An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

20 February 2007

Back in the trenches

Sometimes I feel that my life these days is a constant race to beat deadlines. Most of the time, though, it's really just a regular -- but far from methodical -- dealing with writing backlogs, which is even worse. I keep lagging behind my calendar, as if I were an out-of-breath jogger being left behind by the platoon on their morning run.

This simply would not do. I needed a change of scenery. I needed a change in ambient sound. I needed maids to serve me mugfuls of hot chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches. I needed free unlimited long-distance calls courtesy of the household expense account. And I needed my son to call me to the television every afternoon after school to watch Totally Spies on the Disney Channel.

So one morning I woke up, loaded all my backlogs, my laptop and its peripherals and the gazillion cables they all need, into my car, and drove to Naga to stay till all my backlogs are no more. In anticipation of my eventual triumphant backlog-free drive back to Makati, I therefore wasted no time in setting up my little foxhole for the battle ahead, and in the process made my Mother's house look like a war zone.

These are two Monobloc tables pushed together and covered with a bed sheet, in the area adjacent to the comedor and perpendicular to the lanai, which can be seen in the upper right corner of the photo.

Not bad for a makeshift desk. Here's the spot where I actually write.

The only things I didn't bring with me from Makati are that lamp, that little tube of glue (it's Spiderman Glue), and the little yellow jar of Play-Doh. Come to think of it, I don't know what the Play-Doh is doing there.

And now let's play a little game. Look at the photo below and try to identify the objects on the desk.

The Play-Doh, the bedsheet, and the colored Velcro cable-ties are not included, but the partially shown objects are, if they're identifiable, which I think they are, by the way. Click on the photo for a larger view.

The first one who identifies at least ten other different items in the photo wins a book by John Updike and a cd containing the electronic texts of various classic works of literature, to be shipped via next-day courier service to any point in the Philippines. Brand names are not necessary but are preferred, simply because it would make the game more fun. Just don't forget to let me know where I can send an online message.

People who are in the house with me and who have visited me since I have arrived and have thus seen the desk in person are not allowed to join. For the rest, enjoy the game!

14 February 2007

Where we are

Once, under the sun, amid shouts and dust and the noise of the troops, he stood beside me. And nothing else existed except that moment when we stood together on the grass, enchanted.

Eleven months after, we are now almost back to that dusty, sweltering, magnificent summer. Time has moved on, the seasons have passed, but still there is us, in the moment, on the grass, enchanted.

13 February 2007

One more time for the boys

Finally, after much difficulty, the second issue of Force & Valor Magazine is now out. This is a publication of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force, and is designed by Dominique James and written by moi. The issue features the trainings and traditions that make a SAF Trooper.

On the cover is Police Chief Superintendent Felizardo M. Serapio Jr., the SAF's fifteenth commander, and founder of the SAF Special Operations Battalion in the early eighties. Now Boss Apiong has left the SAF, upon orders, and is now the Regional Director of Police Regional Office 12, which is more popularly known as the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, where SAF Troopers operate regularly against the Abu Sayyaf Group and The Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Boss Apiong's exit was quite dramatic, though, because right after the turnover ceremonies and his final farewell to the troops, the magazine was released bearing him on the cover. As befits a true warrior, he is sent where he is most needed. But he left the SAF a stronger unit, with a kick-ass magazine, and this centerfold:

For beyond carrying the SAF through the difficult time when it was tainted with the February 24 incident, it is also during Boss Apiong's time when the very first SAF Trooper has received the Medal of Valor, the highest decoration for bravery in battle.

The cover story talks about the four major training courses that the SAF recruit is required to go through, namely, the Commando, the Sureshock, the Scuba, and the Airborne, all symbolically present in the SAF patch. Here is an excerpt from the cover story, aptly entitled "Through Fire and Ice:"

"Warriors and made, not born. In the SAF, recuits come from all over the country, from all walks of life, from various faiths and traditions. Before they are given the four esteemed training patches that make them worthy to fight for their country alongside equally qualified warriors, these recruits go through fire and ice, and must willfully and knowingly allow their former non-SAF selves to retire so that the new SAF warrior can emerge from the sweat, dust, pain, and tears of training. The SAF Trooper must consciously submit himself to incredible forces that will shake him to his very core. Only then can he be truly proud to bear the honor of his arms. This is how the SAF Trooper rises. In this, he is not -- and can never be -- as other men."

More than stress the element of difficulty that went with this magazine, I prefer to stress the element of triumph that goes with the release of every issue of the magazine. The magazine was able to raise over two hundred thousand pesos from advertisements alone, and from the fund we were able to print four thousand copies of the forty-page isssue, which of course looks fantastic on satin matte paper because it's been printed by LexMedia Digital of Print Town. Also, this is perhaps the only magazine in the country that is being created by just two people, DJ and me. I take comfort in the fact, however, that it is in keeping with the SAF tradition of sacrifice that Force & Valor cannot be Force & Valor without some amount of battle.

At any rate, it is worth it. And from the trenches we emerge, victorious.

The magazine will be distributed to SAF Troopers and the different police offices in the regions, but it is available for free in pdf format, both from the sidebar of this blog and from DJ's website at And of course there will be another podcast, which shall be uploaded soon.

11 February 2007


After over a month of not being able to blog, I log on to Blogger only to realize that my account has been automatically upgraded. I have been consistently prodded to upgrade to the new Blogger for months by Blogger itself, everytime I have logged on, but I have decided to keep my old account features because I find comfort in the familiar.

Now all that's gone, and I have something new to have to get used to. I don't like being forced to endure this change. I suppose there are various new features that I can take advantage of, but I don't really like putting tags on everything I write, and I don't like so many colors and things in the dashboard page, and I could go on and on and on, but really, my point is that my old Blogger was working just fine for my needs. And if it ain't broke, well, what's the point of forcing everyone to go into the version developed after the Beta? If I didn't choose to go to the Beta, isn't that an indication that I am pretty happy where I was?

Maybe it's just the old fogey in me. After all, this is the world wide web, and upgrades are the order of the minute. But no matter. I miss the old Blogger. I prefer the old Blogger. The old Blogger is more me. The old Blogger is my choice, not this shiny, glitzy new one. I want to be taken back. Take me back to where I began!