Monday, October 31, 2005

A Ghost Town

Makati, the Central Business District or CBD of the Philippines, has become a ghost town. Not in the Halloween sense but it is nearly without its normal multitude of people. Everyone is gone and went on vacation. Except for us, people in call centres and people in other outsourcing companies. I am not complaining though work is work and we are compensated. Its just an eerie feeling seeing almost zero cars around Ayala and Paseo de Roxas. Happy Halloween! Additional posts for today A highway of many uses The Bride of Frankenstein

Friday, October 28, 2005

Feast of All Saints and Feast of All Souls

We have now reached that time of the year when families begin an exodus to the city of the dead. This yearly pilgrimage is done to remember family members and friends who crossed on to the other side. Some believe that it is Catholic's version of Halloween, A Celtic belief that on the last day of the Celtic Year (October 31) evil spirits roamed the world with intent to create mischief and in order to be safe one had to dress as ghosts, goblins and other demonic denizens. Growing up Filipino and Catholic there was no Halloween Day, it was always November 1 and November 2 - All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day. Growing up I assumed (incorrectly) that Halloween and All Saints and All Souls' Day were the same. As kids we were kind of proud that we celebrated Halloween for two days. Ha ha. It was probably for the best we never went trick or treating. The trick or treating part was done in the gated communities of in Makati and Greenhills at the time. For us November 1 and 2 was going to the graves of our ancestors cleaning the place, probably eating, making wax balls from the melted part of the candle, and saying the novena for the departed members of the family. Some of the other people would actually sleep overnight, played mah-jong, drink; the whole cemetery became alive during November 1 and 2. It was min-city complete with food stalls and on the outskirt a carnival was set-up. Unfortunately, the city of the dead became quite congested with the living and the living leaves trash and others whereever they step. As the years passed and as the cemetery became more crowded we found it more practical and less stressful to visit our dead a few days or a week before All Saints and All Souls' day. And a few years ago, my nephew started going trick or treating. The local malls sponsor such events as part of their marketing schemes. So, I guess Halloween is coming to the Philippines. But, we still celebrate All Saints and All Souls' day; a little bit different perhaps but the intent of remembering the dead and the saints is still there. ___________________________________ Additional posts for today Books to read on Halloween, Feast of All Saints and All Souls Day What is your choice of horror movie? Balete

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Waking up early

Ok, it is not a good shot. The shot was taken in a clandestine manner inside an Tamaraw FX AUV just about to leave for Makati. Everyday, I wake up to the sound of two alarm clocks, a regular alarm clock and the alarm clock of my phone. As my eyes open to the sound I see nothing but darkness outside. It takes sometime before the state of awakeness and lucidity sets in. Outside it is as quite as a grave yard, you do not even hear the sound of the MRT as it passes by. And generally it is cool. A peaceful site. I have fond memories of early mornings. My old Grandfather sitting inside the kitchen gingerly sipping his coffee just before he leaves for his job at a arrastre firm on the docks of Manila Bay. The smell of chocolate from the cacao fruit made by my grandmother in Laguna and the same smell years later at house in Iloilo. The taste of freshly cooked tapa and fried rice we were about to eat after spending the whole cramming for an exam of our biostat teacher Prof Daria. The sight of the mists that can be seen from our tent at UP Baguio. Even the arrival at the Airport on Christmas Day arriving just in time to greet everyone a Merry Christmas just as the rays of sun started wrapping itself about the landscape and stirring the slumbering beings of Cubao. I like daybreak. ___________________________________________________ Additional posts for today Goldfish bowl crimes Darna and the Darnies versus the Anti-Darnies It was once a coconut tree

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quotes and posts

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. - George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905
Here is a more fuller version of this quotatioin:
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience. - George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905
I just feel like sharing that quote for today. Hope you had a nice day! ______________________________________________________ Additional posts for today: Wallace and Gromit Masahista Another rainy day in Makati Laguna Lake or Laguna de Bai

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Google and the copyright

Try googling this "Google +lawsuit+publishers". And you will get a bevy of news about the class lawsuits taken by authors and publishers against Google for their Digital Library Project. Here are a some of articles I found: Writers sue Google Print over copyright by James Strucke, the Guardian Authors Guild sues Google over library By Elinor Mills, CNET Even the publishers are getting involved. Google sure has stirred several hornet's nets and a multitude of bee hives. This case is going to be a landmark case that will test the copyright law and its outcome might have lasting implications for the book and publishing indutsries. Interesting... ________________________________________ Additional posts for today: Time Magazine's All-Time 100 best English Language Novels: 1923 - Present Aquariums & a Fish Show

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A fatal religious procession

A religious procession turned political rally is what I saw this month. I see no end in the debate of this for now. Religion and politics is a volatile mix and more so in the Philippines and among Filipinos - we who lived three hundred years under the church bells or bajo delas campanas. The turn of events last Friday, reminded me of one story from our colonial history. The first version of this story was an account written by Ninothcka Rosca. And since the first time I read it has never left me. And coincidentally it would seem that this event also occurred in October. This is the tale of Marshal Fernando de Bustamante y Bustilo. Governor General Busatmante was assigned by Philip V of Spain to the Philippines to straighten-out the financial deficit in colonial coffers of Manila, its silver and coin were described as a pittance - upon arriving and assuming his post in the month of August 1717. Bustamante discovered a paltry amount of silver and gold in the government coffers and several promissory notes. Corruption was rampant among the officials. He promptly collected taxes and imprisoned officials suspected of corruption. He was effectively doing his task, during the first six months he was able to build up the treasury to 230,671 - this increased to 293,444. Residents of Manila unused to what seemed to be the "due diligence" and tax-collecting efforts of Bustamante sought patronage or protection from the other Ecclesial power in the colony - the Archbishop of Manila and the head of the Religious Orders. Several prominent persons sought sanctuary and it was granted. One of them was a person by the name of Don Antoniode Osejo y Vasquez, a notary public, who took along with him the records of his office - including the protocols of 1717, 1718 and 1719. These records must have been very important because the Royal Audiencia issued to decrees ordering the Church to give back the records. What were in these records I wonder? Archbishop Francisco dela Cuesta initially promised to return the said documents but later changed his mind. He believed that the decrees violated the law of Sanctuary and the Royal Audience that issued the decree was illegal since Bustamante had sacked the old one and appointed (in some cases reappointed) the new one. Things were at a standstill. To complicate things more, the Governor General receive word that the Clergy and a number of citizens were conspiring to depose of him. Bustamante issued a call to arms to all Spanish citizens and placed in jail the Archbishop and all the heads of the Religious Orders. Then October 17 came. The streets of Manila were still. The church bells of the Walled city were still tolling but they were playing dirges. In the households enormous candles were lighted and prayers were uttered. This was the unsettling silence before the storm. The 19th of October just before dawn the gates of the convents of Saint Francis, Saint Dominic and Saint Dominic were flung open and a stream of religious persons and people who had sought sanctuary went out and started a procession towards the Palace of Governor General. They were chanting, "Long Live the Church" along the way. Some were carrying torches other religious symbols like cross and some carried instruments of death. Along the way other people joined them. Soon they reached the Palace; the Palace Guards were unable to stop them. The Governor General met them sabre bared near the grand staircase. Then the mob became deadly. Someone struck Bustamante with a machete - it broke his right arm. The Governor General's son attempting to help his father was immediately dispatched - he was dead on the floor. Then someone gashed the head of Bustamante with a sabre. The mob roped and dragged him down the stairs. One can just imagine what other indignities Bustamante suffered at the hands of that mob. A member of the mob saw that Bustamante was still breathing and stabbed him twice. Meanwhile, a part of the mob went to the dungeons and released the Archbishop and the Heads of the Religious Orders. All were freed; no one was left behind the jail. Surprisingly Bustamante was still alive. Those who took pity on him laid him down one of the sofas in the Palace. A doctor was called for. The Governor General died before the doctor came. The Te Deum was heard all over Manila. Archbishop became the acting Governor General. He ordered the preparation and sending back of the late Governor General and his families' remains to Mexico, expenses paid for from the disposition of Bustamante's property. There was of course an investigation but because of the distance between Mexico and Madrid from the Philippines nothing came of it. Everyone was exonerated and Bustamante was left as an odd footnote in the colonial history of the Philippines. A tragic figure in colonial politics and religion. Except for two things a novel written by one of the country's national hero and a painting by a national artist. Padre Burgos was a mestizo who became involved in the struggle between native secular priests and religious orders for the control of parishes around the country. Father Burgos was the philosophical father of Paciano, Jose Rizal and the other Filipino nationalists. Along with two other priests he was implicated in the Cavite Mutiny. Their life was put at an end by the execution device called the Garrotte, a seat equipped with a metal band that is used to strangle or break the neck of the victim. Burgos wrote a novel called La Loba Negra; the tale was about a mother and daughter who scoured the Philippines killing friars; according to the story they were the wife and daughter of Governor General Bustamante out for revenge. Records though point out that Bustamante's wife died before he became Governor General; but what of his daughter? Although the tale seems to be similar to another story I read about a witch in Mexico who had a passion for literally picking up priests while flying on her broomstick and dropping them. Then there is Felix Hidalgo, a contemporary of Juan Luna and Jose Rizal who was as critically acclaimed as Luna and recognised as one of the Philippines National Artists. His most controversial painting is a mural depicting the Assassination of Governor Bustamante by friars. The painting is said to be in the National Gallery of Art in Manila. However, the only place I have seen the painting is in the pages of a glossy history book. Juan Luna's Spolarium is a classic but for me this mural by Hidalgo is the most chilling scene of murder in art. ----------------------------------------------- Rosca, Ninothcka. "Gothic Death of a Governor". Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation. v5 1240-1242

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I am not sure about other people who are blogging, but when I started blogging I made a mental memo to myself to refrain from writing about politics. Sadly, I found myself writing about because of frustration with the system and my distrust of the different players. This skepticism found its expression in the political ramblings I wrote. Like most people we have had the experience of being bombarded by rhetoric from both sides of the political fence. From the taxi or fx driver and their ubiquitous sidekicks, radio commentators; news channels and newspapers that depart from reporting and proceed to sensationalizing and editorializing the news; to the commentators who seem to believe they have the answers to all questions; from relatives who mouth the rhetoric they read and hear; and from the politicians and religious leaders who day to day seem to be no different from the other - both spinning stories, taking advantage of events for their unaltruistic agendas or worse believe in their own messianic hype. But then are we not political animals? Is not relationships in the most basest and vulgar form politics? Is politics bad? Should we refrain from engaging? I think we cannot escape it. It is inevitable. Politics define us. Perhaps human relationship in its simplest form is politics. Overall, Politics is a double edge sword that can be used for good or bad. And we cannot refrain from engaging in it we are in the thick of it, whatever we do. This morning as I left the house I was able to catch a glimpse of an old Spencer Tracy movie. Tracy played an old Mayor, conceptualised straight from Tammany Hall, who is up against a coalition of political opponents no better than himself. In one scene a bishop told his assistant after watching the tv ad of Tracy's rival, "Is that the best they can offer? Where are all the good men?" "Not in politics, there are other ways of getting out of the gutter nowadays" In another scene Tracy's opponents led by Basil Rathbone was trying to woo another Archbishop to their cause. The Archibishop told them frankly what he thought of their candidate,which was not much. Rathbone countered with the lesser of two evil argument; to which the Archbishop replied."I know your game and I have decided not to play." Even though we are in the thick of it, we can choose how, when and the manner by which to engage it. And if politics is the simplest base of relationship; as such it is not the only the base of life and relationsips; there is love and its different forms - philia, eros and agape; politics is important true but it is not eveything. So I think I will continue to write about politics whenever there is a need. For politics is something one cannot avoid. I am a political animal. But I also recognised I am much more. Politics is interesting but its not the only thing of interest in the world. If one evolves from politics one will discover other things more illuminating and satisfying. I must apologize in advance if my views will be different and counter to what the reader may be used to. In the end its just an opinion for the moment and given the set of prevailing circumstances. ---------------------------------------------- Additional Posts for today Filipino Heritage Books Shows on local television

Friday, October 14, 2005

Makati to attract investors

I came across this article while reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer today. The article was written by Tarra V. Quismundo. It would seem that the government of Makati City is drafting local legislation, which would exempt certain businesses from paying business and realty taxes, designed to maintain and attract investors. Seems fair enough, until you read the rest of the article. The following link will take you to : Makati offers tax breaks to lure businesses After reading the article, two things came to mind: One, This seems to be the city's deodorant to the planned changing of business tax from the present municipal to city level. Two, Makati would probably keep its businesses and attract new investors if it refrains from using the Central Business District for political theatre; stop using Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas for Binay's rallies.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I am not resigned

I rarely read and watch the news today. I stay long enough to get the essential gist of the story, the facts. When it comes to statements of politicians I just mute the volume. Commentators on the other hand are better read than heard. Somehow their arguments seem to lose their essence when they speak. They have a tendency to drown in their own arguments. I have become desentisived against the media and its cohorts. Have I become distant to the problems then that has been happening? I do not think so. I knew they exsist and I know they have to be dealt with one way or the other. However, It has been also apparent to me that it is critical to do what is right and have one's wits about and not to be used by other people with agendas or delusional individuals - idealists who think theirs is the only road to salvation. I am wary of journalists who have a tendency to sensationalize the news. Why do they do this? To up the ratings of their network or to increase the sales of their newspaper or to influence events with the notion that they have the right idea to save the nation. Mistrusting politicians is a given and it should be a matter of habit. This is more crucial when dealing with the religious and self-styled political revolutionaries. They have their motives and before they attain the practice is to wrap it in altruistic ideals. One does not have to look beyond one's vision to have an altruistic quest. How many of the self-appointed saviours of society even treat humanely or with equity people close to them. Not just the masses but people close to them. I am sorry, I just do not buy the hype and cause they are peddling. I refuse to be firewood that will propel their political movement or cause. Question everything and never take anything for granted. Ambrose Bierce was being true and sarcastic when he wrote:
"REVOLUTION, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. . . . the substitution of the rule of an Administration for that of a Ministry, whereby the welfare and happiness of the people were advanced a full half-inch."
I view causes and intent with extreme caution. But what is left to do? Does one just submit to the futility of it all? No.
"The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints." -Will Durant, American Historian
I know but I do not approve. And I am not resigned. -Edna St Vincent Millay
-------------------------------- Additional posts A semi-spotless comedy A mostly harmless book A simple aquarium project Fish Show at Glorietta on the 18th of October

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Weekend Thunderstorm

I was planning on watching a movie at the Spanish Film Festival. They were going to be showing an interesting cartoon film. For some unknown reason I decided to stay in the house with my nephews. Maybe I was just too tired. The sky was getting black, an ominous cloud had blocked out the rays of the sun. And then it started. Thunder heralded the coming of the storm and lightning illuminated its path. There were still children outside when the storm started. As the storm raised its brew to a crescendo the voices of the children started to disappear. Undoubtedly, they proceeded home to seek shelter from the storm. Then it happened. The power went out. Brown-out. It effectively curtailed the plans of my nephews and I to watch the a DVD that afternoon. I was beginning to think, maybe I should have gone to Greenbelt anyway. With nothing to do my nephews went to our sala to sleep, except for the youngest one who was afraid of the dark. He opted to stay in the well-lighted part of the house. Thankfully, my room had enough windows to allow me to read. And that I did. The rain got stronger. It was the only thing you could hear outside. The wind was also blowing and it delivered much needed cool breeze into the house. After a few minutes the thunder and lightning show subsided. All that was left was the cool pitter-patter of the rain. The breezed sort of lulled me in the middle of my reading. After an hour or two, I was awakened by the illumination from the flourescent lamp above me. The power was back. The thunder storm gave me quite a relaxing sleep. Additional posts for today A semi-spotless comedy A mostly harmless book

Friday, October 07, 2005

Greenbelt Carabaos

Its a good thing that Greenbelt made use of the Carabao's that were displayed before in Quad. For those who do not remember Quad or even Goldcrest these were the malls or commercial establishments in Makati before Glorietta. Most of Quad and Goldcrest are gone now, demolished or fused together with Glorietta. Still, it is nice to see the Ayalas, the owners of the Central Business District in Makati, still make use of these statues. In a sense they seem to be more functional now. Carabaos at Greenbelt Additional posts for today Carabaos at Greenbelt The Three Dimension Luck and Power Test

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Google blog search

The Internet is an amazing piece of work. It seems to be in a constant state of change. During my free time on the net I was fiddling with some of the new features of google. I found something that might of interest to my fellow-bloggers: Google Blog Search Free time at work or just killing time and tired of all the assorted things hitting the fan. Google or google stalk. An additional post for today Is as useful as cupping a corpse

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Of death, last wills & testaments

Last night, I found myself at a chapel witnessing a necrological service for one my mentors. The mass was solemn, as I supposes masses should go and the speeches were many and long ... really long. I am unacustomed to long necrological services. The necrological services of our family are usually concise. Maybe, its the speakers way of showing respect. Although it was not hard to miss that a number of mourners were beginning to talk after the third or fourth speaker. One person beside was complaining that he was getting hungry. I just smiled and we also began to chat in whispered voices. Unfortunately, when a number of people began to talk in wisphered voices you begin to hear a form of buzzing. Perhaps that is why you have to keep speeches concise and at least interesting. My mentor was a good woman. A patient and informal teacher who knew the value of teaching and the use of subtlety. She was my professor in more than one subject at the institute. She will be missed and I am quite sure she is in a better place now. The service not only tested my patience in listening to a long queue of speeches but it also brought about an epiphany, all of us have a need to put things in order, just in case. Death like all things in life comes like a thief in the night and when that happens we need a set of instructions to put things in order after we have left the waking world and cross over to the undiscovered country. The Last Will and Testament is a fascinating set of documents. In the event of our deaths this set of documents gives instruction as to how we are to be interred and how are remaining possessions are to be given away. A few people in history have used the last will and testament to control events after their death. The Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismark specified that during his funeral there would be no speeches at all. A prudent move since a few years before he was unceremoniouslt dismissed by his ruler Kaiser Willhelm II, who so like most politicians had a penchant to make speeches during funerals in aid of their cause. Then there was the scientist who requested that he be buried naked, as nature had intended. It was unfortunate though that his wife though thought otherwise and had him dressed and embalmed. I thought at first that the scientist was Mendel, until my friend reminded me that Mendel was a monk and had no wife. It may be Linnaeus. It is interesting though that last wills and testaments are the last thing on people's mind. Perhaps, its something we approach with caution, since it deals with our own mortality. Similar to the dreaded trip to the dentist's office or surgery. Apologies to dentists of course. After reading Pope John Paul II 's last will it dawned on me that last wills and testaments can also be an instrument of reflection. Before writing out a will a person takes stock of his life and his riches, both material and spiritual. In a sense, it is a kind of confessions - what have I done right or wrong? Did I achieve anything?, Was my life worth it. You could see this in the last will and testament of Pope John Paul II. In his will he was not only preoccupied with his last wishes but also about his life - the effects of the assasination, the fate of world and other spiritual matters. This week, I will start to write a will. But how can you write a will for a person of with no significant material possessions? Maybe it will be full of thank yous, I am sorries, and well-wishes. Somewhere it between a giving out of gifts. At least with a will there will be no intramurals over the mundane. Rizal's family fought with Josephine over Rizal's books. You never know what will happen five minutes from where you are at present. A renegade truck might be going your way or an extremist decides to go to heaven and bringing you along with him. Or after years of eating isaw and lechon you succumb to a myocardial infarction. Its better to be prepared. Anyway most wills have a way of becoming introspective and reflective. First set of things that come to mind when I make out my will:no formalin only cremation for me before the wake, no long speeches, no playing of Don't Cry for Me Argentina instead A Funeral March for a Marionette would be preferred, and a sumptuous repast for the guests after the ceremony. An additional post The front and different bits of...