On the overuse of ‘though’, though

“Let’s meet at Glorietta?”

“Sure, I love it, though.”

“Will you be able to make it at 5? I’m thinking of dropping by the office first.”

“That’s fine. I’ll just wait for you at Starbucks, though.”

“Great! See you then.”

“I can’t wait to tell you about it, though.”

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I do not know if it’s only I who notice it but it appears that there is an oversupply of uncalled for “though” in almost all conversations in any workplace that require English (or at least a tinge of American/British/English accent), especially in high-rise offices along Ayala Avenue, Ortigas, Alabang, or Libis in Quezon City.

“Though” may function as a conjunction as in ‘in spite of’ or ‘despite the fact that’, or as an adverb as in ‘nevertheless’ or ‘as though’. But it may also function, informally, as an intensifier.

Of the three ‘thoughs’ in the conversation above, only the second ‘though’ is closest to any of the possible meanings of though, that is, if it means “I’ll wait for you not in Glorietta but in Starbucks.” But the problem with this is that the speaker is referring to that specific Starbucks located in Glorietta which makes ‘though’ here unnecessary.

Language is dynamic. One day, this proliferation of useless ‘thoughs’ may eventually be acceptable. But that’s going to be one day. Hearing these inappropriately used ‘thoughs’ irks me, though.

That woman

Nine years after Arroyo came to power, the feeling of seeing her get on that Ford SUV as a private citizen was incomparable; seeing that mammoth gas-guzzler vanish bringing Arroyo with it was almost of divine character, more like an epiphany for a nation her rapacious administration had ravaged.

To the very end, Arroyo never wavered in her arrogance. She exists in a different universe that bars her from seeing reality in our universe. She was booed, heckled, and the people in Quirino grandstand made known to her that they were rejoicing seeing that her regime has come to an end. But she was impervious to these. She has lost everything that makes a human vulnerable to all these.

I’m just happy to see her leave.

Is back in the game

After my two classes this afternoon that ended at 3:30, I left quickly for home when rain caught up on me as I was about to get on a jeep going to Katipunan LRT Station. I remembered there was a small, white umbrella in my backpack but I decided against using it. Either it was because of my vanity (the umbrella has these lacy frills) or the inconvenience pulling it from the bottom of my big cream-colored North Face bag.

I reached Mandaluyong shivering and drenched in cold rainwater.

I feared getting sick as surely no one is going to take care of me like my mother did when I was still under her care. Sleeping it off was definitely out of the option. So despite the raging thunder that caused some car alarms in the basement of the condominium to go off, I went to the gym and worked out for an hour and fifteen minutes. After, feeling a little perked up by the heavy lifting, I swam 20 laps until I felt nothing but numbness in my shoulders and chests.

I breathed heavily and, at times, was gasping for air. I have gone for too long, I realized, without any form of work out except walking from Shaw MRT station to Libertad in days when I am suffering from stinginess attacks. But it seemed that after those intense physical activities, the sky looked clearer and the air fresher (the complex is approximately 9.5 spits from the notorious EDSA).

Soaked in chlorinated, month-old water, I went back to our unit happy to discover that the stray wifi signal was back. And I hope this time the fickle signal stays for good.

On elegance



Seated in the end-most seat at the back part of the auditorium of Insituto Cervantes in Manila, I had a clearer, albeit the small cinema in the Instituto was unlighted as in all other self-respecting cinemas, glimpses of people who were seated in front of me. I went there earlier, catching a 5:30 pm LRT1 ride from Gil Puyat to United Nations amid a heavy afternoon downpour.

On Wednesday of last week, I got hold of an announcement, printed in the Business Mirror, on the Spanish Embassy’s annual El Dia Espanol (Day of the Spanish Language). Piqued by the activities lined up by the Instituto, I braved the impending rain which later fell into an itinerant early monsoon rainfall. I arrived at the Instituto soaked and a bit disorientated because of drippings from umbrellas of other less careful commuters and the usual slaughter house-like scene inside these crammed coaches.

The perceived very intellectual atmosphere in the Instituto, several meters away from the UN Avenue train station, gave me a warm welcoming.

Several groups of Filipinos, mostly students and young professionals and some tourist-looking Caucasians were conversing with each other in Spanish and English and occasional Tagalog in a small cafe a few steps from the metal-detecting machine. I do not speak Spanish neither do I understand the language, which is just too bad.

At first, I thought the place was reeking with heat coming from the usual European (specifically Parisian) coffee shop debates on semiotic, critique of post-structuralism or the discussion on metaphor and the primacy of irony over other devices in chapter 4 of Aristotle’s Poetics. Overhearing their small chit-chats, my impressions fell flat on their faces and mine, and the supposed intellectual atmosphere collapsed into heaps of commonplace subjects of small talks. The topics of their discussion were of unlofty kind, mostly mundane concerns about the heralding of a new brand of politics that comes with the election of Mr. Aquino to the highest seat in the land, the recovery of the national economy vis-a-vis the ‘rigged’ figures proudly claimed by the Arroyo administration, the sorry state of Philippine education system, and some students from, I gathered, St Benilde, who were exchanging banalities about the rigor and excitement of their college life.

I sipped my coffee fast and escaped immediately from the very heavy atmosphere in the lobby. I ran to the small auditorium and chose the most isolated location because I wanted to enjoy my movie, Galatasaray – Depor. I half suspected it was going to be in Spanish (of course!) and that subtitles, if there were any, would be in Spanish. I was right.

I trusted that motion picture is an art of universal value that transcends cultural boundaries. And that for somebody who studied and teaches communication, my education prepared me to tackle kinesics head on, understanding the story based on the actions, the varying tones of the characters’ voices in delivering their lines, and the subtleties of their interactions. Or so I thought.

Until a group of people, the same group I tried to escape from in the cafeteria came in and joined in communal experience of film-viewing. One of them, the most brazen, blurted “Ay, walang English subtitles.” I do not see why people in this country have the penchant of stating, and stating out loud, what is obvious.

But the fact that these people have the audacity to advertise their stupidity like a badge of honor is even more horrifying.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people, whom I assume to be impeccably conversant in Spanish, made it sure that people like me who understand no Spanish word except pronto, puerta, or puta knew where to locate ourselves in the greater scheme of things. These people who have studied Spanish, the younger, over-eager undergraduate, especially, who were part of that group in question, laughed twice as hard and as loudly as one would normally laugh when faced with a funny scene or line in the film.

Their stylized way of laughing signified the void that separates the Spanish literate and the non-literate, which was fine with me. They were more than willing to announce their extensive knowledge of the Spanish language, complete with understanding of the subtle idioms and irony.

But this is an act that leaves a bad aftertaste. It’s inelegant.

500th post

Last night, after a tiring strings of travels using a combination all imaginable modes of land transportation in a modern metropolis — tricycle, MRT, LRT, jeepney, bus, and several hundred meters by foot from Shaw in Mandaluyong to Katipunan in Quezon City for my class in Ateneo to my part time teaching job in Makati — I arrived home nearly exhausting all my reserved energy, using up all my arsenal of reserved hope that I thought to be inexhaustible.

After an endless litany that went to nowhere, a monologue that lacked clarity and coherence, whose absence of a thesis statement boggled even me, and which despite it being endless, it ended because I got no energy to continue. And I was at a lost for the right words to describe what I felt. My brain came to a sudden halt, ceased to work, and surrendered everything to the comforts of a deep sleep.

This morning while attempting to put my thoughts to writing, I was surprised to learn that this one I am writing now is my 500th post. I’ve posted in this blog 500 articles! Some articles that made sense, some that didn’t, some that reflected nothing but my narcissistic tendencies as a writer and a person, some that shamelessly exposed my darkest insecurities, and some that defy rational categorization.

And some more to come.

And it just felt good posting this 500th one.

Academic B.S.

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I didn’t know it is this pervasive. But here’s a sampler (and I leave it to my readers to place these inside their mouths, masticate, and then digest these hard to swallow strings of ‘complex’ high order thinking):

  1. Expound on the exclusion/inclusion, private/public identity dichotomy faced by the protagonist. Frame her personal struggles vis-a-vis her communal values and their conflict with the personal.
  2. How does the imagery used by the author support the contradiction confronting the main character (i.e. her barrenness)? How does this strengthen/weaken the obvious paradoxes posited by the text?

Verbal gymnastics and ostentatious display of erudition cloud and slow down thought processes rather than enlighten and streamline what should be a smooth exchange and/or transfer of knowledge. Now, if an intellectual thinks that he strengthens his position in the academe through constant use of these fireworks, if the supposed scholar thinks that by utilizing these intellectual calisthenics he gains respect and prestige in the academic world, then either his values are problematic or he is a moron. A classic case of missing the point.

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To judge whether a particular thought is pedantic or otherwise rests heavily on context. Context dictates whether a situation calls for the use of terms such as leit motif, othering, subaltern, exclusion/inclusion principle or it is an obvious waste of one’s precious time trying to understand words like these that do not easily lend themselves to shallow reading, and when there is an easier and more accessible way of saying them.

Rather than an expression of knowledge, comprehension, and succinct ability to synthesize, pedantry, erudition, or however you call it, if grossly or moderately taken out of context, is a reflection of the very insecure state an intellectual over-determinedly and over-eagerly wants to place himself in.

Day of the Spanish language

Instituto Cervantes (855 T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila) will celebrate El Dia Del Espanol (Day of the Spanish Language) on June 19, starting 9:30 am. There will be an open house with exhibits, kite flying, a photo contest, and fun cultural activities. At 6 pm they will screen director Hannes Storh’s 2005 German-Spanish film Galatasaray – Depor (one day in Europe) about the finals of the Champion’s League. Free admission. For seat reservations, call 526-1445. For more info about El Dia Del Espanol, log on to http://manila.cervantes.es.