Saturday, October 06, 2018

The Precipice

Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

I vividly recall walking along the overpass that connected the Maharlika, the Igorot park and Sunshine grocery in Baguio City. This was in the early 2000's. Donning a maong jacket, I savored the mixture of the cool Baguio breeze, the distinct Baguio market smell, the cigarette smoke of some pedestrians and carbon monoxide wafting from the jeepneys below. This is where I saw many a crowd transfixed on their own journeys unmindful of the events and actions of others - until it touched them.

The lady in front was wearing a backpack. Behind her were two short male teenagers with unkempt hair. I could tell that they were from further up North. The hairstyle was quite common up there. Yung parang bunot and with the Star Wars like small hair braid at the side of the ear. Parang ayaw ata nila sa mga barbero. They also kept their bell bottom like dirty maong pants long and wore slippers despite the edge of their pants touching the ground. They also wore those leather vests or jackets that made them look like, well, let's be blunt here, poor cowboys.

They opened the bag of the lady as if in rhythm with the movements of everybody. You'll only notice if you're mindful. Slowly, they got the wallet out with nobody noticing - except me. Tired from a full load in the University of the Philippines Baguio, and hoping that I would get home in time, I was annoyed.

I was annoyed because I felt that I needed to to do something.

While they pocketed the wallet, I remembered that Sunshine had security guards posted near the overpass stairway. I followed the lady and the teens who were strangely still following their victim. At the precise moment when the lady, the teens and I were near the security guard, I held the jackets of the two and shouted at the guard and the lady at the same time. "Kinuha po nung dalawang eto ang wallet niyo. Mandurukot sila."

I was expecting a fight.

But the two were noticeably surprised and perturbed at the timing. Their eyes were wild-like, "We've been caught, oh no." They were partially immobilized by me but more because of the loud voice I commanded and the presence of armed guards.

I knew security guards didn't bother with these petty things (I have experienced this before and some really kept to their posts). But good enough that at the very least, he asked someone from the grocery to call the police. Wallet returned. No fight. Good. Pat in the back. Memories for me and something to write about after 17 or so years. That was my shortlived career as Batman.

Sometimes in my daily commute on that overpass, I'd read about a certain mayor from the far South and how he was linked to a certain group. In bold red letters, I would glimpse macabre headlines that seemed to exact a specific form of justice. Not the justice that we were taught in class or in the university, or the one by Plato, when he asks "What is justice?". This justice was the one some would say as the barbaric kind. The one that only God can exact on the transgressor.

"I wonder what it would be like if he would become President?" I'd mutter to myself.

Little did I know that my utterance would become a harrowing prophecy.

Fast forward to the future, where Facebook ruled, friends, relatives, strangers chimed for or against. They also posted some of those fist bumps. I wavered until the last day, when I voted for Mr. Palengke instead. Ugh. Would've voted for the Dark Horse for his humanitarian bent, in retrospect. But the smear campaign against him at the time, was really convincing.

My late father was historically connected to the Righteous Revolution of the 80's and was personally invited by the late Madam President. So, some of his friends would tarry on with practicing their essay writing skills on facebook where nobody would listen to their cliches.

These are different and difficult times.

Yeah, I agree with the principles of what you are saying since these are taught in most universities, textbooks, law books and even the Bible, but what solution do you propose? Wala.

"This is evil! He is Satan here on Earth!" My dad's friend would post.

Then my lola, (sister of my paternal grandfather) who I sometimes envision to be a vigilante herself, but is an old maid teacher instead would quarrel with this guy.

I know, I know, pero again, what solution do you propose?

I remember another one of my dad's friends, just in 2016. "People say this could be bad, this is wrong, but hey, look at it, 16,000,000 believed. I agree with everything you say. But God oftentimes does something that we don't understand. Maybe this bad thing, will lead to a good thing. Wouldn't your dad have believed the same and voted for him?"

"Nope. He wouldn't." I said.

The tools of the trade

I have a lot of junk wood that I keep around just in case. Sometimes, there would be difficult things in whatever carpentry thing I'm fixing and I would look around for some tool to help me. Sometimes, it was the darn worst of the worst thing, like an ugly piece of rock, or an imbalanced block of wood to help me. I'd try it. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. But when it did work, after I've used it, I'd just put it back from wherever pile I got it from and mutter quietly, "You're ugly, but you did a better job than a wrench or a real tool. Thank you." Or something like that.

So, tonight, we're at the precipice caused by that ugly piece of imbalanced wood.

"If it's cancer, it's cancer."

Surprisingly, the first thing I felt was pity and sorrow.

He was that imbalanced piece of wood. Maybe, just maybe, despite him cursing God and all, he for all that has been said and done, dislodged something that had not budged for a long time. A lot of people in my Christian circle, swear by him.

One of them is an educator from Iloilo. Gotta remember Iloilo.

Come on, if that isn't proverbial, then what is?

One of the men who carried out this 'dislodging' was a man who had a name that sounds like the Spanish word for sword. I looked it up. Sword in Spanish is Espada. By all accounts, in the news, in TV, on YouTube, this man is the real deal.

And he spoke the Word.

Yeah, I can be that discerning every now and then.

But as it is... More changes are due

I really would like to stop making these pronouncements as they have a tendency to come true. But then, ah, it's too late, eh?

Yep, more changes are coming. Perhaps, not in the flavor we wish they would be.

I make it a habit to watch the news before going to sleep.

That's a really bad habit.

I do most of this on YouTube. I'd look at stupid viral things, read the comments -- and wish the old Internet would come back.

The Old Internet? Well, that's the Internet before non-geeks got their cheap smart phones and got Free Facebook. In short, the time when our generation was cool. The time when Yahoo! Free email! Free blogs! were first heard.

In short, that's the time when Google's motto was still Do No Evil.

It's strange reading the minds of everybody on something that should be crystal clear and unequivocal. This is after all, the era of nihilism, excess narcissism  fake news, historical revisionism and what not.

Many people really shouldn't be on the Internet.

It's mind pollution.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

The Presidential Question

Dear Mr. President,

I'm sorry to say Mr. President that I cannot give you a selfie picture with God.

I know that at your age, that you may be nearing the valley and that is why you are asking for the improbable, despite the strong need to address other more pressing worldly concerns.

If I could, Mr. President, I would.

But that is beyond me.

I can understand how you may be feeling right now. When my grandfather was about to die a couple of years ago from cancer, on his death bed, he made one wish, "that he could be young again - like a child."

It baffled our family during a very difficult moment.

But we all knew, that we can never turn back the hands of time.

We could not time travel to fix regrets, correct some mistakes we did and alter whatever it is that we have decided, done or what has been done to us in the past.

And that's part of the beauty of life - and death. There can only be one time that we could right all the wrongs, and that is the present.

Nobody could ever convince you Mr. President, if there is a God or not. No amount of logic could erase all the pain, all the regrets and all the questions and doubts floating in your head.

As it is, Mr. President, the same question is being asked by any child who is begging for alms in front of a church. The same question is being asked by the families of victims unjustly killed by an unrelenting state. The same question is being asked by the poor and the suffering. The same question is being asked by so many.

I am asking the same question too, but unlike you, I do not have the power to stop the killings and the murder. My words, are of so little consequence that they cannot temper the actions of men. I have no men who follow my orders, Mr. President. I cannot order anybody to, "Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Love the unlovable. Stop the killings and bring justice for all."

But you have, Mr. President. You have that power.

Right now, a daughter is grieving the violent death of her father. She may be asking, "Where is God? Where is justice in all of these insanity?"

No righteous answers are given to her, Mr. President. Only words of pain, condemnation and anger.

"Your father was a drug lord, he has to die." is a sentence that keeps repeating again and again in her mind as they bury the dead tomorrow.

Words can bring life, justice, love, honor - but they can also bring death, destruction, pain and agony.

And tomorrow, these are the words that will be spoken:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Leadership that Inspires: Part 2 The Assassination of Mayors

Justice Denied

I remember an episode of Marvel's Agents of Shield, season 4 episode 13.

Senator Nadeer was a political nemesis of SHIELD and one of its staunchest critics. Later on in the series, she got assassinated by her allies, the "Watchdogs", an anti-meta human group that espouses exterminating meta-humans.

SHIELD director Mace's dialog with Quake after the event went like this:

We're just getting confirmation from the FBI.We have four confirmed casualties and one positive identification.We are sad to confirm that Senator Ellen Nadeer, leader in the Humans First movement, is among the dead.Reporting live for CNB, we'll send it back Okay.
Quake: Well, we can't be too sad.Quake: She did try to have you killed.Director Mace: She could've been brought to justice.Director Mace: Now we won't get that chance.
Back to Reality...

Today, the Mayor of Tanauan City was assassinated in broad daylight, during the flag ceremony, along with City Hall employees - while singing the national anthem.

Malacanang was quick to denounce this. [Source: Rappler "MalacaƱang vows punishment for Tanauan mayor Halili killers].

Malacanang's statement is important. Malacanang usually says 'other things' when mayors who are suspected of having narcotic linkages are killed.

It could mean that unlike other mayoral assassinations,  this event wasn't state sanctioned, covertly or overtly.

It is chilling to see the event play out on social media, youtube and various news websites. I won't share the links as I think everybody has had enough of the macabre display of anarchy and violence.

Notes

Mayor Halili of Tanauan City was known to exercise unorthodox methods of 'shaming' narco traffickers and criminals. He did so by parading them on the streets beginning May 24, 2016 when international media covered such events.

May 24, 2018: Daily Mail UK. "Drug dealers in the Philippines forced into a mass walk of shame while wearing signs reading 'I am a pusher, do not follow me'" 

It should be noted that the Presidential elections were held on May 9, 2016 where President Duterte won with 16 million votes, on a platform of launching a war on drugs, "turning Manila Bay red" and "executing criminals and drug personalities"

Human rights defenders are quick to denounce such practices.

Surprisingly, some Born Again Church leaders I used to look up to, were quick to defend this practice of parading suspects, by utilizing ad hominem tu quo que or the "you too" logical fallacy.

I can only shake my head in sadness for all of us.

Where does this lead us?

It is not a war, if the other side doesn't shoot back.

The Tanauan event was broadcast in social media and many news outlets again and again - it was a clear message. A message of fear for all of us.

Thus, it is within the realm of possibility that these things will escalate - and when they do, they could become a pretext for an authoritarian regime with no limits and bounds to what the government can unleash. They only need a reason and a justification for such an event.

Leadership inspires.

What our leaders imbibe on us, through their words, through their actions will get copied and replicated by others.

I remember before May 2016, that I once had a conversation with some of my real estate broker friends.

I remember saying, "Unleashing a leader like this, will only spur copycats and many, many, many abuses."

My prediction came true.

Turning away from the Christian God is a renunciation of the supreme law handed down to Moses.

Thou shall not murder. 

Once again, I implore all reasonable minded individuals and leaders to recognize that 'leadership inspires'. Theirs, the Presidents and other leaders. If we are to descend into chaos and oblivion, and if these tides of violence are insurmountable - the very least that we can do as individuals, is to pray.

Pray against the Pandora's box that we have all unleashed upon ourselves.
 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Insecurity of the Filipino Braggadocio

""Valar Dohaeris". All men must serve. Faceless Men most of all."

―"Jaqen H'ghar"


It is not very uncommon to see a Filipino admit they were wrong. 

It is rarer for you to see a Filipino who will say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong." - and then actually atone for the mistake and then some more.

What you almost always see rather, are these two: projection and deflection.  



This permeates Filipino social discourse all throughout and on all levels.

Sometimes, I even think that my generalized statement is mostly accurate because of cultural factors.

In the era of fake news and an over-saturated social media stream, the best narcissist always takes center stage.


I know that this may also be true for other cultures.

But then again, I am constantly confronted with the swagger of the Filipino braggadocio.

The braggadocio, swishes his sword of greatness with words like a red ribbon on a Chinese New Year


Hidden in crass language, the Filipino braggadocio is an expert at word play.

Some would say it is a form of philosophy (small P) in and of itself

But that would be an insult to Philosophers (big P)


Self Aggrandizement

Have you ever attended a conference, a seminar or a group activity, where the speaker actually and sincerely downplays his actual achievements? Never.

Sometimes, I fancy attending one and it would be in the form of:

Speaker: "Hello, I am Mr. So and So, and I am nobody, no one and nothing."

Audience: Silence.

Speaker: "I, a being of nothing, humbly come to you in the hopes that something would come out of nothing."

Now, at the end of the talk, the audience would be fascinated, enthralled and actually thrilled that their 3,500 peso seminar fee was not put to waste.

It would only be at the end, the very end - when the audience have already left and are already in their vehicles going home, that they would find out that they have spoken with somebody.

Those days of powerful silence and humility are gone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Leadership That Inspires


A long time ago, the Catholic Church held a very strong sway in the voting behavior of Filipino citizens. Hence, in politics. This was seen in delayed or aborted legislation concerning contraception, abortion and divorce. This was seen in the first EDSA peaceful revolution and many more.

I'll leave it up to you to do your own historical research.

Duterte's election was a pivotal turning point against this 'traditional Catholic vote'

Fast forward to 2016...

Duterte seemed to be the candidate who usurped everything that traditional politicians exemplified. He was outspoken against the Catholic church. He was decisive in curbing the narcotic problem. He was uncivil and uncouth - a man who bowed down to no one, (except maybe Xi Jinping). He seemed to be the one who will overturn the traditional structures that gave and made the Philippines its character for the last decades.

He definitely isn't a traditional politician.

That anti-thetical character appealed to enough voters to change the tide of history. Many of the non-Catholic segment of the population wanted something fresh. They wanted something out of the traditional Catholicism.

Their mantra of "Change is Coming" came true.

Change came indeed.

The question is, what kind of change did it bring?

It sickened me to hear Protestant and Born Again spiritual leaders utter words like, "I'm friends with Duterte or Bato." in the middle of their preaching while teaching about Christ.

It was paradoxical.

It is the ultimate embodiment of Protestant church leadership desperately clinging on to worldly ways just to find a means to solve the gargantuan spiritual problem of worldliness, narcotics and social apathy.

In a way, one can say that to solve the narcotic problem that many Protestant pastors and Born Again ministers have had to grapple with among their flock - they struck a deal with the devil.

The means to justify the end.

Lo and behold, we are all learning now about how that contract would turn out to be.

Now, these churches complain when Duterte called God stupid.

In silence these non-Catholic ministers may have been snickering in glee as Duterte embarrassed the Catholic church - never thinking for a second that one day, the devil they unleashed would come to bite them back.

And it did. And it will continue to do so.

You never strike a deal with the devil.

Not only that, it brought along something that is far graver than the petty bickering among different religions.

Remember, leadership inspires.

If this leader rebels against God, we can expect others to follow suit. Indeed it is already happening. A slow and morbid moral decay that is festering like an untreated wound. Full of pus and full of maggots, it eats away not just flesh, but the spirit.

In this day and age of technological marvels, this kind of thinking can only lead to one thing: perdition and a further degradation of the Filipino soul. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Falling on Deaf Ears: Duterte Curses and Calls God Stupid

Study: People who use the Internet a lot tend to have less religious tendencies. 
"Tinkering with Technology and Religion in the Digital Age: The Effects of Internet Use on Religious Belief, Behavior, and Belonging" McClure, Paul K. 13 December 2017. https://doi.org/10.1111/jssr.12365

Dear Mr. President, 

You cannot have or give love, 
if you do not have free will. 
Love is consensual. 

Love can only arise if we have the option to say 'No we don't love... '
For it is in the voluntary act of saying that 'we do' or 'we love' 
that our faith is affirmed.

As the 'created', 
we would be nothing more than automatons (robots).
compiled, made and executed to do God's bidding if we cannot 
dare say 'no'.

Regards,


Man's Great Spiritual Turmoil

Something more disconcerting than the President's tirades are the reaction of people through the comments section of various social media sites. Some openly hate Duterte's anti-progressive, anti-liberal and anti-human rights stance. Yet when it comes to badmouthing the spiritual belief of others, they are all for it.

"I hate Duterte, but maybe he can make atheism more mainstream." quipped one.

Indeed, we are living in troubled times and the problem seems to be graver than I originally thought.

The world is experiencing great spiritual turmoil amidst collective challenges that put humanity's faith to the extreme.

So many moral questions, human paradoxes,  prolonged and devastating conflicts point to the need for drastic and decisive action. Unfortunately, for expediency and for want of resolution, we as a race have foregone God's guidance and let our own passions rule us. Our own mortality, our own failures and our own weaknesses have crippled us, so dear.

Prophecy Being Fulfilled
As it is, my hypothesis is that these are all in line with God's plan.
These events must come to pass.

Revelations 13:5

The beast was given a mouth to speak arrogant and blasphemous words, and authority to act for forty-two months. 6And the beast opened its mouth to blaspheme against God and slander His name and His tabernacle—those who dwell in heaven.…

Friday, June 22, 2018

Kumusta na Pinoy Freelance Writer?

Dear fellow freelance writer,
Kumusta? (How are you?)
I hope you're in great spirits. It's quite rainy where I am now and it's always cloudy. I'm beginning to think that Google's weather app is broken because it keeps showing me this icon for the next 10 days or so.
I also hope that you're doing great in your freelance writing projects. Now, on to the blog post! 
http://writers.work review

After finishing a very lucrative freelance project, I've started looking for another gig. That's when I found http://writers.work via Google.

I dunno...

I can't write a proper review of it since you need to shell out $47 to get in. But everything in their video is everything a freelance writer could dream of:

  • Appropriate pay (I'm reticent to put "High", since I haven't tried it yet.)
  • Flexible working hours (Duh)
  • Guaranteed pay dates (Really now?)
  • No fees (Mmmm)

Note that they have a "Pay Disclaimer" at the bottom which states:

"While we make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent all the products and services on this website and their potential for income, it should be noted that earnings and income statements made by Writers Work LLC or anyone of its partners are only estimates of what we think you can possibly earn online. There is no guarantee that you will make these levels of income and you accept the risk that the earnings and income statements differ by individual."

Well, there you go. 

Their selling tactics notwithstanding, like the countdown timer, the psychological assurance of receiving guaranteed pay, the cartoon playing with your mind - the fresh site appeals because it's new. 

Freelancer, Upwork and such, have been cornered by the "mass content producers" who will outbid you and are also oftentimes plagued with employers who simply don't pay.

Homeworking club gave a very long review, which ended with a referral link. 

https://www.homeworkingclub.com/writers-work-review/

So there you go.... 

I'm going to put it in the backburner, browse around a bit and hope that my previous employer messages me again on Skype.