Saturday, 31 October 2009

Aldrin: Today's Halloween is what I prefer to call Hallmark Halloween.

Since it's a Saturday and also Halloween, this week's Share-a-Quote is about this highly commercialised holiday. The quote, however, is a long one and something I wrote 2 years ago (shameless re-post, I know).

"I love Halloween. Fires, dancing, soul-singing, tricks, treats, apple pie. Unfortunately, the Halloween I love depreciated over the years thank you very much American-spawned commercialism. Today's Halloween is what I prefer to call Hallmark Halloween, along with Hallmark Easter and Hallmark Christmas. Today's Hallmark and Hershey's holiday is about spooks (and marketing money out of it). Scaring people with images of gore, darkness, and death. Fearing otherworldy beings and mocking their existence (or non-existence). No, All Hallows is not about fear and scare. While fear is natural, it is not for this day. The whole point of this yearly feast is to grow appreciation and respect for that necessary fact of darkness. It's about death, our mortality, the fragility of life, and the inevitable end. This day marks remembrance. Of old things and of dead things; of roots, ancestors, the hidden and lost, the inevitable coming of winter (with our without snow, it's still winter), silence, darkness, last harvests, shadows, mysteries, and so on.

That is the All Hallows I know. Much like the Irish Samhain and Korean Chusok. Much like the local Undras. (Yeah, before it got bastardised, and yes with an R.)"

Originally posted here (and here).

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Why A Heritage Of Smallness Isn't Necessarily A Heritage Of Backwardness

By Aldrin F.T. (me) and Jonathan S.

In "A Heritage of Smallness", Filipino writer and journalist Nick Joaquin makes a brave, outspoken commentary on Filipino society, past and present. It's feisty; it stings and, most of all, it's true. But do his words, however true, speak in absolute terms? All throughout the article, Joaquin elaborates on how the Filipino's inability to think [and do] big denies him entrance into a world that thrives on progress. And as if that wasn't enough, that inability happens to be part of his heritage, he says.

According to Joaquin, this heritage of "smallness" can be found in every aspect of society: retail not wholesale buying, little chieftains not kings, small nipa huts not long houses, jeep(ney)s not cars, clay not marble or bronze pottery, small artefacts not towering temples, and so on. This is undeniably true. We don't have the big things: no Eiffel Tower or Parthenon. But is that something necessarily lesser?

  •   In the first few paragraphs, Joaquin makes it seem as if buying in tingi (cf. retail) was a bad thing while buying in wholesale (as exemplified by most Westerners) was a better thing to do. Buying only what one needs is not a bad thing compared to buying more than what one even wants. And since when has consumerism been a champion of progress? It's not how much we buy but how. Perhaps Joaquin forgot to remember how much food the Americans throw everyday because they buy more than what they can handle. Many Filipinos buy tingi because they can't afford beyond that. Many Filipinos are not poor because they buy small; they buy small because they're poor. Poverty is certainly a problem to deal with, but so is wastefulness.
  •   Industry is not the champion of progress but culture. An industry unguided by ethics will rape the world, murder it, and leave us all for dead; a mindless machine bent on making more money and less art. Joaquin should have properly worded his article to clarify that, more than industrialisation, it is culture that we need most to progress.
  •   So what if our ancestors never wrote any lengthy mythology (though they certainly could've if not for the anti-pagan Spaniards)? So what if we like short stories and short proverbs? Better that, than to create a book that gets published in almost all known languages, becomes the most widely read book in the world and yet inspire the worst of atrocities (witch-hunts, the Inquisition, oppression of women, etc). Yes, I'm talking about the bible. Aren't you proud the story of Malakas and Maganda doesn't inspire intolerance of any sort?
  •   The santero's (maker of religious images) fixation on wood can certainly be about the demands of his target market and not necessarily because he doesn't want to think big and use marble or bronze. This still limits the evolution of his craft but who says wood can't be as pretty as marble or bronze?
  •   The first revolutionaries had to fight in small groups or else they would have been easily discovered and wiped out in a matter of months. Quality over quantity: a big army doesn't always accomplish big things.
  •   Somewhere in the middle, Joaquin commits an error in mentioning that: "[the Malayan] migrations were thus self-limited, never moved far from their point of origin, and clung to the heart of a small known world; the islands clustered round the Malay Peninsula." From what we know from contemporary archaeology, this is not true. The proto-Malays came from Formosa and migrated southwards to the Philippines first before moving into what we know today as Malaysia and Indonesia. Secondly, to say that the Filipino's heritage of thinking small derives from these proto-Malays is a rash and misinformed assumption. For one, the proto-Malays or, more appropriately, the Austronesians are one of the most widely travelled ethnic groups and one of the most diverse - stretching from Taiwan to the Malay archipelago to Madagascar to New Zealand to the Easter Islands. If that's not thinking big, I don't know what it is.
  •   More than thinking small, I think it's showing off that is the Filipino's biggest problem. There's nothing wrong or right with either clay pottery or porcelain pottery. It's why we make them. Do we make them so we can taste the food better or do we make them just so we can show off to the world that we can?
  •   What is progress? How do we define advancements? Would we really want to work our arses off 24/7 just so we can turn a forest or meadow into a fastfood chain, a mall, or a subdivision? If that's the progress Joaquin wants then I don't want any part of it.

Nick Joaquin's words must not be forgot. But we shouldn't hold on to his truths as if they were applicable at all times. Before we even dream of conquering the world, let us first ask ourselves who we are and why do we even need to prove our worth to any other nation but our own?

Image location here.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Lazy Blogger Tweets

At this very moment, I have 323 unfinished, unpublished entries for this blog: each one needing a specific combination of emotions to finalise. Obviously, I haven't been getting the right combinations these days. Being glued to Facebook and YouTube makes you wonder if you're actually accomplishing anything? 

Anyway, as a lame attempt to blog again, below is a list of tweets that I could have blogged about but couldn't due to an embarrassing level of laziness. (But if you think that's lazy, I'm actually eating pumpkin seeds right now... with their shells on!)

   1. We are the children of the Phoenicians and the Greeks, the Roman generals and Arab emirs, and Frankish Crusaders, too. B'habak ya Loubnan!
   2. I would rather live in the country side, smelling horse shit and jasmine than sewage and smog in your ugly, ugly city.
   3. Where in the world did you get the stupid idea that only girl friends can hold hands?! Damn you homophobia!

   4. Wafa Sultan: "You can believe in stones as long as you don't throw them at me."
   5. The anti-Islamic Christians should not rejoice too much in this. Wafa's arguments work against them just the same.
   6. Can anyone confirm if this is true? If so, my wrath will be felt across nations.
   7. You'd think the new upgrades in FarmVille should be enough to cheer me up from the sadness of an emigrating cousin. All unsuccessful. Ack!
  8. Kung hindi ka handang maupakan o lumaban man lang, huwag mo nang subuking mang-asar. Baka makita ka pa sa TV, nakakatawa lang. #Wynne Arboleda #Alain Katigbak
  9. Aren't you glad your parents let you watch The Simpsons as a kid? I am! It's funnier and far more sensible than Flying House.
  10. It's probably because I'm a busy newbie but this piece is too hard for me!
  11. One day, one day... my whistle, fiddle, and bodhran will be worthy.
  12. I want my fickin' garden back. I can't live in a house without earth and green growing things!
  13. Ken Wilber, 1981: "At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking transformation would occur simply if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego capable of freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem."
  14. I am both sad and angry at this. Why do we let these things happen?
  15. Ako ay nananawagan sa kung sinumang may pananagutan sa mga "urban" Bajau/Badjao. Hihingan ka na nga ng pera, mumurahin ka pa. Pakisundo po sila.
  16. Dan Brown's mum: "If we spent half the intellect and money we spend on killing each other on solving problems, wouldn’t that be great?"
  17. I love this Jew: Sarah Silverman on "How to end world hunger? Sell the Vatican. Feed the world."
  18. I dreamt, in my siesta time, that I was shouting at a bunch of bishops: "Abajos coños obispos, libertad". Probably because of the RH Bill?
  19. Mia Yrreverre Abendan: Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them.
  20. I first saw this episode a year ago on DVD (eherm). Loved it! I still do.
  21. I will flay these anti-Agora dullards. Get your own fickin' movie.
  22. I am sick of meddling priests and pastors. There is no room for sectarian dominance in a pluralistic society.
  23. I dedicate this to Stephen Gately. Ta tu go hiontach!
  24. I am loving this Rachel Weisz (as Hypatia of Alexandria) quote: "You don't question what you believe... [but] I must."
  25. I can't wait to see this film. Let us not forget Hypatia, what she did, and what was done unto her.
  26. I think the concept of race is obsolete. In this world, who isn't genetically mixed anyway? Differences are cultural. Let's celebrate that!
  27. I wonder if finding this video hilarious makes me a sadist? These blokes are bloody mad!
  28. I am not a traditional Christian but I enjoy these things because they ARE perfectly enjoyable. Besides, it looks pagan to me.
  29. I love this little guy. He's my favourite dancer for this year's karakol.
  30. I like the old timers at 2 min 00 sec. The steps haven't changed in centuries. Srsly.         

  31. I believe in the power of Karakol. The beats are apostatic [sic]. Smash your borders and dance! HAPPY FIESTA, IMUS!
  32. I am shocked and sad. Stephen Gately, dead at 33.         

  33. I am tired of cleaning cat poo. They keep on defecating on my neighbour's parking space. Three kittens and a mum for adoption, anyone?

  34. I fall into ecstasy whenever I hear howling wolves. Awoooooooooooooooooo!
  35. I think Western-oriented women shouldn't give up their family names for their husbands'. It is so hard to locate female kinsmen!                 

  36. I'm not a misanthropist. I just despise certain types of human. For a supposedly intellectual species, we are a little too vile. 

If anyone is interested, my Twitter is aldrin_ft.

PS: I am so craving for Turkish Delight (shown in photo above) right now. I think I'll go and tweet that.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

What We Still Need

After a month-long hiatus, we still need the following:

More volunteers and goods to help the victims of Ondoy/Ketsana and Pepeng/Parma.
I have found that this site can be very helpful: And please do not tire of tweeting about it. It helps.

More support for the RH Bill. Don't you want to have your own say when it comes to your health and not have a group of celibate single males decide for you? Sign the petition here; blog about it, tweet it, do anything to get this known.

More intelligent people in public office. This has been long overdue. Arguably, it is the root of all suffering in this country. That or the lack of will to self-govern and self-discipline.

And lastly, we still need meds to cure people from virtual farming and virtual restaurant management. I am still infected. It has been eating most of my waking time. Shall we wait until I can no longer even blog about it?
Please be my neighbour at FarmVille, Café World, Island Paradise, Restaurant City, Pet Society, and Country Story. Don't forget the gifts, too!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009