Monday, December 28, 2009

There are no menial tasks

It's the lull between Christmas and New Year again, and I'm playing superhero--that is, I'm doing superhero duties: cleaning out the closet, sweeping, washing dishes, fixing the bed... apart from my usual cleaning of the cat business. Done on a daily basis, tidying up could get really repetitive; it's not surprising that it's hard to pry oneself away from the computer or book or television just to get those plates out of the way.

But let's not end the year with a note of lethargy. House chores, though effectively tiresome and repetitive, are never a lowly occupation. It takes some know-how to get them done well, some patience to get them done at all, and a lot of love to get them done with ease.

And, whoever said that chores left the house looking duller than before? Completing all those little things brightens up the home considerably--and quietly. Nobody needs to be praised all the time for the good things he does... because people who really want to do good will continue doing what they do even without anybody taking notice. That's why they're superheroes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From A Christmas Carol

"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, everyone!"

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


May we always know how to "keep Christmas well" (this season and all year round) like this new Scrooge! Merry Christmas everyone! This is posted a day early because I don't normally go online on Christmas day. :P

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When shutting up is the more graceful option

Taking public transport has not only tested many a hot-head's patience to the limits, but also their self-control. How gratifying must it feel to let everyone know that "I'm not pleased! Isn't it obvious?"--and perhaps this is not the first time anyone has fantasized about putting noisy, pushy, slow-walking, or [insert peeve here] people in their place.

This reminds me of a woman in the Guadalupe Station at the MRT. She was waiting outside to squeeze in with the heaving mass of football playing women, but alas it was no use. In her frustration, she shouted at us--all those already inside the car when the train stopped there--saying, "Ang luwag-luwag pa kaya, ba't di kayo umusog!" [There's still a lot of space, why don't you cram yourselves in some more?"] But of course none of us could move, so the doors closed and she was left outside--to the great relief of all.

Another woman let me know of her ire when she was being indecisive about entering the elevator. There were a bunch of us inside already and she lingered by the door. Everybody didn't know what she planned to do; I, being by the buttons, was holding the "open" button for her, but let go because she wouldn't come in--I really thought she wasn't going up and she would wait for the elevator that would be going down. But, suddenly she decided to step in--and the doors closed on her. After the elevator hit her and opened again to let her in, she stomped inside in a huff, gave me a bad look and forcefully punched her floor (2nd). Though I am really sorry for not understanding her body language, I still think it's very childish behavior for a mature woman. Shame.

While it may seem gratifying to let people know that you're fuming and losing your patience over their, say, foolishness, there are times when keeping these feelings to yourself is the most graceful way out. Look at it this way: in the MRT, at rush hour, everyone is tired, everyone wants to go home, everyone is not in a very good mood. But among all those women, it is you who happens to lose it--you're the only one who makes a scene! Who's the fool then?

It may not be obvious, but there are good things that can come from holding that tongue, even if you think you're in the right. One, there is that exercise on patience--an opportunity to grow. Two, the people around you (or those with you) won't feel the need to pretend you don't exist. Three, overall, it's better for everyone to be saved from enduring your tirade-cum-entertainment showcase, and that includes you. Trust me, a person who displays such a violent show of ire hardly ever leaves a gathering or a place gracefully--she may have left with her head held highly and righteously, but because actions speak louder than words, she will only be remembered for losing her temper, and not for being right.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stairway to heaven

Okay, I must admit I have never watched an episode of this series, be it the Korean version or the Filipino version. But my mom likes it a lot and it's not the first time I had to listen to her tell me over again how some girl called Eunice could be so jealous of the bida girl called Jodi that she, the former, would run over the latter twice, which in effect, results in injuries that kill Jodi just after she finds happily ever after with Cholo at the end of the series.

The Filipino version was made by GMA7. (There are so many koreanovela remakes now it's easy to forget which station did what.) Anyhoo, my mom was just telling me last night how they changed the ending of the Pinoy version of Stairway to Heaven. She felt sad for Jodi not because she dies--she really dies in the original anyway--but because in our version she doesn't forgive Eunice. Isn't it funny that people in a non-Catholic country like Korea would see it fit for the character to forgive before she dies, but we wouldn't? After copying everything about the series (even the cold-weather clothing and Jodi's abominable bangs), we forget to add the important fact that Jodi dies having already forgiven her enemies.... My mom says, that's the main reason why Stairway is so nice, because Jodi was so good. Apparently she isn't as good in the Philippine setting.

Maybe we're just so smitten by the Cholo-Jodi love story that the series' (probably existent) finer points have been tossed aside for more cutesy scenes between the two. I heard before that stories for Korean television were written with family values and individual virtues in mind--perhaps that's why most of the koreanovelas have relatively big roles for parents and siblings--apart from the given bida guy and bida girl. (For the record, I have watched the korean Full House, Coffee Prince, and the first episodes of Princess Hours...and now that I think of it, all three aren't as "serious" as Stairway, in the sense that there is no character seeking some horrible revenge. For lack of a better word, they fall under the "pa-cute" genre.)

What is lacking in our TV culture? Besides the obvious disregard for dressing women well enough so that they are respected and not drooled over (gross, I know), there is a lack of teleserye storylines that really put nation-building values (be they individual or community values and virtues) to the fore. It really just looks like TV people have gotten so lazy that they simply recycle already-popular stories. And also like they're banking on the stars' "cuteness" to raise the ratings...

Good stories by themselves really do have the power to draw audiences. Before it got its Hollywood makeover, nobody read Harry Potter just because "Harry is cute"! It's the adventure that draws, not the "cuteness" of the character. If ever, people will admire Harry for his courage, not his good looks. (Besides, Rowling never wrote that Harry was good-looking.)

Frankly, Pinoy TV has become so focused on what characters look like that it has forgotten that, more important than the Ding-dong-Rhian, Piolo-KC, Richard-Heart cuteness oozing factor, it's how the characters face up to conflicts that makes a story come alive. What inherent qualities do they have that are admirable and worth emulating?

Maybe it's time we stop watching TV and read more books! At least through the books we choose, we're sure that nobody underestimates our intelligence. :P

Thursday, December 10, 2009


It's the Season of Gifts again! But more than the gifts we receive, it's time to look at what we can give this season. And by giving, I don't simply mean giving material tokens to loved ones. A gift of time is just as pleasing; as gift of effort goes a long way. The first Christmas, after all, was not a lavish material celebration--at least, not the way it is celebrated now. As Sunnyday says in her post:

This Christmas is bound to be a very, very different one for the many who were directly affected by the destructive typhoons our country experienced in September; add to that the families and other loved ones of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao. So probably it will be a bit harder for some of them to appreciate the spirit of the season and the things that the birth of the Savior stands for: simplicity, poverty, self-giving. Hopefully, those of us around them will be the ones to help them see that there is much to be thankful for even amid times that challenge the human spirit.

Putting the meaning in Christmas really depends on us--and if we keep seeing it as a time to splurge on the latest gadgets "because we deserve it," then it's no surprise that the beauty and simplicity of the season itself eludes us. What is the meaning of Christmas? Take a few minutes in front of a belen and maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the immense Love behind it. Having a hard time? It only means you need to Stop! ...and listen.

Okay so I didn't talk about the newest issue of Baby, but do go out and buy a copy! We have many parenting tips and good reads.

On the cover is Maka Carpio waving hello to photographer Kristin Alfafara Rodriguez of Little People Lifestyle Photography. Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at all National Bookstores, SM baby department stores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama), Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Procreation Shangri-la mall, Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A prude is...something to think about

The definition of prude is a person who is described as being obsessively concerned with decorum, modesty, and propriety. Even the definition sounds so...derogatory.

Bad connotations aside, I do wonder how people started thinking that keeping the standards high when it comes to fashion and pop culture is a bad thing. Is it because actually voicing out that some fashion brand's "illegally" low jeans look uncomfy instantly makes one uncool? Is it because if somebody smart had just cracked a green joke, correcting him would make one look dumb?

Who gives the labels anyway?

More on this some other time. :P