Sunday, August 30, 2015


I am not even going to talk about the issues of the separation of Church and State.  

Everybody has his take on that.  And, well, we know how some have decided to interpret what it means to have such a "separation" of power.

I am not even going to talk about the three hours it took me to get home to the south when I left Tomas Morato in Quezon City at 3:00 PM last Friday afternoon.  Others had worse ordeals.  And, yes, there are those who felt that the protest was perfectly timed to ruin their long weekends.

It was a Friday and a payday and there were sales all over the malls.  People made plans to start the three-day holiday with casual unwinding.  And what they got was a traffic mess that promised to last far more than their plans for the stretch of their work-free days.

I had a meeting scheduled Saturday morning but then I realized that any attempt to go north is an exercise in sublime masochism.  The meeting was eventually cancelled and we had to turn around and go back south after wasting hours trying to go about doing what I was supposed to do for my job.

Yes, it was a bummer. What a bummer.

There were apologies issued by the humongous and admittedly powerful group staging the mass action. 

They said that they were only using EDSA as their venue to embody their rights to protest against the interference of the State with affairs of their church.  

They issued requests for understanding of the general --- since this is a fight that their group was quite determined to slug it out (or, in this case, stand off ) until they get what they wanted. Panginoon ko, hanggang kelan po ba ito? 

But the citizenry did not only react to what the group was doing: they started taking it out on the entire congregation and its leaders.

 What used to be decades of peaceful co-existence seemed to have so quickly deteriorated into irritation until eventually contempt for what others felt was the show of muscle by sheer number of a single institution. 

 Well, taka pa ba tayo? 

 It is because this group was given that sense of entitlement --- down to this very last moment --- because of their political clout.  Our favorite politicos, whether in place of power or aspiring to be up there in 2016, have all given lame or safe or even encouraging statements seemingly beholden to the group.

 Why is this so?  It does not take a genius to know that by sheer number of membership, the group can be a great determinant in the harvest votes that a candidate can acquire in order to win the elections.  Siyempre naman you do not antagonize an institution that can help you harvest votes, right? Alam na natin yon.  Noon pa.  That is why officials from humble konsehals to the upper echelons of importance bow to the authority of the Church's leaders.  And there is nothing strange with that either.  That is why there is a verb called politicking and they are called politicians.

Which is why I am blogging.

If there is anything that disturbs me ... it is not that sorry state of traffic going on right now as I pound on this keyboard.  This is exactly what they want --- to make us feel the disequilibrium in our daily lives brought about by their discontent. 

 Apparently, EDSA congregations have become the template of protest --- and has now been done to death to serve whatever purpose not necessarily of national interest --- but of particular concerns.  

What is more irking is that nothing is being done: no action is being undertaken to change the situation as everybody seems to be fence-sitting and waiting for the throngs to either multiply exponentially until they stretch from Shaw Boulevard to Taft Avenue ...or hope that the rains will not only dampen but douse water on the fire of their collective conviction.

What disturbs me most is how this event has again divided the country --- Filipinos against Filipinos.

Who is to blame? Whoever, whatever.  At this point we can all take sides, but another damage has been done.  And no one seems to be doing anything to even pretend that there is repair.

Am I pissed? Yes, I am ... and when I see memes all over the internet mocking, joshing and aggravating this group because of all the inconvenience --- nay, urban paralysis --- that they have caused, I ask myself: "Where will all this lead to?  How will this affect the relationship of Catholics with an indigenous Christian group?  Just how much more do we need to understand that this not only about this problem or traffic or the garbage they will leave out in the streets.

I try my best to really understand as I know certain members of that Church who are not in agreement to what is happening but would rather keep quiet because --- that is their choice: to be mum and let events take their natural course.  That is why it is equally wrong to generalize that everyone who belongs to the group should be castigated for ruining our long weekend. Hard as it is to fathom at this point, there are exceptions who believe that this is not the right way to solve the problem. 

What is most saddening is that we have reached this stalemate because we can't get our act together as a people. It is again about how destroyed we are in our inability to share a common vision, to work for a common cause, to go beyond our self-interests. Even I am guilty of that. 

But what makes it all the more sad?

There is nobody out there telling us what to do, where we can go ... or how we can handle this beyond testing our patience.  We are all waiting it out hoping that this will all go away ... and that we can have our regular share of nerve-wrecking-non-fatal traffic without having to deal with a couple of thousands huddled together under the MRT Rails.

We all deserve something better than this.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Well, it was bound to happen ... sooner or later.  And when it did, it came from left field, leaving everyone shell-shocked and smiling. Almost everyone, that is.

Just my ten cents worth:  Alden Richards should have been a big star by now.

Why? Let me count my take.

First, he has the looks.  Better yet, he has the height.  Some have the looks but not the tindig to distinguish them from those destined to do supporting roles.  Not that being vertically-challenged is a curse to those who intend to pursue careers in front of the camera  (think Danny DeVito ... and, no, I will not name the local counterparts lest I be physically attacked by their fans because I called their idols punggok) but it helps.  It helps that the suit or the gown falls well on a tall lean body. And with the case of Mr. Richards, there are those dimples.

I mean ... who in the world can resist those dimples? There is something on the verge of weird as to how indentations in the cheeks can generate so much swooning and the loosening of underwear garters.  

Second, he knows his camera.  Oh, yes: Alden knows his camera very well ... and it has got nothing to do with his winning Mister Laguna sometime in the earlier part of this century.  The point is that when he does those little waves on tv ... there is a collective sigh from womankind (and the wanna be womankind as well) because they have been charmed.  That's it: he is charming. He is not only good looking but he is charming. Which leads me to the third point ...

Third, he is well-mannered.  There is something of that gentleman in him that brings back the virtues of being decent and educated.  After all, the young man is schooled --- and it shows not only in his demeanor but the fact that it is not a put-on.  As contrasted with a great number of his peers, Mr. Richards is both old school and up to date.  He is old school since he resembles the matinee idols of the past --- when good grooming, right conduct and respect for women mattered a lot.  He is up to date because he can still cut across the young audience while wanting to be mothered by anyone above thirty years of age.

And lastly ... the kid's got what it takes. He's got talent --- and it completely befuddles/confuses/discombobulates me as to why his mother studio never made the most of what he has to turn him into a much bigger star than he has become in the here and now.  What's that? It only took Eat Bulaga two months to turn him into the Bae ng Bayan where he has been around for ... uh, years?  

This was the boy eliminated from a talent search but was brought back to life by the network's management. But then again, the potential was not maximized as he was relegated to the more-of-the-same roles that yielded just-so-so reaction from audiences.  The sad part is that Mr. Richards could have been the next big thing in that network --- alongside Dingdong Dantes and the other leading men who have been in the forefront.  Sad to say, it took an "accident" like co-hosting in their iconic noontime show to reveal to the world that, "Hey, this kid is not just a pretty face. He sells. "

Yes, he sells so much that now everybody is falling all over each other to get a piece of him.

The Universe has a way of providing its own sweet time.

That included Maine Mendoza, now known to the rest of the planet --- including competition --- as the Phenomenal Yaya Dub.

OK, I never got the thrill of Dubsmashing --- but then kanya-kanyang trip so let that be so.  If someone wants to go miming quotable quotes or memorable lines from movies, eh, di fine.  But ever since Ms. Mendoza started dubsmashing scenes immortalized by no less than the unchallenged Massacre Movie Queen herself, specifically in the Rono film, Feng Shui, she had people hitting her YouTube uploads by the millions.

The difference between Ms. Mendoza and about 90% of the wannabe-artistas out there is that she does not need it.  Come to think of it, we are not even sure if this is what she really wanted since the girl is a graduate of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the De la Salle College of Saint Benilde.  Get this: she did her apprenticeship in a food establishment in upstate New York City, OK?  Like the rest of the graduates of SHRM of CSB, she isn't out there to cook burgers or doughnuts.

Her rise to fame is accidental and she seems to be having fun.  Her addition to Eat Bulaga's roster of Kabarkads is a case of absolutely perfect timing.  When she assumed the character of Yaya Dub, much harassed caregiver to Wally Bayola's hilarious Lola Nidora, that whole gang with Jose Manalo and master chameleon Paolo Ballesteros  raiding the baranggays of Manila exploded with a new adrenaline overload.

Yaya Dub and Lola Nidora were enough to generate fresh interest in the 36 year old noontime show but the inclusion of Alden and Yaya Dub's lampungan and kiligan literally brought the house down ... and the ratings flying off the roof.  Just at the time when people thought Eat Bulaga was already showing wear and tear and audience fatigue .... WHAPPAK! Suddenly the planet reversed its somewhat predictable orbit and nobody was prepared for the phenomenon that has become of Aldub.

On their first monthsary, Maine Mendoza found herself on the banner photo of the front page of Philippine Daily Inquirer right above the headline.  Alden Richards is featured in Ricky Lo's column on the same day occupying an entire page of pure dimple power. And people are categorically enthralled by a simulated Romeo and Juliet kalyeserye because of so many reasons.

Others find this banal, cheap and shallow but then the diversity of perception comes from how you look at pop cult phenomena and not how they stand in one's personal taste or order of priorities.

The Aldub phenomenon is taking place because it is happening at the right time and at the right place.

The common reason is that they give good vibes.  They herald the return to innocence.  To fun. To good clean fun that does not involve insulting or downgrading anyone for looks, reputations or whatever.  They are a breath of recycled fresh air because they provide the same template of Cinderella's motif, the Senyorito in the dashing Alden and the portrayal of a rubber-faced yaya in Maine.  In other words, they are a reaction to the negativity that is surrounding media --- with endless news of dishonesty and corruption in politics, the game of thrones in the presidential elections of 2016 and the unforgivable traffic leaving residents of the Metro in a state of nervous breakdown.

Aldub exploded into the phenomenon that it is ... because it provided good and clean respite from the polluted air we inhale by reading the news ... or simply going out of our houses.

People may think it is so mababaw to be fascinated by all these ... but give it some thought and you know it is not.

Nothing happens by accident ... including pop cult sensations.  Everything is a response to a much larger issue.

And all the audience really wanted was a return to good old falling in love.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


There is this thing about travelling abroad that disturbs me.

Although it is lesson enough not to compare how it is out there to what it is really like back here, you cannot help but do so.  There is something almost masochistic about comparing Manila to some places that you visit. OK, let's not get sensitive by using the term better but maybe more advanced.  Whichever way you look at it, you still feel bad.

You ask yourself why it does not even take three hours and when you land at the airport in Hong Kong, it is like you landed on a completely different planet. 

Why do they have trains that go straight into the city from the airport --- leaving you off a few steps from your hotel?  And why is everything so systematic, comprehensible, convenient, accessible ...? (The adjectives go on and on and the ritual of masochism continues.) Why does everything seem to work efficiently?

You also ask yourself why is it that in three and a half hours you land in Singapore --- and it is a city state that is as big as MetroManila but looks like Tomorrowland if you are standing right at the intersection of Taft Avenue and EDSA. 

Well, actually there are many places in Manila that really look like some of the sets they built for science fiction movies.  That is more like from the imagination of Ridley Scott --- Blade Runner country. However, in Singapore everything is seemingly immaculately clean, trees are abundant --- and look, they have trains that work, buses that are efficient --- and throughout the duration of my five day stay --- never encountered a single incident of traffic. 

Maybe I and my fellow travelers were just lucky.  But I really, really was amazed that our coaster never stalled, the taxi cabs we rode never stopped not unless there was a traffic light ... or we got to our destinations.  After a while you sort of miss how it is in Manila when you spend a minimum of two to two and half hours from Muntinlupa to Quezon City on a regular day.  Or that you have accepted traffic as a way of life kasi it is a sign of progress daw. Whatever!

One thing more .... the only litter you find in the streets of the Lion City are leaves from the abundance of trees that seemed to surround you everywhere.  Someone said, "That is because the government plants trees everywhere.  Everything in Singapore is a legislation."

Well, Honey, I do not give a flying eff because the trees look good, it keeps the air clean --- and it is far better than the tracks of pollution you clean from your nose at the end of the day, realizing that half the time you have been sustained by carbon monoxide.

Then of course there is this place called Japan which is a good four hours away and has a world all on its own.

Japan has this thing for efficiency to the point that as a Filipino you get really, really spooked out.

When their train is scheduled to arrive at 10:21 ... then it will be right there at the exact time down to the millisecond. (Subtext: Eh, dito?)

The Japanese are so disciplined --- that everything about their culture is engraved right into their very core.  They move differently. They conduct themselves uniquely so much so that if you are in a restaurant and you hear loud people talking, chances are they are not the citizens of that country but ... well, other nationalities (like us, for instance).

Everyone is dressed differently there that even the homeless look chic.  I kid you not.

Of course on the very first hour I got out of the Kansai Airport in Osaka, I encountered my first cultural blunder when my rather wide behind occupied the entire escalator.  You know how it is: bad enough that your girth was never meant for a stairway which all the while you assumed was for a single file, right?  But then I heard someone at my back saying some from of "Excuse me"  or "Get your fat ass out of my way". That was when I looked back and realized there was an entire line of people I was blocking.  And they did not look amused.

I got it.  There was a fast-track lane and there was the normal file. 

You leave the other side of the escalator free so that those in a hurry can rush up or down without having to elbow their way or shove obstacles.  Eh, how was I to know about that practice when all I know about escalator etiquette is what I trained for at the Megamall?

But it goes beyond escalators.  Or traffic.  Or the fact that people actually follow rules in other countries.  That cars stop when pedestrians cross --- and people queue to ride cabs and buses only stop to pick up and drop off passengers in appointed areas. And cutting somebody on the road is not only considered bad manners but a sign that you come from a long line of apes who can now drive. Whatever.

It is things like these --- such everyday matters for some --- that seem so exceptional for others like us.  And that makes you wonder: why are we in awe when it is so seemingly ordinary and commonplace for them?  Why does it look impossible from where we come from whereas it is just a way of life for them.

And that is when you feel really bad.

You begin asking yourself: why is it that you feel bad each time to you visit a foreign country --- for pleasure or for work --- and you come home wishing that you could bring back some of the things that made life easier from the place that you left?

No, don't get me wrong: indeed there is no place like home --- but home should be better. It is not that not everyone can afford to see how life is outside our shores or time zone: but everybody deserves something better. What is it about them that makes their lives far better just on the day-to-day basis?  Is it them or can it be us?

Have we screwed up somewhere along the way? Or are we going to blame the politicians and the nag-li-lider-lideran?  Whatever it is or may be ... then it must be something not said, declared or flaunted by politicians in their speeches. It should be felt and experienced in order to be validated.

Oh, come on --- it is not only about those running the country. It has got something to do with the people as well.  We get what we deserve ... and we are in the here and now because we deserve it. Or are just smug as slugs to accept that ganito, eh.

It took us three hours and fifteen minutes to fly back from Singapore to Manila.

It also took us two hours and twenty minutes to drive back from NAIA 3 to our place in Muntinlupa.

The moment I stepped out the airport and went back to the road, I realized that indeed --- I was home.  The traffic mess outside the parking lot and the arrival bays in NAIA 3 is of epic proportion because of the construction taking place outside, the sheer volume of cars plying the routes and the lack of foresight/logic/consideration of people who we pay with our taxes to make our lives a bit easier.

(I was just wondering: is this the first Filipino experience any tourist in our country would encounter the moment he stepped out of an airport? More fun indeed, he would say.)

Quietly I told myself that this was where I belonged.  And like so many who have not given up the right to dream, I want it to be better.  Far better than this. And don't give me crap like, "It is not going to happen in our lifetime."