Category Archives: personal

I have a new blog!

I have a new blog: www.mongpalatino.com

Please make the necessary adjustments in your blog links and RSS feeds. This old blog will still be maintained as an archive of my blog articles from 2004-2009.

 

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Blog announcement: New URL, New blog

Starting June 19, motime will change its name to splinder. Our blog URLs will be affected. This is very inconvenient. A drastic change. The new URL of my blog will now be http://mongpalatino.us.splinder.com.

I’m now going to set up a new blog. Please wait for my announcement on my twitter, plurk, Global Voices, and facebook pages. By the way, have you seen my membership profile in the website of the House of Representatives?

This old blog will not be deleted. This has been my blog since 2004.

Thank you and goodbye motime.

‘Merika ngayon

“To live then, is to be other. Even feeling is impossible if one feels today what one felt yesterday, for that is not to feel, it is only to remember today what one felt yesterday, to be the living corpse of yesterday’s lost life.” – Fernando Pessoa

This quote captures the feeling of what is like to live in the modern world. This is how I feel here in post-industrial United States. Sabi nga ng mga Pinoy, mabilis ang oras dito sa Amerika. Trabaho, bahay, trabaho, trabaho. Or as succinctly put forward by an educator: Same shit different day.

That is why I always watch the short video clips of Merika which starred Nora Aunor. Before continuing, please watch these YouTube videos first: here and here. It will only take a few minutes.

Nora’s acting performance in the film is superb. Mata pa lang panalo na. The scene above the Empire State Building is very poignant. Filipinos who feel isolated in America could relate to the scene: Nora at the top of the Empire State gazing at the whole of New York, a foreign city, an alien land. What was Nora thinking? That at the very moment of attaining professional success (and receiving her precious green card), she finds herself utterly alone, lonely? There she was; at the top of the world but alone. There is no Tom Hanks, the sleepless widower from Seattle, who would join her atop the Empire State. She is a stranger who has no significant connections in that country.

Everything around her is unfamiliar: objects, places, the people and their language, their clothes, their dreams, their troubles, their faces. She is detached from her surroundings. She is an anonymous dot in the big and dreary land. She is a spectator; someone who observes others playing inside the ice skating rink of Rockefeller Plaza. She is a salingpusa in America.

At the New York airport Nora was accompanied by her two friends. Only few words were exchanged while they waited for the time to board the plane. What follows is a very touching moment: Nora queuing at the boarding gate while glancing back at her friends. The scene reveals the painful emotions felt by many Overseas Filipino Workers when entering and leaving airports. It contradicts the deceptive message of the film, Love Actually, which celebrates the illusory happiness of passengers upon entering the arrival gates of Heathrow.

Meanwhile, others struggle hard to survive. Onward with the journey. Step by step, paycheck after paycheck, the American Dream is just a few years away.

Wednesday afternoon

Last January I went back to the Golden Gate bridge. Alone. I had to go there, I had to cross the bridge. Because it is there. We are always looking at the bridge from the Golden Gate park. I was curious to see how the bridge looks back at us. We are often mesmerized by the sight of the bridge; but does the bridge feel the same way as it takes a glimpse of the rolling hills of San Francisco? And so I went there on a Wednesday sunny afternoon. When I reached the middle of the bridge, I looked back. I took a snapshot of the distant San Francisco city. So here is how the city appears from the vantage point of the bridge. It was not really a breathtaking scene. The best place to view the city is through the Twin Peaks.

The beautiful Golden Gate is something to be looked at and appreciated from a distance. Its purpose is to transport people in the Bay Area. It was not built so that we can use the perspective of the bridge to judge the towns it serves.

I went there to experience the feeling of crossing a world-famous bridge. I ended up feeling strangely relaxed but melancholy. As I gazed back at the city enveloped with fog, I immediately remembered that I only have few meaningful ties with it. It’s not my city. It’s not my future. But why am I living there?

My home is far away. At that brief instant, I wished I was in Quezon Bridge above the polluted waters of Pasig: Where Quiapo is just a few steps away; Divisoria can be reached by only one jeepney ride; and where protesters cross the bridge to reach Mendiola or Liwasang Bonifacio. Instead, I was there (or here). At the Golden Gate, where everything is not a few steps away; where there are no jeepneys; and where everybody is not talking to everybody.

I left my heart, my friends, my life, my future in San Francisco del Monte.

"Cities become shadows that explode or disappear according to decisions that their dwellers will always ignore. The outer experience is cutoff from their inner experience. The new attempted urban meaning is the cultural and spatial separation of people from their product and their history. It is the space of collective alienation and of individual violence, transformed by undifferentiated feedbacks into a flow that never stops and never starts. Life is transformed into abstraction, cities into shadows.” – Manuel Castells

Pictures of my Golden Gate trip can be seen here.

UP, libraries, toilets

Links: Cambodia’s film industry. Water buffaloes are popular again in Laos and Thailand. A cell phone birthday cake in Brunei. A 1952 railway line in Brunei.

French translation of my post about the execution of Bali bombers. New pictures in my webshots album: click here, here, and here.

Alternative title of this post: UP, education, shit. Or UP education stinks? No, I’m just humoring my Filipino readers. Really, this post is literally about the libraries and toilets of the University of the Philippines. More specifically, this is about those memorable moments of my life (Ha!) while inside the libraries and toilets of UP. The time frame: 1996-2000. Location: UP Diliman campus. Let’s start with the toilets.

UP President Dodong Nemenzo will be remembered for two things: he destroyed the General Education program; and he cleaned UP’s infamous stinking toilets. What was it like to use the toilets of UP before Nemenzo became obsessed in upgrading the toilet facilities? Well, the toilets were not really that terrible, except perhaps those in the gym, shopping center, Vinzons and Vanguard. Most toilets were clean and usable. They were old, but not dilapidated. There were no hand sanitizers or soap, tissue, and even hand dryers, but at least most of the water faucets were working.

Looking back, those old toilets proved to be valuable to many students. Before going to class in AS, the toilets served as stop-over sanctuaries for reviewing notes, quick scanning of readings, and copying of assignments. The AS toilets were spacious – the left side of the facilities is for urinating, washing of hands and brushing of hair; the right side is for, well, you know. There were nice stories about the AS toilets: sex scandals, ghost stories, suicide attempts, and Jolina Magdangal sightings (she spent a few semesters in UP).

A UP student should not only memorize the best places to buy and eat food in the big campus. More importantly, one has to determine the toilet facilities which are well-maintained and seldom used by students. The AS toilets are for emergency and quick releases only. But for grand operations, a student who lives outside the campus must carefully choose his/her particular toilet facility.

I was a frequent user of these toilets:

1. College of Education. Of course this was my college. But I have many non-Eduk friends who preferred to use the Eduk toilets. Why? Only few students use the toilets. Maybe they were afraid of ghosts. At mayroong timba, tabo at tubig. Also, majority of Eduk students are graduate students. Their classes start late in the afternoon. There were few undergrad students in the morning. I often used the toilet in the second floor.

2. Bahay ng Alumni. This was a new building during my undergraduate years. There were few events at that time. Water was always available. Very few students use the toilets because the building is far from big colleges.

3. Quezon Hall. It was only during my senior year that I discovered the convenience of using the Quezon Hall toilets. It is the admin building, therefore it is always clean. Very very few students visit the building everyday. And I could choose whether to “pollute” the toilets in the chancellor’s wing or the president’s wing. I felt good every time I used the Quezon Hall toilets. It was like symbolically defying the school authorities. (Ha!)

4. Faculty Center. The toilets were clean. Small, but always quiet. Surprisingly, I never met a single professor inside the FC toilets in all my years in UP.

I’m done with toilets. Now let’s talk about libraries. During our time, research begins in the library, not in the internet. I had fun exploring the libraries of UP. Obviously, the Eduk library was my favorite library. It was the perfect place to read, reflect, and sleep. (May tumutulo nga lang sa bubong kapag umuulan). The book collection was good, except for its Filipiniana section. The library assistants were my friends.

Next to Eduk, I enjoyed going to the main library. I borrowed a lot from the social sciences and Filipiniana sections. Every morning, I read newspapers in the basement (my favorite – Inquirer, TODAY and Teddy Benigno columns). I remember an old lady professor who was always reading the newspapers. She had short boyish hair and she wore dark eyeglasses. Is she still alive? Is she still a frequent visitor of the library?

I also had a wonderful reading experience in the libraries of Masscom and the Asian Center. I donated some books to the CNS library (Vinzons rooftop); but I heard the library was removed already.

Did I steal books from the libraries? Barcodes were not yet introduced so it was easy to steal books. But I always felt guilty of owning library books while denying others the chance to read them.

The first book I read in the Eduk library was the autobiography of Sen. Arturo Tolentino. (Was it Voice of Dissent?). Then I read Doy Laurel’s Neither Trumpets nor Drums. I was never a Cory Aquino fan. Reading Laurel’s book further cemented my negative opinion on the Aquino government. I spent so many hours in the library reviewing the history of the Philippine education system. The library has extensive collection of primary documents on this topic. Then I found classic books on the philosophy of education written by John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Michael Apple, among others. I also became interested on the topic of comparative education systems. I did a lot of reading about the unique education systems of Red China and Soviet Russia.

In the main library, I borrowed magazines, books and other papers about labor migration, First Quarter Storm, history of nationalism as a political thought, and the history of the UP student council. I also reviewed the microfilm copies of El Renacimiento and other pre-war newspapers. I once wrote a paper (someone borrowed it) about the newspapers during and after the 1896 revolution.

During my freshman year, I focused on the history of Philippine education. There was a semester when I became an enthusiastic reader of Eastern philosophy. The following year, I read Agoncillo, Constantino, Majul and other nationalist historians. I read the debates between Reynaldo Ileto and his detractors; Glenn May and the UP Department of History. I attended the lectures of Milagros Guerrero. At one point, I was a fan of Remigio Agpalo and his Pangulo Regime. It was during my third year in UP when I began to read Marxist books and materials of the revolutionary movement. I also started reading more books on Philippine literature. During my senior year, I read many books on cultural studies, and even postmodern theory.

I entered UP to become a high school teacher, but in the process, I almost wanted to become a historian, or a literature teacher, or a political scientist. In the end, I became an apprentice of the national democratic movement (with a socialist perspective ha). But that is another story.

Related entries:

Book hunt
Undergrad books

Tagged: Mongster Moments

I was tagged by Atomic Girl two months ago but I was unable to reply immediately. So sorry Peachy. Below are the rules:

A person who gets tagged must write in his or her blog ten weird things or habits or little known facts about himself or herself. He or she should also state this rule clearly. At the end, he or she should tag six other people, except the one who tagged him or her.

Here goes my not so public profile….

1. I was afraid of big crowds as a child. I almost lost during a Quiapo procession. I used to attend the Black Nazarene religious festival.

2. I detest shouting. It’s unproductive, disrespectful and arrogant. Even during rallies, there is a difference between speaking out loud and shouting. One speaks to the crowd, an activist should not shout.

3. I always lose umbrellas. I tend to misplace or lose them in jeepneys, buses, buildings and other public places. During the rainy season, I have about 2-3 umbrellas. By the start of summer period, they will all be gone by then.

4. I don’t know how to use the chopsticks. My wife is embarrassed every time we eat at Japanese restaurants. But I love sushi.

5. During my freshman year, I was against the politics of the Left. I used to make fun and ignore the ‘papansin’ activists.

6. My grandfather was a former personal bodyguard of President Diosdado Macapagal. He was proud of me during the EDSA Dos uprising. He was already dead when his grandson began criticizing Gloria, the daughter of his former boss.

7. I cried after losing in the recent elections. But my disappointment turned into bitter anger when I heard of partylist groups buying their way into Congress. While we were too much engrossed over the Koko-Zubiri drama, some partylist groups were quietly negotiating the election results. Shame, shame.

8. I felt sad when SM Annex North Edsa was demolished. It was my tambayan during my high school years (1992-1996). I miss the bowling lanes, A&W rootbeer float, Wendy’s salad bar, vide game arcades, silvershop and the Annex cinemas. So many happy memories during those innocent years. But SM management seems more interested to confront the challenge presented by the refreshing and elegant (though oddly-placed) Trinoma mall.

9. I haven’t read a Harry Potter book.

10. I watched an Eat Bulaga show at the Ultra two years ago. I was supposed to attend a forum in Quezon City but I was already in Ortigas so I decided to watch Tito, Vic and Joey instead.

I now tag Lisa, Gerry, Tonyo, Ina, Leng and Rey.

Related entries:

Things you don’t know about me.
Tibak survey
Candidate survey
Activist lover.

Random pictures from my photoblog.

I left my parents in San Francisco

Thank you Billy Esposo for this Philippine Star column: What are our youth really thinking? Watch the Cebuano video teaser of Kabataan Partylist. Have you seen our TV ad on ABS-CBN? Find out why I appreciate Koko Pimentel’s TV ad. Thank you Tinig for featuring Kabataan Partylist. Check also my past columns for Tinig. UST will vote for Kabataan Partylist.

Sa aking tatay at nanay: I’m overjoyed to learn that Mama will be coming home for a one month vacation. Campaigning will be over next week so Frances and I will have more time for malling, gossip and bonding with Mama. Renee is excited to meet her Lola again. Although, I think she is more anxious to get her Barney toys which you promised to her.

Friends (and even foes) have been asking how did we raise funds during the campaign. Of course we relied on the contributions of our members and supporters. In every activity, we coalesced with other candidates to minimize costs. I also replied that my parents were the most consistent campaign contributors of Kabataan Partylist. They thought I was joking.

I could not have travelled around the country without the much needed subsidies provided by you. The money you sent was also used to print some of our campaign materials. Some of my colleagues presumed sending money was not difficult on your part since you are migrant workers living in the USA. They are so wrong. I know you are not earning that much. Perhaps you took a loan or used your credit cards. I feel guilty everytime I spend your hard-earned remittances. I know you are working for more than 12 hours everyday just to earn enough money to survive. But I could not refuse your help. We needed the money. And I thank you for your understanding, sacrifice, sympathy and love.

I feel grateful that you have always been supportive in all my endeavours; although I know sometimes you couldn’t appreciate why I remain a poor activist when I can look for a high paying job. From the moment Dad caught me reading Lenin in 1998, I knew you were hoping I was just undergoing a ‘phase’ in life. You never got tired reminding me to start thinking about the future, especially the welfare of my beautiful daughter. You had your objections on my being a radical activist. But you never, even for a moment, threatened to abandon me or throw me out of our house. You have always respected my decisions and you have always believed in me.

When I informed you about my candidacy, you readily agreed to give full support for our campaign. You check on me everyday, asking about my activities, problems and political developments in the country. You monitor the news everytime you are at home hoping to get a glimpse of me and my partylist. You are my number one fan, my most devoted supporter and to a certain extent, even financier of our partylist.

As parents, it is no longer your obligation to assist me in my political activities. You raised me well, sent me to college, and I already have a wife and kid. But you couldn’t stop giving your affection and material support for me and my advocacy. I am eternally grateful for having wonderful parents like you.

In one of our conversations, I relayed my outrage over other partylist groups receiving funding and political support from Malacanang, local politicians and warlords. While our group is forced to accept donations from our hardworking parents, other partylist groups are using taxpayers’ money to finance their campaign. With the publication of the names of nominees of partylist groups, the public will learn how certain powerful politicians are attempting to gain more power through the partylist system by fielding their own children, relatives and subordinates as candidates.

I learned so many things during the past three months. I became more disappointed with the kind of political system existing in the country. If you were with me on the campaign trail, you will also feel disheartened over the disparity of wealth in our country, the distrust of people on politicians and a general feeling of hopelessness among our youth. I became more resolute to continue with our crusade for meaningful changes in our society.

I have been an activist for ten years already. The coming elections will not affect my resolve to remain a dissenter and reformer. I’m confident that you will continue to cheer, support and love your prodigal son.

Related entries:

Dear Renee.
Family Ties.
Why partylist.
Activist son.

Flashback 1995: My Senators

Win Kabataan Partylist Win: Thanks Jeff and Erwin for these Inquirer stories: Locsin, Trillo lead young stars in pitch for youth group and Kabataan woos youth vote on YouTube, Internet.

What are the most reliable election websites? I recommend three useful links: Votester, Halalan 2007 and MLQ3. Yehey! News has a new editor.

Check out the new pictures in my photoblog. Learn more about the authors of Global Voices.

1995 – Aquilino Pimentel and Rodolfo Biazon lost the Senate race because of dagdag-bawas. Miriam became a Senator bust lost her case against Fidel Ramos. I was fifteen years old during that time and I was already excited to vote. For me, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Hoy Gising were the only credible sources of information on Philippine politics.

In my diary entry dated May 7, 1995, I wrote the twelve senators I would have voted if I was a voter during that period. I admit I am now embarrassed with many of my choices. But anyway, it’s still fascinating to reread how I justified my voting preferences more than a decade ago….

“Tomorrow is election day. A very good sign that democracy is working here in the Philippines. I hope that it will be peaceful and honest. If given the chance to vote, here is my list for the Senate:

1. Bongbong Marcos – he is young, he is smart and he is a Marcos. (My grandmother was a Marcos loyalist).

2. Arturo Tolentino – expert in Constitution. His long experience in politics is very much needed today. (Tolentino’s autobiography was the first book I borrowed from the UP library).

3. Gringo Honasan – defender of the people, able leader.

4. Miriam Santiago – we need a loud speaker from the Opposition camp. (This reminds me how boring elections today without the feisty remarks from Miriam).

5. Nikki Coseteng – Senate needs more women members. She is a good critic.

6. Ramon Fernandez – sportsman and small entrepreneur. (Fernandez was my childhood hero. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be the ‘El Presidente’ of Philippine basketball).

7. Juan Flavier – dedicated to his work. (I still remember his tagline: Let’s DOH it).

8. Juan Ponce Enrile – veteran politician (I was a Marcos fan during that time and I really appreciated how Enrile described Marcos as a very competent, brilliant and hardworking leader in his TV interviews).

9. Gloria Macapagal – economist and courageous woman. (No comment).

10. Marcelo Fernan – sincere leader, sincere to the people.

11. Aquilino Pimentel – we need a representative from the island of Mindanao.

12. Kit Tatad – God-fearing leader. A certified intellectual.

Meme: Things you should know about me

Blog lives: I met fellow bloggers Joel and Ilya last week and had wonderful discussions with them. Thank you very much for sharing fantastic ideas on how to unleash the full potential of blogging in improving the lives of people. I also met Bikoy, a famous UP student blogger, last Friday in Morayta.

Check out the new pictures in my photoblog. Click here and here. You will be amazed, taktaktak!

I was tagged by Tharum. This is a blogger’s game I couldn’t refuse. Find out what Meme means. So here are the things you still don’t know about me:

1. I was an Altar Boy in our community for seven years. I was a very religious kid. I read the bible, I prayed the rosary, I went to church everyday after school. I enjoyed the Friday mass in Quiapo and Wednesday mass in Baclaran. I was a bible quiz champion. By the way, I was named after a Saint.

2. Friends think I always visit news websites every morning. They are wrong. I first check out the TV ratings of Eat Bulaga. Then I visit the websites of my idols: Jet Lee, Michael Jackson, Gerry Albert Corpuz, Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola.

3. During college, I was an avid follower of political scientist Remigio Agpalo. I became like a stoker who wish to have a brief conversation with the old professor. I succeeded one time while Dr. Agpalo was having lunch in a college cafeteria.

4. Everytime I visit a bookshop, I search for books written by historian Teodoro Agoncillo, storyteller Jeffrey Archer and novelist Iris Murdoch.

5. I was only in high school when I joined my first street rally in front of French embassy in Makati to protest the nuclear testing in the Pacific. During college, I was a freshman when I joined an anti-oil deregulation protest organized by the student council.

Let me add that my dream is still to be reunited with my parents and siblings who are now living in California and Dubai. Perhaps, I will join them in the US. Perhaps, they may choose to return here. Who knows?

Related entries:

Altar knights.
The sacred and profane lover
Tibak sarbey

Sports idols

* Inspired by Andre Agassi’s last hurrah in the US Open.

Paeng Nepomuceno is the greatest Filipino athlete that ever lived. In fact, he is the world’s greatest bowling champion of all time. If Manny Pacquiao is being encouraged to run as vice mayor of Manila, then Paeng should run for president.

In the 80s, almost all of my grade school classmates wanted to run as fast as Lydia de Vega. In the 90s, my high school friends wanted to run away from Nancy Navalta (my apologies to Nancy).

I do not regret that Hollywood distorted my appreciation for sports. I wanted to be a BMX champion like Cru Jones from the film RAD. I didn’t know Flash Elorde was a local boxing great since I was so much overwhelmed by Mike Tyson, Rocky Balboa and Mr. T. I equated wrestling with WWF’s Wrestlemania. I do not know any professional wrestler but I would easily recognize the trademark moves and costumes of Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man, Undertaker and Superfly.

Of course basketball has always been the country’s most enduring national pastime. I started to love the game during that seemingly distant era when Benjie Paras was an overpowering rookie and not a slapstick comedian we know today. Robert Jaworski was still a true living legend and not a disappointing politician. Ramon Fernandez was PBA’s most successful player and not a wife beater.

My other PBA idols were Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic and Nelson Asaytono. In the NBA, my idols were Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Spud Webb and Michael Jordan.

I ceased to be a fan of PBA when Fernandez retired in 1994. I stopped watching NBA when Jordan retired in 1998.

During high school, I became an admirer of Andre Agassi while the rest of my classmates chose Pete Sampras. Agassi’s career was almost over in the mid-90s but he bounced back and became the top player of the game again. Sampras has long retired from tennis while Agassi became the respected elder statesman of the game.

In 1996, I bought a bike and dreamed of becoming a cycling champion like Renato Dolosa and Carlo Guieb. I even joined friends every Sunday in a cycling marathon towards Antipolo church.

During college, my PE subects were volleyball, duckpin bowling, Philippine Games and badminton. During my sophomore year, I joined a fitness club in order to gain weight.

Efren Bata Reyes deserves to be called the ‘magician.’ Leila Barros inspired many Filipinos to watch volleyball games. Eugene Torre and Bobby Fischer are great chess players. In swimming, the names I remember were Eric Buhain and Akiko Thompson.

I also learned to be a mountaineer. But that’s another subversive story.

Today, my sports are limited to texting, mouse-potato syndrome, washing the dishes, playing peekaboo and hide and seek with the police during some rallies. I also practice meditation in order not to hear the everyday sermon of my wife.

Related entries:

Sports for all. What we need.
Altar Knights. Childhood heroes.

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Philippines’ worst marine disaster, my blog entry for Global Voices Online.

The sacred and profane lover

We used to ride the same bus during grade school. She was always neat, prim and prepared for school while I was always late and drowsy. Her brother was the laughable bully in our community church boys’ group.

It was during college that I came to know her again. I was the sensational kid from the mighty campus of Diliman and she was the loudmouth of that old school along Padre Faura.

We exchanged furtive glances during the anti-Estrada rallies in 1999. The most memorable was the mammoth gathering in Ayala in August. I was with visiting Taiwanese students and she was the head of their school delegation. Was it the heavy downpour or something else but it was during that fateful day when I realized that I am smitten with the girl who used to mock me in elementary.

The formal courtship took place in the picketlines of the Grand Boulevard Hotel. I was a lousy suitor (she always reminds me) but then sooner or later she has to confess her true feelings for me.

At first we thought we are a mismatched couple. After all, we have obvious differences in our interests. To cite a few examples, she prefers the rustic mountains; I would always choose the rugged seas. She adores Selena and TLC while I appreciate the songs of Andy Williams. She is a talented artist; I’m more of a filingerong artista.

Our theory about our incompatibility would be disproved by our same passion for the writings of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Stalin and Ed Villegas. The two of us are professional street rallyists, crowd control managers and advocacy experts. We both love pasta, Divisoria and Chinese movies.

But more than our shared fondness for many things, one secret of our enduring relationship is our mutual respect for our distinct interests. She agrees to watch Eat Bulaga, Mr. Bean, Monk and Frasier as long as I also agree to watch Sarah Geronimo on ASAP, the Buzz and Will and Grace. She seldom complains about not eating shrimp and crabmeat because of my skin allergy as long as I can tolerate not eating mongo which she finds unpalatable.

I’m not really superstitious but when we celebrate a special day in our relationship, something ominous or enormous occurs in the political life of the country. When Chavit made his expose against Erap in 2000, we are on vacation in the Hundred Islands of Alaminos. When we celebrated our first anniversary, that was the week when Erap was arrested in his San Juan residence. When Magdalo soldiers attempted a coup in 2003, that was when I proposed marriage to her. During the Valentine’s Day bombing last year, my wife was in labor at the PGH.

Marriage brings so much pleasant complexities in a relationship. It is the most satisfying stressful phenomenon in life. No more of those mushy love letters, phone conversations till dawn and text quotes every hour promising supreme happiness when you spend the rest of your life with the woman of your dreams. It will be replaced by bills from utility firms, phone conversations about getting home before 9pm (or else!), text reminders of diapers and vitamins to buy and a candid realization that you are stuck with this one person for the rest of your mortal life. And I believe this is what makes marriage exciting and enjoyable.

In the past week, my wife and I had arguments and shouting matches about who will baby-sit, who will cook, who will clean the bathroom, how the money was spent, where are the keys, where is the remote control, etc. But at the end of the day, we will resolve our petty quarrels. We can’t sleep harboring bitterness against each other.

We have our own ways of expressing regret for something offensive which was said or done. On my part, I always offer a soothing back massage, ginger tea and the initiative to wash the dishes and mop the floor.

While the world continues to be more violent, unforgiving and depressing, I have already found my happiness in life. I am comforted by the thought that another soul is dependent on mine in order to survive this wicked land.

Perhaps what inspires me to be a better person is to prove that I deserve to be blessed with a wife who tolerates my perverted humor, eccentric behavior and demented beliefs. I deserve a wife who irritates me everyday with her complaints; I deserve a wife who is affectionate, beautiful, intelligent and kind. The prospect of spending the rest of my life with this one person is always the source of my contentment, pride and delight.

I tease, argue, fight, reconcile, serve, ridicule, adore, ignore, fear, loathe, respect, venerate and honor my wife everyday. Some would say this is the regression to the boring domesticity called marriage. I say it is love. And love has a name: Frances.

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I uploaded more pictures taken during my December visit in HK. Click here.