Thursday, November 21, 2013

№ 142. My Tartan Backpack: Yolanda (Ondoy Part 2)

Sanity Break: 

This is a visual checklist for water... 

(a) Disaster Preparedness; or 
(b) Vacation. Praying for the sun and a drier week ahead.

Flickr photo and my checklist below.


Ever wonder why Sunday sits like a sentinel on the cusp of a new week? I think it's because she is a stern gatekeeper between the week past and the new one about to be born. She remembers while she looks onward. Sentiments and anticipation keep her company. She dutifully heralds the new king as he is about to ascend the throne--Monday.

Monday can be cruel because he reminds us, almost indifferently, of our practical cares, without missing his headlong rush and rhythm into the weekdays. He descends like a rush hour traffic with a caffeine fix. He announces his coming with grating alarms and sirens. He allows but, at most, three snoozes on his rare generous moods.

Monday loves the office cafeteria food---clean, nutritious, nothing spicy, business appropriate and reasonably priced. He adores his coffee black and, without sugar and cream, thank you, served on a humdrum mug. White noise relaxes him.

Monday, thorough and imperious. Inevitable, even as we contemplate a weekend up ahead. He is coming--- he scrawls a faint note in your mind. Just a reminder. No biggie---lest we forget in the company of the hip twins Friday and Saturday.


Checklist: Light Jacket, against the unwanted elements, Waterproof Documents Case: TCT, StockCerts, Passports, Etc., Floatation Device / Tire Interior, Water, unsalted and clean, Flippers, in case swimming or wading is inevitable, Mac with environmental seals, just in case you get marooned on the roof or in a beach and Banana, the ideal portable food, lasts for 3 days and comes in its natural packaging.

Friday, November 8, 2013

№ 141. Instagram 3: Friday Tryst

may i feel said he
by e e cummings

may i feel said he
(i'll squeal said she
just once said he)
it's fun said she

(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she

(let's go said he
not too far said she
what's too far said he
where you are said she)

may i stay said he
(which way said she
like this said he
if you kiss said she

may i move said he
is it love said she)
if you're willing said he
(but you're killing said she

but it's life said he
but your wife said she
now said he)
ow said she

(tiptop said he
don't stop said she
oh no said he)
go slow said she

(cccome?said he
ummm said she)
you're divine!said he
(you are Mine said she)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

№ 139. The Deep Space Between My Ears

"We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers." Carl Sagan said. But don't the little things matter, too? Quite often?

Nonsense, unfiltered streams of thoughts, silent turns, rests, unaffected gestures of the mind sandwich the meaty questions of existence. And they occupy vast chunks of our wakefulness.

Methinks, the questions don't have to weigh a kilo. A variety of levity and gravity is a healthy salad for the life of a mind.

But has anyone ever measured whether pondering the cosmos really requires more brain watts than just cracking a knock-knock joke, assuming all things being equal? Should Economics play an essential part in the finite time we have? Does each of us have a limited allowance of brain power in our lifetime and, therefore, should budget it well? Is this a moral imperative?

"What does the fox say?" 194, 894,701 views and still counting.

Deep? Nah. Weird. Kinda. Very rough assumption: 3.35% (194, 894,701 divided by 6 Billion) of the planet's population spent about three minutes of their finite time to watch the youtube hit.

Unexpected? Yes! Why did this video go viral? I dunno.

My dear Watson, the realities outside don't have to fit the architectures and spaces (norms and expectations) we build inside our minds. Heck, they don't even have to make sense at all.

So why is it important again to make our world significant? Why even wrestle with brave questions? Why draw deep answers to risk deep vein thrombosis or maybe a slap of Lady Gaga's ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding?

Can't I just wallow in silly fox questions and get instant popularity in virtual reality? I can make tons of money off it. Maybe. And use 3.35% of the dough to kicktstart a green revolution in my backward community. Significant?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

№ 138. Writing Our Own Narratives

“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.” Isak Dinesen once said.

And it pays to act them out and sell tickets for the show, too.

PETA's Wall

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

№ 137. The Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

---Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

№ 134. Manah manahm

What you say to the monsoon dumping all its waters into the city drowning in unsunny weather forecasts, to the movies in perpetual white-noise loops, to the persistent threats of floods and all the wrenches thrown in:

№ 133. Midnight Colors

A brown cat slithers from the midnight rain.

He takes a dig at the red ball tied to its master.

There's someone playing a song in the black piano.

It's probably the brown priest working late into the night.

No more is left of the white feast.

Only the sound of water rushing out of the green gutters.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

№ 132. Instagram 2: Notebooks

Quirky, you and I
In this noonday ritual
Mimes stirring
Lucid conversations

You, nourished by daylight;
I, famished by night vigils.

Our fickle faces pressed
Against our pensive barriers.


№ 130. Listed

"I saw you on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Q train.

I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse. We both wore glasses. I guess we still do.

You got on at DeKalb and sat across from me and we made eye contact, briefly. I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you're looking at and fall in love with that person. But still I think there was something there."

Several times we looked at each other and then looked away. I tried to think of something to say to you -- maybe pretend I didn't know where I was going and ask you for directions or say something nice about your boot-shaped earrings, or just say, "Hot day." It all seemed so stupid.

At one point, I caught you staring at me and you immediately averted your eyes. You pulled a book out of your bag and started reading it -- a biography of Lyndon Johnson -- but I noticed you never once turned a page.

My stop was Union Square, but at Union Square I decided to stay on, rationalizing that I could just as easily transfer to the 7 at 42nd Street, but then I didn't get off at 42nd Street either. You must have missed your stop as well, because when we got all the way to the end of the line at Ditmars, we both just sat there in the car, waiting.

I cocked my head at you inquisitively. You shrugged and held up your book as if that was the reason.

Still I said nothing.

We took the train all the way back down -- down through Astoria, across the East River, weaving through midtown, from Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, under SoHo and Chinatown, up across the bridge back into Brooklyn, past Barclays and Prospect Park, past Flatbush and Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, all the way to Coney Island. And when we got to Coney Island, I knew I had to say something.

Still I said nothing.

And so we went back up.

Up and down the Q line, over and over. We caught the rush hour crowds and then saw them thin out again. We watched the sun set over Manhattan as we crossed the East River. I gave myself deadlines: I'll talk to her before Newkirk; I'll talk to her before Canal. Still I remained silent.

For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break dancers. I gave money to the beggars until I ran out of singles. When the train went above ground I'd get text messages and voicemails ("Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?") until my phone ran out of battery.

I'll talk to her before daybreak; I'll talk to her before Tuesday. The longer I waited, the harder it got. What could I possibly say to you now, now that we've passed this same station for the hundredth time? Maybe if I could go back to the first time the Q switched over to the local R line for the weekend, I could have said, "Well, this is inconvenient," but I couldn't very well say it now, could I? I would kick myself for days after every time you sneezed -- why hadn't I said "Bless You"? That tiny gesture could have been enough to pivot us into a conversation, but here in stupid silence still we sat.

There were nights when we were the only two souls in the car, perhaps even on the whole train, and even then I felt self-conscious about bothering you. She's reading her book, I thought, she doesn't want to talk to me. Still, there were moments when I felt a connection. Someone would shout something crazy about Jesus and we'd immediately look at each other to register our reactions. A couple of teenagers would exit, holding hands, and we'd both think: Young Love.

For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other. I got to know you so well, if only peripherally. I memorized the folds of your body, the contours of your face, the patterns of your breath. I saw you cry once after you'd glanced at a neighbor's newspaper. I wondered if you were crying about something specific, or just the general passage of time, so unnoticeable until suddenly noticeable. I wanted to comfort you, wrap my arms around you, assure you I knew everything would be fine, but it felt too familiar; I stayed glued to my seat.

One day, in the middle of the afternoon, you stood up as the train pulled into Queensboro Plaza. It was difficult for you, this simple task of standing up, you hadn't done it in sixty years. Holding onto the rails, you managed to get yourself to the door. You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.

It took me a few more stops before I realized you were really gone. I kept waiting for you to reenter the subway car, sit down next to me, rest your head on my shoulder. Nothing would be said. Nothing would need to be said.

When the train returned to Queensboro Plaza, I craned my neck as we entered the station. Perhaps you were there, on the platform, still waiting. Perhaps I would see you, smiling and bright, your long gray hair waving in the wind from the oncoming train.

But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.

I stayed on the train until it got to Union Square, at which point I got off and transferred to the L." (The Atlantic)

Monday, June 10, 2013

№ 129. Bookshelves from the Edge of Consciousness

"Call me by my true names" by Thich Nhat Hanh,

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

Monday, June 3, 2013

№ 131. Instagram (1)

We receive; we wait.
It suns. It rains. It passes.
We receive. We wait.


The story began with his postpaid unlimited data plan.

It was late summer last year, just before the monsoons came with their tantrums. May, to be precise.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

№ 128. I Before E....

...Except when you run a feisty heist on a weird beige foreign neighbor.


...My neighbours run a foreign freight train company, and last week all of their stock was seized by this weird customs officer. He was a feisty guy! I reckon he was taking those weight gain protein drinks... That or he just injected it into his veins. Well, we shared a Budweiser each, and he told me that mnemonic devices devised to help students remember how to spell certain words in the English language can be misleading.

But I was too busy looking in my Kaleidoscope to pay attention.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

№ 127. Hello Nazi Photog!

Jill Greenberg

The photos made me laugh. And then, reconsider....

Jill Greenberg, the photographer, would give children a lollipop and then quickly take it away. 

Presto. A moment!

Nazi tactics? Mean bordering on gratuitous, perverse fun. He he he.

But eavesdropping on the comments, now that is an epiphany:

"Maybe we should give Jill Greenberg a pretentious Soho art exhibit, and then take it away, and photograph her having an existential crisis. That'd be hot!" (Demilked)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

№ 123. Babette's Feast

"The sense of wonder, that is our sixth sense. And it is a natural religious sense." --- D. H. Lawrence


Monday, April 1, 2013

№ 122. Hobbits-es....

Peregrin Took asks a question. I ask, can I explore those drums? They all look too rested.

Legolas is back. But I can't remember him ever in that book. Hmmm..... time to review for the next installment.

Mirkwood is overrated. Yes, giant spiders and woods are spooky. But Mirkwood is like a marshmallow brand compared to the name MORDOR. The name's cadence and inflection alone already give you a sense of doom. Give me Mordor!

And, OMG, Peter Jackson is a hobbit.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

№ 121. Humanity's Search for Meaning

Celebrated Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, born on March 26, 1905, remains best-known for his indispensable 1946 psychological memoir Man’s Search for Meaning (public library) — a meditation on what the gruesome experience of Auschwitz taught him about the primary purpose of life: the quest for meaning, which sustained those who survived.

For Frankl, meaning came from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty.

In examining the “intensification of inner life” that helped prisoners stay alive, he considers the transcendental power of love:

"Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance."

Frankl illustrates this with a stirring example of how his feelings for his wife — who was eventually killed in the camps — gave him a sense of meaning:

"We were at work in a trench. The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad, and grey their faces. I was again conversing silently with my wife, or perhaps I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying. In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. “Et lux in tenebris lucet” — and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me." (Brainpickings)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

№ 120. Forced Dialogues / Conceded Diatribes


    Of the dark past
    A child is born;
    With joy and grief
    My heart is torn

Evolution is a series of successful mistakes: errors made when copying genes, which – by allowing their carriers to run faster or to live on less food – mean they do better.

    Calm in his cradle
    The living lies.
    May love and mercy
    Unclose his eyes!

Natural selection, as Darwin called this idea, comes from inherited differences in survival. It worked on us in the past – with some people better at dealing with diseases like malaria, or poisons such as alcohol – and, in time, it leads to new species (ourselves included).

    Young life is breathed
    On the glass;
    The world that was not
    Comes to pass.

The important word is differences; and they have disappeared. Now, almost every baby born in richer countries survives until they are grown up, but that is new; even in Shakespeare's time, only one in three did – and many who died young did so because their genes could not resist disease, cold, starvation.

     A child is sleeping:
     An old man gone.
     O, father forsaken,
     Forgive your son!*

Now we almost all pass the Darwin exam, we will not become a new species. But although our bodies will not change, with luck our minds – unkind, greedy and angry as they too often are – will.**

Bento Box:

*   Ecce Puer by James Joyce (Poem Hunter)
** From "Ask a grown-up: will humans evolve into a new species? Professor of genetics Steve Jones answers seven-year-old Brendan's question" (Guardian)

Monday, March 4, 2013

№ 116. Joss Stone at Malasimbo

Just three hiccups before the Sunday Malasimbo concert of Joss Stone:

First, a friend from the Dutch Embassy wished us good weather before she left for Manila. Uh oh.

Naturally, it rained.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

№ 115. Friday Find: How Will You Measure Your Life?

"My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general manager’s job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.

On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction."(HBR - Clayton M. Christensen)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

№ 114. Oscars: Best Short Animation

I was rooting for Guacamole, but this isn't bad either.

№ 113. Oscar's Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

He spoke his acceptance in the best possible manner. I guess, that's how to deliver the dish: warm and elegant, gracious with unrehearsed eloquence and laced with wit. Time to jot down notes.

I've been a fan since I saw "The Age of Innocence" and I'm still a fan as I watched "Lincoln". Good to know that some performances remain consistent.

Daniel Day-Lewis, a master of many selves and the finest among equals.

Friday, February 22, 2013

№ 112. Friday Find: Dickens's Letter

Here's a Friday find: Charles Dickens's letter to his youngest son.

"My dearest Plorn,

I write this note to-day because your going away is much upon my mind, and because I want you to have a few parting words from me to think of now and then at quiet times. I need not tell you that I love you dearly, and am very, very sorry in my heart to part with you. But this life is half made up of partings, and these pains must be borne. It is my comfort and my sincere conviction that you are going to try the life for which you are best fitted. I think its freedom and wildness more suited to you than any experiment in a study or office would ever have been; and without that training, you could have followed no other suitable occupation.

What you have already wanted until now has been a set, steady, constant purpose. I therefore exhort you to persevere in a thorough determination to do whatever you have to do as well as you can do it. I was not so old as you are now when I first had to win my food, and do this out of this determination, and I have never slackened in it since." (Brainpickings)
Synthia Saint James

Saturday, February 16, 2013

№ 110. Binondo Rising: Part 1

Say "Ahh" for Tikoy, kid.

Binondo is still a study in controlled chaos.

Many Filipinos already know that Binondo is home to Manila's Chinatown. Many Chinese-Filipinos call it their spiritual home, I think, mainly because it's a transplant of their roots in China. I had lived in Binondo for almost two decades before college beckoned me to the hills of Valencia.

Binondo is so different now and yet oddly familiar in equal parts.

For one, it has become gentrified: cleaner, although the esteros still stink; littered less with horse manure and other organic refuse; and, freshened up with new high rises and coats of paint. Another reason for the ambivalence is while I can still eat at the staple restaurants like The President's, Eng Bee Tin, Ha Yuan and Country Chicken, et cetera, there are many that have already upgraded while a few have not done so well.

Fried garlicky peanuts, chicha-corn
(dried and  fried crisp with coconut oil) and other street delights.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

№ 109. The Shell and the Book

 "A child and a man were one day walking on the seashore when the child found a little shell and held it to his ear. Suddenly he heard sounds,--strange, low, melodious sounds, as if the shell were remembering and repeating to itself the murmurs of its ocean home.

Monday, February 11, 2013

№ 108. Society in Flux

Modern family is being defined and redefined anew. Co-parenting agreements, shared custody, eugenics and biology without emotional borders are definitely new species in our accelerating evolution.

What would the world be one hundred years from now? It's 2013. Will 2113 still be recognizable in forms, manners or substances in which we understand, inhabit and navigate our world today?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

№ 108. Reflections On Photography

"Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own." — Susan Sontag 

"Simply stated, photography is taking pictures. But more than that, it involves the eye and the soul of the photographer using a mechanical tool to record both a physical reality and an inner reality. As a religious photographer, I try to reveal to the subject I photograph an inner dignity of which the subject may not be aware.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

№ 105. MTV: Tagistis ng Ulan

Christian Bautista's pipes may be a little on the thin side but this song fits his voice.
I wonder if they'd do a repeat.

We can certainly watch more of these MTVs.

№ 109. Post Christmas Musings

When the Magi have come to pay homage, offered their rich gifts and left, they set out to find their way home through a new route....

"What do we know about the Star that, according to Matthew’s Gospel, guided the Magi to Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus? Was it just a feature that Matthew added to his narrative to convey a particular message to his readers, or was there an astronomical event to which he was referring? Vatican astronomer, Guy Consolmagno SJ presents various theories about the Star of Bethlehem… but should we be preoccupied with calculations and planetary conjunctions?" (Thinking Faith)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

№ 108. Fresh Guacamole, Batman!

Lean, crisp and fun. That's how we like our servings of diversions.

Lean narrative. Crisp sound. Fun visual.

Unique pairings of objects with the underlying reality they represent---you know, grenade for avocados, baseball for onion, pin cushion for tomato, dice for diced tomato, electric bulbs for peppers, etc. I could almost "see" in my head an actual onion being peeled as the film showed a baseball being shed its thin skin.

Metaphors? In animation?