Oathbreakers

“I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.”

– Jon Snow
Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7
The Dragon and the Wolf

Shame. Shame. Shame.

How ironic and unfortunate that while we cheer the man currently embarked on what seems to many as a righteous journey undertaken by the current King in the North, and while we constantly implore the old gods and the new for Jon Snow to be armored with good fate and favorable fortune because we approve the good values this fictional character represents, somehow, we in the real world find it very easy and very convenient to turn a blind eye, a deaf ear, and a cold shoulder to the one thing the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch embodies: word of honor.

Of all the things we see in the very popular television adaptation of a best-selling novel that seems to mirror today’s life and society – betrayal, conspiracy, exploitation, mindless violence, chaos and disorder, the power of money, manipulation through influence, etc. – the one thing that strongly resonates as the TV show concludes its seventh season is the resulting introspection among those who experienced a realization regarding how we have dishonored, devalued, and trampled the worth and merit of the promises we made. We trivialized the value of the words we say and consequently, what it meant as well to the person we gave our word to.

We promote the idea that Game of Thrones has its parallelisms with things that are larger than the individual being – political manipulation, religious exploitation, calculated extermination, racial preservation, social stratification, etc. – but the truth is, we are taken aback by our apprehensions that stem from what we know is true since Season 1, Episode 1: Game of Thrones, despite its degree of fantasy, is a commentary on the most basic frailties of the human being. We allow ourselves to be devoured by inaction caused by our apprehension because we refuse to be burdened by the responsibility to change as a response to this glaring reminder of a long-existing impetus. We find it convenient and preferable to defer this responsibility, this moral task, to the collective that represents us politically, morally, spiritually, etc., and that has always been the case ever since, even before Game of Thrones: we want leaders who are not corrupt but the electorate fuels the vicious cycle of graft and corruption when people exploit their political connections through favors; we want dynamic, open-minded, forward thinking leaders to champion our religion but it is us who think highly of ourselves as morally upright, easy to judge others, and quick to justify our denial of compassion.

We want political families to stop scheming. We want leaders to stop exploiting ordinary people for their own ends. We want rich people to stop sidetracking the welfare of the less-privileged.

But what change do we want for us on an individual level?

For Jon Snow, the world is simple. Even with the most complex of schemes and even with the grandest justifications and moral imperatives, behind the promise that comes with the noblest of sacrifices and the ecstasy of salvation, the only thing we should not afford a barter, never endanger, and in no way compromise is the honor that comes with every promise, every oath, and every word. Despite the presence of an excuse and an exit, remain bereft of any complicity in reneging on a promise that would repudiate the honor now lost with every broken promise, every broken oath, every broken word.

Saying the words is easy. Standing by our word is the real challenge. And like everything else, it comes easy with practice, over time. Best start today.

We idolize Jon Snow and wish we can be like him – defend the downtrodden, emerge victorious against the odds, gain the respect of his peers, and from adversity rise triumphant followed by a throng of faithful and a sword that serves salvation.

We dream of heroic deeds and grand fantasies but we can’t even start with the simplest act of honor.

Paalis na ko.

Sige, sasama ako.

Game ako dyan.

People have long since ceased in curing the illness of lying largely for its practical use, but an equally worse form of malady is the proclivity to withdraw our commitment to every promise, every oath, and every word, with very little consideration to what it means to the other person. We find it easy to yield when tempted with excuses, and find it convenient to feign apology for every promise we fail to keep, every oath we fail to honor, and every word we fail to stay true to.

Why? Because for the most part, we don’t mean what we say. We say yes to be agreeable. We agree to reinforce peer approval. We make a promise thinking this keeps us inside the clique. We commit because we think it is the right thing to do.

We give our word for the wrong reasons.

Only one reason matters. Only one reason makes sense. We commit, we promise, we agree, we say yes, we give our word because we mean it, with all our heart, and with all our honor.

Without an honest constitution, our words condemn us into becoming the least likely to be rewarded by esteem and trust.

We become Oathbreakers.

5 Things The New Passion For People Video Says About Kids

Last year, VXI Philippines (VXI PH) launched their Passion for People video, which eventually became viral.

No surprise there, since many Filipinos today work in the BPO industry, and many can relate to the sentiments aired in this poignant video sure to tug at your heart strings.

VXI PH, recently crowned Best Contact Center and BPO Company of the Year, has released another video, this time featuring kids!

VXI Passion for People – Kids EditionWhat makes these kids happy?

The morning hugs when we can’t kiss them goodnight.
The smile we put on their faces, not just the toys we put in their hands.
The effort to spend time, not just money.

These are the reasons why these kids are happy.

#VXIPH #VXIPassionforPeople

Posted by VXI PH on Friday, June 23, 2017

 

For parents working in a call center, this video is both a reality check as well as a salute!

Indeed, the most difficult of times bring out the best in those who are passionate.

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What’s great about this video is that you don’t have to be in a call center to be able to relate to the struggles that come with parenting. The truth is this: finding the perfect balance between work and family time is a real challenge, and oftentimes, many parents are harshly judged by others just because they think parents are putting more time for work. These cynics often forget that work enables parents to provide for their children’s needs, and most importantly, parents ALWAYS find a way to make sure they give their children sufficient time and attention no matter what – even if it means sacrificing their own personal time.

Three cheers to all hardworking parents who do not make excuses but instead make time, however difficult it is. Three cheers as well to VXI PH – this video is every indefatigable parent’s much-needed pat in the back. Recognizing the efforts of these parents would definitely inspire them to continue working hard for the sake of their children’s future and well-being.

But this video isn’t just about parents.

Another thing that is great about the new Passion for People video is that it allows us to see children in a new light. This video not only educates the audience about the struggle and the perseverance of parents, but it also informs the audience about the qualities of children often ignored, rarely seen, and seldom appreciated, simply because people think they’re “just kids”.

I’ve listed the five things the new VXI Passion For People video made us realize.

5. Kids are totally and hands down adorable in their own way

Even if they seem upset, they are still super cute!

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4. Kids are not materialistic

Toys are great but hugs and kisses are better!

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3. Kids understand what adults go through

At a young age, they are already capable of being sensitive to what other people are going through, especially their parents.

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2. Kids make sense

They all have a valid point here, you know. We should take the time to listen to what they have to say.

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1. Kids are Passionate!

They are passionate about family time! They are passionate about bonding with their parents!

And yes, they are passionate about home-cooked meals too, like mommy’s sinigang!

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Don’t forget to share the video to others! Let’s continue to spread positivity 🙂

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The Woman from the Train

Nathaniel T. Dela Cruz
June 15, 2017

I watch in delight as passengers flood the exit at Monumento Station. It’s 12:27 in the afternoon, and it was utterly unbearable to stay on the platform for longer than necessary; it was hot and I am sweating, having to walk a good 300 meters from where my jeepney ride ends to where my LRT trip begins, and for the most part of that typically fast-paced march that includes dodging and even elbowing people ignorant of pedestrian protocol and courtesy, I was under the scorching mid-day sun, and for someone who sweats a lot and sweats easily, this is not ideal.

I boarded the train, immediately awash in the feeling of relief and comfort as cool air blanketed my skin. I saw an empty seat not far from the door and sat down. I pulled out my fan and vigorously fanned myself, amplifying the cooling effect of the train’s air conditioning system.

I was busy trying to rid myself of the discomfort from feeling hot and sweating the past 20 minutes that I wasn’t noticing anyone around me; at least, not yet – part of my daily commute is to look at strangers I travel with and think about the shoes they were wearing, the people they are talking to on the phone, the reason why they are sleepy, why they refuse to seat down despite empty seats, etc.

“Is that heavy?”

I’m not sure which was first – noticing a hand touching my arm or hearing the question.

I turned to my right, and there she was. The first thing that came to mind was Gloria Romero – a mestiza who has aged gracefully it is inappropriate to describe her as ‘elderly’. If age depends on the energy we exude and the life in our eyes, she could easily be in her 30s.

She wore a plain dark shirt and shorts. She was smiling and soft spoken.

“No,” I smiled back at her.

“Oh,” she nodded a bit, somewhat satisfied that her curiosity about my 32 millimeter-wide steel tunnel earrings was answered. “Where are you headed?”

“I’m on my way to work. I’m a writer.”

“Oh, that explains why you are eccentric. But in a good way ha.”

Ha ha. I’ll take it as a compliment.” And I did. I really think she meant it kindly.

She moved closer. “I like talking to eccentric people. They are interesting. Ordinary people are boring. When I saw you, I was thinking, ‘this guy wants to do what he wants and does not care what others think’, and that’s good, no?”

“Yeah. Life is too short to be obsessed with what other people think about you right?”

There we were, strangers just minutes ago, and now chatting inside the LRT like old friends. I can see other passengers looking at us, perhaps amused that we were having a conversation when we apparently don’t know each other personally.

I’ve had my share of conversations with strangers in the past – cab drivers, people on queue while waiting for their turn to pay the bill or buy a ferry ticket, and every once in a while, with those who were also stranded because of the waist-high flood we bravely crossed hoping to inch closer and closer to getting home.

I find talking to this woman easy. I haven’t asked her name yet, but we’ve already talked about a lot of things, between Monumento Station where we met and Roosevelt Station where we are supposed to alight. We talked about my eyebrow piercing, the cheap grocery prices in a spot in Quiapo which she regularly visits, her brand of lipstick when she was still working at the Finnish Embassy here in Manila (she even showed me her ID!), her current residence in Project 8, the political writers she likes to read, and her preference for The Manila Times over the Philippine Daily Inquirer, among others.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name.” This is when she pulled out her ID. “Your last name sounds French.”

“Yes, I have French relatives.”

We both rose as the LRT slows to a halt at Roosevelt Station. “Can you please help me carry this,” gesturing to one of her grocery bags. “It’s quite heavy.”

“Sure.” We exited the train and went towards the escalator. “Maybe we can meet again, talk and have some coffee.”

“Sure,” I said. I meant it.

After we got off the escalator, she told me she was headed to the elevator. I, on the other hand, was headed towards the turnstile.

There, we said our goodbyes.

She was just another stranger, a woman from the train, one of the many I travel with during my daily commute. But after a conversation that wasn’t even 10 minutes long, she’s become a friend, just like that. There are lots of people I have been talking to for years and even until now I still don’t think I’m friends with them.

And then there’s this erstwhile stranger, a woman from the train.

Now, she’s a stranger no more. Her name is Micheline Picart.

###

The Perfect Job

THE PERFECT JOB
Nathaniel T. Dela Cruz
June 8, 2017

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There is no such thing as a perfect job. Everyone has a reason to leave – the hours long, the commute dreadful, the boss a total asshole, the pay too low, and the co-workers a clique of insecure, petty, rumor-mongering passive-aggressive bullies.

But not everyone leaves. Why? Mainly because they worry they might not get another job, or end up somewhere worse. So they stay put, nurturing what could be misplaced hopeful optimism, and in the process developing fortitude not everyone can muster, enough to see those who chose to stay behind through.

I find quitting a job easy. If my boss is an asshole, I quit. If the work condition is unbearable, I quit. If what was demanded of me is unreasonable, I quit.

giphy

These are all, by the way, very subjective claims. A fair, retrospective assessment. In truth, I was just egoistic and very sensitive in my youth. Balat sibuyas, so they say, and with a chip on my shoulders. I get easily slighted, and when this happens, I refuse to deal with it. I don’t want to talk about it with my boss or with my colleagues. I don’t want to sit down and see what can be done to address the problem. I just leave. I quit. I disappear. I stopped showing up for work. I don’t answer the phone knowing that it’s my employer on the other end, ready to put a final effort to convince me to return.

There is no such thing as a perfect job. So why should I be worried about losing it?

I was what HR personnel and recruiters would describe as a chronic quitter, and they’re correct. That’s what my career track says about me, and I can’t change that because that’s the truth.

What I can change today is my outlook.

There is no such thing as a perfect job. BUT can I be a better person and turn an imperfect job into a rewarding, worthwhile, and almost-perfect experience?

Worth a try. There is no such thing as a perfect job, but there is still the prospect of ending up somewhere way better. Case in point is my current job: now, the hours are reasonable, the commute very easy, the boss a real mentor, and the pay sufficient.

Have I become the antithesis of my old, chronic quitter self?

I refuse to subscribe to this very polar binary. What I’ll tell anyone who comes to me for advice regarding leaving or staying is this:

Quit if you are not happy. Stay if the problem is temporary.

We do not have the same set of workplace experiences. I won’t advise someone to stay if there is a valid reason to leave. But I won’t encourage anyone to be a chronic quitter like me either. But remember this:

Before you quit, be careful. After you quit, be brave.

giphy (1)

I have learned an important lesson from being a chronic quitter. Quitting should never be impulsive. Deciding to quit should come with mental clarity. You should be circumspect, reasonable, and ready.

After you quit, move forward and believe that there is another opportunity out there for you. Do not dwell on the past when your self-esteem hit rock bottom. Do not doubt your decision when you are penniless and broke. Do not think that you could have been happier if you stayed because at least, you’d have money in your pocket. Financial security is not the sole determinant of happiness.

There is no such thing as a perfect job, but there’s always something better out there, and you will never be in the position to grab this chance if you remain tethered to an onerous occupation you are not willing to let go.

There is no such thing as a perfect job, but there’s work out there that removes you from constantly having to wrestle with the idea of quitting, simply because you found contentment. And most of the time, that is all we need to start quitting and start cultivating roots.

Some find it staying in a job that constantly threatens to break the person down every day. Some find it after journeying through several employments inevitably severed by the decision to leave. Either way, the end result is a similar person: strong and wise. The path towards finding equanimity is never a straight nor a similar road; nonetheless, we are all expected to soldier on, if this pursuit is paramount.

There is no such thing as a perfect job, but every once in awhile, there’s a perfect moment when everything in your life aligns with impeccable symmetry, and you begin to love the job which, at first, was just a mere necessity.

Finally, a light to see past and through the imperfections.

Now, you’re staying.

###

A Death Very Few Mourn

As a writer, it makes me sad that many favor the convenience of simpler words and shorter sentences – the verbose is villain, the prolix wasteful, when what was really wasted was the opportunity to decorate what was written with every available accouterments, and the sin is settling for the plain.

In a world that promotes truncated language and renders beautifully-crafted words obsolete and archaic to satisfy the predilection of the ‘generation instant’, writers form the remaining cadre of warriors left to fight the battle in the name of exquisite vocabulary’s survival and preeminence, especially since many editors have betrayed the craft in favor of functionality and obedience to capitalist content-making.

I use grand and extravagant words not to alienate those with inferior comprehension, nor to be pompous and pretentious but to pique curiosity, stimulate an interest, and foster a deeper and more profound relationship with words. I don’t say ‘look away if you don’t understand!’ but rather, I say ‘Look it up so that you may understand’. And then use it. Don’t let words entombed in books succumb and die along with its carpet of dust that no one has ever touched.

Very few now gets to come across the whole gamut of words once used to color the language of man in vibrant hues so that the words throb and dance and resonate strongly, firmly, sincerely; indelible like the warmth of love’s first kiss which will never vanish even with the whispers of winter and the darkness at twilight.

Many now know very few words, which they dispense without care and without thought. And that is utterly and truly lamentable.

Nathaniel T. Dela Cruz
18 February 2017
11:45pm

This is not in defense of Duterte

This is not in defense of Duterte.

This is in defense of the sentiments of the people to which I can relate to.

As a person who studied communication, I look at the campaign period for the presidency from this point of view because this is what I know and understand. I think every candidate tries to communicate to the electorate in a way that is consistent with their persona; Grace Poe projects herself as a respectful, dignified lawmaker; Robredo is using the same approach, although enhancing it with a tint of being perceived as ‘motherly’; Miriam is the strong-willed intellectual, because she is; and Duterte is the ‘masa’, and he talks to them in a manner that the ‘masa’ could relate to and respond to because, after all, campaigning is about, above anything else, winning the people’s sympathy, and by extension, winning their votes.

As he campaigns for support in the upcoming May 9 election, Duterte consistently focuses on fighting crime because this image of him as a crime fighter in Davao is what the people wanted first and foremost; this catapulted him to this race, and I think he is smart (or well advised) not to wade in deep waters where he is not really good at (like economics), and he admits that.

Yes, this is a serious cause for concern for people who are worried about having a president who is not well-versed in economics, but I think the reason why Duterte is generating this kind of response despite this weakness in a key aspect of running the nation is because the people are putting peace and order first in their priority in terms of what this country should achieve in the near and immediate future, believing that everything else will follow and fall into place, including stable, sustainable economics.

Simply said, Mayaman ka nga, pero hindi ka masaya dahil ang daming kriminal na pagala-gala. Hold up. Kidnap. Carjack. Home invasion. Mamili ka.

Duterte is using theatrics, but really, who isn’t during campaign period? The people allowed themselves to be regaled because they believe that once in Malacanang, the theatrics will end, and the real action will begin (personally, I believe that the current administration hasn’t stopped its theatrics, since we’re on the topic – just look at how the president is responding to the very serious problems in his plate and the endless excuses he makes over and over again – it is simply appalling, but I digress).

This is not in defense of Duterte.

This is in defense of the sentiment of the people to which I can relate to.

This is in defense of the validity of fear and being fed up.

Critics say that looking at the way Duterte speaks and rationalizes, it is not impossible that he’ll become a tyrant like Adolf Hitler or a fascist like Benito Mussolini.

Yes, Duterte can be a Hitler and Mussolini, but limiting the spectrum of what he can become is, to a point, unfair for argument’s sake, because there are also those who ruled in a tyrannical fashion who nonetheless proved effective in leading the country forward, like Marcos Pérez Jiménez of Venezuela and China’s Mao Zedong. While history is a great teacher, there is also danger in reading too much into it and setting the future in a pigeonhole. For argument’s sake, any presidential aspirant in the running today can become an evil despot – we can’t argue against it because none of us can see the future.

So yeah, there is reason to fear.

But I would rather have this kind of fear: the fear of breaking the law knowing the iron hand that is ready to slap me smack in the face is there, waiting, vigilant, and ready, rather than the kind of fear I have right now: the fear of being victimized by street thugs and petty criminals late at night, while walking, while on the bus or jeep, or even when in my own house, knowing that those tasked with law enforcement is inept and inutile at eradicating this kind of modern day pestilence, rendered to this embarrassing, pitiful state as a result of the kind of governance their commander in chief lacking political will inspires.

As for the semblance of being a fascist and his use of charisma and ruthlessness which is similar with Hitler’s approach that augured his rise to popularity in pre-war Germany, I agree with this observation, and I am not surprised.

The Philippines, like Germany during the ascension of a charismatic leader in Hitler, has a population many of which are plain sick and tired of an ineffective government which can’t stop lying to the people, which can’t stop amassing personal wealth by unabashedly looting the public coffers, which can’t stop the rise of criminality, which can’t provide a justice system of integrity considering how criminals with money always gets away with their evil deeds unscathed, while the streets continue as a worsening breeding ground for petty criminals police can’t apprehend, leaving honest, hard-working people in fear of their lives and their properties because there is no one else they can trust.

No one but Duterte, whom they hope can make real change happen. Duterte has become a popular choice because he does not mind getting his hands dirty.

I think this is what happens when the people are pushed against the wall. They want someone to help them push back.

I do not subscribe to state sponsored killings, but I am not naive to believe it isn’t happening right now or in past administrations, but to reiterate, I do not approve of it.

But if circumventing the law to fast track improvement in peace in order is what he’ll do, I’ll have to agree or disagree on a case per case basis.

Like many people, it is frustrating to see guilty individuals roam freely because they continually exploit the corrupt, lackadaisical justice system; it is a slap to the face of honest law-abiding people.

To my point, if Duterte will execute/rub out drug lords and rapists for example, go ahead. I think about the people these devils raped, killed, and drugged. I think about the other evils they perpetrated, like turning drug addicts into thieves and murderers for a quick buck. If Duterte will circumvent the law for that end, then I have to say that I do not have any problem with that at all.

They say this will sow fear. I say good, it is time fear becomes palpable again, and force this very crooked rod to become straight once again.

Fear will restore discipline. And if we become accustomed to living disciplined lives, then maybe we’ll regain old values long lost: self-respect, self-worth, dignity, a sense of honoring one’s word and commitment, and over time, a natural proclivity to stand on the side of morality.

When people tell me Duterte will kill people, I reiterate by asking them to look at the result of an inept government right now: people are already dying, because of petty crimes in the streets, because our soldiers are sent to the jungles to fight rebels, bandits and terrorists poorly armed, because of warlords in provinces fighting for electoral position and territorial control, because of drugs, because of criminal syndicates, because of dirty cops, because of the prevalence of cheap guns-for-hire.

The sad part is, today, most of the people ending up dead are law abiding individuals who mean no harm to others – people who are held up at gun point and refused to be taken advantaged of, ending with a bullet in the chest or a stab wound in the belly; people who are resting at home ending up massacred by a drug crazed junkie in need of money for more drugs.

It is time to return the favor, and send these devils straight to hell, a trip long delayed and overdue.

I am tired of living in fear because the government cannot protect me.

I want to be free of fear, as long as I know that I am law-abiding.

Please do not dumb down my argument for choosing Duterte for president, simply because you think he is a stupid choice.

Because this is not in defense of Duterte.

This is in defense of my right to live in a world free of fear.

Duterte

I am voting for an effective president, not for someone eyeing canonization and sainthood.

The Sword from the Stars

Kampilan Tala

It was supposed to be the beginning.

Instead, we – Sue and I – found ourselves looking at an end.

Like all expecting parents, the several-months-long pregnancy journey is filled with moments wherein we imagine how life would be with Kampilan Tala.

Now, none of these is coming true.

At least, not now.

Because when faced with the end, what I realized is that the end is the beginning. The end of the hope that Sue and I get to become parents to a son named Kampilan Tala is the beginning of a new chapter in our life as a couple. The end of Sue’s pregnancy is the beginning of our life as a couple – tested, scarred, cautious and all the more resolute in the belief that all things will come in due time, and that things happen for a reason outside of our own abilities to consciously shape the future as we hope it to be.

But the realization did not come easy. What was it they say, about how it is the darkest before dawn? I am not sure if it is scientifically true, but me, I saw a darkness I have never seen in the past, before I was given a new dawn.

What was immediately made real was this: the end of that night – April 19, 2015, the longest night of my life – signals the start of a new day, a day that imposes itself upon us, notwithstanding grief; an impetus, a wrecking ball.

It felt like the end – and for quite some time, it was more than a feeling, as I held Kampilan Tala in my arms – wrapped in green cloth, eyes closed, lips carrying a smile now frozen (a smile I know he was saving for his mom come the big day), body still warm and soft. I wailed unabashedly, engulfed with an unbearable loss.

Facebook status after

At that time, I just don’t know where to go from there, or if I even wanted to move towards any direction at all. I just wanted to stay still, hoping that this can make everything – the loss, the pain – go away.

It was beyond painful: it was unbearable, and many times, I just wanted to die, so I can follow my son to where he is now. Every time I go out to buy necessities in the nearby convenience store, I would look at the speeding vehicles along E. Rodriguez, and I’d think about how easy it is to die, by just stepping in front of any of the cars and trucks zooming back and forth.

Or just jump from the third floor balcony of the hospital room, plummet head first.

After that episode, I found myself in a darker place, if there was one. I can’t sleep, and in the rare moments that I doze off, I would wake up with a start. I was disoriented and forgetful. After the night terrors came the sense of hopelessness, and the lack of desire and purpose to live. After that, I just wanted everyone to lose someone, for the world to be swallowed by death here and there, so that I know I am not alone in my misery.

During those times, I feared never finding peace again. I was a broken man, doomed to self-destruct soon.

Until that one evening when I saw a shooting star blazing across the night sky. My first thought was “It’s Tala.” My son.

And somehow, in that moment, as I watch the shooting star disappear on the horizon, I felt a sense of hope again. I was awashed with a new-found positive energy.

I felt Kampilan Tala whispering in my heart: begin again, to be happy, to hope, to live.

I have been trying ever since, anak.

Tattoo of Kampilan Tala

Salamat Kampilan Tala. You are my warrior spirit, as I fight the battles in this war we call life.

You are my Sword from the Stars. And today, I will buy you flowers.

Kampilan Tala's photo, urn and flowers


Postscript

Last year, I lost my son. It was a painful and unbearable experience. My wife and I could have not made it through this adversity if not for family and friends who supported us, gave us kind and warm words, and showed us that while we lost Kampilan Tala, we are still surrounded by many people who love us and cared for us. Like Kampilan Tala, you and your words are never forgotten and forever treasured, by us who are eternally grateful.

Gloc 9 & Binay – a mis(sed) communication

Gloc 9 found himself in the center of a firestorm after a video of him performing in a campaign sortie for presidential aspirant and current VP Jejomar Binay and his party-mates surfaced.

Many fans felt disappointed and/or dismayed seeing their idol performing in a campaign/party that promotes the vice president and his political allies running for office.

Fans took to social media to express their sentiment, and while there are those who are openly wondering why Gloc 9 accepted that gig, there are also those who showed Gloc 9 support.

To put things in context: Gloc 9 is a rapper famous for his lyrics that provide strong social commentary on the many ills of the society – from homophobia, to the evils of war, violence and prostitution, and yes, corruption in the government and the resulting social injustice. Binay, his family and many of his allies are currently in the midst of an important legal battle which, in victory, would validate him, whereas in defeat, would permanently tarnish his and his allies’ image.

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2015/08/26/More-corruption-allegations-vs-VP-Binay.html

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/01/26/1546557/binay-dared-explain-corruption-allegations-during-campaign

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/757363/new-witness-vs-binay-in-corruption-hearing

Here are the two sides: there are those who believe that, considering Binay’s current legal woes involving but not limited to graft and corruption, vis-à-vis Gloc 9’s diatribe against dirty corrupt politicians, the rapper should have opted to pass up on the invitation to perform, as a matter of principle.

You can’t work for someone who represents one of the many social problems you constantly address in your songs, can you?

The other side believes that Gloc 9 can do as he pleases, and there is nothing wrong if Gloc 9 appears on the stage during a Binay sortie.

Weighing the right versus the moral, and wondering if it is possible that the moral is right, and the right is moral. That’s always a tricky one.

After his brief silence, Gloc 9 responded with this message, via Facebook:

Gloc 9 responds to viral Binay video
Gloc 9 posted a response via his Facebook account

Gloc 9, whether knowingly or otherwise, created an IMAGE for himself as a rapper: he was the voice of the poor and the oppressed, a rags-to-riches fairy-tale story who, despite his success, remains in touch with the masa and continues to write about their experiences, helping them fight the good fight.

Binay, for many, is the SYMBOL of the oppressor. People believe he oppressed the masses by pocketing huge amount of money from the public coffers, and by using his power and influence to provide his friends ‘financially rewarding’ projects, to the detriment of those who truly need and/or deserve it.

So when Gloc 9 took the stage in a Binay sortie, people were surprised:

I thought he hated dirty politicians, so why is he performing for them? This is the watered down, baseline sentiment of those who were shocked at what they saw, and what they think it means.

For Gloc 9, the answer is simple: Trabaho lang.

Gloc 9 implied that he wasn’t endorsing Binay.

I think it would have been easier for everyone if Gloc 9 was indeed a Binay supporter, and him being there (even though it is a paid gig) was to show support for the person he feels should be the next president. If this was the case, the issue would be over. Many celebrities have made public their choice among the presidential hopefuls, and fans let their idols be, even if the fans wanted to vote someone else and not the choice of their idol.

But like the man implied, he isn’t endorsing Binay. Just had a paid gig with the man, that’s all.

Is it that simple, for an influential public figure to just say ‘trabaho lang‘?

No.

For one, there’s “endorsement by association”. For Gloc 9, this could have just been another paid gig. This is not his first rodeo. But to the audience, this is more than Gloc 9 performing as per the contract for this paid gig. This is already endorsement by association.

It can’t be helped if some fans now are wondering if Gloc 9 is too wrapped up in putting in work to earn money for his family that he doesn’t have that clear line separating the gigs he should take and the projects he should beg off from.

For example, if a popular and openly homophobic individual books Gloc 9 to sing at his party, wouldn’t his act of gracing the event of a known homophobic be in contrast with the empowering message of his hit song Sirena?

But I digress, so.

Guy Masterman (2012), in his book Sponsorship: For a Return on Investment, explained that “by placing a celebrity into an advertisement, or other setting, and alongside a product, the connection between the two can be described as being ‘by association’ in that one endorses the other because they are seen to be together” (p. 106).

Because they are seen together. The power of proximity.

This means the image of a celebrity holding a marijuana joint can be immediately interpreted as an endorsement, the celebrity encouraging people to smoke pot, even if this is not the truth and even if the interpretation was taken out of context.

For some, Gloc 9 and Binay in one stage is immediately seen as endorsement by association. Gloc 9’s intentions may have been pure (earn money in a decent, legal way, accept projects for as long as his schedule permits, and not promote a politician along the way), but as an influential celebrity, he should have also done his due diligence and assessed first how this will make him look.

Like any celebrity, Gloc 9’s actions – to the eyes of the fans – have a symbolic meaning. Sharing the stage with Parokya ni Edgar symbolizes his friendship with the group. Wearing FMCC shirt symbolizes his esteem of the late FrancisM., and his loyalty to the apparel brand created by the Master Rapper.

This symbolic value is interpreted by the fans in a subjective manner. While that does not mean the interpretation is automatically correct, Gloc 9, as an artist, should have made the effort to make sure there is no misunderstanding resulting from what he was about to do.

Believe it or not, Gloc 9 could have avoided this whole fan uproar. He could have announced via social media that he has a gig in a Binay sortie, and that this was a paid performance, nothing more. He could have stated prior to the gig that he wasn’t, in any way, endorsing Binay or any politico. Furthermore he was just using the opportunity to reach to his fans who will be there amongst the crowd who’d would be happy to see him rap, which was always a powerful motivation to return to the stage.

He could have opened his tour of gracing various political sorties with this announcement, and had he done this, this whole negative backlash would have been entirely avoided.

Why? Because you communicated. You explained before the fans’ highly imaginative and very critical wheels of interpretation started turning. You initiated the effort to avoid any misinterpretation.

And you did this because your fans are important to you.

The crisis could have been avoided if you showed you cared, if you showed your fans their feelings and opinions matter to you – and it really should, if you appreciated the fans so much that you do not want to disappoint them by appearing on stage with someone many people hate because of corruption – the same problem the fans thought you, Gloc 9, hated too.

Remember when we were kids? Kapag bati kayo ng kaaway ko, hindi na tayo bati. Hmp!

To the fans, Gloc 9 is not just a rapper. Gloc 9 is their idol and their hero. To the fans, Gloc 9 is an artist who uses his gift of writing and rapping to help in the battle against social ills. They all look up to Gloc 9, and they want Gloc 9 to set an example for others to follow.

Do it because it is your job. Trabaho lang.

For some fans, they see this as Gloc 9’s message to them, and many are disappointed because they cannot, in good conscience, abide by such a Machiavellian and Draconian outlook.

Are we alive just to work? Aren’t we alive so that we can live, love, fight social injustice, be the voice of truth and moral values, inspire, make a difference, influence change?

True, Gloc 9 is a father and a husband whose main responsibility is to provide for his family.

But did he do the right thing here?

I will leave you with this:

“What is right is not always moral, and what is moral is not always right.”

I have my humble opinion, and you have yours too.

Mawalang galang na po, sa taong nagra-rap at ngayon ay nakatayo.

Amats

Gitarista ka, drummer ako.
UE Caloocan ako, ikaw Recto.
Forward ka, guard ako.
Gusto mo magpasa, ako gusto ko tumira
Tsk. Nasa ilalim na yung bola, ilalabas mo pa.
Buti matangkad ka, kasi vertically-challenged ako.
Kaya ikaw kumuha ng rebound, ako na tatakbo.
Payat ka pa rin, ako mataba na.
Kapal pa ng buhok mo, ako nakakalbo na.
Tinutulog mo ang mahabang byahe, ako malapit na sumuka.
Magaling ka sa details, ako mabilis mataranta.
Gusto mo Airsoft, ako bumili ng espada.
Tinapos natin yung Contra, ikaw yung kumamada
Bagot ako sa arcade, buti sulit pag pinapanood kita.
At nung napako ka sa paa, ako yung pinalo.
Badtrip. Gusto ko sumigaw, “Wow, Pa, ‘nlabo!”
 
Pero ganoon talaga pag kuya ka
At kahit magkaiba trip natin, ako yung una mong kasangga!
 
Ito nga siguro yung dahilan bakit matatag tayo,
Sa gitna ng pagkakaiba at salpukan, sa huli
Mag utol pa din tayo.
Tara inuman na, putek!
 

Masama daw ang tattoo

I came across this guy’s comment, saying tattoo is bad.

Masama daw ang tattoo.

True. If your tattoo is something you use to spread the message of hate and discord, masama nga yan.

If your tattoo is not healing well to the point that your skin is festering, masama nga yan.

If you are like the mother in this video who forces an underage kid to have a tattoo, masama nga yan.

BUT

If you have tattoos because the story of your painted ancestors inspired you, and you seek to emulate them and make an effort to reconnect to your colorful past by undertaking the same art of body modification, because the tattooed ones back then are the warriors and the mystics and the seers and the elders and the leaders, and it is a truly inspiring and poignant story, anong masama dun?

If your tattoo is an expression of sentiment – like a portrait, a tribute to a deceased loved one you cherish and miss so much, anong masama dyan?

If your tattoo is your symbolic way of showing people who you are, anong masama dyan?

If your tattoo is the tome containing the beliefs you most hold dear, and looking at it is a reminder and an inspiration, anong masama dyan?

"In Islam, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) is part of the Quran, Sura Al-Baqara, Verse 156...The phrase is commonly translated as "Verily we belong to God, and to God we return."
“In Islam, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ) is part of the Quran, Sura Al-Baqara, Verse 156…The phrase is commonly translated as “Verily we belong to God, and to God we return.”

If tattoo is your artistic self expression, anong masama dyan?

If you see your body as a temple, and tattooing is your means of decorating the walls, anong masama dyan?

This is an education on context.

Anything can either be good or bad.

So before you make a sweeping generalization and post it on social media where millions of trolls prey on unwitting people who are not careful with what they say and how they say it, first, mind your words.

Think it through.

Set the context.

Educate yourself first.

What do you really know about tattoo, anyway?

A tattooed Igorot
A tattooed Igorot

 

Whang-od Photo by allanbarredo on Flickr
Whang-od
Photo by allanbarredo on Flickr
From Richard J. Field's Magellan's Cross (Trafford Publishing, 2012)
From Richard J. Field’s Magellan’s Cross (Trafford Publishing, 2012)

Paul A. Rodell's Culture and Customs of the Philippines (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002)
Paul A. Rodell’s Culture and Customs of the Philippines (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002)

In the end, should you choose to be obstinate, at least don’t be vague, man.

Commit to your ideas, to your beliefs, however stupid or outdated it may sound to other people.

Pakialam ba nila, right?

You say tattoo is masama. You know what else is masama?

Making generalizations. Subscribing to stereotypes. Insisting at looking through the pigeon hole. And at this day and age, still?

Magaling, magaling

Philippines Reverse Brain Drain

Magaling ka, bakit hindi ka mag-abroad? (You are talented, why not work overseas?)

I get this all the time, from relatives and friends alike.

Sometimes it’s an empty gesture, a feigned act. Sometimes, it is a sincere proposition they’d want you to truly consider.

Most people mean well, I know, and it is heartwarming that they’d want me to experience the comforts brought about by being successful abroad. It is not every day that someone comes up to you and recognizes your talents, believing you are worth more than what you have right now.

So why do I feel disheartened? Because it is a reminder of a reality, that many talented Filipinos opt to go abroad, that the immediate impulse is to leave, which, over time, becomes a resolve cemented by despair and frustration.

I don’t blame them. It is not their fault. The truth is, there is very little opportunity here in the Philippines to tap, enhance and nurture talent.

I’m a writer. Someone told me years ago that this is a great profession, if only I was in the right country. A decade and a half in this gig, and I know what that person meant.

So would I go abroad where there is a bigger chance that my talents would be better rewarded? No.

Kung magaling ka, huwag kang mag-abroad. I say this sans the self-righteous tone. This is an entreaty.

Stay here. Use your talents here. Have faith that the Philippines is set to turn a corner soon.

When that happens, I am proud to say I did my part, however little it may seem in the grand scheme of things, and you would too, I promise.

For all the maladies that have crippled the Pearl of the Orient, what we need now is action, a collective effort, one Herculean heave, through the combined strength of those who still believe in what the Philippines – and the Filipino – can truly become.

There is no remedy in complaining. There is no solution in mud slinging. And with brain drain, what is extinguished from us as a country isn’t just talent, but hope, promise, and will.

Magaling ka, bakit hindi ka bumalik ng Pilipinas?

Before we die, let us give ourselves a chance at a life dedicated – in part or in whole – to helping Philippines become a great nation. Ang mabuhay para sa iyo.

Pilipino, para sa Pilipinas, para sa iyo ito.

An open letter to ESPN GO

Screen shot of ESPN GO's homepage and where the video clip is located
Screen shot of ESPN GO’s homepage and where the video clip is located

To the person who wrote the title “GRIFFIN GETS OFF GROUND. NAILS 3 BEFORE LANDING”

Dear Sir or Madam,

First of all, this is really a very intriguing title of a video clip I found while browsing your website. My curiosity piqued, I clicked, watched, and was disappointed.

The title did not match what transpired in the video.

Is it true the ball went in first before Griffin landed on the floor?
Is it true the ball went in first before Griffin landed on the floor?

Let me get this clear. By saying, “NAILS 3 BEFORE LANDING”, do you mean to say that the basketball – which he heaved outside the three-point arc – was inside the hoop before his feet touched the ground?

Exactly.
Exactly.

By this, you are implying that Griffin can stay in the air longer than normal. Yes, Griffin is gifted. He can jump very high. But remain airborne long enough that the ball went in the hoop first before he landed? Even His Airness Michael Jordan cannot do that.

I think the title is more air than truth. And this same ESPN GO video clip is proof.

In said 23-second video clip you can watch at ESPNGO, Griffin launched at around 6 seconds into the clip, and at around 00:07/00:23 Griffin’s feet are on the floor, the ball still up in the air.

When it went in, Griffin was already backpedaling to play defense on the other end.

Here’s a screengrab:

Clearly, the ball was still in the air when Griffin's feet hit the ground. This is not him making a 3 before landing.
Clearly, the ball was still in the air when Griffin’s feet hit the ground. This is not him making a 3 before landing.

I think what you meant was GRIFFIN GETS OFF GROUND. GETS A 3 POINT SHOT OFF BEFORE LANDING. When we say “nail” it means it is already a made shot. Griffin sank the trey AFTER he landed. He nailed a 3 AFTER he landed.

Physics. Gravity. That’s how it naturally is. You land first before the ball enters the ring, for shots that go in. Look at them.

Can you imagine seeing a jump shooter still airborne even after his three-point shot sank? Freaky.

While we, your readers, appreciate creative, fun and exciting titles, we do not want to be misled by an inappropriate, unsuitable or incorrect title.

Thanks!
Nathan

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