WITH OTHER PARENTS and talking our Philippine possibilities, you can only speculate how else to survive in this country of our previous dreams. 

A sad republic, someone once sad of the country. 

It is an indictment of our lot as well. 

With more than 10% of the population away earning a living abroad and going through the difficulties of figuring out where to get the placement fee of PhP 300,000 which is the going rate for those going to Israel caregiver, you only can think of farm lots leased, the titles of homes in the hand of other people.

Under these conditions, how on earth can parents even send their children to college?

One parent talks of a hundrefold to send her daughter to a Catholic university where there she would be trained in international relations; another one talks of a son going to an engineering school, and we hear the same nightmarish talks of tuition that has gone unchecked, with tertiary education now in the hands of college owners and the private sector.

As a country committed to educating its citizens for citizenship and life-long learning, when did we ever stop reneging on that part of the social contract?

There are two options open for this country: 1. To go the route of the United States where college tuition is as high as the heavens, 2. To produce cowherd for citizens: the unthinking masses, the masses who never know what to do during elections and the masses who pay more attention to the deeds of cheats, to singers whose face has swollen because some bodies had used it as punching bag.

PHL/4 Feb 2014



ONE OF THE DELIGHTS of travel is that after one has foot on the old earth of 'country home,' the body claims its quota of regeneration, reinvigoration, reenergizing. 

You have to give in to the call of dreamland. 

So you sleep in a different time zone, and you wake up in a different time zone too, and you feel, deep in your gallivanting bones, that you have come back to life after that catatonic experience of hours and hours of being tied to an airplane's seat.

You check the time, and it is evening where you came from.

You try to listen, and silence fills your heart, the silence of the wee hours of morning, dogs from neighbors homes probably still dreaming of bones from crispy pata.

You wake up at 3 AM, and like a monastic person, you utter something called prayer of thanks.

You start to make noise by hitting those buttons representing the letters of your vagabond thoughts, the delight of one like you who likes to go away and hit the road less traveled, and seducing the road to rise up and meet you.

You dream of coffee's aroma, the brrrr of the coffee grinder, and the slow, slow, slow dripping of the coffee maker, one slow drip at a time until the expectant mug is filled to the brim.

And then of course the fancy hazelnut coffee mate, or the Irish cream, for that one fanciful effect for a good and seductive early morning brew.

But so few to that here.

The Philippine poor do not have the coffee maker but we have the 3-in-1 on the ready, that abominable fake coffee that promises some chemical manipulation resembling something better than the overpriced Starbucks.

Ah, your choice is one the writer and chemist Joven Ramirez has called NO-CHOICE CHOICE. Joven, of course, is a nomad like me.

Instant coffee, here you come!

PHL/4 Feb 2014



YOU REMEMBER THE SCENE. As soon as the delayed vehicle approached NAIA, what with the announcement of the pilot that PR 101 is getting there at last to that flight back home, the vagabond passengers got more and more agitated. 

My seatmate, from Maui and a former policeman from the Ilocos, joined his former shooting buddies in one part of the back alley close to the restroom, and exchanged pleasantries and laughter and thoughts of going home.

One of the principal questions you often hear when you are flying back to the homeland and you are in the midst of returnees is, 'How long are you staying?'

That question, to me, is a signifier.

It tells you of something else, a plurality of signifieds hidden deep in the four Ilokano souls.

My seatmate talked of going home to have his parents' home-- their family home, the 'home they remember'--repaired because it is was showing old age and threat of collapse.

He also talked of having bought a retirement home somewhere in the southern part of Laoag, something closer to the hills of Mangato and to that shores of Gabu.

Sometimes, in trips like this one, things get to be to serendipitous you cannot believe your luck: His journalism teacher in high school has been a good friend of mine, the writer Romulo Basuel.

I told him, to his surprise, that his 'mistro'--he called him 'Mistro Mulo'--has emigrated to Oahu, and has been there since 12 months ago.

Small world, indeed. Some of the people you meet know other people you have met.

They come into your life to give your grace and to share their blessings of talk and word, and you bless them too with an equal amount of kindness.

And then you meet to senior citizens, one of them a retired nursing faculty of the same state university system where you teach. 'Am going home to Bacolod,' she says, 'and I retired from teaching more than 20 years ago.'

There was that wide grin on her face, this lady who taught, taught, taught.

I think about myself who taught, taught, taught.

Ah, but of course, this note is being written at this this time: 0230 AM, Tuesday, with the 7100+ time (depending on the tide) as the reference.

MRKA/4 Feb 2014



ONE OF THE PROBLEMS that the Ilocos will face in the future is its penchant for citification.

Citification, of course, is the shedding off of a town's skin, like a venomous snake molting its old one, and leaving the soft tissues as either a reference for good luck to the one who will see it and put it in his wallet (or a least a part of it) and keeping it there for years.

Or that other meaning: the snake is more venomous when it is molting and so never tempt it.

Even today, folks tell of venomous snakes, their being part of everyday life, of snakes having two heads like the 'palapal,' of snakes having the ability to fly, and of snakes crowing like roosters.

Now, here are the signs, like some kind of a Da Vinci Code.

Attendant to this citification is the change in the town's dwelling habits, the assault of prefabricated homes, and the last, the invasion of malls.

Pop culture experts have a term for this invasion of malls: 'mallification.'

And the habit that goes with it: 'malling.'

Robinsons Mall has invades the southern portion of the Padsan shore, closer to the farming villages of that former barrio of Laoag, the San Nicolas de Pedro.

And now the news--from the spin doctors of the capitalists of our malling lives--of another expansion.

So we will see these box-like and ugly buildings, and the Ilocos will soon be turned into ugly Metro Manila with its claims to these malls everywhere you now go.

These malls have multiplied like sari-sari stores.

So here is the inauguration of our welcome to 'development' that means the building up of cement on places that could have been used to provide--and to ensure--food security to the Ilocos Makinamianan.

PHL/14 Feb 2014



WHEN YOU MOVE from one point to another, and that movement requires a change in time zone, you have to psyche yourself up and make yourself believe that paracosm is real. 

Paracosm is the reality of another world, and its reality is no less than the one you are already familiar with. It is a world out there, but it is a world in your head. 

And this holds for time. Let me invent this other reality of time, an other time: PARATEMPUS.

You move from from a place beyond the Pacific side of the Philippines, and move back to the challenging world of being a Mariqueño for many years, and you are faced with the clock issue.

You have to keep on calculating what time is it, time here is dependent on the reference.

Delay, plus this time zone issue plus airline food plus lack of sleep and you have a recipe for going bonkers and the only thing that will cure you is Jollibee right after exiting from that airport parking lot that was made for legitimate robbery, with a hundred pesos for staying four hours more because of the delay. Of course, Jollibee's own parking lot is not any lesser than a robber in broad daylight: it charged us PhP30 to park our vehicle for a fraction of an hour.

So these capitalists have now followed the example of SM Marikina that charges every moving vehicle for as long as you get past those uniformed ticket ladies that do not even no how to smile.

You do not complain: grab that Jollibee because it is like no other.

You have that in Waipahu, but with all those steroids injected into the wings and legs of chicken, which steroids you presume the poultry raisers in da Pinas have not so far learned, but this Jollibee and the mango peach pie tastes so good you need to fight the urge to order for another one.

So much for raising your three children with Jollibee, rain or shine, one even tendering several birthday celebration at their Marikina store somewhere.

What time is it?

Forget it.

3 Feb 2014



ONE OF THE SOURCES of fear and trembling in traveling is the unpredictability of movement in the journey. 

Sometimes you are reduced to that unnecessary inertia either on a long queue by the ticket clearance, with only two people manning the ticket holders of economy seats, and the two others are reserved for the business class. 

Such was the case of PAL PR 101 flight last nite, Honolulu Time.

You go to the airport at 8:45 PM of February to beat your 12:10 AM flight (which is February 2 per the Roman Calendar), and by 9:00 PM you have fallen in line. You get past the ticket sentry at 10:30 because the agent said they have a systems problem with the printer which was why they were doing things manually, which was causing the delay.

The ritual of waiting began at 9:00 PM, and ended at 11:30 PM when the business class passengers were called in to embark. So much for the class system here. Business class first. This means the moneyed. Certainly, you are not part of the definition.

By 12:10 AM, February, the first announcement came: No, we cannot fly yet. There is a fuel injection problem, and we have hit 95 percent and we need an hour to work on the remaining percentage.

An hour came, no announcement, and about 0200 AM, another announcement. There is a problem. Second announcement, this.

And then the monastic silence.

And then came the 3rd announcement: we need more time work on the fuel injection issue, da-da-da.

Before 4:00 AM, we finally hit the dark Honolulu skies.

2 Feb 2014/3 Feb 2014