Fog covers the town of Banaue as viewed from the Viewpoint. The rice terraces are still visible in the foreground.
2015 was not an easy year. Unlike previous years which presented only their fair share of challenges and difficulties but leaves the order of your life relatively unscathed, this one changed mine a lot. And while I do know that I do not have the monopoly of melancholy and grief, I would say that that the year brought changes unsurprisingly and early on.
Just a few days after I celebrated my 35th birthday in February, I lost my only sister to pneumonia before I was even able to see her for one last time in Davao City. A few months prior to her leaving, we had a long conversation on her having lymphoma and how she was able to look for solutions and was determined to see things through. Confident, we thought that Stage 2 was something she can deal with easily. Contrary to our expectations though, it was the complications which pulled her down and slowly sapped her life away. Continue reading →
It’s been seven months since my sister Sorene left us. And while we have slowly been adjusting to life without her, there are certain circumstances where we still wonder how things might have been if she were still with us. Since she left, the extended family in Cagayan de Oro has celebrated birthdays where her presence was significantly missed. Continue reading →
Me and Sorene at Xavier University High School. I think I was 7 at this time while Sorene was 4. Photo from Auntie Evelyn Gomez.
My sister Sorene was never your usual silently-obedient type. She was never one who would just concede to your ideas without you exerting an effort to convince her of what you have in mind. No, she was not like that. She was never like that.
Sorene was not an easy sibling to live with. She was head strong, aggressive and fiercely proud. She would never bow down to you if you don’t deserve it. And she would never think you deserve it if you have not earned it.
We always had a love-hate relationship as brother and sister. And our differences started early when we had a pig, with whom I had grown fond of, slaughtered and prepared for Sorene’s baptism. I was only four years old at that time. And I felt bad with what happened.
A couple of years after that though, I had one of my life’s biggest scares when Sorene was admitted to a hospital in Cebu City for high fever. We had just moved in to join Papa after he was assigned there for work. And there we were in a hospital room with Sorene on the bed. I worried much about her, so much so that I slept beside her on her bed, only leaving her side to eat and clean myself up. Continue reading →
In less than 24 hours, I will be leaving Cagayan de Oro again to return to Quezon City, where my field of expertise reaps compensation more proportionate to its weight than what I would be offered if I choose to make a living of my skills in the city of my birth.
It is never easy leaving your family for several months. Especially if you belong to a family like mine which is small and closely-knit – with members meeting everytime one has a cause for celebration.
In my own direct family, my siblings, as well as my father, have professions which require them to travel to different parts of this 7,107 archipelago. Unlike them though, I do not have the capability to go home on weekends.
But the lives we lead are the result of our decisions. And the profession I have found myself in, is the result of my own choices in my earlier employments and my own desires. It is for these causes that I must bear the burden of being distanced from my family.
While my travails are not exactly the same as those of overseas migrant Filipino workers, I do know how it feels to be away from your family for the greater part of the year. I do know how helpless one feels when seeing news reports of a weather phenomenon hitting your hometown yet you are far from your family. I do know how difficult it is to let go of thinking about your parents when they are rushed to the hospital and you can’t be there with them as they try to recover from what struck them. Continue reading →
“First step in solving any problem, is recognizing there is one.” – Will McAvoy
Short as this line maybe, but it has stuck with me since I first watched The Newsroom. And although I might be watching the season finale in a few hours, I think this line will stay with me long after the series’s first season is done.
I must be honest though, I was not among those who waited for the season premier. And this was due to the words of critics who were not impressed with the first episode. But I decided to watch it anyway and that’s where I got hooked.
I’ve had my share of Sorkin films and series since then. A Few Good Men inspired me (partly) to go into law school. I tried to watch the West Wing as much as I could. And of course, Charlie Wilson’s War will always be my quick recommendation to someone who’s still in the dark as to how the American government saved and nourished Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Newsroom is Sorkin’s indictment of the prevailing state of journalism or the lack of it. In the series he tried attacking how the newsrooms succumbed to the pressure exerted by ratings wars, management intrusions, and bastardization of editorial independence. He also tried to differentiate between journalism and journalism.
A few days ago, I posted a story from Al Jazeera on endangered languages in the Philippines and I still can’t get it off my head. A couple of weeks before that I was in a meeting where during the break, there was a discussion on how the Ilocano or Iloko language was slowly eating up non-Ilocano-speaking areas in some parts of Luzon. One of those present said that areas in Pangasinan which then predominantly spoke Pangasinense, were now speaking Ilocano. While he spoke Ilocano, he regretted that he has lost his knowledge of Pangasinense, which he knew back then as a child.
This phenomenon of widely-used or more popular languages eating up community-based languages is not actually new in the Philippines. But it is only recently that the dangers posed by this phenomenon to local languages are seen and taken into account by the national government. Back then, the emphasis was more on having a single common language called Filipino – which in reality was Tagalog, with supposedly some words from the other major languages.
Reality though was very different. In the enforcement of Filipino, the other major languages were ridiculed by some who come from Manila as German, Greek or Latin. Cebuano was viewed as the language of the house maid or the uncivilized. The singsong tune of the Bacolod Hiligaynon was joked at quite often. And the accents that Filipinos coming from different regions trying to speak “Filipino” had, would be the subject of scrutiny by native Tagalog speakers in the national capital and its neighboring provinces. The idea of a single Filipino language had become a tool of oppression of other Filipino languages. Continue reading →
I grew up to a Philippines which was Filipino on the outside but American on the inside. How Filipinos then thought of themselves can best be described by paraphrasing a line from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, that inside every Filipino, there’s an American trying to get out. Yes, the country was like that.
Back then, if one opened the television set, majority of the programs would be syndicated shows from the US which were presented in English, the advertisements were in English and even the newscasts by Filipino anchors of Philippine news was in English. Everything which came from the states was considered top of the line, the best, sought for, a must have.
Of course, it was not difficult to see why. It was the middle of the Cold War and the country, being a former US colony, was locked in step with the US in both its cultural and military offensive against communism and its agents. The country also had two of the biggest US military bases outside the United States with several smaller facilities maintained in other parts of the country. The war against student activists, farmers, teachers, community organizers and labor leaders was in full swing, being that Marcos’ Bagong Lipunanwas an ally in the global war against communism.