Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Prom Night

The other night, I happened to pass by a hotel filled with young people dressed for some special occasion. The first thing that came to my mind was: Prom Night. And it made me smile as I recalled my first (and only) prom experience.

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There was a debate then among our teachers as to the propriety and relevance of JS Prom for us government scholars. But the traditionalists prevailed, and prom pushed through. Most of our batch mates were excited about it. The girls were giggling, and narrating the experiences of their older siblings, and even that of their parents. Both of my parents skipped their own school prom during their time. I am the eldest and there was no one who told me what this event was all about.

We were high school juniors then, naïve and rather innocent. But I, along with a few, was scared as hell. For one, we don’t have our own dates. And we were too shy to ask. Some senior boys asked the prettiest girls from our batch to be their partner. We just watched with envy. Some of the pretty senior girls asked some of our gutsiest boys to be their escort. There was one teacher who told us that in the US, plenty of teens lost (or willing to lose) their virginity on prom night. We just laughed about it, but we’re actually curious.

On prom night, the teachers did the matching for those of us who were not taken. We were paired with the seniors who also had no dates.

I was never concerned with how I looked. I was even wearing the barong my dad wore on his wedding day 15 years earlier. Nobody noticed. I didn’t want to buy something new even for this event. If I had my way, I’d skip this one. But my dad smiled and was proud when he saw me wear his barong. “At your age, I already had a girlfriend” he told me. At 14, I thought of it as ridiculous.

I was paired with a Chinese-looking girl with a Chinese-sounding family name. She smiled at me. I didn’t know how I reacted at that moment. Perhaps I smiled back. But I was turning cold. Then all pairs were made to march to the stage. I just followed what others did. I cared not how I walked, or how she walked. I did not even notice the smell of her perfume. She was holding my arm and I felt like melting at the gazing eyes of the others. I took a very deep breath every now and then.

At the dining table, she tried to open up a conversation. I kept my answers few. She immediately concluded that I was really very shy (hmmm…, it’s true). She then turned to her classmate who sat beside her, made a few introductions, and then I just sat there not knowing what to do or what to say.

After dinner, I slipped out from the table without even excusing myself from my partner. There at the lobby I found my friends who also ‘escaped’ from their uneasy situations. We laughed and enjoyed the ‘all boys’ moment. We did not return to our respective dates that night. Perhaps our dates just danced with their girl friends. Or perhaps they were also glad they got rid of us immature bunch.

I went home with nothing much to tell about the experience. "Did you get yourself a girlfriend, son?" my dad asked. I just smiled and shook my head. I thought it was better that I skipped the event altogether.

Prom was abolished the next year, when we were seniors (as we also agreed to its abolishment). The announcement broke the hearts of the many juniors anticipating the event. I wasn't able to redeem myself, at least by behaving properly and not leaving behind my partner.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Education of Manny Pacquiao

Now imagine Manny’s boyhood experience. His parents, like plenty others in the countryside, could be uneducated, and could not afford to send their kids to school. Poverty left Manny without a choice. He ventured to follow the footsteps of his idol, the former boxing champion, Rolando Navarette. The only qualification is the fist willing to slug it out with opponents on the ring.

The path to stardom was not easy for him. I saw a fight on TV when he was still an amateur. The way he threw punches was quite awkward. Punches flew everywhere like shooting a machine gun. But a coach, a mentor, who filled in the shoes of a classroom teacher, must have taught him well. Look at him now: A hero, a champion, and an aspiring congressman.

None less than the Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary himself announced that Manny Pacquiao passed the DepEd's Accreditation and Equivalency or A & E test for high school which Manny and his brother Bobby took last February 3 in General Santos City. So how’s that for an announcement?

Bobby failed (as reported on TV). And Manny was kind enough to encourage his bro to take the exam again. Sec. Lapus called Manny Pacquiao an "excellent model for out-of-school children, youth and adults who are determined to learn and are able to gain functional literacy skills outside of formal schooling." (quoted from this article)

But wait, when did he drop out from school? Some said he dropped out on his first year in high school. Why wasn’t his handlers enrolled him in a school while he was training in Manila? Perhaps, their camp thought that education is not necessarily an assurance for success. And it could be another distraction. He was still 16 when his boxing career started. Well, discussing about his stalled high school education is of no use now.

There are shortcuts. With all the money he got, he can surely afford a private tutor. Manny must be very good at multi-tasking: studying, training, billiards, politics, showbiz, family life, etc... I will cast aside any doubts on the possibility of DepEd’s leniency on Manny’s exam. Politics could not be behind this. He deserved to pass. And now, he can dream of a college degree. Who can prevent him from pursuing even a PhD?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


“Learn to pause – or nothing worthwhile will catch up with you.”

Many times, I found myself staring blankly at my laptop monitor. Questions pop out from my mind. And without much thinking, my right hand drove the mouse to click the internet explorer, then on the favorites, then leading to my own site. The activity is not even related to any of the questions.

These past few days I’ve been posting entries almost every other day, mostly of love, its mysteries and its craziness. The love month is my excuse. Well, there are plenty of entries out there about love, and I am just one of those idolizing love (too much). But there is a plethora of unwritten things which are just lurking in my mind. Some other topics that remained unexplored.

And then, when I tried to sit back on my chair and stared at the ceiling, when all of my officemates were gone, I pondered on life. So, when am I going to enter a rehab for bloggers?

I certainly need to pause and feed my mind and body with something else. Like exercise for example, and the beach, and the badminton life I now seldom have. Then I also have to sit down with my dear, and we’ll form new dreams. Some dreams just got stalled, and it’s frustrating when you’re not in control.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Oh, When I Was In Love With You

Here’s another poem about love. I first encountered this one in high school literature class. This is one of my favorites.

XVIII. Oh, when I was in love with you
Alfred Edward Housman (1859–1936). from A Shropshire Lad. 1896.

OH, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they ’ll say that I
Am quite myself again.

0 ---- 0 ---- 0 ---- 0 ---

I remembered a classmate back in high school who was courting one of the prettiest girls in our 2nd year class. We were amazed at how behaved he was. We all knew he’s one of the class jesters. But this time, he was dead serious. Gone are the usual jokes. He said he wanted to look his best to impress the girl.

We just played along and let him do his stuff. But it’s kind of weird not seeing him laughing and making jokes here and there. His grooming improved. His curly hair seemed to be in a good place. His moves were carefully done. He looked like a real gentleman with the girl.

A few weeks passed and he was no longer with her. He arrived to class late and with uncombed hair. We asked him what happened. “We broke up” he curtly said. “I don’t want to talk about it”.

And so be it. We were glad he was back to his normal self again. His sense of humor returned to him, and we again enjoyed his company. But I haven’t heard anything about his love life after that, even years after we graduated from high school.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kung Hei Fat Choi

A colleague approached me the other day. “This year is your lucky year, Bai!”

“Why?” I curiously asked.

“Have you read the email from our Boss?”

“About the Feng-Shui? No. I haven’t read it yet. And I am not really into it.” I looked up the mails and opened the one he mentioned.

“Nah, at least it can uplift our spirits a bit. But I’m with those unlucky personalities this year. I was born under the year of the tiger.” he said.

According to the article from Mr. Chao, this 2007 is the Fire Pig Year. The balance and harmony could mean:

1. Lesser catastrophes to be expected this year.
2. Political arguments will not become worse.
3. There will also be changes in government policies and systems and the peace and order situation will be improved.
4. The Philippine economy is expected to recover.
5. In general, the luckiest personalities are those who are born under the signs of the Rat, Rabbit, Dragon and Horse.
6. Unlucky personalities are those who were born under the signs of the Ox, Tiger, Snake and Pig.

At the end of the article, the author mentioned that “Always remember that God helps good people and those who help themselves.”

I remembered a few years ago about a meeting among our bosses. There was a suggestion to consult a feng-shui expert on one issue. Someone objected saying “We’re supposed to be Christians. Why do we resort to that?”

In silence, I agreed with him. I am a Christian. I am not supposed to believe in astrology. And I believe that God is in control.

Tonight, plenty will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. Kung Hei Fat Choi everyone! May we continue to delight in the Lord no matter what the stars and the astrologists say.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wedding Venues

I came across with this article from yahoo (the same was also reported in the local papers) wherein 100 barefoot couples, dressed in white, stood in the swamp facing the sea and exchanged vows in a ceremony officiated by the city mayor of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Wedding in the swamp? Yep, you read it right.

"You will be an example of true love not just to your partner but to the environment," said Mayor Edward Hagedorn, in a short speech after the ceremony.

Unique isn’t it? We’ve heard of garden weddings, beach weddings, underwater weddings, forest weddings, etc… And now this wedding in the swamp.

Why want to be different? My wife and I had our sunrise beach wedding. My bro-in-law had his garden wedding. A friend had his wedding at the school’s basketball court despite the availability of the chapel. Another friend had his 20 minutes in the judge’s court. It was that swift.

For me and my wife, we encountered the usual protests (not from our parents though) during the planning stage. Why the early time, and the far venue? We simply smiled and said, “We want it unique and memorable. It’s simply our dream wedding. I hope you’ll support us on this.

But there are those who want the usual church wedding. Some say that it’s the Church blessing they are after. Some wanted other venues but it’s their parents (or even grandparents) wish that they have a church wedding. According to a website I read, first-century Jews and Christians did not hold weddings in synagogues or churches. However, it was only at the time of Tertullian [160-225 A.D.] where it became customary to have a Christian ceremony.

Wherever the venue is, God blesses the formal union of man and woman in love. You still have enough time to prepare if you’re thinking of a June wedding.

Hmmm…I am reminded of that wedding in the middle of an olympic game. Just some leftover thoughts here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Day of Hearts (and some love poems)

Happy Hearts Day everyone! I hope that you will all have a good time with your love ones. May you be able to write the happiest lines today. Be inspired and keep on loving. The time to love is short. I am also sharing to you some of my favorite love poems.

She Walks in Beauty
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
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If Thou must love me
Sonnets from the Portuguese XIV
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity
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I recently come across with this article about Ms. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Very nice read.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Senate Race

Though I planned to write entries about love this month, I am tempted to write about politics this time. Do I know anything about politics? I honestly don’t know enough about it, just like the rest of the majority. Though at UP High School, our teachers were making political statements here and there. We are also made to relate the two Rizal novels to the present political condition. We all had our heyday relating Spanish rule to the American colonialism. When I was in college, I also joined the party where the student activists were affiliated. I also joined in some EDs. Ok, enough for the shallow introduction.

The list of the administration’s and the united opposition’s line-up is almost in every newspaper today. It’s funny how the wind’s direction changes every election time.

Here is the Administration’s slate:
Michael Defensor
Tess Aquino-Oreta
Vicente Sotto III
Ralph Recto
Joker Arroyo
Edgardo Angara
Miguel Zubiri
Prospero Pichay
Luis Singson
Vicente Magsaysay
Carlos Petilla
Sultan Kiram

If you look closely at the list, you can obviously find the turncoats. What could be their reasons? You could probably hear them say, “We’re putting aside our political differences for our country to move on.” Well, we’ve hear it many many times, and we have not really moved on. And the voters have not learned their lessons.

So what about the opposition?
Loren Legarda
Panfilo Lacson
Francis Escudero
Alan Peter Cayetano
Benigno Aquino
Aquilino Pimentel III
Sonia Roco
Nikki Coseteng
Antonio Trillanes IV
Manuel Villar
Francisco Pangilinan
John Osmeña

What are they opposing to? But hey, this is the Philippines. If they can’t get the administration’s invitation, they run to the opposition. When the administration is stable, most would run shelter in its wings.

I am neither for administration nor for the opposition. I won’t even care about their platforms, if they have any. And here’s my partial 6:
1. Joker Arroyo
2. Edgardo Angara
3. Francis Pangilinan
4. Manuel Villar
5. Michael Defensor
6. Benigno Aquino

I am also inclined to vote for the aspiring young guns. I will choose my next six simply based on gut feel. I’ll wait and see. I hope for credible leaders to run this country.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Doulos in Cebu

MV Doulos is in Cebu once again. They were here since January 25. It is said that this is their fifth time to visit the Philippines. The last time was almost six years ago. How time flies so fast! I was excited about the books. My wife is thrilled at the possibility of attending seminars and conferences on board.

I was in high school when I first been to Doulos. At that time, I was also thinking of volunteering for the ship while they dock in Cebu. One from church got in. He was assigned to paint the ship. Another childhood buddy volunteered for six months and was able to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia. I, for some reasons, was only dreaming. I only bought a book which I can afford. It was about praying for all the nations, published by Operation Mobilisation. It contained facts and figures of all the countries in the world, plus some prayer concerns. For me, I treated it like an atlas; really very informative.

I was already working in an audit firm when Doulos came to Cebu the last time. I can’t remember much about it, but the key chain I bought is still alive and hanging in my knapsack. My wife was able to join their week-long drama workshop and got to know some people on board. She even attended many on-board conferences.

I, again, was thinking of volunteering. I calculated the funding needed: P15k per month for 2 years. But my friend from church really stepped forward. His family can afford it. But volunteers are required to have financial and prayer support from local churches and church members. I guess he lacked the numbers. But he was able to join another (not on-board the ship) short-term mission trip.

The other Sunday we were at Doulos. We brought around 50 young people from church. We arrived an hour after opening but there was already a long line at the entrance. I was perspiring. If given my way, I’d choose to visit the boat on a weekday. When on board, I went straight to the book fair. It was very crowded. I had difficulty squeezing in. I wasn’t able to buy anything. So I made my exit and found a few young people playing in one of the decks.

We visited the ship again last Sunday. This time we attended one of their presentations. My wife bought the tickets weeks before the ship arrived in Cebu. At P20 each, it was cheap. She had plenty of connections. We also invited a friend on that night. We were surprised that he did not know anything about the ship.

The presentation was a sort of a tour with Doulos, and showcased some of the nationalities on board the ship. We also saw white Africans (south Africans of Dutch origin). We were also shown videos of their recent trips to Africa and Cambodia. A Doulos staff is assigned in each table. The one assigned to us is a Swiss miss. We asked her questions about life on board the ship. We found out that she’s a carpenter. I was amazed. It was my first time to meet a real female carpenter.

After the show, we went to the book fair. We still have a few minutes left before closing. There was a book that caught my attention. I was also mentally counting the money left in my wallet. Hmmm… We haven’t had our dinner yet. So I decided I'll come back another time before they leave. I heard that this will be the ship’s last visit to the Philippines before she’ll be replaced with a newer one. Maybe I’ll just buy some souvenirs.

Here are a few facts about the ship:

1. Built in 1914, two years younger than the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic
2. World’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship
3. Owned by a German non-profit, charity organization ‘Gute Bücher für Alle’ (Good Books for All).
4. World’s largest floating book fair
5. Carries over 6,000 different titles
6. All crew members serve as volunteers
7. Has sailed under four distinct names: Medina, Roma, Franca C and Doulos.
8. They are not just selling books. They are bringing Knowledge, Help and Hope to the people of the world

Monday, February 05, 2007

Flowers for Church Decorations

No, this is not yet for Valentine's Day. This was arranged by my wife for our church altar two Sundays ago. Before the service began, I placed it in the pew where there was enough light, and used my Nokia 6230i to take a pic.

Every early Sunday morning (or late Saturday evening) I accompany her to Carbon Market to buy flowers. She buys a bundle of this and that. It's amazing how she can buy plenty of flowers for only P150.

And from those bundles wrapped in old newspapers, comes a beautiful flower arrangement, that is perfected only by skilled hands.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lovers and Friends

“Friendship is love without its wings.” - Byron

We heard stories of friends becoming lovers, and lovers turning “just friends”. We also heard stories of broken circles of friends because one started courting another from the group. Some were even labeled as opportunist, someone taking advantage of the friendship. And there are happy stories with happy endings. But there are also sad tales of relationships gone awry.

A college friend, Sonny, is very friendly and popular. He had many female friends. He was courting a few of them secretly and some openly but ended up rejected every time. We heard the ladies say “We’re better off as friends”. He simply shrugged off his failed conquest. “Yeah, they’re better off as friends”, we agreed.

John and Mila became close friends as they were seatmates in many subjects at school. He had a girlfriend back in his province, while she also had a boyfriend somewhere else. Classmates would tease them. They simply said that they’re “just friends and probably soulmates”. A couple of years after, he broke off with his girl back in the province and started courting his friend. It was not difficult for her to say no. But then, it did not end happily. She dumped him (we found out years later) after she found out he impregnated a girl from their place.

An inspired look can be seen on Rey’s eyes. He was often found conversing with a female friend in the library. She looked happy, too. Classmates would often tease them, but both would just let out a smile. “In the right time” they both say. But he was hesitant and afraid of rejection, and the possibility of losing the sweetness of their conversation as friends. There never was a chance again after they separated ways after college.

--- * ---

My wife and I knew each other since we were elementary kids. We’re friends. We have many friends in common. I was considered as a little bit aloof in the circle during our youth. Sometimes, I just come in and out of the group. But there was a time when we got a chance to know each other again. She was a graduating nursing student at that time, and I was working in an auditing firm. A second look, as I simply put it.

I heard her say in the past that she’d turn down any friend that will court her. I even discouraged one friend, because he’d been turned down many times already. I just didn’t know then, that one day, it would be me courting her.

“Do you believe in the saying that ‘friendship is love without its wings’?” was my starting line. And so the conversation revolved around that for many minutes.

At the back of my mind, I said “I am staking our friendship here for something of a higher aim. The end should be nothing short of love, and not just for ordinary friendship”. Such determination overcame my fear.

“Why don’t we add wings to our friendship?” I finally asked.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Love (plus 6 random facts about me)

It’s February once again and the blogosphere will be filled with posts about love, its wonders, craziness and mysteries.

First, I’m gonna post here the lyrics of the song played here in my site. It’s from my fave band.

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Show You Love
By Jars of Clay

Speak - say the words that no one else will ever say
Love - love like the world we know is over in a day

I'm gonna show you love in every language
I'm gonna speak with words that need no form
I'm gonna give you what you never had before

You're beautiful and I am weakened by the force of your eyes
So shine bright to separate the truth from the lies
I'm gonna show you love

I'm gonna show you love in every language
I'm gonna speak with words that need no form
I'm gonna give you what you never had before

So tie me to a tree and let the smoke and ash collect
No, I won't regret to let love do what love will let
We can drown in mixed emotions or walk across an angry sea
This is the cost of being free

I'm gonna show you love in every language
I'm gonna speak with words that need no form
I'm gonna give you what you never had before

Second, I got tagged by Daisy. So here are six random facts about me.

1. I entered grade 1 at age 5. Though I skipped the first grading period, and all other prep and kinder levels, I still earned a medal for 2nd honor.
2. I was 5 when I stopped wetting my pants in my sleep.
3. I always represented my class in high school whenever there are gen. info quiz.
4. BS Agriculture would have been my first choice when I was about to take the UPCAT sometime in 1991.
5. It was only when I got married that I got to live in a concrete house.
6. As of today, I’ve never been outside the country or in any place north of Quezon City.

Addendum: I'm also tagging six people in Sasha, Gbert, Tin, Pam, Francesca and Arn. I hope you'd also share six random facts about yourselves.