The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

(Explaining Idiomatic Expressions)
by aLfie vera mella

A friend at work confided in me that there are some coworkers of ours who comment that I am a very quiet person and that they sometimes find it hard to read my mind.

I am not a quiet person; I am simply selective. I simply select the appropriate venue where to express certain ideas and opinions. I conserve my time and energy by expressing my ideas and opinions in the right situations.

When I'm with a group engaged in small talks like gossips, I remain silent and uninvolved. When I'm at a meeting or any training sessions or conferences, that's when I don't hold my piece every time I think I have something useful to contribute to the discussion. When I have an issue with someone, I don't talk about this with others; I find a tactful way to deal with the person with the intention of resolving the issue.

Many people are noisy and opinionated when they're in the hallways or in the lunchroom. But when they are at a meeting or in front of people with whom they have issues, they clam up and become timid. And, for some reason, they get resentful to those who have the courage to express their ideas. People like these are just increasing the level of the stress that they face every day.

The above situations are examples in which the idiomatic expression "Barking up the wrong tree" may be observed being at play.

The Last Leaf
Many people waste their ideas and opinions and misdirect their sentiments by "barking" [expressing] them up the "wrong tree" [wrong forum, wrong persons, or inappropriate situations].

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

See Jungle! Go, Darwin, Yeah! City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!

(On the Importance of Formal Education but also the Significance of Self-Learned Knowledge and Skills)
by aLfie vera mella

Even in this age, diploma or certificates could just be formal qualifications. What matters most to some companies and employers are usually the knowledge and expertise on a certain craft which was learned not by going to a formal school but which might have been honed by the individual by years of self-study and practical application thus giving him a legitimate and credible experience and therefore qualifies him to do the task.

Many people who wave their degrees, masters, and even doctorates with obvious arrogance and conceitedness to belittle or derogate their competitors who are armed only with the skills and knowledge learned on their own are actually using such documents to cover up their insecurities and boost up their egos.

Nonetheless, I am not downplaying the importance of formal education. I acknowledge also that having degrees and post-graduation credits are plus factors, but these are not the only measure of an individual's educational worth.

Darwin—I am yet to really read deeper into his life and works—but I would not discredit the guy for apparently not having formal education in the Sciences. His works alone could already compensate for this lack of formal education (if it was indeed true). Not because he was not formally educated that his scientific works could already be derogated and discredited as invalid.

In Simple Words
In this age, it's tough to find a job without documented educational background and with only self-learned skills; however, the point is, having a long list of formal educational training could be an edge but this does not automatically make the person a great performer in a given task or job.

The above is my reactionary article to an anti-Darwin commentary that goes...

"Darwin is a theologian not a scientist. If I were led to believe then what is the real qualification of Darwin to even formulate a theory. BTW his evolution is still a theory that means it has not passed itself of any respectability of being a fact and that is after 150 years."

This anti-Darwin commentary above was a comment on an article entitled "The Arrogance of Science and Atheism," written by Joshua Rey.

Charles Robert Darwin, (February 1809–April 1882) was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species. (Source: Wikipedia)

Food for the Belly, Food for the Spirit, Food for the Mind

(On the Variety of Ways in Helping Others)
by aLfie vera mella

As what an old Chinese proverb says: 

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

There's a grain of truth in that. Not at all times we do need to spoonfeed needy people.

Every person has his own way of helping others.

Some people help others by literally sharing their wealth—by giving money to charity, by sending poor kids to school by supporting them for their tuition money or daily allowance.

Some people help others by running into a governmental office and, if successful, formulate laws and other ways and guidelines to make the community much more useful for the constituents.

Some people help others by becoming doctors; yes, they earn lots of money, but there are doctors who are compassionate and this makes them skillful in their jobs thus curing more cases and attending to more clients and patients.

Some people help others by becoming really smart, intelligent, and patient teachers—they help mould the minds and attitudes of students who are future leaders or workers of the world.

Some people help others by teaching them how to speak the language better--to make them more understandable by others, to make communication better.

Some people help others by inventing machines, gadgets, and other processes; these are scientists who don't usually go out but stay in their laboratories—actually not much human contact—but their works are very useful to humanity.

Some people help others by writing books, articles, or even commentaries that contain wise insights, good lessons, and mind-opening ideas; some even do this for free.

Some people help others by becoming janitors and street sweepers to make sure the surrounding is clean and free from much causes of diseases and infection.

Some people help others by simply working hard to earn money to support their respective families so they don't become useless citizens of the country they live in.

Yes, people help others in many different ways.

The Last Leaf
Money is not the only tool that we could use in helping others. Knowledge, skills, and insights that we have and are willing to share could be also regarded as powerful tools in helping our fellow humans adapt better in the society in which they live.

Monday, February 11, 2013

To Say or Not to Say

(On the Responsibility to Criticize)
by aLfie vera mella

"If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."

I don't believe that. It's better that we qualify that particular statement first.

There are factors to consider like purpose and tactfulness.

By "nothing nice," what do we really mean? Hurtful? A truth? What if it's a truth and yet it may be hurtful to the person? Then, what's your purpose in wanting to say that to the person?

If the purpose is to ridicule or embarrass the person (just to satisfy your feeling of self-righteousness or cure your envious feelings), then keep quiet and don't say anything at all.

However, if you are armed with a higher purpose and good intentions; for instance, you want to let the person know that he is doing something that you think is wrong or unappealing, and that person matters to you, then say something so he could correct or change his ways.

If your intentions are good, you still have to consider tactfulness. Choose an appropriate way and place to say it. For instance, don't ridicule an erring student in front of the class; don't embarrass your friend in front of a crowd; don't call the mistake of a bandmate of yours right there during a performance; or don't criticize your child in front of her friends.

Instead, in a calm manner, talk to the person in private, send him a personal message, or write him a letter.

The Last Leaf
I believe that we have the responsibility to criticize or correct the ways of people that matter to us, for them not to remain trapped in such follies especially when they seem not to realize the repercussion of what they have been doing. The only challenge is how we are going to go about the positive criticism in a sincere, respectful, and tactful manner. 

Therefore, nice or not-so-nice, if we have something to say to people who matter to us, we have to say the right manner.

Friday, February 08, 2013

An Example of What Makes Me Endure

While I was backtracking some blog entries I wrote on my blogspot many years ago, I got to read also some of the comments on my sites.

Naiyak ka na ba sa paghangang ibinibigay sa 'yo ng ilang taong hindi mo naman kakilala, pero hindi sila madamot sa pamumuri?

Ganyan sana ang lahat ng tao--hindi madamot sa papuri at hindi namamatay sa inggit kaya hindi makapamuri.

Here is one comment left by a certain Johnnymarr102373 on one of my sites.

Thanks again for the spark of inspiration.


i'm one of the few and surviving fans of new wave music here in Lipa City, Batangas....i hope you don't mind if i download some of your stuff.....(maybe all of them...hehehe) pagkakabagal laang ng internet speed ko......i'm only using a 56k modem.....

actually, i had the chance of finding and reading your blog page......i said hey......"eto ang front man ng half life half death"!....

truth is...i never had the chance to watch you perform live......but the first time i've found out about your band was through The Score Magazine.......after reading articles about the early days........those significant concerts/new wave mobile parties in manila during the late 80''s a pity that The Score mag didn't last long......then came Rock n' rhythm mag......andon uli kayo!

so when a dozen compilation and pymyth were released i didn't hesitate to buy those tapes......gasgas na ang mga tapes ko due to excessive contact with the head player.........CDs were too expensive back then....

your band was definitely above the rest of the pack of Filipino Alternative bands that sprung during the mid-90's.......during the era of grunge, metal, rap-metal, cross were the only one to embrace new wave/indie type of music (aside from sugar hiccup and sonnet LVIII)......

kaya tol......thanks for your enduring music........half life half death music had been a part of my college life.......and will always be a part of my itunes and ipod playlist till my ears bleed........

thanks and more power to you......


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Rainbow Greetings

Thank you very much to Rainbow, who regularly comments and share personal insights on articles here on my blogspot. I may sometimes fail to comment back, but this doesn't mean I don't appreciate your reading my ideas. I read your comments too contemplatively.

People like you are like soft blows of breath at a flickering candle. You keep the flame brightly burning.

Some Unforgettable Highschool Teachers

There were a number of highschool teachers of mine who made their marks in my life because of their good style in teaching or because of some radical ideas that they shared with us.

But I have to say too that the eagerness of many of these teachers depended also on the reaction and participation of members of the class. That was circa 1986.

Mr. Jarder: After-School Sessions
We even formed a sort of an after-class group--we stayed a bit late after school just to spend an hour or two discussing about stuff like exobiology, evolution, and mythology with our Chemistry teacher / class adviser in third-year high school.

His name is Mr. Adrian Jarder, of Sta. Clara Parish School in Pasay City. He was the one who amalgamated my passion for Philosophy.

Mr. delos Santos: Biology Champion
Another Science teacher (Biology), Mr. delos Santos, always took us to field trips to the zoo, museums, laboratories, and even petshops. He really stirred my love for Biology (and for Science, for that matter). He was my trainer when I represented our school to various interschool Science competitions. I brought home the Biology Champion Award in second-year and in third-year high school, when I won for two consecutive years the Interschool Biology Quiz Bee hosted by Adamson University.

Miss Lugtu: Parallel Lines
Our Physics/Geometry teacher, Miss Lugtu made the subjects lovable for us by using everyday situations instead of by simply sticking to the examples provided in our books. We always had this class contest in which we earned extra points if we excelled, so we always looked forward to her classes. I would never forget how I engaged her in a debate about my concept that "parallel lines are parallel only in short distances." When I saw her more than a decade after highschool graduation, she was still disagreeable with my stance.

Mr. Marso: (BO)squared
There was a Math teacher who was very witty and I looked up to him in first-year high school, but there came a time when he started to pick on me and always asked me difficult questions. One time, in second-year (he was still our Math teacher), I failed to answer an equation he posted. He wrote on the board:


[Note: 2 is squared or a superscript.]

I quietly walked to the front and took a piece of chalk and wrote the following:


MR. Henry Marso is (BO)2!

He never forgave me for that. He made sure that I got stripped of being the school valedictorian by giving me an average of 78 in his class after the academic year.

I graduated no longer in the honor roll because of that mark. (Any student with a mark below 80 in any subject was ineligible for the honor roll.)

Fortunately, I still graduated in high school with an award...actually three awards.

Mr. Jarder leading the teachers committee decided to give me the Mercury Award in Science & Technology.

And, I got a Loyalty Award and "Best Lector." I used to be the regular lector during weekly church mass and other special religious occasions.

I learned afterwards the reason Mr. Marso started to pick on me. I found out that he was gay; and because I was unconsciously refusing his advances, by not being sipsip or close to him, he resented me for that.

The Last Leaf
Teachers should be really careful of what they have been leaving as legacies. Not all students forget or learn to ignore or laugh at their teachers' follies when they grow up. Teachers who left very good legacies deserve to be given recognition. Rotten teachers need to be called their attention so they don't continue their follies and become bad models for students who would become future teachers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Bowties, Bunnytails, and Belly Buttons

(On Dressing Smartly and Appropriately)
by aLfie vera mella

Maingat ka bang manamit? Ibinabagay mo ba sa iyong pupuntahan ang iyong kasuotan?

While I know and I believe that a rapist, a serial murderer-cum-rapist, a pedophile, or any sexual predator ultimately chooses any victim—beautiful or not, naked or clad—still, there are also so-called stimuli and triggers.

While a woman or even a man, for that matter, has the freedom to wear whatever s/he chooses as long as it is something legal in the particular community or place she is going, she has to consider the circumstances. In short, it's not only about freedom dressing; it should be also about smart and conscious dressing (even appropriate dressing).

For example, if you are going to a party and you decide to wear very skimpy attire, then make sure that you go there by car or any personal vehicle—not by tricycle, jeepney, bus, nor even taxicab.

If you are going out and know that your destination is a very public and densely populated place, then dress down, because surely you will be walking amidst people from various walks of life and you will never know if there would be some evil men who could not control their lust and might express it on you.

If you are going out and know that you will be going back home late at night, alone, and the route that you will be taking will be dark and not much peopled, then dress inconspicuously and unattractively.

Of course, there will remain an iota of possibility that you might still encounter a predator who really doesn't care about what you wear but is only in the heated mood to pounce on anyone, but at least you minimize the element of attraction. This is also similar to a defense mechanism called camouflaging or blending in. If you stick out in a crowd or do not blend quietly with the current environment, you are easily seen or exposed too much. So, there is still validity in the idea of dressing appropriately.

Nonetheless, if you are attending a naked party or going to a nudist beach resort, then—for beauty's sake!—don't wear anything—not even a bowtie nor a bunnytail!

Ultimately, everything boils down to the ability to defend oneself and to stand up with what you are wearing. You have the freedom to look your best, sexiest, most attractive, most beautiful, most alluring, or even most head-turning physical appearance but only when the destination and the route are favorable.

But if you are really bold and brave enough, then go ahead, wear your most attractive clothes and appear in your most attractive self the next time you will be coming home or going out walking alone in a very dark and isolated area. Just make sure you're mindful of your surroundings, extra careful, able to defend yourself, and know what to do when someone begins to mistreat you.

Sa Madaling Salita
Bawat babae ay may karapatang maging maganda at kaakit-akit, subalit kailangan din naman nilang maging ligtas at alerto sa delikadong pagkakataon.

Or, in Simple Words
All women deserve to be beautiful and attractive, but women deserve also to be safe in dangerous circumstances.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Return of the Bloody Irish Shoegazers

(On the Postpunk Band My Bloody Valentine)
by aLfie vera mella

Finally I have a copy of the third album, entitled simply as mbv, of the Irish Postpunk/Shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine, released on February 3, 2013.

"New You" is my instant favorite from My Bloody Valentine's just released third full-length studio album. 

Before I listened to it I revisited first the band’s entire discography: the two mini-albums, seven EPs, and two full-length albums.

I first discovered the music of My Bloody Valentine in 1988 on the recommendation of my highschool friend and fellow Alternative-music enthusiast Paolo Mendoza who immigrated to the U.S. in 1987 and who regularly sent me information and vinyl records and cassette tapes of obscure Postpunk bands in the late ’80s. These included The Jesus & Mary Chain, Skinny Puppy, The Dead Milkmen, Alice Donut, The Three Johns, and Pixies when these bands were still obscurities especially in the Philippines.

Formed in 1983 in Dublin, Ireland, My Bloody Valentine consists currently of founding members Kevin Shields (guitar and vocals) and Colm Ó Cíosóig (drums) with Bilinda Butcher (vocals, guitars) and Debbie Googe (bass).

My Bloody Valentine's discography is highlighted by three full-length albums, two mini-albums, and seven EPs.

Shoegaze Music
Many musicologists regard My Bloody Valentine as one of the pioneers of the subgenre Shoegaze of Postpunk music—best defined by the fuzzy qualities of the guitar, achieved usually by maximizing the use of distortion, pitch bending, and digital reverb; steady bass; atmospheric synth sounds; dreamy vocal tracks drenched in reverb; and simple drum patterns and song structures. Shields once cited The Smiths as one of their influences in terms of melody. In their early years, bands for which they fronted included The Soup Dragons and Biff Bang Pow!

Other Shoegaze bands whose sounds are closest to that of My Bloody Valentine include The Jesus & Mary Chain,  Dinosaur Jr., Primal Scream, The Cranes, Chapterhouse, and Catherine Wheel.

Music’s Evolution
To the uninitiated, the evolved music of My Bloody Valentine might sound chaotic and aimless because of the swirling waves and whirlpools of distortion-coated and reverb-drenched guitars that usually bury the rest of the instruments and the vocal tracks. However, digging deeper into the atmospherics of the music, a Postpunk enthusiast will not find difficulty in discovering bittersweet melodies and heart-wrenching balladry rooted in the band’s beginnings. My Bloody Valentine is like a distorted version of Cocteau Twins. Recommended songs are “Soft as Snow (but Warm Inside),” “Cupid Come,” “(When You Wake) You're Still in a Dream,”  “When You Sleep,” “What You Want,” and “Soon.”

 “Soft as Snow (but Warm Inside)," my favorite off My Bloody Valentine's début album

"When You Sleep," my favorite off My Bloody Valentine's second album

Musical Beginnings
The early music of My Bloody Valentine—represented by the band’s first mini-album (This Is Your Bloody Valentine, 1985)—was still driven by the Psychobilly sensibilities of pioneering Postpunk bands like The Cramps and The Birthday Party. One song off this EP is actually titled “Don’t Cramp My Style.” Another song, “The Last Supper,” reminded me of The Doors because of the Manzarek-style keyboards and the Morrison-approach style of former lead vocalist Dave Conway, who left after the third EP. My favorite remains to be “Forever and Again” and “Tiger in My Tank.”

"Forever and Again," my favorite off My Bloody Valentine's first mini-album

The ensuing mini-album (Ecstasy, 1987) plus the first-four EPs (Geek!, 1985; The New Record by My Bloody Valentine, 1986; Sunny Sundae Smile, 1987; and Strawberry Wine, 1987) on the other hand, had more melodic and Pop sensibilities, highlighted by jangly and ringing guitars but with already a sporadic hint of the swirling reverbs and distortion which the band eventually became known for. The songs “She Loves You No Less,” “I Don’t Need You,” “(You’re) Safe in Your Sleep (From This Girl),” “You’ve Got Nothing,” “Sandman Never Sleeps,” “By the Danger in Your Eyes,” “Paint a Rainbow,” and “Never Say Goodbye” evoke a mélange of The Smiths, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and early Primal Scream.

 “She Loves You No Less,” my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's second mini-album

"Sandman Never Sleeps," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's first EP

"By the Danger in Your Eyes," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's second EP

"Paint a Rainbow," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's third EP

"Never Say Goodbye," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's fourth EP

The last three EPs (You Made Me Realise, 1988; Glider, 1990; and Tremolo, 1991) bridge My Bloody Valentine's musical transition from its Postpunk beginnings to its eventual shoegazing quality: The fuzziness and the swirling characteristics of the guitars and vocals have finally dominated the band's overall sound.

"Thorn," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's fifth EP

"Off Your Face," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's sixth EP

"Swallow," my favorite song off My Bloody Valentine's seventh EP

Final Note
Only one listen to My Bloody Valentine’s latest album and I was able easily to retrace its musical dots to the band’s previous works—fuzziness of guitars and atmospheric vocal mixes, yes they were there; but listening attentively to the songs with clinical precision, I did not fail to hear the melodic qualities of the rest of the instruments subtly buried under the typical bloody distortion and whirling reverb of guitars. My instant favorites off this new release are “New You” and “If I Am” because these songs bear the strongest traces of the band’s musical beginnings. 

Saturday, February 02, 2013

My Set of Teeth Is Ugly

(On the Hypocrisy and Dishonesty in Claiming that Everyone Is Physically Beautiful)
by aLfie vera mella

Concerning beauty-ugliness, I don't totally agree that beauty (or ugliness, for that matter) always depends on the eye of the beholder.

Spreading the physical appearance (say, facial)  of humans on a spectrum of ugly through beautiful, those that are around the middle are what are subject to the subjective eye of the so-called beholder. However, those that fall on the extreme left (ugly) and on the extreme right (beautiful) are not difficult to determine.

The hypocrisy and the problem lie on this issue:

Is being physically ugly automatically negative or repulsive?

If not, then what's stopping many people from describing someone ugly in a plain sense, without ridicule?

For instance, I am ugly. What's wrong with that? If someone describes my face as ugly plainly--there's nothing really wrong about it. The person is merely describing honestly what he is observing. What would be wrong is if that person considers my ugly face as disgusting, repulsive, and he begins to taunt, ridicule, or tease me about that.

The hypocrisy is this, even though some people know that another person is ugly, they will still say that that other person is beautiful. Isn't this hypocritical and dishonest? Let's do the reverse: When there is a beautiful-looking person with a nasty behavior, doesn't that person remain physically beautiful but only behaviorally ugly? Many people don't have the ability to separate intrinsic from extrinsic characteristics. For instance, that beautiful-looking person who has a bad behavior, to me, remains a beautiful person if I have to describe her extrinsically; only her behavior is ugly. But to some people, their hatred or disgust for the bad behavior of the person clouds their ability to see the physical beauty of that person.

I think the ultimate challenge in this issue is, how to develop the ability to describe ugliness without a feeling of disgust or repulsiveness; how to distinguish extrinsic from intrinsic characteristics; and how to express such honest descriptions plainly without getting affected by one's emotions.

On the other hand, how to realize that physical ugliness is not always disgusting and repulsive.


Intrinsic beauty--the kindness, the generosity, the compassion--is an altogether different issue.

What I am really pointing out is the extrinsic or visually observable  appearance of beauty or ugliness.

To say that everyone is physically beautiful is one of the most dishonest expressions in the world. Many people will cover up physical ugliness with praises of beauty.


Because they always think that physical ugliness is automatically disgusting and repulsive--which should not be the case.

If someone tells me that I have an ugly set of teeth, for instance, that person is simply describing plainly what is really physically observable. But the moment he teases me, ridicules me, or taunts me for that, then that's when the issue becomes unacceptable.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Work Is Not Just a Four-Letter Word

(On the Value of Work and the Virtue of Positive Working Attitude)
by aLfie vera mella

One time, when I was preparing for hospital work, Evawwen said, "Daddy, why do you need to work? I want you to stay home."

I said to him, "Evawwen, Daddy needs to work because I have to earn money--for our bills, food, clothes, books, and your toys. Besides, Daddy enjoys working at the hospital, taking care of sick people."

"Okay, Dad. You go to work."

As I entered the door when I got back home after work, Evawwen, as usual, was rushing down the stairs to see me. He asks smilingly, "Daddy, did you earn money?"

"Yes. But I get it on payday."


"A day when I get the money that I earned. That would be next Friday."

"Did you have fun at work?"

"Yes, I did. But I get a bit tired also, so I need to rest when I'm home."

"Okay, Daddy, I won't be noisy."

I make sure that I let my kids realize that, aside from the reason of having to earn money for our cost of living, I work because I enjoy my job and that many people benefit from the job that I do. I never teach my kids the idea that work is a stressful necessity that I would never do if I could, because I believe in the value of work and the virtue of positive working attitude.

There are many parents who tell their children that working sucks or that they don't want to leave them but they have to because they need to work. In telling these sentiments to children, the little ones develop a negative insight about work, preventing them to recognize the value of work, the reason people need to work, and the virtue in having a positive attitude at work. Nevertheless, I encourage letting children know also that work could be tiring naturally--this prevents children from having that illusory and counterproductive sense of invulnerability. Children should also realize that we do get tired, of course, but that all we need is some time to rest and relax at home, to recharge and to let our bodies catch up.

The big challenge now is when parents don't like their jobs; obviously the children will feel their parents' feelings of resentment towards their respective jobs. This is the reason a person should really be clear and sure of what kind of job she really wants to have. She should consider the probability that this job will be her job for the entirety of her working years. In view of this, this should now become the reason parents should, as much as they could, let their children choose what career they want to pursue. Of course, parents can try to direct, redirect, influence, and encourage their children into pursuing their personal choices; but in the end, the children should be the ones to decide what path to take. Then, the parents could do their part by simply being there to guide them.

Like in choosing one's beliefs and religions, work should always be a personal choice--one could only suggest but never impose. And it is always better to highlight the value of and the virtue in everything we do and pursue. It's sad though to realize that there are societies where finding the right job for oneself is a challenge in itself.