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Showing posts from April, 2007

Total Suspended Particulates

In this week's issue of the Baguio Midland Courier: "The air quality in the city's central business district based on the Total Suspended Particulates parameter was recorded as 'fair' from January to April this year, reports from the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources indicate. "TSP concentrations ranged from 110-208ug/Ncm, which are within tolerable limit set at 230ug/Ncm as prescribed in the Philippine Clean Air Act (RA 8749).... "The TSP is measured once a week on a 24-hour sampling duration using a High Volume Sampler stationed at the foot of Session Road. "Suspended particulates are extremely fine particles of matter that are suspended in the air in either solid or liquid form, which have adverse impacts on the health of the public." Thus, with a wave of the magic wand of Science, the DENR would have us believe that it doesn't matter that spending an hour on Session Road ca

Random Diss Excerpt #1

Ahem. Brace yourself for a dose of academic blather. Boundaries do not exist in and of themselves in the world. For instance, a stream running between the territories of two Kalanguya villages in Benguet is not a boundary in and of itself. Rather, it is designated, recognized, and maintained as such by the Kalanguya who live by it. Boundaries are purposively made by people to separate themselves or to separate matter or certain objects from the rest of the environment (Barth 2000). In the dynamic of environmental action, boundaries are ubiquitous. Protected areas are delineated and zoned, objectives are placed within time-frames, stakeholders are identified and categorized, nature is recreated as “natural resources”, livelihood practices are classified as sustainable/unsustainable and legal/illegal. Intertwined with this is the indigenous peoples’ movement and its goals of recognition of their rights to land by virtue of their identities and their histories. Thus, boundaries of inclusi

Lost and found altar

While gallivanting around the artists' village of Ubud, I learned that on April 14, the Balinese celebrate the birthday of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, who consorts with Brahma, the male aspect of the Creator. Saraswati has four slender arms and hands holding four gifts to her followers: an open flower upturned to face the sun symbolizing devotion, a traditional musical instrument symbolizing creativity, a string of prayer beads symbolizing meditation; and a lontar (a book in Balinese script, written entirely on palm leaves) symbolizing wisdom. She stands on a lotus, signifying the openness that is necessary for true learning and creativity. On her birthday, students bring their books and notebooks to the temples to be blessed. At home, people lay special offerings before their computers and bookshelves. I hungrily and hastily cut her out of a local magazine, and I place her on my hidden altar, alongside Ganesh, Athena, Quan Yin, the Buddha, and St. Joan of Arc. Today I pla

Found memory

In search of a memory, I open a drawer in my mother's house. I find intricate paper cuttings of goldfish swimming in lotus ponds, which I bought in China the year I lost two friends to murder and decided I had to leave Baguio, for a while. Those are not the memories I wanted to find. I dig deeper into the drawer. Underneath the paper cuttings I find this letter, which I wrote that same year and at the beginning of the one term I taught part-time in Ateneo. It still isn't the memory I am after, but it has caught my attention and I let it take me where it will. 'Dear Class, 'You are pessimists and optimists at once. On the one hand, you are all more or less willing to believe that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain through enrolling in your core courses, whether or not they interest you. In this sense, you are optimists. 'On the other hand, an alarming number of you say that you do what you do because you must comply with "the system" or lose, a

Here today, gone tomorrow

Just arrived yesterday from the coast of beautiful, quiet, verdant Aurora, where we traversed rugged roads, crossed creeks and rivers, swam in isolated beaches, skipped stones in swimming holes fed by towering waterfalls (remembering to say kayo-kayo! And tabi-tabi po!), peed in bushes (kayo-kayo, again), slept with bedbugs in sparsely furnished travellers' inns, and shared a lot of laughter and love and gratefulness (and a few complaints and gripes) for road trips and life companions. When I woke up and got out of my own bed this morning, and Number 1 Biker Boy and the Artist-in-residence were already gone for the day, my heart sank for a moment. But only for a moment, because tomorrow another journey begins. More soon!

Road Rage

I am sick and tired of being bullied by truck drivers, jeepney drivers, taxi drivers, SUV drivers, fancy car drivers, school van drivers, bus drivers, and motorcyclists when I'm on my mountain bike! It takes me about 30 minutes of cycling through fumes and concrete streets to get to a fairly rough road, or a good trail where I know I'll be free from harassment on wheels. In those 30 minutes on the city streets, these are the things that usually happen: I choke in black clouds of diesel fumes, or white clouds of carbon monoxide emitted by vehicles that shift into low gear just to overtake me. I get deafened and startled out of my own skin by a bus blowing its horn behind me. I get cat calls and whistles and lewd remarks, and no, I don't find the attention flattering. If a biker boy tells me I ride well, that's flattering. I get forced into the gutter or unto the sidewalk by a driver that brings his vehicle alongside me, slows down, and turns ever so slightly

I love...

...indirect, multi-stranded, evanescent encounters like this one , in which I run smack into Tita Sylvia and suddenly I miss her magic and her prophecies, but I don't really know Willi and yet I sort of know Willi, and it's like childhood all over again where I get to sit by the grownups and listen to their important, mysterious conversation without being noticed, and no one really knows what on earth I'm picking up from all the things that are being said, and I don't either, but at the moment it doesn't matter because this stuff is exciting.

Good Fridays

We all have our good Fridays for being bad. If you have baggage (like I do), and if your life's been colonized by a dissertation (like mine), and if you try to behave and be responsible for the most part (like I do choke choke choke), and if you are self-centered (like me) but live with other people (lovely though they may be) and have a precocious adolescent to think of besides yourself and on a daily basis too (like I do), then once in a while, you just want to let things rip and give the whole world the finger. Like I just did. Hee hee hee! Here are a few fragments I collected from friends about last Friday's opening at the Victor Oteyza Community Art Space, a.k.a VOCAS. Randy and Bong put up their first two-man show. Touches of the surreal, breath of the mountains, metal aftertaste of the city, and shades of the Igorot in us all. If you're in town, go see the paintings. Pogi Reggae, Batotoys' Blues, and the Uptown Rascals played music that made the crowd dance. Th

Open the basket

I brought a basket like this home from Central Kalimantan. The Ngaju Dayak use it as a work basket. They leave for the fields in the morning, with the luntung on their backs, containing bolos, fishing lines, lunch. They come home just as dusk begins to fall with the basket overflowing with vegetables or fish. When I went to place an order for a basket with the woman who made them in the village I stayed in, she looked me up and down and asked, "For you?" She made it in a week, and it fits me and me alone, perfectly. I use my luntung to go to market every week. I can stuff it with a kilo of chicken, a kilo of pork, a kilo of mangoes, a kilo of strawberries, one-fourth kilo of shitake mushrooms, a kilo of tomatoes, several bunches of lettuce and other greens, and three bundles of rosal. Plus maybe a bag of red chillies thrown on top. The manangs admire my Dayak version of the Igorot kayabang. They like that it's different. They ask me where I got it from. I tell them to hav