Friday, December 30

Vashti's Mirror

"To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on."
-Esther 1:11

Mirror, mirror
who's the fairest bunny?

You are, your majesty,
your pubic splendor!

Mirror, mirror
who's the beauteous bunny,
tell me once more?

You are, your highness
you pulchritudinous hetaera
your handsome harlotry!

Mirror, mirror
who's the paragon
of this empire,
the epitome of sovereignity?

Certainly not you, your honor
you're rather a lady
of easy virtue;
a jade among the gems!

Sunday, December 25

enjoy. enjoy.

with me along,
skip and dance,
hum to the tune
i play so loud,
love the party,
let me bring
the clowns inside;
laugh your hearts out,
the cakes i bake,
the turkey i roast,
the wines i mix,
come on y'all,
'tis hell, hello;
can't you see, dear folks,
sing and dance
to the tune
of death,
laugh at, love
the clowns
of styx,
eat the fruits
of the serpent;
eat,just eat.
drink,get high.
fly so fast,
melt the pot.
as i hold out
my goddamn dagger
to stab your backs
and cut your necks.
'tis my party.
'tis my joy.
i want you all dead,

Monday, December 12

Why Contemplate

What is there to contemplate about?

Is it why our hearts are made of stone?

Or is it why our love is gone?

Why love?

Why contemplate when we have never loved?

Tuesday, December 6

I didn't know there were angels in america

A long week out of blog.

I can just imagine the developments in the last week (Nov25 to Dec5)... Fast-paced, full of changes and challenges. Fcuked up.

Perhaps the best thing that happened was my most recent Awakening: Angels in America.

Like any other Filipino, I have been confused throughout my adolescent life of how I view Americans. I remember learning from grade school the appreciation of the public educational system introduced to the Third World by the Americans. Education for all.

I even speculated that if we have been colonized by the big US of A, we could have been like Hawaii or Guam. It occurred to me, Filipinos can not stand on its own. We could have been better if we submitted to American rule. Tutal, give and take man lang na.

I was also amazed by the American lifestyle and culture (especially teens answering back their parents, hehe), living through Nickelodeon and MTV for the last 8 years of my life. Even until now, I watch HBO, CNN, NGC, channels that showcase (well, most of the time) -- America.

I was also taught the American Dream. The land of the Free. The greener pastures. The green money. I loved the America. I daydreamed about it. Who doesn't love America?

BUT for the last week, the cynic and skeptic in me rose above my dreamy self. I secretly hated (from the root word envied) America. It was and still is an empire. Crushing its way around colonies and neo-colonies (like the Phils), misleading, deceiving, and exploiting the "lesser" countries.

Who gave us the colonial mentality anyway? Who invented globalization?

Now I see that the Americans have become the supervillains (sorry for that so-negative word), or perhaps the Rich who becomes Richer. I see their power and my insides churn at it.

And I do not want to submit.

My American hypnosis was fortunately interrupted. I thanked God (the Philosophy not the Deity, even Him is often Americanized) that I have been disturbed from my Sleep. I now wake up and face the ugly countenance of America.

Credits shall go to where they are due. Thanks to the Wesneco Torch, for injecting the journalistic approach to this Awakening. Thanks to the PADEPA (Pambansa Demokratikong Paaralan) in Bacolod, headed by LFS Negros Organizer Mike de la Concepcion, for sharing to me the secrets of the American education. Thanks to the Adbusters magazines that I loved - they taught me anti-American capitalism and showed to me how sick these American corporates are. And finally, thanks to HBO for Angels in America.

The 6-hour movie series showed me what America really is. (personified by Al Pacino, ehem)

The show deserves a separate study (let me just find that script somewhere) and I will have to to do that analysis on the AIDS-homosexuality-Mormon-or-not theologies side of the production next time. But for now, I must tell anyone, who by any very unlikely twist of fate, is reading this.

Angels in America proved to me there are no "angels" anywhere New York or LA or even Utah.

Fcuk the Americans. It's good I have been awakened in shit. Indeed, it's deep shit now in this country. Blame the Americans. So what if that's finger-pointing?

It's better than pointing my finger up.

Monday, November 28

the toothpaste commercial smile

I don’t know if it’s my usual scepticism or if it’s the commercial that truly sucks. What I’m talking about is this TV advertisement for a popular toothpaste brand. Yes, that one with a guy loading a bus, with an all-American smile. See? You know the loser.

Wait a sec, let me clear one thing first. Numero uno, I think the song played in that particular commercial is cool. But hey, isn’t it irritating to hear it from a 30-seconder showing a “cute” or pa-cute guy grinning nonstop? Oh come on, what’s the point?

The advertisement is with no doubt an exaggeration. I understand that’s the part of the trick: the purpose of every toothpaste commercial is to make the consumers buy the toothpaste. So they use this basic formula: they have to show you a cute guy and girl in the mall, at the beach, on the bus – doesn’t really matter where (but the more public the place is, the better). They keep staring at each other with their love-stricken smiles showing off their extra-white teeth. And by the way, these two cuties don’t know each other yet – and they just “accidentally” bumped, or the caught the falling girl or the other way around. In short, they just met.

This ‘school’ of exaggerated toothpaste commercials insults me. They commercialize a certain breed of hypocrisy that is paired with superficiality. They teach you to smile to a complete stranger, in the most uncommon of circumstances. They tell you to “just smile”.

Smiling is a physiological and psychological phenomenon. According to research (you read that right, there actually are researches on smiling), a smile is drawn when facial muscles are moved, especially the zygmomaticus muscle near the mouth and the orbicularis oculi muscle near the eyes. This is said to be physiologically genuine, named the “Duchenne” smile after researcher Guillaume Duchenne, because this smile is only produced as an involuntary response to true emotion.

A Duchenne smile in a toothpaste commercial? I don’t think so.

There is also what researchers call the “Pan American” smile, which is said to be voluntary. It is named as such because it shows politeness, for example, by a flight attendant of an airline of the same name. Research says this is an insincere smile because only the zygmomaticus major is moved when you sport it, and that it is done because it has to be.

A polite smile, yes. In a toothpaste commercial? Not what I’m talking about.

I looked and looked for any comprehensive identification of the type of smile I see in toothpaste commercials and I find nothing. Perhaps this smile is still unnamed. So please let me call it the “Toothpaste Commercial Smile”. What makes it unique? You just have to open your mouth and bare your clean, white teeth to everybody in the hopes of someone noticing and getting it on with you tonight. Being true to emotion and being polite are totally unnecessary.

Smiling, whether genuine or for politeness’ sake or for a toothpaste commercial, is supposedly beneficial. Remember that aphorism that a smile requires less facial muscles to move than a frown? How about your guidance counselor telling you how a smile can pre-introduce your positive personality? Have you by any chance heard a study conducted in Sweden concluding that a smile is contagious? That a smile is answered with a smile? That when you put a happy face, you also put up an air of happiness around you?

But I am a sceptic. I suspect that a smile might be from a toothpaste commercial, from being hypocritical and superficial. And especially when it’s from someone I don’t know and who just happens to sit beside me on a bus.

These TV advertisements showing us that we can actually smile “whenever, wherever” are annoying. But what’s frustrating is the cumulative effect this hypocrisy and superficiality has on us. They eventually influence us into showing off a “killer confidence smile” to practically everybody in the public.

If it’s true that smiling makes you feel happier, then do it, for crying out loud. Make other people smile back, even if you don’t know them. But don’t overdo it. And don’t do it at all, if you aren’t happy or glad or amused or pleased. Or else, you’ll end up in a toothpaste commercial.

Hey wait; now that’s one good reason to smile.

(This essay was published in the Wesneco Torch November 2005 Magazine)

Saturday, November 26

I bought nothing today!

November 25, 2005 is BUY NOTHING DAY.

I did. That's anticorporate. I know.

The rationale? Take this from BND:

"For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate in a doomsday economy, the marketing mindgames, and the frantic consumer-binge that's become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop. We shrink our footstep and gain some calm. Together we say: Enough is enough. And we help build this movement to rethink our unsustainable course."

And for me, I succeeded. I did not buy anything - from fastfood to cellphone load and cigarettes. I may be new to this "mental environmentalism" and "buy nothing" movements, but hey, I did it. I didn't kiss the asses of at least two money-making monkeys in the Philippines - McDonald's and Marlboro (two brands I use before joining the movement) and Smart.

McDonald's and Marlboro are perhaps the most famous brands that are dissed today, but to little of non-Filipinos' (and even Filipinos') knowledge, in the Philippines one industry that needs to be fought is the telecommunications power. Virtually there are two major remote-control-grabbers here: Globe and Smart.

Every hour in Philippine TV there are about 2-3 commercials from both telecom companies. Not counting the not-to-be-mislooked companies like Sun and Bayantel. These companies battle each other with marketing tactics that are pretty much mass brainwash for me. They generally fool the Filipino TV-watching population into a largely corrupting business.

And so every day Smart and Globe (and Sun) take over Filipino mental environment. They pollute it. There is even a popular belief that Smart steals cellphone load by sending privacy-penetrating ads through SMS. Imagine the 8 million people losing P1 in just a day. This P1 will go to the telecom company, and they earn 8 million in a jiffy. Sinister, eh?

We have to stop these telecom companies' corruption and make them pay for what they have stolen! We have to stop them from emptying our pockets!

I did not buy any cellphone load today; even there was a big deal of pressure for me to reply to the messages I received. I simply disconnected myself for 24 hours.

But it doesn't mean that I stop using Smart. In fact, my plan is, very early tomorrow morning, I am going to re-load my account and register to Smart's bandwagon "Unlimited Text" promo. I will spend P30 for 3 days of unlimited texting (damn! That doesn't include texting my Sun and Globe friends! That's another story)...

Hell I will! I estimate I can send more than 3,000 messages in 3 days! I will totally exploit Smart's "generous promo" to the point of exhaustion. I will suck them dry.

That might spoil the company for now. But wait a little bit, and they will eventually withdraw from this advertising tactic. Pesky mosquitoes we are to them, but we already have drained their blood to the moment of death. And that, my friends, is victory over the money-making monkeys of Philippine telecom industry.

Monday, November 21

another blog attempt; life's vital statistics

If I remember right this must be the fifth time that I started a blog. The first blog was at the same "blogspot" as this one. The I do not fully recall. To make the long story short, I am again trying to maintain a blog that is supposedly helpful to me.

You see, I need to blurt out. I have so many frustrations and anxieties (did I spell that right) at this moment that I cannot possibly be at peace with my mind. I need to relax, just jot all the way to relief. Can I do that?

Well I'll know, wouldn't I?

Just this afternoon, some teacher asked me "What is life?", a perfect evidence of how cliched class discussions can be. Everybody should give out an answer, I didn't know why. When it was my turn, I said "Life is an art form." To which my teacher reacted subtlely. Perhaps my answer was as trite as her question. I didn't care.

But what struck me at the course of this discussion is the teacher's proposition that life is beautiful and should be kept that way. Of course there are just too many conflicting views regarding that. Consider my other classmates who describe life as "hard", "difficult", "sad", etc. etc. Even I, who said Life as an art and who personally prefers to capitalize the word Life, agree that Life is a disaster. But it is also artistic, no matter the weight of disaster.

Views on life are too varied, so varied that they take on extremes. Take, for example, the famous lines "Life is a box of chocolates (you'll never know what you'll get)" and "Life is a bitch". They don't go well together, don't they? But still, they are widely accepted.

My introspection on the matter made me more confused. Should I be guilty that my life is not as beautiful and happy as others'? Should I cast away the bad images and scents in my life to make it a "bed of roses"?

I hate to say this, but my answer is No. Life is a pretty bitch in a dashing red gown. Life is a hard-coated candy. Life is hard, and you must swallow it hard. Life is only beautiful when Life happened to you.

For me, It's just happening. In this point in my life, I am down, sad, angry, alone, lonely and a complete asshole. But I am Life's number 1 fan. I see it as a Dark Art, one like the Durmstrang students learn in Bulgaria. Or a Potions class. Or an artists' cult. Or those Humanities lessons done in crap. Life is a shitload. I love it.