Playing With God

I was born with a very pious mother and I can very well remember how much we’ve been taught about religion. I was in a catholic school from elementary to high school and praying has been way of life. From my mother at home to the nuns and brothers at school, the reminder “Thou shall not use God’s name in vain” echoes all the time.

It may sound blasphemous to most devout catholic but I think that always considering God as a very serious god could sometimes ruin our relationship with him. How many times have we heard and have seen people (including myself) get so upset with unfavorable events and immediately point the blame to God. Most get so uptight in situations– no matter how minor – wherein we feel that God is testing us if we can maintain a resolute faith despite facing trials at some point of our lives.

But have we really ever wondered if God tried playing with us? Yes, just like having a known strict parent who for no reason at all grabs one of your toys and just try to be really playful with you. Well, I do wonder right now.

It started yesterday afternoon when I decided to wash our car after I saw that chances of having rain was nil. I did the washing in a very diligent manner and I wiped the car dry just short of getting it polished and shined. I was tired and sweaty when I finished the whole thing and was so proud of what I accomplished. About an hour later, however, rain poured hard like a bad joke coming from the heavens.

After a couple of seconds of being offended, I ended smiling. Why? Because I had this funny imagination that God must have been staring down at me and was observing me the whole time I was washing the car. I feel like he was trying to have some light moments with me to break the series of serious yet silent “discussions” with him for the past several days already.

That short and witty moment got me thinking until I went to sleep late that night. It added another “What if God…” questions in my mind. It opened a new mindset of how God communicates to us. I think that sometimes it may help a lot if we view God in a different perspective from what we’ve been taught about him. Maybe, just maybe, sometimes to make his presence known he sets aside being a serious God. And sometimes we need to consider that he may be trying to reach out to us in a lighter way. This way, it eases the burden we are experiencing and we begin to communicate with him more candidly and thus creating a more effective way of discussion – in the form of prayer, of course.

The questions now linger: What if God wants to play with us? How do we deal with it? Will our short temper flare? What if a divine clean joke may be what we need to improve our relationship with the one we’ve always known as God? Are you game?

***

I got a forwarded email from one friend today that required me to forward it to 10 persons. Guess what it is? If you answered spam, give yourself a pat on the back. It reminded me of my Chain Game blog.

***

The frequently used words for me lately are God, jobs, baby, food, money and yes, also “words.” So I’m once again amused to find out when I saw that Monday’s AWAD (A. Word. A. Day) had this:

epeolatry – noun: (ep-i-OL-uh-tree) The worship of words.

I’m imagining someone kneeling in front of the word, WORD. Now that’s just weird. But weirder was Tuesday’s AWAD entry:

univocalic – noun: (yoo-niv-uh-KAL-ik) A piece of writing that uses only one of the vowels.

adjective: Using only one vowel.

And also included in that daily mail is this: “CONTEST: Imagine you are a headline writer for a newspaper back in the days when metal type was used. You have run out of all but one of the vowels in the large type size that is used for the headline. What univocalic can you come up with? Email your univocalic news headlines (real or made-up) to (words at wordsmith.org). Selected entries will be featured in the weekly compilation AWADmail and the best entry will win an autographed copy of my latest book DORD. Deadline is Friday Oct 17”

I was so eager to try my hands on this contest and I was surprised how easy it can get. Here are some of my own headline creations for each vowel:

A.

Man And Angst = War.

E.

Sheep Herd Entered Cells. Press’ News Went Berserk.

I.

City Inn Hid Tiny Mic. Irks Indy Kid.

O.

Moon Got Odd. Only Old Owls Hoot.

U.

Gypsy’s Hut Shuts. Urn Put Up.

Oh, before I forget. I sent one of the made-up headlines above. I want that DORD book. So please make your own headline in case you want it too. Do not copy.

***

 

Itsy Bitsy Sunday

There are so many things going on inside my head that posting tid bits of info would be best for today. So before I dig into the fridge and search what’s for lunch, here we go.

Short term and long term plans

As I’m finally counting down to the inevitable bumhood, I now have the following plans:

Short term:

  1. Prep up the sofa for employment
  2. Polish the remotes (TV, audio, aircon).
  3. Upgrade the PC
  4. Blog, blog, and blog.

Long term:

  1. Learn, learn, and learn how to raise a kid.
  2. Fix the leak in the roof.
  3. Find a job.

***

Writer’s cramp

While reading my favorite newspaper, The Philippine Star, I can’t help but notice that Francis J. Kong and Bum D. Tenorio, Jr. just posted email clippings for most of their articles. These two are among the daily’s writers whose articles I usually read before the others. Sometimes, however, it intrigues me to see them cut and paste forwarded emails as if just to make the required word count and get paid for it. Is this their workaround to writer’s cramp?

***

Philippine F1, anyone?

The recent F1 Singapore which is F1′s first night race shut my hopes for the Philippines to get significant publicity over our Asian neighbors. Well, I’d like to help raise this bid to conquer the F1 scene like nobody has done before. Why not have the first real live F1 street race in the Philippines. This time there would be no modification on the roads or clearing up of vehicles on the streets. Imagine how these F1 cars perform against our buses, jeepneys, some mad motorcycle drivers and our suicidal jaywalkers.

Paging FIA, interested? Oh by the way, no more G. H. Mumm ceremony, let’s use San Miguel Grande beer at the podium.

***

Misery loves company

There are days I would ponder if who else got problems besides me. Here are some of the people and their problems they’re facing right now.

George Bush: America’s economy. If this doesn’t make one stutter, what will?

Benjie de Lara: A 6-year-old boy with a fourth stage cancer. Want to help? Contact his mother Elenita at 09293289591 or donate thru the Star’s Operation Damayan. Call 527-7901 and look for Millet Dioso.

Filipino veterans: They’re not getting their pensions. I assume that one American congressman’s grandfather might have been in hand to hand combat with a Filipino during the Filipino-American war.

Senator Manny Villar: Questionable double funding for a C5 project. So what’s new? I think he can handle that.

Chinese milk manufacturers: Does Melamine rings a bell? And count me in as one of those angry at this SNAFU. Now I’d have to think twice before I eat my favorite White Rabbit candy. At least the female cows in China are free from breast suction gadgets for the meantime. The male cows I know are now smiling broadly. Mooooo.

Fat policemen: The new PNP chief Jesus Versoza is out to revive fitness consciousness to these pugad baboy characters. Any tremors on the next few weeks won’t come from below. Its origin will most likely be from PNP camps around the nation.

Philippine Olympians: Most of the officials are staying put especially Aventajado who is running for another term as the Philippine Olympic Committee’s chairman. Where was he when our athletes went down on bended knees during the recent Beijing Olympics? I bet Aventajado was beside the Chinese team during the awarding thinking that these are our tsinoy delegates.

Jessica Zafra: Her laptop keyboard is filled with cat fur. I’d like this to be my problem.

Tanya T. Lara: Sunburn while in Manhattan. Let this one also be mine.

Obama and McCain: Waiting game for the U. S. presidential seat.

Kimi Raikkonen: Hated the rain. Hated the night race. My wife still likes him though. Is this a sign that I should block all Kimi tags and searches in our computer? Damn, she’s got her own laptop.

Tingting Cojuangco: Freaking out over wrinkles and Alzheimer’s.

Lucy Torres-Gomez: Misses having dates with Richard Gomez. Hmm.

Hagar: Helga

Archie: Veronica and Betty

Mr. Wilson: Dennis theMenace

Hey, I must have skipped the other sections and got stuck in the Philstar’s comic section. The last three people I posted with problems are comic characters. Sorry about that. Time to have lunch.

 

Ride Of My Life

Prelude:

I was trying to write a blog post this week with the pressure coming from my publisher/editor-in-chief/my wife. But with me having a flu (I haven’t had one for almost a year) my lazy bones took over. My mind stopped functioning, grammar worsened and my gray matter preferred holding the TV’s remote instead. I tried to fight back by reading a book, Digital Fortress, but every time I sniff I get distracted and it left me no choice but to put it down often. I had to cancel badminton and gym sessions as well and confined my activities within our sofa, bed, sofa, bed and the ever attractive TV.

Luckily, TV shows lately are quite new, at least for me, and I enjoyed most of it. Last night’s Amazing Video’s episode: Stunts Gone Bad had my sadistic side pumped up as I was laughing my heart out while skateboarders and BMX’ers crash and burn. And just before I went into deep sleep, I heard David Letterman mentioning that Kevin Robinson achieved a 27-foot ramp flight. I know he must have been clueless who first set the 25-foot mark. Only an avid BMX’er knew about that—and I was one of them.

That’s me doing a backyard at Bacolod’s lagoon when it was still legal to do it.

So today I tried to go back to a book review on Mat Hoffman’s book which I’m very sure I have posted. However, I almost freaked out when I can’t find it on my multiply.com site, Blogspot and even here on WordPress. I don’t know, but I got quite confused and began to suspect if the TRANSLTR really exists. Haha. I got it all mixed up now. TRANSLTR is a fictional (is it really?) powerful machine capable of intercepting emails (or blogs?) and other electronic signals that may have the sinister intention towards Uncle Joe’s government. Thankfully that’s fiction, thanks to Digital Fortress. Intercepted by the TRANSLTR or just stuck on my files, here’s the book review.

 ***

Once a rider, always a rider. In the old school days, everyone in our group knows at least one bit of Mat Hoffman. We were into BMX flatland back then and despite Mat being famous in the vert sessions, no one really cares. Anybody who is rad, we idolize.

My wife got this from a book sale section in SM Dasmarinas while I was having my caffeine fix in a Dunkin Donut shop. Little did I know that the espresso load will become a warm up for what I’d be reading for the next hours until a few days more. The book sent adrenaline rush all over my body, it was as if I’m just in front of Mat Hoffman’s life as it unfolds. If I could have gotten myself on a BMX at that very moment, I would have delivered a couple of my favorite old school routines just like I did way back in late high school. Perfect trick or not, it wouldn’t have mattered.

The energy that the book brings is infectious. Reading Mat Hoffman Ride of My Life (with Mark Lewman) from start to finish sent me cringing, smiling, sighing or just plainly amazed—very amazed.

Nostalgic BMX daydreams, of course, come in every now and then in between pages. An ex-BMXer like me just can’t stop it. Needless to say, my BMX experiences weren’t even near Mat’s. In his ramp scale, mine is just a mere tiny curve past flat bottom. Yes, it was just that. Even then, my riding years gave me great memories, not to mention bruises and countless embarrassment. “No pain, no gain” as we always used to say.

The 311-page, hardbound book comes with a great compilation of awesome photos—just in case one wonders what in the world a can-can is—which covered almost every aspect of Mat’s life. Here I learned that he was just five years old when he started riding—horses first. But his need for speed and flight developed in no time. Mat was destined to be the Condor.

Influenced by his older brother, he soon got introduced to motorbikes, ramps and their roof. Yes, you read it right, roof. Riders, or riders in the making, have different perspectives of common everyday things: a roof is to ‘air time’—when I was a kid I jumped a couple of times from our roof top into piles of leaves. (If only I had a bike at that time.); an innocent hand rail is to grinds; a plywood sheet is to ramps; a dry swimming pool is to jam sessions and the list goes on. Mat’s list is one that most of us just can’t predict or let alone imagine.

Mat’s skills eventually got him into a manufacturer-sponsored team and went into either doing demos or competitions, starting as an amateur. (I was surprised to learn that during this time Dennis McCoy, another BMX icon, was already doing pro.)

Of course, his honeymoon with the bicycle scene didn’t come without any hitch. This was when the BMX recession happened. But it was also when Mat proved his love and passion for the sport. Instead of just quitting like everyone did, he founded Hoffman Bikes so he could manufacture bikes at his own specification and in his own backyard—he was 17 years old then. Soon enough, this backyard industry grew to become one of the biggest in the BMX business.

As his riding skills and confidence progress he started inventing—no, this doesn’t involve lab work—sick and original tricks, one of which is the famous 900. Think of it as two and a half bike turns while on vertical flight—just one turn or a 360 already requires superb bike skills.

Another thing that no one can take away from Mat is his famous, over spec ramp and the amazing height that he achieved from it. That ramp was 21 feet high and he was able to get another 25 feet of vertical flight from the coping which made more believers and, as expected, some skeptics. Until now, no one has come close to that feat. Not one even dared.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves bikes especially BMX as one will surely enjoy reading about the evolution of tricks, bikes, apparel and riders’ skills. Fans of the Jackass will appreciate this as well. By the way, an advice to non-riders: avoid randomly picking and reading the pages as one might end up thinking that he’s reading a medical book or a maniac’s death wish. The long list of Mat’s injury, mostly from doing his bike stunts, is enough for someone naïve to place it alongside a surgeon’s or nurses’ reviewers section. And lastly, while reading this book having an air sickness bag right behind may be a good idea.

***

Postscript: Now I remember, I sent this review as an entry to Philstar’s My Favorite Book but it looks like they wanted it to remain just my favorite. Hahaha. I’m thinking though that not much people can relate to this book anyway. Besides, BMX riders prefer the streets and I bet that they’re unlikely to pick and read the Philippine Star—and this makes me a “has been.’ Ti abi.

Spam, Anyone?

SPAM

Function: noun

Etymology: from a skit on the British television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue

Date: 1994

: unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of ad- dresses

(www.m-w.com)

Coming out of bed from a short sleep after a graveyard shift duty, an idea pop out of nowhere (or out of boredom): Hey, why not put to good use the spams I regularly receive? And with that trash thought, comes…trash, of course. G. I. G. O–Garbage In, Garbage Out.  So blog world, please welcome my spam blog.

This blog is mainly all about forwarded emails coming from my wife, family members, friends and of course, last but not the least, spammers. These emails range from tips on health, safety, car maintenance and home care. Some are urban legends that by the power of the internet get recycled and create another wave of terror and sleepless nights to its clueless recipient. Others are jokes – both green or clean – and others are religious chain mails that threatens a gullible receiver of death or misfortune if not forwarded in 10 seconds to 10 contacts. And this is just a few of the emails I’ve received so far. In short this is a blog of emails on everything and anything under the sun. More often than not, I would become a spammer myself as I would forward emails that I think are good to my contact groups. Ti abi. The cycle never ends.

Nevertheless, I still think that not all spams are created equal. What is trash to me, may actually work for others. And so instead of deleting these mails, I’d bury them all here for others to read and learn. I hope you enjoy My Spam Blog.

2008: Year of Change?

I’m currently hooked on Dan Brown’s books. During my December vacation I borrowed a book from a colleague and brought it with me in Bacolod. On my rest times I would read The Da Vinci Code– while under some sort of scrutiny of my pious mother. On our way back home to Dasma after the holidays we rented an airport taxi service that made me finish the book while inside the cozy Toyota Innova. (It cost us only Php 1.3K. Very cheap compared to availing Park n Fly’s service.)

Now I borrowed another, Angels & Demons, and I’m almost halfway since I started it just this Wednesday. Other than the conspiracy theories that seem to have captured my attention and wonder about its possibility, one line from the book got me to start thinking.

Olivetti looked at the camerlengo dead in the eye. “The prayer of St. Francis, signore. Do you recall it?”

The young priest spoke the single line with pain in his voice, “God, grant me strength to accept those things I cannot change.” – pp. 169.

This made me pause and reflect on the changes I’ve observed since last month. I could relate to these lines with what has happened lately. Hint: employment.

December, third week. Our company’s shuttle bus provider for more than ten years was changed. For the better? Go figure.

December 31. Just as the year ends also comes the closure of our favorite restaurant–Saisaki ATC. No more sashimi. No more sukiyaki. I went back to the place on Jan 10 and to see it silent with doors locked and tables turned was a sad sight. Where have  its crews gone?

January. Video City, a video rental store near our place closed. Most likely another victim of the proliferation of pirated CDs. ACA Video Dasma branch closed during the peak of piracy and seeing a second one caving in is depressing.

January 18. The state of the old Bacolod airport is uncertain with the opening of Silay Airport. I don’t know if Bacolod City’s officials are still considering retaining the old one or if they would totally phase it out. With the recent experience I had both during arrival and departure–mostly due to deceitful porters and taxi drivers–I couldn’t agree more if they pick the latter option. But then jobs of the innocent and honest employees are at stake. Hopefully they’ll be re-assigned.

We are just starting the year and I hate to think about the things to come. I’m still trying to keep a positive attitude about what the future holds and whatever it will be, I’m hoping that we would be ready by then. Que sera sera, as my mother used to say.

 

Jim’s Country

The internet always fascinates me. Gone are the days when one has to travel far, endure a long queue and rub sweaty faces and armpits just to get near a celebrity to brush elbows with them or, if one gets lucky enough, exchange ideas with them. If that happens, usually it won’t even last for several awkward minutes. Nowadays, to get close to the famous would need only a couple of type away.

I got Jim’s site from my wife’s links. She’s a fan of the singer. From then on I return every now and then to read his posts and I discover more about him than reading from the Song Hits magazines or any other newspapers. His site showcases his talents, ideas, spirituality, fantasies and even his temperament, that is if you can read between the lines. Sometimes though it is just too obvious.

Last night right there was anger in his post. Something that I’ve been also frustrated at for several days already. As I browse through it I find that his frustrations (and evil wishes) are just like any other Filipinos. And the thing about it is that he could care less, let the issue die a natural death and enjoy his comfy Australian residence. But nationalism probably does go beyond borders.

Jim is one of those who actively participated in the EDSA 1 revolution. He also composed Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo as the theme for the post-EDSA 1 Filipino. It would be safe to say he is an idealist. So I do understand where he is coming from. The succession of events that have been going on lately appears like the Filipinos have forgotten again. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the current situation would escalate once again to make the people call for reforms, for a President to step down, for a snap election to happen. Again.  Maybe sooner we would be calling the gods to cast fire unto the Philippines. If we don’t get our acts together, we’ll get it sooner than soon.

It’s interesting that even a man like Jim, who may have stuffed his walk-in closet with awards and accomplishments (or even cash) still gives a damn about what is happening to his country, our country. I wish that someone from the millions of Filipinos would step up as a leader of great integrity and courage to face and eradicate the TRAPOs that seems to multiply in numbers every election.

Tomorrow is barangay election day. Let’s see what happens next.

 

Are you the Man of Steal?

(Blog originally intended for my alma mater’s blog site.)

I was thinking of a better title for this blog and I remember a high school classmate whom we tagged as “Man of Steal.” Not that he’s a professional thief, but it’s just that he had this annoying habit of not returning things he borrowed or worse, keeping small petty stuff that our classmates possessed and valued—such as David Pomeranz cassette tapes (yes tapes!), books, etc.

I’m quite sure we’ve had our share of petty thievery way, way back in the past. We’ve sneaked into our nanay‘s wallet to fund our Masskara escapades. We’ve kept extra resistors from the lab to support our home-made audio amplifiers and boosters. We’ve raided the stock room to pick extra welding rods for our bike’s frame. And we’ve, intentionally or unintentionally, grabbed one lumpia or burger from Claire without shedding a single centavo.

Those who are guilty, please raise your hands. Wait, I can’t type one-handed.

Mr. Genito’s reminder prior to our last OJT still stays fresh in my mind, ”INDI pagkuhaon maski bato sa inyo ulobrahan (DO NOT take even a single rock from within your company).” I will always remember that briefing every time I’d see gravel in the parking lot and would ask myself, ”Maski ini? (Even this?)”, ”Oo, maski ina! (Yes, even that!)”, my good side will respond immediately.

As the technology around us gets more advanced than it was before—and becomes affordable to almost everyone—another form of stealing gets so rampant and so common that one wouldn’t know that he has actually participated in it. Even those with the best of intentions, regardless of social status, religion, or profession are victims. Even friends.

This is film piracy. Once again I’m guilty as charged. But that was more than eight years ago. I remember the last bootleg copy I bought was Tom Hank’s Cast Away which I got from one of the malls in Alabang. That day, I also grabbed some beer, pulutan, and then went home so eager to watch it with my wife. Sadly, I almost crushed our VCD player in disgust when in the middle of the movie it started pixelating and ruined our night altogether. And that was it, I had enough.

I guess it was one of my wake-up calls to end the illicit practice once and for all. And as if trying to justify my life-changing decision, I read the papers, watched the news and attended company-supported training sessions related to this. It was then when I became more aware of things such as Intellectual Property and Copyright laws.

Of course, everyone knew how costly (some may find it even ridiculous and stupid) it is to stop buying pirated products nowadays. It’s the reason my Core 2 Duo still has the genuine Windows ‘98 OS in it and until now the dual core processor is concentrating its power on the free solitaire game—dasig gid eh (very quick), if you will ask.

Since then, my wife and I also started saving to buy the CDs and DVDs that we like. If the budget isn’t available we’d content ourselves to listening to our favorite music over the radio and watching movies on the cable channels or in the cinemas.

Although feeling good about doing the right thing, I’ve kept mum about it. Pushing this anti-piracy advocacy in front of most people I know would either get me booted out of my circle of friends or get raised eyebrows at the very least. (I even discovered that one high position expat got a whole shelf of “Quiapo” DVDs in his home. It’s disappointing and frustrating.)

Until now I still wonder if there will come a time when the government and other concerned organization will eradicate or significantly lessen this illegal trade that’s been killing almost the whole industry—even food, toys, books, textiles and other consumer products in the market are affected. Wishful thinking? If and when that time comes, I’ll be one proud man.

And by the way, if after reading this one might wonder if I’m the OMB chairman, Edu Manzano, I wish but I’m definitely not. I’m just one concerned individual hoping to influence at least one. Yes, at least one who might influence another.

So are you the Man of Steal or not?

Practice, Practice, Practice (My First Blog)

How do I get to Carnegie hall? Practice, practice, practice.” – Arthur Rubinstein

Influenced by this one line I first read on philskies.net—as I lurk this flight sims enthusiasts’ web forum—I will start my first blog post today and my first practice will be my own Rockstar piece. My inspiration came while listening to INXS album Switch which already has J. D. Fortune, the new vocalist the band picked through the reality show Rockstar INXS.  In my opinion, J.D Fortune now sings better since we last saw him on TV against other contestants such as J. D. Marty and Migs Ayesa in their quest to become the next INXS front man. Eventually, J. D. got INXS’ nod and the rest is history.

This time new hopefuls vie for a spot in another band called Supernova and currently, there are six remaining contestants on Rockstar Supernova.  My number one pick tonight is Toby and I find it surprising as I never liked his performance since the show started. I even doubted last week if he can pull off a show with Supernova’s original band members—Gilby, Tommy and Jason—although I agree that he gave justice to one of the songs. But tonight, he made me a believer. He performed first with Storm Large as backup for her cover of Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life. He then sang solo Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell where he got the crowd going.  I don’t know if the elements were just right—my favorite song, right voice, and good performance—that made me bet on him tonight. Anyway, whatever it was, he did just great.

Second on my list is Dilana. Yes, Dilana. This notorious contestant gets my vote this time. She did a good job singing Mother Mother which she rendered with powerful voice and with emotion so real that I can almost feel her angst in front of the TV. Yes, she was that good.

The hottie Storm Large comes third. While I hate the first portion of her version of an Evanescence’s song wherein I thought that she would quit and just storm out of the stage in the middle of her performance to concede defeat, she was able to redeem herself.  She got to the peak of Bring Me to Life that if only I wasn’t looking at the boob tube (no pun really) I would have mistaken her as the original artist.

My disappointment goes to Ryan Starr and I think I have just seen his worst. Being the lead contender I was expecting him to sing Coldplay’s Clocks into almost perfection but never happened. His piano stunts did not impress as it compromised rather than accentuated his performance—crawling on top of the grand piano made him look cheap and plain copycat.

I am now sure that with all these developments Supernova will have a hard time picking their front man—or a woman in this case. I must have spoken too soon when I said to my wife that a woman doesn’t fit in this band. Well, I could be wrong as pressure intensifies. Nevertheless, whoever wins this contest has really earned it. I would love to see the day when Supernova with their new vocalist play in the background while I write another blog post.

First edited on March 4, 2011

Last edited on June 9, 2013