Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pinoy Dream Lack-ademy


[Kakatanggap-tanggap ko lang ng text na nag-declare na si Chancellor Arcadio na walang pasok sa UP Manila maliban sa PGH dahil sa bagyo. Yehey! Wala akong pasok bukas. May lecture pa naman ako sa mga 3rd year med students at may workshop sa mga health workers ng Pasay sa hapon. Saya! Na malungkot din. Nakaka-miss din yung community ko sa Pasay. Sayang din yung time ng mga students- two weeks lang ang rotation nila sa Pasay. Lugi sila kumbaga. Tsk. Swerte yung iba na nakapagturo sa mga nanay kahit sa masikip na eskinita (tulad ni James at Miguel) o sa tabi ng burol at mga manok na panabong (na ginawa nina Amiel, Iris, Rommel, at Gerome).

What follows is an entry I posted in my old blog last 08/24/06, a couple of hours after a workshop with our Pasay team. It opened my eyes further to the realities of life among the urban poor, which gave impetus for me to work harder with my GK and UP communities.]

Kanina, nagkaroon kami ng isang talakayan kasama ang ilang community health workers sa Pasay. Habang binabaybay namin ang kalagayang pangkalusugan sa kanilang pamayanan, pinatukoy namin sa kanila kung ano, sa kanilang palagay, ang mga pangunahing suliraning pangkalusugan dito. Ang kanilang mga 20 o mahigit pang naging katugunan ay nabuod sa limang pangunahing problema:

Malnutrisyon

Kakulangan sa kaalamang pangkalusugan

Isyu sa family planning

Koordinasyon sa barangay at ibang lupon

Kalinisan

Patuloy pa kaming nagtalakay upang maungkat talaga kung saan nagmula ang mga problemang ito. Sa katatanong at katatanong, lumabas na kahirapan ang punu’t dulo ng lahat. Oo nga naman. Pera- o mas tama yata na ang KAKULANGAN nito ang ugat ng mga naturang listahan ng problemang pangkalusugan. At bakit hindi- araw-araw ay saksi ang mga kausap naming community health workers dahil sila‎’y pawang nakatira sa matatawag nating squatter communities.

Subali’t di ako ‘nakuntento.’ Hinamon ko muli ang mga utak ng mga ka-miting ko. Ang tanong ko- kahirapan nga ba ang punu’t dulo ng lahat?

Matapos ang ilang segundo, dumagsa ang mga tugon na, aamin ko, hindi ko inaasahan.

Na ang mga suliranin nila ay dahil sa kawalan ng presensiya ng Panginoon sa kanilang buhay. (Hindi ko muna tatalakayin. Mahaba-habang usapan ito.)

Na ang mga suliranin nila ay dahil sa kawalan ng pangarap sa buhay ng mga tao sa kani-kanilang mga pamayanan.

Kawalan ng pangarap.

Wow.

Ngayon ko lang yata narinig ang konsepto na ‘to matapos ang ilang panahon.

Halong lungkot, pagtataka, ngitngit, pagkamangha (sa negatibong paraan), at pagkagulat ang mga damdaming kumawala sa akin nang marinig ko ang pahayag na ito ng isang health worker.

Eh dok, kuntento na sila sa kinalalagyan nila. Kahit may basura sa paligid nila, napakarami nilang anak, o may anupamang problema, basta nakakaraos pa naman sila sa araw-araw na pangangailangan, okay na sa kanila yun. Hindi na sila nangangarap.

Pwede pala yun- ang hindi na mangarap.

Bakit kaya ayaw na nilang mangarap?Gusto kong isipin na kasi kuntento na sila sa kanilang mga buhay kaya hindi na sila nangangarap. Yun bang dahil mababa lang naman ang kanilang inaasahan sa kanilang tadhana, at sa araw-araw ay hindi naman sila binibigo nito, sapat na yun. Kumbaga, hindi naman na sila nangarap na maka-90% sa math at ang itinakda nilang marka sa sarili ay 70% lamang. Pagtungtong ng grade nila sa 70.1%- deal na agad sila. May 0.1% pa ngang bonus e.

Okay din kung tutuusin. Hindi sila maluho sa katawan.

Pero-

Sa tingin ko, pagod at takot na silang mapaso sa kakapangarap na wala namang katuparan. Kung ‘natupad’ man, hindi rin ganoon katanggap-tanggap sa kanila. Lalo na ang mahihirap sa lungsod. Bugbog na sila sa pangako at mga proyektong sinisimulan ng mga ningas-kugon na indibidwal o samahan kaya nga ba’t kaysa umasa- huwag na lang. Sa tingin ba natin, yung gamu-gamong lumapit sa dila ng apoy sa lampara, umulit pa sa pagsuway sa nanay niya? (Marahil hindi na, kasi natupok na siya. SLN [sumalangit nawa].)

Kung anuman ang dahilan nila, nakakalungkot pa ring isipin na may mga taong nabubuhay nang walang pangarap. Paano kaya yun- para lang siyang robot na hinahayaang dumaloy ang mga araw, tanggap na lang nang tanggap kung anuman ang ibato ng tadhana, kung saan man siyang estado ng buhay ilagay?

Mula pa kanina nung naghiwa-hiwalay kami ng mga alas-5 ng hapon, hanggang ngayon (1.24am) iniisip ko pa rin sila, yung mga hindi na nangangarap. Kasi kahit mangarap sila- wala namang oportunidad na matupad ang mga pangarap? Kasi basta kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw e sapat na? Kasi kung darating ang biyaya- darating at darating siya- mangarap ka man o hindi?

Yung mga nangangarap- sakim ba sila sa paghahangad nang kung anuman ang wala pa sa kanila? Yung mga hindi na nangangarap- mas mabubuti ba sila kasi hindi na sila ninanais makamit ang mga bagay-bagay na higit pa sa mayroon sila sa kasalukuyan?

_-=+=-_

Sinimulan ko itong isulat sa Ingles pero hindi ako makausad-usad. Marahil ay nakagat ako ng surot na kampon ng mga tagapangasiwa ng Buwan ng Wika...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Death by flying washing machine


[Off to Samar again this weekend. Re-posting an entry in my old blog I put up in 09/03/06. Flying on Cebu Pacific this time. Hopefully I will live to post another entry hehe]

The airplane joke ought to have warned me already:

(In phony Chinese-fortune-teller-speaking-English accent)You-leave-as-Asian, you-arrive-as-Spirit.

I had no choice- even our head honcho was flying to Catarman via this carrier. It would be conduct unbecoming a minion if I were to stomp and throw a tantrum given the dire circumstance we were in. Either way, it seemed suicide.

The air conditioning of the plane did not work.

The flight attendants had no carts to place their wares on. They resembled little match girls- what with the makeshift handle of the carton of food they were dispensing slung daintily around their necks, semi-wet with perspiration. I’d rather be a street sweeper than be a flight attendant for this airline.

Oh- the inhumanity.

There were no overhead compartments to stow our stuff in.

Even the cockpit seemed to suffer from lack of storage space: I swear, I saw plastic bags hanging just above the captains head reminiscent of sari-sari store buntings were foodstuff or whatnots were kept, when the curtain separating the cockpit from the passenger cabin was drawn aside.

We were seated beside the giant propellers that I imagined would become unhinged anytime and slice the plane a la Las Vegas magic show- only this time there would be no happy ending. The two halves put asunder no one can put back together ever.

For the most part of the almost two-hour trip, it was relatively peaceful. I think I even dozed off for at least 15 minutes. However, there would be instances when the plane’s engines would ‘choke’, the constant whirring and drilling sound emanating from the wing area would fall silent. Quite naturally, the absence of the constant droning would slap me into a state of absolute wakefulness. And quite naturally, like anyone facing impendingdeath, I can’t help but… Pray? No.

Chuckle. During those moments I would chuckle to myself, like a madman, just imagining my great fortune of having enjoyed what could have very well been my last meal- Oheya Multigrain Snacks, a Crossini-brand pastry with choco-hazelnut filling, and Refresh mineral water- inside a 36+-year old aircraft that resembled and sounded and felt like a washing machine. What a way to go! One for the blogs, I might say. Why stop there. Worthy of a movie deal even. I can see it already up a marquee: Death By Flying Washing Machine. That ought to catapult me to fame, albeit posthumously.

Eat your heart out Idols and Scholars.

Guess what- I lived to tell the tale. How true, what they say-

Ang masamang damo…

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good night and thank you, Andre


[originally posted in my old blog 09/06/06, at the height of the US Open 2006, doing my own bit to honor the man on the left.]

Admittedly, I am pro-Sampras and as of late, an avowed Roddick and Hingis fan. However, there will always be a portion of my fan-hood solely dedicated for Andre Agassi. He will always be regarded as one of the best ever, worthy of having a stadium named after him, or a tournament even. While it was sad to see him leave Flushing Meadows via a loss, unlike Pistol Pete’s 2002 departure with US Open crown atop his head, it really was, as a Sports Illustrated writer put it, a player’s retirement party which turned into a Grand Slam tournament.

From being an eccentric, flamboyant tennis star to elder sportsman, father and philantropist, Mr Agassi converted tennis into an art and science that humble newbies and veterans alike. He serves as an inspiration on how to use one’s celebrity status to improve the world, one point at a time.

Amid the tears and standing ovations and the adulation of a 23 thousand-strong crowd, he managed to deliver a farewell speech of gratitude that’s indeed one for the books:

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what it doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you."

That’s the kind of ‘love’ tennis players wouldn’t mind receiving, would gladly receive any day of the week and even twice on Sundays.

What a way to go.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Strike, spare, kanal


[originally posted in my old blog, while torrential rain fell, and I began missing my parents tremendously: 9/16/06]

Naalala ko noon, kapag malakas ang ulan, ang kulog at kidlat, sinasabi ng nanay ko na nagbo-bowling daw sina San Pedro sa langit. Tapos kailangang takpan ang mga salamin, at ang tv. Kapag amoy alimuom na, kailangang uminom ng malamig na tubig. Magbilang lang kami ng ilang minuto, brownout na agad noon kapag malakas ang ulan. Tapos ilalabas na yung kandila. At yung scrabble.

Kapag araw naman umulan, at swerteng hindi kumukulog o kumikidlat, liguan na yan sa ulan. Siguro dahil hikaos kami sa palaruan, kaming mga laki sa subdivision, nagkakasya na kami na magtampisaw sa gutter, kinakalbo yung bugambilya namin, paunahan ng dahon na makarating sa drainage. Masaya noon kapag umuulan. Kasi walang pasok.

Nung nag-high school na kami sa Maynila, kaibigan pa rin ang ulan. Yun nga lang, dahil sa Laguna kami nakatira, nasa tarangkahan na kami ng eskwelahan kapag lumalabas yung kalatas ni Nilo Rosas na walang pasok sa NCR. Pero sino ba naman kami para magalit. Ang bakasyon ay bakasyon.

Tapos nung lumaki-laki na ako, yung ulan parang pananda na siya ng lungkot. Yun bang stuck ka sa dorm, di makauwi ng bahay dahil pihadong walang masasakyan dahil sa lakas ng ulan. O kung makulit ako’t nakipagsapalaran, daig ko pa ang mga yagit sa sobrang pagkabasa sa pagluwas sa amin. Bagaman hinding hindi ko malilimutan yung lumusong ako sa hanggang bewang nab aha diyan sa may Philcoa sa may Masaya papuntang UP Village. Kahit na pumasok na yata sa kaibuturan ng kaluluwa ko ang lahat ng mikrobyo sa mundo dahil sa paglusong ko na iyon, tawa pa rin ako nang tawa habang naglalakad kasama ang mga basura at ibang tinaguriang biyaheng Hapon. Basta.

Tapos nung nagpatuloy pa ako sa medisina, yung ulan e nagbabadya ng kakaunting pasyente sa ospital: nagpapatila rin yung mga maysakit. Ang kabaliktaran nga lang e yung mga talaga napapasugod sa ospital bagaman may bagyo e yung mga pasyenteng pangit na talaga ang lagay o sinasabing toxic. Kabahan ka na.

Hanggang sa lumaon, umulan o umaraw, kung duty ka, duty ka, kesehodang baha sa Taft at kailangan mong magpedikab patawid ng PGH. Maaatim mo ba na tigmak sa baha yung medyas mo na 36 hours mong suot. Di ko na pinanghihinayangan yung 20 pesos na bayad ko kay manong.

Hanggang sa makaalpas na ko sa ospital. Ang ulan, badtrip, trapik, baha sa kalye, hassle sa date, sa trabaho, sa pag-uwi, sa gimik, sa sampay, sa bagong carwash na auto, sa balat na sapatos.

Sana marinig ko ulit magbowling si San Pedro.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

One shot deal

Despite the inhuman schedule I have been keeping the past few weeks, I’ve taken up a new hobby.

Well, technically it’s not a new hobby- as I’ve enjoyed taking pictures with my PDA camera and newer digital camera since the not too distant past. However, as of late, I’ve began to dabble in the world of lomography, a version of photography using a generation of cameras that offers a whole new perspective on art and life (read: I’m-so-new-to-lomography-I-am-still-in-the process-of-learning-more-about-it-so-let-me-try-to-fool-you-with-a-false-sense-of-profundity).

What sets lomography apart is that it has forced me to use film again. The film I’m feeding my WOCA 120G camera (whom I have given the monicker Willie as in WillieWoca) is a 120 film, a kind of film most shops do not carry anymore hence the need to buy them from specialty photographic supply shops. WillieWoca by the way is from the realm of toy cameras, made of plastic, running sans batteries, with films that need to be wound after each shot is taken. I am still in the process of reacquainting myself with this instrument but so far WillieWoca proving not too difficult to handle.

Each 120-type film has 16 exposure, meaning, per roll of film, 16 pictures can be taken. I’ve just had my first roll of film developed and, thank God, 9 of the 16 shots saw the light of day. Currently, WillieWoca has eaten the second roll of film and I am still waiting to take the 16th shot to finish off this roll.

While lomography’s motto is Don’t Think- Just Shoot, I can’t kick the habit of carefully planning shots. Shooting from the hip just isn’t my style; even with my digital cameras where most shots can be retaken if the image captured isn’t to my liking. Not to mention having prints developed nowadays costs a pretty penny.

Then again…

Life always doesn’t always go as planned.

Life whizzes past us, with each moment irretrievably lost if allowed to slip through the cracks.

More often than not, there are no second chances.

That alignment of light and shadow and stoic facial expression.

That combination of childlike glee and carefree frenzy.

That seamless fluidity of speed, action, and grace.

Thankfully, more often than not, these scenes need not be staged or concocted.

Kodak (or Fuji or Agfa or Konica) moments abound.

Life is as good as it gets.

And so I eat life and lomo on.

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http://lomomanila.ph