Hul 30, 2002

Marami akong namimiss sa mga panahong ito.

Mga nakalipas na bagay. Mga hindi na maaaring bumalik. O mga kasalukuyang tibok na palaging nagpapabukas o nagpapahabol. Bakit ba hindi pwedeng ngayon na yan, dito. Pirmi kung saan di makakawala! OK lang yung mga lumipas na. Masaya na akong alaala sila. Mga patak na tuyo na sa semento, walang kabakas-bakas ng dati'y likidong katotohanan. O kaya'y masustansyang luha na nagpataba na rin naman ng mga kasalukuyang hardin, pinapansin man o hindi. Pero itong ngayon, parang nais kong ikahon, isilid sa mga tandang kotasyon para ako lamang ang makapagbibigay-kahulugan.

Pasensya na kung hindi masyadong malinaw. Magtatanong na lang ako. Anu-ano ba'ng namimiss ninyo sa ngayon?

Hul 16, 2002

Mga Pinagkakalibangan

Anong mga pinagkakalibangan ninyo sa mga panahong ito?

Kumusta na kaya ang mga tao? Sana naman hindi nalunod sa baha o naimpeksyon ng leptospirosis! Patibayan na lang ng payong at botas ha! Pagandahan ng jacket at walang katapusang wet look!

Gudlak kay Astrid na humayo patungong Thailand. May talento kasi sa puppetry itong si Astrid at kasama niya ang Teatrong Mulat sa pagtatanghal nito sa Bangkok. Doble ang itatagal niya ruon at mas malawak ang sakop ng tour niya kaysa sa bisita ni Jol duon nuong Mayo. Bilang pamamaalam na rin kay Astrid, nagkita-kita ang maangas na block nuong Biyernes. Kinwento na ito ni Jessel. Si Jol e tumuloy sa kanyang Tomo-kai engagement. Ako e umuwi para maghanda para sa report ko.

Kung alam ko lang na sususpindehin ng CHED! Sayang ang mga acetate ko! De-kulay pa naman! Sana nagtagal na lang ako't naki-angas at nagtsaa kasama nila. Masarap na panghimagas yun! Talaga itong pag-aaral, sagabal e! Wehehe!

Napanood ko na ang "Sum of All Fears" at "Minority Report" dahil nga lumuwag ang aking isked. Maganda ang mga palabas laluna ang binibining kasama. Magaling talagang mag-isip si Tom Clancy sa loob ng balangkas ng internasyunal na pakikipag-ugnayan. Kaya naman nuong una siyang nakapaglathala, naimbestigahan sya dahil napagkamalang espiya. Mabusisi kasing mag-aral at magaling magkonek-da-dots sa utak.

Pero ang paborito ko sa mga napanood ko ngayong mga panahong ito ang pelikulang "Malena". Pinangungunahan ito ng Italyanang aktres na si Monica Bellucci. Masinop ang pagkakatapat (at sa huli'y pagkakatali) ng pagbibinata ng isang mamboboso at ang mga pangyayari sa isang bayan sa Sicily sa panahon ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig. Sa Lifestyle Channel ko ito napanood (magaganda ang mga pelikulang tampok nila sa kanilang anibersaryo). Natsambahan ko naman sa HBO ang "Tea with Mussolini" na pinangungunahan nina Judi Dench at Cher. Tinutukan nito ang isang grupo ng mga Ingles at Amerikano sa gitna ng pasistang Italya. Parehong nasa ilalim ng anino ng Il Duce ang mga pangyayari sa dalawang pelikula. Ngunit sadyang magkaiba ang pokus, tema, at takbo ng dalawa.

Mas natipuhan ko syempre ang "Malena." Bukod sa litaw na superyoridad sa pagkakatitik at pangkalahatang estetika, syempre si Monica Bellucci muna bago si Cher! Maganda pa pangalan! Pero sa ngayon, tigil muna sa mga paglilibang! Kunwari seryoso uli. Ako naman ang makikibahagi sa inyong mga pinagkakaabalahan at pinagkakatuwaan.

Anong mga pinagkakalibangan ninyo sa mga panahong ito?

Hul 10, 2002

The Rains by Any Other Name

I miss the familiarity of the names of the old storms. I remember how I relished those names as the radio announcer interviewed the PAGASA representative about it. I kept rolling them in my head like some ear candy, hoping that my "horse" will win me a signal number two or three.

How I loved suspended classes! Even for my grader brain, the nursery rhyme did not make any semblance of sense.

Rain, rain go away,
come again another day,
little children want to play.

No way man! The rainy day was best spent for play! The young and the showers seem to have an unwritten understanding and everything is preempted when their fancies meet. It was a liquid contract, as slippery as a child's mood but as intent as the wind's course. It is scattered but all-powerful. The germs of imagination are planted there, in that frenzied sowing.

What I hated was being in school when it did rain, trapped in a uniform that was best left dry, with eyes best left hinged on the blackboard, and ears best left hung on the teacher's drone. While outside, the rain pitter-patters on. I follow the howl of the wind that I'm not supposed to hear.

Sometimes, even without a storm, the rain falls hard or long enough at night till dawn. Then the garbage-clogged sewers of my urban universe grant me the boon of floods and the long-awaited "No classes" from Father Rector or Father Principal via the airwaves. Sometimes there would be a storm and I would still enjoy myself. The lost crops did not appeal to my youthful sentiments. GNP points and the millions of pesos lost at the wake of every storm's passing bore no meaning at all. Politicians pointing fingers at each other was just part of the news. And rains were almost always good news!

It was rain, man. It was pure.

The names of "Yoling" and "Pining" were sweet. The tone always made me feel like I was in my province where I first heard such names. The "ing" ending was the usual way we candied Spanish names like "Yolanda"and "Rufina" into Filipino endearments. It never struck me then as funny that storms were named that way. It was as if the drops named themselves. There was total acceptance.

Was there any other way to name storms?

Years later, I would sit here, far from rural Rizal, with feminist discourses, linguistics courses, economic concerns, political convictions, and lost loves fermenting in my convoluted heart. And I cannot embrace the rains as I did before. Not for the life of me.

For one thing, I hear it sound differently. "Hambalos" and "Gloria" seem to belong somewhere else. Maybe in some cryptic sentence, some suggestion or violent reaction. Or in an agenda.

But it's not just in the naming. It's in something more. Something akin to the fact that one cannot cross the river twice. Or no drop falls on the same head again.

It's not as raw as before. Or as raw as it seemed to a younger self. It's different. Now I see the life it can foster or the destruction it can unleash. I hear songs and memories as it showers kisses on my galvanized roof. I hear the cries of the unhomed. I smell the flood. I taste the acidity.

For better or worse, there's still the future. A time and a place where our kind will either all cherish the water or all perish by it. But for now, we live life as we can, with our heads never entirely dry.

Thank heavens for you, sweetest raindrop.

Life cannot but be action now, that's decided. But I will stop whenever you decide to fall on me. Already I know, there will be lovelier meanings. I can see it in your prism.

Meanwhile, take cover. It's gonna rain.

Hul 5, 2002

Raining Words

Well, it's pouring.

I've been juggling my schedule like a mad circus freak going from class to review to job to these editing jobs piling on my desk. It's a small wonder I've left a typo in my Tinig v16 Article. Well, that should read "Manhattan skyscraper." It's pretty hard to crash a plane into another plane. Stuff like that usually just happens in the movies.

Alex has a column. They've been teasing him for not being grim and determined in his column pic. I say down with the stereotype! It's not all that substantial anyway. Anti or anti-anti, take your stand but don't forget to smile!

Well somebody is definitely not ashamed to flash her winning smile! Monica has a column in Binibini. That pic doesn't show it but she was holding balloons at that time. Teacher's practicing what she preaches! I don't know where my youth's gone. She must be keeping it somewhere.

A nice rainy month to everybody! Watch out for floods, traffic jams, and unexpected downpours. Unfortunately, health is definitely reduced to a commodity. Guard it with your lives! My particular affliction during this season is my vulnerability to stinging nostalgia and flooding memories. Some gray pipe is permanently clogged somewhere in my sewerage system. I'm not inclined to fix it. I'll have to wait for all of it to evaporate.

If you spot me in public transportation, library, carinderia, or cafe entranced with nothingness until my face falls into a resigned smile, well, you know my case.

Hul 1, 2002

The Other Class

Philippine Studies 201 is my Saturday morning class. Here, we discuss the rise of the Philippines as an Asian nation-state. The professor is affable and, as I have said before, good-humored.

He served as an adviser to FVR on the issues related to national security. That means a lot specially since FVR was no ignoramus on military matters and anybody who would advise him on that must certainly have the ablities of an intelligence officer, a diplomat, and a scholar.

My boss didn't like him. "The Boss" is a Philippine Studies doctor from CSSP and is generally ill-disposed towards the Asian Center. She is suspicious of "The Colonel" and asked me to show her his syllabus before we discussed the NGO's status. She judged it bare.

I showed her the syllabus of my other class. She praised it lightly, in her distinct, thrifty manner. I knew she was impressed though. Specially since I told her he had a doctorate in biophysics before he became a social scientist. I also told her that he authored one of the articles I recommended as a source for her paper.

What impressed me was the fact that he was so composed. His ideas are very organized but the class structure is not rigid. It's actually very light. His class is Advance Studies 299, a class on method. A professor can get away with teaching this one-way, mouth-to-ear, whiteboard-to-notebook. But he involves the students without having our scattered brains muddle the lesson.

I am surprised that he was not a die-hard positivist as his background would immediately hint at. In fact, his understanding of the limitations of science is very enlightening. He knows its place. He took the us through empiricism, phenomenology, near-death experiences, subjectivity, ecology, and back.

He begins with the basics. It's amazing how graduate students (at least the eight of us), find it very hard to answer the fundamental questions. He had this exercise to begin the class with. We had to complete paragraphs with: "For me, the world is...," "For me, life is...," and "I describe myself as..."

The Education Major said she feels like answering Miss Universe questions. The Film Major says he feels like he's in a retreat.

I say, we're being gutted alive.

He's right. Science can only tell us much in the way of description of the external. Before and after the study, we only have values. Nothing but heart to begin with and nothing but heart to act upon the results of any study. Barring very few exceptions, description does not directly bring us to prescription. We must all deal with the the way we think everything "is" and the way we feel it "should be".

Therefore, we must be very aware of our interests, assumptions, biases, and passions (that makes it a tad easier to suspend judgment in the process). Never mind the fact that most of our predecessors and contemporaries insist on removing the "I" in their publications. As if the research was a natural child of science without a researcher between the facts and the results.

He prefers to use the word "values" over "ideology". That tells me that he either wants to simplify the lesson as much as possible or he's playing a little bit on the safe side. Either way, I'm going to have hectic Wednesdays with engaging afternoons and nice, contemplative evening walks to Philcoa.

The Boss, maybe trying to make sure I still had time for my job, advised me to rest easy on my PS 201 concentrate on this class in AS 299. She lent me her volume of Giddens so that I can impress the Biophysicist.

I accepted the book and promised I would return it the next time we met. I thanked her, in my manner, and I took my leave. As soon as I got settled, I began Giddens' take on Durkheim.

I knew it was not about trying to impress my professor. It was not about that at all.