el mafioso

Todo es solo para el Don

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


I am surprised that no kids have yet roamed our village to ask for New Year giveaways, in cash (or coins) and in kind. As far as I can remember it, as soon as December 26 comes, hordes of kids (and adults) knock at hour house, without fail, and greet us with their usual “Happy New Year, po!” in exchange for some coins or food. Children have indeed grown wiser nowadays, realizing that Christmas and New Year are two separate holidays, from which they could benefit. I bet that some of the children who do their usual “rounds” in New Year are the very same children who render us two to three stanzas of unrehearsed Christmas carols and then immediately ask for money. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell these kids apart. This Christmas season, I must have ignored or turned away about 10 groups of children who have regaled us with Christmas tunes since the start of the Simbang Gabi. I was tempted to be generous to two particular groups who sung Simbang Gabi (yes…the one which starts with Simbang gabi...simula ng Pasko) and an ABS CBN song whose title I forgot (the song goes: Ang Pasko ay kay saya, kung ikaw ay kapiling na). I was simply glad that they were not singing old and familiar tunes, which I have grown tired of. In fact, I was mildly impressed that the first group sung Simbang Gabi. I would have given them P10 if they had sung it from “Ikalabing-anim ng Disyembre…” Or if they had sung and reached the high notes of the part “At ang lamig ay lubhang matindi.” But still I was impressed And if we were not eating dinner at that time, I would have given them something. I liked the second group who sung the ABS CBN song because they sung it “with feelings”, as if they were singing for Little Big Superstar. Other groups of carolers were not as good and not as lucky. In fact, I told one group that “Hindi na kami makakain na kakakanta ninyo!” Sine the carolers that night came to our house one after the other because Mama gave them old but unused stacks of glow-in-the-dark Pokemon stickers apart from coins. After that, our house became an instant hit among carolers.

If we (cousins) are to re-stage “A Christmas Carol”, which we presented many Christmases ago, I would have been a shoo-in for the role of Uncle Scrooge. I was less grouchy when we did the play, so I lost the role to my cousin Joanne (yep, she’s a girl), who was perceived more suplada as I was suplado. Instead, I played the Ghost of the Christmas Past (perhaps because I was a large kid and was one of the oldest in our batch). I doubt if I would have been warmer and kinder to carolers had I not been reading and digesting cases about common carriers and their duty to exercise extraordinary diligence over the goods and passengers they transport, for my Transportation Law class. (common carriers, puro na lang common carriers! O nga pala. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms, or associations engaged in the business of transporting passengers or good, or both, by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.)).

The Ghost of Christmas Past seemed to have tapped my back and made me remember that I was once a caroler too who perhaps pestered and disturbed homes in San Juan (especially Tita Rhoda’s na hindi pa namin kilala noon). Pero iba kasi noon. What I hate about caroling these days is that it has somehow been degraded to “begging” and a money-making activity. In fact, some children do not sing at all. The simply tell you “Namamasko po!” as early as December 1 and expect to given something in return for their simple greeting. During my time, we were never concerned about the money (or how many Bazooka Bubblegum or RC Cola-which was cheaper than Coke- can we buy with our earnings). We regarded the aguinlados that we would receive merely as a bonus. We genuinely wished people a merry Christmas. We came to people’s homes well-rehearsed and equipped with our improvised instruments. What kept me, my brother and our cousins, caroling year after year (at least for me) was simply the joy of singing (naks!), the fun that comes with the preparations, and the thrill of being out in the streets at night, unaccompanied by adults.

We may not admit it, (hehe) but my cousins and I simply loved to perform and we were actually good, having been honed by the perennial coaxing of our parents and relatives to sing, dance or declaim for them during gatherings (I vow to do the same to my future kids…Nyahahaha). Some of us needed to be bribed more than the others, but eventually we all gave in to sing a song or two or line up to dance the Name Game. This is especially true during our Christmas get-together when Christmas bonuses of our titos and titas are up for grabs. Thus, Christmas caroling was a way to fine-tune our vocal pipes. As I said, the preparations for the actual caroling were also fun. We selected and practiced our songs, made instruments out of tansan and munggo in empty cans (because sumpit was still “in” then). But for me, nothing really beats roaming around the streets of San Juan at night, because I was such a “gala” kid who sneaked from afternoon naps and who was not deterred even by the news that a Satanista was roaming our town kidnapping children.

Sige na nga po, Ghost of the Christmas Past, dahil nangangaroling din ako dati, magiging mabait na ako sa mga nangangaroling ngayon at nagbahay-bahay tuwing New Year. Ngayon, balik na uli ako sa common carriers.
Christmas is a time for reunions. The picture above was taken during our (UP Friends) annual Christmas Get-together. Madaming wala at nakaalis na nang kinuha ang picture.
Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Entry re-published from my friendster blog. I promise to really update my blog soon.

It took me sometime before being able to face a PC and to write coherent sentences again. The 5-day and 4-night non-stop typing and case digesting which I had to endure for a subject requirement had made me want not to see a PC for sometime and not to do anything which involved the PC keyboard (except posting in Peyups and sending occasional messages to friends thru Friendster). The requirement should have not been really a problem. We divided the 100+ cases to be digested among the class and I have been digesting a few cases myself from time to time. But the OC in me got in the way, which compelled me not just to edit or rephrase the digests made by classmates, but to go over the original cases themselves and add on to the digests. I hated myself for that.

So, despite editing, rephrasing and re-digesting for 5 days and 4 nights (stopping only for meal times, The Amazing Race, American Idol, Pinoy Big Brother and 2-3 hours sleeping time), I found myself cramming the case digests during the last hours of March 30, the submission date. I beat the deadline, but regretted that I failed to have my digests hard bound.
I simply rested during the Holy Week, watching marathons of Gilmore Girls and Seventh Heaven and okay, Let the Love Begin on TV (we don’t have cable) and attending church activities to atone for my sinful life. I joined the Good Friday procession for the first time and walked after the carrosa of…(surprise!) St. Jude, owned by my parents’ friends. I vow to join the procession from now on so that even this early, St. Jude could already intercede for my special prayer- to pass the bar.

I have nothing to do for the summer so I plan to finish reading and writing notes of the provisions of the Insurance Code (which I assume you find boring). I had to drop Insurance (after reading about 300 pages of the book and digesting 30 cases) last semester because the subject fell on the same day with Labor Law, an equally demanding subject, not to mention that the teachers in both subjects demanded too much as well. As of last Monday, I am still on Section 8, regarding the prohibition on insuring public enemies. My progress has been delayed by (leisurely) reading 2 books which I bought at Book Sale at least a year ago, but have not taken the time to read.

One book, The Overseer is a suspense thriller, similar to the works of Robert Ludlum and Dan Brown. The story revolves around a 14th century political treatise, entitled On Supremacy, which prescribes a brand of statecraft even more sinister than Machiavelli’s The Prince does. Written by an obscure monk, Eusebius Eisenreich (who incidentally was from the Order of St Benedict), the manuscript serves as a blueprint for world domination. It contains instructions on how to bring about political, social, and economic chaos, on a detailed schedule, and to establish in its place a New Order. The manuscript fell into the hands of an organization trying to put the theory into practice and the first trial was to be made in the United States. A series of destabilization attacks occur in Washington supposedly to be concluded by the assassination of the President and the assumption into office by the Vice President, who is a member of the organization. The new state was to be divided into three realms- the political, the economic, and the social- each to be governed by a Prefect. Each realm must appear to function separately and independently from each other, so as to give the appearance of balance among them. The government of the three realms was to be overseen by The Overseer (pardon the redundancy), who must have the insight of an Aurelius and the self-command of a Cincinnatus. The preservation of the Supremacy involves the continuous manipulation and deception of the people, making them believe that actually have a stake in the government, and the cultivation of hatred among them against a common enemy, to unify them.

Thus, the protagonists, Xander Jaspers, a political theorist from Columbia University and Sarah Trent, an agent of the US Secret Service, must not only solve the mystery behind the identities of the Overseer and his Prefects but find the third copy of the manuscript, which contains the schedule of the attacks, in order to stop them from happening. The plot is similar to the Langdon-Neveu chase of the Sangreal, but the book was published ahead of The Da Vinci Code. The academician in Rabb, however, made the book far from being a light reading material that it should be. The construction of sentences and the choice of words would reveal that the novel is first and foremost an academician’s work. This is the reason why it took me this long to finally read the book (Though the book is still better than Hector De Leon’s Comments and Cases on the Insurance Code, which made me finally read it.) What got me interested about the book is that it revolved around an unusual material and that its protagonist is a political theorist. How many authors would make a scholarly political science major as their novel’s protagonist? (I majored in Political Science, by the way) Plus, the author, Jonathan Rabb, a political theorist himself, even wrote the supposed On Supremacy in Machiavellian fashion, which is also included in the book. Overall, the book is still an engaging and interesting read. Although I wouldn’t put it in my beach bag (if I were you) as the Washington Post prescribes. I would rather bring a porn mag. Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Vacation Mode

It has been half a month since my first year in law school officially ended, with our last examination in Legal Ethics (although I still had a requirement to pass the following Monday for our Theology class- yes, we have Theology class and Thank God that we have it!). I capped the year by singing with my law school buddies at Music Match just to relax and release the stress caused by the final examinations.

So now, I am back to being a bum while waiting for the summer classes to start. I have INTENDED to do some backlog readings in Obligations and Contracts (Naks! INTEND lang naman, eh) during the last week of March to keep me busy, but I have not been (completely) successful (yet). I have only managed to read a few articles and commentaries of the Civil Code because of plain laziness and my current addiction to the old movies shown in Studio 23 and Channel 2 during lunchtime and afternoons. I just saw the movie Jologs for the first time the other day.

The complete grades for the first semester were released two weeks prior to the finals week, and my grades turned out to be higher that what I expected. I was hesitant to get it at first, thinking that it might affect the way I perform in the upcoming examinations. But after failing to contain my curiosity and assuring myself that nothing can be worse than my dismal Criminal Law grade and that I am mature (?) enough to accept whatever the results were, I eventually got my grades. I still did not meet the required retention grade, but the good thing is I am only 0.5 short of it and it is still possible to catch up! Had my most incompetent teacher in the first semester given me a higher grade than 75W in his subject, I would have nailed the retention grade. I would have been thankful had he given me 76. But that is already the past and I will try not to dwell on it.

I just hope that my efforts in the second semester will pay-off and translate into good grades. Although I think that I performed relatively better this semester, I still try not to be confident because my fate still depends on the powers that be. It is best to follow Albus Dumbledore’s words and “not count my O.W.L.S. until they have been delivered” (i.e. until the lady in the Dean’s Office tells me in my face whether or not I have been retained). I am sure that the school authorities will be stricter in screening us students this time, given the school’s not-so-impressive performance in the 2005 Bar Examinations (the school’s lowest passing percentage in the last 15 years). If I eventually don’t make the cut, it’s okay. I’ll live.

But I was not entirely unproductive in the last two weeks! In fact, I spent the last two weeks by writing a speech for an aunt who was asked to be the commencement speaker in her high school alma mater and processing my cross-enrollment in UP Diliman this summer for the 9 units of English and Filipino subjects that I still lacked. I had planned to find part-time work this summer to earn some extra cash for my summer escapades and future expenses (i.e. law books, daily allowance and cell phone loads) but unfortunately I had not found any. And I also doubt if I could actually work, since I would be taking 3 units of English and 6 units of Filipino this summer, which would obviously eat up my day. I intend to enroll in English 12 (World Literature), Filipino 25 (Istilo ng Pagsusulat), and Filipino 50 (Introduksyon sa Panitikan ng Pilipino), which I hole will be fun, easy and interesting. I would have also wanted to enroll in a Spanish class, but cross-registrants are only allowed to enroll a maximum of 9 units, and I don’t think they will bend the rule just because I happened to be fascinated with the language. So I would just brush up my Spanish on my own because I have already forgotten much of what I learned. I am even watching Dora the Explorer now because my nephew now knows a few Spanish words because of the show.

I have not planned or gone to a single outing yet (because I am cash-stripped!), but I am hoping that I could come to the get-together cum outing which my friends from DFA had planned.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Solo Flight

This entry is not meant to be read. I just want to express the disappontment that I am feeling because of a thing that happened to me last Saturday. But if you do take time (and effort) to read this, huwag mo na lang ipagsabi.

Hasta el sabado pasado, creia en el mejor en cada persona. Pero todavia, no más. He perdido esa confianza porqué me ha ido a ningún lado. El dicho es la verdad: La confianza realmente mata el homre. Un solo mensaje ha podido hacer la diferencia. Pero recibí nada. Parecío que todos estuvieron muy ocupados para cuidar sobre otros- hasta sobre ellos quien se llaman amigos. El filósofo Hobbes tuvó razon: Los humanos son afectados solo por sus proprias personas, sus propias intereses y sus propias preservaciones. Aprendí mi leccion. Ahora, se mejor. De ahora en adelante, estoy solo.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Signs of Identity

I am posting this article which I got from Ambeth Ocampo's column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The article talks about how we should re-view our shared past with Spain in order to find and liberate ourselves.

'Signs of identity'
By Ambeth Ocampo
MADRID-- A two-day Spanish-Philippine "Tribune" opens in the Spanish capital this morning. Organized by Casa Asia, the forum brings together representatives from government, business, academe and civil society from both countries to discuss ways by which we can renew and perhaps reinvent the long historical ties between the Philippines and Spain. Invited to participate in a session on "Signs of Identity; culture and mutual perception," I prepared these thoughts for discussion:
Perhaps it is coincidence that the Tribune opened on Nov. 30, the Feast of San Andres, Patron of the Distinguished and Ever Loyal City of Manila. Nov. 30 is a national holiday in the Philippines, held in honor not only of the apostle but also of his namesake, Andres Bonifacio, who ignited the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1896. It is in memory of him and our shared history that we make the following remarks on the theme "señas de identitad" [signs of identity] so that we may come to an understanding of how these signs are (mis)read in the reckoning of our shared history.
Whether we like it or not, modern Philippines is a part of Spain. In the same reciprocal way, Spain is a part of the Philippines, not in the political or economic sense, but rather in the more important and binding realm of culture. Our countries are linked, through a shared history, a shared culture, elements of a shared language, but how our relationship is perceived largely depends on the way our shared history developed, how it is transmitted, and more importantly how it is understood.
There are many visible and invisible signs of the Spanish legacy in the Philippines : in language, in the heavily Spanish rather than Roman Catholic faith, elements in our food, the visual arts, music, literature, etc. To dwell on all these, even briefly, will take more than the 20 minutes allotted for our presentation, so our discussion will be on our shared culture-points of convergence, and sometimes points of confusion.
We begin our exploration with a chocolate covered cookie available in Spain called "Filipinos." There is a similar, but larger, item available in the famous Manila pasteleria La Dulcinea where, for obvious reasons, it could not be called "Filipinos" and was christened "Negritos." In time, the pasteleria probably felt this was racist, so its name was changed to "Moritos" which is worse than racist as it is politically incorrect. How simple life would be if we stuck to the original name "Filipinos," but this is not possible in Manila where oversensitive souls will complain.
In colloquial Filipino, the word for going out for a walk is "pasyal," obviously from the Spanish verb "pasear." But what is more intriguing is that there is another term for "pasyal" and it is, pardon the expression, "lamierda." Spelled as one word and used as a verb, Filipinos will invite you for a walk with "Mag-lamierda tayo" instead of "Vamos a pasear." (Art's Note: mierda means "shit" in Spanish. In Filipino, "tae")
Filipinos know lamierda is a Spanish word, but are clueless as to its literal meaning, such much so that when made aware they blush with shock and embarrassment. How did this vulgar Spanish term gain new meaning when it was transplanted to a new land and a new culture? That is a question we leave for the philologists and linguists.
Another example of the (mis)reading of Spanish in the Philippinesconcerns names, surnames and place names of Spanish origin. While these are tangible proof of the Spanish presence in the past, we draw your attention to one of Manila's senior and best-known fashion designers Jose Moreno. He is more popularly known by his nickname "Pitoy" and his social and professional name "Pitoy Moreno" is a byword in Philippine fashion. Pitoy Moreno can be declared casually and without malice in Manila, but here in Madrid, we have to mind our language for it pertains to something else. (Art's Note: Pitoy Moreno literally means 'dark/ brown penis')
The amusing examples above illustrate how Spain and Spanish are remembered in the Philippines today, and how language is often the source for mixed signals. Our history is no different, and it is here that our countries, our people, our cultures can meet but unfortunately do not. It is in our history that we will find ourselves. History should liberate but sometimes it tends to imprison people in the past or in old paradigms.
No book or university course on Philippine history can cover all the events from 1565, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi set foot on our shores and claimed the land for the Crown of Spain, till 1898 when, as a result of the Spanish-American War, the ancient walled city of Intramuros was surrendered to the United States of America, and with it fell the Spanish Philippines. Three centuries of history is a large terrain, so it is broken into periods, with attention focused on the last quarter of the 19th century where the Philippine Revolution becomes the fulcrum of modern Philippine history or the emergence of the Philippines as a nation. Because Philippine history is reckoned in this way, the result is that Spain is often painted as an enemy, as an oppressor, who did no good at all in the 333 years of shared history. Oversimplified Philippine history often obscures all the other influences in culture that remain so assimilated into Philippine life they are nearly invisible.
THE PHILIPPINESand the Filipinos are separated from their Hispanic past because of language. We know that there is so much material in libraries and archives both in the Philippines and Spain available and yet inaccessible to most interested Filipinos because of language. Ferdinand Marcos even issued a decree recognizing Spanish as an official language of the Philippines until such time that all our historical records are translated from the original Spanish and made available to the people in English, Filipino and other major Philippine languages.
Most foreigners wonder why Filipinos do not speak or understand Spanish despite three centuries under Spain. One reason may be that the Philippines being an archipelago with over 7,000 islands and peopled by different ethno-linguistic groups, it was deemed easier for Spanish friars and government officials to learn local languages than teach Filipinos one common language (which the Americans did quite successfully in half a century). That the Filipinos did not learn the language that would have united them can be seen from figures presented by Dr. Alma Ocampo-Salvador of the Ateneo de Manila University: In 1898 [the end of Spanish rule], there were 757,463 Filipinos who could speak Spanish. In 1939, the number declined to 417,375, and by 1948, the number dwindled further to 345,111. In 1990, only 2,662 people spoke Spanish. We do not have the figures for 2005, but we would like to believe that the lucrative jobs for Spanish speakers in call centers in the Philippines have encouraged a significant increase because Spanish-speaking staff are better paid than their colleagues who only mastered English. The United Statesimplanted not only English in the Philippines , but with it, a view of history that depicted Americans as liberators and benevolent assimilators. While Filipino schoolchildren can talk of the cruelty of Spain, the execution of our heroes, etc., they do not know about the horrors of the Filipino-American War or how the United States abandoned the Philippines during World War II and allowed the country and people to be crushed in order to delay the Japanese march across the Pacific. One could say that this lopsided view of history is the fault of historians with a pro-American bias but, in retrospect, one of the reasons for this state of affairs is that language alienated Filipinos from their past.
Most people associate the word "pre-historic" with dinosaurs and cave men, when the term should rightly be seen as the period before written or recorded history. There was a time when the recorded history of the Philippines began with Ferdinand Magellan and his "discovery" of the Philippines in 1521. Actually, the archipelago had no name or at least had one that has since been forgotten. Magellan christened the islands "Archipelago de San Lazaro," and it was Villalobos who, later in 1543, gave the islands the present name "Felipenas" after Philip II of Spain. Thus, we are a country and people named after a 16th-century Spanish monarch. What we were called before becoming Filipinos is now lost to history.
It is important to see the reaction to the above viewpoint as expressed by Gregorio Zaide, who argued for a reevaluation of Philippine history and an interpretation based not on a Spanish but on a Filipino viewpoint. How could Magellan have discovered the Philippines , he asked, when there were people living there already? Surely they had a name, a culture, some form of identity, but where did all that go? Zaide encouraged a reading of history from the Filipino viewpoint: Magellan did not discover the Philippines, he "rediscovered" the Philippines.

And so it remained but for an opposing view from another historian, Teodoro Agoncillo, who stated that Zaide's line of thinking was, despite its good intentions, at best misleading and inaccurate. To prove his point, Agoncillo asked how Magellan "rediscovered" the Philippines . Was Zaide saying that the archipelago disappeared, or hid underwater for a while, only to resurface again for Magellan to rediscover it? It has been two decades since we discussed this historiographical issue with Agoncillo, and we would like to believe that since then, we have matured in the practice and interpretation of history. For when we write our own version of the general history of the Philippines , we will not say that Magellan "discovered" the Philippines in 1521, for that is the Spanish view of that event. We will not even say Magellan "rediscovered" the Philippines, for the Zaide line is a rabid nationalist interpretation of that same event. We will simply state that Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521. That is the modern Filipino viewpoint.

As you can see, the story has not changed, the characters are the same and so is the date. But as you can also see, one simple word -- from "discovered" to "rediscovered" to "arrived" -- colors the whole way in which the story is understood. How do we rediscover, rewrite and reevaluate our tired past if we do not have the Spanish sources as keys to a new way of seeing that past? Only with a full grasp of the material can one come to terms with our shared past and be liberated, rather than imprisoned, by history.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dying to buy Il Divo's second album

I will forego buying call and text cards for two or three months just to buy Il Divo's (my favorite song group at the moment) second album. I recommend that you listen to their songs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The UP-ATENEO Walking Tour

5 People + Free Time + isang magandang digital Camera= FuN PhOtoShoot. Marami pang susunod!

Shakey's Muna Bago Umuwi
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Sa Benches ng Ateneo
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Mga Walang Maggawa
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Malayo ang Tingin X3
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Malayo Ang Tingin, Wala Namang Tinatanaw
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Mag-aalas dos na!
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Sa Sundial
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Pacute Kami
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Napapikit lang ako
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Ngiting Pang-Friendster sa Jollibee Katipunan
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