Sunday, November 26, 2017

STUFF, or Global Stuff (some of my past Facebook posts that you maybe failed to read)

OIL and STUFF and all those deals. There is no such thing as rich country to poor country dole out. Or "I will save your ass from the fires of hell" superhero pledge by a superpower to a tiny struggling nation, without some kind of agreement. Nothing in this world is free. And oil and other natural resources are an imperative in those deals. They say, for example, most internet hackers are based in Nigeria. Or maybe they also hack heads there literally, right? So we "help" them. 

          Truth is, Nigeria is ranked #15th among world's top oil producing nations. Nigeria is also the United States' largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Many also say Mexico is where illegals and bangbangers emanate from. Fact: Mexico is the 11th largest producer of oil in the world and has the 17th largest oil reserves in the world, and it is the fourth largest oil producer in the Western Hemisphere behind the United States, Canada and Venezuela.
          Meantime, most of Mexico's oil go to the US and since the country's diggings have slowed (maybe drying up?) it is still a major market for America. US Gulf Coast refiners have been cashing in on rising fuel demand from Mexico, shipping record volumes to a southern neighbor that has failed to expand its refining network to supply a fast-growing economy. I mean, they got Apple and General Motors factories and plants out there. Hence, Mexico needs strategic energy supplies from the US to continually provide business worth more than $15 billion a year to refiners such as Valero, Marathon, and Citgo.

CHINA, TAIWAN. Some perceive that the One China Policy still works. If it is still being practiced, then it's passe. Since 1949, when Kuomintang revolted against the mainland and retreated to Taiwan (then Formosa), relations have been muddled until two high-level talks in 2008 took place. Among others, the two "Chinas" negotiated/compromised on issues of direct maritime shipping, chartered cargo flights, direct postal service, and co-operation in ensuring food safety.
          Meantime, cross-strait investments have greatly increased in recent years. Predominantly, this involves Taiwan-based firms moving to, or collaborating in joint ventures, in Mainland China. The collective body of Taiwanese investors in Mainland China is now a significant economic force for both Mainland China and Taiwan. In 2014, trade values between the two sides reached $198.31 billion, with imports from Taiwan to the mainland counted up to $152 billion. In 2015, 58 percent of Taiwanese working outside Taiwan worked in Mainland China, with a total number of 420,000 people.
          Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturing company headquartered in Taiwan, maintains six of its largest factories in mainland China. Foxconn is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, and the third-largest information technology company by revenue. 

CLIMATE CHANGE and OIL. Oil and energy companies have become more politically aggressive and desperately upfront as ever in denying climate change--despite the obvious lessons of Katrina and Sandy, and elsewhere. These 1 Percent Oil Gods took out GOP renegade Bob Inglis, muted the McCains and got Mitch McConnell with whip money as support to his candidates. And so the environment has rang loud as a partisan war. I don't believe so. It's just that Congress lobbying focused on instilling fear of losing primaries than pro-climate voters. Meantime, without Republican help, Democrats in Congress have managed to log major victories in their own fight, such as the 2015 renewal of key tax credits for the solar and wind industries. Obama also kicked up the Clean Power Plan. But a true victory can only happen if and when a bipastisan Congress wills itself to act, especially in the GOP-dominated Trump era. One sign of hope is last year's creation of the the Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of 20 House members equally divided among Democrats and Republicans.
          People support is utmost of course if we chuck partyline hatred in favor of unity. Some Democrats claim that the Republican mass is blinded into acceding to whatever the Right says. Wrong. A 2016 poll conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that three in four registered voters believe the Earth is warming, and more than half believe humans are causing it. The poll's biggest shift occurred among conservative Republicans: The number of those saying the climate is changing jumped by 19 percent from two years earlier.
          Even the powerful Charles Koch has begun to see the light, says a Rolling Stone article. A top executive at Koch Industries said, "Charles has said the climate is changing. So the climate is changing. I think he's also said, and we believe, that humans have a part in that." In the issue of the environment, it is not wise to be a hardliner. We have to reach out to the opposite fence and work things out. Those who stick it out to their spot is as guilty as those whom they blame as the culprit.

NEWS. China unveils $1 trillion plan to shake up the economic order that was once dominated by the West. In stark contrast to President Trump's "America First" mantra, Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" plan aims to remake global commerce in China's image. The Chinese give jobs to world's workforce and also lay out a massive alternative energy program to help cushion climate change. Somewhere somehow someone earns big. That is fine--as long as the rest earn some and benefit as well. So why complain? Enjoy!

LO MEIN WORLD. All these while we are whining. [1] Along the jungle-covered mountains of Laos, squads of Chinese engineers are drilling hundreds of tunnels and bridges to support a 260-mile railway, a $6 billion project that will eventually connect eight Asian countries. [2] Chinese money is building power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment. [3] Chinese planners are mapping out train lines from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods flowing into Europe through a Chinese-owned port in Greece. [4] The massive infrastructure projects, along with hundreds of others across Asia, Africa and Europe, form the backbone of China’s ambitious economic and geopolitical agenda. [5] Etc Chinese etcetera.

ENVIRONMENT and STUFF. And hey what about the environment, right? Climate-change deniers abound. Fact: Fifteen of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the 21st century. Check these out as well: Drought-fueled wildfires in Southern California; rising sea levels in New York, Norfolk, Virginia, and Miami Beach; melting glaciers in Alaska; bleached coral reefs in the Virgin Islands. Etc etcetera. Earth's warming, and the shitty weather it causes, is outpacing the once-brilliant findings scientists used to predict our future.

          Long before G7 met in Paris last year to address the problem, Germany has already been powering up to 87 percent of the country using renewable sources. Meantime, China leads in pushing global green energy investments. Beijing committed renewable investment plans totaling $286 billion to Europe, up 5 percent from $273 billion in 2014. America should also focus on this matter, especially after Katrina and Sandy. I believe that US' 20+ percent consumption of oil can still be lowered irrelevant of plants and factories continually fed with oil. Such a discipline should also start with the people, per household. I still find it weird that some people criticize the big guys in re environment yet they'd kick up that SUV 10 miles away just to score a can of coconut oil or earth-friendly condoms or drive the distance equivalent to 75 human steps to throw garbage located in the same apartment compound.

OIL FACTS. I am perplexed to know that not many are aware that the United States is not a major oil exporter. Or are people biting all the "alternative facts" these days so easily? Enough with the links! America is not even in the Top 20 of countries that export the highest dollar value worth of crude oil (2015 data). Top 3 are Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq. Despite the US being #3 in oil production (8.45 million oil barrels/day), we are #2 in oil imports ($132.6 billion a year or 16.5 percent of total global oil imports). Of course, the US is also #1 in oil consumption, a whopping 20+ percent of earth's oil consumption a year.
          Ergo, whatever we have isn't enough to quench our insatiable thirst for more oil. Yet unlike China that is #1 importer of oil and #5 in production, they got jobs. Oil goes to manufacturing. And then when they got the money, they started spreading investments all over the globe, as their factories and plants stay chugging. They got the money, they got the honey.
          Meantime, US crude oil production fell by 6 percent in 2016 to below 9 million b/d. Yet, with OPEC compliance at a reported 90 percent and above, and with oil prices range bound at $51-57, US oil output should rebound this year. At nearly $54, oil prices in 2017 to be about $10 higher per barrel than they were last year. President Trump is expected to roll back regulations that would have hampered new output in the years ahead. What would that mean? Two controversial pipeline projects, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access, could be back.

          US oil and gas industry is expected to boost spending this year by about 35 percent, and rig counts continue to climb. Since the OPEC production cut deal end-November, our oil rig counts have increased by 125, and at 602, are at their highest levels since October 2015. The feeling is that OPEC and its non-OPEC partners will agree to another cut starting in July.
          What does that say? Russian oil coming in. How do we suppose to get the $1 trillion infrastructure to work and open up new jobs without oil? And without plants and factories cranking up exports, how do we fix the trade deficit? This is not just an issue to Trump's White House and Republican Congress, I believe. This is an American issue. We have strong environmental lobbying yet our magnificent oil consumption remains unabated. No, this is not 1859 anymore or shortly after the oil discovery in the Oil Creek area of Titusville, Pennsylvania--that kickstarted America's march to superpowerhood. These are the times of contradictions. We need to look at us in a mirror and figure out what's wrong, really.

ALL THAT OIL. Years ago, China was only consuming around 6 percent of the world's total oil supply, annually. The US is almost steady at 20 percent, #1 globally. China is now using up 11.7 percent, #2 worldwide, which is a no brainer. Those plants and factories that also catapulted them into a manufacturing giant, following their entry to WTO in 2001, needed humongous supply of oil. Whatever reserves they got (China is #4 in oil production) weren't enough, they had to import. However, China is still ranked #2 at 6 million barrel of crude oil importation per day behind America's 9 M barrels. Lotsa oil!

          Of course the Chinese government are aware that their bad Pollution Index graph are due to their industry not really their people's reliance to fossil fuel. For example, main transports in China are still public utilities, trains and bicycles. Most of these infrastructure/s were started at the time of Mao Zedong. More importantly. Beijing has embarked, especially in the last decade or two, on a massive investment campaign all over the world. In a way, they have spread out factories to other countries, opening up jobs out there and most importantly, the Chinese also helped developed oil deposits of these nations so they may less rely on imports. And this is the key: China has embarked on a $360 billion alternative energy campaign through 2020--renewable power sources like solar and wind. It's still business, of course. The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries via renewable power sources.
          What's interesting is, such a plan or program is the opposite tack of what Donald J. Trump's Cabinet, mostly inhabited by climate-change doubters, is poised to pursue. And do you know that Russia's oil magnates owe a lot of money from the Chinese? Since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, energy relations between China and Russia have been generally marked by cooperation and a regard for mutual geopolitical and strategic interests. However, due to some pricing tilt/s and speculations in the oil market, some frictions ensued. But that'd be another story.

ALL THAT MEDIA. If we go by sheer deduction, ALL media outlets are controlled by the Establishment. All newspapers and TV networks and radio stations are dependent on advertising money and investments from people (who usually support a politician or political party). There are outlets that are “independent” but they don't get wide exposure as do major outfits. Sadly, some of them are simply internet “nuisances.” Ergo, why believe in media, right? No. I believe that thinking is defeatist and negative--and only makes the power that moves “media” win. Makes them control the flow of “information” to serve their greed.

         I still “believe” in media because I believe in writers and journalists who make media alive. I kickstarted and nurtured my journalism in a world that wasn't as free as America. In the 1980s at a time of dictatorship, the Philippines was ranked #1 by Amnesty International in terms of journalists killed. I had many friends and colleagues that got wasted. I survived it. What does that say? Journalists write irrelevant of a controlled media. Irrelevant of the 1 Percent/Establishment. There is still a heated fight in the newsroom between editors and board members, reporters and marketing chiefs. As in there is a fight in Congress between those who accede to 1 percent lobbyists and whips and those who don't. There is a fight between good and evil wherever we go. But life is not black and white. It is not good here and evil there. It is muddled. We gotta weed through the brush to know the truth.
         Bottomline, it is NOT what is fed us in the news that matter—it is us. Do we believe it? Do we allow these “alternative facts” sway us? Are we ourselves controlled? It's no brainer. Social media is as dirty and bogus as mainstream media if we follow (today's) equation. But we are here, aren't we? We are wallowing in Facebook and saying what we gotta say. First Amendment Royale! I molded my journalism in a society where writers were tortured and killed because they wrote stuff. Anti stuff. But I dug in. Because I believed. People like us who post political stuff everyday should ponder and dig in as do journalists—irrelevant of New York Times or CNN or Fox or Facebook. Because we are not driftwood in the river—we are the river.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TEACH your children, teach your parents

TEACH your children, teach your parents. I raised my kids on a pretty much "Do whatever you want to do but you gotta face up to consequences of your decisions later" dictum. I needed to freely give that confidence and trust for them to pursue whatever they want to be. I didn't teach my son how to be an artist, or my daughter what's economics and law were all about, or sat down with them and corrected their school essays. I simply showed them how things are done but on a playful, easy mode. Yet I cannot call myself "loose" or nice, I was in fact very strict. We walked all over the open market and let them choose what's up for dinner, hand them little cash/school allowance and allowed them to buy whatever they please and budget their money, put the VCR and TV on and gave them the freehand in choosing shows and movies that they want. They washed their dirty plates, fixed their beds, kept their bookbags ready, tidied their shoes etc even before school-age. The eldest took care of stuff and the younger ones obeyed. 

         From First Grade onwards, I was the proud dad who pinned their medals and honor ribbons every year, no fail. I am still the proud dad to date. I am very thankful that all my kids are relatively doing better or fine than what I see around (that sometimes worries me). Now I have grandchildren on these days of electronic overkill and computerized reflex. Things seem so easy. But parenting wisdom and strategy don't change just because the world changes. My grandchildren, like their parents, will use those hands and limbs working as well as their minds and brains pondering. Computers will not do the parenting. It is the heart of a parent that does and fulfills that sublime responsibility. That's what we can give our kids/grandkids beyond money and financial "security." The ability to maximize their potentials and continue nourishing their gifts--out there and in here. They have to create their future from scratch and the raw. Nothing is handed on a silver platter, or should I say, an iPhone app. It's all within us--inside and out.

LOVE POEMS and all those aftermidnight sweet shenanigans. To say that I keep more than 2,000 love poems in e-folders and hard-copy file/s is an understatement. The current body of work doesn't include poems that I categorize as “angry poems,” or poems that I read in my featured-poet reading gigs. (I don't normally read love poems in my shows.) Somewhere I left poems that I scribbled on loose yellow pads, concert handouts, napkins, newspaper margins, “blue notebooks,” chocolate wrappers, brown grocery bags etc etcetera. Some I retrieved, some I didn't. I travelled, handed poems to friends and strangers, and left. I just write poems, period. A pet dream or plan is to gather what I managed to keep and compile them into a 5-volume book of love verses and short prose, “Love Poems, Compromises and Negotiations.” It's like a box-set that includes drawings, songs (CD), various merchandise, and a card line. It's overwhelming, I know. 

          So to get things started, me and Cindyrella, are working on a card line first. I'm supposed to work on watercolor or ink or acrylic art rendering of these poems. But I am not yet there. I will. I need to get ruffled bigtime or jump off Chimney Rock waterfalls and then be motivated. Just kidding, of course you know I'm kidding. I will probably sit downtown and begin doodling or sketching on a drawing pad. Meantime, thank you Cindyrella—for getting these one project off the ground.  

SOME of the MADNESSES of a PASCKIE. These are just some of what I call moondances of my little life. Rock journeys and sublime madnesses. I was kind of “silently” all over back in the Philippines in my younger life, and then “more silently” all over in the US in my older life. Right now, at 55, I am just quiet (sort of). Some may disagree and say "silence" and "quiet" are understatements but I am. I am mostly love poems these days.
         I was a member of the media liaison staff of the Philippine Commission on Good Government, directly under the office of the President (Corazon Aquino), in late 80s. PCGG was tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth by the Marcos family. As a theater dude, I was part of PETA-Kalinangan Ensemble in the 80s—which also brought me to grassroots theater teaching and direct contact with countryside folk and urban poor. Of course, I used to write for We Forum/Malaya, a vanguard in alternative journalism in Asia, progressing from circulation hand, proofreader/translator to beat reporter—which helped me gain desk editorship and later editor in chief status in other papers. How many publications I edited and co-published, I don't know anymore. It was a frantic, my pace. I also sat for consulting teams for political candidates, including presidential aspirant Raul Roco, somewhere in my young life—while I put up (musical/poetry) events in Manila, few years before I decided to leave for New York. 

         I was still writing reviews for Philippine Daily Inquirer, largest daily in Manila that time, when I was editing a Filipino/American newspaper in Manhattan, while I co-organized events and concerts in the city. When I rested my Filipino community forays in NY, I moved to Asheville and published/edited The Indie (plus two others) from 2000 to 2011 (on and off). My peace advocacy work for Traveling Bonfires won me a citation from Western North Carolina Peace Coalition in 2004, mainly as recognition of my work as producer/organizer of “Bonfires for Peace” concert events in town and elsewhere in the region (including Baltimore and Washington DC).
I took a two-year “Asheville respite” in Los Angeles (2007-09) and handled the Southern California bureau of Philippine News—as I continued producing Traveling Bonfire shows and activities out there. Of course, these are just a few "bonfires" off my energy level in those years. There are more, a lot more, that even remembering them isn't that easy. I jumpstarted my journalism career at age 14, and then what about the trips and visits in so many places? Yet I feel I haven't really “retired,” I am just trying to “rediscover” the past in my memory and put them all in books--while I frolic in Facebook. LOL!

WHAT IF I AM SUPER RICH? Many times I think, what if I am a millionaire or billionaire? Will my life be altered or changed or different from others? No. Being just like "others" makes me happier than being the contrary "not like anybody rich brat" who rides in a limo or lives in a mansion by a seaside in Big Sur. I would put my money in a foundation (to help poor communities) and hire people to take care of that money in whatever way they choose how--make that money earn so that money would help more people. Managing money sucks. I just want to write and farm tomatoes and watch a TV series or two. My kids may take out loan from that banked money and work to gain mileage to pursue their own version of happiness, although they need to convince me hard before a loan is handed to them--like submission of a business proposal. 

         I'd continue writing and writing. And writing, My work will be my Trust Fund or inheritance. If I was Prince or John Lennon or Hemingway and Stephen King--I'd enjoin my kids to take care of whatever I creatively produce/d, make money out of them, and divide whatever amount among themselves. But again they need to submit business proposals with compelling ROIs (return of investment).
         In my life, I've never really worried so much about money but that doesn't mean I didn't stress about it. I do. Just like you and them. Though I must admit I got more stress when I got more money than I needed on my hand (when was that? LOL!) But I traveled far and wide with technically $10 on my pocket, and just stayed the way I am, and I survived. Didn't steal, didn't sell drugs, didn't take out loans. Just being a pasckie. At 55, I know I've proven that to myself. Money doesn't change everything. I don't owe anyone money (banks and Kingkong got nothing on me!) but I owe my kids and loved ones more time of togetherness. Hence the "journey" should end, I am 56 this month! I miss my family so much.
         I don't want to leave earth with $15 million in my bank sitting there ready for my kin to quarrel with each other about. If I am Warren Buffett's grandson, I'd ask grandpa to build more water pumps and schoolhouses and children's orphanages and hospitals somewhere with my inheritance money--and tell his lawyers to freakin' leave me alone so I can write another love poem and play with my dog and tend to my okra backyard garden in peace and quiet.
         Now I need to prepare to head downtown and enjoy some rock `n roll music and beautiful humanity. If I am a son of a millionaire, I am sure my family wouldn't let me sit there, right? That, I don't like. Moral of the rant: Not having lots of moolah is alright. A peaceful life, not being angry and not being hateful and not being such an ass, is already wealth. See you in the park, superhomeys!

I HAVE been discussing and deliberating and debating—and writing and writing and writing—about politics all my life that I can't help but get bored sometimes with the same subject/s. Yet I do enjoy speaking minds with older people like me who at least got comparative opinion/s about the past and the present or younger people who equip themselves with historical vantage views or they read stuff, they try to know beyond their own “independent advocacies” and super-smart political correctness. Otherwise it's all one-line quips and dismissive sloganeering and “I need to say something” whinings although there's nothing significant to say other than accentuate the “right” to say something. We gotta say something because we got something to say, right? 
         Otherwise it's waste of energy. Just listen and learn and read and observe and then say something next time. Hangin' with kids and pet dogs and cats and pterodactyls or bergaunsaurs or just, I don't know, cooking for dragonflies and Facebook-playing with my photos maybe, are more productive and creative and fun. And sublime. Feel me? Now I gotta go downtown and grab a beer, play pool with Kermit, or just watch people on dreadlocks and reflectorized skirts. And write about them, of course.

Friday, September 22, 2017

OMG or GMO? Wanna make a movie? Social media, and other dalliances. Stuff. Etcetera

OMG! GMO? Why it is so important to grow your own produce and raise your own pterodactyl? That is, if you have the space and property and time? It's because of the fact that a lot of those so-called organic/non-gmo companies that you have patronized all these years are actually owned by the same giant food corporations that sell consumers those anti-thesis of what you call “healthy” foods. Dig? For one, Trade Joe's is actually owned by the German brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht, who also own Aldi. Our local Greenlife is owned by Whole Foods—and Whole Foods is, okay. I digress. Not really wanting you to suspect that your gluten-free Twinkies is contaminated with, you know. I am not saying but just saying.

         Annie's claims to source non-GMO ingredients? General Mills bought the company in 2014. Before that, GM also bought Cascadian Farm (remember budget organic shopping?) in 1999. Earthbound Farms, the largest of all organic produce suppliers in the United States, was purchased by WhiteWave in 2013. Same company also now owns Silk and Horizon. Dagoba Chocolate is a small independent chocolate company that is actually owned by the largest of them all — Hershey’s. Stonyfield Organic Yogurt is owned by the Danone Group of France, makers of Dannon yogurt and Evian water. And so on and so forth. Need I rant about Nabisco and Kraft and all those buy-outs and mergers? Nope.
          Approximately 0.4 percent of the total food sales in the US are non-GMO purchases. Small chunk but it shows hope. Never mind that most of the profit go to the same food companies that you love to hate. They're still gonna do everything that they could to collar the market. That's life you know. One day, your alternative energy source is actually funded by the Koch brothers and your neighbor's little handcrafted vodka cellar comes from Walmart's grant. You know what I'm saying?

         But that shouldn't stop you from supporting your local organic farm and non-GMO product producers until they give them all away. Bottomline is, you are taking of your own body. And don't think too much. And mess up your ramen noodle dinner, okay? Your laptop is produced by the China's Foxconn and you just gassed up at... Uhh yes Amazon bought Whole Foods. Old news. Never mind.

WANNA MAKE a MOVIE? A young man approached me for insights about a movie that he plans to produce (and direct). He just got a few thousands inheritance from Granpa and Granma. I ask, what is your purpose, your objective. Do you want to advocate and help usher some change to society and government or you just want to entertain? Or both. Of course he replied, both. Of course.
         Then you gotta think harder what movie you wanna sink money into but I don't want you to risk all of that hard shit on some movie, just like that. But since you're too hyped up to do so, then try to convince people, the moneyed ones, to invest some as well. These people want something in return, for sure. If it's advocacy, you gotta whiteboard your expectation check, strategize how to get your movie pass the alternative-cinema/young people filmfest circuit to bigger studios and distribution outfits, and committee hearings and stuff or maybe city council deliberations. Wanna entertain as well? And get more market mileage? Write some paperwork and check your Facebook page for some connects and "juice." Rejections in the US, that's okay. You can try Asia or Europe, sell to Netflix and Hulu, go video. Buy you gotta brainstorm more. You wanna make a movie that matters, where a few thousands of dollars aren't wasted to some personal idealistic madness (ie "I am an artist and all things that I do is art" yarn.) That'd be some kind of masturbation with sorry imagination. You'll get drained even before you proceed to the editing room, dude! So make a movie! Go for it. Otherwise, save the money for future rent.

THE Internet (or social media) has evolved from just mere recreational dalliance to a very significant tool of life. Business, politics, religion, family, friendships etc. So much so that people don't go out anymore. The Internet has supplanted their world. Many entrepreneurs face their laptops and cellphones to do business. Families and friends, too, communicate more via Facebook, texts, emails. It can be frustrating but that's how life goes. It has become more widespread than TV or radio.
         But Facebook, just like primetime TV or talk radio, is a direct offshoot or continuum of the world inside and outside. It is reality. Hence impatience and intolerance sometimes get the better of us. People get pissed with just a 3-second wait on a traffic light. A missed parking spot. A slow store cashier. A barking dog. A noisy person in a bank queue. But we can't just “turn them off” or the world outside like how we delete a post or unfriend a “friend” or totally click out FB. The outside world aggravates us more or equally upsets us than what's in the Internet. But that's the world that we live in. There is an election in November. There was a shooting in Orlando. People talk and argue to get to the bottom of societal ills and maybe course some solutions. The world is talking but due to the gravity of the subject matter, we don't expect nice words all the time. People are scared and hurt and upset. Meantime, in our personal lives, there are unpaid bills and a sick and depressed relative. These are facts of life that we can't just turn off otherwise we may just implode. If we don't explode out there.

         But then like TV, like radio, like books—and like the world outside—why can't we instead put more attention to the good things? Good and educational TV shows and good music and good books. And trees and birds and pets and nice and friendly people? Or we can infect those positive vibes than get infected by negative vibes. Angry rants online should be equalled by happy posts. Put more happy videos of cats than deaths in the streets. Balance. We know what reality is but we should also know how to cushion the pain, or protect ourselves. Knowing what's going—evil and good—is always “good” than not knowing what's going on.

SO much anger. It makes you want to retire to your shell yet it also doubles your resolve to go out there and try to help calm down the tempest in the human heart. It is not easy. We are surrounded by anger. Online, people are angry over stuff. Offline, people get upset with a mere 3-second wait on a traffic light. My attempts at drowning my own anger is provoked to howl some more. Love is muted by anger—despite our nonstop pronouncements of One Love. We say it from inside our shell and then it blows away with the wind, gone. It is so easy to anger us. Yet when we look around, we see and feel many things that should make us happy. Well, we just have to figure it out within ourselves. Still, I want to touch anger so I can ease its fury by touching and feeling it before it unleashes itself. But it isn't as easy like it was. We are all in a box that blinks. Anger isn't let go and freely allowed to crash on the glade. Anger is bottled up. So when it explodes, it is deadly as death. Then we mourn and try to heal as one. Once again.

MANY things divide us these days. More than ever. Politics. Religion. Even food choice. My friend Mimi's post echo such sad truth: “I would find myself lately, immediately trying to understand and bridge gaps that come up between me and my friends in the course of our day to day or once in a while interactions, even in cases where I felt much offended. Before, I would use to automatically assert my position all the time, and the principles on which each was based. Sign of aging?” My response: Sign of wisdom--that comes with aging. Yet some age without gaining wisdom (or maturity) by their own choosing. Bridging gaps is a sublime effort but it requires a lot of emotional/mental energy which we may not have anymore. Maybe if it doesn't work after several attempts (to bridge gaps) is to let go. Like waves these friends/relations will go back to the heart of the sea, in turbulence and tempest. But them, like us, will all gravitate back to the sand and merge with the calm sweep of earth. That's the natural progression of life. We should take care of ourselves when we grow older and spend more time with family and friends--those who love us despite our imperfections. Everybody realizes faults and flaws, they will—and then, we will all redeem and rest in transcendent peace.

FAITH is a form of governance that instills a belief system in community and society. The "god/goddess" image is the physical anchor of such a belief. That belief gathers people to agree on a singular system of workflow or output-pursuit. My basic question to non-god believers is--if indeed they don't believe at all in a god, what do they believe in? They may say atheism or paganism? Those are belief systems too and history says even those people kill or commit evil (just like any human being whose reason is clouded by a number of things). However, non-believing makes one gravitates deep down to the "I-me-mine."
All faiths I believe propagate goodness (including the Mayans and the pagans). It is how we interpret those beliefs that spells the difference between good and bad. So it is not a "fairytale" to those who believe in their God and then do good. They simply translate goodness in a very physical form. Just because some people kill people we automatically connect them with their religion or culture yet the truth is EVERYBODY is connected to some kind of faith or culture. We got something to blame people's wrongdoings and evil to--confederate flag, Christianity, even Che Guevara or Mao or the Beatles.
         People kill, that is a fact. But there is a way to peace if we STOP criticizing people's faith as against individual acts of evil because it makes those who are religious and sacrifice even their own lives for peace look so bad. If we want an end to hatred--it's simple quit indicting people based on their skin, religion, culture or ideology. That is also a form of hatred, albeit "silent."
CLICKS and LIKES. I understand why some people ask or wonder. Why oh why I don't get 505 likes like the others? Do I still have friends? Here are some examples. "Maybe no one cares about what dafuq I'm posting here. No one! I just shared you guys details why I call my ex schizophrenicloolyfuckedupbipolarnutcasedumb ass! Beware he's just out there lurking in the shadows, maybe munching his dumbstoopidnarcissistic beef jerky! Or didn't you see how funny my dog was when he assaulted the bear in the backyard with the pick-axe? But then I thought you wanted some deep political thoughts. So I did call out Trump's foul one-liners and stuff. You need Dawn Ultra SuperMaxPremiumPlus for your mouth, Donald! And Hillary, too. You are a centrist boogie lady. You will sell our souls to ETs in Wyoming! But still, I just got 5 likes, sometimes 4 or if I get lucky I get 12 for my gluten free dinakdakan dish post."
         Oh well. Seriously. Why would it matter? Right? I am old-school writer because I am old. We writers write and then it's out there. Sometimes our story and byline ended on front page, sometimes on page 32 on pitiful 6 points font, the 745-word article mangled to 85 words. Only mom read my news report. Dad didn't even bother to pick the paper up! No problem. Better luck next deadline. Do you know how many books are there at Malaprop's? Named authors and classics and bestsellers--and then I get at least one or two sales of my book each month! I just outsold Stephen King!!!
         Many times, I ask when people click and like do they really read or do they really LIKE what they read or saw? I am more into having people read me, talk to me, engage me, ask me, share me some--just like a sweet conversation in a cafe or Greyhound station before a trip or while waiting for your delayed flight at JFK Airport. Or some funny joke. I don't mind politically-incorrect stuff. Redneck jokes. Blonde jokes. Pinoy jokes. But then you must know what is overboard or insensitive and you know, not all people on Facebook are our baristas and bartenders and favorite dude in the `hood. But talks with substance makes Facebooking worthy, right? Doesn't have to be so-called intelligent or smart. Just some talk with sense. Google stuff. If words like nincompoops sound like donut flavor or a bad word, not sure? Who the hell is Taylor Swift? Google. Or you don't have to like or you can like as well, dig? Those are your fingers, not mine.
         All that I am saying is, likes or no likes--you are still my friend. And I won't unfriend you just because you did not "like" me. Notice I put quote marks on like--because even though you didn't "like" me I know you like me. I am that kind of narcissistic. Uh huh. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ALL about writing, activism, and where do we go from here

I AM a writer. And writers write based on their personal experiences and those that they encounter. Novelists and film writers, for example, most often write composites of people to "accentuate" message or they break down a specific reference subject's persona to several characters to augment conflict or structure. 

          On Facebook, we straddle that imaginary line between "personal drama" and objective "opinionating," literary outburst and harmless quip, straight news or info sharing and stupid trolling. Hence, social media becomes a crisscrossing interplay of a literary device, subjective/private rumination and random banter. I get in and out of such door, as you do. Like, I may write a strongly-worded rant about failed relationships but it could be my own failed valentine. I could write a beautiful love poem but maybe I write it for a beloved cat or someone else's need or bliss that I read on my Homepage. Many times I write about my views and takes on parenting and family, but it could be a pooled observation of 15 families plus mine.

          So if anyone sees themselves in what I write and feel good about it, I feel good as well. Thank you. That is one of the major pleasures or objectives of a writer. Pursuit of mutual fulfillment (in writing/reading), albeit a moment's sweet shudder. Many times though, some people see themselves in those words or prose and feel somehow offended. I apologize--although my past mentors (as a writing student many years ago) always reminded me never to justify or rationalize my work. I am sorry, anyhow. My work isn't meant to hit at any individual person unless I mention a specific name. Or my rants and ramblings aren't meant to glorify a person unless I mention Mother Teresa etc. All the love poems that I wrote could be written for someone I love/d or someone that was loved by someone else, or those words were inspired/motivated by something that I read or saw--and I said above, it could be about a pet animal. But a writer is not writing for just one person or 15 or 500. He is writing for 5,000 Facebook friends and 5 or 50 million out there in internet universe, or anyone of the 7 million walking on the street and may enter a bookstore and see my book and buy it. I don't believe a writer targets one specific individual as his/her audience, although it may seem that way in some instances.
          Meantime, a writer writes to breathe life in and out--in the form of love and joy. It may not sound like that for some, but I believe writers write to heal their wounds as well as humanity's pain, infect an optimistic vibe to the universe, or just simply try to contribute to a day's pursuit of happiness.

I REMEMBER the days. During my most virulent political activism. Me and my bandmates didn't even talk about politics that much unless it is a funny conjecture. Except me perhaps, my band friends were basically apolitical or Born Again. In between practice, we talked and shared corny jokes. Lots of laughter. I wrote all the words in all our songs and most hint political undertones--some even ideological. Yet we never argued about those songs--they all came out good, I am sure. I never had a problem with people or friends who got different or even clashing political and religious (or non-religious) beliefs. 
          But I have a huge problem with people who dismiss those who disagree with them as dumb or idiots. Political discussion is good--I grew up listening to them and I spent my college years bantering political theory and politics of the day. I learned a lot in group soirees and weekly workshops. What changed through the years? It isn't the subject/s of discussion. It's all the same--new characters. What changed is how people discuss these days. It lacks respect and understanding of the other opinion. We don't have to accept a thinking other than ours. We just have to realize that truth isn't an absolute shape based on our own personal design. It is molded as per individual reality and choice. A very basic human right.

COME TOGETHER. As editor of Filipino/Asian-American newspapers in New York City and San Francisco, I was asked in a TV show in Los Angeles why is it the Filipino community seems fragmented or divided. Tough one. I only had a few minutes to respond to an obviously huge subject that requires a panel discussion so I simply cited a fact that exists as traditional truth among my people in America.

          First, the Philippines is an archipelago of 7,641 islands—inhabited by a people with multi-ethnic backgrounds (apart from Chinese, Spanish and American lineage) with dozens of languages and dialects. In the US or in other countries where we move and work, Filipinos gather as per provincial/regional roots. Ilocanos and others from the north, Visayans from the south etc etcetera. So it is logical that they form get-togethers like Ilocano Association of New Jersey or Cebuano Association of New Orleans. Sadly though when some disagreements surface in those groupings, they create splinter groups like La Union Ilocano Association of or Cebuano Protestants Association of. Do the math. So instead of coming out as one to, for example, support Congress lobbying in regards a law that benefits the community as a collective whole, nothing is actually resolved beyond committee hearings. Bloat that equation to national (American society) level. Humanity hasn't been fragmented and divided as today's schism or polarity is. It is not just a traditional political party philosophy that unites a certain sector of American society—although all of us confront the same socioeconomic ills or realities out there. The current election accentuates such a blurring of lines. Donald Trump apparently shakes the Republican hierarchy and the primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders screamed out the fact that the Democratic Party supporters are two intensely warring groups.
          But let me leave politics for a bit—and zoom in on society at large, beyond politics. Obviously we are not just divided by our party allegiances or religious/non-religious leanings--but even on daily-life preferences. Food choices. Sexual orientation. Man/woman politics. Political correctness. The correctness of language. Fashion sense. Religious and “new-religious.” There are also old hippies and neo hippies and new ager hippies. Yuppies and yippies. Freegans and Vegans. Etc etcetera. There are so many ways to say no than to say yes—to hang out and discuss stuff and things. More reasons to dislike people than reasons to like them. Meantime, Social Media easily and conveniently exhibit our pieces of mind in here and in here, we are sweepingly judged as this and that—so a few hours of meeting a person is simply a device to validate or confim what we suspect about a certain individual. We got us all figured out via Facebook. When long time ago people take time to know people. We don't create and build and sustain friendships in one day of chats or one-week of dancing in a drum circle or prayer rally.

          The question is—where do we go from here? No, we are not going anywhere. We just have to hope that we will overcome the cracks and then come together again. Like, when I say—I can cook Paella for anyone? That'd mean, seafood or meat/seashells or organic vegetables or gluten free or whatever you want. I can compromise and we can negotiate. And when I say, I'd like to meet you in person after I wrote you a poem—but that don't mean I'd like to have a girlfriend tomorrow. I just want to share some corny jokes and hey I can perhaps help you write your memoir.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TALKIN' and TALKIN' and TALKIN'. Millionaires and Celebs. Racist Gestures and Racist Slurs. Social Media's inyourface tact, and whoever and whatever

Millionaires and Celebs
MANY Times I think what if 25 percent of the world's millionaire sports stars and Hollywood elite donate a "mere" $10,000 each a month from their bloated bank account for hungry people in Africa, breast cancer (treatment) research, refugee rehab, housing for the elderly etc etcetera. It'd be so cool, isn't it? Yet many are so tied up with their lucrative contracts and product endorsements to even care. They sell shoes and burgers and stuff. Busy so busy life. Some even choose to embrace another country's color and flag, in sports competitions, in exchange for money.

          I am not saying though that these millionaire celebrities are bad. They are as human as you and me. Comfort from wealth is what most or all of us desire. But it also doesn't mean that there are no superstars who have "forgotten." Probably while perched up in their penthouse playing their X Arcade Machine PS3 or chillin' by the bay on their yacht sipping bottles of Vieille Bon Secours on the off-season or shooting breaks, they also read the news about those who don't have enough--or news about poor people in their old `hood. And they are saddened by what's going on. They'd like to say something about it--yet their publicists and agents say nope. Whatever comes out of their mouth must be filtered and reviewed--as per contract stipulations. Hence it is much better to just shut their mouth and just do the usual photo-ops while they hand a check to charity in front of ESPN or Fox.

          Yet some are not contended by those sweet gestures. They still want to talk. Because like you and me, they have something to say about what's going on. So they spoke--while knowing that a political backlash of their statements may ensue, media firestorm may be instigated, and their contracts adversely affected. So they spoke. And in so doing, they lost their money and subsequently pushed to the wall and into the darkness of oblivion. Yet they spoke just like you and me--while their millionaire colleagues go on selling shoes that only the moneyed could buy, as they dance with klieglights and handycams, and toast Dom Perignons with powerful politicos and corporate moguls. These crazy people, once millionaires and rock stars, are now forgotten as new kids in town hug the limelight and inhabit Times Square's marquee. But then let us ask ourselves this. Did we read the wisdom behind the message more than we were so consumed by the messenger's lunacy?

Racist Gestures, Racist Slurs
MANY racist gestures or racial slurs come out innocently or spewed out on random. Not premeditated or intended. But it doesn't mean we'd tolerate it. Most that we can do is let that person know that those words shouldn't have been said. I may be taking things lightly as a person, or I shrug it off--but I am very touchy when other people/ethnicity/diversity is maligned or "corrected" by others who feel theirs is the correct one. Those who know me as publisher/editor and concert producer/organizer, and just a mere pasckie--know how intense I could be when it comes to how we treat each other's diversity. In the tiny papers that I edited, I had columnists from different spectrum of faith or ideology--from a Communist based in Italy to a Wiccan high priestess in Asheville, from a devout Catholic social worker to an Atheist musician etc etcetera. 
         Same goes with Traveling Bonfires shows. People judge them whatever--but I produced events for Christians and Muslims, Pagans and Buddhists, rightists and leftists, punk rockers and classical pianists. We can co-exist. We just have to be sensitive and respectful and accepting that others' truths are theirs, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are wrong or incorrect just because they are not us.

          I am always asked, online offline, if I experience racism. I think it's a stupid question although I appreciate the concern. Of course, I do. But mostly subtle almost innocent (ignorant?) racism. That's how the world rhumbas and jigs, you know. It's okay. Many times just my mere accent moves someone to give me a kindergarten lesson on English, definition of English words, elaboration of English terms, and how these words are pronounced. 
         Place: Las Vegas Strip. While seated in a casino bar, trying to order wine. A blonde lady with bling-blings the size of an egg yolk on a skillet goes, "Chardonnay is wine, it is a kind of wine." "Chardonnay, do you have enough money for that?" "Chardonnay. You may want to have beer. It's only $7." "Chardonnay. Shaärdəˈnā. Nay." So I just said meekly like a behaved sharpei, "But I was asking for Dom Perignon. Just washing away a heavy dinner of Monk Fish Pate `Ankimo' with Caviar. It's pronounced An-kee-moh. I had it at Nobu. Noh-boo. Damn, I just lost 5 grand on blackjack." Racism? That's how I deal with it. Lightly. Smart-ass but still lightly.

Social Media's inyourface tact
I OBSERVE that some of people's frustrations and complaints these days--these days of social media's inyourface nakedness (sharing each and everyone details of nasty breakups and what they had for dinner afterwards)--is we demand our governments to reveal everything that we so desire to know that's in their mind or white boards. Of course. But that is not realistic or even common sense reflex (sic). No government on this earth will tell us what agenda they just tackled in their Oval Office or Malacanang Palace study. 
          That's just the way how the world spins, you know. That is why there is media and journalism. It's their professional calling to share info within and around their sworn duties and responsibilities—as per lawful/ethical parameters. That is why there are press conferences and press releases. Read `em, ponder `em—then follow through. Find out more. Research. Then write. I got a lot of feeds from White Press press office and other media liaisons from a number of government entities, as well as those from non-governmental groups. I read them and ponder over them. It's natural for me to think things over.

          Societies are bound by law/s whether we like it or not. Hacking. Breach. Contempt. Libel. Treason. Etc etcetera. If we suspect that the government itself is guilty of such unlawful shenanigans? Then we work things out to help correct those or amend ills of governance--again, within and around sworn duties and responsibilities. If we delve beyond those bounderies—that'd be the time our passion for change, no matter how sublime that'd be, is cut or delayed or trashed. We get arrested, demobilized, paralyzed, delayed. Because we did it unlawfully.
          Simplified. Do our parents share us 101 percent of what they talk about in their bedroom? I don't think so. We give them the benefit of the doubt and then we wait. Otherwise, if we don't believe in them at all--the logic is, we'd be out of the house pronto. Conversely, those who lose trust and belief in their government--leave their country. 
          But we know we can't fly all the way to Planet Whatever--and even if we can, we will still be under some kinda governance or system of leadership/adherence. So what I'm saying is, chill. Don't just believe in what you just got on your inbox or Facebook page or whatever your choir just howled--just because these cater to your personal fire. Find out. Explore. Navigate. (Re)discover. And then we do the "change" gig.

          The “change” gig. Protest but protest via proper channels so you'd be heard—and do it consistently, multipronged. Lobby—in your City Council, county community centers, Congress, summits etc. Advocate—multi media, concerts, public forum. Or launch a revolution—which I don't suggest. Now, if you feel can't do any of these in an orchestrated, consistent manner—because you got kids to feed, work to attend to, cats and dogs to care for, a boy/girlfriend who may break up with you, you may miss an episode of “Game of Thrones,” you are allergic to sunlight etc etcetera? Then just enjoy funny stuff on Facebook—like cat videos, relationship jokes, and silly love songs. Or shut up.

More Rants on Racism
RACISM and Stereotyping/Profiling—or the subtlety and blatantness of our collective guilt. I always write about this. Do I get discriminated upon due to my skin color? Or do I get stereotyped a lot? Of course, I do. You too, I guess. I always say that I get ruffled or angered not by choice of words pointed my way or a nature of a joke shared me. I get hurt by how I am treated, in general—irrelevant a word was said or not. It's how we treat people and not how we “call” them that are offensive. 
         It's how we feel or think about a certain person (or culture) that matters in a basic crowd dynamics or person to person interaction. Just a certain look of the eye could be racist, or by simply ignoring someone because of an accent as accentuated by his/her skin color could be subtle racism. 
       I get those a lot. 
       When I talk and it so happened that my accent gets in the way, I get looks that almost say, “Shut up! Learn English. You are in America.” Believe me, even nice gestures like, “I can clean your barn...” or “Want me to cook you dinner?” would be misconstrued like I need a job or I may not have food for dinner or uhh, am I hitting on you? I just want to be nice, you know. Sorry. Or, if I seem to exude some assholeness (I got attitude, I'm warning you), immediately I get this. “Is that how Filipino (or Asian) men treat women?” One of the most classic ignorant retort that I ever heard.

          We should teach humanity how to be human first before we teach them how to speak a particular language, master it, and then be "human" next. You see, and believe it or not, I get more racial slurs from or gets profiled a lot by supposedly educated people from big cities than small-town folks or what we call “rednecks.” Why? I don't know. Maybe they imbue the good old American values (that I could easily connect with) more than the politically-correct “I know shit! Don't mansplain that to me!” arrogance of today's life. Now, that'd be a huge discussion, right? I guess, some of you will box me again as a rightwinger dumbass. Narcissist, self-righteous, misogynistic jerk. 
       Good, I wasn't stereotyped as White Anglo Saxon Conservative Moron (as how The Enlightened consign Caucasian GOPs), uh huh. Because my skin is nowhere white. It is as brown as volcanic mud earthy. BTW, I am not Republican or gadDem. Not rightist or Leftist, either. I am Pasckie. And I am Straight as a Curveball.

Whoever. Whatever
WHATEVER political/ideological or political partyline some may think I lean on, it doesn't bother me much. No big deal. I can rock with you. Those who know me longer are aware of what side of the fence I tend to gravitate to--which is the Left side of the ballroom. Yet I currently live with Republicans and have fun with their Republican friends and family for many years now. My second family. My own family is kind of divided--left of center to moderate right. Yet we party as one. I know who they voted without asking them. I don't have any difficulty discussing stuff with Republican Right or Democrats, liberals or radicals. I worked with all these people, actual work with concrete results, for years. Years before Steven Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg gave us these awesome toys.

          For me, whether you are Right or Left, Catholic or Pagan, Baptist or Atheist--you got something good to say and share on the table that would benefit a diverse world other than you. But if one declares I am this and you are that and so you are a moron just like your leader! on the get go--then there will be no room for compromise and negotiation. You see, if you march only with your Right or with your Left like a zealot or fanatic--you will trip eventually.