Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

So here’s the big news: It’s been 25 days since I last wrote in here. Christmas break is well into its first week, and the promise of an exam-filled first quarter of the new year shines brighter on the horizon like there’s no sunrise.

What a wondrous and relaxing two-week vacation: prepare for Hum1 poetry performance, answer a Calculus problem set and prepare for an exam, prepare for a Zoology Lec exam, answer Zoology lab exercises and study the frog skeleton, prepare for a Chem 14 exam, make a molecular model of CH3COOH.

Recently, I arrived at the conclusion that my mouth is not symmetrical. I have proof. It seems my maxilla is a wee bit more oriented to the left. As such, (or as nature intended it to be), my cheek movements are also more to the left. Have I ever mentioned that I have a lopsided smile (it’s not obvious, by the way, unless you stare at me long enough to notice the twitches). When we next meet, remind me to show you.

I’ve finally finished Wicked - and a damn wicked read it is. Certainly a literary treat, a fantasy universe of the beautifully weird. Coming up: I Do or I Die (RJ Ledesma), Salamanca (Dean Francis Alfar), The Jupiter Effect (Katrina Tuvera), The God Stealers (F. Sionil Jose).

In the realm of musical theater, I couldn’t have asked for more from Rep’s almost-perfect staging of Sweeney Todd, which I caught on its November 22 matinee. Standouts: Audie Gemora as deranged Sweeney, Marvin Ong as Tobias the dimwit, Franco Laurel as the good-for-nothing, love-struck sailor Anthony, and the Beggar Woman lady (forgot her name, sorry). Of an unreachable level: Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as Mrs. Lovett. Congratulations, Menchu, you have a new fan. The Johanna girl, though from UP, was simply annoying.

On movies, New Moon, though retaining the mushy, lotsa-nudity formula of Meyer’s series, was miles better than its predecessor. Kristen Stewart’s distorted posture and “It’s my birthday… Kiss me” scene made for much of the movie’s downfall. Oh, and also Jacob wiping his sweaty, dust-and-whatever-else-filled shirt on Bella’s wound. So much for the torso-pecs-and-abs scene. 2012 was too impressed with itself. Good thing it had the Yellowstone caldera eruption scene to make me still enjoy it while it lasted.

But Inglourious Basterds… perhaps one of the best P160 I have ever spent. Rating: 160/160. Christoph Waltz for the Oscar!

I went to the high school last Monday. The Flower, Planet, and Fruit were rehearsing their numbers for that afternoon’s presentation at SM. No comment.

Random thought: Isn’t it ironic that while UP is a bastion of idealism, for change and progress, it practices a system that is very similar to the one it so denounces, one characterized by corruption and inefficiency, as is the style of our rotten government? Go to the UP College of Medicine and be a late enrollee, and you’ll see my point.

What a lovely December. Our very own Kimmy Dora with a dash of Mano Po 2 in the household. In her shoes, in her shoes…

Lastly, let me tell you the story of a driver who hates priests. This driver works for a doctor. The driver has a wife who has a cousin who is a priest. One day, the cousin told the wife to leave the driver (as in break up with him). How ironic.

Today is Christmas Day. I feel old. Scratch that. You feel old. I feel your oldness.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just something

Sometimes, when people get tired of what’s going on around them, they’d create a world of fantasy to escape into. They’d pretend to be someone else, leading totally different lives, or they’d recreate their surroundings and try to fit people they know into various characters.

I saw something today – something I shouldn’t have seen – and it got me thinking. I didn’t even know what or how to feel in that spur of a moment. It’s probably just something I should ignore, but it seemed to tie up lots of pieces for me. I mean, I never used to give it much thought... but now that I’ve seen the whole picture, I don’t know. I can’t even think about what or how to think of it.

Heck, it scares me a bit, just so you know. But let’s say it’s just some fantasy – and stop at that. This is just too... surreal. I don’t know. I just don’t.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cruising in Midtown

October 10 – Saturday. I watched my very first musical, Spring Awakening, at the RCBC Plaza in Makati.

How was I supposed to know that the following Monday, I was to have my own spring awakening right in the very heart of Manila? No… wait, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Let’s put it another way: I had my own awakening to... the hidden wonders of Manila, if you get my drift.

Before you proceed, let me warn you that the following entry contains elements not suitable for immature audiences. Pornography included.

So it was Thea’s birthday, and she treated us to five giant pizzas and five giant bowls of pasta at Brooklyn Pizza in Rob Ermita (Pedro Gil Wing). We ate. Then, it was time to leave. And no, this isn’t the big story yet (as if something pornographic would have occurred between pizza and us).

I had decided to let the Larry pick me up, since riding the jeepney would have cost me eons of me-and-my-term-paper time. Therefore, with the Larry still being miles away, I decided to take a little walk around Midtown.

I arrived at the 4th floor. And decided to take a leak at the… where else? In one of the best CRs in Rob Ermita – the ones at 4th floor Midtown. Of course, there was no ‘tanananan’ music to warn me not to enter the place.

I entered the CR, which by the way, is located at the end of a narrow hallway that diverges from the smaller Midtown atrium (just pretend to be geographically acquainted with the place).

There was no one there.

I entered the second to the last cubicle.

Then, a clinking sound. A rapid clinking sound.

I looked up. Nothing. I looked down. Something.

Now the CR is tiled, and the tiles are so shiny and clean, they might as well have been floor mirrors. Because the tiles on my cubicle reflected not only what was in my cubicle, but in the ones beside me as well.

And there, I saw… (explicit content deleted by author).

Simply put, two guys.

And they were… moving. A hand was (explicit content deleted by author), and the hand wore a wristwatch, and the watch was also shaking, thus, the clinking sound.

So it dawned upon me that the 4th floor Midtown CR, usually empty, is actually a ‘cruising place’. And the cruising lives happily ever after.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gorilla

I miss talking about the nasty high school that I attended and all its minions. No, I’m not being nostalgic (well, not as of the moment). I just happened to remember yesterday an incident involving me and my 4th year Chinese class adviser… something that screams of pure, genuine, untainted absurdity.

Now, if you don’t know who my teacher is (and not many of you readers do), let me introduce him by saying that only a dimwitted gorilla can ever compare to him in this world. In short, he teaches crap and, somehow, is crap itself. A piece of advice: If you want to learn Chinese, he’s one of the last persons you’d want to approach.

My fellow math team members and I were reviewing for a contest that morning, when the pseudo-queen a.k.a. gay overall director of the high school math teams barged in during the session. He-She asked, “So what have you been doing lately in Chinese class?” Humorously, we answered, “Nothing.” I answered, “Uh, nothing… it’s actually just rest time.”

Note that the pseudo-queen is also somewhat dimwitted; thus, he-she took our reply seriously. Without further question. And that the pseudo-queen has a seat of power in school, which he-she uses to lure his-her prey (if you know what I mean).

That afternoon, while still reviewing (therefore, not attending class), the gorilla called me and said it wished to have a quick word with me outside the faculty lounge where we were. Of course, without any idea as to what it was going to be, I followed suit.

When I got outside, the gorilla said, “Pseudo-queen called me earlier and asked why I'm not teaching you kids anything during class, why I haven’t been conducting ‘real’ class. I said, who told you that? He said, (I, author of this blog) did.”

I was utterly speechless, my mind racing to come up with the most reasonable excuse for that ‘statement’.

Then, the dumbest part came.

He asked me, “Are you mad at me or something, that you said that to him???”

My mind raced even faster.

Why would I be mad at you??? I don’t have time to be angry with gorillas. Stupid pseudo-queen took our answer that morning for real - and the slimy vixen name-dropped!

The gorilla, with that statement, made it clear to me that he believes himself to be an excellent teacher.

Anyway, I came up with a brilliant answer, and the rest is history. What’s bad-worse-worst though is that the gorilla is still there, in my former high school, teaching the unfortunate kids crap.

Friday, October 9, 2009

remembering tagaytay... but it's not dead

Er, how do I phrase this? Tagaytay was a beauty? A beatiful beauty? A beautiful?

The field trip had essentially six destinations: The Ilog Maria Bee Museum and Farm, and Bee-Sting Therapy Center; Mushroom Burger; The Hallelujah Diet monastery (this ain’t its real name); The T-House; the church beside the T-House where someone in the controversial Arroyo clan of the Philippines got married; and the pasalubong place somewhere along the road. Just a few words, and I'll let the photos in my Facebook do the rest.

Highlights:

1. Hitting my head on the bus’ damned TV twice.

2. The Ilog Maria photo session – and man, was it one long photo shoot.

3. The ducks/geese (couldn’t tell which) at Ilog Maria.

4. The kid who was attracted to our cameras. The attention wasn't unrequited.

5. The most beautiful environmental CR I’ve ever seen.

6. The mushroom lunch.

7. “Eat only living food. Everything else is not good for your body.”

8. The drink. The living-food drink.

9. Photo shoot again at the T-House.

10. Finding my long lost “T,” made of bamboo, at the T-House!

11. The visit to the church

12. 3 boxes: 2 Buko Pies and 1 Buko Tart

13. Ang mga samu’t saring hirit sa loob ng bus.

14. Playing Taboo with the Taboo people: Tella, Ginnie, Phyl, Thea, Jio, Vince, Josh, Clems, Jim, Clint, and Madi. Marami nito sa Orosa! Ito ang favorite ni Jim! =D

FINALLY, RAINWATER THAT HAD COLLECTED ON THE LINOLEUM ROOF (it's not a real roof) AT THE ILOG MARIA MUSEUM FOUND AN OUTLET. HALF MY SHIRT WAS SOAKING WET AFTER ONE GIANT GUSH OF PUZZLING IDIOCY.

P.S. Hoping that Spring Awakening will be a good one tomorrow.

how i finished my term paper body

It’s true: Tita Glo finally had her Katrina, but with a name that stinks by a mile.

It’s probably the first time (unless I’m wrong) that an entire week’s worth of classes got suspended. All because of environmental disequilibrium. To say that the victims are countless is worse than an understatement. Numbers don’t mean anything in such a disaster anymore; it’s inefficiency that does.

Much has been said about the recent supertyphoon, so why don’t we talk about the no-classes side of the issue then?

When I first heard the news that classes for Monday (Sept 28) had been suspended, I was all joyful kid. A few hours later, Tuesday got cancelled as well. And since we had a field trip to Tagaytay scheduled on that Wednesday, that spelled three beautiful classroom-less days. The best part was, I finally had time to work on the body of my term paper, as well as the reaction paper, for Comm II!

Then, we thought CHED had finally lost it: Classes suspended until October 3 (Saturday).

Success became disaster. How in the world were we, the ultimate braniacs of the country's ultimate braniac university, going to survive an entire week without sitting inside a classroom, basking in the thrill of quizzes and long tests?!

The worst part was, it meant that sembreak would no longer be on the 14th. If the school sticks to the original schedule, then the break will fall exactly a week after, on the 21st. (Update: That's now the case.)

I guess the only consolation that that weird week brought was my actually finishing the body and conclusion of my term paper, as well as the reaction paper. And now that sembreak has officially been moved, it just means more time for the paper… or better yet, more free time after finishing the paper.

Beyond the cumulonimbus clouds, there lies the yellow star of our solar system.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wrapping Up

It’s September 11 already. Not that we’re actually celebrating 9/11 here (though it won’t hurt to do so somewhere else). August was somehow a busy month, and there were times when I admittedly wasn't in the mood for blogging.

So, between August 11 (the last post before “the essay” below) and today…

… met Michelle and family and some notable Huasiong people at a dinner celebration by the ICCHSAA Manila chapter, honoring the Huasiong people and Huasiong-related people who won in math contests in China…had to endure yet another of the bitter Manuel’s oratories about why Michelle and I should have but didn't/ weren’t able to go abroad as MTG babies…

… watched Hey, Mr. Producer! and The Making of Miss Saigon on DVD (apparently, someone finally received his prizes for winning the Cinderella review contest a year ago), and entered the magical world of Next to Normal and Shrek the Musical.

… got tickets for Spring Awakening on October 10, Saturday evening (and checked for Sweeney Todd’s on November).

… went on an NLEX road trip, all the while marveling at the beauty of Mt. Arayat, to Guagua, Pampanga, visited the parents of a family friend, then on a side trip to Clark and circled the place… curse the rain for hiding Mt. Pinatubo, which finally showed a bit of itself on our way home.

… got a 1.0 in History 5 with the great Arnold Esguerra: “Si Jinggoy? Hindi ko yan kinakausap. Bobo yan e!”

… ended NatSci Part One: Biology with 88.075… and celebrated the turnover to the Geology part with a straight-from-a-fairytale professor, the great Doc Marquez, who’s pretty much been true to the ‘wonderful’ bit… need 91.925 for an uno.

… went movie hopping, most notably Up and that piece of crap called Tarot.

… survived one of the greatest horror stories known as the 3rd Math 17 DepEx – a work of evil meant to convince about-to-fail-Math-17 UPM students that they’d better drop the subject…

… went condo-unit hopping at Ellie-Buddy’s (airbed = erotic sleep) and Joshua’s place.

… my mother came to Manila… went to Eastwood and watched Up for the second fabulous time, went to Greenhills and almost touched-and-pictured the grand landscape exhibit of the Holy Rosary Museum, if not for the she-guard who saw me… became one of the last customers of the old Alba (they're renovating)… spa-ed somewhere in San Juan (lousy spa).

… had fever on the day of Mother's arrival… five days later (Wednesday night), got admitted to Metropolitan Hospital with platelet count of 120… first hospitalization and second bout of dengue in 17 years (and hopefully the last for a lifetime)…discharged Sept 6 after lunch.

… finally won my first Palanca award. Rigodon ballroom, The Manila Peninsula, Sept 1.

This post was made for posting’s sake. Readers are hard to satisfy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

analyzing a patch of dreamy pasture

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… In fact, long enough already that by the time those ‘ambition-confessions’ started to unfurl, I’ve already signed my future self up (return service agreement of Intarmed, signed February 2009) as part of an army of people willing to cure (duh, doctors) the country of its diseases (sick people, anyone?), not only out of love but out of responsibility as well – an army that’s getting smaller and smaller (so true…).

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Dreams and Pastures

Five years ago, my brother - then a Block 13 LU I Intarmed student - won 2nd Prize in the 54th Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature Kabataan Essay (English) category for "To Be President... Why Not?" Well look whose turn is it now. A million thanks to dearest brother for being the chief editor and critic of this essay, and to dearest mother for being the best editorial consultant (I made that title up). And, of course, all praise be to God.

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When I was little, I swore to myself that I would travel all across the world, reaching places far and wide, away from the bleak and dismal atmosphere of the Philippines. I told myself that the future would see me trekking along the slopes of the Himalayas, gazing at the Pyramids of Giza, navigating the Amazon River, and sleighing across Antarctica. With the nonstop socio-political crises and economic difficulties growing worse by the year, my dreams also got more and more colorful – even that of living a different life in a different land.

My high school peers seemed to agree to the idea. One wants to be a mariner – a seaman, colloquially – because aside from the promise of dollars, you also get to be “away from this stinking country.” Some of the boys plan to take up engineering, “since engineers are earning big bucks in Britain.” Half the class aim to become nurses and join the gold-yielding bandwagon, hopefully somewhere in the US or Canada. But sometimes, ideas just fade away.

For one, I’ve long given up on my ingenuous goal of circling the globe, in exchange for a deeper understanding about this ill-stricken society. In fact, long enough already that by the time those ‘ambition-confessions’ started to unfurl, I’ve already signed my future self up as part of an army of people willing to cure the country of its diseases, not only out of love but out of responsibility as well – an army that’s getting smaller and smaller.

As I listened to my classmates’ conversations, images of decrepit shanties popped up in my mind – a scene I had encountered from my Manila vacation not too long ago. The rundown houses lined the murky depths of the Pasig River, feeding the waters with apathy and agony. And we call this our most urbanized city? That moment, I was also reminded of the country’s distressing performance in an international math and science test a few years back, where we ranked in the bottom five. With this came the millions of Filipino children all robbed of the opportunity to go to school. And we call ourselves the pioneers of education in Asia? The verdict stuck to my mind with unshakable veracity: Juan de la Cruz is very, very incompetent.

But there I sat, surrounded by people my age, all yearning to savor the archetypal greener pastures once out of college. I’m not saying it’s wrong to crave for a taste of foreign air; given that we are indeed trapped in a boiling pot of misery, it’s even more rational to do so, especially for those who grew up suffocated by the cloaks of hopelessness, hearing radio commentators launching endless tirades against the government while TV news anchors broadcast political scandals and murders almost everyday. It’s just terrible to know that those who have been dubbed as ‘the hope of the motherland’ think only of deserting the pasture that nourished and nurtured them, a pasture that was once also very green. What a hard-hitting irony… and to think that this diaspora of sorts has penetrated even our modest high school classroom.

I’m not exactly what you would call a “hopeless patriot.” I certainly won’t be the first one to die for this country if the time comes, especially since many have blindly done so in our war-stained past. I just happen to have a strong faith in the capabilities of the Filipino youth. Despite the dire state of our nation, I strongly believe that we, the predestined saviors of society, can rebuild this democracy – maybe not to be the best, but at least to be a competent one.

After all, we already have the foundation for the job: education. Sometime in our fourth year English class, our teacher tasked us to come up with an analytical paper on the South African leader Nelson Mandela. It was in making this paper that I met one of his most powerful statements: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

In our case, those words most certainly ring out with truth: Education is our only recourse left in jumpstarting this mission to change the face of our nation. It is already fact that we have the brains, but an even bigger one that where we fall short is in honing these intelligences, making everything seem like an awful joke since we happen to be heirs to an intellectual heritage created by some of the greatest beacons of knowledge. Likewise, if we set aside some time for scanning our history books or library archives, we would see that not too long ago, education in this country wasn’t quite different from that of the current superpowers (or ‘superlearners’, should I say). It’s all a matter of making the largest and youngest group of Filipinos realize that we have the books and the brains; what’s needed is our willingness to learn, our cooperation in resurrecting our dying learning system, and our helping hands for those who think otherwise.

However, learning alone is insufficient in shaping competence, when the mind detaches itself from tradition and principles. In other words, just as the Filipino youth gather knowledge, so should they also cherish and firmly grasp the cultural values that define and glorify their home. The bayanihan spirit, respect for elders, close-knit families, hospitality, long-lasting perseverance, to name a few – they are our shatterproof vests against the bullets of excessive modernization, our shields against the swords of excess radicalism.

I say this because I was raised in a similar way. I belong to a family that upholds its values and philosophies – which, in an era of no-sweat living and unreasonable extravagance, most probably comes across to others as unwise or nonsensical. While some people would instinctively and immediately go on a wild goose chase after luxury and magnificence, we prefer to silently toil at a corner and work for the bigger and grander scheme of things. This, perhaps, is a result of having grandparents who were both living epitomes of hard work, simplicity, and most of all, frugality – a belief system which we continue to honor and preserve.

In a society that’s battered by broken promises but still blinded by mindless ambition, some would say that it’s already pointless to keep on living by one’s idealistic principles, since both have seemingly died out. I disagree – because peacefully existing in this kaleidoscopic microcosm of the world with my family’s time-tested traditional values has led me to form an identity I’ll always flaunt with sincere pride. It’s more than just a way of life; it’s a lifelong source of dignity.

Sadly, it’s the very same kind of dignity which my fellow youth lack. We may have vast treasuries of knowledge on our hands and the principles to stand by for, but if we don’t take pride in them or believe that we can soar the skies with them, all will be for nothing. How many times have we Filipinos proven that as long as we believe in our dreams and work hard for them, we can make things happen? All the same, we must generate that time-tested confidence: that a country now chained to the manacles of poverty and endlessly troubled by insurgency will be able to rise above the ashes and see better tomorrows. In the end, it all boils down to whether we still have that same kind of hopefulness, that undying perseverance… that optimism that is just so natural among us. In the end, it will all depend on whether or not we decide to believe that Juan de la Cruz, however incompetent, can and will survive the most trying of times, emerging as a better (if not the best) Republic with the Filipino youth at the forefront of this national makeover.

So there, I guess I’ve sounded patriotic enough to border on ironic. But I consider myself a totally different species – a “hopeful patriot.” Many a selfless Filipino once sacrificed his life for the sake of defending our freedom and giving education in this country an identity of its own; to take part in feasting on this hard-earned education granted only to a privileged few, and then, just try to leave this land of heroes as early as possible – is just as foolish as others regard not heading abroad. I’m not advocating idealism here; I want to revive it, more so at a time when holding fast to one’s idealistic principles is supposedly tantamount to being impractical or naïve.

As I write this, it’s only a little more than a month before college life unfolds. In a few weeks, many among my friends would then don their best armors and hurdle the academic life to the best of their abilities, headed for the promise of a future abroad that they themselves have envisioned and are hoping to fulfill. I myself would also don my shiniest armor, only that I haven’t spent more than a couple of ancient, solitary moments picturing myself to be frolicking with foreign grandeurs. Strangely enough, seeing my fellow youth map out their futures in some distant land only makes me all the more believe that mine should somehow be in this country.

But who am I to stop them, when I used to be one of them? Nevertheless, I’ve learned to dream of better things: That someday, there comes a class of high school seniors who don’t simply aspire to spend the future manning majestic ships or pricey cruise liners along the high seas, tending to patients in a New York hospital, or overseeing the construction of a skyscraper in London. Instead, they aspire to be part of an army willing to transform the Philippines into a globally competent nation – to be doctors, teachers, or even virtuous and selfless political leaders in a land that pays them with harshness and injustice. Then, we shall see less of dilapidated houses along filthy waterways, read less of the country’s tragic results in some international aptitude test, and hear less of children with no prospect whatsoever of getting into school.

It’s not the most sensible dream there is; but it’s not impossible either. The youth can make this happen – and we must make it happen. All we need to do is cherish our intellectual heritage, stand by our traditions and values, and believe that we can rebuild this land to become a greener, or even better, the greenest pasture there is.

It’s a dream every hopeful patriot is willing to fulfill. And it would all be a million times better than conquering the loftiest of mountains, gazing at Egyptian pantheons, sailing along exotic rivers, traversing an icy continent – or living a different life in a different land.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Queen

We had this descriptive/narrative essay writing sort of quiz in Comm I (read: recorded). And lovely Pacita gave me a one-point-zero for this… this mini-allusion to her.

She sits on her throne with that sophisticated European touch, though the way she lays herself on the cold stone makes her seem unaware of the countless people who have passed her by all day. Without so much as a flick of an eyelid, she lifts herself up and jumps off her throne, only to roll across the pebbled pavement in a seemingly playful manner so unlike royalty.

I take it that she has called her maids and ladies-in-waiting, as I stand a couple of meters behind her, mesmerized by the gathering at hand. She then leads the way, strutting with just the right amount of grace and power; her ladies follow suit, like the penitent and faithful in solemn procession to the church on Good Friday. Entranced and enthralled by this rather mystical parade of fur coats, I follow them.

When they reach the far end of the pathway, where the imposing Rizal Hall stands, they stop. Somehow, they have become aware of my presence (though I try my all to exude an uncanny friendliness). In a silent command, she tells her servants to disperse; obediently, they scatter with nary a whisper. One by one, they take up their places – beside a shrub, amongst the fallen leaves – and go about their business.

It is then that I realize that the queen has called for me. Sitting directly ahead of me, she looks me straight into the eyes, piercing my soul with her gaze. She scours through my thoughts, searching through every nook and cranny, perhaps judging whether my knowledge of the world is worthy to stand before her presence. I walk away from her towards the main entrance of Rizal Hall, but I can still feel her inside me. The soft melody – the harmonized purring of her servants – fails to distract me, or lead me into believing that my mind is still my own. Somehow, I can hear her in my head, calling to me, telling me to bow down before her and make her my goddess.

Then, I step inside Rizal Hall – and she promptly leaves my mind. I turn around, looking through the glass panes of the door. The ladies are still absorbed in singing with the trees and shrubs; she, however, seems dazed, as if something else more interesting and complex than my mind has caught her attention. Then, I realize that she is just snapping out of her psychic adventure into human thought.

She turns around, catches my eye, and smiles at me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

That Blasted Bird

I’ve lately been so distracted by a number of unwanted mysticisms, foremost of which are academic sojourns and mental typhoons, that I’ve almost forgotten about this gem of an experience. Trust me: You don’t know what “trauma” means unless a bird’s attempted to attack you.

We were walking along the Faura sidewalk across Robinsons on our way back to CAS for the Nat Sci class. But what should have been a rather boring talky walk turned out to be one hell of a blast-ended skrewt.

Our feet brought us to this certain spot somewhere near the Supreme Court gate, where I observed a few rather irritable, low-flying sparrows. We ignored them, presuming (as human nature would have us presume) that the birds would just mind their own nonhuman businesses and fly away. And fly away they did.

But how on earth was I supposed to know that one of those blasted birds was actually brave enough to stand a few feet away from us, directly on our path??? And the worst part was, upon sensing our approach, it took off like an airplane - diagonally upwards, directly headed towards…

ME.

Well, my forehead (we must give due credit to the most victimized of the victims).

It was probably the biggest “What the Heaven” moment in all of Manila: a seemingly brainless bird, its tiny but nonetheless deadly sharp beak aimed at my forehead!!! And what was I to do but make this sort of backward dance move like in The Matrix?! Otherwise, I would probably have found myself in PGH with a stupid bird stuck on my forehead, struggling to wrench itself off my head – or worse, with a tiny bleeding hole on my forehead.

If you’ve seen those Japanese fighter planes make nasty nose dives in those World War II films, then you should somehow be able to visualize the damn bird – only it’s headed up instead of down. Why did such misfortune befall me; why was I cursed to be victim of a failed bird attack?

Theory No. 1: The brain sensed its nest in my head; in other words, I may be bird-brained.

Theory No. 2: The bird was a rogue bird, much like the rogue bludger in HP Chamber of Secrets.

Theory No. 3: There’s a secret mafia of birds, now in the move to gradually eradicate homo sapiens.

Dammit, I couldn’t think properly afterwards. Trust me, you wouldn’t have been able to. The thought of injury by bird... blasted, hell-sent bird!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Walt Disney films in the UP curriculum II

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DEPARTMENT OF JARBINITY
Second Departmental Examination
Enchanted


Use a bluebook to answer the exam. Do not copy the question; only the corresponding number of the question, and the answers should be written. Failure to follow instructions will mean ZERO.

I. Present the plot of Enchanted in exactly fifteen boxes. (15 pts)

II. Give allusions, references, or homage made by Enchanted to the following:

a. Walt Disney films in general (10 pts)
b. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (10 pts)
c. Cinderella (8 pts)
d. Sleeping Beauty (6 pts)

III. Compare the characters of Prince Edward and Robert Philip. (6 pts)

IV. Compare the characters of Giselle and Nancy Tremaine. (6 pts)

V. Discuss a traditional Disney ideology presented in Enchanted. (4 pts)

Perfect Score: 65 points
Passing Score:
37 points

Bonus Questions:

1. Write the entire lyrics of Happy Working Song. (8 pts)

2. In the Enchanted soundtrack, who performs the song So Close? (1 pt)

3. In the 80th Academy Awards, who sang Giselle’s part during the performance of That’s How You Know? (1 pt)

You are not a very nice old man!
- Giselle, “Enchanted”
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Walt Disney films in the UP curriculum

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DEPARTMENT OF JARBINITY
First Departmental Examination
The Lion King and The Lion King 2: Pride of Simba

Use a bluebook to answer the exam. Do not copy the question; only the corresponding roman number of the question, and the answers should be written. Failure to follow instructions will mean ZERO.

I. Choose between The Lion King and The Lion King 2, and plot the film storyline in boxes. (20 pts)

II. Diagram the interconnecting families of Mufasa and Scar, up to the third generation. (20 pts)

III. In ‘The Lion King’, who are the three hyenas who tried to kill the young Simba and Nala in the Elephant Graveyard, and specify the gender of each. (6 pts)

IV. What kind of animal is: 1. Timon; 2. Pumba 3. Rafiki. 4. Zazu (1 pt each)

Perfect Score: 50 points.
Passing Score: 30 points.

There is light beyond the darkness. God bless!
- Jarby
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Diliman

Yesterday was fun.

Went with Thea, Niko, and OJ/ Orven/ Orjy/ Orjy/ Orven Jules/ Jules to UP Diliman.

First time to ride the LRT and MRT! Not that I don't take public transport (duh), but one's first time to use the trains of Manila is always cause for celebration. Got off at Q-Ave station, rode an Ikot to Palma Hall.

Sat in with Orjy in his high school (Pisay) friends' Chem 16 Lab class.

Ate at the Beach House, which was “so primitive.” After lunch, met with, among others, a classmate nicknamed Delmoan, who made all sorts of zoo animal moans (actually, only those which he thought were common and inexpensive, like the sea lion, which should be sound like “a bitch,” the snake and Voldemort, and the walrus). The walrus moan is the best moan man will ever hear.

After that, went to the Library, where I taught Celina and Cherry the Lion King family tree. Then, to the Marine Research Institute, where OJ became nostalgic. Then, met up with the Pisay people’s senior year adviser (soooo white). It was an incomprehensible moment.

Sat in in friends’ Math 17 class with the gay teacher who reads everything that he writes on the board (conscious, perhaps, that Imed people were there?). Back to Manila.

Historical Points of the Day for Me:
1. first time to ride the LRT and MRT
2. first time to use an overpass in Manila
3. first time to ride jeepney in Quezon City
4. first time to go to Diliman
5. first time to walk inside Trinoma

The Referent Theory of Talking

Consider two healthy and normal individuals A and B. A is communicating with B in the form of words, by the act of speaking. Thus, we say that A and B are talking to each other, with A as the speaker and B as the listener.

The Referent Theory of Talking states that if A, who is the speaker, looks at B in the eye while talking, then A therefore is talking to B and not to any other being. All the same, if B responds to the look directed at him by A (by also looking at A or in some other specific bodily response that can be considered a "response" [see chapter on "Human Response"]), then B therefore is the person being talked to by A. If A is talking while not looking B in the eye, but has the front of his body positioned in the direction of B, then we may say that A is talking to B.

Now, for homework: Spot the fallacies or errors that can be found in the Theory.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's All About the Free Sundae

I celebrated my birthday again last night.

Of course, my birthday is already a good two months past. So why the celebration?

You’ve heard of Gumbo’s, no? Not so famous outside of Manila. Anyway, it’s this French Quarter restaurant where they make a big fuss over your birthday by giving you a free candle-topped sundae while crowning you with some fancy masquerade hat, while the restaurant crew serenade you with some fancy birthday chant. But first, someone has to ‘let slip’ to the manager or any of the personnel that it’s your birthday; otherwise, who'd care?

That's what we did. Dear auntie told our server that it's my "birthday" – and the server took it seriously (as if he had a choice).

At dinner's end – GABOOSH!!! – out came the crew, with a fuzzy hat with red plumage and fancy artwork and glitter and whatever, and of course, a free sundae. And I had to blow the candle, too, and smile and pretend to enjoy everything as if it really were my birthday.

Spell crazy.

Moral of the story: If ever you happen to eat at Gumbo’s and are craving for sundae, tell them that exactly how many years ago, on this very day, your mother’s vagina expanded to an elephantine size and spewed you out.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Araw of Glory, 2

Date: July 15, 2009
Time: around 8:50 p.m.
Mood: cheerful

Happy birthday to The World According to Jarby!!!

Finally, my blog is one year old. As a parent, I am speechless.

Which is why I’m writing all of the ‘speech’ in here.

One year ago, this blogspace was just a tiny shoot of grass, bearing a tiny sparkle of dew.

Today, it has grown into a majestic garden.

Happy birthday, The World According to Jarby!!!

May you become a legend in the world of blogging.

*tears of joy*

Sunday, July 12, 2009

soliloquy of a six-point slip

In response to my disastrous first exam in Math 17.

We do not live to collect 1.00’s and proudly stash them in our schoolbags, for the noble flat-ones serve only as chariots in our quest for excellence, as guides in this trek towards mathematical salvation, and as the Northern Stars of our voyage towards the Eden of Numbers.

We do not live to the dictates of glorious heritages, however grand the illusions they create to the untrained eyes, nor do we let such cultures spell the workings of our every day.

We are not walking calculators: born to solve the 13th root of m raised to the 22nd power and divided by a radical that’s twice the conjugate of the first; created to complete every blank on a mathematical paper with vaguer statements; designed to satisfy the whims of ancestors.

We cannot let ourselves be conquered by the false glory that an 85 over 85, or even an 80, emanates.

We simply cannot keep still while being pushed around by lesser mortals, all telling us to ‘reach for the stars’, when it is, foremost, the stars’ intention to be distant so that there will be something for us to chase on our own.

We do not content ourselves with mediocrity, neither do we resign ourselves to the fact that mediocre is what we were born to be.

From the bottom of the ocean, the rays of sunlight shimmer with brilliance; from here, we swim our way to the splendid surface.

A mountaineer who climbs a mountain, slides back, and climbs again eventually reaches the peak.

We are not at the top, for it is only through being not on top that we can freely and grandly reach the top.

Let others say what they want to say and think what they want to think, but we shall silently work our magic and build our grandest staircase to the topmost floor.

Just wait, just be patient, just be focused. Work hard and have faith.

The fallen shall rise again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

90 points

I just had my first real taste of a Math 17 DepEx.

In other words, what on earth were those quizzes and buddy stuff and whatever-elses for? Because, hell yeah, I don’t think they were light years more difficult (nor in anyway more difficult) than the one exam that we’d just gobbled up at RH.

Weren’t we told that the exam would be one notch lower than what we’d been trained to hurdle in the classroom? Um, well don’t ask me, I don’t know. How the hell should an estuarine crocodile survive in the Ross Sea?

Fluffy the Bitch gave birth to a pup this Sunday(?) It’s half-black, half-white, which is, to paraphrase, simply adorable.

My head is not in its proper state right now. I’m all dazed (if it isn’t too obvious). It’s like everything inside my brain’s turned into improper fractions that can still be simplified to become integers or worse, ones or zeros.

Hello??? I’m not thinking properly right now. My mind’s all boogy.

I’ll come back when I’m in a sane-enough circumstance already.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

two first exams in three days' time

It’s July now.

Which means I’ve actually lived three whole weeks of my existence as a UPM denizen. Isn’t it amazing or what?

Math 17 on Tuesday, History on Thursday, Ice Age 3 on ____day!

The Jarbisciples have grown in number. Is this a good thing? Well, at least it still doesn’t feel like a drunken mob’s peering through my brain… but that’s what this blog’s supposed to be, isn’t it? A part of my brain… so then, why be concerned about a stupid mob peering through my brain if the main function of this blog is be an outgrowth of my brain?

USC Quiz Bee – one great quiz bee. Mindbreakers – stupid quiz bee.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Next to Normal

This was homework in Philosophy I (the first one, actually). We were made to write about our very own question about… well, anywhatever.

I was six years old when I first became aware that a school called UP actually existed. Before that, I used to think of that long stretch of stone wall that we’d pass on our way home every evening as just ‘one of those places’ that didn’t really concern children. However, what many people told me about this ‘UP’ was entirely different from how we’ve been taught to define ‘school’ in school.

Don’t go studying there. It’s the home of weirdoes.

Of course, I’d have to find out for myself a few more years later, when college seemed near enough to matter already, that UP transcends the disparaging descriptions I’d been fed with as a child. Weirdoes, however, and the concept of ‘weird’ continued to linger in my mind. After all, school and church are one in saying that we must avoid judging people and should accept them for who they really are.

But what is weird? What is it in someone or something that makes us say he, she, or it is weird? Is it in the way he looks or makes us feel, or the way by which he lives every day? Does how a person affect another define weirdness – or normality, for that matter? Or does everything simply have to do with the standards that society itself set and adheres to?

Many would say that a man who cannot sleep without his right hand covering his right eye and his left hand grasping his right wrist, or one who eats with his mug and drinks with his plate, falls under the category of ‘weird’. But if you sleep without any bother as to where your hands are, or if you eat with your plate and drink with your mug, then what are you? Normally, people would call that normal (at least, under the dictates of psychology or human behavioral science). Normally, what’s ‘not normal’ has to be ‘weird’. But weirdly enough, nobody’s exactly normal.

So then, does what other people label you really matter? Is there truly a difference between normality and weirdness? Because on the contrary, many times, weird simply happens to be normal. And by then, many, many people would rather call themselves weird – or weirdoes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ang Unang Linggo sa Peyups

So there, the first week of college is over. And, I dunno, am I supposed to say something about it? Yeah, well I feel like I have to actually say something about it… But it’s not like I’m really supposed, or, uh, required to say something about it… am I? Oh well, whatever. Anyway, college classes – uh, the first week of college classes is over. So, um, what do I feel? Hell yeah, what do I feel?! What kind of question is that? Pretty lame, I must say!

Do I speak Tagalog with an accent ba? I guess I do… well, all people from the provinces, I firmly believe, speak Tagalog with an accent (unless of course they’re from Tagalog-speaking land). But let’s go back to my accented Tagalog. Well… I dunno, I’m proud of it, I guess. No - I'm so darn proud of it.

There have also been developments concerning my name. Of course, none of the 2016ers know my Iloilo nickname (and I don’t plan to propagate it, don’t worry). But yeah, vinceN with an emphazised letter ‘n’, um, uh, t-less (it’s stupid, I know, but hey, allow the people freedom of nomenclature… but it actually sounds kinda ingenious), and, uh, someone’s calling me ‘cen’. Otherwise, it’s vincen without the ‘t’, or just plain normal vincen, which is totally fine. Why am I talking about my name here again?

Then there’s that thing about Mr. & Ms. Freshie. I mean, come on people! Where on earth did you get that crazy idea that I can be Mr. Freshie for Block 14. I could have, might have agreed to do the gig, but only if all of you rallied as one to make me Mr. Freshie (and, thankfully, you didn’t). Ugh, no way!

In general, first week’s been pretty sane. At least I’ve managed to be pretty sane. People have generally been okay - some standout personalities occasionally, but anyhow, it’s been all fine.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pasherpa-ers: Disconnected

There are brainless people, and there are people who are unaware that they have brains. Which one are you?

You hold my quivering hand as if to tell me that everything has become alright. As if I’d buy your ridiculous statement. How many times have I heard or felt you say that to me again?

I’ve been there all afternoon, watching her sleep in the most peaceful manner I’ve seen lifelong. Lifelong… now there’s an irony – don’t look at me like that!

And please, please, let go of me! I’m sick enough not having someone to tell me they know exactly how I feel. You don’t, okay?

Monday, June 8, 2009

airport pests: man, woman, and children

When I’m already seated and settled down at the pre-departure area of an airport terminal, I’d usually set my gaze beyond the glass walls, out into the airfield, the taxiways and the runway. Plane-spotting has been one of my passions for the longest time, but only those who have traveled with me know this. To the untrained eye, I'd look like I'm daydreaming or contemplating some deep philosophy. And then, the unmistakable roar of wheels and engines pervades the surroundings, grasping my full attention.

But I’m not going to talk about how boiling-hot my love for airplanes is. Instead, let’s talk about something that happened this morning, when I was in the heat of this passion.

Setting: NAIA Terminal 2, Pre-departure Area, near Gate S7.

Status: Waiting to board aircraft bound for Iloilo.

Problem: The plane-spotting activity was wrecked!

Why, you ask? Because someone in the form of a female-looking potbellied man happened to be occupying considerable space in my peripheral vision. I loathed him the very instant he stood and blocked my view. It was as if we needed a supervisor to oversee our seating activities, or as if he had proclaimed himself supervisor of a virtually nonexistent activity.

But he eventually went away – and was replaced by two annoying kids who also invaded my peripheral vision. Perfect! But the kids also went away… and by now, you should already know that another, even bigger annoyance stumbled along the way.

Behind us were around eight Americans (healthcare volunteers from Guam, we discovered) minding their own businesses (thankfully). From where we sat, one could see that the loading of checked-in luggage for our flight had commenced outside. Too obvious to miss.

All of a sudden, we heard raucous barking. This woman seated to my brother’s right was talking to the Americans (she was their guide or head or whatever, we intuited). She was broadcasting to the entire Pasay-Paranaque area that our baggage were already being loaded (making sure that passengers of the Northwest and Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific jets over at Terminal 1 could hear her clear as hell). Boy, did she get on my nerves.

The conclusion, therefore, is that I was in a very irritable state at that time. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One Week

Date: June 6, 2009
Time: 1:14 PM

*As I’ve mentioned in this blog, blogger’s time is erroneous.

Swine Flu’s now along Taft Avenue.

Plus, many LU 6 people took up their elective abroad this summer.

Ergo, UP had to come up with the decision yesterday.

Classes moved to June 15.

Okaaay, so parang nagbakasyon lang pala ako dito sa Maynila ng isang linggo, ano? Abangan po ninyo ako sa Iloilo bukas ng umaga. Magbabakasyon na rin ho ako ng isang linggo diyan.

ETD: 8:50 AM

Return flight, Sunday, June 14, ETD: 3:35 PM

P.S. I can go to the 1st instruction of the applicants!

wilderness

I looked straight into his eyes
And fathomed an unknown wilderness

There were ancient trees
Growing wildly across untamed woods
Their barks shaped creepy shadows
On the soft, musty forest floor
Their roots hunched on the soil
Casting grave, silent glances at
Unfallen leaves and the lifeless sky
The crisp, fallen brown-and-yellows
Lay weak and futile amidst
Rocks wedded to lichen
And the violet chained to undergrowth

There were also raging seas
Pounding sand and shore after shore
The waters lashed the innocent
Sweeping away all trace of life
Like the joyless crab making its way
To a hole in the ground that soon
Collapsed, burying the poor animal
Beneath the madness, an army
Assembled and the blue sharks
Orcas and blue-ringed octopi
Cried their frail battle cries

The wilderness was just too much
And I had to close my eyes

Friday, June 5, 2009

coke zero is a necessity

at least that’s what
the hospital woman said
when she came striding into
the marble hall in her
sparkly white dress
and spanking white body.

i didn’t at first
had any wish for conversation
with her lovely lips,
but it seemed, when she stood,
that mother liberty by
the mouth of the hudson river
would be just as shocked.

never in a decade –
that’s the least I could remember –
have i seen such bodily contours
that seemed a mimicry of
the sierra madre nearby.

blame the spanking dress, i say,
or protrusions would not have been
so overtly obvious.
(ironic, the redundancy, isn’t it?)

(well, maybe, two is one for this one.)

but back to the lady
(without the little dog),
and brainlessness says only this:

jack would reconsider
calling the heavenly deity
residing in some castle on a cloud
a giant, and his domestic partner,
a giantess.

meanwhile, she declared
her love for coke zero
like an aging spinster’s wedding-wish wish.

“it’s gonna make me slim!”

honey, slim or not, you’re one big zero.
one big, round, circular zero.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

wild thinking at its best

I’ve been around humans long enough to know that they will do things only when they feel like it. Words like “duty” or “responsibility” hardly make sense. No, people have this so-called free will. Most people would do ‘big’ things, like saving a life or earning money, but what of the little things, and when? What most people fail to comprehend is that it’s the little things that matter. The world does not revolve around the ‘self’. Everything is not about honor, or fame, or something to actually compensate for ‘effort’. Sometimes, it has to be just for the sake of doing. But humans are not like that. There has to be necessity in every action, and what of it, anyway? It's always this reason behind the things that do happen.

Opinions do not matter. Everyone - from newspaper columnists to sidewalk peanut vendors - has lots to say. But opinions never matter. You can talk all you want for hours, days, weeks, even decades; eventually, the only opinion that matters will be the speaker's – and the speaker's alone. Your words are pinna-deep to the next listener. No one cares about what you have to say, even if you happen or eventually happen to be right. Egotistic arrogance. Unless circumstance proves you right, your opinion hardly matters.

Still, keep talking to other people. It’s a powerful form of healing. We're made to convey our emotions and thoughts to others. Talking is therapeutic, and a stranger's ear is the best listener. Fear not irrelevance. Just talk.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Porn Pirate

Something really, really hilarious happened to me while I was waiting for the car after my haircut.

I was standing on the sidewalk of that area just before Marymart Mall, you know, at Valeria. That place that looks as though it’s meant to be a dingy flea market but wasn’t made into one due to space constraints. Anyway, I do know that there are a lot of creepy weird men (read: tambays) hanging around that place, men whom you simply wouldn't want to have eye contact with.

Well I was doing my waiting when this man approached me. His blue shirt and queer aura painted an image of a hooker in my mind. But he wasn't a hooker - close, though.

Anyway, he whispered something to me. I said, rather harshly and out of confusion, “Ano?”

He whispered again. "Ano?" I repeated.

This time, he was crystal clear: Makuha ka X?

“You want some porn?”

“Do I look like someone who’s up for buying porn?!?” That's obviously not what I said. Instead, I casually gave him a no, and he started rattling off his offers. Merong tagalong, pompom (or whatever that is)…

Turns out, those men hanging about the place are porn pirates, very persistent ones.

I thought of something straight out of a Hollywood flick. Oh come on, back off. Felt good.

Then, I walked away. That's the uncensored ending.

Gerald Swallowed

Tayong Dalawa promotes stupidity.

That, I believe, is its primary purpose.

Day by day, the directing gets worse. Day by day, the story gets worse. Day by day, the acting gets worse. Day by day, my wish for the show to end sooner becomes more and more fervent.

Ironically, the stupider it all gets, the more I get addicted to watching it.

Why, you may ask?

I have an answer: Because to watch stupidity is to realize that one is yet to be captured by the clutches of stupidity; Because to watch stupidity is to know that one is still above the claws of stupidity; Because to watch stupidity is to know that one is not yet stupid.

By the way, in the scene where Kim Chiu is going stupidly hysterical over Gerald Anderson, who is in a coma (?), the latter swallowed.

While he was playing unconscious.

How stupid is that?!

Mommies and their children

The other night, the Lactum ad in particular caught my attention during a typically uneventful Tayong Dalawa break time. And I realized just how stupid, how socially detrimental the ad is.

See, before the ad proper where Jodi Sta. Maria comes out to glorify Lactum in all its supposed goodness, there’s this series of mommies who complain about their children’s monotonous eating habits (Jodi being one of them).

The first mommy, from PAMPANGA, complains that her child only wants to eat LONGGANISA (if this is the wrong spelling, then this is how it should be spelled). The second mommy, from ILOILO, is troubled that her child wants only BATCHOY. The third mommy (you know who), from MANILA, says her child eats only FRIED CHICKEN.

Well, this is just crap!

Are these even supposed to be Filipino food analogies? More crap!

Why did they have to have the food analogy thingy in the first place, anyway? Did they think that having to state the place of origin and the food of addiction are really, really necessary? Oh come on, the place and food are totally unnecessary, and besides, if they’re meant to add ‘color’ (pun intended) to the ad, then they’re just creating a mishmash of irrelevant colors.

Why the heck would a child from Pampanga be addicted to longganisa?! Or batchoy, in the Ilonggo’s case? Or, ehem, fried chicken (?!) for Thirdy Lacson (surprise, surprise, I actually know Lacson III and Jodi’s son’s name)? More crap. Why don’t you try feeding an “extremely picky child” (as illustrated by the ad) the same kind of food everyday and let’s see how he’d love it.

If there’s anyone to blame for the children’s ‘addiction’, it's the mommies. Why, can the children cook and/or fend for themselves?! Does Thirdy really have money to buy all that fried chicken?! Duh, if you mommies don't overfeed your children with stuff, there won't be any addictions to worry about!

Speaking of food addiction, that’s totally against the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Unless of course there’s an abnormal digestive ek-ek that we've yet to find out.

Oh, and if the children really were supposed to be addicted to the food in this FICTIONAL ad, then why use the food analogies? Ads are supposed to bear clarity. Duh, why use longganisa and batchoy? Why not Angus steak or eggplant, or sautéed leg of lamb in tartar sauce?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eat Your Ice Cream!

I am being forced to eat ice cream.

Not that there’s anything wrong with eating ice cream though. It’s just that… I’m being forced to eat it. Hear that? F-o-r-c-e-d. I mean, come on, there are gazillions of mommies out there all trying to prevent their children from getting to the fridge and grabbing the ice cream – and here’s my own mother, forcing me to eat some?! How coolly crazy is that?!

And you know what’s so big about all this? She actually asked me three times if I want to eat some (to which I gave three bored nos), then went into an absolutely crazy oratory about missed opportunities and it’s-so-hot-right-now and all that brouhaha. And without further ado, I just found a cup of ice cream in front of my bewildered eyes.

I can’t believe this. Why do people assume that you didn’t hear them the first time when you nonchalantly answered a no to a question that they expected you to give a yes to? This is outrageous.

Why bother asking a question when you already have an answer in mind?

Geeez, and now she’s hurrying me up into finishing the supposedly molten ice cream. Oh man, will I be like this at fortyish? “Hey kiddo, want some ice cream? And finish it up quickly!”

I’m not in a right state of mind right now. Blame the ice cream.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Best and Worst of Season 8

Don’t you just love an upset? Especially after Danny Gokey's unlawful eviction.

Congratulations to Kris Allen for:

1. winning some big title that, in the first place, shouldn't be his;

2. winning some big singing tilt which, in the first place, shouldn't have seen him in the finals; and

3. winning something for the sake of not-winning’s sake, just as I'd wanted.

But I’m not wasting any more time talking about Mr. Conway 2009. He does not deserve my freakin’ adoration.

Now let’s wind the clocks back to two months ago. American Idol 8 was already at a stage where who got evicted already mattered (to me). Fast-forward to a week and a few days ago: Idol was down to its Final Three. And so, my best and worst performances of Season 8:

THE BEST PERFORMANCES OF IDOL SEASON 8

12. Matt Giraud, “Part-time Lover

Let us remind ourselves that he's only a wildcard, a tie with the equally crappy Anoop Desai. That the judges saved him instead of the terribly underused, underexposed Alexis Grace was - still is - unthinkable. And then there's this: suave moves and voice rolled into one.

11. Kris Allen, “She Works Hard for the Money

Boy-next-door totally made this Donna Summer his own headbob-worthy ditty.

10. Danny Gokey, “You Are So Beautiful

The biggest casualty of Season 8 – this year's Daughtry or Jennifer Hudson. But in his trademark husky voice, this song became a protestation of love oozing with simple honesty.

9. Kris Allen, “Ain’t No Sunshine

Oh the soul - and sadness - that he poured into this number. At its finest points, heartbreaking.

8. Danny Gokey, “Come Rain or Come Shine

Started out soft and ended wondrously grand, like the sun finally breaking through layers upon layers of storm clouds. Was this Gokey in a 1920s New York City club?

7. Allison Iraheta, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

Honestly, I never liked Allison that much. Her voice was too rough for my liking, like Annie Lennox. But the roughness was here justly imbued with mystery that the song asks for.

6. Danny Gokey, “What Hurts the Most

Simon called this Danny’s “best performance ever.” Not in my opinion - just the man's gloriously sung second best.

5. Adam Lambert, “Feeling Good

The compelling theatricality of it all, the way he descended those stairs like a god coming down from beyond, was only proof that the man's master of his craft. Don't like his Fiyero much, though.

4. Danny Gokey, “Jesus, Take the Wheel

This was Danny's best performance. Carrie Underwood covered this or something, right?

3. Kris Allen, “Falling Slowly

Randy showed how utterly stupid he was when he said, after this number, “I’m not so sure, man.” Kris Allen's best performance of the season was an elegant portrait of gently falling in love.

2. Adam Lambert, “Mad World

After Adam finished this song, thousands undoubtedly converted to his cause. Many call this his towering achievement, but...

1. Adam Lambert, “The Tracks of My Tears

Like how David Archuleta’s “Imagine” was hailed by many as his best, when it was actually his other Beatles number, “The Long and Winding Road." Lambert's crystalline falsetto and the surrounding silence simultaneously sculpted tears on our faces.

THE WORST PERFORMANCES OF IDOL SEASON 8

10. Danny Gokey, “Dream On

Danny's not a rocker, and when he tried to be one, he was a screaming nightmare.

9. Anoop Desai, “Caught Up

Groovy dancing and misplaced energy do not a passable number make. Complete misfire from Desai.

8. Kris Allen, “All She Wants to Do Is Dance

Even the piano wasn't large enough to hide the gaping hole at the heart of this mess.

7. Danny Gokey, “Get Ready

Another one where Danny goes jumping all over the stage. Will never be ready to see this again.

6. Kris Allen, “Apologize

Hands down, the worst existing version of "Apologize."

5. Megan Joy, “Turn the Lights Down Low

There was absolutely nothing sexy with this number. It was like a sexless maniac's empty call for a drunken quickie.

4. Lil Rounds, “I’m Every Woman

Lil Rounds screamed - and screamed some more, even though it was all too obvious that she's a woman. Just not good enough to represent every woman.

3. Matt Giraud, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”

Unintelligible shit from Giraud.

2. Michael Sarver, “Ain’t Goin’ Down

Unintelligible shit from Sarver.

1. Megan Joy, “For Once in My Life

For once in her life, Megan Joy made a complete fool of herself on international television.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Allen, Kris

I’m secretly wishing Kris Allen would win Idol 8. Now, it’s no secret anymore.

Because it’s so darn obvious that Adam’s headed in that direction. Which is why I’m rooting for Kris; there just no point rooting for Adam, simply because doing so wouldn’t be doing anymore. It’s become the norm, the obvious behavior; it’s so clear he’s bound to win. He’s gonna win. He has to win. He must win.

You can call me nonconformist, I guess; but hey, Idol pretty much deserves an Allen surprise win. Whatever happened to Danny Gokey’s fan base? Maybe… just maybe, blame Paula Abdul’s stinking song choice?

Danny deserves to be in the finals. Danny should be in the finals. But Danny ain’t in the finals.

I want Kris Allen to win. Because I don’t want him to win. Because he doesn’t deserve to win. Because HE MUST WIN for not-winning’s sake.

Friday, May 15, 2009

First Time with 2016

I really, really want to write something for May, but my mind’s not much of a team player at the moment. Is writer's block cause for sarcasm?

I just came home from a week-long sojourn in Manila. Yesterday, actually. My flight was supposed to depart at 4:20, then during check-in, I found out it had become 5:10, then we were delayed and finally took off at 5:30, then upon arrival, my luggage got tossed to the other carousel – which means I got home at past 7:30 already. Stupid airline, stupid airport.

I finally met the Imed 2016 people. Aside from the conventions of block 13 and 14 (go Block 14!!! Though this isn’t to say no-go Block 13 – well, partly), I have another mark for distinction: Pisay-Mainers and Non-PMs. First time you come across this, I bid you not to take offense. Well, anyway, as of now, none of you 2016 people know this blog, so if and when you come across this piece of crap, take amusement. Senseless much… but it’s true nonetheless, there are 21 (?) PM people in our batch.

First person I met was… surprise, surprise, Bea! Siguro yan nga ang tinatawag na magnet of home (if there’s such a thing). That’s prior to the dental examination – well, during the wait for the DE. Then, the second one was during the PE in the P.M already. Jillian, who sat beside me, whom I talked with, who then realized that her wallet and cell phone (or wallet only) were (was) missing. Jillian, the first victim of PGH theft for 2016 I-meders. Hopefully, none will be second. Then the third one, whom I talked with during the search for Jillian’s missing accessories: Krystell(a)! Maria Krystella Guevara… your name rhymes, girl.

During the enrollment process, Allison and Shahara, whom I got to talk to while separated by glass from the ferocious Ate Perla. Wait, I first talked with you guys at Ate Cherry’s place. Then, there’s Josef (Organio?), who wasn’t around the next day. And yeah, Clemens’ dad offered his chair to me. In the afternoon, when I went to get my class card (thankfully, Perla wasn’t around), I met Meagan! Meagan!!! And she said her name so cutely, so chipmunky. Meagan!!!

During the orientation, the first person I talked to (technically, the first new person, since I first talked to Bea) was Jenn. Gargar. Girl, you remind me of my SS successor. CutieGar. Gargar. Jenn Danielle Gargar. Catchy! Then, Niko, whom I saw the day before doing crossword puzzles during the wait; Clemens, who hardly ever spoke for the rest of the day (really, sir) and who just so suddenly disappeared in PGH; and Manzo, whom I thought was calling me, but was actually calling VincenT.

The psych test was stupid; pretty much everyone covertly knows that. Anyway, I sat beside Jim, from Palawan, who became my buddy for the campus tour where they made the frats and soros sound like criminal gangs; and Trish – Patricia Marie Fernandez – who chatted with me and spoke (how redundant). There was also Thea (I still don’t know which is Aletheia and which is simply Thea); Anna, whom I talked with for a fraction of a second; and Gelo, who knows Mr. Java, which is totally cool.

On the way to and at the CR, I had my first encounters (haha) with Vince(nt), who got his arm veins all traced up by the other Thea (*wink*); and Jio – pioneer of juiciness. On the way to Robinsons, first encounters with Terence – 80% Chinese – and Joshua, whose blood composition I’m not particular with. There was also Gianna – topnotcher of BrainDrain; Isabella Supnet (one of our catchiest names), who hopefully will allow me to call her by her full catchy name; MJ, who said he couldn’t quite place my name yet; and Alexeis, who told me that my name sticks out for him.

Yeah, well, I probably exchanged words with almost the entire 2016 people… I think I did. But whatever… when I look back a couple of years from now, I think I’d find this quite useful.









Writer’s Block?! Well, well, well… here you go, May!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pasherpa-ers: Shadowfox

Someone took a really, really looooong time to figure out the secret of these writings. It was extremely, agonizingly, ridiculously, and outrageously long, it made the person look like a stupid overrated baboon. Anyway, avoid, if you must, the Tolkien connotation.

He rode all night, swiftly, down the rugged valley of desolation, and into the forest – pitch-black, silent, and eerie.

With every step that his golden stallion took on the forest floor, the necklace that hung around his neck bounced in the air, as if to demand its freedom, but never reaching far enough with a strength strong enough to break free from its owner.

The darkness crept all around them, as all sorts of sounds and visions came to life.

But the rider knows, Gandalf needs the necklace.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pasherpa-ers: Mental Whetstone

Here is the second of my ‘twisty masterpieces’. I do not have a particular theme for these writings and soon-to-be-writings. I just find this enjoyable, plus, there’s always the numerical interaction.

At the back of my mind, I hastily sharpened my knives, making sure that every single one of my verbal blades would pierce through her skin as easily as rain hits the ground, slicing through every nook and cranny of her frail, horsy frame.

Nursing, she muttered sardonically under her breath, as if to let me know of her efforts to conceal the sarcasm noisily gushing through every word.

Too bad for her, I know fully well how she loathes the white-clad hospital denizens – how she hates us.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pasherpa-ers: The Seaside Attack

I’m trying something twisty here. Note the structure. This weird idea was inspired by a similar set of writings in the blog of one of the contacts of someone’s Multiply account. Happy figuring the trick out!

The tides rolled in, madly, like a troubled herd of wildebeests, stampeding towards the only stretch of grassland that is the beach, with tiny, occasional pebbles dotting its otherwise dove-gray cape of sand.

Yet the fortress stood strong, fiercely unwavering to the beholder, its turrets soaring to the flaming sky, surrounded by a mighty wall.

However, just like those boastful clowns from the circuses, the castle fell down, grain by grain, with every lash of saltwater. There was then stillness in the air.

All else, though, remained unchanged.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mamma Mia!

I was able to prove two things this afternoon: First, that you can prove things without using any of the cobwebbed statements in the Constitution or any math-related theorem or postulate; second, that I am always in need of intellectual stimulation.

My mind has wheels (pun intended ^^). Attached to the centerpiece of my neurological existence are silvery, shining, shimmering, splendid wheels. They are beautiful wheels. Pretty wheels. The best wheels in town.

Which is why boredom ranks as one of my top enemies. Along with nothing-you-may-do moments that take place during should-do-something moments. I hate being restrained in a tiny box and disallowed the freedom of industry. Even more, I hate being made not to do something during times when I feel the urge to really do something. Furthermore, I hate being made to do and expected to love doing something which I don't want to do in the first place. Productivity is a close friend of mine; indolence (during anti-indolence hours) is tantamount to Kyla (the dog).

Hurrah for my brainy wheels!

-*_=^=+_%_+=^=_*-

Something cynical also happened this afternoon.

As I was on my way to Bopsy’s place, I met a mother.

Not just any mother, but the mother of an applicant. Well, technically, a former applicant. I think perhaps you already know who this is. (applicant or mother, whichever)

Among many other irrelevant things, she gave a remark – and I quote: Grabe gid kamu ya magtraining… Nagbalos gid kamu ya nu?

Was I hit by one of the many saucepans lying along that sidewalk for sale? Was she actually trying to tell me in not exactly the nicest way that we were too hard on the starapples? Come on, woman, wake up!

First of all, ang training ng mga walang hiyang starapples na yun ay simply pagbabayad lang sa milyun-milyong atraso nila sa amin noong mga sinyor pa kami. Doesn't she know that because of the starapples at iba pang third year, na-super delay at naparusahan pa ang mga agila'?! Doesn’t she know na mga bastos at raskal ang mga kaklase ng anak niya (pwede ngang isali yung anak niya e) prior to the CAT summer engagement?

Secondly, the training was – I have to admit – hard because of the fact that talagang mga walang laman ang mga utak ng mga starapples na ito. Come on, as in paulit-ulit na kami, dalawang linggo na, hindi pa rin nila nagegets!

Third, our training was very different. It might not have focused on the physical aspect (pero hindi naman ang mga starapples nakatikim ng damog, naka-snake crawl, log roll, at quiapo march sa basang-basang field, nag-bullfight, at nag-pasa masid sa ilalim ng 11:00 sun, among others, diba?!) but it was more of the emotional and psychological aspect. We were promised two weeks of vacation after refresher, yet there we were, training. And to think na nagstart lang yung training ng mga starapples in march, kahit na two weeks pa ang COLT (deserving naman sila nito e).

Fourthly, I will speak no more because nag-uunahan na ang aking mga kamay sa pagta-type at ang aking utak sa pag-iisip (sabay panlalait at pag-aalipusta in a proper formal way). Kita mo, kahit languages ko nga e nagme-mechado na.

Bottomline: Applicants will always be applicants. Period!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Faded Glory? Of course not.

Eagles are now part of history. The last batch of a glorious history, I have to say.

The applicants had their graduation last Saturday. I won the “Most Evil Officer” award, which I knew I would win, which I predicted I would win, which I worked so hard to win, which Maico thought he had a chance to win, which I defeated Maico in winning, which I think is a totally cool prestige, which makes me the most unforgettable officer for the applicants.

Anyway, there are some choices which I did not really agree with.

I have to say by now, the corps commander was the only rational choice left at all. I pretty much like my successor. I don’t agree with the S5, since he’s waaay too movey and reklamador… That’s all I believe.

Wait, does the administrative officer without a deputy ranking even deserve to be an officer?

- Laugh now -

A word of caution: Applicants, you will always be applicants. (evil smirk follows)

-*_=^=+_%_+=^=_*-

We watched T2 last Sunday. When spiderman came out, it almost seemed obvious that the rest of the movie would turn out to be just as unoriginal, indulgent, and horrible.

-*_=^=+_%_+=^=_*-

10 days ‘til Palanca deadline… go go me!

-*_=^=+_%_+=^=_*-

I like this new divider. It’s stylish… yeah, whatever!

-*_=^=+_%_+=^=_*-

Last Saturday, from around 8 to around 9 in the morning, I made history. It was (drumroll) my first (and probably last) time to take a dip in the Ledesco pool. I can still do backstroke, yippee!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In Chinese

敬爱的董事长施卓如先生,敬爱的校长刘娜敏博士,商会主席黄祖川医生,主讲人黄永福先生,董事们,老师们,家长们,同学们,大家好!

今天是我们中学毕业典礼,大家十分高兴。虽然今天是我们这十三年来最盼望的日子,但是... 我心里依依不舍离开母校华商。

因为爷爷杨清吉是华商的前董事长,奶奶,爸爸,和两位姑姑都是华商的校友,我们三个兄弟姐妹也在这所学校念书。从幼儿园起,我就开始在华商念书,在华商长大,是我的第二个家庭。

我在华商的十三年里,学到了很多知识和做人的道理,认识了很多老师和朋友们,也体验了各种各样的经历。华商提高了我的自信能力,发展了我的才能和充实我的知识,使我的华语进步了,英语更好!可以说,没有华商母校就没有今天的我。

今天,我们就要毕业了,就要离开多年来栽培我们的母校 – 华商, 所以我代表全体毕业生们, 对无私的导航灯 – 董事们,校长,老师们,家长们说声万里分的感谢。感谢,感谢,再感谢!

同学们,今天是我们的毕业典礼,明天就是我们的新开始,相信我们每一个人都有自己的目票,无论大家念什么科,都比念中学更难,更重。同学们,我们不要怕,因为我们母校的校训 – 勤,诚,忠,勇 – 是我们的指引,只要我们做好充分准备,认真学习,争取好成绩,相信大家就能创造一个美好的明天。

最后,祝大家身体健康,万事如意,事事有成!

母校华商万岁!万岁!万万岁!

You understand this man?! Geeez!

The Valediction of an Overrated Baboon

Class Valedictorian – English, Class Valedictorian – Chinese, Alma Mater Award, Special Achievement Award, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Academic Excellence and Leadership Award, Plaque of Distinction, Outstanding Filipino-Chinese Student Award, Excellence in Mathematics Award, Excellence in Public Speaking Award, Excellence in Journalism Award, Outstanding Achievement in Journalism Award

Dr. Carmen P. Santos, our beloved school principal; Mr. Napoleon Sy, chairman of the ICCHS Board of Trustees; Mr. Mark Robert Uy, our commencement speaker; members of the Board of Trustees, school administrators, teachers, parents, fellow graduates, and friends, good afternoon.

I am never exactly a big fan of basketball. I grew up in a family that prefers “scribble” over “dribble”, and since I was doomed to sprout four eyes instead of two, bouncing balls have never been in my element. By ball, I mean those big enough to squash my eyeglasses flat – basketballs, for instance.

However, what I lack in interest in the most popular sport in the country, I believe I make up in being a huge fan of interschool basketball games. You see, it’s more than just the thrill of being part of history when victory is captured, or the bragging rights that come thereafter, or the unmistakable shouting and cheering that inevitably erupt whenever someone throws that fantastic three-point shot.

It is the heartwarming and nostalgic sight of the entire school rallying as one, and of being part of this gigantic unified group, that rightfully endears me to these games. While some students might see these games as just another opportunity for an excursion to the nearest computer café, I happily content myself with being part of the instant cheering squad – although honestly, my vocal cords don’t scream as well as my classmates’.

Call it… school spirit. If there’s one thing which I find as truly tatak Huasiong – that distinctive mark found across Huasiong students – it would have to be our seemingly unwavering, unbreakable loyalty to the school. Alumni, alumnae, fellow graduates, undergraduates – I’m sure you all agree with me.

Many times, it strikes me as uniquely ironic that such loyalty stems from little rivalries that push us to rise above others, to be more than ourselves. During High School and Elementary Week, we are a shameless bunch locked in fierce competition among classes, and undeniably, among campuses. With the Intramural Games, all hell breaks loose, where even some of the most demure people I know turn into savage beasts once the chase for the ball is on. And if you come from the Main Campus, then one of the biggest goals of your class has to be winning the Christmas Caroling Contest... right?

But wonder of wonders, it is amazing how, amid all the rivalries and differences, we eventually end up singing the same tune when it comes to standing up for our Alma Mater and supporting her for the best. When we reconcile our varied conflicts and unite as one giant, homogeneous family, it is only then that we become true children of Huasiong.

This school spirit entails more than just mere loyalty. It is the invisible thread that binds all of us – pure Chinese, half-Chinese, pure Filipino, half-Spanish, pure Korean, half-Japanese, part-British – taking root as one resilient tree, growing higher and growing wiser with the auspices of time. And this is precisely the greatest challenge we face as Batch 2009: to keep the thread flowing firm and the tree standing tall.

My classmates and I have always pointed out how change seems to parallel the way our batch makes its milestones. When we graduated from grade school, Elementary Week was started. When we entered high school, High School Week was born. We also happen to be the pioneer students of our new CAT commandant, the first graduating batch to have a JS Prom at Hotel Del Rio, and the first lucky users of monoblock chairs in the high school department, among others.

Yes, change is constant. As one of my best teachers in high school always says, everything changes except change. But no matter the distances that we reach or the heights that we soar to in the near future, there must never be a change in the way we regard our own “batch spirit” as much as we worship the school spirit. There must only be a change for the better, for a way that would forge deeper and more meaningful bonds between each one of us.

Personally, change, too, characterized the way I spent my thirteen years inside the four walls of this institution. Without Huasiong, I may never have trekked along the scenic mountainsides of Leon, walked along the placid seaside of Ajuy, led a handful of talented writers as editor-in-chief of The Chain, learned basic military knowledge as a CAT officer, improved my math skills as team captain, harnessed my public speaking abilities as a contestant in impromptu speaking contests, and very recently, entrusted with the humbling responsibility of leading 138 great souls as Alumni Association President.

Without Huasiong, I would never have marveled at the majestic Great Wall after winning a team competition in Chinese knowledge. I would never have gone to Naga City as an outstanding journalist awardee, or improved my Mandarin, Hokkien, and English language skills to immeasurable lengths. Most importantly, without Huasiong, I would never have met very wonderful teachers who hail from as far as China, very wonderful and gifted souls who comprise what is now 4th year Guava, very wonderful batch mates who helped create colorful episodes in my student life, and very wonderful experiences that spurred life-altering lessons.

They say that ‘thank you’ is one of the most overused words in this world. But this only goes to show that the best of men deserve no less than the sincerest of ‘thanks’. To our parents, who have been the unyielding wind beneath our wings, our biggest and staunchest supporters, our own personal cheering squads; to our teachers, who have seen us grow and transform from innocent, not-so-naughty youngsters to naughtier and not-so-innocent teenagers; to our school administrators, Board of Trustees, and to everybody else who have been with us these past fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years; and to our Alma Mater, we say thank you, thank you, thank you!

To the Lord Almighty – the reason why we are all gathered here today – words are not enough to express our profound gratitude.

My dear batch mates, today we become official members of a time-tested family – a family defined by the indelible pillars of Diligence, Sincerity, Loyalty, and Courage. As we fittingly take on this noble responsibility, let our legacy leave a pure mark on the portals of our Alma Mater, our accomplishments and achievements reaching far and wide for her greater glory.

Like a basketball team, let us keep ourselves duly guided by that solid school spirit. Let us take it upon ourselves to be the Starting Five, or the Mythical Five, or better yet, the Dream Team.

Remember: If we can’t all be MVPs, we can always be the best instant cheering squad there is.

Long live Batch 2009!

Thank you, good day, and God bless us all!

OSCI: Of Someone's Cautious Intentions

Speech of Iloilo Central Commercial High School's first ever OSCI MOSSS (2009)…

Mr. Henry Caspe, chairman of the Outstanding Students’ Circle of Iloilo; Mr. Ruel Romarate, our inspirational speaker; members of the Outstanding Students’ Circle of Iloilo; friends from the Department of Education, school principals and administrators, teachers and advisers, parents, friends, Outstanding Elementary Pupils, and the nine noble men and women seated on the second row, who deserve this spot as much as I do – my fellow Outstanding Secondary Students, good afternoon!

For a time, he was the official Philippine representative to an international letter-writing contest. He sat as the first-ever Student Consultant of the school organ, was a highly feared math wizard, got chosen as Boy City Mayor last 2002, and won his first Palanca Award at 16 years of age.

That’s my brother – and for as long as I can remember, I have always considered him my own personal portrait of excellence. In fact, had this Search started much earlier, I’m sure he would have ended up sitting somewhere along the second row as well.

When I was younger, I used to look at him with utmost reverence as someone who exemplified first and foremost the outstanding student. After all, as he went about reaping awards by the dozen, I, on the other hand… threw an eraser at a classmate’s head because I found her quite annoying, drew a humongous ‘X’ mark on another one’s paper because she colored a green apple yellow-green, sketched airplanes while the teacher talked about math, and swung my handkerchief round and round like a cowboy in the middle of a class discussion.

It almost seemed improbable that I would get to follow my brother’s footsteps, much less take the path of excellence. But let me tell you how I possibly landed myself the privilege to stand and speak on this podium. Let me share with you my three laws of excellence.

I grew up in a household where “excellence” is not exactly being forced upon. It’s more of an elective, a choice that one is encouraged to pursue. Unlike other parents who mercilessly transform their homes into miniscule time capsules of Martial Law era by enforcing strict study hours, mine simply did what I believe really inspired us siblings to focus on our studies: encouragement. My parents never forced us to be in the honor roll; we merely did what we thought was right, what we thought was essential for learning. They never forced us to join competitions or enter school organizations; they simply told us how wonderful and unforgettable it would be to do so.

I believe the cornerstone of excellence lies in Law # 1: Choosing the right choices. As the saying goes, “The choices that we make define who we really are.” Indeed, had I not chosen to join the school paper, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. Had Isaac Newton not spent time under the apple tree, he probably wouldn’t have discovered gravity at all. Still, had President Arroyo chosen not to run for a second term, FPJ might still be alive; Erap, still in jail; and Noli de Castro, still broadcasting news on TV.

During my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to have been chosen as 5th City Councilor in the Rotary Club’s Boys’ and Girls’ Week Celebration. I was able to pass a resolution authorizing the installation of street lights along three major roads in the district of Molo. However, it wasn’t initially out of a sense of service or debt of honor that I chose to pass such a law; on the contrary, it’s because every time we go home in the evening, we invariably pass by those three roads – and the partial darkness usually makes me nauseous. It was only at a much later time, seeing the wonders of well-lit roads, that I realized the subtle greatness of what I had done.

Which leads me to Law #2: Doing what is right is an excellent choice. You can never go wrong by saying that excellence is not only about choosing the best choice, but also about making that choice work out for the better, for the good of everyone. Mind you, part of the reason I sleep soundly each night is the smug satisfaction of knowing that those street lights continue to illuminate a certain section of Ilonggo suburbia to this very day.

A year after my stint in the Council, I once again tried my luck in the Boys’ and Girls’ Week and was delegated to the position of City Environmental Officer. I found myself relatively isolated from the rest of my fellow student officials, my small office hidden deep in a cramped bus terminal. Just when the seemingly uneventful week was about to end, something unexpected took place. District VII (Arevalo) was going to have its Science and Scouting Encampment, and since my counterpart was in Bangkok at that time, I suddenly found myself filling his shoes as the Guest Speaker for the event.

It dawned on me that opportunity was personally knocking on my door – when all of my fellow officials had none. The challenge this time was to inspire a huge crowd of elementary pupils on the importance of technology, going green, and saving Mother Earth. And yes, the rest is history.

Here goes Law # 3: Making the best out of every choice. It is very, very important that we learn how to adapt to our environment, how to cope with different sorts of situations, how to ride with the varying waves of life itself. Think of it as a three-step battle plan: You begin with a choice. You do what is right. Finally, you make the best out of that choice.

Behind every excellent individual is an equally excellent crowd, in my case, one which has been with me from start to end. First, to the Almighty Father, who establishes the purpose beneath every choice we make, the one reason every one of them is fruitful. To Iloilo Central Commercial High School – a frontier of people who are men of education and of Filipino and Chinese disciplines. To my school principal, Dr. Carmen P. Santos, for her unwavering support in my every endeavor; to my four mathematics mentors who have made numbers a meaningful part of my life: Ms. Janet Escubio, our head teacher, whose fervor and passion exerts a formidable influence; Ms. Sonia Corvera, whose selfless presence provides enough motivation during competitions; Mr. Manuel Kotah, for opening a whole new set of doors to me; and Mr. Roger Antonio Alavata, my wonderful class adviser, whose presence alone deserves loads of thanks. To my school paper advisers, Mr. Philippe John Fresnillo Sipacio and Ms. Sybil Agreda, for making my literary journey a truly unforgettable voyage, and for being my constant cheering squad in journalism and public speaking competitions. Most importantly, to Mr. Jose Barcelona, the man who first saw and brought out the public speaker in me. To Ms. Marivic Parcon, Mr. Warren Uy, Mr. Kevin Tan, and all our volunteer teachers from China, for shaping up my command of the Chinese language; to Ms. Novee Yap, who shared with me my first interschool victory (in Spelling) and who has been with me ever since Grade Five; and to Ms. Colleen Bernabe-Cabayao, who has constantly told me to go the distance all throughout high school. To all my 4th Year subject teachers, and to all my teachers in high school and elementary, I wouldn’t be a Most Outstanding Student awardee right now without you. To The Chain, the CAT Unit, my beloved 4th Year Guava and the entire ICCHS Batch 2009, you deserve this award just as much. Lastly, to my family – my parents, who constantly remind me on making the right choice; my cousins, relatives, and grandparents, who were my number one fans in this Search; to my sister, who truly deserves a Most Outstanding Sister award; and to my brother, my own personal portrait of excellence – a million thanks to all of you.

On behalf of my fellow outstanding student awardees, I would like to thank everybody who made this event possible, and everyone who made our awards a reality.

So, can one throw an eraser at a classmate’s head and still end up being “excellent”? Believe me, it doesn’t take a split-second twinkle of an eye, and neither does it appear overnight. Rather, it entails making the right choices, doing what is right, and making the best out of every choice. Once I never seemed destined for such a path, but I chose – and now I know, I chose wisely. Likewise, I encourage you to choose wisely as well. Let the path of excellence be your choice.