Thirty-five

Germaine Greer, that controversial ’70’s feminist who wouldn’t give up, even now that she is in her 70’s, once said:

“The point of an organic family is to release the children from the disadvantages of being extensions of their parents so that they can belong primarily to themselves.”

Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch, 1970

If I can find a copy of this is Booksale, it will go right to my TBR pile.

If I can find a copy of this is Booksale, it will go right to my TBR pile.

Miz Greer, much as I would like to agree, in principle, with your thesis, putting your point into practice would prick parents at their thorniest. Children, you see, are the emotional properties of their parents. And our parents have never; and will never (unless they are dead) let us forget that.

Mothers are the worst. Especially if you are a daughter. I cannot speak for the sons, but if they are there somewhere, I am sure they also have their gripes.

One’s mother almost died giving birth to you; so you owe her. For life.

Wait-just-a-fucking-minute!! I did not wish to be born … I was not exactly consulted if I wanted  to be brought into existence. So excuse me … if I resent your demands for my gratefulness. For this supposedly blessed gift called Life.

***

For a woman turning 35 (one score plus one-and-a-half decade) years old, a milestone has been reached. In medical parlance, she has arrived at a quandary called, “elderly primipara/primigravida”.

The term “elderly primipara/primigravida” was invented, once upon a time, when obstetrics was populated by white-men-in-white-uniform. I think that its insertion into the lexicon of obstetrics residents was partly a warning sign to girls — get a man and have a baby before 35 or you will die.

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. A writer who died penniless. Just another chap who may just  be my role model.

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. A writer who died penniless. Just another chap who may just be my role model.

In truth, and statistics will show (Mark Twain did say that there are lies, more lies, and statistics) that a lot of morbidities occur in women who gestate after 35. To wit: gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational trophoblastic diseases, gestational hypertension, etc, etc.

I have come to believe that girls get knocked up in their teens because they were stupid; in their twenties because of peer pressure; and give in to maternal instincts in their 30’s because they fear death.

So Miz Greer …  a child is an extension of their parents. Your thesis is a fantasy. A wonderful fantasy, like The Lord of The Rings is wonderful, but a fantasy nonetheless.

But I love you, anyway 🙂

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Genetic Progenies

The thing about living things is that reproduction for them is a biological imperative. Like take the virus, for example — its main reason for being is to produce another virus and then another and another; until it is just swimming in a sea, an ocean of its copies.

FYI, humans are not viruses. Although we are mammals (and the creationists would probably disagree), we have developed this thing called “culture” and we have (supposedly) this trait called “rational thought” ; so that our actions are governed by them and not by instincts alone. We act after an intelligent discernment of our condition and surroundings — ideally.

So genetic progenies are not necessarily bad, if they are already there. Like, kicking and screaming and demanding for milk or attention. If they are still zygotes … well their right to “live” is probably debatable. I think that the right of a living, breathing, thinking, woman should take precedence over a zygote’s … but that’s just me.

It is terribly insulting and very sexist to ask a woman why she doesn’t have a child; men are never asked that question (thank you Zooey Deschanel for that wonderful idea!).

There may be something racist and classist in perceiving minority women or poor women as irresponsible  sluts for having kids like rabbits. However … I have met some of these women … and they can sound very irresponsible. I lay the blame on their parents though, for not bringing them up well and not giving them a good education. Parents can so fuck up their children’s lives — especially when/if those children become parents themselves. Talk about a cycle of irresponsibility.

There is a whole world of reason why women (hey men are part of this too, or aren’t they?) have or do not have genetic progenies. Sometimes, there may not even be a reason. It (the pregnancy) just happened.

Like a thunderstorm or an earthquake.

I was interviewing a pregnant patient, and I was counseling her on family planning. She tells me that after this child, she does not want another. So I suggest, that she and her husband should decide on a family planning method. I drone on and on about the methods that are available. And this morning, the woman gave birth, and I offered her the family planning method that is currently available in the clinic which is IUD. The woman refused; said that she will just take the pill. I do not believe her. This is her fifth child by husband number 4 and I have this niggling feeling that she keeps having children to have a hold over the men she has relationships with.

I am saying this from the point of view of the child, who was not asked to be born: Hey parents, it is not your right to have kids. If you cannot bring us up in a manner that will not make us a nuisance to society, then do not have us at all. Underpopulation is currently not a world problem. And hey, it should be okay to have sex … I mean what hypocrisy is it that you tell a 15 year old child to preserve her virginity when sex is so much fun that you “accidentally” had me when you were young.

Fuck.

 

***

Reading Lists:

http://mic.com/articles/112910/12-women-who-had-the-best-response-to-society-s-biggest-expectation

http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/08/25-famous-women-on-childlessness.html

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/kids

http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/03/when-men-want-kids-and-women-arent-so-sure.html

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/gender-issues/83453-early-pregnancy-philippines?utm_content=buffere26f1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/10-differences-between-middle-class-and-rich-people.html

Words

I have never learned how to speak Bisaya.

Not surprising; since 99% of my life was spent in Luzon. There are over 150 languages spoken in this country that I call home. And I only know 2 of them! Shame on me.

We did have a culture before King Philip of Spain and Uncle Sam invaded our land. We were a hodge podge of many tribes; one of those tribes were the Tagalogs; and this was their ancient language called alibata. Blame the Spanish friars for eradicating it from modern society. How's that, Pope Francis! Another historical fact, the Catholic Church should say mea culpa for.

We did have a culture before King Philip of Spain and Uncle Sam invaded our land. We were a hodge podge of many tribes, not so different from the different Scottish clans before the English invasion. One of those tribes were the Tagalogs; and this was their ancient language called alibata. Blame the Spanish friars for eradicating it from modern society. How’s that, Pope Francis! Another historical fact the Catholic Church should say mea culpa for?

Once upon a time, when I was a student, the topic of National Language was an emotional and personal pet crusade. I would debate someone, anyone who would dare to malign Filipino and insist on English’s superiority as a medium of expression. Blame it on the university where I graduated. It insisted on equating “love of country” to “love of national language”.

I was (and still am) an expert Filipino speaker. My first articles and stories were in Filipino. The stories I love passionately (Edgardo M. Reyes and Lualhati Bautista’s novels; Gerardo Sicat and Genoveva Edroza Matute’s short stories, to name a few) and the poems that I used to emulate (Francisco Balagtas’s “Florante at Laura”, Jose Corazon de Jesus’s “Ang Pamana”, Teodoro Agoncillo’s “Republikang Basahan” etc.) were all in Filipino.

It was Mr. F. Sionil Jose that made me realize that the Filipino language (much as the Philippine’s official Language Commission would try to deny it) is actually the Tagalog language with some variations.

 

There is nothing inherently wrong with the Tagalog language. Half of my genes are Tagalog; that must be a reason for my affinity with it. However, I have been traveling to the southern parts of my country for several years now; and I found that a lot of people that I would consider my own, do not even understand me when I speak this language that the academics call “Filipino”.

I first read this book, the life story of a Manila high class prostitute when I was 19 y/o. Re-reading it for the 2nd time was week was an enlightening experience. I learned: 1. This book's values was terribly old-fashioned and Mr. Jose is probably a male chauvinist pig, but I love him anyway!; 2. This book's heroine should have been introduced to Anabel Chong, the pornographic performer who once held the record for the most men fucked in a gang bang; then this book's heroine would have learned something like "she doesn't have the corner on suffering in this world; 3. Virginity is overrated.

I first read this book, the life story of a Manila high class prostitute when I was 19 y/o. Re-reading it for the 2nd time last week was an enlightening experience. I learned: 1. This book’s values are terribly old-fashioned and Mr. Jose is probably a male chauvinist pig (but I love him anyway!); 2. This book’s heroine should have been introduced to Anabel Chong, the pornographic performer who once held the record for the most men fucked in a gang bang; then this book’s heroine would have learned something like she doesn’t have “the corner on suffering in this world”; 3. Virginity is overrated.

Traveling to Cebu, a city in the Visayas, I realized how woefully inadequate my so-called education was because I couldn’t adequately converse in Bisaya! I had to speak to taxi drivers and fishermen in Oslob beach in English!

(Nothing terrible with English … my blog is in English, for one. It is the world’s lingua franca at the moment, true. Scientific and medical journals are written mostly in this language. My favorite writers write in English!

But the roots of this language has nothing to do with my geography. And it is useful and fun and I love it but …

Sunrise in Oslob. Oslob is a southern town in Cebu island. And what's remarkable about it is that every morning, huge whalesharks would swim very near the beach and go so near the fishermen that they would feed them.

Sunrise in Oslob. Oslob is a southern town in Cebu island. And what’s remarkable about it is that every morning, huge whalesharks would swim very near the beach and go so near the fishermen that they would feed them.

Tumalog Falls. a very charming, very pretty waterfall, also in the town of Oslob.

Tumalog Falls. a very charming, very pretty waterfall, also in the town of Oslob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.. but it is not … entirely mine.

And there is something heartbreakingly sad when a person from Kansas cannot converse with a fellow American from New York because they don’t have the same language, and they have to talk using German to understand each other.) 

***

So these are just words.

And someday, if I’m really bad, they will be forgotten.

***

By the way, the term “I love you” in Bisaya is “Ginihugma ako ha nimo.”

Okay, Cebuanos and other Bisaya-speakers  can shoot me now.

 

Why “Long Distance Stuff Never Works” (or Why it is Preferable for Women to Date Male Virgins)

(Marianne’s Theory of Human Relationships)

It’s like this Alice:  when it comes to relationships men’s learning protocols are different than that of women.

Women are more hopeful … hence we become basket cases who never learn. Take our friend, Manda, for example, she is always falling for men who are attached. Her first boyfriend was gay who was attached to another guy; her 2nd boyfriend was a mama’s boy who was attached to his mother; and now the third one is married, attached to another woman. Sure he will get an annulment. In like what? A million years?

Men are different. What they learn gets imprinted in their CPUs. They are very efficient that way, and hence are not prone to deviations. We should strive to become like them, actually. So Jonas … well he used to be crazy about this girl with the pretentious name, Ligaya or Gaia or something.

Anyway, my brother was in the first stages of puberty, so that explains his bad taste in girls at that time.

His preferences have improved since then, as you can attest.

Ligaya strung him along for two years, or maybe three. She got herself knocked  up by one of their classmates and you know how Jonas is so much into the “knight in shining armor thing”. Yes Starfish Syndrome,  that’s another way of putting it. He skipped school for a year to take care of her. It drove our mom crazy. She had to go and confront Ligaya to leave him alone. Thank god she did.

Ligaya migrated to Canada. My brother wouldn’t give up on her. He wrote her everyday for months. I know, because I used to sneak into his room and read those letters.

And then, the letter writing stopped. Maybe Ligaya finally did something that got Jonas off her back. Or baka nauntog lang ang kapatid ko at natauhan. That, my friend, was my brother’s first long-distance relationship. You will say that the relationship was one-sided and you are right. But it really messed up his head; and you got the nuclear fallout from that one. The Ligaya Incident is the reason why Jonas is not into long distance stuff.

Yeah, it sucks. If I had known you before you knew my brother, I would have told you my theory of the perfect relationship and you would have been spared of going through this drama. But … if my brother hadn’t been your boyfriend, then you wouldn’t have gotten to know  me and we wouldn’t be bestfriends so … the universe has its reasons.

The perfect relationship — I have come to the conclusion that the first women who have the power to mess up men are their mothers. So a girl should check out the mothers first before buying into the men. And then, we should make sure that the guys we date are virgins – like emotionally. Physical virgins are preferable but that’s too much to  hope for.

Alice, don’t laugh. The perfect relationship is the one where two people have the least amount of baggage going in. They can accumulate their own baggage later.

The Myth of the Virgin and the Unicorn. Why is the virgin in the picture always  a girl? Marianne would like to know. Picture lifted from http://manbehindthecurtain.ie/2012/03/24/on-staying-innocent/

The Myth of the Virgin and the Unicorn. Why is the virgin in the picture always a girl? Marianne would like to know. Picture lifted from http://manbehindthecurtain.ie/2012/03/24/on-staying-innocent/

***

Reading Lists: 

http://time.com/117585/yes-all-women-virgin-killer-ucsb/

http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-09-22/frisky-rant-leave-male-virgins-alone/

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/problem-male-virginity-hesaid/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yourtango/7-huge-mistakes-i-made-as_b_6355374.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samantha-joel/ten-wedding-vows-based-on_b_4762318.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000035

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-all-or-nothing-marriage.html

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/13/self-discovery-marriage-psychologist-suffocation-model

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/elizabeth-gallagher-on-free-around-the-world-trip-it-can-t-be-that-weird-1.2153414

http://www.rappler.com/brandrap/stories/68701-long-distance-easier

To Tell the Truth or (and) Die

jose almonte

I do not usually read memoirs, especially memoirs by Filipino hero-wannabes. They are often narcissistic and self-serving (the “why” is self-explanatory).

There is a new book by former Philippine politics power-broker, Jose Almonte, that I will look for in National Bookstore (Powebooks or Fully Booked,  depends on where it will be available.)

I was intrigued because of my favorite journalist, Raissa Robles’s reaction upon reading it:

“I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I read “Endless Journey: A Memoir.” This 395-page book breaks the unwritten rule (at least in the Philippines) of memoir writing. Local memoirs are largely bland, inoffensive and (of-course) self-serving. Almonte’s book is predictably self-serving but explosive and quite deliciously offensive in parts, at least to some prominent personalities he mentions by name.” (from: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/03/06/15/joe-almonte-alan-purisima-president-fidel-ramos)

In a gist: Mr. Almonte was a military man who is now retired. He was in the highest echelons of power, 3 Filipino president’s ago.

I think he may be dying — the man is old, as you can see from the book cover picture of “Endless Journey: A Memoir.”

Older people, I found, tend to spill the truth. That is, if they want to meet their god in good faith. But if they were like Ferdinand Marcos or Adolf Hitler … well that’s a different banana.

 

 

A Case for Second Chances

Initially, the plan was to kill Jonas;  have some villain murder him and dump his body in an unmarked grave that Alice would have to discover. That story would be about moving on and picking up the pieces of one’s life after the only person you’ve ever loved has been taken so irrevocably away. And maybe I can inject an element of hope by bringing in a new character who will remind Alice of Jonas’s  steadfastness and innocence and courage and patience in loving someone as imperfect as her.

However … I have been mulling over Pope Francis’s visit and his homilies. And doing that makes one realize that the world does not need another death to prove its point  — that it is basically cruel, careless and indifferent (I have Christopher Hitchens to thank for this mindset); and that, probably, there is no God (thank you Richard Dawkins).

Alice is still an agnostic. A closeted one, who does not think it is worth her while to broadcast her lack of faith in a higher-deity-who-is-capable-of-personal-relationships-with human-beings to the world.

The thing with Alice is that is she is too much of a product of her times (and of her creator, obviously). She belongs in a country where villains pose as heroes; and heroes are finding it really hard not to go dark-side and turn (ala Sauron) into villains.

I am thinking that maybe, for all her faults, Alice deserves a second chance. Not everyone  had been privileged to find that someone who loved them above all others; who saw through one’s insanities and accepted her anyway. Killing off the male love-interest is a waste of a perfectly HEA, romantic lovestory worthy of a Judith McNaught or Lisa Kleypas (who I am re-reading right now).

A part of me, however, would like to kill off Jonas, just to make Alice realize what her indifference and pathologically neurotic fears can eventually lead to.

The thing is, if Jonas is alive … he wouldn’t be the same person that Alice knew. He would be damaged, almost beyond recognition; and it would take a lot of work to patch him up. Maybe he would be so banged up that, at some point, he would lash out and kill Alice to satisfy some sense of justice — or maybe not.

I have come to love Jonas and I don’t know why I have to choose between torturing him and killing him just to give Alice a happy ending.

***

During his visit to Manila, a girl from an orphanage asked Pope Francis why God let little children suffer. I am beginning to think that the answer may be because grown-ups like me have become too cynical and apathetic and complacent. So for that little girl, maybe Alice deserves a happy ending (which she must first work hard for, obviously)

During Pope Francis’s visit to Manila, a girl from an orphanage tearfully asked him why God let little children suffer. I am beginning to think that the answer may be because grown-ups like me have become too cynical and apathetic and complacent. So for that little girl, maybe Alice deserves a happy ending (which she must first work hard for, obviously). Picture from dailybalita.com

“Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something. There is a worldly compassion which is useless.Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears.” Jose Mario Bergoglio, the Roman Catholic pope also known as Francis, January 2014 in Manila.

***

Readings Lists:

http://www.smartparenting.com.ph/mom-dad/relationships/stay-or-leave-10-real-life-relationship-situations/page/2

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/reviews/a31865/erotic-art-movies/

http://www.rappler.com/specials/pope-francis-ph/81106-full-text-pope-francis-homily-tacloban

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/01/27/15/what-tagle-thinks-hidden-streetkids-during-pope-visit

http://www.rappler.com/nation/85084-edsa-aquino-tagle-homily?utm_content=buffera45fa&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://www.rappler.com/nation/83044-aquino-accepts-purisimahttp://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2015/02/01/commentary-but-what-shall-we-do-with-the-fallen120000/-resignation

http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/europe/85189-jihadi-john-isis-execution?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=referral

In Defence of Soulmates

soulmate from FB— Michael Fiore by way of Facebook

 

***

Alice was not into soulmates.

If one’s non-belief could be gauged by the number of times one’s eyes have rolled when hearing about the concept one does not  believe in, then Alice’s eyeballs would have reached Davao by now. It goes without saying, her friends (all females) have totally bought into the soulmate bandwagon.

But Alice was not buying. Why should she?

As the Julie Delpy character in Before Sunset had  exclaimed so eloquently “The concept is absurd. The idea that we can only be complete with another person is evil!

before sunset

Evil indeed. That also goes for Valentine’s day, mushy 1980’s lovesongs, and sentimental Facebook postings on her newsfeed.

The thing is …

…  when she met him, he would (and could) cajole her into watching a play or a movie, or a walk in the park on February 14. Out of principle, she should have declined. However, he would  put on this puppy-dog look on his face, smile so adoringly, and squeeze her hand. And out went her principles. (Thinking about it now, it seemed that she’d shed her principles with him the way she had shed her clothes — one piece at a time).

… when she met him, she was more into Bon Jovi or Nirvana (when she took the time to listen to music, which was not very often). His favorite song is a dopey Tagalog ballad called “Pag-ibig”+. Of course, she had to pretend to appreciate it when he serenaded her with that on their first anniversary. (“Anniversary” is another concept she did not believe in.)

… when she met him, he was not into social media. She persuaded him to put up a Facebook profile. Which he (reluctantly) let her do for him. That was one of the few times she was completely ecstatic in performing him a service.

Soulmate is a word Alice hates because it is just so … uncool … and corny. Acquiescing that it exists would (could, should) make her too … vulnerable.

It is just like that other word that starts with an “L”.

 

***

+ “Pag-ibig” is the Tagalog word for “Love”

The original version of the song was sung by APO Hiking Society

Nong tangan ng nanay mo
Ang munti mong mga kamay
Ika’y tuwang-tuwa,
Panatag ang loob sa damdaming
Ika’y mahal

Nong nakilala mo ang una mong sinta
Umapaw ang saya at siya’y ibang-iba
Sinasamsam ang bawat gunita

[Chorus:]
Hindi mo malimutan kung kailan
Nagsimulang matuto kung papaanong magmahal
At di mo malimutan kung kailan mo natikman
Ang una mong halik/Ang tamis ng iyong halik
Yakap na napakahigpit
Pag-ibig na tunay hanggang langit

Nong tayo’y nagkakilala ng hindi sinasadya,
Ikaw lang ang napansin,
Nahuli sa isang tingin
At sa pagbati mong napakalambing.