Achieving Happiness

October 26, 2007

Swallowing yoyos and the stapler fetish

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:36 am

It’s like I swallowed a yoyo and I don’t know if its coming up or down: ousted ex-president Joseph Estrada is now free, released on pardon from Malacanang.

On the one hand, I sort of feel that he should be pardoned because he’s 70 years old and he did spend six years incarcerated; but on the other hand I feel bewildered because WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!

It wasn’t at all like Erap was genuinely suffering – he was in his Tanay rest house, for crying out loud. He had access to everything. He could even leave the premises once in a while.

Actually it’s really the motives of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration that suck big time.

The Macapagal-Arroyo administration should not for even a moment believe that its act of granting pardon to eErap mitigates its own crimes against the Filipino people, or that the granting of pardon will signal reconciliation between itself and the opposition. If Pres. Arroyo and her spindoctors think that granting Erap pardon gives a patina of compassion to the presidency, they’re seriously mistaken. Nothing has changed with how Macapagal-Arroyo presidency is perceived by the Filipino people – an illegitimate, corrupt and human rights-violating regime. Granting Estrada pardon does not win for Macapagal-Arroyo more supporters, but it does ensure that more Filipinos will be fed up and disgusted with her government’s hypocrisy.

Malacananang is mistaken if it thinks that with Estrada pardoned, there will be national reconciliation. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The scandals and controversies over the corrupt acts and practices of the Arroyo administration have not been resolved and for many, pardoning Estrada also constitutes an act of betrayal of the rule of law on the part of the executive. Yet again the timing of the act of granting pardon also throws suspicion on the Arroyo presidency and its motives. No one for a minute believes that the pardon was an act of humanitarian kindness or justice, but a desperate act of self-preservation.

The most that we can hope for is for ex-president Estrada and his supporters and allies to not rub more salt into the wound by surrendering its opposition to the corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and colluding with it in its acts of betrayal against the Filipino people and the nation. There is no need for ex-president Estrada to show gratitude to Macapagal-Arroyo because there is no doubt that the pardon was aimed to benefit Arroyo as much as it did Estrada. The ex-president is urged not to unite with Macapagal-Arroyo and instead continue his leadership of the opposition and its campaign to expose the corruption of the presidency.

Call me naïve, but I can’t help but hope that Estrada should use his regained freedom making up for the crimes his own administration perpetrated against the Filipino people. Erap should use his influence in support of efforts to genuinely expose and oppose the corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Estrada does differently and instead joins the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, he will only be compounding the crimes for which he was ousted from power and arrested for six years.

The challenge that now lies for Estrada is to show remorse for the crimes perpetrated by his own government and to genuinely atone for them by joining efforts to fight the corruption of the incumbent regime. This is the least that he can do to assuage the outrage and indignation generated by pardon he was granted.

Under no circumstances should Estrada show gratitude with Macapagal-Arroyo or meet its overtures for reconciliation. The pardon was not act of humanity, compassion or justice, but a self-serving move of Malacanang. It’s now time for the ex-president to show the Filipino people that he has indeed learned his lesson and that he will now initiate measures that will genuinely prove this, including opposing the corruption and human rights violations of the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

Hindi talaga ako matunawan ngayong araw. This country is such a mess.

In the meantime, in other stapler 2parts of the world there are people obsessed with staplers. They collect different kinds of staplers -various makes and models; the kinds that use staples, the ones that don’t; the ones made of plastic, some made of metal, and others of both. They even have site called VirtualStapler.com and I found it interesting: I’ve always liked office supplies, and could spend hours in National Bookstore checking out the various pens and rulers and tape dispensers and hi-lighter markers.

My own sister is worse — she hordes supplies – she has at least three mechanical pencil sharpeners, at least three dozen colored pencils, reams of sticky notepads in various sizes and colors, notebooks and gluesticks (glitter, plain and neon). I think she talks to them on her off days and asks them how they’re doing. I think they answer back because she’s often cheerful afterwards.

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The first thing I do right after I turn on my laptop is to check my email accounts. It’s a habit. I get email from friends, email about work, spam, announcements about cool events I will never attend, news reports that make me feel ill, etc etc. I am addicted to the efficiency of email, how it’s almost unnecessary to use paper, how swiftly I can communicate with other people. I can’t imagine a world without email, without the internet (though mostly I use it to amuse myself).

Still, though, there are days when I miss getting actual, physical mail. I miss hearing the mailman yell ‘sulat!’ and I would rush down the stairs and to the door, eager to get my letter. Back in highschool I had penfriends from Germany, Africa and the former Soviet Union, and I could count on getting at least one letter from each every month. When Kim was in Mindanao I wrote him one letter a week and pretended that there was no such thing as email (although we did email as well). In the few times that I left the country I sent postcards home.

I also used to collect notepaper (none of the cheesy flowery or scented ones! I bought Japanese prints – paper used for origami; or Korean stationary printed with stories in short paragraphs of stilted but charming English) and envelopes and made sure that my fountain pen always had ink. I enjoyed the process of writing and signing the letters, putting them in the envelopes and going to the post office in Lawton to mail them. I didn’t mind licking stamps either.

I think it was this habit of writing letters that made me enjoy the office supplies section.

Now I receive no real mail, save for unpaid insurance bills, the electricity bill, or flyers from some company selling lechon de leche.

 

October 25, 2007

Stop the world I want to get offffff!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 3:47 am

Little people

Okay, now Malacanang allies are hitting Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, saying that the the priest turned politician and whistleblower is just trying to get media mileage in preparation for his supposed plans to run for president in 2010.

Ano daw?! Candama Mayor Jerry Pelayo, spokesperson of the Pampanga Mayors League is doing his thinking using his ass. Gad, it’s so infuriating to read news like this in the morning! Do these people have the slightest sense of morality and decency, or have they completely sold their souls to the devil in Malacanang? Where do they get of accusing Fr. Ed of having self-serving political ambitions? Just because the man exposed an anomaly and spoke out against it?

Gad, it’s almost impossible to be a good person and stay in government.

Elsewhere in the world, there are politicians who are doing more important things than going around complaining that they don’t get enough financial support for their local projects and programs. It’s so frustrating how small-minded, how parochial, how stupid so many politicians are and they cannot see beyond the boundaries of their respective districts, provinces, or regions. They never see the whole picture, and consider the areas within their political and fiscal jurisdiction as their own small kingdoms. Politics in this country is so freakin’ backward because the so-called leaders think small: they put up ‘waiting shades’ and have old schoolrooms repainted and call it public service. They distribute money to barangays and donate money to families to help their bury their dead and consider their jobs done.

A.R. Sabangan’s article over at GMANews.TV on policies of various governments when it comes to politicians accepting gifts all the more upset me. According to her research, politicians have to pay for gifts if they accept them, and then make a public accounting of all the tokens they received and state how much they cost. Here in the Philippines, there are laws prohibiting politicians from accepting gifts on pain of administrative and even criminal liability, but gad these laws mean nothing to the likes of, say, the officials of the LPP who say that’s actually tradition for it to give cash gifts to assist new members. Aaaargh! They flaunt it in our faces!

I’m trying to monitor the senate investigations on the anomalous ZTE contract, but I’m having a difficult time concentrating. I am distracted by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Joker Arroyo because seeing them working in tandem in defense of Malacanang is making my stomach heave and lunch is around the corner so I think I should stop watching. It’s insane seeing one of the architects of martial law and one of the more prominent human rights lawyers of the same decade sitting next to each other, beaming approval for each other’s attacks against the senate investigations and their respective efforts to put an end to it. Joker is on the warpath against the Inquirer and says he wants sanctions against the paper for coming out with a supposedly unverified report regarding what happened during a closed door executive session right before the senate investigations on the ZTE went into recess.

I’m supposed to understand why the hell politicians are the way they are in the Philippines; to know why exactly they’re deliberately being small minded and why many of them for the most part do not exert any superior effort to initiate programs and policies that will improve the quality of life of their constituents not only by giving them jobs and various means of employment, but lifting the standards of governance and the quality of over-all government service (intelligent and responsive governance, the kind that also seeks to contribute the development of people in a comprehensive way – mind and body). I’m supposed to know why this is, and I do, but I still get frustrated and disappointed.

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This fried egg pix is for friends who never ask me how I am when we run into each other but instead go straight to asking one or two of the following questions: (1) Am I pregnant yet; (2) when am I going to get pregnant; and (3) don’t I want kids because I’m still not pregnant yet.

Grrrr.

Reminds me of an incident here at the office when one of the kasams from the human rights community dropped by. She’s maybe three, four years older than I am and as far as I know still single and unattached. So we all said hi and hello and how’s work and life etc, but another kasams here, a middle-aged manong asked her point blank and exactly like Uncle Geoffrey asked Bridget Jones only in Filipino – “So, kamusta na ang love life mo? Meron na ba?”

Grrr. Nakakainis. It’s a good thing that the girl laughed it off, but I couldn’t help it and retorted that it was so annoying that when I was single, people asked me if I had a boyfriend and if I didn’t, how come; then when I had a boyfriend, people asked me when we were going to get married. When I got married, they asked when I was going to start having children. Grrr.

Ask me something else, like how my literary writing career is coming along (badly) and what I think about amending the law so transsexuals can have their names and genders changed on paper (I agree wholeheartedly).

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Where babies come from

October 24, 2007

Creation as responsibility

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 9:35 am

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My friend Raymond Letourneau once told me that I should take solace in the fact that good music is created everyday. Songs that make one feel and think, and even to take positive action.

I’m also grateful that meaningful art is also born everyday – they take shape not inside airconditioned galleries, but in the streets, alleyways, sidewalks.

Creation is such a responsible act because you present whatever it is you’ve come up with to the world. Your art either contributes to society (for the cause of humanity’s liberation from its weaknesses) or it’s just decoration (something to temporarily amuse) or worse, yet another thing that will add to the confusion and the proliferation of lies.

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The goal of every artist should be to use his/her talent and gifts to contribute to some great and noble end; to aid in the destruction of that which stands in the way of humanity’s freedom from exploitation and greed; and to be part in the construction of what will replace what has been destroyed.

Wandering the supermarket aisles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:01 am

I’m having a hard time concentrating on work because the entire office is in a funny uproar over the man who is allegedly the husband of plastic surgeon and high-end cosmetologist Dr. Vicki Bello. Lunchtimes here remind me of the tv afternoon variety shows where everyone is talking at high-speed, generally being hyper and chirpy. It’s a wonder that no ends end up with indigestion here from too much laughing. The meal-time topics range from politics (today it’s about the LPP’s announcement that it gave out the money to the governors two weeks ago. Comments were “Supermarket cartcharing,” “chorva lang ng LPP yan para i-save si GMA”) and local showbiz (“Si Sam malamang straight; pero si Piolo questionable pa”).

I like grocery shopping with Kim. I used to hate it before, when he would question and oppose almost everything I put into the cart as being too expensive: 555 Tuna brand versus Century brand; powdered milk is better than liquid milk; rice for P25 per kilo against rice that sells for P30 per kilo, and on and on.

Now I totally understand where he’s coming from – he grew up very poor and he managed to secure his degree and graduate magna cum laude with his tummy growling and seldom containing anything other than kangkong and kamote tops. I am also well aware of how expensive everything is these days, but in the end, scrimping on a few pesos on canned tuna fish doesn’t make much difference, right? We live frugally as a rule anyways – not by choice (hahaha, because if we did we’d be vacationing in Palawan every weekend); but because of our own personal circumstances and the result of decisions we willfully made.

Before it was so stressful going grocery shopping with Kim because he was like a walking calculator, determining and comparing prices to milligrams and liters and liters. No sooner had I put something into the cart would he ask me to put it back because he says it’s too expensive and we could get something cheaper. Add this to the fact that we have to avoid certain brands (like Nestle) which are what actually what’s within our price range.

Now he’s more relaxed about it. In my own defense it’s not like I go out of my way to pick the pricier brands, but there are certain brands and products that I grew up and have gotten used to (Like Colgate, and real butter not margarine, and pasta that doesn’t go all soggy, and liquid milk and juice). If and when I find some products that are just as good in terms of quality and taste, i don’t have a problem shifting; but Kim is so extreme.

Like the time he bought Bingo cornedbeef and not Purefoods because it was waaaay cheaper. I didn’t say anything, withheld criticism. When he had it for lunch one Saturday when I wasn’t home, he realized that sometimes when you buy cheap, you really get cheap– it was like eating dogfood, he said, if he had ever tasted it.

Still on Dumbledore, these are the highly popular t-shirts that came out immediately after JK Rowling’s announcement on the beloved Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Maybe Prof. McGonnagal was lesbian? She’s brilliant andstrong and independent-minded, and it didn’t look like she had any personal relations with men, either.

I like the musical ‘Wicked’ much, much better than the book it’s based on by Gregory Maguire. The book strikes me as misogynist (I don’t know anything about Mr. Maguire). ALL the women in the book are freaking flawed.

Elphaba’s mom, Melana, hailed from a rich and influential family, but she married Frexpar, an impoverished Unionist minister/preacher. She is unable to cope with the boredom and the poverty, and is weak against temptation. She becomes an adulterer and sleeps with the Wizard of Oz (way before he ever became a wizard and was still a hot air balloon operator from some circus who lost his direction and ended up in Oz) and a Quadling.

Elphaba, is green-skinned, intelligent but an underachiever. She is passionate and committed to a higher cause, but when tragedy strikes she completely falls apart and becomes a recluse.

Her younger sister, Nessarose (who is libelously called the Wicked Witch of the East as her sibling is called the WW of the West), is breathtakingly beautiful, but was born with no arms. When she discovers her magical powers, she first uses it to fight the dictatorship of the Wizard of Oz, but soon becomes a petty tyrant herself.

Galinda, who transforms herself into Glinda (and is called the Good Witch of the South), is beautiful but vain and empty-headed. She devotes herself to efforts that will elevate her status in society, and she chooses to remain loyal to the Wizard even after she discovers that he has evil designs because the connection will help her win her goals.

And on and on.

Last Saturday courtesy of my sis I got ‘Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.’ I haven’t started it, am not particularly looking forward to it; but Maguire is an entertaining writer, though I didn’t love his characters.

So what now, I’m suppose to rush to the freaking malls because the PNP has said that what happened in Glorietta 2 last Friday was an accident?!

Who the heck are they trying to fool? It’s so infuriating the way the government doesn’t even make any more effort to dress up its lies and embellish the details to make its explanations more convincing. The Arroyo government must think that Filipinos are a bunch of brainless idiots who can’t put two and two together, much less see through a deliberate, orchestrated attack when they see it. Accident, my foot. Am so glad that UP professors have given their say on the matter.

On a related issue, the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) has announced that it was the source of the moolah given to governors two weeks ago, and not Malacanang.

Ows? How come it spoke up only now? Why only now and not as soon as the controversy first broke out?

I guess it took Malacanang all this time to come up with this scheme – to make it appear that the LPP distributed the bribe money and that Pres. Arroyo’s office and closest officials hadn’t anything to do with it. Pabobo na talaga nang pabobo, and as they grow more stupid, they also become careless.

Everyday these officials make it hard for one to like living in the Philippines. Ang sarap na talagang patalsikin ni Gloria, nakakainis!

October 23, 2007

Moving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 8:45 am

Elizabeth Perry

I love my blog over at Friendster, but recently it’s become difficult to put pictures in so I thought I’d find a new site to continue it.

Kim, who’s my number one critic, has been long bugging me to move my blog, and so far I’ve resisted. I don’t like changes when am already comfortable; I don’t like being pressured. What I don’t mind, however, is making decisions for myself. I’m actually an impulsive person, but I can control it (by throwing a coin into a fire, retrieving it and then pressing it against my wrist) and so I don’t get into scrapes too often.

I started my blog in 2005, and its now almost 2008. I’ve posted at least 300 times in the original site, and for the most part they were ramblings and musings and complaints and rants and occasional expressions of rapture and delight. I really don’t think there’ll be any changes here – except now I’ll be able to post pictures, yay!

Am actually starting a new phase in my life, new work, working with different Kasamas, trying to lose a little weight around the waist (haha, but true -gad, it’s beginning to look like I have an inflated lifesaver around my middle) and attempting to be less quick-tempered and easily agitated.

I’ve long made the realization that being disciplined takes freakin discipline, and it’s really hard work. I can name at least five things I would be rather doing than working – writing fiction, watching movies, walking my dog, putting up a garden and learning to cook; but when I do get free time, I end up in bed reading and there are crumbs everywhere and the glasses in the sink are piling up and before I know it, its time to go to bed but I have to get rid of the crumbs first and wash the glasses in the sink.

So keeping this blog is one thing that helps me keep disciplined. It’s ritual, there’s rhythm in it, it’s habit. I should really keep better habits like, well, keeping my personal journal updated (this blog is hardly the repository of my private thoughts — the things here are for the most part descriptions of what’s floating at the surface. My private thoughts are way less sane and ordered, but hey, they’re only between me and myself so what the heck. )