Pictures of the author

And since blogging is a truly personal medium for individual expression, this narcissistic exercise of posting my pictures here is far from being impertinent, and I, being unabashedly honest, think this was done in good taste. This post is as personal as ‘personal’ can get.

It’s a perfectly normal enterprise, an essential endeavor that comes naturally based on public understanding of the capitalist idea of ownership that is reminiscent of pre-Cold War definition of  ownership (the blog domain, that is, as applied in the contemporary times).

Besides, readers are free to enter and leave this site at their own pleasure (and/or risk [!]).

These pictures were taken outside Miagao Church almost a month ago by the author of the blog whose link appears below the pictures.

http://rjsolis.wordpress.com

http://rjsolis.wordpress.com

I abhor my style of writing above. This means to say that I do not tolerate myself writing in such a way and that this will be the last time I am utilizing this tone.

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Kailan ito hihinto?

May mga paglalakbay tayo na lubhang nakababagot, may mga maiikling paglalakad sa parke o tabing dagat na kawili-wili. At di rin mabilang ang mga paglalakbay na dahil sa kung makailang beses na nating gawin at tahakin ay parang hindi na natin pansin ang anumang emosyong kaakibat nito na gawa marahil ng kompulsyon, madalas ay hindi na natin hindi naiisip ang mga tanawin, mga taong katabi at kasama sa paglalakbay, o ang dampi ng hangin habang tayo’y nakaupo, nakatayo, o nakasabit sa dyip o bus.

Noong mga unang taon ko sa kolehiyo, aliw na aliw ako sa tuwing sumasakay ako ng dyip papuntang Miagao, minsan nilalabas ko pa ang aking ulo at kamay upang damhin ang malamig na samyo ng hangin. Hindi ko inalintana ang sobrang bilis na pagmamaneho ng tsuper na sa isang maling pihit lamang ay maaring wakas na ng aking masayang paglalakbay. Kahit kadalasan ay siksikan sa loob kasama ang ibang mga pasahero, gulay, mga pinamiling gamit sa bahay, at mga tandang sa loob ng kulungan nitong alambre, hindi ako nawalan ng ganang umuwi ng lungsod pagsapit ng Biyernes dahil nasasabik akong muling sumakay ng dyip.Binigyan ako ng bawat paglalakbay sa loob ng dyip ng isang di maipaliwanag na ‘high’ na hindi kayang ibigay ng pagsusulat, pagbabasa, o seks.

Paglipas ng halos limang taong pagtahak sa parehong daan, pagdaan ng tingin sa mga hindi-nagbabagong tanawin at pare-parehong pagal na mukha ng mga taong nakatira sa tabing-daan naglalakad patungo sa kung saan, at pagsakay sa pare-parehong dyip, nitong hapon, habang inihahanda ko ang aking mga gamit, libro, at damit na susuutin para sa linggong ito, at muling pagsakay ng dyip patungong Miagao, nakaramdam ako ng pagkapagod. Hindi ito pisikal na pakapagod. Ito’y pagkapagod na bunga ng pagkabagot. Na sa kabila ng pagpupumilit kong maging masaya sa loob ng dyip, may mga bagay talaga na isusuka na ng aking kaluluwa.

Nais kong iliko, ihinto, o ibunggo ang dyip na sinasakyan ko. Sa ngayon ay inaalam ko pa kung paano.

“I wish you were here.”

In the middle of my jog yesterday, this sight of a most beautiful sunset arrested me. It could’ve been more beautiful, I thought.

A lot of things in life that can be made even more breathtaking  if we have company besides solitude.

I guess I just have to be content for now with “I wish you were here.”

Teaching my younger sister how to write

Before I did my laundry last night, I instructed my younger sister, with all the seriousness and a little cockiness of an older brother, and with a slightly modulated voice as if she is one of my students enrolled in the writing classes I teach at the university, to watch the film Il Postino on my computer and to write her thoughts about the film afterward. I even went on giving her some advice on tracing the plot, taking note of the characterization, the theme, and the striking dialogue lines said by the main actors that would help her make her work worth her readers’ time.

In this case, my time.

I checked her every once in a while whether she’s doing the things I instructed her or whether she started to look bored and tired watching that Italian film. I did this in between washing my two basketfuls of dirty tees and pants, while soaking them in the detergent solution or waiting for several minutes as stated in the direction on the back of the sachet of the fabric conditioner I am wont to use before wringing my clothes one by one to remove excess water until finally hanging them to dry. At times, when she caught me doing this, she would give a spontaneous comment on the lines uttered by Mario (Massimo Troisi) or Neruda (Philippe Noiret) or ask me random questions as to why Neruda’s poems are great and enduring.

I saw her enjoying the film. I wondered how she managed to make do with my poor copy of that 1994 classic by Michael Radford.

That afternoon after I arrived from Miagao, before I could even drink water to keep me from dying of heatstroke, I didn’t know where it was coming, but she just blurted “Yan, tudlui ko magsulat be,” asking me to teach her how to write.

I always spend my weekend in the city, away from the ghost town that is Miagao, distancing myself from its deathly quiet streets that give me nothing but melancholic mirages. During these weekends I spend in the city, I do my stuff and my sister does hers. We try not to get in the way of each other’s paths. Her request, and of all, teaching her how to write, was something I least expected.

I know she reads my blog as some sort of a side trip whenever she does research for her requirements in school or when she’s facebook-ing to pass time. However, I did not expect that the things I wrote on my site will motivate her to try writing, that’s my assumption, at least.

When she said, “Yan, tudlui ko magsulat be,” I seriously tried to keep my composure intact and my voice unaffected although deep inside I was already unable to contain that feeling of unusual upwelling I only have if something life-changing is occurring before my eyes. I almost hugged her.

A writer is an ordinary person, perhaps he is more sensitive. People who are highly sensitive are often more frail. I am frail, this must have been my main reason why I write. As for my sister, much as I would like to keep her from suffering this frailty brought by hypersensitivity that writing will eventually bestow on her; I cannot bring myself to deny her that voice, that affirmation of her own self validated during the act of writing.

Looking back, I have unconsciously created a thirst for writing in her.

I know one can only write literature, or even to simply begin writing, if he or she is exposed to great writings. I realized all these time I have unwittingly left my books in her humble place in the city for this expressed purpose.

Whenever I finish reading my books, serious ones on particularly technical topics or works of fiction, I would bring them to her place in the city and leave them there hoping that she would find interest in reading all of them as much as I did. Although I never attempted to impose on her the books I read, or reading in general, I consciously, but more often unconsciously, made her know that I am happy whenever I see her reading or that she enjoys the books I leave at her place.

Sometimes, when I am gripped with what I’m reading, I would shamelessly tell her how enmeshed I am in the plot of the story, how involved I am in the lives of the character, or how passionately I feel about the arguments of the author, even discussing with her the main points of the book unmindful that I have not given her the shallowest of context.

I am of the opinion that good writing cannot be taught, it can only be nurtured. Based on her papers she submitted for her course, which I secretly read because she wouldn’t let me read them for fear of my harsh criticism, I suppose, my sister has all the promise of a good writer only that she needs a little bit prodding and confidence to share her honest attempts to express her thoughts in writing.

Il Postino has all the simplicity and lyricism to inspire anyone, even those who find writing mundane, to try experimenting with words, metaphors, and images.

“How would you describe a net?” Pablo Neruda asks the postman, Mario Ruoppolo.

“My father’s net?”

“Yes.”

His response, the simplest yet the most powerful:

“Sad.”

The first lesson I gave before she started writing: Write in the simplest of terms.

My sister, Gemini, is an AB English sophomore at West Visayas State University in La Paz, Iloilo City.

Miagao Tulád

This is  just one of the contributions of the University of the Philippines Visayas to the community of Miagao in Iloilo Philippines. Miagao Tulád is the take of UPV’s Broadcast Communication students on development communication. This community paper used to be a class project during my senior year in college in my Journalism 111 class under Dr. Zoilo Andrada.

Being its first editor in chief, I felt that challenge of introducing development communication in a community that was then more comfortable with the tabloid-like, sensationalized, superficial reportage, was too much for undergraduates like us to bear. During that time my other classmates and I who were enrolled in that class were also frantically complying with our other requirements for graduation, adding another responsibility was definitely unwelcome. But it was a challenge worth surmounting, and its fruit, Miagao Tulád was our legacy, a small dent we hoped to leave in the overwhelmingly events-reporting model that Philippine media is wont to take.

Miagao Tulád (Now) is already on its fifth volume. It has remained loyal to its mission of being a catalyst in changing the community from the grassroots. It features government projects and programs the people of Miagao can avail of, political commentaries, environment, women, youth and family issues.

The latest issue whose front page appears below is a project under UPV Media.Com Journalism Committee and Journalism 141 class.

For President of the Republic of the Philippines: Rodelo Pidoy*

Picture of Rodelo Pidoy taken this afternoon, January 6, 2010 at the parking lot adjacent to the College Union Building University of the Philippines Visayas, Miagao, Iloilo, Philippines.

Profile of the 51st Presidential Candidate and the would-be 15th President

Full name: Rodelo Suyom Pidoy

Nickname: Ugong

Place of Birth: Bugasong, Antique

Date of Birth: March 8, 1984

Present Address: Netura Street, Ubos Ilaya, Miagao, Iloilo

Home Address: Sitio Hines, Tagudtud South, Bugasong, Antique

Highest Educational Attainment: BS Biology UP Visayas

Parents’ Livelihood: Selling vegetables, firewood, and bamboo shoots

What he already did:

-Written more than 1000 poems

-First used cell phone in November 2008

-Sold more than 50 cell phone units as of November 2009

-Has bought and destroyed more than 50 units of AM-FM radio

-Repaired, modified, and sold electronic equipment after that

-Avoided using computers unless so necessary from 2000-2008. But as of May-June 2009 repaired, set-up, and sold computers already without using manuals (used electricity from relatives as own house has none).

-Was able to cure any kind of diseases (stroke, asthma, hypersensitivity reaction, colds, fever, insomnia, kidney trouble, stomach pain, canker, cancer, hemorrhoids, enlarged heart, toothache, goiter, eyestrain, migraine, skin allergy, chronic cramps, irregular menstrual cycle, child-bearing problems, depression, nervous breakdown, ulcers, bone fractures, and many more even those not biologic in origin – or that which are not caused by food or water taken.

-Did the healing without the aid of western medicine.

-Invented 50 inventions/gadgets; once made one invention a day for 30 days.

-Developed a technique for planting several millions of trees in one day.

-Planted 2000 trees in less than a minute.

-Made a device that can turn off neighboring FM radios

-Made a device that can control rains, typhoons, earthquakes, ice and hailstorms.

-Made a device that can pinpoint the part of the body that is weak and uses it as a diagnostic tool in treating patients.

What he can do and still needs to do:

-Intends to study at Harvard. He likes to take medicine.

-Will try to patent his inventions and mass produce some.

-Intends to sell his weather controlling device for a price enough to cover all the debts of the Philippines and with enough money for him to launch a national campaign; however, he thinks it is better to keep it into himself and use it for the country to develop for it might go to wrong hands and we will be victims. To utilize its potential, however, he needs to be the President.

-Likes to experience true democracy and not a false one.

-Can make the country be united as one and develop.

-Likes to create a million jobs the first month he sits in office.

-Likes the next generation of Filipinos see the Philippines as their paradise.

Before these happens, however, he needs to qualify as a candidate. He is only 26 by the time of the election and so he is disqualified. He needs to change the Constitution. He can do it alone. However there is not enough time. He needs the cooperation of everybody and the help of everyone who needs to experience true democracy and true freedom. How could we have true freedom to participate when one of the requirements for President is “at least forty years old at the time of election” while also having “be able to read and write as a criterion”? Most grade one pupils know how to read and write and so a forty year-old who has finished grade one only is allowed while a twenty year-old college graduate cannot?

The “be able to read and write” gives us a false feeling of freedom for it includes almost all of us. The “at least forty years old” however gives us a restriction. Therefore we think we are free but actually we are not. Age limit for Presidents then must be lowered. It must be lowered to at least twenty years old. If not, he will wait until he is old enough to be corrupted by the corrupt society he is in and become a corrupt president later on. The choice is yours. Now is the time to make history. Let us make democracy the rule of the masses – the poorer class – because we are the majority.

We are not having oligarchy as our type of government so at least one from our ranks needs to be the President. In that way elite rule will not continue. If it does continue at least we are not disenfranchised citizens. I did this because I was called. I have come upon your calling. And so recognize that I am the one whom you are waiting. Cooperate with my cause and I will cooperate with you. Together we can fight Global Warming, and warming here in our country due to much politicking. I myself if I will not contribute my help, this nation will be ravaged not only by war but by violent typhoons and strong earthquakes.

We need to participate in politics. I know you do not want to be dominated by evil men. Let me quote what Plato – one of the great Greek philosophers – “It is the price of good men who hesitate to involve in politics ruled by evil men”. Allow me to be your voice and your representative. This country needs only one man for it to change – I.

Say this also and together we will be united by the same belief. Only then will we be one.

Wish anything reasonable from me and it shall be done.

*The text in this post was taken verbatim from the campaign materials being distributed by Rodelo Pidoy. I am here to help a friend who needs to establish some presence in the internet.

Convinced

I woke up today feeling like a zombie, my need for sleep unsated, my body aching, and red spots all over my body because I forgot to hang my mattresses under the sun when I arrived yesterday afternoon. Microscopic, creepy dust mites devoured my naked skin last night when I was too tired to care. And I am hungry; all my supplies gone when I had an all night pigging out on those instant stuff.

In an hour, I would be traveling back to the city with a week worth of clean shirts and jeans. The ‘unspectacular’ six-hour sleep I got is uncommensurate to the effort I had to go through carrying a big bag and being inside of an overstuffed public transportation for an hour of bumpy and dusty ride with the rest of the proletariat just to be here in Miagao. Just to have my needed peaceful night and not having it.

And so I’ll convince myself that I had a great night, that I was able to write and do important things (which I did not). It’s like having a so-so sex and telling myself over and over that it was the greatest I’ve had to keep myself from feeling bad for all the preparations I had to go through to get laid only to be disappointed.

It can be that aside from ability to utilize spoken and written language, this separates man from the rest of the animal kingdom: the ability to convince himself that things are not as bad as they feel or as they look to protect his vulnerable soul from being crushed by reality.

And so I’ll go on convincing myself that I am rejuvenated by that satisfying sleep; I was able to come up with writings that future generations will include on their list of canons, and my body does not feel itchy. Also, I am not starving.