Thursday, September 18, 2008

Of habits, porn and the bitch on my bed

By this time tomorrow, I would have completed the month-long extra challenge Kiks and I set. His challenge was this one and mine was: No watching of "looted" movies and/or TV series. No reading of ebooks or listening to audiobooks.

Compared to what Kiks set out for himself, mine is mundane. But with the first four episodes of Prison Break Season 4, the first episode of House MD Season 4, the men's diving and men's gymnastics finals of the Beijing Olympics, and a host of movies already on my hard disk and just a click away, to resist watching is almost painful.

Habits, by nature, are very hard to break. Especially when one is faced by various pressures from almost all sides, the temptation to slide into an old, convenient and comfortable habit becomes an extra, extra challenge.

I am not planning to have a movie marathon anytime soon. For now, it is enough for me to at least let down my guard and give in to the prospect of being a couch potato for two hours at most in any given day.

One month is not enough to make me say that I've broken the habit. But at least, it does tell me that I can.

I just wonder when I can be ready to say the same thing with smoking, drinking coffee, and getting cold feet in front of a really, REALLY cute guy.


To help a friend of a friend, I answered his survey.

If you also wish to do so, just go to this link:

If you have more time and want to help more, he also asked if you can post the link in your blog/s.

This is purely voluntary. No free porn as giveaways.

So if you can, lend a hand. Give to the "porn". (Kidding, it's a serious academic study.)


I slept with a bitch last night. Here she is.

Banci. Our vegetarian dog.

Before you get any nasty ideas about what we did, I just let her sleep on my bed last night. The fur was a bit distracting but at least she did not snore.

I did wake up with some scratches.


Yesterday, I decided to let it/him go for a while. Another habit I am trying to break.

Today, I am having withdrawal symptoms.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Senti with UP

Two things recently reminded me of my UP days. The first made me think of my university while the second made me think of myself.

First was the UP Pep Squad bagging the championship for the cheerdance competition for this UAAP season. I think during my time (not so long ago, I swear), there wasn't even such a category in the UAAP. Or maybe there was but I never again attended any UAAP game after I completed the required units on Physical Education. So maybe it was just something I missed out.

Notwithstanding my indifference to the UAAP, I am still not exempted from sentimental school loyalty. Though I did not jump with joy on the news of the squad's victory, there was that spark of elation when I heard of it from my current and ex-Isko friends. Pride can really be contagious.

The second event was the 31st anniversary of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). With Multiply contacts who are members and then also belonging to the e-group of former members, there was no escape from reading the activities conducted for the celebration and the photos that went along with them.

I always think back of my LFS days in UP with fondness.

When I stepped inside their tambayan to become a member, I never thought that I'd stay on. Except for the rally I joined in when I was in third year highschool back in the province, I was a greenhorn when it came to politics and activism. Still, I had my share of keeping abreast with current events and social issues and the LFS and its reputation piqued my interest.

From then on, I plunged into student activism.

I never missed out on the discussions ranging from issues of the day to the natdem principles. I went to rallies and had my share of squaring off with police and paid thugs. I joined the room-to-room campaigns and also had my sleepless nights during USC elections.

Then there were the times when we went to other sectors to know of their concerns and learn from them. We spent weekends with urban poor communities, peasant areas, and with workers in their picketlines. In strike areas such as the Nestle-Magnolia one in Cubao, I learned to sleep on sidewalks with my reliable malong but more importantly, I got insights on the capitalist-worker relationship.

Call me romantic, sentimental or idealist, but it was in my time as a student activist that I got to appreciate the Iskolar ng Bayan tag. One of the lines that struck me most during that time went something like this:

Ang paaralan ng isang tunay na mag-aaral ay ang lipunang kanyang ginagalawan. Ang kanyang guro ay ang mamamayan. At ang kanyang pagsusulit ay ang pagsasagawa ng mapagpalayang pagkilos.

The UAAP and a number of tatak-peyups events – Oblation Run, UP Fair, Lantern Parade, Maskipaps, Live A.I.D.S., - make me melancholic of my alma mater.

As for the years I spent with LFS, well it never really ended.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still, with regrets

My dad will die tomorrow.

If only I had this thought three years ago, I would have flown home in a heartbeat. Maybe not that fast but fast enough to at least be with him before he took his last breath.

I still remember that fateful day.

My father had been in a hospital for about a week. The night before, I spoke to my mom and asked her of his condition and she said that he still felt weak.

I woke up the next day gearing for a full-day meeting. Somehow, I felt a little bit down and I told myself it was just due to worrying about my dad. Even my colleagues thought so as well.

Later on, I began to feel cold. Cold enough to facilitate a session in the meeting fully-wrapped in a huge colored scarf.

I called my mom again and she informed that my dad's siblings were all there. I figured that there was not really anything weird with that for it had always been the case that whenever he called for his brothers and sisters, they always came to him.

The meeting ended at around 8:00 pm. I tried to reach my mom again but she did not answer my call. I went back to the office and logged on to my YM but no one among my own siblings was online.

The agonizing minutes, hours, passed. I was quiet or rather, too quiet even for my own taste. I thought that I should go home and rest but somehow, I remained in the office surfing the web, playing online games and just waiting for any news back home.

At 11:00 pm, the call came. It was my eldest brother in Dubai who informed me that my mom went out of the hospital to look for a priest.

This is it, I thought so.

I did not know what to feel. I just went numb. Though I managed to inform my friends what was happening, I could not bring myself to get emotional and all. I thought it ungrateful and unfair of me not to even shed a tear now that he is dying.

And then it happened. At 12:05 am, my Dad died.

I did not go to sleep anymore. I made calls after calls – to Philippines, Dubai and to Qatar where my two other siblings were – informing them what happened and planning how we were to go about with the funeral. Maybe I was compensating for my stubborn tears that refused to fall. Or for my disregard of the gut-feel that something bad was going to happen.

Or maybe just for the fact that I was not there. I was too late.

Of course I know that my experience of being absent when a loved one died was not unique. Countless more overseas Filipinos had suffered the same. But knowing so does not lessen the regret and sometimes even the guilt.

Eventually I did cry. At the third day of the wake, the dam just broke and I couldn't help myself but cling to my mom. She was the strongest of all of us. Maybe, caring for my dad in health and in sickness had somewhat prepared her for the inevitable.

I still miss my Dad. It will not really go away.

Even if I could have foreseen his death.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Search for Ms. Charity – HK!

Etchos lang ang title. Here is the real story:

They say charity starts at home but it can also go TO a home. Especially to those without one.

Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge is a temporary shelter for domestic helpers in distress. It is a charitable institution that not only houses but provides a home for those who have no place to stay while they have ongoing cases in HK.

You see, migrants who have filed cases against their employers are not allowed to work for the duration of their case. Length of case resolution varies from three months for simple labor matters to years for the more complicated ones such as rape and physical abuse.

So the obvious question is: how can one survive while the justice system takes its time to decide?

Back in the 80's, the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) has already noticed such a problem when they saw DHs with terminated contracts sleeping in parks or under footbridges and flyovers. Thus they created the Alternative Shelter Scheme – which, for a painfully obvious reason, took the acronym ASHES instead - wherein individual friends of the Mission take in and host homeless DHs for a particular period of time.

But it came to a point wherein those in need could not be accommodated by MFMW friends anymore. There were just too many of them compared to the number and capacity of those people willing to open their homes to strangers. Thus the Bethune House was born in 1986.

Currently, Bethune House has 50 residents though there are only 20 beds. As one of its volunteers said, you can't put them away when they knock on your gates lugging their striped bags and other belongings.

While its main service is giving food and a roof, Bethune House also does paralegal assistance to its residents. There are also volunteers who give seminars and trainings from basic Cantonese to cooking.

Though Bethune House is in HK, it doesn't mean that it is drowning in funds. Charity for the migrants is not that popular for the biggie foundations here. So Bethune House has to approach churches, women's organizations, migrant's groups and kind-hearted individuals for its sustained operations. It ain't a stroll in the park to raise about HK$12,000 for food alone in a month.

Thus, the above invitation to celebrate its anniversary together with an auction for charity. To be auctioned off are paintings like Kik's portrait that takes cubism as inspiration or my own face painted as abstract art. Kidding! Some Filipino HK-based artists have contributed their works for the auction while others are still being wooed to do so.

Ok, so this post is not really a story but an appeal for support to the shelter - attendance, donations, spreading this invitation, contributing an item for auction like your grandma's false teeth, or any other thing you can think of.

The real stories are in the shelter and its residents. Stories of travails, happiness and yes, even inspiration.

If you want to hear the stories, join the HK-wide Search for Ms. Charity on September 20. And yeah, it's tax-deductible and tax-free.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Once Upon a Time …

I need to come up for air. I've been too ensconced in magical worlds for the past few days that if I don't stop now, I'm pretty sure that I'll be doing incantations soon, transport myself to Kelewan to be with the Tsuranis (their name sounds oh so gay) or at the very least be a priestess of the White.

Yep, I'm rereading some of Raymond Feists' collection from Magician: Apprentice to the Conclave of Shadows series. How cool can it be to be named Talon of the Silver Hawk? If I am to have a fantasy gay name I'll be …


It was a really sad story.

Len was a woman in her 30s and lived in a village south of Manila. The place was one of those lands developed for the lower to middle middle-class families or those who can somehow afford a couple of thousands monthly payment for their house and lot.

Anyway, Len lived with her husband and four sons. I forgot the actual job of her husband but I'm pretty sure it was something that gave them just enough for food on the table and public schooling for the kids.

Why do I think so? Because in times when I went home, I noticed that their house has remained unpainted, no steel gate has been erected, and one time, she had to borrow money from me through my mom. And yeah, I learned that her husband was planning to take a shot at overseas work.

The other week, Len died. She was pregnant with twin girls and from my mom's story; she died without even reaching the operating table….


Even Morpheus spent his whole life looking for THE ONE.

And I want to lay my head down on you
Because you're the only solid thing in this room


Somehow in the next few days, I'm really going to finish a proper blog post.

There've been a lot of things going on around here lately and whenever I start blogging, something comes up and thoughts just fly away to neverland.

Still, thinking about it, I have the tendency to start something and then let it go because it gets too complicated, becomes scarier, or I just generally lose interest with it. Though such a tendency does not manifest all the time especially with the real important stuff, it still is disturbing.

My activist colleagues always say that not everything can be had with mere agitation. Once the excitement wears off, once the grand dreams built start to crumble … basically, once the unaccounted for factors are finally recognized, then the first-time high either comes crushing down or descends to a more rational level.

Ok, I think I'm drifting off again …


… and I lived happily ever after.