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Showing posts from August, 2005

Wordswords-- meaning and demeaning

THE Oxford Dictionary of English lists an additional 350 new words to demean a person, 10 times more than new well-meaning words to shore up a person’s sense of self-worth. That’s a hardly reassuring state of the tongue.

That means for every word that can ennoble or uplift the other, there are 10 newly honed swords for tearing up, trampling upon and grinding another’s esteem into shreds. Maybe, just maybe, it’s much easier to define a human being in degrading or abrasive terms—anything to wear down human worth. Wordsmiths the world over must be probably predisposed to brewing new venom and stockpiling of slurs to bring pain, maim, deface, efface.

We hardly exult. We’d rather insult.

How did Lewis Carroll phrase it? “Words use us just as we use words.”

It’s probably easier to spew out filth and excrement—we must be full of such inside and crave to wallow in it outside. Or do we? Sadly, such surfeit of organic fertilizer has no useful application in growing healthy cash crops or reve…

Tango in a thunderstorm

MAS madaling pasunurin, paikut-ikutin ang asarol. Isinayaw ang damuhong asarol. Indak at sindak ng tango, sayaw na hinalaw pa raw sa mga bahay-parausan at palipas-kalibugan ng Latin Amerika.

Kaya sasalatin ang magaspang na puluhang bayog--hindi tumutukoy sa kasariang katugon ng bayag, kawayang sakdal-tigas ang bayog—habang naghihimas ang imahinasyon ng mas angkop na kasayaw. Naisayaw ko yata ng matinong tango ang isang taga-Cavite, si Roda Astilla na muntik na ‘kong ipagbalibagan.

Kaysa magtampisaw sa ginaw habang bumubuhos ang ulan, iginuhit na lang sa isip na si Roda ang kasayaw. La Paz tango—romantiko, erotiko. Hindi pipiksi ang balakang kapag napahigpit ang kapit ng kamay alinsunod sa tagubilin ng Yellow Pages—let your fingers do the walking.

Hindi rin iilag ang pisngi ng asarol kapag napakiskis sa aking pisngi na kutis palakol.

Lalong hindi pipitlag ni papalag kahit saang panig ng katawan mapadpad at mapasawsaw ang indak ng hinaharap.

Sa totoo’y mas batikan ako sa piko o hopsc…

To cook rice

NEVER mind the truculent topography to trample not too thoroughly, the hike-hop-hobble to the Sierra Madre work site just took over three hours.

It was past lunch time when we plopped ourselves down on a mat of grass for some easy breathing spell, allow famished stomachs to growl and gripe. Pay no heed to such grumblings. Legs can whine. Soles can whimper. Stretched taut sinew all over one’s body can fret and stew.

Stew? Delicious jolt this chewy morsel of a word

Ah, meals can be whipped up in a jiffy. A pot of water boils in less than five minutes on mountain tops-- well-boiled, fluffy steaming rice can be had in around 10 minutes.

So we rummaged through the tools, provisions, and not-so weighty things we’ve tacked on our backs for the three-day working weekend. We rummaged some more. We set down on the grass every article of consequence we had brought.

We looked at ‘em items with serious intent, eyeing each item in earnest. Mattock, kama scythes, bolo, knives, whetstone, pingga


IT was 2 in the afternoon. It didn’t take much trouble explaining to then-toddler Kukudyu that I had to leave him for a few hours in that hospital ward he shared with five other dengue-stricken patients. A week earlier, two dengue-stricken kids brought to the same hospital ran out of luck. They succumbed.

Kukudyu would be left to whatever mercies strangers could offer—an indifferent glance from the parents of the kid on the sick bed near his, probably a token question how he feels with a bag of blood platelets trickling into him through a needle. It’s mostly a tug at his quiet endurance, maybe that tough tendril of courage in his unflinching arms.

He’d be alone for a few hours to fend off stares and prying questions of the curious. About 15 minutes past 5 p.m., his mother would come from work and be assuredly at his side.

In succession, three of our four kids got dengue—and the hemorrhagic fever that can bleed the child to death. Thank God only our pockets and savings were bled dry.…

Buwan ng wika is for tongue-lashing (PJI editorial 14 August 2005)

THERE are now 350 ways to insult someone, 10 times more than new expressions meant to shore up a person’s sense of self-worth. Some 50 new words turned up for good-looking women, a mere 20 for men.

The new words were listed for the first time in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, tabbed as the definitive record of the English language.

As the London-based Reuters have it, among the new entries are “potty-mouthed” (using or characterized by bad language), “lush” (for very good) and “scophophilia” or sexual pleasure derived mainly from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.

The news agency added that many of the new words are formed by mixing two others together. Say, charity and mugger makes “chugger” or someone who approaches passers-by in the street to ask for donations for charity.

It is unlikely we’ll be hearing any of those new English words plied out in formal speech, treatise, or daily usage—broadcast media do casual butchery of E…

Tic-tac-toe (Meron namang bayad) (PJI editorial 12 August 2005)


THOSE jueteng witnesses who turned back on their words are an amusing lot—quite entertaining, too.

It must have occurred to them that their “testimony” is probably derived from the words “testes” and “money.” Assert out testes on the gavel block—ages back, a witness didn’t place his hand on a stack of Bibles but held the family jewels and swore upon future offspring of his to carry on the weight of shining truth or peddled pack of lies.

Indeed, it’s the sons and daughters yet to be born that will bear the onus of parental lies, or will be beaconed in their paths by the brilliance of truth their forebears upheld.

But then peddled lies don’t fetch piddling sums. Definitely not when yarns can affect positions of power, prestige, and perks imperiled by truth. In a sudden twist, the testes can be conveniently dropped and thereby solve pesky problems—mostly liquidity.

Testes need not be bashed when it turns to cash. Drop testes in testimony. Take the money—and run with tails …

Tugon sa isang lumiham mula US

LETme share this shaman's knowledge, my dear.

Divide 360 (days) by 9 (personal cycles in a year). You get 40 days/cycle in which much can be done. The surplus 5 days in the 365-day/year period is added to the ninth cycle, which ought to be a rest/meditation/internal repair period-- not too much physical, emotional and mental exertions at this stage or you wear yourself out.

Smack on one's birthday, the first of the nine cycles begin, there's a surge of inner reserves that ought to be sustained. I'm saving that upsurge to write a novel, my gift to myself-- for being alive.

The 45 days before a person's birth anniversary comprise that 9th cycle. I'm now in that cycle of rest and meditation-- but I must still do editing work for the online edition of Journal newspapers. So at the close of each day during this period, tiredness really gets me. The missus who's four years younger than I am, she was born July 30-- inuubo, medyo run-down ang pakiramdam. Sabi ko ng…

Sa ama ni Mario Fradejas, tungkol po sa lupa

AT P35 per one-kilogram bag, it was dirt-cheap and seemed out of place in the glass showcase at the foyer of a restaurant in a posh Tagaytay hotel overlooking Taal Lake.

The product was tabbed a fancy name—vermicompost. It’s the technical term for leavings or castings of earthworms that chew through filth and decay to turn up decent soil. Make that fully enriched soil fit to raise plant crops in. I’d like to think it is soil with soul in it.

An enterprising keeper of earthworms must be selling in bulk those worm castings in bags, probably eyeing the moneyed and well-heeled matrons who tend gardens in well-appointed homes.

“Earthworm castings have often been called 'nature's perfect plant food'. Odorless, coffee grounds-like particles are capable of long-term feeding of plants while adding moisture retention properties to garden soil as well as humus, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria, “ so rhapsodizes the leaflet tacked onto the product bag.

That reminds me: enterprising medi…