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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Rizal Day To Be Moved From December 30 to June 19

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A typical Rizal Day celebration held many years ago.

A typical Rizal Day celebration held many years ago.

This was last month’s news, but I only learned about it today.

I support Manila Representative Jaime López’s bill to move Rizal Day from December 30 to June 19.

House Bill 5408 which he sponsored was already approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives. It seeks to amend the Administrative Code of 1987 (Section 26, Chapter 7, Book I of Executive Order No. 292, as amended) to change the commemoration of the event.

According to López, “Dr. José Rizal devoted practically all of his 35 years of existence on earth in putting premium on education and knowledge; and not on violence as a means of change.” He said Rizal’s death alone did not trigger the 1896 revolution that Filipinos thought catapulted the country to independence; it was the National Hero’s life-long accomplishments which inspired and pushed Filipinos to fight and work for our greatness as a race.

Even Calambâ, La Laguna, Rizal’s hometown, supports the move. One of  the town’s representatives, Justin Marc Chipeco, is López’s co-author. Instead of merely moving the commemoration of Rizal Day to a different date, Chipeco also suggested to make June 19 as a national holiday.

My take on this is that it’s another fresh start to renew old ties and heal old wounds. Commemorating Rizal Day on the anniversary of the National Hero’s death only suggests hatred and bitterness towards Spain and our Spanish past. And this proves true among the young Filipino studentry. I for one, when I was young, used to hate Spain for what I was taught she did to the Philippines. Those things I learned about our country’s Spanish past from the classrooms were indeed very sad and mostly untrue.

In closing, let me share to you one of my favorite quotations from another Rizal specialist, Nick Joaquín:

“To accuse the Spanish, over and over again, of having brought us all sorts of things, mostly evil, among which we can usually remember nothing very valuable, ‘except, perhaps,’ religion and national unity, is equivalent to saying of a not very model mother, that she has given her child nothing except life, for in the profoundest possible sense, Spain did give birth to us — as a nation, as an historical people. This geographical unit of numberless islands called the Philippines –this mystical unit of numberless tongues, bloods and cultures called a Filipino– was begotten of Spain, is a Spanish creation. The content of our national destiny is ours to create, but the basic form, the temper, the physiognomy, Spain has created for us.
Towards our Spanish past, especially, it is time we became more friendly, bitterness but inhibits us; those years cry for a fresher appraisal.”

The Philippines is a Spanish creation. Rizal himself would’ve reiterated that fact along with me if he were alive.

It’s My Daughter’s Ninth Birthday Today

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Jewel Krystal Rose Alas y Perey

Jewel Krystal Rose Alas y Perey

When my mom was my age (30), I was already thirteen years old. Now that I’m thirty, my daughter’s nine. Me and my mom, we got married at an early age. And even my grandparents on both sides, they got married too soon.

Filipinos are so horny. Haha.

I just pray that this cycle ends with my daughter (that’s my birthday wish for her), including my three sons. Life can be so difficult when you get married at an early age.

In my case, I got married when I was twenty; my wife –my girlfriend at that time– was twenty-three. Both of us weren’t finished with our schooling yet. I was supposed to graduate at that time, but I failed some units due to extra-curricular activities (student activism, rock bands, and other useless things). On the other hand, my wife shifted courses and was a working student.

But we weren’t spending our time wisely.

And like what usually happens to careless young Filipinos today, she got pregnant. And since we were both undergraduates, the baby was technically an unwanted baby. It broke the hearts of both our parents, and ours were filled with fear due to our future’s uncertainty. We weren’t exactly from the moneyed class. And I was pretty sure that my dad wouldn’t allow another mouth to feed. We’re four in the family, and life was almost hard for us. And the sad part of it all was, since I was the eldest, a lot was expected from me.

That unwanted pregnancy broke a lot of expectations. And it surprised me to no end. Even up to now. You see, I’ve never ever dreamed of raising my own family. During my youth (ain’t that such a scary phrase?), I immaturedly dreamt of becoming a rockstar-writer celebrity (do laugh, please — nobody will stop you, haha!). I didn’t even plan well for it. But who am I to blame myself (I kinda like that statement)?

During those days, I was an agnostic. The ideals and writings of my Marxist colleagues and our college paper whose staff were mostly godless geniuses were beginning to rub off on me. And one time, at the height of my wife’s “unwanted pregnancy controversy”, my dad left to work overseas without having talked to me. Nor did he forgive me for it. On the night I learned that he was leaving, I rushed to the airport to meet up with him and asked for forgiveness. I prayed frantically to God to allow me to talk to him. I rode a taxi despite my financial troubles back then. But when I reached the airport, his plane had just left. And that was when I believed that I was talking to a God who didn’t even exist; I remained godless for the next two years or so until my wife’s second pregnancy (but that’s another story).

Anyway, what I’m trying to point out is that, although I’ve never planned of having my own family, I am now perhaps the happiest person in the world. I have a very beautiful and caring wife who is always in love with me every single day. And I adore my four beautiful children so much. True, one’s children are the most fascinating people you’ll ever come across with.

Aside from my wife, it was our daughter Krystal who started transforming me into a dad. I may still think like a college brat, but Krystal unwittingly moulded me to become a responsible father. I may not be a perfect father, but Krystal literally and emotionally made me become a good and loving father. And for that I am so grateful.

Looking back, I am quite certain that God had had a hand in bringing me to where I am right now. Everything seemed divinely intertwined. There was a divine purpose. Imagine Pepe Alas, a person who never even thought of having his own family. But now, man — I’d die for them. And since then, I’ve always been an advocate for a happy, Christian family.

My daughter Krystal is not yet an avid reader. So naturally, she will not read this blogpost yet. But hopefully one day, when all of us still exist despite this bullcr@p called global warming, she’ll be able to find this blog and get to comprehend what this blogpost is all about.

For now, this is the only sentence that I’ll make her read: ¡Feliz noveno cumpleaños mi hija preciosa! ¡Te amo mucho!

Reading 2000

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Reading has never been so difficult in this Era of the Internet.

CB068378

Books are for crooks. Eeeep!

I mean to say, back in the old days, reading a book in some comfortable corner used to be heavenly. Now it’s beginning to become a bore. Like in my case, I couldn’t stay put. My attention span has reverted like that of a child’s. Or even worse.

Last month, as I was accompanying my wife and kids in buying school supplies, I grabbed a copy of Michael Crichton’s Airframe. In the old days, I can finish a novel in a day or two or a week at the most no matter how thick the book is. Now it’s July, and I’m not even done with chapter five of that book.

And I started to write this post at 9:45 PM! And as I write this, it’s exactly 11:01 PM! No, it’s not that I’ve been having a difficult time in thinking of what to write; it’s just that I just can’t help myself from surfing the net.

Everything has become fast paced. The world has become smaller. Not to mention time. This reminds me when a young José Rizal was bound for Biñán, La Laguna to study there. According to his diary, the trip took hours (perhaps two or three)! And he was just from “nearby” Calambâ! But of course, the mode of transportation back then were horse-, cow-, and carabao-drawn carriages. Today, you could go from Makati City to Calambâ within an hour (sans traffic the terrible).

Technology and innovation have made life easier for humans. However, I noticed that it has somehow affected the attention span of many people. Since one of technology’s aims is to provide real-time or “right away, right now” service, today’s generation is beginning to get used to receive their information in a jiffy. A few years ago, when I was in my elementary days, calculators were a bane for Math teachers; they just hate it when their students rely on those electric gadgets to solve simple-to-complex equations. Of course, they had a point. Were calculators used in building the Pyramids of Egypt? There were calculators back then — the human mind.

Sometimes, if not all the time, the traditional way of accomplishing a task is still the best way of getting things done.

eScribbles

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Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,
  I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.
Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:
  Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.

Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation;
  All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation –
  Oh why did I awake?  when shall I sleep again?

–A.E. Housman–

ALAS

¿Aanhín co pa ang aquing mğa paá cung acó’y mayroóng mğa pacpác para macalipád?

Yes, indeed, why did I awake?

Or, in my case, why do I keep coming back?

Hello! For now, my name is of no importance, but you may call me Pepe Alas, the same guy who maintains the hugely popular Spanish-language website ALAS FILIPINAS (OK, an exaggeration, hehe!). I hail from the confused and economically unstable (but lovely) isles of the Philippines. I just turned 30 years old this morning. And like what I always write during my birthdays when I was still keeping a paper journal, “It doesn’t feel like (this time) 30″. I’m already married with kids. I speak three languages, and I’m trying to learn another just for the heck of it. I work the night shift. The schedule sucks, but my job pays me big enough in order for me to avoid the diaspora that has been happening to Filipinos for years.

I have nothing much to offer to crazed readers of web logs. I’m just another voice, especially now that blogs are almost as countless as the sands in a forlorn beach and the sparkling stars on a desolate night. I’m trying to sound poetic here because, you see, I was a poet once. But the Muse has already forsaken me. My poetic well has dried up. Words fall like dead leaves (crisp and brown). The air around me is still. No longer do I feel the weightlessness and swiftness and mindlessness of the mind. Voices around me are but insignificant murmurs of the slaves of Routine.

“The birds no more sing…”

But I keep coming back. Does the parable of the talents scares me? Yes. And contrary to a sickening vogue nowadays among it’s-cool-to-be-a-writer-if-you-have-a-god-idea-to-crucify-everyday scribblers, I do have a God (I once hadn’t; well, there was Marx, but that was a looooooong long time ago), who I pray to for better days ahead. And I pray to Him to lift me up, to always keep me on my toes, and fight the good fight no matter how hopeless. And it seems that after every prayer, God makes me say to myself: stand up! Keep on coming back whenever you’re left behind! But I don’t know if I still could. And for how long.

And all this for what?

I am still looking for my own voice. For my own literary voice. But I couldn’t even determine how my own voice sounds. I feel like a senseless sheep in a dumb flock; I have yet to release myself from the rest.

But why?

Because I am a writer. I know I am. I can do a lot of other things, but this is the only real thing that I know I can do a lot better, if at all. This craft, I think I can master. The ideas inside my head, I can muster. Perhaps this is the only craft that I am heavily familiar with, that I’m comfortable with (I think), that I’m confident of creating my own niche in the world wide web of letters and stuff. For life is a many-speckled thing, and the written word it froths out rather forcefully from its victim’s (the writer, of course) artistic seizures gives it varied hues so as not to make itself look pale, pallid, livid, unlively. The world of letters is life’s laborious effort to define itself and to exist beyond itself. This printed reality, which can only be grasped through paper and eye intercourse, is an allusion, yes, but it conjures up this illusion so as to satiate its hunger for meaning, authority, and the longing to have a voice. Man’s life is full of questions, lame and mundane. Some may be ponderous, and most of it are left unanswered, and raising even more queries.

Perhaps no one but that sensible La Sallian Doctor of Arts in Language and Literature, Cirilo F. Bautista, could have described this feeling that I feel more aptly whenever I have the urge to write: creative writing is the loneliest art.

And with the following paragraph, I mercilessly paraphrase Bautista…

I labor in isolation, and I am not even sure that the poem or story or essay will turn out the way I intend it to be. I only have myself to rely on this “brutal” attempt to explicate the mysterious meanderings of my oh so cute soul and of my misled people (are they worth dying for? are they still worth dying for?). It is a painful and demanding commitment the avoidance of which will gratify me. But it cannot be avoided; consequently, I incline to the invention of devices that will postpone it, even if only momentarily. Such ritual evasions –eating fridge-cooled chocolates, taking a bottle of Cerveza Negra, fussing over pages of notes and using them to wipe away dawn snot from my quivering nose, cleaning my laptop (ah, thanks to my new company!), watching porn or Wowowee!, or making that needless last-minute text message– are ostensibly intended to oil the machinery of my dry imagination but in reality are merely diversionary tactics to try to justify the delay. For I am still a social animal, and writing frustrates my contact with my own.

Now, dear reader, I have to stop…

***

I stopped because it’s simply difficult to go on. It’s difficult, yes. And I’m afraid of becoming a victim of mediocrity, of voicelessness, lacking power.

Restless now. But neither rest nor restlessness will quench this burning and mysterious and pesky thirst.

***

As what I’ve learned from a Paolo Coelho book, a lack of serotonin leads to depression.

Why in the world do I need to have depression set in just for me to write? Is there really a connection, or an indispensable need for it? Writers live crazy lives. But, in the final analysis, who is really crazy? What is the meaning of madness?

What does it feel like to be a doorknob?

If madness is what I need to bid the Muse to embrace me once more, let it be.

Oh please forgive me Lord, if in some way I have offended thee. I have no such intentions.

***

And why is it that some wags call artists and writers “the scourge of God”?

***

Let not these scribbles define the irrepressible contents of my idiosyncracies. I have other missions and worthwhile advocacies and ambitions that still connect me with the rest of the unthinking throng. Yep, I am but a social animal. And helpless at that. I have to do THIS in order to do THAT.

Oh, I have so much to tell, but I’m not sure if there is enough water in my well. “My joy in a well.” Haha.

Hee.

Why do I have to stay awake? If self-righteous, self-proclaimed scholars have defined life’s purpose, what about the existence of ethereal matter? What is the purpose of the universe? What is the purpose of mine (and I just wrote that I pray for better days – does that make me guilty of hypocrisy?). What is the purpose of men’s nipples?

Oh, why do I have to write again?

Let the pages bleed once more. This time, online. I am but a slave to fate, yearning even just for a wink from the ever elusive Muse. Am I such a victim of consequence. Luckily, I don’t believe I have to trouble myself with that, for I still cling to Faith.

But these phrases and questions have no meaning. Right now, at my own declaration, I have no meaning. Just a squeaking voice in the wildness, as arts pundits usually say.

All I have to offer is my mind and the stories welled up from experience and rhythmic runes during idle time. No matter how cumbersome. I have to do this. The ache is so excruciating in the heart and mind.

I ache, ache throughout the desert-dry day, and I couldn’t sleep soundly anymore. All frustration and hate sifts through me. And I inadvertently hurt my loved ones, and even myself in the process. 

 

Why do I hunger? why do I thirst?

Why the need to suffer; and a mind to burst?

In the crossroads of hate and love,

Is a tangible Force from above.

And the questions of hunger and thirst

Shall all be answered beyond the hearse

But first, I suffer

The weight this life has to muster…

 

Now, I search for answers. Once more? Once more. With nothing but Faith, Pen, and a little kinda lovin’ goin’ on since the Ministry of Christ.

Oh, did I just mention pen? For this matter, it should be keyboard.

This is Filipino Scribbles. Purely Filipino. Simply Filipino.
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