Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bigwas ng anak, bagwis ng ama

Bigwas ng anak sa

I WAS one of the lucky few, I guess, that never needed to go to the infamous Counter 45A of the DFA as I was assisted by your news hen friend who covers the department. The long line really did bother me, but nonetheless it was fast considering that it was my first time to get a passport. All you need are the documents pertinent to your application and that’s it. Fortunately I never got into any red tape. I would commend the DFA for not putting me thru that otherwise I would have laid the smack down on an official right there and then. “Our taxes are paying you guys to work for us."

I care to differ on the reasons why millions of Filipinos go overseas, it’s never to support the country heck... every expat here are here not ever for that reason; but it’s so bayani of them to be here. I’m not here for the country. I want a house and realize my dreams. It’s bullcrap to say that it’s for our country. Every expat here went for their families, for their dreams to materialize as there is no possible way of realizing those in the Philippines.

Unless if you have a position under the Executive and Legislative body in government or if you hit the lotto or if you’re with Customs... I saw a house of a Customs employee over at Loyola Grand Villas, would you believe that an ordinary Customs employee’s salary can build a P10-million house, five SUVs not included?

Patriotism is a sensitive matter and it’s not something any Filipino would brazenly be so proud of. Unless Pacman is involved.

It’s just sad that only a handful are still patriotic for a country riddled with garapalang corruption. Last time I had breakfast with Ninong Jerry, Waya--or was it Liwa?-- mentioned that your generation are the only ones who are still patriotic about this country. We of the current generation don’t give a shit because all that the government has offered for our generation since we were born and graduated are loads of shit.

Bagwis ng ama sa

BY some quaint reckoning of space-time (exact latitude and longitude plus prevailing time upon such patch of earth), it turned out that I was born into the caste of Brahmin, priest-kings of sorts at the topmost of a sociopolitical hierarchy devised by Aryans who settled the India’s Indus Valley ages back. The Brahmin are a notch higher than Ksathriya or warrior class. That may explain why I easily stumble into esoteric and eldritch secrets… something that destiny drives me to.

Destiny is called in the vernacular as tadhana. Na tahasang nagmula sa katagang Sanskrit, sadhana. Matinding disiplina ‘to, malupit kaysa sanlibong sit-ups araw-araw upang mapagpag ang bilbil at maging matatag ang sikmura. Matinding bidbid o bigkis sa daloy ng diwa’t isipan at tibok ng damdamin ang sadhana—na pinagmulan din ng katagang sidhi or intensity. But siddhi is an individual, one who attains intense powers of the mind thru the praxis of sadhana. In the 1980s film-maker George Lucas somehow gave movie fans an inkling of sadhana practice—those taking umbrage in the dark side of the force turn out as Sith while seekers of enlightenment become Jedi… fallen like our hopes for a better nation or soaring like current prices of commodities, they’re powerful spirits both in a material world.

I can still profess love for the country—but not for all of the Filipino people. I have settled for the simplest form of patriotism, pagmamahal at pagsisinop sa lupang hinahasikan ng mga punlang pananim. Sabihin mang kabilang na ako sa hanay ng mga babaylan na nakapag-uugnay sa mundo ng mga karaniwang tao at sa tahanan ng mga anito, batlaya’t kaluluwa, ayokong pangahasan na magsinop at mag-ukol ng pagtingin sa lahat ng Pilipino. Pili lang, higit na nakararami ang mga kupal at kumag. Kailangang maging makapili…

Consider. One of your uncles who regularly imports capital goods—mostly second-hand equipments for deep-sea fishing—has to cough up P20,000 to P40,000 a pop to facilitate release of such shipment from Customs. Your uncle is a devout Christian, ayaw na maging bahagi ng panunuhol at katiwalian na pinaiiral saanmang singit at sulok ng gobyerno. Pero ano’ng magagawa niya kung itetengga ng gobyerno ang mga kalakal na inangkat niya? Ayaw man, magbibigay na rin ng suhol and corruption prevails again and again.

Saka hindi naman ipinanganak na Brahmin ang uncle mo—para sakali’y masalinan ng pamamaraan ng tigalpo o death sentence na ibubuga lang sa kahit na sinong kumag at kupal. Para unti-unting mamatay, matuyot sa kung anong karamdaman. That’s transformation.

That sort of transformation in certain people neatly ties in with my pared-down notion of patriotism, or nurturing love for the soil. Humans turn to humus. Those who enrich themselves thru foul means can be done in. Killed off. They’re transformed to enrich the soil.


Muni at huni

Muni ng arkitektong anak sa

I HAVE never been really good at actually applying and mixing colors on a canvas and coming up with the color I really want, especially when I do interiors. You left me once in this art gallery when I was very young, I never knew where you actually went but I was guessing it was work-related, I was very enamored to see those artists do on the spot coloring, I tried my luck in doing some on an empty canvas a guy offered me but unfortunately I sucked. I have since had a hard time trying to get the correct hues. When I was studying I still sucked, a 2.0 in rendering means "needs improvement". Besides my strong point was with design itself, fortunately due to my short stint under Arch. Nannette Segovia's firm as a designer and as a project architect under V.V.Soliven then, I was able to solve the problem of colors. And I am applying it in my current sideline projects here.

My hired colleague got the surprise of his life when he saw me do an entire kitchen, living, dining and foyer within a few minutes using free hand perspective while at the same time discussing things we needed to consider for the client and the materials we would specify; he had a dumbfounded look saying that was very fast aside from amazing; I was able to relay what I was saying and immediately put it in print; he understood everything but asked me how I do it.
An architect from a firm that I applied a year ago or so called me up, asking if I was still free. They acquired my records via a resume that I submitted a long time ago on-line, I told him I’m sorry I was already abroad and he was already making a long distance call.. he politely said sorry and hung up immediately... Ako ang nabawasan ng load hindi siya, daya ng Globe kaka-load ko lang nun ha.

How are things back home? We see the news here on TV and it’s very alarming, the prices here went up also but not as outrageously high as what is happening there…tsk tsk.. If only they never took away the funds for agriculture then, the country wouldn't be in deep shit; not to mention proper regional and urban planning, wala rin naman kasing choice ‘yung mga farmers but to sell their lands to be converted into subdivisions eh. Filipinos are not yet open to condo living nor they can afford it. And what is this quote from the President saying that "going abroad will just be a matter of choice not necessity," is she crazy? Try not to give false hopes and just tell it as it is...a lot of us expats are very disappointed in how you ransacked our money and how the government runs things. I’m still surprised on how she is still there.

Huni ng kulamnistang ama sa

HINDI ko matandaan kung Gallery Genesis sa Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong, Liongoren Gallery sa New York, Cubao o sa Vargas Gallery sa UP Diliman na pawang kumikikig pa rin sa sining o sa Philippine Arts Gallery (PAG) sa dulo ng Lantana, Cubao na tinamaan ng lintik, sunog lahat ng mga likhang sining na nakaimbak pati mga antigong mapa na pinaglalawayan ko noon; medium-rise condominium na ang nakatindig sa dating PAG. May mga naniniwala kasi na matalim ang tingin ko’t gagap ang mga sagisag at sigasig na nakalahad sa alinman sa pitong likhang sining—kasama na roon sa naniniwala sina Manuel Viray, naging ambassador sa Cambodia saka ang lumisan nang Mang Paking Arcellana, na National Artist for Literature. Ah, the most gargantuan try at toilet humor I’ve seen: the driveway ramp at the foreground of the Cultural Center of the Philippines that outlines the rim of a toilet bowl with the building façade as flush tank…

You and Angeli have been in the company of artists since toddling years, both of you chose the path of least resistance in your careers as, well, artists. Ako’y literary and martial artist daw. Malacañang’s current top transient is also an accomplished artist, kaya ganoon kung humirit. Confidence artist.

Government has upped from P12 a kilo to P17 its farm-gate price for palay. It means there’ll be no more P18.25 a kilo NFA rice—unless government continues subsidizing rice price and such subsidy to keep prices artistically surreal is usually wrenched raw off pockets of taxpayers like you and me.

Food expenditure is tops in every Filipino household and chomps from P34-P47 for every P100 spent to keep together body and soul. As the food staple breaches price ceilings, we’re expecting inflation to hit double figures, commodity prices to soar through the ozone layer, and economically minded opinion purveyors to wonder aloud how a confidence artist of an economist leads the nation like lambs to the slaughter.

Life’s a bit drab and dark in this neck of the woods; we’ll be seeing some more charnel hues in the Philippine horizon… and that’s how colors hereabouts are mixed on the canvas of reality, why, even the 2004 poll canvass got swished and swathed with tone colors of “Hello Garci.”

God bless and Godspeed to us all!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Kasal nina Podying at Raymond sa Marso 30

SULAT ng anak: "Bloody hell" was the very first reaction I got from George (a Brit). Nearly everybody at the office and the camp was just shocked and awed at my new look. I just had my hair shaved off revealing my pate... I looked quite macho and sexy as most of them reiterate. I did it because summer is approaching and besides tipid na din sa shampoo.. penance na rin for Holy Week and I wanted to look like Wentworth Miller of “Prison Break.” Bagay ba?

I nearly blew my temper again just this week as the cook I asked to buy me some two kilos of crabs wanted to buy10 kilos instead, my roommates and I are the only ones who will be eating it. He was suggesting I serve the entire Filipino camp... tutal naman malaki ang sinusweldo ko... I’m not a charity ball, I angrily replied... mga Pinoy nga naman, oo.

I called up Tita Tricia to greet her a belated happy birthday. I tried calling home thru Mama's phone but it’s always out of service. Tita reiterated that Irish and Bobby had already married... civil wedding; Mama was a sponsor. They'll be getting married at church when Tito Willy comes back home...she then nudged me on when will it be my turn... "No comment muna ako d’yan" I said.

Is Bonyat doing fine? We have an unofficial tenant underneath the roof of our quarters. I call her “Fat Tweet" the bird is fat...and a visitor which I dubbed "Three Colored Fat" a she-cat who has three colors and is well obese...but she's very malambing and she follows me around, greets me when I come back from work.

SULIT ng Kulamnistang ama: Idagdag pa si Podying at Raymond sa mga hahakbang pasagupa sa agos ng paghihiwalay ng mga mag-asawa sa bansa, sa Marso 30 sila ikakasal. Para yatang mas madaling maghiwalay kaysa magpisan sa panahong ito’t naghahagilap nga ng mga dahilan ang Simbahan para maipaliwanag ang ganitong alimuom. Baka pati isang batas sa thermodynamics ay maisangkalan; ukol sa entropy, a measure of chaos which applies to an isolated system in disequilibrium that increases over time and hits a peak as equilibrium is reached.

Kung ilalapat sa ugnayan ng mag-asawa ang ganitong batas, maiisip na hindi talaga patas, timbang o parehas ang ugnayan kahit sa simula. Tiyak na iigting lang ang hidwaan, iringan, at sigalot sa pagdaan ng panahon.

Sa mga away-musmos ko noon sa Pambuan, Gapan sa Nueva Ecija napulot ang katagang “magkapeso” o patas sa timbang ang magsasalpukan. Halaw sa Español ang peso o weight class. Mainam ngang namnamin sa isipan na kapag naging parehas o patas sa timbang ang magsasalpukan, magkapeso na— parang magaan na ang dating ng saganang salapi and I’d like to believe money is a form of chaotic energy. At umaatikabong salpukan din ang sinusuong sa kama, este, sa pag-aasawa, ‘di ba?

Debut naman sa Marso 29 ni Cynthia ng Tito Boyet at Tita Raquel mo, pinapagawa pa nga ako ng bibigkasing talumpati doon… isa sa mga bathaluman ng pagsasaka’t pagsisinop ng lupa si Cynthia na kapangalan ng isa sa mga idol ko, Kinatawan Cynthia Ampaya Aguilar-Villar ng Las Piñas na kumakasa kahit sa mga pakanang patakaran at masansang na makinasyon ng Malacañang. Nakakabilib.

Kamagong ang tawag noon sa ganyang gupit, ganoon kasi ang anyo ng bunga ng kamagong o mabolo,
an endangered tree species which resounds to power and hardiness. Ganoon ang gupit ng mga sundalong isinagupa sa Bangsa Moro Army nitong mga taon ng 1970—at tila mga trosong tumimbuwang sa Mindanao combat zones noon. Kung hindi napugot ang ulo, nasira ang ulo. Pulos puno ng kamagong ang nasa tagiliran ng isang ward sa V. Luna Memorial Medical Center na pinaglalagakan ng mga kawal o beterano na may post traumatic stress syndrome, war shock.

Bonyat is out-and-out housebound Auslander tom, kahit masarap ang pagkain ng kapwa pusa, hindi makikipag-agawan. Katiting pa rin kung kumain. Medyo nabawasan yata ang kanyang predatory instincts, hindi na kasi sumisila ng mga mayang mamindita sa itaas ng bahay. Sabay namang malambing sumalubong at magkikiskis ng kanilang katawan sa ‘kin ang tutang Bitoy at pusang Bhatman.

Dish 10 kilos of crabs for a Filipino camp? Ayoko yata sa ganyan. One gets such affliction via sex with someone infected with crabs, mwa-ha-ha-ha-haw!

Current buzzword in this neck of the woods, “Trabaho, trabaho, trabaho; hindi gulo--ria arroyo.”

Salaysay at saluysoy

Salaysay ng anak sa

HERE are pics of yesterday's occasion. I cooked for my bwisitas on my birthday; they loved my cooking, naubos yung hinanda ko. First time daw sila nakakain ng pagkaing tao; I was supposed to cook something new but I lacked the ingredients so basic na lang ang hinanda ko.

I saw Angeli's pictures, they are nice pero bakit malabo 'ata yung ibang kuha? Mama still looks radiant hindi pa rin halatang old unlike you ha-ha. Angeli's gown is very formal... napaka-serious naman ng suot niya, parang di ako sanay na makita siyang formal... pero nice dress ha. I noticed the tummy though, it's bulging and she looks, well, fat... So Raymond's hair has grown, most of the pictures I saw of him in Angeli's Friendster profile he's clean shaven... he looks big in his barong or is he big?

Saluysoy ng ama sa

Pasta and fruit salad, madali ngang lutuinpero mas matindi if tomato paste was sauce base stirred in with 2-3 fistfuls of fresh basil, two cups of minced celery, dashes of oregano, 2-3 cups minced garlic and 3-5 cups of crab roe (aligi ng talangka). I’m glad you’ve easily taken to cookery which, like enduring love, must be plunged into with endearing passion.

Baka manghilakbot ka kapag nakita mo si Angeli playing monster twin to Judy Ann Santos in an upcoming Regal horror film.

Raymond was looking good—and he’s really that big while his bride Angeli, well, she does eat with much gusto calories are setting up a bivouac at her waistline. Raymond’s father is an amiable fellow, we hit it off first time we chatted up over whiskey toasts to the newlyweds. Summer’s blowtorch spell paused for a heavy downpour on Raymond-Angeli’s nuptials, why, we took that as a blessed sign from the heavens for the union. Ah, marriages are also a union of families, even Raymond’s grandmother shared earnest pleasantries with me—talagang tumatanda na ‘ko.

Sure, your mom’s radiant as ever while the old looks become my self. The years like a frontiers man’s axe have hewn me much, I ought to hurl new marching orders to the cell colonies on my face to ease up their rough edges and shine like crazy diamonds, twinkle like suns. Easy does it. As a long line of masters before me have it, there is a continuum which links all living things together so that the smallest cell does not pulsate without its effects being felt in the furthest reaches of space.

And I won’t need buckets of Glutathione, Metathione, or Malathion shot-fed into my bloodstream to reach such physical results.

Napasobra ang higpit ng salpak sa dugtungan ng isang metal tent pole last All Souls Day and none of those gathered before your Lolo Dominador Gomez’s burial site could wring the poles apart, so I asked your uncle Boyet to grip an end of the pole while I wring the other end—umikot pati siya nang pihitin ko’t paghiwalayin ang pinagdugtong na tubo, ang lakas ko raw pala. Hanggang sa kabundukan ng Montalban, ganoon pa rin ang naging papel ko—tagabukas ng takip-garapon at mahigpit na takip ng soft drink…

Ganoon yata ang tumatanda. Mas mahigpit na ang gagap sa maraming bagay-bagay. Or I must have learned much grasping at or getting a grip on all those loads of lessons I’ve been lucky to be dealt and blessed with over the years. Saka ‘yon nga: the hideous knot of strength that can be unleashed through the wrist comes from constant praxis of circular strength training and rhythmic breathing. Wuyiquan. Qi gong. Orientals know a thing or two about wringing secrets out of Mother Nature.

A few avid readers are telling me the tidbits of know-how and some plied out in this column has become more accessible to them with our correspondence, so keep the electronic mails coming—whether or not there’s generous foreplay or incessant digital dawdling of G-spots.

God bless, Godspeed!

Kuwento ang anak, kuwenta ng ama

Kuwento ng anak mula

BEEN very busy lately, I had a hard time trying to understand which pipes are critical for making the plant work and which one needs to be inspected. I nearly lost my Aramco ID card somewhere in Tanajib plants, I could not remember if I dropped it somewhere over at the exchangers on the top of the platform... this is equivalent to 6 stories, or if I left it somewhere over at the desalters. Luckily somebody found it... penalty for losing it is 500 Saudi riyals...can afford but I don’t want to afford…kuripot ‘ko talaga.

I have sidelines here left and right, this time pertaining to architecture; I was blessed enough to acquire design jobs when they found out I know design (they saw my resume and tried me out, they liked my work), I gained a Filipino client who wants his house in Batangas to be renovated; served as a design consultant for my supervisor’s mansion that he is building for his family, he has again asked for my services for an entire interior design package. If everything goes well with another client I would regularly be acquiring design jobs related to architectural and structural works...problem is, I have to also address my job as the inspection coordinator for my unit.

I decided to bring in help from my fellow expats working over as draftsmen at the Design and Engineering unit where I was originally assigned prior to being promoted to this position. Unfortunately... they don’t know that much about design; I am not a very patient teacher to be frank, but for the sake of raking in extra money for them and me, I have to teach them what they need to know about I am officially serving as a design architect, they submit sketches, I discuss it, they encode it... I also get to do design myself too.

I may be busy again for quite a while because of these new commitments...but I find it fun and a whole new adventure… especially with what I love, hopefully it would boost my chances of gaining more knowledge and become at least one of the best in my field.

How is my Bonyat doing? I saw your pictures. You’re very should really watch your health there.. Especially your nicotine intake. You’re not as youthful anymore. Mama too. I'll have some vitamins for you be sent there one of these days.

Kuwenta ng ama sa

YOUR great, great grandmother on my mom’s side, one Fernanda Diaz Liwag who’s a next of kin to the late educator and senator Juan Liwag, why, she did Sulipeña cooking about five times a day using fuel wood which emits tons of dioxins and carbon dioxide that’s murderous to one’s health. Every cooking episode equals an intake, as 1990 World Health Organization figures have it, of 20 packs of cigarettes. That’s 100 packs of cigarettes a day for her. And all such cooking must have mummified her sturdy body; she breathed her last in myocardial infarction nearly breaching the 120-year lifespan of healthy human cells kept under laboratory conditions. How she did that beats me pero natitiyak kong naambunan niya ako ng hilig sa pagluluto’t paninigarilyo—and I’ve got more than half a century to go.

Uh-oh, must be the gun-smoke and cordite of skirmishes in us—she was in the armed resistance against the Japanese during WWII so much like a katoto Willy Baun—that affords us to go through the perils of smoking. Or it’s all in that passion for slow cookery with fuel-wood in communion with the gods of hearth, there’s not much lethal homespun cooking done these days of fastfood.

The snapshot I sent you was taken after a four-hour trudge through the innermost bucolic parts of Montalban, Rizal while getting broiled under a summer sun. Metro Manila and suburban areas sizzle at a few points below the 37-degree Celsius human body temperature while it’s typical typhoid feverish up Cagayan Valley at upwards 40 degrees C. So I turned up well-done over. Tall, dark, and loath-some. Takip-silim na’t nagbabarog pa nga ng palay sa lusong para may maisaing kami sa hapunan noon.

I’ve done something new throughout that trudge, allowed my heart and an energy center at the base of the spine to do chanting of Islamic and Buddhist orisons. Nagagawa pala ang ganoon. Kaibang ginhawa ang pakiramdam sa katawan—kahit na nagkalintos-lintos sa init ng buhangin ang aking kaliwang talampakan sa napakahabang lakad.

I remember that you packed an entire auditorium in defense of your thesis-design for an international airport—and you had to borrow and wear my calf leather Polo for the confident feel of stepping into my shoes for such a learning/teaching session. As the masters would have it, one has to learn going through the 108 movements of taijiquan before proceeding to do hours of walking meditation, or being keenly aware of the entire movement of body parts as one walks. Ah, to really feel and be at home with one’s body no matter the twists and turns of iremi. Sa ganoon napupudpod ang mga sapatos ko, and you have to step into them at times.

Marami namang masusulatan at mahahagip ding kayod sa pagsusulat dito sa Pilipinas—pero they’re pretty scared of someone who packs I.Q. 160 in him that’s merely twice the brain capacity of most rapist convicts and idiots. Pero natutuwa ako’t natutulungan mo ang kapwa Pilipino para madagdagan ang kita’t maipakita rin ang kanilang kakayahan.

Cool Auslander cat Bonyat’s as ever blessed as we are, Godspeed!

Wala na raw peryodiko sa media

HINDI na pala kabilang sa news media ang turing sa gaya naming peryodista’t nakasupalpal sa pahayagang papel ang nasusulat—kasi nga’y pumapalo pala sa 75% ng populasyon ang sumasagap ng bali-balita’t kung anumang alimuom at singaw mula susong salamin. Susong salamin, kristal na kuhol, boob tube, idiot box, TV.

Mura kasi kaysa peryodiko na sapul nitong mga taon ng dekada 1970 hanggang sa kasalukuyan, nakapako pa rin sa may 2 milyon ang pinagsanib na mga sipi sa araw-araw. Sandamukal na ang mga free TV stations, meron pang cable TV. Wala pang kahirap-hirap ang kukote para himayin pa’t maglimi sa anumang alingasngas at alingasaw na masusupsop sa naturang suso.

Hindi naman aalma ang mga tulad kong pusakal sa pagsusulat, kahit hindi namin mawawaan ang kanilang pamamaraan sa pagbuo ng pangungusap at balarila ng bakla. Kahit naisantabi na kami’t mas nakakagiliwang mapuntirya’t tugisin ng tingga ng mga nasagasaang asungot at kumag sa lipunan ng our penis, oops, computer keyboard is mightier than the remote.

Unreeling images purvey plain sights; the stacked-up paragraphs fueled by witty turns of phrases and word jabs may offer insights. So there’s no need to reinvent the writing craft, the process of thinking in print with a view to haul in a fresh batch of readers. To write is to be at war, payo nga ni Voltaire, at nakasanayan na ring magpalipat-lipat o maglunoy-lublob sa foxhole, pati sa watering hole, at katakam-takam na womanhole.

Saka P4 sangkilo ng diyaryo—may pakinabang pa rin mas mahusay kaysa plastik na pambalot ng tinapa sa palengke matapos pagsawaang basahin. Maisasalin pa sa ibang mambabasa’t maikukumot pa nga ng mga natutulog sa bangketa.

Saka magaan pa rin sa mata ang paghagod ng mga titik na kikikig hanggang sa mga sulok na silid ng ulirat. Hindi pa maingay ang nakalimbag na mga kataga—hindi mambubulahaw ng mga nasa kahanggang bahay.

People watching TV feel relaxed and passive, "show less mental stimulation, as measured by alpha brain-wave production, during viewing than during reading." Ganoon ang ulat nitong Pebrero 2002 sa Scientific American—na kahit nilumot na nga sa luma, mahahalungkat pa rin dahil mas matindi pa rin ang pinakamapusyaw na tintang inilapat sa papel kaysa pinakamatalas na memorya.

Dagdag pa ng ulat: “What is more surprising is that the sense of relaxation ends when the set is turned off, but the feelings of passivity and lowered alertness continue. Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before. In contrast, they rarely indicate such difficulty after reading. After playing sports or engaging in hobbies, people report improvements in mood. After watching TV, people's moods are about the same or worse than before.”

Iginiit pa na “viewers tend to watch more television than they had planned to, even though the longer they watch, the less satisfaction they report. The researchers ascribe TV's attractive power in part to the ‘orienting response.’ This is ‘our instinctive visual or auditory reaction to any sudden or novel stimulus,’ and it includes dilation of blood vessels to the brain, slowed heart, and constriction of blood vessels to major muscle groups, all while attention is focused on information-gathering. So the cuts, zooms, pans, and sudden noises so typical of television presentation serve to keep the orienting response continuously engaged. (However, more than ten cuts in a two-minute period result in reduced accuracy of recall.)”

“Television Addiction” ang pamagat ng naturang ulat nina Robert Kubey at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Mabuti na lang, hindi pa kami talamak sa pagiging sugapa sa pagsupsop sa salaming suso—wala kasing katas o gatas na maitaktak.

Ganoon man, tiklop na talaga kaming diyarista sa telebisyon. Nito ngang huling coverage, nagpakilala na lang ako bilang agronomist na may konting nalalaman sa biological weapons development at kakayahan sa mahusay na produksiyon ng pagkaing butil. Yeah, still with the press o pindot na katugma’t katunog ng hindot.

At pusakal pa rin sa pagsusulat.

Manioc for maniacs

HINDI pa masyadong dumadagundong ang lutong ng corncharon at kornik noon kaya de latang kanin pa rin ang nilalantakan ng mga naiipit sa combat zone. Kailangan pang tungkabin ng abrelata o bayoneta, paano na maituturing na comfort food ang bahaw sa lata? Kung sa pagpatrulya’y may baon mang bigas at kaldero, kulang ang tatlong canteen ng tubig panghugas-bigas—at may yugto sa giyera noon na magpaparingas ka pa lang ng gatong sa isasaing, tinutunton at buhos-ulan ang bala sa pagmumulan ng usok sa pagluluto. Uusok sa ngitngit at ubos na tutong ang gutom na kawal.

Iba ang nakagisnan sa pagkain ng mga kasagupa. Mga ginayat na tipak ng kamoteng kahoy o balinghoy—cassava, tapioca or manioc in English, manioc for a maniac. Taajil ang tawag sa kanila. Tinayantang sa araw, nauulanan minsan tutubuan pa nga ng amag at lactic acid bacteria na pampadagdag sa protina, sustansiya’t lasa—gawgaw o clothes starch lang talaga ang mapipigang laman sa balinghoy. Nangingitim ang kulay. Ganoon ang kanilang K-ration. Na kahit sa gitna ng umaatikabong ratratan, dudukutin lang sa lukbutan, makakain kahit hilaw ang taajil. Busog ang kalaban, gutom naman kami—‘tangnang giyera ‘yan.

Masisimsim din naman ang essence of manioc sa Ginebra Capitan ng chemical engineer-turned-taipan Lucio Tan, pati na sa nakamulatang marka demonyo na alkohol mula katas ng balinghoy ang naging pangunahing sangkap sapul nitong mga taon ng 1980 nang mapahusay na ang alcohol extraction process mula sa naturang lamang-ugat. At nakagiliwan na nga namin ng katotong Catalino Alano ng Gumamela sa Balayan, Batangas ang inuming may essence of manioc for the likes of us who are sex maniacs.

Sinaing na kisa o pinaghalong durog na mais at bigas ang katapat sa ulam na karne’t gulay—lalo na sa balbakwa, a spicy stew of ox face, feet, tendons, and ligaments. Magulo ang timpla ng kisa. May ibig na dalawang takal na bigas bawat tatlo ng mais; merong 3 bigas:2 mais; o 4 bigas:1 mais or vice versa. Mas tumatalab at mahilab sa tiyan ang pulos mais na lang.

Pero sa mga siyudad ng Cagayan de Oro’t Cebu lang makakahagilap sa palengke ng mainam na mais na makikisa—o baka naman pahiwatig ng umaalingawngaw sa pandinig na pantig niyong salita na napakasarap yatang papakin. Makikisa… Saan? Sa Metro Manila? Patuka sa manok at palablab sa baboy ang mabibiling durog na mais, thoroughly infested with weevils, those wee bugs swimming in the grits na baka pasaring naman sa gobyerno’t Malacañang similarly infested with both humongous and wee evils.

Meron din daw kasing baboy na nakasandal sa Malacañang na kapural sa pagpupuslit ng angkat na bigas—aangkat ng tone-tonelada para kuno sa National Food Authority pero isasalya pala sa commercial rice traders ang inangkat. Oryza sativa-tiba talaga ang pasok ng milyones sa bulsa ng baboy na ‘yon.

Pantapat naman sa pagkaing-dagat o seafood (kasama na yata sa kataguriang ito ng pagkain pati si Marimar na mahilig maglunoy sa dagat) ang mga sapak na tipak ng taajil—o kahit mga umuusok na piraso ng nilaga, inihaw o binanging balinghoy. Matingkad ang hagod-gawgaw sa dila ng kamoteng kahoy na kapag sinundan, halimbawa lang, ng ilang pirasong laman ng alupihang dagat or mantis shrimp for you discriminating gourmets and lap-it-all-up gourmands, parang nagtagpo ang alat-alon ng dagat sa matamis na dalampasigan. Ah, the dulcet brine in seafood rounds out sweetish starch taste of cassava. Pero mahirap nang makahagilap ng alupihang dagat sa mga pamilihan sa Metro Manila and you’ll likely find this seafood delicacy in high-end Chinese restaurants, mantis shrimps still held hostage in recycled one-liter plastic bottles in which they’re pellet-fed and fattened, their meat no longer as stringy or lecherously luscious as their predatory free-roaming kind in the bowels of our seas.

Atsarang guso o seaweed ang panterno ng taga-Cebu sa nilagang kamoteng baging, paghaharap pa rin sa hapag at pagtatalisuyo sa sikmura ng kalamnan sa pusod ng tabsing at nilalaman sa dibdib ng lupa. Sabihin man na ang kamote’y food for utot, sagana naman ang talbos-kamote sa iron, phosphorous, folate, and fiber at pampalakas sa nasalanta ng dengue.

Hindi naman kasi maituturing na pangunahing pagkaing butil kahit na katigbi—or Job’s tears for you Sunday school kids and it has better quality starch and more nutrients than rice— dahil nakagiliwan nga ng may 2.5 bilyon sa populasyon ng daigdig ang pagkain ng kanin. Pinipilit na ngang masalinan ng kahit iron at salpakan ng katiting na protina ang genetically modified rice seedlings—para hindi pulos glucose lang ang taglay nito.

Oryza sativa nga pala ang tawag ng botanists sa palay na damo rin kaya nahihilo kami hanggang ngayon. Para maiugnay ito sa damo rin naman kung ituring na Cannabis sativa.