obsess driving cars like others. I like to sit on leather seats; I don't necessarily fantasize over them while I sleep.
I learned from my father various things about cars. First, you have to use a squeegee every morning to make sure that the windshield is clean. Second, you have to wake up early each morning to clean the outside of the car. Three, you need to warm up a car every day so that the engine does not cut out in the middle of the road. Fourth, when you use the breaks of the car, the passengers should not be jolted.
Classic Mustangs do not lock, i.e., strangers can come by and pop open the hood by flipping a lever. The tiger's car has been the victim of two thefts. In the first theft, the radiator, the sparkplugs and carburetor were taken. In the second event, the thieves managed to run away with the car battery. That's right… the car batteries were taken. To prevent the thievery, the tiger uses a length of cable and a padlock to tie down the hood.
So it was that on Saturday, I found myself helping out at the hood of the car. The padlock key would not open the padlock. The cable had also been looped and was blocking the lever. After a few minutes, the tiger had to give up trying to force the key into the padlock. It was the turn of the monkey. Well, I should tell you now that my hands are like rose petals. Soft, delicate, sensuous. To get them dirty is just a plain sin. But how can I help it when the tiger asks? How can anyone refuse those eyes, not to mention those claws? I probably spent half a lifetime trying to force that damned key into the padlock. No luck.
Finally, the tiger decides to get the WD40. I tell you, whoever invented that product deserves the many millions of dollars. That stuff works! It was like magic. I had to force the key a little bit, but pretty soon, I was rewarded with a click and a turning of the key. I even almost grunted when I managed to turn the key. Instead, I just puffed out my chest and strutted around the garage. The tiger also rewarded me by allowing me to wash my hands with the professional hand cleaner of mechanics. That and the use of a hose really amped up my testosterone. The rest of the day, I strutted around and showed people my delicate rose petal hands that are now experienced padlock openers.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
The training here in the United States allows for curiosity and inquisitiveness. The training for the Philippines requires discipline and respect. Sometimes I wonder at the ability of writers to break through this training regimen in the Philippines. I know that placed under the same critical eye of Pilipino professors, I would wilt. In my opinion, Filipino professors care too much about how they are perceived and not really about the materials that they cover.
One case in point is the visit by Rio Alma to Berkeley. Several students asked him to read from his works and for some bizarre reason, he did not. My initial guess is that for some reason, he did not feel that his reading is worthy of the location. Why he would guess that is beyond my comprehension. But then again, I am someone who begs for anything that is Pin@y. Another explanation offerred by one of his former students is that he had lost his vigor. Maybe ten or twenty years ago, he would have read from his book and he would not have stopped reading.
Rio's refusal to read his works strikes a confusing note to those of us in attendance who were trained in the US. An opportunity to show off the rhythm and rhyme scheme of balagtasan at a major university is not an everyday occurrence. The opportunity to spread the form and the spirit of balagtasan came and went in a matter of seconds. The scheme would not be so farfetched because of the musical style of rap which can be changed into that of balagtasan. It is an opportunity wasted.
In my small mind, I credit colonialism and the way Pin@ys are brought up for the wasted opportunity. Sometimes, we are intimidated by the Caucasians. God knows I was when I lectured at an undergraduate anthropology class. But sometimes, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. I struggle against these chains which weigh my mind and my soul. Each day, I try to stretch a link in the chain so that someday, one of those links will break and I will be released. Each day, like an alcoholic reciting AAA's motto, I state "I am a colonized man. I must stretch a link each day so that I can break the chains."
During dinner, I was lucky not to sit next to Rio Alma. Otherwise, I believe I would have had to ask him in Tagalog why he refused to read an example of balagtasan.
One question posed to Rio Alma was "How do I begin to learn about balagtasan?" His reply was that of a doorman trying to preserve the last few vestiges of a dying art.
"First, learn the language. [REtong: Thanks for that pointer. Let's spend two years learning Tagalog.] Then, you need to become familiar with the aphorisms in Tagalog. [REtong: Anyone want to spend another two years or maybe five?]. Then, you can study balagtasan." This is loosely paraphrased by REtong. I suppose that this is very similar to the way in which master craftsmen teach their art. There is only one pure way of doing this art. Deviate and you bastardize the form.
However, as we were discussing the lecture, a point was made. The balagtasan is hardly practiced in the Philippines anymore. If there was an opportunity to revive it in the United States, why not take advantage of it? Sure, it will be different, but so is the practice of the haiku.
I believe that Rio Alma is as much a product of colonialism as I am. My hope remains in buying his book.
Prof Almario's second part of the lecture dealt with "Balagtasan." Balagtasan is a verbal joust in which two participants debate each other on a particular topic. A moderator controls the flow of the debate and asks the crowd to declare the winner by acclamation. The moderator is called a "Lakandiwa" which is a word invented in the 20th century. Lakan is a title of respect and means "noble". Diwa refers to "spirit." Lakandiwa means a man of wisdom.
Balagtasan is a short form of poetry typically lasting about an hour. The participants are required to memorize long passages of poetry that supports their stance. The participants are masters of poetry's rhyme and meter, have a flair for the dramatic, and must understand the nature of entertaining the people.
The first Balagtasan had several participants. The pair that showed the most promise were Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florante Collantes. The two were so promising that balagtasan events were held in which both poets were the main attraction. In October 18, 1925, an event was held to determine who was the king of balagtasan. The topic was "Ang dalagang Pilipina, Nuon o Ngayon (The Filipina Woman, Yesteryear or Now?)." De Jesus won the event by public acclamation and was pronounced Hari ng Balagtasan.
Balagtasan served political and social functions. The events enhanced the roles of poets as seekers of the truth. Balagtasan crystallized for the common man his opinions on controversial issues. Topics that were discussed are in the form of "Which is better: _______ or ______?"
Heart or the mind?
Literature or the sciences?
Mother or the father?
Fishing or farming?
Coalition or non-coalition? (refers to the efforts of Quezon to unite the various political factions in the Philippiens)
Independence through revolution or through reform and peace?
Uncle Sam versus Juan de la Cruz?
Should foreign investors be allowed or not?
If one examines the topic, it shows a simplification of the nature of debate. How can one compare between the merits of a father or a mother? Heart or the mind? Fishing or farming. The debate is focused on simplification. The debate allows for a show in which participants go through the process of debate, but the participants are really arguing about the nature of the ant when they are about to be trampled by the elephants rampaging across the land. This is a nature of control by colonization. Let debate happen, just make sure that the debate is simpleminded.
Finally, the death of balagtasan occurred with the emergence of the electronic media. With radio, balagtasan became a weekly event. Prof Almario suggested that radio debased the balagtasan because people who were not really good were allowed to become scriptwriters. The poets of the 60's and 70's rebelled against the balagtasan because of bad scripts in the radio.
Professor Almario closed with this tanaga about a night in a cabaret. A cabaret in the Philippines refers to a place where you buy the opportunity of dancing with a hostess.
Sabi ko, "Maganda ka."
Sabi mo, "Hindi mura."
Sabi ko, "Gusto kita."
Sabi mo, "Bayad muna."
It has been argued that colonialism has not been seen in the Philippines since the country declared its independence from the United States. But, neo-colonialism took the place of colonialism and with that wonderful instrument, America stunted many facets of the Philippine system. The fault does not only lie with America, but also with the 300 years of colonization from Spain. The resulting power of the Catholic church in the Philippines has had as much a crippling effect on the Philippines as the export of Hollywood and the American version of democracy in a third world.
The one aspect which I have seen crippled first hand is the attitude of professors who were trained in the Philippines during the 1960's. These professors are now holding prestigious positions as deans and presidents of universities. However, it is in their way of acting and thinking that I can see the effects of colonization most effectively.
I mentioned the lecture in UC Berkeley by Virgilio Almario the Dean of the Literature Department in the University of the Philippines. I ended up attending his lecture and the dinner afterwards because I had not previously met a national artist of the Philippines. That honor belongs to a select few. How much suffering one had to endure to simply become a national artist, I will never know.
At any rate, the lecture was about poetry forms such as the duplo (Tagalog), the dalot (Ilocano), the Komposo (Ilonggot), and the balak (Cebuano). I missed the majority of the first half of the lecture in which the structure of the duplo was discussed. I have to get the book to get that information.
At any rate, I learned that in the colonization days of the Philippines, the Bible was not given to the Philippines masses. Instead, the "Pasyon" which recounts the life of Jesus was the instrument through which the Spaniards and the church controlled the masses. In retrospect, this would make sense because otherwise, the Pin@ys would have found plenty of ammunition for revolts and revolution against the Spaniards if they had the full story of the Bible.
This situation is similar to the way America practices democracy at home versus the rest of the world. America will espouse democracy and freedom to both sides, but the real meaning will be determined by the location. If you are in America, then you have freedom. But if you happen to be in the Middle East, then your freedom will be subject to the nature of your current government whether that government be a dictatorship like Egypt or an oligarchy like that of Saudi Arabia. The conflict of espousing democracy is that sooner or later, you will have to offer the real deal democracy to the world.
At any rate, let us now return to the lecture by Prof. Almario. Poetry was an integral part of the life of Pin@ys. The T'bolis of the Southern Philippines by Lake Lanao use poetry in the courtship tradition. The man will hire a poet to speak about the man's achievements in life. How many animals has the man hunted? How many birds has he captured? How many fruit trees can he locate in a single bound? In turn, the woman will hire a poet to argue about the merits of the man. The success of the courtship is often dependent on the abilities of the contending poets.
In the Tagalog region, the "Karagatan" is a poetic tradition that has been lost. The story is about a princess who loses her ring in the ocean. The participants in the poetry take the point of view of suitors who will dive into the ocean to win the hand of the princess.
I have never understood the addiction of Pin@ys to karaoke. You sing to music that has been sung by professional singers. Erm, don't you want to just play their CD's on the player? Why do you have to sing the songs? You already bought the CD/record/album.
The SO's family gatherings often revolve around karaoke. There is nothing better than to watch her uncles sing after they have finished off two bottles of Johnny Walker. Perhaps they need to intoxicate the senses before they can let go of their shyness. Her uncles did grow up during the 60's and 50's of the Philippines which was not as wild and wooly as that time in America. At any rate, slurred words and barely coherent mumblings are a staple in karaoke by Johnny Walker.
The SO is a wonderful singer in addition to being a martial artist, a performance artist and a poet. Singing is another gift that just has to lie in wait for karaoke because all the other things must come first. I have always envied her singing. I am a monkey, but sometimes, I am still a shy monkey. Maybe I need several shots of that Johnny Walker. Hahahha.
Last night, the SO was going along at a pretty good singing rate when I finally got bored. I sat next to her and started singing. Everytime it got to the chorus, the SO would place the microphone to my face. And I being shy would shut up. Did I mention that there was no one around at this time? It was the SO and her sister and her sister's boyfriend and the hostess with her one year old child who loves karaoke singing. Every time the karaoke singing stopped, the kid would start to cry.
What I eventually found out is that my voice is not that bad when I sing songs that I actually know. How about that? Hmm, we are now thinking about buying those microphones that contain 3000 songs. We probably have to even get the chip which contains an extra 1000 Pin@y songs.
The karaoke system last night used VCD's. Karaoke is a great way to see the world because the background scenes often show different locations around the world. In fact, one of the karaoke discs supposedly has a scene in which one of the SO's aunts can be seen walking the streets of Manila.
There are several objections to the VCD format however. First, some VCD's are titled "Beauties Around the World" and show women from around the world. The women usually prance around and act sexy. How that is supposed to let me sing a song, I don't understand. I suppose I would not mind so much if what the background scene is showing has any connection or relationship to the song. But usually, there is absolutely no connection. For example, the song "Dancing Queen" was on. There were two men and two women in the background scene. The song is disco. The dancers were dressed in T-shirts and jogging pants and they were dancing hip-hop sytle!!! This is not even irony. This is just plain corny.
And of course, in one VCD, the scenes were shot in Vietnam. In one song, we see several Caucasians aged fifty or so running in the beach. And of course, they were followed by Vietnamese women about twenty years old or so. And just to be balanced, there are of course some Vietnamese men who looked twenty years old. Now, how many of you out there think that these Vietnamese women were "servicing" the Caucasians? How many? I tossed in the Vietnamese men because those things happen too, ya know?
The monkey's middle game was in shape. Use the texture of the jellyfish as a base to replace rice. Rice is beautiful, but eating too much of it will cause diabetes in later life. Use a dab of red chili sauce to increase the spiciness of the jellyfish. Then, use the Chinese broccoli as a second base to wash out the taste of the food. Here is the monkey's strategy:
Jellyfish with red chili. A morsel of lechon. Some broccoli. Sip tea or diet coke to cleanse the pallet.
Jellyfish with red chili. A bite from some shrimp balls with red chili. Skip the broccoli because of the burning sensation. Sip tea to put out the fire in the mouth.
Jellyfish with sligtly less red chili paste. An inch of fried eggplants. Exquisite texture in the mouth. A little taste of the "taoshubao" or porkbun. A sip of diet coke.
The monkey ate with consistency as the tiger splurged. The tiger's eyes could not concentrate on the food because there was so much. Tigers being tigers, pretty soon, the mouth could not keep up with the eye. The tiger tried to pace herself, but the monkey was more experienced and had more meals. The tiger soon became sleepy. But the tiger still had not eaten the desserts! That situation was quickly rectified however. Pretty soon, the tiger was lapping up taho from the porcelain-like spoons. Next to fall was the doughy dessert. Black bean squirted out from the ball as the tiger's jaws clamped onto the ball of dough. Dribbles of black bean came out from the ball.
As the tiger slowed down, more foodservers came to the table. Apparently the foodservers must have been talking about the monkey and tiger.
"Do you want a quick sale? Go to table number 43. A monkey and a tiger are eating their hearts out. They will buy anything!"
Fortunately, the monkey and tiger had ordered enough food in the first fifteen minutes so that their table was filled to the brim. The other families eating usually ordered one dish at a time. Probably to savor the flavor. But the tiger and monkey were not bound by cultural norms. Hahahha. The monkey and tiger scoff at cultural norms! We order and eat dessert first! Who wants banana? Who wants jelly doughnut Third Kingdom style!?
The end game was left to the monkey. The jellyfish was finished and so was the shrimp balls. The porkbuns had to go too, but too much bread means too much carbohydrates. The eggplant and the roasted pork will be to go. The brocolli too. Two of the jelly doughnuts Third Kingdom style will also be to go. But the rest of the food went into the monkey's belly.
Please excuse the monkey and the tiger.
The monkey was hungry and quickly ordered shrimp balls encased in fried wonton. Mmm, it was delicious without the sauce made up of mayonaisse. But mixed with the sauce,the shrimp dish was a taste fat, that was bred from eons of Australopithecus searching for lipids in the hot and barren land of Africa.
The next few dishes was a blur to the monkey as the tiger saw the foodservers and called upon them to ply their trade. A dish of lechon, roasted pork, showed out of nowhere. With gout bothering his foot, the monkey was confused as to why the tiger ordered roasted pork. But pig-tail-pulling being one of the favorite pastimes of the monkey, the monkey did not complain and instead popped a morsel of porcine delight coated with plum-like sauce. There was barely enough fat. Perhpas this pig was specially bred in the confines of a 24 hour fitness farm where pigs are exercised on treadmills.
A green dish of sauteed Chinese broccoli was placed onto the table. The monkey had a flashback from an event ten years ago in a dimsum restaurant in San Francisco. While the monkey was still a fledging graduate student, the monkey would trek over to the Chinatown in Embarcadero Center with his friends. In one of those meals, Chinese broccoli was ordered. Remember that Jason? Chinese broccoli can either be sweet or be very bitter. Apparently, that day, the broccoli served was very old because it was also very bitter. The monkey and his friends all refused to eat the broccoli greens. Jason ended up eating the greens and was very nearly to tears when he was gently reminded to finish that plate. BWahhahahhaha.
Ahh, but as Morpheus said, "Some things never change. And some things do." The green broccoli was sweet and young. The monkey was glad that the tiger had sound decision making skills when it came to food. The monkey is always afraid of trying new things, but the tiger is not. Even when the monkey ordered his favorite jellyfish sliced into little strings, the tiger placed her fear aside and tasted it. The jellyfish though was not to her liking. The texture certainly is different. The monkey liked the gelatinous and squishy feeling of jellyfish. The tiger was more interested in solid taste textures.
A hint of green in the middle of a plate. A hint of yellow. It was fried eggplant with tofu! The monkey smiled and quickly pointed to the dish. This meal is complete! Fried eggplant is probably filled with saturated fats from the cooking oil, but it is one of the most delicious foods in the world. There is nothing like fried eggplants and maybe some bagoong, shrimp paste. Mix it with rice and you have a celebration of the peasants in the Philippines.
The tiger noticed a cart wandering up and down the aisles. This must be a special dish. Probably a soup or a dessert because the food must remain hot and so the need for the cart. The foodserver opens the cover and it was TAHOOOOO!! A favorite from the childhood the monkey, taho with sago was a treat during the afternoon hours. Bring your own glass as the mangtataho scooped soybean curd and sago. Ummm, childhood memories filled up the monkeys eyes. Flashes of warm glasses, sweet syrup and warm curd filling the stomach dazzled the monkey.
The tiger was busy on the hunt. One dessert was good. A second dessert would be better. The tiger's nose crinkled. There was another dessert out there. The scent was covered up by the coconut and the sugar mixed into the air. The scent of fried and steamed food filled the air. The tiger was looking for a specific dessert. This dessert is a ball of flour with black bean inside. The black bean is not a solid but a semi-liquid. The tiger thanked god for imagination. Without imagination, there would only be boring food. Finally, the flour balls came on by covered with a mixture of powdered rice. The dough was soft. The structure was that of a jelly doughnut. The taste was phenomenal. Dough was mixed with the sweetness of black bean.
I have been taking a real estate class each Saturday morning from 9AM to noon. I never thought how about how hard it would be to read a chapter in a book while working at the same time. I don't know how others manage to go to school and get C's and B's. You are so tired after working, how the heck do you find the time to study? And how about kids? How do you manage to take care of them, take care of you, and take time to cuddle with your wife. Mysteries of life, indeed.
One of the bonuses, however, is that I get to go and ask my SO the tiger if she wants to join me for dimsum. This is the beauty of the Bay Area. Chinatown is next to public transportation that you can just about go there any time. Yesterday was one of those days in which the monkey asked if the tiger would like to hunt and eat in a dimsum restaurant. The tiger pounced on the opportunity without delay.
The restaurant is at the end Franklin in the midst of Oakland's Chinatown. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Asian families celebrating the family during the weekend, the tiger and the monkey walked the streets filled with little dragons, snakes and horses. Those little ones sure are growing up fast. I can see them now in their teen-age years making a mess out of the freeways. The cycle of the zodiac just continues each year.
The restaurant is set in a restored building that sat decaying for nearly a decade. With the depression from the Reagan and Bush years enveloping the area during the early 90's, the whole of Oakland Chinatown represented urban decay. Thankfully, the Clinton led boom years led to a loosening of the money supply and a tremendous redevelopment of the area. Rejuvenation replaced decay. Bush the Second is trying to continue the legacy of decay and recession which Bush the First manage to foist upon America. Hopefully, someone will manage to stop him before it is too late.
Because the tiger and monkey entered at one in the afternoon, the line was non-existent. The tiger jumped to the second floor which was a ballroom of dimsum delight. The monkey noticed that the tables and seats were closely packed together. There were barely any aisles. How were the carts carrying the delicacies of the Third Kingdom ever reach the table of the monkey and the tiger?
The owners of the restaurant had to pack in the tables to earn as much dollars per square foot. Carts will not travel the busy aisles as much as in other restaurants. In this restaurant, food will be carried by women on trays. The women will each approach the table, smile, and say the name of the food in Chinese. As the mastery of the Chinese language was not offered in the educational system of California, the monkey and tiger will have to ask to see the food in English. Luckily, the food servers are experienced. As soon as English is spoken, they simply open the containers to reveal the smoking freshly made fast food.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
THE BALAGTASAN (VERBAL JOUST) DURING THE AMERICAN COLONIAL PERIOD OF THE PHILIPPINES
A lecture by Filipino poet-critic Virgilio Almario:
The balagtasan, a Filipino poetic form, was invented
and performed during the American occupation of the
Philippines. The balagtasan honored Francisco
Baltazar (also known as Balagtas), the 19th century
Filipino author of the Filipino narrative poem
Florante at Laura. As a literary form, it was based
on a traditional Filipino form of debate in verse that
was popular in the rural areas at that time. This
popularity partly accounts for its success as
entertainment until after World War II.
However, the balagtasan was also the product of a
nationalist and anti-colonial impulse in Filipino
vernacular literature during the early 20th century.
The balagtasan was used by Filipino writers and poets
to express the most progressive and current political
ideas then and to comment on contemporary social
issues. Join us for an afternoon of Filipino
literature, history and poetry with Philippine
National Artist Virgilio Almario.
About the Author:
Virgilio Almario, also known as Rio Alma, is the
Philippine National Artist for Literature and
currently serves as Dean of the College of Arts and
Letters at the University of the Philippines. A poet,
literary historian and critic, he has revived and
reinvented traditional Filipino poetic forms even as
he championed modernist poetics. He has published
numerous books of poetry and criticism including the
landmark trilogy "Doktrinang Anakpawis," "Mga Retrato
at Rekwerdo" and "Muli, Sa Kandungan ng Lupa"; "Ang
Makata sa Panahon ng Makina"/ The Filipino Poet in the
Age of Mechanization; and "Balagtasismo versus
Modernismo," to name a few. He is chairman emeritus of
the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas(UMPIL)/
National Union of Writers of the Philippines and
former executive director of the National Commission
for Culture and the Arts in Manila. Almario's life and
literary work has been defined by his commitment to
Filipino writing that wields the pen against untruths,
hypocrisy, and injustice.
Sponsored by UC Berkeley's Department of South and
Southeast Asian Studies, the Townsend Center, the
University of the Philippines and the Critical
Filipina/o Studies Collective
It has been several weeks since I bought and read the book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Finally, I found a political pundit of the left who can bash with the best of them. Joy to the World! Rejoice! Hallelujah! And as an added bonus, Al Franken is someone who actually does research. He uncovers the varnished truth hidden by those sneaky devils! The book is totally enjoyable in its humor, wit and in-your-face attitude. But it is downright mean when it comes to honesty. Al Franken takes to task all the Republicans who liberally sprinkle their diatribe with inaccuracies that make liberals appear as Godzilla. Zellerbach will be filled with people. It will be a damned liberal love fest. I can feel the liberal tingle now.
In contrast, the Balagtasan lecture is the quiet event. It is an art form not heard in the US. Balagtasan is rooted in the colonial period. Prof. Almario is the dean at the University of the Philippines and his art is limited in access to the Philippines and some myriad Pin@y scholars in the US. PErhaps at most 30 people or so. This is my chance to meet a legend. The Philippines does not give away the designate national artist till one is close to death. Perhaps... perhaps I choose balagtasan. to meet an artist.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
My sister was visiting my SO's parent's place for dinner. My future mother-in-law is a wonderful, fantastic cook who can make a banquet out of canned goods. She was kind enough to host a dinner and cooked some Pin@y foods. As an appetizer, piniritong lumpia was served. Elinor loved holding the browned wrapped bounties of nature in her itsy-bitsy hands. And as Elinor ran, she would take a bite from the lumpia, smile and run some more. Was there more joy derived from lumpia from some other child or man? Probably not.
After nearly finishing one lumpia, Elinor became a dribbling fountain of lumpia bits when she ran. Little pieces of lumpia would fall from her half devoured lumpia. Ooops, a piece of corn drops to the floor here, a piece of meat over there. As she runs to her mother, she leaves a trail of lumpia bits. As she ran, she unexpectedly met a whole plate of lumpia that was served for the other guests. She looked at the plate of lumpia for five seconds. She studies that golden skin. She analyzed the small hill of lumpias. She noticed that my SO was offering her the half-devoured lumpia. Then, with a flash of movement like lightning, Elinor's left hand grabs a new lumpia from the platter, her feet carry her off with her stuttering footsteps typical of two year olds, and a giggle trails her getaway.
Elinor's mother, father, my SO and I saw this moment of outlaw behavior and we were left stunned. She was so fast! My SO went off to chase Elinor to grab the new lumpia. After all, she had not finished the other one. Before we finally sat for the dinner, Elinor had stolen three pieces of lumpia. She did it with lightning quick movement, a shuffle of her little feet and a large giggle of excitement at her adventures.
Monday, October 13, 2003
i'm sure everyone has made love in public. here's my version of it.
your eyes against mine
standing twenty feet from me, your eyes focused on mine.
curiosity and flirtation came from my eyes,
coyness and boldness came from yours.
your eyes began measuring, began tracing
my clothes, my shoes, my arms.
my eyes started to hold, to touch
your shirt, your skirt.
as our eyes pulled at each other,
stroking lips and cheeks, tugging flesh and hair,
others stood unmoving.
you, bold as an eagle flew into me,
and showered me with a flurry of blows
which turned my skin blue.
i, dark, grim, went into your soul
and threw innocence into a chaos of lust.
upon separation, your eyes, my eyes,
died from the sudden loss of passion
died from the sudden loss of a war fought with tongues.
I randomly searched for an old posting of mine so that I could post it in this blog. I chose page 6 of the groups.google site. I came up with this:
From: email@example.com (__________)
Subject: even in scf, i can't get attention away from white people!
References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <19980221112501.GAA11716@ladder03.news.aol.com> <email@example.com>
Organization: University of California at Berkeley
>Just take you web site advertising else where and let the rest of us get on
>with bashing Tim and Rhett.
You know, i was thinking the same thing. this damned newsgroup is
soc.culture.filipino. if anyone should be godDAMNED harassed in here, it
should be godDAMNED filipinos. white people should not have to be
attacked in this forsaken forum. All the attacks should be directed to me
and me alone!!! DAMMIT!!!
of course, i don't have a website which supposedly advocates the use of
filipinas as a trophy. But hey!!! I got a pscyhocyberpersonality. That
One objection that I have about soc.culture.filipino is that it has been taken over by white people. Whites are more vocal, more at ease at expressing their opinions than Filipno immigrants. There are some Pin@ys out there who can hold their own, but from my experience in soc.culture.Filipino, I would say that they are colonized and afraid to have to deal with the seemingly convincing but faulty logic that some white posters use. In my personal experience, I took me years to dissect just exactly was wrong with the logic.
Sometimes, I could not answer within seven days, and I always thought that I failed to defend my opinions and felt that I agreed with the white posters because of my silence. But I knew, I just KNEW that the logic was incorrect. I just could not pinpoint where the logical fallacy was.
I wish I could be like Al Franken who can be witty and capable of producing citations. I wish I had the time. However, as Franken said in this latest book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, " when you chase down citations and notations, you will find truth and lies (I paraphrase).
Jan Stephenson made some statement about Asians and the LPGA and how Asians are bad for the LPGA for not being available for promotions. She said that she did not mean for it to be a racist remark. The follwing remark is from a story by the website SportsCanada.com.
"If I were commissioner, I would have a quota on international players and that would include a quota on Asian players," Stephenson told the magazine. "As it is, they're taking American money. American sponsors are picking up the bill. There should be a qualifying school for Americans and a qualifying school for international players. I'm Australian, an international player, but I say America has to come first. Sixty per cent of the tour should be American, 40 per cent international."
Rush Limbaugh made comments about how the liberal media desperately wants Donovan McNabb to be a successful black quarterback.
"overrated ... what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well."
"There's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
These quotes are from Slate's Allen Barra
. Check out his opinion.
I have heard it said by white people from soc.culture.filipino and from newspapers and other media sources that there is no race problem in America. I look at the above statements and I have to point at them and say that these statements seem to be a symptom of a race problem.
I believe that these people say these things and to them it is not racist. But from my perspective as a colonized minority, it sure smells, feels and acts like racist statements. I can only attribute their statements to ignorance which is the fertile soil from which racism springs like weeds.
A caller to the the Rick Barry Show in the SF/Oakland radio show said something along the lines that Kobe Bryant is not as black as some of the blacks who live in Oakland (presumably because he lived as the son of a basketball star in Italy). I look at Kobe Bryant and see his dark skin and curly hair and he sure as hell looks black to me. How in the name of St. Jude can a white person make a statement like that? Ignorance.
I attribute the attitude of white people who say there is no race problem to ignorance. I would also attribute their dismissal of this topic to laziness. They do not want to deal with it.
It is interesting to note however, that when white people perceive that whites are getting the short end of the stick, i.e., OJ Simpson and affirmative action, suddenly fairness has to come into play.
I rejoiced at the OJ Simpson verdict because I believe for the first time, a lot of white people experienced INJUSTICE. We all know that OJ did it. But his lawyers were some of the best minds money can buy. MONEY makes the world go round. At least that saying held true with OJ the black man.
Affirmative action is being systematically dismantled because there is no more racism. Qualified white candidates are not getting in because of unqualified minorities. That certainly is one way of seeing the world. Another way of seeing the world is that more minorities are being educated such that they can SUE in the courts and win in the courts. They are changing the face of legal rights for minorities. Attack the source of that problem by denying minority population's way of getting higher education, i.e., affirmative action and you can delay the eventual political power that minorities will have because of their increase in population.
I saw on television that Ward Connerly had three Caucasian grandparents and one black one. I can't help wonder but wonder the following. Does Ward Connerly want to be a white person. The one minority grandparent made him black because of the dominant genes. Does Ward Connerly hate the way he looks?
At any rate, from my perspective, there is a race problem in America. And we better all start acknowledging the 5 ton elephant in the living room.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
There is a reason why I had to know Eileen. She is a mentor to my fiancée. At the same time, she is a mentor to me. I am at a stage where chains burden my soul. Eileen is a vision of the Virgin Mary that gives me hope. St. Jude is the patron saint of all hopeless causes, my mother always told me. Eileen is my St. Jude.
I am a visual artist trying to write. No, I do not speak to Eileen about writing. I do not speak to Eileen for that matter about technicality. However, learning does not have to be in the form of lessons. Eileen teaches me that seeing things in a new light can co-opt, coerce and subvert the dominant paradigm. I am trying to release myself from the bonds of colonialism. Eileen is my St. Jude.
Each time I see Eileen, I am inspired, awed by her achievements, and eager to learn the minutia of life. She married poetry like Ansel Adams married photography. She gave up much to pursue avant-garde poetry as Christ gave up his life to pursue his destiny. She is the nexus of the Philippine arts community. The soil from which a forest will storm out with incandescence.
Behind every successful woman is a partner who will cajole, humor and smirk at the oddities of life. Tom is the monolith on which Eileen stands on. Tom is the river course for Eileen's river. Without one, there is no other. At the very least, the other would be very different.
I have not been paid nor is this an advertisement for the long-lashed one who hears the fallen angels. It is simply the truth.
I am a clam body of water.
I am a calm water.
I am a water , that is a tsunami.
I am water, that is vapor.
I am water that is gurgling.
I take the violence and mix it with love. I take the joy and mix it with sadness. I take possession and mix it with generosity. Somewhere in this concoction, I will find my life.
I am a clam body of water.
I am a clam water.
I am a water , that is a tsunami.
I am water, that is vapor.
I am water that is gurgling.
I take the violence and mix it with love. I take the joy and mix it with sadness. I take possession and mix it with generosity. Somewhere in this concoction, I will find my life.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
The work situation is not exactly ideal. In the ideal world, my boss would actually be smart, considerate and talented. This is not an ideal world. I wish that the whole place is ideal in some way, but it is not. The ones in charge of the place with respect to manufacturing have a little piece of the puzzle. All the other pieces are left in some forgotten place.
I am amazed at how the people in the manufacturing section are holding up. But then again, they believe that they will make money. What I see now are failures waiting to happen because of sloppiness in management. I don't believe the FDA would be appreciative of these things.
But, for now, work continues. Hopefully, I can find some peace in another place in the near future.
I have this dream where I basically document America through my eyes. My eyes which are attached to my colonized brain. My eyes which work through my twisted perception of what the world should be like because I am an American. My eyes that linger on Pin@y feaures because for the first time, those features are interpreted in my brain as beautiful.
I have previously lectured and held study groups in Berkeley. The main difference in this lecture and the others is that my audience were about 80% white. That majority is a very new development for me. It was odd to look out at students and see how the composition of America is like.
I told the students my thoughts about being a colonized person. There are some things which one does not do if one is colonized. One never argues with white people. Whatever they say is the right way and there is no other way. One wants that aquiline nose, blue eyes and blond hair. One desires for the height and the perfect English. These are just some tidbits of stuff that I had to mention.
Of course, it was interestingly contrasted by the fact that I finished graduate school at Berkeley in the biological sciences. I lead a dual life. In one, I struggle against the bonds of religion and colonialism. In the other, I am an insightful, keen scientist with the keys to quality product. How I integrate the dichotomy of life is somewhat amiss in my repertoire of knowledge. How I balance my perceptions with my critical eye is also unknown to me. I suppose, for a short answer, I just ignore what is not relevant to my current state.
My sister and her family is visiting. Without doing anything at all, I find that I am now an uncle. It is a truly interesting state. I still remember when we just came from the Philippines. It was one of the coldest years in Los Angeles. There were storms, rain and freezing wind every darned day. The sun came up and went straight down. It did not rise from the east and set in the west. The sun rose, but after 3PM, it just seemed to sink really quickly.
E the baby is now walking. She just likes to be sneaky and tricky. She's at the stage where she wants to put things in her mouth. She has a perpetual smile because of something that she is planning that the adults will not find out till it's too late. Last night, the SO was feeding her lumpia. She had gotten to the point where the lumpia was very small. She looked at the remnants of a lumpia and then looked at the whole plate of delicious lumpias. Before you knew what was going on, she had grabbed one of the new lumpias and was off running and giggling.
I guess I have aged. Though I certainly don't think that time has passed me by. But my calendar tells me that I have been suckling at America's teat for the last twenty years. Wow, twenty years have gone by in a twinkle of an eye. Next thing you know, I will be celebrating my 60th birthday.
To all of you readers, God Bless. Play with your kids or your nieces and nephews. It's fun and good for the soul.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
This of course is nothing compared to what other "bosses" have done to me. However, supposedly, this one is a "professional in QUALITY." Ahh, how hollow those words are now. Why? Because it finally dawned on me that this person is a hypocrite.
Ever since I read Carnegie's book on how to get people to love you, I have been on my best behavior. I have tried to defend and justify the actions of this particular person. But now, it comes down to the hard-boiled facts that this person has reached the peak five years ago and is just on the way downhill.
So, I try to smile and go on. Because one of these days, I will be free.