Poems from April 11 - April 20, 2011

Second installment of my summer 2011 poems (Note that for the week from April 18-20, I only wrote one poem every two days):

(the poem below is in Filipino)
Munting Basura

Ang paksa: Ang mga lungsod ng Muntinlupa at Biñan ay nag-iimplement na ng batas ukol sa pagbawal ng paggamit ng mga supot sa kanilang lugar. Ngunit sa buong Pilipinas, ang mga tao ay nagtatapon pa rin ng basura nang basta-basta sa kahit saan.

Araw-araw, tayo ay nagtatapon ng mga basura
Malaki man o maliit, sa kung saan-saan
Kaya’y madumi palagi ang paligid sa kahit saan.

Mga maliit na supot, mga balat ng kendi, at marami iba pa
Ay ang mga munting basura.
Ngunit ayaw pansinin ng mga matataas ang mga maliliit.

Dapat kailangan pansinin nila na ang basura
Ay sa lahat ng hugis at laki,
At dapat ipaalam sa mga tao na kailangan itapon ang mga basura nila
Sa tamang lugar.

Kailan sila matututo?
Kapat ipagpabawal na ang mga supot,
Tapon pa rin sila ng tapon kung saan-saan.
Baguhin dapat ang ugali ng mga tao
Para matuto na sila ng tama.

ika-11 ng Abril 2011

The Lone Armchair

Background: Armchairs are the norm in high schools and colleges. This poem is about a solo armchair outside a classroom, taken out for unknown reasons.

An armchair is outside the room where it’s supposed to serve
Doing nothing or about to do harm to others.
Yet it remains one such useful object
To the success of the student, the classroom and the school.

Even if it’s just one solitary object
It serves many students and uses
But its chief purpose is to let the student sit in it
Even taking in the students’ feelings and thoughts.

If it has been worn out by students, it should be replaced
Or if it has already been condemned, it should have a final disposition
But many armchairs are as old or even older than the students themselves.
We are sure that we may outlive them.

April 12, 2011

Last Goodbye (as Students)

Background: I went to UP Diliman to attend my blockmates’ graduation on the day this poem was written to say my last goodbyes to them.

They’re now on the stage
Wearing their togas or formal wear
But I’ve been left behind
For some reason
I will miss them forever
Even if I graduate later
I will still miss them.

April 13, 2011

For Ryan (the Last Goodbye)

Background: My blockmate, Ryan Lapus, graduated from college at the same day that he migrated with his family to Los Angeles.

I attended your classmates’ graduation
But you weren’t there
Why? Because you were busy packing up your bags?
Or you were sure that you skipped us for your family?
Either way, I have had a lot of moments with you
Both good and bad
Good luck to your new life in L.A.
And be good to us for the years to come.

April 14, 2011

I didn't write any poems from Friday, April 15 - Sunday, April 17. Friday night I went to eat with my mom and her HS friends at Seaside (near MOA); Saturday night I went to Marcelo Green, Parañaque to eat and socialize with my high school friends at a friend's house there; Sunday I went to church and later to Makati Medical Center, where a friend was then confined there.

For Holy Week, I only wrote a poem every two days because Physics and then the arrival of my aunt's balikbayan box took away my writing time.

Small But Meaningful

Background: The Saturday before I wrote this, my high school friends and I had a small reunion at a friend’s house in Marcelo Green, Parañaque. While I was there, we told to each other a lot of things about us and our classmates who were not there.

We’re all in the house of a former batchmate
Telling to each other what had happened over the years
Since we separated ways
Even though it’s hard to swallow for some
That the fact that we are in different worlds
Means that the worlds we leave behind have changed a lot
For some, while others haven’t changed at all.

While many couldn’t make it
Due to prior commitments
The ones who could bring life to the conversation
And tell everything they had done
And tell whatever happened to those who don’t know
And those who couldn’t make it.

We hope we can continue this until we all go up to Heaven.

April 18, 2011

Life in the Classroom

Background: In a classroom, be it in elementary, high school or college, there are two groups involved: the teacher (or professor in college setting) and the students. This describes life in a typical college classroom.

Here we are, in a classroom
Where professors and students meet
He will teach us, and we will learn from him.

While we await him
We enjoy our freedom
Either we study in advance or we do our other activities
Or even interact with each other.

When he comes, we are quiet and listening to him.
Depending on the lesson, we react differently
And sometimes make noise along the way.

When classes end for the day
We part ways, or we go together
But we learn from experience
That it’s not just the lesson that matters.

April 20, 2011

Poems and tankas for the week of April 5-8, 2011

Since I am not yet eligible for OJT (therefore making me the last in my original block to have it by summer 2012), in its place I have committed myself to make a poem every day from April 5 to May 20.

The poem for April 5 discusses the television network wars that go on in every part of the world. Here in the Philippines we have a longstanding network war between two networks: ABS-CBN and GMA 7, with TV5 (formerly ABC5) recently joining in this war. When would this war finally end?

Network Wars

For as long as anyone could remember
No one has won over loyalty to a certain station
Some transfer to the other station, some lose interest altogether
But many remain loyal to a station after many years.

In every station, there are shows that are hits and misses
Some stick around for a while, others fall into obscurity
Yet in every station, a fan has his favorite shows
Fans have different tastes and personalities, that's why every fan is unique.

Many stations compete to become number one
But of course, only one can become as such
From time to time, it also changes as well
That's why it's hard to tell who is king of all.

The poem for April 6 is about the youth and alcohol. Even though I can't drink, many of my friends drink and some have had hangovers.

Why Many Youths Love to Drink

I don't drink, and I won't ever drink
Because it just harms the body over all of its good claims
You can socialize without involving alcohol
But it's hard to do that for most of us.

Our age is an age of discovery
In which we are partly free from our parents,
And want to try everything out there
But there are good and bad things out there,
One of the mixed bags is drinking alcohol.

Here, alcohol is sometimes combined with smoking
Either alone or with friends, it doesn't matter
Some claim that drinking takes all their worries away
And take that claim with it for maybe the rest of their lives.

While we are still young, one of our ways to bond is through drinking
And it shows that we are mild drinkers after all
While there are some of us whose religious beliefs or medical conditions
Overpower tradition and temptation,
Yet drinking is a tradition that will continue forevermore.

Three tankas were made on April 7. Each tanka is not connected to each other and has a unique theme.

I've been waiting for
Something that will excite me
But I have nothing
To do right now, that's why I
Tend to be very bored now.

Friends or the devil
Can try us within our means
But we must resist
So that we will not be bad
In both deed and the body.

A Church
A white, stone structure
Can be seen from so far away
It's still used right now
Many moments have been made
But the good is more than bad.

For every Friday except on May 6, no poem will be made. Instead, just like in OJT, I will do a summary report of what I've done for Monday-Thursday of the week.

I have only written poems and had bonding with my friends before class starts on Thursday, April 14. I was supposed to have my cross-registration at UP Diliman on Monday/Tuesday next week, but it failed because students there weren't willing to vacate their slots in Physics 72. I also advised fellow cross-registrants from UP Manila who were about to cross-register in UP Diliman for this summer.

Why it's so hard to convince some people to have a Facebook account.

After so many months of persuasion and convincing to no avail of my brother to get a Facebook account for himself, I finally created one for him using one of my "extra" email addresses just recently. However, only family are his "friends" there though, but I always wonder why some people after so much convincing still say "No" to social networks such as Facebook. (My brother in this case is still loyal to Friendster, my grade school friend only has hi5, Twitter and Formspring and is highly selective on her social networks to join.)

The reason why I created a Facebook account is that it was, by the time I first signed up, already the "new in thing", that was also during the time Friendster suffered a host of problems and they caused a user exodus, first to Multiply and now Facebook. And also my cousins in the U.S. use it (Friendster and Multiply are not popular with the youth there, there was only MySpace and MyYearbook before Facebook became popular.)

I don't know why some people don't want to join Facebook after all these years and all that convincing and forcing to let them join. Because my brother doesn't want to join my sister, my father and I in Facebook, I almost wanted to run away and eventually live on my own, somewhere far away from southern Metro Manila and northern Laguna. (There are other reasons why I want to live away from my brother, but they comprise a long story.)

Some people say that Facebook takes the focus away, and they may be right. (My blockmate is one of them, I believe.) Others say that their former enemies might add them up there, and they fear that, that's why they still haven't joined until now. But either way, let's face the reality: For the younger generation, most don't want to live without a Facebook account. You should join too. If you still don't want to, leave me a comment.

Also read this useful article if you still aren't sure if you're serious and willing to join Facebook or not.

Why I disdain Spanish names

Ever since I was a child, I have had called Spanish-sounding names "old-school", "outmoded" and "outdated". That still rings true for me today. When I was in grade school, I had only a few friends with Spanish names, with the rest having creative or English names.

If you could still remember my former blog post here about my impression with names, here's a follow up. Some Pinoy celebrities now name their children from different and/or contrasting cultures. Sometimes the naming isn't really good (say you have a Biblical name and a Japanese name - they are from contrasting cultures and that's not a good meaning to the person).

My friend gave birth to a son two Wednesdays ago. Earlier, when he was still in the womb, I predicted some name combinations for him - mostly English and American names. Only one or two were Spanish-sounding, which means to say that I really prefer American to Spanish names. But in the end, my friend and her husband gave their son two Spanish-sounding names, which in my opinion, will make him be the subject of bullies later in life. (Diego Alfonso is his name.)

Why the subject of bullies? Because not too many famous people have the name Diego and the ones we know now are of not-so-good influence. Alfonso is too outmoded, so to speak.

My opinion from two and a half years ago still hasn't changed. These are the following:
1. I think there is a trend here that ever since Martial Law, parents have started giving their children English and other non-Spanish names and over the years, they have started going creative over these (e.g. Arnel, Cheska, Paolo/Paulo, etc.)
2. Even our Muslim countrymen go with their own flow as well, also following a similar trend that sets them apart from us (Christians). But I do not count that fact here.
3. I really like the style of Chinese-Filipinos naming their children English names. They tend to follow American trends as the names from those trends are easier to pronounce, spell and translate to Chinese.
4. Last summer, when I was taking Comm III in UP Diliman, we were asked to prepare an impromptu speech about "If you were to legally change your name, what would it be and why?" I selected Morgan Grace because I like the name Morgan for some reason (I usually forget it) and Grace is a Christian value which I wish to have. But it's a fail; I don't know any Morgans.
5. Ever since the Spanish era up to around the 1950's or 1960's, Filipinos tend to name their children after saints, values and Spanish nobility names. That's not the case anymore because of globalization and baby naming by Filipinos should follow a trend - that is, in English names.

Any questions? Post comments below.

My Sacrifice for My Church

Fasting is done by Christians for various reasons such as it being a tool for enhancing the power of prayer. Even fasting as a topic in itself is found in many Biblical books and verses. Also many great Biblical characters and historically significant Christians were also men of fasting.

The church I'm currently attending is celebrating its 27th anniversary this month. This week, our pastor enjoined everyone to fast and pray every day from Monday until Sunday for a certain topic (e.g. school/work, nation, etc.)

My mom and I have chosen not to fast as in the skipping of meals or whole-day abstinence from food or drink but we chose to skip rice for the entire week until the breaking of the fast on Sunday. So far, my food bill suddenly shot up because my school's cafeteria always serves meals with rice (not too many non-rice choices), so I go outside to eat. And this fasting comes in the middle of exam week - what we call as "Hell Week" so I haven't been able to pray much and focus on my spiritual life lately - all that I have had focused is on my academic and social lives.

I think I am still not fit for fasting. :(

The Day of Labor

Last July 28, my blockmate's nephew was born and my friend had her son on the same day. Their births inspired me to do this poem.

The Day of Labor
When the waters break,
It begins the end of an amazing journey
And it is also the beginning of another one,
One that will last, hopefully, for a long time.

While this may take long,
This experience is only witnessed by those close to her
And we also experienced it when we began our lives.

The mother keeps on waiting and then pushing
Until her fruit comes out
That she has nurtured all her nine months.

When the baby finally arrives, it is the start of a whole new world
Be him the first child, or maybe the fifth or more
The parents see to it that he should develop to what they have seen
As the "fullest potential".

While we may not know what he will really become
Until he is older
Life should be appreciated by all, even the smallest ones
So that everyone gets his or her fair chance to appreciate our brood and breed.

A poem I made for my mom's cousin

To begin with, one of genealogy's wonders is what you imagine (or see) is not really what you get. I once imagined all my mom's cousins are from their 30's to their 60's. (My mom's already 60 years old as of this writing.) But, judging on these relatives' recent visit and later family discussions I only found out that my mom's youngest uncle's children (her cousins) are around my age (23 and 20 respectively as of this writing).

This poem is dedicated to all Filipino-Americans, especially the American-born descendants of our fellow countrymen, among them my mom's cousins.

Until you came to visit us
You were one of the many "anonymous" Filipino-American children
Who never knew where your parents' or ancestors' homeland is located
Or perhaps you never know what's in store in this country.

But then, you also have not visited all the regions of your home country
You told me, you had only been up to Nevada before this trip
And now, you have visited us here
Which means to say, your family made us their top priority to visit.

I really can't believe that you're my age
We are only separated by one month
And your nephews and nieces are even older than you are
But you're still part of our extended family.

I hope that you'll make our homeland a place to visit
Later in your lives, when you have a family of your own
Even if we may have already left to work or live elsewhere
You should remember us.

I can prepare an interpretation of this poem upon request.

My Awaiting Requiem in Awakening Night

One of my earliest poems ever published, in January 2008.

Death, where everyone lives on
Is where the people who die spend
Some time in its surroundings
And where they will assess when
They were good or bad
When they were still alive
But not all of them could be assigned -
What would happen to the ones in the middle?

They fight for themselves
On where to land a spot somewhere
In heaven or hell
Somehow, they got lost for words
Like they were still alive
Is it just me? Or are they really like that?

Whatever their motives be
They finally get sent to
Their own choosing
Now, when after death would that happen?
With many in the world, how are they assigned
With spots filling up
And they have no expiration dates
How come they’ve finally made it?

‘Course, there’s someone for this challenge
Whoever he or she is, it’s up to them
To see who will meet their criteria
It’s up to them to see if they will admit us all to the sky above
I gather ‘round to see all the innocent
Looking upon us
And, let them tell us that life is just a temporary affair.

A Scene from an Ateneo-La Salle men’s basketball game

In the Philippines, no rivalry is much greater and deeper than the Ateneo de Manila University - De La Salle University-Manila sports rivalry, especially in men’s basketball. It started in the NCAA and with both now playing in the UAAP, it is more intense than ever.

I decided to simulate a close game for this poem and judging from the past few years’ results, Ateneo has been the king in men’s basketball given this rivalry. But as you can see below, La Salle won this game. :)

Fourth quarter. Tied game. Three minutes left.
La Salle with the ball. Both in the penalty.
Everyone cheers for their own team, with no exception
Hearts are pounding, brains and minds are sweating, bodies are jittering
It’s no game for the faint of heart.

Score after score, foul after foul
Everyone either cheers or jeers
There may be no end, but of course, there is one
It is happening right here, right now
And La Salle will eventually win the game, in a close fight
I only imagine that if La Salle will win, this is a contest of sportsmanship and pride
Even non-involved people will truly appreciate.

DLSU is the host of this coming UAAP Season 73.

Why I Bleed Green, not Maroon

Since I was in Grade 7, De La Salle University - Manila has had a place in my heart. But I now study in UP Manila, a far cry from DLSU’s laid-back personality.

Animo! is their magic word, their cheer in sports
But I don’t study at the school that represents it
Bound by my family’s wishes to study at the state university they all attended
I was forced to give up my dream of studying in the home of the Green Archers.

Even if they are dominant in athletics, their academic dominance is no different
In fact, I might’ve been changed from where I was in high school, maybe different from where I am now.
Still, my heart bleeds green and Animo
Because I have friends who succeeded there.

I was never in fact a Lasallian my entire life so far
But I was in high school when my heart wanted me to study at La Salle
Time and again, my family said “no” for many reasons
But even today, my heart still bleeds green, maybe forevermore.

Why I am obsessed with Boston Med right now

Being a Filipino and with nothing good at the television offerings here lately, I searched the Internet for something new to watch. My niche is reality TV, since I have stopped watching Banana Split and Bubble Gang because over time ever since I followed those two shows, they got more green and cornier and my family doesn't approve what these two shows convey every week. Also, they run very late on the schedule, usually going past midnight. (Bubble Gang is on Fridays; Banana Split is on Saturdays.) Also, my other favorite reality shows, The Amazing Race (both U.S. and Asia) and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition are on a summer hiatus. (TAR Asia has been on a hiatus for one year as I write this.)

The new show that I am referring to is Boston Med, shown on ABC in the U.S. every Thursday night (Friday morning in Manila). It chronicles what is going on inside three hospitals in Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Children's Hospital of Boston.

Two episodes have been broadcast so far, and I like the way it was produced. All the major roles of healthcare delivery are covered: Patients, doctors and nurses. Both the upsides and downsides of being in a hospital are also covered here. Being in a family of doctors and with me growing up with other fellow doctors over the years, this relates to me because I didn't want to be as stressed as them, so I chose a different pathway.

The production team that produced Boston Med also produced Hopkins, about life in a Baltimore hospital that was broadcast two years ago, but I have yet to watch it.

But, as with all other shows, Boston Med will eventually end on August 12 (August 13 in Manila). I will miss that show so much.