Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Don't you worry about the situation..."?

Well, of course worrying won't solve anything.

But first, some pictures...

What happened? Why were those people out in the streets? Why were students holding placards bearing such messages? What's with the thumbs-down sign?

It was a press conference on July 15, called by the interfaith Pro-Life Coalition. About what? Find out here

That young man and woman seated at table and who represented different youth groups had quite a lot to say. Read all about it here and here

On the 25th, something good will happen. On the same day that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address, this will also take place...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Loving the 'popcorn'

"Popcorn" was how it was called -- the crackling sound one heard when playing a vinyl record no matter how new (or newly cleaned) it was. But of course the more cleaning a record needed, the noisier it usually was.

I got a kick out of playing a video over and over through dinner tonight. My mom seemed to enjoy it, too, since the song was from the 1950s and she was quite familiar with it. That was the time of turntables and record needles -- and popcorn.

As if to really get into the yesteryear mood, I was using my small notebook to play the video -- hence, producing a "transistor radio-like" sound quality and making the whole experience more realistic.

Here's Frank Sinatra's "Young at heart" from 1954 --

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Are you afraid of the dark?

I was not aware that African-American women today experienced feelings of insecurity concerning their skin color.

I didn't know either that whatever shade of brown their complexion happened to be, mattered so much as to elicit a comment such as "You’ve gotten so dark. But don’t worry, you’re still pretty” not from a Filipino or some other race with an equally colonial outlook when it comes to physical attributes, but from a fellow African-American (or so I assume).

These were unknown to me till I came across this penned by Javacia Harris Bowser (I find her first name charming so I just had to mention it).

Her essay reminds me again of the somewhat disdainful attitude with which many Filipinos regard dark skin. Never mind that we live in the tropics where skin protection from the scorching sun is a necessity. Some women just need to have their milky white complexion whether it's bleaching soap or some whitening cream that will work the magic!

Well, ranting isn't the aim here -- just a reminder that while nobody will ever be satisfied in this life, skin color ought to be the least of one's concerns in a world where things like potable water, equitable distribution of food resources, and dignified living conditions still elude many of us.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Vintage with value

"You can call, you can text, you can post..." said Jeremiah Junior over the radio this morning as I drove to my destination, referring to the assortment of choices listeners have should they want to request a song for him to play.

Funny how the voice was so familiar, yet the things he was saying reflected a different era. Different from what? Well, different from the era in which "texting" and "posting" were unheard of. Specifically, the 1980s, when the only way to request a song -- or to get to talk to the jocks on board for anything -- was by dialing a number on the telephone. It was something I knew well.

Now, however, things are done pretty differently, and I had my taste of it a couple of years ago. I was logged on at Yahoo Messenger and I decided to add one of DWRT's jocks on my buddy list (can't even remember his name). He was online!

We chatted a bit. Then I went, "Can I request a song?" and he said to go ahead.

"Can you please play Rock the Casbah?" (It was 24k Friday then, which meant "old music" the whole day)

Some more chitchat followed...then in less than 2 minutes I could hear the familiar intro of the classic tune from The Clash! Boy, what a pleasantly strange feeling I got. It was like getting accustomed to years of hour-long driving to whatever destination I had, then adjusting to the 20-minute MRT rides and going "Huh? It's my stop already? I'm there!" when it was time to get off.

"This is cool. I get to request a song and I don't even have to make a call," I told myself.

At the same time, part of me thought, "That was too easy. Walang challenge."

After all, before all this texting, posting and online chatting became part of life, one had to do a lot more just to have a chance to hear your requested song on the radio. Well, it was nothing close to hard labor or anything of that sort, but compared to how easy it is to get things done nowadays with the aid of technology, things back then seem now like a lot of work -- and I mean that in a good way. People worked hard for what they wanted to accomplish.

Back then to get a chance to request a song, one walked over to the telephone (no cordless for us at the time), and dialed the number. I'm talking about rotary-dial phones, which is significant in terms of getting accustomed to waiting till the deed is done. One can't not develop even just a bit more patience in the course of repeated dialing on a rotary-dial phone (no "redial" options either). Also, you must remember that groupies, music freaks and other such individuals apart from you are probably trying to do the same thing at the same time, so a busy signal becomes quite familiar before you finally get to hear a ringing sound (hurray!!).

Then, when the request is finally made, it is then time to wait for the song to be played, which can take almost forever. If you plan to record the song, of course you will have set the cassette recorder prior to that and are in for a long wait, all set to press the record key. This may seem trivial now, but to any youngster who grew up during the times of "rewind/fast forward" (cassette recorder) rather than "track __" (CD player), a lot more effort was involved to get things done, even if the goal was merely to record a song and to find it in a cassette tape later on. (Also, due to all this preparation, the song finally hitting the airwaves almost always elicits a squeal of delight.)

For the present generation, sifting through one side of a cassette tape to find a particular song (instead of simply clicking on track number so-and-so on a remote for a CD player) would probably be akin to going through a card catalogue (one that involves dozens of drawers and hundreds of index cards) to find a book rather than looking it up online and having the computer do everything for them to locate the book.

So, much as I was thrilled by the novelty of getting to request a song and hear it right away -- and with nothing as much as a few strokes on a keyboard -- the fact that it was too easy made the excitement superficial (and short-lived). Still, it was a thrill. And it made me appreciate all that "work" that growing up in the'70s and '80s entailed. Okay, it may have been just repeated dialing on a rotary-dial phone, but little did I know that such a device two decades later would signify much more than "vintage." Try "challenge."

So, maybe I'll YM that jock again sometime, request another song, and get ready for a few seconds of excitement upon hearing it. I guess I can't expect much more when things come too easy.

"If life throws you lemons..." revised

Down in the dumps? No? Well, don't wait to have a bad day before checking this out:

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Beyond silver hair and walking canes

Here's a light-hearted take on commitment and day-to-day self-giving. I love it -- eyebags and all!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The brave bunch

On Friday last week, the campus of the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman saw some action.

Supporters of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill -- a piece of legislation that proposes taxpayer-funded, State-guaranteed procurement and distribution of the "full range" of birth control supplies and services -- held a demonstration to manifest their position. But that's not really what I'm blogging about.

Sure, rallies like this are noteworthy. But even more amazing is when a small group of students swims against the current and demonstrates a stand, which, till that day, had been regarded as the unpopular one on campus.

UP has long been known for fostering an environment of activism, encouraging the habit of speaking one's mind and standing up for one's beliefs. And on Friday I was pleasantly jolted back to this reality, that voicing out one's convictions was something I would witness on campus that day. I had no idea, though, that seeing the first signs of this freedom of speech would be so exhilarating.

As I entered the campus, from afar I saw patches of red on huge acacia tree trunks; coming closer I saw red ribbons and pieces of cloth tied around the trunks, some bearing the ubiquitous "No to RH Bill" stickers. What joy! "There is hope!" was my first thought upon setting eyes on the crimson representations of opposition to an oppressive proposed law that others seem to welcome with open arms, either out of ignorance, anger at perceived control freaks, misplaced idealism, or sheer disregard for the ones to suffer from such a measure.

I also spied the stickers on street lamps, waiting sheds, jeepney stops and other structures around the academic oval. Oh, joy! Never had I associated the "No" symbol (you know, the red circle with the diagonal line to indicate something forbidden) with fun or freedom more than when I was still in the habit of watching "Ghostbusters" cartoons on Friday nights in the '80s.

After driving around campus some more -- stopping several times to take snapshots -- then talking to some folks, I headed home. What an exhilarating experience! Who knew ribbons and stickers could have such an effect?

But it didn't end there. An RH march was scheduled in the afternoon, and I knew about a planned counter-activity that would express opposition against the RH bill around the same time. Nothing big, nothing spectacular. Still, I was thrilled that there were students in my alma mater who believed so intensely in their life-affirming principles that they would work so hard to make sure these principles were demonstrated in a campus that merely went with the flow as far as RH legislation was concerned.

They came from the direction of C.P. Garcia. When they appeared -- mostly garbed in red (the chosen color) -- each was holding a bunch of red balloons. A few of them had balloons attached to a piece of manila paper bearing the "No to RH" icon (the same one with the red circle and slash).

Pretty soon the group was nearing the oval, a few meters away from the AS steps, where a crowd of 100+ RH supporters along with some curious bystanders were gathered, listening to speeches.

As they turned and casually made their way toward the ongoing program, I couldn't help but admire these young souls even more. Not even curious gazes and clapping seemed to daunt them; as they approached the group gathered at the steps and I realized they were really headed straight for the people, anxiety momentarily enveloped me. But it left me right away as soon as I saw the gutsy bunch stop, UP Against RH-marked balloons still in hand, and linger as they probably wondered how to execute the release of the balloons as swiftly as possible (placards, after all, were attached to some of them).

Well, it wasn't much of a tough choice; all they had to do was pick a spot and let go. And let go they did, amid simultaneous cheering (why the anti-human-rights-of-the-unborn dudes were cheering, I couldn't say) and chanting of "Ipasa, ipasa....RH bill...." or something. Up, up and away went the balloons, with a few getting stuck in the canopy provided by lovely branches of the huge acacia tree, and one bunch attached to a "No to RH" sign being grabbed by someone who obviously thought nothing of claiming something as his even if it didn't belong to him. Oh, well.

What a display of composure and courage this bunch exemplified. And it wasn't because they were a brash, fearless lot. They weren't; they felt uneasy, and representing the silent majority the way they did was quite the challenge. For a moment there I had visions of David vs. Goliath, all because next to the people milling about the area, either actively taking part in the ongoing program or simply hanging out disinterestedly nearby, the group seemed to me like a child full of hope and idealism beside a much bigger, washed-up, jaded, overconfident grownup. And guess who triumphed?

I'm sure the deed was regarded by some as a senseless act, but when one knows it's backed up by conviction and a sincere desire to let truth and goodness prevail, it makes perfect sense.

What makes no sense is letting the news release about an event (the RH march) see cyberspace for over 24 hours when what it describes in detail (and in the past tense) are the happenings of the event that did not happen (translation: the RH march was originally scheduled for June 25 and was cancelled due to bad weather, yet a news release describing what "happened" was on a news and events website till some of us called their attention to it). Anyway, more details about that can be found here.

(If I may add, another thing that makes no sense to me is blowing up the official count of attendees in an event to, say, 800, when photos as well as eyewitness accounts show the actual count to be 200 at the most. If RH people were more truthful about such details, they would probably sway more people to their side)

Still, while inconsistencies on the other side continue, the side of Life remains dedicated to the truth. Even if truth for one day were symbolized simply by beribboned trees...

... or a bunch of red balloons.

Read a news story about the event here

Related story here
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