Nob 21, 2004

Today at my very rising I am seized again by the anguish upon contemplating the heavy cloud that spreads over Europe, over the entire universe. An anguish that my optimism is not sufficiently egotistical to overcome. Everywhere I see but a promise of death for everything that is still dear to me and for which we live. The threat seems to me so urgent that one would have to be blind not to see it and to continue hoping.

Andre Gide
November 21, 1938
Diary entry

When the news of the seven year persecution of Martin Luther King by the FBI came out yesterday and the day before, I felt rather sick. We live in such a dirty world, and as individuals seem more and more helpless to change it. When I am tired, it all becomes overwhelming like a distant fog that never lifts. Of course, Franco's death the other day had reminded me of the Idealism, the lifting up of so much courage thirty-six years ago in the rallying of youth from all over the world to support the Republic - long, long ago. Then there was still hope and now there is not. Then, before the Nazi camps, we could still believe in the goodness of man. Now man looks more and more like the murderer of all life, animals too - he is the killer of whales and of his own species - the death bringer. Under everything I do there is this sense that there is no foundation anymore. In what do we believe? can we believe? On what to stand firm? There has to be something greater than each individual - greater, yet something that gives him the sense that his life is vital to the whole, that what he does affects the whole, has meaning.

May Sarton
November 21, 1975
Diary entry

Pistons, popcorn, and maybe eighty years

Today, a saturation of the surface. A Sunday (a day a bit more free than most), I'll shoot the keys off while my father prepares lunch and my brother tunes in to more basketball.

Interesting how, if you stay awake long enough or hold a bit longer to the gas gripping your innards, you might catch a moment in a specially illuminating way. For example, last night, my brother kept me glued to the screen to catch a replay of this incident - an "I love this game" moment if I dare say so myself - where, forty-five seconds before the match between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers ended, Artest fouls Wallace, foiling a dunk. Wallace turned and pushed Artest with both arms. Everybody on the floor immediately zeroed in on wild-haired Wallace, later dispersed upon each other, full bodies weighed down tempers and arms, while some players from both camps let loose words and threats.

Meanwhile, Artest kept cool lying down on the officials' table among microphones and sheets of paper. A fan threw all his canned beer down the prone Artest. Artest springs up against him, a yellow jersey upon a sea of fans, a spectacle upon spectators. Instantly, the fans become a central sea. Jackson, Artest's teammate, joins in the fray, damn real punches thrown to and fro the deep bench, and it took me some sleep and subsequent coverages to recall the two-dimensionality of the screen. In that instant, the spectators themselves became spectacle, the storm's eye climbed from floor to fans and the trash talk and baited breath coalesced into flesh and bone curses.

They froze the game and the players exit showered by the soda and popcorn of fans extending the moment in their fashion, exploring a sense of power above the super-bloated egos they 'naturally' celebrated in turns, from the performative proximity of the liminal and the convenient distance of a 'will to reality'. A necessary Will to reality, yes, because these stars won't do your laundry, won't fetch your kids or tend to their petty wounds and fend off their silly bullies, or share a gaze on the waitress of the low-end bar, or answer to your wife when the bills accrue and, on top of it, you bought court-side tickets! But, hey, for once - ah a solid once! - our softdrink saliva on a million-dollar face, a superstar fist on yours.

From their end, where a tactical distance was achieved by Pacer Artest from the (equally tactical?) passion of the Piston Wallace, Artest made no such reservations for the fans, the colorful, colored, cajoling, cheering, blank faces.

Later, Piston coach Brown, will express 'sadness', turning a moment that questions and affirms the lines drawn 'by the game' into a moment unlike every moment (except once in a hockey game, a maybe, from Brown). Thus made anomalous, the thrill of more such possible moments from the background of this utterance of a continuous, generally smooth and obedient history (and future!) of the NBA. Brown drowned the whole ruckus in melancholia, a distant tragedy of crossed lines - not an immediate crisis - to make the NBA still possible. The fans were still exalted, the players will still play. More commercials. More cribs. More Sesame Street puppets saying "I love this game!" in their own signature way, the Count, for example, counting "One reason, two reasons, ah ah ah ah ah!" with fat polyester fingers.

Tomorrow, my brother will still have a game to watch. I'll come home next week, everything new once again.

Meanwhile, I'm working on the first set of students' stories, a work I embrace upon other duties for reasons nobody believes ample. My reason is gratitude. One man I wish to thank (and as it is with him as with those people I wish to thank deeply - I'm at a loss how) will celebrate his day in the old grand fashion. Eighty years! What are eighty years for me who respects time but cannot yet know it? What to head to wear for such an occasion? This spurs me to further thought, this thought in itself a mere flush, a fresh decor, still another chip in the baroque woodwork of this, the first week.

Tomorrow, hope, until I hold the luxury of not seeing them vain. And words, more words, big words, jagged words! So that when the sad time comes to swallow them, I'll choke heartily.

Nemo me impune lacessit. Nobody also against them (this I have proved), the nameless, the deceived, the student numbers, the 'children'. Yet, this: they who come after must judge me. They will behold that I've grown old, that 'making do' remains the only wisdom I can fathom, that compromise proves what's left of my imagination and wallet. 'Judge harsh and without fear,' I'll whisper, because youth will wear righteous indignation until they deign to outgrow it. And when they strike me with their green sticks, I'll remember life and acknowledge the few years to be lived out until I'm just a United Fruit Co. 'cipher' Neruda inscribed to enlarge his name.

The only pain I accept are those they - little brave ones - inflict.

Meanwhile, I too am young. I hear and now say, the military hanged a body of a dead man in the powerful hacienda of our land. For those in the know, the number of dead people are seven. For those who know still more, the number is nine. For those in the proximity, they know one, a singular body hanging, swaying to and fro until he is accepted as a warning, until he is written down and his meaning is effaced, hid blood forever dry, a hearsay.

More people will know of the game that 'degenerated' into a brawl than whatever issue or debt became one meaningful body swaying bloodlessly above eight forever 'others'. No, no names.

Only this, what is the worth of 'more people'? What is the worth of what gets known and what - hey, for example - you know? Shall we spoil a weekend, a hearty lunch, good entertainment for little idealists idealizing colorless green ideas until these can only sleep furiously?

Next week-end, more of the red-blooded man-games, one reason, two reasons, ah ah ah ah ah, maybe, a brawl if I'm lucky or a replay at the least, or something like a dead man hanging right beneath my high nose is a capital idea, say, for a sad story?

Nob 14, 2004


Well met, my friend. The circumstances were not at all what we expected, the girls being in black and all. Still, with such lives as these we lead, what can we expect of circumstances? We met again, had a few minutes, nothing more, nothing less.

I say, maybe let's have some faith here for something better next time. Maybe some hope here too for more time. Maybe more color for our dear girls?

For now, I'm just terribly glad we met you again.

Nob 6, 2004

I spent the whole evening sitting before a mirror to keep myself company.

Cesare Pavese
November 6, 1938
Diary entry

To commune or not to commune?

Hey Nate, I just read your previous post. A report before I place a few punches in this little verbal fight clubbing.

Got good grades this sem, the last leg of my coursework. The numbers came close to what I thought I deserved, but shot far from what I expected them to give me. These numbers mark the end of my semester, maybe a call to end my descent into the tarpits of doubt.

On one hand, I'm all smiles. Moreover, my work made the people who supported me - all my true family - happy too. The other dionysian thespian mask keeps a permanent, ineffable expression. I can't love my work entirely. I know the cost of my efforts. Had I known these dues, would I have played a different gambit?

Tonight, I must consider that a useless question. Choice made, die cast, bombs planted. The time for doubts must end simply because I can't afford the luxury anymore. On Tuesday, another semester.

I indulge in our elementally inutile banter for reasons mirroring yours. You've been here. You know this.

(1) I must hear this God. Until then, I'll work with flesh and blood.

(2) I just got half of my 13th month pay. I'll get you a copy of Quibuyen's A Nation Aborted in the same spirit of the Coates that you gave me years ago. Your view of community is closer to Rizal than you imagine, his plan also invokes the necessity for a morally grounded unity. Rizal and Bonifacio followed a dream corrupted by the interests of Aguinaldo and his ilk, his unbroken line at the helm of the state.

(3) I must tell you that your preference for communes was also contemplated by Rizal and Gandhi. Gandhi saw the same solution, an unrealized dream that would've completely faced off against the European model. According to Quibuyen, Rizal's plan for New Calamba and his work in Dapitan asserts his vision of a nation of Dapitans and Calambas, a net of small, internally cohesive communes.

(4) Nobody referred to Bonifacio as 'Hari ng Bayan' or 'Hari ng Bayang Katagalugan'. You must've perused Santos, Zaide, or historians who followed their work. Guerrero, Encarnacion, and Villegas corrected this around eight years ago. According to them, the documents revealed his title as the Pangulo nang Haring Bayang Katagalugan', that is, President of the Sovereign Nation of Katagalugan. Rizal looked forward to a nation too. This was the point of his imitation of Christ, his absorption of European ideals, and the Pasyon.

(5) The elegant myth of eternal return (your six Neos and the oft-quoted story of the ogre-slayer becoming the ogre) is something I reject even if it were real. The rightists propagate this to justify their inaction or their end-of-history scenarios. I reject it simply because paralysis is not my luxury either. If the universe will tell me in the end that all efforts were in vain - a mad splashing in the water, all sound and signification infuriated at nothing - then I'll get to that end and wring that word from the cosmos myself. Never mind the footnotes when it comes to this fundamental thing. I'd rather move than receive such 'truths' from the workings of a pirated DVD player.

Something short tonight I'm afraid. A full day got the better of me.

Nob 4, 2004

Sumner [Welles] said that the only time he had ever seen Churchill drunk was on the battleship in the North Atlantic when he and Roosevelt were drawing up the North Atlantic pact. At dinner one night, Churchill had had too much to drink and Franklin Roosevelt, Jr, finally led him to the nearest men's room, which happened to be HarryHopkins's bathroom. Harry had become ill early in the evening and had gone to bed. Churchill, however, was so potted that he missed the bathroom and proceeded to use Harry's bedpost instead. Harry was most irritated but was so sick he couldn't get up. Judging from my own conversation with him, it did not dilute his undying love for Churchill.

Drew Pearson
November 4, 1950
Diary entry

A view of the impasse

(1) Nathan, again, thanks for the quick rejoinder! Something there is in this that quickens the blood.

(2) Clarifications too. I don't reduce this issue to debt (my paragraph 8, Nov 2). I stated that these debts will have to be acknowledged first (par 9). These debts will have no point if these are only the diatribe of a Philippine Studies teacher (who - like the professors of economics, philosophy, and business ensuring that these fields exist as to justify their existence - protects his turf by ensuring that these construct of 'nation' exists) or the blackmailing card of the slaves of the system (mahirap kami, kayo mayaman - pagkain, pagkain!). A relevant sidenote: 'K' is this way of measuring everybody else against a popular (of the people!) measure of greatness (politics, business, media, showbiz, academe, etc., fame, power, fortune, knowledge). It's not mine (at least I try to be free of it, of course, being the dominant mode,one can say I am its). I don't measure myself against it, and I don't do you the disservice of measuring you against this 'K' (as you thought in your par 10, Nov 3).

(3) That is my piece (tentative peace too) with the past. With the future? Again, I do not reduce this to hope. Hope too, like debt, need to be chosen.

(4) With a position against 'K' and a critique of other practices, I demonstrate exactly why we need to shave off these notions of debt and hope (please tell me I made this point, or I'll have to quote myself and well, that's just ugly) to get to the bone of it.

(5) Anarquista? I'd like to think of myself along the same lines sometimes (although I hate labels that are fashionable maybe because being anti-fashionable is my idea of fashion). But see, I'm clear that all I leave to you, Nathan of today, is choice. Every other question is contingent.

(6) (Skip this if you think the point is belabored. We can have the same idea, for example - for example lang ha! - of 'Karapatan' as the expression of the measure of the people of its constituent individual. Let's take that this means that a lot of them would listen to Boy Abundas, Loren Legardas, Teddy Locsins, Pat Evangelistas, or Mike Velardes in the issue of nation and, a lot of them will feel that they have this 'K'. Because I choose choice, I use this critique as a chisel to remove what I see as excess baggage. Because you choose to destroy nation as a construct, you may use this critique of 'K' as a weapon in your discourse against nation. So what came first? What is behind this? We've already chosen. For me but unfortunately not for you, this 'K' or maybe Ileto's Pasyon or Enriquez's Hiya and all these arguments and concepts, people, nation, the taxi driver, the heroines, fisherfolk, friends around us - no! - nothing and no one will justify anything to us. We choose them to justify whatever we have chosen. Now, an example from your side. What if I take the "'radical' nationalist professor" whose talk covers for his walk? Given too that we have the same critique of these type of teachers. You use this to illustrate your point of a vicious cycle, a point against the nation. I'd use this critique of the abstracted dogmatic professor maybe to define the intricacies of choice and dialogue, define the parameters and internal though yet inescapable contradictions of discussing nation and nationalism in the classroom.)

(7) You throw the weight of your choice around. You want me to give you a reason. This you explicitly said in your first reply in your last paragraph. The next however, I derive from my reading of your tone and insistences: you want the nation to give you a reason; you want the people to give you a reason; the farmers and fisherfolk too, you ask to give you a reason. The whole point against robbers high and low is that, hell, nobody has given you that reason!

(8) I say, we create that reason. Even when we unearth, it is still about the new, the present situation that forms our interpretation, our very reasons for and methods of unearthing (hermeneutic horizon). By now, you already have a position though I question the utterances, because I want to make sure where you are. I asked: growing pains or struggle? If all your writing express the former, then you opt to reject further action and involvement (this is what I mean with leave okay, you can leave the people as a strategy of serving them after all) with the nation and/or the people (we have the matter of definition to deal with too, but I can't go there because we can't go past this weight of choice. I must also say that you conflate 'nation' with 'state', a distinction that as Quibuyen asserts in A Nation Aborted, Rizal made. For Rizal, as it is generally with Herder of the German Romantics and the present Aguinaldo, the 'nation' is supposed to be this people. As I said before, it is also not to be confused with heimat or 'the land'. Rizal planned to create a new Calamba in Borneo, outside the Philippines! Current narrow nationalism would say that this is not nationalism at all. I say, that is exactly the nation one could work for! Quibuyen asserts that the aborted Calamba project and the thorough work of Dapitan must be seen in this light. No, the people are not excluded there. The nation is an aspect of the people and, I assert, the person. What estranges you from this possibility of a nation is that you conflate nation with state, maybe understandably because of their over-arching apparatuses that govern even the very workings of the culture, the ethos, if I may. And then you jump down to Sison's lumpen and malaproletaryado - a lump you called masses - the urban poor who took your wallet and surrounded you in your childhood.)

(9) If your blogged utterances express an authentic internal conflict, then you are somehow still attached (committed?) to something, well, quantitatively bigger (I hate to say this but there is now difficulty here too, though I think it's only a matter of labels. You love us, friends and family. Outside of us? The bigger entity composed of strangers we somehow consider kin? You call them people.)

(10) I repeat that I don't accept the burden of providing your reason (though, what I accept is this opportunity of dialogue where we may illuminate each other). Both of us have been burdened by this choice for years after our 'indoctrination' in the university. You say there is a shift from the valedictorian (someone who, if you must know, I did look highly upon but respect less than you now).

(11) What exactly have you given up on? What will you leave behind? Just solidarity? Or everything else outside of the nuclear family and the circle of friends? Will anything remain (or be redefined, created, unearthed, whatever) beyond these 'basics'? You said, "[l]ong live our true Mother, the Spirit of 1896." So there is, after all, something else. Who you call true mother, (sounds closer to what) I call nation. Who you call whore (though I wish to raise again the wisdom of metaphor, the vilification of the puta something I think we should outgrow), I call state (or what others call nation-state).

(12) I somehow agree that we can exchange anecdotes, field cases that nurtured us, and pictures of people who tore our illusions to shreds and enlightened and/or disappointed us yet discursively still go nowhere. You think that though because you misread me on several points, namely, (a) my definition of nation, (b) my position on debt, and (c) my use of 'K'. I feel this impasse too, however, because I read how differently we value choice. At another level too, maybe more emotive than conative or cognitive, I think we're going somewhere, Nate.

Nob 2, 2004

This morning, for the first time in a long time, the joy again of imagining a knife twisted in my heart.

Franz Kafka
November 2, 1911
Diary entry

Recording of the nationalist as pimp

Nathan, I see you honored me with a speedy reply. I would've returned the favor, but I had to deal with the dead like most of us.

On then with the notion of nation.

You want me to give you, as the song goes, 'one reason to steer'. I see many paths opening for me. You've taught in UP, so you know full well about that debt to the farmers and fishermen who footed the bill of our college education. Why should I stop there? Hell, whatever you acquired you acquired at the expense of so many others dependent on the land and its people. Whatever you learned, you learned primarily by your intercourse (shall we call it also rape?) of its people.

You'll easily find a way around that, Nate. You can say you are the victim here, robbed, raped also, and teared forever (structurally) from any substantial retribution by your high oppressors. You owe 'the people' nothing, hell, they owe you!

You may also simply go rap on me and say, 'No! I'm gonna get mine.' Which brings us to entitlement, a topic inseparable from identity.

Who are you and what are you entitled to? The 'anong karapatan mo?' as a popularly occurring query is a question of fame, 'sino ka?' a question not of basic existential identity but of 'name', that is, power and popularity. Without 'K', nobody owes us nada, we're mere steps in an infernal staircase of the 'maliliit'. And like so many people before us, we want to get ours, claim that 'K', that currency that people understand, that enviable congressional clout, that blood-costly altar, that great showbiz buzz, that academic high-horse, ah! these and the minor avenues of power.

Maybe not even these, huh? Just a simple, decent life. A life I can lead with some work, some play, some sense of meaning, and no knowledge of the cost even a simple life accrues from those without its luxury: the now empty word of poverty dangled even by the poor as currency, the now thoroughly internal mentality of crabs, the morality of slaves, the rise of such articulations as these - guilt-ridden and guilt-arousing. None of that! Just a simple life, free of the awareness of the indecencies that undergird it. It's possible in advertising, right?

No, not these roads. I'll not be so condescending, brother. It's your rise I desire, just as you've always thought the best for me. Your double-decade of being in this world has taught you more, so much more than any single utterance of mine can. My small word's a mere instant aspiring to to make the most of itself at our service.

What other step can I take then? Hope? The whore of Creon? No. I have always felt that we repeat Rizal where he is weakest, where he throws upon the youth - that faceless future - the 'Hope of the Fatherland' as Paciano and Gomburza yoked the same weight on his back. So he pursued Esperanza the fleeting and found that all his genius will not yield him her with any finality. A hope that is final, the pragmatists know, is not hope. Thus, triumphalists end history.

No empty victory, Nate; no grave hope laid upon you. I promise nothing though with the same breath I urge myself on with hope with the great maybe of a someday truly free.

This promise is mine. The debts that I take upon myself are those I chose to acknowledge, those that I feel to be real and believe to be true. Yet, I don't premise this promise on some useless optimism. I don't charge my cognizance of debts against the dried blood of noble ancestors or the spilled drops of my countryside contemporaries. Not upon anyone, not even upon you, do I dare place the burden of my choice, Nate. While (among so many others) you, Ong, Rizal, Quibuyen, Eliserio, Mercurio, Remollino, Talisayon, Atienza, Jose, Joaquin, David, Duque, Mabini, Aguinaldo, Santiago, and a nameless taxi driver who talked children and politics with me have all left their mark on my person, it is because, primarily, I chose the influence. I choose dialogue. I open myself.

This is egoism, true. But why should I place the weight of my person, the gravity of my tears and laughs, the secret pain of my words and silences, on any of you? I do not even burden 'the Philippines' or 'the Filipinos' with my choice. Who can carry the weight of another man's choice?

Even our own choice proves to be so heavy the we invent grand gods for the purpose.

This is where I engage you. Why the openings Nate? Why the fuss? If the country's a whore, why not just leave it? Need you throw your stone when already the Romantic ideal of unrequited love has been fulfilled? Bonifacio took this route with the rhetorical question 'Anong pag-ibig ba ang hihigit kaya sa pagkadakila at pagkdalisay...?' This the nationalists whisper to themselves before they sleep to strengthen their resolve, to cement their convictions, to augment their love. You have no need of such drugs.

Poet, you know the work of conceit, yes? These are all peripheral. Even the Adios Patria Adorada itself is peripheral. Whatever you say to yourself (or ask others to say to you) all beg the question of choice. Yes, we are not free, yes our class, gender, race (dare I say nationality?), and age among many other things limit us and form us (sometimes to be so predictable to friends, economists, and psychiatrists). However, do we choose these limits to paralyze us or direct us? My, you have no need of such sermons having surmounted much yourself! Why still, do I feel the need to speak (this need, itself, like my choice of choice, something you must have also predicted)?

I insist on hissing because you throw the weight of your choice around. I don't think it's healthy.

You're like a lover who threatens the too-significant other that he'll kill himself if she leaves him. Remove the damned 'if'! Let the people (which we so easily homogenize in sterile, academic boxes) love their Velardes, Poes, Quizons, Cojuangcos, and so many of those who they choose via text for Debate, Starstruck, or prayer request. Let them be a nation of televiewers and homepartners! Let them leave you. Then kill or live or leave or die or do what you will!


Choice precedes reason. I think this is the way of humanity, a way that nobody really acknowledges. We all do it, but we don't say we do. We choose first and rationalize later. We invent gods for our wars like the religious right. We create Reason and History in our image and likeness to give us an inalienable right to rebel. We choose our slice of people, a bloody angle of them, to show us the picture of humanity entire. We also choose the problems, the composition of the cross for our messianic backs to carry.

You want the rest of us - the nation and its nationalists, state and fascists - to justify ourselves to you so that you may justify your course of action to yourself. I say just leave this construct of nation if it makes you happy. Let it just dangle around - a necessary label because the world is not enlightened enough for ha! borderless people - like the scapulars of nominal catholics. The song, however, goes 'if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad; if it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?'

I engage you because I want to know what you're going through. Is this a true internal strife, an existential crisis? What is the name of your pain, my friend? Is it a struggle for identity? Or just a growing pain, just a writhing, a shedding of the brown national skin that has grown too uncomfortable (inconvenient?), an expending of saliva just to ease it off though you already know full well what Nathan wants to become? If it's a conflict, then, as I said in a previous entry, 'sapakan tayo'. If it's a growing (out of nation) pain, then allow me to be the easy target of the venom you need to expectorate.

I claim 'Hindi aco patay!' as my declaration (not the nation's. I don't speak for or to it; I just try to talk with it). The nation will declare what it will in the various avenues of its voice.

Only, before I end, consider this note about someone nameless and insignificant (in 'K' terms). You may want to call it fiction, I understand. You see, somewhere, someone's a Filipino not only because the schools drilled it into her or because a hero saw it fit to burden her with his horrible hope, (the severe extension of his phallic insecurity of not penetrating far enough into the future). Somewhere, someone's a child because she creates a parent; a lover, because she constructs herself in the image and likeness of love (all along creating the image and likeness of love!). Someone's alive exactly because she says so.

I, on the other hand, am also for you, true brother, dear Nate of the nation.