Friday, January 31, 2003


My roommate Binky, a guy with countless opinions about anything (including the difference between a GMA soap opera from its counterpart in ABS-CBN), once said while we were watching the news, "the world will never be at peace with America as its peace keeper."

Binky probably quoted it somewhere, but it is true.

America's weapon for peace is WAR.

It seems to me now, with George W. Bush pushing for a war against Iraq, that the only way, Bush thinks, we could find peace is through war.

They keep on saying they have intelligence report that would confirm Iraq is hiding weapons of Mass Destruction. Okay, but why the suspense in the releasing of that information?

Thanks to the folks at the UN Security Council who never gave in to Bush's whims. By giving an extension to the UN inspectors in Iraq, they have prevented another bloodshed (for now). I hope America and Bush will respect this decision.

By the way, world history would tell that the only country who ever launched an atomic bomb against another country is the US.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

It's high time that I would stop my hiding.

For those who does not know me (or those who just happen to open this blog), that is my real name. I am Eric. The Jason that you once saw is a pseudonym.

(This was supposed to be published yesterday, but somehow my internet connection has gone crazy and I cannot access my blog)

I was paying my taxes the day I started my professional life (except for year 2002 because I wasn’t really employed, I was only receiving an allowance, period). For three years the taxes I paid were even higher that my one month salary (that is the price of being single and without any legitimate dependents).

So when the news that the Bureau of Internal Revenue will implement the 10 percent Value Added Tax to professionals, including media personalities, I tend to sympathize on the plight of the movie stars. Why not? Last year BIR increased their withholding tax to 20 percent from 10 percent and now another ten percent?! That would be a whooping 30 percent in taxes. That is too much I said.

Then came the news about the top ten taxpayers from show business with the King of Comedy, Dolphy, on the top of the list. Dolphy paid 2.5 million pesos in taxes last year. Wow! 2.5 million pesos in taxes! That is too big! (for a person like me who paid less than 15 thousand pesos in taxes, that is big already) So why should the government ask for more? If they want to increase their revenue why not run after the big time tax evaders like Lucio Tan! Spare showbiz with another tax!

Ibagsak ang VAT!

Ipaglaban ang ating karapatang magkaroon ng murang palabas!” (okay, okay, that’s O.A. already, but I was trying to make a point, SHUT UP ERIC!).

I was like that until today.

It was really interesting how the media have (well, TV for that matter) kept you less informed about the whole issue. And thanks to the editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer who lambasted the show business in their January 29 editorial. Read up, and like me, you will be enlightened. Then, join me in saying:


Orgy of cheating
Posted:10:09 PM (Manila Time) | Jan. 28, 2003
By Editorial

BY NOW probably everyone knows that comedian Dolphy was the biggest taxpayer among movie stars in 2001. He paid close to 2.5 million pesos in taxes that year, a sum that must have looked astronomical to his legions of fans. But what most Filipinos don't know is that Dolphy should have paid more -- very much more -- if he were just like some of his richest fans.

Industry sources say Dolphy is paid a cool one million pesos for every new episode of his long-running comedy series on television. That would earn him, say, 40 million pesos a year, after allowing for the times when some episodes are replayed. Throw in the movies he produces and stars in and his commercial endorsements and he probably grosses 50 million pesos yearly.

If a salaried executive were to earn that kind of money (which is a big if, of course), he would have paid something like 16 million pesos in income taxes after taking away a maximum of 64,000 pesos in personal deductions. That is 32 percent of his taxable income, since he falls into the highest tax bracket. But Dolphy paid only 2.5 million pesos while other big names in the entertainment industry paid even less. Actress and singer Sharon Cuneta, who has a weekly television program and so many commercial endorsements aside from appearing in movies, was way down the list at 19th place, just above TV host and comedian German Moreno who paid a little more than 200,000 pesos. Meaning Cuneta and Moreno paid much less than the friendly bank manager in the neighborhood. And what about actors Richard Gomez and Ruffa Mae Quinto, some of the most vocal protesters against the collection of the 10-percent value-added tax (VAT)? These popular stars paid even less.

How did this happen? Well, the rich and famous are not like the rest of us. Movie stars and entertainers can claim tax deductions for just about anything they buy and any service they get. If they have drivers and bodyguards, they can deduct their salaries from their taxable income. If they eat in fancy restaurants or throw a party, they can charge that as a necessary expense. While a secretary doesn't get any tax deduction for having a manicure, a movie star does. Movie stars and entertainers can even deduct from their taxable income all the money they spend on clothes, while an ordinary worker cannot, even though nobody goes to work without any clothes on (except some movie stars).

But no matter how much they splurge on such items, which are considered necessary for the practice of their trade or profession, it would still be difficult to throw away so many millions in a year's time. This is where "creative accounting'' or simple under-declaration of income comes in. Smart accountants can simply make incomes vanish while some people simply do not report income earned.

This orgy of cheating is not confined to the entertainment industry. Professionals, or those who need a license to practice their profession like doctors, lawyers and accountants, are apparently into it too. According to the Department of Finance, professionals and entertainers, who number about 30,000, paid only 620 million pesos in income taxes in 2001. That comes up to an average of less than 21,000 pesos, which is about what a clerk in a medium-sized company pays the government in a year. And they have the gall to protest loudly that the government is harassing them?

But even in their protest they engage in a lot of dissembling. For instance, they have tried to project the VAT as an added tax. In fact, anyone can always get a refund if the VAT withheld exceeds the income tax due from him. They have also claimed that the VAT will hit their poorer co-workers, like cameramen and back-up singers, hardest. In fact, workers earning less than 550,000 pesos a year have to pay only a three-percent VAT. And they have tried to win public sympathy by claiming that ultimately it's the moviegoer, the patient or the lawyer's client, who will pay for the VAT. If that were so, why are they protesting too much? The fact is that few doctors issue receipts to their patients or lawyers to their clients and they charge whatever amount they want, with or without the VAT.

If the collection of the VAT will result in higher professional fees and prices of movie tickets, so be it. The added burden should be lightened somewhat by the thought that the rich and famous among professionals and entertainers are contributing their fair share to the government's coffers. That is, if that ideal could be achieved at all.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003


There is still a part of me that would want to lash at America for its arrogance. Especially when it really defied the collective wish of the United Nations Security Council regarding the possible war against Iraq. Just because they happen to be the superpower, would that give them the right to threaten other countries who do not follow to their whims and caprices? There is a part of me that would like to shout "Down with the imperialist America!"

Why shouldn't I? Reading through history, we would know that America was never apologetic to the mistakes they have created and some of today's terror is a problem of their own making.

America supported the Taliban because they want to get rid of the government in Afghanistan who was supported by the then communist Soviet Union.

America supported and tolerated the tyrannical rule of the Shah in Iran and no wonder believers if Islam and followers of Ayatollah Khomeni have this deep-seated hate against Uncle Sam.

And who can't forget? America supported the Marcos dictatorship and countless other tyrants/dictator in other countries.

This would pose a dilemma for me as I have a number of American friends (great friends at that!) whom I totally respect, some are even officers of the US Embassy in the Philippines.

* * *

It would be safe to assume that I am one of those activist who would shout "Down with the administration who supported the imperialist America!"

Well, I almost became one of them. Back in High School I was the only few student who believed that tour Senate should no longer ratify the treaty that would extend the stay of the US Bases in the Philippines. In College, I raised my left arms with the other campus writer who joined the convention of the College Editor's Guild of the Philippines.

I was, however, enlightened and before I could be swallowed by their rhetorics of the US-Aquino, US-Ramos, US-Macapagal regime, I receive my own share of the truth. First, I could not swallow their ideology. Second, I could not support a leadership of hypocrisy.

Let me explain the second, while these people would shout at the very threat human rights violations the government has committed, they themselves are also violators. How many people were killed in the 80s in their paranoia that their ranks were infiltrated by government spies? How many innocent lives they have sacrificed just to advance their ideology? Many people, even up to this time, believed that the bombing of the Plaza Miranda was mastermined by Marcos. But a friend and teacher (a former member of the underground) said it was ordered by Joma Sizon, the exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This was later confirmed with the publication of a book by former Senator Jovito Salonga, who was one of the victims of the Plaza Miranda bombing.

Now, with the murder of Rolly Kintanar, former chief and founder of the New People's Army, a lot of issues regarding the atrocities of the Reds have surfaced. Here's one article of the written by Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, former member of the Mindanao Commission and International Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This article is taken from today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Red leaders afraid Kintanar knew too much
Posted:1:08 AM (Manila Time) | Jan. 28, 2003
By Nathan Gilbert Quimpo
Inquirer News Service
(Editor's note: The author is a former member of the Mindanao Commission and International Department of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He wrote this commentary from Australia where he is finishing his doctorate.)

THE COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines has acknowledged killing former New People's Army chief Romulo "Rolly" Kintanar, claiming he deserved capital punishment for his "criminal and counterrevolutionary acts."

Was that the real reason for his assassination?

It is true that the NPA under Kintanar did engage in kidnapping, armed bank robberies and holdups. But such activities went on for a long stretch of time--even during the periods when Kintanar was behind bars. This would indicate that these activities were (or still are) part of CPP policy and not just a manifestation of Kintanar's adventurism.

If CPP leaders had indeed been aghast and appalled by the kidnapping of businessman Noboyuki Wakaoji in 1986, why did they not speak out then? Why didn't they remove Kintanar then? And what has the CPP-NPA to say about its wholesale extortion during elections through so-called "permits-to-campaign"?

The claim that Kintanar was conniving with the military and police in counterinsurgency operations is speculative. The CPP has not presented any evidence. Same with the so-called assassination plot on CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison.

Besides, if Kintanar had really wanted to hit the CPP-NPA, he would not have done so through "surveillance operations, psy-ops and sabotage operations and attacking and attempting to destroy NPA units and guerrilla zones" as claimed, but through other means, as will soon be illustrated.

Kintanar has also been held as one of those responsible for the anti-infiltration purge in Mindanao in 1985-86 that claimed the lives of hundreds of cadres suspected of being government spies. The charge is false--Kintanar had left Mindanao more than a year before the purge.

If it wasn't for criminal and counterinsurgency activities, why then did the CPP have Kintanar killed?

For one, he knew too much.

Kintanar was at the helm of the NPA at a time when the CPP-NPA was at its peak. The CPP's Maoist precepts dictated that to achieve revolutionary victory, the CPP-NPA had to move from guerrilla warfare to regular warfare.

Thus, Kintanar boldly embarked on "regularization," building larger NPA formations and launching bigger "tactical offensives." Soon enough, however, Kintanar realized that regular warfare required a steady stream of arms and ammunition. This meant that the CPP-NPA would somehow have to find a reliable and stable arms source and also a way of getting the arms into the country.

China, too busy building "market socialism" (read: capitalism), was no longer willing to export revolution as before. (In the early 1970s, the CPP had botched two attempts at procuring arms from China.) Thus, in the latter half of the 1980s and in the early 1990s, Kintanar and his deputies traveled to various parts of the globe, searching for possible sources of arms.

Using Yugoslavia as their international base, Kintanar and his group linked up with many revolutionary or "anti-imperialist" governments (like Libya, North Korea and Iraq) and movements (like the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Sandinistas and even the Japanese Red Army). Kintanar and company were able to secure promises of arms but they were never able to solve the problem of smuggling the arms into the Philippines.

One of the "anti-imperialist" governments with which Kintanar and his group developed close ties provided them with hard-to-detect counterfeit US dollars. The NPA widely used these fake dollars in both its international and domestic operations in the late 1980s. The fake dollar racket was busted in 1990, forcing the CPP-NPA to close certain accounts in international banks.

The tagging of the CPP-NPA as a "terrorist organization" by the Philippines and Western governments has been very much in the news lately. The US Central Intelligence Agency, Interpol, other Western intelligence agencies and the Philippine military intelligence service are all well aware of the CPP-NPA's connections and activities, but they have never been able to convincingly prove its being a "terrorist" organization before a court of law.

Nonetheless, the CPP-NPA has been put on the political defensive. Note all the outcry against its being labeled "terrorist."

In a cheap and desperate bid to show that it is a respectable organization, the CPP-NPA is now trying to pin the blame on Kintanar for actions that could be deemed "terrorist" or "criminal"-kidnappings, fake dollars, etc.--and claiming that these were undertaken without the CPP leadership's authorization. Kintanar has become a convenient-and silenced-scapegoat.

When US military advisor Col. James Rowe was ambushed and killed by NPA gunmen in 1989, CPP leaders were all in ecstasy. Now, however, Sison, apparently fearful of being extradited or spirited away to the United States or Guantanamo, has issued a statement, crying: Kintanar's to blame, not me.

As a seasoned and shrewd politico-military cadre, Kintanar knew only too well that the CPP-NPA could not be defeated simply through military means. Assisting the military in such efforts as surveillance and attacking NPA units would not have had much effect.

It was in the political sphere that the CPP-NPA was most vulnerable.

Had he wanted to, Kintanar could very well have spilled the beans publicly on the CPP-NPA's links with governments allegedly promoting or coddling "terrorism" (especially those in Bush's "Axis of Evil") and with movements still considered "terrorist" like the JRA; on the counterfeit dollars; or on NPA "special operations."

As a former member of the CPP Politburo, Kintanar also had access to inside information on the party's discussions and assessments of the anti-infiltration purges not just in Mindanao but also in the Southern Tagalog region, Metro Manila, Northern Luzon in the 1980s.

And, of course, access too to information regarding the Plaza Miranda bombing of 1971. His personal testimony as former NPA leader and former CPP Politburo member on any of these activities would have been damning to the CPP-NPA.

Kintanar did not tattle. In fact, perhaps out of his faithfulness to the revolutionary cause, he had expressly advised those who remained loyal or friendly to him to keep mum. He did not want to risk the revolutionary movement, or the Left in general, being put in too negative a light.

If he wasn't talking, why would the CPP still do him in then? Well, there was always the possibility that he would talk someday.

But there is another factor to consider, a deeper reason. It has to do with the very frame of mind of at least some people in the CPP leadership.

Kintanar was killed because, at certain period at least, he dared to oppose.

In 1986, for instance, there was a Politburo discussion on who should replace the newly resigned Rodolfo Salas as party chair.

Kintanar, newly promoted to the Politburo, pushed for an internal party investigation of the Plaza Miranda bombing. He was overruled, however. (Back in 1972, Kintanar was present when Danny Cordero, an able NPA commander, made an astounding confession just before he was executed by the party for insubordination: That he had lobbed the grenades at Plaza Miranda in 1971 and that Sison himself had ordered the bombing.)

The differences between Sison and Kintanar widened. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Kintanar resisted efforts of pro-Sison forces to break up large NPA formations. In Europe, Sison also tried to wrest command of the NPA's international machinery. But Kintanar's operatives still basically followed the orders of their NPA chief.

In 1992-93, the internal party struggle spilled out into the open when Sison faxed press statements from Utrecht, accusing Kintanar and two other Politburo members of being "renegades," "enemy agents" and "gangsters."

In turn, the three lambasted Sison for being a "dictator" and for being "Stalinist" and "dogmatist." A few months later, the CPP announced to the media that Kintanar, Filemon Lagman and other "rejectionist" leaders would be tried by "people's courts" and meted out death sentences.

After his expulsion from the CPP, Kintanar gradually drew away from the intense polemics and character assassinations that continued between the "reaffirmists" and "rejectionists." These were not his cup of tea. He pursued his new life as a security consultant for various government agencies, which involved mainly going after criminal syndicates.

He maintained links with old comrades, but these were largely of a social nature. He did give advice to those still politically active when they sought him out.

With Kintanar out of revolutionary politics, why couldn't the CPP let him be? For the powers that be in the CPP, however, expulsion was not enough.

Kintanar must have had the prescience--but apparently did not take precautions--in his abhorrence of Stalinists. Even when he was already the absolute ruler of the Soviet Union, the megalomaniac Stalin did not stop at expelling dissenters from the Communist Party. He put them to death, whether they remained politically active or not.

It is all so clear now that within the CPP, there are leading members of the same mold. They brook no opposition, no challenge, no criticism. They view those who oppose them as being counterrevolutionaries, renegades, and enemies of the people.

Kintanar? How dare he oppose! How dare he challenge and defy! How dare he put to public scorn the party leadership to public scorn! The Party--the vanguard of the Philippine proletariat! NPA chief at that!

The vindictiveness, viciousness and long memories of at least a number of those in the CPP leadership should not be underestimated. I distinctly remember an account narrated to me by Charlie (pseudonym), one of Kintanar's closest deputies.

Sometime in the mid-80s, the NPA General Command received from the CPP leadership an "order of battle," i.e., a list of persons to be executed. The list, the GC was told, had originated from prison.

One of the names near the top of the list was an unfamiliar one. When the GC asked for clarification, they were told that the person concerned was a "Lavaite" (one belonging to the pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, from which Sison and company had broken away before reestablishing the CPP along the Maoist line in 1968).

In preparation for the kill, the GC sent an operative to Central Luzon to check the "Lavaite's" whereabouts. That proved easy. Neighbors simply pointed to his house, and said, "That's him, in the yard."

The operative drew near but soon stopped dead in his tracks. He was shocked to find an old man, sweeping fallen leaves, doing so very slowly. Reporting back to the GC, he asked, "Why him? He's so old. 'Uugod-ugod na!' (Already doddering!)" Kintanar and company quietly "demoted" the old man to the bottom of the list, thereby saving him from the gunman.

When the story was told to me, I recalled something I had read some time ago: that the intense ideological struggle of the young Maoists in the PKP with the "Lavaite" leadership had been in the 1960s. This meant that someone or some persons in the CPP leadership had not forgotten--or forgiven--those who had opposed and criticized them even after twenty years!

The former NPA chief was tried in absentia by a kangaroo or possibly even fictitious "people's court" purportedly in 1993. Kintanar's executioners certainly took their time in meting out the death sentence, but they did not have to wait for Kintanar to get to be an old, doddering man.

If the perpetrators, especially the mastermind, of the Kintanar murder are not apprehended and punished, then the foremost question now can only be: Who's next in the order of battle?

Monday, January 27, 2003

I am in love . . . .

From the Spy in the Sandwich:

Dear Eric:

It's not that I have all the time in the world. Nope. I barely have time to breathe. I dunno... it's my nose for trivial things, I guess. And definitely, and the fact that I've linked to so many blogs out there -- which never fail to turn up some strange thing or other. Plus all these websites that always guarantee anyone hours of breathless information overload. Surfing, my dear, is an art.


Yes, Ian dear, I now believe that surfing is an art which I need to learn. This would mean I would spend less time reading useless stories from my other yahoo groups. And yes, google is just great! Imagine, I was able to contact a friend I haven't talk to for six years through google. I just search for his name in the google and I was lead to his website. Great just GREAT!

Friday, January 24, 2003

I don't know with my friend Ian, but his Spy in the Sandwich blog seems to have a lot of interesting "finds" in the net. It is either he spend more time in the net or he is just that efficient. I would like to believe on the latter.

I was actually intrigued where was he able to find The Sex Film Project of James Cameron Mitchell, a noted indie film director.

Well guys, click on the link above and see for yourself what makes it intriguing. I just wonder, will that kind of film ever reach the Philippines?

Who could ever believe that this is Nicole Kidman?. She won the Golden Globe's Best Actress for Drama last Sunday for her portrayal as Virginia Woolf in the movie "The Hours". The movie also won the Best Picture-Drama. This is a very interesting film, I can't wait to see it at our local theaters. And yes! I can't wait also if she will finally have the nod from her peers for the Oscars.

If there is one reason about leaving an extremely good looking guy, Nicole Kidman is one good reason. Imagine, after she and Tom Cruise separated, it seems nothing but good things happened to her.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


It was only this year that I spent Christmas at home (in the BUKID) after four years. Christmas of ’98 I spent with the Fontelos of Dumaguete, Christmas of ’99 I spent with the Fernandez of San Isidro Calatrava , Christmas of 2000 I spent with the Alars of Dumaguete and Christmas of 2001 I spent with my Aunt Ligaya’s (a sister of my Mom from my Granpa’s first family) family in San Fernando, Pampanga.

When I started working in Dumaguete in 1998 the only time of the year that I would be able to go home was on the 30th of December and that is only after I am done with my hosting job for the 7 a.m. Rizal Day Ceremony at Quezon Park. Then I would rush to the Dumaguete Pier to catch the Supercat trip to Cebu, from Cebu I would take the ferry that would leave at 7 or 8 p.m. and would arrive at Cagayan de Oro, the following morning. From Cagayan, I have to endure a three-hour bus ride to Bukidnon.

Last year was the worst. Having decided to leave Manila on the 31st of December, I took the earliest flight (5 a.m.) of Cebu Pacific to Cagayan de Oro. Unfortunately, the visibility of the Cagayan de Oro airport was very poor that day and the plane has to land instead in Cebu City. We were left with no choice but to take the boat from Cebu. Last year, I spent my New Year’s eve in the Tourist Section of Cebu Ferries.

Since this is my First Christmas at home after four years (and first after graduation), I was pretty excited. At the outset I would like to say that more than the opportunity to escape from the chaos of a life in Manila and having been able to rest, my trip to my hometown this year was emotionally fulfilling. As matter of fact, before I always look forward to the time when I can go back to my work place, but this year, I dread the day when I have to leave for Manila.

When I think of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, most of the time it is always associated with a heavy heart. I look at the place as the very source of my insecurities, of my struggles to belong, of my fears of being rejected. Even up to this moment, I am still struggling from my paranoia of people talking behind my back. When a friend won’t respond from my text message, instead of assuming that he might not have a load, I would assume that he is already pissed of or mad at me that is why he (or she) isn’t answering back. The last thing that I would want to happen is to be rejected (the reason why I haven’t courted a girl that I really like, even when I know she likes me too, was because of that fear). That fear I develop because as a child you saw how you were being discriminated against the kids who are better of, socially and financially, than you do. This animosity with the place was highlighted when I was talking to Aleli, a schoolmate in Bukidnon State College and a next door neighbor in our apartment in Makati, when It became obvious that I have nothing better to say about my hometown and how I try not to contact any friends that reminds of that place.

(I am slowly trying to overcome this fear, and thanks to friends who made me feel that they are there for me)

So coming home to Bukidnon on Christmas would mean, spending more time in Malaybalay (my family moved to Don Carlos, Bukidnon, when I moved to Silliman to study). Which would also mean seeing my former classmates, aunts and uncles, and cousins who would remind me of these struggles.

I was prepared to show them a different Eric. This is no longer the Eric who would painstakingly hid the tear in his shoes because his mom couldn’t buy him a new pair of shoes. This is no longer the Eric who would not go out from the classroom during recess because he doesn’t have the money to buy a two peso worth of snacks (I finish elementary and high school without asking money from my parents for baon or even a fare for the pedicab). What they would be seeing is a different Eric, more cultured, more sophisticated and who knows the finer things in life.

I actually planned for my meetings with my cousins, my relatives and my high school classmates. Even what to wear and what to say, I planned it.

During our first meeting with my classmates, they brought me into the bar called “Sentro”. They said its one of the “in” thing in Malaybalay. Inside the bar, I didn’t hide my amusement over the place. It’s a 20-30 square meters wide bar, with hollowblocks wall and the boundaries of the hollowblocks were painted red to make it look like a brickwall, and it was decorated in such a way that it would look like a tavern from the Wild West movies. The attempt, of course, failed as it looks like more of a shack in the Alps rather than a tavern. At the far end portion of the place appears a very small stage with a sign “no audience participation allowed” posted infront. (my classmate later explained that they used to ask their guest to sing but one very drunken guest started singing and refuses to give the microphone back to the band member). There was on old drum set, three microphones plugged into a Karaoke machine. Then came the band members. Three out of four wore T-shirt and shorts (the one you would be wearing inside your house) and rubber sandals.

Sensing that I am having this crazy expression (more of a look that mocks the place), my classmates reminded me that I am no longer in Makati. I was all the more shocked when they ordered six bottles of beer. I thought it would be one each, but instead they had a “tagay system” where one glass will be used and it will be passed on from one member to the other with a member acting as the “gunner” or the one who will fill the glass with liquor. I mean, I am used to this system back in college, but having tagay inside a bar?! That is totally unthinkable, party people of Malate and Makati would surely raise an eyebrow once they see you doing that inside a bar. Then I asked for the direction of the rest room, instead of giving me direction, Batchoy, one of my classmates, blurted “rest room? sosyal mo naman!” Deep inside me, I would really like to say “well I think I am, I am cultured now, I have been to places and meet persons you people could only dream of, I have leap beyond all obstacles that this god forsaken place have made me suffer years ago!” But I wasn’t able to say that, instead I just smile and headed towards the rest room located just beside the stage.

I believe my relatives and former classmates saw that I have changed (other that of course my obvious change I in body size). I expected that. But there was one thing that I did not expect, THEY MISSED ME. While I was ready to make plastikan with them, what they showed me was a real. They really missed me. I can see it I the eyes of my grandma, my aunts and uncles when I kissed them, I felt it with the tight hug of my cousins and friends some even gave a shriek of delight upon seeing me. I just can’t believe it, they were just so happy seeing me. Somehow, all these melt what I thought a “hardened heart”.

What was all the more unexpected was my cousin Raymond and had our first conversation after many years. Raymond was three years older than I am. We used to be playmates when we were still kids. Our teachers in high school even thought that we were brothers because we almost look the same. But even when we were still young there appears to be a competition between us. He probably felt it, that when he entered high school (I was grade five then) he stop talking to me, wouldn’t even greet when I will visit their house. I can never think of any reason why he stopped talking to me, he just started to ignore my presence. Last December 27, 2002, after FIFTEEN YEARS of not talking to each other, we had our fist conversation. Over lunch in their house, he asked me when I am going back to law school and our conversation started from our law studies (he is a freshman law student). Raymond now is married to a girl who was once my stiff competitor in all extemporaneous and oratorical contest that I joined back in high school (life really knows how to play some games). I won in all of those contests. Raymond is now a father of a five-year-old girl and a months-old baby boy.

These events made me realize that it was wrong of just to break my ties to all the people who remind me of Malaybalay. While there were those who made my life not that easy, who looked down at me because I am but a son of an ordinary government employee, there were also those who supported me and were happy with my achievements. My aunts and uncles who borrowed clothes and shoes for me so that I could have decent attire for our prom. My neighbors who helped and prayed for us during the most difficult times of our lives when my father died. My classmates who gave me their 100 percent support when I decided to run as Student Council President against a daughter of a respected businessman whom many people declared as a sure winner. I won by a margin of 20 votes (our high school population is less than 400 from first to fourth year with two sections in each year level). In our class, my opponent, who belong to the other section, only had one vote which I expected because three of our classmates were just transferred to our section from the other class during our senior year. How could I also forget my officers and staff and my teachers who help me oust our abusive tactical officer, when as the Corps Commander, our tactical officer made me went through a very difficult and embarrassing punishment just because of some ridiculous charges (I failed to put up a billboard greeting for his birthday). And there were other numerous acts of kindness shown to me.

December 30 was my Grandpa’s death anniversary. It has been a family tradition to gather in front of Grandpa’s tomb and offer our prayers. Our prayers were not really for Grandpa, but for each of the member of the family who are still alive. Before, it was only my mom and her sisters who will recite their prayers one after the other. This year, I offered my prayers with them (it was the first time coming from my generation). I prayed for my generation, for my cousins who have their own families to be forever mindful of the mistakes of our family before so that we won’t repeat them (my Grandpa has two wives, which many believed was the root of all our troubles). While praying, I cried. I think it was not only because of that prayer what I said, but because of an overflowing emotion, a sense of being able to unload many of my emotional baggage that I have been carrying for many years.

I was happy that I came home. I was happy that I was now able to confront the many ghosts of my past. There are still struggles, but these struggles are better faced now that I have a lighter load to carry.

Last Christmas was the most meaningful homecoming for me.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Hi to Christian who promised to read my blog.

Last week was such a busy week for me. Most of the time I was in San Juan, to facilitate the transfer of land title to one of our clients. For one year and three months that I am in Manila, last week, so far, was the busiest. This means good thing for me. At least, I am doing something.

Monday, January 06, 2003

I am back in Manila.

After spending nine days in the BUKID, I am back to the traffic and fast paced life in Manila. I had a very nice holidays. It was spiritually and emotionally fulfilling for me.

I'll be writing about my vacation in my next blog, for now I have to rush with some paper works in the office.