Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Heat Is On

I knew it had come to an all time bitched-up situation with the notorious Philippine heatwave when I noticed that I was extremely cranky, and not to mention drenched in sticky sweat, everytime I wake up in the morning. I knew right away that the fan wasn't going to do the trick any longer, and that if I postponed buying an A/C any longer than one day more, my reationship with Pink, let alone my sanity and general well-being, will disintegrate into ashes...all because of this fucking heat.

The next day, I was at the mall to start canvassing on the best deal in airconditioners. I saw one in Automatic Center in Greenbelt for P13000 for a 1.5HP machine. And get this: I get a free digital microwave oven for free! But since I was still on office time and I was a loyal shopper slash membership card holder at Abensons, I decided to put off the purchase until I could be absolutey sure that there are no better deals at Abensons. That same night I was standing at Abensons in front of the same exact A/C from Automatic Center, and realized that there was prolly no better deal than that anymore. After a short discussion on features, benefits, terms, savings, and freebie(s), I motioned for the clerk to ready it, as I was definitely buying it, i.e. using a 14-month, 0% interest paying scheme, and I am picking up the free oven as well, of course.

To my surprise, I was told that I was only going to get the free oven IF I PAID THE GODDAMNED AIRCON IN CASH. Like I would actually pay 14 grand in cold cash...or that I carry that money with me at any given time! So I told the clerk, "How come you didn't tell me that when I was asking you about it earlier? I'm all worked up about the oven now...!" All I got was a pitiful shrug-and-head-scratching combo. So when it seemed that I wasn't going to get the frickin' microwave, I talked to the supervisor on duty and the clerk who has been assisting us in all my previous purchases from Abensons (read: I've bought practically legions of expensive stuff from their establishment [e.g. a refrigerator, blender, etc.]...and without them really doing anything extraordinary to delight me whatsoever as a customer, I've stuck with them as my store of choice). I told them that I could get a better deal in Automatic Center, because I was advised by the clerks there (and validated by their supervisor, mind you) that I was going to, indeed, receive the microwave oven with my purchase (albeit offering just a 12-month instead of Abensons' 14 months). Furthermore, I told him--which was confirmed by my "suki" clerk--that I have been a loyal customer of Abensons, and have not received any special considerations ever since I started business with them; and that despite finding a better deal elsewhere, I still opted to buy from it would be a nice gesture on their end to throw in the microwave. In my sheer exasperation over the we-can't-do-anything-because-it's-the-suppliers'-policy spiel, I told them that I feel really unimportant and unappreciated, that if I don't get the microwave oven as a free item, I am going to walk away and never coming back. Nothing. Still got the we-can't-do-anything-because-it's-the-suppliers'-policy extended long playing spiel. Since I was practically facing a blank wall and was desperate to cool my room pronto, I bought the 1.5HP A/C and vowed never to patronize them again. Ever. And I'm still not setting foot in the darned store since that time that I stepped out.

And I am yet to buy a stove, a TV, a flat iron, and a toaster. I guess I'm buying it some place else.

After miraculously installing with ease the A/C, Mister 1.5HP has been blowing cool air into our master's bedroom and hasn't failed us yet. Waking up mornings are now such a delight (with the exception of having to wake up at 4am just to reset the timer back to 4+ hours more), and the sweats don't kick in until I step out of the condo...which only lasts for about a couple of minutes, since I'd normally hop in a cab to the office. Unless, of course, the cab's A/C is busted...

Well, good luck with my Meralco bill...!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ano raw??!

Seen all over the Metro. More to come. Just me and my dependable Nokia phone: spells trouble.

1. The family that eats Asian Chicken Salad together, stays together.
(Alin, alin, alin ang naiba?)

2. Someone seems to be achieving the past tense.

3. Breast milk, anyone?

4. I seriously need to talk to Claire...

5. You'res welcomes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ice Castles (aka Toe-Pick)

(Browsing through Ella's blog, I noticed that she has a blog of the same title pertaining to exactly the same event, thus the "aka")

'Twas a Wednesday morning. 'Twas also my scheduled leave, in anticipation of the really long weekend that was Holy Week (where I'm taking an early vacation leave beginning Holy Tuesday and ending Monday following Easter). But instead of delighting in an extended long playing stay in at Dreamland, I found myself literally dragging my poor self out of bed to go hit the shower and run to SM Megamall and make it to the damned mall's 10am opening.

No, I wasn't being a hard-core shopaholic. And please, not in MegaMall...of all places to shop. Blech.

About nine days ago, Boni met the entire Training group--both OD and Sales Training, that is--to announce that we will be having some form of bonding activity on Holy Wednesday. Halfway through my declaration that I would be on scheduled vacation leave--which he approved--beginning Monday 'til the following Monday, and his clarification of what was going to happen nine days later, I gagged (well, ok, a theatrical asphyxiation for that matter). The activity which he had in mind, which would supposedly make us closer to each other, was ice skating. Yes. Figure-fucking-skating ala Ice Castles, Holiday on Ice (aaah, those days in Araneta Coliseum back when I still fancied Mickey Mouse and friends...), The Cutting Edge, Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan.

"What on Earth??" <-- This wasn't me, but Ella. She beat me to the actual theatrics. My version in my head just as she was uttering those three words was so much more vulgar and nondescript at a certain extent. Why ice skating, of all things??? Well, according to Boni, it would be "fun" to do something that we all have not done before.
I was not about to acquiese. I asked him if he had any better ideas, hell, SAFER ideas. I did not plan on spending my long weekend in a plaster of paris cast replete with broken hips. And I made it an obvious point--in case he didn't see it--that perhaps, just perhaps, the sole reason why nobody has ever tried figure skating before was because nobody cared to break a bone in the cold!

Despite all the tantrums and boos and complaints, we still found ourselves waiting by the bleachers outside of the ice skating rink in Megamall that fateful Wednesday morning...mesmerizing on possibly the last few hours of having an unbroken skeletal system. We went inside soonest the last member of the team arrived. This was the first time I actually hated someone for not being late.

Minutes later, we were queueing to get in--none of us showing any signs of enthusiasm or urgency to actually go inside the rink and do a Kerrigan. After all, we prolly valued our well-being over camaraderie. ;)

After changing into sweat-worthy shirt (I knew deep down that I would be sweating like a warthog after I stepped in the rink...and I was right!) and getting my blue size 10 figure skating shoes, I half-heartedly followed the group into the seating area, so that the mentors may start coaching us how to go about our skating frolic. Apparently, saying "You HAVE to follow everything we tell you, otherwise, you may end up injured" was their idea of a great motivational speech to a bunch of first timers. Great Scott. Thank God I knew how to roller blade back in the US. This shouldn't be too hard after all.

We all went inside--Ella, Abby, Hazel, Maita, Joy, Boni, myself, Patrick and Noel. And when I say "went inside" I mean literally crawl to the skating rink by tightly gripping the steel railings along the side of the circular enclosure. And no, it was nothing like frickin' roller blades. 'Twas so slipperry, it was like roller blading on slime and goo. Geesh.

It took me (and, if I'm not mistaken, Abby, too) about five falls on my ass and a couple more stumbles on my knees to actually make me learn the basics of ice skating. And, oh, there were the bruises and the buckets and buckets of sweat that came out of every pore in my skin.

After about an hour, almost confidently and comfortably skating already, we called it a day...and an experience. We, then moved to Italianni's to achieve the highest level of satiety. After all, we deserved all the baked mussels, spaghetti, pizza and, hell, even beer after that really long hour of falling and regaining balance.

Made me realize that cliche about success--that it is measured not by the number of times you fall, but in how high you get to bounce back after each one. Well, I guess, judging from all the bruises on my now-starting-to-look-better ass and knee/shin, I may have been successful in conquering the ice!

OK. I did have fun. And right now, I am looking at that poster outside the skating rink recruiting new trainees for the Philippine Team of either figure skaters or ice hockey players. Kewl.

Yeah right. I am so NOT going back to the ice.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

A Tribute to Moi

I arrived at the venue for the recognition day early. REALLY early...thanks to Mom who kept nagging that I must arrive early to the venue. Well, arrived early I did. And make that almost two hours early.

When I got to my alma mater I was somehow nostalgic, what with all the new buildings, new paint, new and growing shrubs, the works. What used to be empty and open areas for child's play are now classrooms--new bastions of learning and discovery. I just knew it: it has been forever since I last visited my old playground.

What struck me the most was my big-ass name in glaring was-that-gold-or-bronze styrofoam cutout menacingly pasted on the stage in the center of the grounds. Immediately, I realized that this was, indeed, a serious occasion where I couldn't just bullshit my way around.

But what struck me even more, more than the humongous letter cutouts that is, was that ALL my teachers from first grade to sixth grade were still there...all of whom were still teaching their same grade levels. I thought to myself, "They're all institutions here inuugat na sila dito sa Central." That got me smiling to myself as I did my customary mano po to approximately twenty teachers, administrators, and parents of grade school friends. Thankfully, my hair was mercifully matte-waxed and not gelled (otherwise, it would have been mutilated into kingdomcomelandia), and my nose was still fine and non-rhinoplastiedly pointed (otherwise, I would have gone for a back job with a cosmetic surgeon...aaahh, life's little blessings!).

After a while, the event started. Marching, entrance, and settling in our seats. There was the requisite Pambansang Awit, of course, and the prayer, led by one of the schools religious teachers. My classmate-batchmate Rhoda, now a teacher in Central, was the master of ceremonies. After a couple of awards given and a special presentation from the awardees of first to third grade, the one who was tasked with introducing me (my grade school bestfriend Arlene's sister, Anna Marie) was called on to the stage.

Having braved two major (yes, spoken onto the microphone for all audience to hear) assertions that I was a spitting image of Piolo Pascual (one from the school principal and the other from Anna Marie), I sat through the introduction spiel and squirmed on my seat. After having trained and spoken in front of hundreds of multinationals, even of President Gloria Arroyo herself, butterflies all of a sudden found their way into my stomach. I was actually nervous about going up the stage to say my spiel. Whether it was the mortification with forgetting my speech/piece or the thought of telling people I don't look like Piolo but of Sam ("Lagmay po...hindi Milby", I told them later) that was causing my lack of calm, I didn't know.

The speech turned out fine, and the audience seemed to love it...but the spiel read by Anna Marie to introduce me was the speech that wowed ME. I almost--yeah, you gotta believe me here, ayt?--shed a tear or two hearing those words. I had to haul myself back to consciousness and convince myself that it was *I* that she was talking about.

Here was the spiel, as emailed to me by Arlene. Ain't this a happy piece? =)

Kung may magtatanong sa akin kung ano ang kauna-unahang natatandaan ko tungkol sa panauhin natin ngayong gabi, ang isasagot ko ay ito: elementary pa lang din siya noon tulad niyo nang makilala ko siya. Magkaibigan sila noon ng nakababata kong kapatid, at magkaklase din. Silang dalawa ang naglalaban para sa first honor. Pero kahit na ganoon ang sitwasyon, balewala lang sa kanilang dalawa na pinagsasabong sila sa academics. Sabi nga ng mga teachers nila noon, napaka-healthy daw ng competition sa pagitan nilang dalawa.

Natatandaaan ko kung paanong bigla na lang siyang susulpot sa bahay namin. Hindi na kakatok iyan. Basta papasok na lang bigla, dire-diretso at komportable na para bang doon din siya nakatira. Tuwang-tuwa kaming lahat sa ugali niyang iyon. Masaya kami kapag dinadalaw niya kami. Mula noon hanggang ngayon, para sa mga Pascual, hindi siya kaibigan kundi kapamilya.

He was an exceptional student, very intelligent and highly articulate. He was a consistent honor student. He was always chosen as representative of OES in various quiz bees and competitions. Very energetic and undeniably good-looking, he was everybody’s friend as well as the object of many elementary crushes. It was obvious to everyone that an awesome future lay ahead for him.

Patuloy siyang namayagpag bilang estudyante sa University of Santo Tomas noong high school. Dito niya unti-unting sinimulang buuin ang kanyang pagkatao. Paminsan-minsan, ‘pag umuuwi siya ng Bataan, ay nagkikita kami. masuwerte nga siguro ako dahil nakita ko ang paglaki niya—kasama na ang nakatutuwang mga pagbabago mula sa pagiging malikot at masayahing bata patungo sa isang binatang may kumpiyansa sa sarili.

He earned a degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and a cum laude to boot. In the four years he stayed in UP, he became a student journalist, a volunteer, an advocate, and an artist — truly a rennaissance man. Kuhang-kuha niya ang mga katangian ng isang gradweyt ng UP: may kakayahang mag-isip at magsalita para sa sarili, kahit pa ano ang iniisip ng iba; hindi siya maaaring patahimikin lalo na kung makabuluhan ang kanyang nais sabihin; mas kinatatakutan niya ang pagiging dukha ng kaisipan, kaysa pagiging dukha sa materyal na kaginhawaan. Higit sa lahat, ganoon na lang ang pagpapahalaga niya sa buhay, kalayaan, pag-ibig, pamilya, kaibigan at Diyos, kahit pa siguro ikamatay niya ito.

He began his impressive career — get this — as a computer instructor at Jose Rizal Institute. This was followed by a short stint with the Department of Foreign Affairs during the celebration of the Centennial Celebration in 1998. Afterwards, he worked for Pioneer Insurance and Surety Corporation in Makati as Assistant Manager for Training and Development. Almost three years after that, he went to work in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA as a Training Officer for Tan Holdings Corporation. Then in July 2004, he returned to teaching as a Keyboarding and Journalism teacher at Notre Dame High School in Guam. At the same time, he started to work as Corporate Training Consultant for the prestigious John Robert Powers International, an occupation he maintains to this day. He rejoined Pioneer Insurance in March 2005, this time as Manager for Training and Development detailed at the Organizational Development Division.

Ganunpaman, naniniwala ako na nandito siya ngayon hindi dahil maraming lugar na siyang narating. Hindi niya tayo pinaunlakan para silawin tayo sa tagumpay na nakamit niya. Siguro, nandito siya ngayon para ipakita sa ating lahat na para mapanatili natin ang sariling katinuan, para hindi natin maiwan ang totoong tayo, mahalagang hindi natin makalimutan kung paano maging bata. What strikes me most about our guest speaker is that fact that he has maintained an innocence within him that already knows how to trust his Higher Power, to cherish life while holding it lightly, to live fully and simply in the present moment. He continually allows that part of himself to come forward and nourish him as he continues on his journey. People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. This is how he found his.

I look at him now and I can’t wait to listen to him talk about the things that really matter in life. You should all consider yourselves very lucky because you will hear lessons from a person who has learned so much. I look at him now and I am reminded of lines spoken by actor Morgan Freeman in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “...some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice....”

As our guest speaker reunites with his elementary alma mater, he lets his own light shine. In turn, he unconsciously gives us permission to do the same.Honorable guests, my fellow teachers, beloved students, ladies and gentlemen, it is with much pride and honor that I now give you one of OES’s dearly missed and most loved alumni, Mr. Benedict Gomez Redulla!

I, Thank You. Bow

A couple of weeks ago, I received an SMS from Taba, my sister, telling me that I have been chosen to be the guest speaker in my hometown's central elementary school--where I graduated. No, it wasn't the graduation ceremonies--I didn't think I'm in "that" level yet to be even invited as guest speaker for the commencement exercises--but a recognition day. It was, as I was told by the head teacher that invited me, more distinctive, and well attended, as it is all the awardees from all grade levels who would be attending. Upon checking my calendar and seeing that I was, indeed, free on the 31st of March, I gave my still wee bit reluctant confirmation.

Two weeks prior to the event, while killing time before my hosting stint for a debut birthday bash over at the Edsa Shangri-la hotel, I decided that it was time to draft my speech. An hour and a half later, I successfully put all my thoughts into words. I was ready...all 19 minutes and 46 seconds of it.

Here was my speech. (Stories about the actual speech and event to follow, I hope...)

Parents, teachers, awardees, friends, housemates, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

My name is Ben Redulla, a proud alumnus of this school.

I am both honored and flattered to have been asked to speak for this wonderful occasion. But before I continue with my prepared speech for the night, I would just like to share a thought that I had as an awardee myself in one of Orion Elementary School's recognition days some years ago. Sitting on those seats, listening to our guest speakers, I had a really hard time trying to digest, let alone understand, what they were trying to say. Why? Practically almost every word was in English...and at age 7 to 12, I wasn't exactly conversant and fluent in English then as I am today.

Kung kaya sa gabing ito, sisikapin ko pong gamitin ang wikang Filipino at konti lamang na Ingles sa pagbibigay ng aking maikling mensahe.

Sa gabing ito, lahat ng naririto ay pararangalan. Mga awardees, ika nga. Kung kaya't binabati ko ang bawa't isa sa inyo, maging ang inyong mga magulang para sa karangalang inyong nakamit. Nakasisiguro ako na lahat kayo (at ang inyong mga magulang) ay nagagalak at nagbubunyi dahil dito. Ngunit sana’y nauunawaan ninyo na ang dapat na lubhang makapagbibigay sa inyo ng galak at pagbubunyi ay hindi ang award, ang medalya, o certificate, kundi ang inyong pinagdaanan sa isang buong taon upang ito ay makamit. Sabi nga ni Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. Any recognition is just the icing on the cake, not to be expected but definitely to be enjoyed". Sa ating buhay, darating ang maraming pagsubok, kalamidad, kawalan, kalungkutan, at paghihirap. May mga pagkakataong tayo'y magwawagi, makagagaan, liligaya, at makaaahon...subalit mayroon din namang mga pagkakataong hindi. Sa mga pagkakataong ganito, ang pinakamahalagang dapat isipin, sabi nga ni Emerson, ay hindi ang pagwawagi o pagkabigo...ngunit ang prosesong pinagdaanan mo upang makamit ito.

Napakahalaga ng gabing ito sa mga estudyante, mga magulang at maging sa mga administrators at guro ng eskwelahang ito. Ito ang gabi na nagsasabing tapos na naman ang isang mahabang proseso sa isang taon ng paghuhulma ng ating mga mag-aaral. Bagama't hindi dito nagtatapos ang ating paglalakbay, ngayong gabi ang tamang panahon upang i-enjoy ang icing ng ating mga cake. You have all done a good job as students, parents, administrators and teachers. And again, congratulations. Give yourselves a big round of applause, please.

Kagaya ng aking nabanggit kani-kani lamang, hindi dito nagtatapos ang ating paglalakbay. Bagkus ito ay simula pa lamang ng mahabang-mahaba pang lakbayin. After all, life is but a journey. Sa maski ano pa mang paglalakbay, mahalagang alam mo kung saan ka pupunta. Kung hindi mo alam ang iyong patutunguhan, ang iyong paglalakbay ay magiging isang kasayangan lamang ng iyong panahon at pagod. For what is a journey without a vision, or a guiding compass, of where you are going to?

Sa puntong ito, nais kong i-quote ang isa sa mga paborito kong sikolohista: si Stephen R. Covey. Sa kanyang aklat na The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, sinabi nya ang ganito: "Begin with the end in mind". Upang higit na maipaliwanag ang konseptong ito, hihingin ko ang inyong kooperasyon. Kung pwede po ay ipikit ninyo ang inyong mga mata, huminga ng malalim, at gamitin ang imahinasyon. Bawat sasabihin ko ay gusto kong isalarawan ninyo sa inyong mga isipan habang kayo ay nananatiling nakapikit at humihinga ng malalim. Kunwari, kayo ay nasa isang park. Hindi gaanong kainitan ang sikat ng araw ngunit nakikita ninyo ang mga sinag nito na tumatagos sa mga ulap. May mga humuhuning ibon sa di kalayuan. May water fountain na may mga anghel na bato. May mga bata na naglalaro, nagtatawanan at nagtatakbuhan. May mga nagba-badminton. May mga nakaupo sa bench. Mayroong mga sasakyang nagdadatingan at lumalabas ng parking area. Napakapayapa ng lugar na ito. Parang walang problema dito. Naglakad ka patungo sa isang building sa may gitna ng park. Puti lamang ang pintura nito, hindi kalakihan. Napakaraming bulaklak sa loob ng building na ito. May mga pulang rosas, may mga tulip, may mga anthurium, hydrangea, sunflower, at may mga iba pa ngang hindi mo alam kung anong klaseng bulaklak. Pero isa lang ang alam mo: napakaganda at napakapayapa ng building na ito. Tahimik kahit na may karamihan ng taong nagtitipon. Nagulat ka pa nga dahil karamihan sa mga taong ito ay kakilala mo. Yung iba, parang malungkot, yung iba tahimik lang, yung iba naman ay nakikipag-usap sa ibang tao, at yung iba ay tila nagdarasal. Sa pag-ikot-ikot mo sa building na ito, napagtanto mo na ito pala ay isang maliit na kapilya. At ang park pala na kinatatayuan mo ay isang memorial park. Nalaman mo ito dahil sa harapan ng kapilya ay may altar. At sa altar na ito ay may isang kabaong. Napaisip ka kung sino kaya itong taong ito na napakaraming nagpunta at nagbigay ng pagkagagandang mga bulaklak. Kung kaya't hindi ka nagdalawang-isip. Dahan-dahan kang lumapit sa kabaong na ito. Lumalakas ng lumalakas ang kabog ng dibdib mo. Parang may nagsasabi sa iyong huwag ka magpunta dahil hindi mo magugustuhan ang iyong makikita. Natatakot ka at kinakabahan. Subalit nanaig ang iyong kagustuhang makita ang taong ito. OK lang. Hindi ka naman takot sa patay e. Ipinagpatuloy mo ang iyong dahan-dahang paglalakad papunta sa altar. Tila ba ilang minuto ang bagal ng iyong paglalakad. Pagdating mo sa harapan, bumuntong-hininga ka pa bago mo sinilip ang salamin ng kabaong. Nagulat ka sa iyong nakita. IKAW ang nasa loob ng kabaong.

Ibukas natin ang ating mga mata. Humihingi ako ng paumanhin duon sa mga napaiyak ng hindi sinasadya o inaasahan. Tunay ngang ang kamatayan ay isang bagay na ayaw na ayaw nating isipin o pag-usapan, kahit na ito ay isang napakanormal na bagay naman. Subalit ang ginawa nating paglalakbay ng imahinasyon ay ang tunay na paglalakbay sa buhay. Begin with the end in mind. Ang bawat paglalakbay ay may katapusan. Everything comes to an end. Ang pinakamalaking katanungan na dapat nating isaisip ay ito: paano ko gustong maalaala ng aking mga kaibigan, mga guro, kaklase, kapitbahay, katrabaho, at kamag-anak kapag ako ay wala na sa mundo? Isa bang tamad na bata, walang galang, hindi naniniwala sa Diyos, nangongopya, walang malasakit sa ibang tao, burara, o walang pakialam sa mundo? O dili kaya'y gusto nating maalaala bilang isang batang masunurin, palaaral, matapat, mapagmahal at mapagsikap? Nagsisimula ang bawat paglalakbay sa isang plano, sa isang paninindigan, sa isang pinipiling direksyon. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Mayroong akong naaalalang isang kanta ang Apo Hiking Society. Hindi ko alam kung alam pa ninyo ang kanta o grupong iyon, ngayong ang kilala na lamang ninyo ay ang mga tulad nila Kitchie Nadal, 50cent, Destiny's Child at maging si Sam Milby. Ngunit ang awiting ito ay nagsasabi ng ganito, "Batang-bata ka pa, at marami ka pang kailangang malaman at intindihin sa mundo, yan ang totoo. Nagkakamali ka kung akala mo na ang buhay ay isang mumunting paraiso lamang. Buhay ay 'di ganyan. Makinig ka na lang. Makinig ka sa aking payo pagka't musmos ka pa lamang, at wala pang nalalaman sa mali at katotohanan..."

Sa bawat pagpili ng desisyon, kailangan natin ng gabay...lalo pa't tayo ay bata pa lamang. Nuong bata pa ako, lagi akong pinapagalitan ni Mommy. Pinapalo ako sa puwit kapag hindi ako nag-aaral, gumagalang sa mga matatanda, naglilinis ng bahay o ng katawan ko, at tatamad-tamad. Galit na galit ako kay Mommy nuon dahil akala ko pinagmamalupitan nya ako at hindi nya ako mahal. Bakit nga naman nya ako papaluin kung mahal nya ako? May nagmamahal bang nananakit ng tao? Pagdating ng panahon, nang ako'y mag-isa nang nag-aaral sa Maynila, napag-isip-isip ko na ang bawat palo, pagalit, paalaala at pangaral ay paraan lamang ng ating mga magulang upang ituro sa atin ang tama. Sila ay nagnanais lamang na ilayo tayo sa kapahamakan at pagkabigo. Ang pagde-disiplina nilang ito ay para lamang tiyakin na ang mga paala-ala at aral na ibinibigay nila sa atin ay mananatili sa ating mga puso at isipan kahit sila ay wala na. Kahit pa gaano kapangit ang ating naririnig at napapanuod sa radyo at telebisyon tungkol sa mangilan-ngilang mga masasamang magulang, hindi ako naniniwala na mayroong magulang na gugustuhing mapasama ang kanyang anak. Sila ang ating pinakamahalagang gabay sa buhay. Kung kaya't dapat natin silang igalang, mahalin at pakinggan.

Ang pangalawang mga magulang at gabay natin ay ang ating mga guro. Sila ang binigyan ng napakabigat na responsibilidad na hulmahin ang ating mga isipan upang maging mga mahuhusay, matatalino, magigiting at huwarang mamamayang Pilipino. Hindi madali maging guro. Sa Amerika ay nagturo ako ng isang semestre ng Computer Appreciation at Journalism sa mga mag-aaral ng Grade 12 o parang 4th year high school dito sa Pilipinas. Bilang guro, kailangan ng matinding pasensya, pagmamahal at pang-unawa upang higit na matulungan ang mga estudyante...lalo na ang mga kabataan ngayon. Nuong ako ay bata pa, hinding-hindi nangyari na ang isang mag-aaral ay nanigaw o nagmura sa kanyang guro. Nakalulungkot isipin na ngayon ay hindi na iginagalang ang mga taong ito na nagsisikap at nagsasakripisyo ng kanilang sariling kaligayahan upang maturuan lamang ng mahusay ang kanilang mga estudyante. Hihilingin ko pong tumayo ang mga guro ngayon. Ladies and gentlemen, tingnan natin sila…mga tunay na bayani. Ibalik natin ang dating mataas na pagtingin at paggalang sa mga guro. They deserve it. Palakpakan po natin ang ating mga magigiting na guro.

Bago ko tapusin ang aking mensahe, gusto ko lamang balikan ang tema ng Recognition Day na ito: Crossing the threshold from learning the basics to learning for life. Learning the basics. Ganito yan...

Nuong ako ay nasa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas nuong kolehiyo, habang nag-aaral ng pagkahaba-haba at pagkakapal-kapal na babasahin para sa isang exam, mainisin kong nasabi, "ano ba ang kinalaman ng bwisit na History of the Filipino People na ito sa aking pagiging sikat na manager ng isang malaking kumpanya pag-graduate ko???" Marahil ay dumaan na rin kayo sa ganyang pag-iisip. O kaya'y, "ano ba ang importansya ng mga aralin sa eskwela upang kami ay maging handa sa pagharap sa buhay?" Heto ang kasagutan.

Mathematics. Hindi yan para lamang magbilang at mag-add o dibay-dibay. Ang Math ay nagtuturo ng logic sa pagsasagot ng mga problema. Kaya nga may problem-solving di ba? Ito ay nagtuturo sa atin na lahat ng problema ay may kasagutan...dapat lamang ay marunong ka dumiskarte.

English at Speech. Kaya itinuturo ang spelling rules at ang subject-verb agreement, ay dahil sa buhay, hindi pwedeng ikaw lagi ang masusunod. May mga patakaran na dapat sundin upang maging tama.

History. Bibigyan ko kayo ng dalawang kasabihan tungkol dito. "History repeats itself" ang una. Kapag hindi ka nagtanda sa unang pagkakamali, mauulit yan. Ang pangalawa naman, "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa paroroonan". Itinuturo din ng History na hindi tama ang maging mapagmataas at walang utang na loob.

Science. Lahat ng bagay ay may atoms at molecules. Ibig sabihin, gaano man kalaki ang isang bagay o problema, may pinagmulan o pinag-ugatan iyan, na dapat mong pagtuunan ng pansin kung gusto mong lutasin ang malaking problema.

Filipino. Ang totoo, kahit magkapili-pilipit pa ang dila mo sa pagsasalita ng wikang banyaga, wala pa ring sasarap sa pandinig kundi ang marinig ang sariling wika. At hindi yata maganda pakinggan kapag Barok o mala Sandara, di ba?

Music and Arts. Kaypangit ng buhay kung walang musika o sining. Kaya ang utak may dalawang hati: isa para sa lohika at ang isa naman ay para sa pagkamalikhain...kaya’t balansehin ninyo dapat ito.

Practical Arts. Ang buhay, parang Cooking, Agriculture, at Shop. Cooking: ang buhay pwedeng pasarapin, basta tama ang rekado; Agriculture: sa buhay, may aahihin ka pagkatapos ng lahat ng paghihirap at mga paghahanda; Shop: sa buhay, lahat ng problema ay pwedeng kumpunihin.

PE. Mapa-calisthenics, gymnastics, basketball, siato, chinese garter, softball, o kunday-kunday at itik-itik...bawat patak ng pawis at pagbilis ng tibok ng puso mo ay nagpapaalaala sa iyo na sa buhay, dapat inaalagaan mo ang sarili mo at hindi ka nagpapakasasa sa mga makamundong bagay.

Religion at Values Education. Kapag ang mundo ay tila guguho na, ang lahat ng mga alam mong formula, agreement, at rules ay tila hindi na umuubra, itinuturo ng Religion na hindi ka pababayaan ng
Panginoon...kausapin mo lamang Siya.

At ang pinakaimportante sa lahat: Recess. Itinuturo nito ang kahalagahan ng pagsasalo-salo at pagbabahaginan o sharing. Kung ano ang mayroon ka, dapat ay matuto kang magbahagi sa iba. Ito ang tinatawag na abundance mentality: there's enough for everybody. Hindi ka mauubusan…kaya huwag kang maramot.

Sana ay wala akong nakalimutan sa mga subjects na baka ako ay bawian ng medalya ng mga guro ko dito sa Central!

Bilang pagtatapos ng aking mensahe, nais ko lamang i-buod ang ating mga dapat tandaan. Ang buhay ay isang paglalakbay. Ang paglalakbay ay nararapat magsimula sa isang desisyon, isang malinaw na larawan ng kung ano ang iyong gustong marating. Ang mga magulang, guro, at, pangkalahatan, ang edukasyon, ay nagsisilbing gabay sa paglalakbay na ito.

Muli, binabati ko kayong lahat sa mga karangalang inyong nakamit. You are truly the best of the best. Enjoy yourself, and remember as Mother Teresa said, "Life is a promise; fulfill it."

Salamat po at magandang gabi.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Skin Deep

In an old blog entry "Sight for Sore Eyes", you'd remember that at some point while I was working on my homepage (I forgot I didn't pay the damned URL/domain, so it's down right now), I wrote these about myself...

Had the worst case of the pox at 20 years old. Got hideously ugly...and refused to go out without a cap, dark glasses and a gas mask. Went through a case of near-death experience (which up to now, I have stubbornly rationalized as the glare of the damned overhead fluorescent lamps). Deserted a supposedly flourishing career in show biz...and lamented on it. Have wept gallons of tears in sheer desperation. Have cussed to no end for my terrible fate. And then have gotten hold of a bunch of Chickensoup for the Soul books. And finally moved on. Still a little bit ugly, but nevertheless cheerful.

It's been a year, and after leagues of rejections and "Thank you, buh-bye"'s from countless VTRs that I went to--replete with Maybelline 3-in-1 make-up--I decided it's time to fix my Goddamned skin. This whole chicken pox scars shit has got to go. And my almost ten years of patiently waiting for my skin to resurface isn't really going anywhere. It's time to make a move.

After more than nine months of postponing my scheduled appointment with a dermatologist that my best friend Pat has recommended (whom he quasi-dated in the very distant past), I finally picked up the phone.

About two days ago, I was waiting in line at Dr. Dimayuga's clinic somewhere in Makati. After being stared at under the bright almost-neon lamps and getting poked and scaled and scrutinized even further, 15 minutes later, I was out the door with approximately 2,000 bucks worth of soap, astringent, clarifying lotion, pore-refining cream, sun block, Tretinoin, bleaching cream, and a whole lot of optimism.

Mirror, mirror on the wall......