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Things from my childhood that I really miss.

January 30, 2008

As I was spreading shampoo on my hair while taking a bath earlier today, I accidentally (oh, boy I’m such a klutz) smeared some to my eyes.. Oh, the pain! For a brief moment, the walls reverberated with various curses, swears, and filthy words (what? It was a moment of weakness, okay??)..

When I finally got over it (and when my mom scolded me from the outside for cursing too much which is very ironic coz she was also cursing herself while she was at it), I began to think of the time when I never had to worry about getting shampoo in my eyes and crying from the pain and getting angry. How I miss Rejoice for Kids!

I remember before, I think I was seven or eight years old, when I first saw the commercial with the little girl being bathed by their mom using Rejoice for Kids, I got so excited and wanted my mom to buy me one sachet! I never felt like that since the Colgate advertisement – the one where Looney Tunes characters spring into life when you brush your teeth with the product and with toothpaste bubbles floating around. What jolly fun!

I remember it. The packaging of the shampoo. I remember it being yellow with a big star on it; the star had a face and it was smiling. I think there was a line in the ad that says “No more tears”… wow…It really worked for me.

When my mom finally bought me one, I immediately took a bath with it, daringly applied it on my eyes… and it’s true! No tears! I was so amazed! I remember myself shouting with glee! Looking back at it now, I think that was kinda stupid. Can you imagine? All for a shampoo?? Haha… But that’s what I wanna go back to. I wanna go back to being perpetually amazed by the world. Now, almost nothing interests me anymore (well, except for cute kids and all). I wanna go back to being that pure innocent ad-bending child. The one whose life revolves in constant wonder. I miss that.

Contemplating on it, there are also other things from my childhood that I really really miss (you know, the kind that gets into your head just after you’ve tucked yourself in bed; then your mind wanders off into a dozen of thoughts — your fears, the ones you love, your plans for the future — until you reach into the domain that holds memories about your past. And then it hits you. It hits you hard. It peirces itself into your heart. Making you cry because you think of the things that you no longer have). In my case, here are some of them:

  • the Rejoice for Kids shampoo (no more tears… *sniff sniff*)
  • the Colgate toothpaste with Looney Tunes characters
  • my best friend who passed away (accepting the fact that people have died is really painful. Knowing that you can never see them again; that seeing them is no longer an option. And that hurts.)
  • kain sa labas with my family (we all went out together then) . Our favorite place to eat was “El Grande” (because my dad looooves barbecue) and the now-extinct “Pagoda” (where there were video games I would play with my brother and there was that caged snake…not that I like snakes! I hate them! I’m scared of em! But because I knew my father would protect us from it if ever it would escape, it made the whole thing exciting. I used to think of my dad as someone who’s really really strong. I miss that. And that hurts, too.)
  • My Lolo Tinoy who also passed away (because he was assassinated by someone close to home). It’s regretful to think that there’s so much I don’t know about him. And he was a very lonely old man. I would’ve gotten to know him better if I exerted more effort. But I didn’t. Now I miss him.
  • Tatay Mario.. I miss looking at him as he watches TV Patrol with all the lights turned down and him holding an abaniko on one hand. I also miss hearing his “Santa Clause” laugh while he gets tickled by the shows on Cartoon Network (Tom and Jerry, he likes that).
  • staying up late and straining my ears just to listen to my titas exchange gossip and spill the beans of their love life on each other (this is why I loved staying at my Lola Edith’s place..this was before most of them got married and had families of their own).
  • catfights involving my titas. haha. boy, that was a lot of fun! I’d pretend I was Noli de Castro reporting live with them fighting in the background. hahahaha! The good days.
  • praying the rosary with my lola and titas. I used to love leading the prayers. But mainly, I loved the rosary sessions because I find the serious mood required for it tempting to break. And I broke it a lot of times. And we would all laugh except for lola. She’d say “Sssshhh….” But she wasn’t angry. She’d only pretend to be angry. And after the session, she’d pretend to pinch me by the side. Hehehehe.. I love my lola.

<sigh> Why must we all grow up? What also bothers me is that, as we grow, we tend to lose things…precious things. And most of the time, we can’t even remember why we lost them. But the sad fact is, we can never retreive those things which we have lost. Because even if we go back to them, it just wouldn’t feel the same way as it did before anymore.

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A Feminist-Marxist Criticism on “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”

January 29, 2008

Dai Sijie’s first novel, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, is something that appeals for both Feminist and Marxist readers. It is a story of love, beauty, awakening of desires, romance, literature, and how all these “people” the lives of those involved in the re-education movement in the height of the Cultural Revolution of China in Mao Tse Tung’s reign during the 1970’s.

Part of the reeducation program at that time was the automatic suspicion on intellectuals, who are then sent to provinces or countryside to “cleanse” themselves of their bourgeois ways. Two of the main characters in the story, Luo and the narrator (whose name, as translated in English means “Horse Sword Bell”) were sent to the fictional mountain named Phoenix of the Sky to be reeducated by carrying natural fertilizers (i.e. animal dung) on their backs and working in the dangerous copper mines. Luo is a son of a famous dentist, who has been labeled as “an enemy of the state” for once performing dentistry on Chairman Mao’s teeth and for hinting the imperfection of Chairman Mao. The narrator (we shall address to him as Ma), on the other hand, is a son of a pulmonary physician. Ma is also a gifted musician and is dubbed as “the fiddler” for he plays the violin.

It has been stated in the novel that only the books approved by the government (books about human labor and manpower) is allowed to be read. Upon Luo and Ma’s arrival, the village Chief goes through their possessions, throwing “bourgeois” stuff on the fire and nearly doing the same thing with Ma’s violin (thinking it was a toy) before Luo convinces him to let Ma play Mozart on it. Ma charms the villagers with the sonata and is allowed to keep his instrument when the Chief is informed that the composition is in honor of Chairman Mao and is entitled “Mozart is thinking of Chairman Mao”. The ignorance of the villagers is in sync with the two boys’ capability to manipulate them, as they are more educated or more “civilized” as compared to them. This shows the possession of power among the two class strata.

The novel shows how various “rebels” of the Mao government adjust with the situation they are in pragmatically. For instance, Ma can still play Mozart’s compositions by attributing them to Mao or Lenin (“Mozart is thinking of Chairman Mao). Foreign literary pieces can even be hidden from illiterates, who may mistake an illustration of Flaubert for Karl Marx (like what happened when Ma got bullied by the gang who were jealous of him for spending much time with the Little Seamstress). The boys will never renounce their education, but will remain undercover intellectuals until the day that the government no longer requires that they hide their talents – after their reeducation has been made successful.

They soon meet the Little Chinese Seamstress, whom Luo thinks is “not civilized, at least not enough” for him. So, upon acquiring forbidden literary books from their friend Four-Eyes, who is in another neighboring village and also a candidate for reeducation, Luo reads to her books written by Balzac and other prominent writers of the west. This prejudice of Luo on women from the village underlines the presence of male dominance over women with an added discrimination on the people who live in the villages. Luo is stereotyping the Little Seamstress.

Luo and Ma are not aware of the impact of the Little Chinese Seamstress to their lives. Discreetly, she is the reason why they experience the feeling of having something to look forward to amidst the atrocities of their time, well, her and the literary books but she is the one who fires up the books that they read. They read the books all the while thinking of her and how she would respond to it. Will she like it? Will her eyes light upo when this is read to her?

The Little Seamstress then indulges in a sexual relationship with Luo. This act of “giving herself up” to Luo is another manifestation of sexualized power relations among men and women. By letting Luo have her, she thinks she is fortifying their romantic bond, when in fact, she is merely pleasing him. She succumbs to how her man (or boy, for that matter) expects her to behave. She embraces the cliché on women behavior.

Because of Luo’s desire to transform her into something civilized so that he’ll be good enough for him (this is a clear point of men expecting women to be attractive and to please them), he reads to her the “forbidden literary books”, especially those written by Balzac. And this creates a great impact on her – not only on her, but on Ma, and on the old tailor, as well.

Literature truly can become a life changing experience. The book makes sure it presents this theme with clarity. Ma, in particular is touched by Balzac and Flaubert, even going to the trouble of transcribing Balzac’s prose inside his jacket. After an all night reading session, he sees the world quite differently. The old tailor has also been affected by these works, which are made apparent in the clothes he makes which materialize those dresses described in the books. The Little Seamstress also is touched by Balzac, who convinces her that a “woman’s beauty has great value.” No longer will she feel so inferior. How do you keep her from living a better life after knowing that such a thing is actually possible to happen for her? After the ideas of Balzac have sunk in on her, she leaves off trying to search for that “something better”. That is the irony of learning; the more things you know, the more you feel incomplete and dissatisfied. But we cannot blame the Little Seamstress for longing for happiness on that “something better”.

Luo has indeed succeeded in transforming her. But then she turns out to be too good for him. More than what he hoped her to become. He no longer can take control over her. This is the Little Chinese Seamstress’ emancipation. She has been empowered. And she will never be stopped in going after what she wants…a better life.

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Of linguistics and “mga pamugas”…

January 26, 2008

Hmmm…  What does it mean when someone calls you “pamugas”? I can’t really provide a precise definition of the word. It’s still, to some extent, quite new to me. I first heard of it last semester. My classmate Ken told me that I’m pamugas when it comes to schoolwork (especially in our English 99 class which is Literary Criticism – where I got a final grade of 1.50 ..hehe!). It really troubled my affective domain. I never tried hard to achieve a high grade since. I cram. I never research in advance. I come to school late (oh wait, cancel that part coz I forgot, I ALWAYS come to school late). I make my assignments minutes before the class starts (this happens only on rare occassions when I come to school five or two minutes earlier).

Pamugas” is a Cebuano-Iliganon term. It’s root is “bugas” which, when glossed, means ‘rice’. The prefix “paN-” is added to it to the root, which, in entirety, (I could only surmise) would then mean something a lot like that of ‘exerting one’s fullest effort‘. So, the word then becomes “pambugas” with the /N/ sound adapting to the next sound /b/’s place of articulation (bilabial) but afterwards undergoes the process of deletion (/b/ is dropped), thus, the end product: pamugas.

But this isn’t enough an operative definition for the term. Being told that you are pamugas isn’t at all a compliment. It has a negative (although quite subtle) connotation. It functions as a sugar-coating for describing someone who’s over-dedicated to the point of consequently being a geek/dork and not having a life (losers, you may say).

You might infer that it’s just another sterotypical label for certain students (high school sterortypes i.e. the jock, the prom queen, the nerd, the slut, you get the picture). Yes, in a way, it’s like that. And looking at it’s implications, we’d see that it’s actually another verbal tool for further marginalization…and I do not approve of that – especially when I’m the one being marginalized. (X_x)

Anyway, now that we know what pamugas means, let us move on…

As an English major, it is incumbent for us to have a comprehensive understanding of languages – how they behave, their characteristics, what makes them similar, what distinguishes them from other languages, what are their origins, their morphological patterns, morphophonemic rules, syntactic distributions, yada-yada-yada. *whew!* It’s like the Mathematics of Language Study (and God..err..meknows how much I hate Math!)!!!

Nine nose-bleeding units of Linguistics! Nine!!!! That’s what we’re required to take. I just got a 1.75 for three of its units last sem (English 50 – Intro. to Lingusitics), so I’m left to feeling neurotic to the remaining six at present (English 55 – Descriptive Linguistics and English 100 – Philippine Linguistics). Can you imagine??? Taking six units of linguistics in one semester??? It’s like being continually rammed by a hammer at the head! It’s a slow and really painful death! …..DEATH BY LINGUISTICS.

Naturally, it’s normal to be pamugas under this circumstance. But I’m not. Why? Because I don’t wanna be called pamugas or trying hard. I don’t want to come off as too effortful (see how I have intensified it twice?? hehe). I only skim through whatever notes I have… One problem, though : I’M NOT MUCH OF A NOTE-TAKER!!! So one can only guess the outcome: a very low grade. Huhuhu.. I want to study, but I’m afraid that I might be called pamugas. Not only that, I also feel betrayed since Ken (the one who introduced me the term) is already himself cut-throat at being pamugas! Ironic…

..And so, now, I’m getting really low grades in both my linguistics classes. If I keep up with this rate, I might lose my Dean’s Lister scholar status or worse, I could lose both my stipend and my free tuition fee privilege! Am I ever in a pickle now?!

So I just made a vow to myself. I don’t care what Ken thinks. I don’t care what the others think. I will go back into being pamugas. The only question is, I’m too lazy to… X_x

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Bridges do fall down.

January 15, 2008

“Relationships are maintained and are reaffirmed through constant communication…”

…these were the words of Ms. Mara Nanaman, my Communication and Mass Media teacher, the morning of August 23, 2007. At first I didn’t pay quite attention to it (being the talkative student that I am)…but when my friend Ami wrote it down on her notebook and when our adviser repeated it (redundancy; hehe..if that’s not application, i don’t know what is!), it kinda glued itself to my head. And then I recalled past events that really suit it (those of which have already been embedded in my schema; whoo! Reading Process sure did make me learn something new)…There are connections that I have which have gone from “close” to “distant”. This is because of my lack of time and my lack of effort to make time (of course, it’s not just my fault). I am guilty of this. Procrastinating isn’t exclusive to studying alone, I suppose. This is what I call a special mix of stubborness and indolence. Together, these ingredients caused weeds to grow on the bridges which I and the people I know have earlier established. The bridge then became inaccessible. Communication has become a rarity. If these weeds aren’t removed, pretty soon, the bridge could collapse.Luckily, I have managed to tend to the bridges I have with other people. There leaves some which are inaccessible yet..but I’m slowly working on those.I have realized that relationships are greatly dependent to communication (uh, as if we don’t know that already).

Communication has various barriers, too. One of the most evident is DISTANCE. In my case, out-of-sight usually entails out-of-mind (I said “usually”, didn’t I? I did? Good). But technology (oh, thank God!) closes that gap. People, therefore, have lesser excuses to say when asked with, “Why haven’t you kept in touch with me?”. Impossibility, clearly, is out of the issue.

While it is poetic and romantic to say that “love knows no distance” (just so u know, i’m talking about intimate long-distance relationships now), it is realistic to say, “distance knows no love when technology isn’t permitted to butt in”.. Since we are utterly blessed into having the benefits of distance-eradicating devices, why not use them? Why not make an effort to use them?.. This way, relationships are reaffirmed..

Communication keeps the relationship alive.. I don’t want to end up like Madame Bovary one day, all the while mumbling, “I can barely feel it now. I can’t keep the love alive. I must keep the love alive”….

So, it is not only in London where bridges fall. Don’t wait for yours to collapse..

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Not “Oh my God!”…but “Oh Myself!!”

January 10, 2008
I recently discovered something about myself. Upon finding out about it, everything else actually made sense. I knew I was right when I decided to befriend Ami one fateful day sometime last last last semester (hehe). When I come to think of it, I realize that she’s like the Virgin Mary I never had…An epiphany, you might call that…enlightenment, even. For today, I have realized that I AM GOD!!! (*thunder and lightning*..oh, wait! That makes it sound like I’m Lucifer… *angelic chorus and birds chirping in the background*…aahhh, there…much much better!*)

Yes, remember those three words. It all makes sense, now. I based this claim on the following premises:

Hint #1: I was reading Ami’s blog and it said there (in her “Seven Truths” post), “I think God loves me.” So I was like, “That’s weird. I love her! Hmmmm….” *tongue clicking* Okay, it may not seem prodigious at the moment but just you wait. There’s more.

Hint #2: God loves children. (heck! I looooooooooooove children! Hello?? Pedophile here.)

Hint #3: I played the character ‘Death’ in the play ‘Everyman’ for our The Drama subject (I got a 1.25 in the final grade..nyehehehe…See that? God is all-knowing. Apparently, I am, too!). God is both death and life, so this claim is actually validated. Bleeeeehhh!!!!

Hint #4: Although my parents would readily discourage this thought, I am certain that I was born through immaculate conception. tsk, tsk.. I’m sure of this. (hey, you do not question God!)

Hint #5: As God (*ehem*, in case u don’t get it yet, God is me) decided to ride a jeepney to school one day and pay for the fare, the demon (in the form of a driver) gave a change that was 2php short. God would never allow this minor form of thievery (if there is such a word, but then again, I’m God so I declare that there will be such a word). I decided to let my celestial powers do their thing. I looked at the driver’s mirror straight to the demon’s eyes..and boy (pedophile…yum) was there darkness! But God is more powerful. God gave “it” (the driver, he’s not in human form anymore) the “Godly stare” and the demon got scared and automatically gave God the 2php it was withholding. Haha..the power of my eyes! Such power!!!!

…Do you see now? It doesn’t have to be rational. Just have faith in me. This self-realization actually answers one of the most debated-upon questions that bother the human life, i.e. :

Is God a man or a woman? – The answer would be neither. God exhibits gender duality. In other words, God is gay. (*ehem* a classic archetype for tricksters but y’all know I’m more than that!)

Now, I know his might come out as a shock at first, but you’ll get used to the idea. I even freaked out myself! Picture this:

The cooperative bunch of the AB-English Organization students were at the ABEO garden one afternoon doing some decorating to spread the Christmas cheer (no reindeers, though…this is a Christian celebration. Paganism is strictly condemned…aw). Ami and I talked about highly important matters (and by important matters, we mean anime) until we reached to a conclusion that I’m actually God (stream of consciousness..we’re good at it. X_x)! I exclaimed, “Oh, my God! I’m God!” Ami corrected me, “Not ‘oh, my God’. You should say ‘Oh, my self’!” *shudders at the thought* She’s right! Oh, my self!!! And so, that’s how she ended up as God’s Secretary of Anime and Bubblegum Affairs (see? God IS a giver).

So, before you raise that eyebrow on me…think again. Do you really want me to curse you into eternal damnation?? You don’t really want God to be angry at you, do you? Hihi..

Gather round, my children! Keep your faith in me! Spread the good news! *Mojo Jojo voice* Obey me!!!!! Aw… X_x

P.S.

I don’t mean to sound blasphemous in this post. I do believe in a higher power. Do you hear me, God? Please don’t hate me… *sheepish grin*