Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for the ‘Opinions and Thoughts’ Category

Pressured To Marry

She’s nice. She’s cheeky. She’s bubbly. She’s your typical story-filled housewife who got some good cooking. Until she blurts out. “What a beautiful girl! Does she already have a husband?”

Ok. I’ve encountered this question a hundred times. This time, she was asking my mom while she was eyeing me whose head to toe is donned in my favorite yellow, flowered dress. “No.” My mom replied as a matter-of-factly.

“That can’t be,” she gasped, just like any typical gossip-obsessed housewife. It came with that typical warning that never failed my irate eyebrow rocket towards my hairline, “You’ll grow old a spinster. You should have children.”

With that sympathizing look, she made me look like another human casualty in the evolution of genetics. Fine.

If I would point out my argument in the middle of that dusty, rural street she would never understand. Just like hundreds of married people who have asked me that same question.

I just couldn’t understand why they have to pressure me with that farcical question.

Our Asian culture dictates women to marry at a young age. Women at their thirties are considered too old to marry, more so get a boyfriend (I’m sure I’d be fatally labelled a “leftover woman” in China). As time and culture evolves, women are becoming more empowered, independent and are given more choices to challenge themselves outside the confinement of motherhood.

I am one of those women who have chosen that path.

Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to marry. I would like to fall in love and be loved. I would like to see myself wearing a wedding gown and kiss the man who is destined to be The One. But I am not in a hurry. Why should I marry if I am not in love and no one’s in love with me?

Just like many modern women today, we are given a wide range of choices and paths to take. Be the CEO of a prestigious company. Go into extreme sports and adventure. Explore the Mariana Trench. Manage fifty lucrative businesses. Achieve the Air Force with flying colors. Claim the Miss Universe crown. Win a presidential race. Save the world.

This is the viewpoint of women (and even men) who live and work in the metropolis. But not those who live in the rural life.

I would honestly never forget my chagrin when a member of the Badjao community had told me I should get married so I can have kids who would bury me when I die. Girls as young as 13 are marriageable to this group of people while 18-year old ladies are considered a spinster among them. I could not believe the limited perspective these people have nurtured throughout generations. 

This line of thinking is almost similar to the people living in my community. Partly rural and partly urbanized, most residents living here are below middle-income earners. Some were not finished in schooling. Basically, their choices are limited, as well as their resources. This leads them to the pattern of living-eating-marrying-working-have kids-die.

Ok, it does not mean one dies immediately after giving birth. But my point is most of them believe this is the same pattern everyone should go through. And every women should marry in the age history had dictated on man.

Or maybe, the age that our ancestors have dictated on man.

“Thirty! You’re too old to get married.” Rolls eyes.

“I’m married at 18 but I’m happy.” That’s your happiness, not mine.

“Would you like me to recommend somebody?” Shows me a picture. Throws up in the trash bin.

“You should marrying –” Shhhhh!! I don’t have a boyfriend! You mean I’d marry my toenail?!?!

I have sighed endless of times at those sickening questions. Gentle warning, some would say. But for me it’s the gripping reality on how limited a cultural perspective could be. 

I am not in a hurry to get married. I don’t worry about not having children. Too many marriages are broken because they have served their own selfish urges or followed the dictation of society without testing it through wind and fire. Marriage comes with careful consideration, prayer, commitment, and refinement. 

No one could ever understand when one is different among them. A single lady living among married contemporaries is as odd as the house of the Mad Hatter standing among the same tattered houses. Society dictates us to go through the same path they have gone through. They call it normal. I call it boring.

One’s destiny should not be dictated by the majority who knows no other way out of the box. Our age and status is not the basis of our purpose in life. Man’s judgement is not the fulfillment of things. No one has the right to taint the purity of our choices as only we ourselves can understand why we have chosen this path that’s different from them. Only God knows the best for us and society can never grasp that for our sake.

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Book Review: Captivated by “Room”

“Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.”

Hearing a child speak sounds good to hear. It’s because they see the world as pure and simple, even if it is already hostile from the beginning. That’s how five-year old Jack came to know Room, which ironically was a prison for his Ma. 

Ever since he was born, Jack’s very world is the Room. His friends are Meltedy Spoon, Bed, Duvet, and Wardrobe. Skylight gives him a glimpse of the sky and God’s face (which is the sun and the moon). TV is his only window to the Outside. Besides all these, he has his Ma with whom he shares his love and companionship. 

Because Jack was raised in love and joy, he did not see the horror behind his existence. As soon as he was learning the truth behind his Ma’s story and why mean Old Nick would keep them from Outside, he would not believe it at first. 

This book actually tackles the dire topic of abduction, rape, and slavery, along with recovery and treatment. Bringing it to the voice of an adult would be depressing. But writer Emma Donoghue excellently brought it to light through the voice of a five-year old. The story is very linear yet it is very engaging because one would anticipate what Jack would think and experience on the moment they made their Great Escape. It does not matter if Jack himself may be grammatically incorrect for schooled adults but he was able to communicate the joy, the pain, and the struggles he went through as he finally touches Outside.

I must admit I was captivated by this book. Even as it ends, I want Jack to talk more. I felt attached to Jack while I listened to him recount a story that is riveting and touching as well.

Dare to enter Room. Once you do, you don’t want to get out of it until the last page.

The Measurement of Being Pinoy

Here’s another article I wrote for a newsletter way back in 2010. Too bad I couldn’t remember where this was published or if it was published at all! Proud of being Pinoy, though. Forgive the picture though, couldn’t find a better one from my archive 🙂 Enjoy reading! 🙂

Nowadays, a lot of us express our patriotic spirit even more. I’ve seen more and more people wear “Tatak Pinoy” t-shirts on the streets (even foreigners are delighted to have one), more shoutouts in social sites expressing “Pinoyness”, and an articulate appreciation of who we are in the broadcast media. We seem to love our nation more than ever before. But is this really enough to prove our love for our Inang Bayan?

Maybe. It has always been said that it’s the thought that counts. But it’s also true that action speaks louder than words. Even though many like web pages such as “I love Pilipinas” or “Proud to be Pinoy”, many still cling on to the “ningas kugon” stigma. Here it comes…and there it goes…

We love to express ourselves. In our willingness to voice out our feelings, sometimes we easily criticize anything we don’t see right. One time, I was on the jeep accidentally overhearing a conversation between an opinionated passenger and the jeepney driver. When the jeep passed by a huge, smelly mountain of trash on the sidewalk, the passenger clicked on his tongue, shook his head, and said, “Wala talagang disiplina ang mga Pilipino.” Take a look of himself…is he not totally Filipino?

We blurt out our disagreement with the wrong things we see…which I also do. But sometimes we tend to go sideways with our thoughts. We agree to what’s right and to those things we disagree with we shift the blame to others. Just like the guy in the jeep, most of us like saying that our own brothers are no good than us in an indirect way. But we do not realize these people are completely like you and me – totally Filipino.

I wonder if we make an effort to keep the value of our cultural pride. I was very surprised one time when groups of young boys who claim to be Badjaos sat on the doorway of our jeep and sang for a penny. Looking at their historical heritage, I wondered how they can be willing to sell the pride of their race – while we ourselves exploit by looking down at them. Though I am not sure if they are really Badjaos, I couldn’t help think that this made us label them negatively.

To think, the variety in our culture made us unique as a nation. The Philippines does not only have 7,107 islands but also has hundreds of dialects and ethnic groups. Each one is unique, if not mixed, to one after another. Though we have picked a pieces of Asian Eastern and European cultures, the results of this is unique in its own sense.

It’s so sad that most people do not take notice of other cultures and tribes that thrive in the other parts of the country. We had made a wrong sense that these kinds of people only live in the past and just stay in our textbooks as the facts to be unlearned after graduation (which I also admit I did). When they come and invade our cities, we are irked. But we do not realize this destroys the pride of their heritage. Most of us think they are just nuisance and wish that the government sends them away to somewhere we don’t care about. When I think of these things I feel guilty I had the same thought – these people are our fellow brothers and sisters – totally Filipino.

In fact, we need to learn from them. It’s not bad to enjoy going to tourist spots to enjoy scuba diving and city tours. We do learn from them, don’t we? But I believe one will learn more when one stays to learn the people’s lifestyle. When I had gone to Bicol for a vacation, I got a hold of more than sweet pili and a peek of the Mayon. I appreciated the place even more because of the people whom I ate and lived with. I got a hold of their simple, quiet lifestyle that was totally apart from my fast-paced environment. I never thought that there are so many differences between my culture and their culture – the language itself, to start with.

The culture of the other ethnic groups is also very important to be preserved. However, we just let them rot away by degrading their sense of existence.

That’s why it’s disparaging to hear of ourselves just mumble away against things we do not understand. Sometimes, we do not realize we ourselves are the part of both problem and solution. We can be indirectly part of the problem like environmental crisis and degradation of culture but we can counter them back. It’s good that no superheroes were created. Whatever we have ruined must also be fixed by ourselves. Of course, we cannot do this alone. That’s why we have bayanihan, right?

Why not focus on the good qualities we have as a Filipino? Think again on the words we have said, begin by doing small good things that will help us grow as a nation. Whether that would be picking trash, cease to be self-righteous, and help by giving a piece of what we have, I’m sure that could go a long way.

So, what’s really the true measure of being Filipino? Yeah, it’s great to see the Pinoy map hanging on your shirt and the Philippine flag as your keychain bag. But I guess it takes more than artifacts and social sites to show that you are proud to be Pinoy. It takes sincerity to be one. Our character in real life situations should reflect that we are truly Filipino in mind, in words, and in action.

Movie Persepective: The Humbling Hero’s Bow Of “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends”

“Man does not live by strength alone.” This and other memorable lines have been found worthy for an ending fit for a legend at the third and final installment of the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, “The Legend Ends”. For the first time, I was one of those given a chance to see its premiere night. For a Rurouni Kenshin fan like me, I wouldn’t trade this ticket even for a thousand bucks. After being left hanging in the second part, Himura Kenshin finds himself returning to his roots. In order to defeat a nation’s crumbling under a madman like Makoto Shishio, the former Battousai has to learn how to overcome his past, his fears, and himself. Of course, I wouldn’t be a spoiler although some of you (especially those who had followed the anime series) may be guessing how the story will gou. But the movie emphasized one point — to have the will to live. Up to the end, Rurouni Kenshin did not disappoint me. Though much has been left out from the series to fit into the film (like the highlights of the one-on-one matches with the members of the Juppongatana), the final installment retained the very soul and mantra of Kenshin himself. Just like the anime series, Rurouni Kenshin is not just a battle of swords, and fighting styles, with a bit of ostentatious politics lurking behind the higher-ups in society. It is the battle of principles. Kenshin’s “will to live” — which his Sensei Hiko Seijuro emphasized — is not for on glory and fame alone. To live is for the most important things in life, which is, not only for self, but for others and the peace of society. Although our timelines are far off from Kenshin’s “new era” under the Meiji reign, still his principle is something that we can learn from. While I couldn’t help but gape at the impressive fight scenes and quick storyline, it brings to the point the need to search and think about of our purpose in life. We live for something far more worthy than money, fame, and power. When we take off our eyes from the temporal things, we’ll find something more worth fighting for. I’m sure I’d miss Kenshin again after the final installment. But I’m sure this ending, though humbling, is a worthy bow for a remake. Screening of “Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends” in Philippine cinemas begins at September 24. I bet you have to get in line first before countless Kenshin fans start to fill the queue. 🙂 IMG_20140922_225846

Movie Perspective On “Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno”: Clashing Political Woes

I couldn’t wait to get into that cinema as my friend and I were antsy at that line to get our hotdogs and popcorn. We have waited to see the second part of Rurouni Kenshin movie for weeks. And the day has finally arrived.

I have been an ultimate die-hard fan of the anime series since highschool. To prove it, I have a few Kenshin collectibles like posters and soundtrack CDs (and I’ve memorized every song!). I never got tired watching the English/Tagalog-dubbed series over and over, regardless of being replayed on-air for the nth time. And when the live action series came out on silver screen last year, of course I did not miss it.

Just like for most Kenshin fans, both films did not disappoint, as they captured the very essence of the original series. Though there had been some changes in the storyline in order to crunch it to cinema time, the films remain faithful to the series, which was retitled then as Samurai X. The actors, which I believe were well picked, captured the very soul of the characters we had so well-loved, and the well-choreographed sword fights brought back my nostalgia of excitement.

Though the Rurouni Kenshin remake sticks to the original, the difference it made is how I viewed the story now from when I watched it more than ten years ago.

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno depicts one of the series’ darkest yet most significant battles. Kenshin was called by the Meiji government to eliminate Shishio Makoto, who was a former assassin like him at the fall of the shogunate. Seeing the dangers of Shishio’s backlash against Japan’s reformed government and to the innocent lives of its constituents, the former Battousai had to make a hard decision to take the assignment given to him. That means, leaving his newfound friends and the possibility of returning of becoming a killer once more.

When I was younger, this part was like a linear battle of good and evil. But if I would see it again at this point of age, I’d see more of its political point.

Though the story’s set up is in 1878, the political woes operating within its government reflect what could be happening right now. When Home Minister Okubo Toshimichi sought for Kenshin’s assistance, he gave him a truce to be rewarded and to acquit the atrocities they might have faced — like Megumi’s involvement in the opium operation. Though the public officials asked Kenshin “in good faith”, it is a cover up of the consequences they had committed. In the first place, Shishio had been serving them before the shogunate fell. But Okubo admitted that they had him eliminated because of the horrible murders he had committed, which were actually done for the sake of the Meiji government. Now, they did not expect for Shishio to be alive and was planning to take over the government that once betrayed him.

So, who’s right and wrong? Seems easy to answer when I was 16. But what complicates here was Shishio’s poisoned viewpoint and bitter hatred was just the result of another’s betrayal.

Today, I could see how those who want to remain in power try their best not to let their enemies have a seat in the government. If one dynast or administration loses its power in the government, their enemies who take their place can have the power to put them in jail or just get rid of them. They had to make sure that no one can stand against them so that their atrocities against the country would be kept secret and to remain in power. Heads of state would call this reform. But, actually, this is revenge.

The reformed government in Kenshin’s time reflects this fear in most of our present leaders. The terms of diplomacy they have as their weapon appears useless to a militant force who uses war as its strategy. Apparently, both sides could not meet, so they had to hire someone like Kenshin who has the skill for battle. Though the political perspective is not highlighted in both anime and film, it was made clear they the government is one of the binding forces that try to shape destiny, trying to pick on soldiers and ex-soldiers like chess pieces for their own purposes.

So, who’s the victim? Each becomes a victim when a vengeful decision was made against the wrong done to them. Even Shishio himself was a victim — to the hatred he kept against his enemies.

Kenshin himself had a different viewpoint from these political leaders. He saw the changes of the times, which are made by the choices those in power and the simple people, as well. He’s no politician, and never vied to be one. But, as an ex-soldier turned civilian, he was moved to fight Shishio when he saw innocent lives being trampled by these clash of powers. Here is a man who forsake the way the sword for peace and exchanged bloodlust into mercy. His character sounds too good to be true, but that’s the Kenshin we love. And this is the positive viewpoint he wanted to impart and leave in this bloodstained world.

So far, we left the cinema with a cliff hanging effect in us. Oh, yes, it’s a cliff hanging film, so as not to spoil those who have not seen it yet. But, I can’t wait for its third part The Legend Ends which will be on September! Right now, all I want to do is revive that Kenshin nostalgia by listening to my CD…um, anybody got a CD player? 🙂

Learning From the Power of the Pen and Paper

I once thought I could eliminate the use of pen and paper after school. Being a reporter for more than three years already, I’ve been used in jotting down my notes on my phone or laptop. But it’s just recently that I have to rely on the classic way of recording notes.

When I started to cover court hearings for the pork barrel scam case at the Sandiganbayan (the courts when public officials are tried for cases like graft and plunder), they required the media not to bring phones into the court room. Thus, I have to bring a pen and notebook. So, while I listen and take down notes, I wonder how I get to understand my writing which has turned steno.

But then, I realized there are more advantages in taking down notes by hand.

Taking aside the odd handwriting, having a hard copy of words is safer than those being recorded in electronic. There were a few times that my phone would delete all my notes before an ambush interview ends or my laptop shutting down at the end of the press briefing. Now, such instances devastates me…literally.

When writing down by hand, it’s easy to review the past notes and leave markings as I rewrite my story. Adding markings to my past notes in electric gadgets only complicates them and adds more time. Besides, I tend to remember them better by hand. I realized that by marking notes, I can remember more the significant words from a coverage.

Now compared to touch screens, I can get the right spelling of words when writing on paper. Oh, yes, I can get the words correct when I type on my laptop, but I can’t write there all the time when we run after interviewees in the middle of the street, right? Now when I thumb in the words unto the screen, I’d get 40% of the words wrong in spelling. This only confuses me. But when I take down my notes on paper, I tend to understand the words better.

It’s amazing how I understand my own handwriting when I review my notes. Maybe because my brain can remember what was discussed better when my hand writes them down.

I learned never to discriminate the power of the pen and paper. Our high-tech gadgets can help us in our everyday routines, but sometimes, it is the traditional way that saves us from the odd-balls of innovation.

Well, not unless the ink of your pen vanishes even before the court hearing has ended. O.o20131226-215922.jpg

Why I Never Stop Reading?

‎I love to read. Even when I am on the road, I’d never stop reading. It’s like a sort of addiction for me. If I don’t read, I would know nothing.

The love of books was instilled into me when I was a child. My mom would always bring me colored fairy tale books and activity books everytime she comes home from her work as a public school teacher. I would also receive toys, but they would usually be matchboxes, building blocks, or playdoh from my dad who used to work in a Middle East country as an engineer. But my love for books weighed more than my fascination for toys. Because of that, I have would read the stories in my textbooks before they could be used in school. Sometimes, when I cannot find anything to do, I would read anything my eyes land on, even a candy wrapper.

When I was in high school, I was able to finish one book in a day — sometimes not dropping until the last page until the wee hours of the morning.

It has been a practice that stopped when I worked in the BPO industry. The heaviness of the graveyard shift hindered me to read loads of books in a week. But still, I’d force myself to check out the bookstore for good reads. Every pay day, I make sure to buy one paper bound of a fiction, a classic, or a devotional. I had planned before to build a huge library at the back of our house…which has not yet a reality.

I don’t buy as much books as before, but I guess I have been reading much more now than ever. I guess it’s because of my job. I get to read more news everyday as I need it. If I don’t get to read at least the frontage stories of the day, I feel helpless.

And because I have been used to reading, I always look forward to do this especially during waiting periods. I couldn’t even stop myself from opening links from news feeds at twitter while riding home.

But it pains me when I rarely find real bookworms in my generation today. I’m sorely disappointed when my niece loved computer games more than books. In our family, only my mom and I love reading. Usually, we’d trade books and discuss them. I wonder if bookworms are becoming endangered in this generation. This has been a dangerous thing.

A fellow journalist, quoting another source, said that reading newspapers every day in a year makes you three years advanced in thinking from your contemporaries. I guess it has been true for us journalists, sans bragging. But it would be good to see more people explore knowledge by reading.

But by reading, you don’t have to feed yourself everything with what you read. You have to analyze and take things critically (in a positive manner). Reading is a good exercise for your brain. If you’re a student, doing advanced reading helps you understand your lessons. Even at work, reading anything in connection to your skills help you improve in knowledge of what you are doing. But I would suggest that you read news everyday. It would help you analyze everything that is happening today. The big issues, even national ones, have an effect on our daily lives as a citizen of the world we live.

Reading has helped me a lot in my everyday living. I know not everyone’s fond of it but I encourage it as a good practice. Just reading my piece is a good beginning to this practice, I hope. We never stop learning as we grow up. And learning brings us to growth and improvement. 🙂

20140530-145505.jpg These books are from a friend’s office desk. But I love to see books piled up, and wish to borrow even one. I kept mine hidden in a cabinet at home

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