Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WOOF Top Picks

(In which I dared.)
***
Whoah! I was so engrossed with the pile of homework before me that I was surprised to see that the contest's over. Hey! I wasn't even able to vote! Anyway, congratulations to those who made it. Better luck next time for me. ^_^
WOOF Contest – Top Picks


Poetry

Zorlone – “Storm- A voice to the storm's awesomely destructive power. This was written in admiration and respect to its might.

Dragon Blogger – “Ghost Whispers” - Poem about ghosts of the past, read aloud by the author.

Jennifer M Scott – “Open Book - Losing oneself.


Fiction

Roy/Angel – “Modern day Cinderella story - An original adaptation of my 11-year old daughter of the Cinderella story.

Lauren Salkin – “Dead Mice Don't Eat Cheese” – This post is based on a true story. So, what is actually true? The mouse, the cat, and me, of course. I did grab the cat with the mouse in its mouth, tried to shake it from the cat's mouth, succeeded in doing so, then subsequently stepped on the mouse, killing it.


Brought to you by PlotDog Press with the Serial Suspense Screenplay "Intervention"

Presenting the finest of the writer’s blogs by the bloggers who write them. Highlighting the top posts as chosen by the October 23, 2009 WOOF Contest participants. Want in to join the next WOOF? The next contest ends October 30. Submit a link to your best writing post of the last 3 weeks using the form on this page. Participants, repost the winning link list within a week and you’re all set.

Other WOOF Contestants for 10/23/09


Prose / About Writing

Roy – “How do you prepare for death?” - How do we want death to come to us? Can we really be prepared for it?

Fun and Fearless – “We Filipinos Are...” - It is about an encounter with someone who thought negatively about Filipinos and how a Filipino writer helps me gain pride for my people.

Fun and Fearless – “Have You Got Style? - It is about a person's comment on how writers should write.


Poetry

Roy – “Dreams do come true” - We just have to keep the faith... cause dreams do come true.

Dragon Blogger – “The Intruder” - Poem about an invading virus and defensive measures, crafted with random words.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rains, Winds and Hands

(In which we should all go back to her.)
***
I have to go to school a little bit later today to discuss the research paper we were supposed to defend before a panel this Friday. But as you have guessed, I have not come up with a good write up yet. In fact, I have not written a paragraph yet. So I have to go see my professor.

On my way, I saw a terrible traffic at 8 in the morning. Whatever happened? I heard the driver of the van talking to other drivers through the radio. I was so sleepy since I had a terribly little sleep last nigh. But I was awaken when the driver turned left.

“Isn’t this place still flooded?” I thought. And yes, it still is! I saw two other cars get stuck on their way to escaping a terrible traffic. I looked at the place again and remembered that I haven’t passed this road eversince Ondoy hit the Philippines. The place looked like a dark lake full of water spinach with stems as thick as a piccolo, or a flute for that matter. Oh I remembered our fateful walk through the flood from Santolan to Brookside. And this place, until now, is still suffering from the aftermath. I held my breath as we get nearer to dry ground. I looked back and saw the waves of dark water slowly fade.

With just an interval of a week, the Philippines was hit by three typhoons – Ondoy, Pepeng and Ramil, respectively. And in these deathly days, everyone prayed for the heavy rains to stop and that this be the last typhoon to come. Nature seemed not to listen as she sends three – in the same manner that men didn’t listen as she pleads for her to be saved.

The reasons for these kinds of calamities are really alarming. We have been used to rains and typhoons but the recent events were enough to heighten our awareness on natural disasters and climate change.

I got home just in time to see a news about the tree planting campaign of GMA 7 in Tanay, Rizal was bering aired. According to the participants, this was done to help save nature and to lessen the effects of climate change. I was happy to see and hear about people who care for the earth. Actually, it’s high time that all of us should.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Mysterious is Mystery Google?

(In which what you search isn't what you get.)
***

I stumbled upon A Woman Remembers, a blog about a woman and her say on various things. And in there I saw a post about Mystery Google. Look.
If the image isn’t enough to scare you off, try typing on the search box some keywords and you’ll see… the things that the person before you searched. I searched Mystery Google on Google (How redundant!) and typed in life. I got HappyBirthday.com. I tried literature and landed on a Wikipedia article on turtles.

Utterly strange, isn’t it? I mean, you built a search engine for people to find out the last person’s searches? I don’t see any point aside from pure entertainment. Well, probably that’s the reason. At least I have a new reason not to linger on Blogger and Facebook, for a few minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Angry Moment

(In which I really tried to keep myself from drowning my sister in a basin of soapy water.)
***

Ate, I’ll be taking a shower. You go wash the dishes, ok?”

I didn’t answer. My mind was drifting to the month ahead of me. My sister just told me last night that she will be having her recital early next year and since I won’t be studying this semester, (Yes, it’s official.) I’d better help her with her finances. So I was thinking of stuffs like Where am I getting to look for a part time job? How am I going to pay all the debts and save for my Graduate education next June? Oh yes, I need to buy a laptop. And how the hell am I going to submit all my paper works in the university without one at home? Before I knew it, she was out of the bathroom. I remembered I need to get to the office early for some preparations for my class and “other things”.

I stood up and headed for the bathroom when she barked at me.

“You didn’t wash the dishes? Are you actually waiting for Mom to do it? Napakasama mo!”

I was taken aback. I looked at her firm figure standing before me, still dripping from the shower. And with a strict face marked by raised eyebrows, she looked like a water monster wrapped in a towel.

“Ok. Fine.” I walked back and faced the sink. She walked upstairs.

So I’m a terribly bad person, huh? If you only knew that I’m going crazy just thinking of how to elevate this family’s financial status! And how dare you address me that way! Have you already forgotten you just actually asked me to give you money for your recital considering I have just finished paying for the money we borrowed for your last recital?

Before I finished washing the dishes, she’s all dressed up – in my earth-colored V-necked, long sleeve blouse!

Ate, I’ll borrow your blouse, ha?” she asked. I didn’t answer.

Ate,” she repeated.

Without looking at her, I softly answered, “Fine.” and thought "Wouldn't it be nicer if you'll just bring my closet to your dormitory?"

Then she started singing “Eternal Flame” which sounded like Sylvia La Torre singing “Oops I Did It Again”. I knew she’s just trying to lighten up the mood since she knew I don’t feel good. But I didn’t give a damn to her desperate singing. When I finished my task, I sat down on the couch and it rained. Now she’s singing her newly-composed song with the lyrics “Typhoon Ramil, why are you here?” a-la Broadway musical. I still didn’t bother to respond in any way even if she’s obviously trying to annoy me with her crescendos and desperate falsettos.

“The hell I care with your lousy legatos!” I thought to myself. She continued her crazy song with equally crazy lines until the rain stopped. She went upstairs and took two pairs of sandals. She put them on the floor and got a rug to clean them. I noticed that one of those sandals was my black strappy Natasha! No I can’t keep silent anymore.

“Wait. Before I bought that, you already have yours, right?” I asked coldly.

“I can’t find it now.”

I remembered their choir will be having a performance at Saint Luke’s Medical Center so I didn’t oppose anymore. But hey! I have only used those sandals on my graduation and less than ten times in the office when she uses it every Sunday at work. How sad it is to find your shoes getting older when you’re barely using it?

“I’m leaving,” she said when she got to the door. I didn’t respond.

Of Spirits and Romance

(In which I was happy I gave in to my sister’s urging.)
***

I just love romantic comedies, but I am not into keeping up with the latest movies. I rarely visit a movie house unless someone’s going to give me a treat. How pathetic is that? And yes. In the middle of a financial crisis, who’ll bother to go to the cinemas anyway? I can always have the comfort of watching movies at my own house minus the cost – that is, if I am not so tired to sleep on a weekend since weekend is my only time for my self. And last Saturday, my sister told me to watch a movie with her.

“But I am going to watch Bring IT On: All or Nothing at ETC.”

“But our TV connection isn’t that good. Come on. Watch it instead. It’s an original copy,” she boasted and showed me the VCD.

“So it’s an original copy, huh? As if you bought it. And I thought you have seen that already.”

“Yeah. But it’s so cool I want to watch it again. And yes, I didn’t buy it.”

So we watched it. And yeah. It’s cool!

“Wait! Is she dead? It will be such a pity if she is!”

“Didn’t I tell you to read the back part of the CD case? The one with the movie description?”

“You mean the blurb?”

“Whatever.”

“Ok. Pause it.”

“What?”

“Pause it. I’ll read.”

“Gosh! You’re so important!” she complained, but paused the movie anyway.

So I read it and found out it’s about a female doctor (Reese Witherspoon) who haunts her old apartment, as well as the new tenant. The male tenant (Mark Ruffalo), now eager to get rid of her, helps her to find out her past to convince her that she’s dead. But in the end, they were the ones who were convinced – that they’re in love!


My favorite line is this:

God gave us alcohol. It’s a social lubricant. It makes men brave and women loose.
- JJ

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Triple Purple Galore

(In which BF doesn’t stop insisting until i put the “galore” in the title. )


***

Yahoo! will be definitely happy to visit our Literature class I swear. If there is something we should be happy about today, it’s the utter coincidence that three out of six students in the class wore purple. You should have seen our professor. She thought we were up for a dance performance and kept on asking if we have talked about wearing the same wardrobe hue. I never thought we were that “thoughtful” to provide quality entertainment to a class where we were supposed to study a survey of American and European literature and not “teaching” it. However, the “royal” feeling we were supposed to relish was overpowered by the disappointment we got after failing to do well in recitations. But believe me. I did my best to come up with a decent lesson plan. I even forced myself to forget that my blog ranking is fluctuating. (Now that I’ve mentioned it, I need to think of ways to recover the hundred steps I was able to climb last week.)


Going back to the purple get-up, I wonder why there is such a big fuss (for me) when there are so many people wearing purple. It might sound foolish but listen, errr, read. It doesn’t affect me much when other people are wearing black when I am wearing black. But it’s a different thing when it’s purple. To some people it might be green or yellow but it’s purple for me. I hope I was able to convince you or at least make myself clear.

Anyway, after having a hard time in our statistics class, I realized what the other reason for wearing purple today is – camote’s purple right?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oooops!

(In which I am speechless.)
***

I dialed the phone to call my student for my 6:10 – 6:30 class and wondered why no one’s picking up. He has always been punctual so I thought there’s something wrong. I refreshed the web page and saw that my light task has been diminished by another twenty minutes of “conversation” full of dead air, with the person on the other line claiming he understands me perfectly and that he is just not confident on the manner with which he is supposed to answer my questions. I knew confidence is a factor. But I believe I have gone out of my way several times in the attempt to boost his morale. But what is the use of telling you these when I don’t have the unconfident lad anymore?


To relish the fresh freedom I have got, I have asked an officemate to go out and buy something to eat though I have already finished my green salad with tortang talong. Ugh. It doesn’t sound a good combination?

We headed to the nearest KFC branch which is just located in the same Avenue. On our way, we found several cars parked not at the parking lot but at the side of road. In one of them, we saw an East Asian man got out as if there’s a time bomb in it and murmured something which made my officemate burst into laughter. I followed him with my eyes and saw him get in the other car behind the car with the “time bomb”.

“What did he say?”

She looked at me and answered in between laughs.

“Wrong car!”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Love for the Philippines: A Letter to the Filipinos

(In which a patriot writes us a letter.)


***

Isn’t it just ironic that after posting a blog post about me being busy, I have actually posted two blogs for today? Anyway, I just thought it is a matter of importance.
When I was in college, I saw an essay written by a Korean student posted on the bulletin board of the Athletics Department. I was surprised to see it on the net. (Thanks to soulcast.com)
Click here for the full text of MY SHORT ESSAY ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES by Jae Youn Kim. Pardon the length and the grammar as well.
My short response:
Jae Youn Kim,
Yes. We have cried for the Philippines as well – several times. Definitely more than you cried for this country. I feel sorry that you completely lost your faith when you came here. We don’t. And we’ve been here for as long as we can remember. What happened after the times when the Philippines was economically doing well is really sad though.
About the terrible feeling you get when you see poor people in slums, I suggest you read Maximo Ramos. Maybe you will have a better perspective. But you’re right. It’s high time that we Filipinos learn to love the Philippines.
And about the employers treating their employees fairly, I have no comment.

A Dose of Late Night News

(In which some news aren’t as new as they should seem to be.)
***
Last night, I was able to catch a part of SAKSI, the late night news program of GMA 7 where they aired a clip showing the Cebu Dancing Inmates dancing Wonder Girls’ famous song “Nobody”.
You see, I never blogged about it. Not even during the peak of its popularity here in the Philippines highlighted by the social sites being flooded by their videos. I just knew it would vanish from the radio station playlist, the jeepney people’s playlist as well as on stalls where you can buy pirated DVD’s. Isn’t it just surprising why they have been keeping their number one spot for the last couple of months or so on national radio stations’ Daily Top Three Songs? Fine. They have an English version aside from the Korean original which makes more sense compared to the Taiwanese F4 fad. But the Korean song is just as popular as, if not more popular than, the English version here! That’s what I don’t get.
video
Does it just show that when we patronize, we do it whole-heartedly? Or is it another example of colonial mentality? Well, at least we’re getting closer to being Asian. And now I am reminded of some scenarios wherein some East Asians do not know Filipinos are Asians, too.
Too bad I wasn’t able to stay up late to watch the episode of Reporter’s Notebook about their visit in PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) which shows how late we are when it comes to technology. Honestly, I believe the majority of Filipinos (if not all) can tolerate it if our technology cannot make the flying scenes in telefantasyas look like that in Harry Potter but when it comes to weather forecasting, it's a whole different story. Well, we have tolerated that for so long. But I doubt if we can still ignore the fact that we are technologically challenged and unprepared after Ondoy and Pepeng hit us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Semester’s Final Weeks: Another Reason to be a Lazy Blogger

(In which I am reaping the consequences of being a full-time employee and a full time student.)
***
What do you get when you juxtapose teacher’s tasks with students tasks?

You’re right. It’s going be a fun trip to almost-getting-crazy.

I chose this, anyway. But the peachier thing is, there are a lot more things to do and think about than the student-and-teachers’ task. Please do no tell me that I don’t prioritize well. I am really trying my best. So, as an explanation for the lack of posts for this so-so blog, here is the list of tasks that I, the Hetty Pepper (minus the age) of the 21st century have to accomplish:

· Finish all the statistical computations for the dummy case study in statistics,


· Write three lesson plans in literature – one for a short story, an essay and a drama,

· Lead the group that will write the first and fifth chapter of our research paper in psychology with the problem The Impact of the Multiple Intelligence Program to Students’ Self-Construction and Development of Self-Esteem

· Review for all the tests, and

· Finish all the aforementioned tasks in two weeks.

So applicable…
Come to think of it, explanation is just a smarter word for excuse, isn’t it? Or perhaps I was just a sucker for sympathy as if it’s going to be of any assistance. (Go ahead. give me a pat on the back.)

I am currently reading an article on M. I. when the urge to have all my internal rantings posted kicks in. And then I realized that I haven’t finished my comments for the last student. So while I’m saving my comments, and typing a word or two on this post, I am, actually, having a phone class with a student. Define multitasking.

P.S. Thank goodness my next student isn’t picking up the phone. Hallelujah!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Me and My Impulsive Nature: Another Desperate Post

(In which Fate has caught me by [semi] surprise.)
***

Our work was highlighted by the exchange of loss and resumption of electricity for the last two days, which means less pay and more irate parents. However, the several hours that we were given to enjoy was blissful. Blogging is my only consolation in times like this.

And as expected, a couple of hours before the shift ends, the buildings went dark again so we were sent home. That’s another chunk off our pay slips. Aww…

I saw one of my officemates by the exit door as we walk down the stairs. She lent me her hand which I gladly took.

“I read your note (blog post),” she said with a smile.

“Ah, yeah – “

“-Uy I have good news for you.”

“What?”

“I saw him – X – at the Korean store. He looked really different! He’s so fair and handsome…”

My heart sank. The last news you would want to hear about a past lover is that he’s more handsome now and he’s over you. What a beautiful recovery! I managed to flash a smile and joked “I want to go home.”

In the comfort room, I heard a friend say “Oh so he’s here? And he looks better? Come to think of it, I thought I saw him in one of those 24-hour convenient stores. But if his face is smoother now then it’s probably not him.”

“Which reminds me of what I told him before he went home.”

“What is it?”

“I suggested that he get a treatment from a dermatologist and eat more.”

“Well at least you know now that he listened.”

I went out of the building and sent a message to my “cab peeps” telling them we’re dismissed. I crossed the streets to the building opposite ours and waited near the Korean store and remembered what she told me.

“Is he still there? I forgot to ask if she saw him today,” I thought. If there’s anything good about the news, it’s the fact that he dared to come in closer proximity to where I am, of course, without the slightest intention of seeing me. But knowing he’s somewhere near is already good news. Or is it another bad news?

I glanced at the store and saw a couple of guys occupying the table near the glass walls. I recognized the guy in blue who’s facing my direction. That long, lean face with glasses – Jeff? I shook my head and looked away. I might be wrong. But if it's Jeff, then the other guy who was with was probably X. Gosh! What am I thinking?

My heartbeats raced. I walked towards the other 24-hour convenient store which was then closed for inventory. I sent another message to my friends telling them I’m waiting. They asked me to go to their office but I declined.

I waited there. My body was aching for an unknown movement but I stayed still. For moments I felt like my heart is going to be thrown out of my ribcage. Then I remembered what my friend told me when we were in the comfort room.

“You know, according to The Secret – “

“You’ve read it?” I interrupted, trying to regain my usual composure.

“No, I watched it on video.”

“Ahh,” I nodded understandingly. Then the feeling of terror mixed with worry that has been lurking in the corners of my mind suddenly burst out. “I think I don’t want to see him. Not now. Why should I – “

“Well, according to The Secret, the universe only gives you what you consistently think of. So if you keep on thinking how much you don’t want to see him, the more the universe will conspire for you to meet.”

“So what should I do? Think of how much I wanted to see him?”

“No. Don’t think anything about it.”

Does that mean I should just refuse to think about anything that has something to do with him? To suppress means to hide the pain in the depths of your soul. It doesn’t mean to kill. And the only thing you have when you suppress the pain is the desperate hope that it will die a natural death. Or should I just indulge my whole being to pain and have my heart and soul be brought to the death row over and over until I am too numb and cold to ever feel any pain? In the end, it is the selfsame desperate hope that reigns. It is but the proverbial choice “between the devil and the deep blue sea”!

Several minutes passed. Out of boredom, I turned my head to the left, just in time to see X walk out of the store with Jeff. It’s really him! I watched them walk away. For a moment, the earth seemed to pause. And then my connection between the present snapped loose. I found myself walking towards their direction, my light steps slowly quickening. Then I stopped and watched them walk away again.

I stood motionless as they get farther by another meter. I watched X intently as if counting the steps that he takes. I know he’s unaware of my presence. I know. So when he slowly looked back it seemed like all the air I have in my body filled my ears, deafening me. For seconds he fixed his frozen, wide-eyed gaze on me. And he continued walking.

The wind brushed the heat off me, freezing me more. I was about to turn away when he stopped and spoke to Jeff in a manner so serious I swear I thought someone’s going to die. Then he gracefully moved his lean physique towards me, his smile widening with his every step.

He smiled at me! And oh! The office mate has spoken the truth indeed!

He passed by me on the left side of the road which makes me wonder why he doesn’t take the wider side. It made me feel as if we were on a stage play where blocking is as important as acting. I swung my head and looked up to him.

“Long time no see,” he beamed at me.

I was supposed to say “It wouldn’t take this long had you not been hiding from me.” But I just said a cool “Yeah. You look good.”

“You also!” he replied in his very unique manner that I longed to hear.

It was just your usual small talk. Until I took the chance to get bolder.

“So how’s your girlfriend?”

The smile on his face vanished as if I hit something vulnerable and he took a light breath. He twitched his lips the way he always does when he’s thinking and muttered “So-so. Just so-so.”

I nodded. “I see.”

“You? Do you have boyfriend?”

“No, I don’t.”

Whether he responded with “Not yet?” or “Ah, you don’t.”, I can no longer recall. He tried to lighten up the mood by saying “I’m studying here.”

“Ah yeah! Do you know that I’m studying – ”

“Red Warriors?” he asked and his eyes brightened up. That simple question made my heart swell to the extent that it’ll explode. I felt like I’m Erik being swept away by Christine Daae’s sweet smile and voice.

The conversation went on. Regarding which, I can no longer remember.

“Uhmm… You want to eat?” I muttered, out of stupidity. I forgot he just got out of the store.

“Aww… But my friend is waiting for me. Some other time. I’ll text you.”

“Do you know my number?”

He held his mobile phone in a way as if to say, “You see? I’ve got one?” But then again, I might be wrong.

I crossed another level of boldness. “I can give it to you if you want,” I said, which I regretted right after I said it. Another comment made out of sheer stupidity.

He smiled. “Well, I’ll just ask Esmeralda.”

I coaxed him with a sideward look and said “You’re lying.”

“No. I will.”

I admired his uncanny talent of telling a lie so effortlessly swift. And what is this moment but a potential six years older version of Maureen Daly’s “Sixteen”.

“You look happy. That’s good,” I commented, unaware if I’m still wearing the smile I’ve been faking from the start.

“You too.”

“Anyway,” I concluded. The moment is getting more and more awkward.

“My friend waiting for me.”

“Your friend is waiting for you,” I replied as my teacher mode suddenly kicks in. “Bye.”

We walked away.

I walked aimlessly as though the minutes that passed have cost me all my life. And in a matter of a few steps, my entire vision has turned into a mirage.

*Daroga/The Persian was the person who saved Erik (The Phantom) in Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of The Opera.

We Filipinos Are…

(In which a little love and pride are everything we need.)
***

The two units of the company were spiced up by the story about the latest rudeness that overly/pseudo nationalistic student has displayed. No, it’s not Lex. It’s the son of the stage mom.

I really can’t imagine how I’ll behave if faced with an eleven-year-old East Asian boy who claims that “Filipinos are not thinking” and that he’s better than his teacher. How about spelling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

As the other teachers share their hatred toward the ill remark, we have come up with a stand that we should start dealing with them with less kindness and more strictness. And that we have to step up for our country and our people especially in times when these siopao-faced foreigners with glasses of quadrilateral lenses ventured upon insult.

And for a little dose of racial pride, here’s for everyone.

When I See a Barong-Barong
Maximo Ramos

When I see a barong-barong neighborhood in the heart of war-torn Manila;


When I behold beside the Pasig sudden lean-tos defended against sun and rain with salvaged sheets of tin;

When I take a truck ride through Suburbia and find nipa huts clustered within the shell-punched walls of former mansions of stone –
I do not look away in shame or throw up my hands despairing for my people.

I fill my chest with the bracing breeze of this my country and say:

Though my race has been pushed around in his own land for nearly half a thousand years,

Though my people have been double-crossed again and again by foreigners,

Though my race has been pitted against themselves down the centuries;

I joy to discover that they are whole and remained unbroken in spirit;

Building them makeshift huts of nipa and salvaged tin and standing straight with heads against the stars.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meet Lex

(In which my attempted “teacher mode” was ambushed by an influx of childish inquiries.)
(Edit: This post was supposed to be posted yesterday. Thanks to the blackout.)


***
In this company, you are most likely to get the unexpected chance of running into some cool and not-so-cool people. And yesterday, I experienced both - which is just really timely since I was thinking of something to post.

So today, Esmeralda was absent because of another blast of abdominal cramps as the second day of her “magic day” ticks off. Ladies, you know what I mean. So I was given a substitute student – Jony, a young man of sixteen with a lanky frame and an innocent face. We were about to start the class when I receive another news.

“He won’t be having his make-up class today so you’ll be having a class with another student,” says the admin assistant.

“Who?” I asked.

She pointed to a boy with sunglasses carrying a paper bag.

I also met the boy’s guardian who appeared to be a stage mom by all definitions. She asked me my name with a tone that says “Are you sure you can handle this kid?” and “Don’t you think you look too young to work? Where are your parents?” at the same time. And so I responded with the coldest expression I can get from within me.

“Rezzell.”

“Ree-jell?” she tried desperately, and looked up as if she’s trying to paint my face in her memory so she’ll know whom to rally against in case something terrible happened. Then, as though she realized she was late for a lunch date, she motioned us to hurry. I felt the tip of her finger on my back which made me make my steps bigger to get farther from her. “Duh! You are not supposed to boss me around!” I thought.

And so I tried to look cool in front of the new student. Besides, we’ll be sharing a room just for this day. I introduced myself. “I’m Rezzell.”

“Huh? Lee-jar?”

“No, Ree-zel.”

“Ahh.. What?”

From that moment, I knew I’m dealing with the Korean version of Dennis the Menace.

“It’s Rezzell. Nice to meet you.” I lend my hand to him which he took with a smile. What a firm handshake it was! And after a couple of seconds, I realized he was trying to break my metacarpals.

I smiled at him and he let go of my hands. Whew! It’s gonna be a long class!

“Okay, let’s start our class. I see that you were given a homework on – “

“Teacher?”

“Yes?”

“How old are you?”

“I’m twenty two.”

“Eh?”

“Why? Do I look thirty?”

“No.” and then he gave me this smile that says “I’m so cute. Am I not?”

When he opened his mouth again, I was bombarded with questions like Is this your first job? What’s your first job? The second? Why did you leave your previous jobs? I wasn’t expecting that I’ll be in a job interview.
“Okay. Let’s study - uhm… Your name is . . . ?”

He shook his head in utter disappointment.

“I’m sorry. What’s your name?”

“Lex.”

“Oh. Pardon me for forgetting your name. I won’t forget it anymore. Never.”

“Why? Is there something special with my name?”

I smiled.

So right now, you have the idea that this boy has an above average speaking skills. Oh wait till you hear what else he wants to say. So the first hour was spent this way:

30% for “the class” which is composed of

· 10% = me asking questions

· 10% = Lex reading the answers

· 10% = Lex smiling

70% for “free talking” where

· 40% = Lex asking questions

· 30% = me trying to make sense of what’s happening

That’s it for the first hour. (Boxing ring bell)

So I learned that his guardian wants him to study and be given tons of homework. So that’s what I tried to do for the second hour.

“Okay, Lex. You have answered your homework incorrectly. You should have read the questions carefully. You see, that’s one of the reasons why students fail tests.”

“I know. If you don’t read the instructions, you might answer it the wrong way.”

“Right. Now why did this happen?”

“Because I don’t want to read.”

“Because . . . ?”

“I don’t like reading.”

“What an excuse! Ok, let’s check your other homework – “

“Teacher Lizard, - “

“- Rezzell.”

“But that’s so hard to pronounce!”

“But that’s my name! You wouldn’t want to be named after a reptile, would you?”

“Anyway, are you married?”

“No, do you think I’m old enough to get married?”

“I know you’re not. Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Why? You don’t like or they don’t like?”

I don’t like.”

“You’re lying. They don’t like, right?”

Silence.

“Perhaps. But the fact that ‘I don’t like’ remains.”

“You think you’re pretty or very pretty?"

“Average”

“Teacher Ayin says you’re cute.”

“That’s for her. It’s different for me.”

“You don’t want to be considered beautiful?”

“Who doesn’t? But, dear, the thing is, we have to be realistic. Can we study now?”

He shook his head and spoke in Korean.

“Hey! Why are you speaking in Korean?"

“The same reasons why you’re speaking in Filipino.”

“Am I speaking in Filipino now? You were actually the one who said ‘hay, naku’ a while ago.” to which he retorted “But why shouldn’t I speak in my language?”

I took a deep breath. “Because you are in an English classroom of an English academy and you are talking to your English teacher. Are those reasons enough?”

“No.”

“And why?”

“Guess.”

“You are officially getting into my nerves.” I said under my breath.

“Give me a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t speak Korean.”

“Hey, I should be the one giving orders!”

“Why?”

“Because I’m the teacher!”

“Ok. Forget it.”

So we went back to our lesson. I asked him to read the story and he asked me to help him – a paragraph for each of us. He chose me to read first which is better since the paragraphs that were assigned to him were longer.

And the bell rang. “Okay, let’s call it a day. Your homework will be – “

“Bye Teacher Lizard.” And he dashed out of the room to meet his friend. I ran after him to the corridors.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Apple Tree by Katherine Mansfield

(In which my own failure gave rise to the idea of my version of online public service.)
***

We were given a short story to teach and much to my frustration, I was given one that is nowhere to be found on the World Wide Web. At least not by my average computer skills.

So I had to get up early and visit the university on a weekday to get the copy which turned out to be another failure since my professor didn’t have the copy then. Hey, failure should be the title of this post!

Anyway, so in the attempt to save others from the same cruel, frustrating fate, below is the story that some say does not exist. Well, at least now I know it actually does.
The Apple Tree
Katherine Mansfield

There were two orchards belonging to the old house. One, that we called the “wild” orchard, lay beyond the vegetable garden; it was planted with bitter cherries and damsons and transparent yellow plums. For some reason, it lay under a cloud; we never play there, or did not even trouble to pick up the fallen fruit; and there, every Monday morning, to the round open space in the middle, the servant girl and the washerwoman, carried the wet linen – grandmother’s nightdresses, father’ striped shirts, the hired man’s cotton trousers and the servant girl’s “dreadfully vulgar” salmon-pink flannelette drawers jigged and slapped in horrid familiarity.

But the other orchard, far away and hidden from the house, lay at the foot of a little hill and stretched right over to the edge of the paddocks – to the clumps of wattles bobbing yellow in the bright sun and the blue gums with their streaming sickle-shaped leaves. There, under the fruit trees, the grass grew so thick and coarse that it tangled and knotted in your shoes as you walked, and even on the hottest day it was damp to touch when you stooped and parted it this way and that looking for windfalls – the apples quinces, so good to eat with a pinch of salt, but so delicious to smell that you could not bite for sniffing…

One year, the orchard has it’s Forbidden Tree. It was an apple tree discovered by Father and a friend during an after-dinner prowl one Sunday afternoon.

“Great Scott!” said the friend, lighting upon it with every appearance of admiring astonishment. Isn’t that a -?” And a rich splendid name settled like an unknown bird upon the little tree.

“Yes, I believe it is,” said Father lightly. He knew nothing whatever about the names of fruit trees.

“Great Scott!” said the friend again: “They’re wonderful apples. Nothing like ’em – and you’re going to have a tip-top crop. Marvelous apples! You can’t beat ‘em!’

“No, they’re fine – very fine,” said Father carelessly, but looking upon the tree with new and lively interest.

“They’re rare – they’re very rare. Hardly ever seen ‘em in England nowadays,” said the visitor and set a deal on Father’s delight. For Father was a self-made man, and the price he had to pay for everything was so huge and so painful that nothing rang so sweet to him as to hear his purchased praised. He was young and sensitive still. He still wondered whether in the deepest sense he got his money’s worth. He still had hours when he walked up and down in the moonlight half deciding to “chuck his confounded rushing to the office every day – and clear out – clear our once and for all.” And now to discover that he’d a valuable thrown in with the orchard – an apple tree that this Johnny form England positively envied!

“Don’t touch that tree! Do you hear me, children!” said he, bland and firm; and when the guest had gone, with quite another voice and manner.

“If I catch either of you touching those apple you shall not only go to bed – you shall each have a good sound whipping!” Which merely added to its magnificence.

Every Sunday morning after lunch Father, with Bogey and me tailing after, walked through the flower garden, down the violet path, past the lace-bark tree, past the rose and syringe bushes, and down the hill to the orchard. The apple tree – like the Virgin Mary – seemed to have been miraculously warned of its high honour, standing apart from its fellows, bending a little under its rich clusters, fluttering its polished leaves, important and exquisite before Father’s awful eye. His heart swelled to the sight – we knew his heart swelled. He put his hands behind his back and screwed up his eyes in the way he had. There it stood – the accidental thing – the thing that no one had been aware of when the hard bargain was driven. It hadn’t been counted in, hadn’t in a way been paid for. If the house had been burned to the ground at that time it would have meant less to him than the destruction of his tree. And now we played up to him, Bogey and I, Bogey with his scratched knee pressed together, his hands behind his back, too, and a round cap on his head with the H. M. S. Thunderbolt printed across it.

The apples turned from pale green to yellow, then they have deep pink stripes painted on them, and the pink melted all over the yellow, reddened and spread into a fine clear crimson.
At last the day came when Father took out of his waist-coat pocket a little pearl pen-knife. He reached up. Very slowly and very careful he picked two apples growing on a bough.

“By Jove They’re warm,” cried Father in amazement. “They’re wonderful apples! Tip-top! Marvelous!” he echoed. He rolled them over in his hands.

“Look at that! Not a spot – not a blemish!” And he walked through the orchard with Bogey and me stumbling after, to a tree stump under the wattles. We sat, one on either side of Father. He laid one apple down, opened the pearl pen-knife and neatly and beautifully cut the other to half.

”By Jove! Look at that!” he exclaimed.

“Father!” we cried, dutiful but really enthusiastic, too. For the lovely red colour had bitten right through the white flesh of the apple; it was pink to the shiny white pips lying so justly in their scaly pods. It looked as though the apple had been dipped in wine.

“Never seen that before,’’ said Father. “You won’t find an apple like that in a hurry!” He put it to his nose and pronounced an unfamiliar word. “Bouquet! What a bouquet!” And then he handed to Bogey one half, to me the other.

“Don’t bolt it!” said he. It was an agony to give even so much away. I knew it, while I took mine humbly and humbly Bogey took his.

Then he divided the second with the same neat beautiful little cut of the pearl knife.

I kept my eyes on Bogey. Together we took a bite. Our mouth was full of a floury stuff, a hard, faintly bitter skin – a horrible taste of something dry.

“Well?” asked Father, very jovial. He had cut his two halves into quarters and was taking out the little pods. “Well?”

Bogey and I stared at each other, chewing desperately. In that moment of chewing and swallowing a long silent conversation passed between us – and a strange meaning smile. We edged near Father, just touching him.

“Perfect!” we lied. “Perfect – Father. Simply lovely!”

But it was no use. Father spat his out and never went near the apple tree again.

Photo taken from: CindyH Photography

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beef, Potatoes and Onions

(In which finding what’s lacking is always good news, and in this case, a good laugh.)


***

In relation to my sudden need for slipping more readings into the slot of my literary memory bank, I started off with “The Third Ingredient” by O. Henry, a reading which, due to some stomach cramps I got from laughing, somehow reminds me of “We Filipinos Are Mild Drinkers” by Alejandro Roces.
.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’d Rather Be Blogging


(In which it is surprisingly painless this time.)


***
How pathetic is it to still be thinking of the circumstances and people that reside nowhere else but the past? To still keep the memories properly documented? And worse, to still be writing about it? No one needs to tell me I’m just a breath away to being a total freak. But after all the negative things I’ve experienced, looking back still gives me some reasons to celebrate today:

1. I have a safe database of my old poems. That’s the reason why I keep your e-mails, baby.
2. My internal “strength counter” tells me I’m closer to being stronger… as well as to being numb and indifferent.

I remembered to check out my Myspace for some poems and found out that one of my favorites was posted on Bebo. I already forgot the password and had to reset it. However, the computer illiterate side of me has forgotten that some contents might be lost after failing to log in for a long time which includes that beloved blog post. That’s when I remembered to check out my old email address for the comment he has posted on that poem. Oh! The beauty of technology!


Forbidden

My whole being started to dissolve into this endless space
Into this endless square space where I feel my own breath surrounding me.
Suffocating me.
And you were there –
you were always there
to redeem me from my solitude only to plunge me deeper into sin
with such naiveté and warmth.

I wonder if you could see through my mask
which has become thinner time after time.
If you’ve seen the reality,
I should be cursed – as well as you.
We should be cursed.
For in your presence, hell is a garden of roses and butterflies
where we dance with the wind and birds and the leaves.
It is only when you leave that hell becomes hell.
I’ll see you again, to redeem me from my solitude
and if you return only to plunge me deeper into sin,
I would be sweetly submissive.
For what I couldn’t spare is
the present
this perfect moment –
Now.

October 5, 2008
2:40 PM

I couldn’t resist the temptation of looking at his profile which reminds me of the vestiges of words and actions that seemed real once upon a time.
On the title: I read an SMS message quoting The Reader’s Digest about being vocal about your problems to people.

“Do not tell everyone about your troubles. Half of them don’t care and half of them are happy that it happened to you.”

Scary.

But hey… it’s a blog viewable by anyone!