Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Visiting the 1st AHPADA International Arts & Crafts Expo last Saturday was another enriching experience for me as a Filipino. All ASEAN countries participated in the expo, as well as countries like USA, Maldives, India, Nepal and Nigeria. In a booth called "Kalilimodan" (a gathering) was a visual art exhibit of the Philippines' indigenous people organized by Kalinawa Art Foundation, a non profit organization with a mission to help develop the Indigenous Peoples' art sector.
But I was most interested in the NCCA (Philippines’ National Commission for Culture & Arts) booth where they exhibited traditional musical instruments, wood carvings and a T’boli weaver of tnalak or tboli cloth. NCCA also featured the awardees of the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan.
There’s a musician from the highlands of Southern Palawan, Masino Intaray who uses traditional musical instruments. A Mangyan ambahan poet from Mindoro named Ginaw Bilog, Lang Dulay, a T’boli weaver from Lake Sebu, Salinta Monon, a Bagobo weaver from Davao del Sur, Alonzo Saclag, a Kalinga master of dance and performing arts, a folklorist from Panay, Federico Caballero, Uwang Ahadas, an instrumentalist from Lamitan, Basilan, Darhata Sawabi, a weaver of pis syabit, the traditional cloth tapestry worn as a head covering by the Tausog of Jolo.
Eduardo Mutuc, a sculptor and wood carver from Pampanga, Samaon Sulaiman, a kutyapi (two-stringed plucked lute) and kulintang (gong-chime) player from Maguindanao, and a master mat-weaver from Tawi-Tawi, Haja Amina Appi.
The artistry and dedication of these living treasures prove just how rich the Filipino culture is. Let’s be proud of our heritage…
Friday, November 23, 2007
Bella Flores. I’m calling this brand new apartment ‘Bella Flores’ because the owner has a strong resemblance to the actress. Solid doors, great-looking cabinets, nice bathrooms, spacious rooms. The location is good and the compound looks quiet and secure. But she’s asking too much for this 2-bedroom apartment. Plus, there’s an extra fee for parking space. P10,000/month plus P1,500/month for parking. No way.
Yellow. This is an old apartment but newly painted in yellow. There’s yellow everywhere! No kitchen cabinets, the bathroom looks creepy, roaches were all over the walls in the kitchen. The floors are covered in dirty-white vinyl that resembles a hospital floor. Spacious upstairs bedrooms, big windows, nice garden but very narrow pathway to the gate, street-parking. P7,500/month. Probably not.
Mr. Suave. The gate was opened by a man who has the mannerisms of Mr. Suave. He was disgustingly charming, I almost burst out laughing. When I asked to see the vacant apartment, he rubbed his chin like he was analyzing some math problem that would solve this country’s foreign debt. Then he spoke in his Mr. Suave voice that his family has a tradition of not showing the apartment after 6pm. I was itching to ask---are you afraid of vampires viewing your apartment at night? Then he winked at me and said that he’s breaking the tradition for me because I look like a good girl (akala lang n’ya yon!) and went back inside to get the keys.
Anyway, the street in front of the apartment building was a little flooded due to a broken water pipe. There was also a small mountain of garbage for collection, the gate badly needed a paint job---it looked like a tetanus waiting to happen. Inside was a 2-storey apartment with narrow stairs, small bedrooms and a bathroom for midgets. P7,000/month. No go.
Perfect. A secure gate and a porch, 2 spacious bedrooms on the second floor and a huge bathroom, 1 smaller bedroom on the ground floor that can be a home-office, with built-in book shelves. Hardwood floors upstairs, big windows, large laundry area, and a basketball court [which is converted into a parking lot at night] across the street. The owners are a likeable couple. Problem is, the current tenant has not paid rent for 4 months and kept on promising to pay. The tenant said she’s moving out soon but as of last weekend, the apartment has not been vacated yet. The owners are asking me to wait until the current tenant has moved out. P8,500/month. Yes, yes, yes!
Last weekend I started packing the dinner wares, glass wares and books in boxes---I was planning to move out by end of the month. Then my landlady called the other day to ask if I have already found an apartment and if I have given a deposit. I told her about the “perfect” apartment but haven’t given any deposit yet. She asked if I would prefer to stay---I said yes. After all, moving all the furniture and all my stuff is a lot of work. Even when my cousins, friends and neighbors offered to help me move, it’s still a lot to go through. My landlady explained that she wants me to stay because her soon-to-be son-in-law is not very keen on living so near his in-laws. My prayers were answered, after all!
So here I am, taking out the plates and glasses from the boxes in slow motion while watching TV. Fritz looks at me with his hug-me-I'm-yours-look, tongue sticking out, and wags his tail…I’ll wiggle my tail, too, if I have one.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Imagine yourself rehearsing a declamation piece on top of the dining table with a dozen relatives as your critic, judge and jury. By the time I was 13 I would sneak into the bathroom and lock the door to practice in front of the mirror instead of enduring an afternoon of ruthless coaching from my aunts.
I never flinch when other people criticize me, I had lots of practice at home---I either take it constructively or with a grain of salt. But it’s always difficult to swallow when rebuked by loved ones. Thankfully, I am getting a bit braver and tougher as I age. An aunt now living in Florida sent this email after reading my ‘Miranda’ blog page…
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your blogs. While your Tito Dodong was reading to me, I felt like going back to being a child, having fun with everything around me most especially with important people whose principle and conviction I have imbibed, have lived with and never regretted it for one moment. I pray that I can go on living up to their expectation through the last remaining years of my life. To you and me they are immortal and create a kind of feeling of very personal grandeur.
Miranda is very special to us. It is magical. Places are made up of people, and they are those that make happiness real, cause our people are real people, incomparable, compelling and they are alive in you and me and in every generation to come.
When I get so sad I readily accept loneliness. I let my spirit travel to Miranda with my Nanay, and be grateful for having been born, and spent the life I have had, and begin to start living again. I have always believed that we are trained and expected to rise every time we fall. It is in our nature, and that is what we are.
Luna, I will always treasure your e-mails, but this is the best! You gave me a glimpse to peep into your innermost soul. Let us altogether make Miranda come alive. Hopefully we can come to have a place like that with all the dear people and with the help of GOD.
Please give my love and prayers to the family.
Much love from us,
Tito Dodong and Tita Rosie
I actually cried after reading Tita Rosie’s email…well, I’m such a crybaby anyway. But I’m glad that I’ve somewhat overcome being diffident towards my family. Oh well, we're definitely getting better as we get older.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I started school when I was four. I do not think it was because I was especially smart. But I think my parents wanted me out of the house because I asked too many weird questions. I remember being obsessed with the indentation between our nose and our lips. I overheard an aunt (my mother's cousin) saying that people with deeper indentation are tamawo---fairies who inhabit anthills, they pretend to be humans, attend church but leave before the benediction. So I examined everybody I see at home, in the bus, at the market, church, even the neighbors. And I would ask my elders if they agree that this and that is a tamawo---his or her indentation is much deeper than ours.
Kindergarten school was my whole world. I loved my school uniform---a blue jumper and pink blouse with puffed sleeves, lace socks and black shiny shoes. My bag was full of crayons, papers and pencils and ten pieces of pandesal with peanut butter or Milkmaid condensed milk as palaman. My grandfather didn’t want me to have pocket money to school, worried that I might cross the street to buy something and be run over by a bus. I savored each day I spent in kindergarten…it was my little personal launch to a life of knowing, of discovery.
From then on, I discovered books, comic books, magazines. I guess my siblings and I are lucky because we grew up in a house full of books and reading materials, where people debate and argue about anything and everything at the dinner table. My aunts and uncles are all opinionated, my grandfather was the ringleader. And even we kids were encouraged to join into their debates. The only quiet member of the family is my grandmother (she’s now 95 years old). A younger aunt would ask something about her physics assignment and everybody would tease her about how low her IQ is.
Lolo Toñing would sit in his bamboo lounge chair after dinner and we kids would sit by the floor. Stories about aswangs (a generic term to all types of mythological creatures, ghost, witches, shape shifters, monsters) were our nightly entertainment before going to bed---we had no TV. He told us about the kapre, a big black hairy creature smoking a huge cigar, and living in the old kapok tree at the backyard. During the full moon, I would nervously peep from the window hoping to see the kapre. I comforted myself and thought of it as our night guard, watching over us while we sleep.
My grandfather also narrated that he once spent a night in a house of a maranhig, a living dead with the strength of ten persons. The man died but somebody who resented the dead man brought him back to life by applying mercury to his scrotum. The maranhig tickles his victims to death and turns to dust when it gets wet and decomposes into worms. Lolo Toñing barely escaped with his life. Then he would tickle us until we were all shrieking with laughter.
And I would never forget his encounter with a santermo (St. Elmo’s fire) when he was a young man. A ball of fire that changes its shape chased him until he dived into a well to get it off his back. He later explained to us the scientific fact behind the St. Elmo’s fire. But my young mind preferred the supernatural version of the story.
I believe that the stories from childhood set my sights on knowing and discovering so much more. I’m always curious and interested…haven’t lost the sense of wonder. I embrace the larger world with the march of my own mind.
"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."
Friday, November 16, 2007
With the theme "Creativity & Innovation: A Renaissance ", this four-day event will highlight the culture, lifestyle and arts & crafts of the different participating countries. This will provide great awareness about the significance and the beauty of arts and crafts in each country's cultural roots and economic growth. This interactive event affords us an opportunity to capture prospective suppliers, forge possible joint ventures, and expand your business network, among others.
Participating countries includes Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lao P.D.R., Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, USA (Hawaii) and Vietnam either through their government or the private sector.
The Expo will give us a chance to see the products and skills of ASEAN craftsmen and the rest of the world.
This is an opportunity for us to witness a sensory celebration of life, as AHPADA showcases the best of international arts and culture.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The fact is, sometimes it's really hard to walk in a single woman's shoes. That's why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.
Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.
~ Carrie Bradshaw
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Oh by the way, we are in a country where the word “philosopher” is considered an insult. To Filipinos, a “pilosopo” is a smart-aleck---someone who engages in meticulous and abstract reasoning; someone who attempts to challenge conventions. This is personified in Jose Rizal's character, Pilosopo Tasyo. Being a "philosopher" here is a sign of weirdness, a term of ridicule and mockery.
For a bed-ridden 90-year old Casanova, his definition of happiness may be an erection, or an empty bladder. I know of some people who are happy taking Prozac while others are happy helping street children. A sexually promiscuous woman revealed in Cosmo that she looks for happiness (orgasm) by sleeping with various men. A self-sacrificing wife finds happiness in taking care of her abusive husband. My 9-year old nephew's happiness is Jollibee's chicken joy and french fries.
Our concept of happiness, after all, is the single most important motivation for us---the very reason for our lives. Which leads me to my next questions---is happiness just an emotion, or a mere psychological state? Is there anything more to being happy than just thinking “I’m happy”? Or is happiness a way of life?
From Aristotle to Woody Allen, from Jean-Paul Sartre to Bart Simpson to Dagul of Pugad Baboy, much has been said and still being said about happiness. Aristotle focused on long-term and objective happiness. While some talked about self-deception and happiness, that we can mislead ourselves into thinking we’re happy when we’re not and we can be happy without realizing it. A philosopher said, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.”
Happiness to me is one component of the good life. And again, the definition of a good life varies from one person to another. A good life to you may be a 3-bedroom unit at Serendra, a Jaguar, and millions in the bank, famous friends, and a boyfriend/girlfriend who worships the ground you walk on. My good life is embracing reality and facts rather than denying the truth, spontaneity, acceptance of myself and others and lacking in prejudice; and interest in solving problems, including my own emotional conflicts with people around me. I equate reaching my potentials to personal happiness.
I sometimes wonder if I really have the power to choose to be happy or unhappy. All I know is happiness is not a congenital disposition that was given to me when I was born, it isn’t a goal I’ll never reach, and it isn’t even a possession or the result of possession. So what is happiness? I have the definitions and a lot of unanswered questions.
But when I’m miserable, I understand feeling small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And how it can truly ache in places I didn’t know I have inside me. And it doesn’t matter how many massages or hot oils I get, or how many bottles of beer I drink with my friends…I still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what I did wrong. And in one crazy moment I would remember that I had been happy. Then one morning, I wake up feeling worthwhile again, and the little pieces of my soul finally come back. And all that painful stuff, the days of my life that I wasted eventually begin to fade. That is the mystery of happiness.
Happiness, it seems to me, consists of two things: first, in being where you belong, and second -- and best -- in comfortably going through everyday life, that is, having had a good night's sleep and not being hurt by new shoes.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I remember the huge sineguelas tree in front of my grandmother’s house. Its leafless branches create gnarled shadows during full moon---the setting of my childhood horror fantasies.
The full moon has an enduring place in poetry, music, and mythology...even religion. People are inspired by it and sometimes afraid of it. And you may ask, with all the goings on and distractions of living in the city, why look up? Well, because sometimes we are rewarded with a spectacular natural event like a hauntingly beautiful full moon.