Monday, February 27

::Suicide Note::

I leave in time
of sole frustration
a world of what
I completely hate

I die inside
of soul destruction
a life of that
no one will wait

I rest in peace
of solemn mention
a dream a lot
has killed unfate

And now the shampoo commercials...

This happen to you? You are riding an almost jam-packed jeepney and rubbing elbows with complete strangers. Still, you try to enjoy the rare gush of city air hitting your solemn face, until… long strands of hair lash your cheeks like cat-o’-nine-tails! And you angrily ask: What creature does this scourge come from?

As you identify the culprit, the jeepney’s hi-bass sound system coincidentally sings “Straight… at natural, at ‘di mahal… Mukhang sosyal…” No wonder that girl next to you unnecessarily flaunts her hair, at the expense of you being tortured. You might like the smell of it, but can’t she just tie it in a public jeepney, for crissakes? You are just plain unfortunate. The monster that owns the whips called “long, straight, beautiful hair” is right next to you.

How unlucky can you get? But all of us are unlucky and unconscious victims of this commercial folly. Need I say more?

Try watching primetime TV, that is, from 6:00 to 7:00 in the evening, and count all the shampoo (and conditioner) advertisements shown. I did this experiment, and I got 20! That means, there is an average of one shampoo advertisement for every three minutes! Well that really doesn’t come as a surprise; everybody knows that. There are even three 15-second commercials of the same shampoo that are being shown one after the other. (That ridiculous series with a ridiculous catch-phrase: “Girls get it” – No wonder I don’t).

Okay, let me set things straight. I am in no way against long hair. (Ano’ng paki ko sa long hair nyo; inggit lang ako dahil ako’y kalbo?) What is sad about these advertisements coming on air like clockwork is the large but wrong influence that they have on the TV-watching population. A 2003 study by McCann-Erickson confirmed that media has become a “surrogate partner” to the youth, which spends 8-14 hours a week watching TV. Majority, if not all, of this crowd, are not aware that these commercials shown to them are oftentimes being absurd and one-dimensional.

Take the shampoo commercials. They all claim that their product can take care of your “black and shiny” hair and keep it “long, straight and beautiful.” Some even come with very bad Taglish slogans like “Buhaghag-free” or “parang cinellophane” or “buhok na straight at may body”. And why always say “99.9% dandruff-free” when no one can count dandruff flakes? Why say it’s “natural” when all the hair in the ads are obviously digitally-manipulated?

The effect of these commercials are worrying. The audience that are frequently bombarded with images of absurdity and wrong concepts of beauty eventually accept the “ideologies” that they get from the commercials. These ads dangerously manipulate the minds of TV viewers into thinking that their products should be bought. Shampoo commercials, for instance, teach that women (and even men) must have a certain type of hair and look a certain way to be beautiful.

And if these commercials continue to sing foolish songs like “Balik freshness, balik bounce” and employ pretty faces and dancing girls just to endorse the products, then the youth will regrettably learn “short-circuit decision-making”. The product with the most enjoyable dance steps or the prettiest endorser will have to be bought.

But something can be done even if these irresponsible profiteers go on with spending billions on advertising their products. You read that right, they spend billions. Advertising research agency AC Nielsen reports that in Philippine media, 10 billion pesos a year is shelled out for hair care ad expenditures (that’s where all the shampoo music videos come from); 6 billion for skin care (whitening the Ati, for example); and 3 billion for oral care (aah… the maker of the Toothpaste Commercial Smile).

Then again, something can be done. We can all be more conscious and concerned with our choices. By practicing responsible consumerism, we can stop these advertisements from polluting our mind with short messages of what’s cool, what’s in, what’s beautiful. We should beware of those commercials that fool the consumers.

And then we can enjoy riding a jeepney without being whipped in the face.
(To be published in the Wesneco Torch March 2006 Magazine)

Tuesday, February 21

A God You Want

you look ahead and god you say
it’s dark and god you’re scared
you thought behind those lights
lies what you want a god you want

you were wrong oh so wrong
but worry not be sorry not
you are lost but i yes i
am here to take your hand

i will hold you guide you
guide you hold you
love you love you
i will be your northern star

i know i know i am
not what you want
not a star you look up at
not a star you wish for not a star

but you will see it’s me it’s me
who has been there and there
who has been telling you calling
you take this path this certain path

so now i whisper in your ear
what you want you get it here
a light a star a god who never sleeps
without you home you safely home

Saturday, February 18

Open Letter to the Telecom Companies

Dear Smart, Globe, and Sun (in no preferred order),

I own three SIM cards – one from each of you. Since I cannot afford two more cellphones, I have to switch into three numbers using one phone. This is obviously inconvenient, especially to a professional and renowned puzzle-maker (boggler) like, ehem, me.

I am writing this very formal letter addressed to your most gracious telecom companies because I am a religious user of all your services ti gapati ko nga kinanglan niyo ko pamati-an. For a long time now, you have made me and millions of other cellphone users avail of your respective unlimited texting (even calling) promos. Nalipay guid kami nga minilyon nga texters. Tanx!;-)

But I am wondering – these unlimited/nonstop promos of yours have become very popular and successful – why aren’t you picking up from there and making these unlimited services, regular? If you have allowed us to send 300 messages with 30 pesos, why not allow us the same thing even if we use regular load (kag indi na kami magpalanog-a sa pa-register)?

Puwede man lang gali nga maka-usar kami sang serbisyo niyo sa barato nga presyo. Ti puede man siguro nga himuon niuo ni standard mode of service, indi bala? Say, a subscriber loads P50 and then text for 5 days, without limit, without registration. Or if that’s not good for your glorious profiteering, then charge 5 cents for every SMS. (And cheaper call rates, too!) I sometimes grow tired of waiting for that clock to strike 11 and for that message that confirms my invincible power to text 1,000 SMS a day. Please, paminsara niyo guid maayo ang brilliant suggestion ko.

And if you’re asking why should I use three SIMs, you just have to review your ever-so-creative marketing genius because you know very well the answer. I shall remind you that your unlimited promos apply only to users of the same network. Smart-to-Smart, Globe-to-Globe, Sun-to-Sun. Sometimes it makes me predict that this “network choice” will lead to a Great Divide among us Filipinos, and a civil war. Dali lang, bawi-on ko ang civil war. Hehe.

I therefore request your honorable company executives to serve as examples for national reconciliation. I am requesting you to join forces and launch a “United Unlimited Service” – one that is affordable, reliable, and not network-exclusive. Consider also my suggested name for this phenomenal unity among networks – “U2” (for the two U’s – united and unlimited), which is the namesake of one of the best rock bands in the world, a personal favorite of mine.

From there will come a day when all your services are inexpensive, and Filipinos are not caught in between a commercial cold-war between cellphone networks – a day when we can text to Smart or Sun or Globe (or TM or TNT or AMP) biskan san-o, biskan di-in.

I assure you that the moment you respond positively to the abovementioned requests (which I strongly believe is shared by all cellphone users in the same national dilemma), you shall be highly appreciated. It will be an unparalleled convenience to the Filipino people, which you serve. (Service is your business, right?)

Your immortal subscriber,


(This essay was published in page 24 of the Wesneco Torch February 2006 Magazine)

Wednesday, February 15

Funny How My Poet Writes

He tries to write a poem for her
to state his dote and be sweet on.
But funny, how my poet writes:
He jots of love and ends as grim.

He gropes for words that seem just right
to win her heart and then her faith.
But funny, how my poet writes:
He sounds as if he wants her soul instead.

He opted hard to come by light
to reach for her and make her his.
But funny, how my poet writes:
He scares her off and even seethes.

Tuesday, February 14


Time is up,
so is the Moon.
With all Her might
She beams upon my flight.

But care not,
Her shadows warn:
I came as a Stranger,
as a Stranger I shall depart.