Thursday, May 31, 2012

Project 52 (22/52): On Former Chief Justice Corona (And Why I Didn't Give Much Of a Damn)

.:Project 52 (22/52): On Former Chief Justice Corona (And Why I Didn't Give Much Of a Damn):.

Professor X and Oracle were not amused.

It's over! He's now Former Chief Justice Corona! Woo-hoo! Let us party in the streets and celebrate this triumph of justice over evil and deception! This nation will finally become great again! Next, we solve poverty!

Wait. That isn't exactly happening anytime soon, is it? But at least, we get to send this "Thief Justice" to jail for being the scoundrel and the scalawag that he is! Hooray! Salutations to everyone! Cheerio!

Hold on. That's not happening, either. In fact, nobody's suing him for anything. He lost his position as Chief Justice, but his money, legit or ill-gotten as it may be, no longer has to fall under scrutiny anymore. So what was that all about?

Sure, some might say that the fact that we finished an impeachment trial for the first time in this nation's history is a big deal in and by itself. And to a large extent, it is. But just because a kid completes his first ever school project doesn't mean it's going to be a good one. The trial was littered with procedural errors, questionable sources of evidence, and a host of other issues. If this were a criminal or civil trial, the whole thing would've been declared a mistrial.

And like we all realized, especially with Noynoy conveniently ignoring one of his campaign promises, Corona's conviction doesn't bring about anything, except maybe a window of hope that the Senate would get around to passing the RH Bill or the Freedom of Information Act, two laws that would have far more immediate impacts on this nation than the ouster of one man who was merely a pawn in a political chessboard where this country's citizens are mere bystanders and spectators, rather than actual, meaningful players.

In the barbershop of life, we are the tambays looking on as two players jostle for victory in the dama board that is our nation. We don't really have much of a say no matter how much we try to coach either side.

It was, in the grand scheme of things, a monumental waste of time. Just like the whole overblown trial Joseph Estrada got, which resulted in him being found guilty then immediately being given a presidential pardon. Needless to say, that was the culmination of taxpayers' money at work: a criminal convicted of plunder is let go, and none of his assets were even sequestered for return to the government. Is that justice?

Now, we remove the highest magistrate of the land and let him go quietly into private life without so much as checking if the money he does have, the money he conveniently didn't declare as part of his net worth, is actually ill-gotten or not? Sure, it's a political exercise, but did it have to stop at being that, when we could have done something far more conclusive? Something that sends a message other than "prosecutors can succeed despite themselves, so long as it's politically beneficial to throw someone other than the bus"?

Where do we go from here, then? And no, I don't mean Noynoy going out on another date with Grace Lee or something. We went through the motions of this trial, we removed Corona from power, and yet are we any closer to recovering the wealth we insist GMA accumulated since 2001? Hades, we haven't even recovered the money from the Marcoses yet!

It was a mockery of a process, because it did so much yet accomplished so little. The senators did their jobs to the best of their abilities, but clearly, it was a job that wasn't anywhere nearly as important as other important issues of the day that, if resolved, would immediately affect lives.

We've gotten to a point where discussing anything else is met with a real opportunity cost. Dilly-dallying on these issues would only serve to further this problem, and that is certainly alarming, to put it mildly.

So yeah, we've had our fill of jokes, armchair experts, and everything else in between. Despite that, after everything has been said and done, now, we have to get down to business. Now, we have more important things to do.

CJ Corona wishes to be left alone, after losing his position, yet still holding $2.4 Million and 80 Million pesos in his bank accounts. Who won here? Who lost here?

Clearly, the Filipino nation was the loser again, because running after the Coronas, the Arroyos, and the Marcoses hasn't really gotten us back any of the money we insist was stolen from our coffers, and we just keep putting them in power, regardless.

It's time we focused our attention on the things that would directly affect us, and for the better.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Is The Story Of A Hopeless Romantic...

.:This Is The Story Of A Hopeless Romantic..:.

For years, he hid away his feelings for her. Everyone knew why, but they never quite thought how deep those feelings were. It seemed just like a passing schoolboy crush. Something that someone could easily forget at a moment's notice, because it's just that insignificant. Something fleeting and shallow, even.

And then things changed, and now, he no longer had any reason to hide his love away.

Will she ever see him as anything more than a friend? Will he ever prove himself worthy of a chance to be loved? Only time can tell.

So the story goes that she went away for a while, and after a few days, she was going back. He wanted to welcome her, but he had no idea what to do. Maybe drop by her after work? Maybe have something delivered? It was all on short notice, and he had only a few hours to make up his mind what to do. Everything just happened so fast.

So after a long day of working hard and, surprisingly, partying harder, he lay awake in bed, thinking of nothing but her. True, he had but a few hours to go before he had to go back to the daily grind, but thoughts of her comforted him.

He hasn't seen her in a while. "Out of sight, out of mind," some may say, but instead, her absence in his life made his heart grow fonder.

Three hours of sleep was all he had, if you could even call that sleep. He woke up, still clueless how to make her feel special. To make her feel cherished. To make her feel loved. Then it hit him.

At the earliest chance, he got out, and looked for the perfect thing to give to a woman who has everything.

He walked into the door. She wasn't there yet, and that was the plan. They've walked through this door for years, but now, he recognizes all too well that it isn't the same anymore. And that's precisely why he's no longer afraid. He's no longer afraid to show her what everybody knows.

With very little fanfare, and amid good-natured ribbing from everyone else witness to this, he leaves the simplest of messages to her, and went on his own way. He had less than an hour to get to work, but you know what? It's worth it. Because she's worth it.

Everybody knows that she is cherished. Everybody knows that she is special. And truly, everybody knows that she is loved.

What else could a man hope to give to a woman who has everything, after all?

It's such a brief love story, true. But that's because for now, the rest is still unwritten.

The simplest of messages can also be the most profound.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Project 52 (21/52): On Lady Gaga (And That Feeling Of Deja Vu)

.:Project 52 (21/52): On Lady Gaga (And That Feeling Of Deja Vu):.

Didn't I just talk about this like last week?

Unfortunately, it looks like the message still isn't quite clear enough, and I'm going to have to repeat something rather empathically...

Guys. Walang basagan ng trip naman, o!

Y'know, while everyone is having a blast after having braved a bit of rain and horrendous traffic and obscene ticket prices just to catch a glimpse of Lady Gaga tonight, all I can say is if all of that hasn't scared these people away from watching tonight, then they deserve to enjoy the concert. I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga, so I never bothered getting any tickets, but I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone who happens to be a fan.

Also, I don't feel bad about writing this post and talking about Lady Gaga on some level for two successive Project 52 installments, because unlike this guy, I'm not using taxpayer's money to waste everyone's time.

Looks like a guy who has listened to Lady Gaga enough to have an authoritative opinion...

But really? Screw this guy. I mean, think about it: this man is one of the biggest backers for horseracing in Manila. A legal vice, yes, but a vice, nonetheless, which finds itself in good company with drinking, smoking, and dare I say it? Lady Gaga's supposedly pornographic antics. These are all legal, and very well on similar levels to each other.

Let's not even talk about the debate about Lady Gaga's message, which, at no point, has ever been hateful in nature. Asking people to accept that someone is "Born This Way" is not being hateful. Telling someone who's gay that they're "the deception of the devil," on the other hand, is. I've discussed this issue at length last week already, and feel no need to retread it.

Let's not even talk about the fact that the sheer arrogance of Martin Nievera to give unsolicited advice to Lady Gaga about her artistic integrity reeks of the kind of naivete that gets musical artists screwed over by the big record companies in the first place. Why would Lady Gaga need to change the lyrics of her song, to begin with, so as not to offend people? If someone was going to get offended by Lady Gaga's songs, they were not going to pay 2,000 to 15,000 to hear her songs!

And if you were going to be offended by her lyrics, to begin with, why would you be wasting your time watching her music videos or reading the news about her? She is a celebrity, she promotes tolerance, and she is bats**t insane while she's at it. Big freaking deal. Just like Ms. Universe before it, we have bigger fish to fry than this.

And maybe even bigger cows.

Long story short: people paid money for this, Lady Gaga is doing a show that is clearly not all-ages, and as such, you'd have to be a really lousy parent to let your kids watch this unsupervised, and this is not a show for everyone. So what's the problem?

Is gambling, drinking, and smoking also morally objectionable? If you were going to be hardcore fundamentalist about it, definitely! It's just that it's not hip to hate on those things the way it is to hate on a provocateur like Lady Gaga.

Thus, proving, that fundies and hipsters are mostly the same thing.

So what's the point here? That there are a lot of debatable things that we allow, because hey, that's what free will is all about. People are free to make their choices when it comes to their music, specifically, and who cares if we don't necessarily like their choices? It's not our choice, so it's not our call to make whether or not a concert should be canceled due to religious sentiment.

Let me repeat: Walang. Basagan. Ng. Trip. If you don't like her music, don't watch her. If you don't like what she represents, don't watch her. But if you think your disdain for her gives you the right to stop anyone else who actually likes her music or likes what she represents, then screw you and the high horse you rode in on.

I'm not a Lady Gaga fan. I tolerate her the way I tolerate Justin Bieber's music. It's popular, it isn't downright terrible for the most part (Yes! That goes for Bieber, too.), and it's part and parcel of a lot of people's playlists. I just fail to see where my opinion of Lady Gaga should determine whether everyone else who actually likes her may watch her concert or not. Because I'm kinda sure it doesn't, and that's what freedom is all about: nobody's being forced to watch, after all.

Listen. I'm not watching Gaga's concert tonight. Big shocker, I know. I'm not watching it tomorrow, either. But I chose that. It's my option not to shell out thousands of bucks and brave a horrible traffic jam just to see her. It's my autonomy that allowed me to determine, after hearing her music, that I can say "thanks, but no thanks" to being a fan of hers. So why is it that these fundamentalists are capable of respecting only the choices of people who agree with them?

In a country plagued with poverty, corruption, and all the societal ills and evils that come with it, it boggles my mind why Lady Gaga's opposition think that she will destroy the good ol' values of this country. What values? The values that allow a congressman to give a pointless privilege speech denouncing Lady Gaga while they knowingly sit on the RH Bill and Freedom Of Information Bill? The kind of values that allow this very congressman to then proceed to encourage the vice of gambling in Manila, no matter how legal it happens to be? The kind of values that allow this nation to dehumanize people just because of who they fall in love with?

Those values?

Well, screw those values! Screw 'em with a rusted poker. Get over yourselves, and let the people who can and want to watch just enjoy what they actually paid for.

Ultimately, Gaga lang siya. Hindi siya si Satanas.

And heaven help you if you even try to pull this same crap with NKOTBSB next month. There will be hell to pay. Hell, I tell you!

Although "Get Down" does sound like an invitation to go to hell, when you think about it...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Project 52 (20/52): On IDAHO (And Why "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" Is A Valid Ethical Rule Of Thumb)

.:Project 52 (20/52): On IDAHO (And Why "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" Is A Valid
Ethical Rule Of Thumb):.

Yesterday, we celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, or IDAHO for short. Given what a hot-button topic homosexuality has been lately, it's kind of a big deal. 

Also, fabulous!

Despite the leaps and bounds we may have made over the years all over the world, there is no question for the LGBT community and their allies that there is still so much left to do. That much is pretty obvious, what with all the x-phobic things going on, and being hurled in their direction, not to mention the subsequent attempts by x-phobic people in general to silence anyone with dissenting opinions.

Yes, homophobes: we've heard your arguments before. Repeating it doesn't make it any more believable.

This is very old news, ladies and gentlemen. derailing tactics are very common and  used because people don't want to come to terms with the realization that maybe, just maybe, they're actually every bit as bigoted as they happen to not want to be. It's an uncomfortable feeling, especially when most of us hetero-normative people are so used to the privilege of hardly ever being questioned for our romantic choices the way LGBT people happen to be.

Well, boo-freaking-hoo: if a little discomfort makes you cry "foul," then maybe you haven't given enough thought to the discomfort LGBT people feel when their life greatly entails having a precarious and eternal dance of treading on eggshells, always unsure about the exact limits of the tolerance their cisgendered counterparts are exhibiting while in their presence.

I've come to realize that religious reasons are now the only remaining reasons we have to remain adamantly against same-sex marriage. Barack Obama's call for marriage equality doubtlessly raised quite a ruckus in America, and its effects can be felt even here in the Philippines: a shockwave that hit the whole world radically, as we now begin to question long-held beliefs that only obstinate, blind, fundamentalist religion currently finds defensible. Interracial marriage? Female suffrage? Racial segregation? As the Bible became less of a static manual believers need to follow and more of a living, breathing word that Christians grew with, history has proven those on the other side of humanistic progress more than once.

Nowadays, these people expect gay marriage to somehow be the exception to the rule.

Based on what grounds? The Bible? That's patently, woefully faulty as grounds, given that in America and the Philippines, we are supposed to be secular. Thus, while the Catholic church, for example, may choose to maintain a hardline stance against gay marriage (As they are expected to.), they cannot force their stance on an entire nation. As such, the separation of state and church, to put it bluntly, allows them to remain as bigoted and as discriminatory as they would like to be on the marriage issue, so long as those outside their jurisdiction are not obliged to follow suit. Cool. It's not perfect, but I think that's a perfectly livable solution: nobody's going to force priests to marry gay couples, and gay couples can either leave a church that discriminates against them or simply avail of the legal, and thus, secular equivalent.

So what else? The law? Well, in American constitutional law, anti-gay marriage advocates are SOL: the law doesn't define marriage as between a man and a woman, after all. In the Philippines, on the other hand, the Family Code is rather specific about that. Well, I guess gay marriage may need to wait in line after the RH Bill and the Divorce Bill, but obviously, the Family Code can be subjected to revisions. Personally, I'm cool with that: the RH Bill is sadly being forgotten in favor of multiple other causes, and what needs to be done at this point is to focus. One step at a time. Not everyone can handle these things pouring in wholesale.

What else, then? Tradition? We've already seen how the traditions of slavery, lack of female rights to suffrage, and racial segregation didn't go over too well despite being pretty longstanding traditions. And if we look far back enough, the tradition of marriage has evolved quite a lot. It wasn't always man and woman in a few cases, and a lot of it sure wasn't even about love, but simply more of a social contract. So given the spotty tradition argument, gay marriage does have pretty solid backing, too.

But really, why do we even care if people love who they love? If they are of age and of right mind, if it is mutually consensual, who cares if they're both dudes? How will the union of two men ruin another heterosexual couple's marriage, unless you're secretly afraid that every single person is actually gay and only pretending to be straight to conform in a heteronormative society? When people cheat and divorce each other willy-nilly, is that not the destruction of a family, as opposed to two people, straight or gay, entering into a lifelong commitment with each other?

When Archie comics starts getting more progressive than you, 
I think you better start worrying about your own worldview.

I realize it's pretty easy to use scare words to really get people to fall in line. After all, if the fabric of morality in a nation will unravel when two dudes are legally recognized as married, then I guess removing that makes up for all the adultery, murder, hate speech, and discrimination already going on in the world? First of all, they're not even comparable. Two people getting married and that marriage working out is an awesome thing. Adultery, murder, hate speech, discrimination? Not so much.

Last night, while I was at 70's Bistro and watching the Itchyworms and Radioactive Sago Project, the latter had this new song entitled "Walang Basagan Ng Trip," which roughly translates to "No raining in on someone else's parade." It was an awesome song, and the message was very clear: if it's not hurting you, if it's not hurting them, then who the fuck are you to tell them to cut it out?!?

Seen performing a song from their album entitled "T*ngina mo, ang daming nagugutom sa mundo, may panahon ka pa rin mag-privilege speech tungkol kay Lady Gaga?" (Image thanks to  Noise Ninja)

People lose sight of this because they're too busy debating on insignificant points like whether Manny Pacquiao just disagrees with gay marriage or actually wants gays put to death. Way to miss the forest for the trees! Even I fell for it: I apologized to him because I misattributed something to him, but a less benign form of bigotry is still bigotry. If people are offended for being called bigots, well, they can try not being a bigot and maybe that would help remove that feeling of guilt that you now want to project on the guy who made you feel guilty.

And that's the awesome thing about it: you can actually try to stop being a bigot. Meanwhile, if you were black, you can't try to stop being black. If you were gay, you can't try to stop being gay. And you certainly can't just pray the gay away.

Go ahead. Judge him. I dare you.

"So wait," someone who suspects they may be a bigot might be asking. "Are you saying that just because we don't want gay marriage because our Bible said so, we're already bigots?"

Yes. Yes, you are. Let's rephrase that question, and maybe you'd understand why.

"So wait," someone who suspects they may be a bigot might be asking. "Are you saying that just because we don't want to give other people the same rights that we privileged lot enjoy because a book that they may or may not believe in arbitrarily said so, we're already bigots?"

Yes. Yes, you are.

In case you haven't realized, that's precisely what bigots are. Furthermore, seeing as bigots are privileged and not the marginalized sector in this picture by any stretch of imagination, you can't really be bigoted towards bigots, even if you tried. If you don't believe me, here's an exhaustive piece to explain why you can't.

So yeah, if this hit you, then yes, you're a bigot. Do you hate that feeling of being made to feel inherently evil when this was how you were for the longest time? Then you now share something in common with a lot of gay people who are normally used as props by straight friends who use them as proof positive that said friends are not homophobic at all, no siree. "I have gay friends, so I can't be homophobic!" Riiiiggghhhhttt. That's like saying you're health-conscious because you had a diet coke to go with your baconator and french fries.

When you ask them for "respect", this is what you ask them to take sitting down. Bull.

Meanwhile, the underlying hint of "yeah, we tolerate your disgusting, hellbound behavior" gives these people daily cause for discomfort that, being gay and being born that way, they have absolutely no way of changing. Bigots, on the other hand, can choose to stop being bigoted, and it'd actually make for a nice change of pace.

Fret not, though: it's not like your bigotry is the only facet to you! Nobody's perfect! Sure, bigotry is a pretty bad thing, but it doesn't make you a bad person. It sounds kinda like the exact same logic bigots use on gay people to justify their homophobia, doesn't it? Welcome to their world.

But yeah, it's a free country, and if you really want to, you can be as bigoted as you want to be. It's only when your bigotry is already hurting other people that it becomes a problem. And that's where the "Walang Basagan Ng Trip" ethical rule of thumb comes into play.

Someone wants to buy sorta-kinda expensive ice cream because Magnum seems like such a cool thing right now. Cool (literally)! Walang basagan ng trip.

Some girl posts pictures of her purchasing this sorta-kinda expensive ice cream, and even shares the receipt on the picture. It's a bit tacky, but it doesn't hurt anybody, so cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

Thousands of people call said girl an "attention whore" and a host of other mostly gendered insults. These thousands of people don't know her, have probably never met her, and are in no way affected by her having Magnum. They claim "so what?" and they "don't care" so much that they spend hours of their time just to cyber-bully this poor girl. Hold on a minute! What did she ever do to you guys? Walang basagan ng trip!

What did this girl ever do to you guys?!?

People with actual good taste in music decided that they would rather not watch Lady Gaga. Cool, go ahead and not watch. I'm sure NKOTBSB will be much, much better, anyways. Walang basagan ng trip.

Hardline Christian groups take one look at Lady Gaga's songs "Born This Way" and "Judas," and petition to have Lady Gaga's concert actually canceled. Unless she's having sex onstage, and unless little kids are expressly allowed to attend a concert that should clearly not be for all ages, hold on a minute there! Walang basagan ng trip.

Gay people want equal rights and to be free from discrimination. That sounds fair to me. Cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

Straight people don't want to get married to people of the same sex. Well, it's not like accepting homosexuality as perfectly fine means you're also homosexual, so that makes sense. Cool. Walang basagan ng trip.

The government is going to let any two consenting adults, regardless of creed, race, or sexual orientation, get married. Marriage as a union of mutual love? I'm all for that! Cool! Walang basagan ng trip.

The government is going to insist that in order to deal with the population explosion, for the next decade, only same-sex marriages will be allowed. That's not gonna fly. Hold on a minute there! Walang basagan ng trip!

The Catholic church, being a religious institution people may freely choose to participate or not participate in, will remain steadfastly against gay marriage. Cool, they are free to do that. Walang basagan ng trip.

The Catholic church will threaten lawmakers with excommunication or with the non-existent "Catholic voting bloc" so that they would not make laws like the RH Bill. Are you seriously going to let 11 women die in childbirth everyday without a fight just to honor your Bible? A Bible that not everyone, not even your own leadership, subscribes to and interprets universally? Walang basagan ng trip!

Had I written my thesis based on this principle instead of focusing on Levinas, I have a feeling I'd have ended up all the better for it, and I'd probably have a PhD by now. Then again, maybe not, but it was just a stray thought I had to mention.

Am I saying that all these choices people make are the right choices to make (Although again, homosexuality isn't a choice, but the other examples mostly stand.)? Of course not! It's just that the whole point of human beings having free will simply means that if any of these choices, such as marrying or not marrying, watching or not watching Lady Gaga, using or not using contraception, turn out to be wrong, then it's part and parcel of the human condition to realize the rightness or wrongness of these decisions.

To remove these options, to remove the possibility of making these choices or even mistakes, that is when it becomes patently wrong, and that is when it crosses the threshold into basag-trip territory. If all this TL;DR text hasn't made that point clear enough yet, that's a very, very bad thing.

Kung ang trip mo, hindi naman bumabasag sa trip ng ibang tao, walang karapatan ang sinumang basagin ang iyong trip.

Thank you very much, Lourd De Veyra.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's hard to go wrong with a simple ethical rule of thumb like this. For as long as your own inclinations do not trample upon other's inclinations, then by all means, hold onto them for all you want. You can be as straightedge as you want so long as you don't shove the straightedge lifestyle down anyone's throats. You can drink all you want so long as your drinking poses no danger to other people (Hint: you're not driving.), and you're ready to deal with the consequences of drinking. You can even be as bigoted as you want so long as you don't hurt anyone else with your bigotry!

That last one's a little bit tricky though, isn't it? Guess you still need to work on that, then, but don't worry about it. We accept you for who you are. ;)

You've been trying for 2012 years more or less, but keep trying. You'll get it eventually.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This Is How I Bon Chon!

.:This Is How I Bon Chon!:.

Ever since Denise introduced me to the wonders of Bon Chon chicken, I’ve been hooked, always making it a point to grab a two-thigh meal with large iced tea whenever a branch without a snaking line was within reach. With branches in Katipunan (Where I live.), Makati (Where I work.), and even The Fort (Where I *used* to work.), there didn’t really seem to be a problem for me in that department. Ask anybody: I was a fan, and it showed.

So imagine my excitement when I was cordially invited by Bon Chon to their blogger’s day, which wasn’t just an excuse to stuff us with enough chicken until Sunday, but to even let us know that they now have Ko-Yo, that is, Korean Frozen yogurt, on top of their already delectable menu. I don't think I could have contained my excitement at all if I tried. 

Food so good, even the ketchup brings on the smiles!
So yeah, it was a great time, as I met some old blogger friends who also appreciate Bon Chon chicken. It was quite the reunion, to say the least, and the sumptuous feast we had to stare down that entire afternoon. We even had a nice lesson on how to best enjoy chicken wings, for that matter! From now on, I will no longer fear chicken wings because I found a simple and painless way of going at them.

After all the amazing chicken and the delectable calamari (My new favourite item!!!), we finally got to try out their Ko-Yo, and let me just say it was wonderful! At 70 bucks a pop, it really satisfied my craving for yogurt, since for quite a while, I almost had Fro-Yo from different places on a daily basis, all of them decidedly more expensive than Ko-Yo.

Pictured: a happy Bon Chonner! Can we call people that?
Well, after everything has been said and done, I couldn’t eat another bite. Bon Chon just gave us bloggers an amazing experience not just because they had great food (I’ve been eating there long before, after all.), but even the slice of life stories we had with the owners as they introduced us to the origins of Bon Chon. It was just such a casual moment that the whole thing took me back to 2007, back in the day when we were doing events for our blogs, not doing blogs to get to events. It was just a great time all around.

So yeah, Bon Chon has a lot of branches all over the metro, and even a branch in Visayas and another in Mindanao soon to open.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Before The Week Begins...


It’s a new chapter in my life, and I’m happy to be along for the ride. And true, the change of scenery yields a bit of uncertainty for me at the moment, yet in spite of that, I’m very optimistic about what lies ahead.

It’s a perfect storm and surprisingly, the year of change I expected 2011 to be. I’m not complaining at all.

That being said, there’s just so much to say and so much to do at this point that I’m a bit overwhelmed. My blogging in the past few weeks has been honestly stilted, and I couldn’t be bothered enough to write articles for the POC or the Filipino Freethinkers in quite a while, probably because I’m just far more focused on handling the things that need to be handled in my life offline. With most of the things slowly settling down, you can probably expect me to normalize sooner rather than later.

I’ve also been thinking about what to do with this blog, as I’m fast approaching ten years of blogging with, quite honestly, very minimal fanfare. I recognize I’m far from the most well-read blog on the internet, but I’d like to think that over the past decade, I’ve definitely come up  with some good insights and some entries worth reading and sharing. It’s with this realization that I consider doing a very simple contest sometime between September to October to mark the 10th year of this blog, and give back to the readers I’ve had over the years who appreciate the things I do in my own little corner of cyberspace.

Yes, all five of you!

.:iBlog 8, Coming Right Up!:.

Well, it seems I’m going to be part of the panel discussion for iBlog 8 on the second day.  As the years have gone by, I have never missed a year of iBlog, but what makes this one pretty interesting is that this is only my second time at being a speaker for the forum, and I decided to touch on comedy writing for the not-naturally-funny as my topic, which is every bit as uncharted territory as my previous talk five years ago, when I covered creative thinking and problem awareness for the blog setting.

Throughout the years, iBlog has had its share of ups and downs, from definite highlights to controversies that have given the whole thing so much spice for the past eight years. I am definitely happy and honoured to have been witness to most of them, and will do my utmost best to continue being so.

Having said that, I went with a benign topic this year because despite the fact that I actually am very qualified to discuss a more touchy subject such as blogger ethics, I decided to not court controversy and instead contribute to good vibes because picking on unqualified people who talk about ethics while promptly breaking the very same rules they set is just way too easy (And way too fun, but I digress.). It’s also an interesting point to note that while the last three years, I felt obliged to protect my former company by holding my tongue when it came to matters like that, this time around, there is no need for me to protect anyone any longer, so if the situation ever came up while on my time, you can be sure I won’t be the one to mince words on the topic.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Project 52 (19/52): On Being Straight Edge (And Why I Like It That Way)

.:Project 52 (19/52): On Being Straight Edge (And Why I Like It That Way):.

 If you’re a pro wrestling fan currently, then you have to admit one thing: CM Punk made being straight edge cool. For those of you who are uninitiated, being straight edge means one doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, or do drugs. Often, it’s been ridiculed and poked fun at for being a lifestyle choice for squares, one that is meant for people who just don’t know how to enjoy life.

Let the groans commence.

Quite frankly, they couldn’t be more wrong if they tried.

 Obviously, one doesn’t need to drink, smoke, or do drugs just to have fun. It isn’t about being a square: Hades, some of the hardcore sXe people I know are heavily involved in the rocker lifestyle, and it just so happens that they’re every bit as hip as they are being “square.” I know, shocking. But you’d be surprised how common it actually is, what with quite a notable representation and even an actual community for straight edge people.

 As a straight edge person, I made it my lifestyle choice a long time ago to simply not do these things, and even threw in some other stuff I willingly gave up because I can. People who become straight edge do it for their own reasons, and they can be quite diverse. Some do it for health reasons, some for religious reasons.

Fact of the matter is, the key word is that it’s a choice people make, and it’s every bit as valid as wanting to drink, smoke, or do drugs. I fail to see what’s wrong with not wanting to do any of these things. At times, it does boggle my mind when people look at me in shock and think that I must be stupid or something to not want to, say, drink. I mean, at no point did I ever really force them into my lifestyle, so I’m not particularly stoked about being forced into theirs. It just doesn’t work for me. I never liked the taste of alcohol. I have zero interest in taking drugs. I hate even just the smell of tobacco.

Whenever people ask me how I managed to pull this off, I’m a bit dumbstruck because it’s always been easy for me. It simply is. I have no desire to pontificate and ask people to subscribe to a lifestyle I chose for myself, nor do I so much as believe that I gain any sort of superiority whatsoever by being straight edge, even if it does sound cool to say “I’m straight edge, so I’m better than you.” It’s fine, really. All I’m asking by writing this is for people to simply respect the choice I make and not try to “tempt” me with things that never even appealed to me, to begin with. 

It isn't a big, life-changing event that led me to this decision. It isn't years upon years of indoctrination by my parents that made me feel being straight edge is the way to go. Sure, I've seen my share of cautionary tales to living the life of a junkie, but it's not like every single smoker, drinker, or even drug user is an uncontrollable junkie who has zero self-control. It isn't even that. I'm just simply fine with how I am at this point, when it comes to all this stuff.

Ultimately, it’s all about respecting one’s lifestyle choices, and I’m pretty bloody sure that my lifestyle choice doesn’t hurt anyone at all. It’s not like the alcohol, tobacco, or drug industries are hurting for profit by my lack of contribution to their coffers. I think they’re gonna be juuuust fine.

I’ve never had a problem with people not living a straight edge lifestyle like I do. I didn’t choose this lifestyle to be a role model, either. It simply is a valid way of life, and the sooner people realize that and stop assuming that every straight edge person is a target in need of corrupting, then maybe we’d all live in a slightly better world.

Man, what a crazy week this has been.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Project 52 (18/52): On The Ms. Universe Conundrum (And Why Miriam Quiambao Should Shut It)

.:Project 52 (18/52): On The Ms. Universe Conundrum (And Why Miriam Quiambao Should Shut It):.

All hail homophobia!

The last time Miriam Quiambao was relevant, she was down on her knees. Now, before I make a wildly sexist joke and thus make this blog an unsafe place for women, I think I’ll leave my opening statement at that.

In a completely surprising and unexpected move, Donald Trump recently announced that Ms. Universe will start allowing transgendered women to join the pageant beginning next year. That sounds mighty progressive, until you realize that one, you have to be legally a woman in your country of origin to be allowed to join, and two, if you’re past 27, married, or with child, you’re SOL as far as joining Ms. Universe.

Not that there should be anything ascendant about joining a beauty pageant, what with it being the continued upholding of patriarchal conceptions of beauty and empty motherhood statements reflexive of beliefs born from indoctrination. I wouldn’t outright say it’s exploitative (Even some feminists might debate that it’s fine if the woman really wanted to join one.), but I sure as Hades wouldn’t call it liberating or empowering. Only in co-opting the system and making it work to their advantage could something like Ms. Universe be liberating or empowering, and not the system itself.

Last Tuesday, I had an interesting conversation about this with Chuck Gomez, a member of the LGBT community, who spoke about the topic with a clear measure of disinterest. First of all, he pointed out that this discussion, as far as the Philippines is concerned, is completely moot: transgendered women are not legally recognized as women in the Philippines, so there is no way we would be sending any transgendered Ms. Universe delegates for a loooong while, what with the RH Bill still up for debate to this very moment.

So really, how progressive is this move by Donald Trump anyway? And how meaningful is it, in the long run, when after everything has been said and done, Ms. Universe is a private entity or foundation, and can make the rules as it pleases? If Trump declared tomorrow that female pigs could join Ms. Universe, who can stop him, really? It’s his show, it’s his foundation, it’s his money. What we think about who should and shouldn’t be allowed in the competition is just irrelevant after everything has been said and done.

Despite that, what is relevant though, is that this discussion has been a futile distraction of what is clearly a first world problem: a nation like Canada, with its superb health care and its standard of living, can afford to answer questions about whether or not a legally recognized transgendered woman has any right to join a beauty pageant. In the Philippines, a transgendered woman who has to live with a predominantly Catholic mindset that coins patronizing statements to justify their discrimination against her lifestyle, wouldn’t even bother thinking about whether or not she can legally join Bb. Pilipinas, when she has to worry about feeding her family first, and worrying about daily oppression for her sexual orientation or the fact that she used to biologically be a man.,

Ever noticed that there is no single secular reason to be homophobic? It happens in nature. It happens without any statistical risk to forever preventing a species from propagating because everyone happened to be homosexual. Only when you use religious reasoning does homophobia become a tangible concept, and being in the Philippines, it makes you wonder why we are using a supposedly loving and almighty God to justify our hating people for what they do in their bedroom.

As far as I’m concerned, the issue of Ms. Universe is a question we really shouldn’t even waste time asking about. Truth be told, when it has zero effect on us because our laws don’t recognize the transgendered as women, when our own level of progressiveness is nowhere near many of the Western nations we just blindly aspire to emulate, then maybe the right question to ask is: what is beautiful, really? Is it the patriarchal conceptions we attach to these pageants, akin to how dog shows grade dogs based on hard and fast criteria based on the expected look of their breed?

And really, when it comes to Miriam Quiambao, I honestly don’t have anything good to say about her at this point, particularly because for the longest time, it boggles my mind how easy it is for people to pick and choose which verses of the Bible should be taken literally and which shouldn’t. We’ve seen this argued or even joked about so many times already, but the Bible also prohibits eating shrimp, planting two different crops on the same soil, interwoven and mixed fabrics, and recommends a lot of stoning to death for people who break a lot of these laws.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Wow, Another Randomicity Post, After Ages!

.:Focusing On What Comes Next:.

I wasn't jobless for very long, and am starting work again on Monday.

I know, I've been a bit delinquent with the blogging lately, but can you blame me? I've been preparing for my next job, and I must say, it's gonna be a blast.

There's just so much to do and so much to get prepared for. I'm pretty stoked.

.:Brock Lesnar Needs To See A Doctor...:.

I don't know about you, but Brock Lesnar's return to the WWE is something I was pretty excited about. It's just that... I don't think he's ready to go yet, unless he has himself checked out with a doctor soon...

That's pretty severe, Brock.

I know a lot of people feel that he's just doing this for the paycheck and he has no love for the business. Far as I'm concerned, so long as he's a true professional while he's at it, it doesn't matter what his motivations for going back to the WWE are. Not everyone needs to be some guy bleeding heart and soul for the wrestling business, and with Brock, what you see is what you get. You either like him or hate him, and he's not out to change anyone's opinions on that.

.:Still On An Avengers High:.

Despite the fact that it felt like such a whimper of a last day at Nuffnang (For my well-being, I will just gloss over the multiple instances I felt very unappreciated and worse that night.), there is no question that The Avengers was, without a doubt, an amazing film, from top to bottom.

While I would normally want to write a film review about it, I think I can put doing that off until I watch it a second time first.

For now, let me just say that this is an action film that hits all the right notes properly: excellent pacing (The Dark Knight had issues with this.), characterization, plot, and thematic consistency. For an ensemble cast, everyone involved had ample crowning moments of awesome, and character arcs. Even the normals like Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Captain America were given opportunities to prove how badass they happen to be, not just physically, but in Black Widow's case, even cerebrally.

Also, this interview on Russian TV just needs to be shared:

I want to just keep watching this movie again and again. It was brilliant, funny, and quite an experience.

Also, Agent Coulson being just the best at what he does in this bonus scene from the Captain America Blu-Ray: