The Strange Me

Oftentimes I feel I’m strange.

This might be because I’m a 23-year-old college student and can’t say I’m thrilled to still be in school with very young people from an almost totally different culture from where I grew up in. 

You see, I lived in Hong Kong for almost 10 years and I spent almost the entirety of my teen years there. Life in a foreign land may sound exotic to some, but let me tell you that it isn’t all that fun. I lived in a place where I don’t speak the language and most of the time, I felt that I was just an observer to things that were happening. I was a two-fold stranger, first was because I was a foreigner, and second, because I couldn’t communicate very well at all. I felt out of place, no matter how hard I tried to “fit-in”. 

And in the first place, I’m not all that “social”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m antisocial, but you could probably call me “a very strong-willed person”. I don’t mind being alone. I don’t like “conforming” or “changing” who I was just so that I’d have “friends”. I am of the opinion that a real friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t force you to be a certain way. But, having said that, I also don’t mind being with other people. It’s way more fun if you can celebrate success with others you deem as friends. I’m all about quality. 

Now my early high school years were very fun indeed. I didn’t have a care in the world! I was smart enough to not need to study for tests and still be among the top 5 of the class and I was very active in extracurricular activities such as track-and-field (100m, 200m, long jump, triple jump) and I always placed. If you didn’t know already, I was very competitive–and still am. I was also very involved with volunteer work like volunteering for the Hong Kong Community Chest, Hong Kong Red Cross, and other non-profit organizations. Other less strenuous competitive activities I participated in were Chess competitions, where I had the opportunity to play a real live Grand Master (and loss in 28 moves) , or the participating in the Hong Kong Music and Speech Festival, where I would compete in the Solo-verse Speaking category (usually, we’re given a poem or a verse to memorize, and we were to DRAMATIZE it in front of judges) which I usually won. Maybe that’s why I seem to have a “bubbly” personality even though I more of an introvert. In any case, my high school life was a blast, all seven years of them.

I also started working at the bright ripe age of 14. Coming from a family whose income isn’t all that fixed (the reality of being a missionary pastor’s kid), I wanted to help out. So I started working jobs I could do like tutorials for English, Math, and Science. Also, I “volunteered” for university experiments which paid quite a bit. I also did some thesis proofreading jobs, tried my hand at handing out flyers, clerical office work like data-entry and data-verification which were the most boring and tedious thing anyone could ever do for a living. But it paid. My parents didn’t need to give me allowance and I also chipped in a bit for my studies, which are quite costly in Hong Kong. 

But, here I am in the Philippines for college, a decision I ultimately made as it was not financially feasible for me to go pursue tertiary education in Hong Kong without burdening myself with ENORMOUS debt, but more importantly I wanted a chance to live away from my parents. I wanted to be truly independent.

So here I am, in the Philippines, going through college alone. It was a big leap from first-world Hong Kong, to third-world Philippines. I wasn’t used to so much pollution, flooding, and danger. Having lived in such an affluent place as Hong Kong, the stark contrast of much of the Philippines opened my eyes to the plight of my fellow countrymen. Oddly enough, I grew to love it here.

I love it enough to want to make a difference. 

So, that’s why I feel strange. Strange that I, unlike many of my friends who also came here to study but scooted back to Hong Kong right after, would choose to stay. I feel in my heart that it was divine providence that lead me to come here and study at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I used to see the Philippines as a backwater country, full of corrupt officials and gullible people who keep on making the same mistake voting for these crooks and was doomed to be that way for all eternity. Honestly, I still do think it’s that way. The difference is, I’m no longer hopeless. 

Because I’ve realized that I wasn’t about to conform to the norm of apathy towards the Philippines, nor was I afraid to go on it alone if I had to. I am part of the hope of our nation, and I will not surrender it easily.

Thank God I am strange. 

[This is NOT an endorsement for any political party, nor a confession of an affiliation or affinity towards any one political belief. TL;DR: Not a communist. NOT an activist. I’LL DO IT MY WAY.]

 

Cheats cheats cheats

BlacksheepwallShowmethemoney

If only these Starcraft cheats could be used in real life, specifically on Corona, who has challenged his critics to a game of finders keepers. What’s totally rad is the pot is worth a whopping Php200M. Gotta catch ‘em all, eh?

Problem is, Corona seems to have his own cheats, like… allyourLAWSarebelongtous, which renders him invulnerable to prosecution… since, well, he’s the SUPREME Justice… oops… “Chief Justice”. Talk about taking “my word is law” to all new heights.

So how do we beat a fellow cheater? Other than 1337er h4xx0rz (“elite-r” hacking, a.k.a cheat harder, stronger, faster, better), we can learn HOW he cheats… his modus operandi. And thanks to our ever diligent journalists, the release of our (in)famous Chief Justice statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), we’ve caught him with his pants down.

Seems like papa Corona likes under declaring his assets’ worth and putting them under the names of his family—like how the mafia does it, capiche?

So who’s your daddy now, Mr. “Chief” Justice.

Let justice reign.

A Letter To…

My dear Former Philippine President, I’m writing this letter in the spirit of the season of Christmas–which is love.

No, the love I’m talking about is not love of money, power, or self. It is the love given to others without expecting reciprocation; the love shown to us by the real man of the hour, Jesus Christ.

I’m sorry to say that your wish this Christmas, “that you get away with everything,” has been deemed “ungrantable” by my Elf Audit Service.

What’s more is that your account seems to be gravely in the negative, which puts you squarely in the “naughty list”.

I regret to inform you that no more of your wishes will be entertained until you’ve set things right. Keeping true to what Jesus said, “you reap what you sow,” it is my firm belief that first step on the path to redemption is to make amends with those you’ve wronged.

Know that, not even I, with my seemingly godly omnipresence and metabolism during Christmas Eves (those milk and cookies really do pile on the pounds, I tell you!) is not exempt to the basic tenets of cause and effect. I’m also held accountable by my accountants!

With lots of love, but no presents,

Santa Claus

PS: Hohohohohoho, Merry Christmas~!

PSS: And quit it with the sob story–it’s not working.

Support Ang Sariling Atin.

[This is a long, abridged and UNFINISHED post as my notes got wet that day and the ink blotched. More + Pictures coming.]

On a rainy Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of getting a crash-course on OPM, Original Pinoy Music. It was not only an eye-opening experience, but also a very fun one as well.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Yahoo! Philippines for making such an event possible. If action really do speak louder than words, the gesture of Y! Phil. made about as much “noise” (not the annoying kind, mind you) as the bands that played that day in supporting what we Filipinos SHOULD support. Manila Beer and Sun Cellular also sponsored the event so they get a big thumbs up from me as well. And of course, SM Mall of Asia provided the venue in their concert grounds so a big shout out to them as well.

Formalities aside, all I have to say is that I was blown away. No, really, my eardrums REALLY BLEW. I had blood coming out of my ears the next day and temporary hearing loss + a fever (from getting skin-soaked) over the next few days. But despite it all, I had a HELLUVALOT of fun. The music moved me to sway, to sing, to dance, to jump, to shout, to cheer, to get wet and even bang my head to death-metal rock. It has been a long time since I’ve had a good head-banging session too.

Suffice to say, a lot of bands played that day. The opening act was Mobbstar, whose genre is mainstream “Hollywood-formulae” (at least in my opinion) hip-hop. I didn’t really get to experience them as we arrived just as they were finishing their song, but if their myspace page offers some of their songs for free, so try them if the rap-beatbox-hip-hop genre is your cup of tea.

Parmita followed with their take on the pop rock genre. Their song “Takipsilim” just melts me with their acoustic guitar and bass with the “deep vocals” of their lead singer and drummer, Ria… wow… I’d recommend them to those who likes simple, not-so-loud “wholesome” music. You can find some of their music here.

Techy Romantics was the next band with their techno-funk beats which had me swaying like I was in a disco. You can read an article about them here, and their myspace page features some of their delicious music.

Indios came next with a very eclectic mix of the blues, with some euro-rock and some other thing I can’t put my finger on but it was nice and groovy. You can here some of their stuff from their Facebook page.

Yield Avenue came next with their alternative rock. You can find them here.

Row Four came after. They’re a five-man band that met in college. They have a very “funk-rock” tune going about them. You can find their website here.

…[Will be added later]

With the overview of the night over (and what a lengthy overview that was), I can honestly say my favorite performances were that of White Sunday and Urbandub. Hehe, what’s more was (very) lucky to get one of the free CDs they tossed in the crowd.

The Loot of the Day
I got it!

The day really opened my eyes on how AWESOME our local music artists are–and I’m not exaggerating at all!

So let me reiterate what was said during that day, let’s support “ang sariling atin” (our own). Who else will, but us? I know I will.

 

 

Just the way I like it

Surprisingly, someone beat me in using The Professional Heckler as the blog comparison to an official news outlet. Thank you Japa. But anyways, I shall proceed as planned.

It is no secret that I am very partial towards the Inquirer newspaper. In fact, I buy a copy of the actual paper almost every day. My preference also extends to news online, with the Inquirer.net being my #1 news source, with Yahoo! PH at second place (seriously though, I’m not just saying this to be on a certain someone’s good side).

So, why the two?

Firstly, the Inquirer.net is even more up-to-date than it’s printed counterpart. That being said, it also features news that it deems “Hot Reads” which helps me keep up with what is being read and discussed by the public–not just me. Besides that, the website also features a “Recommendations” tab wherein it lists articles that were not only read, but also recommended by people who’ve read them to people that are in their social networks like Facebook or Twitter. This feature allows me to keep abreast on what my peers specifically find interesting so that I’m not left out.

What I don’t find in the Inquirer is a sense of humor. In comes The Professional Heckler, which I visit a few times a month just to be able to unwind, waste time and have a good laugh. I find that the observations and the “insights” of the blogger to be most entertaining and is usually in congruence with my personal opinion or imagined scenario of the news. It keeps me level-headed, having a vicarious way to air out what I’m thinking, without actually jeopardizing my “journalistic standards”. Besides that, I also like the way the author keeps on putting out new quotes, which are oftentimes very insightful and thought-provoking. It’s also a bonus that most of the news being featured on the blog are from legitimate news sources so viewing the blog is like a review on what’s happening, albeit in a funnier way.

I guess it has something to do with presentation. I respect Inquirer.net for its content, while I enjoy The Professional Heckler’s.

It’s like this cat stuck on a bath handle; I just like staring at it for some reason.

Now THIS is cute…!

NO CAKE FOR YOU!

I was naturally a very hyperactive kid when I was young, so much so that the re-tellings of my escapades sends shivers down my spine. Imagine what I’d be like if I was “sugar-high”. THE HORROR! What’s more was that I LOVED sweets, especially cake. It was a euphoric experience for me–like drugs (not to be misconstrued as a confession of drug abuse, merely a comparison of how drugs are to drug addicts)! And whenever there was cake, I knew all too well that my mom would look me in the eyes and say those four dreadful words: “NO CAKE FOR YOU!” But even though I wasn’t normally allowed to eat cake… well, you know, when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Cake isn’t happy at all~!

The reason I started with that bit of my past was to put in context the “fabulosity” of cake and how dreadful it was for me to be denied the fluffy and sweet morsels of pastry, but compared to those who grew up that COULDN’T eat cake AT ALL… my very being quakes with fear. Ma. Katrina F. Enriquez is unfortunately one such person. She is allergic to gluten.

What’s gluten anyways, you may ask. A quick Google Yahoo Search would reveal that gluten is a naturally occurring substance found mostly in wheat and its products. And you’ve guessed it, since flour is made out of wheat, any bread products including cakes are off limits to a sufferer of gluten sensitivity.

When asked how her predicament had affected her life, Enriquez, a 19-year-old journalism student, said that it was tough. She had to go get tested to find the extent of her allergic reactions and what’s more was she needed to be careful on she ate, lest she swells up and break into hives. She also had to find alternatives to everyday foods I often took for granted, most of which are more expensive than their counterparts. Social gatherings were especially taxing for her because, in her own words, “…it’s hard when we get to a fast food chain for example McDo [McDonalds] and my friends have to consider me”.

But, it’s not all tears and sorrow as Enriquez says that her situation has made her more adventurous. “It had also forced me to bake, though I don’t really cook,” she says describing her experiments on using flour-alternatives like bean flour, which is pungent when raw, to be able to enjoy gluten-free brownies and cookies. It also made her appreciate every “safe food” she had, and moreover, her consciousness of her diet had help her lose weight!

I for one truly respects people like her who embodies perseverance and ingenuity. Life isn’t a cake walk.

Is America our friend…?

This post is in reply to the November 16 article published by GMA News which can be found here.

The title of this post sums up what I feel is the meat of the matter as opposed to the many comments already posted on the webpage about how “disrespectful” or how “uncouth” it was for a mere student to disrupt a foreign dignitary, and a very high ranking one at that, who’ve graced us with her presence.

Is America really our friend?

The answer is no.

Why? After all they’ve done for us? They saved us from the Japanese!

Well, I can’t say that America hasn’t been “friendly” to the Philippines, but if I used my definition of who are “really friends” and those who are “friendly acquaintances”, America would fall on the latter category.

For me at least, a friend is someone who likes you the way you are and does not have any ulterior motives in “being” your friend. Moreover, a real friends would treat each other as equals and would respect each other’s rules when they’re in each other’s homes.

Going back to reality, can anyone honestly say that the US treats the Philippines as its equal–or any other country for that matter? Moreover, can our treaty be “mutual” when only one party (the Philippines) is hosting the other party’s troops? Any way you look at it, the first tenet of the Visiting Forces Agreement, that “visiting forces” (AKA, the American soldiers) cannot be subject to the host country’s laws asides from those that are considered of “particular importance”, greatly favors the American troops here on Philippine soil, basically giving them diplomatic immunity.

I don’t know about you, but I consider rape with “particular importance”.

People (not only Filipinos but EVERYONE) need to realize that we’re in a dog eat dog world and that everyone is just out for their own sake.

Frogs and… cannibalism!

I’m NOT anti-American, mind you. Nor am I a leftist, a communist, or an extremist.

I’m a practical person, and I say it’s all business. Emotions or ideals aren’t and shouldn’t be involved. No one in their right mind would refuse an advantage, especially if it’s LEGAL. America is just being practical. You can’t blame them for not being dumb.

As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” the Philippines should become practical as well. Scrap that shit.