Monthly Archives: November 2009

Down the Barrel: Death and Fear, not Power

This event angers and saddens me.  Where does this path lead?

-o-

 

By HOWIE SEVERINO and JAM SISANTE, GMANews.TV

11/24/2009 | 12:49 PM

On Monday morning, over 30 journalists from various parts of South Cotabato province accompanied members of the Mangudadatu clan and their lawyers in a convoy as they traveled from Buluan town towards the Maguindanao capital of Shariff Aguak to file the certificate of candidacy of Datu Ismail “Toto” Mangudadatu, who was not in the convoy.
…

In Ampatuan, the town right before Shariff Aguak, the Mangudadatu women and their companions were reportedly abducted by about 100 armed men allied with the Ampatuan clan. Of the 45 or so individuals in the group, only four reportedly survived, according to Toto Mangudadatu.

The four survivors reportedly pointed to senior members of the Ampatuan clan as the brains behind the killings, having overheard Andal Ampatuan Jr., allegedly the leader of the armed men, say that he was acting on the orders of his father, Andal Ampatuan Sr., and his older brother, Zaldy Ampatuan, governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)..

-o-

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE

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Out of the Water

jellyfish on beach

We spent the weekend by the coast and happened upon a beached jellyfish. A good knowledge of marine biology, though useless at the time anyway, would have at least helped us identify this particular species.

I wonder if it is the same as the one photographed by someone else in 2008.

http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/jellyfish-split-level-doubilet.html


Blind Girl Running

There’s a question of motive when a group of university students go to visit a primary school for the blind in a far from wealthy area. Or make that any type of visit by a privileged group to a much less privileged one. Who is it really for?  Is it possible to make a real connection in the span of an hour?

This was many years ago, when our young minds were full of hope and a sense of purpose – we were going to change the world. How was not really clear, nor did it matter that much then.

We arrived early. The school seemed deserted.  And I could be wrong, but I remember hail coming down, round as the eyes of frozen fish. The iron roofs rattled like gunfire.  The gray concrete suddenly glistening.  A few minutes later the tropical heat melted away all traces of those cold fish eyes.

The school bell rang.  The sound of children laughing as they ran came rushing.  We were standing next to the glass door of the school offices.  And I thought then, what an odd thing to have in a school for the blind, glass doors.  With that thought I instantly grew worried as I saw the children who could not see approach us running – yes, running like ordinary children!

The girl who was leading came to a sudden stop just as she was about to reach the glass door. She turned toward us, knowing there were strangers around her. She tried to give a smile, but it had a startled look, like a gasp of fear being stifled. She didn’t say anything.  She just stood there, frozen, until one of the administrators came to introduce us to all of them.

The rest of that day I can no longer recall.  Just that, a blind girl running then coming to a stop.


If You Look Closer You Just Might See

Took this shot of the new moon tonight – yes it is there if you look closely. Thought it was time to get back to sharing some images of the good world.  Sometimes it is worth remembering nights like this, even as darkness grows.


Ang Pisi ng Saranggola

kite string 2 sepia

Sa haba ng panahong lumipas hindi ko na alam kung sinimulan ko nang habian ng imahinasyon ang gunita.  Ako na lamang ang mag-isang nakakaalala ng hapong iyon.  Noong may kabataan pa ako, siguro mga labindalawang taong gulang, may binuo kaming saranggola ni Daddy.  Kapwa naming pinalipad at pinanood ang pagpapaalagwa nito sa langit.

Malaon nang ginutay ng panahon ang kalansay at balat ng saranggolang iyon.  Ngunit noong naglilinis ako ng mga putikang aparador isang lingo makalipas ang baha sa Marikina, natagpuan ko ang pisi na nakapalibot sa dalawang piraso ng popsicle sticks.  Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakahalo and pisi sa aparador ng mga gamit ng tatay kong ilang taon nang yumao.

Noong Pebrero 2008 may nasulat akong tula sa Ingles.  “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo” ang pamagat.    Hindi ko alam kung maisasalin ko ito sa Filipino isang araw.  At dahil nga ako na lamang ang mag-isang gumugunita at nagtala nitong alaala, may duda akong ganitung-ganito nga ang naganap.  Hinabian ko na malamang ng imahinasyon.

ROUGH TRANSLATION

In time, imagination sometimes weaves into memory. Now only I can remember a particular afternoon.  I was only about twelve then.  My father and I put together a kite.  We flew it together, allowing sky and wind to toss it about.

Time has long since gutted that kite.  But while I was cleaning one of the muddied closets back home a week after the flood in Marikina, I found a string spun around two popsicle sticks.  It was the kite string; I don’t know how and why it was tossed in with the few belongings of my father who had years ago passed away.


In February 2008 I wrote a poem (or at least an attempt at one) in English, “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo.”  I don’t know if I will be able to translate it in Filipino one day.  And because I am the only one who remembers and has tried to record the events of that day, I have doubts that this indeed is how it was.  It is more than likely that imagination has been woven into that memory.
-o-

I sent the poem to a few publishers, hoping one of them would deem it worthy of seeing print.  A version (aversion?) of the poem can be found at a discussion site I now seldom visit, for reasons you might discover if you search around the net.

Update… many years later.

The poem Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo may now be found at Goodreads.com where it was a finalist for the monthly poetry competition.

Ang pisi ng saranggola

Sa haba ng panahong lumipas hindi ko na alam kung sinimulan ko nang habian ng imahinasyon ang gunita.  Ako na lamang ang mag-isang nakakaalala ng hapong iyon.  Noong may kabataan pa ako, siguro mga labindalawang taong gulang, may binuo kaming saranggola ni Daddy.  Kapwa naming pinalipad at pinanood ang pagpapaalagwa nito sa langit.

Malaon nang ginutay ng panahon ang kalansay at balat ng saranggolang iyon.  Ngunit noong naglilinis ako ng mga putikang aparador isang lingo makalipas ang baha sa Marikina, natagpuan ko ang itim na pisi na nakapalibot sa dalawang piraso ng popsicle sticks.  Hindi ko alam kung bakit nakahalo sa aparador ng mga gamit ng tatay kong ilang taon nang yumao ang pisi.

Noong Pebrero 2008 may nasulat akong tula sa Ingles.  “Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo” ang pamagat.    Hindi ko alam kung maisasalin ko ito sa Filipino isang araw.  At dahil nga ako na lamang ang mag-isang gumugunita at nagtala nitong alaala, may duda akong ganitung-ganito nga ang naganap.  Hinabian ko na malamang ng imahinasyon.

-o-

Paper Skin, Bone of Bamboo

These were all we needed:

An old pair of scissors,

Two pieces of sturdy

but pliant bamboo, split

to the width of a finger

the span of my young arms,

Newspapers, the gray skin

rubbing off on my palms,

a fistful of cold rice

to glue everything together.

Last was the longest string

I could steal from my mother

as she lay in restless sleep.

Then there had to be time.

All these things grew useless

without time.  They waited

to be gathered, to be touched,

put together with patience.

They waited for father.

Those newspapers could have told me

scraps of stories, something

about his absences, nights

And days on end. Curfews, arrests,

insurgents, offensives,

puppet masters, empires.

Back then words mattered less

To me.  All I wanted to see

was that kite defying claws

of TV aerials and rusty roofs,

the grasp of remaining trees.

From both our hands

that kite took off and saw

the sprawl of lives made intimate

by a common silence and struggle.

It took on the wind and sang.

Blurred all words on its skin.

Stillness in between mad search

for balance became its dance

To its very end.

Although that rare afternoon

never lasted long enough,

that kite was relentless, fierce

In its defiance of wind

and ground, everything

that dared to take away

all that fragility.

All that majesty.

-o-