Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Burn, Momma, Burn


In India, during 4th century B.C. ,widows, after their spouse's death, are left with only two options: pack their stuff and head to tralalaland, or hurl their bodies into their husband's burning funeral pyre.


These virtuous women, referred to as "suttees", are expected to fulfill this ultimate gesture, to expurge their sins and assure her and her departed husband eternal bliss.


This prevailed, until the British government outlawed the tradition in 1800s. But rumor has it that it still secretly occurs until today. Modern day suttees must be singing "Eternal Flame" (as performed by The Bangles) as flames consume every inch of their skin.


I wonder if husbands who outlive their wives also go through the same feat?

An Anthropological Hoax


The Marcos Regime left a string of the most intriguing stories of our time. No, I am not talking about the discovery of Yamashita Treasure, or Ninoy's Assasination Plot. Those stories had been dissected and discussed ad nauseam, it feels like I had first hand share of the events myself. What I found out is less celebrated, but equally interesting.


The year was 1971. There was so much excitement circulating within the scientific world. Dafal, a Filipino hunter, stumbled upon the Tasaday Tribe hidden within a thick rain forest. The modern world had just discovered a prehistoric relic existing on an island in Mindanao. Scientists, anthropologists, international media and organizations came in hordes, all eager to stick their noses into such an amazing discovery: A prehistoric group of people, still following stone age ways far from the reaching arms of civilization.


The Minister for Tribal Affairs, Manuel Elizalde, during Ferdinand Marcos, is in charge of the affairs.And just a year after their discovery, the Tasaday forest was declared as an anthropological reserve in 1972.


It stayed that way for fourteen years.There were about twenty-seven people, including children, and they existed without any knowledge about agriculture or raising livestock. They had no social norms, no social hierarchy, no leaders.


But when the Marcos Regime receives the last inevitable blow in 1986, and as soon as Marcos was unseated, the lid was lifted and out goes the stench. Oswald Iten, a Swiss journalist, paid an unannounced visit to the Tasaday reserve. Much to Ossy's surprise, he was greeted by tribesmen wearing modern underwear beneath leaf aprons and cavemen living in modern houses.


It was a splendid performance worthy of an Oscar Award. The gentle Tasaday sported crude tools and spoke their ancient Tasaday language to pull up the act. And the children too, were very cooperative.
While scientists were shaking their heads and anthropologists argue how they were taken for a ride, Elizalde is sipping the rich, steaming froth of the proceeds from grants, intended for the tribe's preservation.


Amazing isn't it? I'd probably try to look for someone who can claim that he's seen Bin Laden basking under our tropical sun.

Strange Beginnings


Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, and incidentally,The Father of Science, presented theories that were based on misunderstanding of the forces governing the physical world. This may seem odd, but he really believed that the brain was a blood-cooling device, that maggots spontaneously develop on meat, and that all things are varied combinations of air, water, fire and earth, and discounted Democritus for his "Atom Theory".


He also categorized things based on their "gravity" or "levity". Earthen materials, which sink in water and other liquids, had more gravity, and fire, which leaps up in the air, had more levity. To explain how stars and other celestial bodies float in the outerspace, he created the fifth element which he calls "ether".


It never occured to Aristotle, and to most ancient Greek intellectuals, to put these theories under testing. Experiment was unheard of, until a 17th century scientist by the name of Francis Bacon introduced the concept.


These profound errors were conceived because of logic and observation, which is the very foundation of science. So let's just leave Aristotle as he is right now, the reigning "Father of Science" or we might end up rewriting textbooks and launch debates as to who deserves to get the title.

In Defense of Cell Phones







I couldn't help but wonder
How in the thicket of thin air
Throbbings sent by minuscule hearts
Are received by its intended cell


*
Bowed heads of glinting eyes
That scintillates, not with the glow
Of the screen's backlight
But with clowns popping out of
The screen and strings of letters
Being scrolled down.


*
No.
A unit cannot be anymore reduced
To mere plastic chips.
Or mere buttons to
Push

Quills


I was digging through some old cds at home, one rainy lazy sunday afternoon. An old buddy was asking me to come with her for another tiring rounds at a newly opened "supernova-mall" somewhere in Roxas Boulevard. I fabricated reasons just to stay at home. I told my friend that I had to finish some crochette-ing and cross-stitching jobs, and some carpentry stuff after that.


My wallet's almost dried-up and I guess, I am just not in my best mood to prowl around and spread love, harmony and world peace by strutting my ass in a crowded mall. After a few minutes of digging into my old stack of discs, I found something that may suffice and keep me awake for a good 2 or 3 hours.


So I settled to watch a not-so-old movie, which I had first seen some 5 or maybe 6 years ago. The title was "Quills" and it stars Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix. And yeah, the Great Geoffrey Rush who plays the role of Marquis` de Sade. The story unfolds in an asylum/institution where the "demented", "queer" and those who were labeled "unfit" to thrive within the norms of the society, are placed (or should I say, locked-up).
Marquis` de Sade was part of the population, and he is guilty for writing prose that leans on the sexual, which the conservative society deems as a threat to an otherwise "wholesome and decent" social norms. So he was ordered to be incarcerated and was prohibited from transcribing his "lewd" ideas into printed letters. But just like man's morning erection, De Sade didn't just stopped there. He's got blankets, a goblet of red wine and chickenbones as a quill and he had her laundress Maddy, played by Ms. Winslet, smuggle the stories, to be published for the prudish world to read. And when blankets and wine was taken away, he cut his tongue off and he splattered his prose with his own blood all over the walls of his cell.


That scene was reeking with madness and insanity, so mad that it follows me even during sleep, hours after I watched the movie. I came to realize how I have been betraying myself for not doing what I had always wanted to do, to wield words, to write.


I am existing in a time where medium is not a problem, and people don't get incarcerated for writing (Except if you're writing about GMA and her government; you get gunned down. That is not a problem with me because I intend to write about other better things).I need not slice off a member of my anatomy, we got papers everywhere, and an interesting thing called "blog".
For years, I have been a doing somnambulogues. I eat, I drink, I shit and I fuck. I do the things normal people does. But they were all did while in deep slumber.


I just woke up... and I am now ready to spread love, harmony,and world peace.
And I will do that by wielding prose , by writing ...
and by strutting my ass in a crowded mall...


I will call my mall-rat friend.

Philippine Area of Responsibility


"Team, Dress-down request for tonight was disapproved by Ms. Cheesecake. Please come to work in business attire".

I had my casual-looking pair of pants rolled-up above my knees as I prepare myself to brave a knee-deep murky (yucky) flood. I try my very best to take my mind off such an ultra-pathetic situation. I even imagined dancing with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire ala-Singing in the Rain. And you know what, it just didnt work!

While most Filipinos are inside their houses enjoying supper and watching their favorite primetime soap, I am battling a heavy downpour and being blown in four different directions by such a nasty wind. I know I shouldn't be even complaining! I am aware that, on an average, 20 to 25 typhoons visit or should I say "ravage" our little tropical paradise in a year. That doesn't include yet ITCZ, low pressure area, and cold fronts that develop within the Philippine Area of Responsibility.The letters of the alphabet may not be even enough to give names to these typhoons and the creative people from PAGASA may soon run out of cute and amusing names for these tropical depressions.

So here I am, waiting for my ride to come. I am getting late for work and my umbrella offers very little protection. And to my surprise, a car pulled up infront of me, and a group of Asian-looking foreigners took pictures of us pedestrians wading in muddy flood. I was there, right in the middle of the group. I resisted the urge to grab their digital cameras and smash it right in front of their car's windshield because it might bring me more trouble. I remained motionless, pretending that I am oblivious to what's going on. That the sidewalk, teeming with people waiting for their rides or just simply waiting for the rain to subside a bit ,is currently the subject of their curiosity.

Heck, If I knew that this is going to happen, I should have worn my evening gown...

JADED LI'L JILL


"Why do we have to use detergent for my hair? My hair is getting stiff and coarse everytime I wash it with detergent. Can't I shampoo my hair everyday?"
"Detergent is good for your hair. It kills the lice before it even hatch from their eggs.If you don't stop asking silly questions, your lice will bring you on top of a lice-infested mountain!"

My mother must have had close encounters with these lice or maybe she's got a knack for weaving stories or maybe it was just my hyperactive imagination.But I end up having nightmares of Lice-landia where I will scream my lungs out till I wake up falling from my bed dripping with something called "piss".(The same detergent I use to wash my hair, will be used to wash the my beddings and pants, dripping with piss the night before.)
I must have gone tired asking the mentioned question while washing my hair with detergent. I have gotten used to it. I started to view my weekly shampoo schedule every monday as a hedonistic or self-indulgent act, that I shiver with guilt just the mere thought of it.

Then I started to hate the neighborhood girls. With their shiny long hair which is either worn down, or up in pig tails or pony tails, they are just such a pain in the neck to look at. They play all day with their "Darbie Dolls" and have picnics with their fancy tea set.

So I ended up being with the neighborhood boys. We will spend our afternoons hurling waterbombs at each other and run after one another till we are short of breath. I became one of the boys---stinking with piss ,with coarse and stiff hair and a plan to bring the neighborhood girls down to the dust.

I launched a perfect plan. I took note of the girls' pattern of activities and I found out at certain time of the day, they all go inside the host's house to powder their noses. The neighborhood boys were with me. I told them that these girls all go inside at certain time to plan on how they can conquer the grounds that we use to play wargames on. I told them that once they had possession of the grounds, the neighborhood girls will turn it into a nice little garden, where everyone is required to behave like a true lady or gentleman. And to stop that plan,we need to cut their "Darbie Dolls' " hair and scatter it all over the ground. I know that it was a fool-proof plan. The neighborhood boys agreed to do it one afternoon, the neighborhood girls were playing with their "Darbie Dolls". On cue, they ravaged on the poor dolls' hair and made sure all dolls receive the same treatment.

The scheme was carried on as planned. When the girls came back from the powder room, their dolls were as bald as Lex Luthor in Superman Returns.I made sure that the neighborhood boys were out of sight after they accomplished their mission. But I did get a nice view of what happened while I was perched on a branch of a mango tree.Their faces were as bleak as mine when my mother told me that she can't afford to buy me a "Darbie Doll."

I guess, I learned early in life that poverty and economic disparity is something that I should deal with and face squarely.