Cries of desperation

Tomorrow, millions of Filipinos will rush to the graves.

They will bring with them candles, matches, and, for those who have extra money to spend, food and beverage. Like ants marching to their burrows, they will brave the heat of the sun--or, if it rains, the torrential rain showers--to heave sighs of desperation and sadness. No, they cannot bring back their dead to life, and it pains them everytime memories of their loved ones come to their remembrance.

At the end of the day, they will return to their homes, perhaps with satisfaction in the fact that they have fulfilled their yearly quota of one visit to the cemetery. Then they will try to forget that six feet below the ground are worms that slowly and gradually chew the remaining flesh of the body of their loved ones.

As they close their eyes at night, the souls of their dead now living--or dying--in the fiery pits of bottomless Hell cry out to them for help. , but they won't be able to hear them.

Happy Halloween.

Tricycle rides



I wander around town, oblivious of the pain in my legs. I see in the streets colorful tricycles lining up in the highway, as if in a queue of slow traffic, and realize that in the place where I study, these three-wheeled vehicles are as rare as students who graduate summa cum laude. The heat is overpowering; and yet, nothing seems to stop me, not even this heat that simulates the temperature inside an oven.

Then I stop. Just like that.

The numbness inside me thaws like the ice caps on mountains when the sun strikes on them. I shiver and tremble and mumble in pain. I seek refuge, and suddenly, I find myself in one of these tricycles. "Manong, sa St. Gabriel," I say to the driver who immediately confirms with a nod.

Going home gives me an emotion that has an incomparable quality to it--there is much expectation. And so, while I view the sights of the sleepy, cozy town where I had spent most of my life, I remember the Lord's gracious promise to all of us who believe in Him: after our tiring, draining, painful pilgrimage, we will go to a home He has prepared for each one of us.

I grab my wallet, and give the toothless driver six pesos.

Killing boredom

My older brother, Ralph, called two days ago. "I'm so bored, Lance." His voice echoed the urge to do something useful so he could kill the time.

"Why don't you read your lessons in advance? It will make your life easier next sem," I suggested. I've been doing just that--after all, I don't want my brain to rot in idleness. I was surprised to find that Campbell's Biology isn't that much of a sleeping pill; in fact, I found it rather interesting, especially the part on ATP and the chemical principles of metabolism.


"I don't need to do that." I forgot that his academic load will only be nine units next semester; mine will be 19.

Our conversation took a different turn when we talked about my blog.

"Your posts are getting worse," he told me. "Really, Lance, I really think that you're writing from a Tagalog or an Ilonggo mindframe [not his exact words, but that was how he sounded]. It's so obvious. There are many problems with your sentences. What happened?"

I was not in a position to debate with him. He's the English major, and he knows a great deal more about language and literature than I do.

"I just write what immediately comes to mind."

Forgive me, but this email is really funny

I rarely read forwarded emails. Don't we all? That's why it makes me wonder why, oh why, is my mailbox always cluttered with emails blatantly telling me that if I don't forward this and that email, I won't be able to find my true love. I think that trick is rather stupid. I have found my true love. He's Jesus.

But I was surprised (both with the message and more with my reaction to the message)when I read my classmate's (Arielle Sulit's) forwarded message, On the lighter side.

WARNING: This may cause stomach cramps.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you
forgot?


Here's another one. Liars just can't lie all the time.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.


I say, this wouldn't sound funny as soon as cloning is legalized.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?


And lastly, my favorite.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a
pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began
the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
AT! TORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing
law.

Storms and rains that come our way

Rain has been pouring incessantly for the past two days here in Koronadal. My house--with all its windows and open spaces--is perfect for sleep, and who wouldn't think it like that when the air is so cool it could practically drowse you to sleep like a, uhm, sleeping pill.

I had once told a couple of my friends last year, "I've never experienced a real storm. Hindi talaga binabagyo s'amin."

I really felt it a shame in not having been able to relate with their stories of cancelled classes because of Bagyong Rosing and their concrete understanding of what Signal No. 3 really meant.

"What?" They must have thought it unfair. Many families in their provinces(I praise God they weren't included in the list)have been displaced and destroyed by the sky's outbursts of innumerable tears; power lines have been cut off; harvests have been ruined; businesses have been disrupted! "As in, no storm ever comes its way to your province?"

* * *

Jac sent me a chain email with horrifying yet spectacular pictures of Katrina, the Hurricane.

This is one of the pictures. It's worth a good look.

Nosebleeds and stories of home

There are still many things I don't know, like why my classmates in UP almost always get shocked whenever I tell them for the first time that I come from a distant island called Mindanao, in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

There's a terrible weirdness to this. For one, Mindanao does exist, doesn't it? And then, the UP student population is compised of students coming from different parts of the country (yes, from Luzon. Visayas and Mindanao)--it's a fact that is known by UP students as Chemistry majors know the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

"Really, Lance? So ang layo n'un!" Their eyes would be disfigured in unbelief.

"Uh-uh," I'd say.

"So namimiss mo na talaga ang family mo."

"Hindi naman masyado. Of course, at times, you can't help but miss them."

Then they would go on with their mantras on how they couldn't possibly live outside their houses because then they wouldn't get to enjoy the comforts of TV, of home-cooked food, and sometimes, of their mothers' excessive and impossible errands.

"Do you ride the plane, the ship, or the bus when you go home?" they'd ask.

"Most of the time, I take the plane." I'd go on to tell them that round trip plane tickets (Manila to General Santos) cost more than our tuition fee for one semester.

They would get so shocked that I would have to call the doctor to administer drugs that would pacify them. Blood would rush out of their nostrils, their eyes would redden, and their palms would get so sweaty and clammy.

I'm exaggerating, of course. That only happens during exams.

A lesson in proofreading

It's my weird little ol' habit to browse through my blog ever so often, which has something to do with remembering exactly how I had felt when I wrote those entries. So don't be surprised when the site meter shows an influx of 15 visitors a day--it's really just me.

Well, not entirely.

But it's not all pleasure I get while re-reading my posts. I would realize drastic grammatical errors (albeit it’s lack of support in the nosebridge area and I Dr. Sergio Cao said, "Congratulations")in one or two posts, mistakes too unbecoming for a former-English major. I would scratch my head and say, "Not again!"

The lessons? Proofread ALL blog posts. Nobody's perfect.

What the University Chancellor told me

I remember a couple of months ago during the Kalayaan Formal Dinner Party, I Dr. Sergio Cao said, "Congratulations."

"Thank you, Sir," I replied.

"Pero sigurado ka bang college ka na?" He must have thought I was a high school sophomore--a usual mistake people make about me, especially in malls.

Dr. Cao is the new Chancellor of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He used to stay in Kalayaan during his freshman year. In Basement. In B-18. The room in front of mine.

Early morning rituals

I woke up at 3:45 in the morning today. I don't usually get out of bed during the wee hours of the morning, but when the situation calls for such action, I can give a satisfactory response--I'm capable of that. And so, after a word of prayer, I jumped out of my bed, which is above my brother's (it's a double-deck furniture we have for the dorm's boy's wing), and rushed to my study table to study the remaining chapters in Math that I hadn't studied last night--calculating volumes and areas using slicing and cylindrical shell methods. Oh, my favorites in Math 53.

It's almost always like that, you know. Every night, I'd begin studying a subject for tomorrow's long exam and when the urge to sleep would knock at my consciousness, I'd postpone the remaining two or three pages of my notes for tomorrow. What usually happens is that my roommates would have a hard time--and I mean, BLOODY hard time--nudging me to get out of bed, especially when my dream gets exciting (again, a usual phenomenon during the night before exams).

Studying in the early morning has its share of advantages, which is why, as much as possible, I try to finish all assignments and review the day's notes in the evening and review them again an hour before I bask into the frigid coolness of morning water. I shall skeletonize the points I'd like to make so that you, my dear readers (if you DO exist), won't assume that I am making a novel out of a blog entry:

1. It's cooler in the morning, but the temperature isn't sufficient to brain-freeze your neurons.Not to worry. This is the Philippines--what might be the coolest recorded temperature in history is merely the room temperature in Vladivostok.
2. Everything feels fresh, especially your mindset. You'd be surprised that the topics you had found hard to understand the night before enter your brain like bombarded gamma particles.
3. It's quieter. The stillness makes the environment conducive for quality studying especially when you live in dorms or in houses where people hardly turn off their radios.

Tomorrow, I shall ask my brother Ralph to wake me up very early, "Manong (that's Kuya in the vernacular), if I don't wake up, pinch my nose or do something to it." My big, fat olfactory organ, after all, is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, albeit it’s lack of support in the nosebridge area.

Whining and complaining

My inbox is cluttered with emails from e-groups of which I am part of, reminding me from time to time of the fundamental concept of entropy or disorderliness. If I have time, which by the way occurs pretty rarely nowadays, I'd read everything, even the stupid forwarded messages that I've received more than five times already. "Don't these people remember that they've sent me the message I had sent them yesterday?," I'd ask myself.

But there has been a lot of buzz in my high school's e-group, and I thought it a pity not to join the conversation. My classmates, studying in different parts of the country, in different schools, with different courses, have been ranting about the difficulties of their college lives.

Genesis, for one, studies Nursing in Davao. She tells us that her clinical instructors are giving her and the rest of her class a hard time. She has to study this big book on pharmacology, and she has to memorize everything.

My classmates in NDMU are likewise experiencing such horrible times. I can almost imagine them whining in complaints.

Here at UP, my classmates Shean and Vanessa tell me that they already feel battered--not with paddles that fratmen use in hazing--but with the tedious requirements they have to submit or present. I've heard Shean talk of the sleepless nights she has experienced just so she could finish her MPs (machine prolems). Vanessa has had her share of sleepless nights as well, preparing day after day for her BA 99.1, a tough accounting course, so she could pass it with flying colors--except of course that it's hard to accomplish that because the passing is 60%.

Hours from now, when I open my Gmail before I go to bed, I'd be amused by their continual complaints that seem to have no end.

Noticeable

After exams, and I'm sure UP people can relate to this, I always find myself scratching my head, saying, "Ba't hindi ko nabasa 'yun?" or something similar like, "Ba't di ko naconvert ang units?" It's almost always like that. A few minutes before passing the test paper, I'd wonder what trance I had gotten myself into while answering the questions.

I don't know. Test questions just have a way of hiding the important points that a student ought to notice.

But I remind myself about what I had written days ago. Never worry, for the Lord will take good care of everything. Sometimes, I have to smack myself in the face to achieve that realization.

Your strength is made perfect when I am weak

I’m in the midst of exams. I have three of them today. Tough subjects, really. Sometimes, when I become rather pessimistic, I’d wonder why I need to spend the whole night—or a whole week even—just to study to answer 40 multiple choice questions.

But this is my calling. This is what I’m tasked to do, and I’m enjoying every bit of it. Through these trials and tribulations, I gain a deeper knowledge of God.