Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Food for thought

Last Sunday, my family dropped by S&R on our way to dinner at Serendra. Walking through the cookies aisle, I spotted boxes of strawberry Dewberry, and the sight suddenly brought a huge grin to my face. I was jolted by the pleasant memory of distributing the same kind of cookies to my students during Christmas. An aisle down, I saw crates of strawberry kiwi Snapple (man, I haven't had a Snapple in ages!) and again smiled at the memory of guzzling bottles of the stuff during my senior year in college.

Walking down those aisles of food products was like walking down memory lane. It's funny, usually music is the most effective associative trigger, but that day I realized that food summons up some pretty strong associations as well. Right off the top of my head, some prime examples:
  • Goldilocks chocolate slice = long car rides home from Manila to Malabon during my Uno years
  • congee with pork floss or Bovril = being sick and confined to bed
  • pistachio ice cream = Sesame Street =D
  • French onion soup = Nancy Drew (in one of her cases, someone slipped a drug into her bowl of soup; I had never heard of French onion soup before reading that book, haha)
  • Guama's kidney soup = Abi (remind me to tell you this story, Abi-- it's like our moms' chestnut thing)
  • maja mais = Home Economics class in Jubilee
  • Hershey's Cookies and Cream Nuggets = my best friend in high school (and it wasn't Raqs yet :p)
  • chicken pastel = cotillion practices for Maricris' debut
  • Quickly pudding drinks = Policy project-making sessions with my Bluniform groupmates
  • oyakudon/katsudon = lunch at Kamirori with the LM girls
  • Ricoa flat tops/Milo bars = cramming for midterms in the Rizal Lib (because chocolate is supposed to boost the memory, and because it seemed to help Pia ace all those Accounting exams)
  • strawberry yogurt (placed in the freezer to make an ice cream substitute) = Beijing bonding with Bel
  • Figaro's iced tea (with an extra glass of ice to make 2 servings, hehe) = hanging out with AP-Annex after ICA hours
  • Pinipig Crunch = 2 Kats and a bitch's ice cream Thursdays :)

Damn, now I'm hungry.

Monday, February 26, 2007

An Oscars overview: and the Ailee goes to...

...Cate Blanchett for Best Dressed Female.

...Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Dressed Male (this oughtta put me in Yang's good graces :p).

...Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith for Best Dressed Family.

...Mark Wahlberg and his unidentified date for Best Dressed Couple.

...Djimon Hounsou for the Samuel L. Jackson Lookalike Award.

...Jack Nicholson for Best Haircut.

...George Clooney for Most Adorable Presenter. Sorry, Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith. Delicious trumps precious.

...Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly for Most Hilarious Presenters AND Best Musical Performance of the show. Favorite part: after Will and Jack called out Leo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling, Will looked for Mark Wahlberg in the audience and went, "I won't mess with you, you're actually kind of badass". :p

...Alan Arkin for Best Steal. =D

...Leo DiCaprio, Will Smith, and Ryan Gosling for the Sportsmanship Award. The three Best Actor also-rans stood up to applaud Forest Whitaker as he went up on stage to accept the Oscar (I didn't see if Peter O'Toole got to his feet, but then again, septuagenarians can be exempted).

...Whitaker's wife Keisha for Most Emotional Proud Spouse.

...Melissa Etheridge for Biggest Suprise Win, stealing Best Original Song from not one, not two, but THREE Dreamgirls songs. And right after Beyonce, J.Hud and Anika Noni Rose belted their lungs out performing said three songs. Ouch. Ellen DeGeneres for Best Gag of the Evening, when she cheekily asked Steven Spielberg to take a photo of her with Clint Eastwood, and even asked for a retake because the sides weren't even.

...Thelma Schoonmaker for Best Acceptance Speech. Thelma who? She was the silver-haired, matronly woman who won the Film Editing Oscar for The Departed. She delivered a very sincere, straightforward speech that included profuse-without-being-gushy thanks to a visibly moved Martin Scorsese.

...Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for Most Memorable Moment. After exchanging funny repartee, the three iconic filmmakers presented the Directing Oscar to their buddy Marty Scorsese. Very fitting indeed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Relating to Rand: a reflective review of The Fountainhead

I wonder if my turning capitalist, or at least my awareness of it, was triggered by Ayn Rand. Recently I finished reading her novel The Fountainhead, a work of fiction used to lay the foundations of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, which she summed up as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute". The "heroic being" in The Fountainhead is architect Howard Roark, whom Rand describes as "the ideal man", a true individual who does not succumb to collective thought. Roark refuses to compromise his artistic vision and creativity, designing buildings that defy concepts of classical architecture and accepted definitions of aesthetic beauty. He creates for his own pleasure and fulfillment, and not to meet others' approval or standards. Many attempt to bring him down, "second-handers" who have no original thoughts in their heads, people who simply recycle ideas of the past and do not create anything new or unique, people who are content with conformity and mediocrity.

Through Roark's character, Rand depicts an egoist (as differentiated from an egoTist) as someone who is free to be himSELF, someone who independently exercises the functions of the self-- thinking, feeling, judging, acting, as opposed to the "selfless" man who sacrifices his self for others. In Rand's view, altruism, being selfless, is actually a bad thing, because pursuing his own happiness is the highest calling of man ("Man's first duty is to himself."). To sacrifice for the better good of society can be "evil" when it is imposed as an obligation and does not come voluntarily. But following the logic that man's own happiness is his ultimate goal, to put others before his happiness violates his nature and cannot be voluntary, and is therefore an imposition-- ergo, evil.

In contrast, the egoist does not sacrifice his self for others, nor does he ask others to sacrifice for him. He "does not exist for any other man-- and he asks no other man to exist for him." This is not to say that the egoist can survive alone; he too needs others, but he does not siphon off them. He will only take what is given by others if it is given voluntarily and for mutual advantage-- meaning, provided he gives something in return.

This is where Rand's philosophy upholds the principles of capitalism. Rand says, "Men must deal with one another as traders, giving value for value, by free, mutual consent to mutual benefit.... Capitalism is a system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights..." Until I read The Fountainhead, I had regarded capitalism as a soulless concept, even bordering on meaningless. The way she presented it, I suddenly saw how it is not only a sound sociopolitical system, but one that allows men to be free and fulfill their purpose in life. I also found myself agreeing with her points about how collectivism destroys a society instead of strengthening it; that the "common good" is not good at all, because it supresses man's ego, with all its personal, selfish motives-- that part of him which should be free to innovate and create, thus driving civilization forward. A society that operates on altruism and intellectual dependence stagnates; a society that operates on egoism and intellectual independence flourishes. This is precisely why Rand chose the title "The Fountainhead", a reference to her contention that "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress".

I admit Rand's ideas sound exactly how I sounded when I answered Maddy with "Uh, the squatters shouldn't be there?" Granted, capitalism seems cold and inhumane, and even I am struggling with embracing it completely. The innate selfishness that comes with capitalism leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But if you consider that being human is all about the SELF, then being selfish is not only NOT bad, but what everyone should strive for. The only trouble is that we've been programmed by social norms (norms by themselves being collective in nature) and religion (don't get me started on religion) to regard selflessness as virtuous and admirable, and selfishness as sinful and abominable.

In case anyone starts thinking I've been thoroughly brainwashed by Ayn Rand, I'd like to make it clear that I am just starting to digest what I picked up from her novel, and by no means am I 100% convinced by all her ideas. I'm still having trouble reconciling them with values I've held dear for many years. But I do think she's brilliant, and that her philosophy is worth further contemplation. I'm already planning to buy her so-called "masterpiece", Atlas Shrugged, and read it when I'm ready to tackle Objectivism again.

As a work of fiction, The Fountainhead is on the ponderous side, so I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for a steamy love story or a tale of political intrigue (although it IS both, but not typically so). The plot drags its feet at several points, and both the narrative and dialogue can be a bit dry for those accustomed to snappier, contemporary reads. The language is also a little stilted, and it's probably because English is not Rand's mother tongue (she's Russian).

As a philosophical work, however, The Fountainhead is remarkable. The way Rand conveyed her then burgeoning ideas of Objectivism through Howard Roark's story was sheer genius, allowing readers to get a good grasp of her philosophy by using Roark-- and the second-handers around him-- to illustrate her points. The reader finds it almost impossible not to detest the people who exploit, attack and condemn a man of such unwavering artistic and personal integrity. Roark may not be the most lovable of literary characters, but the reader will certainly root for him, and be in awe of him, and seriously consider that he truly is "the ideal man" of Rand's creation.

*All quotes from Ayn Rand were taken from the Centennial Edition of The Fountainhead, and the Reader's Guide at the back.
**Special thanks to Mini-me for recommending that I read this book. =D

Monday, February 19, 2007

I'm locked in tight, I'm out of range...

A foreword addressed to my Personal Shrink: sorry if I beat you to this topic. :)

Last Friday night I met up with Maddy, Shirley and Kat, and over dinner, Mads brought up the subject of the new columbarium along Araneta Avenue, which she passes daily on her way home from work. She described it as a brightly lit, imposing structure, all sparkling clean and grand, and right beside it is a cluster of small, rundown shanties inhabited by squatters. Trying to make a point about the social injustice of how the dead have far more comfortable accommodations than the living, Maddy turned to me and asked indignantly, "Tell me, what's wrong with that picture?"

Blinking, I replied, "Uh, the squatters shouldn't be there?"

As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized: shit, it's finally happened. I've turned into a cold-hearted, cruel capitalist.

In hindsight, and in an attempt to justify my answer, I could insist that it's true-- squatters by definition are trespassers on other people's property. Property that cost hard-earned money (never mind if it could be ill-gotten). Property that isn't meant to house a bunch of free-loading bums (never mind if they've got nowhere else to go). A bunch of bums who would go berserk if the property's owners even attempt to send them packing. A bunch of bums who would probably receive a tidy sum in exchange for peaceful evacuation of the premises. Premises that aren't even theirs to begin with. Premises they are not entitled to.

Or are they?

I've always been a very pragmatic, logical individual. I attribute it not only to the way my entrepreneur parents raised me, but also to the tough-as-nails personality I inherited from my mom. In many ways, I could easily become the ideal businessperson: sensible, practical, and hard. Yet I've also prided myself on having a strong sense of right and wrong, on being just and ethical in my dealings with people from all walks of life. I credit THAT to my 4 years in a Jesuit school and the countless books I've read in 24 years (my mom claims both have put foolish ideas in my head and done irreparable damage to it :p). And that, I suppose, helped me become a good teacher: sensitive, compassionate, and fair.

So when Maddy turned to me with her question, Atenean fervor flaring in her eyes, why did I respond the way I did? Where was the idealistic woman-for-others who got an A in Dr. Astorga's Liberation Theology class? Where was the passionate ICA teacher who exhorted her students not to be indifferent to the plight of the less fortunate and to show concern for social issues? Part of me could see things from Maddy's point of view, recognized her sympathy and her moral outrage. But another part of me saw things through the eyes of the owner of the piece of land beside the columbarium. From my family's past experiences, I know what a headache it is to evict squatters. I know the helpless feeling of seeing someone take advantage of what's rightfully yours, something you worked hard for, only to have others benefit from it and claim it as their own. Even if they are destitute and downtrodden. Even if "they're human beings too" and deserve to have a roof over their heads, with every right to shelter as the tycoon sitting on his fat ass inside a posh mansion in Forbes.

I don't think my conscience has eroded to the point where I have become a callous elitist with no scruples. But maybe my change in career has led to a change in how I view the world. Perhaps my values have shifted, and I have turned from being a champion of morality and social equality to being a spokesperson for the greedy and materialistic. Maybe I've learned to desensitize myself to the human element and give weightier consideration to financial gain. Maybe I am now too caught up in matters of consquence to give a damn about any roses.

Or maybe it's just as simple as Dylan sings: "I used to care, but things have changed."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

THIS is Shangri-la??

Last week, after I had picked up our Thai guests from the airport and we were in the car, one of them asked me which was the best hotel in Manila. I confidently replied, "The Makati Shangri-la, where you're staying." I regretted my words when we got to the hotel for check-in... which took AN ENTIRE HOUR. I've had dentist appointments that went faster! The front desk staff said it was because their computer system was "mabagal today", which to me was an unacceptable excuse (not to mention the Taglish made me cringe). It's a 5-star hotel, for crying out loud! You'd think they could afford a better system (and hire staff who can speak in straight English).

What made things worse was that after the first excruciatingly slow 15 minutes with little progress, the pleasant but bumbling front desk clerk passed us to another clerk, who in turn passed us on to their supervisor, an unsmiling man named Ferdie who went about manually computing the room rates (since the "mabagal" system was still not cooperating) in an unconcerned, unhurried manner, like I hadn't been standing in front of that blasted counter for more than half an hour. If the Thais weren't hovering around, I would have totally lost my temper and started yelling. It was embarrassing enough keeping our guests waiting, but after I'd told them this was THE BEST hotel in all of Manila! Christ. After an hour, we finally finished checking in, and the Thais went up to their rooms to freshen up... only it took FOREVER for their luggage to be sent up. I was seething with pent-up rage. We're paying tens of thousands for this kind of supposedly world-class service?!?

Then last night, we had another slice-of-hell-in-heaven experience in another Shangri-la hotel, this time in EDSA Shang. We had Valentine's dinner at the hotel's Italian restaurant Paparazzi, one of my favorite fancy places to eat. The set menu included a main course of a trio of sea bass, tenderloin, and lobster. However, we found the lobsters on our plates all strangely... blackish. They were undercooked, and some were mushy, as if the lobster was going bad, and the one on my mom's plate had a foul, fishy odor. We immediately sent them back to the kitchen. We called the attention of the assistant manager, who, upon hearing our comments about the lobster, instead of being contrite, seemed annoyed and simply said she would look into the matter. When she failed to get back to us after a while, we followed up with her, and she gave a cursory explanation that the lobsters were actually fresh and delivered just that morning, so there shouldn't have been any problem. She seemed to be implying that we were overreacting over nothing. Then she brought 3 new lobsters to our table and let us check if they were acceptable, but they were of the same black color and mushy consistency, so we just did without lobster all together.

Even though I was mildly pissed off that we were missing out on part of our entree, I would have let it pass without further incident. But my dad became really irate at the lousy attitude of the assistant manager, who did not even apologize or offer to do anything to make up for the unsatisfactory quality of the food. When we voiced our disgruntled sentiments to one of our servers, she handled the situation better, and even offered to put the coffee and tea we had ordered on the house (since they weren't included in the set menu), or give us a 10% discount, both of which my fuming father adamantly declined, since he was too upset to be placated. He said it wasn't about the price, but the principle of the thing. When my brother asked that the assistant manager apologize to us, she chose her words poorly ("sorry na lang" --doesn't ANYONE in these hotels speak straight English?!?) and only succeeded in furthering incensing our dad. What was supposed to be a nice, quiet Valentine's evening was spoiled not so much by the bad lobster, but by the shoddy service we received, from the assistant manager no less. The servers on her staff were actually more courteous and tactful than her.

This morning I emailed complaints to the GMs and department heads of both Makati and EDSA Shang regarding the two separate incidents. How they respond will reflect the quality of service we can come to expect from our country's reputedly finest deluxe hotel group. Let's see how they resolve trouble in paradise.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love is...

...the sound of my siblings' laughter.

...the feel of my mom's cool palm on my forehead when I'm sick.

...I'm-proud-of-you text messages from my dad.

...a table for two by the window at Chili's Greenhills. ;)

...opening to the first page of a new book.

...the smell of old books.

...a Coach bag.

...scoring Ateneo-La Salle tix.

...hollering "Win or lose it's the school we choose!" with my LM peeps after an Ateneo game.

...Brent & Sam's Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies.

...Openness. =D

...walking the streets of Hong Kong.

...watching Before Sunrise for the nth time.

...Haagen Dazs.

...old family photos.

...the Ateneo Loyola campus on a quiet day.

...everyone to whom I've given a copy of The View from Saturday.

...Angels by Robbie Williams.

...12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

...jump-starting my morning with a grande almond soy latte from Starbucks.

...wearing my favorite pair of jeans.

...buying a new pair of shoes I don't really need.

...Snow Cake soap from Lush.

...Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.

...moments when Bens forgets to be cool and acts like a six-year-old kid.

...boxes of handwritten letters and notes from friends and students I keep under my desk.

...stuffed monkeys.

...Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

...Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black.

...DVD surprises from Fara that come in her trademark ziploc bags. :)

...Frasier marathons with Hanks and Holy Kettle Corn.

...Estee Lauder's Pleasures for Men.

...writing from the gut.

...reading something that was written from the gut.

...early spring in the Canadian Rockies.

...yellow flowers.

...Sting's voice (actually, his voice is more "sex" than "love", but I won't quibble).

...finding the perfect gift for someone.

...seeing the smile on someone's face when they open my gift.

...a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.

And that's about as cheesy as I'm going to get this Valentine's. :p

Monday, February 12, 2007

A hazard to my health

In the middle of the third day of showing our Thai guests around the malls of Metro Manila, my body decided to surrender. First my stomach turned nauseous and threatened to spew its contents either upward or downward. Then my head started spinning and throbbing alternately. A fever followed, accompanied by aches and pains in joints and muscles I'd forgotten I had. Then my legs went numb, and my fingers went stiff and tingly (I had to breathe into a paper bag to get the oxygen flowing to my extremities).

Luckily, I was at home when all this happened (the Thais were in Greenhills shopping for south sea pearls with my parents), so I collapsed into bed and was excused from the rest of the day's scheduled activities. Hanks stayed home to play Florence Nightingale, taking my temperature, bringing me hot water and bottles of lukewarm Gatorade, and patiently listening to me moan and groan (I love my sister to bits). On the one hand, I was embarrassed to appear like such a pathetic weakling again in front of the Ep Espada people (recall my hellish trip to Bangkok in January '06). On the other hand, I was relieved to get out of playing subservient squire to them. Next time they're coming to town, I should take a double dosage of my vitamins... or, as someone wisely pointed out, just get sick all over again to escape escort duties. :p

But now that the Thais are packing up and about to leave, it's time for me to get better, fast. I still have a week of various social engagements ahead of me, and these I'm actually up for. Hopefully, my body agrees.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A note of thanks to a Xavier boy

I don't know if it's because I'm not ICAn, but I have never had a high estimation of Xavier boys. Back during college, my friends and I would debate over which all-boy Jesuit school produced the less boorish breed, Ateneo High or Xavier (I'm not saying who voted for whom), and it was usually a close contest. Granted, I had some friends from Xavier who acquitted their school well by being the perfect gentlemen (walked on the side of oncoming traffic when crossing the street, opened car doors, rang doorbells for us and everything-- Ahia and Exxon, I miss you guys! =D), but they were more the exception than the rule.

My impression of Xavier boys did not improve during my two-year stint at ICA. I found that the younger generations were even worse than the guys I knew in college: they were unruly, discourteous, thoughtless, and obnoxious... although admittedly it could have just been because of the relative difference in age, and because I hated them for preying on my kids. :p Of course, there were a select few who were nice kids, but they were definitely in the minority. In any case, my opinion of the boys from across the way has sunk to a new low over the past few years.

So last night's short encounter with an unknown Xavier boy was a pleasant surprise indeed. My dad and I came home from the office to find a van parked outside our house, occupying the usual space where our own van goes. This happens to us quite often since our house is conveniently located right beside the Madison guardhouse of North Greenhills, so people going to Madison Square or Ash Creek or ICA or Xavier or even Mary the Queen use our street as a parking lot. Seeing as he had no other choice, my dad, already having a hard time with our van's manual transmission, maneuvered our big hulk of a vehicle behind the rogue van. Before either of us could get out though, a guy in his late teens or early 20s, dressed for basketball, showed up at my dad's window. My dad opened his door and the guy went, "Uncle, do you want me to move my car?"

My dad and I were both startled, not because he popped up from nowhere, but because he was so... POLITE. At first I thought it was one of my brother's friends, since he had called my dad "uncle", but I didn't recognize him and he didn't introduce himself as such.
Apparently he was some Xavier student or alumnus on his way to school to play basketball. He had just parked and had started walking to Xavier when we arrived and he saw that he had deprived our van of a place to park. He could have simply ignored us and walked on, but the guy went back and moved his van to the other side of the street, with my dad's thanks.

My dad was very impressed with the small but considerate gesture, as was I. It helped bolster the little faith I have left that decent Xavier boys can still be found. So to the guy who parked outside our house last night, whoever you are, if you happen to read this-- props to you for redeeming your school and your kind in my eyes. And for the record, you guys lead Ateneo High in my book. :)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brace, brace

I'm psychologically steeling myself for the two weeks ahead of me, because they're going to be jampacked with various obligations and activities that are sure to take their toll on me. First, the Thai owners of Ep Espada are arriving in Manila this Friday, and we'll be playing gracious hosts to them again for several days. The last time the Thais were in town, I had a minor meltdown from which I had to be saved by Fara. I'm hoping it won't be as exhausting this time around, but seeing as how we'll be visiting more stores and it's the big bosses who are coming, I'm foreseeing an even more grueling ordeal consisting of days of polite small talk, huge, rich meals, and tactful, obsequious compliance. Shoot me now.

Right on the heels of the Thais' departure is Valentine's Day, my least favorite commercial holiday (one good thing about being so insanely busy is that I probably won't even have time to contemplate the usual angst I get this time of the year, although last year was an exception). The day after, I have a dinner meeting with my high school batchmates to discuss our grand reunion. The next evening, I have an overdue dinner with some friends, and then it's Chinese New Year weekend, to be spent with Guama (Guakong will be in Singapore visiting my cousin Chaya). I have to get my hair cut before the Year of the Pig rolls around (for good luck), and try to fulfill my promise to Tasha to watch her darling Jay Chou's movie, Curse of the Golden Flower. And speaking of movies, I have yet to see Letters from Iwo Jima, The Last King of Scotland, and Pan's Labyrinth, and Academy Awards night is drawing nearer and nearer (February 26), AND I still have 3 pieces to write for the BBC Oscars panel.

Phew. I'm already tired just thinking about my schedule for the next two weeks. Can we just fast forward to March please?

Monday, February 05, 2007

This is what happens when a former English teacher has PMS

I was reading the Sunday paper over lunch yesterday when I came across a phrase that always makes me cringe. A local celebrity was asked in an interview what her mom does for a living, and her response was "my mom's a plain housewife".

"Plain housewife". Why do Filipinos say that? It's not the first time I've seen the phrase used in a newspaper article. Applicants I've interviewed at our office use the same term when asked about their mothers. I've heard it used in local TV talk shows and radio programs. It's not just "housewife", but always "plain housewife", giving the impression that all housewives are homely (hey, I happen to know some housewives who are knockouts). If by "plain housewife" they mean to convey the idea that the woman is a mere housewife (as opposed to a doctor or an executive or Speaker of the House), then why don't they say "she's only a housewife" or "she's just a housewife" (never mind that it actually has sexist undertones)? I know technically, even gramatically, there's nothing wrong with "plain housewife", but something about the way it's used, like it's the formal title for all women who keep house ("I'm a corporate lawyer." "I'm a computer programmer." "I'm a plain housewife."), well, call me a nitpicker but it just really, really bugs me.

We may be a nation that boasts of a population "fluent" in English, but Filipinos seem to have their own way of using the language. Perhaps adding a little local flavor is harmless, but as a stickler for good grammar and proper verbal usage, I can't stand how some words are misused and mangled, yet generally accepted as correct, and frequently escape the editor's red pen. "Plain housewife" is only the least annoying; there are countless other crimes committed against the English language.

For example, I take issue with how so many Filipinos use "matured" when they really mean "mature". "I am excited to be taking on such a matured role." "I feel more matured now that I'm living on my own." "I like working with him, he's very matured." Why, why, WHY do they insist on affixing the letter D to an adjective that functions perfectly well on its own?

There's also my personal favorite, the one that never fails to set my teeth on edge: the atrocious "full-pledged". As in, "He has been appointed the full-pledged head of the department", or "Now that she has passed the exam, she is a full-pledged architect". I rarely hear anyone use the right word, "full-fledged" (it's an F, people! F!!)-- even people whose English is otherwise impeccable. Whenever someone says "full-pledged", I feel like handing him a dictionary and challenging him to look for the word.

Yet another phrase that Filipinos are fond of throwing around which makes me want to weep and pull out my hair is "taken careD of". "Don't worry, it has been taken cared of." "We have taken cared of the arrangements." "The task will be taken cared of by their committee." I wonder if anyone has ever tried saying "I have taken stocked of our supplies" or "He has taken counted of the tickets sold".

And what about newspaper articles that for some inconceivable reason use the word "quipped" as a substitute for "said"? Even when the sentence is something like: "The congressman quipped that the shortage of classrooms in public schools is a very serious matter." If it's so bloody serious then why the hell is he quipping about it? Some newspapers use "quipped" so often that any kind of statement becomes a witty retort or clever joke. "'The budget has been passed,' she quipped." "'The dengue epidemic is under control,' the doctor quipped." "'We need to work on our defense,' the coach quipped." What kind of ignoramuses are editing our local broadsheets?

Not to beat a dead horse, but the quality of English in our country is truly deplorable (don't even get me started on how text messaging has doomed our spelling proficiency for countless future generations), and it doesn't help that our publications, presumably run by individuals with superior communication skills, use the same brand of flawed, Filipino English. It's one thing to tailor a language to suit local culture; it's quite another to bastardize it all together. Before we know it, we'll be reading news articles declaring, "She quipped that the orphans were taken cared of by a full-pledged, matured plain housewife."

It has to stop. And I have to stop ranting and take a chill pill. Or a Midol.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Why child actors should never grow up

The boy who lived is all grown up. Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, ostensibly in an attempt to quickly shed his child star status, is starring in Equus, a Tony-award winning play about a boy who gets down and dirty... with horses. Dan has transformed from this... this...

Hedwig, we're not in Hogwarts anymore.

Now I'm no prude, and maybe it's just my age talking, but a naked, all-grown-up (TOO grown-up) Harry Potter is more disturbing than arousing (even with the killer abs). Looking at the play's publicity photos gave me the heebie-jeebies. I suppose it's because in my head, Harry-- and as a consquence, Daniel-- will always be the adorable apple-cheeked little boy in round glasses with the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. Seeing him in such a mature role, and in the buff no less, seems unnatural, and even filthy.

Maybe in 10 years it won't seem as icky anymore. He'll be 27, and I'll be... oh Christ. Never mind.