Monthly Archives: December 2004

travelogue

the north luzon expressway under new management will soon charge higher toll fees purportedly to recover the costs they incurred in the upgrading and management of a “world-class” superhighway. the changes are indeed noticeable with bigger roads, faster traffic and more patrol units. but must we pay more for this service when it is our right to have an efficient road network? are we not paying enough as taxpayers?

the other embarrassing reform in the north expressway is the mass retrenchment of workers to be replaced by younger contractuals. older loyal toll collectors, including an aunt of mine, were forced to avail the voluntary early retirement program as a pay-off for their many years of hard work. some of them contracted various diseases perhaps due to daily exposure to gas fumes, noise, and other job-related hazards.

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a landslide in atimonan, quezon forced our bus to take another road leading to quezon national park. the uphill zigzag drive was made easy through the help of children directing traffic in the narrow road. most of them were also begging for crumbs from motorists. i can imagine their livelihood was destroyed in the mudslides triggered by typhoons winnie and yoyong. sadly, no logging company has been charged in court, no politician receiving timber money has been punished and whoa, even the supreme court has ruled that mining exploration (read: exploitation) in the country by foreign corporations is legal.

how ironic that the bus conductor has chosen “texas chainsaw massacre” for our film viewing on the trip. the scenes outside the bus can be described as “quezon-aurora chainsaw massacre.”

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indeed we are becoming a fastfood nation but why at the expense of desecrating historical shrines? old towns like Sta. Cruz in Laguna, Naga and Vigan have important churches and municipal halls dating back to Spanish era yet their value is diminished with the insulting presence of fastfood outlets. here in manila we have long destroyed the cultural attraction of quiapo, escolta, intramuros and mehan garden by building malls, parking lots and fastfood chains beside these important historical sites. business executives of fastfood companies are educated, well-travelled and exposed to travel magazines. they know how to appreciate the historical and aesthethic value of old shrines in other countries. unfortunately, they have chosen to destroy the historical and natural beauty of our towns and cities.

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i read somewhere that we are “exiles in the city” and that it is the most natural instinct “to get back at one’s roots.” together with my cousins, we visited our old family house in mangaldan, pangasinan. it is sandwiched by more popular towns of dagupan and manaoag. the small farm my lolo inherited is now blessed with molave, mango and other fruit trees. i swam in the pristine river beside the farm everyday mocking my friends who are trapped in the city. while the metro lacks potable free water, i was enjoying unlimited supply of clean water for free. what i fear is that at the rate of destruction of our environment, my children might not enjoy the natural bounties of our country.

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stress can kill you, so says big pharmaceutical companies. one effective way to avoid it is to pack your bags, leave the city for at least a week and close your cellphones, PDAs and wi-fi gadgets. How liberating to spend the day with your loved ones without texts, frank calls and idiotic TV shows bothering you. what an annoying habit i developed of checking my mobile phone almost every minute for fear of overlooking missed calls or new texts. almost everybody needs etiquette lessons for texting while somebody is speaking in a meeting or conference. a week of shutting yourself to the world is a welcome respite and a chance to cure bad and unhealthy habits.

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speaking of mobile phones, most students are now using this tool for communication and learning. It is practically changing studying habits and pedagogical practices must adapt to this development. otherwise, its learning potential will not be maximized in the same way TV and the internet has already debilitated learning potential of children. i made this realization while giving a lecture to ateneo high school students. i am a little older than them yet I consider myself as belonging to the past generation. yes, we both grew up in front of TV but we have different learning styles. i acquired my cellphone and i first used the internet only during my senior year in college. my generation finished our homework through the old-fashioned way: library research and copying. we maintain happy and loyal relationships without texting or chat rooms. The sentimental kid in me prefers that old funny world.

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millenarian traditions continue to exist in the country. religious cults and rural rituals abound. “the most vivid, poetical use of language can be found amongst peasants” wrote an english essayist in a 1935 magazine. i agree. not because peasants are divorced from the decaying city, though that is one factor, but because they are the most repressed in our society. the best of their oral and recorded traditions were those which exhibited their pain, agony and instinct to survive. watching peasants and their children perform a dance or poem depicting their plight and will to overcome the odds is a heart-wrenching experience. the best rendition i ever heard of amado hernandez’s famous “lumuha ka aking bayan” poem was performed by peasants. you could feel their suffering as well as their anger though their teary yet brave eyes. their powerful yet subdued voices makes the poem more than just a poem but a living manifesto of the peasant struggle.

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undergrad notes

halungkatin ang mga baul, muling buksan ang mga nilumang notebook na ginamit sa kolehiyo at marahil ikaw ay mamamangha’t itatanong sa sarili: nasulat ko pala ito?

ang sumusunod ay ilan sa mga sinipi ko mula sa nobelang “maganda pa ang daigdig” ni lazaro francisco noong sophomore ako sa UP.

ito ay para sa mga magsasaka ng hacienda luisita at hacienda looc, mga bayaning lumilikha ng yaman ng ating bansa.

“tenancy system – sistema de inquilinato, paraan at palakad na lumilikha ng mga panginoon sa isang dako, at ng mga busabos, sa kabilang dako naman…malubhang sugat na malaon nang nagnanaknak, bumabaho at patuloy na sumisira hanggang sa mabubuting laman ng katawan ng maysakit…kalawang ng kahapon, kulili ng feudalismo…mahapding aglahi sa mukha ng demokrasya.”

tinutukoy ang mga magsasaka: “tila nakakita ako ng isang mataas na uri ng diyamante na nakabaon sa isang kimis ng pangkaraniwang putik…kung maihahambing man sa isang munting batis lamang, ang batis na iyan ay may lalim.”

“…hindi mapapasilay ang diwa ng demokrasya sa alinmang bayang nahahati ang mga tao sa ang ilan ay panginoon at ang ilan ay busabos.”

“…huwag niyong pansinin ang luha sa aming mga mata. May ngiti rin naman sa aming mga labi. Totoo mang namatay ang mga mahal sa amin, totoo rin naman na kung tutuusi’y di ang kanilang buhay, kundi ang kamatayan lamang, ang siyang tunay na namatay sa kanila. Sa ibabaw ng kanilang libinga’y mabubuhay sila sa habang panahon.”

tinutukoy ang simbahan: “kinasangkapan lamang ang pangalan ng diyos, ng mga alagad na rin ng diyos, upang lalo pang maapi ang api sa loob ng maraming siglong nagdaan.”

“…ang nakapangahas nang lumusong sa tubig ay di naman dapat matakot sumisid.”

“…kung walang pagtutol at pagmamatigas ay di mapupukaw ang mga hangarin sa pagbabago.”

at ang di ko malilimutang aral ng nobela: “…ang mga matang nadilat na at nakakita ng liwanag, maging sinuman ang nagdilat, ay di na maaaring piringan o ipikit na muli nang di maghihimagsik.”

Bulagaan

Kapag nasa bahay at walang magawa, at nagkataong tanghalian, pinapanood ko ang Eat Bulaga. Lumaki sa harap ng TV ang aming henerasyon at natatangi ang Eat Bulaga dahil sa mga kinagisnan naming programa, nawala na sila Kuya Bodgie, Ate Sienna, Bibo, Shaider, Takeshi at Uncle Bob’s pero nandyan pa rin ang Tito, Vic and Joey.

Tulad ng Eat Bulaga, 1979 din ako ipinanganak. Inaliw kami ng original bibo kid na si Aiza. Sinubaybayan namin ang pag-iibigang Vic-Coney at Vic-Christine Jacobs. Naki “knock knock – who’s there” kami sa bulagaan. Nang lumipat ang Eat Bulaga sa siyete, kami rin ay lumipat na sa kolehiyo. Nang manligaw na kami, nagkataong may sexbomb na rin sa Eat Bulaga.

Hindi matumba ng dos ang Eat Bulaga dahil milyun-milyon ang tapat na tagahanga ng programa. Kung tutuusin, ang Eat Bulaga ang pinakamatagumpay na programa sa telebisyong pinoy.

Kapag nanonood ka ng Eat Bulaga o ikaw ay contestant sa Laban o Bawi o Kaserolang Bayan noon, pansamantala mo munang makakalimutan ang problema sa buhay. Sa mga palaro dito, walang mayaman o mahirap, lahat pwedeng manalo, lahat pwedeng maging milyonaryo. Umasa sa suwerte, biruin ang host at batiin ang mga kapitbahay na nanonood.

Araw-araw, sa loob ng dalawang oras, hatid ng Eat Bulaga ay hindi lamang kasiyahan kundi pag-asa na pwedeng iwanan ang buhay-mahirap. Kaya marami itong advertisement na bumibihag sa interes ng masa tulad ng mga gamot o bitamina sa alagang baboy at manok.

Ginagaya ng mga bata ang napapanood nila sa Eat Bulaga tulad ng sayaw, rap, kanta at iba pang pakulo sa programa. Kahit ang slapstick comedy nila ay bumebenta pa rin hanggang ngayon.

Maaaring sukatin ang kalidad ng pag-aaral sa bansa sa panonood ng Eat Bulaga. Nakakamangha’t may mga eskuwelahang bumibisita sa studio araw-araw para sa kanilang educational field trip. At matutuwa na malulungkot ka sa hinugot-mula-sa-kawalan na mga sagot ng mga contestant sa napakasimpleng mga katanungan.

Halimabawa: Anong buwan sa kalendaryo ang may 30 days lang? Nagisisimula ito sa N.
Sagot: April.
Sagot ng isa pang contestant: March.

Mahirap ding ipagtanggol ang Eat Bulaga kung pag-uusapan ang pagtrato nito sa mga kababayan nating bading, mataba, pango, maitim, pandak, at may kakaibang pangalan. Basta naiiba sa itsura o gawi ng mga host, ito ay inaasar, binabatukan at pinagtatawanan. Pinagpipiyestahan naman ng mga lalaking host ang mga seksi na contestant.

Tuwirang lumalahok din ang Eat Bulaga sa pulitika ng bansa. Naging senador si Tito Sotto at maraming host ng programa ang may posisyon sa lokal na pamahalaan. Minsan nahimok namin si Tito Sotto na gamitin ang Eat Bulaga para imbitahan ang madla sa Peace Rally sa Luneta noong Pebrero 2003 laban sa giyera ng Amerika sa Iraq. Kamakailan naman ay sinuportahan ng halos lahat sa Eat Bulaga ang kandidatura ni FPJ.

Nanonood pa rin ako ng Eat Bulaga hanggang ngayon. Kung kaya kong sikmuraing makipag-usap sa mga trapo o kilalanin ang simbahang katoliko kahit napakarami nilang kasalanan sa taongbayan, hindi ko ikamamatay ang paminsan-minsang panonood ng Eat Bulaga. Siguro gusto ko lang balik-balikan ang aking pagkabata at gusto kong maniwala na may mga bagay na kayang magtagal at suungin ang lahat ng pagsubok ng panahon.

Pero tulad ni Joi Barrios sa kanyang patuloy na panonood ng mga pelikula ni Sharon Cuneta, wala akong ilusyon na kayang umasa sa swerte para guminhawa ang buhay ng mga tao. Sa tuwing nanonood ako ng Eat Bulaga, nauunawaan ko kung bakit marami sa mga sumusubaybay dito ay nananatiling mahirap, bigo sa buhay at pinagtatawanan ang panget, bading at mataba.

open the gates, smash the walls

The long-term solution to Metro Manila’s traffic is to develop the countryside. People only flock to the city because the jobs and economic opportunities are perceived to be better here.

Meanwhile, the Christmas season and the ensuing heavy traffic will make a mockery out of Bayani Fernando’s u-turn slots and footbridges. Even secondary roads have become congested nowadays.

It will take years before the mass transport system can be improved. The government must reconsider an earlier proposal to ask private subdivisions to open their gates to traffic. These are hard times and everyone is asked to contribute in solving the country’s woes.

The poor has always been coerced, bribed and even attacked to give up their rights in order to make way for road widening or construction of an overpass. Working class communities can even be demolished to make access roads to a new business center or mall.

It seems government engineers have consciously spared residents of gated communities from the trauma of being uprooted from their homes. Instead, they have chosen to disturb the little people who can be persuaded by money or guns and would not think of filing charges in courts.

Thus, residents of Guadalupe, Makati City, especially along Kalayaan Avenue, were forced to adapt to the phenomenal increase of vehicular traffic in their area because bigger roads were constructed as a shortcut to C-5, Pateros and an alternative road to Edsa.

Some houses were demolished to pave way for a road leading to Fort Bonifacio Global City. Adding insult to the injury is a concrete fence beside the road so that passengers of luxury sedans could not see the squalor where the residents live.

Meanwhile, residents of the nearby Forbes Park can sleep peacefully in their homes as they are assured the government would not dare allow their community to be used as an entry point to C-5, Pateros or Fort Bonifacio.

The public is willing to help in easing the traffic. But the government’s solution must also be socially just. If the government can bulldoze its way into the heart of urban poor communities dismantling basketball courts, clearing sidewalk of vendors and demolishing houses, why can’t it ask the old elite and the nouveau riche from the private subdivisions to sacrifice a little of their divine right to privacy to help solve, at least for the time being, the metro traffic?

Residents of barangays Pitogo and Pinagkaisahan are as law-abiding, if not more honest taxpayers as their neighbors in Forbes Park yet their children will have to grow up dodging cars and vans as their once quiet neighborhood is suddenly transformed into a noisy beehive of gas-fuming vehicles trying to escape the hellish traffic in Edsa.

Walls that separate rich and poor reflect the inequality in our society. Walls symbolize pomposity, rigid attitude and fear of outsiders; in our case, fear of the dirty dumb poor.

Fifteen years ago, the Berlin wall which symbolized a divided people during the Cold War was dismantled by the Germans ushering a new era in world history. Residents of Forbes, Dasmarinas and other posh communities must open their gates to the public lest they want the throngs of hungry barbarians at the gates to smash the mighty wall which immunized the rich from the poverty virus.

The moment the walls are dismantled, we can hope for some change. Then we can talk of democracy.