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Showing posts from April, 2005

Balik-tanaw sa SARS

CARABAO Beach ang tawag ng mga paslit sa malaking ukab ng lupa - likas na rainwater catchment basin. Lawa sa buhos-unos mula Mayo hanggang Disyembre.

Tapunan ng bangkay aso-pusa-manok-daga. Pistahan ng uod at langaw. Pagkaing panis doon din ihahagis. Pamansingan ng dalag, hito't tilapia. Pamantasan ng kuhol at susong amakan. Nasasagapan ng hipong tagunton. Kangkungan. Libliban ng digman. Lubluban ng kalabaw.

Lubluban din ng mga musmos. Hindi nandidiri ang kawalang-malay sa samut-saring mikrobyo at mumunting organismo - pati lisaw ng kiti-kiti't linta, daphnia, punla ng mga tutubi't palaka -- na kahalubilo sa masayang lublob-lunoy sa Carabao Beach. Nasa isang gilid iyon ng Palmera Springs, isang middle-class subdivision sa Camarin, North Caloocan City.

Mayumi ang dagundong-tibok ng buhay sa Carabao Beach. Kasaliw ng kantiyaw-iyak-tawa-hiyaw ng mga paslit. Sa tampisawang iyon, yakap na nagsasaya't sayaw ang mga mikroorganismo't makroorganismo. Magkasuyo sa pagnin…

Mga anak ng jueteng (PJI editorial 28 April 2005)

WE COULD have opted to adopt into our way of life precious lessons plied by Sun Tzu or Zhuge Liang in their war manuals—“Know your self; know the enemy. In a hundred battles, gain a hundred victories.”

We could have learned and taken to heart the teachings of Lao Tzu on how to effectively wield power and shape national character through that classic “Tao Te Ching.”

We could have adopted the mindset of a Confucius or Mencius—and sprang off low-technology, low-cost devices that allow farmlands to rake in the equivalent of a few million pesos in gross earnings per hectare per month.

We could have learned the secrets of acupuncture and the health-giving, life-prolonging regimen inherent in wuyiquan or qigong.

We pirated something less interesting—wei tung, a hand-me-down game of chance from the likes of pirate Lim Ah-hung.

Wei tung (flowers in a water vessel) evolved into a plague of sorts called jueteng.

Jueteng continues to infect the nation, its claws clutching beyond the bone marrow…

Poison juices/Katas pantodas (PJI editorial 27 April 2005)

UNDUE strain on renewable resources is something to weep about. Take the underground water reservoirs—the so-called aquifers-- in which subdivision developers drill down into to pump out fit-to-drink water.

Chew this over and hold to your breakfast. Each household uses up 2-3 cubic meters of freshwater a day while it takes a tree one year to replenish a cubic meter of rainwater back into the aquifer. Most real estate developers and subdivision residents don’t bother with such tough equations as striking a balance between growing demand and sustained capacity of aquifers to provide freshwater.

In all likelihood, the once-untapped contents of a subdivision’s underground water reservoirs are used up in just a few years. Even so, Nature detests operating in a vacuum and will find a way to keep the reservoirs filled in with anything handy, anything liquid and juicy that will seep down through layers of soil and rock.

Residents of shoreline areas are not at all surprised pumping out brac…

Water as fuel? War on poverty (PJI editorials 23-24 April 2005)

SOME years back a putative Pinoy inventor whose name has totally escaped us reportedly turned up an engine that runs on, believe it or go nuts, WATER!

He could have won a clutch of prizes—include the Nobel Prize and more-- for such a revolution that would render OPEC and China’s gargantuan hunger for oil and more oil as things that belong to the Jurassic era.

Go ahead, bleed your thoughts out. Investment bankers are now sounding alarm bells at prospects of a future crude awakening—something like the nightmare of crude oil hitting $400 a barrel. Such a bleak vision of the future ought to pry that flighty inventor out of whatever rat-hole he squeezed himself in. He ought to show up, save the world with his gizmo or whatever miracle machine he has pieced together.

He’d earn zillions of cash. He’d earn the reverence and accolade of the world. He’d be proclaimed king. Cybersex sirens would splay out their yummy wares for him. He’d have dozens of harem to repair to plus harem-scare ‘em in-l…

Ang tikbalang

BEDDING for a Holy Thursday night atop Mount Makiling: a rice sack was spread over an embedded boulder on the river bed. The spartan spread barely covered one’s shoulders down to the hinnies. Knapsacks stuffed with a change of clothes, two pocketbooks, jungle bolo, a knife or two, some bread and writing materials became comfy pillows.

After a noon-to-dusk trudge through a terrain trenchant with thickets and thorns, saying grace before a meal of crusty monay, rock salt (for body water retention) and roasted chicken took a tad longer than wolfing such frugal chow for my 20-year old kid Kukudyu and I. We’re like that manga characters “Lone Wolf and Cub” out to learn on-site in the wilderness. ‘Twas Holy Thursday anyway. Days off can be spent in father-son bonding.

Bonding milieu is an inactive volcano rising some 1,109 meters above sea level covered with around 2,048 different plant species. The slopes of Mt. Makiling are shaped to resemble a woman reclining, hence, the air of sexy my…

In the company of a tikbalang

THE TIKBALANG must have been drawn to the camp-in site by tufts of cabonegro coir I used to start up our bonfire. Coir, clawed off a cabonegro palm trunk, resembles a maiden’s midnight tresses. It even burns with a faint smell of singed hair. A tikbalang, as rustic old-timers have it, emits a similar stench. It must have wanted the company of another inhered with a quaint body odor as he has.

My kids – I have four, 3 boys and a dalaginding – were in their early teen years when I told them as we sat before a bonfire up in Sierra Madre of an encounter with such a creature. Children love horror-fantasy stories, yes!

A lambanog-soused man was on his way home somewhere in an erstwhile pastoral Paltok in Quezon City in the 1950s. He was passing beneath humongous boughs of a mango tree when something plopped down on his head – it was a ripe chico fruit. A chico falling off a mango tree? He didn’t bother wondering, halved it, ate a half and found it cloyingly sweet. He was about to pop the ot…

Wresting power

HEARING a brush of movement that does not belong to the midnight howl of Sierra Madre wilderness, we flowed pronto into an ambush position before a pass leading to the ridge where we camped for the night. Whoever, whatever sneaks through the pass gets shredded in an interlocking fire zone— my kid works the flank side, I tackle the frontal assault. All set for the frying pan and the fire.

We scratched our heads in chagrin by dawn’s early light—a stray calf, its leash caught on a tangle of cogon made the brushing-on-grass noise that kept us on a vigil through the small hours, ears plied like a bat’s sonar, senses pumped full of adrenaline anticipation for engagement. We caught up with sleeping, barely did any tree planting after such dour discovery.

Setting up an interlocked line of fire for a tikbalang? Why, most folks haven’t seen any – both interlocking fire and such creature of mist and myth. He’s skeptical if such things exist. Of course, it takes sangfroid tactical savvy to muste…

Viagra au naturel

IT LOOKED eerie—a blaze of fireflies pulsing like stars in the nippy air, throbbing with mating passions. That show of lights somehow eased the shadows of a Holy Thursday night on a dry river bed a few kilometers trudge up Mount Makiling.

It’s likely that no river has lain in sleep for months on that moss-grown, boulder-strewn bed—except my 20-year old kid Kukudyu and I. We were out to spend the night, do on-site learning sessions by the next day. Usual father-and-son bonding. As the late Benjamin Franklin once begged: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

Past noon from the foot of the mountain’s northern section, it took us four hours ploughing non-stop through prickly bushes and forest undergrowth to get to that site. We got there in one bruised piece. By then, dusk was falling; the sylvan air hummed with a trill of crickets, cicadas, critters nameless in choral orison. That incessant “sh-r-r-e-eemmm---“ layered with “k-kr-r-eeengg--” …

Clueless... In the beginning was the Word… (PJI editorial 21-22 April 2005)

A NUMBER of teachers from state-run schools are currently undergoing crash courses in preparation for the next school year.

As reports quoting top honchos of the Department of Education have it, these teachers lack proper training in certain subjects they teach.

The remedial courses are being given this month for those who teach science, mathematics, chemistry, biology — English included.

There should be cause for serious alarm here. No, we’re not at all scared stiff at how English is massacred in this neck of woods despite our suffering from daily carpet bombing of megatons and megatons of text messages, most of ‘em in an alien tongue.

Science? Take this factoid. The first three years of an infant’s life is most crucial to its development as a fully functional human being. Malnutrition wreaks irreparable havoc on the child’s brain and learning capacity. Let the fact sink deep: the malnourished infant is condemned to a cretin’s life.

A regional survey in the late 1980s found out nearl…

Imbakan ng petrolyo

HIGIT na malaki ang Maynila kaysa Singapore.

May limang oil refineries sa Singapore, kasama na ang mga dambuhalang imbakan ng mga produkto mula krudo na pantustos sa pangangailangan ng fuel markets sa Asia-Pacific basin.

Hindi kailanman binagabag ng pamahalaan ng Singapore ang oil refineries sa kanyang teritoryo. Busog pa nga sa tax incentives ang mga ito. Para mapag-ibayo ang kakayahan sa kompetisyong panrehiyon. Para mapahusay ang ambag nito sa ekonomiya ng Singapore.

Samantala, halos 100 taon nang nakatindig ang mga imbakan ng mga produkto mula krudo sa isang may 50-ektaryang bahagi ng Pandacan, Maynila. Matagal nang naitakda ang gamit ng naturang lawak ng lupain bilang industrial zone - hanggang sa unti-unting mapaligiran ng kabahayan ang itinakdang pook-imbakan.

Nitong 1988, nagkasunog sa kabahayang kanugnog ng mga naturang imbakan. Agad na nakasaklolo ang mga kawani at namamasukan sa mga kumpanya ng langis na naroon. Walang 20 minuto, naapula ang apoy. Ni hindi dumaing ang mga…

Grounding Darna... Strike (PJI editorials 17-18 April 2005)

TUGGED by the force of earth's gravity at 32 feet per square of a second, even an old lug like Fidel V. Ramos can jump three feet or over to give proof he's still in the pink of health. Sharp athletes trained in high jumping can easily clear six feet. Most obese and underweight blokes cannot do such a simple three-foot feat.

Let's suppose another planet has gravity 10,000 times the pull of earth's gravity. A man born in such a planet would be of denser flesh—likely of a physical make up tougher than steel. Earth's gravity wouldn't be much of a hurdle for him to leap over skyscrapers, broadcast towers, or right into the clouds where prices of most commodities have gone to these days.

Why, such an alien grounded on earth would literally fly and do superhuman feats he won't be able to do on his home planet. Why, bullets, knives and pay-to-cash checks would bounce off his denser-than-steel body.

That's the plausible idea behind comic-book character Superma…

Salpak pasador

KABUNTOT sa pagsiklab ng Yom Kippur War sa mga huling buwan ng 1973, tahasang nalumpo ang transport sector ng bansa.

Nadamay ang Pilipinas sa pagsagupa ng Israel kontra mga kapitbansa nitong Egypt at Syria: mula P0.10 por litro – opo, dalawa singkong duling lang—ng krudo, iglap na umigkas hanggang piso sanlitro. Napakamahal pero walang makaangal ni makaatungal.

Nagpataw kasi ng embargo ang oil-producing nations para lumuhod at lubusang gumapang ang mga bansang pumapanig sa Israel. Hindi sila nagbenta ni sampatak na krudo sa mga ganoong bansa habang patuloy sa pagtindi ang pakikipag-upakan ng Israel sa mga kapit-bansa nito. (Konti man ang sandatahang lakas ng Israel, angat lagi sa salpukan kaya maitatampok muli ang usaping quality vs. quantity population, refined skills vs. numbskulls na usapin hanggang ngayon sa Pilipinas.)

Mahal na ang produktong petrolyo, wala pang maapuhap na mabibili. Mahigit sangkilometro ang pilahan ng mga uhaw na sasakyan saanmang gasolinahan. Kung mayroon man…

Foxhole(PJI editorial 13 April 2005)

CROUCHING dog-like in a foxhole to shun enemy fire, what would the lowest form of animal—an Army draftee who earns a paltry P800 a month (based on 1970 prices) – cough out on learning that two sons of a major-general were caught spiriting out of the country some $100,000 in cash?

It would be beyond that dog of a soldier’s ken that Garcia comes from a medieval word-- it means “fox-like.” Sa Tagalog, ang katuturan niyon ay “magulang, tuso, gahaman.”

Nomen est omen. Talaga yatang may taglay na palatandaan ang pangalan.

That dog of a soldier once wrapped in smelly fatigues, worn-out boots and grime may be led to believe that some people are cursed by their names, probably by fate—even what passes off in these parts as faith.

Even so, the trenchant faith system hereabouts proffers this counsel: “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul?”

As a lousy twist of fate would have it, Major General Carlos Flores Garcia is accused of amassing unexplained wealth, mo…

Cashing in on live carcass (PJI editorial 11 April 2005)

SOME years back, a deskman colleague of ours personally led the police raiding team to retrieve a comely lass recruited from his hometown and mired deep into the dark bowels of an urban prostitution den. The girl was found. Grieving parents and once-lost lass met in an all-too brief and bitter reunion.

She refused to go back to her hometown. In tears, she told her parents that she would regularly send them money. The work she was mired in gave better pay than the back-wrenching laundry work she and her mother did to augment their family’s paltry income.

She was still young then; her nubile body can still take the wear and tear of her job for maybe five years, so she reasoned. In shock and sad acquiescence to their daughter’s wishes, the tearful parents left.

Our deskman was aghast at such awful turn of events.

The slave turned up deeply grateful to her slaver-panderer. The chopped up carcass is thankful to its butcher-meat monger.

A similar scene unreeled sometime this year. A gagg…

Something stupid (PJI editorial 10 April 2005)

OPEC promised to raise crude oil production by an additional 500,000 barrels per day to ease quick-as-eyewink price quirks in the global market. However, production capacity of OPEC member nations remains tight while worldwide demand for oil remains on an upswing.

That ought to explain why crude oil hasn’t bothered to pause in its steady price climb.

In knee-jerk response to this, some 47 transport groups throughout the archipelago are out to take to the streets on April 11 to 13 to call on the government and oil multinationals to stave off oil price spirals.

As in previous transport strikes, commuters and daily wage earners will get stranded—down the drain goes a few hundred millions of pesos in lost business opportunities and productive man-hours.

In recent years, major oil players have shut down local refineries and laid off a few hundreds of people manning those refineries to cut costs. The oil players have turned to outright importation of finished oil products largely from Sin…

Reading (PJI editorial 8 April 2005)

SOME people can read patterns up above. They’ll find an odd configuration drawn up with today’s solar eclipse— it’s a figure of a cross formed by planets Venus, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto plus the sun. The mix of energies in that pattern is taken as an ill omen. Important figures in the judiciary and religious leaders retire or leave for good under such a star-crossed design.

Pope John Paul II who spent a life of the spirit went even before those planets could arrange themselves in a cross pattern.

So did 89-year old Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, the creative spirit behind such oddball characters as Eugene Henderson—“Henderson the Rain King”-- a quixotic violinist who raised pigs and sought a higher truth and moral purpose in life.

In his novels, Bellow wrought out stragglers like Moses Herzog and Albert Corde, plunked ‘em down in situations that made them grapple with large-scale insanities and inanities of the 20th century.

Bellow stayed mostly in his farm in Vermont; he was largel…

Insult to injury (PJI editorial 7 April 2005)

NEWS about a newsman’s death plied out in cyberspace or on printed page hardly touches a ripple of interest or whit of outrage among surfers and readers.

News persons aren’t really interesting but after receiving a flurry of death threats for his tirades on drug lords, a hard-hitting columnist of an afternoon tabloid saw it fit to pack three pieces—a .45 in a shoulder strap, a similar piece at his waist, and a third tucked in a foot holster.

He wasn’t able to yank out any of such pieces during a taxi heist that cost him his life. He didn’t get any chance to pay heed to a sage counsel about political power spewed off gun barrels and pork barrels.

Or he had a bad case of adrenaline dump. Do-or-die moments can trigger a flood-rush of adrenaline in one’s systems. That can nudge the threatened individual to lash out like a cornered cobra in nanosecond reaction. Or one simply freezes in utter shock and unwittingly gets it in the neck.

The latest casualty got it between her eyes as she was h…


KATAGANG ugat na Sanskrit ang pinagmulan ng salitang “karma” – mula sa kri o “gumawa.”

Sa katuturan ng karma mas mauunawa: matimbang pa rin at higit na tumataga ang gawa kaysa ngawa.

Nag-iiwan ng malalim na gatla sa katangian ng pagkatao ang gawain. Sa gawaing sinimulan, matutukoy ang naghihintay na kapalaran. Matitiyak pati ang kinabukasang patutunguhan.

Nahuhubog sa pinagsama-samang gawain ng mga mamamayan ang karma ng bansa. May pambihirang lakas ang sama-samang gawa. Pumapanday sa kasaysayan. Nagtatakda sa kahihinatnan ng sambayanan, pati ng mga susunod na salinlahi.

Tiyak ang bunga ng bawat gawa: masasabing tatlong ibon ang sapol sa iisang pukol. Bawat ginawa -- mabuti man o masagwa -- tatlong bukol ang nakatakdang gantimpala. Tatlong isda ang huli sa lambat ng bawat gawa.

Una: Kung ano ang ipinunla, iyon ang matatamasa. Magtanim ng masamang hangin, utot ang aanihin, mwa-ha-ha-haw!

Ikalawa: Iginagapos ng isinagawa ang ulirat (kamalayan o consciousness) sa walang humpay na dal…

Para sa paborito kong aso

A COUPLE OF years back, a non-government organization (NGO) based in Hawaii spent $50,000 to retrieve a captain’s dog from an oil tanker that burned in the middle of nowhere. The gutted derelict was found. The famished dog was still aboard, probably still waiting for its owner.

By coughing up some P2.5 million in a dogged resolve to reunite an abandoned pet and its master, the NGO showed its blessed breeding – this firm is a retriever, a canine type favored by hunters to collect felled prey. That’s so unlike a locally based hog of an NGO that chomped on some P2 billion from the sale of government debt papers that sounds like “piss bonds”; taxpayers will have to settle the debts, cough up P35 billion after 10 years, but that’s another horror story.

Going back to our story, that sea dog of a captain either doted on man’s faithful friend or he shares with us some long-held beliefs on dogs that we haven’t grasped in full yet, but we hold onto still.

Say, local folklore insist that a dog…

Billboard blight (PJI editorial for 3 April 2005)

HEAR it as a prolonged shrill shrieking that chafes and seeks to scrape off chunks of sanity of any man in the street.

Or it can be seen as an overstrained stretch of sameness so hideous it virtually slams splinters into the eyesight of those on commute via Aurora Boulevard from Cubao in Quezon City to Sta. Mesa, Manila.

See, those ubiquitous billboards look as harmless as a stream of insults heaped by a nagging wife upon her henpecked husband. The poor bloke takes it all in as test of monumental forbearance. Groan and bear it.

It is likely the same tattoo of advertised sales pitch is a tad too close to Pavlovian conditioning. The billboards are intended to make consumer commuters drool like famished dogs at a wide array of products and services for sale.

Could Dr. Ivan Pavlov and his experiment with dogs on conditioned reflexes be the operative mind-set behind those billboards that hold thrall over Metro-Manila’s major thoroughfares? Are we really going to the dogs?

So they prob…

SIMULASYON (Isang maikling katha)

LUTONG ng lintik na pinadaloy sa kawad ang banayad na bigwas ng tinig sa siksikang silid.
“Dito… merong marunong tumugtog. Gitara, silindro, piano, banduria? Violin… Kahit anong pantugtog ng musika?”
Walang umangat, walang tumango ni tumingin kahit isang mukha sa hanay ng mga nakaupo, nakadukdok sa kani-kaniyang computer screen. Bawat mukha’y ginagapangan ng nagsalit-salitang anino’t putlang liwanag mula sa walang kurap na matang salamin. Kumunoy na nahigop niyon bawat musmos na ulirat.
“Meron bang nagtatanim dito? Kapirasong halamanan. Paisa-isang buto ng ampalaya. Tangkay ng kamote. Santulos na malunggay, Sanga ng rosal. Sampaguita. Basta nagtatanim. Kahit sa paso. Sa tabing-bakod. Sa bakanteng lote…”
Walang pumansin sa tanong. Umaalimpuyo sa siksikang silid ang kasahan ng mga modernong riple’t pistola. Gumugutay sa katinuan ang sunud-sunod na putok. May kasunod na sambulat sa simuladong tugisan-engkuwentro. Tinatabunan sa elektronikong ingay, kantiyaw at bulwak ng mura ang bawat ta…

LARAWANG KAPILAS-PUSO (Dulang Kyogen sa Pag-ibig at mga Musmos)

Mga Tauhan:
Gombei, ang maghahabi
Mariko, ang mananahi-mananandata, kabiyak ni Gombei
Daimyo, ang panginoon ng kastilyo
Mga Kanayon ni Gombei – pintor, panadero, magbubukid, tindera, atbp.
Tatlong Paslit
Tatlong Alalay ng Daimyo
Dalawang Korombo bilang mga Diwata/Apsara sa Hangin

Ilang Kataga sa Pagtatanghal at Tanghalan:

Halaw sa isang kuwentong katutubo mula Japan ang akda. Isinalin sa anyong kyogen – dulang katatawanan, mula rin sa naturang bansa. Inangkin sa puso at binigyan ng mga sangkap na Pilipino.
Karaniwang sangkap sa kyogen ang kunwa’y di-nakikitang korombo, nakasuot ng itim at madalas na tagapag-abot ng mga kagamitan sa mga tauhang nasa tanghalan. Sa dulang ito, sagisag sa ihip ng hangin at pihit ng kapalaran ang dalawang korombo.

Liban sa istruktura na anyong balkonahe sa kanan ng tanghalan at mala-balangkas ng dampa sa kaliwang panig, sayad sa lupa at hitik sa posibilidad ang pagiging payak sa kabuuan ng tanghalan. Sa ganitong kapayakan nakakapagliwaliw ang d…