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7-Up: Daily Morning Regimen

This picture piqued my interest the other day when I saw it over at StumbleUpon. It reminded me of those days when I had morning plans that I called 7-up. Today seems like a good time to rethink those old concepts and modify them with some of a few learning recently and with those in the picture above.

My Morning 7-up
  1. Wake Up - Of course but wake up early.
  2. Drink Up - Immediately drink a glass of water. There has been a lot of blogging, such as this.
  3. Freshen Up - Wash face and freshen up.
  4. Walk Up - Take a walk or exercise using the "Fitness At Home" guidelines below. Do this for 10 minutes.
  5. Fruit Up - Eat a fruit.
  6. Thank Up - Write a list of ten things you are grateful of.
  7. List Up - Create and follow an immediate "to do" list that includes (cooking breakfast, scheduled bible reading, Dad's daily devotion)

Nabua: The Land of Your Flesh

A man cooks and eats stray cats
. A nightmare in a Nabua vacation. I quickly stood up, walked out to the front porch and leaked on the facade. Then it hit me. This was how I'd pee in the morning when I was a kid. Embarassing but funny. It's a misty morning. My eyebrows gather dewdrops and my memory the joys (and importunity) of childhood. Last night at the perya an adult dealer helped elementary kids gamble. I like the perya because of the popcorn and the warm softdrinks that would make you weep in the dark corners of the night. The air is abundant with odors of sweet gas from the many petromax and the gaas-powered cotton-candy spinner. I would partake of the goods of the perya like I was a kid. The old laughs. The old talk-to-strangers habit. I love giving candies to kids who don't know me. They don't mind if I was a tall, dark man in a grey YSL cardigan. Everyone here is kindred spirit. This is a festive summer in Pablo Neruda's world -- tender and seductive. This is Nabua.

To explore the land of your flesh is like a wet towel on a humid day. The other day at the Kamarin, I wanted to snack at Bicaldo's pansitan when a near-sighted, pigeon-toed child approached me asking, "Taga sari ika?" You never get that anywhere. I told her I am from Lourdes Young. "Naggayon na kaya ito bado mo," she said, pointing to my Chris Anderson Nuggets jersey. Before I took my seat at Fredo's, a panhandler asked me for some change. I took out a hundred peso bill, gave it to him and gave him a hug. He never reacted. He didn't recognize me... but I remember him as a seatmate in highschool CAT. To explore the land of your flesh opens up sentimentality you never thought you had.

Of Shelley, rain and Nabua

Nagdadag-um. A Nabuenyo barely notices the picturesque landscape. There's a farmer blood in him. He notices the expanse of dark clouds. Nagdadag-um. Summon the kids. Gather the kinalkag. Roll up the amakan. Assist home the grey partiarch in his wooden shoes. Rain is about to dance on the crests of the trees.

Dag-om is also a metaphor for life, used by the old folk to guide the young. Accustomed to grief and pain, Nang Maring talks about death as a dag-om that looms over his earthly abode. Now at 90, she still makes the best balisongsong, a sweet-sticky rice wrapped in young banana leaves. She never read Shelley -- but in her heart she knows the spirit of the Ode: "if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

As the first wave of rain carpets the earth, kids gather at the door to watch a muddy farmer waits to clean himself beside the alulod. The kids wonder when they will have the liberty to bathe in the rain on their own.

Women of Nabua

“Glenda!” her mother yelled, “guno raw sa noyog!”

“Ulat nguna!” -- Everything was different. And the house had a strong smell of arsenic that beat on her nostrils as if from the depths of a pharmacy…Only then did she understand that three thousand years had passed…

“Dang! Uda kita pang-ubas! Tapusa na raw ito binabasa mo!”

…since the day she had had a desire to eat the first orange.

“Tadi na!” She flings three bond papers up in the air and hugs the coconut tree to begin her climb. One day I will meet Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She whispers to a scar on the tree trunk.

Nightfall Nabua

Naggagagab-i is not just a time period in Nabua – it is a scent, a scene, a sacrament, a rush of emotion that makes one go to Kamarin at nightfall and savor barbecue dipped in atsara. Siram. Everyone comes alive at nightfall – Nang Miring sweeps her damp front yard. Tang Idong burns a pile of dead leaves to shoo away both mosquitoes and bad spirits. When it is about to hit night time, life in Nabua is pristine – a mold of an ancient colonial community with its seduction and sacredness. This is no ordinary nightfall. The bell tolls. The air whispers the excitement of life. Nature rests and breathes a sigh – a breeze. This is our town. This is Nabua.

oO{practice writing}

On Meaning and Beggars

beg·gar [béggər]
noun (plural beg·gars)

1. somebody who begs: somebody who begs for money or food from strangers
2. poor person: a very poor person

Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Beggars have meaning in Encarta Dictionary. But does our society know their meaning when these beggars become actualities of life, no longer concepts? The homeless vagrant in Metro Manila is such that I pass by four of them at least daily. I don't know about hobos in other countries, but here in the Philippines one can classify them as normal, insane and severely insane. The reason I have this thing now for beggars is I'm reflecting on how it is that we humans dehumanize a lot of people around us. A few days ago, a warlord in the South massacred 57+ people in the name of politics. One report said "Mr. Mangundadatu's wife was killed and 'horribly mutilated,' ...His sister and aunt, both pregnant, are also among the victims." Somehow, in the heat of political strife, these women simply meant "animals for slaughter."

The loss of meaning.

So I decided on a quest after a horrible migraine yesterday -- an idea born out of pain. I will try to find the most meaningless people in my day to day life and see if I can grow in the understanding of what they mean. Now I won't be overly anxious about them because I have a job at CBS-Asia and have to re-define my meaning to my wife. My goal is to awaken my humanity as an urbanite. I won't even attempt to be a messiah to them. All I want to do first is to see if they can mean more than what I think they are right now. I can't be overly anxious. You might say, why are you experimenting on them? I'm not. I'm even exploring the possibility of helping them out. But right now, I don't know how to help. Give them food, you say. I will.


These people mean something. But who knows what they are. These beggars round up on Our Lady of Mercy Church, Quirino Avenue, Novaliches, QC. I know, it is quite ironic.

I think this man has an itinerary (I don't mean that to be sarcastic) because he sleeps there in the daytime and when I pass by the place nighfall, he is nowhere in sight. Maybe he has a home. For now, the meaning of this person to me is "He has a home." Charles Dickens once said, "“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” Home means something very important. For now, this person means, "He has a home." Do you have a home? How does it feel being in that home?

This beggar positioned himself under a prayer or a bible verse. Looking like a normal person clean and well kept, he stays on this place during daytime and by the time I pass by nightfall, he's also nowhere in sight. I would also put meaning to this person as "He has a home."

This woman has cerebral palsy. I think. She looked at me when I took the picture. I regularly send pictures to Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) with the details of the picture so the government can do something about them. I sent them SMS of her about a year ago. No response. Although her expressions are ravaged by cerebral palsy, her eyes had the look of wonder why I took a picture of her. Wonder. How many people these days forget to wonder about the things around them. Is it because we have become so self-made and so perfect that to wonder about life seems so naive, so time-consuming. For now, I think this woman means "She wonders."

This kid seems okay. He's just I think, the son of a street sweeper or a beggar. He frequents the transport terminal. He sticks up his index finger and says, "One peso." I gave him three. This kid has one of the saddest faces I've ever seen. Because he's still young, he has good skin. That compensates for the sad face. I think they live in a squatter area and this is her office space. The sack he carries serves as the trash bag for the rubbish of the waiting passengers. Even the most educated Filipino throws trash everywhere. No wonder we have these stupid floods. I think the porter in the terminal allows him to loiter there because he picks up the trash making. Right now I think what this kid means to me is "Kid with the saddest face."

So there you have it -- a starting point.

Beggar #1: "He has a home."
Beggar #2: "He has a home."
Beggar #3: "She wonders."
Beggar #4: "Kid with the saddest face."

To those who would tell me, "Their meaning is that they are created in the image of God." I'd say thanks for the reminder. Appreciate it.

3 People, 3 Days

I dislike seeing beggars. Beggars are actualizations of bad ideas, bad governments, bad pasts, bad families, bad childhood, bad circumstances, even bad decisions in life. It is not that I blame them for their condition, but I dislike seeing them because it reminds me of what may become when the bad is actualized. This morning, on my way to work, I saw this:

(Now recall that it was on this same alley where I got the two kittens I wrote about.) This man I think has been a hobo for a long time:

...judging from the dirt on his clothes and skin.

Who this man is, I really don't care. I'm cruel. Does he have mental illness? What caused his mental illness? Is it substance abuse? Was he born with it? Or is it pain? Emotional pain of the deepest kind. One that snapped him out of the joys of life to this dark tunnel of a nightmare. One that from time to time, people like us feel.

This week I heard two stories of suicides: both fathers of young families. They were fathers who killed themselves for some reasons I really do not want to feel, but we also feel in one way or another. All of us experience suffering and pain, unmet expectations, fears, abandonment, rejection, worries -- mostly anxieties. Some people I personally know deal with their own anxieties by controlling their environment. But some people are powerless, like this beggar -- like these two dads.

Why does evil actualize itself? I once reflected on the issue on three levels: theologically, existentially and philosophically. Yet until now, I experience the force that evil is not just an academic concept, not just a result of language games.

Three people in three days:

Day one: heard a friend cry over the suicide of her cousin
Day two: heard my wife tell a story about a father of a beautiful family commit suicide last August
Day three: this homeless man on my way to work

My head hurts. I groan.

Vanitati enim creatura subjecta est non volens, sed propter eum, qui subjecit eam in spe: quia et ipsa creatura liberatibur a servitute corruptionis in libertatem gloria filiorum Dei. Scimus enim quod omnis creatura ingemiscit, et parturit usque adhuc -- Roma 8:20-22

Eula makes her promising church-girl persona natural.  I brought her last Sunday -- church anniversary.

As soon as the preacher spoke, she fell asleep.

(This was a better picture than her brother's the night before.)

Must have quite a great deal of problems from school to have a sleeping stance like this.  Anyway...Eula was asleep even after the sermon. She woke up a few seconds but returned to sleep when some kid from church fed her milk.

This gave me the opportunity to walk to a friend and leave her alone for awhile.

I had to talk to this guy who I thought looked like Gloc 9's cover in Matrikula (except for the typical teen pa-cute smile)


Then I saw this guy walking around holding what I think is (ohnoyoudidn't!) a party POPPER.  

You mischievous young person posing beside the electric fan like you're a British sentry!  Eula doesn't like the noise when she's fast asleep.  The popper would irritate her and she would make a sound that's a cross between a cry and a firetruck siren.  I've heard this many times even the sound of his brothers fart which is not that loud.  So I came and covered her ears for the explosion of joyous revelry.

True enough, when poppers pop...


(Eula does saliva-bubble when she tries to communicate verbally.)  "What was that crazy noise?" she'd say (probably).  But all I could hear was "Nkh nkh nkh!"

She's like her mom.  As soon as her mom wakes up, she's go, go, go.  So Eula had a time mingling with the church folks.  When I would talk to some friends, her stroller would maneuver like R2D2.


Notice the Family Rubbing Alcohol on the head of her stroller, that's Eula telling the folks (with attitude), "I don't like you if you don't disinfect your hand before touching me!"


Eula's first day in church was all that I expected it to be -- she would be natural, blend in quite well and would give everyone the attitude .  Early this morning she was trying to type a memoir on her stroller laptop for LiveJournal.

But typing a memoir of yesterday seems beyond so far her regimented training which rotates around sleeping, farting, crying, kicking her mom during baths and level 1 speech lessons whose goal is to hurdle the nkh nkh nkh.


Two (Be Careful)...Kitties

I had two episodes of bad dreams last night concerning kitties.  One was a kitty got squished flat on Mindanao Ave; the other was a dream about three evil, Japanese-fanatic construction workers cooking kitten teriyaki for dinner.

An experienced yesterday triggered, I think, these dreams.

I was off from work one afternoon walking through my usual route in Alley 15, Brgy. Pag-asa, QC (just across Gate 2 of Veteran's Hospital)

(That's along Mindanao Ave.)  When I nearly stepped into two interesting creatures right at the gutter:

Yeah, it looked more like dried feces.  But if you take a closer look...

They are actually two sibling kitties (awwwww!)  Alley 15 is a one-way alley that is so narrow, I have to be careful walking through lest a car side-sweeps me.  These two kitties are cheating death.  But they don't seem to mind.  They just snuggle up on the gutter like they were in a cradle -- a death cradle.

I had a moment of hesitation because I didn't like to bend down and pick up these two poor creatures -- my butt might be sideswept by an evil tricycle.  Picking up the two is a matter of instinct to me...

I cannot take these two home -- never did that to any creature or even a girl (while we're on the topic) except my wife.  Honestly I have no intention to be humanitarian, er, felinetarian with these two -- I just want them to be safe.  That's all.

So I put them inside a construction yard where the workers are busy building what I think is a siopao factory.  Hehehehe.

But after dunking them on that fenced ditch, I realized that they can simply crawl out and walk towards busy Mindanao Ave. (hence, my dream mentioned earlier).  I though that the best way to help them survive is to put them in a place where they will not be able to walk out to Mindanao Ave., but also be found by people more caring than me.  Huh!  Correct.  The people?  The construction workers.  The plan feels good, and my guilt washed away by the epiphany.

I secretly placed them on the gateway of the construction site

(Those two kittens are ungrateful.  After I secured their safety, both of them looked at me as if saying wryly, "What a loser!")

I think construction workers are generally nice people, so I think they will take care of the two purrs. My natural anxiety triggered those cat dreams.  This morning on the way to work, I checked the Mindanao Ave. -- no squished cat.


I'm not one who creates stereotypes for the common masa.  I think construction workers, aside from their Axe colognes and sandos inside the jeepney, are really nice guys.  Rizal opened his Noli Me Tangere  with a quote from a parody (Shakespeare's Ghost) by Friedrich Schiller criticizing the arrogant and condescending elite:

"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles, appear on your stage now,
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! there is naught to be seen there but parsons, and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse."
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly called great?--what that is great can they do?"



Tito and Nonong

My dad was tired that day. The heated argument with the gravestone marker (because of the wrong date of birth) took its toll on his disposition.  His brother was dead and this poor artisan missed the date.  I was outside that shop in Binondo; dad didn’t want me to get in.  Muffled by the glass door, dad’s shouts reverberated on the door and window.  He was flinging his arms and his eyes were furious.  I get scared when dad had furious eyes.  I entertained myself by walking to the next store, a typical Chinese restaurant where the local Chinese chef was wringing a huge snake to make a stew.


The heavy gravestone for his dead baby brother wearied his shoulder.We lived back then at Mambajao St., Mandaluyong -- it was a long commute.  Dad never gave me the gravestone.  Inside the jeepney, he placed it on his lap.  While walking he kept it near his bosom, wrapped by two strong arms.  I don’t know why he asked me join him.  I was no use.  I think he didn’t want to be alone. For the first time, the gregarious mighty one needed his kid’s company. When we arrived home that afternoon, it was dark – brownout. Sad things await.

 He stood the gravestone beside the platera.  Our apartment was dark, it only had one window.  The only colors I remember were the shadows and the slit of light coming from the slightly open door which he opened wryly to ventilate the room.  My young mind then thought he was longing to see his brother’s coffin arrive.  His brother was an elite seafarer.  At a very young age, he was a rank away from being a captain of a luxury ship.  Good looking, tall, well-built, good skin, killer smile, a keen sense of humor, very respectful, sweet, famous with the girls, he was in the best sense of the word, the hottest uncle.  When he walks in any party, his pheromones would melt the women.  He loved us – his nephews and nieces.  One time, he bought all of us Mickey Mouse shirts with our individual names printed on the chest.  The crazy bugger was making fun of us in a darling kind of way.  We, the entire Pesebre clan adored him – uncles, nephews, nieces, aunts, grandfather, grandmother, children, in-laws…especially my dad. He calls my dad affectionately as “Nong.”  Now my uncle was dead.  Moments later, dad’s eyes welled up with tears.

 I remember trying to look for a candle…inside the platera.  I accidentally kicked the gravestone, I wounded my foot and dad cursed.  He wiped the blood off the tombstone.  I stood there bleeding.  He was fuming.  Then he started to weep loud, “Tito, Titooooooo.”  My uncle’s name.  That was the only time I saw my dad wail.  There in that dark room lighted only by the light from the slightly open door, with his bleeding son, my dad collapsed on the floor.  For all my life, I could not think of a time when I was sadder than that lonely afternoon.  It was the first time that a deep kind of sadness invaded our home. 

 Today I talked with Claire after more than 30 years of no contact.  Claire is my Uncle Tito’s only child.  I never told her that dad passed away a few years ago.  Kindred spirits.  A few days before Dad died, we had the chance to talk about his little brother and how we messed up the gravestone.  He cried.  The pain was still there.

 Love you, TayPay.

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January 2012


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