Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The time of our lives

Over the past week my Multiply inbox has been inundated with college graduation photo albums posted by my former students (from ICA batch 2005), some of whom graduated from Ateneo last weekend. They got me waxing nostalgic for my own graduation from Ateneo 8 years ago. It was before the advent of digital cameras, so unlike my students I don't have hundreds of photos to remember that day by, but I don't need pictures to recall the euphoric feeling of accomplishment and bittersweet joy that was doubtlessly shared by every one of my fellow graduates from Batch 2001 as we sang our alma mater hymn together. I don't need photos to remember we were all sweating like pigs under our togas in the sweltering humidity of the Ateneo High School Covered Court (all 4 schools crammed under 1 roof!), but we were all too deliriously happy to mind as we enveloped each other in monster bear hugs. I don't need photos to affirm it was one of the most glorious days of my life, a celebration of academic achievement, school pride, batch solidarity, and above all, friendship-- the kind that lasts beyond all the study sessions and group projects and org activities, the kind that survives break-ups and breakdowns and let-downs, the kind that stands to witness milestones after graduation: birthdays and showers and weddings and childbirth and UAAP championships. The kind of unswerving, unfaltering loyalty and love that are your true guiding lights as you make your way through the so-called real world.

As my second batch of students graduate from college, I don't have to wish them success in their future careers (because I'm confident they'll do well for themselves), but I do hope that they always remember, with or without the help of photographs, the people who helped them get to where they are. Because as is written in The Little Prince:

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. Men have forgotten this truth, but you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..."

Congratulations to Batch 2009. And to my friends, my roses, from Batch 2001, here's to all the time we've wasted on each other since, and all the time we have yet to waste together.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kids these days

Last night my family had dinner at HEAT, and because the restaurant was packed, we were seated at a table inches away from the next table. Our neighbors were a father and his 2 daughters, who were around the ages of 13 to 15. The girls were very pretty, tisay, and spoke in heavy American accents, which led me to think that they were probably born and raised in the US because the dad spoke in a normal Filipino accent. Due to the proximity of our tables, I couldn't help but overhear their entire dinner conversation, which pretty much comprised of the girls talking to their dad in really bratty, obnoxious tones. The younger of the sisters kept bitching about how she'd been up since 3 that morning (doing God knows what), and that she still had a "shoot" the following day. The other girl had an exchange with her dad that went something like this:

Girl: Dad, will there be a car to bring me to the gym tomorrow? Because the driver will be with her [referring to her sister] all day.
Dad: I can bring you to the gym.
Girl (whining): But you're never there! Whenever I wake up in the morning you're not home yet. [from golf maybe?]
Dad (jokingly): Then wake up later. [I wanted to laugh out loud at this]
Girl (exasperated): Daaaaaaaad. You know I wake up every morning and go the the gym! [said in an anguished way that conveyed, "you're ruining my life"]

I can't remember the rest of what was said. I might have left the table on the pretext of getting something from the buffet just to get away from those insufferable, insolent brats. Someday if I have kids and they ever spoke to me like that, I would slap them. Seriously.

My siblings and I were taught never ever to raise our voices not only to our parents, but to any of our elders, including aunts and uncles, older cousins, and teachers. In our family, there is absolutely no excuse for such disrespectful behavior, and I have an extremely low tolerance level for it in others, even in strangers. Last night it took all my self-control not to glare reproachfully at the 2 impudent daughters for talking to their father (who seemed very good-natured too) in such a rude manner. I also had to resist the urge to lean over and ask the father, "Are you going to let them talk to you like that?", and instead fixed my gaze squarely on my plate, forking a piece of cheesecake and pretending I was stabbing the brats at the adjacent table.

Was it an overreaction on my part or is parenting nowadays so liberal as to allow children to talk back to their elders so impolitely? Should I lighten up and accept that this is how we're raising kids now, to be little independent and outspoken adults? Rather than be appalled by their brazenness, am I supposed to be amused at their precociousness? And if I feel like dumping the remnants of my DIY halo-halo over the head of a snotty bratinella, am I the one more deserving of admonition?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Name that theme song!

Last weekend, Kat and I got to reminiscing about old TV shows we used to watch back when we were in high school, and we were laughing over the memory of one series in particular called California Dreams, a cheesy, B-grade, daytime teenybopper program cast from the same mold as Saved By the Bell (for you young 'uns out there, think The O.C. hopped up on Ritalin-- that is, if there's enough prescription drugs on the planet to turn it into a peppy, wholesome musical comedy).

California Dreams was not exactly quality TV, but the one thing it did have in common with many good TV shows of the 80s and 90s was a catchy opening theme song. Once Kat and I started singing "California Dreamin'", we couldn't get it out of our heads the entire night ("Don't wake me up if I'm dreamin'..."). That we still knew all the lyrics by heart more than a decade later goes to show how even the lamest shows back then had some pretty cool (or so-corny-they're-cool) theme songs.

When I mentioned all this to my sister, Hanks and I realized that TV shows nowadays don't have opening themes with words anymore. Racking our brains through our sizeable store of TV trivia, we identified only a handful of post-90s shows that have theme songs and not mere theme tunes: Malcolm in the Middle, Monk, the CSI triumvirate, Scrubs, The Mind of the Married Man, One Tree Hill (but among those, only Malcolm and Monk use "original" songs, so the others with "borrowed" songs technically don't count).

Why is it that most series use just instrumental themes now? Is composing theme songs doomed to be a lost art? Don't audiences enjoy singing along with the opening credits anymore? I say bring the theme song back! Years after a beloved show's demise, people may not remember each and every episode, but they will always remember the theme song.

See how many of these classic (and on their way to becoming classic) TV theme songs you can identify:

1) "Thank you for being a friend/Traveled down the road and back again."
2) "I don't know what to do with those tossed salads and scrambled eggs."
3) "Here's the story of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls."
4) "Let's take each other's hand as we jump into the final frontier."
5) "Sometimes the world looks perfect, nothing to rearrange/Sometimes you just get a feeling like you need some kind of change."
6) "Not a thing to do, but talk to you."
7) "As long as we got each other, we got the world spinnin' right in our hands."
8) "She's fantastic, made of plastic."
9) "Flying away on a wing and a prayer/Who could it be?"
10) "I've been down this road, walking the line that's painted by pride."
11) "Everywhere you look, everywhere you go/There's a face of somebody who needs you."
12) "'Cause I'm always ready, I won't let you out of my sight."
13) "Come and knock on our door, we've been waiting for you."
14) "It's like you're always stuck in second gear."
15) "He's there just to take good care of me, like he's one of the family."
16) "One always calls out to you, the other's shy and quiet."
17) "You can count on me, no matter what you do."
18) "She had style, she had flair, she was there."
19) "I bet we been together for a million years, and I bet we'll be together for a million more."
20) "You wanna be where everybody knows your name."

Bonus points for those who can give the title of the show AND the next line of the song. :D I'll post the audio clips on my Multiply music page and link it here next week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What went down over the weekend

On Friday, I learned that Mrs. Remedios Ho, one of ICA's most beloved Chinese teachers, had passed away from pancreatic cancer the previous night. She was 87. She had taught in ICA for almost (or over?) 5 decades. Lao Shi (Chinese for "teacher") was the warmest, kindliest woman, who had a ready smile and hug for everyone in the faculty room. I consider it an honor to have been a co-teacher of such a wonderful person. She will surely be missed by many, including the thousands of students she taught. Rest in peace, Mrs. Ho.

On Saturday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a trial belly-dancing class with some friends. I learned that a) it's much more difficult than it looks; b) my spine protests when I try bending it in unusual ways; and c) I really am not cut out to be a dancer. However, I did enjoy doing something totally out-of-character just for the hell of it (and for the love of my friends).

On Sunday, I had coffee and dinner with my shrink who's in town from Lah-lah Land. I've never been a big believer of psychiatric therapy, but my sessions with Maddy are always cathartic. I appreciate how she listens, really listens, without making me feel as if she's psychoanalyzing or judging me. And I'm grateful for how she patiently helps me sort through my problems and hang-ups, then allows me to arrive at my own conclusions.
I come out of our one-on-one talks with a clearer head, and sometimes even a clearer conscience. Beats confession!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rape for the picking

I bet Josef Fritzl wishes he had been tried in the Philippines.

Exhibit A

"Nicole", the woman who accused US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of raping her, has recanted her testimony in exchange for P100,000 and what looks to be an American green card. Apparently, in a time of recession, even the price of dignity goes down.

Exhibit B

Former congressman Romeo Jalosjos, convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl 12 years ago, has been released from prison, thanks to the wicked midget witch in Malacanang who commuted his sentence last year. God bless the President's constitutional powers.

With so many individuals blatantly making a mockery out of our judicial system, a monster like Fritzl guilty of incest and infanticide would probably not only walk out of a courtroom a free man, DOJ Secretary Raul "Masamang Damo" Gonzales might even treat him to a buffet dinner afterward. Hey, DOT Secretary Ace Durano, I have your new tourism tag line right here: "The Philippines: Paradise for Perverts and Pedophiles". Suck on that, Austria.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Line on the Horizon

I have decided to add something to my "bucket list": watch U2 perform live. I don't care where (Madison Square Garden, the steps of a town hall in Croatia, the middle of the Australian outback, a crater on the moon), I just really, really, REALLY want to watch U2 perform live.

A few weeks ago, Bono and the boys were on Letterman for 5 consecutive nights, promoting their new album No Line on the Horizon. They performed selected tracks such as "Magnificent", "Breathe", "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight", and their first single off the CD "Get On Your Boots", plus a couple of old songs like "It's a Beautiful Day". I happened to catch the latter, and for the first time in my life I finally un
derstood people who cry and faint at Michael Jackson concerts, because as Bono crooned, "Teach me now, I know I'm not a hopeless case", I actually found myself choking up.

There's something about U2 and their music that resonates in the recesses of my heart. Or, to borrow from "Moment of Surrender" (Track 3 of No Line on the Horizon), they speak
"To the rhythm of my soul/To the rhythm of my consciousness".
For the past 2 weeks, every single day at work, I have been listening to No Line on the Horizon non-stop, and I still can't get enough of it. I have a hard time picking a favorite among the 11 superb songs mostly penned by Bono and arranged by U2 and producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but the lovely, melancholic "Moment of Surrender" stands out for me, as well as the more pop-sounding "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" (Track 5). The latter has some fun, memorable lyrics:
There's a part of me in chaos that's quiet
And there's a part of you that wants me to riot
Everybody needs to cry or needs to spit
Every sweet-tooth needs just a little hit
Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot
How can you stand next to the truth and not see it
I also like it when The Edge gets a chance to share writing duties with Bono, and in "Magnificent" (Track 2), the lines
Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
are, well, magnificent. And from "Cedars of Lebanon" (Track 11), I love the last bit that goes:
Choose your enemies carefully, 'cause they will define you
Make them interesting, 'cause in some ways they will mind you

They're not there in the beginning, but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friends.
"Breathe" (Track 10) is a bit quirky lyrically ("16th of June, Chinese stocks are going up/And I’m coming down with some new Asian virus/Ju Ju man, Ju Ju man/Doc says you’re fine, or dying...") but the musical arrangement allows Bono's vocals to do some awesome, age-defying acrobatics, and The Edge gets to do some bitchin' guitar work. My brother, who's the biggest U2 fan I know, recommends listening to this album using quality headphones in order to get a full appreciation of the gorgeous depth of U2's sound. I tend to focus more on the lyrics myself, but when I made a conscious effort to pay attention to the music, I could sift through the many layers and make out Larry Mullen Jr.'s drums, Adam Clayton's bass (exceptional in "Magnificent", especially), and The Edge's keyboards and always amazing guitar. And everything-- taken apart and together-- is just so bloody good, I could cry.

I might be just speaking as an enraptured fan, but U2 are undeniable rock gods, and No Line From the Horizon comes as manna from heaven to someone sick of all the emo crap being played on the radio nowadays. From the funky "Get on Your Boots" (Track 6, perhaps the closest thing to a dance track U2 has released), to the tech-trippy "Unknown Caller" (Track 4, featuring such computer jargon like "Force quit and move to trash" and "Restart a
nd reboot yourself") right down to the haunting, half-spoken "Cedars of Lebanon" (its almost meditative tone belying the power of its lyrics), U2 demonstrates how to infuse music with meaning, how to fuse entertainment with enlightenment, and how to make an album that is both rousing and relevant. As Bono sings at the end of "Breathe":
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
My sentiments exactly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I love THIS game

Little-known fact about me: I enjoy watching ice hockey. Something about the combination of ice, blades, and guys crashing into one another and slamming against Plexiglas gives me an adrenaline rush that I don't find in any other sport. My fascination with hockey began sometime in my late grade school or early high school years, back when ESPN still aired NHL games. The team I rooted for was the New York Rangers (they're still my sentimental fave), and I was over the moon when they won the Stanley Cup in 1994. I was such a fangirl I could rattle off practically the whole roster: Messier, Graves, Leetch, Kovalev, Zubov, Matteau, Beukeboom, Nemchinov, Richter...

Goaltender Mike Richter was my favorite of the bunch. I was inexplicably drawn to goalies, perhaps because I was in awe of how they dealt with the huge responsibility and enormous pressure of being the team's last line of defense. After Richter and the Rangers, I liked Martin Brodeur and the 1995 New Jersey Devils (Elias, Neidermayer, Gomez, Sykora, Stevens, Lemieux...). And Brodeur is the reason I thought of blogging about hockey now, because I just found out that he has surpassed goaltending great Patrick Roy in number of victories by an NHL goalie, with a career record of 552 wins. Awesome.

I miss watching hockey (damn ESPN for not airing NHL games in Asia anymore!), and I miss all the old, funny-sounding Russian and Canadian names that used to be drilled into my head by commentators speaking at machine-gunfire clip. I miss nerve-wracking sudden death periods and hat tricks and the ubiquitous, unique power play (I totally agree with sportswriter Rick Olivares on the the beauty of the power play). I miss the sound of metal on ice, bone on bone, bone on glass, and the satisfying WHACK of metal on vulcanized rubber. I miss the blink-and-you'll-miss-it goals, the flashing red light and/or siren that accompanies a goal, and the scrambling, lightning-quick-reflex saves by heavily padded men in grilled helmets.

Hockey rocks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What now?

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of sharing a leisurely lunch and long chat with my dear friend Yang. Over Friday's Mushroom Chicken Mushroom, we touched on many topics ranging from the price of dark chocolate lip butter to the lack of a Philippine constitutional right to privacy. But the one thing we discussed in depth that stayed on my mind even after we'd polished off our Snickers custard parfaits was the existential angst both of us are undergoing at this point in our lives, succinctly summed up by Yang's self-posed question, "What now?"

I don't know if there's an official term for this "What now?" stage, but I should think it's more common
among yuppies in their late 20s to early 30s than anyone has recognized or acknowledged. We're certainly too old for it to qualify as quarterlife crisis, and certainly too young to call it midlife crisis. How best to refer to that feeling of lethargic dissatisfaction that slowly consumes someone who has achieved all his/her short-term goals and has a stable, even flourishing, career? It's like being stuck in a rut, but in a perfectly nice, comfortable rut. Then you wake up one morning and ask yourself, "Is this all there is?" You really have no reason to complain, yet you know you have to find something, anything to challenge yourself and propel your life forward, or risk stagnation or brain atrophy.

Case in point: For as long as she can remember, Yang wanted to become a lawyer, and everything she did from college onward was oriented toward fulfilling her dream. She passed the Bar, worked in corporate law, and is now in a firm she loves. She's happily married with a beautiful, bright son. By all accounts she should be content, yet the restless feeling of wanting something more without knowing what, nags her increasingly persistently. I can relate because I too have lived out my own life dream (i.e. teaching), and though I wish to return to it someday, the knowledge that I got that chance to actualize it is enough for now. For the foreseeable future, I am stuck helping my parents run our family business. It's definitely not the worst deal in the world, and most envy me for being the "C.O.O." with all the accompanying perks of the job, which I do enjoy. I'm even getting better at coming to terms with the drawbacks of being C.O.O. But lately I do find myself slipping deeper and deeper into complacency. There's just no "next" to look forward to, no drive to excel, nothing that excites or moves me.

Yang says she needs a new aspiration. I think I need inspiration. Either way, we are both suffering from this "What now?" syndrome
. We're happy, yes, but we're also searching for something beyond this present happiness. Is it an attempt to revive and reclaim the verve of our youth? Is it a primordial human compulsion to continually evolve? Is it the influence of our Magis-steeped Ateneo education? Whatever it is, however we choose to call it, the mere fact that we have identified and verbalized what we're going though provides some relief. Now we just need to figure out the answer to the question "What now?" And perhaps that in itself is the challenge we need.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Review of a Saturday

8:00AM - Went to ADMU to sit on a Marketing panel. Did not give out any Fs. Second good deed of the day (the first: waking up before 7:00AM for the Marketing defenses).

1:30PM - Headed to Bonifacio High Street to lunch with Yang and Joaquin at T.G.I. Friday's. Mushroom Chicken Mushroom is back!

5:00PM - Got dragged by the Quimsons to Ateneo Rockwell to attend mass. The great Fr. Bernas celebrated. Listened to him deliver one of his "zen" homilies. Third good deed of the day.

8:00PM - Had fried food and frozen margaritas at Chili's with Fara. What diet?

Now that's what I call a day well-spent.

Friday, March 13, 2009

In mourning again

A little over 3 years after I received the crushing news that my darling Matt Damon had been taken off the market, I am now hit with the heart-breaking announcement that Roger Federer's girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with his child.


Now he'll never leave her. Damn that lucky, lucky bitch.

Someone cheer me up. =(

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Watchmen: misunderstood

A word of warning to those going to see Watchmen and expecting a typical superhero movie: Don't. You'll just end up confused and/or bored, and generally disappointed. Watchmen isn't X-men or The Fantastic Four or even Hellboy. Yes, there are men and women in costume kicking the crap out of baddies, but as far as comic book film adaptations go, Watchmen is more like Christopher Nolan's take on Batman: dark, cerebral, with a hint of the philosophical. But at least Batman Begins and The Dark Knight had the benefit of a familiar, classic superhero icon; as my brother pointed out, Watchmen may also be a classic, but it's not very commercial (not for "mass consumption", as he put it). And cult classics are never crowd-pleasers, especially in a country like ours where majority of audiences can't be bothered to exert the least bit of mental strain.

Those who have read (and loved) Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel would be better able to understand and appreciate the movie, but surely fans will have differing opinions on whether or not director Zack Snyder (30
0) did the original material justice. I for one think he did pretty well, considering the many details he managed to cram into the 2 hour and 40 minute-long film (yes, that sounds unbearably long, but it's actually relatively short given that the story is culled from a 12-issue comic book series). Of course Snyder had to take out some stuff, and as a result the ending was necessarily altered. Purists can relax a bit though: the conclusion is preserved, just not the road taken to arrive at it. For the most part the film adaptation is faithful-- I read a New York Times review that panned it for being TOO faithful, using the comic books almost like a storyboard, bringing it to life panel for panel. What was omitted, I did not miss at all, being the same bizarre elements in the graphic novel that reminded me of TV's Lost, and served to distract from the main plot rather than contribute to it.

Casting was also well-done, particularly for the key roles of Rorscharch (Jackie Earle Haley from the Kate Winslet starrer Little Children) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson, who was also in Little Children, and the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera). Being the sadistic stickler for justice that I am, the uncompromising and unblinkingly brutal Rorschach was my favorite character from the graphic novel, and I was glad to see Haley played him to perfection, even with the inkblot mask on. In one scene, Rorschach finds himself cornered by the cops, and he cries, "No, no, NO!" in angry frustration and rising panic, berating himself for being so stupid to be caught in such a situation. Not a single glimpse of his face, yet Haley managed to convey so much with the delivery of his lines alone that it's easy to imagine what his facial expressions would be. I guess that Oscar nomination for Little Children wasn't a fluke. Meanwhile, I must give props to Wilson for putting on those unsightly pounds to play the out-of-shape Nite Owl. He not only succeeded in capturing Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl's nerdy alter ego) physically, he also got his "good boy" gawkiness down pat.

Billy Crudup (still a looker after all these years), Harry Dean Morgan (the charming Denny from Grey's Anatomy) and Malin Akerman were also good choices for Dr. Manhattan, The Comedian, and Silk Spectre, respectively. The only one miscast, in my siblings' shared opinion, was Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. Not only did I keep picking up traces of his British accent, he was just too scrawny to play such an imposing character with a god complex.

I realize I may be one of few who actually enjoyed Watchmen, (and didn't even notice let alone mind the long running time), and perhaps that's because I really ate up the graphic novel. Those looking for a no-brainer action blockbuster will definitely not find it here. Stripped of its special effects and violence and latex body suits, it's a film about characters with complex histories and psychological make-ups, which could not have been delved into more thoroughly without turning it into a 4-hour long movie. At the same time, Watchmen touches on socio-political and dare I say socio-ethical themes that could be the subject of discussion and debate in any Philosophy class or political forum. And yes, the weird blue guy talks in vague riddles, making him sound more alien than he looks. Moreover, that the film is set in the 80s (with a way wicked decade-appropriate soundtrack) doesn't really help it register with viewers who never paid much attention during their History classes. Watchmen delivers a heavy, real, and relevant message about human nature, but sadly it will be lost on
mainstream audiences who will be too busy speculating if there will be a sequel. It's appropriate, really, that people won't understand a story about masked misfits maligned by the very society they are trying to save. As The Comedian might say, not everyone will get the joke.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Paalam, kababayan

"Magaling ang atin,
Yan ang laging iisipin;
Pag-asenso mararating
Kung handa kang tiisin
Ang hirap at pagod; sa problema
Wag kang malunod, umahon ka.
Wag lumubog

Pagka't ginhawa naman ang susunod."

-Francis Magalona, 1964-2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

To hell with these hallowed halls

Used to be whenever people presume I'm an ICAn, I'd feel a bit miffed. But after having taught in ICA for 2 years, I actually sometimes feel a tinge of regret that I hadn't studied there instead of Jubilee. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy my high school years in JCA (the last 2 years at least), and I love my high school friends to bits, but damn if I didn't get gypped of my tuition's worth in quality education. My ready response to "Diba ok ang Jubilee?" is a snort of derisive laughter. You only have to look at the website-- pathetic layout, atrocious grammar and all-- to get an idea of their standards of excellence. I don't know where this notion that Jubilee is a "good" school stems from, but as an alumna I've taken what little consolation and credit I can get out of it.

Until now.

My friend and high school classmate John Tan just told me about this shocking scandal involving a member of Jubilee's faculty and a 13-year-old student. The former isn't actually a teacher, but the school's scoutmaster. According to the diary entries of the girl, she and the scoutmaster have been carrying on an "affair", and I do not want to even imagine the details of the "intimate moments" they shared right on school premises. That is just SICK. It's outrageous enough that a 30-year-old man could take advantage of a preteen girl, but for someone who works in a school, where children are supposed to be SAFE (as I wrote in my last post), for a person to whom parents entrust their kids to do something this dastardly and disgusting is beyond reprehension. Scumbags like this should be castrated and sent to work on a chain gang in Basilan.

And why the hell did none of the teachers or administrators know what was going on?? It's their freakin' responsibility to keep an eye on their students, both inside and outside of the classrooms. What were they doing, literally sleeping on the job? Oh wait, that's probably right, because my teachers in Jubilee did nothing during break times but hole up in the faculty room and NAP. For all my griping about the MIC sisters' almost manic over-protectiveness over ICAns, I concede that at least they would never have let something like this happen on their eagle-eyed watch. I'm not saying the JCA administration and faculty are to fault for this ugly incident, but surely a more observant, involved teacher would have stumbled upon something. Students talk (oh boy do students talk), and gossip travels fast (a campus grapevine is more efficient than fiber-optic cables). To be totally ignorant of something this eyebrow-raising, you would have to be deaf, blind, or simply don't give a shit. And good teachers are supposed to give a shit.

I admit I've never been really proud of being a Jubilee alumna, but perhaps for the first time I'm actually ashamed to be one. It may not be fair to pin t
he blame on the school for one perverted scoutmaster's sins, but the blemish on the school's name can be partly assigned to their negligence. Is it any surprise then why my ready response to "Papaaralin mo ba ang anak mo sa Jubilee?" is also a snort of derision? I think I'll take my chances with the nuns.

Monday, March 02, 2009

On the Ateneo carpark accident

When I first heard about the tragic on-campus traffic accident that claimed 10-year-old Ateneo Grade School student Amiel Alcantara, my initial reaction was horrified disbelief. That a young life was taken so abruptly and violently is terrible enough, but that it happened on school premises somehow makes it even harder to come to terms with. When parents send their kids off to school, certainly death is the farthest thing from their minds, and to lose a child in a place where he is supposed to be safe, adds a particularly bitter irony to it all.

What makes things even worse in the case of Amiel's death is that the person behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit him, Ma. Theresa Torres, is another parent. And in a cruel coincidence, the woman's own child is in the same grade as Amiel. There are varying versions of accounts of the accident, but all lead to the same conclusion that the mother driving the van stepped on the gas instead of the brakes, and plowed into poor Amiel and his elderly yaya.

One of the things that crossed my mind while mulling over this unfortunate incident was what I'd do if I were Amiel's parents, whether or not I would press charges against Torres. Could I send another parent to jail for accidentally killing my child? Discounting irresponsibility and recklessness, there's no question Torres did not mean to hurt anyone. An added consideration is that she is a single mother of 4. Would it not weigh on my conscience leaving 4 children bereft of their only parent?

On the other hand, I need only imagine a 10-year-old Bens getting mowed down by a van to know that I would be too busy going out of my mind with grief and rage to brook any ethical self-debate. The Alcantaras have every right to pursue whatever legal recourse is available to them, and though nothing the courts hand down will bring Amiel back, perhaps justice being served in his name would help ease some of the pain.

Then there's the issue of Torres' "apology", which left a lot of people-- including the Alcantaras-- cold, striking them as insincere and evasive. In her statement, Torres is careful to make no admission of guilt, obviously following advice from her lawyer. I can understand and sympathize with Torres, that no matter how truly contrite she is, she can't express it fully for fear of self-incrimination. However, given that the Alcantaras seem like a decent family, I think a whole-hearted apology free of cautious legal editing would be appreciated, and might actually convince them to reconsider pressing charges against Torres. But of course that's just me. Where the loss of a loved one is concerned, it's hard to presume anything.

I feel sorry for all involved, from the Alcantara family, to the yaya who was injured in the same accident, to Torres, to Torres' kids (especially the son who probably can't face his batchmates anymore after his mom accidentally killed one of their own). After everything's said and done, whether it's settled in or out of court, no one comes out of this a winner.