Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I, myself, dropped by at the Glorietta the day PGMA arrived there. Forced by the relentless rain to the take the FX taxi bound to Landmark, I found the Glorietta mall virtually empty. The usually jampacked restaurants had only a few diners here and there. People are still obviously scared over what happened and cannot be fooled by assurances that everything is fine and dandy again. Around this time, teeming with eager early Christmas shoppers, the Glorietta shopping mall complex is almost always filled to the brim. But now, the place is unusually cold and desolate-looking. It still has a pungent smell which is perhaps caused by the unexpexted blast. Things will never be the same again. Business will never be the same as usual. No matter the amount of cajoling from government officials, including the president, I will never ever forget what took place on that unfortunate Friday afternoon. The lapse of security measures means that Glorietta can be targeted again and again. Although it is highly unlikely that it will be a target again anytime soon as the principle of "lightning not striking the same area twice" generally applies, still it is "better to be safe than sorry."
Let me start off by saying that I love the Harry Potter (HP) series. My friend Les was adamant I read the book way back in college. She generously lent me the first three HP books and midway through the third book of the series, I was definitely hooked. I was practically begging for her to give the fourth book as soon as I finished the third one. Curiously, the HP books had the same effect on my non-reading sister. I nonchalantly advised her to read the first book saying she might enjoy reading it despite her engineering background. Soon, she got addicted just like me and even bought her own copies of the book just so she could read and re-read it again.
I often say that my favorite book in the series is the second one. I find the second one the funniest and most charming of all. Harry, at this stage, is still a fresh and hopeful young 14-year old boy still in love and at awe with his new environment. As the series continues, Harry grows up, becomes accustomed to his wizarding world and shows his darker mature side. As most book critics would say the entire series is a "bildungsroman" of the main character, Harry Potter. As such, the first book, which serves an introduction to the entire seven-book series, is the shortest book of all. I daresay the best-written book in the series is the third one as it provides the best mystery of all. All of the seven books is basically a whodunnit mystery novel with a heightening climax from chapter to chapter. The HP books are simply "unput-downable" and you will end up staying awake all night as you rush to know how it will end. Highly controversial from the beginning because of its sorcery and witchcraft theme, the HP series breaks all of the record for the most number of book sold at the fastest possible time. We should all thank the book's author, JK Rowling, for making reading such a cool thing for children and even adults to do again. Children the world over would line-up the bookstores every time a new book in the series is up again. Personally, I find the series amazing because it is craftily written for the enjoyment of children and adults alike, and everything about the plot is highly original and creative. JK Rowling transports us to a new world, both childlike and magical, which is something beyond our imagination. She brings to life new characters and gives a new twist and look to ordinary things we take for granted. I for one believe that the HP series will the stand the test of time and will be adjudged as one of best books or series in the years to come. In fact, when my own daughter, nicknamed JK, (her name stands for those initials, plus I am such an incorrigible fan) starts reading, we will read together the entire HP series.
The last and highly anticipated book of the series came out in the mid quarter of this year. It was a bittersweet moment for most fans. They wanted and longed for the book's ending and yet they were reluctant to let it go. JK Rowling was clear from the beginning that she will end the series at Book 7 and yet I for one simply wanted her to go on. I wanted her to write about Harry Potter from his babyhood upto his dying day. Heck, if she could write about Harry for eternity, I would still be interested to read it one book at a time. I was lucky enough to get a bootlegged soft copy of the last book before it officially hit the bookstores. As such, I was able to read the book before fellow book addicts got their legitimate hard-bound pricey copies.
More recently, the last book, HP7, again gained headline news as JK Rowling surprisingly outed the reverent and almost godly figure of Albus Dumblebore in her book signing trip to New York. Answering an inquiry from a child fan on whether Dumbledore will ever find true love, JK Rowling simply said, "Dumbledore is gay." This answer elicited gasps and applause from a stupefied audience. I don't know what to make out of this recent relevation. It just reminds me of the time it was rumored that my fave Sesame muppets of all time, Ernie and Bert, are actually gay lovers. It was said that the producers of the show were prepared to sacrifice one character by letting it die on national tv as a result of the sexually transmitted HIV virus. (WTF!) Accordingly, they wanted to promote sexual education and gay rights to the conciousness of young children. While being politically correct, all I could think of at that point was, why can't they just keep my childhood favorite character innocent and childlike. So when I heard about this recent outing of Dumbledore, all I could think of is why can't she just let me keep this all-knowing and all-powerful godly image of this well-loved character.
Firstly, unlike others who doubted or sensed that Dumbledore's character might be gay because of his apparent lack of love interest in the series, I never once thought of Dumbledore as gay. My idea of him resembles that of St. Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II and most priests in general. Just because they lack an obvious lady love doesn't mean they are gay. That is not to say that all priests aren't gay because sadly, controversies have erupted over sexual indiscretions of Catholic gay priests. I thought of Dumbledore in this highest regard, his apparent lack of love interest was justfied in my mind by his Socratic love of wisdom and truth. Naturally, he wouldn't have time to think about human love as he was thoroughly engaged in his quiet and passionate love of wisdom and universal ideals. So all the while this noble version of Dumblebore was apparently incorrect. Maybe he is the same wise and venerable character I loved but his uncharacteristic lack of a romantic lady love was not all due to his scholarly quest for wisdom, but simply because of his sexual orientation.
I love JK Rowling and the HP series just the same. All literary works stands to be constructed, deconsructed and reconstructed to the author's and reader's content. In fact, in literary criticism, it is a rule of the thumb that the author must never interpret his own work, otherwise, he/she will unwittingly limit the reading of the work in one voice or light only. I am sure JK Rowling chose to stay quiet about Dumbledore's real idendity for a good reason. Revealing him as an openly gay character might attract unneccesary attention to the book and offend the sensibilities of her young audience. Although I know Dumbledore's sexual preference should not affect his noble status in the book, I still can't bring myself to reconcile this perfect scholar idea I had of Dumbledore to the outed "real" Dumbledore. It's almost the same as discovering for the first time that Sir Ian McKellen, who resembles Dumbledore's character in appearance and personality and plays Gandalf, the noble wizard role in another literary gem, Lord Of the Rings series, is actually gay in real life. I just dont get it.
I am not homophobic. I am consciously respectful of other people's ethnic, racial, and sexual differences. (I even have a lesbian friend.) I almost always practice political, religious and gender neutrality. It's just that when you suddenly find out somebody you thought of as the epitome of manhood and saintliness is gay, of course, my normal reaction is that of shock and fear even. Perhaps its the same as the people in the olden times suddenly finding out that the world is round and not flat as previously believed. They set their ship to sail forever fearful of falling off the edges only to find out that they won't fall at all. So your whole world and outlook suddenly turns upside down, inside out. You experience a sense vertigo as you no longer know which is which. I guess the world is really like that, its not a simple matter of seeing white as white and black as black. We live in a gray gay world indeed.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Everytime confronted by a unexpected tragedy flat on the face, I am always reminded of how fleeting life truly is. You can never really know when your "end" will be. You can just be strolling by the mall idly passing away your time and for all you know it would be the last minutes of your life. Such is what happened to the victims of the G2 bombing incident. Sadly, the metropolis is no longer a safe place to live in. The bombing incidents that happened in the last five years or so could have easily taken away my life just like that. I would have been robbed of my life, of my youth and of every potentiality I could ever become with hardly a blink of an eye. I must always remember this---to savor every breath I take, to enjoy every moment I make and to live my life the fullest possible way I can.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
"Happiness is a warm puppy."
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I just miss this woman. Her name is Ana Cielo, the latter name means heaven in Spanish. She used to be a close college friend and we even maintained our bond beyond the shallow confines of school to include working life, until one day she decided to become a nun. It wasn't a sudden, smack-me-in-face revelation for I always knew all along that she would take the plunge, it was just a question of "when." So when she did tell me about it I wasn't exactly shell-shocked by her decision but I wasn't particularly happy about it as well. It's not the same as your friend telling you that she's about to get married, you know for a fact that the change of status would entail lessened quality time together as friends, but for Cielo, her change of status would mean no time at all to share with her friends, family and other loved ones. She has to devote her entire time to her vocation. That is why even her immediate family, who very well knew that she would become one day a nun for she unflinchingly revealed her calling even in her younger years, was not totally accepting of her decision. But in the end, they, just like her friends had to relent as we all knew that this would be the only thing that would ever make her truly happy.
I write this note to let her know that I miss her so much. To say that she got me through the end of my college years is an underestimation. She did that and more. She was the one who inspired me study harder, as I was always determined to get a better grade than she did. She was always my gauge, if my test scores belonged in the median of hers (for she always topped the class), I would be perfectly happy and contented with myself. I was striving to get the better of her and was constanly upset if she received a point higher than mine, a fact I never verbalized though until now. She graduated cum Laude, the only person to do so in our class. However, not everybody knows the fact that she had no idea of her grade point average during her first and second years in college, as it never reached their house in a rural sea village in Batangas. She is a born genius, I would love to say. She is the youngest of four siblings, a product of a late and unexpected pregnancy by her aging mother. So they say, a menopausal baby would either turn out as a genius or "downie." Luckily, Cielo turned out to be the former, as she topped every class, every exam that came along her school days. She even managed to get a flat one in our Physical Examination (PE) classes for Pete's sake. She just topped them all, I guess.
But this not the most amazing thing about her. The world is quite teeming with all sorts of geniuses in variegated fields, both specific and general, both profound and banal, but she is quite extraordinary. She is a personification, a material presence and being of goodness. She has the brains but more importantly, she posseses the heart that makes her stand out as a human being. She also happens to my friend and I am so lucky. Whenever I think about the values of Christian ethics and standards, firsly I am reminded of JPII, the Pope of our century and my lifetime, secondly of Mother Teresa, the great nun of Calcutta, and thirdly of Cielo, my old friend and college buddy. I may not know those two reverred icons personally, but knowing her is enough to attest that truly, good people still exists in this planet. The quality that makes her goodness quite unique is that she extends this not only to a chosen few, which most of us are guilty of, but she gives it generously away to almost everybody and anybody who seeks her help. She offers goodness before you ask for it. I remember this one time that she offered free tutorial services to some of our classmates who experienced difficulty in one subject even if it meant inconvenience on her part. She actually had to stay in the class and spend time with people who are not particularly friendly to her just to simply "help" them. She did not crave for fame and had no political aspirations in our class but she helped them just the same out of the plain goodness of her heart.