Sunday, December 28, 2003

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em Know when to walk away, know when to run. AKA what I learned on my 29th birthday

-you know when you're a geek, when all you can think about is playing "Risk: Lord of the Rings, Trilogy Edition" (and yes, the game lasts just as long as the movie)

-playing poker as if all the cards were revealed is easier said than done

-it's easier to bluff a computer screen than a real person

-you can never cook arroz caldo with enough ginger, garlic, and patis to please everybody

-if you can boil water, you can cook arroz caldo (Dare to try, Eileen?)

-cats hate when chicken bones are shoved in their face

-mah jong tiles look like candy

-my parents never played mah jong, yet there's something amazingly comforting about the sound of the clacking tiles

-mulling spices and sugar make even bad wine taste good

-a really good cigar can change the color of your eyes

-cats are quite entertained by mah jong. more importantly, they like to shoot craps.

-mah jong is a game of shifting desires

Saturday, December 27, 2003

the no man's land of birthdays

I got out of my weeping funk in time for my birthday. Part of the weeping came from this feeling that I had lost something but didn't know what I had lost. When I figured out what I had lost, I realized it wasn't something I needed anyway, so I didn't need to mourn it being gone. Even now I can't quite describe what it was exactly, though I know I had held onto it for a very long time and it was time to let go.

Had a good Christmas playing board games with the cousins. Fortunately there are so many of us, you can always get a good game going. We had Scrabble, "Take One" a game that uses the scrabble tiles, Cranium (that game that has everything in it and then some: charades, pictionary, trivia, etc.), and dominos.

I was paired up in Cranium with my Kuya who is down from Canada with his wife and young son. Nice part of having a large family, there's always someone to watch the baby during a party which makes it a nice break for the parents. He was hilarious! He kept giving away the answer to the other team, but could never get it when it was our turn! go figure.

For instance, in Sensosketch (in which you draw the thing without looking), I draw a blimp. He needs to say blimp. He's like "air balloon," "Hindenburg," "air balloon." As time ends, every one yells, "BLIMP!" to which he replies, "Blimp? what's that?"

The funniest task Cranium is Hummdinger in which a person must hum or whistle a song. Very few people won on that task.

Yesterday, my bro and I faced the post christmas shopping crowds which weren't too bad. Best part is that the stuff I wanted was 50%. sweet! We decided to bring my parents into the modern century and buy them a DVD player, which replaces their CD player.

And today, I kick off the last of my 20s. Of course, most everyone is out of town. So my birthday is always a small affair. I've come to find that having a birthday during this time, you tend not to use years as a marker for time. Half the time I don't remember how old I'm going to be that year. It just hasn't been a big deal. We're playing poker and mah jong. And smoke a few cigars with the mulled wine after we fill our bellies with some arroz caldo. yummm...

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Maligayang Pasko!

Maraming salamat to all the emails lending support and love after my not so cheerful posts. It's truly meant a great deal to me. I'm doing much better. Just been going through the days doing what I can and getting rest and good food in me. It's starting to ebb. My "Finding Nemo" DVD tells me to "just keep swimming" and I am.

Hanging out with the siblings this eve. Called our parents in the Philippines. The Philippines is full of parties this time of year. My mother tells me that they will be celebrating my birthday there on Saturday...without me there! What is that?!? What Filipinos will do to have an excuse to party! I told them to have a drink and slice of cake on me. They still celebrate my uncle's birthday on Jan 2 like it's a holiday. Based on my count, they've killed two pigs thus far. They had the Mr. & Mrs. party the other night and tonight they have the kid's party in the barrio. My parents were worried we wouldn't be able to get through to them cuz the lines are so busy with balikbayan calls home.

Sent a few text messages to friends in the Philippines and was online sending IM messages to relatives in San Diego and elsewhere. Technology is truly amazing.

Hope you enjoy the holidays surrounded by the people you love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Sinus Remedies and other bloggedy stuff

Tatang missed a bit of the snorting warm water recipe. (I know, cuz I watched Joey demonstrate. I thought he was crazy. It's really one of those Ayurvedic practices. I've seen watering cans just to do this thing.) You're supposed to add a bit of salt to the warm water. This, for you need of a scientific explanation, creates a solution that is similar to body fluids like blood or snot that your nose is used to feeling. OK, so that's pretty gross, but do you want to breathe again or not?

OK, so you got the warm salt water, now you take a bit of a breath to fill your lungs, leaving a bit of room to inhale the salt water and keep it out of your lungs. Hold the water in your nose then exhale it out.

The warm water, like inhaling steam, loosens the phlegm and relaxes your sinuses that are totally inflamed. It's much kinder to your nostrils than forcefully blowing it out dry which creates a great deal of pressure in your nasal cavities.

Hey, I didn't believe it worked either, but then I got sick and utterly desperate wanting to breathe through my nose again and said what the hell, why not drown over your sink. Taking the initial breathe prevents you from drowning.


And about Eileen's dog, Achilles, getting felt up. Ironically, as such a fine breed of a pup, this is part of his way of life. These champion dogs are bred to get felt up and not complain. Have you ever watched those competitions on PBS? That's all the judges do is feel up your dog checking all the proper measurements for its breed. The dogs are trained to stand in the proper posture, head erect, tail still, while they are checked out and handled.

As a human, this act of feeling up a dog, seems unnatural, then again dogs sniff each other all the time and maybe I'm just nakakahiya about the ways of dogs.


heh, it was raining the day the Watcher, who had recently self-declared to be a born-again Pagan, was asked to be the Catholic godmother of our friend's kid. I was making sure I wasn't standing too close when the lightning hit. Then again, maybe it's proof that God doesn't really care that much about these little things humans seem to bicker over like which religion will really be allowed in heaven.


I told Chatelaine that my own weeping would be done soon. I have to allow even my own sadness its space to express itself, in the way I let each poem do so. Then I can let it go.


I'll be spending Xmas eve at the DMV trying to get my license renewed. It expires on Saturday. I lost to bureaucracy. Apparently, when you change your address for car registration, they don't change your address for the driver's license. I guess that makes sense, you can drive a car without owning one sure. But who owns a car that someone in their household does not drive? May I get my Christmas wish come true that the DMV lines be short and that my test answers be accurate.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Another preening blogger

Looks like Veronica Montes and her family's culinary feast caused the blackout in SF on Sunday.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

just getting through it

I have been feeling like my emotions have been a raw nerve set open to the wind these past couple of weeks. Things that usually don't bother me have resonated like a bad chord. And the worst part is, I have no idea why I'm being teary eyed. For the most part, I've been a person to take things in stride, have things in perspective. Yet as much as my mind can understand the true weight of things, my eyes set to water so instantly. Like my skin so red and raw that it senses each change of breeze.

I went to my teacher's seminar the other day, outside in the light rain. It felt like being in the Matrix. My teacher told me afterwards, I was reserved. I suppose I was just trying to protect the delicate nature of my emotion. I don't like to cry in front of strangers. I rarely cry in front of friends. I'm like my mother in that way.

I'm not totally out of it, been watching movies, hanging out with friends. But it's the quiet moments that get me. The fear in me that I keep at bay most times has decided to come front and center. Like most fear, it's irrational and can't be rationed with. It freezes me.

I write this in my daily attempt to simply keep moving. Go through with daily life and get through the little stuff each day. Check my phone calls, answer emails, teach, go to work, eat, write a blog.

There are things I am avoiding. These things seem small. And I'm sure they probably are. Part of me just wants these things to go away. Part of me knows it is not that easy. The more I avoid them, the greater the fear grows.

I remember this fear. It's presented itself before. It's the fear of the fictionalized self. I begin to wonder who I am and who is this person people see me as. And I wonder if this is all true. Then I'm not sure who I am and things begin to feel hollow. The last time this happened, I forgot who I was, I forgot my name.

My mind races back through memory trying to locate the experiences that got me out the last time. sigh.

I know what I have to do. Yet I hesitate. I am selfish. I am scared. I am annoyed with myself because my mind knows it is simple. I am still afraid.

I sit at the edge of a high peak. The path below looks steep and rocky, but the view is breathtaking and I think why not just stay here. But I know the truth. I cannot stay here. The view is a moment. Something will eventually push me to take that step but I'd rather do it on my own.

I just need a bit of time.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

i cried

I cried watching ROTK, then again, I've been a bit weepy lately anyway.

May the duende watch over you

May the duende watch over dear sweet Izzy as she rests tonight, so that sleep may lesson her fever and allow her body to battle this bug, so that comfort may come to the weary brow of a worried father.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Comment away!

Prem is itching away wanting to comment on my blog. OK, Prem, I'm a pushover, thanks to Blog Speak which makes it easy enough to add a comment section without having to move the entire blog to another place entirely.

the embodiment of Sondayo

the embodiment of Sondayo

I have been on the verge of tears the last two days. Nothing in particular, probably the sum of many things.

I have performed kali with poetry and dance many times before. Each time it breaks another threshold, it takes me time to recover. It demands that much more of me. It wants so much more than I can give, yet I still do.

Maiana and I had performed Sondayo fighting the Wind Goddess before, just before she would do it in New York. I could not attend, so we needed to video tape. We filmed for a few hours at bindlestiff. Going over each section, working through the plot arch of the movement. Discover how such an epic battle should end. It was more phsyically draining then. Perhaps I was making the mistake that any mortal would make when fighting a deity, physical strength has no power over gods.

We practiced the weekend before at a park near my house near the lake. It was windy that day, enough to give us an understanding of the power of the wind. How it cannot be captured or held. how there is no defeating of wind, only surviving it.

We decided to end the video with Maiana wearing the malong of the wind and playing tug-o-war until at last we realize there can be no winners. The only way to end, is to stop fighting, to see each other for who we are. In the video, we drop the malong we are fighting over and I help her dress in the malong. An acknowledgement of our sisterhood as well as to her immortality. Love is not a possession.

It is strange how in these acts of art you find something more than yourself. At times lessons and answers.

The performance at Pusod was different. It was a smaller space, a live venue. We would do what we did before, but this time end differently. Instead of always fighting hard, I decided to fight slow, in the way the wind gathers in your cupped hands. Then end by being engulfed completely by the wind, and concluding by wearing the malong with it draped over my head like a hood.

I did not notice at first. We had practiced in the afternoon. I was supposed to also read poetry just before the show, but found myself weary from such a short rehearsal. I bailed out of the pre-show performance to save myself for the end.

I have come to the realization that many of these tears welling up in my eyes now are remnants from the show. The emotion after the struggle when the sense of loss is felt greatest.

What is it to be Sondayo? Who has lost her husband to the wind? Who must now learn how to slay a god? Who faces losing her love forever if she fail?

Maiana's words are my guide through the journey. They mark where I am to be, which part of the story we are in. She is the one voice that matters as the rest of the world falls away.

We introduce the Wind Goddess epitomized by the red malong. Ripples of wind underneath it, til it jumps from the floor and slowly encircles me looks me ups and down, assesses the tresspasser before her.

The second movement she whips around in anger, snapping, swirling, dashing from one end to another.

Three. The physical struggle. the malong crumples and binds my hands, wraps tightly around my neck, or pulls my arms behind me.

Four. The slow struggle. Sondayo and the Wind Goddess understand each other now. I am now wrapped inside the malong. My hands attempt to escape but move slowly through it's entanglements. Cloth clings to everything.

Five. We become one in the same: me, Sondayo, the Wind Goddess. I am on my knees fully engulfed by the cloth. What do you do when the enemy becomes you? What do you do when you are the enemy you struggle against? Inside all i can see is the red pattern of the cloth. My hand reaches out on cue as Maiana's words instruct me to. There is a sense of both comfort and fear. I have seen babies carried in malongs sleeping soundly, yet claustrophobia also sets in. I do not hear my breath though it is now quite heavy. The wind, my breath are one.

Last. As Maiana slows to the last few words. I emerge from the cloth draped in it as though it were my cloak and skin. When the fighting ends, the cloth settles, Maiana utters, "home."

What I've been dreaming about the past few weeks

I felt the ridges of my face. Lines, deep, converging at the drop's tip of my eyes. streaks of bold white stripe my long black hair.

The cars are all mangled as if there was a derby. My own car is crushed and torn, i discover the bumper on the other side of the garage, the passenger's door still attached to the right front and rear tires, but nothing else. I fall to one knee, hold my head with one hand and cry.

I met someone's mother today. A matriarch of a woman who I'm sure has a cherubic charm, but now looks at me with inquisitive sterness. I break her gaze, look into my teacup and sip.

The ants march over my barefeet in aligned columns. They are red, sparkle in the skin tingles as if falling asleep or perhaps as their bites penetrate...i do not know which. For some reason I am not afraid and simply watch them march up and over the arch of my foot and up my leg.

Only for the dream to end.

Monday, December 15, 2003

I am spent

And it's not because I was out and about Christmas shopping either. It's just one of those days where I can't keep up with even my own life. The weekend left me spent: emotionally, physically and spiritually. An up and down weekend of feeling bad and feeling good that has left me blah. Hopefully Tatang or Barbara will write about the kali/poetry collaboration with Maiana Minahal.

This is what the SO calls "hiding." That sometimes, it's good to just pull yourself out a bit, long enough to recharge and gain a bit perspective so that things aren't as sad or scary as one might think. Not too long, just long enough.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

got posted to PhilMUG!

I was checking out the sites that have been referencing my blog. I guess it stems from one of those writer desires to know if someone is actually reading you. Anyway, one of the blogs last month got posted to PhilMUG (Philippine Macintosh Users Group). I've never been social enough to join a MUG, though my SO has, so I still don't know how I outscored him on the geek test. Actually, I just about outscored most folks I knew on that test. Though for sure some of my coworkers should be able to blow me away.

Users Groups are these grass roots clubs that pop up when a product gains a loyal yet relatively small following. These users must then ban together to help each other solve their computer problems because 1) there's either limited or no tech support or 2) there are no other users around who know what you're talking about. Mac folks have a bunch around the world, so do Linux folks.

There is a constantly rivalry between Mac and PC folks. And some of it is not Mac folks faults. Then again, I can get into a "they started it" kind of debate. It's interesting to see people's hostilities for what is in the end a plastic box. I have to admit, I've fallen into these battles as well.

When my cousin got a Mac, she found that there was a genderization of the computers. Her friends who berated her for getting a Mac would often say that it was "gay" or not for "guys" or that "real men don't use Macs." I find this rather strange. Maybe because Apple has pushed styling of machines, but so have PCs. And I don't remember when "using a Windows machine" got on the list of: learning how to fight, not crying, loving sports. I guess it must have replaced "tuning an engine."

My brother, who is a windows user, says that a real computer must make you suffer. He built his machine from scratch, rebuilt it at least a half a dozen times and spent months running back and forth to the computer store to find the parts that actually fit and work together. Such a glutton for punishment. Frankly, I don't have time. And I'm not that masochistic.

My cousin also got questions like, "why?" and "those machines suck" or "there aren't any games." And I wonder why they were giving her so much trouble over it. it's her computer. But maybe it's because said guys may have been trying to impress her with their computer knowledge and disliked the fact she bought a computer they did not know about. The unknown scares people.

I have to admit that Apple folks can be quite annoying when we talk about the next computer or product Apple comes out with, like watching the fall clothing line up come down the catwalk. Maybe windows users see that and ask themselves, how come they don't have conversations like that, how com their conversations are always about which patch they should download next to keep xyz bug from blowing it up. Maybe they should join a MUG.

Ok so I'm a heathen, what else is new?

Was reading the Watcher when I was referred to this article about the Vatican's reaction to "New Age" stuff including: karma, feng shui and yoga.

A few key quotes I particularly enjoyed:

If "prayer turns into just listening to music and falling asleep, then it's no longer prayer," - Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald

Well, duh? Who said New Age people think prayer is like that? when people listen to music and fall asleep in the church pews, that's not prayer? I just want to get it straight the next time I attend mass.

Correspondents say the report reflects the Vatican's growing concern about losing support among its one billion followers as New Age therapies ground

This article in the SF Chronicle about how more and more people are choosing to say they are "no religion." The Catholic Church has been losing ground for some time and I don't think it's just because people are going New Age. It may have to do with some of its policies on: women, contraception, homosexuality, etc.

"New Age is a misleading answer to the oldest hopes of man." - Cardinal Paul Poupard

Pot kettle black. As if Catholicism was ahem never misleading. Certainly there is a need in some way for people to connect to their spirituality whether or not it be in religion. I have found that the various different religions seem to mislead people when taken to far enough extremes.

Feng shui, the method of discerning positive and negative vibrations in houses, is described as an "occult" New Age practice that emphasises "being in tune with nature or the cosmos"

They make feng shui sound like it's that simple. For me feng shui is about examining habits and creating symbols in your life and arranging your life in a way that reminds you what you need to do and what is important in your life. It's a way to reflect on your life and how you want to create it. Has the cross not been a guiding symbol in a person's life? So, when farmer's were in tune with nature, that was New Age, as opposed to a practiced observation.

Our correspondent says that the report makes clear that the Vatican basically dislikes fuzzy spirituality.

The Vatican is afraid. It's afraid that no one will believe in what they believe in anymore. That they will no longer hold sway as knowing the path to god. This fear will kill the church. Maybe they should take a sheet from the way Filipinos incorporated Christianity. Filipinos don't practice Catholicism like other people. They kept their pagan celebrations to other deities by replacing them with the more acceptable saints. Or the way the "El Shaddai" is technically "Catholic" but holds mass outside churches. They pray more often to Mary than Jesus. If the Vatican continues on the road of "them...they are not like US!" instead of "them...oh see...we are just like them...we just word it differently" Roman Catholicism will soon be the architects of their own demise.

I myself am Catholic. But I don't think I'd be Catholic if I didn't practice Catholicism in the Filipino way. Speaking of which, I need to hang my parol.

Friday, December 12, 2003

What kinky toy are you?

I would post my results from the "What kinky toy are you?" but then I thought it better not too; how unbecoming of me! Unless of course the Wily Filipino whips it out of me....I'll never tell.

Dog Recipes

Was watching "Hollywood Squares" the other night with Martin Mull in the center square. The question, "What is a combination of rott weiler, terrier, grey hound and a Weimaraner?" He joking answered, "the recipe for a Philippine meatloaf."

It didn't quite get the grand guffaw he was hoping for. I turned off the tv. Maybe I should send Marin Mull a plate of lumpia with the special Philippine meatloaf he refers to.

It comes back now and then the jokes about how Filipinos (or just about any south east asian country) eat dogs. I even read an article once at how there was a need for countries to disassociate themselves with the idea that their people ever ate dog so that they can play in the great economic market and be a significant player. Apparently world economic power is dictated by whether or not your population eat dog. Because if you can afford it, you can buy cow or pig, some of the top waste product producing food animals there are.

Have I eaten dog? Yes, I've eaten dog. Watched as a young boy carried a newly charred carcass on his back to the next party.

I guess what throws most people for a loop is how can they be your friend and still eat them. Let's get this straight. We don't eat dogs we know or own that's just barbaric! The dogs we keep are our guardians and eat every imagineable food scrap available which reduces the amount of garbage.

The dogs in the Philippines look like Filipinos in a way, the mix of any dog you can imagine. They kind of look like dingos. For most of the dogs, no one owns them, they're street dogs. They're everywhere. There is no SPCA in the Philippines big enough to solve that problem.

Here, any dog, not found to be owned by anyone gets impounded, then killed. But Americans don't see that. They don't see how many millions of strays are killed each year. And where do those bodies go? I don't know?

I have a coworker who is a very picky eater. She doesn't like to see the eyes of fish, or the feet of chicken. If she eats it, it better be ground up to indiscernible existence. People feel guilty when they see the face of the creature they're eating. They'd rather have this cold disconnection with their food that this is packaged and processed and sterilized to not really be food anymore.

I think we have to regain a greater understanding and connection to the food we are eating. The the animal that is killed, to the growers who raise them, to the truckers that bring them to the properly chilled supermarket. We are part of this cycle. And when you can't acknowledge your roll in it, how can you possibly understand what the meatrix really is? If we really understood and accepted how we are part of the cycle, wouldn't we be more concerned at what goes into the cycle (anti-biotics, etc) rather than complain at how the price of beef is going up?

If dogs weren't pets but forest animals like raccoon and opossum, would we care so much? But maybe coon pie and roadkill stew are part of an archaic age too, when we knew how we were part of this food cycle and not in some processed and packaged imaginary world.

Everyone's moving

Barbara Jane's changed her wardrobe, actually made it suit her style much better. Which proves she's got something to say, afterall.

I have to agree the new blogger template designs are not that great. I don't dare change the template to lose the lovely big bold block colors to get something more drab. The first thing I did when I moved into my new place was to paint the walls big bold colors. Had a bright orange square on my wall for months before I decide on the color.

What's a stylish blogger to do?

21 Mindanao bombings claim 80 lives, injure 345 under GMA watch;
86,686 victims of human rights violations

Received from a friend. Information that doesn't really make it on the Filipino Channel:

Press Release
December 10, 2003

21 Mindanao bombings claim 80 lives, injure 345 under GMA watch; 86,686 victims of human rights violations

The Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao) today said they have tallied a total of 21 ?mysterious? bombings that have claimed 80 lives and injured 345 others in Mindanao, and counted some 85,000 victims of human rights violations perpetrated by State authorities under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.

Atty. Beverly Selim-Musni, InPeace Mindanao convenor and member of the Mindanao Truth Commission which conducted a series of independent fact finding missions across Mindanao cities, said the human rights situation in the island is ?grievously alarming? and
that ?accusations of state-sponsored terrorism need to be seriously investigated by Congress and international human rights bodies with these staggering statistics.?

The 21 bombings tallied were those which occurred at the Davao International Airport and Sasa seaport, the blasts in General Santos, Koronadal, Maguindanao, Cotabato, Kidapawan, and other municipalities in Mindanao. Of the 80 killed, about 40 of these were victims of the Davao blasts which also injured hundreds.

InPeace Mindanao has considered these bombings mysterious? because the masterminds are yet to be ascertained. Following the expose of a group of young military officers, resigned defense secretary Angelo Reyes and Brig. Gen. Victor Corpuz have been tagged as alleged masterminds of the Davao bombings.

?Many groups are looking into the possibility that the state has a hand in these bombings,? Musni said. She said many of the 85,000 victims of human rights violations were due to forced evacuations in North Cotabato as a result of the all-out war against the Buliok Complex in February this year. The number of victims does not include the more than
400,000 evacuees from Central Mindanao whose documentation InPeace Mindanao is yet to receive. The group is also yet t o receive documentation on human rights violations in
Jolo, Tawi-tawi, and Basilan.

A total of 21,686 individuals were victims of massacres (59), summary execution (39), physical assault (89), harassment (5,495), food blockade (8,721), illegal arrest and detention (67), forced disappearances (24), forced evacuations in non-Moro areas (5,287),
frustrated murder, illegal searches, rape, denial of medical attention, denial of decent
burial, and destruction of properties.

Atty. Concepcion Brezuela of InPeace-Central Mindanao Region said data from the Integrated Mindanao Association for Natives based in North Cotabato counted some 2,966 families still living in evacuation camps in Pagalungan and Pagagawan towns, Cotabato province.

All human rights cases tallied cover the period January 2001 up to December 6,2003 or the time since Pres. Arroyo assumed the presidency until this week, shortly before the world commemorates the 55th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

InPeace noted that these statistics are partial as they have yet to tally cases coming from Central Mindanao and other Moro regions. It also noted that human rights cases from the Caraga region are incomplete because the office of the human rights group Karapatan in the region lost all files last year when it was ransacked by elements believed to be military agents.

?If we are able to retrieve all these other documentation, the statistics would actually be higher,? Musni said.

The human rights tally which was conducted during a two-day fact finding session in Butuan City last December 6-7 came from various non-government sources including justice and peace desks of Christian churches, Moro organizations, and human group Karapatan. The TruthCom also received the human rights reports of some regional offices of the Commission on Human Rights. Musni said the identified perpetrators of these human rights violations are led by various units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the MilitaryIntelligence Group (MIG), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Internal Security Unit (ISU), paramilitary CAFGUs, other military intelligence agents, and police authorities.

InPeace Mindanao noted that human rights groups in Mindanao have expressed alarm over increasing harassments perpetrated by the military against people?s organizations, including those in urban areas.

Musni said that there is concern towards state-sponsored urban terrorism? as judicial processes are being circumvented by police and military authorities and vigilante groups. Examples of these units and groups, she said, are Task Force Davao and other composite
task forces in various cities in Mindanao, the Davao Death Squad, the Alamara and other Lumad vigilante groups allegedly armed by the military. She said legitimate people?s organizations are being placed under surveillance and have complained of being harassed by armed men believed to be intelligence agents.

InPeace Mindanao said they are concerned over human rights violations directed against church people, noting that outspoken church leaders and religious are being harassed and witch-hunted. It cited the case of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio of the Diocese of Kidapawan who was hunted down by Lumad CAFGUs while visiting a mission area in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato. It also cited the case of Sr. Mary John Dumaug, a good shepherd nun, whose literacy and health programs in San Luis, Agusan del Sur have
earned the ire of the military who are have alleged that Dumaug?s projects siphon finances from the European Union to benefit the New People?s Army.

?Under the Arroyo watch, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in human rights violations. It is also under this government when a pattern of bombings has become very visible and felt in Mindanao,? Musni said.

The Mindanao Truth Commission is yet to come up with its preliminary Findings and analysis on the bombings and the trend in human rights violations. A series of fact finding missions have already been conducted in General Santos, Butuan, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao.

Musni said the group is also going to undertake a quantification of
indemnification due for these human rights victims.

For reference:

Convenor/ 09209235800

goodbye, Corpse, the hawk arrives now

Eileen emerges from her chrysalis to reveal her lovely lovely wings.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

entering the door

Teaching is a very interesting thing. I sit in a room and I wait to see who enters the door of my class. They tell me what I should teach. Today, a fellow entered, J. Filipino, older, thinning hair. He is hard of hearing, knows American Sign Language, reads lips a bit.

I set the class to do a drill and find piece of paper and pen. We write out our conversation as fast as we can scrawl. He asks about kali, had seen a demonstration. One of my other students known just a bit of American Sign Language. He knows one of her students. There is a connection.

He wants to join the class. I was told by my teacher that each person who comes into my class brings a lesson and/or a gift. I cannot refuse. He has an advantage in one sense, he knows how to watch and observe. As I go in between teaching him and teaching the rest of the class I understand how much of my communication relies on sound. Even though when I remember learning it was more about watching and feeling. How I really didn't listen to my teacher, I watched then followed.

I've agreed to teach him in exchange for learning American Sign Language. Sometimes gaining a student isn't about what I teach them, it's about what they can teach me.

Let your Parol light the way

A parol is a lighted star made our of a light wood frame and translucent paper hung near people's doorways during Christmas. You can also buy ones made out of capiz shell. Oh, but I don't know what they feed the Parols in San Fernando, Pampanga, those are some super duper sized Parols!

Philippine Christmas and the San Fernando Parol Tradition

Sunday, December 14, 2003
1-4 pm
San Francisco Public Main Library
Hispanic/Latino Hall

Parol Stroll /Parade

Monday, December 15, 2003
from 5 to 8 pm
Mission Street from 6th to 3rd Street, St. Patrick's Church to Yerba Buena.
*Bring YOUR PAROL, candles, lanterns for the stroll...bring your camera...and have FUN!
Then see you after the stroll at the "Forum Theater" for food tasting.

fighting the wind

Check out maiana minahal:

this friday dec 12 @ 8p with elizebeth chavez
Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia St @ 20th  in san francisco, free
reading 8p, book-signing/light reception after
maiana's book, sitting inside wonder, and elizebeth’s book, lazy tongues, will be available for sale

And also here...

this sunday december 14 @ 5p, performance of ‘before their words’
Pusod, 1808 Fifth Street near Hearst in west berkeley, 5-10 sliding scale/no one turned away

before their words (a show in progress) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multimedia poetry performance that combines subversive, poetic narrative with indigenous pre-colonial Philippine cultural traditions traditions and art forms.  Utilizing indigenous Philippine dance (Singkil), martial arts (Kali), and music, the larger poetic narrative unfolds as the (queer) re-telling of the Philippine folktale of Sondayo, the village woman who battles the wind goddess to re-claim her stolen husband.  Featuring Michelle Bautista and Nedjula Baguio.


I've only seen bits and pieces of the work "before their words" but from what I've seen it's incredible stuff! I'll be assisting in the telling of one of the segments performing the kali as I become Sondayo and battle the wind goddess.

What a great life! Battle droids with light sabers, now I get to take on wind goddesses!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"Make it so!"

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

"Make it so!"

SWEET! Take this test here

Like holding your breath

My kali teacher stopped by my class on Monday. I know I shouldn't be nervous. And I know he isn't really there to judge me on my teaching ability. He's just there to meet my students and say hi. But I can't help but be nervous. My breathing was shallow, I kept looking to the door to see if he had come yet. I hadn't told my students that he was coming. Better that they not know.

He's come by my classes two or three times before over the years. He comes, and sits quietly. Maybe he walks around the room taking in the layout of the venue. It's the sitting and watching that's nervewracking. I know that at some point he will say something or instruct my students to do something. And so we all wait.

Then he will notice something, teach a bit, demonstrate some. And I relax somewhat. The tension of silence is over at least. My students sense the tension too. They want to do well, show him that I have taught them well. Impress the teacher's teacher. Frustration is palpable. Only Tuhan's (Master) voice is the only thing heard in between the sounds of shuffling feet and clacking sticks. I feel as those every movement is scrutinize. Which in some sense it is, but not for the intent that I think. He's always watching and observing learning from how other people learn. The fear in me wells up and I wonder if I should really be teaching, wonder if I'm leading my students in the right direction.

He usually has to leave before class is done. Then I can finally take a full breath. He's a very intense man sometimes. Though more often he is not.

I chat with him afterwards online. We talk about the class and what he observed. He's really there to help me, be a second set of eyes. He tells me he is amazed to see his style being taught and it being taught well. I am relieved. He is not a man who lies, much less tells you something other than what he believes in.

When I received the title of Gura, I didn't teach right away. It was something I had to get used to and slowly enough believe in. The kind of thing where you think I can't possibly know enough, which is true, but that kind of logic leaves you never knowing enough to do anything. But that was the irony, when I became Gura I knew as much as I can know without becoming a teacher. It would take becoming a teacher that would allow me to learn more. I waited a year until time and circumstance created a door so big, I had to walk through. And now it's 4 years later.

There are times I feel lost. I'm not exactly sure where to go, what to teach, how to teach it. It was kind of nice having Tuhan there and watching him teach my students. How I had forgotten to try these other techniques and add these other philosophies.

We discuss the other teachers and their classes and what I observe about them. It becomes a study of psychology, understanding how competition between students and teachers both hinders and pushes them. We both learn much from our conversation.

It's like being on a path where you can't see the road but you have contact with other people you think are on the same journey. You ask them what do they see and you tell them the same. Eventually, you come to see similar markers and road signs. And you don't feel so lost anymore.

Monday, December 08, 2003

All right! It's Adobo day!!!

Wily Filipino has a list of our collective Adobo Blog memories and poetry.

Be engulfed in garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and bay leaf as it wafts through your computer screen. And you'll know you are home.

Just last Friday, a friend was speaking of her experience eating Moose Adobo in Alaska. Bullwinkle is a VERY LARGE animal, thus when someone manages to hunt one, there's moose for months. She said it was like a really lean beef, but gamey like goat. And though she doesn't like goat, she liked Moose Adobo. See, see, that magic combination of garlic, soy sauce and vinegar just melts all inhibition.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I'm having what the deer are having

You know, I think those deer that ate Eileen's roses had a point. Rose is quite a delectable edible. How do I know this? Walked into Mondo Gelato in downtown Berkeley and there in the case of 30+ other flavors was a lovely red rose sitting on top of a container of frozen pink gelato. It must be a seasonal flavor, because it's not there all year.

They don't serve the heaping scoops like Cold Stone Creamery or Ben and Jerry's down the street. They serve small cups with one or two flavors for the single serving. But the taste is rich and satisfying that any more would just be excessive.

What does Rose taste like? Well, you don't really notice the flavor at first. It merely tastes like a sweet cream, then as it melts on your tongue, it's as if an entire bouquet of flowers blossoms in your mouth that you've deeply inhaled. It's quite gentle and pleasant. Each bite, the smell of roses.

So how could the deer resist nibbling on the real thing? They can't. Such the gourmands that they are, being from that Napa/Sonoma area and all, they know fine food when they find it.

OK, so maybe you don't want to take a bite from your local florist, but you can get a bit of deer food at Mondo Gelato.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Pretty pictures

Check out the pictures from Tatang from the Going Home to a Landscape reading at Bindlestiff and the pictures from City Lights.

Curing the common cold

the Pinoy way

the reverse migration begins

I said I would talk about pinoy comedy. I went to Al Manalo's last stand up comedy act this side of the ocean a week ago. Al was one of the first Fil-Ams hitting the comedy club circuit and went on to be a key player at Bindlestiff studios. Well, he's got a new gig now managing the Comfort Room in Makati, an American style stand up comedy house in the Philippines. I'm really happy for him. It's a good move. Besides, adds yet another living room to crash when I go back to the Philippines.

Rex became a HUGE hit when he went back and a few other funny Fil-Ams have followed, some with similar success.

The show was being produced by a college friend, Mario Ubalde. It was ironic watching his routine, obviously first envisioned 8 years ago from hanging out at the Bear's Lair as many of the Pinoys at Cal did at the time.

One of my favorites of the night was Sheng Wang with his droll tone delivery that made the jokes that much funnier. "my mother ran to me and gave me the ancient Chinese sign of deep hand on my shoulder."

I also enjoyed Samantha Chanse's performance, though it probably wasn't the right crowd. The way she asked why her Amish German/Dutch side wasn't as exoticized as her Chinese side or the searing mockery of Slam Poetry, which I think went over the Vallejo audience's heads. Certainly, if you cruise the San Francisco Asian American arts scenes, you'd be laughing your ass off.

Not that Vallejo folks aren't artsy, but her jokes certainly came from a south of market kind of edge. The venue, Fetterly Playhouse, sits behind the new Seafood City that anchors the Max's Fried Chicken and other pinoy-related stores. To get there, you drive to the back and walk down this WIDE alley that you could drive two rows of cars through. It's not really dark, just dim and it's really clean. Mario had gotten a call from his cousin who said they didn't want to go down the alley, it was too scary. hmmm....they've obviously not crossed the new Carquinez bridge, much less the bay bridge to get to say Bindlestiff.

After the show, I went backstage to give my regards and hugs to Allan. They left the following week. We continued the laughs from onstage...backstage joking around with Allan and his new life ahead.

Mario declares, "OK, Michelle is doing stand-up in January!"

I look at him like he's crazy, but wouldn't mind tempting the Fates. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. He hasn't emailed me about anything yet.

The SO and I have had a grand time though thinking up potential comedy routines. I'll talk about both being and seeing the "dumb-ass American" in the Philippines and he can be Cardinal Sin's bakla priest cousin. OK, so it's still on the developing stages.

It's scary really. To be funny, in the spotlight. One thing to be funny just hanging out with folks, but to be funny for 20 minutes. I've watched Rex Navarrete refining his form over the years, truly an artist! (He'll be at Bindlestiff, Tuesday, Dec 9 and he's coming out with a DVD so you can replay him over and over.)

We'll see. Doesn't hurt to just play with the idea.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Is it December already?

each poem patient
unfolding, deliberate
petal by petal

-Each Poem Patient - Haiku from "Sitting Inside Wonder" (Monkey Book Press, 2003) by Maiana Minahal

It was just 30+1 days ago that we had set up the microphone at Pusod in Berkeley to kick off the west coast readings for Going Home to a Landscape (Amazon says they only have 4 left) when the next thing I know, we're here at City Lights bookstore for the last reading for 2003.

It was the first time I had climbed the steps to the poetry room, but there was this sense of reverence for the poets and people who had climbed the steps before me and for the poetry they had written. Like steps to the attic that lead you to lost love letters and old pictures. Maybe I'd leave a love letter or two.

The flu going around claimed a couple of poets: Eileen Tabios and Dawn Mabalon who couldn't join us. And I THANK YOU both SO VERY MUCH for keeping the rest of us healthy, though your delightful smiles and personalities are always missed. I hope they're getting all the rest and fluids they need. But, Eileen's cousin, Michelle (such a lovely name) stopped by and said hello.

Hopefully Tatang will post pics of the event soon.

It was a grand time reading with Maiana and Barbara Jane again. We've been reading poetry together since the maganda days back at UC Berkeley. Boy, time just flies fast! Who would have thought we'd be here at City Lights together celebrating both Barbara's "Gravities of Center" and Maiana's "Sitting Inside Wonder"? Joining us also was Angela Torres who I met at the first reading who read "what I tell my son about the moon," which I so enjoy listening to. And Marianne Villanueva being her charming hosting self.

What a whirlwind of a month, I don't know how Marianne travelled to all those readings in the Bay and NYC and still teach three classes. The next reading will be in Pasadena January 10. In some ways the readings have been so much fun it was kind of sad that this was the last one for a while. Which of course led us to talking about possible poetic road trips to LA and/or San Diego.

SO all you San Diego and So Cal people, ya reading this? Wouldn't you love all these poets to come and do a reading in your area? Wouldn't ya like to meet all the fabulous literary contributors to "Going Home to a Landscape" living in your area? Well come on then! Hook it up!

Still in our hearts one year later

We miss you!

Monday, December 01, 2003

why I love Oakland: #102

I don't really know how many reasons I have to love Oakland, I just thought 102 sounded like a good number.

While looking for a locale for our holiday party, a coworker recommended Cafe Van Kleef, on Telegraph just before it hits Broadway near 17th near the boarded up yet beautiful Fox Theater. Cafe Van Kleef is owned and operated by Peter Van Kleef, a self-proclaimed artist and contractor. It initially opened as an art gallery, then cafe, then bar. Pete claims its still got the best coffee in town.

On a drizzly Monday after work, we walk in and take a seat at the bar. The shelves are filled with all sorts of knick-knacks. There's a wooden carved Scottish shield ala Goodwill, a pair of old boxing gloves, an oscar he says his uncle won way on the very top shelf, and a large stone Jesus Christ laying on a slab of stone and decored with a garland of red roses. Somehow, he seems to fit right in above the bottles of premium liquor. There's a sculpture that my coworker calls the "death ray" as well as other fine works on the wall. The mural opposite the bar was just a generic restaurant mural until various artists added James Brown, Gertrude Stein, Mayor Jerry Brown, Picasso and the Dhali Lama to the entourage.

There's only one other person there, Bill, who is instructing Pete on the fine art of making hot buttered rum. Two teaspoons of a mixture from Trader Vic's, hot water, then an ounce of rum. We allow ourselves to be the guinea pigs. Simply delicious!

Pete finds that he is often caught up in between his artist and contractor self. The artist tells him, "sure, why not? why can't we do this?" while the contractor in him says, "there's no money, only so many resources." As we sip the sweet and warm rum, he tells us of his different lives: a rock club proprietor in Rodeo who booked Eddie Money and Huey Lewis before the News, as a truck driver, contractor, etc. He hopes to bring some rocking folks into the narrow venue. A stage in the back has an upright piano and drum set ready.

Pete tells us the story of how he acquired Jesus Christ. As he talks the voices of Casterati play over the loudspeakers the high pitched heavenly voices of old men. He found it underneath the house of an acquaintance he was helping move. The acquaintance didn't have the most reputable of reputations thus kept the statue under the house. He had gotten it from another slightly irreputable friend who had the job of tearing down an old church but his Christian guilt didn't allow him to crush Jesus into rubble. Pete thus acquires it as "payment" for the move with the promise of never selling it. He said there were times he was so broke that he was about to sell it, then decided not to. Thus, a mirror reflects Jesus' rose coifed face back to the stool patrons. Bill says, somehow, it seems to work there.

Cafe Van Kleef made it into the March 2002 Sunset issue as one of the best places in Oakland, back when it was an art gallery. By the time it hit the press, they were closed. They reopened just 2 weeks ago. They hope to add sandwiches on the menu, for now you can get a hot buttered rum and slices of pizza. Pavoratti is now singing. I think that maybe if I ever need a venue for a poetry reading, that this might be the place to do it.

It's the kind of neighborhood bar that you wouldn't mind hanging out in just to see who comes by. He said Sean Penn did a private party there once. As new people stroll in, he asks, "Hot buttered rum?" He's got to practice. Figures out that the whiskey glasses crack under heat. The name sounds good on a cold afternoon, so no one protests as he sets up 5 coffee mugs. Soon the row of stools is full.

As he asks us about our second round, I'm perplexed. I don't drink much, so I don't know what to order. Pete mentions he does a great gin and tonic, and so I take him on his word. He slides the clear liquid to me and waits for my first sip. He wants to see my reaction, his word and pride are on the line. And he's right! It's very good! Just enough lime to temper the alcohol, making it easy to sip.

There are two sayings around here, "We're not that kind of place" and "We're THAT kind of place."

If you're looking for a place to look at art, listen to stories, sip hot buttered rum on chilly evenings, then Cafe Van Kleef is THAT kind of place!

Are we there yet Papa Smurf?

Find your Smurf Name. I happen to be Lemon-Fresh Smurf. A friend of mine ended up being Erotic Smurf. Now there's a name that you won't be seeing on a Saturday morning cartoon!