Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Facebooking a Book of Faces

A FRIEND asked me. What is ethical or better--to unfriend someone or simply wait for the person to unfriend him/herself (by quietly leaving your list). For me, unfriending someone is pretty much kicking that individual out of your house. Harsh. Seldom I do that since mere presence in my house means I allowed it. But there are times when the person starts to annoy you like a cockroach, so you offer reminders to behave as per your "rules" since it's your house, your unit. (Facebook owns the building.) So if both of you mutually start to irk each other, then I unfriend. But usually I just let the person take the initiative to unfriend themselves quietly. It's a simple case of, if I visit a house or bar and I don't like what's in there or what the host is mumbling about, I just scoot out pronto. No harm no foul. Done.

          I do believe that an essentially accessible platform/venue like Social Media or Facebook, newspapers and TV and radio--are meant to gather people together to engage and dialogue for mutual good in pursuit of a realizable harmony in this world and to promote good and beautiful things (not the opposite). NOT to project dominance over the other or to widen the cracks that divide us. So I freely invite people who seem to be different from me. Talk. Speak. The road to mutual cool is never easy. We will argue and fight but we may agree later. That's my philosophy. But there are also instances when tolerance takes so much energy and time out of you. Time and energy that should have been used or consumed with those who are willing to compromise and negotiate. So unfriend. That's pretty much how I deal with my life, outside of the internet.

FACEBOOK and the (our) Wall that we need to climb and later turn into a bridge. Or why we can't get along? I TREAT my Facebook Wall as my house--that dabbles as my stage, living room, playground, magazine, porch, and frontyard. And although I share pics of my tiny bedroom, I don't share intimate details of my personal life other than I am Single and Heterosexual. Of course, I openly write that I am born Catholic, believes in God but not religious, Ananda Marga initiate, embraced Cherokee Nation, trained by a Buddhist ascetic, activist on the Left field. And I dated a Wiccan High Priestess and Born-again Christian and a Communist hardcore etc. Those are already TMI to some, right? I don't mind you knowing it--but no I am not going to tell y'all that one or two of those aftermidnight poems were written for her or her and not her, LOL! "Own" the poem and share it with your sweetheart, for what it's worth--that's the purpose of my poems.
          I share family stuff and things that I feel inspire universal good but not the dirty laundry (which is a normal in all of us, right?) although our share of "dirty laundry" aren't really that dramatic comparatively although I am sure dirty laundry in some of my siblings' house are piling up, literally (especially in Alma's). Uh huh, but not in mine or in my bro Alberto's because we are both OCDs (I am talking about the literal, okay?)
          But this is fun, you know. Fun! My Facebook is me. Serious-acerbic-condescending-highly opinionated. I straddle the middle so much so that I confuse people which side of the fence I am with or in. You gotta spend time with me to know--because the truth is, I adjust my elastic girth as per the world/life's changes although you can never force me to eat lots of breaded food or tolerate nasty kitchen sinks piled up with unwashed plates and yes, no unmade beds! I am a freakin' bedroom boy with a bedroom voice (again, the literal kind, yup).

          Cooking, playing with Georgia (she's a Belgian Malinois babedawg) and Cyd The Koolcat, gardening, poetry, my children and family which are REALLY corny-funny and weird-funny, my insane affinity with the Bee Gees, ramen noodles, old stuff, hyper corny love songs (except Celine Dion's). I love these things. Engage me with talk about anything! Objectivist epistemology, Camus existentialism, how Verlaine trained and toyed with Rimbaud, history of cinema, Mexican-American War, Hemingway's life as an ambulance driver, Lorca's Nueva York poems, Chinese Disco and Compact Disc, South China Sea, Treaty of Paris of 1898, Brexit, the Koch Brothers, the business of basketball and soccer, China's open door policy pre-Tiananmen Revolt and post-WTO, globalization and low intensity conflict--I will not back down. But I can also share redneck jokes and blonde jokes and Erap jokes and Pinoy brown jokes--as long as you don't go shattering my joke gig with some politically-correct yarn. I am not politically-correct UC Berkeley dude, dig? I can also talk about the Kardashians pre-Jenner amid-Robert, how many songs Taylor Swift devoted to her ex'es which you bought, and why I'd love to lecture about Paul Simon's catalogue and why Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" is his best poetry and why Hillary's centrist/polarizing fire fits America's global order designs, given the times.

          I can talk about Hagood The Snake and the new garden interpolator Mickey The Bug, or why Russia's Vlad Putin is a misunderstood dude that the Western media love to hate, or why we have to look at immigration beyond Mexicans crossing the border and refugees from Syria, and why kids do love my presence more than their mom (oh yeah!) There's a lot of things to talk about other than pissing people off with black and white and red and yellow mixed martial arts.
          My basic thought about a human being's possible motive about me does not hinge on whether he'd poison my already poisoned mind or he/she'll spike my pho with moonshine or Mercury Gatorade--but maybe you will enjoy my new lawyer jokes and you may love my super-awesome Mung Beans Supersoup PremiumPlus+. I want to rock with your light and not emo with your dark, feelin' me now?
          Meantime, yes this is my Wall. If you're getting sick and tired of/with my ruminations and rants, go somewhere else where there is free-trade coffee served via gentrification's blood, or in a locally-grown dive that serves tea from China. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ruminations and Rants. Aftermidnight Rain and Last Words for the Night

[WRITTEN months ago]
I AWOKE about an hour or so ago, after about only two or three hours afternoon sleep (or nap). I didn't sleep at all last night. These "things" bother me. I never gotten off this instinctive shudder in me. As a child, as an adult. When I was an active journalist back home, sleep wouldn't visit me no matter how exhausted I was after coverage of a huge typhoon devastation and/or countryside strife. There were many. Deaths, destruction--that I was a witness myself. Far from home and in the "comfort" of The Batcave, these killings in the past years hurtled in and out of my laptop, seemingly distant. But it's not. It feels I was just there--hearing the wails of agony, smelling the fresh stench of blood, feeling the broken texture of the shattered ground right on my flesh. I could almost feel gaping wounds and touch broken skin.

          All morning, I walked to my little plants with my attentive superhomeys (Georgia The Babedawg and Cyd The Koolcat). Cleaned the house, did laundry, poked around, listened to soft music with no words. I couldn't even write a poem. Usually it takes me days after the fact before I can console myself with a poem or two or a song. The rain is pouring again in the mountain as I write. The sky mourns. And thunder growls.
          Few years ago, I strode into a tiny hut in Tahlequah (Oklahoma) to visit a Cherokee shaman, no words. He placed his wrinkled hands on my head and whispered, "My son, you are running between the rain. You are. Continue helping to calm the storm down. Go run between the rain as you always do. Only in allowing yourself to get soaked and drenched would you undertand the storm and know how to pacify it within and without." And he named me A-ga-na or Rain. Runs Between The Rain.

          Almost the same words as my Igorot friend (back home), Hindu dada and Buddhist monk teacher. The rain. I traveled far and pursued the same mission. Calm the storm down as I battled my own tempest within. Running between the rain. I wrote about people, organized communities for peace and connected-ness. But I am tired. I don't think the "spirit of the rain" in me is still running. Not anymore. Just seated and pondering. Yet I still feel my spirit is running, untiringly running--especially when carnage of this magnitude happens. Running to finally come home--as we all run to come home, within. Only within where the warmth of home resides. Peace is always within, if only we can feel it more than we see or hear it.
I WANNA say I want to laugh or shrug things off. All the grief and anger in the world. Need I be this dramatic? My family are all safe and peaceful. Yet many in this world are hurting so bad. I was a "protected" child and then I heard tempest on the radio in late 1960s and saw poorer kids frolicking in the mud then dining on one tiny can of sardines, a family of five--their tin can shanty of a house pummeled by typhoons months each year. Then their dad got shot because he complained a lot about his job. Made me not finish my dinner. Made me angry why mom and dad were fighting over stuff. Sleepless nights, cold nights even though the moon sweats. Poetry consoled me. I ran to the barrio for refuge. I became a journalist at 14. I never changed wherever I went. My poetry and words and art kept that anger at bay. And let joy gain into me like a dancing bonfire amidst a storm. Yet I still feel for the dead, wasted just like that. Still, it makes me angry.

          But anger consumes the remaining light of hope in us. Anger doesn't calm anger down, it fuels it. I just have to write through the night. Let anger go. And then smile in the morning as tall green trees outside the glass window facing my bed greet me with the blessings of life. Life is so precious and beautiful so why do we waste it?
A SUB-SEQUENCE in the finale episode of "Silicon Valley" made me laugh so hard. It was essentially about how Filipinos could easily get interested and laugh at stuff and things, no matter how weird the stimuli are. Yes, Filipinos are a fascinating people. In the 1990s coup d'etats, kids would run after shells spat out by bazookas and submachineguns while armed hostilities ensued, collecting them. During typhoons, people turned flooded areas into impromptu swimming pools, kids surf on them. They could laugh on an instant, cry the next--then they laugh at their own tears afterwards. Should I say, we. I am proud of that kind of fatalistic frolic, a light attitude that simply takes things as they are--and then subverts that dark vibe into a sweep of comedic submission. It's not like we don't mourn the dead or dying, we do. When a neighbor dies, expect a huge convoy of people sending the dead to its resting place, weeping--yet before that, during days of the wake, you'd hear people exchanging jokes, laughing. And eating, of course.
No wonder the Philippines is the one of the happiest countries in the world. Months of rains and typhoons, homes shattered, people dead--yet Christmas is celebrated the longest in the world (don't ask me how long) and practically all summer months are fiesta time. Laughter, food, family, friends, community, games. Don't we get angry, don't we fight? Of course, we do. Yet after the fight, just usher a box of cerveza and "pulutan" (finger foods) on the table, then we are all cool. Friends again. Next question, "Do you have a joke?" That ensuing series of jokes will only come into an abrupt halt when Kumander (wife) calls out, "Hey, husband, time to go home and wash the dishes!" Uh huh. So you may ask, how do I survive the loneliness of being oceans away from my family and people? I laugh. I even laugh alone.

PEACE and CALM. Anger and hatred will always be part/s of our being. These human emotions will always be part of mine. Many reasons anger us, many things drive us to hatred. It is a continuing struggle of existence. To be good amidst the universe's evil. But we can try to avoid being angry, or angry beyond control. Pet animals and plants offer us some respite, refuge, shelter--to ruminate life and explore love within. And calm the tempest down. They don't speak or even if they could, they'd be speaking a different language. Yet they can freely and loudly communicate words that many of us fail to hear or recognize. The ability to feel it.

          Let me share a quote from a book that I used to read to my kids when they were little, written in 1943 by a French poet and aviator, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, "Le Petit Prince" or "The Little Prince." French: "Il est tres simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." English: "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Animals and plants say these words, without speaking them. Loud and clear.