Welcome to indo-pacific studies. Today is the beginning of more meaningful conversations on anything related to the Indo-Pacific region. Welcome on board. 

Seminary Memoirs, 2

The surprises of having been a teacher in seminaries are endless. 

In places where I have gone, chances are I would bump into someone who have had an attachment, however vague, in a seminary. 

In Southern California, while there trying make heads or tails with fate, one news hit me: that a former student in the seminary would soon assume the post of an assistant pastor or whatever is it that they called to someone next to the parish big shot. 

I jumped for joy in the secrecy of my soul: one student, another student, had made it big, and all in the name of his one dear and loving God. I uttered a prayer for him and vowed to go and see him before work would swallow up all my time. I am not sure if I ever got that one fat chance to see him. Maybe not, maybe yes, I do not know. 

In Los Angeles, I would get a call one day while scratching out a life as a glorified director for training of one consulting firm that looked out to the Hollywood hillside, complete with the landmark that invariably announces what to expect in the land of myth and fantasy. 

And the call was from a seminarian, now a priest, in the first seminary where I taught the difference between a long a and a short a to people who just came from the provinces and who had to take remedial English or what passed for one in order to get by with rectorial wishes and seminary requirements that hey, the seminarians are going international, and thus, they are to speak an international language code named English in the way the English and American people and the fake Filipino academic speak it. 

I remember that I had religious sisters in my class--those veiled women who had vowed to follow the path of the Lord but since they did not have the college degree to make them get by with the highly competitive world of the nunnery or the sisterhood, they had to be sent back to college, and in that seminary where I taught.

The seminary offered the classics, as a matter of course, and the classics was Western philosophy with a token of a single coursework on oriental philosophy, and nothing, never, on something that could be called Philippine philosophy even if decades before Leo Mercado the SVD scholar had paved the way to what he called 'metalinguistic' analysis that led to his valorization of loob-buot-nakem, the core, he claimed, of 'Filipino' philosophy.

Never mind that his assumptions on the Ilokano 'nakem' were flatly mistaken; the thing is, through his academic pursuit, we had something to start with. 

Day in and day out I would give assignments, some kind of elementary exercises for pronunciation. One morning, I asked one sister to present to me her work, and sheepishly she said, No, no, sir, I do not have the assignment because we had the novena. 

That did me in--or her. 

I told her, in no uncertain terms, that that would not happen again, not in my class. 

Of course, I was marked from that time on, with my words traveling to her convent, and eventually reaching the ears of what passed for a dean whose graduate degree became the talk of the town, the dubiousness of that degree gotten from some obscure town somewhere out of somewhere the envy of some who did not have the required masters.

That was fun, this small-town mentality of barrio people who passed themselves off as instructors in a respectable seminary. What a life, those days! 

And from hindsight, I wish things were better. 

But so much of the gossips came from the seminarians themselves who seemed to know all things, everything, omnipotent and omnipresent as they were, and knowing too the details of saucy liaisons when lights were turned off, or when no one seemed to be looking including a cabal of seniors who had the courage to visit some beer houses and have their necks checkered with kiss marks that they would explain as mosquito bites. Perhaps the seminary mosquitos knew exactly where the best blood could be sucked? 

Words travelled that I came to America, finally, after calling it quits with the homeland. 

Some would rebuke me, mostly from seminarians who knew I was for something that was close to mendicancy: to keep teaching in the homeland until one could not teach any longer, with a pittance for salary while I watched the years go by. 

They said that I betrayed the cause--The Cause--and that is to keep on with the poverty that I have always known, like those people in the Acts of the Apostles. 

Of course, so few of them ever knew that in order for me to keep updated with my reading and book acquisition, I would ransack all the libraries I had an access to and photocopy them, or devour their contents as if there were no tomorrow, afraid that I would never got hold of these books again. My dream--a long-time dream, is to have all the books I want to read and I want to hold onto forever--and I could only do that if I had some extra cash to splurge during those book sales that came as infrequently as the summer rains. 

And then one day, I got a call from New Jersey or New York, I am not sure now. And then another from Phoenix, or somewhere in Arizona from a batch two years down my own batch.

And so the circle of knowing someone who knows someone else began in a spirit of adventure and exploration--and surprise of surprises.

On the internet, I would get to meet them some more: one was from Seattle--is still there, I guess so, that one poet I have known since he began to get enamored--seduced and tempted and enchanted--with the possibilities of words. 

Another one just popped up, and telling me he is still with The Cause--The Cause: of social justice and fairness, of economic development and community building, of doing good to the least of his brethren, of a committed work with 'cooperativism', one work I tried doing but had to give up for lack of patience, simply. 

I meet them more and more, and I realize: It was not a bad life, after all, this teaching in seminaries, this transaction with young minds who almost ways challenged me to look at life always--always--in a new light.

You get your psychic reward when you realize that your students are now better off than you are. That ought to be the law of nature, of evolution, and of teaching seminarians who know how to live life to the full. 

Hon, HI
Sept 29/08


Seminary Memoirs, 1

There are days that life in exile takes all the virtues in you and you just simply take everything in stride. 

Or at least, that is what you think is the better way to do especially when everything seems to go wrong, and all those things that you do right, or at least you believe they are right, do not seem to end up the way you have expected.

Somewhere back in time, I remember: that I was once a prefect of students and in the seminary where I learned to pray and pray harder and learned the rudiments of humility and learned the hard way the wages of self-promotion. 

One thing good with seminary life, if at all it ever comes to a point that the world will turn upside down and that theocracy will take the good part of our reason and allow the men and those pretending to be men of God to rule over our affairs and our lives, private and public, is that you learn to be grounded. 

The humus, the earth, the good earth, is your ground. You learn to have your feet firmly planted on that ground or else you go the way of them the nuts who think of salvation as recitation of the rosary hour after hour after hour.

Which is not the case, as the empirical life of priests and clerics and them who have gone into the X-route (those X-men and former men) would reveal: Those who have had the taste of freedom in seminary life despite the walls, despite everything walled, despite the walling of their desires, and the walling of everything that can be let loose are those people who gain wisdom to see life more fully in the round, life lived in fullness of vision and in the sweetness of surprises, life lived in fidelity to the promise for both joys and its antithesis. 

And these people get to become better people--and thus, better priests.

Those who have not done any wrongdoing will go the way of priesthood with a breeze, for certain, because they do not make troubles, they do not rock the boat, they do not challenge the status quo. And for priests who are eternally infantile with anything that has something to do with relationships, this is exactly what they want: no more troubles now.

In all four seminaries I have had the chance to take part in the (de)formation of seminarians, I have both been lucky and not lucky: some did not like me, some tolerated me, some liked me a lot, the last group for obvious reasons. The devil, truly, likes company, in much the same that misery does.

But our misery in these seminaries both as a former seminarian and then as a teacher was of the metaphysical kind, a la Albert Camus, with his idea of the metaphysical rebel who despaired before all that is logical and convenient and comfortable. I am pretty sure that many priests teaching philosophy in the seminaries do not like him, this Camus guy, and neither that other misbehaving existentialist guy Jean Paul Sartre who even wrote an intro to the Frantz Fanon oeuvre on the mischief of colonialism and its impact on the minds of the young, the people, and society at large. 

I was the opposite of everything good in the seminary, I suppose, because I thought Marxism that was also some sort of good news for the oppressed, I taught existentialism and all the other things that could render the faith of the believer shaky and unsure even on firm ground. Ha, Socrates, you did a lot of good afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted. 

But I was a prefect of students--well, it was called dean of students then--a lousy title, if I may be allowed to say so. My charge: the sophomores. Where are they now except that like me, they are nowhere in the hierarchy of power of the triumphant Church. 

I am not sure now how many of those under my watchful--and carefree--care ever made it to the seminary--this word 'seminary' does not give me good thoughts, I tell you!--and then eventually to ordination time. 

Now, now, I am not sure, unless somebody out there will please stand up and be counted and testify that, indeed, indeed, I was a good man, and that, I taught my students well when I was their, ahem, ahem, prefect, or dean of students, or whatever that you call these titles now to hide the fact that, indeed, indeed, you are the seminary's Dobberman or Pit Bull or German Shepherd without the dog food but with graces earned from the heavens for your salvation in the afterlife. 

O, I remember one who made it to priesthood but is now in New York or New Jersey, I do not know which now and which side of the bridge or river in those parts is he really from, except that he does transportation work for some Asian airlines and had to go to other places and climes to train people into becoming better servants of airline passengers whose egos are sometimes as big and ferocious and fiery as the bursting Mayon, with lava and ashes and mud and vlog, this last one I learned lately from some volcanologist in these parts when I was asked to translate into Ilokano what the hell was going on in these islands, my islands, of fire and wrath.

But that is beside the point now.

The point is that the seminary is a couldron.

There you are either gold, or something closer to one. 

And if you are not one, get out so quickly because there is no point testing your goldenness if all you have are the 'kalawang' for the karat. 

No way, Jose, they say in other other part of the Pacific where I resided once for a number of years: No way, Jose. 

No can, no can, they say down here in Honolulu. No can gold if you no gold, no ken, no ken, the Ilokano speaking pidgin would say, a language I have learned to love and which I have vowed to learn quickly so I would be able to claim my rightful place in these islands, my islands. 

The second point is that the seminary is a snake pit.

You do not want to be bitten by venomous snakes, get out. 

There are no sacred tourniquets for the snake-bitten soul. 

Either you live it through, the dubiously heavenly venom in your body so that when the time comes, you can bite others and transmit the venom, or you climb through the great walls, in many ways like China's, or sneak out through the main gate when the 'sikyo' is not looking.

Or, if you are smart enough, give bones to the real dogs each evening, the big bones of red meat. But before you hand the bones over to the canine enemies of thy kingdom come, salivate as much as you can as if you are Pavlov's dog awaiting conditioning, and when you have produced enough saliva, spit on the bones, spit on them so generously, and in the deep dark, give the bones to the dogs as if you are making a sacrificial offering. You do that night in and night out until one day, until one day, the canine enemy shall have become your best of the beast of a friend.

Then you can plot your escape.

And you can go out any time you want and sneak in before the first bells are rung early at five o'clock when the hills in the east are still dreaming of the early morning sun.

Ah, seminary tales are tales of wonder and surprise and terror and one day, one day, I will write about them all: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And the holy, the holier, and the never mind. 

Hon, HI
Sept 29/08 

Curiouser and Curiouser

Last night's incident of a revelation with a revelation is one for the books.

The inner circle of GUMIL Hawai'i associates--the circle is 'inner' in the sense that these are the constants in almost all of the association's gatherings--went to offer fellowship to the family of an associate, a couple in fact, who are key members of our writers group. 

A brother based in Virginia suffered a major stroke and they went to that state to bury him a few days ago. 

But last night's was the Ilocos Norte way of doing the umras, the ceremony of invoking God's mercy and forgiveness and of summoning the welcoming spirit of place called Eternity as promised to all those who believe. And the brother and his brothers--they are five brothers in that family, all immigrants, the three in Hawai'i, the two in Virginia, but now there is only one brother there, with the demise of the youngest, at 50--thought of putting in their share of remembering the youngest and giving their blessings so he would finally find rest. 

In my gallivanting life as an immigrant in this country, I have had the chance to visit various Ilokano communities, exilic as ever, with the pinakbet almost a reminder of the hodge-podge Ilokanoness that we are, with our okra coming from the Africans, and our lima beans coming from South America, possibly up there in Lima, Peru, hence the name for that gentle 'patani' that climbed our fences made of bamboos and some sturdy main branches of the madre de cacao whose blooms of purple dot the landscape of sloping hills and mountain foothills in the summer, the scene a riot of bloom in the relentless Philippine tropical heat and that steady brown-red colors of the Ilokano earth. 

But this communing with the family of a beloved deceased whose life was remembered and celebrated in the umras was what seduced me into joining the throng of friends yesterday evening after spending some time tinkering with the computer to write something about the nature of serendipitous truths from the many moments of our lives that we did not plan, least of all did not expect.

And the umras incident was one of them. 

I wanted to experience what umras was in the diaspora, and right here in Honolulu where nine of every ten Filipinos are veritably Ilokano or Ilokano-descended, and where ethnic pride is on the sway, some flaunting their Ilokanoness, some despising it, that umras ceremony, indeed, could be a clue to variety and difference. 

Oh well, about that reality of ambivalent Ilokanoness, you cannot have it all.

In the smorgasbord of our cultural lives in exile, and in the buffet kind of ways by which we perform our everyday lives in estrangement and alienation, you can expect everything including those Ilokanos who have the capacity to fake their accent and pass themselves off as everything except being Ilokano, with claims that run the gamut from "Marigatanak nga agilokano, sika!" to "Apay nga agad-adalka iti Ilokano ket Ilokanoka la ngaruden?" 

The cultural and ethnolinguistic morons are everywhere, and the communities of Ilokanos are not spared of their just share of the harvest of moronic lives lived in culturally moronic ways.

So there, at Kalihi, not from from the Catholic Church of Kalihi that, last year, was the venue for my first-ever recitation of a poem for a domestic violence victim, Erlinda Adviento, that sparked some interests from various communities, cause-oriented and profit-oriented. The same poem would lead me to other places, including a generous exposure from The Honolulu Advertiser, both newspaper and online video. But that is not the point: St John the Baptist church evoked first-time memories when I did not know anyone except those who were involved with DV causes and works to empower Filipino-American nurses, the works Adviento, I was told, was a beneficiary when she passed the state licensure examination and began to work as a registered nurse, only to end up a battered wife, a suffering wife, and dead.  The husband, in jail, had many things to do with those and that church, in these two evenings that I was there, served as the vessel of all the currents of tears that could not well down my cheeks, suppressing and suppressing more and more the choke on my throat as I read the lines of the poem I wrote for the nurse whose face I saw only for the first time when she was lying in state and lying stiff, her remains awaiting shipping back to the homeland, in the Pangasinan of her youthful dreams. 

We got to the house of the other brother of the deceased, the brother a former schoolroom teacher back in the Philippines but decided to embark on another profession as soon as he got to Honolulu in the 70's in the name of the mighty dollar, this currency that sends your shrivers in order to transition you into its easy and ritual worship that puts those memorized words on your lips: "O dollar, dollar, our might dollar, come, come to save us!"

His story of not going back to the classroom is classic, and each time you meet former school teachers in the Philippines doing other works other than teaching, you hear the same plot simplified for that self-defense: "Agpada met a kuarta ti birbiroken!"

His place is by the hillside of Kalihi, on the mountainside, and on one shoulder of the hill, a huge car plant looms large like a capitalist phantom that reminds you of sellers of cars most of which you do not need while close by is the freeway that does not sleep but keeps on humming and sleepwalking, the speeding cars on its listless lanes onrushing to beat time and temper and the tender mercies of sleepless evenings.

We got to the site of the umras, and there were the people oneing with the family, the old women kneeling before the umras table of an atang that was to remain there, in the altar, and guarded by members of the family until four o'clock the following morning. That would be the time when the atang could go through the akas ritual--removed from the atang table--with the food permitted to be eaten if not yet spoiled. 

Outside where we waited for the prayers for the dead to end, we remembered our performed Ilokanoness in the Philippines, a country soon to be renamed with something else in an effort to right the linguistic and social injustices that had befallen our peoples. We remembered as well our performed Ilokanoness in our diasporic communities, the performance a variety, indeed.

In moments like this, I go on an ethnographer's mode, listening and listening intently, marking off the cultural signs and symbols and trying to commit everything to memory. At some other times, I would scramble for a pen and tear sheet and write what I can, the words a jumble of a mumbo-jumbo reminder of what I should do to make out what I have learned from the field. 

I sat in my corner transfixed by all the rich exchange of cultures and cultural experiences, and planned a tactic about how I would turn these experiences into something written when an old man, in light checkered cotton shirt with the geometric designs of some cultures from the Pacific came around, looked at all of us, and looked at me more intently, and looked at me some more. 

And then, with outstretched right hand, he addressed me, "I am your tatang, Mr. Television Man!"

Instantly, I did not know how to respond. Taken aback could be an appropriate English term, and it was so, the immediate feeling giving you chicken skin, per the term used in Hawai'i pidgin English. 

Since I started a television talkshow, 'Talkback', on public TV, I have received calls on my work phone, the calls almost always a generous hectoring on for me to continue the program so that the Ilokano people would be educated of who they are. 

But that was it, a phone platitude of how much one is doing, and how much some segment of a community is appreciative of what one is doing, until yesterday evening, when one man past his prime but sensitive to how Ilokanoness is performed over here, recognized me instantly and offered his hand to me in fellowship.

"I watch your show," he told me.

"Dios ti agngina, tatang," I told him, the moment teaching me what humility is, not allowing the recognition to give me those misplaced feelings of self-importance, feelings I pray hard I would not have to battle with in the years to come.

Kalihi, Honolulu, Hawai'i
September 28/08

The Prefect of Discipline and Other Things

I see the walled life in full remembrance from near and far. 

I have been blessed in many ways in having taken part in the nurturing of the questing minds of young men--and young women--who tried to answer the call of God or--God forbid!--a fantasy of a call that looked and sounded so real to many of them, with the exuberance of their youth lived in the most interesting times in the life of a cursed land and in the history of a people famished for what is just and right and fair. 

The Prefect responding to my blog entry on my long comment of another blogger's comment--so this is where the winding roads of thought begin, with no end in sight, I am certain--moved me to blog some more about my experiences as a teacher in at least four seminaries and in as many Catholic schools that had the semblance of medieval educational institutions in Europe, with each of these institutions having some kind of relentlessly resurrecting and incarnating 'The Prefect' with their perfections and their illusions of having some. 

The first seminary is one at Loyola Heights, and for want of a better term, we call it 'the ministers of the sick and the dying'. 

Oh, there you go: the prefects came in all shapes and colors, in all holiness and hollowness, in ideological commitment and zealotry for a cause grander than their bloated sense of self, that sense of self-importance in many ways misplaced, the feeling always not in the proper places.

The prefects made the rounds--you remember Gulag here or Auschwitz or Dachau or Gulag, suit yourself--and like policemen who have no sense of privacy except when their private needs are at the forefront, these guardians of morals and discipline and facetious acting have themselves as the models, er, the exemplars, for a more medieval effect: The Examplars. 

Yes, the exemplars, who have their own temples, and these temples have to be visited during the holy hours, and you have to kowtow to the key holders of these temples or else you are left out in the cold and in the dark. Think of clique in shallow sociology and in that Weberian analysis of what constitutes CYA--covering of your ass--in religious institutions: it is that destructive capacity to give your vow to the hungry for recognition and power. 

I have seen them all, round and rotund, the boastful and the idiots, and those who can cite the Holy Book to prove their point, complete with the chapter and the verse of a holy writer's text, minus the page number. 

It is not that there were no saviors in the seminaries I had the chance to teach, among others, seminar courses in ethical theory, linguistic philosophy, political philosophy, semiotics, and the like--courses that fell on my lap on the presumption that I know their titles and their descriptions. Ha!

I remember in another seminary in Quezon City--I taught in three in that city at various times, short years of adjunct appointment in two because their respective rectors, the bosses of the prefects, did not like my face, much less what I was teaching the seminarians: that the Philippine Catholic Church, in a hermeneutical and political sense, is outright a purveyor of unbridled capitalism. 

I remember that in the first seminary that I went to to test my (in)abilities to explain my theory---grand and pretentious at that--of what I called 'truth and meaning manufacturing incorporated', I was subjected to a kind of a Holy Inquisition, except that this was the Philippines, and Brothers Karamazov had nothing to do with our lives in these islands, but there I was, in front of a rector, in front of a prefect, in front of an academic dean--all big shots in that business of educating priests we call 'the seminary', a curious word, I would say, with its allusions to something that has to do with the abundance of testosterone, and the proof of that abundance, the semen--The Semen.

I had them grill me--the three inquisitors cross-examined me--about why I was teaching the seminarians that The Church was socially irresponsible with its false practices of economic empowerment for people and for societies. Of course, in my readings, I xeroxed a proof: the entrenchment of The Church in big businesses, with lots of investment holdings tracked by those people who were in the know. 

Even from afar, I have something nice to say about prefects as I have something awful to write as well. 

In one all-male college I went to teach to put food on my young children's table--a table known for the constant disappearance of hotdogs and vegetables, the first because the children liked them, the second because they simply abhorred them and had to throw them away so quickly everywhere that your eyes could not reach and which act gave you the impression that your children were like your Ilokano ancestors who knew no other food except leaves from trees and from summering farms--I had this prefect--The Prefect--whose duty each six o'clock in the afternoon was to ring the campus bell and to go around and find out if everyone rose to the occasion to pray the angelus. 

And my students, in that all-male college, had their girlfriends in mind while reciting the announcing by Gabriel of the blessing of the Lord to the Virgin, and that blessing had something to do with her getting the crack of giving birth to God's Son.

All those concepts need unravelling now, and I will come back to take another look at them.

I am writing this to thank The Prefect for keeping me on my toes with memory especially now that the fingers cannot type the keyboards without the prescription glasses. 

Hon, HI
Sept 27/08


Ken Manong Loreto Manuel, Septiembre 2008


Daniw-lagip daytoy, kakaen dagiti ararawmi.

Panagyaman met kadagiti anus ken ayat

Pammateg kadagiti oras manipud iti sekreto

A siled ti puso, kas iti nawada a barukong.


Binsabinsaek amin a lemma dagiti ima

Kas iti danapeg ti sagrado a panagsurnad

Kadagiti kakadua, iti katawada ken ila

Iti panagpipinnakada sagpaminsan.


Iti baet dagiti di manglanglangan a kaasi,

Adda iti lukong ti dakulap ti panagilala,

Itedmo daytoy kadatao kas iti sabali

Idaton kas iti balabala ti panagaklili.


Sika ngamin ti pagtawingan kadagitoy:

Agraraay a panangipaay iti ammo

Kas iti di mabilang a kabaelan dagiti ramay

Kas iti managpabus-oy a takiag.


Iti kambas ti pakasaritaan panagpagayam,

Sadiay ti saksi binukelmo a kaipapan.

Ti Gunglo, daytoy a GUMIL Hawai’i

Mangisuratto iti makapudno a katulagan.


A Solver Agcaoili, Hon, HI/Sept 26/08


                                Ken Lina Esta, iti panagkasangayna, Septiembre 2008


                        Idatonko dagiti linnaaw iti sappuyot dagiti busel.

Rosaska iti naridam a bigat, agriing kas iti duayya

Ti ina a malukag iti anil-il ti ubing

Ti maladaga dagiti ngatangata ti gasat.


Sika ngamin ti kakaen dagiti namnama

Iti kalsada dagiti pannakigasanggasat.

Adu a panagdaliasat, adu a panangnagan

Kas iti adu a panagkasangay ti arapaap.


Ngamin ta maysa a ritual daytoy:

Ti panangidayyeng iti kinaasinno

Iti silabaria dagiti maikur-it a kinatao,

Mapartuat iti parbo a kinadungngo.


Adda iti dakulap dagiti salakan.

Iti lukong, kas iti sentido ket ti sao

A kontra ti pannakaiyaw-awan

Iti man agmatuon wenno iti kaltaang.


Makaperdi iti salun-at, kunam a kanayon

Ngem narabaw ti iiseman, kas garikgik

Ti puso a kankanayon a mamakawan

Iti basol kas iti tawid ti agkibaltang.


Isu nga iti hardin dagiti baro a bannawag

Aguray ti sulbod kadagiti makabang-ar

A linnaaw, mangsutsutilto iti agberde

A bulong ti kalendario a manglalaaw.


A Solver Agcaoili, Honolulu, Hawai’i, Sept. 26/08


(for Ka Loren and Brainteaser, whoever you are...)

     I never realized that some statements I wrote with the frenzy of fingers in a mad rush  to write a comment on the nostalgic piece of a former student on his remembered life in the walled world of the seminary would make sense for another blogger who responded with sensitivity to the comments that took on a life of their own away from—and autonomous of—yours truly the writer.  

     But the statements work their magic, some would say, and one Brainteaser, a blogger, says s/he likes the twists and the turns of the phrases that came from those fingers when one hour between breaks of lectures on the filmic possibilities of a people's revolution, I sat on my computer and catatonically wrote what came to mind, the small truth of the moment more important than anything else. And for a small-time, small-town writer on the lookout for the first affirmation early in the morning when blog opening is akin to early prayers for the early hours of the morning--those matins of birds that talk of dawns breaking in the summer sunshine--such a comment was a salve. It still is--and the kinship in language is forever sealed with all the Brainteasers of the world.     

     These days, the blogging world—the world we call virtual, cyber, and some other techie terms—opens up a world for us to explore and see and experience, a world of expansiveness, with the consciousness going way beyond the comfortable and convenient boundaries we have always known, much not unlike the comfortable and convenient logic we have always used to argue for the case of our comfortable and convenient existence that is as middle class as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the Old and the New Testament combined, what with their luxury of abstraction about the coming of either the Son of God, or a prophet, or a mere messenger of the Good News.

     Or this new world—brave and brutal as it is—is not new at all, as we have always known that there are other worlds out there whose horizons we have yet to grasp and grapple.

     In the faraway lands that have claimed our everyday lives, this virtual world could signal emptiness. Or vacuity of the soul no one can ever understand as we keep trying to pursue some ways to fill up that world only to end up with some other vacuities that are both familiar and strange.

     The thing is: we create and recreate each day out of the nothingness of our empty lives—empty because we are everywhere and we are nowhere, and as such, our roots reside, tentatively and constantly, in that territory where there is that recognizable and palpable restlessness of our soul. This is, indeed, the cyberspace world, and memory takes up our cause, that memory that remembers or makes us remember the many things that we have left behind like the scent of  burned human skin and flesh one morning when salvaging—or summary execution in the early days of EDSA People Power when then President Corazon Aquino had all the power of the pulpit and the freedom constitution to reform the cancerous society we incidentally call the Philippines.

     Her daughter, then in her grade school twinkle-twinkle hairdo, came to cut the ceremonial ribbon that would pave the way for awakened seminarians to come and say, Here, here I am, Lord, I come to do your will, and before the altar would frustrate themselves and offer everything they have got including their nothingness and being ala Jean Paul Sartre. The seminary ritual is one of self-oblation as is the ritual of the cyberworld. It is a box of chocolates, Forrest Gump says so, and indeed, it really is, what with priests and their allies always on the lookout for the dregs so these priests could have a reason to exist and for those dirty and drunken dragons lurking in seminary closets so they could have a reason to redeem. Here—in the cyberworld and in the seminary--you get to meet anonymity including yourself.

     But it is one anonymity that sometimes hits you so darn hard you want to cry a river—or an ocean—depending on the severity of that sorrow that visits you while you state blankly on a screen that is so blank with emptiness and yet seducing you to keep going with the pointless attempt to clone your mind so that those who are like you might discover some of the sparks of being kindred in that sorrow all sorrowing people ought to know.

     And so, here is my comment to that blog entry of a former student who has remained faithful to the cause of social justice, to the struggle to make our life in the islands of the Philippines better: “But those were the best of our days, I suppose, when the beautiful were in the contradictions we saw, in the conflicted lives we lived, in the poems of radicalism we wrote, and when salvaging was common in the hills of that seminary (where the priests-to-be studied their Coppleston and Glen and Summa Theologica and metaphysics and the dread of living. But there is hope in Marcel as in the Marx you know before the Marxists would mangle him, including those from the Philippines who called themselves communists). The guns fired against the helpless would signal the crack of dawn, and would crack the dark silence of the hills.”

     That inaugurated a response that made me realize how words could be so charmingly powerful as to invite action and reflection from others.

     I thank Florentino Lorenzana and the fans of his blog—hanseman.wordpress.com—for this miraculous opportunity to take part in the making and remaking of the cyberworld.


Honolulu, HI/ September 26, 2008

Panagsurat iti Biograpia

(Ken Manong Amado I. Yoro, iti pakauna dagiti gandat a panangsurat iti biograpiana.)

Aglanglangta kadagiti makalkula a balikas
kas ita. Iti sango dagiti awan nga agbuybuya,

saludsodek kadakuada dagiti naitalimeng
a pateg kadagiti linabag a di met matagikua.

Idi pay a sinursurotka, kunak kenka.

Idi pay a dagiti askaw ket kas iti muriski
ti nalaing a mannalon, padpadronan piman
toy numo a diman laeng maikanawa
dagiti saka kadagiti libtong.

Wenno tay agsuek a witiwit ta di met
ammo nga ilansa dagiti mata ti agmatuon
kadagiti inurit 
iti kuaresma dagiti bingkol.

Saan ta di met nabendisionan datao 
nga agtagiben kadagiti sinilong
ni naindaniwan nga ayat.

Kadagiti balikas a masanting, ditoy,
ditoy nga aglaing ti addaan mamaitna
a rikna nangnangruna no ti adayo
ket umasideg a panagaripapa 
aginnga a masappuyotak
iti limdo, amin a limdo, ililidak kas
iti wangawangan dagiti tanem
tapno isaruanak dagiti nakamassayag
a bullalayaw iti sementerio dagiti apro
nga iti surnadan maiyatang

kadagiti ansisit a mangiyaw-awan iti agmatuon

kadagiti estoria ti panagkamkamat iti angin

kadagiti panagsagawisiw iti ubing a sipnget
a pangiyaw-awan iti agbalay a sidunget. 

Rugianta ti biograpia dagiti daniwmo
kadagiti lagip iti Tapao a Santa Romana,
ti lugar a kas ina, ti ina a kas lugar,
naikaipasngayan dagiti amin a kari
dagiti agsapa a mailibay. 

Yantangay pinanawam
ti kadkadua, yantangay 
imbatin amin a karkarma
dagiti anniniwan iti rabii a saragisag ti bulan,
mawanawanam ti ladawan 
ti baybay kadagiti amin a siit a rosas
iti aringgawis nga iballawes ti narungsot
a salidummay a maysa met a pannakapaay.

Ngem agsulbod ti mamuriski 
a barsanga, dinto kaano man
mamingga a barsanga
iti linnaaw a makimalmalanga:
agumbi kadagiti pangrugian
ti biograpia nga agkanaganan.  

Hon, HI
Sept. 24/08

Incommunicado, 1979

Siak ni Sixto Carlos Jr, tibak. 

Ita nga aldaw ti inagurasion ti wayawayak
iti cuatro por cuatro a seldak. 

Iti aglikmot nga aglawlaw
ket ti samiweng ti baro a gimong
ken ti armalite dagiti balikas a patibong:
tumaud dagitoy kadagiti libro
iti palasio ti sumuno-nga-aldaw
nga agmauyong 
kadagiti bartolina a kas itoy:
de-numero, ken manglanglangan
a kanayon ti aldaw
kas iti raya ti init 
a di man kumablaaw
no di ket mangited binigat 
a pannakaidasay.

Kaduak dagiti lagip a sumilud, 
iti utob-nakem sa dumarup 
iti ubing a rabii
no kasta a kalinlinnumba ti ridep
iti marmol a pagiladan 
ti agkabannuag a bukot
ngem agrakaya a panunot. 

Asinno ti akinmando, 
asinno ti nangideklarara
iti balligi dagiti abuyot a paltog ken bala
ken dara a ginalon 
tapno kadagiti nawasnay a dana
ti kinagimong ket iti tanem 
a mangukom?

Binigat ti pannakamanso ti dila
kas iti bukelbukel: ti ngudo ti paltog
wenno putan iti asideg nga agpang
ti gatilio ken pannakausiaw: malalakika
a nasudi a di makaammo iti panagumbi,
agkurenren ta agkurenren ti kutimermeren
a balay dagiti maiputot a tibak ti ili! 

Uray ti mabagbagi a taudan
dagiti duogan nga ayat,
agpukaw dagiti amin a rugso,
agsanudda piman kas iti soldado
a sumuko. Ta ania ngarud ti aramiden
no dimon kukua ti sao kadagiti luppo
wenno bibig?

Adu a manso ti daliasaten,
dalan daytoy ti terorista a gagem
iti ili dagiti napukawan nakem.

Honolulu, HI
Septiembre 21, 2008 
(iti aldaw ti naulpit a lagip nga imbati ti Linteg Militar)