Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Death penalty here to stay

TWO years isn’t too long a time to blast away off this planet some 8,000 armed regulars of the New People’s Army.

The job is as easy as finding needles in a haystack—those Reds, their cohorts, allies and sympathizers are quite loud and too showy about their beliefs. They will stick out like heinous warts. They’ll stick it out, come what may.

Forget those sound bites and usual excuses trotted out in defense of killing the death penalty—a humane and compassionate society despises taking away the lives of criminals, no matter how loathsome or abominable their crimes. Capital punishment has no place in a—gasp, choke, belch-- decent society.

Now what about those up in arms against, aim to wrest power from duly constipated, ehek, we mean, constituted powers that be?

Yes, we’re pointing accusing and dirty fingers at those virulent NPAs. We’re fingering ‘em—those frigid faggots who allow gay marriages among their regulars. They have opted to wield political power through the barrels of their assault rifles, not through greasy pork barrels. Is there a felony more heinously hideous than that?

Those NPAs exact revolutionary taxes or in plain terms kotong money from both politicos and businessmen operating in NPA territories like scalawag cops do. They bushwhack small-time felons and cops—that’s aping the ways of kidnap-for-ransom gangs, warlords and drug lords. Their spokesman Gregorio Rosal filch unpaid airtime on radio broadcasts to badmouth the government. And they have the gumption to send batches of press releases to news media—without the usual fat envelopes!

Such cretinous charlatans and their creepy collaborators deserve no whit of mercy.

They deserve a fate worse than roasting forever in hell, those NPAs!

In the ensuing two-year campaign against these insurgents, let it be said that our troops intend to truly extirpate ‘em.

No prisoners will be taken—imprisonment will mean we have to treat them like rapists, drug traffickers, murderers, kidnap-for-ransom gangsters, corrupt-to-the-core officials and similar Christians who have committed heinous crimes but won’t be meted capital punishment.

As for those who get caught in the crossfire, we’ll tab ‘em as collateral damage in this two-year campaign.

Sure the death penalty stays—only for NPAs plus some collateral damage.

Time flies, you’re the pilot

“TIME” topped the list of the most common nouns used by English speakers. “Year” took third, “day” in fifth, and “week” turned at the 17th slot in a list drawn by Oxford University Press—it’s the outfit that puts out the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, deemed as the definitive guide to the twists and turns in an evolving tongue.

“Life” turned up at 9th on the list, “work” on the 16th rung.

The researchers noted that gunshot words—those of single syllables— comprise 90 percent of the top 100 words listed. The noun list was compiled for a more interesting view of the English language.

“Money” logged in at 65th—which implies its not so superior importance in the scheme of things we desire and aspire. How did Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat point up what it takes to fill the human well of longing? “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou, (and thou, and thou…) with me in the wilderness, ah, wilderness were Paradise enow!”

Pressing out fruit juices and fermenting ‘em to turn up a decent drink takes time. After a thorough kneading, yeasted dough is allowed a rest for sometime. It rises, is kneaded some more, then, cut up into suitable morsels—baking ‘em takes time. And thou getting with me into a wilderness of sweets, that can take a lot of time. A two-bit Eden or any throwback to Paradise? That takes a lot of tilling, spreading manure into soil, and growing a melange of flowers and foliage, ah, seed to full-grown pechay takes 45 days— such painstaking tasks chomp up huge chunks of time.

Ah, it took a 40-day fast in the barren wilderness before Satan turned up to ply the greatest temptations to the Son of Man. First test—hush all-too immediate hunger pangs of an empty tummy, quick, splurge. The tested stuck to His fast. Second test—all the world’s material possessions plus political and military power to boot, just obey the devil. Pelf and power were refused. Third test—give in to folly, say, do a pratfall into a cliff just to see if angels would come to the rescue. Satan was rebuffed. Every test was passed. Those same tests pester humanity up to our present time— and we fail each one every time.

Okay, we’re obsessed with time. We afford it paramount importance. So it’s sounded out oftenest in workaday talk, probably in inane chatter or brainless blabber. Maybe in sweet nothings and endearments poured in feverish stream into a beloved’s earlobes. Why, the world’s best pick-up line— divulged recently by a gaggle of Japanese researchers— packs no hint of sex. It’s worded this way: “This time next year, let’s laugh together and have a great time.”

Dion Boucicault: “Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.”

Henry David Thoreau: “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”

Time heals all wounds, wounds all heels— why, History can be an all-too patient assassin waiting, lurking in sun or shadow, taking its own sweet time before unleashing a flurry of killing blows before sweeping culprits into the dustbin. Yes, ambuscades take careful planning—that takes a lot of time. The execution can be swift, in too little or no time at all, hah!

Remember Parkinson’s Law? Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Fact is, there are no expansions. Only dilations or a bloating often characteristic of corpses going through decay. Same volume of bureaucratic work-- that can be done in a jiffy— is stretched out into ages to allow for more salary payments for very little accomplishments.

By our reckoning, time is the most precious commodity. So there’s time management. There’s quality time devoted to kindling or stoking the fires of hearth.

So I spend most times with my Beloved—the missus, my children, our home. The expenditure is worth the bountiful returns, I guess. There are ties that have to bound with a lot of patience, a lot of quantity time.

Do I need the approval or acceptance of others who have so much time on their hands but are frittering it away? Ah, how they’d putter and do running commentary about small tasks I complete or choose not to. They just stand in the way—and in due time, I’ll get to ‘em. Meanwhile I don’t have to waste my time. It’s a sane option. We’d rather not injure eternity, it’s much fun slashing a carotid artery or a femoral vein in just a flick of time.

Or let time quietly kill ‘em, bit by bit by bit. Time wounds all heels.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hungry eyes

A RECENT US study found that some orientals take in all the details in a picture, a detail at a time with sights rampaging throughout the picture. Their eyes do a thorough sweep. Their opposite numbers in western countries merely latch their sights on a picture’s focal point, skipping on tidbits, nuggets and wee morsels that hungry eyes slurp up and chew as cud.

Paying persnickety attention to details can pay ample rewards. Sights are made for seeing. Go peer. Gaze and eyeful. Look out for signs and wondrous sights that are often wee—not too grandiose nor too spectacular.

Only a Moses got that rare chance to set sights on a burning bush that went on burning and wasn’t consumed by fire. Keep the lights burning, please: peer at the splayed open thighs of one’s beloved and behold her bush emitting light and delight.

Only an Arjuna was given a chance to behold the entire universe that was mere kernel of an incarnate divinity. We’ve been told to grasp earth’s entirety in a grain of sand, see and take to licking heaven in a maiden’s flower.

A well-honed sight imparts a keen edge to slice through or flay whatever’s offered before it. A steady diet of sights can be chewed down, their nutrients and essences absorbed to gain lean insights. Behold, verily, then, hold.

Author Anais Nin avers “we don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” So I’ll never have any part in that putative holier than thou anti-pornography group that latch their sights on obscenity and lewdness.

My, oh, my I ought to be those ornate wrought ironwork hand-me-downs from another era—enduring details of the Bautista-Nakpil ancestral home in Quiapo, flaked remnants on the flank of the Monte de Piedad building in Sta. Cruz that I fondly set eyes on on my way to work. That means, and with fingers crossed in wish-craft, I dare say I could endure and be pliant enough to take on geometry and beauty like ‘em.

I remember Friedrich Nietszche stating “look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.” By extension, quantum physics has it that looker and looked at become one. They swap information in that intimate process. Quantum physics has a quaint word for it. Interface. Information and intimacy accrues both to the parties involved in that meeting of sights.

It’s no longer a transaction or workaday deal pursued for its own sake. Interface leads to transformation.

That implies I am in union with a blur of bright plumage in movement —starlings and sparrows in quick flight are a staple sight my eyes snatch as visual snack. Relish those swish/swirl of feathers light as a heart without a care. And those quick-as-a-wink ambush of reptiles, ah, some magnificence of lizards and skinks and serpents as they catch their prey. Include the dart of wasps and bees unleashed like arrows upon foliage and flowering.

What about author Paolo Coelho’s uptake on the mythical character Narcissus? The pond on which Narcissus saw his mirror image missed the man—it was through his limpid eyes that the pond saw its own beauty. The beholder and the beheld are equally blessed.

Those stand of trees and sweep of grass on a hillside in Ciudad Real in Bulacan, why, they’re a sight for tired eyes, a soothing wash of green, tangled branches and blades and all. I haven’t bothered to ask ‘em though if they also deem me as a wonderful sight.

All I ever get to chat with are the plants that I grow in my garden. That wonderful horticulture wizard Luther Burbank once said a plant has 20 sense organs in it. I haven’t figured out any of such but, hey, a plant can communicate and respond to doting thoughts. Umm, let’s just say a head of cabbage packs more sense than most empty-headed louts inflicting inane chatter on us via TV broadcast networks.

No, I still don’t wear eyeglasses—my sight hasn’t dimmed yet. It has probably adjusted, refitted, maybe retooled itself through the years from the normal 20/20 vision to the more recent 36-24-36.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A few miles in my shoes

AN erstwhile boardmate who played classical guitar actually stepped into my shoes. He coaxed out heavenly strains off Antonio Molina’s Hatinggabi, Fernando Sor’s Variations on a Theme by Mozart plus a clutch of other pieces to a full house at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Little Theater. The shoes were duly returned. Odd it was he had to borrow mine—he had a pair of soft leather loafers he could wear for that performance.

Making a defense of his thesis before a panel of academic honchos plus a gaggle of senior students, my eldest kid borrowed and stepped into my shoes. He pulled that defense with bravura. Plus some applause from student peers. An economic feasibility study plus down-to-nitty-gritty architect’s design of an international airport including construction costs for such is something tough to broach before a crowd.

He didn’t need my shoes as platform of sorts to deliver his defense. He has been repeatedly told that he can stand on his own, rise to his true height.

He repeated that oddity—borrowing, stepping into my shoes—at the graduation rites, showing off a fetching nursing student as his 30th conquest. Does one don confidence, gusto, gumption and two-bit tango rhythm on your feet for such a social do? Uh, I attended that occasion on a pair of well-worn sneakers, wont to every-other-day jaunts that starts out at Quiapo straight to Divisoria and winding up at the Jones Bridge in Sta. Cruz.

For a job interview, my third kid also set foot into my leather shoes. He brimmed with confidence, spoke a tad flawless English. He got hired. I ought to get used to my frayed sneakers.

Now, there’s a lot of mileage in those faded pair of rubber-and-canvass affair. I’ve walked the walk in ‘em.

Those same sneakers had chafed through the most recent aborted Gridiron skit of the National Press Club. Say, the hour-long presentation is both fun and punishment, made up of sequences in which we howl out tunes while erupting in some fast dance steps. The physical exertions leave us in sweat. Sometimes in cramps, panting for air as newsdesk-induced stress thaws out of our bodies. It’s a daily rehearsal at off-hours with stage thespian-director Bart Guingona calling the shots.

Suspicion: that ex-boardmate and my two kids might be equally superstitious. Why, they probably believe a person imparts more than zillions of fungal spores from mildew to athlete’s foot, dead rat smell and callused soles into one’s shoes. Maybe something of a wearer’s spirit rubs in and lingers in ‘em shoes. Perhaps, the inner map of his electric body is sole-stamped into the shoes-- the electricity becomes palpable memory imparted to the wearer.

They probably believe that each shoe bears the hallmarks of the shaman, the showman, the shoe filling up the man. The reason may be beyond explanation but, hey, sole rhymes with soul.

There’s this half-remembered phrase from Sunday school about Christians walking with their faith. Maybe the word was fate. Or I must have misheard—we’re not really used to walk on tiptoes, just on one’s feet, bare or shod. One’s feet can be graceful carriage—not in a plod, a trudge, a limp, a shoddy plough, a swagger or stagger.

It took a year for me to wear out a pair of Polo and G. H. Bass, their sturdy soles flayed and flaked smooth to a thin ply by that silly habit of hiking from Quiapo to Divisoria then Binondo to Sta. Cruz before heading off to my work station. Yeah, yeah, I’m a streetwalker soaking all the details along the way not unlike that "Sublime Paralytic of Batangas" and "Brains of the Revolution," Apolinario Mabini. In his schoolboy days, he walked daily from his hometown Talaga to the school he attended in Lipa City. It must have been a day-to-day ordeal for him in pursuit of learning.

The soles wear thin, the legs turn sturdy, takes on an infectious two-tone rhythm of reggae with a plague of salsa and tango plus a whit of rock and roll beat. Sure, there ought to be music oozing off shuffling foot movements to coax the slow wash of endorphin in one’s brain to clear the cobwebs. Say, that same happy hormone is also released in relaxed lovemaking and causes the skin to glow, induces a sense of euphoria and a silly feel-good grin.

So I covered miles and smiles in ‘em shoes in the belief that the quality of one’s movement determines the quality of one’s life.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lapsus linguae

EITHER a lack of pies or pack of lies—that’s what critics and detractors heard from the current MalacaƱang top resident. We need to get a disappointment with an ear specialist quick. If not, we’ll likely hear verbiage as garbage.

Take that outburst, “I am the best president.” That wasn’t an exercise of bragging rights. It wasn’t cold appraisal of one’s competence. It wasn’t a shriek off a delirious imagination. It’s either one of those sound bites or bound sights that ghostwriters fed her. That could also be heard as a ruefully honest confession, “I am the pest resident.”

Remember that spoony admission? “I am sorry.” Some people with hearing problems heard that as “I am rosy.”

Face it, most Filipinos are growing hungrier these days, not even the P30 billion – give or take a few billions – earmarked, no pun intended, as subsidy for rice and instant noodles can curb widespread starvation. So fill our souls with hope or fill our holes with soap and be quick with the screwing. Ease our tears or tease our ears.

Experts point out that hungry people are often hard of hearing.There’s a persistent often pernicious ringing in the ears of a hungry man, the ringing even sounding like a ring tone followed by a too-familiar salutation: “Hello Garci…”

Nobody would dare tell to a hungry nation, “Fiends, romance and infantry men, lend me your ears.” So we must forgive ourselves for gasps in catchment, lumps in judgment, maybe jumps in budget management, why, the Palace top resident stands to get some chunky P800 billion pork barrel this year—no mad bunny, no bad money eh?

Aside from a merry mix-up of minced words in official pronouncements, hunger can also breed hideous behavior. A hunger-prone tribe in Africa, as reported by The Economist, lives in selfishness and conflict, each family member competing with others for food.

The same report notes: “In China, a proverb, ‘Swap child, make food,’ referred to the practice in periods of extreme famine of swapping a daughter’s corpse with that of a neighbor’s and boiling it into soup.”

Whether the pronouncements plied off MalacaƱang are plain lapsus linguae or painful lapses in judgment, we need not strain our collective ears to hear ‘em loud and clear. We’ve heard those same old tunes before, have we not?

A lack of pies, a pack of lies—they sound the same to the hungry.