The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Friday, April 28, 2006

haLf man haLf eLf drums for Studio 69

April 28, 2006

Studio 69's Roy Gutierrez, who backs me up as a guitarist called yesterday to ask me if I could pitch in for their drummer, who had to cancel his gig chores for the band because of work. At first I was hesitant; I haven't been regularly playing the drums for a long time now. But Roy assured me that my drum playing that he saw the last time we had a jam was commendable. Besides, I know most of what comprise their playlist, songs from Bon Jovi, Poison, Bryan Adams, Foo Fighters, and White Lion.

I thought, why not give it a try? Another diversion which will keep my hands full for the time being I am yet to start working.

Later tonight, we'll be playing at Howard Johnson Hotel on Ellice Avenue. Let see. I'll take some pictures as usual and have a friend take pictures of me while drumming.

Under blue moon I saw you...

At last! the video of one of my most favorite songs from one of my most favorite bands is now available on videocodezone dot com: "The Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymen, from the brilliant album Ocean Rain (1984).

Among the many New Wave icons whose hairstyles and sense of fashion I admire and assume include Robert Smith of The Cure, Jeremy Kelly of The Lotus Eaters, and Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen.

Fates, up against your will
Through the thick and thin
You will wait until...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Saan Ka Ipinaglihi?"

April 25, 2006

Another peaceful and quiet day at the hospital, taking care of Grandfather who's recuperating from his kidney infection and mild pneumonia albeit very slowly. The days are becoming sunnier and less chilly. I can now go out in shirts and light jacket.

Pardon me for my seeming apathy for Grandfather's current condition and his being in the hospital for more than a week now. But I have to admit that his being confined is better for the both of us. All his medical needs are readily available. His food is rationed regularly. His health and condition are monitored as well. There are nurses and aids who attend to his bathroom needs. Anyway, I'm there every day during visiting hours, from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. As for myself, being able to go home at night and spend time alone in the room and sleep without someone to take care of is certainly a BIG relief. Believe me, I've never felt this relaxed in the room for the last two years and so.

Funny thing is--ironic too--every time the doctor would say that Grandfather couldn't come home yet because his appetite is not yet improving, I feel glad deep inside. If only Grandfather would stay at the hospital for the rest of his life.... Oh well, I'll just wait and see what will happen next. For the meantime, I'm enjoying my time without him. I've been eating well too. Good thing is, I'm adjusting gracefully with my new life without Grandfather--something I thought I would face with difficulty. I'm an adaptable and flexible creature after all.


Before heading to the hospital Tito Ren and I dropped by at Marcel's Bakery, where I got the latest copy of The Filipino Journal. My fourth time to get published... I'm gradually solidifying every article with thicker substance and, as always, I continue to inject subtle sarcasm and promote universal thinking and challenge the nationalistic tendency of my fellow Filipinos living here in a multiracial society.

Saan Ka Ipinaglihi?
by aLfie vera mella

Ako—sabi ng nanay ko—sa sineguelas raw; ’yung isang kapatid ko naman, sa tsokolate naman daw. Pero bakit hindi naman kami maiitim?

Malamang ay nakarinig ka na rin ng kuwentong tungkol sa taong ipinanganak na, imbes na limang daliri ang nasa dulo ng bawat kamay n’ya, e mistula itong sipit ng alimango. O di kaya nama’y batang ipinanganak na may umbok sa likod—ipinaglihi naman daw sa pagong o kamelyo.

Maraming Filipino—lalo na ang mga nakatatanda—ay siguradong ibibintang sa paglilihi ang mga pangyayaring ito. Sa Pilipinas, lalo na sa mga liblib na lugar, o di kaya nama’y sa mga komunidad na kapos ang kaalaman, ay usung-uso pa rin ang paniniwalang iyan. Subalit, totoo nga ba ang aspetong iyan ng paglilihi? May epekto nga ba sa batang nasa sinapupunan ang bawat kainin o magustuhan ng inang nagbubuntis rito?

According to a Longstanding Filipino Belief
When the wishes or craving of a mother during the early stages of her pregnancy were not satisfied, her unborn child’s condition would be adversely affected; and worse, whatever she had craved for and eaten avidly during paglilihi would influence the child’s physical characteristics.

People who believe in such cases would surely allege that the mother of the “crab child” had feasted on crabs when she was in the stage of paglilihi. In fact, in the Philippines, claims like “pinaglihi sa palaka, sa luya, sa duwende, o sa sama ng loob” are very common. However, thanks to the advancements in medical science—for the myths surrounding paglilihi are gradually being dispelled.

According to Medical Science
The term paglilihi refers to the period that stretches from conception through the first trimester of pregnancy. In this stage, the pregnant experiences hormonal changes that affect her bodily functions. The craving, hypersensitivity of taste and smell, nausea, morning sickness, and mood swings are common symptoms of the changes. Some psychologists also claim that the hormonal swings of pregnancy can make a woman more emotional; she may begin feeling neglected. Because her belly begins to distend, she may feel fat and unattractive. To reassure herself, she may seek her husband’s attention more frequently by, typically, asking for certain hard-to-find delicacies.

The health of the mother during pregnancy has indeed many effects on the developing fetus. For example, women who, during pregnancy, were malnourished, did smoke or drink, or had in any way ingested unprescribed drugs would have had greater chances of delivering babies with congenital defects. And attributing the case of the “crab child” or the hunchback to any of these factors—and not to “paglilihi”—is the more logical and medically correct diagnosis.

Physical characteristics or the hereditary traits are transmitted from parents to offspring by the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) the genes contain. DNA is the fundamental hereditary material in almost all organisms. It determines the general makeup of an individual—such as hair color, complexion, height, bone structure, and even the shape of the hands.

In Genetics
Or the science of heredity and the relationships of organisms resulting from the interaction of their genes and the environment, there is a process known as mutation. This abnormal process involves the alteration in the genetic material transmitted to the offspring. It may be spontaneous—that is, the result of accidents in the replication of the genetic material; or induced by external factors like temperature, x-rays, ultraviolet light, and chemicals. Its likely results are congenital abnormalities, physical deformities, and other aberrations. And any one or a combination of such spontaneous and external factors is the more probable reason some children are born with “crab hands” or humps on their backs or any other unusual physical features.

Sa Madaling Salita
Hindi totoo ang makalumang paniniwala ukol sa paglilihi—na maaari daw makaapekto sa magiging itsura ng sanggol ang mga kinakain o nagugustuhan ng nanay nito habang ito ay ipinagbubuntis pa lamang.

Kung atin naman kasing iisipin, maraming maling paniniwala na nagmula pa nuong unang panahon ang dala-dala ng bawat kultura hanggang ngayon—mga paniniwalang nagpasalin-salin mula sa isang henerasyon tungo sa susunod. At hindi lang naman ’yan sa Pilipinas nangyayari. Bawat bansa o kultura ay may kanya-kanyang “matatalinhagang” mga paniniwala at kaugalian, na minana pa sa kani-kanilang mga ninuno—mga ninuno na kapos ang kaalaman at hindi sanay tumanggap ng pagbabago. At hindi rin naman natin sila masisisi, dahil bata pa ang siyensya at teknolohiya nuong mga panahong iyon.


Not Only in the Philippines
In 1977, in a remote province in China, Yu Chenhuan surprised his parents when he was born with long silky hair on almost his entire body. His condition continued to mystify everyone as he grew up into a very hairy boy. People who believe in the myth of paglilihi would simply dismiss Yu as a case of a child conceived of monkey [ipinaglihi sa unggoy]. However, the medical experts who diagnosed his condition confirmed that Yu was suffering from a disorder known as hypertrichosis – a rare genetically transmitted X-linked dominant disorder characterized by excessive hairiness on either localized areas or the entire skin of the body.

Learning Is Never Ending
“Life is a continuous learning (and unlearning) process.”

Maraming bagay noon na inakalang tama o totoo na napatunayang mali pala o haka-haka lamang. Sa kabilang banda, marami rin namang bagay na mali noon pero napatunayan ngayon na tama pala. Ang aral na maaari nating mapulot dito ay, Panatilihing bukás ang isipan sa bawat bagong kaalaman na ating natututunan. Subalit h’wag din namang basta-basta maniniwala sa mga impormasyon na ating naririnig o nababása, lalo na sa mga sabi-sabi; siguraduhin munang lehitimo ang pinanggalingan ng mga ito.

"The line separating facts from fiction is thin and brittle."

Sa panahon ngayon, mahirap nang mapag-iwanán. Kung hindi ka sasabay sa pagbabago, ikaw rin ang lalabas na talo. Kaya’t malaki talaga ang tulong ng siyensya at teknolohiya—dahil dito, patuloy ang pagsulong ng kaalaman, tuluy-tuloy ang pag-unlad ng sangkatauhan.

Kung hindi dahil sa siyensya, e malamang nagkikiskis pa rin tayo ng bato para lang makalikha ng apoy na gagamitin sa pagluluto.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Happy and Sad Easter for Grandfather and Me

April 17, 2006
Easter Sunday

For now I "envy" those who are in the Philippines because all of you can spend the Lenten season in a relaxing and sentimental way—mountain climbing, swimming, or just be with family and friends.

I sorely miss my life there. During Lenten season, I got to take time out from work and spend time with my family going somewhere relaxing.

Here, if not for my friends' messages which serve as reminders of the season, I would have forgotten all about it.

One setback in living in a very diverse and multicultural society is that you always find yourself lost—spiritually and culturally. The sense of belongingness is just a spot in a map. Unlike when you're in your homeland, or at least in a place you regard as home, you can just take time to sit back and relax and you feel you're okay.

This may be a battered cliché but I'll say it anyway, May we find again love and peace and forgiveness in our hearts during the Lenten season. Regardless if, as humans, we have the tendency to revert to our follies, there're always Christmas and Lenten to re-cleanse ourselves.

Don't worry, friends, I'm trying to practice what I preach. I am beginning to eliminate hatred and resentment in my heart.

I'm an eLf after all!

I realize that, deep inside me, I'm more forgiving and understanding than I am vengeful and resentful.

As in an egg, I am more yolk than shell.

Happy Easter.


However, Sad Easter too.

As I write this entry, I'm alone in my room. Sad. Teary-eyed. Glad yet worried. Confused. Lost.

Yesterday we brought Grandfather to Seven Oaks General Hospital because of severe pain in his stomach. The results said that he has infection in his kidney; the results of his blood test showed an abnormal condition of the liver. Tomorrow he'll be having a blood transfusion.

Since the hospital does not allow a relative to stay with him overnight, I got to get home and have some sleep, and then just return in the morning.

My feelings are ambivalent at its greatest (or worst)...

First, I pity Grandfather because I can't be there with him during the night to look after him as how I'm accustomed to for the last two and a half years. But then, I'm also kind of relieved because I can rest in the room without someone to interrupt my sleep.

Second, I'm glad that I can finally have my privacy being alone in the room, but I noticed that I'm feeling kind of weird being alone.

Anyone who saw the movie Stuck on You? The concept of the emotions and circumstance in which I'm currently finding myself is something like that in the film.

I just hope that whatever happens, I can emerge of this psychological dilemma with my spirits and emotions intact, or at least not that damaged so I can still experience healing eventually.

As for Grandfather, I could only wish one for him right now because of my ambivalence—may he not suffer much pain.

For the past many months, I was the only person who was witnessing Grandfather's physical and emotional sufferings virtually twenty-four hours a day.

And if there's one realization about my personality that I discovered from such experience, this is it—I'm a compassionate and kind person after all, because balancing my annoyance and frustration and resentment for my having to deal with all of these for so long and my understanding and pity and empathy for his sufferings, the last three emotions weighed more.

I'll be writing more updates about Grandfather, as well as some bouts of learning and relearning experiences in having to stay in the hospital with him, enough to observe trivial to salient things. I'm starting to familiarize myself with the machines as well as the procedures the healthcare staff members use and undertake. I feel that, after all, there's really a nurse in me. After having the chance to observe again after 14 years (I had my last year of internship as a nursing student way back 1992) the condition of the sick, the elderly, and the hospital staff, something tells me that another mission of mine is to help sick people alleviate their sufferings and guide them as they battle illness and death. I could somehow feel that my having taken and finished B.S. Nursing was not a mistake after all.

May I be granted a longer life myself to enable me to realize my dreams and plans, but not too long a life to the point that my children will see me as a burden.

To my mother and father, don't worry, I promise to take care of you especially when you reach old age. If there's one great thing I learned from having to share Grandfather's elderly life for almost three years—this is it:

Parents and children (and grandchildren) must, since day one, really have an open line of communication between them, for this removes the formality and the emotional gaps which prevent them from freely expressing their affection and genuine concern for each other.

Tomorrow morning, I still have to get up early. I need to be there with Grandfather during the daytime, to assure him that everything will be okay—a sugar-coated lie.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Dreamer in the Rye

April 14, 2006

If I were in the Philippines, the following (or several of these) would have comprised my activities and itinerary for this Lenten weekend:

1. I would have been working my ass off at the office. I was known to be an ergomaniac (make it, ergophiliac), working even during Holidays, not because I was after the additional pay but because I just love working especially when what I am working on is something that gives me satisfaction—like writing or researching or giving training sessions and orienting staff members. (I used to be a Coding Supervisor cum trainor and manual/newsletter editor at Quorum-Lanier Philippines, 1996–1999; and then a contributing editor of scholastic textbooks and magazines at Diwa Scholastic Press Inc., 2000–2003.)

2. Besides, working in the office during holidays is peaceful and quiet; for obviously, only a few go to work.

3. If I were not in the mood to work, I would be at home, relaxing while listening to New Wave music in full blast, with my mom insisting that I observe the Lenten season by not making so much noise. I'd surely respond by lowering the volume a bit, but I'd still listen to music for all I care.

4. In the afternoon, my sisters and I and the kids might decide to visit churches, just to feel the Lenten air. I love going to church not because I love to pray or be with "religious" people but primarily because being inside a church gives me a sense of personal spirituality. To tell you frankly, I'd rather go to church when there's no mass going on or when there's not much people inside. I just want to kneel or sit there; observe the church's interior design, the statues of the saints and Mother Mary and, of course, the Jesus Christ on the cross above the altar; listen to the echoing sounds reverberating on the walls; or reminisce my highschool days when I used to be a mass lector and a member of the choir.

But, to tell you the truth, I'm disappointed with people who go to church virtually every freaking occasion but still treat others like shit. I also abhor churchgoers who couldn't seem to concentrate with the entire ceremony, talking with their companions or busy checking their cellular phones.

There are also those who do not finish the ceremony, who go right after the communion rites. I'd prefer going to church—not regularly—but only when I really feel like it; so when I attend mass I really finish it to the end, to the final hymn. Oh, and how I love singing church songs. For one, I can practice my vocal cords, then, singing church songs remind me of my childhood days.

Speaking of church, here's a list of churches each of which has its significant chapter in my book of memories:

San Ildefonso Church, in Hen. Pio del Pilar, Makati:

Having resided on Cuangco Street in Makati from 1971 (the year I was born) to 1992, I surely had attended thousands of masses at that church. I also joined a few church organizations there. When in the mood to play, my childhood friends and I would spend the whole day playing in that church's vicinity. So many processions I had attended there too. I even remember its parochial priest during my childhood, in the '70s, named Father Rizzato, a balding (could be Italian) priest who had the penchant to smack children on the head when he felt like it. And to think that he was a well-respected priest in the community. Luckily, I was not one of those clueless children who got a dose of Father Rizzato's sick pranks. And there was this gossip about his keeping an affair with a teacher at the nearby Hen. Pio del Pilar Elementary School (where I attended a year, fourth grade). In fact, I still remember the name of that teacher. I knew where she used to live. She was even a friend of a friend of my mom. But I would no longer mention her name. That would give nothing anyway.

Our Lady of Sorrows, on F.B. Harrison, Pasay City:

While we were residing on Cuangco in Makati, we also had a restaurant and a house on F.B. Harrison Avenue near Santa Scholastica Street, in front of a dilapidated law school known as Lacson College. It was during the mid-'70s. I was baptized at that church. Looking at my baptismal certificate when I was already quite older, I saw that I had only one godfather and one godmother—Godofredo Aranzamendez Jr., a cousin of my mom, and Winnie something (not Pooh), an officemate of my mom during those days. I remember when I was a kid, I used to bug my mom about it. I was like, "Mom, how come my friends have lots of godparents, while I...." The reason I didn't get many presents during special occasions when I was a kid. When I grew much older, it didn't matter anyway. It no longer bothered me big time. Who cares, anyway, if I have only a pair of godparents, both of whom I last saw in the early '80s. I just wonder now, once in a while, whatever happened to them, especially to Ninang Winnie, with whom we'd lost contact since then. Ninong Godo, as far as I know, is still in the United States; but so what? I'm not even sure if he thinks of me once in a while. And Ninang Winnie, I'm sure that she thinks of my mom once in a while, because they were friends back then; so this means that she thinks of me once in a while. I just hope that she could know that I grew up to be a writer after all, as what my father used to tell her about me when I was a small kid--that I was a little Jose Rizal or something.

...which brings me many godchildren do I have anyway? Oh my! Perhaps most of these kids would think about me someday, the way I think today about my missing godparents.

Let me see...

Cha-cha, a daughter of my auntie Emma, whom I last saw during my despedida lunch in 2003. I think I'll just give her a beautiful gift next year when I return home.

Tin-tin, a daughter of my cousin Joel. Another gift next year. Don't worry.

A son of a former officemate, named Bong, at Quorum. Well, this one will someday certainly think about me the way I think about Ninang Winnie. The last time I saw Bong was in 2000, a chance bump on each other at the Boni Avenue MRT station. We were no longer officemates at the time. This is the problem when we get godparents from our pool of officemates or acquaintances. They will just soon disappear when the only bond that connects you with each other is work. So, if you will ask for my suggestion, I'd advice you to get godparents only from close relatives and best friends. That way, no matter how far apart from each other your lives had become, the connection will always be there.

Another, a son of my friend Jayge, with whom I am in a regular correspondence to this day. At least, Jayge is someone like me who give high regard for relations and friendship. I'll certainly give, too, that kid a gift.

Don't worry, my godchildren, I may be too far away and had seemingly lost contact with all of you and will definitely just a memory for all of you in the future when you're old, but one thing I can promise to all of you—I'll certainly be thinking of each one of you once in a while, like what I'm doing right now. Will you think of me, too? I hope so. I care, of course, if you think of me or not, even only occasionally.

That's why I get pissed off when people try to get as many godparents for their children. What were they thinking? Were they expecting many gifts for their children come special occasions? For me, the fewer the better. As in, quality over quantity.

Oh well, my eyes are tired and my back is aching from having to stay in front of the computer since after lunch. I'll just continue my stories later...

But before I go, one last thing...
Many people say that we must be extra careful during Good Friday and Black Saturday because accidents are likely to happen...

That's so bullshit.

Accidents happen every day, not only during Lenten season or All Saints' / All Souls' days.

If you want to know what I want to do right now...well, I think I want to just lie on the bed for a while and read a book. Or perhaps listen to music.

I'm alone in the room and the utter silence is killing me. I miss home. I miss home badly.

To tell you for the last time, If I were home right now, I'd probably be just home, listening to music and then later in the afternoon I'd bug my mom and sisters and the kids that we go to the mall (in case the malls are open), and then visit a church so I could stare at its ceiling in seeming catatonia.

However, I'm not home. I'm in Canada. So I couldn't be with my mom and sisters and the kids and maybe visit a church. What I'm going to do, anyway, is start reading a new book, Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville, a light read. I'm giving my brain a short break. I just finished J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye last night.

' want me to tell you what the book was all about? Oh, well, not now, maybe later. I'm just not in the mood to write some more. Besides, I might have been boring you too much already.

Catch you later, rye.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Taga-saan Ka Ba?"

April 12, 2006

After Grandfather's medical appointment, we proceeded to Shopper's Drug Mart on Keewatin to buy something and also because I would mail some letters at the post center there.

I dropped by at the nearby A&W Restaurant and bought a Swiss Cheese–and-Veggie combo for myself and french fries for Grandfather.

Tita Lucy got copies of the latest issue of The Filipino Journal, which was available at the drug mart. I was only half-expecting for my article, "Taga-saan Ka Ba?", to be there because the newspaper's editor in chief, Mrs. Cantiveros, said in her e-mail that she was unsure if she could include it in that issue. But there it was, after all!

My third time to get published in The Filipino Journal...

Taga-saan Ka Ba?
by aLfie vera mella

Taga-Maynila o taga-probinsya?”

’Yan ay karaniwang tanong ng mga matatagal nang naninirahan dito sa Canada sa mga gaya kong bagong saltá, na para bang ang Pilipinas ay nahahati sa dalawang rehiyón lamang—Maynila at probinsya. Bukod pa rito, marami ang hindi nakaaalam na, kapag sinabing “Maynila,” dalawang lugar sa Pilipinas ang pinatutungkulan nito: ang Siyudad ng Maynila
(City of Manila) at ang Kalakhang Maynila (Metro Manila)—kaya kinakailangang maging malinaw kung alin sa dalawa ang tinutukoy.

Sabagay, hindi ko rin naman sila masisisi kumbakit palaging Maynila na lang ang kanilang bukambibig. Sa Pilipinas, sentro naman kasi talaga ng kálakalán at urbanisasyon ang Kalakhang Maynila, kung kaya nga ito ang itinakda ng gobyerno na maging
National Capital Region; samantalang ang Siyudad ng Maynila naman, na bahagi lamang ng Kalakhang Maynila, ay national capital city. Subalit hindi ito nararapat na maging dahilan upang balewalain natin ang iba pang mga lugar sa ating bansa. Alalahanin natin na ang Pilipinas ay binubuo ng mahigit sa pitong libo’t isandaang isla. Huwag naman sana nating paliitin pa nang husto ang maliit na nga nating bansa.

Hindi ba’t mas mainam na máipaalám mo sa lahat kung saang siyudad o probinsya mismo nanggaling ang iyong angkan? Hindi ba’t nararapat lang na mailatag nang maayos ang mapa ng ating bansa?

Kung ikaw mismo ay nalíligáw sa sarili mong bansa, e paano ka pa n’yang magsisilbing gabáy ng mga nais matutunan ang ating kultura’t heograpiya? Paano mo maituturo sa ibang lahi ang iyong pinagmulan? Gusto mo bang maging dayuhan sa sarili mong bayan? Hindi ba’t ang hindi raw marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi nakararating sa paroroonan?

Kaya halina’t ako’y samahan sa pagbisita sa mga rehiyón at probinsyang bumubuo sa bansang tahanan ng ating lahi.

Geographically Speaking
The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands situated in Southeast Asia. These islands are grouped into 17 regions, among which Metro Manila is the capital region. The regions and the provinces which comprise each are as follows:

Region I (Ilocos Region): Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan
Region II (Cagayan Valley): Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino
Region III (Central Luzon): Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales
Region IV-A (CALABARZON): Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon
Region IV-B (MIMAROPA): Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and formerly, Palawan, which is now a part of Region VI
Region V (Bicol Region): Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon
Region VI (Western Visayas): Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Palawan
Region VII (Central Visayas): Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor
Region VIII (Eastern Visayas): Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Southern Leyte
Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula): Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay
Region X (Northern Mindanao): Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon
Region XI (Davao Region): Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental
Region XII (SoCCSKSarGen): South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani
Region XIII (Caraga): Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur
ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao): Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi
CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region): Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Apayao

…and National Capital Region
Or Metropolitan Manila, or Metro Manila, or Kalakhang Maynila, is the capital among the 17 regions comprising the Philippines; the country’s political, economic, social, and cultural center.

Unlike the other regions, which are divided into provinces, Metro Manila is divided into 14 cities: Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, Taguig, Valenzuela; and three municipalities: Navotas, Pateros, and San Juan—each of which is governed by a mayor.

Sa Madaling Salita
Napakarami palang lugar na maaaring paroonan sa Pilipinas, at dapat mo ring malaman na ang mga lugar na ’yan ay may kanya-kanyang angking katangian at kagandahan.

Sense of Geography
“A person without a sense of geography is a person without a clear direction.”—Fraeh D’elffen, The Rerolled Scrolls of the Infinite Multiverse (Convocation of Scholastic Publishers)

Kaya sa susunod na may magtanong sa ’yo ng, “Taga-Maynila ka ba o taga-probinsya?”, bago ka sumagot e, una, itanong mo muna kung anong lugar ang tukoy n’ya—Siyudad ng Maynila ba o Metro Manila?—ikalawa, kung sakaling taga-probinsya ka nga, e iyong tumbukin kung saang siyudad at lalawigan ka nanggaling. Tulad ko—ako ay túbong Makati, Metro Manila; at huling nanirahan sa San Pedro, Laguna.

Ngayong alam mo na ang heograpiya ng Pilipinas, e siguro naman hindi ka na malíligáw kung sakaling ikaw ay magbalikbayan?

Monday, April 10, 2006

A writer is like a lover

A month ago, I decided to divide into several parts the Engkanto book I have written, with the intent of having it published serially in The Filipino Journal. Three weeks went by without any response from the editor. Admittedly I was disappointed. Of course, whose child of the pen would not feel hurt by a rejection from a publisher.

I surmise that a writer's worst secret fear is the fear of rejection from an editor or a readership. Therefore, a writer is like a Greek god, whose worst fear more than the lost of immortality is to be scorned by a mortal of his lust and affection.

An article borne out of a writer's restless imagination may be regarded as an Athena of his mind—spurn this and you reject his beloved goddess.

But, having been an editor for many years, I never lost the courage and understanding. Not that I was sourgraping, but I supposed the editor felt that my theme was too heavy for a newspaper. And I know very well that an editor has all the right to reject an article, regardless how brilliant the article may be in the mind of its author.

"To publish or not to publish"—this verdict rests in the eyes of the editor who has her own taste and standards to satisfy. And for now, I am just a writer.

Phileas Fogg
Challenged and undaunted, I decided instead to write another "lighter" article—entitled "Taga-saan Ka Ba?"—to follow up my last published piece, "Marunong Ka Bang Mag-Filipino?"

And then...

and then...

While I was proofreading the said new article a few nights ago, an e-mail alert popped up on the PC screen: "You've got mail from The Filipino Journal..."

I was half anxious andf half anxious.

You can now imagine how I felt after reading the message.

5 Apr 2006

Hi Alfie,

I haven’t forgotten you. It’s just been too hectic. I plan to serialize the Engkanto – close to the date of the Philippine Heritage Week celebration (featuring Philippine Independence and culture) – May, June.

' will touch base with you later.

Mrs. C.

A writer's greatest reward is to be published. He is, therefore, like a lover, whose utmost bliss is for his feelings to be reciprocated by the person of his affection.

In respect to The Filipino Journal, and so as not to preempt the newspaper's contents, I will post the articles only when they've actually been published.

The 56th of a Dozen Verses

My fear more than Death is failure to realize many of my plans, in case I'm destined to live a shorter life.

Verses I wrote a few minutes ago, effected by severe anxiety and uncertainty...

Ako ay kinakabahan
Sa maaaring mangyari.
Di pa 'ko handang lumisan.

Ako lang ba ang nandito
Sa kalagayang kayhirap?
Isa nga ba 'kong payaso?

Wala naman akong bisyo,
Pero di ligtas sa sakit.
Ayaw ko pang madedo.

Lahat ba ng bayani ay
Kelangang magsakripisyo
Nang gumanda'ng talambuhay?

Ang hirap ng nag-iisa,
Lalo't tambak ang pagsubok.
Utak ko ay nakukulta.

Bakit ang buhay ay laging
Ganyan—sa bawat pag-usad
Ay merong hadlang at daíng?

Kung sakali ngang tutuo
Ang aking 'kinatatakot,
Ano'ng mararamdaman n'yo?

Pasensya na't litó ako
Sa kasalukuyang dagok.
Wag sana masira'ng ulo.

Wag mong sabihing napos ng
Lahat ay wala rin akong
Mapapala. Anak ka ng...!

'gang sa'n ba 'ko susubukan?
Bakit, bayani ba ako?
Di'k' mapigil—kamalasan.

Ako ay nanghihina na,
Malapit na ring sumuko.
Kamatayan, huwag muna.

May sakit daw ako, pero
Sabi ng doktor kanina,
Hindi pa tiyak kung ano.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hatid ng Maayong Buwan ng Hunyo

In June last year, 2005, friend Rommie Ramos wrote me a poem in French, "Un Certain Jour de Juin," as her testimonial of me on Friendster. Looking back, I realize that months move after all, albeit still slow in my current sense of time.

While printing a poetry book that I've written, I remembered that in there I've included my Filipino translation of Rommie's poem.

I feel that posting this piece is timely, for here where I am, spring is looming once again. I'm looking forward to the advent of Canadian summer—both as a season and as a symbol of hope, warmth, light, and energy after a gloomy, shady, and depressing winter.

Here's my Filipino translation of Romilyn Ramos's "Un Certain Jour de Juin."

Hatid ng Maayong Buwan ng Hunyo

Ang bughawing langit ay sumusuklob sa luntiang bulubundukin
Sa madaling araw, tanging ikaw ang hanap-hanap nitong damdamin
Sa dapithapon, paramdam mo’y higit kaysa anupamang inumin

Mga naglalaglagang dahong tuyô
Hatid ng maayong buwan ng Hunyo

Mga punò, mga tula’t berso
Handog sa magkabiyak ang pusò

Mainit…malamig—may preskong hatid
Ang hangin, maayon ang paligid

Isang damdamin, isang adhikain—kaakit-akit
Ang ilá’y nagtungo’t dumating, di man wari kumbakit

Sa probinsya ng Manitoba, Canada
Lilikha ng panibagong alaala

Sana aking kalagaya’y magbago
Kayo ay pumasok, bukás ang pinto
Ako’y basahin nang mistulang libro

Ang mga bulaklak sa parke, samu’t sari ang samyo’t kulay
Heto na muli ang tag-init, hatid ay panibagong buhay

Travel true this triumph

"Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home."

"The true poem is the poet's mind; the true ship is the shipbuilder."

"Of the works of this mind history is the record."

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles."

Monday, April 03, 2006

We're only immortals for a limited time...

April 3, 2006

Most of the times, when we tend to give more than we'd like to receive, we end up receiving so much more after all. And when I say "receiving so much more," I'm not pertaining to material things, but rather, to well-wishes and heartwarming words of appreciation—all of which are potent sources of inspiration—sparks which inspire us to improve our personalities and to do better and to indulge deeper in whatever passions we have.

As for me, I just write and write. Aside from having the chance to express and share my ideas, I believe that my written words continue to inspire others whose words of appreciation inspire me as well—people who are my friends, people who become my friends, or even people who remain unknown to me but whose spirits somehow connect with mine through a seeming invisible aura of commonality.

I'd like to share an e-mail from someone whom I don't personally know but whose passion for music caused our paths to cross even only through the virtual world of the Internet.

An e-mail from Paolo Gil:


Thanks so much. I got the MP3s last night. I didn't know where to start. And good thing you put all those Sugar Hiccup songs in there too. I was desperate in having those songs. I've been reading your blog too. It's great! All the articles there are very informative.

By the way, I'm sure you know this. For the longest time, I've been trying to figure out what the title of this song is and the artist. Here goes the chorus of the song:

"We are young wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams may be worth
Learning that we're only immortals for a limited time...."

One last thing, you're a true blue poet, and me, pretending to be one. I've got dozens of my brain's thoughts written down on paper; I haven't even created a blog for it. Someday I want to share these with people like us who appreciate poetry. How I miss the verve room. Anyways, if it's not too much to ask, I'd like to share one of my creations to you and maybe if it fits the
eLf ideas, it would be nice that other people might read it too.

"In the world of ink and paper, I become myself. I make peace out of the worries of the world in my own world, a world where you can be free. This is my little paradise."

Here now I'm sharing with all of you a poem Paolo wrote:

The Conundrum of the Mind

An amalgamation of colors and themes
Of noises and hymns
Barricaded with myths
A conundrum one might think

It beckons to retreat as voices speak
As whispers meander to a scream
A raucous reverberation so it seems
I reckon, to thee one must heed

For every twist, an offending turn
Tormented and appalled by this instant
Pestered at myriads of frenzied portraits
Hampered by these visions of mourn

It comes and goes in epic proportions
Elements of pushing, elements of pulling
In this skirmish the winner is the loser
Losers of a thousand battles victorious in this war

In places far too deep, crawl out of the bleak
To your perpetual radiance for you I have weeped
Care for me as I wake for the imminent certainty
The choice is up to thee if thy want to be free
Linger far too deep or crawl out of the bleak

The song in question was "Dreamline" by the Canadian band Rush, from their fourteenth studio album, Roll the Bones (1991). DOWNLOAD the song here.

I end this blog article with the following words taken from a letter I sent a few years ago to a friend of mine who wanted to be a writer.

As long as you have stories to tell, you can be a writer; as long as you have feelings to express, you can ba a poet.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

haLf man haLf eLf at Howard Johnson

March 31, 2006

Studio 69's guitarist Roy Gutierrez, who is also the guitarist of my new band, invited me to jam again with them in their gig at Howard Johnson Hotel. Our bassist, Jason, would also be coming over.
Roy, in 1989; he associates this picture to his fondness for The Cure's Disintegration album, which was released that year

Of course, I was excited with the invitation. Performing onstage is very therapeutic for me. Every time I'm singing my New Wave heart out onstage, I feel like a demigod. More so, because of these activities, my small world is gradually expanding. I am slowly spreading my fairy wings. I wish I can fly much sooner.

Roy, Arnold , and Jojo of Studio 69

Studio 69 plays every Friday night at the lounge of Howard Johnson Hotel on Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg. The band consists of Arnold Tungol on vocals, Jojo Yso and Roy on guitars, Mike Almonte on bass, and Joshua Bernardo on drums. Their repertoire include songs by Nickelback, Theory of a Dead Man, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Bryan Adams, Linkin Park, 3 Doors Down, and their own charged-up version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."

Jojo, Arnold, Roy at Howard Johnson

Last night was my fourth time to check them out, and my third time to join them onstage to play my stuff.

I, Roy, Arnold, and Sarah

Friday nights are really becoming my weekend getaway from the stress and frustration I feel from having to stay in the house virtually every day to look after and take care of Grandfather.

Que, Ellsworth, Roy, Sarah, and Mike at Howard Johnson Hotel

Because of attending those gigs, I also continue to make several new friends and acquaintances. Again and again, the magic of music is drawing kindred spirits toward one another.

I, Bong, Sarah, and Ericson

As usual, friends and many in the audience gave me their smiles and claps of appreciation after the performance. Since my band is yet to practice new songs, we performed our previous set: "I Melt with You" (Modern English), "Just like Heaven" (The Cure), and "The One I Love" (R.E.M.).

haLf man haLf eLf onstage once again

Tomorrow we would be having a practice session at Jason's basement to polish the new songs I have chosen for our playlist: "Ring the Bells" (James), "The Promise" (version of The Eyeliners), "The Days Go By Oh So Slow" (Nightmare of You), "Gentle Sound" (The Railway Children), "Chamber of Hellos" (Wire Train), "There Is a Boy who Never Goes Out" (The Lucksmiths), and "Susi" (The Dawn).

As an act of courtesy, by the way, I e-mailed Jett Pangan of The Dawn to inform him that my new band, haLf man haLf eLf, would be covering one of his band's song--to which he promptly replied:

What's it all about, Alfie?

Kumusta, my Canadian friend? Sure, we'd be glad if you cover "Susi" live. Yes, [former Eraserhead] Buddy's the bassman now.

The Dawn is celebrating 20 years of music this year. We will release a 20th anniv CD featuring some new songs and re-recordings of past songs. There will also be a movie about us to be filmed this year.

All the best to you, bro!