about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Monday, January 28, 2002

It's been a while since I last posted. Gee, I never realized that I was so busy spending our Internet account on meaningless trash.
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The great Mr. Isagani Cruz, my literature prof, told us to prepare any Filipino novel for our term paper (as long as the writer resided in Manila). I took F. Sionil Jose's Viajero. I read it over the weekend and I was riveted to the white book. I haven't finished it yet but I could well be done with it by tomorrow.

I can't help but think that Sionil Jose went overboard with his depictions of sexual encounters. Not that they were very graphic, and certainly not that sex is what his entire novel is about, mind you (we have a very conservative Filipino readership here). It's just that sometimes sex pops up in the plot for no apparent reason. Hmmm.
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Last Tuesday I was at Glorietta again. I managed to leave the plave PhP500 poorer. Just because of my goddamned addiction to Percussion Freaks 4th Mix...!

But seriously, I went there primarily to buy my presents for my Zen friends Anna and Leslie. (A lot of my blockmates share my birthmonth.) After I bought the goods I went to the food court, had grilled chicken paella and left. It was not until much later that I realized I had left the bag of gifts back at the food court.

Sprinting from Glorietta 2 to Glorietta 4 as fast as I could, I was relieved to see that the dining family next to my table had my shopping bag with them. Panting, I asked about the bag that may have been mine. They recognized me and said that it was indeed mine. I thanked them profusely.

With crime, robbery and kidnapping at an all-time high here in the Philippines, it's nice to know that there still exist good-hearted Filipino strangers.
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I am beginning to hate my third term at DLSU. We've got some of the worst, most boring professors. My blockmates find it hard to stay awake during GENPSYC (General Psychology) and BIOARTS (Biology Lecture). As for me, I simply stay awake --- much as I detest forcing myself to do so --- because I feel so sorry for these boring individuals, whom we have to put up with in order for them to get their pay.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Another Wednesday, another grand gimmick. Another lavish amount of money spent on mundane things. I just can't help it. With only two periods and dismissal at 10:30 am, I can't resist the urge to get in my pet Corolla, shift into gear and drive to Glorietta. I know it's a bad habit...:(
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I got to watch American Adobo today (today's its first showing). Great fare for a Filipino movie.

I found the movie reminiscent of Amy Tan's book The Joy Luck Club, only this time the main characters are all Filipino-American. It talks about the lives of five very different New York Fil-Am friends, and the various personal problems they face. It's all done quite intimately and realistically and with only a scant measure of pretentiousness, which is great kudos for any Filipino movie. The American actors were pretty great too --- they lent themselves to some hilarious situations.

Great, great movie. I'm very proud of this piece of celluloid.
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Lately I've been giving a lot of thought about the prospect of death. I know it's rather morbid to talk about something so conclusive, especially at my young age (I'm turning 19 three days before Valentine's). Manila is a rather dangerous city to live in, however. Life isn't an "ensured" condition here; you can get hit by stray bullets on New Year's or get kidnapped while commuting.

Just yesterday, a security guard at DLSU was shot dead five times in the head at point-blank range. He was shot by this driver-bodyguard of a DLSU student who's supposedly the kid of a congressman. All the guard did was instruct the driver to move his SUV because he was impeding traffic in busy Taft Avenue. The worst part is, three of my blockmates witnessed the grisly event.

Scientifically speaking, what happens to us --- our consciousnesses --- when we die? Even as a Christian, I find the thought of my soul going "somewhere else" after my death very hard to believe. Sometimes I think that's overly romantic bullshit. Do we simply go into an endless sleep either after a painless bullet in the head, or a brutal beating?

We exist only upon our conception, birth and consequent life. We were nothing before that. That probably means we will return to nothing after we die. No heavenly ecstatic glory, no redemption, no eternal damnation in hellfire and brimstone.

Even more distressing is the possibility that all life on Earth --- and all life in the universe for that matter --- may have been just an accident. So far, we earthly organisms are the lone life force in the universe. In our search for other intelligent life, we may just be wasting millions of taxpayers' dollars not looking for needles in haystacks, but looking for any light in a total vacuum. Simply stated, we may be the only intelligent life in the universe...owing more to the possibility that Earth's life-bearing composition and all living things are simply an accident.
***

I'm not saying that I accept everything I've typed here tonight. It seems such an insignificant venture, living our lives simply because we were goddamned fucking accidents. It's also pitiful to most of us humans that everything we were, are and may be --- our "souls" --- can simply disappear all in the space of one day.

Like Americans, we pride ourselves as something special, something different. Americans boast of their being "God's people." Arabs pride themselves as the true heirs of Abraham's legacy via his true son Ishmael. Jews proclaim that it is their forefather Isaac and not Ishmael who is Abraham's true son, and I personally find it immature and discriminatory of the Jewish faith to declare with beaten chests that Jews are the only people to be liberated by God.

Try watching the movie Ghost in the Shell and you'll probably get my drift. Someday computers will gain sentience --- a mind of their own --- and maybe gain feelings and experiences of their own making. When that time comes we will ask the question: If our definition of humanity is based on our memories alone, what is it about us humans that is so special? Are we not all fundamentally information? Getting to the microscopic level, even our DNA is simply a self-replicating code of information.

What then makes us humans so special? No one seems to be able to answer this question. Even if we enter heaven, St. Peter is said to ask us only one very tough question: "Who are you?" The answer doesn't come in the form of your name, accomplishments, occupation, traits, family or friends. That leaves us pretty much stumped...
***

In typing this, I realize I've done too much thinking in the last couple of weeks. I need to get back to my homework. Like I said, typing all this doesn't mean I believe it all.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Zeri had her eighteenth birthday last night. Happy birthday Zeri, on behalf of LC24 and the Zen gang. Thanks.
It's been a great week so far.
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Finally met our professors this term. I can't help but think, though, that most of them seem boring. At least I get to have the incredible Isagani R. Cruz as my literature prof though. I've read some of his stories back in high school. Actually having him as teacher in college is just icing on the cake. It's sad that I can't say the same for most of my other profs...Zzzzzz!
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Since we have a two-subject schedule every Wednesday, we're out by 10:20 a.m. Groovy. The Zen barkada (that's us) decided to make the most out of this very early dismissal: We watched "Lord of the Rings" at Glorietta. The film itself was great although quite disorienting. I had a headache after watching all the zooming effects and whatnot. It'll leave you begging for more though---the story isn't finished.

Anna was swooned by the elven archer Legolas (like many a teenaged girl out there). Turns out that Orlando Bloom, the guy who portrays him, isn't so charming in real life...supposedly looks a lot like Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC. Hmmm.
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We went to Timezone afterwards. Finally got to play Percussion Freaks 4th Mix. It's hard. I wonder how my friends at PinoyExchange manage to keep learning all the new songs. I don't have the money to do the same, sadly.

We got to play this wacky game there called "Hyper Bishi Bashi Champ" and it left us all laughing. Basically you have to slap three buttons in a variety of minigames to win. You can be a karate guy doing chop-socky with bad guys, a Power Rangers-style robot assembling itself, or a bride-and-groom team competing in a pie-throwing contest, among others. Even better fun is the fact that 3 people can have a go at any one time. The computer's too good sometimes.

Recommended for gimmicks with non-gamers and girls --- you'll all have a riot. :D
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Got an overseas phone call from Jake yesterday. He said he was coming over much later than I thought --- around March 13th. He'd stay for a month. Until then, he wanted me to show him around Manila.

I found it quite hard to talk to Jake after all these years. Sure, I appreciate his efforts of calling us former neighbors of his up, but after eight years of separation (and most of them teenage years at that), I felt I couldn't quite interest him in the things I liked and vice-versa. It was as if I was talking to a ghost of my past. I fell silent a lot of times during his call. I just hope that when we do get to see each other again, we'd hit it off just like the old days...

Thursday, January 03, 2002

I got a pleasant surprise in my e-mail today. A complete stranger wrote me about my site for the first time.

Only a small number of trusted people I know actually know my site exists, so I never really expected anyone to seriously write me about my little chunk of online bandwidth on the Internet. Even more surprising was the fact that she was Filipino-American.

Anyway, a simple "Hi!" goes out to Dynee Sheafor of Experio Solutions. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

It's my sister's seventeenth birthday today.
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We went out to go shopping at Glorietta on New Year's Day. A number of stores were still closed but I was honestly surprised at how many people were present to do business. I rewarded myself with buying a cushy new pair of headphones and The Dawn's newest album "Prodigal Sun." They have a good album here, with most of their tracks very friendly to the ears of alternative-rock listeners like myself. It's a great album to buy, really. I urge people to support the local music industry: PLEASE BUY ORIGINAL PINOY ALBUMS THAT DESERVE RECOGNITION!
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My friends have been inviting me to go with them on Friday to Enchanted Kingdom, the Philippine theme park in Santa Rosa, Laguna province. I'm still torn, actually. I really want to go but perhaps my parents won't let me...hmmm...

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

A lot of people have begun offering their predictions for the coming year. They say that "there will be two or three coup attempts," "it's a bad year for constructing houses" and other such ominous sayings.

I find this whole business of prediction weird. Remember: the future is what we make of it, regardless of "cosmic invisible hands" which may or may not change our fate. I think it's about time people became less fatalistic and assumed more responsibility for their actions.
First off, I’d just like to greet everyone a happy New Year. I’m glad that more Filipinos have grown wiser in ushering in 2002 with noisy trumpets instead of firecrackers that could cost us our fingers, legs or eyes…and there’s a lot less of that cloying gunpowder smell at 1:00 am. Thank goodness.
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I celebrated Christmas receiving a handful of unusual gifts and a lot of money (from those relatives who aren’t creative enough to challenge themselves thinking about what I’d like). It’s not that I’m complaining. It’s just that I spent this Christmas and New Year’s without the people I wanted around me the most — my college friends.

I sorely missed their company during these last three weeks. You’d typically think I’d be better off getting a break from college’s demanding workload, without a care in the world. Well, I’m not. These past three weeks I’ve been a practical zombie in front of my computer everyday, playing games and surfing the Internet like there was no tomorrow (read: until 4 in the morning). It suddenly dawned on me that I was bored out of my wits without my college friends to keep me company. My little boisterous cousins weren’t much of a remedy.

January 7th seems so far away…that’s when third term starts.
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A lot of people are coming here to Manila next month. I hear my US-based aunt and two cousins will be coming over from South Pasadena, CA. around February 22nd.

A bigger surprise was the fact that my childhood friend and former next-door neighbor Jake is reportedly coming here around January 29th, to attend a wedding. Jake left the Philippines in 1993, while we were both in fourth grade. Now that he’s coming back here…well…I can only think about how much we both have changed. We may not even know each other anymore, or be interested in the same things. Oh well.

He was usually the one who took the lead. Maybe I can take him around town for a change.

There’s also another event to look forward to next month: my 19th birthday three days before Valentine’s. Erik’s turning 19 just three days ahead of me, as well.