Non-Overlapping Magisteria

Jonas does not believe that he should have to choose between his work and Alice. They are two completely different aspects of his life.

Image from

Image from


You are being pussy-whipped bro, James, his friend from work remarked.

But Gabrielle, another colleague, had a different opinion. What do you expect her to do Jonas? Wait for you to come home everyday and massage your feet after your day at work?

Honestly, Gabrielle’s suggestion is preferable to having Alice 8000 miles away; and him flying back and forth from one side of the globe to another just for them to be together for a few days out of every year.

Women are put into this world to wait on men, James further opined. You have to up your game, and show her that she is not the only pus – sorry – girl in the world.

Let it be put into record that James’s statements were made in the context of him inviting Jonas to join a “boy’s night out” which consists of a visit to a KTV along Quezon Avenue and a really cool spa in Makati where the therapists provide “extra service.”

Jonas was seriously mulling James’s invitation.

Gabrielle intruded on his thoughts because she was concerned that Jonas did not have the correct priorities. Gabrielle is a happily-married mother of two, and she is as worried about Jonas’s erratic lovelife the way she is worried about her own son’s scrapes in the playground.

She is now saying: When you are in your deathbed, you will not wish that you had put in more time in saving our rainforests. What you will regret is that you have not spent more time with the woman you love most in the world.

Gaby, with all due respect, you are not in your deathbed, so I don’t think you are in a position to say what people in their deathbeds are thinking.

Jonas, I may not be in my deathbed, but my father currently is in his. And that was exactly what he told me.

Sex Ed

She had known him for two years before asking him the questions she was really curious about.

These questions are not the ones discussed in school; certainly not in the one-semester health-education-knowing-your-body course she and other public school teenagers in her country generally have. What her high school teacher said about s-e-x boiled down to: 1. Don’t do it while you’re young; 2. It’s okay to do it if you’re married; 3. Children are its worthy by-product; all the rest (and maybe that includes orgasms) are after-thoughts.

That was circa 1990s, of course; and her teacher was a 50-year old straight-laced,  PhD-holding, tenured university professor, who always wore skirts.

Now she wonders, why do grown-ups never tell you the interesting parts about sex like:

* What is it like to lose one’s virginity?

* Why do people  who should know better (being educated and well-informed) claim that they do not want to have children and yet do not use contraception? Is it laziness? Being sucked in the “heat of passion” (a line she learned in a romance novel)?

* What’s the big deal about having children anyway? Does one really need to have one before one dies? For what? To fulfill a biological imperative?

* What do orgasms feel like?

What her skirt-wearing, well-meaning high-school teacher failed to mention; what all those who have had sex fail to mention when they talk about what you are and are not missing when you have sex, is the immense power-play involved among penises and vaginas.

Was it Andrea Dworkin who supposedly said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape? Oh but that was a myth, wasn’t it?

After Alice and Jonas first had sex (oh the word!), the emotions that overwhelmed her were:

1. feeling owned by and bound to this person who may or may not stay in her life for very long (“owned” and “bound” are such loaded words, very un-feminist, but that’s what she felt, no matter what Andrea Dworkin might say),

2. worry that a single sperm managed to pass through an improbable pore in the condom that they used and she will get pregnant,

3. a sense of wonder that sex was not as bad as they said it can be and that it actually exceeded her expectations,

4. curious as to “where this all might lead to.”


Flash forward to now…

She is holding his hand, or maybe he is holding hers — they are lying down facing each other after you-know-what. And his eyes are closed. And Alice is thinking, his eyelashes look so much more nicer than mine, how can that be.

Alice: So I want to ask you a question.

Jonas: Uhhmm …

Alice: What did it feel like for you the first time you had sex? Were you worried, apprehensive, excited? Did you think it would change your life or change you inside? Did you have performance anxiety or were you just happy you were finally doing it? Were you concerned about getting an STD or getting the girl pregnant? Did you even think about STD or pregnancy at all?

It is a long time before Jonas answers that Alice thinks he has fallen asleep.

“I felt that I was doing something right,” he finally says. “But afterwards, you were crying, so for a moment there I was worried that you will go to the police and report that it was rape.”

Jonas kisses her nose, opens his eyes and smiles.

Alice has her answer.


Terminator: Genisys

Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The Terminator (1984). Image from wikipedia.

Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The Terminator (1984). Image from wikipedia.


So let it be known that my first-big-crush-of-all-time was Kyle Reese, as played by Michael Biehn in Terminator 1984 edition.

I was maybe 11 years old, and I had to sneak out to watch the movie on TV (on a local channel as we didn’t have cable yet) because I was only allowed to stay up til 8 pm on school days.

I remember thinking that when I have a kid, I would  definitely name him “Kyle” or “Reese”.

I remember wishing back in the 1990’s that something like a portable video player be invented one day so I can watch The Terminator over and over even if I am traveling. (That wish came true.)

I remember my delusion that maybe Kyle Reese was my soulmate. (Not true.)

I remember arguing with my elementary school friend Bernadeth (whose great big crush was John Connor as played by Edward Furlong) about who was the better guy, Kyle or John. Between Bernadeth and me, we must have created a hundred fan-fictions featuring these two movie characters.

I hated “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (mainly because I found Claire Danes strident, shrill and annoying) and detested “Terminator: Salvation” (stilted acting from Christian Bale and Sam Worthington). But I would have to disagree with 90% of the critics who had nothing good to say about the new installation to the Terminator franchise because I loved it.

It’s like having a fan-fiction  come to life.

I would have to agree that Jai Courtney doesn’t have the intensity and world-weariness that Michael Biehn injected into the role; but he does have the necessary cuteness for it and I felt that he and  Emilia Clarke had some chemistry.

The scenes with Arnold were fun and it was amusing to watch him reprise the role.

The new plot twist is headache, that I would have to agree. And the story is obviously unfinished and it’s also obvious that they are just itching to do a sequel to answer the questions at the movie’s end. The problem is, it also clear that the T5 flopped at the box office so where does that leave us  now?




Random Thoughts (on history and families)

“History is the resolve that makes us act so things don’t have to be the way they are. History is about hope, not despair.” — Ambeth Ocampo, Filipino historian

Like a lot of my countrymen, I belong to a family of OFWs. Half of my mother’s siblings went to another country to work and, eventually, live their lives; and they now consider the Philippines as just another vacation spot. Now that their nieces and nephews are grown up (whose educations were helped by their remittances), I imagine my aunts (whom I call “mama”) feeling relief, pride and a sense of accomplishment.
So I think back on my mother’s family: my aunts and their dreams of getting out of poverty; my grandmother who never learned to read or write; my grandfather, a farmer who probably got so bored and lifeless living in an industrialized country that he developed the dementia that forced my aunts to send him back to the Philippines; my uncles who worked as soldiers to a dictator; and my mother  with her frustrations and neurosis which she passed on to me.
We trace history through our family. The skeletons in our cabinets, our mad relatives in the attic, the seeming successes that hide secret shames.
Families are a big deal to Filipinos. We are, as a foreign writer has offensively put it, “an anarchy of families”. Our loyalties, first and foremost, are bound to people that share our DNA or are connected to us by rituals such as marriage.
Families are a big deal to Filipinos. Statement of fact. We are a young nation and the institutions that compel us to be loyal to the idea of “country” are tenuous and superficial.
Take the public health facility where I work, for example. the idea of “public health” is a modern one, there is a rigorous body of science behind it, values and norms in which it should operate. That is, in theory. In practice, public health is a pawn of partisan and feudal politics. (I should clobber myself in the head for letting that idea sink in just now. What can I say: idealism and hope made me close my eyes to reality.)
So, yes, I am leaving. Sorry mommy, the system is just too much for me. Much as I would like to follow your entrepreneural example, I am unable to do that and still maintain professional integrity. So I am leaving. Whether I am coming back (and how or when), well, that’s for history to know.

Reading Lists:


Dear Senator Grace Llamanzares

Originally posted on THE TARAY CHRONICLES:



Having now officially declared your ambition to “serve” as President of the Republic, I ask these questions again, with the voice of your adoptive mother ringing in the distance: “Ang sinungaling ay kapatid ng magnanakaw!” Let that statement –spoken emphatically, fiercely and derisively – be the point of reference as to how you will answer these very basic questions:

1) When did you renounce your Filipino citizenship and become an American citizen? Why did you give up your Filipino citizenship at the time?

There’s nothing wrong with changing citizenships, essentially. Many Filipinos acquire the nationality of their adopted country for reasons ranging from necessity to convenience. I am not questioning your sense of patriotism, either, at that particular time. One can be a ‘global citizen’ yet remain true to their roots, especially to the relatives they left behind. But if one is running for President, as you are doing TODAY…

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The Question and Answer Portion

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
― Primo Levi


In my younger days, I was fond of beauty contests — Miss Philippines, Miss Universe, Miss World etc, etc. I think Filipinos have a particular proclivity to watching tall, long-haired, wide mouthed smiling girls in evening gowns parade themselves in high heels and display their wit and intelligence in the so-called “question and answer portion.”

Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen was being crowned by 1993 Miss Universe Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico. Historical facts: Dayanara was an actress in Philippine movies for a while before she married Marc Anthony who is now married to Jennifer Lopez. Photo from

Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen was being crowned by 1993 Miss Universe Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico. Historical facts: Dayanara was an actress in Philippine movies for a while before she married Marc Anthony who is now married to Jennifer Lopez. Photo from

In 1994, the Miss Universe beauty pageant was held in Manila. During the final Q & A, Ms. Sushmita Sen of India was asked this very thought-provoking query — “what is the essence of being a woman?”. I was a teenager in 1994; and given that fact, I would like to be forgiven if I thought (at that time) that that question was “profound” and “philosophical.” Now, when I think back on that Ms. Universe question, I just want to laugh.


The subject of questions come up because in 8 months, my country’s people will have to answer another one that is thrown at them every 6 years — “who will be your next president?”

This blogger just asked some pertinent questions of a Philippine presidential candidate who is now leading the surveys. Have I become so cynical that right now, I don’t really expect an honest answer?

Holding Hands and Other Milestones


For quite a long time, there wasn’t any. Physical stuff between us is what I mean.

I can chalk up 90% of that to the fact that I am repressed; and 10% to the fact that I am naive. I actually believed him literally when he informed me that he wanted us to “be friends”. Which I interpreted to mean as something platonic.

He does not exactly fit the archetype of male that I usually have a crush on — tall, brooding mestizo types with heavy lidded gazes. He appears average — open, smiling and approachable, dark, school-boyish, straight nose, big ears, cute dimple  … but average nonetheless. That first date we had, he gave out the impression of being an agreeable teddy bear.

Maybe attraction starts with hyperawareness. An emotion that makes one feel unsafe.

I can pinpoint the exact date when this happened. The middle of June, just before a typhoon. He called my cel to tell me that he’s passing by my apartment later that day to return a CD I lent him. I had forgotten all about that CD and I couldn’t have cared less  if he returned it or not.

I was checking papers in the faculty lounge of the Psychology Department, taking advantage of the fact that classes have been suspended and I could catch up with the scut works that come with being a lowly undergrad instructor.

Me: You really don’t need to bother coming over. A typhoon’s brewing.

Jonas:  It’s not raining yet.

Me: But it soon will. Manila might get flooded.

Jonas: I’ll bring a car.

Me: To return a CD? Just take it, I don’t listen to that anyway.

Jonas: Why don’t you want to see me?

Me: It’s not that I don’t want to see you. But I don’t see the point of you being hassled coming here just to return a CD.

Jonas: It’s not a hassle. Look, have you had lunch?

Me: Uhh … no.

Jonas: So I’ll bring some food and we  can have lunch together.

In my culture, there is something about eating with another person that breaks the ice. Something about sharing one’s bread or whatever. And also, I was really hungry.

Now I am thinking, if I didn’t really like him, I could have lied and told him that I had already eaten even if the truth is that my stomach was rumbling like crazy. Or I could have told him that I was really busy. Or I could have told him to drop dead.

Since I didn’t do any of those things, I found myself at 4 pm  alone in the faculty dining room with this guy I dated once almost half a year ago, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to return a music CD that I  couldn’t care less about.

He looked thinner than I remembered, his eyes sunken and tired. He still had the same smile, though, the one that would light up and transform his face. I could have imagined it, but he looked really happy to see me. Please note that this is is the first time we’ve seen each other in 4 months and that there was no communication between us during that time; save for a conversation over text a month ago when he asked me about withdrawal from amphetamines.

He brought two paperbags-full of Chinese food, the bag had the logo of a well-known restaurant in Banawe.

Jonas asked, “Why are you working?”

“Why should’t I?”

“Classes are suspended. People are either in their homes or in the malls.”

“I don’t have money for the mall, and I can’t finish all these paperwork at home,” I pointed out. By this time I was famished; I had to help myself to a steamed bun inside that paperbag.

I was munching away and he was looking at me like a doting father. “How’s your drug addiction?” I asked tactlessly, half joking.

“I was not the one into drugs.”

“Who was?”

“My uh … a friend.”

“And how’s your friend?”

“She tried to commit suicide last night. I just left her this morning in the ICU.”

I stared at him open mouthed. He sounded flat, toneless, definitely not joking. “Oh god, Jonas, I am so, so sorry!”

Silently, he took my hand (the left one that was not holding a pork bun) , and started tracing my palm with his fingers. “Me too.”