"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

less is more.... maybe


we in my immediate family are not touchy-feely people and it's right to say that we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves. sure, we miss one another and keep our communication lines open but except for "take care and God bless always" we usually avoid talks of sweetness and mush. when we find ourselves together, we're warm and happy but we're seldom (if not at all) seen in a hug or anything like that... i'd like to think that we love one another silently and discreetly. we openly talk about our bad feelings and vent out our frustrations (sometimes to the point of arguing or, worse, fighting!) but we tend to keep the good ones and those that light up our very hearts to ourselves. i don't know what will really change all that. i wish to...

last week, i received an e-mail from my father. it's been a long time since i last received an e-mail from him and i was a bit surprised that he took time to send me one; just disregard the fact that it was a forwarded e-mail. i knew why he sent it. he just wanted to make me feel remembered. the top most part of the message said: "teng, please read this and take care always. papang."

even with those few words, i felt my worth in his life. i was very grateful for his e-mail eventhough receiving it made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. it's weird that i should feel uncomfortable, i know. not really quite knowing what to reply, i decided to e-mail him about our group's R&D win -- something that got announced last december but my family didn't know of... because i didn't tell them. (even though i openly talk about the places that i go to and the companies that i keep, i'm notorious at home for keeping people in the dark when it comes to my activities -- good or bad, better or worse, best or worst. my family's usually the last to know that i did this and i did that. in fact, they don't know about this blog. so ssssssshhhhh.)

i figured my papang deserved some delightful news from me and not my standard boredom-inducing "buhi pa ko" (i'm still alive) statement, so i told him my stale news. as expected, he congratulated me. he wrote very briefly that he's proud of me. instead of acknowledging his congratulations, i pointed out that he misunderstood some things i said in the e-mail (he really did misunderstand some things!) and i proceeded to make things clear. i wrote a few lines of probably senseless blah blah blahs without commenting nor reacting on his congratulations. i know, i know... my head's really ought to be hit by a hammer.

my papang's reply ?

"regardless... basta, just remember i'm very proud of you."

...and our exchange ended right there. i knew in my heart i'd end up starting an argument over something good if i dared to contest that one. regardless is such a powerful word. i didn't know... until papang used it on me.


"no. it can't be," i thought as i made my usual way to the catwalk. with catwalk, i mean the usually deserted hallway that i pass through almost daily on my way to the research lab. it was monday morning and the hallway leading to our labroom was dark -- it meant only one thing: another power outage. tut. tut. no power. no experiments. uhm, no work until brownout's over. no work? argh. (call me abnormal, i don't care.)

tough luck. the labrat in me was hungry for action that couldn't just be there. just when i decided to welcome monday morning with zest to do things that need to be done, i got welcomed by darkness in the lab. no light, no aircon, no internet, no computer to fiddle with, no equipment that could be run. i should have seen it coming: our building's been experiencing at least one power outage every week since late april for reasons the "experts" couldn't exactly pin-point and fix.


clark kent. superman. kal-el. clark kent. superman. kal-el. clark kent. superman. kal-el. clark k...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

dancing the tinikling

"you don't go to the precipice of yes and then stop.
you don't say yes and then hold back. you don't say yes and then change your mind. the biggest thing to do when you go to the precipice of yes is to jump off and feel the exhilaration of
saying 'yes' to a noble calling."

-- mr. pagsi

last weekend (june 9-11), i joined a leadership retreat held at the betania retreat house in quezon city. i'm one of the participants this time, not one of the facilitators -- nice change.

the retreat gave me more than a mere break. on top of the opportunity of spending time with friends (whom i haven't seen for quite some time) again, i also had the great opportunity of forming new friendships with other young professionals (naks!) whose dreams are not that different from mine although they belong to other fields and they grew up in other parts of the country. more than opening doors for lifetime friendships with at least 21 other people...

• the retreat strengthened the Filipino soul in me.

• it affirmed my conviction that more than financial investments, i should have socio-civic investments.

• it made me realize that i do want a closer relationship with God and that means i want to know Him more. please don't raise those eyebrows. i'm somewhat a lost sheep and i really want to find my way back.

• it also inspired me to continue believing in the concept of team: together everyone achieves more.

i had a lot of realizations last weekend. i also had a lot of fun during the stay-in. it was good to find myself in the company of "people of like mind" -- people who believe in this country's potential despite and in spite of everything, people who have not given up on the concept of nation-building (big word, i know) and on being Filipino.

together, we ate, laughed, cracked jokes, and sang love songs with guitar as accompaniment during breaks in the discussions. with them, i had the time to pause, identify and openly talk about my real fears. i listened to their stories and they listened to mine. the flow of the discussions reminded me of the choices and the changes i can make. the activities helped me pin-point my gains and my losses, my pains and my blessings. they made me assess and reassess my paths as well as renew my commitment to my dreams. in a way, i could say that i got recharged by dancing the tinikling.

imagine young urban professionals coming together and dancing the tinikling: medical doctor, councilors, project managers and assistants, engineers, programmers, accountants, scientists, lawyers, and new graduates. well, yes, the tinikling! some of us had to do the limbo. some of us had to revive seemingly-forgotten top-spinning (pagpapaikot ng trumpo) prowess. some of us had to show how to do the sipa and the siko. some of us had to crack not-so-common philippine riddles. some of us had to pull the slingshot (tirador) and put down designated targets. all of us had a dose of alibata. all of us were made to dance the tinikling!!! more than being challenging, it was helluva fun!!!

here, before i get too carried away with my fun-fun-fun tinikling experience, let me share some of the lines i jotted down during the discussions:

"success begins in the mind. it is nurtured in the heart and is expressed through labor."

"it takes courage to do the right thing everyday. one has to have values to stand on, values that must not be compromised. after all, the people who make a difference are those with virtues."

"love is not a pinky-pinky thing. love is service."

"the most terrible thing that can happen to one's life is to be no longer needed."

"anything worth doing is worth doing well. a job well done is its own reward."

"if you want to have a fulfilled life, then you must choose to invest your life -- not just on a goal but on an ideal."

"in times of crisis, people either break down or shine. there is so much magic in woundedness."

by the way, the name of the leadership retreat is AGIMAT. interesting name, don't you think? well, we had an interesting line-up of speakers, too: dinky soliman, ateneo boys high's very well-revered onofre "mr. pagsi" pagsanghan, manila water's president antonino aquino, newsbreak magazine's editor-in-chief marites vitug, AFP's major dennis eclarin, ang lingkod ng panginoon's atty. bobby quitain, and society of jesus' bro. javi. if those names don't ring a bell, you're missing on a lot of information about the people in this country... time to read up!

as a consequence of attending AGIMAT, i added the following to my "to do list":

• answer this question: "what do you put in the center of your life?"

• complete this: "in the morning, when i wake up..." maybe come up with a poem, song or an essay?

• identify those who are in your hall of fame. guide questions: who are your heroes? why are they your heroes?

• plot (and re-plot) your lifeline. be as detailed as you can be. identify the ups and downs.

• val, make up your mind on this jolting question: "are you investing your one life on the right thing?" if the answer is yes, justify. if the answer is no, what then is the right thing and what are you currently doing with your one life -- why are you not investing it on the right thing?

challenging-enough list, eh? as you can see, i have no five-year nor ten-year plan in my "to do" list. i refuse to do anything like that because i can only clearly see as far as next month (i'm not even sure about this. sometimes, i can only clearly see as far as the next hour, haha). in fact, i'm not even gonna start budgeting my money and my time on paper. that means i'm not so sure about plotting (and re-plotting) my lifeline although i have no problem in identifying my ups and downs.

p.s. feel free to take on the challenges, if you want to. i think they'll make interesting blog entries, if you care to share... and, oh, they require honesty.

Monday, June 12, 2006


you stare at the screen. you see this awesome sequence of distinct shapes, colors, and meshed sounds. first, you get the idea that you're actually looking at some part of the earth. then, you are pulled back. you're looking at floating big chunks of rocks. you are pulled back further until you see jupiter and its distinguishable red spot. next, you see saturn and its rings. you are pulled back continuously until what you know as the solar system fades in the distance and gives way to an even grander picture of stars, constellations, galaxies... whoa... the spectacular vastness of the universe unfolds before your very eyes and the next thing you know, you're looking straight into the eye of a comely girl saying, "CQ, this is W9GFO. come back."

if that seems too familiar, then perhaps you are a fan of the movie...

title: contact
year of release: 1997
director: robert zemeckis
story by: carl sagan and ann druyan
main cast: jodie foster, matthew mcconaughey, james woods, tom skerritt, and angela bassett

contact is one of those beautifully done films that i was not able to watch on the big screen -- something tells me that the experience would have been better (but it's too late for regrets. anyway, i don't have to fret -- i own an original copy of the movie and i have the book as well).

the opening sequence of the movie is the story of the movie itself. it takes one on a journey that starts within, here on earth, tunneling to somewhere, lending a breathtaking, incomprehensible sense of vastness which leads back to the heart of reality that paves way for inspirations and a sense of significance on top of thought-provoking insights.

"you are capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. you feel so lost, so cut off, so alone... only you're not. see, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other."
-- from the movie, contact

more than a year ago, i picked up a copy of contact (the movie) from the shelf and did not let go of it until i paid for it. i "officially" made it mine for these three big reasons: jodie foster, carl sagan, and extra-terrestrial intelligence -- not necessarily in that order.

"if it's just us, it seems like an awful waste of space."

throw in jodie's brand of acting, sagan's genius, zemeckis' talents, and add a good blend of special effects and background sound... then, proceed to tell an interesting story of how the world reacts to a message from one of the stars -- "contact" with "little green men" that are not little green men at all. the movie has both entertainment and considerable intellectual value. in contact, we have science fiction that is closer to science than mere fiction. in contact, we also have a woven picture of humanity, religion, politics and ambitions. all these elements contribute to an overwhelming movie-watching experience.

p.s. i love the book more than the movie. there's more drama, more character development, more picture of reality and undeniable scientific poetry in the book. dr. sagan pulled together the elements that pique my imagination well.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

goodbye may, hello june

"There is no such thing as pure pleasure;
some anxiety always goes with it."

--Ovid, Metamorphoses

...and so another month has passed and i'm still here in metro manila. please don't ask me why i haven't moved on yet when according to the plan i had three summers ago, i should have been out of here last year. let's just say that this early twenty-something phase i'm currently in is meant to unfold here and not anywhere else. nice enough excuse eh? don't worry, i'll be out of here soon. you just wait.

apart from work, the highlights of the last three weeks were good food, old school art, movies, and great company.

movies recently seen on the big screen: x-men 3: the last stand with labmates, the da vinci code with nobody, and over the hedge with p6peeps

other movies recently seen: sideways and la visa loca with ids99 beautiful gal pals

recent food trips: montanara, spinach and gelato of amici di don bosco with bisaya bloggers, pizza and pasta of sbarro and chicken meals of jollibee with labmates, clubhouse of delifrance with sealdi, pork sisig and sinigang of dencio's in megastrip with p6peeps, seafood jambalaya and pepperoni pizza of burgoo with my kuya

recent artworks: glitter glue painting and spur-of-the-moment crayon work on our table top in burgoo

recent overnight sessions: movie marathon and food trip with ids99 beautiful gal pals in rose's makati apartment and inuman session and get-together with p6peeps in edson and jerk's apartelle in makati.

on the movies recently seen...
first, allow me to say what they say, "ignorance is bliss..."

i know there are people who are quite disappointed with the recent installment of x-men. me? i'm not disappointed. how could i be? i did not grow up looking forward to friday nights and the x-men tv series, i never got into reading the x-men comics, and my familiarity with the x-men characters is only due to my kuya's x-men cards and my labmates' x-men stories. i went inside the cinema without much expectation on the plot, i went out satisfied with the special effects and the bonus scene after the end credits.

as for the movie version of dan brown's the da vinci code (DVC), i think only those who have not read the book will be impressed by the movie. tom hanks happens to be one of my favorite actors yet i have to agree with my bisdak friends who declared that he didn't quite fit the picture of the robert langdon that we got to know in the book. i believe audrey tautou gave the best that she could for her sophie character but the screenplay didn't give her much to work on... man, they downplayed sophie's brilliance several-fold! except for that part where sophie introduces herself as a member of the french intelligence department, nowhere else in the movie will you get the idea that she's really a cryptologist. i was also disappointed with how they barely moved the camera over leonardo da vinci's works in the louvre scenes. plus, duh, they downgraded the "cryptex within a cryptex" to a mere cryptex and, as a result, one code/clue got left out. if there's something in the movie that i'd like to praise, it's the beauty of the surroundings of the rosslyn chapel... and oh, sir ian mckellen's performance as leigh teabing and paul bettany's portrayal of the murderous monk, silas.

if in poseidon we had a movie where sweet home alabama meets glory road meets phantom of the opera meets motorcycle diaries meets perfect storm meets titanic meets..., for the DVC movie we have amelie meets a very long engagement meets forrest gump meets x-men meets the lord of the rings meets spiderman 2 meets the last temptation of christ meets... okay, okay, i'm stopping.

on other things...
i'm glad that i still get to spend time with my friends from high school and from college despite our respective locations and "busy" schedules. i guess, it helps a lot that we get to think that "being busy" is such a lame excuse for not getting together and enjoying each other's company. people who feign they are too "busy" simply don't take time. who're they kidding? the world happens to be fair, it almost always proves "busy" people right. i'm one busy bee with a track-record to boot, i should know.

haaay. may is over and june is here. the rainy days have come and i haven't gone on a decent vacation yet!!! whack me! i had a fun summer, why am i complaining??

i haven't been home in my mindanao since the fourth day of january this year. i hope to be home for at least a week this june or maybe this july. in a way, i've already got some things planned: go trekking and horsebackriding and dare the zipline in mapawa nature park, put my life in the way of danger via white-water rafting and then dive off some high bridge in cagayan de oro city. a clever suicide plan? naaah! i'm actually talking about thrill and fun. tara, let's!

for now, raindrops keep falling on my head... i should buy myself an umbrella soon.

p.s. my "amazing" saturday article got published in Inq7's YOU! click here to see my byline.

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