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Showing posts from 2013

Playing with fire

MUNTINLUPA recently joined Davao City in the rarefied league of cities that shuns an inane celebration of the Savior’s birth and the advent of a new year. Davao set in place a firecracker ban back in 2001 under the watch of Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte—sheer force of political will defying a tradition that has been part and parcel of a so-called “damaged culture.”

For 12 years now, Davaoeños embraced the Duterte policy that had seen a dramatic drop in numbers of firecracker-related injuries.
Perhaps, it had not been lost to Duterte that the first Christmas was what a carol describes as a “silent night, holy night” in a hay-strewn manger—a few lit firecrackers tossed there may likely turn such setting into a funeral pyre for the infant Jesus.And maybe, unthinking heathens choose to desecrate such a solemn occasion with noise pollution.
Not unlike the illegal numbers game jueteng—a hand-me-down tradition from Chinese corsairs and cutthroats, now a thriving pastime for the rural poor in o…

Faustian bargain sale

HIS innards running amok, brain likely howling in hallucination at the 40th day of zero food intake—read: prolonged hunger strike, fasting—the Son of Man must have been in a mood to resort to looting, pig out on whatever morsel edible that a spread of desert desolation can proffer.Instead, He opted to show by deed what it takes to strike a hard bargain, pointing up author Paulo Coelho’s aphorism: “The world is changed by example, not by opinion.”
He rebuffed the attempt tempting Him to transmute stones into loaves to hush hunger, with words that any truant at Sunday school learns by heart, but very much forgotten these days: “Man does not live by bread alone.”
He won’t give in to visceral cravings so the tempter takes Him to a high place. Then, an offer for wealth, fame, political power in exchange for bowing down to worship Mammon. Again, the tempter’s offer is turned down.
The last try at temptation was to nudge the Son of Man to ply a silly stunt—throw Himself off a cliff, just to …


SO many people working hard to save to buy a house on prime land while paying their taxes. Why do we have to baby these informal settlers?”
Thus asked celebrity babe Bianca Gonzalez in a tweet. Expectedly, land ownership rights took another mauling as urban poor advocates rose to challenge what appears to be crass ignorance about the roots of poverty and the squatter problem. Perhaps, breeding, core values, and every cherished trait that becomes humanity begin at home. And so, either culture or nurture had to seep-soak into a people’s ethos for millennia before these can turn as natural as breathing.
Building materials do not matter much to Indians. An assemblage of stone, wood, and thatch can be raised to enclose spaces— but each room and every portion of living space has to be a shrine to a particular god or goddess in the Hindu pantheon. That’s what the principles of vastu—the predecessor of oriental feng shui and furyu – call for. With such building principles laid down pat, the …

Mobilizing resources

BAKAWAN, the vernacular term for mangrove literally translates as “haunt of nightjars (bakaw).” The tangle of branches that the slow-growing, sturdy tree locked in tight hugs over mudflats, marshes, shoals, and stretches of riparian parts looking over the sea also hold teeming wildlife—most are edible, some a delight to epicures… egrets, herons, arboreal snakes, sea serpents, migrating geese or ducks, even an endangered species or two.
The knot of roots that a mature mangrove jabs into a nether bed of mud and sand fan out every which way deep, ramifying into a network that sucks in and tames tide-borne throwaways, trash, toxins, even oil slicks. Indeed, mangrove stands render seawater fit for marine life.
Low tide unravels a mangrove stand’s teeming hoard- octopi, crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, eels, lobsters, mantis shrimps, a barracuda or two, the usual shrimps and the young of motley deepwater-dwelling commercial fish species. Mangrove stands serve as nurseries or halfway shelter f…

A farewell to alms

WHAT did not kill some five million people-- super typhoon Yolanda mauled them to an inch of their lives—will likely toughen them. They have withstood. They will stand. They will move on with their lives.
Vegetable vendor Clarissa Bueno, 42, is eyeing a P10,000 loan to go back to tending her stall at a market in a town adjacent to Tacloban. With that seed money, she hopes to recoup her losses and send two of her children back to school—one is a grade 7 student, another is a criminology freshman.
A father to six children, 31-year-old fisherman Diorico Cordoves says he needs P20,000 to buy a five-horsepower diesel engine and a small boat to fit it to. He avers with resolve: “I could provide for our daily needs and my children will be happy.”
He has no house to go back to. But all it takes for farmer Geronimo Dawat, 49, is about, he reckons, P60,000. With such a sum, he sees that he can get back on his feet, bring back to life a three-hectare spread of rice paddies that he rents.
Most …

Cal y canto con camote

FENG shui (literally, wind water flow) lore has it root crops embody a hidden store of treasures. Say, a local food conglomerate needs yearly 35,000 metric tons of cassava for livestock feed-- the available local supply falls short of 13,000 tons. Cassava granules sell for around P9 a kilo.
Demand for the same root crop to be used in liquor manufacturing is hitting above the roof. Why, raising cassava is a no-brainer task— this is one tough crop that can grow in the most hostile patches of earth, providing sustenance for ages to dwellers in sub-Saharan parts of Africa.
While the hardy cassava is nearly pure starch, the lowly sweet potato or kamote is considered by nutritionists as a super food, the most nutritious of all vegetables—kamote levels of Vitamin A are “off the charts, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.” A fist-sized kamote can supply a day’s dose of glucose to fuel the brain, muscles, and organs, so they claim. Count the country lucky for having been bl…

Fool people all the time

SHOULD the putative brains of the P10-billion pork barrel plunder run into liquidity problems, she might give a bit of thought to cranking out a tell-all book— that ought to be a runaway bestseller.
Such a confession can rake in wads of cash once it sees print and hits the bookshops. And maybe, bring the heat a few notches higher to cause rashes to her pachyderm-skinned cohorts in Congress. After all, her accomplices chomped on the lion’s share of the loot-her P10-billion cut is a mere 30 percent of the largesse.
Taxpayers, mere mortals that we are, would likely be willing to fork a few more hundreds of pesos for a copy. We would want to see the devil in the details how the heist was carried out, not just once.
Indeed, some people can be fooled all the time.
And she can rub a whit of insult to injury by her account of how the modus operandi was carried out-- with ease, and maybe gobs of grease. Why, she can name names. Trot out a list of culprits. Let out money figures that would m…

Ethics for a blurred image of God

LIKELY with the Greek ideal mens sana in corpore sano in mind, St. Augustine must have been moved to aver: “The mind is the image of God, in that it is capable of Him and can be partaker of Him.” Reality fled far away from the ideal, current events scream of a craven mind: one that loots taxpayers over P10 billion in “pork barrel” monies with august lawmakers as accomplices may have defiled more than a godly image. Such a case runs roughshod over the principles of medical ethics that psychiatrists are urged, coaxed to live by. Says psychiatrist Dr. Pureza Trinidad-Oñate in her address to peers at a plenary session of the Philippine Psychiatric Association’s midyear convention: “Principles of medical ethics are not laws, but standards of conduct which define the essentials of honorable behavior for the psychiatrist.” Indeed, “ethical concerns about the psychiatrist’s role and functions have dogged the profession for at least three centuries,” she cites. For 300 years, give or take a d…

Access to Filipino troubled psyche gained

Mang Pablo, a 62-year-old proprietor of a hardware store in Infanta town, Quezon province had the drive, the money savvy and the hopes a-soar that his business—including the Calabarzon region where he plied his trade—will take the high gear to prosperity. He was brimming with such an attitude back in 2008… until depression hit him. 

He just lost steam. He was looked up to as a community leader but he for no reason lost his touch, his lust for life. Now he says it’s no use to overexert because he’ll just lose it all. He took to drink, ran into problems with his wife and their children. So what ate him?
In another case that Dr. June Caridad P. Lopez cites before the plenary session of the Philippine Psychiatric Association’s midyear convention, a gaggle of company employees and their families went on an outing in Puerto Galera. At sea, their boat capsized—four women and a child died as a result. The survivors will have to cope after that mind-wrenching tragedy. How?

It takes mental toughne…

Threats and other status updates

THREATS, threats, threats... and I am also being threatened to be the take-charge-guy over 125 hectares of rolling terrain like this.... such threats, such burdens of responsibility haven't even caused me to wince, flinch or even blink... I sure do the Demon Hand of wuyiquan but there is the too-evident Hand of God nudging me to parlay the skills I have gained, and the gifts I have been endowed with at birth.... Lord, I am thankful!

Threats... threats... threats... I have been threatened being sent to the navel of the the Philippine geography spread to, uh, do agricultural extension work... in those parts where warlocks and witches and wizards like me can share notes and knowledge, I am being sent like a dragon among wolves... uh this bit of word operates in those parts where a friend has been chosen by his town mates as their representative in Congress... that friend went into the night and left friends (or fiends like me) can carry on his mandated tasks... God's hand is too e…

No space for new messages

THESE snippets of thoughts had lodged for sometime in my mobile phone... I have erased them. And I chose to keep them here for another browse through.... Edgardo M. Reyes, the mind and man behind the novels, "Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag" and "Laro sa Baga" has passed on. His words somehow remain. Here.. In feng shui, taking out or rearranging 27 things in the household will bring boons.
"Cathy: JC got a big break re Nangel's assets. Our instincts are proving us right. Let's dig for more. Get Palace reax. Nangel and wife are jet-setters. NIA regional directors are his minions. They splurge per my sources. They spent huge funds on renovations not irrigation. Let's just be careful about interested people feeds that's why we need to come up with our own." (Joel Sy Egco  3 July 2013 11:18:01)

“Thank you! Nakakagulat natatandaan mo pa. Sana magkausap tayo minsan. Ang problema bedridden ang bida, emphysema; sana totoo ang sabi sa masamang damo.” (Ed…

Let me do butchery

“LET me do butchery.” That translates into the Tagalog word for coconut palm frond, palapa. Akin to carcass, the rows of leaf ribs line a central spine of woody tissue, bundles of fiber shooting arrow-straight from the base tacked to the palm trunk to the tapering tip of the end-leaf rib. Seen at dusk from afar, the spread of fronds crowning the tree of life resemble a hag, a witch malevolent with shock of hair bristling on all sides…
“Let me do butchery” stays latched on the trunk for over a month, falls off after and leaves a scab of sorts—each stands for a month-- on the trunk that signifies the age of the coconut palm in months. Say, a coconut palm tree—very tall grasses, these palms, they’re not trees— starts bearing nuts in 60 months.
Nut production wanes in 480 months (40 years, life begins when the fiber bundles rising from root to leaf tip are at their toughest). That’s the time when seedlings to replace the elderly palm can be gleaned from its fruits fit for planting… uh, 40…

Next to godliness

JERKING it off—we mean the knees—hands flailing in a fit of snit, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority top honcho raged, raved at a Dan Brown description of Manila as “gates of hell.”
As if to exorcise a less-than-divine sobriquet, the MMDA head personally led his crew in an attempt to rid tons of trash choking the waterways of the metropolis that has reeked of Styx for ages.
He could rave some more in days to come, plunge his cranium and crew a lot more in an all-out clean-up try. He is sure to lose a lot of steam raging. Tons and tons and tons of refuse would be dumped every which way, here, there, and everywhere metropolis residents would. Styx stays, stench cannot be stanched. Neither the garbage habit can be stopped.
“Clean up a pigsty and if the creatures in it still have pig-minds and pig-desires, soon it will be the same old pigsty again,” so wrote author Catherine Marshall.
Lately, a garbage-strapped Taiwan had offered to buy Quezon City’s 1,200 metric tons of trash turn…

Days of infamy

The firestorm that flared in the Hawaiian mainland at 2:30 a.m. on December 8, 1941 crept eastward like unfolding dawn, leapt from island to island through the Pacific like a contagion. In Calamba over 8,000 kilometers away from Pearl Harbor, the faithful heeded the church bells tolling the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, calling the flock to celebrate the forthcoming birth of a Saviour.
In the next three years, Calamba townsfolk would writhe under the heel of the new invaders, cry unto the skies for succour-- the new conquerors would seek to hold an entire nation in thrall. It would be three bleak years under another alien horde that would be struck again and again by a people subjugated, vanquished. But, these people just wouldn’t be bowed—not even by a superior army who struck like lightning…
As the Calamba faithful bowed in prayer on that fateful day, fire and metal hurtling off Japanese incendiary bombs were bringing the cities of Baguio and Davao to their knees… Too, key targe…

Like sheep led

EVEN crack troops of the Japanese Imperial Army were never known to be dead shots. Imperial foot soldiers relied on the bolt-action Arisaka rifle— dubbed in derision as “pakbung’ by wartime elders who survived the dark days of the Occupation. Weighing about four kilos, it was not too hefty to lug around or do fancy rifle drills with. In the heat of gun battle, the Arisaka was, to weapons experts, more of a laughing stock than an assault tool meant for mayhem.
Why, last hold-outs Bataan and Corregidor in 1942 were overran by heavy artillery and aerial bombardment— it was sheer superiority in numbers of marauding Japanese infantrymen that mauled the dying, sick or starving Filipinos and Americans too ill-equipped, too famished or too drained of resolve to put up a fight. The Arisaka that spat out corn kernel-size .25 slugs didn’t strike fear among Filipinos; pakbung was seen as strictly for finishing off a fallen guerrilla or helpless civilian at close quarters.
Fitted with a 20-inch bayo…