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Monthly Archives: November 2010

The great migrations

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Early this month, the National Geographic Channel launched the “Great Migrations“. It’s a “global television event” that featured a seven-part series about the “powerful stories of many of the planet’s species and their movements, while revealing new scientific insights with breathtaking high-definition clarity and emotional impact. The beauty of these stories is underscored by a new focus into these species’ fragile existence and their life-and-death quest for survival in an ever-changing world.”

This reminded me and Yeyette of a couple of photos that I took during one of my final days as a corporate slave. Yeyette fetched me that morning. We stayed for a while at my ex-company‘s pantry, twenty four storeys high. The glass windows had a wonderful view of Laguna de Bay (obstructed by some buildings), spectacular sunrises, and the busy City of Muntinlupà. One morning, while gazing at the lake and the city, I noticed something peculiar by the glass panels…

Spiders outside our building's glass panels! How could they survive this height (twenty four storeys from the ground)?

I didn’t know that there were spiders that could survive this height. Well, in the mountains, yes. But outside tall buildings such as Insular Life (it has more than 30 floors) exposed to the harsh elements? Wow. It really came as a surprise. One cold, smoggy morning, we even saw a praying mantis clinging on to the glass’s smooth surface! Sometimes, there are even moths.

But then I realized that these spiders, just like the rest of the animal kingdom, are losing their natural habitat faster than you can spell the words “Peter Parker picked a peck of pickled spiders”. Skyscrapers are not the natural habitat of these poor arachnids. But since they are losing their original homes (Alabang was heavily forested just a few decades ago), they have no other choice but to adapt to an ever-changing world. This reminded me of the first amphibians that were actually fishes to a certain extent. During the Devonian Period, these fishes were forced to migrate to dry land when much of the planet’s waters were drying up. In order to adapt, they evolved multi-jointed leg-like fins, enabling them to crawl on the ground underwater rather than swim. Later on, as the waters of the earth (particularly rivers and streams) were heating up and drying out, they learned how to crawl out of the water and breathe (this evolutionary process took thousands, or perhaps even millions, of years).

In modern times, there is the peculiar case of Britain’s peppered moth. It’s a white-colored moth with small black speckles. Over time, due to Britain’s industrial pollution, it was forced to evolve itself rather than die out: its white color became almost entirely black! Many scientists regard this as a classic example of Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory.

Could this be the case with these Alabang spiders? Perhaps. The nights and early mornings are cold, and when the sun rises, it’s sure torment for these web spinners. But somehow, they are able to adapt to their environment. Those who did not “choose” to die out gradually “accepted” change. So when the forests of Alabang gave way to the asphalt jungle, these spiders moved in with humans to their skyscrapers (yung ibá nga lang, nasa labás nacatirá). This change, however, is a kind of change that is not natural (like what had happened to those Devonian fishes) but is motivated by profit (Britain’s industrial smoke).

Pre-Magellanic/pre-Philippine cultures also adapted to a natural change, a change that is called by anthropologists as “cultural dissemination”. Thus, these numerous cultures belonging to various islanders “adapted” to a new kind of change instead of dying out. Besides, this change was positive as it enhanced their way of life. And that is the reason why we Filipinos still exist today. We pray inside churches. We eat using spoons and forks, plates and drinking glasses. We learned how to dress up like modern men (i.e., Europeans). We learned advanced concepts of time and space, of age and grace. We began to have a cultural swagger of our own, something distinct, something that we now call Filipino. This kind of change is acceptable.

However, when the minds of those men who we now consider as our heroes were engulfed with subversive and novel ideas such as liberté, égalité, et fraternité, a new change set in. Before, our nation was living in the realm of the supernatural, i.e., of spirituality, filled with love and hope. But when some of these heroes allowed themselves to become agents of change, a new era began of which unprecedented changes occurred. To the betterment of the Filipino? Look around you: you decide.

These agents of change brought about the downfall of spirituality. We now live in a consumer society, a society driven mad by profit. We Filipinos, as well as other nations whose sovereignty were grossly raped by the neocolonials, are like these poor spiders hanging on to dear life. These great migrations are also happening to cultures and nations.

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Lycée d’ Regis Marie (batch 1995-1996 reunion)

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Lycée d' Regis Marie high school reunion, batch 1995-1996 (photo courtesy of Jovie Andaluz).

Finally, after 14 years!

It’s so fun to see old faces looking bright and new! I had so much fun last night, guys!

Stay fresh! And may God bless us all everyday!

May God forgive the “Fish King” of Mactán

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Carlos Calao (whose relatives today now spell their last name as Kalaw) was a Chinese Mestizo from Binondo. He published the below Spanish poem in 1614. It’s fortunate that I still found a copy of it. The poem was written in praise of Fernando Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan in English) for having brought the Christian religion to these islands. Cali Pulaco, popularly and erroneously known as Lapu-lapu, was pictured as the real villain (“por orden de Satán“) in that legendary battle.

Actually, Magallanes was hailed by Filipinos as a hero for centuries, even after Spain had left the Philippines. A monument was even erected in Mactán island in his honor. But when our country was invaded and colonized by the US WASPs, they imposed upon us many questionable “heroes”, among them Cali Pulaco/Lapu-lapu, systematically brainwashing the Filipino mind to hate their Spanish past, killing the Filipino identity in the process.

For good or bad, Magallanes et al. brought to these heathen islands the concept of Christianity. So we better salute and thank him for introducing to us the Christmas season which is just around the corner. =)

To read the full and real story behind the battle of Mactán, click here. I wrote that indignant article more than three years ago for JB Lazarte‘s techno-humor blog SKIRMISHER (a history blogpost published in a techie blog — ang layo, ¿no?).

Without further adieu, here is Carlos Calao: poet, Filipino…

hernando-magallanes

A monument of Magallanes in Punta Arena, Chile. Although Magallanes has a couple of monuments here in our country (with some places named after him), he is still looked upon with scorn for having “invaded the Philippines”. A classic case of historical stupidity among Filipinos today.

QUE DIOS LE PERDONE
Carlos Calao

Que Dios le perdone al salvaje,
Al pagano de Mactán
Que no entendió la palabra
De Dios en el Capitán
Magallanes, a quién muerte
Dió por orden de Satán,
El enemigo de Cristo,
El ponsoñoso alacrán.

A dos cientos cobardes
Cali Pulaco mandó
Que se le tire arena
En los ojos a traición
Y que con pedradas y palos
Se le cayera el toisón:
¡Un hombre contra dos cientos
Salvajes sin corazón!

El Capitán Magallanes
Los invitó a servir
Al verdadero Dios servir nuestro;
Mas, aquel régulo vil
Llamado Cali Pulaco
No quiso ver ni sentir
La dádiva de la Fe
Y nos lo hizo morir.

Mas, no fue en vano la muerte
Del noble Conquistador.
El Niño Jesús que se entrona
En Cebú es hoy la flor
Que a su martirio perfuma.
Nadie recuerda al traidor
Que a Magallanes dió muerte.
Tal vez, otro vil traidor.

I dare say that the true hero of Mactán was not your vile Fish King. For having resisted Christianity and a possible early Filipinization, he unwittingly became the enemy of Christ, the poisonous scorpion.

To Magallanes: a respectful salute and boundless admiration!

Tía Isabel’s response to a hispanophobic “Asian”

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Arnaldo’s blogpost about my dad’s hometown received all sorts of commentaries. There was one comment that I just could not ignore: one coming from someone with a Japanese-sounding name. Actually, it’s not really his anti-Filipino/hispanophobic comment that made me stop and read: it’s the response that he got from Chile-based Filipina scholar, Elizabeth “Tía Isabel de Ilocos” Medina (also a distant relative of Arnaldo and a very good friend of our mentor, Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera).

The bone of contention? That Filipino culture is Asian. Is it? Read below to find out.

Dear Rijuku,

“Asian” is a misnomer, first of all. It’s a label invented by the West, based on geographical location and racial groupings. But the Japanese don’t consider themselves Asian. They are Japanese, period. And they consider themselves superior to the rest of the “Asians”. They consider that only the Germans follow them in superiority.

Human beings are social and historical beings. We are not racial beings. Race is just color of skin. It says nothing about the spirit and worldview. You see lots of Eastern Europeans with slanted eyes but they don’t consider themselves Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Eskimos or Mongols or Tibetans. The Indians of India are Aryans by race but they don’t consider themselves Germans or Europeans.

Filipinos are not the same as Indonesians, Koreans, Thais, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indians, Malayans, Japanese, Singaporeans, even if we are all classified as “Asians”. We are all very different. Now, in terms of religion, a lot of these so-called Asians share religious practices like Buddhism and varieties of ancestor worship like Shintoism and others practice Islam which arrived in the “Asian” countries through the Arabian Peninsula and so forth.

The archipielago of St. Lazarus, as Magellan called our archipelago, was slowly being converted to Islam but the Spanish defeated the Muslim rulers of Maynilad and spread Catholicism to the Visayans and Luzonianos from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as in Mindanáo in the cities where they established colonial rule or in the outposts where they maintained forts.

Because of our Christianization, which was much more widespread than in China or Japan or in the neighboring countries colonized by the Dutch and the British, we developed a culture that was a mix of indigenous monotheism/ancestor worship/animism and Christianity — much like the mix that developed in all of the Spanish colonies of Mexico, Central and South America. So because of this, we Filipinos are much more similar in culture and belief system to the Hispanic American nations, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, than to our “Asian” neighbors. But even the Thais are very different from the Malayans and the Indonesians and the Vietnamese and the Cambodians and the Indians. You can’t put them in the same bag and just call them Asians.

It’s the Filipinos who have accepted this label because we became a North American colony, and our Hispanic Filipino culture and memory were destroyed.

We accepted that label “Southeast Asian” because we became totally subjugated by the U.S. Turned into psychological vassals. And we accepted the new self-image the U.S. imposed on us as The Little Brown Brother.

Are the Indonesians, the Indians, the Thais, the Malaysians the “Little Brown Brothers” of the U.S.? If as you say there is no difference between us “Asians” — realize how racist you are being, how dismissive of our uniqueness — then they should also consider themselves as such. But they don’t. They don’t consider themselves copies of each other. And they don’t read their history books in English like we do.

I won’t convince you of anything, but consider this: 100 years ago, your great-grandparents hated the idea of the Americans making the Philippines their colony. They did not want to stop reading, speaking and studying or teaching Spanish, to study, read, speak and write in ONLY in English.

But since you were born when — in the 1980s? — and there are no writings in your family of the rejection that your forefathers felt for all things American, and you were born in a Philippines that was already TOTALLY re-engineered to be a bad copy of the U.S., then you believe that you are merely “Asian”. That Filipinos are “Asians”. It means, basically, that Filipinos are nothing. Because what is “Asian”? It’s just a sociological term coined in U.S. universities, probably after 1900.

Regards,
Tia Isabel

P.S. A quote from my unpublished ms., Thru the Lens of Latin America: A Wide-Angle View of Philippine Colonial History:

Once implanted, a first colonizer culture, already fused or syncretized with the original local one (i.e., Spanish culture), will resist the advent of a subsequent colonizer culture (U.S. culture). However, with the passage of time, the new generations — who did not experience the moment of cultural transition and its accompanying resistance to a new transculturation (in other words, the [Hispanic Filipino] people’s resistance to adopting a new transplanted dominant [U.S.] culture, due to the inertia of the preceding cultural process) — will have no awareness that such a phenomenon ever occurred. They’ll simply assume that what is now there has always been there (North Americanized Filipino culture), and has always been universally embraced. The younger generations will accept the (North Americanized Filipino) culture they were born into, notwithstanding their parents’ or grandparents’ having once perceived it as invasive and alien, and perhaps even having sworn to resist assimilating it at all costs.

SEO is the key!

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When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. —Paulo Coelho—

World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Famer Bret “The Hitman” Hart‘s saga is truly an admirable case. Years after the Montreal Screwjob courtesy of WWE owner Vince McMahon, he’s now back in ring action much to the delight of pro-wrestling fans. And he has buried the hatchet, too, with his on-screen and real-life rival, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Bret has learned to forgive and forget. And Vince, his ex-tormentor, has been so remorseful for the evil that he did to “The Excellence of Execution”; Mr. McMahon is now giving back to Bret all the honor and opportunities that “The Pink and Black Attack” rightfully deserve — a spot in the Hall of Fame (for both Bret and, quite recently, for his legendary dad, Stu Hart of The Dungeon fame), a fifth United States Championship, prime matches in pay-per-view and house events, etc.

All’s well that ends well for both wrestling icons.

I mention The Hitman here because like him, I was also screwed out of my job. Just last month. That incident I now call the Alabang Screwjob, LOL! Also, there is a striking similarity between these two screwjobs that had happened to both me and Bret: The Excellence of Execution was excellently screwed in a French-speaking city; me? I was screwed by the Frenchies themselves. Bret was able to forgive and forget. I can turn the other cheek, too. But I will never forget. Ever.

Now, looking back to the complete history of my being a wage slave is not something to be proud of. Whether or not I have made accomplishments in the various trades that I have worked for is not really the point. Besides, I have never made any major impact nor effort in building my “career” because my heart is reserved for another passion (followers of this blog and ALAS FILIPINAS know exactly what I’m talking about). But I did make a lot of friends, and I was able to support my family without bugging my folks. Those two reasons alone make just compensation for compelling myself to work for multinational whorehouses.

Several months ago, I wrote about my plans of escaping this sick, profit-driven society without jeopardizing my financial responsibilities to my wife and four kids. But I failed in that department. So now I’m back to square one. And if I fail again, I will not give up. Because I am really fed up of being a wage slave for the rest of my life. Other than that, I believe that I am not really cut for vocation. Just take a look at these instances:

1) In my very first job, I somehow learned how to dodge punches and coins. I learned a few Karate chops myself, kicking my way out from being beaten up by crazed motorists.
2) In my second job, I turned our company kitchen in Forbes Park into one whole swimming pool, much to the irritation of some of my colleagues (e, sa hindí acó marunong maghugas ng mga plato, eh).
3) Next, I came face to face with the devil himself.
4) In my fourth, I came to realize that a “teacher’s pet” exists not only in school but also in the workplace.
5) The fifth company I worked for was filled with so many cretins that it literally bloodied my lungs.
6) My sixth should have been paradise, until I saw that empire itself crumble just like ancient Rome. I thought it best to leave. But it turned out to be one of the worst decisions I have ever made because….
7) Finally, with my recent employer, I learned that the French pronunciation of the English word “justice” is actually “just us”.

By reminiscing on my hilarious work experiences, I have to reiterate that I am not cut for fuck!n’ vocation. And my recent bosses helped me realize that not-so-sad fact in a forceful and devious manner. If I cannot serve kingdoms, why not be the tyrant myself? LOL! But seriously, I am really done with modern slavery. I now refuse to make myself a firewood for corporate chimneys. Waking up to the sound of the alarm is perhaps the most cruel thing a sane person could to oneself. I do not want to grow old and then look back into my youth with disappointment and say “whatever happened to all those precious days? I have wasted all my Mondays-thru-Fridays on nothing!” Whatever talents that I have is rendered useless inside the unforgiving cubicle farms. I won’t have anything of it anymore.

To quote EDSA 86’s rallying cry: NEVER AGAIN!

I prayed to God fervently for help. Ironically, the good Lord provided the help that I needed in the person of the “god of Pinoy atheism” himself — JB Lazarte (indeed, God works in mysterious ways)! Shortly afterwards, The Magnus taught me the whole nine yards of how to comfortably and enjoyably burn my butt right inside my home forevermore.

Heck, I realized that it’s been right under my nose all these blogging years! And the key to this magic is SEO!

Then a few weeks later, adding up to my excitement and zeal, my ever-supportive wife bought me David “The SEO Expert” Viney’s tips on how to conquer Planet Google!

The startup will not be easy, however. It will take me a couple of months to realize my Bohemian aspirations. So in the meantime, I will need to take the blue pill first and walk amongst the apathetic wage slaves. Gotta “pretend” that everything’s normal. But again, it will only be for a few months. Afterwards, the red pill!

There is no more turning back.

In the meantime, back to regular programming. =)

Maguindanáo Massacre. First Year

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We have not forgotten. We will never forget.

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