Creating (Super)heroes

After watching Ironman 3 for the 2nd time, I got to contemplating about heroes.

My country is not short on creatures who can rightly take their place with the Avengers. The only problem was, our heroes had the tendency to die.

Iron_Man_3.pg

Or they disappear. “Desaparecidos” is a Spanish word that was also used in Latin American countries (most notably, Argentina) where subversives had a habit of doing a Harry Potter and apparating to god-knows-where. Most probably to their graves, but who can say, for the dead have left no trace. Except for the memories they left behind.

They die and we forget them.

That is my country’s curse.

 

***

 

In general, we hated History — even in elementary. It was just a bunch of dates and names of dead people to memorize.

A person very dear to me, just took her tests for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) yesterday. I am crossing my fingers that she will pass. My country need more teachers; the kind who will tell stories instead of badgering their students to memorize “facts”.

Stan Lee will probably agree with me on this when I say that the Marvel Superheroes would have had no fans if the American kids who patronized their comics were shot by someone like Gen. Jacob Smith or were disappeared.

 

General Jacob H. Smith's infamous order "Kill Everyone Over Ten" was the caption in the New York Journal cartoon on May 5, 1902. The Old Glory draped an American shield on which a vulture replaced the bald eagle. The caption at the bottom proclaimed, "Criminals Because They Were Born Ten Years Before We Took the Philippines" -- Image and text from Wikipedia

General Jacob H. Smith’s infamous order “Kill Everyone Over Ten” was the caption in the New York Journal cartoon on May 5, 1902. The Old Glory draped an American shield on which a vulture replaced the bald eagle. The caption at the bottom proclaimed, “Criminals Because They Were Born Ten Years Before We Took the Philippines”
— Image and text from Wikipedia

 

My Mother, The Tax Evader

Mommy & me. Image from www.clipartof.com

Mommy & me. Image from http://www.clipartof.com

The best thing about having a mother who is buried 6 feet into the ground is, now you don’t have to worry about being guilty when you write a post like this.

I loved mommy when she was alive and I followed everything she told me to do.

My greatest fear back then was that she would die before me. When she died my main worries were: now who would scold me for being cluttered, and (more importantly) who would pay my bills?

I think that if she were looking down at me from wherever she is right now, she would just shake her head at the cheekiness of the daughter she dared to raise.

***

A few days ago I saw that Jeane, my spiritual sister, just put her posh Ritz-Carlton condo up for sale, for the dizzying price (at least it was migraine-inducing for me) of 1.4 million US dollars. Gosh Jeane! A tenth of the cost of your condo would keep me afloat for 10 years! Imagine just how cheap I am!

Ritzy Ritz Carlton ... if my mom was as accomplished a tax evader as Janet Lim Napoles, maybe I would also have something like this. Photo from www.mynoytech.com

Ritzy Ritz Carlton … if my mom was as accomplished a tax evader as Janet Lim Napoles, maybe I would also have something like this. Photo from http://www.mynoytech.com

Well, why should I be surprised when your family owns a house in Forbes Park (the suburbia of the rich, famous and well-connected). And you live in Dasmarinas Village! An embarrassment of riches, baby ger? But then why should you be embarrassed for being loaded? Oh yeah, I forgot … Amazingly you don’t give a shit!

Jeane Napoles with somebody who looks like Steve Carrell (or maybe this is Steve Carrell himself) ... yup, she doesn't give a shit. Photo from mrcheapjustice.wordpress.com

Jeane Napoles with somebody who looks like Steve Carrell (or maybe this is Steve Carrell himself) … yup, she doesn’t give a shit. Photo from mrcheapjustice.wordpress.com

Jeane's mom, the tax evader. Photo from www.rappler.com

Jeane’s mom, the tax evader. Photo from http://www.rappler.com

Well tough shit on those people your mom used right? Like the cousin of Merlina Suñas, who was unwittingly involved in your mother’s scams despite being out of the country?

Gosh Jeane! What an admirable mother you have!

And she did it all … because of you baby ger. Because she loves you.

My mom, the tax evader, loved me too. But she was small fish compared to your mother.

Mommy used to sell pork in the wet market. She would be paid in cash. For several years, she would not file her income tax returns. Why? Well, let me quote my dear departed mother: “Dahil mga buwaya ang nasa BIR at kukurakutin lang nila ang pera mo.” (Because remitting taxes to the crocodiles at the  Bureau of Internal Revenue is tantamount to being robbed.)

She did file an income tax when I started high school and it was a requirement for her to do so.

So there … I loved mommy and still love her so much it hurts. But, yeah, she did hate paying her taxes … and really, I can’t blame her … would you?

An Explanatory Note

The past few weeks, I found myself consumed by a certain story.

I was being badgered by voices inside my head with their yammering conversations and their monologues and soliloquys.

No, I am not schizo (at least, I hope not) but the truth is, last Sept 1, I had a hankering to write down a kind of flash-fiction which would start with a line from the 1973 letter of Ninoy Aquino to his son Noynoy, and would end with the lines from the song “Walang Hanggang Paalam” by Joey Ayala.

The name “Jonas” came to me almost out of the blue. And the name “Alice” — well I like that name for a girl. Or maybe that name came from Alice Paul, the American sufragette who was portrayed by Hilary Swank in “Iron Jawed Angels”.

I love this movie! I understand why it may seem boring but Hilary Swank just took my breath away. And I am not a lesbian.

I love this movie! I understand why it may seem boring, but Hilary Swank just took my breath away.

When I made my attempt to write some kind of fiction,  I knew vaguely of two issues: 1. Jonas Burgos was abducted several years ago by the military and 2. Dr. Gerry Ortega, an environmentalist, was killed in Palawan by (what everyone believes) a powerful political personality. I do watch the news and would occasionally pay attention, especially the parts on Janet Napoles and the pork barrel scam. (I  just found that there is an article on  JLN on Wikipedia — wow, the lady has gone a long way!)

This morning, I was surfing the net (a pre-breakfast ritual) when I thought to google “Jonas Burgos” who,  it turns out, is still missing — after 5 years!

 

Directed by Joel Lamangan and screenplay by Ricky Lee. I still haven't watched the movie ... arrrgh!!!

Directed by Joel Lamangan and screenplay by Ricky Lee. I still haven’t watched the movie … arrrgh!!!

A movie was made about him and his family’s search. The movie was shown in the recent Cinemalaya, where Jonas’s wife also spoke up after 5 years of silence. In Youtube, one can listen to her interview, which was was titled, “The Unheard Voice”.

Conrado de Quiros said that we ( and hence, I) live in a magic-realist country.

The truth, dear reader, is I think I am being haunted.

By the spirit of a man who may or may  not be dead?

... a few days after abduction (?) Photo from inquirer.net

… a few days after abduction (?) Photo from inquirer.net

Jonas Burgos, before abduction. Photo from bulatlat.com

Jonas Burgos, before abduction. Photo from bulatlat.com

How it Ends

Can you imagine a world without limestone? Photo from Wikipedia

Can you imagine a world without limestones? Photo from Wikipedia

As I look at her, I try to remember. All that she was to me, all that we were. All that I was.

It is all exceedingly difficult.

“You’re lying to me,” I tell her flatly. “Why are you lying?”

She does not speak; and for the first time, I realize how much our roles, our personalities have been reversed.  Of course this was a mistake; and the moment I saw her by the computer in that 3 x 5 feet cubicle, I should have left. No looking back.

Now, she is crying. Silently. The way award-winning actresses do, like in that local  movie my sister dragged me once to watch. In another time.

But I am being unfair. Alice was never devious or malicious; but she used to be a better liar than this.

“Do you remember what you told me about diagenesis?”

I stare at her, completely perplexed at the non-sequitur.

“You said,” she continued,  “that sedimentary rocks are your favorite. Because they show that … things and stuff can be so transformed. To be so different from how they started.”

“And you are bringing this up now because …”

She frowns. The way she used to, when she thought she was able to understand something that I couldn’t. I used to … like that expression on her face. “I guess I am a sedimentary rock,” she said.

“Do you also remember that the organic stuff in these rocks die before they can undergo diagenesis?” I ask her.

She didn’t miss a beat. “Yes. I am not senile, Jonas. That’s my point.”

I would have wanted to smile, to laugh. This was usually how we start. The geeky banter, the scientific jargons that somehow fall from her mouth like endearments.

I try to explain, the best way I know how. In the manner that would be … acceptable for her. “The collagen dissolves; hydrolysis kicks in. The  amino acids, the building blocks of life, will disintegrate. After all the microbial attack, the corruption, the deterioration … nothing will remain. Nothing that resembles life.”

Of course at that point I was not exclusively talking about rocks.

The weird, amazing, damnable thing is that Alice can listen to this and then smile. “And then we have limestone!” she said. “Can you imagine  the world without limestone?”

I used to have difficulty imagining a world without Alice. But since the goal of this discussion was to send her away, I do not tell her that.

“Why Alice?” I know that she knows what I am asking about.

And she didn’t look guilty or even defensive. She just looked … sad. “You know the answer to your question. We talked about it once, remember?”

Actually, she was right.

The Problem with Lovesongs

Alice was not finished yet. Getting woozy from all the “love in the air”.

This morning, she was staring at the lyrics of the song, “Now That I Have You” by The Company.

Her friend, Jane, asked her assistance in surprising Jane’s boyfriend.

Jane, an a-capella  singer, plans to serenade Michael and she asked Alice to please oh please, hold the birthday cake, while Jane was singing.

Being the great friend that she was, Alice agreed.

Now looking at her friend make a spectacle of herself in front of Michael’s co-workers, she couldn’t help feeling … what the F am I doing here?

The birthday cake -- which Jane made. Actually, Jane bought a chocolate cake and put in the "happy birthday" with some help from Alice. Photo from  www.shyamswaad.com

The birthday cake — which Jane made. Actually, Jane bought a chocolate cake and put in the “happy birthday” with some help from Alice. Photo from http://www.shyamswaad.com

***

the lyrics to Jane’s lovesong — the one that made Alice woozy:

All my life it seemed
That something had been missing
I didn’t know what to do
Days would pass me by
Each as lonely as the other
Until I met you
REFRAIN:
You opened the door
And let the sunshine in
My life will never be the same again

CHORUS:
Now that I have you
Everything just seems so right
Now that I have you I’m alive
You are the song that I’ll be
Singing my whole life through
I’m living in a brighter world
Now that I have you

Looking ahead I see
The two of us together
I’ll never let you go
You’re so dear to me
And it isn’t any wonder
Why I love you so

REFRAIN:
You opened the door
And let the sunshine in
My life will never be the same again

CHORUS:
Now that I have you
Everything just seems so right
Now that I have you I’m alive
You are the song that I’ll be
Singing my whole life through
I’m living in a brighter world
Now that I have you

BRIDGE:
I feel this love is real
I see it in your eyes
You take my hand and I understand
You are mine
You are mine

CHORUS:
Now that I have you
Everything just seems so right
Now that I have you I’m alive
You are the song that I’ll be
Singing my whole life through
I’m living in a brighter world
Now that I have you

Scarlet Letters

So today, they talk about the Big A.

In relation to the

Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012

“… which  is still in the Supreme Court, being debated upon by pedants and misogynists,”  Alice.

Jonas: Are you going to lift a quote from that Germaine Greer book you are reading again?

Alice: She happens to be very erudite and insightful. As far as I’m concerned, she should be the Dalai Lama.

Jonas: I am not even going to comment on that.

Alice: Of course you won’t! You don’t even believe in a woman’s right to choose!

Jonas: I believe that every life is sacred.

Alice: If I get pregnant, and I don’t want to have the baby, what will you do?

Jonas: Considering how OC* you are when it comes to contraception, I very much doubt that.

Alice: You did not answer the question!

Jonas: Alice … if there has been an infinitesimal chance that you had gotten pregnant  despite the considerable precautions we had taken …  I will consider that zygote or blastomere or whatever,  a part of you. I will love it or him or her without even having seen it yet. If you decide that you are not ready to have it/him/her — I will be immensely hurt, as I am sure you will also be. But I will try to understand … I will try …

Alice: (silent, open-mouthed, dumbstruck) You made a speech. You never do that.

Jonas: Well that got you to shut up. So it wasn’t a wasted effort.

_________________________________________________________________

* OC – obsessive-compulsive

This is the zygote ... and it exists because the sperm found its way to the ovum and did all sorts of stuff before their DNA mingled. No dear readers, Alice is NOT pregnant. Image from Wikipedia

This is the zygote (please note that it begins with the letter Z). And it exists because the sperm found its way to the ovum; and did all sorts of stuff before their DNA mingled. No dear readers, Alice is NOT pregnant.
Image from Wikipedia

Mushy Stuff

I never dreamed ’cause I always thought

that dreaming was for kids, just a childish thing

And I could swear, love is just a game

that children play, and no more than a game

Til I met you

***

In an alternate universe, Alice thinks that maybe she and Jonas were friends. Picture from fuckyab.blogspot.com

In an alternate universe, Alice thinks that maybe she and Jonas were friends. Picture from fuckyab.blogspot.com

What I hate most about love songs is that they rarely approximate the realities of a relationship.

Alice, for god’s sake, they are lovesongs. They exist for a reason; and that reason is not so that you can use them as instruction manuals.

I’m sure you have been in love before.

How can you be so sure?

You seem like the type. Falling in and out of it every year or so.

No.

What? You don’t fall in love every year or so?

If you want to ask me if I’ve ever had a girlfriend, why don’t you just come right out and say it.

So … when you said, “no”, did that mean you’ve never had a girlfriend before, or you’ve never been in love before?

I’ve had a girlfriend. It lasted for 6 months. But, no, I don’t think I was ever in love with her.

So what was the point of you getting together?

Well I liked her. She liked me. She told everybody I was her boyfriend. So I guess that made her my girlfriend.

Does she still love you?

I wouldn’t know. I haven’t asked her. And I haven’t seen her in over a year.

I see … So … aren’t you going to ask me about “personal stuff”?

I don’t think so.

Why?

Alice, don’t take this personally …

No, Jonas, I won’t …

… But when our conversation moves to “personal stuff”,  you usually discuss it in the same manner I defended my undergrad thesis, and uhm, that’s okay … but …

But?

Mushy stuff don’t need to have footnotes. I can take you just the way you are.