Monday, April 6, 2009
I was quietly peering out of the dvd stands and watched my father haggle for the dvd's. Well, i thought that the items were cheap already. But there was valuable insights. He haggles like a chinese kahit mura na, hihinga pa ng extra. hahahaha.... Kahit pa-limalimang piso, papatusin pa rin.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Wish I had somebody to talk to about this before when i was growing up. I'm just a person who just shows up to do my work. I could only hopethat the divine genius visits me....
Friday, January 23, 2009
From Books, New President Found Voice
WASHINGTON — In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, “that people had begun to listen to my opinions.” Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power “to transform”: “with the right words everything could change -— South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world.”
Much has been made of Mr. Obama’s eloquence — his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.
Mr. Obama’s first book, “Dreams From My Father” (which surely stands as the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president), suggests that throughout his life he has turned to books as a way of acquiring insights and information from others — as a means of breaking out of the bubble of self-hood and, more recently, the bubble of power and fame. He recalls that he read James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and W. E. B. Du Bois when he was an adolescent in an effort to come to terms with his racial identity and that later, during an ascetic phase in college, he immersed himself in the works of thinkers like Nietzsche and St. Augustine in a spiritual-intellectual search to figure out what he truly believed.
As a boy growing up in Indonesia, Mr. Obama learned about the American civil rights movement through books his mother gave him. Later, as a fledgling community organizer in Chicago, he found inspiration in “Parting the Waters,” the first installment of Taylor Branch’s multivolume biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
More recently, books have supplied Mr. Obama with some concrete ideas about governance: it’s been widely reported that “Team of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about Abraham Lincoln’s decision to include former opponents in his cabinet, informed Mr. Obama’s decision to name his chief Democratic rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as Secretary of State. In other cases, books about F. D. R.’s first hundred days in office and Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars,“ about Afghanistan and the C.I.A., have provided useful background material on some of the myriad challenges Mr. Obama will face upon taking office.
Mr. Obama tends to take a magpie approach to reading — ruminating upon writers’ ideas and picking and choosing those that flesh out his vision of the world or open promising new avenues of inquiry.
His predecessor, George W. Bush, in contrast, tended to race through books in competitions with Karl Rove (who recently boasted that he beat the president by reading 110 books to Mr. Bush’s 95 in 2006), or passionately embrace an author’s thesis as an idée fixe. Mr. Bush and many of his aides favored prescriptive books — Natan Sharansky’s “Case for Democracy,” which pressed the case for promoting democracy around the world, say, or Eliot A. Cohen’s “Supreme Command,” which argued that political strategy should drive military strategy. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, has tended to look to non-ideological histories and philosophical works that address complex problems without any easy solutions, like Reinhold Niebuhr’s writings, which emphasize the ambivalent nature of human beings and the dangers of willful innocence and infallibility.
What’s more, Mr. Obama’s love of fiction and poetry — Shakespeare’s plays, Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and Marilynne Robinson‘s “Gilead” are mentioned on his Facebook page, along with the Bible, Lincoln’s collected writings and Emerson’s “Self Reliance“ — has not only given him a heightened awareness of language. It has also imbued him with a tragic sense of history and a sense of the ambiguities of the human condition quite unlike the Manichean view of the world so often invoked by Mr. Bush.
Mr. Obama has said that he wrote “very bad poetry” in college and his biographer David Mendell suggests that he once “harbored some thoughts of writing fiction as an avocation.” For that matter, “Dreams From My Father” evinces an instinctive storytelling talent (which would later serve the author well on the campaign trail) and that odd combination of empathy and detachment gifted novelists possess. In that memoir, Mr. Obama seamlessly managed to convey points of view different from his own (a harbinger, perhaps, of his promises to bridge partisan divides and his ability to channel voters’ hopes and dreams) while conjuring the many places he lived during his peripatetic childhood. He is at once the solitary outsider who learns to stop pressing his nose to the glass and the coolly omniscient observer providing us with a choral view of his past.
As Baldwin once observed, language is both “a political instrument, means, and proof of power,” and “the most vivid and crucial key to identity: it reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.”
For Mr. Obama, whose improbable life story many voters regard as the embodiment of the American Dream, identity and the relationship between the personal and the public remain crucial issues. Indeed, “Dreams From My Father,” written before he entered politics, was both a searching bildungsroman and an autobiographical quest to understand his roots — a quest in which he cast himself as both a Telemachus in search of his father and an Odysseus in search of a home.
Like “Dreams From My Father,” many of the novels Mr. Obama reportedly admires deal with the question of identity: Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” concerns a man’s efforts to discover his origins and come to terms with his roots; Doris Lessing’s “Golden Notebook” recounts a woman’s struggles to articulate her own sense of self; and Ellison’s “Invisible Man” grapples with the difficulty of self-definition in a race-conscious America and the possibility of transcendence. The poems of Elizabeth Alexander, whom Mr. Obama chose as his inaugural poet, probe the intersection between the private and the political, time present and time past, while the verse of Derek Walcott (a copy of whose collected poems was recently glimpsed in Mr. Obama’s hands) explores what it means to be a “divided child,” caught on the margins of different cultures, dislocated and rootless perhaps, but free to invent a new self.
This notion of self-creation is a deeply American one — a founding principle of this country, and a trope addressed by such classic works as “The Great Gatsby” — and it seems to exert a strong hold on Mr. Obama’s imagination.
In a 2005 essay in Time magazine, he wrote of the humble beginnings that he and Lincoln shared, adding that the 16th president reminded him of “a larger, fundamental element of American life — the enduring belief that we can constantly remake ourselves to fit our larger dreams.”
Though some critics have taken Mr. Obama to task for self-consciously italicizing parallels between himself and Lincoln, there are in fact a host of uncanny correspondences between these two former Illinois state legislators who had short stints in Congress under their belts before coming to national prominence with speeches showcasing their eloquence: two cool, self-contained men, who managed to stay calm and graceful under pressure; two stoics embracing the virtues of moderation and balance; two relatively new politicians who were initially criticized for their lack of experience and for questioning an invasion of a country that, in Lincoln’s words, was “in no way molesting, or menacing the U.S.”
As Fred Kaplan’s illuminating new biography (“Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer”) makes clear, Lincoln, like Mr. Obama, was a lifelong lover of books, indelibly shaped by his reading — most notably, in his case, the Bible and Shakespeare — which honed his poetic sense of language and his philosophical view of the world. Both men employ a densely allusive prose, richly embedded with the fruit of their reading, and both use language as a tool by which to explore and define themselves. Eventually in Lincoln’s case, Mr. Kaplan notes, “the tool, the toolmaker, and the tool user became inseparably one. He became what his language made him.”
The incandescent power of Lincoln’s language, its resonance and rhythmic cadences, as well as his ability to shift gears between the magisterial and the down-to-earth, has been a model for Mr. Obama — who has said he frequently rereads Lincoln for inspiration — and so, too, have been the uses to which Lincoln put his superior language skills: to goad Americans to complete the unfinished work of the founders, and to galvanize a nation reeling from hard times with a new vision of reconciliation and hope.
Couldn't help it, I had to write about this. Daniel tayona shared me this movie via usb since he knew i was into bollywood movies. This is the 2nd time I've watched this movie. It still hasn't lost it's charm. I haven't had this much fun watching a film since lagaan. There's sibling rivalry, many parallelisms to Philippine society, slums that don't ask to be pitied, underdogs winning, and that all consuming faith in "destiny". I was still laughing, still crying even the 2nd time around. This is just a really well made film. I hope danny boyle sweeps the oscars. I will watch it again for the 3rd time... But this time, I will make sure i get converts :)
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Just saw this pr this morning, in the manila bulletin page f2 in the art and travel section... Thank you ms. isabel!!! And thanks dave, for a really nice write up :)
Friday, January 9, 2009
I guess it’s the optimanian in me, pero whenever I get stressed or get dissappointed, I turn to good food. There was a dell catering service sa tabi ng printer, pumasok ako pero parang walang interesting kainin. Pag labas ko ng Atlanta, napansin ko that there were people with bananacue and squidballs. Biglang natakam ako. Oh gosh. I miss squidballs na. The real honest to goodness ones, soft, round, creamy at squid na squid (kahit alam kong puros hangin, msg at arina lang yun).
Si mamang squidballs was around 3 buildings away from atlansta center, pero you know the way people gravitate like flies to the wastebasket? Parang hub yung squidball stand. People were coming and going. May messenger, si haughty secretary na naka heels, si mamang sekyu, your pa-sosy OB Montessori student, at ako, starving artist.
“manong, magkano ba yung squidballs?”
“dalawang piso isa”
“sige, sampung piso nga”
I went ahead and fished out 5 balls, both squid and chicken. You can differentiate the squid ones were pure white, the chicken balls were freckled. (cute no?). I slathered it with sweet and spicy sauce (you never ask what it is, the less you know, the better). Mapaso-paso pa ako in my first bite, pero pucha, PASOK! Parang alam mo yun? Nag crave ka ng masarap ng squidballs, at napagbigyan ka ng diyos at nakahanap ka nga ng perfect stall in the most unlikely of spaces?
Bawat kagat, I forgot about my pending problems, yung mga sama ng loob over the things na di ko nakuha, people reminding me to start eating less, stress over the preparations ng exhibit ko, and impending arguments of my parents pagbalik ng bahay…. before I knew it ubos na yung 5 squidballs ko.
Nagbilang ako ng barya. May isa pang sampu, pero dapat may panulak. Nakita ko may styro cooler si manong.
“boss may sprite po kayo?” manong, the entrepreneur that he was, opened up the mahiwagang cooler, at naghukay ng sprite when I saw a royal on top.
“kuya, kahit royal nalang, para din a kayo mahirapan maghanap”
He handed me over the royal and I fished another batch of squidballs.
Tuloy ang ligaya! As the flavors whirled around my palate, yung marriage ng sweet, spicy, seafood and msg… I contemplated on my strategies kung paano ako yayaman, paluluhurin yung mga naksakit sa akin, and my eventual, domination of the world. Nandun pa lang ako sa pagpapayaman part, when I’ve reaized with disgust, ubos na squidballs ulit.
And then, I looked at the other people lining up kay mamang squidballs. I hesistated, then contemplated. In the end, I went back.
“ma, huling tawad, pa dalawang kikiam nalang.”, si mamang squidballs smiled. Sanay na siguro ‘to.
Pucha, hirap mag diet