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Sunday, January 31, 2010

TOTI & DAVID (The Blogcom 10)



(Toti and David are having dinner, the TV is airing Gibo's ad...)

(Chuckling) Hey, that Jee-bow is capitalizing on his cousin's restaurant, Cibo... look he has the resto's colors, green and orange!

It's GI-BOH not Jee-Bow... and you must be referring to Mar Roxas... he's the cousin of Cibo's owner... AND, orange is Villar's color... you've got everything mixed up you dodo! BUT, do you know who's related to Gibo?!


Noynoy Aquino. They're cousins on the Cojuangco side!

Egads! Your country is going to be run by the oligarchs again!

What do you mean again?! Did they ever leave?! But you know, this is their one shot at improving the Filipino's lot. They should go for genuine land reform and industrialization. Create jobs for everyone. They shouldn't just convert their feudal landholdings and put up more malls again! Now, THAT would be a legacy their ancestors would be proud of. Otherwise them leftists would recycle their decades-old slogans again. Aaaaargh!!!

It's the corruption in your country, Toti... you should've guillotined the Marcoses like they did Marie Antoinette or hanged them like the Ceausescus of Romania... that surely would scare the future Eraps and Glorias of this country...

We were THIS close until YOUR government sent in a plane and whisked the Marcoses off to Hawaii... and dare I say it again, that's how you Americans get into trouble in the first place... poking your mighty noses in other people's business...

Oh TOTI, lighten up... No, better light up again... ever since you quit smoking you've been horribly testy...

(grinning ear to ear) You mean it?!

Don't you dare! Why not chew gum...



hate needles


Too hot and boring...

Oh, I give up... (beat) ... you know what those Presidentiables should give free, quality education at all levels to Filipinos... No, wait... the Catholic Church should give free education... they're the ones with the best private schools in the country after all... and they don't pay taxes... and they...

Oh don't get started with that whole Catholic Church blah, blah, blah again... they won't even recognize us as a couple noh?!

What do you say we leave the Philippines...?

YES! Let's!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I was at the ukay yesterday for some last minute shopping. I was on the lookout for cotton and/or linen pants and shirts that I could use for the coming summer. I went to Bayanihan and entered a shop that had posted signs "SALE 20% OFF" on their racks of clothes. I go straight to the rack with men's shirts.

I spent about 15 to 20 minutes going through each item. Mainly checking the size. Most were medium or large, some even XL (I'm a size small or 14 1/2) -- I settle for a Paul Smith (size Med/15) with violet vertical pin stripes on white and a Zara floral short-sleeved shirt (size Med/15). I thought, it would be for summer anyway, no need to have the slim, tailored fit. Should be more loose thus breezier. I check on the price tags stapled to the collars and both read P320. I did a quick mental calculation subtracting 20% off and came up with P256. I go towards sales girl with P500 in hand. Here now is what transpired:

(smiling) 500 Hundred Pesos laengen daytoy duwa wen? (May I just have both for P500)

Ay hindi po sir. P300 lang talaga ang isa. (Oh no, sir, they're P300 each)

(Pointing to sign) Haan aya nga sale kayo? 20% Off kunana. (Aren't you on sale? It says 20% Off)

(Pointing to P320 price tag on collar) Oo nga sir, tinanggal na namin ang P20 kaya P300 each. (Yes sir, we already deducted the P20 that's why they're P300 each)

(bewildered but patiently trying to explain) Haan ah, sabali ti 20% Off. Less P64 dapat. So rumwar nga P256 isu ngarud nga agtawar ac kuma nga P250 laengen tapnu P500 diay duwa. (But no, 20% means it's less P64 so each shirt should come out to P256 that's why I'm hoping you'd give me a further discount by rounding it off to P250 each so P500 for both)

Hindi po sir, P300 lang talaga ang last price namin diyan. (I'm sorry but P300 is our last price)

(getting a bit irritated also noticing that she has refused to answer me in Ilocano and insisting on speaking in Tagalog) Haan, sabali ti 20% Off ah. Dapat imbaga yu kuma less P20. (No, 20% Off means a different thing altogether. You should have just claimed P20 Off)

(Defiantly) Pareho lang yun! (It's the same!)

(last ditch effort) Haan aya ti 50% Off ket half the price? Haan nga less P50? (Isn't it when you say 50% Off it means half the price and not less P50?)

(Realizing the mistake remains quiet, then...) Hindi po sir, P300 lang talaga. (Sorry, but it's P300 only)

(trying my bestest to maintain my composure) Haan ngaruden... thank you. (Well, never mind then... thank you.)

I put the shirts back on the rack and as I walk out I hear the sales girl say to another sales girl:

Ay sus! Adu la amin ammu na! (Hmph! That know-it-all!)

The Lord God above knows I tried my best not go back in and slap her. It would have felt sooooo gooooood. But no, I did not.

I was thinking is that how low the standard of education has gone in the Philippines? I'm sure she finished high school as that is the minimum requirement for most sales staff. I'm no math wizard myself but I can do basic arithmetic. Didn't we all learn percentages in Grade 3 or 4? I remembered my sister's former secretary in her clinic who was a college graduate (from the foremost private university in Baguio) but couldn't do manual addition (pencil and paper) she had to rely on the calculator. I remember thinking then, how did she even pass elementary?

I was seething with exasperation. My thoughts even went further blaming the entire educational system in the Philippines and the Catholic church. I was thinking: "So okay, since the church is against birth control couldn't they at least provide quality education for all? The best schools in the country are private, catholic schools and only available to those who can afford the exorbitant tuition fees. Since our population is ballooning at a faster pace than even vehicles traverse downtown Baguio on rush hour, why not educate these people? We'll end up with a populace of idiots! God have mercy!"

But there is a happy ending to this blog. I go off to another store within the inner recesses of Bayanihan and find me a pair of white Levi's denim, a linen drawstring pair of pants, a pale blue seersucker pair of pants and a cotton chambray short-sleeved shirt. And all for the price of FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY PESOS!

I go to Mandarin Restaurant for my favorite Beef, Tomato and Chinese Sausage Rice Meal with Corn and Crab Soup on the side and Service Tea. Thank God for simple pleasures. And thank you Lord for giving me the patience in times like these.


Friday, January 8, 2010


A friend on Facebook sent me an invite to join a small group of Baguio citizens this weekend for "a visioning and planning exercise for a better Baguio". I begged off as I will be going down to Manila tonight but said I will email them my thoughts. I decided to share these to everyone instead. So, here goes...

1. MORE TAXI AND JEEP FRANCHISES: I've given up on walking in the city. It's impossible to walk around anymore without being smothered by smoke belchers. But then again, there are too few taxis or jeeps going around. Pity those of us who don't own / can't afford cars. We have business to do downtown as most everyone else. And when the city is blanketed with smog... it'll raise our temperature a notch higher. We'll all do without sweaters, jackets, etc. and no more need for fireplaces. Hooray! We'd be the Manila of the North -- then I just might as well relocate back here.

2. MORE CONCRETE: Have you seen the cement elephants in Burnham Park? The cement Pine Tree at the top of Session Road? I say let's channel funds for more of these. Why not make the tallest cement Pine Tree in the world? Pang-Guiness Book of World Records. Why stick with elephants... it's the year of the tiger pa naman. Heck, make big, cement 'sculptures' of the Chinese Zodiac. Good Feng Shui for the city. Consult the geomancers how to position them. At least we can enjoy these sculptures, have you seen the public art in Serendra? Ugly! Hindi ko maintindihan. Walang meaning.

3. MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Why not let the Koreans develop Athletic Bowl? They have the money. Why depend on Filipino investment -- we all saw what Fil-Estate did with John Hay and how to date they still owe the city gazillions in taxes. Let foreign money enter. Let foreign culture take-over. (I find it strange that in the market or elsewhere when I speak in Ilocano to the vendors they still insist in answering me in tagalog. It's de riguer now to speak in Tagalog. Apay nga mabain da agsao ti ilocano? Let's please not be stubborn like the cebuanos or ilonggos who refuse to speak in tagalog. They're so proud of their language. They think their language is better than the national language.) With more foreigners investing in the city -- we won't have to go abroad to be domestics, we can all work for them here. Yippee! More jobs!

4. DOMOGAN, VERGARA AND BAUTISTA FOR ETERNITY: Since these are the only folks who run in our local elections, I say let the city council pass a law making them vice-mayor, mayor and congressman of the city for life! Nobody has the balls to run against them anyway, let them do the merry-go-round every election time. It'll save valuable time, efforts and money. With the three clowns in city hall / congress, maybe numbers 1, 2 and 3 above will be accomplished.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I was going through my grandfather's old files and photos when I chanced upon a copy of Manuel L. Quezon's Code of Citizenship which was printed in one souvenir program of the Rotary Club Of Baguio ca. 1959. The sixteen points are still apt for today. Here they are:

By Manuel L. Quezon
President of the Philippines, 1935 - 1944

1. HAVE FAITH in Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affections, and the source of your happiness and well-being. Its defense is your primary duty. Be ready at all times to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but also obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decision of the majority.

6. Love and respect your parents. It is your duty to serve them gratefully and well.

7. Value your honor as you value your life. Poverty with honor is preferable to wealth with dishonor.

8. Be truthful and be honest in thought and in action. Be just and charitable, courteous but dignified in your dealings with your fellowmen.

9. Lead a clean and frugal life. Do not indulge in frivolity or pretense. Be simple in your dress and modest in your behavior.

10. Live up to the noble traditions of our people. Venerate the memory of our heroes. Their lives point the way to duty and honor.

11. Be industrious. Be not afraid or ashamed to do manual labor. Productive toil is conducive to economic security and adds to wealth of the nation.

12. Rely on your own efforts for your progress and happiness. Be not easily discouraged. Persevere in the pursuit of your legitimate ambitions.

13. Do your work cheerfully, thoroughly, and well. Work badly done is more than work undone. Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.

14. Contribute to the welfare of your community and promote social justice. You do not live for yourselves and your families alone. You are part of society to which you owe definite responsibilities.

15. Cultivate the habit of using goods made in the Philippines. Patronize the products and trades of your countrymen.

16. Use and develop our natural resources and conserve them for posterity. They are the inalienable heritage of the people. Do not traffic with your citizenship.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Last December 29, my High School batch celebrated our 25th Anniversary back in Baguio and held a get-together. We were students of the former University of the Philippines Baguio High School. UP High (as we fondly refer to our Alma mater) was established shortly after Marcos had declared Martial Law, the pioneer batch having graduated in 1976. My classmates entered as Freshmen in 1980 and thus was known as Batch '84.

There were only two sections per year level. A class was composed of some 30-plus students. So in one school year there would be a total of around 240 students from Freshman level to Senior year. A tight community indeed that fostered camaraderie amongst batch members, healthy competition between year levels and encompassing pride for the Alma Mater by the alumni. UP High Baguio like all other UP High Schools was founded (supposedly) as a laboratory for a College of Education in a specific UP unit. But since UP Baguio was not offering Education courses in College, our High School was, you could say, a de facto institution. During the 80s, rumors were rife that our school would soon be abolished. But the students, faculty, alumni and parents rallied to keep the school operational. The UP system however stood its ground and so the last batch to enter was in 1992 and these students graduated in 1996. Gone forever is our High School (the original buildings were demolished a few years back and in its place new buildings were built for the College of Arts & Communication and the College of Social Sciences) but the memories live on in our minds and hearts.

Our batch had decided to meet up at 4pm and have early dinner at 6pm after which we were to open the get-together to the other batches as well by 8pm. Members from the early batches of '76 and '77 arrived, a sprinkling of members from batches '78, '79, '81, '82, '83, '85 and the last batch '96 soon followed. (A Facebook invite was put up in late June for this event)

At the get-together the usual catching up on friends and pleasantries were exchanged but as the evening drew -- there was the common hankering for what we all regarded as 'The Old Baguio'. Especially for the alumni who no longer reside in the city, nostalgia for what was once our beautiful town was expressed. Someone from batch '77 said; "Who would have thought then that garbage and traffic would be a problem in Baguio?" A classmate of mine, who had brought her entire family up to the city related that her son was supposed to write an assignment when school resumes this January on how he spent the holidays and so asked his mother what is there to see in Baguio. She excitedly told her son about the pine trees, pine cones, and beautiful flowers. On the day they arrived as they were driving around the city they did see some pine trees but her son kept asking all throughout; 'Where are the beautiful flowers, Mama? Where are they?" This went on repeatedly even after they had passed by Burnham Park, Mines View Park, John Hay, etc. My classmate was starting to get irritated and as they entered a hotel along Gibraltar Road for lunch, she pointed towards the side of the driveway and said; "There anak, look! Petunias!"

With the coming elections in May, talk gravitated to politics. Two members from my class apparently considered running for the city council. And so another classmate had said, "You don't just decide or choose to run, you get chosen." Another classmate, during our brief program prior to dinner where we took turns telling the group about ourselves and our present lives had humbly said; "I'm presently based in Abra... as a public servant." We were clapping and cheering and encouraging him because nary a trace of political ambition nor braggadocio was in his tone. This classmate had decided after graduating from College to go back to his roots in the province and work for the provincial government. After dinner we were teasing him that one day he'd probably be the first Governor or Congressman from our batch and he gamely said; "Barangay Captain muna."

It was at this point wherein I told our little group outside while drinking beers; "You know, a friend a few years back once asked me , 'Martin, diba you're a Martial Law baby, 10 or 15 years from now it's our generation that will inherit this country. Our generation will run this country. What are you going to do?'" I posed the same question to my classmates. It was a question no one was willing to answer or perhaps had no ready answer. This blogger, included.

I, for one, have no inkling for politics. I know I am not cut-out for that. That is definitely not my calling. The degradation of our country's institutions the past decades has tarnished the once noble image of public service. But I salute my batchmate from Abra for sincerely and proudly believing that yes, in his little way, he may someday effect changes not necessarily on the national front, but in his beloved hometown.

We all have our dreams for ourselves, our families, our beloved country. And I know that also in our own little way we will all contribute to the changes we wish to see for our beloved country. When Filipinos of my generation will soon take on the reins of running this country, I am hopeful it will be for genuine change and not for personal reasons. Because the future is not ours but for the next generation. The future for us is now.

There is a phrase from the song 'Children Will Listen' from the broadway musical 'Into The Woods' and it goes like this -- "What do you leave to your child when you're dead, only whatever you put in its head, things that your mother and father had said that was left to them too, careful what you say, children will listen, careful the things you do, children will see and learn."

Change begins with you and me.

Cheers to batch '84! I'm mighty proud of all of you!