Tuesday, December 30, 2008


One more day to go and people will be tearing up their old calendars to post 2009. And, I am right now trying to smoke all in the pack of Marlboro tens that my dad just bought for me tonight...

My little conscience inside keeps on nagging at me. I can already feel the pressure that I have created myself.

But for the mean time, let me enjoy life!

Carpe diem!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Forced aguinaldo

Since the jeepney fare hiked to eight pesos for the first four kilometers, I swore to myself that I would never be arguing with any driver just like the others who sought justice for their pennies' worth. So, even if I traveled for less than four kilometers and the driver did not give me the change of my ten peso coin, I never complained. I just whispered, "Two-peso change is not worth a fight and delay for the rest of the passengers."

Recently, oil price roll-back pulled the regular fare down to seven pesos. Another wave of driver-commuter disputes quakes the road. But, I don't mind if the driver still takes eight pesos from my ten-peso coin. On the contrary, my nonchalance to this issue had been tested by an unanticipated scenario.

It was not really the nagging thought of being regularly late for work in two months that chagrined me this morning. I gave the driver two five-peso coins as soon as I took my seat in the blue route 11 multi-cab. (Take note that my route is Sasa-R.Castillo and that route 11 is out of its way.) Even if I had known that he is into joyride, I still wouldn't mind boarding in. Who cares about punctuality when I get used to the sweet juices of salary deduction?

We stopped at a gasoline station and by then I thought that he needed some coins for change. After a few minutes, the man who just had boarded paid a ten-peso coin and immediately, the driver gave him the change. I just wondered, "Does he really want me to pay exactly ten pesos for my less than four-kilometer ride?" But, I also thought that he did not know how much the fare should be because it was not his original route.

Before I got out, I asked Manong Driver for my change. (I guess, three pesos is now worth a fight.) He replied with a suspicious look, "I did not receive any ten-peso except for him (referring to the guy I mentioned)..." For Santa Claus' sake, why don't you give the driver his aguinaldo?! I really don't know what had gotten me that I wanted to lather this man. I had a good argument and it's the truth so, why not try?

I told him, "I had paid upon sitting here (you idiot)! You must have forgotten, but you have to give me my change." Still, with some gibberish and crossed eyebrows, he passed on a one-peso coin. Having suddenly realized how futile such effort had been, I simply took the change and went on my way. Squeezing the peso in my hand with a smirk, I reckoned, "Fuck this tardiness!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

The man in red shirt

As I passed by Agdao public market today, I noticed a commotion somewhere in the corner of the street. Before my jeepney moved away from the spot, the keenness of my eyes caught the man shivering like in a seizure with his back on the pavement.

I hadn't seen his face, only the rear view of his fetal position and his red shirt. (I am also wearing red blouse today.) But, the fact that I could still see him from a far means that there was no crowd hovering. Strangers trotted past him and just looked down, leaving a glance that revealed nothing but apathy.

I hope I don't know that person. I hope it will never happen to any of my loved ones or to my kith and kin. I hope it will never happen to me...

There are two things I asked myself today upon seeing that poor soul. First, why would someone help him anyway? This is the generation of which Charles Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest" has remained consistent and valid. These people are victims of the perennial conquest of capitalism and bourgeois culture. These are people of different religions who worship their own gods to save themselves. These people are sometimes called Filipinos (by default) with hearts wishing to become some other race.

Second, why should I think about that man? I am not a certified pious believer of any organized religion. I am skeptical about Jesus Christ and his "father"--the god almighty, and to all proclaimed gods. I don't believe in hell, neither in heaven, but I do believe in the power of goodness to mankind. I think about the man because he's wearing red. The color of his shirt still sticks to my eyes. The redness is glaring more than the noonday sun. It is stirring my blood...

I hate the hypocrisy of the "spirit" of Christmas---the giving and sharing. In the guise of generosity is consumerism. Consumerism in spite of impoverishment. And so, I think about that man who does not happen to suffer alone. Fortunate he is that it came to him in this season.

Maybe someone out there would be conscientious enough to drop him a coin or pull his arms to drag him out of the road. Fortunate that bystanders still offered him such noncommittal glance while (who knows?) saying a short prayer to save his soul or to forgive themselves for not saving him.

I still think about that man as my questions gather... Would his friends dare to help him despite embarrassment? Or does he have any friend at all? If that would happen to me, would anyone pick me up because I had been good to my fellows during my sobriety? Or if Charles Darwin was still alive and had witnessed my shriveling life, would he just say, "Sorry dear, but you are the weakest link."?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hershey kisses from a stranger

Memorizing names is not my forte. I only remember faces and the look of the eyes of those people I encountered. But, I do talk to strangers.

The identical knitted beads on the wrists of the two women caught my attention while facilitating the registration of the Family Day of Overseas Filipinos and their families. I tried to read the inscription of white beads outstanding over the yellow translucent beads.

After filling out the form, they took their raffle tickets. And, before they went out, one of them gave me a pack of Hershey Kisses.

I already forgot her name, but she just came home from a country in Europe. (Well, I guess I also forgot where she worked.) She had worked there as a caregiver to an old woman for four years. She had a four-year old daughter in the Philippines whom she left months after she was born. She said she was just staying for Christmas. Then, off she would fly back to work.

She was smiling when she told me this story. But, I know that her happiness to be with her daughter that Christmas is more than my joy for the Hershey kisses I got for free from someone who was a stranger in the first few minutes.