Saturday, August 27, 2016


I have made a resolution even way before that circus of a national elections last May.  

I will not talk about politics.  I refuse to discuss political issues (not that I have no opinion nor am I unaware of what is happening).  I am not going to take all these friends and strangers who have become diehard zealots of partisan causes seriously.  Otherwise I might as well talk to God and confess that I have trimmed down my Christmas list by a substantial 70% even before December.  And, more important, I cannot stomach the thought that I people I know (or assumed) to be reasonable and intelligent have become online banshees or textbook nincompoops.

So I shall assume the stand often said and repeated but really hard to practice: "Less talk, less mistakes."  Realizing the near impossibility of keeping my mouth shut (attested by a weeklong bout with pharyngitis that made me sound like Kim Carnes singing Bette Davis Eyes), I have learned to bite my lower lips or clenched fist, look away and count one to one hundred whenever I am compelled to express my opinion.

I have also come to the following conclusions and resolutions which I shall lovingly share with anyone out there who is also so sick and tired of blindsided political discussions all branded under the title Neo-Nationalists.

These conclusions, resolutions, observations and ruminations were never meant to be Bible truth, mind you.  They serve as reasons why I have decided to shut up every time I have a compulsion to throw in my ten cents worth ... or better yet, execute a very graceful flying kick aimed right at the mouth of somebody who is fanatically yelping like a mad Pomeranian to show the world how much wiser he or she is about determining the fate of this nation.

(1) It is useless to argue with someone who has decided to hate any individual or party in a political landscape.  If someone out there has decided that Yellow is not the color of liver ailment but the shade of his soul ... or that the vigilant mayor from Davao City can do no wrong, then leave him be.  You do not engage someone like that into a verbal battle --- even on the level of argumentative volleyball. You cannot win? Why? Because he will never admit defeat.  He can either slap your face silly with volumes of statistics about how his choice of loyalty is the only sane choice ... or he can wear you down with pedantic discussions ranging from the sacrifices of Ninoy ... all the way to the success of the Queen of All Media.  Or he can talk about how great Davao City has become ... cleansed of criminal elements because of the iron fists of the Clint Eastwood Mayor or how he is the only hope for this country that has developed a new national sport called Riding in Tandem.

O siya, siya.  Whenever you come across an AFP (not Armed Forces of the Philippines but Alagad ng Fanatikong Pilipino), you have three options.  A) You simply shut up and sing your favorite song quietly in your mind thereby allowing peace to rule the planet. B) You challenge said Verbal Warrior into a Joust to the Finish that shall certainly have no end except in civility and possibly friendship or C) You walk away armed with an excuse like having something better to do --- which, on accounts, is really better to do.

Moral Lesson of the Story: If you cannot talk reason with someone, then chances are it is easier to have a conversation with a mouth frothing rabid dog than to use the laws of logic on a fanatic. Absolutely useless. Aksaya lang ng panahon.

When somebody decides to hate some body, then rest assured nothing that the object of hatred has done, is doing or capable of doing will earn credit in the eyes of a fanatic. There will always be something wrong and it is bound to be fatal, even apocalyptic. 

There is no such thing as being fair or just for a diehard--- except the total annihilation of the political antagonist who now comes close to the description if not the very identity of the Anti-Christ.

Why? It is no longer the matter of principle that he is fighting for that will make him stand firm to the very end, refusing to budge or listen to arguments. It is simply his or her ego --- the whole pride bit that refuses to bend --- so much so that he mistakes his arrogance (and even megalomania) to being nationalistic.

For how can somebody truly believe in the beauty of democracy when his reply to an argument or analysis to an issue is an insulting tweet or a creatively malicious shoutout on Facebook? Grow up. Such a waste of your alleged college education.

(2) Everyone has an opinion: it is not a matter of being right or wrong but it is his right to have that opinion.  So leave it be.  An opinion is an opinion. It is a stand. Having no opinion is also a stand. It could be ignorant bliss or simply a refusal to indulge.  There are those who will insist that having no opinion is really, really bad because that is being negligent if not flippant, uncaring, apathetic to the condition of the nation.

Ah talaga? Oh, really now?

For those diehard Neo-Nationalist who must sputter every rant and rave in the internet or any opportunity to stand on a soapbox and announce to the world what they think or feel ... let it be so. That is your right.  

Hindi ba it is often said that democracy is the beautifully blended chorus of opinions and observations that produce the melody of freedom. Ang gandaaaa!  But there is also that great risk that the sound of dissenting opinions, the thunder of argumentation and discussion can produce cacophony especially when everybody has forgotten the whole point of achieving harmony.

Recently Meryl Streep portrayed the world-renowned (for all the wrong reasons) soprano Florence Jenkins Foster.  Her singing reminds me of the tsunami of discussions, the mudslinging and the name-calling that debases intelligent argumentation ... but still accepted as a norm for exchange of ideas.

So I told myself: spare me.  I am not going to torture myself listening to all these opinions since two people talking at each other is so completely different from the same two persons talking with one another.

Nothing intelligent can come out of two people suffering from verbal diarrhea  without listening to each other --- but even that is their right in a democratic space.  

Kaya bahala na kayo sa buhay nyo, Dudes. It is your right to talk your heads off until your teeth fall out.  And when you are truly ready for the showdown, paki-text na lang.  We will provide you with two Pokemons of equal strength and power so that you can truly test how great you are in the next virtual gym.

(3) You do not take things personally when it comes to politics.  After all, it is politics ... and just that: politics.  How many relationships have been ruined by diverse or opposing political views? Oh, quite a number, I can assure you --- a very big number.

I will be the first to admit that I have lost ton loads of respect (even fondness) for certain people not because of their political positioning (which, as I said, is their right, their choice, their democratic privilege) but by the way they flaunt their opinions, shove their choices down your throat and make you feel like you are a notch beneath cretin if you do not agree with their preferences.

Please take note: no group --- partisan, political, religious or whatever has complete exclusive rights to correctness and righteousness.  Everybody is entitled to his idea of what is good but there is such a thing as common good --- and that is what we all aspire for.  So if you cannot see any other point of view aside from yours and insist that you are the only one on that sparkling path of correctness, I greatly suggest that you go see a doctor immediately. Yours is not nobility of spirit but merely the manifestations of a very bad childhood.

Uh, OK. I admire people's varied convictions but the fact that you do not give space for others to think in a manner diametrically opposite to the way that you do does not mean you are better, right?  Definitely not smarter. Just more bigoted.

To bring the discussion to the level of the personal and to question the intelligence and sanity of anybody who is not in agreement with your choices do not really speak very well of you ... as well as your ilk.  Somehow this sort of mob rule thinking discredits not only the fan turned fanatic --- but whoever or whatever it is that they want to promote or idolize.

The moment discussions reach the level of the personal, then something is wrong.

I have always felt that we can agree to disagree and still keep our friendship ... more so our civility.  We can argue until the sun rises on our behinds but still stay focused on the subject matter or the issue and never diminish the level of discussion to our relationship as two intelligent human beings who have decided to disagree. In other words, any intelligent discussion requires humility or even that oh-so-difficult discernment in admitting when one is wrong and the other party is right. I also heard it is called maturity.

That is why since around March this year (when the election issues reached their greatest heights) that I have decided to unfollow more than a handful of my Facebook friends.

I have unfriended more than a dozen and blocked a very chosen few.  Why? Because their mindless, fanatic chattering (whether congruent to what I believe in .. or in direct contradiction to my choices) is not the sort of thing I would like to find posted on my wall. 

I did not join social media --- nor took active part in it --- to test the limits of my patience. Or see friends make fools of themselves with Mother Statements or lure endless bashing from available schools of thought. 

Friendship or a cordial relationship is far more important than a discussion involving politics ... well, not unless the other party is a paid troll.  This leads me to the next point.

(4) It is not about who speaks the loudest but who makes sense.

There is a theory that when something is repeated over and over again --- it becomes real.  It may not be the truth but in the minds of many, it is real.

Keep saying the same thing relentlessly and people will believe ... then accept, regardless of how far-fetched and out of sync this may be from reality.

That is why in the crowded space of social media people literally shove and step on each other to get the mileage and space and patronage necessary to have clout.  Nowadays it is not enough that you are there but your presence in all available platforms --- mainstream, alternative, new media --- these have all become necessities in order to assert not only presence but more so significance.

Some people have made a career promoting and/or destroying people, products and issues in the internet because that is a natural part of the evolution of information technology.

That is why there are professional trolls.  

An article from a leading Philippine daily points out to this recent phenomenon ( and this very well explains the movements of opinions and shapers in creating the greatest sphere of influence.  It is no longer a matter of what you want to say ... but how you say it and who speaks the loudest. Through this pandemonium of sound bytes and wannabe personalities that you can decipher some semblance of sense --- some glimpse of truth --- muddled by all the drumbeating and the desire to be noticed in order to be first heard.

All these lead me to the final conclusion.

(5) You don't have to join the dance club just to be able to dance.

That is why I choose to avoid political discussions.  Again when asked why I have five good reasons: (a) Nakakasawa   (b) Nakakapagod  (c) Nakakairita   (d) Nakakabobo and lastly (e) Nakakagulo.  

Yes, we all have our opinions. We all have our prejudices as well. That's inevitable. Not good but inevitable. Because we are human ... and we have our imperfections which make us human.

But social media has changed all this together with mainstream media: biases, pre-conceived notions and the perpetuation of misguided opinions have made the search for truth all the more difficult with its various interpretations and misrepresentations.

What is important is to think --- and it is possible to think quietly.  What is even more important is to have a stand --- and do something about it --- not merely talk, make shoutouts ... even blogs --- but to work on what you believe in.

Yes, it is #nopolitics for me as I intend to lead a peaceful, meaningful and constructive life --- not one warranting public attention (or opinion) for all the wrong reasons. After all, I can be a good, responsible, thinking and working citizen without messing my feet in cesspool of politics. I must simply choose to be aware of the issue --- think --- and work on what I do best to make even a dent in bringing a better tomorrow.

I do not need to run for public office or bang my drums too loudly just to be noticed. Or heard. I just have to do what I am supposed to do ... and that is to work. Work hard at what I do best and make sure that there is a better future for our kids and their kids.  It is all right to discuss politics but that is not the be all and end all of calling yourself as a flag-waving, country-loving Pinoy.  It is by fulfilling your role in society that you gain value of whatever magnitude or significance.

That is being a useful citizen of the Republic.


When Mommy's Little Man and Daddy's Baby Girl grow up to be ... well, just a boy on the eve of becoming a man or a girl learning to be a woman, that whole equation about the parent-child relationship seems to change drastically.

A friend of mine (incidentally single because of chosen alternative lifestyle) once said that children are adorable for seven minutes and when they are below the age of one and a half.  

I did not quite understand (nor believe in) him until he started enumerating all the changes that happen when the little darling starts to grow up to become that incorrigible brat.  

"Kids are best when they are babies because they are helpless.  They look at you and flash their oh-so-cute smiles, the blabber nonsense and even spill their spit on you. But you can forgive all that because they are angels who fell from the heavens straight to your arms. You can talk to them in jibberish and they will turn on their charms ... then pee on you, shit on you and even barf their barf on you and still think it is all so damn cute."

I looked at my friend with a very polite smile and decided that his cynicism and bitterness should be the best reasons why he will live miserably for the rest of his life.  How can anyone not love babies? There must be some terrible childhood experience somewhere in that personal history to warrant such contempt.

"Well, that's because you're not a parent," he said.  The moment that infant learns how to walk ... the first thing he will do is to walk away from you. He will only walk back when he needs something. 

And I told my friend that he reeks of venom.

I told him that his was the kind of attitude that is punished by God with a very long life alone.   Then he said something that really made a lot of sense: "Children are never meant to remain helpless all their lives.  The moment a parent maims his kid by keeping him or her dependent on them, then he is not a good parent. He is just another selfish s.o.b. who considers his child as a possession ... or worse, an investment."

I really could not argue with him regarding that.  As much as it hurts to admit, there was a grain of truth in those statements.

I tacitly agreed.  As I have written before, children are meant to grow strong on their own ... and even stronger through the lessons learned by their mistakes.  Miscalculations, wrong decisions and even disastrous missteps are necessary in the process of development for there is not one human being who was built to be immune to vulnerabilities more so the harvest of a lifetime of errors. 

As much as they would want to do so, parents cannot insulate their children from pain. As much as they would hate to admit it as well --- pain is necessary to give character and strength.  A life shielded from battles and an ignorance about pain leave the child weakest, useless and incapable of having a life of his own.

Parents can only do so much to guide, teach and explain to their children all these twists and turns in life.  Parents hold their children's hands and warn about the demons that lurk in the great unknown. But they cannot and can never guarantee the future of their kids even if they left them an inheritance tantamount to the entire GNP of some insignificant country between the continents.

Being a provider is not enough.  Being a vigilante protecting your child from all the ills of the world --- real or imagined --- is mission impossible.  There is no way any parent can totally control a child and claim that this is done out of love: that is very much like the maternal instinct of the Witch in raising Rapunzel high up in her tower. One day the child will and can escape: when they do so, they will leave greater pain.

The greatest and perhaps the most noble responsibility of a parent --- is the willingness and the acceptance to let go of their children.

Moreover parents can only guard their children to a certain extent.

"Tell me. Who knew you better? Your friends or your parents?" my friend reminded me. "We are different people to different people as well.  The child they think they know is not exactly the person that others see ... feel and experience."

Again so true.  And perhaps to a certain degree my friend is correct.  Sometimes our parents are absolutely clueless about who we truly are and what we are going through in those most difficult formative years. Some parents never cease to see their children as innocents, as kids who know nothing ... and children often pretend that they are so just to keep their parents either happy or at arm's length.

That is why my friend said that the moment the child can learn to walk away ... he can therefore he will.  A child will never be happy entrapped by his parents even under whatever synonym there might be for the word love.  "Kids want to be free.  You either teach them to fly ... or you chain them and they will still fly away, maimed with weak wings. Parents must open the doors for their children to know that they are free."

The moment they demand to grow up ... the moment they cease to accept that what you say is an absolute law, then there is a completely different way of dealing with your offspring.  

Gone are the days when you can hold your child by the collar and say, "I don't give a damn about what you think or what you feel because it is still my house and therefore my rules. I am your parent, I feed you ... I answer all your needs, so you follow me."  There are so many fallacies in that argument, so many wrong assumptions that being a parent gives you the blanket authority to demand anything from your child.

After all, a child did not choose to be born. 

You were making whoopee which was why some egg was fertilized by the fastest swimmer.  In reality, they do not owe their lives to you because you gave it to them not with their consent but because of your needs --- whether social or biological.  And in everything that you ask them to do ... it is best that they know why they are being made to do so, the reason behind the restrictions ... and the parameters of their freedom.

There is a substantial difference between discipline and totalitarianism. Education and brainwashing are two different organisms all together.

A child best learns when he knows why he is being made to behave in a certain manner, believe in particular ideologies or even accept certain things his parents request him to embrace.  He cannot do things without rationale or at least a chance at an explanation. If ever he does so, he will do it only when the parent is looking or when it is convenient but it will never be a part of his system.

"But that's the way I was raised by my parents," someone would argue.   Yes, that is true.  There is a tendency to repeat the same pattern of parenting despite how the children reacted to the way they were raised.  That is because that is the only way they know how to raise their own kids. Either that or they have such vehement (if not violent reactions) to the kind of environment they grew up in so much so that with great resolve they refuse to be like their parents.

"When I become a parent, I will be better because I will NOT become my father or my mother." 

Take statements like that at face value because for some reason or another --- blame it on genetics or simply the naturalist's insistence --- heredity and environment mean everything. No amount of resolve or even trauma can veer you away from becoming where you came from.  In one's later years, whether one is single or has chosen a partner in life, the self-discovery is consistent: we all end up being like our parents.  

We may have been irritated or completely vexed by the way they behaved and certain habits they owned but somewhere along the journey we still end up to be like them.

That is why I need some clarification about the way some parents perpetually blame themselves for everything that happens to their children.

I hear woes and wails of friends narrating their personal tragedies because their children have become disappointments.

There is that father who feels wrecked because his son chose to be a musician "in a rock band" and defied his wishes to take up a career that could (more or less) guarantee a secure future.  Although it has been what?  Four or five years already?  His son's career has not exactly challenged the luster of Bamboo Manalac or Rico Blanco.  As a matter of fact, even he gets a headache each time he hears his son indulge in the music that he wants to play.

Then there is that mother who endlessly bemoaned the fate of her son: she blames it entirely on that slut who actually maneuvered her son's destiny by seducing him and then eventually getting pregnant thereby ruining his future.

"He could have been a successful lawyer but look at what happened?"  Although through her insistence the boy never married the girl he fertilized, there was still the responsibility of becoming a father (because she did not want people to think that her boy reneged on his obligations to be a family man).  It did not matter that her son already had a notoriety of having great difficulty of keeping his zipper closed whenever a member of the opposite sex catches his fancy.  It did not matter that, on all accounts, her son could never be a lawyer because his mental capacity did not seem to permit that.

Parents have built-in illusions about their children: they are sometimes the last to confront that painful reality that there are times only they could see their children the way that they do.

And there is that terrible resignation of parents whispering (with matching tears): "I do not know my child any more."

To play fair maybe I should ask any parent who mumbles this with the hope of earning national sympathy, "Did you ever know your kid?"

That's why I marvel at parents who do not act as parents but as authoritative friends.

That is why I find it sick or sickening when parents shamelessly and determinedly BLAME themselves for every misfortune or misbehavior their kids exhibit in a lifetime.  Reality check is in order here: children are their own people.  Parents should not imbibe a megalomaniac credit that every bad and good deed accomplished by the child should be credited (or discredited) to Mama and Papa.

There will always be kids with the best of upbringing who will still grow up to be major assholes ... in the same manner that there will be children who will go through the eye of the needle, suffer unimaginable tests and maybe ... just may be have contemptible parents but who will turn out to be such great and wonderful specimens of the human race.  Although genes do play a major role, it is still about how you handle the raw materials that turns them into duds or masterpieces.

It is all about the parent being there and being a friend above everything else that matters. It is a joy to savor the success of your child --- but then it is a fallacy to believe that their failure can be solely attributed to their parents' mismanagement or miscalculation.  Not everything about the kid has the parent to blame.

Children have their own minds.  Although they came from the womb of their mothers, they are still individuals who will make their own decisions regardless of influence or even terrorizing of authorities.

Believe it or not, destiny plays the cards ... and the decisions made by the kids as individuals  are all their own.  Or even perhaps they can refer to the memories (now lessons) provided by the parents to teach the child how to maneuver himself in a world that has turned completely gray.

There will always be a part of each parent in the lives of the children.  But despite how much a parent wants his child to be happy and complete, it is still the son or the daughter who will define his or her happiness --- and often, the parents have got nothing to do with it.  There is no decent and responsible parents who wishes nothing less but the best for their children --- but is the child again who determines what is best for him because it is after all ... his life and his journey that he must remain a captain.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


There are advantages as well as disadvantages in being childless.

The disadvantages are quite obvious. 

I can almost hear the voice of a very concerned tita whining, "But who is going to continue the family name?"  Or worse: "Sayang naman your genes."  

I almost feel that it is through the unused power of my reproduction that the lineage of the Baratheons and the Lannisters are at stake. Somehow you feel that your failure to produce an heir apparent to carry the torch has somewhat contributed to the eventual extinction of the human race. Or a deterioration of its quality.  

Let us leave that to the homo sapiens with a predilection for ceaseless multiplication of their species. They will easily make up for my ... incompetence or lack of cooperation.

But there are definite advantages to not contributing to the world's growing overpopulation --- especially in these parts.  

Aside from the fact that you need not worry about sleepless nights adjusting to your baby's feeding needs or changing diapers or that you do not have to work yourself to death to insure that you have a good college plan for your offspring, being childless seems to offer much less stress and worry about the volatile nature of the future.

You don't need to stay up late at night waiting for your post-pubescent child to come home from a night out with his barkada.  You do not have to monitor your cell phone to know the whereabouts of your daughter because she is late by ten minutes from her appointed curfew.  You do not have to worry about who she/he is chatting/interacting with in the internet. You do not have to sniffing around if he/she is secretly smoking filter (or worse filter-less) cigarettes in the privacy of bathrooms or taking gulps of hard drinks when your back is turned or under the pretense that his/her drink of choice is pineapple juice.

Worse, you do not have to work even extra harder to be able to afford his/her cellphone expenses, the upgrading of his/her laptop for school ... or even the rising prices of his/her favorite brand of clothes in the nearest mall.  Truth is that you don't want your kid to look kawawa in the company of his/her peers, right? 

What makes the child-less life even more interesting is the objectivity you can practice while observing or even reacting to the colorful lives of your peers-turned-parents.  

For indeed, if there is some great mystery that changes men and women the moment they succeed in creating their own little bundle of joy, then let that be so.  

The history of mankind seems to affirm this great sense of self-fulfillment the moment man plus woman equals child.  But together with this great miracle of life comes another turnaround when suddenly their own existence and even character are changed forever.

That is why for those either determinedly or unfortunately child-less (like me), the shifts in personality that happen to the progenitors of mankind are somewhat completely alien. It takes a little bit of time and a lot of understanding to see why your friends suddenly turn into completely different people the moment they become Mamas and Papas. 

"Oh, you will never understand  what we are going through because you are not a parent," they would say.  "All the pain I went through suddenly disappeared the moment I held my baby." Well, yes ... I have heard that too. "Suddenly my life has a new meaning when I had my kid." You mean that didn't happen when you got married or met the other responsible party for the assembly of your anak?

"It was not my partner but my child who completed me." Ah, talaga?  

Once I asked a number of my friends this trick question: "Assuming you were in a situation and you can only save one person ... who would it be? Your partner or your child?" The unanimous choice was the child, of course.  And the presumably soon-to-be-dead-partner accepted his/her fate with happy resignation.

"You will never understand that because ..." OK. Oo na. oo na!

I get the picture.  Since I am not a parent who has to cut short of my sleep to prepare the milk formula of my infant --- or worse, breastfeed the screaming kid in the crib, I will never understand the value of parental sacrifice even way after the child is born. 

I have seen too many of my friends literally lose weight, grow panda bear rings around their eyes and age about ten years in a span of three months when their first born enter their lives.

You only hope that in the future these kids will treasure all the sacrifice that their parents had to go through ( and continue to experience ) just to be able to give them not only their needs but also their wants.  And more often than not, as they grow older, children's wants exceed more than their needs.  Parents, in turn, are pressured to comply with all these growing requirements if they care to be considered decent providers.

For there are three kinds of parents:  those who take their duties far too seriously, those who casually and guiltlessly entrust their responsibilities to others --- and those who should have been spayed, their ovaries and testicles cauterized or turned into eunuchs because they have absolutely no right to reproduce.

Those who take their parenthood much too seriously usually ended up nervous wrecks with children who are even more warped basket cases.  They call themselves disciplinarians whereas the truth of the matter is that they are obsessed.  Either that or they are so afraid that their kids will pay for all the karma due them because of their not-so-ideal past.

Oh, I do have friends who will stop at nothing but shove the photos of their kids to my face endlessly cooing, gushing or even lubricating at the mere thought that the Universe has gifted them with the World's Most Adorable Children.  

Naturalmente, babies are cute.  They are even cuter when you do not have to take care of them.  They make goo-goo eyes,  flash toothless smiles so much so that you want to squeeze them like your favorite stuffed toy overflowing with the toxins of charm.  However, the moment they start screaming or walking around toppling things, touching dirty objects then popping their fingers into their mouths, the cuteness immediately disappears --- and you throw them back to the arms of their parents.

There are certain parents who literally so proud of their kids and who have made them the very center of their existence.  They shamelessly dominate every conversation about the latest high in the cute index achieved achieved by Junior.  They talk about their little bugger as if all the other kids in the world look like oompa loompas. 

As a polite and civilized friend, I (and the rest of us who were taught good manners and right conduct --- even when put through a stress test) would listen with rehearsed smiles and the occasional bobbing of the head in agreement ("Uh-huh", "Awwww ...." or the pretentious "Wow naman!") as if we were actually enjoying a parade of photographs kept and treasured in cell phones, photo albums --- and God forbid, AV presentations showing the evolution of their from middle class larvae to young adult with an IPhone 6.

I mean just how long can you endure a video on a smart phone showing a some kid reciting O Captain, My Captain like he were running for councilor or doing the Moonwalk on an ice cube impersonating a very dead Michael Jackson?  

Or just how many more monologues can your ears tolerate listening to a proud Mommy talk about how absolute brilliant her son has become not to mention how he so closely resembles Enrique Gil. Or have you chanced upon that Daddy who makes yabang about how his daughter will eventually become the next Filipina Miss Universe.  Truth be told, said young man does not/cannot/ will never resemble aforementioned matinee in any manner whatsoever (not unless one is under the influence of highly prohibited hallucinatory drugs) or that the so-called future international beauty queen can only achieve the stature of Ms. Wurtzbach not even through the science of Vicky Belo but via the miracle of reincarnation.

But that is a parental privilege.  Mommies and Daddies will see what they want to see even if the whole world sees something (or somebody) completely different ... which is the truth.

Oh, have you also met the parents who decide to take the lives of their children in their own hands?

Let it be known that there is a major difference between being "hands-on" as a parent from handcuffing your children.

How I just hate listening to parents proudly announcing how they are monitoring if not controlling their children's lives.  "He is going to be a doctor like his father and his siblings ... there is no argument about that."  Or "He wants to take up culinary arts but I told him to take up nursing." 

I agree that parents want the best for their kids ... but, hey listen: their lives still belong to them ... and they are not, I repeat, THEY ARE NOT YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTIES.

"Will you give your kid a break?" I would tell some concerned mother who is so afraid that her son will be seduced by some nymphomaniac colegiala who has been stalking her child with text messages and phone calls.  "Ang lalandi talaga ng mga babaeng yan," she complained. I could not remind her that she never finished college because she got pregnant at the age of sixteen. Karma, baby, karma. 

"Treat your kid like an adult and don't insult him by babying to the point of retardation." Chances are you will hear the familiar reply, "You are only saying that because you are not a parent. You don't know how it is to ..." blah-blah-blah. How is it best to tell a parent that a kid needs to make mistakes.  Success is good but failure is a better teacher. And (as I am going to discuss in the second part of my thesis on other children) no parent can completely and fully know what their kids are going through.

Go ahead. Be the Tiger Mom or the Tyrant Dad who literally controls his child by thinking that knowing everything the kid does is a sign of good parenting.

I cringed when a mother told me that she checks on her son's text messages when the kid is in the bathroom or when he leaves his cellphone within her reach.  

I wanted to kick the face of another mother who says that she goes through her son's belongings when he is not home and makes sure he knows the phone numbers of all his friends so that she can always find a way of knowing where is in at any given time of day or night. 

I simply sighed with exasperation when a father told me that he will not let his daughter go out on a date even with a group until she has graduated from college.  Oh, he must also know the guy personally before he can go out with the poor little girl.

Go ahead: embarrass your kids. Tamper with their growth by exercising your dictatorial rights as parents. Spawn your reincarnations of Norman Bates.

Then there are those parents who reproduce --- and then pass on the responsibility to the household helps or the nannies or the relatives who have the time, patience and resources to raise the kids for them. And why? Because they can afford to do so.

It is different when a parent or parents are compelled to entrust their children to others out of an imperative.  Such is the case of OFWs who painfully separate themselves from their families because they need to find work to provide a better life for their loved ones.

But it is a completely different scenario when parents convinces himself/herself that he/she does not  really  have the time or the patience to go through the rigors of raising a kid.  They lead far too exciting independent lives that being a parent is simply not a priority.  Yes, you can have your career ... or maybe you just have better thing to do than to run after your baby's poo-poo.  Maybe it is better to spend your entire mornings doing Pilates or playing golf or even playing Bingo in the neighborhood corner store than watching over your kid making a mess out of everything he touches.

Eh, bakit pa kayo nagkaanak? You could have acquired a teacup chihuahua or even a toy poodle to serve the same purpose as having someone/something to gush at pag may time.  

Look, if you do not have the time ... or the patience to raise a kid, then don't. 

And just because you can afford to hire a midwife, a nanny and a platoon of scrub-wearing minions who will be the surrogate parents 24/7, do not expect to win the Ulirang Magulang Award of any year.  Chances are your kid will love his/her yaya more than you and deservingly so.

It is not surprising, like the stuff of so many soap operas, that the nanny ends up knowing more about the child and his life more than his biological parents.  

One amusing anecdote is this really rich friends of mine who took such a great delight in announcing that they will have decided to have a child ... as if it were part of a well-designed plan to fit into the template of ideal suburban living for members of Generation X.  

After their baby was conceived, the child was immediately photographed  and videoed to the max : the kid was the toast of so many baby showers and the likes, with so many social media pictures of this one nice happy family of beautiful people who perfectly belonged to the corridors of Bonifacio High Street.  But then, minus the teary-eyed admiration of the public, the same child was left under the care of the ever faithful yaya who was, of course, paid to do the dirty work so as not to soil Mommy's Ralph Lauren dresses or provide obstruction to her Zumba classes.

The baby was diminished more to an accessory --- as part of the beautiful tableau of The Perfect Life.  He, together with their Audi, their BMW and their complete set of Rimowa luggage were considered more as a possession that goes with the trappings of a lifestyle.

Well, indeed ... lo and behold, one day my sosyal friend was in panic because she realized after some time that her baby --- now two and a half years of age --- was talking with very strange accent.  

Although they only talked to their kid in BGC English, both Mommy and Daddy were appalled by the way their son was enunciating words.  I mean ... how dumb could they get not knowing that the kid was talking in exactly the same way the yaya uses English?  But the highlight of that entire dramatic event was when Mommy entered the service area to find her son talking relatively fluent Cebuano with the kitchen staff!

"My God!  How did he learn to Bisaya?"

I would have wanted to reply, "My God, where were you when your child was growing up?" Most likely she was in her Group Exercise class ... or doing charity work like raising funds to buy Christmas toys for orphans.  Yeah, right ...O Great Paragon of Motherhood.

Then there is the third ... if not the worst kind: those who have an addiction for copulation and in the process try to outrace an entire breed of rabbits in multiplying.

Oh, boy ... They are all over ... all over the streets with their sad and somewhat stupid stories that end up with one of the worst punch lines ever, "Aksidente. Nakabuo na naman, eh."  I will not go into the imperative of birth control ... nor do I want this to even be a religious issue.   You can copulate as much as you want ... as long as you know the consequences as well as the rewards.  Regardless of whether you are perfumed or part of the Great Unbathed, you can be fertilized if you are of that age.

By the way, for the record: children are not accidents.  They are brought to life because two people decide to do whoopee and there was this really aggressive fastest swimming spermatozoa that infiltrated the quiet sanctuary of a bored ovum.  That is that.  It makes a world of difference when you are indulging in a moment of temporary pleasure from bringing a child to the world just because a man and a woman were both horny and/or bored.

Considering how those living below poverty level are most prone in multiplying their kind, I greatly suggest that together with the War on Drugs that the government should provide at least one TV set for every home so as to diminish sex as pampalipas-oras. Perhaps this is a birth control method that will not violate the holy sensitivities of the representatives of God. A good telenovela all the way to Bandila or Saksi can be a more than sufficient substitute for a roll on the sahig.

There is absolutely no excuse to endlessly bring children to the world when you cannot provide them even with the basic necessities of a decent life.  

I will not even reason to excuses or explanations as to why there are all these children, half-naked and dirty, scattered in the streets with no sense of protection and definitely no guarantee for a better future than their parents.  The people who brought these children to the world are not only irresponsible: they live in their blissful ignorance and would blame the rest of the world for their human condition, making us all feel that it is OUR responsibility to take care of them.  If a child cannot be provided with proper nutrition and more so --- education --- then the parents should be blamed for bringing them into this cruel world just because they are reckless with their kalibugan.

OK, I need my tranquilizers now. The mere thought of such sense of false entitlement revolts me because it is not the idiotic parents but the kids who will carry the burden of the greater consequence and the even more bleak prospects of the future.

There are times when I feel I have lost all the chances that go hand in hand with the happiness of parenthood ... but confronting all the challenges and responsibilities that accompany such a position, maybe I should be thankful ... and glad. As I keep telling those who care to listen: There is no greater pleasure than making babies ... but there is no bigger challenge and responsibility than raising a child.

It is a delicate balancing act ...and just because one is a healthy and gungho heterosexual ready with his or her deadly weapons that he/she can just go out there and add to the human population.  There is accountability needed. And dignity in being a parent.  Without those, then tie up your ovaries and cut off your testicles.  Do not bring misery to the world by punishing a child with a life that he does not deserve.

There is no such thing as perfect parents but there are so many examples of really, really awful ones.  And that is a fact.

Friday, August 19, 2016


There are only three things I do not like about travelling.

One: I hate airports.  

Sure, I will spend three times more if I bought a business class ticket just for the pleasure of staying in the lounge while waiting for my flight.  Aside from having to be there in the airport a good three hours before your international flight, you go through the rigorous process of security checks (a necessity to avoid any form of paranoia). 

But some are soooo detailed and meticulous that security inspections are just a notch below a prostate check-up or an ultrasound of your privates.

Then comes the long wait.  Try NAIA Terminal 2 where there is only one washroom for the entire floor and when it reaches peak hours, you fall in line like you were anxiously waiting to buy a ticket for another Hollywood blockbuster ... or the next Vice Ganda movie at the MMFF.

Two: I hate being cramped in a very small space in long hauls. 

If I am travelling for more than three hours, it is not only my bulging middle that becomes a problem while strapped on my seat with the seat belt. There is also the problem of the length of my legs. Although I do not have the vertical advantage of any of the sons of Benjie Paras, my height is still a challenge to the cramped seats of travelling coach. Somehow my knees get tucked in between the back of the seat in front of me and that very little space where I should shove my hand carried luggage.  

Then when the Fasten Seat belt sign is put off, just wait for the passenger seated right in front of you recline his chair (which is within his rights) and literally pulverize your kneecaps. 

Finally, one thing that makes me think twice or thrice about travelling is the Filipino tradition of expecting/ demanding/ anticipating pasalubongs.

I do not know how and why this whole tradition or superstition started that anyone who goes beyond the Philippine territorial waters should come home with a token or souvenir from the place of his travel to the people he loves.  

It is entirely different when you go abroad and spend maybe five to ten years not returning to your home shores: somehow there is this sabik na sabik syndrome looming that everyone wants a piece of you and your time away from the Inang Bayan.  

Now if the traveler is coming home from a weekend vacation in a land where the time difference is plus/minus two hours from local Manila time, isn't that a bit too ridiculous to expect your kababayan to bring home a souvenir of ...where? Hong Kong?!

But whether it is a destination as close and quaint as the ex-Crown Colony... or somewhere as far and distant as literally the other side of the planet like Toronto or New York City, the expectations remain the same.

"Hoy, pasalubong ko, ha?"

Wait. Before I am mistaken for a tightwad suffering from a real bad attitude regarding generosity, let me clarify.  I love giving gifts. I hate being obliged to give them. Worse, I would rather give it because I felt like being nice ... rather than to be ordered to deliver some imported goods in order to prove that I am not so bad. 

As everyone already knows, there is a difference between giving a gift because you really want to give something  from surrendering an offering because you were obliged or felt obligated  to do so. 

It does feel so much better when you know you are going out of your way getting a special something (price immaterial ... because it is the thought that counts, di ba?) from feeling compelled to grab anything that comes closest to a personalized gift (like a ballpen, mug or even t-shirt saying I LUV DUBROVNIK) just for the sake of handing out anything to people back home.

OK, let's face it.  Buying pasalubongs is a chore.  

It is a chore because it steals time from what you want to spend as quality minutes/hours/days having a vacation in a land where traffic can be exotic and not debilitating. Carrying this long list and ticking off names each time you finally acquire that something is as tedious as going through a Christmas list.  Just because you went on a vacation does not mean that you have to come home as Santa Claus.

At least with the Yuletide season, you have the privilege of pre-planning. 

You can do your Christmas shopping as early as when the -ber months come in if you want to play safe and avoid the pandemonium of the season. 

Or if you are one those privileged and covered by corporate purchases, you let the company do the spending and have some harassed purchasing offer do the shopping and even the gift wrapping. You can always order twenty-five dozen umbrellas (with a dedication specifically stenciled: Merry Christmas from the Tikmulan family or something like that) or maybe the same number of yearly organizer planners also with a similar dedication to remind the recipient that you will be with him all year long.

But hey not with pasalubongs.  

With the limited amount of time you have abroad or even out of town --- you are tormented by the thought of buying all sorts of souvenirs to give as handouts when you get back home.  

And it is not like you rush to the Duty Free shops and buy an entire sack load of Green Tea Kit Kats as proof that indeed you landed in Japan. Or get a whole sack of champoy to satisfy the salty cravings of the madlang people when you come from Hong Kong. The very fact that you have to gallivant through the airport stores just to photo finish the completion of your list makes the experience in the airport all the more nerve wrecking.

Then there is that all too ungrateful comment that goes, "Aw, you just bought this in the airport before going home, right?"  That is when the recipient makes you feel guilty since you did not scour the streets of the foreign land to buy him something special. What do they expect? That I cross rivers, scale mountains and fight dragons to be able to impress him or her?  That does not only take out the joy in giving but aggravates the hypocrisy of having to give something or anything to someone waiting back home.

"Ok lang if you don't remember ... pero can I ask you to buys something for me if by chance you come across this item?  Kasi there is none available here, eh."

That is another reason why I would rather slip out of the country unannounced. There is that pressure to look for things that people make lambing for you to buy for them as if you had all the time in the world to scour shops to find their objects of desire.  Another sad note: with the advent of smart phones and Viber, what can be worse than receiving images of objects people are asking you to look for or worse, getting a request to send photos of samples found in shops. ("Sige na naman. Size 10 ... Viber me the picture of the rubber shoes when you see it so that we are sure you are getting the right one.")
And it is as if it is really easy to squeeze in all the pasalubongs in your luggage with a maximum of 30 kilos for check-in suitcases and only 7 kilos for your hand carried bag which must fit the overhead bin of your plane.

Yes, traveling is the best form of education and broadening of the mind. It even hones the spirit to embrace the culture of others and to realize that your concept of the world back home is NOT all of the world that there is to see.    Admittedly, traveling is enriching, mind-boggling and a means for self-discovery. But getting there ... and coming home with all these obligations can turn it quite into an ordeal.

So now I have decided enough is enough. I will not sacrifice my enjoyment of travel but I will put a definite stand on pressuring myself to be Mister Congeniality by obliging myself to be generous.  Yes, generosity is one of the most priceless virtues that affirms the greatness in our souls. But it must come spontaneously and sincerely.  Generosity in any other form becomes hypocrisy ... or at worse, an investment.

There is nothing wrong to be selectively selfish at times.

P.S.: The fourth reason I am turned off by travel is when you are most unfortunate to be seated right beside a hysterical baby on the plane for a twelve hour trip.  You realize that indeed there are many reasons to celebrate if not oblige birth control... even at 33,000 feet in the air.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


When a young Singaporean swimmer named Joseph Schooling did the impossible (like beating the Metahuman named Michael Phelps) in the Olympic pool, some Pinoy squirmed uncomfortably.  No, no, no!  It has got nothing to do with this fairy tale story of a young boy who grew up to beat his idol and deprive him of his last possible medal in an individual event in the Rio Olympics.  Southeast Asia rejoiced with that.

It was that sudden reference to a certain Yaya who eventually took care of Joseph since he was a baby and served as his ever-so-sweet and reliable surrogate mother through his formative years.  Oh, wow --- Pinay ang nag-alaga sa Olympic Champion.  Ok. fine. Now moving on.  But this fifty year old Filipina, one of the thousands of OFWs who have left their own children to take care of other families, is a symbol of Pinoy Pride, someone insisted.  

Yes, indeed --- when it comes to taking care of people, Filipinos are top notch not only because we are hard working, patient and persevering but the most affectionate humans ever allowed to roam the face of this planet.  Like Pinoy nurses and caregivers, we are different --- and if that should be a reason to call this our pride, eh, di sige.  

But then wait. We also have to put a lid to this.  

We cannot go on claiming any one who has any trace of Filipino blood running through the various roots and branches of their family tree as yet another sparkling example of Pinoy pride.  When we start stomping our feet and hollering to the world, "Pinoy pride! Pinoy pride!" just because somebody's great grandfather had a trace of Filipino blood in him , then we are already being ridiculous. We become overbearing and even laughable.

Point to consider:  being Filipino goes beyond the order of chromosomes and the blueprint of genes. 

Being Filipino is about one's national consciousness, the sense of who we are, how we think and why we think this way --- because of what is so deeply ingrained in our culture as well as the upbringing we received from our family.  Just because you have a Filipino-sounding family name or you have third cousins back home in the islands with an appetite foe bagoong Balayan and balut does not mean that you are still a Filipino or that people here can claim you to be one of us.

Sure! Let us celebrate Filipinos who bring such great honor to our country as celebrate we should. And must.

Let us shout out loud the names of Lea Salonga, Jonjon Briones, Rachel Ann Go as well as all the other kababayans who paved way for our musical talents to find their spotlight on the world stage.  

Yes, Jaclyn Jose is the very first Southeast Asian actress to hold an award at the Cannes Film Festival as the best among the finest --- but there are Mercedes Cabral, Angeli Bayani (who no less than Ang Lee called "your national treasure") and now Teri Malvar as examples of cinema artists who have won worldwide attention and affirmation. Pinoy Pride indeed.

And we need not qualify why the entire country goes on freeze mode each time Manny Pacquiao enters the ring for another fight --- or why every beauty salon and dress shop ceases operation when the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant is being telecast live via satellite.  Crime hits zero when the Gladiator from GenSan shows his superior athletic prowess (so that we can even find amusement in his mother, Dionesia) or when for six consecutive years Filipinas managed to reach the top ten, then the top five until eventually clinching the crown of Miss Universe. 

These are examples of Filipinos who succeed in gathering our countrymen to rally behind them with a feeling of sameness and community.  They unite us even for the few hours of suspended time when everything is focused on their activities.  They are not only sources of pride but also serve as national anesthesia.

Pia Alonso Wurtzbach is Pinoy Pride personified together with all the other beauty queens who have become the representations of Maganda to Pacquiao's Malakas. 

It is national obsession for the three B's:  Basketball, Boxing and Beauty Pageants --- bring Filipinos closer together as a cheering squad rooting for their flag bearer.  And there is nothing wrong with that until this need to rally behind a national representative is brought to the level of the ridiculous.

Here lies the irony in being Filipino: whereas we have created our own infamy for having a tendency to foist our crab mentality, we also go completely gung-ho trying to deify anyone who resembles us by name, color or even shape of the eyes.  

How many disappointing stories have we heard of Pinoys contra Pinoys simply because we claim that disgusting trait of not wanting our own kind, our own blood brothers get ahead of us.  

The very idea of being dehado infuriates us especially when a fellow Filipino is at an advantage.  Our kayumanggi complexion turns naturally green as we do everything to pull down our dear kababayan through scathing words or even malicious deeds.  Utak talangka, we call it --- as well pull down each other, never allowing any one of our kind to prove himself superior.  There are certain examples (as I can personally attest) that not even years of friendship count when inggit comes into play and pandurugas and paninira come into play. "So typically Pinoy," we dismiss.  As if by accepting such unspeakable behavior turns something so wrong sound puede pasar correct.

Then there is that other side of our national yabang which is cute for the first five to ten minutes.  

When Filipinos start claiming Pinoy Pride even from those who just happened to have Filipino blood but have rightfully assumed a completely different citizenship (which is legal)  as well as embrace a totally different culture (which is natural and within their rights), then something seems to be out of sync here.  

There is nothing wrong with being proud of our successful half brothers and sisters because they defied borders, tore off the ceiling and set new standards for our countrymen. But ...there is something unfair and even embarrassing when we start shouting Pinoy Pride even to people who may not want the honors because they do not deserve it or have no right to claim such.

When we started cheering for that little girl who reached the Top Two in the show American Idol too many seasons ago, we may have pushed the claim a bit too far. Fact: said contestant is not only an American citizen and even if she still has relatives out here, the singing spitfire has never set foot on this country until after she won the runner-up position.  And we still celebrated and said it was Pinoy Pride. OK (muttered with exasperation).  

Sure, it did wonders for the little girl to have a nation claim her ... but then that was not enough to make her win the contest or boost her career right after the contest.

Then there was another talent show winner --- whose lineage was obviously Filipino ... but was born and raised in Australia. Pinoy Pride pa more.,  OK fine again.  But the poor mate may have the looks of any of our better looking kababayans but please give the Australians the credit due them.  He is theirs ... not ours and in our insistence to make loud our shoutouts, we are actually shooting ourselves in the mouth instead.

Now what does this all mean? Why these strained attempts to come out with instant heroes who can be the focus of national adulation and cause for celebration?  Why are we so prone to jumping at the back of the next celebrity of the moment --- whether in sports, show business, politics --- and find a way of tracing some Filipino lineage in his person?  Are we so devoid of role models that we need to cling onto anybody who comes along the way and who, by chance, has some form of resemblance to any of us?

We always remind ourselves that Bruno Mars has Filipino blood.  So does Lou Diamond Phillips, Tia Carrere, Nicole Scherzinger and the second wife of Robin Williams.  But so does the White House Chef, the Fil-American Cristeta Pasia Comerford or businesswoman Loida Nicolas-Lewis --- who are Filipinos by heart and whose accomplishments bring pride to our countrymen in the Americas. 

Then we ask ourselves: why do we have to look across the ocean to affirm ourselves of the capability for greatness?

Is that not possible to achieve here without the grandeur of international recognition?

Pinoy Pride goes over and beyond the echoes of applause.  And sometimes the greatest source of our pride are those who choose to be un-celebrated.  These countrymen of ours who are not hungry for cameras and microphones aimed at them but whose achievements, small as they seem, are great in terms of inspiring others around them.  These kababayans of ours who walk through fields, hills, forests and streams just to get a proper education ... or the poverty-stricken taxi driver who returned thousands of dollars left in his vehicle because he has the nobility of character that comes so scarce nowadays.

These are the role models we should celebrate --- these are the little people who matter more to the values of our kababayans rather than the fleeting glory that makes a celebrity.

Need we look far to find the source of our Pinoy Pride if we only looked at ourselves first ...before yearning for the applause of the anonymous others?  

In spite, despite and because of what is happening around us in the here and now, the more we should muster all our energies to find reasons to still be proud that we are Pinoys.  It has got nothing to do with who you think should be president ... or what you think about governance. It has got everything to do with simply being a good Filipino.