Anew

This blog is sorta history. I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for, say five months now. But I promise to write a new post soon– soon enough after checking answer sheets, editing term papers and computing grades. I still believe that the universe will pull us all to our very first loves. Mine is writing. And blogging. Check this new addition to the blogosphere. Another blog. Same writer. Same feelings. With a different tongue. Lathala at Katha

Ave Maria

I have never written about her. And I had never confessed how much I love her.

It was hard scribbling the words that would not fully make sense until I meant them. I know she isn’t a fan of poetries or of love letters and flowers. So here I find myself writing out of rhymes and nosebleed-worthy Shakespearean lines, hoping my number one fan would have something to cut out and keep like the other articles I have written in our school publication.

I will stop writing for her and finally write about her.

I am her boy. Her only son. She gave me birth 2 days before her 23rd birthday. She was young then, but was even younger when she bore my elder sister at 19.

A young mom she was but it never made her less than a mother for us, for me.

I remember how I would go unruly whenever she taught me how to read the simple ABCs. I would throw my tantrums and cry my uneasiness. I was stubborn. No, I am. But she would always show her compassion and understanding, seeing me in the brink of my tears after her sometimes tongue-lashing admonitions. I had never understood why she would always put me to bed at 1 pm and spank me while I run my way out from my siesta. I had never understood why she would always insist in making me swallow the veggies I thought would let me puke my intestines out. I had never understood why she never let me play with the dunes backyard.

I had never understood her being overprotective and her being a mother to me. And I think I’d never fully understand and comprehend how a love of a mother is.

She that had suffered months of nausea while I suck my thumb on her womb never falls to sleep whenever I complain of flu. She that had labored for my birth never let a sole mosquito get near me. She that had took care of me, breastfed me and taught me how to walk already accepted the truth that I’ll be walking away from home someday.

I could not remember anymore how many time have I let her cry. I think I would not be able to reckon. But I’m certain that the times she hurt me were all because of my erroneous acts. Perhaps, being mother makes you miss your own comfort just for your children. That kind of love is something no dictionary could completely and genuinely define.

I would usually imagine what if I was born of a different mother. Then, I would stop imagining because the thought is empty. No good scene comes out. It will be next to impossible.

I could not ask anything from God right now, but make my mother happy. She would not show how proud she is of me but I could feel it. I could see it from her words, bragging to my aunts about my article published in a national paper. I could feel how thrilled she was when I won competitions during high school. I saw her cry while I did my salutatory speech in grade school. And until now, I feel it. The love she has for me did not stop the day she bore another child after me. She loves me, she loves the three of us – even if my elder sister got pregnant at an early age, even if my gender orientation and preference were not something she was happy about, even if my younger sister was a dropout.

She loves us, no matter what. And through this, I would like to convey how blessed I am that she is my mother. I would never repay the things she had sacrificed. And I pray she knows that I love her even if I do not say or show it.

My mother, Maria, was more of a gift to me than I was to her.

I want to make her happy not just for a day. I want to make her happy while I am living.

I would go back to the delivery room where, after long sighs and minutes of pains, motherhood becomes official.

I know I don’t always need a mothers’ day to write about her – the woman who gave me the world and who gave the world me.

For so long as my pen doesn’t run out of ink – even without words of rhymes and poetic lines – for her, I continue to write.

***

I’m also in twitter: @angtweetnimike

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Aiman

He climbed up the stage and stood in the podium. All eyes were on him. He smiled, glancing through the speech he was about to deliver. He looked through the faces of the people – young dreamers wearing the same toga as his, bearing the same experiences as his, feeling the same excitement he was also feeling that same moment.

aiman

His throat was burning while his eyes began to mirror the inexplicable sentiment within him. He started speaking through the microphone. That’s when the kaleidoscope of memories began to play.

***

A son

Aiman Calimbaba Cairoden came from a humble family of Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur. He is the eldest of six siblings. Although his parents were only high school graduates, they dreamt of providing a better future for him.

“Actually, yung father ko, gusto niyang maging engineer. Kaya lang due to financial difficulties, hindi niya yun nareach,” Aiman shared, adding his father really dreamt of him to become a doctor.

His father, after marrying his mother at a young age, worked as a driver in Saudi Arabia.

“One of my inspirations talaga is my father. Kasi,to tell you frankly, hindi kami mayamang pamilya,” said he.

Aiman shared that it was his father who really pushed him to aim for the best, especially in his academics. It was in his elementary graduation that his father went home from abroad. However his father challenged him.

“Sabi niya, ‘Aiman, hinding hindi ako ang magbibigay sa’yo ng medals, ribbons or whatever achievements na makuha mo hangga’t hindi ikaw yung valedictorian.’ Kasi class salutatorian lang ako sa Saguiaran Central Elementary School. So from that time, naisip ko na sana maging valedictorian ako,” he narrated.

Those words hit him so he strived to become the first during high school. However, during his high school graduation, his father was not able to go home.

“[Patuloy siyang nagtrabaho] para matustusan ang pangangailangan ng pamilya namin. Kasi parang naisip niya na lumalaki na ako, kaya’t lumalaki na rin yung gasto. Mas nagpursige pa siya.”

Frustratingly enough, his high school graduation was only video recorded and was sent to his father overseas. Since then, he promised to see his father climbing up the stage and award him his medals come college graduation.

“Pero ngayon, wala siya dito kasi he passed away noong November 30, 2011. Pero siya talaga ang nagging inspiration ko,” he said, adding that the car accident that ended his father’s life did not kill his dreams of giving his best for his late father’s honor. Aiman became a consistent Dean’s Lister, a four-time Chancellor’s Lister and a President’s Lister as well. His simple dreams of giving honor to his parents resulted to an achievement not only for his family but to the entire Meranao race and to the history of Mindanao State University. He became MSU’s first Muslim Meranao Summa cum Laude.

“Kahit ako, hindi ako makapaniwala. As in. Pero ako na thankful ako kasi Maranao rasied ako. Nakakaproud. Kahit nga yung iba nashock. Kasi hindi naman talaga kilala yung pamilya ko. Talagang low profile,” he said.

“Isa na rin sa mga inspirasyon ko yung mother ko, my very caring mother,” he said adding that his mother once encouraged him to give all his best in studying.

An MSUan

During his speeches, Aiman always emphasized the importance of sacrifices to reach one’s goals and become excellent.

As an MSUan, he shared that the first sacrifice he has to make is commuting from his hometown to the University every day.

“Everytime may schedule ako na 7 or 6 am, kailangan maaga ako dito since sa Saguiaran pa ako umuuwi. So talagang mga 5:30 pa lang, naglalakad (nagbabyahe) na ako papunta dito sa MSU,” he laughingly said.

Contrary to what most believe, he is not somebody who always puts on his nightclothes for overnight studies.

“Akala nila na na-achieve ko to kasi siguro daw every day akong nagoovernight. But no. Kasi parang kawawa naman ang sarili ko kung ganoon,” he clarified, pointing out that he does constant reading and studying days or weeks before the examinations.

“Dapat before examination, nagsastudy ako in advance. Para when examination comes, review na lang. Hindi ako nagka-cram.”

Aiman admits that he is an anime addict.

“Feeling ko mas malaki pa yung ginugugol ko na time dun,” he laughingly said.

He shared that while he was doing his undergraduate thesis, the anime series and movies had become his stress relievers.

In his four years in being in MSU, he admits that there are things that he has not yet done, like joining semi-academic organizations. However, he holds no regrets of being an MSUan.

“For me, hindi ako nagsisisi. Talagang mas thankful pa ako na may MSU hindi lang para sa amin na mga Muslims kundi sa ating lahat. Kasi kung wala ito, hindi ko maaabot tong achievement na to,” said he.

A Legend

Being awarded a Summa cum Laude is yet too fulfilling, but to be tagged as the first ever in one’s race is beyond any achievements to harbor.

“Thankful ako na nakuha ko yung title na first Meranao Muslim summa cum laude pero kahit na naachieve ko yun, still parang for me normal na sa akin. Kahit na nakuha ko yung achievement na yun, kung ano man ako noon, ganun pa rin ako ngayon.”

When asked what his message to his fellow MSUans is, he said, “Talagang ipursue niyo yung mga dreams niyo. Cherish them. But before you reach that you have to undergo the challenges. Hindi niyo yan maiiwasan. You have to develop the senses of selfsacrifice, self-reliance and determination. Always pray, of course, dapat hinding hindi ka nakakalimot. And then dapat maintained yong humility within you.”

Finally he said, “Thank you very much, MSU, for molding us into globally competitive individuals!”

***

He left the podium with the applause of people he touched and inspired. Still wearing that smile, he walked down the stage with a bigger challenge to face. But with a humble heart and a personality who has known the importance of sacrifices, Aiman will go places. Because at the end of the celebration and graduation beats, even without the maroon toga, he is still Aiman – a son, an MSuan and a legend.

with cairoden

Full interview transcription at the Mindanao Varsitarian’s FB page.

***

I’m also in twitter: @angtweetnimike

Dear John

I thought I would never write about you again.

I am lost of metaphorical titles and figurative lines. Those things I never wanted to lose had gone with the blow from my cigarette’s smoke. They afloat and mislay their core in the air. Words come flashing through my mind with indistinct gist. These fingers cannot comprehend comprehension. And I fear I am not writing a note but a poetry cocooned in a prose.

I thought I would never write about you.

I thought I am lost of words and memories and pains.

I am not.

And there you are sitting beside me. Laughing. You’re telling the stories again. And I feel your breath. There you sit right beside me. For all I know, only in my reverie.

Only in those can I hear you speaking to me again unaltered. Without awkwardness. Just like before. Only in thoughts will I see you smiling for me again, showing your imperfect teeth that I love more than the thousands’ perfect grins. Only in those figments will I be able to feel the roughness of your palm, and fingers that once had played my favorite symphony.

They are called memories because they already are done. They would not happen again. They would never happen once again.

It hurt. It hurts. It will hurt.

But it is through all these pains and heartbreaks and tears that I know that I had loved. Truly.

Even if it was not said. Even if it was kept. I had loved.

And I would write…

Perhaps not all about you. Not about us for there is no us. Not about the things I am already done writing. Not about poets with unfinished poems. Not about singers with broken tones. Not about my fingers that are finally letting go. Not about my heart. Not about you and your you. Not about unstoppable pains and heartbeats.

It will not be all about the same things again. For there is no sense of repeating, not until you would learn to write about me.

But before that happens, I know I will be writing again…

Not for you. But for someone else. 

Fire Exit

The inferno in Butuan on Wednesday was a complete tragedy. Lives were taken away like ashes blown by the wind.

photo courtesy: Mark Samson

The three-storey garment store was infamously called Novo. We used to sneak out from high school and spend time window shopping there, enjoying the temperature against the usual city heat, and in mind was the folly of shoplifting plans. From notebooks to under wears to towels to chocolates to red-dressed sales lady – all were memories of what was Novo. And in an instant unexpected, everything of what used to be a well-known department store of the city has fallen to ashes. Everyone felt the tragedy of the inferno eating up the walls and people of the store.

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. at the second floor where more than 20 are stay-in workers. The fire was put out at 6:15. And according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s site, 17 were killed, most of whom were women who were asleep and trapped on the top floor. City fire officials confirmed this, so with the truth that they still not have found out what caused the fire.

photo courtesy: AP

Store employee Mylene Tulo, who escaped with two co-workers, said she was roused from sleep as the fire spread speedily in the third-floor office where they slept. Amid the inferno and yells for help, they managed to sprint out.

“We wanted to rouse others from sleep, but the fire was already too strong,” said Tulo who is suffering a fracture on the left foot. The other two also sustained minor burns on their arms.

“The three of us were able to jump outside the building using a narrow fire exit near the office; many were trapped,” she added.
Relatives and friends, most of them in shock and tears, gathered in search of loved ones in front of the building, where police stood before body bags with the victims’ remains.

It was unbelievable and unimaginable, others say. But no, it wasn’t unbelievable. It was imaginable. It wasn’t the first case of fire in the country or in the city. But, people seemed to have not learned anything at all. We have mourned over burnt lives and wealth before. And here we find ourselves doing the same thing again; all because we lack precautionary measures. These incidents are caused by the most evident reason: this country lacks of firefighting equipment and personnel coupled with safety violations.

People lack the initiative of thinking about worst possibilities.
Until then, we will be witnessing another Novo falling as ashes to the ground so long as we are not vigilant and protected. We will hear yells and sirens and sobs of loss. We do the same , not until we learn how to open the fire exits just before fire goes wild.

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Paws and posts

In this times when teenage satisfactions are determined by ‘likes’ and ‘follows,’ a one-month old kitten is killed and a puppy is hang dried.

Gone are the days when brutality only meant savage human killings and cannibalism. Tweets and statuses replace the 300-pages pad-locked diaries. Photos, in one click, spread through virtual albums. A boy is convicted of ‘animal cruelty’ because of a blog post. Another teenage lad is being sought after by the police after posting pictures of a cute puppy pinned in a clothesline.

The cat-killer’s name is Joseph Carlo Candare. He was a Physics student of the University of the Philippines when the news broke. His blurry pictures flashed through the screens when he blogged about the death of Tengteng – a stray cat he killed on 2009.

“I pulled it (the cat) on its tail and threw it. Then like some pro wrestler I jumped on it and my feet landed on its torso. Slam! Felt good,” Candare wrote on his blog.

It was yet a short time after the post when ‘animal-loving’ netizens condemned him. Posters of him ‘wanted alive or dead’ ran through different websites. Pages in FB speaking he should be slammed too, had been a hit. It was an instant shame, not fame. And it’s funny how people have been too cruel for a person which once had been ‘cruel’ to animals. The non-mention of his name in the television news was futile because he became a wanted celebrity in the virtual world.

Two years after, he pleaded guilty of animal cruelty filed by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). He was convicted with a P1000 fine and voluntary works in PAWS, taking care 200 abandoned and maltreated cats.  His was the first successful conviction of someone accused of animal cruelty in the Philippines. He learned his lesson. But other teens did not seem to have learned the same.

Another teenage boy is facing charges of animal cruelty. Jerzon Senador pinned his puppy in a laundry line like it was a piece of a newly washed cloth on June 2011. The internet went abuzz shortly after he uploaded several of the ‘disturbing’ photos and, apparently, in less than 24 hours he got himself into snag when animal and pet lovers immediately created and supported a Facebook page “Report Jerzon Senador the Animal Abuser” purposely “to raise awareness regarding animal cruelty.” More than 4,300 netizens liked the page.

Senador apologized through a post in FB saying “Gusto ko humingi ng tawad sa nagawa kong kasalanan sa aking alagang aso.. Sana mapatawad nyo ako at pinapangako ko na hindi na mauulit… “but shortly, after minutes, he had an equally disturbing post saying “Hahaha, hnd ako makukulong noh.. remember senador toh! aquh ng pa2pad ng Animal cruelty at kya kong bawiin yun! ahahahaha”

The Municipal Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna issued a warrant of arrest against him for violation of Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act.  The boy is nowhere to be found right now.

These may serve a lesson to us. It is never good to share too many information through the internet, at the very first place, so is the being cruel to animals and to JC and to Jerzon.

One click and everything worsens. This is the power of the internet. Each netizen should be extra careful of what he posts and shares. It is still better to share compassion rather than tearing those people’s lives apart. The posts of putting those ‘erring young people’ to shame would not even solve the problems of animal cruelty in the country. Be a tool in sharing, tagging and tweeting about love for animals and people around, instead.

In the end, do not post your cruelty to animals through the internet. I mean, do not be cruel to animals and to the people who had been cruel to them.

Because in this times when teenage satisfactions are determined by ‘likes’ and ‘follows,’ what you feed to the virtual world is much influential than the helpless barks and ‘meows.’

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At Large

JUSTICE in this country is elusive. It makes no sense for people who dwelt in believing it is only a term people utter in thin air, without anyone grasping the quintessence of it. It is odd. It is often spoken of, but is never found.

 It is printed on papers, on laws, scratches and unopened dictionaries. The word is scrawled red in the placards of street protesters. The stories of it not being realistic are often conveyed through their shouts and prayers. Cries of the people whose loved ones are not served it are audible – as audible as the struggles of two student activists as they were being dragged by armed men; as audible as the sound of a pulled trigger, making a wife lose her life to the ground; as audible as the news that had broke about an environmentalist-broadcaster’s demise.

We know of these incidents. We know of the men who are guilty of these. We know nothing of their hiding places.

This is what justice in this country is.

Impunity stands over it. The big men step on it. The guilty ones spit on it, run away and are seized not. Even when their heads cost wealth for those who would find them, they still all remains at large.

Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, both student activists from University of thePhilippines, were kidnapped on 2006 in Bulacan. A report said they were hanged upside down and were made to drink their own piss. Six years had passed and they are still missing, so is their abductor, retired major general Jovito Palparan.

Palparan is hard to find because the fugitive had received the same training as his hunters, says Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome.

 “If they’re serious about it, there’s a way. Otherwise, they can think of many reasons not to do it,” grieving mother of Karen rebuts.

 The P500, 000 offer of the government for Palparan’s capture seems not effective. The strategies of the authorities of capturing him also are, because it’s never just Palparan who is in the list. Evident as we may find, the word justice may never even was included in that list.

Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes is also one. After deemed wanted in connection with the murder of Gerry Ortega in January 2011, he is not still found. He is free somewhere with Mario, his brother and mayor of Coron,Palawan. And so he sends messages to the radio stations, promoting love and understanding among the Palaweños. He is hiding, he says, “in the hearts of the people” ofPalawan.

He once said he serves for justice but ran away when he was the one to sit as the accused. He continues sending his messages about when he finally comes out while the family of Ortega continues on spelling the word justice inside their minds.

And just recently, another name was enlisted as a fugitive king. His name is Ruben Ecleo, Jr., representative of theislandofDinagat. Worshipped as the grandmaster of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries of the Philippines (PBMA), he managed to hide away from the call of the court and its ruling. He is wanted in connection with his graft conviction at the Sandiganbayan and a more recent parricide case for the death of his wifein 2001 . Her name is Alona. And her husband and accused murderer is nowhere to be found.

They’re all missing. The justice is.

We would never find out how it is like to have justice served for us, for the people who long sought for it. Because in fact, it was long forgotten by people even if they so fight for it. The president we have also fought for it, having his father gunned down to death. In the long run, it is still the same because the people who should be serving it to the people would not seem find ways to seize the fugitives. They find it impossible and difficult.

How justice in this country is defined then if the ones who committed the gravest crimes are still missing?

They’re powerful yet guilty.  But they are still at large. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MISStake

She is 23 and a woman of beauty. In a world where beauty is spelled by a fair white skin, long legs that step on high heels and a smile tinted by red lipstick, she could be a queen. The crown isn’t still hers, though. All she wanted is for all the planets to look up her while she stands in the center of the universe. She wants their applause and cheers. She wants the title. She wants respect.

She is 23 and was 19 when she changed her life and entity. She was 19 when she had a new name.

I met her on the television; her face flashed through the news. Almost perfect, she’s a beauty queen betting to represent her country to a prestigious beauty conquest. Her name is Jenna. She was born a he.

Jenna Talackova of Canada is a transsexual. She said she had known since the beginning that she was born with the wrong gender. The real ‘she’ was once trapped in a body of testosterone, so she decided to freed out the cocooned ‘she’ four years ago. The whole Canada was deceived. She screened for Miss Universe Canada and eventually became an official candidate. She’s blonde and pretty, passed all the requirements and was later found out she missed an item – the one that states that she should be born a woman. She is a woman. He was born ‘Walter.’

It became a huge talk when she appealed her being disqualified from the contest. But it became a huger talk when the Miss Universe Organization allowed her to compete “provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.” She remains an official candidate for the title this May.

Having recognized the freedom for sexual orientation of the then Walter was great. Allowing her and other ‘Jennas’ that would follow her steps to enter a competition for women, is yet too much.

I have nothing against men changing their genders, or even women, at that. It’s a choice, they say. It just that Miss Universe should be promoting genuine woman beauty. Simply, artificial people should not be allowed to compete. Her intentions aren’t questionable. She wants to fulfill her childhood dream. She wants not be discriminated. She wants to be respected and fight what she thinks is an individual right.

I ain’t promoting transsexuality, she says. By words she doesn’t. But the act she’s made has perhaps given an impact to a confused 14-year old boy and has for all time posed in front of the mirror and waved to his own reflection, to change his genitals. He has finally met his hero.

The gays are competitive by nature. They want to prove themselves (sometimes, that they are better than any other). If a pageant organizer, such as Miss Universe Organization, allows them to compete over real women, the number of artificial women joining might even be larger than those of natural beauties. It a promotion of plastic surgery. It a promotion of over choice, an implicit campaign for women to change their physical attributes just to fit to their standards of beauty.

It’s okay to exercise our own innate freedom but we must consider limitations. A he could never be a she no matter how identical their entities may be. A beauty contest for women should never be joined by men. A competition for genuine beauty should never be tainted with plasticity.

Her name is Jenna and many might follow her. She wants the crown and the title. She’s got the freedom and my respect. But the truth be told, Miss Universe should never be a he.

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Syntax Error

It probably has become the childhood nightmares of the many and it continues up until college.

No. It certainly is more horrible than seeing a chalk eraser flying towards you. It’s even more tiresome than a ten-time jog around the oval; even more perplexing than a 30-minute elementary squat. It’s more heart-breaking than seeing your first love holding some other’s hand. And surely more terrorizing than the professor that had always given you goose bumps (though they can work so good together, really).

Mathematics. The sound of it could send chills through the veins of someone who has totally cursed numbers and fractions all his life. A touch of it could cause nosebleed-worthy talks and uncontrollable brain hemorrhages (exaggerating). It would remind you of devil-red marks on you grade cards, lost scholarships, and even crumpled sheets with unwritten answers. It could even be the reasons of your over-extended college life, million-dollar meals over depression, overnight scratching of heads and life-time unresolved problems.

Though it could be just a piece of cheese cake for the dexters and geniuses out there, it could also the biggest stumble block for those whose brains cannot spare some space for numbers. Many struggle through it. And with this kind of difficulty and problem, no formula would seem work.

According to my best friend Encarta, Mathematics is a way of describing relationships between numbers and other measurable quantities. It can express simple equations as well as interactions among the smallest particles and the farthest objects in the known universe. Mathematics allows scientists to communicate ideas using universally accepted terminology. It is truly the language of science.

Indeed, the innovation of Mathematics is tantamount to the innovation of the modern technologies ate the present. Those who are good in Math have the edge over the others since many of the professions today focuses on technology.

Sadly, not all considers Math as something easy to learn. People had been raised with the thought that Math is something that one doesn’t learn without the innate intelligence about it. You get or you don’t – this is how people put it.

Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps our right brains should be blamed why we are instead good in arts rather that math. And perhaps it is also true that one needs an innate intelligent to get a 1.00 mark in it. But the thing is we must not succumb to our fears and dislikes of numbers.

As what one of my mentors in high school had said, “Do not let your sagacity get wasted. Math is hard but it would even be harder if you run away from it. Do your part in the formula of learning.”

Mathematics is so hard to conquer (especially to those who solely depend on calculators or to the mercy of his seatmate), but students need to pass through the rigors of academic life.
We would be bombarded with numbers and though we so want to run away with them, we still need to find the value of Y.

It probably has become the childhood nightmares of the many and it continues up until who-knows-when.

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