Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sources of Bigotry

After going to a Regan-MacNeil-head-spinning meeting with freelance writers on a Sunday evening, I came across a church in a middle of a mass. I can hear the echoing voice of the priest through the speaker system conveniently installed around the church so that everyone, including the clueless kids parents bring to church who keep running around the church grounds, peasants outside the vicinity who seriously need some charity help, people outside the church who no longer fits it and others can hear the on-going mass.
I have nothing against church masses, I think they are really effective in keeping all the bad people in the world to take a few hours of not doing something horrendous to mankind and the world. To give them a few moments to simply take a pause from all the dwindling, lying, stealing and killing human dignity.
I am not saying that all church goers are bad people, but it’s a fact that not all church goers are good people.

There are a lot of proven serial killers in the world who were arrested that are involved in churches and even building charity projects. Going to church for them is like a chain that holds back the monster in them – but we are getting sidetracked from what I want to say.

I couldn’t help but notice the huge tarpaulin banner at the gates of the church that says “NO to RH Bill”, I also couldn’t help but over-hear the rubbish that was coming out from the priest’s mouth.
He was saying that same-sex marriage and homosexuals will never be accepted as they – the homosexuals are unnatural creatures.
If I were one of the audience which most were simply pretending to be listening, I would have walked out of the place immediately. But the sheepish audience remains to be herded to the land of bigotry.
Even if there was a burning bush that told him that homosexuals were unnatural creatures roaming the earth, I still wouldn’t stay to listen to him. His audience of course remained, oh the rudeness if one dared to leave – he or she may even be stoned to death, you never know – some of them already tried to burn down CCP and I believe most of them are only waiting for someone to cast the first stone.

I would take the initiative to leave not because he’s saying something bad about homosexuals but simply because the priest is teaching the people to discriminate and look at other beings as inferiors instead of teaching peace and equality.

I quickly took the jeep that came across since I need to get home early.

They say that the Philippines is composed of 85% Christians… No wonder we're having a hard time progressing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Current State of a Starving Writer

I remember last year that I was totally broke I did not have even the money to get to work, I had nothing the whole day. The fridge in the condo unit I was staying has nothing for me and I had 20 pesos in my pockets. P10 became load which zeroed out in the next ten minutes of having it since I had to tell my boss I couldn’t make it to work. I didn't lie, I told her I'm broke.
The other P10 became a piece of banana which of course disappeared within ten seconds.
The day before I had a couple of flat tops for lunch, it wasn’t filling but of course it was better than without. I couldn’t bother to call my mother in the US or any of my other siblings living a life of comfort in different corners of the globe.

I chose to stay here, to fulfill my dreams right in the soil of the motherland.
There was no other way, it was a Friday and I had to get back to my home in Laguna, it was the first and last time that my salary was delayed for a few days. I couldn’t bring myself to borrow money but of course out of hopelessness and famine I was forced to contact a friend of mine who works in Makati who was kind enough to lend me some cash. The problem was I didn’t have the money to go to Makati from Mandaluyong.

I was doomed.
But of course that was last year, at the end of the day my salary went through and I was able to go back to Laguna for the weekend.

Today, I may be experiencing the same thing. I just know that being a writer will never ever make me rich. It’s a very enduring profession but I keep telling myself that I’m not doing it for money but yes, a little bit of comfort won’t hurt and comfort would of course cost money.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell and other writers before me have suffered as well as writers. Fitzgerald had to toil in order to support his lavish lifestyle and George Orwell hid his poverty stricken status by hiding away and keeping the bread he bought in his pockets for people might see him buying cheap bread.

This week, I found myself eating Kimchi Ramyun noodles and baked beans straight from a can.
The feeling of air-headedness starts to kick in when I haven’t been eating healthy and nutritious food. As a faithful vegetarian, I need to eat more varying vegetables in order to fulfill my daily nutritional needs, which of course were flung to the Pasig River since the beginning of the week.
I try to kill my blazing appetite with water. The fridge at my place in Katipunan only has a spread of Sugar-free orange marmalade and another bottle of molasses. It could last me another week.
Another book will be sold again this week and somehow, I consider it as a shining ray of hope to extend my days before complete famine and destituteness.

Meetings and events that requires attendance may have to be postponed which also meant that the progress of my careers would stop to a halt as well. I shall go, even if I have to pack boiled sweet potatoes for lunch.
What George Orwell and I had in common, I recently discovered, was that despite famine looming over our heads – we were able to hide it quite perfectly. He never wanted anyone to know he was a starving writer when he was in France that he couldn’t even tell his laundry maid that he had no money to pay her anymore that his maid thought he had another one doing the work for him and had conceived contempt towards him – that, he’d rather accept.
In my case, I do my own laundry because the idea of stranger going through my clothes is enough to drive to neurotic madness and yes, I also won’t pay for a service I can do better myself. No one else knows how to take care of my clothes but me alone.

Being broke and having this status burned on my skin and soul keeps me grounded. That girl that everyone’s telling me to ask out will never be asked out, for the sole reason – I can’t afford dinner. I can’t afford to pay for her fare, drive her to places and thankless tasks I would normally do for someone out of sheer honor and a tinge of pride. Because I have this ideology that frugal pocket is proportional to frugal passion and the code of etiquette for lesbians – “the asker pays for dinner”.

I also can’t entertain others when asked out, because I will always offer to go Dutch and since I can’t even afford to go Dutch then I would rather spend the evening reading books and studying new materials or writing the novel I’ve been dying to finish.

If the asker or askee insists on paying for my dinner: an epic battle will ensue.

Friends are also starting to miss me since I haven’t been able to hang out.
Poverty is like a chain and ball cuffed to my every limb. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m unhappy, I just know that I’ll get through this high and low state of my early-twenties life.

Buy my book… :D

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blasphemy! not Art.

Blasphemy! not Art. - Cried a Christian.
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the Roman Emperor from 54AD to 68AD who used Christians to light his garden at night by setting them on fire. He also persecuted a lot of Christians for entertainment. It was also rumored that he killed one of the apostles.

Christians back then were strapped down on metal chairs placed on coals and burning fire and other torturous deaths preceded these unfortunate souls of the early ages. They were placed in the coliseum filled with angry bulls as targets and were burned alive for Rome’s entertainment.
These Christians died defending their religion, never renouncing their faith despite their skin scorched by metal or burned by fire. They stood their ground and held on to their faith of Christianity. They didn’t have photos of Jesus or a cross to worship back then, perhaps because it wasn’t in the market and artists aren’t around much. They only had their faith, shining brightly in their souls to guide them, they harmed no one despite their religion challenged or prohibited and when suspected of being Christians - which was considered a crime, they didn’t deny it.

Politeismo by Mideo M. Cruz exhibited in CCP has created such uproar with the Catholic Christian community, demanding for the exhibit be cancelled and or closed down. Vandalism were also made by the appalled Christians, attempting to burn down the exhibit is very… spiritual really.

Visual Art is a sibling of Literary Art and being able to express and convey your ideas to challenge people and tap into the shells of their souls - is what most of us are struggling to achieve – in forms we see would best fit without anyone dictating on our backs what not and what to do or how and how to do it.
We of course believe in a free world, free to express whatever we want to – until someone points a finger and demands for our expressions be halted out of being offended simply because they do not understand or that they think it’s wrong.

Martial Law On Art
Imelda Marcos has demanded the exhibit to be closed down. (Please check out the news on what she has to say about the exhibit, it’s all over the internet)
People who produced the exhibit and the artist have received death threats.

I’ve just read the news that the Kulo Exhibit will be closed down and it was a decision that boards have agreed upon.

Holy Christians!
I have read a lot of what the unhappy Christians had to say about the exhibit. Without understanding what the exhibit is trying to express, they have resorted to being appalled and called the exhibit and artist not –so-holy names aside from “blasphemous”.

But what is faith and how do you defend it? What is spirituality?
I am not a Catholic or any other follower of any branch of Christianity. I read about spirituality and religion. I do not bother going to church, it is a waste of time – I would rather read. I have read the bible (parts of it) and just recently the Teachings of Buddha. The next on my list would be the Quran.
Faith and Spirituality is not about worshipping stones, images, sculptures or toilets.
It is how we treat others and live our lives, following a ‘code’ which we will never betray ourselves for it is a sacrilege on our own. Faith and spirituality goes beyond that, beyond material symbolisms.

 As what the spiritual university taught me, we should detach ourselves from these materials as they are nothing but manmade illusions, what’s important is how we live each day and what’s here (Points to forehead, where the soul was believed to reside in our bodies) so if ever these objects were used in whatever form or ways, we are unaffected and are able effortlessly to contain PEACE within ourselves.
Burning and vandalizing other people’s property is not a shield to defend spirituality and faith, it is nothing but a weapon to harm others and worse, harm the image of the religion that is supposedly to be defended.

Am I spiritual? Not so much but I follow a certain path. I know enough not to harm anyone who insults or challenges me. Just enough to entertain any idea that comes my way and not react in such barbarous ways.

It is always fascinating to see what these Christians have to say and would do when their religion has come into play, especially in our country. They always have something to say, most of the time from a rigid and narrow perspective.
People who were offended didn’t see the art form in its wholeness but it was the parts that offended them simply because they lacked the proper education or capacity to understand, then they labeled it as immoral and wrong.

But what if it were created to offend a religious community, which comprises more than 80% in this country? What if its own purpose is to create uproar? Then these people were nothing more than pawns… actors in a play.
And if it was made to insult and trash their religion, does it justify that the exhibit be vandalized and burned to the ground and closed down?

When Buddhism was starting out and Shakyamuni Buddha with his followers came to a town where everyone insulted them, degraded them and refused to give them food and even harmed them throwing out their preposterous beliefs. A follower of Buddha said “Why don’t we just move on to another town? We are being treated in such inhumane ways.” In which Buddha replied “And what if the next town is the same? Should we move to another town again? No… we stay here and endure this until it ceases” and it did.

Should art only convey the good? Should it be limited?
I suppose we should just write about happy poetry filled with all the positive adjectives available in the dictionary and maybe even sing praises.

Who’s really obscene here?
Is it the one who tried his ideas in harmless and artful ways or the ones who tried to express their ideas by vandalizing other people’s work and gave out death threats?

Art comes in all shapes and sizes.
Deal with it.

We FOLD. Sigh… We live in a world of bigots.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Promoting Unlimited Harlotry: The Death of Dinners

I write for several clients, these clients come from every corner of the world. I wrote for games such as sports, casino, board games and others. I would also sometimes write about real estate, a country in Central America and environmental awareness and sometimes just plain quirky topics like lottery. In other words, I pretty much write about – anything.

As a starving writer I don’t say ‘no’ to these writing jobs since my company would probably give me the boot. Then again, I have come to certain lengths in order to push the limits of my boss’s temper.
Writing about psychology and addiction wasn’t bad, I liked it. It helped me learn about certain disorders that’s possible to be exhibited by a person.

Recently I’ve been given an assignment to write about Adult Dating and anything that is associated with it. Adult Dating is a pretty term for casual sex apparently.

Since the global financial crisis had devastated the consumer population across the earth, it seemed that people, particularly North Americans affected by the Credit Crunch just aren’t fit to go to fancy dinners anymore, at least… most of them. A number of US citizens have also fallen to spiraling depressions, they didn’t want to go out and perhaps have passed up doing what they used to love. They have retreated to their apartments, caves, mansions that will soon be repossessed, have filed bankruptcy chapter 7 or 11, etc and took comfort in eating microwavable TV dinners while sulking over the crisis that has loomed.
I have reasons to believe that Filipinos were the only ones who’re pretty much unaffected.
For the American Capitalist, this is very bad. The snail is beating the speed of global economical progress and they have now pushed the emergency button.
Did I just hear the US dollar rate go down?
Good news for people who buy their items online!

I was digitally summoned through a Skype meeting and my boss informed me to put on hold whatever I was writing and had to produce several articles about “Adult Dating”.
As much as I wanted to write about the horrors of Adult Dating, I was assigned to write about people, who have voracious appetite for something else, (trust me, it’s not what’s for dinner) on how to meet easily and how they should go out there and well “mingle” with likeminded beings.

Has dinner become THAT expensive for people to skip it altogether and go on directly to feeding their carnal organs? I managed to produce more than a dozen articles about the topic and it left me feeling like a pimp, no… worse… I felt a little bit reduced… degraded. After two seconds I have detached myself completely with the emotion and finished work in a male persona.

After work my friends and I have decided to have dinner and of course talk and hang out.
I told them I was assigned to write articles encouraging people to date without dinners.
They all laughed and one said “Do people really need encouraging? It’s happening left and right.”
I must add that it could be happening here and there, now and then, clockwise and counterclockwise, etc.
“So where’d you get the contents of what you wrote? Experience?” said a friend of mine, they were making fun of me.
I didn’t show the slightest appalled reaction “Imagination, stock knowledge and common sense” I answered without seething. “Even if I had to eat tofu for the whole month and end up broke I’d still bother to pay for dinner, I don’t think it’s a matter of being destitute to resort to such body-conscious desires. I’ve met a lot of rich folks who’ve forgotten the essence of dinners. I don’t agree much that it has something to do with their budget, but yes, it plays a small part, a tiny part” I added.

I’ve met people who will give me quizzical looks when talking about dinner and some of them just simply don’t like the idea. They would rather hang at bars, well – they are perhaps the ones who are interested in nothing but going to bed and getting naked or who knows, maybe they just really like a closed space packed with sweaty people, beating with loud music and has cigarette smokes for oxygen while chugging down a bottle of beer against the ambiance of a restaurant where people talk in low tones under nice lighting, wearing something that actually covers their body and eating delectable meals and drinking wine while the fresh or AC air is filled with soothing jazz or classical music. But I do go to these bars on occasions, as often as once a year when invited by friends and I don’t entertain most invites, since I would rather play videogames, write, read, philosophize with friends to hours on end, sleep or spend a meaningful time with a close friend or someone I would like to know more.

In our times, it’s accepted as normal behavior but for spinsters like me, well… we are shunned to the nearest library to poke our noses on any interesting book. I know it may sound such a loser thing to do but I take great pleasure in that. Trust me, you can also get picked up at libraries, at least there you know the people you meet actually READS and someone you can philosophize with.

The culture today has definitely been more open to these things and most of us are more than eager to join the bandwagon while there’s a handful few who would rather stay and be left behind.
According to psychology, impulsive sex for people causes guilt and remorse among other not-so-positive emotions.

The financial status of a person does affect a person’s regard about sex. Poor people who have no other outlet of entertainments (lack of television, books, music etc) would just simply take their pants off – thus the ever ballooning population of the Philippines. Also poor people don’t have access to better education and any philosophical sources out there in the nasty tenements they call home.
Of course, a certain percentage of homosexuality in the country is desired, WE are needed in order to leverage population even just for some tiny little bit and luckily we are very good at that.

Then again, harlots will be harlots - with articles promoting such acts or without. Doesn’t matter where you came from; rich or poor, intelligent or well not-intelligent or mentally-challenged…

Soon, when such sensibilities that a few of us have, had completely died out -
I can just imagine that in the future, if someone asked you out for dinner – it would just be plain ridiculous and out of this world.

Now, where’s my book of Pride and Prejudice?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Corner Tree Cafe Friends

Corner Tree Cafe
150 Jupiter St. Bel-Air
Makati City, Metro Manila
(02) 897-0295

Remember Happy Tree Friends? That cartoon animation on MTV where furry animals die in ridiculous and always horrible way? Apparently, people have this sort of obsession with murdering animals and true enough, millions of animals die on the face of the earth daily. A large portion of animal death is dedicated to feeding humans while a not so big part would go for clothing, biological research and a rather smaller part which seems to be the rage in the Philippines – entertainment.
Horrible isn’t it?
Cut the crap if you’re an omnivore and for vegetarians who have bleeding hearts for these poor creatures: REJOICE!
Scouring Metro Manila for a decent restaurant who feels for animals won’t be as daunting as it was years ago.

Bowl of Chili
At Corner Tree Café, you will be served with animal free meals.
The nightmare of your date not knowing where to take you for dinner had somehow diminished. How many times have you gone out with someone for dinner and couldn’t eat anything on the menu aside from fried Kang Kong – unless it’s your idea of a wonderful evening dinner then ignore what I said.

This restaurant offers Vegan and Vegetarian cuisines (if you’re a vegetarian who has no idea what’s the difference then please go down on your knees and pray, hopefully the knowledge will be bestowed upon you by the gods and goddesses)
So Vegans! You can now leave your homemade ‘baons’ or lunch boxes! In this restaurant, you can actually dare to look at the menu and get to order. It brings tears to my eyes really… Sigh.

A must try and something I keep coming back for is their Bowl of Chili that can either be served with bread or couscous, I have forgotten if they offer it with rice as well but you can always order rice on the side.
Another great order would be the vegan lasagna, a treat for those vegans who has forgotten exactly how lasagna tastes like.
From vegetarian main courses to salads and great desserts - offering vegan chocolate cake. Vegetarians and vegans can now enjoy dining out instead of doing all the trouble of preparing mouth watering dishes all by themselves.

One thing though…
Please avoid ordering the Walnut Tofu burger since as a vegetarian, I always crave for burgers and sadly their tofu burger couldn’t quite make the pass. There are better vegetarian burgers out there, less expensive too. It’s not the greatest burger I’ve tasted, but it’s filling.

The service isn’t something that great but it’s not bad. It’s not like the waiters would serve your meals Cirque Du Soleil style but it’s alright.

As for selections of wine, you can ask their waiter for what they have available. Otherwise there’s a wine store nearby and you can buy wine there and simply pay for the corkage fee. Your call, order here or outside. Ask them to chill the wine you bought outside if you did made the choice of purchasing outside the café.

Corner Tree Cafe is always full especially in the evening. When dining here, make sure you have made reservations by calling them.

The ambiance is great, illuminating the interior with warm light making your date and friends look prettier. Their skin, almost radiant despite the lack of moisturizers and their eyes would sometimes have the reflection of the candles on the table. Maybe they're getting teary because of the amount they would have to pay when the bill comes in.
It has a quiet feel to it unlike in other restaurants where talking seem to require higher decibels as what Anna Kournikova would use when she’s hitting a tennis ball.

Usually, the music played is jazz or bossa nova I forgot and as for the furniture inside the café - well as a daughter of a carpenter who has a legacy in Laguna - they’re not stunning but they are decent and one can sit comfortably.

Conclusion *
Great restaurant for Vegans and Vegetarians and omnivores should also try it here as they really make tasty dishes that are often better than those with meat products.
Try to save an animal life occasionally and try tasting what vegetarians are having, it’s healthy and can accommodate everyone.

Though as much as I want to dine here every day, the life of a starving writer is harsh and quite unforgiving. Prepare to cash out around P400 for your meals here. As for me, I would probably have to save up and eat Tofu for a week in order to dine here again.

RATE: **** (4 Stars out of 5)
(This review is posted on