be not afraid

the pope on his chair, while presiding a saturday vigil mass. world youth day 2002, toronto, canada.

when president ronald reagan was first diagnosed with alzheimer's disease, he quickly removed himself from public eye and died in the privacy of his california home.

pope john paul II is likewise being treated in his vatican residence. his health is gently, but clearly, descending, but his doctors say he won't leave his house to go to the hospital.

i'm amazed at his courage. he's living out his old encouragement: "be not afraid!" be not afraid to acknowledge your various limitations. be not afraid to continue tasks given to you, even if you suffer in various ways. be not afraid to pick up from where you've left off. be not afraid to take on uncharted territory, like a new job, or just even a job fair, or a burning, new curiosity that you know will cost you dearly.

trying to read his words in college was like trying to understand heiroglyphics, but you're rewarded with true gems in the end. his thoughts come across as surprisingly easy to relate to. here are some i've come across in the past that i've now piecemealed together as a result of trying to understand why he insists on appearing in public and carrying on his tasks, despite age and illness. from the apostolic letter:

Those who share in Christ's sufferings have before their eyes the Paschal Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection, in which Christ descends, in a first phase, to the ultimate limits of human weakness and impotence: indeed, he dies nailed to the Cross. But if at the same time in this weakness there is accomplished his lifting up, confirmed by the power of the Resurrection, then this means that the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ's Cross. In such a concept, to suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man's weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. This also explains the exhortation in the First Letter of Peter: "Yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God"(75) [ on the christian meaning of human suffering, 1984. ]

the image that comes to my mind here is, again, christ nailed to the cross. we're all familiar with the metaphor that the way jesus was nailed to the cross is similar to when someone opens their arms to embrace you. when you get ready to take on someone like that, all shame is shed and all your attentions are focused on the object of your embrace - thus, weakness and emptying of self.

the other amazing thing about the pope is that he lets his staff tell the media every single little detail of his illness - perhaps to assure catholics, perhaps to show us all how a christian's life is, first and foremost, a witness to jesus christs' presence on earth.

we can say he has to, because that's his job - he's a pastor, a father, not a politician who has to keep up facades. and like a loving father who takes every opportunity to teach his children, he, again, lives out something he said some time ago:

[The elderly] are sometimes foresaken. They suffer because of their old age. They also suffer because of the various troubles that advanced age brings with it. But their greatest suffering is when they do not find the due understanding and gratitude on the part of those from whom they are entitled to expect it. [ the family: center of love and life, general audience, dec. 31, 1978. republished in "the wisdom of john paul II: the pope on life's most vital questions," 1995, p. 84. ]

the holy father is fearless - he's visited over 100 countries and met with key leaders to avert war and send help where it's needed - before the most recent war in iraq, he met with president bush, who respectfully differed with him regarding starting a war there. he brought key african leaders together to stop civil war there. he played a subtle hand in the fall of communism, insisting on visiting his native poland three times until the iron curtain dropped. historians claim that a third of poland's population attended his third visit, enough to turn the polish government.

yet the pope is also human. i'm sure right now he's curiously looking forward to what else god has in store for him.

In old age, how should one face the inevitable decline of life? How should one act in the face of death? The believer knows that his life is in the hands of God: "You, O Lord, hold my lot" (Psalm 16:5)... Man is not the master of life, nor is he the master of death. In life and in death, he has to entrust himself completely to the "good pleasure of the Most High," to His loving plan. [ encyclical: the gospel of life (evangelium vitae), 1995. republished in "the wisdom of john paul II: the pope on life's most vital questions," 1995, p. 86. ]

sometimes when you step back and look at the world, you realize its characters: the politicans and the clergy, the artists and the businessmen, the workers for hire and the housekeepers. the sentries and the students. the teachers and the children. the healers and peacemakers. the outcasts and the troublemakers. the messengers.

the catholic church is one such messenger, and the pope is her leader. by letting us all know, almost at an hourly basis or whenever the media asks, how he is doing, he is not shirking from the responsibility and opportunity he's been given as representative of his highest and dearest hopes. as he delivers a homily in san antonio, texas:

We die in the physical body when all the energies of life are extinguished. We die through sin when love dies in us. Outside of love there is no life. If man opposes love and lives without love, death takes root in his soul and grows. For this reason Christ cries out: "I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other" (John 13:34). The cry for love is the cry for life, for the victory of the soul over sin and death. The source of this victory is the Cross of Jesus Christ: His Death and His Resurrection." [ sept. 13, 1987. republished in " the wisdom of john paul II: the pope on life's most vital questions," 1995, p. 90. ]

world youth day 2002, toronto, canada.
  filipinos in america and world war 2
we shouldn't find it difficult to imagine that filipinos and americans fought side by side during world war 2.

the war that touched every corner of the globe and turned everything upside down is largely responsible for the philippines' almost permanent love/hate relationship with the united states. by the time of the war in the pacific, the philippines was already a colony of the u.s. the japanese had their own agendas for world domination, and the philippines' location was a perfect place to launch their rule into australia and china. their march was so relentless that the u.s. had to bomb hiroshima and nagasaki to stop them. later, the u.s. installed bases in japan, and by then their former colony, the philippines.

in the midst of all these events are filipinos who fought in the american army. those who wanted to move to the u.s. were granted citizenship, but not military benefits.

military benefits provides you and your family insurance and free state college tuition, among other things. there are movements right now to attain more benefits, hinting that military families aren't getting equitable return for their sacrifices in the current war with iraq. filipino veterans who fought side by side with americans during world war 2 aren't even getting that level of benefits.

they've been waiting since the 1940s for that to change. it's already 2005. part of the reason it hasn't budged much since 60 years ago is because there isn't enough support and information for regular readers like us. the only way for our veterans to get equitable return for their pains is to change legislature.

the bill is called the filipino veterans equity act of 2005: for more information, you can go to congress' web site: from the main page, click on currrently on the house floor, and search for H.R. 302 and S. 146, or by keyword. you can help by letting your legislature know of your support. there are details on the full equity now Web site.

the first filipino world war 2 veterans i've encountered watched philippine folk dances at chicago's daley plaza for the philippine independence centennial celebrations back in 1998. the lolo (grandfather) wore medals on his lapel and his navy sailor's hat. i thought he was a police officer, until i saw the words "philippine world war 2 veteran" embroidered on his hat. i asked him about it, and by his stories, immediately assumed that the u.s. again deprived filipinos of their rights because it hasn't truly relinquished its role as colonizer.

i rarely see world war 2 veterans in social gatherings in chicago. the seniors in the gatherings i've been to in the past may very well be veterans, they just didn't don their gear. it's time we paid attention to the aging in our community. it's time we recognized this bit of our history.
my lovely lilac uggs
my lovely lilac uggs. what's the difference between lavender and lilac? hmm.

watching other people have what you've always wanted is like having a mosquito constantly buzz in your ear. you wish you knew where it really wanted to bite so you know where to squash it dead.

ok so now you're wondering where the hell did that kinna comment come from? ahahahaha... from my first sip of coffee in over a month. (caramel mocha, yay!) and then from a crazy busy month to nothing going on in the last two days. sometimes i dislike quiet moments like this because i just end up watching what the hell i did wrong or look for something crazy to do. like contact friends in various crazy ways and blog.

but the good thing about downtime is that i did finally get to go shopping and take care of some personal stuff, but that's just made me realize how much more i need to do. and then i open my email and here's one from my professor who just repeated all the homework she announced in class the last time. poor prof. i don't want her to think that her material is boring, because it's not!

if i open my bag right this moment to take out my berlin class material, the velcro sound will echo throughout the room and people will look up out of curiosity because it's the only sound that's not clicking, tapping, printing, rolling, or inanely announcing newspeak. chicago's first real taste of warm springtime. the possibilities are paralyzing.
  turnover blues
i like the blue, but when i tried on the yellow, it made me pop
i like the blue, but when i tried on the yellow, it made me pop.

the turnover in this office is driving me crazy. several weeks ago, a colleague who i got to work closely with wasn't able to show up for work because of new INS regulations that our office has yet to fulfill for her. by the time human resources in new york city arranged it, her own life changed - her husband got accepted to purdue university, so now they're moving to indiana. since they're moving to indiana anyways, she decided not to come back to work.

i truly wish them well, but the post she left seems jinxed, ahaha - only one person was able to hold it down for more than two years, and before that person, he held it down for more than 30. it took the photo desk over a year before they can find someone like my colleague to fill that spot. i hope it won't take them as long anymore.

soooooooo... if anyone wants to know how a wire service newsroom works, let me know and i'll show you around. no guarantees, tho, ahaha. i don't do the hiring around here, but you can watch how we work. it'll give you an idea whether you still want to work for us. a wire works differently than a newspaper, magazine or a broadcast station. let me know.
  racing round in circles
yay flying hand that teaches us robots all that we need to know
yay flying hand that teaches us robots all that we need to know... ahahaha. i want to see this film

a book about culling the grit on filipino identity is scheduled for release by t'boli publishing house later this year.

sonoma state university professor leny mendoza strobel's book is still untitled, but poet eileen tabios has made memorable recommendations on it in her blog. it looks like strobel's new book is volume two of her 2001 'coming full circle.' reviews on that book on amazon.com are glowing, even as one reader said the writing is inaccessible - when material is inaccessible, you can complain all you want, even publish your complaints, but it won't change the way the work is packaged. besides, if the work is compelling enough, there aren't a shortage of writers and readers who can communicate, or translate, for you.

after reading tabios' recommendations and the earnest posts in reaction to 'coming full circle' on amazon, i wondered what my own friends would think of books like these. the concerned ones will ask 'who are we' and 'where are we now?' and 'who are the people in your neighborhood' and 'where do we come from?', but whenever we revisit these issues, we seem, well, stuck.

for example, a friend of mine wanted to sing for the last pintig open mic session, but backed out because she felt she wasn't ready. she opted for the next month's gig. that's so wonderful, and i hope she pulls through. the open mics are there to give visibility to fellow filipino chicagoans, who are more than just anonymous workers buried in the multitude of america. we are worker bees, but we're human first, just like everyone else.

by my friend's deciding to perform, i'm reminded of how hard it is to get filipinas to say something out in the open. i've always been considered strange for thinking that way, but i really don't see what the fuss is about when a girl speaks her mind.

the reviews on amazon on 'coming full circle' says strobel traces where such ideas come from - one reviewer mentions filipinos being ashamed to call themselves such. my issue are why girls are asked to be quiet all the time. it ain't ladylike to be so damned talkative in front of so many people, i remember a cousin with her own phd say. (i laugh when i think of her because she turns around and gossips with me behind everyone's back anyways.) ok, i'll shut up now, but you have to read my next few paragraphs, at least.

one other instance of the lack of insight into the reality of how filipinos behave are study abroad programs. friends in the philippines who went overseas to learn their roots come back with concepts that seem useless to their life and studies here in the u.s. that's not either party's fault, because neither party knows what the other needs. there's rarely dialogue, and that's no one's fault - usually kids like me just dare not talk back, or better, we have no clue what to ask about first. and we dred public humiliation. that would squash us lifeless.

those, and because filipinos are all about families, and families tend to lug around all sorts of baggage everywhere they go. rarely do those boxes get fully unpacked and examined, so we know which to bring and which to toss - or yes, sige na nga, reuse.

later this month my friends and i are going to sala cafe for pintig's monthly open mic. it's becoming a habit, a youth group without the religion. most of the songs and poems and speeches in the open mic purge demons or confront them. yes, they are all depressing. except for this one poem that was read in FILIPINO.

oh, my goodness.

she talked about melting snow and diving into it to look for her iced-up heart.

immediately i remember my first black and white photographs of my sister and i pretending to swim in the snow. it was just ten years ago, but it was our first real snow ever. i loaded black and white film into my camera. i wanted to record everything, because later i want to think about what it means to me. the photos are still buried in my room somewhere.

there are other circles i didn't mention in this post, one is that there is a difference between the rich and the poor in the homeland, and that how much money you have in the homeland sometimes determins where you emigrate to. but that's not the search for identity anymore, ahaha. that's activism.
  happy easter!
moon over ludwig meis van de rohe

my regard for religion has only heightened since graduating and starting a full-time job. but you won't find me anywhere near my old "single, catholic young professionals" organization, though. ahahahaha. they require attending one 4-hour meeting a week. i don't have the resources to make that sort of committment yet.

but i'll avoid making jokes about my old faith community. one of my friends, a more recent veteran of that group, teased me about losing my mind because i actually joined and spent five years with them. "you moved to the states and then joined them. you moved to the states, lost your mind, and then joined them," she teased.

i read somewhere that people cope better with immigration when they practice their religion. this paper - written by someone who descends from north asia and who now lives in the u.s., and when i find the blasted pages, i will blog further about it - states that immigration so rents a person's cognitive (and other faculties) fabric that often the most effective way to cope is through the comforting repetitions of a novena, a rosary, a formula for the types of songs and images sung over and over again.

looking back now, it makes sense because repetition is easier to think about, kind of like a full circle is easier to make sense of rather than an arc - an arc has to lead somewhere, it's part of a puzzle, and the natural inclination of the brain is to solve puzzles. but when you move to another place, all the pieces of the puzzle aren't immediately available.

that article made me wonder the sincerity of my joining the group. i realized that i was made to join the group in the first place, but it was my choice whether to stay or not. i could have refused to go to meetings, only talked to them on the phone, but i didn't have the heart to break contact. i did have fun with the group, that the group gave me some of my most memorable moments. often when i look back, i have mostly loyalty for my old colleagues and the faith that we stood for.

i hate how the many unsaid things between my batch of leaders and i collected until they piled into an insurmountable height. but if anyone asks whether they should check out cfc-youth for christ, i'd tell them to go ahead. chicago's different from manila and the rest of the u.s., and the loyola university group is different from the rest of chicago. there's always something going on that you won't have time for the drama. it gets busy, bumpy and trecherous, so be prepared to ride along and drive. don't be afraid to get off when you need to.
  everybody was kung fu walking
kung fu lookalikes

i really needed a new pair of work shoes. after an hour of roaming a downtown mall, i came across these by a chinese designer.

the ones on display get a lot of milage on them already even before being bought that the brand name on this one (the ones like kung fu shoes) got rubbed off. i ended up buying those, they're so cute. i like the other pair too, but i should only have one. hay. maybe next paycheck. i asked the clerk for a fresher pair, and purchased these kung fu lookalikes. it's nice to have some sort of reminder of your childhood shoes in a workplace that needs to be all serious all the time. :-)

although... yanno... remember that news about women returning used victoria secret underwear after a night out? legally, you could do that, especially if it's only been 24 hours.

so, looking back now, i was thinking: they're not undies. they're shoes. unlike undies, shoes tell all by the crease on their sides and the smudge on their printed labels. i coulda gotten a fat discount.

:wry: i'm joking. i would never do that. books and DVDs are the only things i'll buy secondhand.
  jim - j.j. jameson
poetry excerpt

We met in homelessness.
Two stray New Englanders
looking for Yeats and Whitter
in the alleys of Chicago.
Food appeared to be scarce
due more to heritage yankee pride
than larders empty
of cereal, of gruel,
of five pound government cheese,
of one pound chunks of butter.
Conversation was rife
with historical consequences
of hungry youths
women named Barbara.
Yeats widening gyre
spun past life's roadblocks
as if it were fall
and repairing the Dan Ryan had
Whitter took us through fields
of Catholic Charities
god was not found
but Browning's heaven was.
Jim found his way to Wellington
and Cicero
majestically decorated.
I found my way to Logan
in need of repair.
With a roof for full moon birthday parties,
poetry workshops,
the Unofficial Soup Kitchen,
expended our meager Chicago
performance pieces of longevity.
Under the best of destinations
the food chain alters our route
to hospital after hospital
to aright our bodies to the
original trek.

this excerpt is from the collection "lady rutherfurd's cauliflower" by norman porter jr., a.k.a. chicago poet and antiwar activist j.j. jameson. he was arrested tuesday for killing two people in massachusetts; the murders happened 20 years ago.

another drama worthy of chicago (and this time, no writer in this city spruced it up - until yesterday's trib story). no one will want to live here, now. [ romanticized chicago-poet-is-actually-a-killer trib story ]
  APRIL chicago events
no, i'm not goin to all these. sheesh. i want to, tho. ahaha. imma hafta call in sick for the friday events... but... hmm! i have seven days to think of an excuse! woohoo!

APRIL 1 - 14, 2005

BLUE HOUR (feature) - Friday, April 1, 8:15 pm only
SLOW JAM KING (feature) - Saturday, April 2, 7:45 pm & Thursday, April 7, 8:00 pm
ART AND ACTIVISM ON THE ONES AND TWOS (short) - Saturday, April 2, 3:00 pm only
BALIKBAYAN (short) - Saturday, April 9, 5:45 pm only
SPAM-KU (short) - Friday, April 8, 10:00 pm & Monday, April 11, 7:45 pm

Two Filipino American feature films and numerous short films will be premiered at the 10th Annual Chicago Asian American Film Showcase.

Francisco Aliwalas's second independent feature, BLUE HOUR is an exhilarating mystery thriller shot in guerilla-style in the streets of Manhattan.The film boasts an array of Asian American performers that solidifies to a concrete feature that will keep the audience at the edge of their seats.John (Arthur Acuna) is in town visiting his old friend Catfish (Orlando Pabotoy) who asks him for a favor that could save his live.When he wakes up three days later, Catfish isn't out of danger, but now he finds himself in his own set of entanglements. Disturbing flashbacks from the missing three days, encounters with people who seem uncomfortably familiar, and contact from a mysterious organization known as the Foundation provide many questions but few answers.He's not sure who the bad guys are, who the good guys are and -- when he almost kills a man --even what side he's on. Aliwalas produced, wrote, directed, shot, edited, and wrote the music, making him an all-together all-star of the night.

Steven E. Mallorca's award-winning SLOW JAM KING taps into a fusion of themes dealing with cultural exploration, discovery of self-identity, and relationship development that ultimately solidifies into an unforgettable adventure.JoJo Enriquez (Ron Domingo), a Filipino-American adolescent, attempts to live the lifestyle of a hip-hop driven "gangsta pimp" in the streets of New York and falls short in his endeavors.Promising to resurface his reputation, he carjacks a van owned by Vance, a mysterious traveling perfume salesman along with Devaun-JoJo's best friend who desperately tries to protect him from the law.The threesome embarks on a remarkable journey to Nashville that reveals twists and turns not only in highways, but also in their paths of life.

Other films from Filipino American filmmakers include Michael Tuviera's Kung-Fu Love Triangle a beautiful exploration of the dynamics of martial arts while attempting to score a chance with the maiden.For the urban art savvy, Phuong Tang and Jennifer Cho's twelve minute short-ART AND ACTIVISM ON THE ONES AND TWOS will show Kuttin Kandi, a Filipina American DJ in the MONKEY DANCE shorts program.In the IT"S ALL RELATIVE shorts program, Larilyn Sanchez and Riza Manalo's award winning short film BALIKBAYAN centers on a Filipina migrant worker who sends her mother back to the Philippines along with "pasalubongs" (presents given from a trip arrival).Finish the night with SPAM-KU: I WON A HAIKU CONTEST ABOUT SPAM (in the FLYING FISTS OF FUNNY shorts program), a Steven K Tsuchida short about everybody's favorite processed meat that binds Filipinos and Filipino Americans together for a happy meal.

All screenings are at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute, Chicago's premier venue for independent and world cinema, located at 164 N. State St.

Tickets to each screening are $9/general admission, $7/students, and $5/Film Center members.

All tickets may be purchased at the Film Center Box Office, which opens at 5 p.m. on weekdays and at 2 p.m. on weekends (for selected EU films on the weekends, the box office will open one hour before the first screening of the day). Only general public tickets are only available through Ticketmaster, 312-575-8000, www.ticketmaster.com, and all Ticketmaster outlets.

Members pay only $5 to see a movie at the Film Center. Memberships are $45 (Individual) and $75 (Dual) and are valid for one year. For more information, call 312-846-2600 or visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org.

The Interparking SELF-PARK at 20 E. Randolph St., located between Wabash and State, offers Film Center patrons a special rate of $13 with no time limit. Patrons are required to show their ticket stub to receive the discount.

For more information about the Film Center, call 312-846-2800 (24-hour movie hotline) or 312-846-2600 (general information, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday), or visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org

eFYI:The director of Slow Jam King, Steven E. Mallorca, will be at the screening of his movie.

SAMAHAN: The Filipino Students Association at the University of Chicago presents

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies University of California - Davis

Friday, April 1st
6 to 7 p.m.
University of Chicago
School of Social Service Administration, Room WI
969 E. 60th St.
(Corner of 60th Street and Ellis Avenue)

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is the author of "Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work," and "Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes." Her research on Filipina domestic workers has garnered international attention having been featured in the Wall Street Journal, American Prospect, and produced into an award-winning documentary, "The Chain of Love in the Netherlands."

Her faculty website: http://asa.ucdavis.edu/faculty/parrenas.html

Co-sponsored by the University of Chicago's Center for Gender Studies; Center for International Studies Norman Wait Harris Fund; Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture; and the Officeof Minority Student Affairs.

For more information or assistance, please contact Michael Barin at 773-834-2833 or mjbarin@uchicago.edu.
as u walk in through the front door

i am so envious of people already keeping house on their own. and i mean a real house, or living space, that which you slave over day in and out to pay mortgage and rent for, not a playground type area your parents still pay for. they do that to make you grow up already, silly. sorry. ahahahaha.

my old buddy kept us all hanging when he said he was going through something lifechanging. and queen of all drama queens me immediately assumed the worst.

you're getting married!
you're having a baby!
you broke up with your baby?!
you moved out! for real this time! like all the way to canada or mexico!
you finally tried to kill yourself.
you got a deal with a record company!

your company stock skyrocketed through the stratosphere, and now you're filthy rich. you can now afford that rocky beachside california mansion you've always wanted and hang out with paris hilton.

don't forget, when you become famous, i write for a living. i can shoot you to the stars. all the way to american idol, baby.

deflated, he blogged, "i bought a house. there's nothing like a good SCANDAL. you're all invited to the housewarming. i'm getting old, am i?"

if getting old equals becoming adept at managing stresses and hiding discomforts well, then pssh, ya. but it seems he's been planning this trip for a long time.

i'd like to try living on my own for a while, but i know it's not now. that same week he blogged the news, i backblogged, "how long does it take to decide to lay down roots? or where to stake claims? or which futures to invest? he does realize, i'm sure, that with the crowd he chases and the multitude he runs with, that his pad might turn into a club-treehouse type hideout?" ahahahaha.

his little sister, much later on and still remembering the ripples her brother caused, blogged, "assuming is bad." she's sharing that house with him!

i am envious, but proud and happy for them. they're musicians, and now they have their own space to create universes in. everything will turn out so well for them both. :-)
steve maddens sweater shoeMain Entry: van·i·ty
Pronunciation: 'va-n&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: Middle English vanite, from Old French vanité, from Latin vanitat-, vanitas quality of being empty or vain, from vanus empty, vain -- more at WANE
1 : something that is vain, empty, or valueless
2 : the quality or fact of being vain
3 : inflated pride in oneself or one's appearance : CONCEIT
4 : a fashionable trifle or knicknack
5 a : 3COMPACT a b : a small case or handbag for toilet articles used by women
6 : Dressing table

vanity is sarah's older sister, who she worships unconditionally because there's rarely a bond stronger between people than sisterhood. you can be blood related, but it's quite different to have that sort of relationship.

vanity is having pictures of yourself on the shelf for everyone to see. someone named claire did that once to her living room for us all to see. at that time, i blindly looked up to these women who travelled halfway around the world to work here in the u.s., and i thought it was the best thing to spend on yourself, because you won't be on your own in that space. pretty soon you'll get married, and then chaos begins. ahaha. your life isn't yours anymore. and by then, you should be ok.

vanity is going to the gym everyday, even if you don't have to. you weigh 90 pounds and aren't anorexic, in denial, or running away from something. you just really have more metabolism than you know what to do with, and in the midnight, you have no clue how or where to burn all that excess energy. luckily there are 24-hour crunches or gyms open in your downtown apartment building.

vanity is purchasing a highrise condominium downtown, a high 20s floor to see all the ludwig meis van der rohe pieces change disposition from sunup to sundown. high up there in the trellised blacony, you're sure that you'll never be broken in to and robbed.

vanity isn't taking stock of your purchases and making sure you're not spending beyond your means. it's not taking care of yourself so you have energy to spread around your work, any classes, and family and friends. it's not carefully looking back and making sure you're not perpetuating the same mistakes cast in a different light.
  an attempt to be serious for once
ulanmaya at flickr
Originally uploaded by ulanmaya.

can't do it.
but last night was fun.
the phone rang every 10 minutes.
it's like that right now, too.

for a story that happened in downstate illinois, we reached into terra haute, ind., and gave them a poke. "have you heard of a hearing for herb whitlock?"

i poke u

for a story that happened in upstate minnesota, more than 200 miles from their twin cities, which are more than 200 miles from my office, the washington d.c. office reached clear across the country and gave us a poke. "can you please send a photographer out there?"

today, for a story that happened in salt lake city utah, they are trying to get us to go to a hearing tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. "so we know where baby tamia will spend the night... until the appeals hearing, that is."

for more stories, i have to shut up now, lest i be caught blogging... then there'll be no more stories. ahahahaha.

  who are the people in your neighborhood day
last saturday i saw an old friend at pintig's open mic.

i was totally suprised. he found out about the open mics through a friend of a friend of his.

and then today, while returning from foraging for dinner, i bump into pintig veteran andy gaston and his friends, yellow and pj. watda, i say. almost four years of working in this same building and not a soul in sight (except for a youth group friend - we had coffee once and then never got a chance again!), and now people bounce out of the woodwork like hunted termites.

not too long ago, my greatest fear is the mere hint of my different worlds converging - a set of friends from college, another from high school, another from work, another from here, here, here and there. now i think it's so cool! :-D but still how creeeeeeepy. ...
  tree on shelf and glass
tree on shelf and glass

world outside wilts
world leaders effect change
that change lives by the millions

six hours of indulgence,
i schedule once a month
that's greed

for quiet moments
while the world outside
dissolves and entire city scapes

are ground to dust
their demise hastened
by foreigners adept

at convincing us
their truths blanket and save.
i spend six hours

on just my own,
organize the past months' chaos
into yet more passing media;

at the end of my "efforts"
the sun's long left,
memories of images

cooked by mass media
of the middle east
and downtown federal plaza

on saturday
flooded with protests and prayers, remain.
they chant, "stop the war. stop the war."
  imagine me saying
let me know if i'm making sense.

let me know if the incident i just told you had concluded well enough for you, because, as you know, it happened far away and a long time ago. let me know if i'm being overly complex, and let me know if i'm going too fast.

our lives are a salad of diced lies. let me know if i'm not making sense. interrupt with questions, speak if you must. my life is a set of photographs, a complete world in each frame.

a friend, grabe, said just now that he no longer goes out with my namesake, what in the world do you say to that? this, after almost a decade of them together. grabe and sandra, a complete sentence, one a half moon without the other. i left his news at that because it was closing time and

my ride was calling from across the room. i wanted to hold on how unashamed they were to call me one of them, i wanted to believe i can fulfill expectations because isn't that what we were placed on this world for? they won't be real if they didn't stick around after my myriad public,

internal failures. grabe without sandra, how can that happen? now i really have to ask why. now, at least, this is why he asked for prayers last fall during finals week. i wonder when it happened. or how. he'll offer if he knows why. i'm speechless that it's even possible.

so you, i just imagine you telling me something i can't stand and i wonder how i'll take it. i'm curious how.

i wonder about evening conversations when it's just us and the glistening streets, late winter and the promise of poetry shining some time next month.

i wonder about telling you of heaviness leaning while they all waited for your story to conclude.

there's a threatening wall there waiting for my next sentence.
how heady to have the room in your palms.
don't you think.
  ruby/orange beauties
ruby uggsorange uggs

both are available at the uggs web site... ahem. like most multinational american businesses, there is a sinister tale regarding this brand.

uggs australia is affiliated with american deckers outdoor corp., who last year, had trademarked the term "ugg." the
australian sheepskin association inc., cried foul, claiming the americans are trying to seize the term "ugg" from its australian roots.

deckers say that they get first dibs on the word because they've marketed the term "ugg" for several years now. a.s.a.i. claim australians have always called sheepskin boots "ugg," so they can't steal what they already own.

"it's a bit like registering the term 'computer' as a trade mark," wrote australian blogger

don't say i didn't warn you about yet another biz drama. an old
price check of the boots (scroll down to nov. 9, 2004):

American owned
Ugg Australia - made in China: $259.95

Australian owned
Aussie Sheep and Wool Products - made in China: $129.95
Emu Ridge - made in China: $120
Mortels - made in Australia: $100
Ugg Australia - made in Australia: $100
Skiniks - made in Australia: $95

i'd like a size 6, please.
  sushu's green paddy river
sushu is a student at the university of chicago. i stole this pix of hers coz currently i am at work and am unlikely to go out shooting any type photos anytime soon.

happy st. paddy's day

this is from atop the u of c's gleacher center, i think the 3rd floor lounge.

no, that's real water and a real river, ahahahaha. legend has it that dublin officials approached chicago officials for the recipe to harmlessly turn public water works green, every year for the annual celebrations remembering the saint who chased snakes away from the emerald isles. chicago officials refused to give.

happy st. patrick's day! parties and parades were this passed weekend, actually. ahahahaha! but a strange thing happened to me today: i wanted to wear something green, and now i know why. st. joseph's day is this saturday, tho, march 19. poor saint - always overshadowed by swanky patrick.
  concluding day
it's another one of those blah days when many semisignificant things happen all at once that they cancel each other out.

robert musil from jerry van beers's sitefirst is musil's always intriguing treatise on just how he thinks he sees a girl he likes - but the thing is, she's pregnant, and how in the world did that happen, who's responsible for that?

nbc reports that christopher robins is aquitted of raping a girl at a party in burr ridge in 2002. that story broke just now, but earlier i watched the 6 p.m. news and there was no such thing reported. i'm disturbed that i might have missed that fact when i watched the news, but it turns out that bit was just moved, literally, just now.

before i started work, i find out that scott peterson is sentenced to death. everyone around me believes he did it. he was offered a statement in the courtroom today, the sentencing hearing day that the judge set aside for his late wife's, laci's, family. after discussing with his lawyers, they declined the offer. everytime that story comes up, i go back to my mother's lament, "he did that to someone of the same race as he; he killed his wife."

the past couple of days were refreshing for once - real talks with real people, the type that you don't have enough of, the type that should be done so seldomly because too much of a rich thing is bad. we talked about working, mainly, because that's what everyone wants to do nowadays.

actor robert blake was also aquitted of killing his wife today. with that case i'm not familiar with, as it was overshadowed by the more elusive michael jackson and him being accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy. blake, now 71, said he spent $10 million in court fees, needs a job, and endured the entire court process for his 4-year-old daughter, rosie. "don't do the crime if you can't do the time," his t.v. character in "baretta" was known for saying. ah, hollywood! so intoxicating. that part of california is a strange, floaty place.

an odd piece of a quote struck me earlier this evening, "we came here to play," said the illini coach, bruce weber. his mother died ealier this week, the rare time she came out to chicago to see her son's team win and play. shortly after the illini's victory earlier this week, he was told his mother had passed away.

isn't it interesting that play in this case is business. illini basketball players take it seriously because some of them might be on an athletics scholarship. i wonder if work really is serious play.

all these court cases concluding - it's like the
nine planets converging into one straight line. when i finish "tonka," i can tell you how that concludes as well. as for when will my friends and i conclude our wordplay? perhaps at the next time the nine planets converge.
  sunflower kernels

there has to be an easier way to eat sunflower kernels. i pour about 10 pieces of them or so into my palm. i felt like a hungy chimpanzee, and prolly look like it too. but yum! pleased
  little brown bean
starbucks in papua new guineai looooooooooooove coffee. ahahahaha. but the book i started reading about sits waiting on my shelf, half-completed, "uncommon grounds: the history of coffee and how it transformed our world." i like reading about how colonists razed hectares and hectares of south american and caribbean land and turned them into cocoa and sugar plantations. it reminded me of jamaica kincaid's "a small place," and her echoing, unwavering anger. contrast blistering kincaid to mark pendergrast's opening paragraphs: he pops a fresh coffee cherry into his mouth, his tongue separating parchment from beans. flavor explodes and melts around his tongue. how bitter it tastes, brittle like its shell. how earthy the plantation smells, how endless. all this in the central american twilight, at the mercy of international corporations like starbucks. their recent e-mail ad for coffee harvested from papua new guinea shameslessly invites us all to savor the country's freshness. you consider how at least they admit to catering the greed in us all.
  blue gorgeous
gorgeous blue sky

the late winter sky
rarely opens up
blue enough
to let trees show off
how trying they reach
and different they branch
from each other.

this hallmark card zen greeting is brought to you by a rare glimpse of ulanmaya lucidity. sorry, i just had to temper that bad poem with a joke, ahahahaha - ah, dammit. i've enough of the cold already. grrr. my one consolation's that sunset isn't at 4 p.m. anymore - it's at 5:30 p.m. *sigh.*
  body worlds exhibit
postcard from the museum of science and industry

they died telling their doctors their bodies were to be used for research. the doctors took what's left of their patients and injected them with plastic, rubber, resin and wax. their soul's left their faces, light snuffed from their eyes, sound robbed from their gaping mouths. they died finally escaping pain and the infirm's ridicule. they died nameless and historyless, their skin color betraying some hint of who they must have been.

the germany exhibit might have told us who they were while living, but the chicago exhibit took pains to divert us to how this human piece of flesh functions rather than highlight what else could horribly happen to it. perhaps this exhibit's most extreme example of macabre entertainment is a skeleton bent ninety degrees to its side, it looked as though the man did everything sideways and addressed everyone from the side of his body.

body worlds exhibit

that their names and lives remained unknown never detracted from that these statues were once human. they are splayed, flayed, dissected, picked apart, pickled, stretched, sliced and chopped, but in poses of cycling, atop a horse rearing, in the moment of catching a soccer ball, in the mid-leap of dancing. when bodies die they take on the shape of remembrance, that the person becomes a token of the life you lived with them; they turn into ornaments and remembrances to treasure. there is a lesson in letting go when you release someone when they die, when they come back stiff and made up and preserved in boxes.

my mother and sister are nurses, and i understand how the poor souls died and were turned into exhibit experiments; reminders for everyone to care for the time they have left. but i look at the female archer, whose taut musles were poised to show tension, her intent face fixed in concentration, her legs relaxed in a kneel. her right hand had just released an arrow into infinity. what a way to remind us of eternity.
  chinatown and my sister's bday
ulanmaya at flickr
Originally uploaded by ulanmaya.

we just went out to a chinese restaurant, the seven treasures, because that's all my sister wanted. our mom also likes that restaurant because it gives her double the milage on her northwest airlines credit card.

isn't it amazing that big airlines like united, american, delta and continental all say they suffer bankruptcy, and other airlines have really quit altogether, claiming economic difficulties? but northwest, who services far-off asia, remains.

the boost to our mother's northwest perks card is sweet to her as well. "for the $36 we spent there at one time last time, the card gave me 360 miles!" sheesh - now they do 10 miles per dollar you spend? magnificent! at that time my mom could afford to fly business class back home to the philippines for free, now i think she can fly first class for free. my siblings and i joke that we'll wave at her from the back of the plane in case we all decide to fly home all together.

will post more pix soon. :-)

i'm ascending a state of denial. i just blogged about my neighborhood, and saw baaaaaaaaaad pictures of it. i have better pictures, i just have to upload them to my online photo service.

the pictures were baaaaaaaaaaad... and the feeling is descending on me. the pictures were taken with an uninspired eye, and i'm getting annoyed they were online. they made albany park look like some dead zone - i think they took pix during the middle of the afternoon, when people are either napping or away at work.

that pix of the arabic restaurant below does no justice to the delicacies it serves up every night. i've yet to try it, but every time friends and i pass it, they always look inside curiously.

and then there's the unmistakable kentucky fried chicken sitting with its red roof. it saved us all once from starvation as well.

covered by trees is the brown line kedzie station, and beyond that, more small businesses, houses and a starbucks. it is totally a working class neighborhood, populated by those who work in this area of chicago:

michigan avenue

with access to the brown line, they get to enjoy this part of chicago whenever they want to:

water tower place

where also the downtown water tower campus of my old school is located. that tall brick building? that's lewis towers. :-D

but someday i hope i'll get to live in one of these, maybe in chicago, maybe not. ;-)

ultra dense streeterville
photo from neighborhoods.chicago.il.us. the top two are mine.
  in the periphery
albany park, along kedzie avenue
photo from neighborhoods.chicago.il

bart ross, the man police are following whether to see if he really did kill judge joan humphrey lefkow's mother and husband, lives three blocks north of my house.

i'm in the news!!! - ahaha. yes, that sounded insensitive. it's unfortunate that he lives in the albany park area - it's one of the most diverse neighborhoods in chicago.

the evidence that links ross to the killings is startling because police found guns and letters in his minivan, that they found, of all places, in west allis, wisconsin. they're still trying to find out why a northside chicago man would go to rural wisconsin. they probably would still be looking if not for a police officer who thought it strange that someone from illinois would park at a town side street, sit there and do nothing. when officer dean puschnig decided to check out the minivan, ross suddenly drove away, making an illegal u-turn. puschnig followed, stopped the car, got out, and dodged a bullet that ross fired into his head.

right now police don't think ross is involved in any white supremacist group, and matt hale's mother is particularly happily vocal about it. the source of all ross' actions seems to stem from a lawsuit against his doctors who treated his cancer and left his face deformed. judge lefkow presided over that case, and dismissed almost all charges.

it looks like revenge, but by someone clearly troubled. "i regret killing husband and mother of judge lefkow as much as i regret that i have to die for the simple reason that they personally did to me no wrong," ross wrote in a letter he sent to NBC 5.

investigators are still pursuing whether he really did kill the lefkows, even when ross has confessed it in his letters. "while we do characterize (wednesday) night's developments as significant, we are not prepared at this time to definitely say any one person is responsible for these homicides. this case is by no means closed," chicago police superintendent phil cline said in a news conference this afternoon.
  aha! dammit! i found it!
i have been looking for these words for the past three hours... and guess where i found them! from the blog, 'the rowster,' and the author is filipina! what the hell! ahahahaha - such a great find! anyways, i added her to my curious things.

the first time i heard the vagina monologues was as a student at loyola university chicago. it was very empowering! i didn't feel threatened at all. i was confused because i was supposed to be leading a catholic youth group at that time as well, but if the play's aim is to have every female find their own voice, then those two hours were revelatory.

last march 5 is the next time i was able to see the play. it was staged at the university of illinois at chicago for their v-week celebrations, and since it was UIC, its campus right at the heart of downtown chicago, you just knew to expect more. aside from an army chorus, they had two women do sign language. when they all stood up for the 'variations of moaning' part in the end, they thundered the stage, and THAT was a bit scary and threatening - i wondered about the men in the audience. ahaha! i heard several new monologues that night, and relived 'my vagina was my village.' one of the new monologues i heard that night is pasted below.

v-week at uic

My Short Skirt
The Vagina Monologues
by Eve Ensler

My short skirt
is not an invitation
a provocation
an indication
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook.

My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.

My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.

My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.

My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.

My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or undecided
or a malleable little girl.

My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.

My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.

My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women's army
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina's country.

My short skirt
is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summer festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is

But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
is Mine.

extras from the vagina monologues
the rowster
  still a lame book title
american HP

questo è il numero sei di libro harry potter.
this is harry potter book number six.
this american cover also comes in british format:

british HP

it also comes in adult species, for all you shy types:

shy HP

it is still, excuse my hapless opined self, a lovely, yet lamely titled, 600-plus paged tome. i can't wait to get my copy. for book five, since we didn't reserve an advanced copy, my sister and i camped out at 11 p.m. at the michigan and pearson borders and lined up for a lottery ticket. we let out our nervous energy running - running! - up and down three floors of escalator stairs.

"we're not doing that again!" she yelled.

"but we already have our copy," i said.

"yes!" she screamed, giggling, holding it aloft. "but only after fighting for it!"

oh, dear.
  head in the clouds
iris chang's family is trying to dissipate the asian stigma against mental illness. i think they should cast the net wider - all sorts of sets of people have that stigma. you can't talk about it in this newsroom without certain writers laughing their heads off. i watch them and wonder if there's something they know that they're not telling.

some illnesses in the brain are caused by chemical imbalances that are easily cured by medicine - clinical depression is like that. depression is actually one of the most common illnesses around, as common as diabetes. bipolar disorder is another that can be controlled by medicine.

the stigma against mental illness hinders researchers from finding out how to cure more severe cases such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder.

the stigma is so strong and contradictory that ms. chang herself told her family not to tell anyone.

i think part of the stigma stems from that many cultures value intelligence above everything else. we all know the jokes -

sumobra na yata sa talino
she's crazy - depressed-like crazy
where the crazy haven did those ideas come from?

ah wells. i know i forget that the mind is just like the body in that it has limits. you break those limits, you end up hurt. already people aren't wanting to find out whether they're physically ill -

no, i don't have high cholesterol.
no, i don't have a caffein or smoking habit.
i'm all right.

what more something they can't see?
  running to manila
what struck me most about the jews fleeing persecution to manila in the midst of the holocaust is the philippines' geography.

it seems the archipelago on the pacific has always been framed as a strategic stopping point to elsewhere. that if the allies succeed in taking it during the second world war, they're a stepping stone closer to japan. by taking the philippines, the japanese now have a closer hand in taking the rest of china, southeast asia and australia.

but in this story, the philippines became a destination beyond historic hopping point and current tourist spot. a valentine's day article in the new york times recounts how jewish expatriate and manila cigar maker alex frieder urged american commonwealth president manuel quezon to let his countrymen use the philippines as sanctuary for a while until the second world war dissipates.

president quezon's grandson, manuel III, confirmed the story with a februray opinion column from cincinnati, ohio, of a simple remembrance ceremony for the philippines' role in the jewish diaspora. he followed it up with stories of manilenas affected by the presence of the expatriates.

i am glad writer frank ephraim, now 73 and living in washington d.c., decided to chronicle his memories of their fleeing to manila at the height of the holocaust. it's challenged more of what i think i know about my own country.

his book, "escape to manila: from nazi tyranny to japanese terror," published in 2003 by the university of illinois, will be launched by the philippine consulate general in los angeles on wednesday, march 30 at 6 p.m.

there are many, many anecdotes to the larger story of the holocaust, and scholars criticize that each one, like "the piano" and "schindler's list," as yet adding to the growing pile of accounts that tell the same story.

but even they have to admit that a story about far-off philippines, currently an active participant in worldwide current events, taking in european jews is justified and relevant.

press release from philippine expressions bookshop:

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, in association with Philippine Expressions Bookshop, invite you to the booklaunching of "Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror," by Frank Ephraim.

The event will be Wednesday, March 30 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Philippine Consulate General, suite 500, 3600 Wilshire Boulevard, corner Kingsley, Los Angeles.

Seats are limited. RSVP required. Please call Linda Nietes at (310) 514-9139 or e-mail linda_nietes@sbcglobal.net.


Frank Ephraim was born in Berlin in 1931 and fled to the Philippines with his parents in 1939. In 1946, he immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen, and he later earned a B.S. from the University of CA, Berkeley and an MBA from George Washington University. He was a naval architect in San Francisco and joined the US Maritime Administration in 1960. From 1973 to 1995, he served as the director of program evaluation for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation. Since his retirement, he has volunteered at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.


Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror. University of Illinois, 2003. 220 pages. Clothbound.

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930's, more than a thousand European Jews sought refuge in the Philippines, joining the small Jewish population of Manila. When the Japanese invaded the country in 1941, the peaceful existence of the Jews filled with the kinds of uncertainties and oppression they thought they had left behind.

In this book, Frank Ephraim, who fled to Manila with his parents, gathers the testimonies of thirty-six refugees. Combining these accounts with historical and archival records, Manila newspapers, and the US government documents, Ephraim constructs a detailed history of this little-known chapter of world history.

This book also makes known to the world the hospitality of the Filipino people and of the Philippine government towards these oppressed people. Manuel L. Quezon, who was President of the Philippine Commonwealth when this group of refugees arrived in the Philippines was recently declared posthumously as a "Righteous Person". Read more details below.

The Jews who escaped to Manila recall the long, dangerous trek from Europe to the Philippines, and the elaborate series of permits, visas, and travel tickets it required. They describe the lives they built in Manila upon their arrival and the events surrounding the Japanese invasion. Under the Japanese occupation, the Jews, barely settled, were faced afresh with oppression, imprisonment, torture, and death.

In the book, the survivors tell in their own words the stories of escape, or hardship, and finally or rebuilding and hope.

Stanley Karnow who wrote the Foreword to the book is the author of "In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines", for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.


"The vignettes and first person histories make for very interesting reading. The history of the Jews in the Philippines, long neglected, can now claim its rightful place among the more fascinating places where Jews lived during the dark years of the Holocaust." - Jewish Book World

"Although not a professional historian, Ephraim has done superb research that makes this autobiographical memoir the almost complete story of nearly 1,300 Jews who jumped from European fire in 1938-40 into Japanese terror in the 1945 Battle of Manila" - Bulletin of the American Historical Collection

"Ephraim has constructed a fascinating narrative from a rich mix of archival research, oral history, and autobiographical memoir. He offers us a stirring portrait of a community of resourceful, resilient, courageous, and compassionate individuals." - Michael Shapiro, Director, Program in Jewish Culture and Society, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
some people get obssessed with identity. i tend to become like that, but i remain restless only when i can't pin down just exactly what's eating me next - after the last issue, because there's always a last one.

i've isolated that identity issues eat me from the inside out.

and then i've rooted that they stay with me for as long as a year before i find a solution or a way out of the last issue.

and right now the new issue is the idea that people force on me my identity. the most offensive and negatively disarming (because you can be "disarmed" in a charming way) is when someone asked me, "when did you realize you were filipino-american already?"

hello. right now i'm trying to contain my anger and resentment and distance my emotions from this issue because i want to resolve it. i want to come to my own conclusions.

that statement just flew in the face of everything i have ever held close to my heart. luckily for me, i'm not alone - just recently, another filipina said that she herself identifies her as filipino, but relatives and friends in the philippines call her filipino-american. i think she means to say IMPOSE UPON HER, but she probably thinks it's not worth fighting that battle with friends and family. i'm wondering, if not with the people closest to you, then who? strangers aren't worth it, i think.

but back to the person who asked me that question. i was just truly taken aback and disappointed. i quickly realized that that question is from someone who has yet to learn a type of sensitivity that can't be taught. it has to be learned through experience. what's even more disheartening for me is that it looked as though she stuck to her guns, whereas i never thought of doing that. i never thought i needed any when we met, then.

so i tried my best to summarize and explain to her the lengthy process of why i still don't think i am filipino-american, but why i should at least consider it, or understand her thinking of how she came to that conclusion. i told her in conclusion that i myself haven't resolved that issue with me.

and i am SO GLAD she shut up. finally. she didn't say all that much, actually, because she wanted to talk to her newcomer friend by themselves, and i gave them as much space as possible, because i didn't want to impose myself, and i also didn't want to be annoying. but the question was raised, so i wanted space myself. i still did want to be friends, because they are the first contact of the sort of people i want to be friends with. and i did want that experience to be meaningful - i got that already.

i was pleased to know that clearly they expected differently from me because i am filipino like them. when it comes to people of other races, they understand the discrepancies that could come up. at least in that aspect, we're the same, because i still remember what it was like growing up in quezon city (even if there were regional arguments, i remember just focusing on the things that were the same between us). simplistically, this mystery of real life - modernity probably has something to do with it - is the same as that it is harder to love your own family than it is your friends.

without meaning to, i suprised them in another aspect - that for young people, identity sometimes might not matter. in a teenager's mind, at least the group that i had associated with the most when i first moved here to the u.s., who they are doesn't matter, it's what they do with their lives and their time that matters to them. they don't think it's important to assert and learn about and believe in who they are as filipinos because they have other things to do - homework, go online, chat, text, e-mail, play pranks with, go to the movies with, gossip about, and go out with their friends. unless something drastic happens to them - from the simplest as their parents suddenly switching to their regional tongues, to something violent that happens to them or around them, to even just suddenly finding themselves in college or their first jobs - they don't care. that's just how it is. some might even consider raising those types of issues as being racist.

i raise this issue right now because it's been done to me again - the third time in five months, in fact. there actually might have been a thousand other times, but this third time's caught my attention, and i feel i need to say something. i know i have to be patient, because for as long as i am in the u.s., and i'm sure, when i visit quezon city as well, it sure won't be the last.

i am filipino. i am not who you say i am - you can chop it all you want, filipino-american, filipino-spanish, part-chinese, ilongga-manilena, rural-city girl, what-have-you. you can dilute it all you want - she can't spell salita and string two of those to form one pangungusap without embarrassing both languages. you can isolate it all you want - what in the world is she doing with all that knowledge. i can ask you what in the world do you do with all that time on your hands.

i can apologize all i want - but i really do hope there is some way to reconcile these imagined fears. i really do want to get to the source and bottom of all these thoughts. i am sorry for being preachy! why is it such a big deal? what exactly are the things behind identity that you prize so much? will it get you a better-paying job someday? or is it source material, a well of drama for your next story or food for thought?

if it matters because all that i say and do will represent my identity, then let me tell you.

i want you to know that i am filipino, and words are my living. that and only that, and there's nothing you can say that will make me say or change otherwise.
  hail, papa
the pope is sick.

vatican officials say he won't have to utter a word during easter services to inspire the faithful.

i had mixed feelings in the past when i watched him on t.v., shaking of parkinson's while he attended to his duties. many of my colleagues just want him to quit because they considered pictures of him shaking like that crossing the wires, the internet and the t.v. embarrassing. when priests, religious and ardent catholics admired how steadfast he held his ground, i wonder if they're just fooling themselves.

i read his book, "crossing the threshold of hope," and it is honestly the only feel-good book i would recommend to anyone. his ideas are so strange that it always takes me several rereadings to grasp each of his comments.

but i love how infinitely hopeful he sounds in that book. almost everything he says is against everything that's currently happening in the world, making you wonder if he's still in touch with reality. and he is - just like any adept writer, thinker, philosopher and trailblazer, you need to reach to him. all you have to do is read his work already.

in my new testament class at loyola, the author of my text early on in the book argued that many people immediately associate negativity and hostility toward christian text, but will willingly consider theories from other faiths. (i'm not paraphrasing it well enough, i'll find the book and quote it when i get back to the house.) he said we should apply the same open-mindedness to christian texts. that piece of insight was primarily what allowed me to open the pope's "threshold" and eventually minor in theology.

others feel embarrassed at having read "the da vinci code." some equate the two books on a par, along with anything by paulo coelho. well. i'm not embarrassed to say i've read "crossing the threshold of hope" and have started the latter(s). ahahahahahaha. what, i'm not telling you which "latters" i've started reading - and if you already know, SHUT UP.


this entry was supposed to end with a sweet, "i hope the pope gets better soon, and i don't want to think of other inevitable outcomes" - ah, dammit.
  vendredi, vendredi
i was supposed to wake up early to see imelda play, but of course i woke 40 minutes before her set, and missed the entire show. :-( but it's all good.

imelda works at the state and randolph borders, and she opened for an author of a self-help book. i heard the audience clap and the writer congratulate imelda as she made her exit.

"i played the usual songs from the open mics," she said, waving her hand. she said two others from the open mics showed up, and her husband gabe and friend were there.

she's known for hilarious "cartoon junkie," but a song of hers that's currently haunting me is "anniversary."

they heard me scream from the top of my lungs
so they came to see what the yelling was all about
give me this moment, some other life
i am still young and i need to grow old

up the stairs and down the hall where they saw my hand
laying gently on the floor, didn't stand a chance
momma, she held me up to hold on tight
saying she is still young and she needs to grow old

i will never be great
oh, one more time they hear the things you always say
you'll grow up strong they'll help you rise
will carry on to everyone's surprise

friends will come and friends will go, remembering me
light me like a candle on my anniversary
go on now i'm on my way
was this my life?
i am still young and i need to grow old

[ listen ]

did she kill herself or was she killed? i asked her.

her expression grew serious and solemn. "it was about one of gabe's high school friends who suffered an arranged marriage. they're vietnamese, she was killed. they were dating in high school, and she realized that she didn't like him at all, but he was obssessed with her. gabe said he threw out the family from their house and locked her up in their room, and they stayed there until it happened," she told me.

well, it sounds like a saving-face issue, i said. i mean, it was arranged for him and there's certain expectations he thinks they need to fulfill? or maybe he really just didn't want to lose her.

"yes, it looks that way," she said. then she brightened shyly, "it was one of the first stories gabe told me when we were still dating."

i thought what a macabre way of starting a relationship, but i laughed and said i might call in sick to see her play at the pontiac later this month. she said they haven't invited her for the next open mic, but she'll play if they do. i doubt they won't.

you should hear her sing. i didn't ask her about her process, and i don't think she sings for the money or fame, but just so she can get her stories out.
  odd event

the lefkow murder story is beginning to get nasty.

NOTHING significant has happened. the biggest things? with a police escort, the judge and one of her older daughters returned to their house on lakewood avenue to retrieve personal effects and then left. and then police took down the yellow crime scene tape and a couple clergy moved vigil crosses to the front steps.

the race to get this type info is starting to get dirty and nasty.
ok, i lied - there is a piece of info. you'll find what soon enough.

i should be used to this by now, but not when a supposed reporter from new york calls you and asks you to tell them what's the newest word on that story. the thing with working here's sometimes you're so swamped with things to do, and i never learned how to slow down and think quick as they. so i oblige and read him the first three paragraphs. and then he started asking me where the hell i went to school. so my little mind went, "warning! warning! intruder alert!"

YOU SHOULDN'T DO THAT. read to them stories they can check themselves in their newsroom, and then talk pretty with them. when high-profile stories break, i should just listen to evil and go, to hell with clients. i didn't tell the intruder anything he coulda gotten online himself or, if he's really a reporter, called his own office about and asked, but still i wonder. i'm worried that i might have leaked something that the newspaper didn't have, but then again, i didn't read to him anything that the local broadcast outfits don't already have.

there's nothing to worry about.
except that the man start breathing and huffing disgustingly.
he better not call back because i am going to find out where he lives and rent him to pieces myself. i'm so angry. he just reminded me how stupid i am.

and then everyone, from los angeles to the international bureaus now asks us how the hell we are before asking us what they need. buddy, we're chasing crazies here, some that will make your bureau famous, and that just cost me five seconds of my life; time i will never get back. what do u need. WHAT DO YOU WANT.


sometimes i mark from a quiet corner of the world. i like this peace better compared to the endless bustle around me that often includes me only peripherally. what would you choose - semi-inclusion or this silence that's wholly yours?

but even in this quiet i'm assailed by music that sets a mood not far from mine, but nonetheless intrusive. it is a business after all, a bustling cafe you pay for ambience more than the lattes and the chocolates they serve, although those have a taste of their own. it is a business, like i said, and they've even made space for people seeking respite sellable.

i didn't have to purchase anything, like i said, actually i can just sit here and write all i want, but truth is when i woke up today i was late for class already, so i had to eat something. i'm rushed, like the service in this cafe. they mean well, it's just that their business is really popular; friendly is smiling and promptly getting your order out of the way.

i am thankful for the convenience and a desk to blog in for a time, but by my taking out a computer and typing i've become this business' free advertising - me, the executives across the room discussing over paper and medium-sized coffees, the young student waiting for her tray of drinks to be filled, the young woman waiting in a blue faux fur coat.

we've all stolen moments from our feverish schedules to visit this corner cafe, presumably for a caffein jolt. lately cafes have become more than places to spend time alone - they've become places to be seen. they're landmarks and reference points to start a night out. when you have time, you visit a cafe and open your computer and start blogging.

some will believe that you visit just for a change of scenery from the high-paced office, the high-pressure lecture courses, the self-imposed deadlines of group projects. in the old days, you visit and hang out at businesses not just for the merchandise, but for the gossip, the chatter, the jokes and the down time from your own business.

today, it's such a novelty, coffee shops have made a business out of it. today, right at this moment, in the haze of caffein and competing arts - the music, the artwork on the walls, the life of the coffee bean and the farmers tending to it, the architecture outdoors and the poetry in the journals and papers - downtime alone and conversation are packaged in small, round tables, coffee and chocolate, trendy music and artwork, a dash of the activist and the environmentalist. it tastes hurried. you have to shut out the world and fight for your space.

but the shop never looses its pleasant ambiance. i'm still able to blog. everyone is enviously looking at how i indulge in quiet time. if only they knew how i experience it less and less.
  parisian life - marjorie evasco
After Juan Luna, 1892

Every beginning
Is only a sequel, after all...

-W. Szymborska

What would they make of me
In his painting, alone at dusk,
Waiting in a café in Paris?

Perhaps one of them will peer close enough
To catch the hint of absinthe in my breath,
And I could whisper: There is a street

Going south to an abandoned train station
Where many stories have left their remorse
On the wrought-iron benches. I could say

There is a river on whose banks you could
Walk ten miles to a village where the mime
And the fool danced a story like a duel:

There once was a woman and a man
Struck dumb by roses, pursued by lightning.
They were brought to their knees by bees.

The woman sits here, alone in a café
At dusk in Paris, not in hope nor in regret,
But in time. As if every moment now

Could be the beginning of a different story.

woohoo, high chair is back. :-)
the rhythm in this poem is perfume.
  free ice cream!!!
the last two days have been hectic... well, it never really tapers... but talk about a decompressor! ahahaha -

ahahahaha... this made me open my e-mail today. it's only today, though - go to yahoo.com and click on their daily ad in the middle of the screen. it's to celebrate 10 years of existence. damn! it's true though - i remember them being neck and neck with hotmail - and they still are! ahahahaha -

thanks, tina!

judge joan humphrey lefkow came home around 6 p.m. last night and found two bodies in the basement of her house. officials identified them as that of her husband, michael, and mother, donna.

"the chicago police department is presently conducting a death investigation at the residence of judge lefkow. the judge came home at around 6 o'clock, she is fine. she's currently talking to chicago police... there's not much more i can tell you at this point. there's two victims, they're not being identified at this point pending notification," said police spokesman pat camden, last night during a news conference.

police knew who the victims were, because camden stumbled in his speech. the judge was nowhere to be seen. that was rather odd, but unsurprising.

immediately everyone thought the whodunit responsible was white supremacist matthew hale. who else wanted her dead last year? when he showed up at court for an unrelated lawsuit in december of 2003 (for trademark infringement for using the world church of the creator as the name of his organization), the u.s. attorney's office arrested and charged him for solicitation for the murder of judge lefkow. he was convicted in april, 2004. his sentencing would have been next month.

hale's relatives decry the accusations that he could be responsible because he was in prison all this time.

even though hale himself didn't pull strings from behind bars and got someone else to complete the threat, it's still a stunningly tragic story.

all that lefkow did was order him to start calling his organization by another name. someone else had that name already. hale is entitled to his free speech rights, but wouldn't it be deserving if he was indeed found guilty in this case?

so tricky.

there are other details about this case that i won't write about because personally, i will let people like hale howl all they want - they're entitled to that. i just won't listen because it's a waste of my time.

investigators are combing through the lefkows' past cases (michael was also a lawyer) to see who might be responsible. they're not ruling out hale, or daniel salley, who also turned vile toward joan lefkow after she ruled against him in his case.

the night of the murders, neighbors expressed concern, "i hope this isn't a result of any decision she made on the bench."

welcome, and thank you for boarding the ulanmaya transit express. tickets, please. mind the gap as you depart. have a pleasant experience.

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gromit is curious

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