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Showing posts from 2008

What Buddhism teaches me

"Neurotics depend on holidays, weekends, and days off; those who cultivate their appreciation celebrate daily." (from Meeting Faith by Faith Adiele ) Lesson: I'm definitely neurotic.

Media: "a flowering of meaning"?

According to Adbusters, "The international audience finds it's own media, free from western bias." Oh really? Here in this cowntry* national and community tv channels continue to broadcast shows and news slanted towards the West or mimicking American tv, and the U.S. continues to make headlines or appears on our national newspapers' front pages almost daily. Are we still so tied to the U.S. that whatever happens there makes waves of tsunami proportions here? Or is it just the media that makes American news so important in the Philippines? Perhaps it works both ways? Compared to the US, how often do our Southeast Asian neighbors -- with whom we (once???) shared many cultural, historical, economic, and social realities -- make headlines in this cowntry apart from around the time of the ASEAN meetings, or if and when GMA goes on another of her junkets in the neighborhood, or if and when Filipinos find themselves in a tight spot in those countries, or if and when they ha

The Defense: Wishful Thinking

From Wondermark: Illustrated Jocularity by David Malki. Tip: Click on image for better viewing. When perusing strips on the Wondermark site, hover your mouse over the strip to get further insight into the comic.

A view of Islam from another country

It is the end of Ramadan. The Artist-in-Residence was appalled that some of her classmates thought the holiday would be moved to Monday. According to her they only stopped insisting when she pointed out to them that it would be equivalent to GMA declaring that Christmas should be celebrated on the 20th instead of the 25th of December. Here is a view of Islam most of us -- growing up in a predominantly Christian and prejudiced society -- would never have thought of: Islamic pop culture!

Senator Villar needs to spend time relaxing on a nudist beach

Senator Villar would have us believe that he is the Guardian of Filipino Morality. I believe he is Small-Mindedness Personified and his Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Senate Bill No. 2464 demonstrates this beautifully. Nash, baka ka ma-arrest on arrival if this bill is passed! Why it doesn't take much of a leap of imagination to see how sex education or discussions on reproductive health could be considered "obscene" and thereby penalized. Here's John Silva's take on this ridiculous bill . Take the time to peruse the comments as well. Read it and weep, people. The powers that be are making idiots of us all. IMAGE CREDITS: JOHN SILVA P.S. John Silva draws an interesting comparison between this and a similar bill in Indonesia, where Muslims are the majority. Makes for lots of things to chew on combined with the link I posted above to an article on Islamic pop culture -- literature in particular!

Palengkera: photographic history

Baguio Benguet Studies brings us another wonderful photo exhibition this time featuring archival treasures focusing on the palengke in Baguio. This year our market is one hundred years old. The market began a year before Baguio became a chartered city. Although it is rather sad and ironic that the exhibit hangs in Baguio Benguet Studies' usual venue, the lower basement entrance of SM, it cannot be said that they didn't try. They set up a number of meetings in city hall and with the market council in order to organize for the exhibit to be put up in the market itself. However, sadly, nobody from the market council (I would like to know, who makes up the market council?) showed up at these meetings. Sayang. I find this hard to understand, given that my sukis were very eager to see the exhibit when I told them about it. Maybe market and city officials aren't interested in it, but the vendors certainly are! The exhibit hangs in SM until December. I am still hoping that it w

Palengkera: ghee whiz!

I mustn't be selfish. Besides, anybody who has the time to comb through the market, and the curiosity to probe it's inner alleys, and the eternal itch of an explorer would eventually find JMJ Marketing. All one has to do to get to this little unassuming store packed with all manner of spices and goodies from Assad's (Manila's favorite Indian grocery) is to walk past the Garcia and Umali coffee sellers, along the edge of the Hangar Market, past the beauty parlors, look out for a cramped eatery with motley green walls, and you come to a store front crammed with plastic bags for sale. Don't be fooled. On their shelves you will find this: But there's the rub, this breaks rule of thumb number two for choosing food: The less distance it had to travel to get to your table, the better. For an occasional dish of fresh greens sauteed in ghee and garlic and onions, I would turn a blind eye to this rule.

The demise of a childhood favorite

Goodbye, White Rabbit . In the last decade we have witnessed the surfacing of previously invisible dangers in the food we eat. Some of these things were dangers that the industry put into the food to make plants and animals unnnaturally highly-productive, to prolong shelf-life, to make products that are stripped bare of essential vitamins and minerals appear healthier or "fortified", and to make it cheaper for transnational companies to sell processed food all over the world. Now is a good time to rediscover fresh, locally grown food in your palengke or neighborhood talipapa. Over yesterday's lunch of chicken curry cooked in kakang gata with a salad of winged beans, tomatoes, and sili, my nanay and I started drawing up some rules of thumb for choosing food. So yesterday's thoughts on food were: 1. Don't buy it if your lola would not recognize it as food. 2. The less distance the food had to travel to get to your table, the better. 3. If it's known n

Take a hike

"... thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It's best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking." Rebecca Solnit in Wanderlust: A History of Walking .

Centennial Ride starts at Convention Center!

Get your rickety old bikes out! Dust your frame, pump up your tires, oil your chain, we're going on a ride! Cyclists are taking the city streets again! Anyone who has a bicycle and wants to ride in a pack of fun-loving, easy-going bikers, join the Baguio Centennial Ride on Sunday, September 7. We start at 9a.m. from Convention Center! Every one on a bicycle is welcome! The crazier your costume, the better! Well, actually the organizers would like people to come dressed in their profession's attire but I have a bit of a problem with that. Do anthropologists have a dress code? And if conference clothes are anthro outfits, there's no way I'm going to ride my bike in conference clothes. Ugh. PLEASE WEAR A HELMET WHEN YOU RIDE! And remember, cyclists can have a say on how traffic flows in Baguio, and how Baguio changes in the next one hundred years. (For the better, we hope.) Bring your pedaling power to an advocacy for clean air and better road courtesy between cyclis


Whoa... Food for thought. Add a dash of salt but keep an open mind. Where is your mind, anyway? Do you know? I don't, but sometimes I think I do. By the way, this was dug up by my new friend Zego, who loves trawling through the internet for random stuff we call re-thinks. More on him soon. He's still a little shy.

Get out of the bell curve

It's not a poem you'd think to read before seven in the morning when the sunshine is just beginning to stream through the windows and is throwing dappled shadows on the floor, but I randomly pulled a book off the shelf and opened it without thinking, and there it was, so here it is. Do Not Put Dead Monkeys in the Freezer Monkeys at the laboratory, monkeys doing countless somersaults in every cage on the row, monkeys gobbling Purina Monkey Chow or Fruit Loops with nervous greedy paws, monkeys pressing faces through a grille of steel, monkeys beating bars and showing fang, monkeys and pink skin where fur once was, monkeys with numbers and letters on bare stomachs, monkeys clamped and injected, monkeys. I was a lab coat and rubber gloves hulking between the cages. I sprayed down the batter of monkeyshit coating the bars, fed infant formula in a bottle to creatures with real fingers, tested digital thermometers greased up their asses, and carried boxes of monkeys to the next

Week 10: Whisky, Carbo, Sambal

I admit: this series of updates isn't really about the whole zoo that I keep. It's mainly about Whisky and how he gets along with the dogs. He likes to play favorites. For the longest time, his best buddy was Carbo. You saw the ear grooming heirarchy in Week 8. This week, Sambal is his number one pet. (I dunno, did he maybe lose respect for Carbo when the latter was fixed? Little does Whisky know, he's next in line!) I try to be fair with all three animals but there's no use denying it, Whisky is the King as far as I'm concerned. Sambal and Carbo are several rungs lower. They're just cute mignons. Er, minions, that is to say.

Palengkera: Kaplastikan

This is a follow-up to my Palengkera post on plastic bags . A lot -- but perhaps not yet enough -- has been said about Baguio's present political garbage problem. You can read several intelligent diatribes, view disgusting photos, and watch a heart-wrenching video and weep in the Eco-Warrior's Garden . Chi from the Cool Clouds provides a link to an enlightening slideshow on where plastic goes, what we can do about it, and which countries have already done something about it (in answer to Ikin's question). The comments are also well worth reading. And land-fill sized amounts of information can be found online for anyone willing to dredge through the millions of hits for "garbage" or "plastic". Meanwhile, the basura continues to pile up on Baguio's street corners, almost to catastrophic proportions. Now the nice thing about catastrophes is that they bring out the best in people. (Point in case, the Baguio earthquake. All of a sudden everybody in Ba

Memories and Recipes

The book we've all been waiting for is here at last!!! I'm so happy for my Big Little Sister, BFF Lia, and my Nanay!

On Writing

What I am about to say will probably look like excuse for procrastination #247, but it's not. I have decided that since writing is my first love, my vocation, my calling, my pain, my joy, my craft, and my work, I shall no longer mentally beat myself over the head or kneel on a pile of mongo beans and punish myself when I am writing other things besides the diss. So there. I write, therefore I survive this mad world.

PTA Mothers Rule!

This is my second year in high school PTA. After last year's PTA experience I swore to myself I wouldn't get roped in again but I seem to have this terrible compulsion to accept -- or worse, volunteer! -- for time-gobbling things that I don't need and that don't need me. So last week, to my dismay, I found myself in the position of secretary for the Education Committee of the PTA. Great. I was right back where I was last year. The Education Committee is in charge of organizing field trips, workshops, and other extra-curricular activities for the kids that will enhance their values, leadership skills, and spirituality. (Sounds awfully righteous, doesn't it?) But there was something notably different about this ED-COMM. Last year's ED-COMM had three pastors and one assistant pastor. We spent 50-minutes of every meeting I attended debating values, leadership, and spirituality. There were debates about whether you could teach values separately from spirituality, a

Random Diss Excerpt #10

A whole new way of looking at my theoretical chapter . If only putting it all together could be this much fun! I'm considering sending my "revised" chapters to my supervisors in this format heeheehee! Credit where credit is due: A whole new way of procrastinating

Baguio's Winners

Congratulations to Kawayan de Guia for bringing the Ateneo Art Award home to Baguio, and to Butch Macansantos for winning First for Poetry in English in the Palanca Awards! Wooohooo!

Week 8: Whisky, Carbo, Sambal

My Siga Boys Whisky gets his ear groomed by Sambal! Carbo gets his ear groomed by Whisky. Whisky: Who's the man? Carbo: You're the man! Sambal: Hmph. Boys will be boys. Boooorrring.

Palengkera: shrooms!

Mushrooms allegedly have no nutritional value. I find this hard to believe but then there are a lot of delicious things out there that have no nutritional value. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of delicious things out there that are BAD for you! As far as I know, edible mushrooms aren’t bad for you. On any given day in the market you can buy at least one variety of mushrooms. On a good mushroom day in the market you can find three or four varieties! The most common mushrooms are oyster mushrooms or button mushrooms. For a few months in 2007 the people of Baguio (who buy their food in the market and not in SuperMarkets or groceries where the choices in fresh produce are so limited and where the chain from producer to consumer is way too long to really support small community farmers and fishers phew!) enjoyed The Portake (pronounced por-ta-kE) -- a cross between the portobello and the shitake (pronounced shi-ta-kE) mushroom. Thank goodness they didn’t call it the shitobello. But t

People talk to themselves a lot

Is the end near? [the answer here] "How would we know if it was? Do the new modes of information exchange that we're constantly inventing exacerbate our anxieties? Or is millennialist paranoia some sort of cultural constant? Of course, these questions are difficult, if not impossible to answer. So i'll take a wild guess: as communities continue to become defined more by common ideologies rather than common geographies and as ideological contrasts become further exaggerated as a result, we become less able to identify with each other because our world-views are simply becoming less compatible. In other words, the more we choose to spend our time conversing with people who are interested (or worried) about exactly the same things that we are, in relatively tiny but globally dispersed communities, the more we feel like the rest of the world is just plain crazy." Demetrie Tyler

Palengkera: my route

This is the path my footsteps trace almost automatically when I go to the market. I start at the foot of the hill where the flower stalls are lined up. I squeeze through jeeps and cars waiting bumper-to-bumper for the traffic to ease forward inch-by-inch. I stop for rosal, not in the flower stalls where wreaths are prepared for funerals and celebrations, but with the manangs who set up their flower stands on the road, just beside the exit of the Marbay parking building. Then I walk across from the rosal manangs to my meat suki, where I buy pork or beef. From there I go deeper into the meat section and take the slippery, perpetually wet steps down to the seafood and chicken section. Here I have a suki for chicken. But all she sells is magnolia chicken. Today I came across a woman who was selling freshly butchered and dressed broiler chickens. She caught my attention when she called out, “Bagong katay po ito. Hindi galing sa freezer!” Next time, I will buy my chicken from her. I don’t h

Palengkera: dahon ng sili and plastic bags

The dahon ng sili was slightly wilted but I had five kilos of food on my back and it was time for me to go. It just so happened that there were three of us buying dahon ng sili from the same woman. I stood to the side and waited and listened as one of the buyers haggled with the vendor. “Magkano kamo ang dahon ng sili?” The vendor replied: “Dies isa.” “Ang mahal naman,” exclaimed the thin, spritely, wrinkle-faced manang with jet-black curly hair (surely she used hair dye) as she shook four bundles of tired-looking dahon ng sili. “Gawin mo nalang trenta itong apat!” The vendor shook her head silently. At this point, the other buyer interrupted. Her obviously “relaxed” hair was freshly washed and styled with shiny mousse or gel, and she wore light blush over heavy foundation. She wore a beige hoodie, a tight striped shirt, tight jeans, and shiny silver flats with pointy toes. Perhaps a trendy college student, or a trendy call center girl. But what drew me to her was not her appearance (


For the first time ever I'm disappointed with The month of June won't show up in my 2008 archives. GRRRRR! How dare! Does anybody out there know how to make June re-appear? I've already tried removing the archives and putting them back on. Several times.


Sometimes I feel like theory just buries lived experience under incomprehensible abstract bits. Why (cuss word) bother?

Meat is something to be grateful for*

There are few things that can bring the same satisfaction as this: Being surrounded by trees and family and friends. Working together in an outdoor kitchen area to butcher and cook a pig with Skatoy and a bunch of ponyboys. Making blood sausages with Manong Mattias. Eating tinuno, pinuneg, dinakdakan, and boiled pork with salt and sili. Pouring and drinking gin which No. 1 Biker Boy spiced with cinnamon bark bought in the hangar market. Watching the Artist-in-Residence be the manang and guide the wild kids into the woods and out again. This is one of those things that affirms why I live and love in Baguio. Few things make me feel this alive. *I'm so grateful I don't care that I ended the title with a preposition and that most of this post is made up of incomplete sentences.

Green Riders tatatata-tataaah!

Yesterday 50+ cyclists aged 8 to 50+ put their lungs on the line and cycled through the constricted, congested, ailing capillaries of the heart of Baguio, through Session Road, Bonifacio, Magsaysay, Harrison Road, U.P., Leonard Wood Road, Gibraltar, Mines View, the Mansion, South Drive, and Burnham Park. Why choose such a painfully polluted route for a Sunday fun ride? Because the Green Riders, an informal group of Baguio cyclists inspired in part by the Tour of the Fireflies , want to project a presence and build a voice that can call more, more, MORE attention to, and demand more, more, MORE action on Baguio's need for clean air, better traffic rules, bike lanes, and courtesy between motorists and cyclists and runners and pedestrians (and horses!). The Green Riders will repeat this fun (but as of yet smokey) ride every first Sunday of the Month. One nice thing about this informal group is that the Green Riders don't see themselves as heroes on mountain bikes or road bikes.

Corrections to Diss Excerpt #9

As one does, I reviewed my fieldnotes and interviews. As it happens, I wrote some errors or inaccuracies into the re-telling of Baun Bango's settlement history . As one does, I had to revise, which doesn't necessarily mean the new paragraph is free of errors and more accurate. It's merely made more honest about the inaccuracies and omissions through accompanying notes. Some day, when I have the time, I'd love to write about my experiences of the fine line between accuracy and inaccuracy in qualitative research... When I have the time -- wishful thinking! Here's the revised paragraph and some notes that show the existence of many versions of one story, and suggest the complications of trying to put forward only one version (which in the end, may even be the wrong version! Ah, anthropology), which further suggests that one should always question seamless accounts of culture as a unified and unifying whole. But I digress. Below, the paragraph containing corrections. O

Palengkera: I heart the Baguio market

Here's one of many reasons: Food diversity! Consumers are not at the mercy of the deals struck between chain supermarkets and their suppliers. There is not only one kind of banana (the boring, tasteless, expensive kind) but on any given day in the market you can find at least three native varieties (and a wide price range, too). Today I was lucky! Red bananas! Yum! May we always have such choices.

Random Diss Excerpt #9

ADVISORY: If you like old stories passed down through generations that tell of how villages came about then skip the first two paragraphs, which are merely the obligatory academic preludes to an otherwise satisfying story. The oral history of the genesis of the settlement of Baun Bango is a tale of an ancestor traveling from downriver, along the coast, and back upriver to find work. It alludes to an ethnohistory of migration and livelihood that was dependent on the resources available in shifting landscapes and riverscapes. The narrative also represents a progression towards a prosperous life through hard work, which parallels 21st century aspirations for the future. The re-telling that follows was reconstructed through a series of oral accounts given by village elders, 60 – 70 years of age. As told by these elders, the history of Baun Bango began at the time when there were only ten villages along the length of the Katingan River. A man named Bango, from the upriver village of Tewang

Flowers Delivered by Mountain Bike

Last year on All Soul’s Day I joined a motley crew (when it comes to mountain biking in groups it’s always a motley crew) of 14 beloved Baguio biker boys on a long ride through beautiful, utterly satisfying trails skirting Mt. Yabnong and Mt. Ugo. I carried a small bundle of flowers strapped to my backpack, along with my water, my home-made oatmeal bars, and my marble potatoes baked with olive oil, butter, rosemary, and smoked pork. After about four hours of biking through wonderful forests on a rough single track trail, we came upon a waiting shed (the only cement structure to be seen in the middle of nowhere!) with a clear view of Ugo. We stopped for lunch and thick, cold fog closed in on us. After eating, I tied the flowers to a post and silently said a prayer to my Lola, telling her how much we miss her, how we try to live up to her. She was no less than Super Woman, after all. When I was done, we continued biking. The fog cleared, and the warmth of the sun on my skin felt like Lo

Week 1: Whisky, Sambal, and Carbo

So far, so good.

Obituary for Public Art

The mosaics on Session Road are gone; erased from the face of the earth by public order from City Hall. In this article I wrote three years ago (Frank beat me to it and posted my article on the mosaics and my wonder child's poem, which she wrote when she was ten years old. Thanks, Frankie), I was gushing and optimistic about the possibilities of collaboration between our putative public servants in City Hall and our local artists. I thought the creation of the Session Road Mosaics heralded the beginnings of the practice of public art in Baguio city. I thought our elected officials (yes, we chose these people) in City Hall were finally opening their minds and expanding their idea of “beautification” so that it would include creativity, a plurality of visions and, well to put it simply, good taste! I was so effing wrong.


I'm done with my pink phase.

Found Poem

The Sea Horse and the Cockerel’s Spur The modern geography of the brain, deliciously antiquated – There are mysterious regions bearing names of otherwise-forgotten discoverers such as the tract of Goll, the fields of Forel, Monro’s holes and the radiations of Zuckerlandl. Others seem inexplicable (brain sand), starkly functional (the bridge) or ludicrously florid (nucleus motorius dissipatus formationis reticularis). Some are just plain defeatist (substantia innominata or “unnamed stuff”). – the known world encircled by terra incognita. (David Bainbridge, New Scientist Vol. 197, No. 2,640)

Friday the 13th Gory Crime Scene

21:30, Session Road, Baguio City.

This is Santori Whisky Kurowa-san

Whisky is 4 months old and has been my resident furry animal for all of 4 weeks. Soon, two more furry animals will be taking up residence with us. Sambal, who is 3/4 German Shepherd and 1/4 Labrador, and Carbon Copy a.k.a Carbo, who is 1/2 German Shepherd and 1/2 Labrador. Both of them are 4 months old. Why am I doing this? I've always wanted a cat. I can't live without dogs. I'm greedy. I wonder whether I'm making a big mistake in thinking I can tweak an ancient animal enmity. I have two pictures in my mind. One of Whisky, Sambal, and Carbo sleeping peacefully in one big cuddly heap. And another of Whisky... No never mind, it's too horrible to write it down. If things work out, it will be bliss! My first-ever cat, Ikura, was killed by neighboring dogs just six-weeks into his residency. That was last year, and I've moved from that place now. In some twisted subconscious semi-perverted corner of my mind, I am attempting to rectify the death of Ikura, to turn

Summer is for...

... white beer! Cheers!

Air Freshener

Number One Biker Boy is so smart. He found a good use for Starbucks coffee! The Starbucks give-away pack of their house roast, which has been sitting in our freezer for over a year, has finally found it's rightful place in our house. I got the free pack when I was coaxed into attending a free coffee-tasting session in Starbucks with the Baguio Writers Group. We were promised an enlightening spiel on the history of coffee. I shouldn't have been surprised when what we got was only really a history of Starbucks. Horrors! Generations of coffee drinkers will never know that this wondrous bean actually originates from Ethiopia, and they will spend the rest of their lives believing that Starbucks coffee that tastes like crap is worth their money. People, it's cool to buy local! If you don't already know (I have intelligent readers, after all) you can buy a delicious mix of coffee beans in our beloved public market. You can even experiment with your own mixes! Instead of sendin

The Netherlands Under Construction