How do you explain Nancy Binay?

Many are perplexed by the consistency of Nancy Binay’s popularity as evidenced by several survey results. A virtual unknown prior to the start of the campaign, she was in the top 12 of SWS and Pulse Asia (PDF) surveys way before the start of filing of candidacies. Why?

Is it because she is a Binay? Partly, but how do you explain Jackie Enrile’s sliding survey numbers? Enrile used to rate highly but during the campaign his numbers slid. I think the people thought before the campaign started that it was the senior Enrile who’s going to run. It is also possible that Jackie’s numbers were affected by his father’s drop in satisfaction survey ratings in the aftermath of the MOEE issue in the Senate.

On the other hand, the elder Binay’s survey numbers are impressive, and in fact, even better than the President’s. These figures surely won’t hurt Nancy’s chances, and may even help come May 13. So her being a Binay is plausible.

Jejomar Binay’s extensive network must be a factor as well. Just look at the number of Makati’s sister cities in the Philippines. Also, the position of Vice President is perfect for campaigning, and anecdotes like Binay helping other municipalities when he was stil mayor of Makati are not uncommon. I believe this extensive network is now working, as evidenced by the survey results. This network is just a test and a dry run to Jojo Binay’s eventual run for the presidency in 2016.


Usagi Drop


(image from here)
Manly tears were shed after watching this movie.

This movie has been sitting in my hard drive for half a year now, and mainly I was bored tonight, so I decided to watch something. I had nothing particular in mind, so I just browsed the folder where Japanese TV shows and movies are stored, and on a whim decided to watch this.

It was a mistake of sorts.

This movie is based on the manga of the same title. I won’t give a synopsis, I’ll just link the Wikipedia entry.

I just want to write about thoughts that came into my mind during and after watching the movie.

I don’t see myself having children in the near future. That might change, but right now I don’t think I will have children of my own. I see them as kawaii when they are not throwing fits or crying like it’s their nature. I had seen a lot of parents whose patience ran out when dealing with the terrible twos.

I still remember my youngest brother when he was born. We woke up in a stormy night, only to find my parents gone. My cousin acted as our guardian; she told us that my mom’s about to give birth.

The night after, a bundle of joy that was a baby arrived home. He was so cute and fat and adorable, we forgot the anxieties of our mom not coming home with the baby. I was happy he arrived safely, but later on I thought he was a pest because from time to time I had to keep watch, feed him, or change the diapers.

I saw how hard it was to be a parent and to take care of children. As I grew up and became a cantankerous and snobby adult, I thought about children and having to take care of them and their future, and I decided that it is not for me. I don’t think I can take the responsibility of caring for a child.

It is a source of anxiety from relatives. They keep on telling me who would take care of me when I get old. I always joke that I have to be super rich by then.

I wanted to argue that it is not the right reason to have children. I’d like to quote Gibran but they won’t understand (I keep on kidding my mom that children have no obligation of taking care of their parents, but filial piety always takes hold).

This movie made me rethink of this. It made me ask a lot of questions. Am I capable of love? Am I capable of having a child, taking care of it, preparing for its future? Am I being selfish in my decision not to have a child? Is not having a child a sign of my own weakness? Is adoption an option?

I said earlier that watching this movie was a mistake of sorts. Mistake because it made me think of things that I’d rather not think of. It made me rethink my decision and position. It made me think of my future and what I would miss with this decision. It made me think whether I am being selfish or I made a decision out of love by not bringing forth a life that might be a disaster because of my shortcomings and fault. I’d rather not have a child than have a child then ruin its future because I might not be a good parent.

Manly tears were shed (manly tears being imaginary tears) because this movie has shown me what will I miss if I stick with this decision. But mostly tears were shed because I am too much a coward to even contemplate a life of a father taking care of his child.


Looking at the window in front of me

There’s a wooden bench lying on the roof, sideways, its four feet pointing to the west. A maya bird perches on one of the foot, chirping, then flies away.

This has been a regular scene ever since I started working at home Mondays. Around 7am, you can hear them on the roofs, chirping. I once tried taking a picture, but the window screen’s too dusty. I really have to find time to clean it.

I wanted to put a water bath for them at the roof, and a small container of food for them. I don’t know what’s stopping me from doing so. I guess laziness.

I cherish these times. I dread the day when the cats are back to their jump-on-walls-and-roofs-and-wail-and-have-sex routine. They usually do so in the middle of the night.

Now listening to vinyl. Currently playing: Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Birds have flown away. Back to work.


Lacierda should know better

I rarely blog about current events and politics nowadays, for I thought that with friends and acquaintances on the administration, the country is in good hands. I still think that we are in the right track, but it can be expected that there will be goof ups, and there will be times when we have to correct the course if we go astray.

I actually dread the day when I have to call out people I know, and what I dread most is the day I have to part ways with friends over differences in opinion. But if I am to be a good friend and a good citizen, it is my duty to point and to dissent.

I’ve known Atty. Edwin Lacierda during the last three years of the Arroyo regime. I’ve been reading his blog back in 2005, back when Arroyo’s been pushing the limits of her powers and burning government institutions to the ground. I’d met him one time at a rally along Ayala Avenue; the last time I met him was at the Palace by the Pasig. I’d like to consider him as a friend but I won’t presume as such – I don’t even know his email address.

Anyway, yesterday, he was quoted as saying the following:

“It won’t win them brownie points … The better venue for them is to really show their protests in a proper forum.” (Emphasis mine.)

I find it ironic that he has to use a phrase that is synonymous with the Arroyo regime. For those who had forgotten: every time there was a complaint/protest against Arroyo, her allies would always tell the opposition (not necessarily those elected officials who were against her) to bring/prove them in the proper forum. As someone who pointed out the mistakes of the Arroyo regime, and to be told that phrase, I find it ironic for Lacierda to tell the anonymous hackers to go to the proper forum.

As a lawyer, he should know that the proper forum is still not an accessible one for people of little means. Hiring a lawyer is like gambling all of your resources to an uncertain outcome. Pro-bono lawyers are very few, and they have a lot of cases to deal with. Docket fees are prohibitive. And government officials can always sit on complaints or use the tyranny of numbers to quash them, as we had seen in the House of Representatives of the years 2006-2009.

The only way common folks can air their grievances is to go to the streets and protest – and we all know how effective it can be. Arroyo invented the calibrated preemptive response (CPR) to deal with street protests. While a legitimate form of dissent, a lot of people would rather do something else than go to the street.

And now, with the cybercrime law, the government is armed with other means of shutting out another avenue for dissent and airing of grievances – the Internet. Some government officials and lawmakers are asking the citizenry to give the law a chance. Yet, by reading the law, you’d see that giving it a chance means giving up this last space for free exchange of information and opinion.

I find it sad that Atty. Lacierda had to say that phrase. It brings back bad memories of a lost decade, years of frustration and of lost chances. He should know better.


On death, 3

I met him I think twice. The first time was during an art exhibit. I was invited by an artist-friend, and he was invited by another artist that is also friends with my artist-friend. After the opening, we had dinner at Chowking, then videoke at Malate. They drank the night away while I listened to their drunken singing. We went home way past midnight.

The second time was another drinking session/dinner in Makati. Over bottles of Tanduay Ice (for them) and iced tea (for me) and lechon kawali, we exchanged stories and jokes. Well, they exchanged stories and jokes, while I just listened. I was socially awkward; I still am. After the drinking session, we took a walk around Makati, passing by his house, then we had post-dinner dinner at McDonalds. That was the last time I saw him – a towering figure, laughing like a child.

Most interactions after that were online, usually on Twitter. I just read his tweets, made several replies, and that’s it. Most of his tweets were about food. I think he liked Japanese food, basing this on his tweets.

And just like meeting friends online, sometimes dropping off is inevitable without anyone noticing. I dunno what happened next – maybe it was a sign that I should have noticed. Just checked: I still follow him on Twitter, and he still follows me. But I can’t remember any single tweet of his in recent days. Must be due to bandwidth issues. I noticed that I am not getting all tweets on Tweetdeck – there were obvious gaps in conversations, etc. So I thought he got bored with Twitter and had decided to move on.

Last Saturday, I was with college friends that I haven’t seen in decades. Over lunch, I got a text message from a friend, informing me of a very sad news.

For many of us, we don’t get the point of killing oneself. Everytime we hear of news of someone taking his own life, we usually ask why. What is it that pushes some people to terminate his life? Is there a problem that can only be solved by death?

I can’t answer for others, but this I know: for a desperate person, for a person who feels that he is most alone, for someone who thinks that no one cares, for a person who thinks his interminable life is an endless stream of loneliness and despair – yes, eternal, dreamless sleep is a tantalizing option.

Have you ever felt that your life is going down the drain? Did you ever have the feeling that once people found out about your darkest secret, they’d shun you, ostracize you, avoid you like making eye contact with you means instant death? Have you felt the cold embrace of loneliness in a sea of people? Have you despaired for attention from people who you think are ignoring you? Was there a long stretch of time where you’ve felt you’ve been abandoned by family and friends?

For some people who have been under the yoke of depression, yes, death can be the only option.

Yes, because I’ve been there.

But yes, I am still alive. I dunno why. Maybe I was a coward. Maybe things got better. Maybe because I had thought about my situation, accepted my fate, and moved one. I can’t say I am out of it; no one can. Depression, like death, is treacherous. It attacks you when you least expect it. But it’s been more than a decade since what I termed the Black Years of my life. Where taking a shower, looking at the water going down the drain, was a metaphor of my life. Where seeing my brother with his friends brought crushing blows to the heart. Where walking in a sea of people brought crushing waves of utter loneliness.

Yes, I thought death was a relief. But I am still alive.

Not everyone was as lucky. Including him.

It must be a terrible blow to family and friends. The sad thing about depression and suicide is that there are no obvious signs. Most of us are not aware about it. Even if we were, detecting it would be hard. You can never tell if someone is just sad or terribly depressed. And even if we find out, we might find ourselves helpless, or worse, indifferent.

After someone made the decision to leave this life, all we have, aside from memories, is regret. Have we been so full of ourselves that we fail to notice? Have we lacked love for this person? Have we taken him for granted? All we have are questions, and we might not get the right answers, or any answer at all.

I used to read a lot about depression and suicide. I have books, pages yellowed, some passages highlighted. I have photocopies, properly filed and stored in envelops. I read about my situation back then, and resolved that never should another suffer what I had went through.

But life has a nasty habit of dumping us with experiences that we can’t even discern the essentials from the mundane. In my case, studies and later on, work. I thought I could help someone who is depressed when I find one. Now, I don’t know anymore. What I do know is that someone that I know took his own life.

That’s what family and friends have after a suicide – unanswered questions. And that’s all I have now.


B1A4 – Sky

My current LSS.

Korean lyrics:
Taeyangi jamdeuneun got no-euli beonjineun got
Modeun kkumi byeoli dwineun Sky

Haneunli neoreul manhi dalmasseo cheomen geuge manyang johasseo
Malkgo tumyeonghan ne pyojeongeun yeppeugo sirhji anhasseo

Geuroehke (Na-ege) Daga-oneun neoui ireum
Sarangingeol an dwi-en geob-buteo nasseosseo ddo maeum dachilkka

Neol mireonaego (Gongchan: Nal ta-ireugo) Johaseobwado
Jakku neoman ddeoulla neoman jarana ontong neoppuniya

I can’t stop du nuneul garyeobwado du dwireul magabwado
Ddo dashi nan neoreul chaja Touch the sky gaseume nega doradanyeo

Can’t stop No-euli beonjineun haneul kkeutkkaji
Sarangi jamdeun got sesang kkeutkaji
Neowa hamkke nara-ulla Touch the wind
Ijen neo hanaro cheongbunhae

Eonjenga (Sandeul: Apaseo) Ulgo itneun neoui moseub
Seulpeun pyojeong on dwi-en nae mamdo neocheoreom onjongil bigawa

Neol mireonaego (Gongchan: Nal ta-ireugo) Doraseobwado
Jakku neoman ddeoulla neoman jarana ontong neoppuniya

I can’t stop du nuneul garyeobwado du dwireul magabwado
Ddo dashi nan neoreul chaja Touch the sky gaseume nega doradanyeo

Can’t stop No-euli beonjineun haneul kkeutkkaji
Sarangi jamdeun got sesang kkeutkkaji
Neowa hamkke nara-ulla Touch the wind
Ijen neo hanaro

Look at me ma sunshine (sunshine)
Gureumeul tago dungshildungshil maraga wuri dul sai (dul sai)
Hanjangui areumdaun jakppum oneul bang geudae pumeseo jamdeulgo pa
Nae gwitga-e deullyeo-oneun dalkomhan jongsori
Meomchuji anhkireul baraebonda
Alright oneulddara deo pureureun jeo bada

I can’t stop gureume garyeojyeodo eodumi magaseodo
Eonjena nan neoui sarang Touch the sky yeongwonhi neoman jikyeojulke

Can’t Stop shigani dalryeogado (Sandeul+CNU: Naeili dagawado)

Geokjeongma nan neowa hamkke Touch the wind
Shiganui beokeul neomeoseoseo saranghalke


The place where the sun sleeps, the place where the sunset spreads
Where every dream becomes a star – the sky

The sky resembles you a lot so in the beginning, I liked that a lot
Your pure and clear face expressions were pretty and likeable

That is how your name came to me
After I knew it was love, I was scared at first that my heart will be hurt again

I pushed you away and I persuaded myself
Even when I look back, I keep thinking of you, only you have grown
It’s all about only you

I can’t stop
Even if I cover my eyes, even if I cover my ears
I look for you again – touch the sky
You are running through my heart

Can’t stop
To the end of the sky where the sunset spreads
To the end of the world where love is fast asleep
I will fly high with you and touch the wind
Now, it’s enough with only you

After I saw you in pain and crying with a sad expression
Like you, all day there was rain in my heart

I pushed you away and I persuaded myself
Even when I look back, I keep thinking of you, only you have grown
It’s all about only you

I can’t stop
Even if I cover my eyes, even if I cover my ears
I look for you again – touch the sky
You are running through my heart

Can’t stop
To the end of the sky where the sunset spreads
To the end of the world where love is fast asleep
I will fly high with you and touch the wind
Now, it’s enough with only you

Yeah look at me ma sunshine (sunshine)
Ride the clouds and float above between us (between us)
A beautiful masterpiece
I want to fall asleep in your embrace tonight
The sweet sound of bells ringing in my ear
I hope it won’t ever stop alright
The clouds are even bluer today

I can’t stop
Even if I’m covered by the clouds, even if darkness blocks me
I will always be your love – touch the sky
Forever I will protect you

Can’t stop
Even if time runs by, even if tomorrow comes
Don’t worry, I am with you and touch the wind
I will climb over the obstacle of time and love you, I promise you

Korean lyrics credit: naver
Romanized by: cheisee@wordpress (from here)
Translation credit: pop!gasa


Just another telco rant

So, yesterday, been ranting that Smart’s offering a better but limited only data plan would only hurt loyal customers who are locked in on a clearly inferior plan and with mediocre handset. Posted the said comment on Smart’s Facebook status only to see it taken down, then they reposted the same status. A friend was gracious enough to repost my comment haha. Never bothered checking on that status again.

Now let’s turn to Globe. So I went to their SM North EDSA branch last Friday night only to find out that there were 38 people in the queue, before me. Decided it was not worth the wait, got Gong Cha instead and went home.

I tried their Web chat last Friday as well, but never got connected with any agent. I was redirected instead to a Web form. I filled that up then got an email stating that they’d reply within 24 hours.

It is now a Sunday. They haven’t gotten back to me.

Well, why not call them up, you say. A friend posted on Plurk that she was on hold on ONE HOUR. Well.

Today, a telco is conducting an online marketing campaign. No amount of videos, celebrity endorsements, and hyperboles will ever replace good customer service as good marketing practice.


My Christmas/New Year wish list 2011

If you are feeling generous this Christmas season, then my wish list is for you. 😀

1. An Olympus XZ-1 digital camera
2. An IDE enclosure for laptop optical disk drive
3. A salary increase
4. A DLink Network Attached Storage or Buffalo LinkStation Network Attached Storage
5. A display cabinet/case for my toys
6. A Perfect Grade Gundam Astray Red Frame or Perfect Grade Strike Freedom Gundam

1. Some Master Grade Gundam kits
2. A 1TB external portable hard disk drive
3. A condo unit
4. An ergonomic gas lift chair
5. A Sony Ericsson XPERIA PLAY or XPERIA arc s

And of course, peace on earth and good will to all. Thank you.

Have a merry Christmas (for believers) and may the season be bountiful and happy for you.

Much love,


Missing the point

I think a lot of us missed something important in the events of last week. Important because what started it all was an affront to one tenet of democracy.

And no, I am not talking about Secretary Leila de Lima’s show of balls (or arrogance, according to some people.)

No, I am talking about the SC’s decision to “bend over backwards to accommodate the request of petitioners for a TRO,” to quote Justice Sereno’s dissent (PDF link). (She was being gracious; what’s on my mind for the past few days was worse: bend over and spread its legs.)

Why is this important?

First, it is instructive to quote several provisions of our Constitution.



Section 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.


Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.



Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Let me highlight Section 1, Article III, specifically “nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”


The Supreme Court, by giving cognizance to the TRO petition, and accommodating Gloria Arroyo (for example, when it extended its office hours so that it could accept the required cash bond), had inevitably shown the EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW exists as long as you are part of the 1%.

How many of you had parents, grandparents, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, relatives, and friends who spent a night in jail all because (1) the warrant of arrests were issued close to end of office hours, (2) did not have enough money to post bail (amount of which is not affordable to the 99%), and (3) when money is available, the courts had already closed (even if it wasn’t end of office hours, even for night courts)? This is an example, and I won’t be surprised if this is representative of what’s happening here.

Once we apply different standards of justice depending on one’s stature in society, the rule of law collapses. The so-called constitutional crisis did not begin with de Lima’s defiance, it began with the SC’s bending backwards and spreading its legs. This is the point that most of us missed, and continue to miss.


I’ve realized we had an Occupy Movement opportunity, but we missed it. Maybe because we have been so jaded by the injustice and inequality, but I think it’s time we take a stand and put an end to the 1% getting preferential treatment on justice.


AJ Matela, 1982-2011

(Photo courtesy of Niña Fuentes.)

Thanks to Ms. Janette Toral, I got to meet AJ Matela.

I can remember that night. There I was, a wallflower to the core, meeting new bloggers (and not-so-new friends) old and young. There was this tall lanky guy in gray long sleeves, tie, and dark gray slacks. He stood out among the sea of bloggers in casuals, so you won’t fail to notice him.

Then Ms. Toral decided to humiliate us all by introducing ourselves, in front, using a mike. I had to use my usual spiel. You know, “My name is Arbet, but you may call me Loggins. But never combine the two.” It got the expected response. I really wanted to just vanish, I am not really used to speaking in front of people – ironic for a once-upon-a-time teacher.

The the corporate guy stood up, introduced himself as AJ, and then said “I blog at Bakla Ako dot com.” I had to do a double-take. Him, gay? As I have said in the blog post linked above, “Mas macho pa boses nya kesa sakin!”

I got to meet him intermittenly after that, during blog events, several Philippine Blog Awards nights, Plurkfiestas and bump-into-each-other-randomly events. When I dropped out gradually from blogging, I had not seen him since. We got to talk on Twitter and Plurk, and some random text messages.

Then last year, he dropped out of his social networks, and that’s when I’ve heard he was sick and hospitalized. It was distressing because he was the second friend of mine who was hospitalized back then, and more distressing – both were near death, though not of the same time. I am glad both recovered, though I was shocked when I saw AJ in photos after his hospitalization.

The last time I saw AJ, it was virtual – he opened a Google Hangout session, and so I joined. I knew how he looked like before I joined the hangout, and I was still surprised by how he looked. He’s been a lanky guy, and he looked gaunt. Never got to talk much that time, as the connection was intermittent. I did not know that it would be the last time I would see and talk to him.

Several days ago, I was informed by friends that he was again in the hospital, and that he might not make it. There was supposed to be a dinner in his benefit last night, but I was not able to go.

And when I got online today…..

I’ve talked about death before, and the way we deal with it. When my paternal grandmother and paternal aunt died, I was saddened, but no tears fell, no surprise nor shock. If a loved one suffered from lingering illness, and knowing that there won’t be a cure, you were confronted with death everyday. You do not know if tomorrow they will still wake up. You do not know if you are prepared for the inevitability of death. You do not know how you’d deal when death comes. You do not know how you’d live after they are gone.

And death forces us to deal with regrets – the laughter and tears that will no longer be shared, food and movies and books to enjoy, seeing the sunset and frolicking in the sea – lost time with a loved one brings the most regret.

I do have regrets: I could have spent more time with him, talked with him more, visited him at the hospital, visited him at their house in Rizal. Yes, there are regrets, but these are nothing compared to the memories shared with AJ. Yes, there are regrets, but AJ’s gone, and all we have are his memories.

AJ’s a brave man, one of the bravest men that I know, even braver than so called straight men. When and where gays are ridiculed, he stood tall and proud. When he was in the hospital, he fought a fight that lesser men would not dare fight.

I admire AJ’s unwavering and unfaltering faith, despite the fact that the leaders of his faith call his kind unkind and un-Christian names. And I am sure his faith has prepared him for this new journey, and I am sure he is happy where he is now.

See you again, AJ. Now you have to pray for us.

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. . . you– only you– will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure. . . and your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you. . .”

And he laughed again.

“It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh. . .”

Antoine de Saint Exupery, “The Little Prince”