8/20/2014
It gets to their heads

It does get depressing every morning, turning on the TV and seeing a reporter stationed in one of thirteen MRT stations along EDSA, saying the same thing that we've been told before: it's not yet six in the morning, and the lines are getting long.

Two hours later, I'm already settled into work - I do not have to take the MRT, mostly because it's not where I live anyway - and I see the same lines I saw earlier, only longer. And it goes on and on, for the next two hours, and even if you don't use those trains you feel a bit hopeless anyway. I don't know if it's just me and my infrastructure-centered mindset of late, though. But you do feel a bit hopeless. Are things just this screwed up here?

A few more hours later, you see reactions from exasperated commuters, partly, but mostly from advocacy groups (however you define it) calling for an immediate government response. But they all acknowledge that nothing will be solved if those in power do not experience what us mere paupers experience, so, inevitably, they call on concerned government officials to take the MRT during rush hour. In one case, I saw them call on Noynoy Aquino to take the MRT during rush hour. "Just so he knows what we feel," they argue.

Read more »

8/13/2014
If only it was that easy

Yesterday we were all speculating about Robin Williams' death, but the few things we did know - his publicist saying he battled "severe" depression, the coroners saying he died of asphyxia - pretty much turned all the assumptions to fact. Robin took his own life.

Everybody was retweeting everybody. Quotes from his films, that shot of Aladdin hugging an emancipated Genie, that Walt Whitman poem. And then there was, again, a discussion on depression, or what seemed like it. That little understood thing - I wouldn't call it illness; I wouldn't know what to call it - has reared its ugly head again, taking away a man who generations loved dearly even if all they know of him is what they see on their screens.

Is it safe to call depression "extreme sadness, verging on suicidal thoughts"? I don't think so. I've been extremely sad before. I've had suicidal thoughts before. I don't know if what I had is depression or a young person's tendency to exaggerate everything to get noticed. That also means I'd get dismissed for, well, exaggerating what I really feel. "Get over it," people would usually say. "You're being too dramatic."

Read more »

8/12/2014
Goooooooodbye, Vietnam!

"Not again," I said as I flicked through my phone. "Not again."

I was trying to write something in my head. Instantly, I guess. First impulse. But then I remember that the last time this happened, I started with talk of slumbooks, of how you end up writing "too many to mention" when you can't decide on whose name to place in so small a space.

I was always fascinated with futuristic technology as a kid, so without any context, I loved Bicentennial Man. Apparently critics weren't in love with that film, but I was, even if I didn't understand the nuances of Andrew transitioning from robot to man. But I do remember crying. One of the few films I cried to.

Read more »

8/11/2014
The Bureau of Immigration does not care if you're beautiful

I had my passport renewed last Friday, conveniently avoiding a fire drill - but that's not the point, for it's merely a coincidence. Anyway. Rewind. I had my passport renewed last Friday, and despite the many branches in Manila and the later appointment time, I still spent a good two hours there.

The thing is, you spend most of your time there seated. There are five rows of seats by the processing area, which is your second stop, and where you spend half of your time. (There are also five rows of seats in the encoding section.) I knew I'd have lots of time, so I brought a book - Then They Came For Me, still unopened, the book Jon Stewart is turning into a film, the reason why John Oliver is now with HBO - but I ended up not touching it at all, since really, how can you read if you have to move seats so often? You shuffle your butt across the benches, some perfectly fine, some slightly dilapidated, but enough to trigger images in your head, of you sitting down, and the bench giving way, and you getting a big gash in your leg, which will cause tetanus and lead to your death.

No, I told myself, I can't think of death today. I shouldn't think of death today.

Read more »

8/07/2014
Six more years, so hold on?

Are you guys really serious about calling for Noynoy Aquino to run for a second term as president?

And no, I'm not saying this as one of those critics of the president you so clearly want to get rid of. Yes, I don't like how he sees himself as god. Yes, I don't like how he's a hypocrite who portrays himself as above the patronage politics of this country, but plays the game very hard behind closed doors. But yes, I also acknowledge that he has done some good things for the country.

I said as much a couple of entries back, or maybe I didn't say it properly. Yes, he has done some good things for the country, but he's not the one who got the ball rolling. There have always been other people who, in their own way, have done good things for the country. If anything, Noynoy's election to the presidency in 2010 has galvanized those people, giving them confidence that what they have been doing for the longest time will be, err, maximized. (I cannot vouch for whether these people still have that confidence in 2014, however.)

Read more »